Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wings Lay Beating on Bruins in 6-1 Rout

Where was this all year??

The Wings welcomed in the Boston Bruins last night, but once the puck was dropped, they were anything but welcoming.  With 10 different players on the scoresheet, Detroit dominated play for long stretches of the match and absolutely embarrassed the Bruins, driving the score all the way to 6-0 before Boston got their only goal in the dying minutes of the game.  Justin Abdelkader, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Gustav Nyquist and Drew Miller scored the Red Wings' half-dozen, while Jonas Gustavsson made 16 saves in the contest before Jarome Iginla finally got one past him at 17:35 of the 3rd.

So much went right in this 6-1 win that it's hard to criticize anything in the Wings' play yesterday.  Passing was better, guys were obviously communicating more, there was more push through the middle of the ice, guys were driving the net, rebounds and corner pucks were fought for, the team worked together defensively to shut down the short, the Wings finally played 60 minutes--or pretty close-- of Red Wings style hockey, and were rewarded.

Playing without Pavel Datsyuk up front and Danny DeKeyser on the blueline didn't stop Detroit from putting on a clinic, with Boston as the very unwilling patient.  The team seems to have woken up somewhat after losing two very important regulars on the roster.  If the boys can sustain anything close to this level of play until Dats and Kaiser return, imagine the jump they'll have once those two get back!

Next up is the New York Islanders, and a chance at a winning streak for the first time in a month.  We'll see then how much of this momentum carries over.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dirty Deeds: Wings Lose, Ottawa Commits to Win at All Costs

Well I've found a new team to hate.

After a disgraceful display by the Ottawa Senators last night, which was highlighted by an elbow delivered directly to Pavel Datsyuk's jaw, the Red Wings lost 4-2 in what was easily the ugliest game of the season so far.  Datsyuk is being evaluated with concussion-like symptoms and will not be in the lineup later today when Detroit plays in Buffalo.

DIVE! DIVE! ...Oh, see I thought that's what
you say when ANYONE falls down, as
Sens fans were quick to demonstrate.
George Malik of Kukla's Corner said it best on Twitter last night, when he mentioned that the refs had lost total control of the game.  It was true, and what little control the refs did have was inconsistent at best.  There's no way anyone out there last night could know for sure what would get called and what wouldn't.

And for the record, for any Sens fans reading this: Take a slash to the back of your knee on your lead foot, let's see if you 'dive' or not.  Stop deluding yourselves to think that what your pathetic excuse for hockey players did on the ice last night was anything close to legal or clean.  And people talk shit about US wearing tinfoil hats and being homers...right.  At least the Sens can get jobs as lumberjacks in a few years if there's another lockout.

I suppose if there was a team to play without Datsyuk, it would be Buffalo.  I expect to see better work ethic for the Wings defensively though, because as suspect as they've been this year, Datsyuk's defensive capabilities will be sorely missed.

And by the way, make sure not to tell any Sens fans about our faking Datsyuk's injury, because we obviously do that all the time and don't want to be found out. Definitely.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Nyquist Earns His Spot After Leading Wings to Win

Right now, the happiest guy in Hockeytown must be Gustav Nyquist because Hockeytown is now his home--for good.  After scoring a pair of goals in the Wings' 4-3 win over Carolina yesterday, it was announced by the Red Wings today that Nyquist will be in the lineup tomorrow against Ottawa.

Effectively what this means, for those who don't know, is that Nyquist will be playing his final waiver-exempt game on Saturday.  Detroit will no longer be able to send Gustav back to Grand Rapids without sending him through waivers, where he would immediately get poached by another team.

And if Nyquist is the happiest guy in Hockeytown because of this, the most frustrated would likely be
Wings GM Ken Holland.  As much as Ken assuredly enjoyed the outcome of the match last night, the fact that Nyquist played such a huge role in the victory eliminated pretty much any chance of him sending Nyquist back down with that final waiver-exempt game in hand and not having the fanbase outright lynch him.  After all the excuses and poor mis-managing that kept Gus off the roster, there was no way Holland could deny him after such a flashy season debut.

This of course leads to the next inevitable question: If Nyquist stays, who goes?  Jordin Tootoo and Patrick Eaves have both already been sent to Grand Rapids, but there's still too much cap tied up in contracts when our injuries heal to keep everyone in the big league.  The two that stick out to me are Kyle Quincey on Defense, and Mikael Samuelsson in the Forwards department.  Quincey won't be going anywhere due to Danny DeKeyser's shoulder injury, and Holland won't want to let go of Sammy completely, as that would be an admittance that he made a bone-headed signing when he picked him up to begin with.

Regardless of the name, however, I do feel that the cut HAS to be one of the older role-player type guys (many of you have been screaming Cleary for the last minute, I know) and not our youth.  There isn't a single young forward on this team that doesn't bring something to the table, and to throw that away now would be ridiculous.  Their potential hasn't fully been shown yet, but a guy like Cleary or Samuelsson who has played for years and is still mediocre at best isn't going to surprise you much anymore.

I'm not calling for an Edmonton-esque youth movement, but we have the pieces of a great team, and it's time to cut the dead weight and move on.  If it were you and you could erase one player from the lineup completely, who would you pick? Please feel free to click the comments link at the bottom of the post and tell us who your Wings whipping boy is.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wings Fall Prey to Themselves, Hand Nashville the Win

Well, we sort of got what we wanted: The OT/Shootout streak is over.

Best part of last night. Bet Cheli was glad he got
off the ice for the rest of it...
What is there to say, really? Detroit played a very mentally weak game last night against a Nashville team riding a young goalie and turned what should have at least been a close game into a write-off.  Shea Weber's knuckle-puck was the game-winner, but the Red Wings didn't make winning all that difficult, showing all the same problems they've had over the course of this season: bad or errant passing, terrible reading of the play in all 3 zones, and still not enough quality shots on net to test netminders.

On top of losing in regulation, Detroit also lost young defenseman Danny DeKeyser to a separated shoulder, which will likely have him sidelined for the next couple weeks.  It couldn't have been Quincey, could it? The hockey gods are fickle.  On the upside, Brendan Smith returned and...wasn't terrible! He admitted to keying in on watching Nik Kronwall during his stint in the press box, and it seems like he's starting to finally identify and correct some of the flaws he was harboring in his game.  He picked a good time to do so, because we need him playing well while Kaiser is in the shelf.

I do feel the question needs to seriously be asked, though: At what point does this become an issue not of the roster, but of the people in charge of that roster?  I'm starting to feel more and more each game like Mike Babcock is just preaching the same crap he always does just because he likes to hear it, and not because it's actually making a difference in the locker room between periods.  We've watched the Wings do everything exactly the same over this winless skid like they're expecting something to change. Nothing will change unless they do, the mindset, the game plans, SOMETHING internally needs to change.  We've never taken it easy on weak teams in the past so, with the tables turned, Detroit cannot expect any better treatment during their struggles.

The Red Wings return to action on Thursday against a similarly struggling Carolina team whom we have already beaten once this year.  If we can't get our shit together for this game, it may just be time to dig out that panic button.

Maybe don't press it just yet, but certainly keep it close.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Winged Wheels Fall Off Again, Washington Edges Detroit in SO

Life was good in Hockeytown last night in the Red Wings' match against the Washington Capitals.

Then the 3rd period happened, and proved that shit really does roll downhill.

Detroit came into what should have been the final frame of a 3-1 hockey game on the right side of the scoreboard.  They had found a way to silence the mighty Alexander Ovechkin and just had to keep things under wraps and cruise to the W.  Instead, an admittedly skillful goal by Ovechkin began the counter-attack, and Washington never slowed down, forcing us later into a 3-3 tie and into Overtime.  As if in response to the Wings' struggles, they found themselves scrambling in an Overtime PK situation which they somehow managed to survive until the Caps took a call of their own. After a short demo of Ken Holland's vision of 3 on 3 OT, the Wings got their greatest chance to close out the game with their own powerplay in extra time.

Once again, the Red Wings found a way to squander their opportunity when it mattered most.  OT would solve nothing, and back to the dreaded shootout we went.  The first two rounds were stalemates, Jimmah standing firm for his 2 saves, but Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen both looked uninspired in their attempts and Capitals goalie Braden Holtby made short work of both forwards.  Todd Bertuzzi went next and obviously learned nothing from watching Holtby, as he tried to pull a spin-o-rama way too close to the net of a guy who had a really active stick, and a quick poke-check had us on the brink.  Nicklas Backstrom was the 3rd shooter for Washington, and he won the battle of wills with Howard, slipping the puck by and in.  For a closer look at the game, check out the boxscore here.

Now Jimmah has had some rough times over the last few games, and I won't defend him for everything that's happened, but I'll tell you one thing: for all the bitching I'm hearing on Twitter and elsewhere about Howard in the shootouts, chew on this--we shouldn't even be GOING to OT or a shootout.  Many of the last few games could have and SHOULD HAVE been won in regulation.  The Red Wings as a whole are not committing to 60 minutes of serious, balls-to-the-wall hockey.  Why did we really lose last night against the Caps? Simple, they played for 60+ minutes, not mailing the rest of the game in when they came into the 3rd down 2 goals, but we were content to believe that they would.  The Wings got lazy, and the Capitals...well, capitalized.  Hockey is a game like any other: if you stop playing the game, you can't expect to win.

Yes, there were positives, I'm not saying that there weren't, but does that not warrant playing a full game and not slacking off so that you can better savour and appreciate those accomplishments with a win rather than scrambling to right a suddenly sinking ship!?  Points are great and all, but OT and SO games are going to hurt us like hell come season's end when tiebreakers start getting tabulated. Regulation points take precedence, and even if we win some of these games going into extra time, it may end up being meaningless.  The real objective is to beat your opponent within 60 minutes, and the Red Wings need to get their act together and start playing to do just that.  The coaching staff need to lead by example and prepare these guys to do just that.  Ken Holland needs to fix his own mistakes with the cap and roster issues we're now suffering under so that we can put forth the best possible team to do JUST THAT.  Hockeytown is starting to take on a very 'Ce la vie' attitude, and I'm not buying into it.  The Red Wings are a better team than the product we are seeing on the ice, and they need to start proving it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Datsyuk vs Ovechkin : Russian the Offence

Ovechkin visits Hockeytown, Red Wings are ready to get the winning streak down

With Alexander Ovechkin and his high-flying offense, averaging 3 goals a game, knock down the Wings? Will a high-powered power-play from the Capitals, clicking at 25.6%, over-power the 7th leading penalty kill from the Red Wings? Will we see the Braden Holtby that let in 3 goals on 14 shots against Calgary or the one that played amazing in the last couple of games? Will Kyle Quincey finally be a + player in a game, a feat he’s only done twice this year?

These questions and many more will be answered tonight at the Joe-Louis Arena at 7:30 ET.

The Capitols are 6-3-1 in their last ten games, while the Red Wings are 3-2-5. The starting goaltenders are Holtby for the Capitals and Howard for the Red Wings.

Projected Lineup for the Washington Capitals:
Martin Erat
Nicklas Backstrom
Alex Ovechkin
Brooks Laich
Marcus Johansson
Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera
Mikael Grabovski
Joel Ward
Aaron Volpatti
Michael Latta
Tom Wilson

Nate Schmidt
Mike Green
Karl Alzner
John Carlson
Alexander Urbom
Steve Oleksy

Projected Lineup for the Detroit Red Wings:
Henrik Zetterberg
Pavel Datsyuk
Todd Bertuzzi
Tomas Tatar
Johan Franzen
Daniel Alfredsson
Daniel Cleary
Joakim Andersson
Justin Abdelkader
Drew Miller
Darren Helm
Mikael Samuelsson

Niklas Kronwall
Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey
Danny DeKeyser
Brian Lashoff
Jakub Kindl

Game notes – Red Wings
  • ·     Patrick Eaves cleared waivers today and has been sent to Grand Rapids;
  •     Tomas Tatar returns to the line-up, so does Jonathan Ericsson after being on the LTIR;
  • ·  Jimmy Howard will try to win his sixth game: he is 5-5-5 after 15 games with 2.67 GAA and a .910 SV%.

Game notes – Capitals
  • ·        The Capitals have recalled defenseman Tyson Strachan from Hershey. If he playes, he’ll be the 10th defenseman to do so for Washington this year.
  • ·         Jason Chimera has 2 assists in 3 games after being signed to a two-year contract extension on November 8th.
  • ·         Alexander Ovechkin has 6 points in his last 5 games.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Where will Wings Find Inspiration?

Detroit will be hosting Washington tomorrow in an attempt to avoid losing their 7th consecutive home game, Patrick Eaves has gone on waivers, and Tomas Tatar is getting sat for Dan Cleary.

What the hell kinda bizarro world did I wake up to today?

The Red Wings are having a hard old time in many regards recently.  Guys outside the top line aren't scoring, the defense is incredibly suspect, and on top of all that, the cap crunch is killing Detroit's options for who to plug into the lineup to try and stir up some chemistry.

I'll admit it's hard as a loyal fan of a team to watch that team struggle, but what makes this particular situation harder to swallow is the fact that, by all rights, this team is better than what they've shown so far this season.  Weiss has been a complete bust, with a pitiful 3 points in 17 games.  This was the guy meant to replace Valtteri Filppula, and realistically WOULD have.  Daniel Alfredsson was a surprise acquisition this offseason and has been what I would deem decent. No one expected the Alfie from 10 years ago, the fanbase knows he's getting up in age, but  at least he's putting points up with 3 goals and 11 assists.

When you look at the Red Wings' depth chart, then look at their current standings and point production, it simply doesn't add up.  Something needs to change.

This is mostly a venting session for me.  I also need to apologize to the loyal followers of The Geek for what has been a lackluster start to the season for us here, too.  I promise you will see this rectified and just want to let you all know that I and the other writers here at TDG appreciate you all and look forward to sharing our passion for Red Wings hockey with all of you.

The old saying does state that "It's gotta get worse before it gets better".  Things will turn themselves around.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Wings Waddle out of Winnipeg after 4-2 Loss

Let the record show that I am about as uninspired to write this post as the Wings were to play hockey tonight.  For anyone who doesn't know, that's pretty damned uninspired.

Detroit came into Winnipeg looking to close out their Western Canada roadtrip with a 4-game sweep.  Obviously they only brought enough fuel for 3 games, because the Jets were allowed to do whatever they pleased for almost the full 60 minutes.  Jimmy Howard had to make an embarrassing 43 saves just to keep his team in the game, which should have earned him one of tonight's 3 stars, as he was effectively thrown to the wolves by his teammates.

Defense was non-existent, so much so that the good things that happened offensively for the Wings were greatly overshadowed.  Constant turnovers, breakaway chances, and odd-man rushes against were what fueled the Jets offensive this evening, and they made every attempt to cash in all of them.  The Red Wings were too busy playing against their own fatigue and sloppiness to muster much resistance.

Henrik Zetterberg managed to open the Detroit scoring, netting his 8th goal of the season, while young defender Danny DeKeyser got his 1st NHL career goal on a bullet from the point while short-handed.  Detroit won an offensive zone faceoff while down a man, and when the puck got back to Kaiser, he drilled it past Jets goalie Al Montoya.

Those were pretty much the only Red Wings highlights, besides a couple above-average chance that were kept out of the net and the AMAZING show Howard put on to try and keep Detroit alive.  Thankfully the Wings now take the next 2 days off and should come back fresh and ready to start a new winning streak as they play host to the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

Till then, see you next time right here at TDG!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Can Wings Maintain Consistency Against Flames?

The Wings have finally snapped what amounted to a 4-game winless streak by handing a 2-1 defeat to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night.  They did so by finally getting back to playing their system: strong, relentless pressure to seize and control the puck throughout the game, limiting chances against and maximizing chances for.  Now that they've done so, the question is whether or not they will maintain that style of play this evening as the Red Wings invade Calgary for a date with the Flames.

Detroit's match against Calgary is another instance where the result should be clear. On paper, it is: Calgary is hovering near the bottom of their division, while a win tonight would put the Wings just 2 points back of East-leading Toronto (Excuse me a moment, I need to recover from having just wrote that).  Without that requisite work ethic and signature style of play running at full speed though, the task will be made all the more difficult.  Calgary also now has 2 players who know the Red Wings' system very well in goalie Joey MacDonald and forward Jiri Hudler.  I've always noticed a trend of teams having our number somewhat after acquiring our old faces (San Jose over the last few years, anyone...?)

As long as Detroit sticks to the plan Mike Babcock has laid out for this team and commit 100% for a full 60 minutes, the chances of victory are high, and that's good because the Wings cannot afford to slip too far from the top early in a very new and unfamiliar setting in the Eastern Conference.

Enjoy the game, Wingnuts!