Friday, October 4, 2013

Oh Captain, Our Captain. An Ugly 3-2 Win in Overtime

There are games in the National Hockey League that grab you by the throat and toss you around for almost every second of 60 minutes. There are games in the National Hockey League that put you to sleep throughout. And there are games in the National Hockey League where, really, the end justifies the means. Tonight against Carolina was the third scenario. For the Wings fanbase, there are three things that legitimately need to be discussed concerning tonight’s game, and only three. No more, no less.

                We start with one, the first goal. Perhaps the ugliest goal Yours, Truly has seen since…well…Yours, Truly has squashed down a lot of bad memories of bad goals. It was bad. It looked like a goal that would be scored at the end of practice when everyone is messing around and getting the pucks put away. No one, and I do mean no one, in a Winged Wheel was really where they ought to have been. Jimmy poked when he should have stayed, Kyle Quincey just Kyle Quincey-ed. And after a run of good play for the Wings that just wouldn’t work, it was a double blow. A goal like that should be a once-in-a-season embarrassment. As such, it’s best to get it out of the way early. The team moved on, we can move on.

                In between the Things to Discuss, Carolina scored again and then we made it a one goal game. In Between the Things to discuss, we played like trash and Carolina, despite playing only slightly less trashy, continued to look like the eventual winner. But we aren’t going to discuss that.

                We are going to discuss the captain (not The Captain, chill). Zetterberg wanted this game. He wanted it more than most regular season games I saw last season, and that was incredibly encouraging. That’s not to say he was bad last season, not by any means. But I often felt he was out-worked and out-paced by Pavel, and I firmly believe a captain should out-work everyone. This season, though, Z is a hungry man. Thus far Henrik Zetterberg has 14 shots on goal, in two games. THAT is what we need to see out of our captain: Leading from the front, showing his guys exactly what needs to be done to conquer the East in year one.

                So what better way to lead from the front than scoring the game-tying goal with 17 seconds left, during one of those frantic scrambles where so often we just come oh so close but never quite close the deal. Z made damn sure we closed the deal this time. He showed us what grit, with a little bit of finesse, can do for a team that refuses to quit. And, from a technical standpoint, he was in the exact right place to do what needed to be done (something that plagued the Wings all game. But we aren’t discussing that.) He took us from a write-up about a really ugly loss to:

                Stephen Weiss’ overtime goal , his first in a Wings’ sweater. Another illustration of what being in the right place at the right time will do, he cleaned up some trash and gave the Wings a really undeserved win. What a way to open one’s scoring account for the year, and what an exciting end to what had been, for so long, a dreary game. And that’s it. That’s all I’m going to discuss from the game.

                Why? Why am I stopping there? Why am I not addressing all of the major, major issues the Wings had most of the game? It was a dreadful, ugly game. There is a lot more to discuss, sure. Many of the exact same issues from last year were still woefully on display tonight.  I could write them all in list form, all the things we’re so sick of we could puke, all the things that are so identifiable but are never fixed. I won’t discuss them tonight, though. I won’t because sometimes, a team needs to win ugly. If a team can’t win ugly, they won’t win it all, it’s as simple as that.

So, while it’s early in the season and we can still use that as an excuse, I’m going to continue to give the Wings the benefit of the doubt. If Zetterberg keeps playing like he wants it, it may rub off. If Smith finally gets it through his head what he needs to do, he may turn it around. It’s so early, we really can’t know about anything. Except that Kyle Quincey will continue to be awful, we’ll always know that. But for now, I’m going to bask in the happiness this game gave us. It was horribly, horribly ugly. But ugly is so much more beautiful and enjoyable when it’s worth two points. 2-0 and I’m not looking back, I’m looking ahead to Boston.