29 April 2010

Round Two Already?

I'm still digesting some left over coyote... what a shame.

Oh well, so much for taking in the few happy days that come with a series win. I'm not too happy about it, but we've seen what a long layoff can do to the Wings so maybe short rest is a good thing. Hopefully they'll keep some momentum from the schooling they put on the 'yotes.

Wings flew in to SJ after all the panzees had fallen asleep and as a result face a $2,500 dollar fine. Pavel Datsyuk doesn't like fines and he was a little cranky having just finished a game and having to turn around and start all over again. Turns out Pavel wants to start a new tradition for Wings fans on the road... throwing dead mascots. And I'm not talking about throwing stuffed animals on the ice or even that goofy bastard in a shark costume... Pavel goes big. Below is exclusive TWW footage of Pavel Datsyuk just hours ago ( and by exclusive I mean I found it on facebook).




Pav doesn't fuck around. And yeah he swims with a helmet... what of it?

Alright folks, you read it here first... let's start hurling some sharks. Ok, so maybe we aren't as bad ass as Pavel and we can't sneak in a 7 foot shark... but nobody said anything about baby sharks.

GO WINGS.

27 April 2010

Stress, Ulcers, and Panic Attacks, Oh My: Game on.

We've been here before.

Shit, we've been here all season.

The Wings have been playing with their backs against the ropes since we lost two in Stockholm in October. The last time we were in a comfortable place? The season hadn't started yet and the Tigers were a lock for the playoffs. Yeah... it's been a while.

The season ain't over yet. Tonight the Wings need to step up like they've stepped up before. Nothing short of a win.

Pasha - get to that slot. Bert - corral those passes. Mule - it's the playoffs, by the way. Super Jimmah - just stop em. Kronner - whatever that was... end it; time for a serious turn around.

Wings - Finish. Just... finish.

That's all I got.

My Radio Rant

Alright, I've had it. I've been listening to stupidity oozing out of my radio for far too long. Every time a Wings related topic comes up on the radio I get more and more frustrated. It isn't necessarily the radio personalities themselves that get me angry because they typically don't say anything too stupid. Below are some highlights of what really "Grinds My Gears"



  • Cliches/ fucking obvious takes on the game
The radio personalities and callers that drop such knowledge as: Scoring more goals, playing harder, wanting it more, playing better defense, and having less turnovers.

Thanks John Madden, I didn't realize that the team that scores more points will win. In related news: Water is wet and fire is hot. Can we bring up something else? I get that it is important to say at least once... but to continue to hammer home our need for more goals is incredibly stupid.

  • Mr. We need Brad May
Thanks to the caller that will undoubtedly call in after a win or a loss and say how we NEED to call up Brad May to fight someone. Dear caller, you're an idiot.

Now in fairness, I've been guilty of making such a claim... while I was smashed and directly after a loss. For someone to say we need Brad May without meeting that criteria, makes you an idiot. Brad May can't control the puck, can't finish and if you recall didn't fight anyone for the longest time (hence putting him on waivers and NOBODY wanting to take him). If that isn't enough reason to not call him, let's consider that we have people that could fill his role if they wanted to. Miller, Big E, and Eaves can all put up what resembles a fight... oh and they know what a puck looks like.

  • Mr. We need a "Grind Line" AKA: Mr. I don't pay attention to statistics
Every time the Wings lose, especially in the playoffs there are a number of callers that bitch about the "old days" of the grind line and how we can't hit anyone. Too bad we have been close or even beating the 'yotes in hits this series.

Besides, since when has the number of hits directly correlated to a win? Sometimes the team with more hits wins, sometimes they don't. It's not about the quantity of hits, but the quality. What's the point in hitting for the sake of hitting, taking yourself out of the play. Hits that take your opponent out of the play, or take someone off the puck make sense. 15 smart hits are better than 30 aimless bullshit hits.

  • Mr. "Hey, I just called in to say I agree with everything you just said"
Pretty obvious, but fuck that guy. Thanks for starting up a discussion, stop shoving your head up the radio personalities ass.


Maybe it's the fact that it's the playoffs and I feel like I might have a stroke if we lose... but I can't stand to listen to the radio anymore when they bring up Wings talk. Anyhoo, I digress.


Tonight's prediction:


  • Wings win 6-3
  • I smell curly fries

25 April 2010

Not OK: When you're mad, just make a list

  • Game 6.
  • At the Joe.
  • Wings have the opportunity to clinch and move on to the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
Yeah, well, fuck me right?

Disgusting. Pitiful. Disgraceful. Ulcer-inducing.

Just a few of the adjectives that do no justice to that game. The Wings needed to step up today. They needed to play like the dynasty they are. They needed to step the fuck down and win. So much for that.

Goosfraba.

Apparently, one of the techniques people suggest when you're extremely mad is that you should make a list. (Note: I'm not actually sure anyone suggests this. But I'm doing it so fuck yourselves.) Here goes.

The Winged Wheel List of Things that can Fuck Themselves:
  • Afternoon games.
  • Playing a team who's owner also signs the referee's checks.
  • Watching your team not give 100%
  • Letting in shorthanded goals.
  • Hanging a goaltender out to dry.
  • Not stopping the pucks you NEED to stop.
  • Giving up five goals to the playoff team with the least number of goals for in the conference.
  • Having everyone on the ice play like Bertuzzi... except Bertuzzi. Seriously, how many friggin untimely penalties do we need to take in a game?
  • Not having a player on the ice that can truly drop the gloves and shift momentum.
  • Shitshows instead of penalty kills.
  • Sami Fucking Lepisto. Seriously... anyone see that cheapshot on Helm at the end of the game? Time to put a contract on the dude.
  • Cocky ass pens fans talking shit because they happened to beat a team with Pascal Leclaire in net. Kind of like doing an endzone dance after scoring a touchdown on a team full of bedridden children with terminal illnesses.
  • Not having a coyote exhibit at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
I can't even type any longer. Turns out I'm a really shitty playoff blogger... I just can't stomach it. Wings need to step up big Tuesday. They need to bring 110%. They need to forecheck like crazy people. They need to pinch hard, and prevent those shit goals. They need to clear the front of the net and stop the deflections. They need to fuck some bitches up.

They need a win. At least we're used to the Must-Wins. Lets go bitches.

20 April 2010

The March to 12: Must win? Really? We've played a few of those, right?

Deep breaths. Deep breaths. Goosfraba. Count to ten. Goosfraba.

Fuck it.


Game 4 tonight at the Joe. Wings are staring down the barrel of an all important decision in their march to 12:
  • Play like the Wings, smack the Coyotes around, go back to Phoenix 2-2; OR
  • Play like the "team" that took the ice on Sunday and slapped every single fan of the Winged Wheel in the mouth, and all but give the Coyotes their first series win in franchise history on a silver platter with a side of octopus.
So what's it gonna be, Wings?

I have to believe that they're going to come out of the gate strong and take the win tonight. I say that I have to believe this, because if I don't I'll lose my mind and go live in the forest somewhere. In fact, if it weren't for Drew from Nightmare on Helm Street, I'd probably be in Lincoln Park Zoo right now, lathered up in Teriyaki sauce, bacon plastered all over me, trying to fight the Lions.
Drew points out that the last time we played the 'Yotes in the postseason we were entering Game 4 with the same record, down 2-1. The Wings ended up winning that series in 6. The year?

1998.

Ok. Deep breaths. Goosfraba.

Unfortunately, this tidbit has kept me just barely sociable since the shitshow last Sunday. I've been teetering on the edge of sanity. Though... isn't that just the story of this season? The Wings have kept us on our collective edge since they took the ice in Stockholm in October. At every turn, the cause looked helpless. Even the wins were scary. Then, just as it all looked hopeless, they turned it around. They took the ice and played like the dynasty they are. They started winning, and they didn't stop. They went from "unlikely to make the playoffs" to "bring it, motherfuckers. We've got 19 consecutive years of experience dominating this league."

Well, Wings, you've got us back on edge. You got us back to the point where our respective Wings Ulcers are growing at alarming rates. We're all just one weak goal away from a massive coronary.

Time to do it again.

Moving on.

After the shitshow on Sunday, I was quick to call out Jimmy. He's been far less than effective so far this series. Currently, he's rocking a .878 save %. He's let in 11 goals in the first three games. This had me upset. Scared. Worried. I called for The Oz.

Allow me to retract.

Don't get me wrong. If Babs decided to roll with the Wizard, I'd be fully behind it. The dude knows how to step up in big games, in big situations. He's done it before. Last year, Oz had an abysmal regular season and when the postseason rolled around he started gunning for the Conn Smythe. And had "the event that shall not be named" not occured, had the Wings been able to ice an almost healthy team, he would have deserved it. No argument will be entertained otherwise, because all contrary opinions are objectively stupid.

However, now's not the time. Howard had a lousy game. He's a rookie, and it's important to put him back in and see how he reacts. Though, if it were me, I'd have him on a real short leash. Like, one bad goal short. I don't care if we somehow end up 10-0 at the end of the first - if Howie shows any indication that he's not going to rebound and control this series I'd have Oz in there for the next stop.

But that's me. And I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about. I'm trying to believe that Babs has this under control. That after the shitshow, he dropped the hammer in the locker room. That he's got his gameplan, his lineups, his thought out strategy. That he's going to lead this team to 12.

Turns out, I'd likely be a terrible coach. I'd only really be able to inspire people if they were concerned for my health and well being, and didn't want me to risk actually exploding after a loss. After the shitshow, I imagine my locker room presence would be something like this:
  • Draper: Guys, c'mon. What the hell? This team needs to get together and skate! Get to the tough areas! Get those shots! Grind it out!
  • Lidstrom: Yeah, and we need to be tight on defense. We can't let them get past us like that.
  • Enter Coach
  • AAAAAAAARRRGHGH!! AAAAHRRHHRHHGGH!! ARE YOU AHHGIDGH WHAT AAAAGH SHIT HHHAAAAA MOTHERFUCK!
  • Howard: Um... guys, I know I let in a couple bad ones there. I'm going to get my shit together... I'll bounce back. I'll have your back out there guys.
  • AAAAGH! Throws garbage can. HOCKEY! THAT IS AAAAAH. THATS THE GAME!!! PLAY THAT GAME!!!! RRRAAAAAAAAHHH!
  • Zetterberg: Um... Coach?
  • WHAT!? WHAT!? WHAT!? WHAT!?
  • Zetterberg: Are you Okay?
  • MURDER! MURDER! MURDER! I NEED BLOOD! NOW, I AM BECOME DEATH, DESTROYER OF WORLDS!!!! HAHAHAHAHA
  • Lilja: Guyses, maybees we shoulds go?
  • NO! NO! SIT THERE! YOU SIT! I'm just... I'm just
  • Datsyuk: Um... eh... coach. You are, um, smoke is come from you.
  • RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGHH! Bursts into flame.
Effective: probably not.



We're fortunate that cooler heads are in charge. They recognize that we've got to get going - that we've got to step it up. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that Babs didn't spend Monday in bed with the curtains drawn listening to My Chemical Romance. It's a bit more likely that he held practice, made sure everyone got the suck out of their systems, and are ready to take the ice in Game 4.


So what will happen tonight? Which Wings will we see? Will Kronwall continue to be the absolute worst player on the ice? Will he continue to suck harder than I've seen a player suck, on any team, Brett Fucking LEBDA included? Will Pasha get off the perimeter, and shoot the puck? Will the Mule be the Mule and start lighting the lamp three to four times a game? Will Bertuzzi be able to corral a fucking pass, and not whiff on the breakway chances given to him by good outlet passes? Will Helm use his speed to get through the neutral zone, chase down pucks, and set up some offensive chances? Will Lidstrom go back to being perfect? Will fucking ANYONE get to the slot?

One can only hope. Otherwise - there goes my sanity.

18 April 2010

New Playoff Contest, brought to you by the Winged Wheel.

New Contest:

Name ONE fucking player other than Hank Z that played anything less than utter fucking shit today.

You've got to be fucking kidding me... to the COYOTES? Fuck.

Bring on the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz.

The March to 12: Special courtroom edition.

Bear Jesus, I wish I were in Detroit right about now.

Playoff hockey at the Joe is like nothing else. When you hear "there's electricity in the air" on broadcasts or in print, it sounds like some colorful language for "hey, there are some happy, excited, drunk people here!" But no. For playoff Hockey at the Joe, the air is actually electric. Thousands of Detroit faithful pour into the stands with the confidence and excitement that a downright dynasty brings. I haven't felt that anywhere else. Certainly not at the United Center. Not even game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. Bandwagoners just don't really know how to bring it.

So, uh, how 'bout them Red Wings, eh?

I'm not really sure what to call that last game. Seven goals for is fucking amazing. Four goals against, not so much. The good news is that each of those four goals could be avoided if the defense had started that game as strong as they finished. Hopefully Kronwall can figure his shit out. He looked worse than I've ever seen.

The tipping point came somewhere in the middle of the second there. The Wings simply decided they were tired of sucking, and went ape shit. It's like a flip was switched, and everyone on the team simultaneously remembered what it was like to lose the Cup on home ice last year. They all started pressing, hitting, driving the net. The Wings put forth an octopus-worthy performance in the second half of the game. Speaking of which.

According to the Coyotes radio broadcaster Todd Walsh's twitter feed:
My sources tell me that the two men who threw the octopus (plural?)on the ice are off to jail and $300 lighter. I prefer lobster myself.
Ahem. What?
My sources tell me tha...
No, no. I heard you. I'm just astounded. To arrest and jail someone for following a half-century long playoff tradition is absurd.

Well, the Winged Wheel digged deep. We were so amazed by this story that we had to find out more. Luckily for you, we managed to come across a transcript for the arraignment of the valiant octopi-lauchers. Enjoy.

  • Bailiff: Now calling case number 041610-19
  • Judge: Counsel, are we ready to proceed.
  • State's counsel: Yes, your honor.
  • Defense counsel: Yes, your honor.
  • Judge: Good. Prosecution, what charges are you bringing here?
  • State's counsel: Well, your honor, the state seeks to indict the defendants on several charges, including First Degree Tomfoolery, Aggravated Horse Play, and Public Nonsense.
  • Judge: I see. And from what alleged activity do these charges arise?
  • State's counsel: Well your honor, the defendants concealed formerly living octopuseseses, and caused them to become airborn on a trajectory leading to the ice at the...
  • Judge: Wait, they tossed them to the ice?
  • State's counsel: Yes your honor.
  • Judge: How does this court have jurisdiction over this case? This is the desert, counsel. There's no ice here.
  • State's counsel: Oh! No, no. At the hockey game. They tossed octopi...
  • Judge: At the what?
  • State's counsel: Um, at the hockey game, your honor.
  • Judge: Hockey?
  • State's counsel: Yes, your honor. It's the playoffs. The Phoenix Coyotes are playing the Detroit Red Wings and...
  • Judge: Hockey?
  • State's counsel: Um, yes your honor. You remember! You heard a case a few years back involving Wayne Gretzky's wife and gambling... ooh, or in Bankruptcy court last summer...
  • Judge: Hockey...
  • State's counsel: Yes, your honor. It's played on skates, with a puck, on a sheet of ice. Surely in this booming hockey mecca you've seen a game.
  • Judge: Wait... if it's played on ice why the fuck does Phoenix have a team?
  • State's counsel: ...uhh... nevertheless, your honor. These defendants shockingly threw slimy tentacled beings to the playing surface at the game.
  • Judge: And why would they do that?
  • State's counsel: Well, your honor. Apparently it's a 60 year tradition for Detroit fans to...
  • Judge: 60 years?
  • State's counsel: Yes, your honor.
  • Judge: Listen, if hockey had been around for 60 years, I certainly would have heard about it by now.
  • Defense counsel: Actually, your honor, hockey's been around for over a century.
  • Judge: Bullshit. We've had a hockey team for almost 100 years?
  • State's counsel: No, your honor. 14 to be exact. The comissioner - you probably remember him from bankruptcy court, he's a short little weasley evil looking guy - decided move the team from Winnipeg to increase revenue and...
  • Judge: Wait... to increase revenue? The guy brought a sport played on ice from Canada to the desert to make more money? Are you fucking shitting me!?
  • State's counsel: Um, no your honor.
  • Judge: Huh. Ok, well, Defense, how do you plead to the charges brought against you.
  • Defense counsel: What charges?
  • Judge: The very serious charges brought against you by the state! Your clients stand to face a considerable amount of prison time if they are convicted!
  • Defense counsel: Of... First Degree... Tomfoolery?
  • Judge: Indeed! We take this very seriously in Phoenix.
  • Defense counsel: Then, uh, I guess we'll plead "Are you out of your fucking minds?"
  • Judge: Ooh, fair enough. Prosecution, do you have any witnesses.
  • Defense counsel: Wait... this is an arraignment, there are no witnesses.
  • Judge: Fuck you. Prosecution?
  • State's counsel: Yes, your honor. The state calls Robert Lang to the stand.
  • Defense table: Uncontrollable laughter.

Unfortunately, that's about where the transcript cuts off. It's my understanding that the defense table was completely unable to compose themselves at the sight of Robert Lang, and his testimony only caused further hysterics, causing even the defense attorney to be convicted of First Degree Tomfoolery. Their punishment? They've got to live in Arizona.

Game three bitches, in front of a pumped as fuck Detroit crowd. Light those flamethrowers on the Jumbotron... lets show these fuckers how to play a hockey game.

16 April 2010

The March to 12: What's a Canadian farmboy to do?



Thanks Mitch. Warren. Sounds like a game plan to me.

Wednesday night, the Wings took the ice in the desert. 60 minutes of play later, they'd been hit 43 times by the "home team." They only laid out 20 of their own.
  • Yeah, we got pushed around.
So tonight, it's time to get a bit rough. Abdelkader is in for Williams, which should translate a bit into the hits column on the box score. Especially considering a black ace is getting the nod in game 2, likely with the instruction to grind it out and punish Yotes who want to take liberties. Speaking of which... I'm about to show you one of those liberty-takers. First, I'd like you to guess who it might be. I'll give you a hint: He may have been snubbed for the Olympic team... but he recently won a different international event:


That's some mighty impressive company there. Mr. Doan himself... the same guy who injured Big E back in January and had a little chuckle about it back at the bench. The same fellow who charged about eight different Wings last game and got called for it once. I'm thinking it might be about time for the captain of the Hamilton Blackberries to get hit in return.

Don't get me wrong: I'm absolutely not saying anyone should go out there and hit him illegally. Quite the opposite. Good clean checks are certainly going to be necessary this series. However, we've got to keep out of the penalty box. I highly doubt that the Wings PK is going to be as abysmal as it was in the last game, or that the Yotes PP is going to be as dangerous, for the rest of the series. However, all three of the Coyotes goals game with the man advantage. The Wings need to be sure to step up the physical aspect of their game tonight, but not at the expense of taking penalties.
  • That being said... it's been a while since anyone's been truly KRONWALLED.
The good news? The Wings had possession for a good deal of the game. They outshot the Coyotes in game one. Bryzgolov looked beatable. He was solid, but he wasn't the unstoppable monster that the Yotes will need him to be to make it deep. If the Wings can play their game, with a bit more checking from the grinding lines, and guys like Pasha, Z, and the Mule can make it to the slot for their shots, I'm not too worried about this series. But those things need to happen. And they need to happen tonight.

Look for the Octopi to rain down tonight. Let the children toss their toy snakes. It means as much as the cries of "See?! they're wearing white t-shirts! Hockey CAN survive in the desert!"
  • No it can't. 
  • No it won't. 
  • Get ready for the hurt.
LETS GO WINGS!

14 April 2010

The March to 12: Four Wins to Make it Seven


Meep, meep, motherfucker.

It begins tonight.

Tonight the Wings start their second season. In January, there were doubts we'd ever make it. It seemed to be a steep hill to climb ahead - a daunting task to scratch and claw our way to a 19th consecutive post-season.

That's behind us now. A new journey begins tonight in the desert. The Wings fought hard to get here, and dammit we're stronger for it. Refreshed, rejuvinated, and ready for redemption. Douchey alliteration aside, the Wings are barreling into the playoffs, full steam ahead.

Our first opponent: the Phoenix Coyotes. Oddly enough, the Wings will face a team in which they have a 1/29th ownership interest.  Not only that, but they'll be playing in a barn that usually houses quite a few fans rooting for the Winged Wheel when they come to town.

Yeah, I know. There's been a lot said by Coyotes fans recently about that. (e.g., Bickley at AZCentral.com, or Hair at Five for Howling). They've been pretty upset that a team that helps pay for them has fans that show up to ruin their good time. To them, Glendale, or Phoenix, or wherever the fuck they play, is a hockey mecca - only to be visited by those loyal to the desert dog. How could fans of the Red Wings even dare to show up for a playoff game in which their team is competing!?

Hey... Phoenix:
  • Fucking deal with it.
Listen: Every team in the league has fans of their opponents show up to games. This is especially so in the playoffs. It's something that you've got to deal with. And sure, your team experiences this a bit worse than most. Well... you're in the desert. It's not a good hockey market. It's hard to have a thriving fanbase for a sport played on ice in a place where water doesn't freeze. Don't blame Wings fans - blame your commissioner.

The fact is, tonight Jobbing.com "Worst arena name in sports" Arena is going to have plenty of supporters of the Winged Wheel. If you'd like to establish yourself as a place worthy of a NHL team, perhaps a little less focus on complaining about their presence, and a little more enthusiastic support for your team would help.

Which brings us to the snake. For those of you who have not followed, there's been a movement among Coyote fans to start a new tradition. They've watched as the NHL's reigning dynasty celebrates their second season each year. They've seen us hurl the octopus onto the ice, home and away. They've watched Al swing those beautiful slimy bastards over his head, and heard the Joe erupt in response. They've seen, they've heard, and they're looking for something for their own.

And so was born the idea of Throw The Snake. What better way to counter the octopus than to hurl a snake? Good question. Oooh, I know.
  • Come up with a real tradition.
Yeah. They're planning on hurling snakes. Plastic snakes. Little child playthings. Small toys, easily put in pockets and thrown to the ice. That's almost as cool as an almost 60 year tradition of throwing a formerly living, breathing, octopus. The Octopus signifies the 8 wins it took to win the cup when the tradition was started. The snake? I've got some guesses as to what its zero legs signifies:
  • The chance that hockey can survive in the desert without financial support from actual hockey markets
  • The number of times the Yotes have made the playoffs since 02-03.
  • The number of times Phoenix has made it past the first round of the postseason.
  • The number of Coyote fans that were hoping to draw the Wings in the first round
  • The number of Wings fans that miss Robert Lang
  • The number of Wings fans that don't think its funny that Robert Lang plays for the Coyotes
  • The chance that the desert dogs have of advancing against a downright dynsasty; a healthy, rejuvinated, pissed off Red Wings team.
Go for it. Throw the snake. Or hell, while you're busy chucking children's toys, toss in some Duplos or a G.I. Joe or two. It'll have about as much meaning.

Honestly, I feel for the true Coyotes fans. I'm sure that there are several of you who have followed the team over the past decade and a half. Sticking with a team that has sucked that hard for that long can't be easy. That's got to be especially so in Phoenix, an area where there really aren't that many hockey nuts. I know how it is to root for a team that nobody around you seems to take any interest in. It's frustrating.

But the sad reality is this: you don't live in an area where it behooves the league to have a team. Considering there are cities like Hamilton, or Winnipeg that would welcome a team with open arms, and likely wouldn't require subidization from teams that actually turn profit - it's time to Make it Seven. Unfortuntely for you folks - the Wings are about to help make that happen.

It's the playoffs baby. The march for 12 begins. March on, bitches.

12 April 2010

The March to 12: Finally, the hockey juju is on our side

This is breaking folks. The Winged Wheel has obtained knowledge from the Hockey Gods themselves. They've been a tricky lot this year - what with Larry Aurie fuck-knuckling our lineup all year, and teams like the Phoenix Coyotes earning over 100 points. However, according to confidential Winged Wheel sources, those sneaky bastards still have love in their hearts for us.

Many have already began previewing the playoff series. Some of the better minds in sports have started looking at lineups, finding strengths and weaknesses. They're checking records, crunching numbers, trying to set the odds. Who is favored to take it all this year?

Many of these experts have come to the conclusion that Chicago could take it for the first time since parents were yelling at their children for listening to devil music like "I Wanna Hold Your Hand."  Some disagree, citing goaltending and the fact that Marian Hossa is on the active roster. Other experts see a Pittsburgh repeat. They are enchanted by the magical aura of Thid Rosby, and in awe of Evgeni "Sloth from the Goonies" Malkin. Of course, not everyone is so enchanted (some people have IQs above room temperature). Still others are able to look past the fact that Washington doesn't have a single player on their roster that plays defense, and figure that it's Ovie's year.

There are all kinds of previews out there. However, this... this is all you need. The stars have aligned. The cards have fallen. The tea leaves are all but getting up, dragging themselves to Toronto, and etching the names of the Red Wings into the Chalice right now.
Observe:


Freaky, huh?

That's right folks, like we say on the sidebar here, numbers have meaning, and 1, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 16, and 19 mean everything. Turns out they also speak, and right now they're shouting: "Fuck off, the Wings are taking Stanley Back." That, my friends, is all the playoff preview that I need.

Detroit takes the ice on Wednesday in nearby Hamilton, ON... wait? What? They're still playing hockey in the desert?? Ok...

Detroit takes the ice on Wednesday in Glendale, AZ. For the first time in an eternity, the will not have home ice advantage.... wait? What?

Oh yeah, it's Phoenix. It's the Red Wings' vacation arena. It's where they go when they'd like to escape the dreary Midwest weather and catch some rays. They know that when they go to the Coyotes' barn, they'll receive a warm welcome from a sea of fans there to watch a Wings victory. Sadly, the Coyotes don't have exactly the same following as the Wings. You know... because it's a team in the fucking DESERT. Three cheers for Gary.

So here it comes. The 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Some doubted we'd ever make it this season, after the absolute tragedy that was our IR for so long. I'll admit, I owe a hearty mea culpa to the team and to the Hockey Gods for ever having any doubts. Now, not only are we in, but we've marched to the 5 seed. The Wings will now turn their sights to beating Bryzgolov, and shaking off all those other pesky guys with dogs on their sweaters. Personally, I'll turn my sights toward containing my Wings-ulcer and growing the nastiest, patchiest, Irish playoff beard that I can.

It's here, and the Hockey Gods have sent us a message. They still love us... and we're marching to #12.

Let the march begin.

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.

06 April 2010

Fun Fact

Today the NHL posted it's "Top 10 Saves of 2010" (watch it here: http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=35&id=65137&intcmpid=nhl-vidmod-hp ).

Wings were getting owned by awesome saves in 4 of the videos. Numbers 9, 6, 5, 2 were all saves against the Wings. Anyhoo, kinda cool check it out. That is all.

Weekend Redux: What a joke of a leauge

Yeah yeah, two games went by and I didn't bother to type a word about them.

And yeah, it's been a couple of days since the Wings lost to the Flyers.

And yeah... since then the Wings have clinched a playoff spot, securing their position for a 19th consecutive playoff run.

But you know, even though a post about the historical implications of the longest running postseason streak in sports might be more relevant, it just doesn't fit my M.O. You see, I'm rather excited about securing a playoff berth. Giddy, in fact. In light of the difficulties experienced by this team throughout the Year of Aurie, I'm ready to do some double-pitts-to-chesties in celebration all over this bitch. However, the fact remains: I like to say fuck a lot, and it's more fitting to do so while I'm complaining about something.

So, complain I shall.

It's not anything new. I've had this gripe for years, and I know that my fellow NHL fans agree wholeheartedly. It's an almost universal point of view that transcends team loyalty, market, or individual demographic. Simply:
  • Fuck the NHL and their stupid fucking inconsistent joke excuse for a crack-squad team of officials.
Sure, some may put it more eloquently. Some may utilize the full range of their vocabulary to avoid spouting off like a pissed off teenager. As you must certainly know, I am not among that group.

The most recent incidents that have spouted out my anger regarding the officiating in the NHL occurred Easter Sunday afternoon. Consider, here I was, celebrating the miraculous return of Bear Jesus, yumming down fresh animal meat as though it was going out of style, when I was forced to watch what must be the dirtiest team in the entire league take liberties with the Wings for the entire game. The most infuriating part:
  • The utter lack of whistles.
Ian Laperriere leaves his feet, raises his arms, and charges directly into Darren Helm, breaking his nose mid-game.
  • Nothing.
Same douche, interferes with, roughs, clutches, grabs, and hooks the ever living shit out of Dr. Dangle Dangle all game.
  • Nada.
Daniel Carcillo spends the entire game using his stick as a weapon.
  • Zilch.
Well... at least he doesn't have a history of that kind of thing. Oh... wait...

All of that is just swell. But really, for me, the tipping point occurred in the third. Homer and Uncle Boy-Diddler Carcillo collide a bit at the boards. Boy-diddler falls down, as does Homer. Boy-diddler takes issue, and decides to start punching Homer in the side of the head. He all but sits on his back, throwing punches with gloved fists. Of course, at this point Homer drops his gloves, they have a clean bout, and the refs break it up after a bit.

Wait? You mean that's not how it happened? Oh, I guess that makes sense. Carcillo's a goon, and that late in the third when your team is down one, it'd be good for Homer to take the punches, draw the penalty, and then shove his ass in Boucher's face while pucks are rocketed at the net. That didn't happen either? Well, what the hell?

Oh, right. I remember now. Carcillo punched Homer in the head repeatedly. He held him, interfered with him, and threw punches. Homer was then able to stand and move toward the net. Of course, Carcillo followed, and threw more punches. Finally, after the announcers, everyone at home, and the entire classless moronic crowd noticed what was happening: a whistle. Then, the inevitable came to Carcillo:
  • Offsetting penalties...wait WHAT!?
Yep, Carcillo: 2 minutes for roughing. Homer: 2 minutes for... um... being roughed?

Tomas Holmstrom is one hell of an athelete. He probably takes more abuse than anyone in the league. On Sunday, he recognized an opportunity to help his team win the game. He knew that fighting Carcillo would only deprive the Wings of their best net-presence forward for five crucial minutes in a game. So he did what Homer does. He took it. He allowed for penalty after penalty to be committed against him, sacrificing his body for the good of the team. A true warrior - the consummate hockey player.

All for nothing.

All for nothing because the officials decided to do what NHL officials do: Fuck shit up. Giving offsetting penalties after Homer took an extended period of abuse in order to help his team out is ridiculous. Though, it hardly differs from the norm. Homer gets crosschecked, punched, facewashed, hooked, and held without any call more often than just about any player in the league. The NHL screws stuff like this up all the time. It's no surprise.

But isn't that the problem? Shouldn't professional referees keep their eyes open, and get it right? I get that there is a big difference between the birds-eye view of the television cameras and the on-ice view of the refs, but when everyone in the building sees the roughing before someone in black and white does, that's an issue. When players are able to use their sticks as weapons, it's an issue. When players can take liberties for an entire game without suffering any negative consequences?

Yeah. Issue.

To me, the Flyers game did two things. 1) It changed my mind on the team, from being lukewarm to moderately supportive (enemy of my enemy is my friend, right?), to wanting their postseason hopes to die and for a faultline to open under their arena, swallowing it whole with the entire team inside. And 2) It reinforced my belief that this team needs an enforcer.

Now, I'm not talking about a guy that takes up a roster spot to do nothing but fight. I'm talking about a D-Mac type enforcer. The kind of guy that can skate, grind, and play a position. Someone who could occasionally be an offensive asset, and rarely be a defensive liability. (If you're following along at home, go ahead and check Aaron Downey and Brad May off your lists.) Someone who is willing to lay out punishment when the incompetent referees fail to do so.

I don't think that we can simply assume that the league will some day turn it around, and start officiating in a way that prevents goons from gooning it up for an entire game. Therefore, I think it's important that the team find a player that can drop the gloves. Not all the time. In fact, I think it should be used sparingly - only in situations where it will not affect offensive momentum, and only against opponents who have not been penalized by the officials. There should be a deterrent to consistently take cheapshots throughout a game. If it isn't going to come in the form of the power play, it should come in the form of fists like hammers smashing into the side of your head.

Bah. Ah well. When I get pissed, at least I know that I've got 19 seasons of dominance to reflect on. Sweet Bear Jesus that feels good.

03 April 2010

Blame Game Update: To the victors, the spoils.

This is a landmark in Red Wings history.

This is epic; the post that signifies the end of a journey wrought with painstaking determination, intense struggles, and constant battle.

To quote our eloquent vice president:
  • This is a big fucking deal.
Drumroll, please.


That's right. As far as the Winged Wheel is concerned, the Blame Game is over. I made the promise when I started this little ditty, that if Babs were to reach that summit of 95 points by the end of the season, then to him I would award the glory. To him, I would bequeath the spoils. To him, I'd offer an above ground pool full of fake tits and Jack Adams trophies.

And he's reached it. At the time that this whole shindig got underway, we were looking at an uphill battle. In order to reach the summit of the mythical 95 points, the Wings would have to take 15 games of the remaining 23. They'd have to suddenly go from a team that struggled to go .500 to a team that could go no less than .650. And that, my friends, seemed like a long shot.

Not for Babs. Dude righted the ship just in time and now, we're staring at five remaining games and a magic number of three. This afternoon, the puck will drop and we'll be playing for the 5 spot. Not trying to squeak in, but a straight up respectable 5th place. Considering how Larry Aurie bent us over and didn't even bother to lube up for the entire season - that's pretty fucking impressive.

Lesser men, when faced with the temptation of a refreshing dip in the Above Ground Pool of Glory would cave. They'd tear off their clothes and jump right in for a skinny dip, taking what is rightfully theirs.
  • Not Babs.
No, ladies and gentlemen. If you notice, Babs is sitting, waiting on the edge of Ol' Glory herself. He knows it's not over. He's not willing to settle for 95 points. Dude wants to run the table.

Babcock is not just gunning for the playoffs anymore. He's taken aim at the Central title and he's charging full speed ahead. Now, considering the chickenhawks have won their last two, in order for that to happen they'd have to lose out and the Wings would have to win out. Improbable, but stranger things have happened. Babcock doesn't give a shit how improbable the goal may be. He's decided that this Wings team is one that wins.

And so he waits. He waits to take his prize because now - he is focused. He's steaming into the playoffs, ready to thunderfuck anyone who gets in his team's way. He's eying the Preds, likely confused as to how such a team could still be ahead of the Dynastic Red Wings. He wants to fix that little injustice.

And Bear Jesus willing - he shall.

Seven in a row now. Seven wins, aiming for eight. Fuck 95, how about another 100+ point season?