07 April 2010

Gimme Mine: Anticipating the road to #12

The Wings have clinched a 19th consecutive playoff berth. The eight teams in the West that will compete for the opportunity to go on to sweep a shit team from a shit conference for Lord Stanley's Chalice are set. Now, it's just a matter of seeding.
  • Let the double-pitts-to-chesties commence.
The Wings have three games left to secure their position. After L.A. won in overtime on Anze Kopitar's disgusting Forsberg move in the skills competition, Detroit currently sits in seventh in the West. We're three points ahead of the Av's in 8th, one point behind the Kings in 6th, and two points behind the Preds in 5th with a game in hand. Three games from now, after the dust settles in Chicago, we'll sit somewhere from 5th to 8th.

So which do we want? Who is it that we'd like to throttle around like a Rottweiler's chewtoy first? Let's take a look. Here's my choices:
  • 4. Vancouver Canucks (3 in the West, 101 points, 2 games remaining)
The team I'd least like to see, at least in the first round. Granted, I'm not too concerned with the Wings ability to overcome Sammy's new team. However, if there's a team out there that could step up and cause us some real pain, it's probably the nucks. First, there's the travel. The Wings have dealt with it in the past and have overcome, but it's still something I'd like to avoid. However, the biggest reason for my concern stems from Bobby Lou himself. Historically, he's been a downright mediocre playoff goalie. Keep in mind though, he is coming off a gold medal win - perhaps that taste of victory will help him be solid in the playoffs. And honestly, when Bobby's hot, he's arguably the best goaltender active in the league. That in itself is a good reason to not want Vancouver. Additionally, they've got the Sedins, a.k.a. bizzaro Hank and Pavel. These guys pass to each other like they've got E.S.P., and they've got the shots to finish. Not to mention, Henrik currently leads the league in points.

The good news: the Nucks don't go much deeper than that. Offensively, the Sedins may look a lot like Dangle and Z offensively, but they don't have the defensive acumen that the reigning Selke champ and the forward responsible for making superstars perform like grinders do. Sure, they've got guys like team U.S.A. hero Livonia-Native-Ryan-Kessler and Mikael "Fuck glass! I will shatter all the glass! Gimme the puck so I can shoot it at the glass!" Samuelsson, but the Wings have much better depth than Vancouver. That's why I'd still give us the advantage, but I'd still rather not see them in the quarterfinals, if given the opportunity otherwise.

  • 3. Hamilton Kansas City Winnepeg Phoenix Coyotes (4 in the West, 102 points, 3 games remaining)
Two reasons why I don't want to see this team right away, if at all. First: Bryzgolov. Dude has stood on his head all year, and is basically the only reason this "team" is going to the playoffs. Yeah, yeah, I should give them credit. No. I'm not a good sport. I never have been, I never will be. It's as if the Royals were to win four consecutive World Seriesessess (how the fuck do you pluralize series?). I'd still consider them a shit franchise, until the day that I die. Same with the 'Yotes. However, their goaltending makes them scary. And for those of you who aren't worried, I've got two words for you:
  • Giguere and Roloson
Traditionally, where the Wings have had trouble in the early rounds, it's against goaltenders who stand on their head. Bobby Lou is frightening because of the pure talent that he possesses, and the fact that if he decides to turn it on, he could be unstoppable. However, Bryz is scarier because Lou falls apart in the playoffs. Granted, he's only got 16 games experience, but he's got a .934 SV% and a 1.68 GAA in the playoffs. Dude can turn it on, and I'd rather not be at the receiving end of that.

The second reason is much more frightening: the 'Yotes are owned by the NHL. (Note: at this part of the post, it is advisable to put on your tin foil hats). Just consider, when the Wings played the Pens, gary's favorite team last year, Pittsburgh was allowed to skate with 7 men on the ice, crosscheck guys in the back, use their sticks as weapons, and not receive deserved automatic suspensions. Just think of what a shitshow it would be to play a team that gary owns. Even if he doesn't have quite the same hardon for Shane Doan as he does for Rosby, his job rides on the success of a "franchise" in the desert (you know, that place where water doesn't freeze...). Let someone else overcome that bullshit.
  • 2. San Jose Sharks (1 in the West, 109 points, 2 games remaining)
Bring 'em on. Been there, done that. Even through the middle of Larry Aurie's curse, with the Wings crippled and with guys like Brad May and Ville Leino on their active roster, we've had the ability to shut down the Sharks this season. They don't want us, and that makes me happy.

Plus, what makes anyone think they'll get deeper then they have in years past. Sure, they're a talented team. In January. When April in the D rolls around, they're notorious for first-round exits.  

But wait! This is a different Sharks team!

Oh, yeah. How silly of me. Obviously the best way to cure whatever locker room issues your team has that keeps you from going deep is to add Danny Heatley to your roster. That guy's never been known to be a problem at all, right?
  • 1. Chicago Blackhawks (2 in the West, 107 points, 3 games remaining)
Ah yes, we get to who I want the most. The team that's got me salivating, ready for the race to #12. The team I want the most: the Blackhawks. Scary roster up front, no doubt. Toews, Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Versteeg, Brouwer, Byfjluhbihfhglin. If there's a team in the West that can match, or even exceed our offensive depth, it's the Hawks. So why would I want these sons of bitches first? Aren't they a bit scarier than the Coyotes, or the 'Nucks?

No. So far, we've played 5 games against the Hawks. We've been injured for most of the season, and we've struggled. Despite this, we've got 5 points from those games to the Blackhawks' 6. Not too shabby. Also,
  • Brian Campbell
I don't even need to elaborate there. Monsenieur Spinorama Giveaway (no, not Bertuzzi) makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. (EDIT: Yeah, my dedication of doing absolutely no research has caught up with me. I totally forgot Soupy's still down from the Ovie hit. Balls to that. Would have been nice to see his turnovers. Thanks to jennbikegirl for the heads up). And hey, wouldn't it be hysterical for Hossa's postseason run to be ended by his former team? Again? I'm into that idea.  Now, my desire to face the chickenhawks isn't just about soupey's inability to play hockey, or a harbored dislike for Hossa. There's actually a lot of math behind it. Consider this formula:
  • Coach Q = Our bitch.
Yeah, OK, it wasn't a formula. Still though, there's an equals sign. That's just science. Plus, I haven't even mentioned the Wings' secret weapon. Courtesy of Winged Wheel reader Mike Sandoval, the inside guide to defeating the Blackhawks:


Sure, they've got Niemi as well. Yawn. In Chicago, their goaltending and defensive depth are their Achilles Heels. Now, generally speaking, what is needed to go deep in the playoffs? I'll wait.

No I won't. It's goal tending and defensive depth.

So yeah, I like our odds against the favorite in the West. I'd be just fine and dandy with facing them in Round One. It would bring much joy to me to eliminate the team that shot their wad a bit early when celebrating how the mighty Wings have fallen from glory.

And really, the Hawks are talented. You have to figure that if we're going to make a push for #12, we're going to run into them eventually. Why not early, when we're healthy and riding a pretty hot streak here? Why not right away, when everyone in the windy city is shaking, frightened of facing the Dynastic Superpower lurking in the lower seeds? Plus, Quarterfinals tickets are much cheaper.

So there you have it. My wish list. The teams I'd most like to see, and those that I'd like to avoid. But you know what? Ball it up and throw it away. I'm not watching the standings, I'm not aiming for any particular matchup. At this point, I'm just rooting for the Wings to get yet another 100 point season. Because beyond that: it doesn't matter. I doesn't matter who we face, what team we draw, or where we have to travel. It doesn't matter if our opponents have good goaltenders, hot forwards, or strong defense. Because the Wings are stronger than ever. We've got essentially the same team that won the 2008 Stanley Cup, except with more depth. Our third and fourth line guys spent a good portion of the year with top line minutes and responsibilities. We've had to fight and scratch for every point available, just to make the playoffs. Some of our top performers spent time on the IR. They're ready now.

This Wings team is ready to make up for Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals. They missed out on what is rightfully theirs by one. fucking. goal. Not this time. The Wings are about to barrel through the West like an out of control Toyota through a crowded daycare parking lot. And then? 4 games. 4 games to beat a leastern conference team, and take back that shiny 35 pound chalice. Back where it rightfully belongs: Hockeytown, U.S.A.

Bring em on, bitches. Bring em on.

8 comments:

  1. That Huet picture just made my entire week.

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  2. No Soup for you! Ovechkin broke him. So we'll have to find someone else to make egregious turnovers and end up in the penalty box at critical moments.

    I still wish ol' Soupy had been in the box at the end of game 5. It would have been 3 straight years ending his season that way.

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  3. Whoops. Thanks for the heads up. Would have been nice to have Campbell spinoramaing the puck right into Pavs stick...

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  4. Best blog so far. God this is good shit. P.S. that picture I made of Huet...posted it on the computer monitor of this HUGE hawks fan at my office, ha

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  5. another reason not to want Phoenix, Lee Stempniak.

    in Toronto, in 62 games... 14 goals.

    since being traded to Phoenix 15 games, 13 goals.

    he has turned it on in a crazy way.

    Phoenix is the team i want to see the least in the playoffs.

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  6. Stempniak's turned it on, sure. But it's kind of goofy to say that you'd rather take Chicago, San Jose, or Vancouver because of Lee Stempniak. That's like saying that he's more dangerous than Kane-Toews-Hossa, Thornton-Marleau-Heatley, or the Sedins. Sure, his recent streak is a bit frightening, but nothing we can't handle.

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  7. Also keep in mind our lines are notorious for shutting down the super stars. The first game where Ovi was without a shot on goal in two years? Brought to you by Belle Tire. Maybe it was the Wings, I can't remember.

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  8. Right on. I'm not too worried about offensive superpowers, it's depth that worries me. Not having home ice advantage can hurt there, considering Babs will be without the last change more often than not.

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