Thursday, April 29, 2010

Naptime Costs Wings, Sharks Take Game 1

I'm sure most of you knew when you read my preview earlier today that there was no small amount of joking in my 'prediction' of this series. Had I actually believed Detroit would take the top team in the West in 4 games, I would've used the S-word. Since the Wings, however, went into a half-a-period coma and allowed 3 goals before I could finish taking a piss, I can say 'sweep' because it's not jinxing anything. The aforementioned sidetrip to vegetable-land by the Detroit skaters was the killer in Game 1 of this WCSF match between Detroit and San Jose, as the Wings were only able to scrape together 3 goals. But Geek, you might be asking to yourself, doesn't that tie the game at 3 all? Well yes, that would be the case, if not for the Sharks earning an extra goal on a 5 on 3 that was caused mostly by laziness-turning-into-desperation. Long story short: Detroit shot themselves in the foot early and handed Game 1 to the Sharks as a gift-wrapped present.

Let's analyze this turd of a Game against The Geek's Winning Formula.

1.) Big Game Hunting - Well well, look who showed up to play tonight. That first line for San Jose doesn't look so impotent now, does it? You can't expect guys of this caliber to stay quiet forever, it just. doesn't. happen. The Sharks' top line showed up to play, and between San Jose's top 2 lines, they created all the scoring. Detroit had no answer for Joe Pavelski, who added another 2 goals under his belt, and whilst trying to solve that conundrum, Heatley and Thornton turned it on, even without their linemate Pat Marleau. This disturbs me a little, because that top line is starting to click now before Marleau even gets back, I dread letting them run rampant with the complete line out there.

2.) Make Them Doubt - Ha. What we just did was bolster their confidence in themselves by giving them such a huge early lead that no matter what we did, we just couldn't catch up. I know that the 10-15 minute bout of narcolepsy isn't something that will become a trend, but we shouldn't have been giving them a chance to begin with!! After the 2nd goal, I suggested on Twitter that Mike Babcock should've called a timeout to settle things down. I'm wishing now that he had, because it might have calmed Detroit down and prevented that 3rd goal from happening. The Wings were reeling and needed to stop and screw their heads on straight. They weren't given that chance and things just got worse.

3.) Out of the Desert, Kill the Droughts - Well, the bright spot to this game is here, as the 3 Red Wings goals tonight were more than the previous combined total goals of the 3 players who scored them. Of Cleary, Rafalski and Franzen, there was only a single goal to be had before tonight. So the good news is some of the snake-bit skaters are getting a groove back (hopefully). Let's hope we see much less catatonia and much more asserting of authority in the games to come.

I'm disgusted that Detroit lost this game, not because I'm a slappy pressing the panic button, but this is a game the Wings should have won. Do not try and tell me otherwise, because if Detroit plays the first half of that 1st period with a pulse, we're not looking at a 3-1 hole after 20 minutes. At best you're looking at 2-1 because Babs calls the timeout to wake his players up and we're getting ready for Overtime. Unfortunately only hindsight is 20/20, and we see Detroit in the same position we did last series, down 1-0. Ahh well, last one ended pretty well. No reason this one can't either.

That's it, I'm out. Need to sleep off the rage.

Till Game 2, Wingnuts!! Let's Go Red Wings!!!

Preview: Wings @ Sharks, Round 2 Game 1

It's here. A lot of slappies didn't think we'd see this round, bashing on any Wing within swinging range, and yet the Red Wings are gearing up to face San Jose in the 2nd Round of the Playoffs tonight. Detroit will hopefully carry its enthusiasm from a spectacular curb-stomping of the Phoenix Coyotes in the 7th game of Round 1 into the opener of this WCSF matchup when the Wings hit the ice in HP Pavillion Arena.

The Sharks present a much different challenge for Detroit than the Phoenix team that preceded them. The key thing to watch for in this series is San Jose's attitude, as the Sharks are trying to shake a gorilla from their shoulders (it's far too big to be called a monkey now) in the form of a nasty reputation for Playoff nosedives. San Jose has consistently been one of the best Western Conference Teams in the West, yet they have also consistently been one of the worst teams in the West come Playoff time, with year after year of first and second-round exits and little to no overall post-season success to look back on. I expect this Sharks squad to be a bunch of vicious fishes come gametime, and Detroit needs to remember the lessons they learned in the desert about asserting their authority with both skill and physicality.

With this in mind, let's get to our first Geek's Winning Formula of Round 2!!

1.) Big Game Hunting - I'm not going to say that San Jose is a one-trick pony when it comes to their lineup...but I will say that San Jose's big trick is a hell of a lot better than the rest. The Wings cannot underestimate the Thornton-Marleau-Heatley line for the Sharks. The trio each had over 80 points, with Thornton pulling just one point shy of 90. No, this line has not gone crazy in the playoffs, but the offensive punch is there and may just be a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. If it does, Detroit will need an answer to slow them down. For right now the prime targets for a clamp-down are Clowe, Pavelski and Setoguchi, but we'll see how effective they are against a much better defense in Detroit's top 6.

2.) Make Them Doubt - They will never say it, but you CANNOT tell me that San Jose isn't still haunted by all the stigma around their team for all the choking they've done over the past few years in the Playoffs. What's the best way to dredge all that up? Sting them early. I really want to see Detroit come out with the intensity from the last game and smoke San Jose for an early lead. Plant that seed of doubt in the locker room and let it grow. Even if San Jose scrapes together a goal or two, if they feel they're being outplayed, this team is going to wind itself tight. The Sharks said themselves that they're still working on tossing aside the choking rep, and that they wanted to face Detroit for just that reason. I say make them eat their own words and see how long it takes to put the fear of another early collapse back in their heads.

3.) Out of the Desert, Kill the Droughts - One lingering thing that bothers me from the previous series is the number of players on the Wings roster that are still sitting at little-to-no point production. Our bottom two lines have been almost invisible on the scoresheet. This is not to say that they aren't working hard, but now that the stars are scoring, we need those depth players to stand up and be ready to put some pucks behind Evgeni Nabokov, because you know a lot of the clamp-down will be on Datsyuk, on Zetterberg, on Filppula. Supposing that San Jose comes up with an answer to our top 2 lines, we need the bottom 2 to respond in production. It's great to go out and create chaos and frustrate the other team as an energy line, but getting a goal or two helps pick your team up too. I personally have been watching Val Filppula closely in the recent games, and that boy looks hungry. I'm expecting an explosion of productivity from him in the near future, and tonight would be a prime time to see it happen. If it doesn't play out that way, though, I'm counting on those bottom 6 forwards to man up and get the job done.

The Red Wings took the season series with 3 wins (2 on the road) and 1 OT loss, so that's working in Detroit's favor. San Jose, however, ended the regular season with more goals-per-game, a better Powerplay and a better Penalty Kill. It goes without saying that Detroit will need to address this, especially the difference in special teams: limit the amount of penalties taken and damn-well cash in when San Jose checks in to the Sin Bin Hotel.

All in all, it could be an exciting series, but I'm going to make an impulsive (read: bold-borderlining-idiotic) prediction of the Wings taking the series in 4. Yes, I said it. My reasoning: there isn't a single game coming back to Detroit scheduled during the day! So to me, Detroit has no excuse to play poorly!! We'll see how that stands up as Game 1 draws near.

Till puck drop, Wingnuts!! Let's Go Red Wings!!!

The Red Bird is greater than The Eagles: Blame the NHL if we woke you up, San Jose

Man...are you kiddin' me? I really shouldn't have expected anything better coming into Round 2 today. I'm already livid that the Red Wings are being forced to start their series early because of a stupid Eagles concert (hating on the concert, not The Eagles), but on top of that I find out now that Detroit is facing a fine...A FINE...for having to bolt directly from Game 7 in Phoenix to the airport in San Jose, and not getting there UNDER CURFEW!?

I've held my tongue over a lot of things, even just from the early stages of these playoffs...but I'm going to be candid here: ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME? (Excuse my manners). According to the report, the Red Wings charter plane arrived 49 minutes past this dreaded curfew and as such subjects Detroit owner Mike Illitch to a fearsome $2500.00 fine. Yes, San Jose, we'll have those bills for you in a moment once Mr. Illitch is done wiping his ass with them.

If anything, I feel Mike should send the bill to Mr. Bettman's office for being asinine enough to schedule ahead of the concert instead of playing both games after the shows by going back to back or something. I wouldn't be totally shocked if Gary the Rat saw the opportunity to shaft Detroit once the concert was brought to his attention and was foaming at the mouth with excitement. We already kept his name off the Cup this year by beating the team he OWNS, and it's not like he hasn't tilted things against the Winged Wheel before. I get tired of this waste of humanity we're forced to call a commissioner quickly, so I'm going to move on now.

In summary, it all really boils down to two options: Either Mike Illitch pays the fine or the organization tries to fight it, which would probably cost more time, effort and money than just throwing the cheddar at them straight up.

Now that I got that out of my system, I'm gonna go look up some stats and put together my Round 2 preview. Look for it later tonight, Wingnuts!!