Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Art of Kronwalling: Why is it Disappearing?

I like me a good Kronwalling.  Now technically, I like any big hit dished out on an opposing player that keeps their head on a swivel for the rest of the game, but there is nothing like watching a beautiful, signature move-esque hit from number 55 in the Winged Wheel.  I get shivers when I see Nik turn that corner on the backskate and see the rear-end wrecking ball careening toward its unsuspecting prey, and I hear explosions in my head when I see the carnage before me as that opposing player drags themselves back to their feet...if they're even able to. This is a far cry from advocating injury to anyone, but I just can't get enough big hits in a hockey game!

Kronwall is one of the best at what he does, because of HOW he does it, the Kronwalling, as it has lovingly come to be known in Hockeytown is almost as important a symbol of hockey in Detroit as the octopus! ...Almost. It is still a must-see for Wings fans, but lately I've noticed that the artist has been putting down his proverbial brush and has been painting with a more defensive-minded stroke.  To an extent, yes, I understand this.  Lidstrom retired. Stuart left.  Rafalski retired before them.  The biggest keys to Detroit's blueline have packed up and gone one after another for their own reasons, and that leaves Kronwall with a bunch of kids and nomadic journeyman.  Like it or not, for the time being the top D-man in the D is 55.  This means a few things: much more ice-time, a more diversified role such as constant use on the PP and PK as well as at even strength.  He's out there all...the...time.  He feels he needs to shore up his defensive game.

He thinks he needs to be a Nick Lidstrom.

At least that's how it feels to me, because Nik Kronwall has not played a Nik Kronwall-like game once this year.  We've seen flashes of it, like the hit on the Av's Jamie Mcginn, but it has been a decided rarity since the departure of The Perfect Human.  Big hits are part of Kronner's game, and as long as he keeps reining it in, other teams are going to take advantage of it.

Want a great example? Anyone who watched that heartbreaker of a game last night in Chicago would've seen the Hawks get a late scoring chance in Overtime that nearly kept us from even GOING to a shootout.  The Hawks entered the offensive zone by pressing up the boards, and were primed for a Kronwalling.  Instead of stapling his mark to the glass, Nik decided to BACK OFF HIS MAN and let him enter the zone! Wanting to remain defensively sound is one thing, but when your worrying about getting caught out of position or taking a penalty results in a good scoring chance on your goaltender, that's no smarter NOR any more responsible a decision.

I've watched teams attack our blueline more this year than any other recent season in memory.  Primarilly this is due to the transition period the Wings are going through and the lack of experience and depth on the back end.  I would also argue, however, that this aggressive push teams are making against our lines would get a bit more timid if number 55 stood a guy up here or there a little more often.

There is a balance to be had between a defensive game and a physical game.  The great players who play a physically defensive style find it.  Kronwall almost had it before Lidstrom left, but now he's all out of sync with himself and his team is suffering for it.  For the good of Hockeytown, Nik, get out there and Kronwall the hell out of somebody!

The Sarcasm Report: Samuelsson Working Hard to Get Back to Highly Paid, Overrated 2008 Form

With the regular season winding down, the Detroit Red Wings are in serious need of more unable-bodied, awkward, oft-injured, over paid wingers on their roster in order to make the playoffs. Current Red Wing Mikael Samuelsson believes he can be that type of player for his team.

" I certainly believe that I can fill a role like that," Samuelsson told reporters today, "It's not often you can replace a big plug on the second line and also on the point on the powerplay."

Samuelsson, who signed a two year contract worth a whopping $3 million per season, is currently injured with a pectoral strain and is apparently confused as to when or if he can return, and most importantly why he would want to attempt such a thing when it could ruin his teams chances of success.

"I think I have a pulled boob," reported Samuelsson, noting that it hurts when attempting to miss the net on the far side high and wide by fifteen feet.

"I can't even do a proper dump in or that stupid looking, obvious head fake thing I do. Don't even as me about high and wide shots around the glass. It's frustrating."

Ken Holland explained that while Samuelsson's injury isn't serious, they need him back in a hurry.

"Listen, we're in eighth spot in the conference. The way I see it, we're lacking that god awful type of player who can float around out there and not earn his paycheck."

Teammate Johan Franzen agreed, saying that it was difficult to replace Samuelsson's presence on the bench.

"Every time I look down the bench and don't see Sammy, I get really excited to try and mimic what he does so well," Franzen said, "I can tell it's working because no one really likes me anymore."

Holland was adamant that Samuelsson's contract had nothing to do with his ability as a hockey player. "When I was looking down the list in NHL 08 and saw Samuelsson's overall was like an 82 and on best lines he was slotted with Datsyuk and Zetteberg, I knew we had to sign him," he said, "Three million dollars for a player like that I'll do every time. Hell, I had to throw in a no trade clause to get him here."

Samuelsson is even baffled at the attention he is getting in Detroit. "It's amazing really. I never thought anyone in the right mind would give me three million a season and a no trade clause. Who would want me? Phoenix? Probably not."

Samuelsson has one goal this year.

"I just want to get back to my 2008 form," he said, "Remember that game against Pittsburgh where I somehow went end to end and scored on a wraparound? And then the same game scored another goal? How does that even happen?"

Mike Babcock is reportedly excited to get Samuelsson back sometime before his contract expires in two years. "Sammy is going to be on the top line, no doubt," Babcock reported, "I like how he makes three million dollars for every goal he scores."

Samuelsson is working hard to get back into the lineup, saying that "I'm basically just sitting around in my boxers eating Cheetohs," and "Man this is sweet I made three million dollars this year by not doing anything."

No word on if the Red Wings are trying to sign Samuelsson's future replacements; Kirk Maltby or Uwe Krupp.