17 February 2011

The Return: Weird? No. No, why would it be weird? It won't be weird. Right??

What do you mean? No, why would it be weird?

We haven't been together for like 7 months now. We're totally over it. It's in the past.

I mean... sure. We were together for 27 years. And yeah, many of those years were the best of our lives. I mean, the best. We were so happy then. Remember the big silver cup he got me for our 14th Anniversary? That was so sweet. He was always so thoughtful like that.

Not very creative though... he got me the SAME damn cup the very next year! And AGAIN just a few years later. Sure, sure I loved it at the time, but geez! Buy a girl a necklace now and then. You know, this is why we aren't together any more! It's just too bad it took so long!

No. No, I shouldn't say that. That's not true. I loved our time together. It was special. Nobody else was anything like him. So stoic and strong. I always felt safe with him around. Like nothing could go wrong. Like we could do anything.

But, it's in the past. He's moved on. We have a new life now. He's found someone new. And you know what? I'm happy for him! No. No, really, I am! I'm really really happy for him.

I mean, sure, she's only 19 years old... but, you know... love knows no age. I mean... good for him to go out and find someone only a quarter of our age... good for him. I really, honestly hope that he and that WHORE are happy.

Okay, okay. I need to take a breath. Admittedly, I'm a little flustered. I mean... what does she have that I don't? She's new and exciting, fine. But what's so wrong with a bit of age and wisdom? What's so wrong with being established and strong; not being afraid to say what you want? But if he wants to just up and leave to Florida with his new young hussy, fine. Who am I to stop him?

We're adults. Things happen. People grow apart, and I realize that. I'm fine. Really. I am. I know it's the first time we'll have seen each other since he left, but I've had time to grow and I'm doing just fine on my own. It won't be weird. I'm totally over it.

I mean...  that's not to say I don't still have hope for the future. Maybe after he gets this little mid-life thing out of his system he'll be ready to come back. I won't hold it against him. Hell, I won't even complain if he gets me that same cup over and over again. I'll treat him right, this time. Never let him go.

But no... no, it won't be weird. Why would it be weird?


It's just 2 points. Go get 'em boys.

16 February 2011

The Importance of Rest: Why exhaustion kinda blows

Only a couple of days until Brad Stuart and his busted jaw rejoin the lineup for the Winged Wheel. This is huge for the Wings. We've had some serious difficulty with our defense since the big man left our lineup. It's been tough to keep pucks out of our net, and shots away from our netminders, especially with Kronwall and E doing their best Lebda impressions. Stuart's return, hopefully, will be a harbinger of better defensive effort in the near future. Incidentally, it is also an outstanding excuse to use the all too underused word "harbinger." Fuck yeah, harbinger.

We've already got Dats back on the ice, and Modano is aiming for a return in only about a week and a half. ValFil is out for a bit, but hopefully (fingers crossed, Mr. Aurie) he won't be out long. A healthy-ish lineup will go long ways to adding to our depth, and helping with consistency.

However, as exciting as all of that is, there's a player that's been hurt whose return I'm anticipating more. Granted, he took the ice on Sunday, but he was in a suit at the time rather than in pads. I'm talking about Chris "400 Wins Means Hall of Fame, Bitches" Osgood.

Yeah, yeah. I know. One of the dead horses I so thoroughly enjoy flogging around here is about how much I dig on the Wizard, and how I just don't think he gets enough love. But this is different.

As much as I'd like to see Ozzie pile on some extra wins to keep moving up that ladder of all-time greats, his return means more than a quenching of my unapologetic fandom. To me, the faster Ozzie's able to make it back, the better our playoff chances are.

Now, before you lose your shit, screaming and yelling about how Super Jimmah is our playoff netminder and how I need to stop living in the past, hear me out. I agree. James is our #1 guy, and if we are going to lift #12 this June, he'll be the guy backstopping us to the finish line. But he can't do it alone.

The fact is, Jimmy's been playing a lot. With Joey Mac as the only other option, Babs has had to rely on Tiberius more often than he likely would prefer. Howard has answered the bell, and has done a good job of winning games even when the Wings decide it would be funny to watch him get pelted with shot after shot. It's provided pretty good results in the regular season so far; the Wings sit second in the West, first in the Central.

But that's the trouble, idn't it? We're Wings fans - not really all that interested in the regular season. Call us spoiled, entitled, absurdly attractive, etc., but when it comes down to it, there's only one thing that matters for the Winged Wheel:

  • April in the D.
Well, and May and June, but you know what I mean. We've got a team that's mostly built for the playoffs. Lots of forward depth, grinding stifling defense (when they're not Lebdaing it up), and the best coaching mind in the game right now. The big question? Goaltending.

I have no doubt, that Jimmah is talented and driven enough to take us to the promised land. The trouble comes down to stamina. Last year against the Sharks, it sure looked that young Howard faltered, due in no small part to fatigue. His focus seemed to wane a bit and he started letting in goals that he easily turned away during his dominant regular season performance. Since, he's been very strong, but still looking shaky at times.

That got me thinking... is he playing too much? Well, in what might be a first for The Winged Wheel, I decided to use facts, logic, and reason to answer. I took a look at all of the goaltenders who played in the Cup Finals over the last 10 seasons and how many regular season starts they got to compare, and see if there's a trend.

...And now for something completely different.

Whatdya know... law students can do math. Sometimes.

Currently, Jimmy is on pace to match the 63 starts he had last season. Say that keeps up and we manage to hoist number 12 in June. At that pace, Jimmy will have more regular season starts than any other goaltender to appear in the finals since the lockout. The only netminder to have come close would have been Marc-Andre "Pick one fucking name, Douche" Fleury in 2009 with 62 regular season starts.

Not to get all TPSH on you, but its interesting that there seems to be a trend since Gary's Biggest Clusterfuck. Prior to the lockout, the goaltenders appearing in the finals featured some pretty elite names facing some pretty serious playing time. Granted, much of that likely has something to do with the idea of elite teams having elite payrolls leading to elite goaltending, but still. Since the lockout, the average regular season games started for goaltenders in the finals is a meager 44. Jimmy's already started 43.

This isn't to say a team can't win with a netminder who sees more starts, but I'm not sure it's a super good idea to test it. After 63 starts last season and one especially buttfucking workload down the home stretch, we saw our intrepid young netminder falter a bit in the second round. I think we can all agree that, for Detroit, the Conference Semi-Finals just isn't good enough.

That being said, with Nashville only 6 points behind us in the standings I'm not sure we can afford to jump full swing on the J Mac train, as it only tends to stop in Fuck Springs and Soft-Goals Township. But it's a damn good reason to keep our fingers crossed for a speedy return by the Wizzard.

  • Also a damn good reason for everyone who wants to shit on Dr. 400 to shut the fuck up and be happy that he'll be back to take some of the load before the real season starts.

Whatdya think? Is Howard seeing too much ice time? Is he young enough to endure? Has any of his relative shakiness had anything to do with being overworked? Can I have some of your money?

And with that, I conclude my brief stint down facts and logic road. I promise I'll try not to do it again. It feels dirty.

07 February 2011

Keep Detroit Beautiful: A quick(ish) aside about the Motor City

Super Bowl Sunday. The culmination of a season's worth of football, all leading up to the clash between a division rival and a rapist-led team from Pittsburgh. Oh joy.

Well, at least there's the ads right? Usually, that idea tends to annoy me to no end. Super Bowl commercials are usually a lot like New Years Eves. Everyone gets really hyped up about them, excited to have the greatest night of their lives. Then, the disappointment of the fact that the night wasn't life-changing sets in and ruins everything. At it's core, New Years Eve isn't that much different from any other night where you can wrangle a group of friends and loved ones together to get drunk and make bad decisions. Same with Super Bowl Ads. They're ads. They're selling you shit. They're usually 30 seconds with minimal entertainment value. Watching the Super Bowl to watch the ads is like eating a half slab of St. Louis style ribs for the super-exciting opportunity to gnaw on a bone.

Usually.

Last night was a bit different. For one reason. Sandwiched between the 30 second clips of products being hocked with lowest-common-denominator slapstick was a gem:



Fucking right doggy.

Chrysler put together one hell of an ad. As a transplant from the Detroit area, it strikes a hell of a chord. It is rare for one of the companies we've bled and sweated for, that we've supported and carried on our backs - often to our detriment - finally stands up for us and lets the nation know we're not dead yet.

For the last few years, I've been living in Chicago. There's a lot of benefits to residing in this city. I'm willing to admit that. The public transportation is outstanding. The downtown is absurdly well developed, and it's usually pretty safe to walk through much of the city at any time, day or night. It's right on the lake, with decent beaches. Public services are for the most part above-par. Nice parks, plenty of cops and firefighters, hospitals aplenty, shit there's even a free fucking zoo.

Pass.

There's just something that this city is missing. Maybe it's because I tend to value the scrappy underdog (present dominant dynastic company excluded). Maybe it's because of the influx of people from all over that waters down a bit of the city's defining character. Maybe it's because it's just not home. Whatever it it's missing, Detroit's got it.

There's a character to the region. It's the same character that built the auto industry, and in turn the nation,  with muscle, sinew, and ingenuity. It's the same character that built the war machine that stopped, not one, but two world wars. It's the same character that has continued to struggle and churn out damn fine machines for a nation more interested in cracking jokes than lending a hand.

It's the same character that doesn't usually take credit for any of that shit.

That's why its nice to have a company like Chrysler stand up with a message that says "fuck you, we'll be fine" and "show some damn respect" all at once. For two minutes on Super Bowl Sunday the whole nation got a slight glimpse of that character. The whole nation got a message from a region who's blue-collar pride all-too-often prevents us from asking for the helping hand that we desperately need. Sandwiched between Pepsi and Bud Light trying to get us to buy their shit by showing people getting kicked in the nuts, was an ad with a message.

That's not to say the ad is without it's faults. Many may question the utilization of Eminem's star power to help deliver the "Keep Detroit Beautiful" message. He can be a polarizing figure. His past has been far from squeaky clean, and perhaps in an ad that seeks to celebrate the bright spots of Detroit, someone like Em could mar the message a bit.

Personally, it was spot on. Who better to take those reigns? Who else has the swagger and attitude to pull off "Hey, fuck you, this is Detroit and you don't have to understand it"? Would that message have been anywhere near the same with Icky Thump slowly building to a crescendo and Jack White's pasty ass pointing at the camera? Perhaps you'd rather have Kid Rock donning the Stars and Bars and somehow finding a way to rhyme his message about the D with "Matchbox 20"? (Is there any more dated lyric than "Got More Money, than Matchbox 20 / Get more ass, than Mark McGrath"? Yeah... me too, Bill.)

When it comes down to it, Eminem fit well. Yeah, he's not perfect. Yeah, he's done some shitty things in the past and hurt the people that rely on him. Though, by all accounts he's doing what he can to pick himself up by his bootstraps and get better.

Sound familiar? That's Detroit. We've got our faults and our flaws, but we know it, and we're doing what we can. While Bob Seger would have been safe, he wouldn't have been as poignant.

I've got no problem at all with the spokesperson. Though I have to admit, I'm a bit torn on the ad itself. Two solid minutes on Super Bowl Sunday doesn't come cheap. Many estimates peg the cost of the ad near $9 million. Hell, you can almost pay Brian Campbell's salary with that kind of coin. Other things you can buy with $9 mil?

Textbooks. Busses. Cots. Space heaters. Meals.

The Chrysler ad was one hell of a message. Shit, it was downright moving. But it was still an ad. When all is said and done, Chrysler's bottom line wasn't to wake up a nation that views Detroit's struggles as a punchline. They wanted to sell a car. It was a damn effective ad that had a great message, but the message wasn't the point. If Chrysler's end game was to help the city that cash could have been otherwise deployed. Estimates of Detroit's homeless near 18,000. Real unemployment in the city knocks on the door of 50%. One third of the lots within the city limits are fucking vacant.

Ungood.

In a climate like that, $9 million goes a long way. If this ad was about something more than selling 200s... well... it wouldn't have cost $9m. I know it's entirely unreasonable and could only exist in a pretty absurd pipe-dream - but how awesome would that ad have been as a joint venture between the big three? Split the cost. Maybe pick one car from each fleet to feature.

Imported from Detroit. Ford. Chrysler. GM.

But, I guess in the real-world we're stuck with things being less than perfect. We're stuck with the dichotomy between loving support for the Big 3, and a grudging distaste for many of the things they've done to hold Detroit back. We're stuck defending the industry that sometimes doesn't do enough to defend us. But they're ours and we won't stop. They're Detroit.

And while the ad wasn't exactly perfect, it was still damn cool. I'm sure Chrysler will take some serious flak for spending that kind of money on an ad after a "bailout." More evidence of the need of a message like this. We'll continue to take shit from people who want to pretend that they went through great personal sacrifice to "bail out" Detroit with what basically amounts to a high-interest loan. We'll continue to be a punchline to those who somehow think systemic crime, violence, and poverty is funny. We'll continue to be blamed for our symptoms while the disease is not only ignored, but celebrated.

That's fine. Keep it coming. We've got thick skin and we'll continue to persevere. Why?
  • Because this is the Motor City, and this is what we do.

05 February 2011

Shitshow: Noun, A pathetic display of absolute garbage.

Wow.

After two back to back performances like those, you'd expect me to unleash a (well-deserved) string of ephitets and childish obscenities. You'd expect me to photoshop some kind of image of a player who really dropped the ball today in some completely disrespectful way. You might even expect me to go stand on the roof of my building in a cape, vowing to turn to a life of evil villainy.

Not today.

No. Today, I will respond with reason. Objective calculations. Science.

Here goes:



Swing and a miss.

OK, so maybe I'm not really approaching this bullshit with reason, logic, and all the power of millions of years of human evolution. Perhaps I am reverting to my usual childish ways, but fuck it. Twenty-four hours. Two games. Both against division rivals. Both against teams that have been slumping.

  • ZERO MOTHER FUCKING GOALS.
Call me spoiled, but I really just can't be that happy that our team has finally decided to NOT give up 5 goals a game when they don't even bother to score ONE.

It'd be one thing if we just came into two super-hot goaltenders who were making unbelievable saves behind an incredibly solid defense. But, while Mason and Rinne were good, this was all about the Wings failing to do their jobs. Far too often, they'd manage to carry the puck right into the slot. Inches away from the net, they'd wind up. They'd set their sights, take careful aim, and prepare to let her rip.

Then they'd turn around and pass it to the perimeter.

Now, I know I'm no hockey professional. And hell, I'm more than willing to admit I'm wrong all the god damn time. But I'm fairly confident that this is a stupid fucking gameplan. Taking the puck to right in front of the netminder, and passing it to a shitty area to shoot from seems counter productive. Perhaps it's just me.

Well shit. It's been a while since I've written, and apparently it took a bunch of bullshit to get me motivated. I guess that makes me an asshole. I'm OK with that. But in that spirit, it's time to present:

The Winged Wheel's List of Shit I'd Like to Maul with a Claw Hammer Right About Now
  • Babcock's Sudden Stubborness
Oh boy. Uncle Mike has a myriad of reputations. A hard-ass. A demanding coach. A nutjob canadian wolf hunting man-boy. Among those? A guy that likes to fuck with us by juggling lines pretty much during active shifts. Most of the time, the guy can't make up his fucking mind. Dats-Z-Homer. Mule-Z-Bert. Dats-Helm-Hot Dog Concession Guy.

Well what the fuck happened to that in the last 24 hours?

It took 5 (five. five. FUCKING FIVE!) scoreless periods for Babs to finally decide that the trio of fancy-passers, Mule - Z - and Fucktuzzi, wasn't working. It took 100 minutes of play of these three dancing around the perimeter, refusing to drive the net, and chipping passes to each other until the opposition decided to turn it into an odd man rush for Babs to finally decide to maybe put someone on that line who was playing like they gave a flying fuck. 100 minutes of scoreless fucking hockey to stop trying to ram a square peg in a round hole. 

Why? Why stick with that shitass garbage, but when we're winning, change lines on every damn shift? Did Babs lose a bet to Jiri Hudler or something? Perhaps he was too focused on the post-game scrum of Hungry Hungry Hippos to figure out a strategy for a game that might result in a goal or three?
  • Mule's Dedication To Only Giving a Shit Sometimes
Johan Franzen. When he's on? Holy shit, watch out. During the playoffs? Hot damn. Point per game - easy. Single handedly unclefucking every team he faces. During the regular season?

Depends.

Depends on if he decides it's a good day to show up and play some hockey. I really don't think Mickey's all that off with his assessment that Mule could be our next 50 goal scorer. He's clearly got that touch. He can crash the net like a powerhouse. He can dangle with the best of them. He's built to friggin score.

You know... if he gives a shit.

That game against the Sens? Mule's uncle was in the stands. He decided he gave a shit. He scored 5 goals. Thereafter? Seems like dude figured he'd built up some capital and could just turd all over the ice for two straight games. Sure doesn't sound like Mule, but he was quite possibly the worst player on the ice since his single-handed knucklefuck of the Sens. 

Turnovers? Check. Perimeter play? Check. Playing with passion, desire, drive, dedication, or all around give-a-shit-atude? 

Well... two outa three right?
  • NHL Officiating
After the 5th straight period of yumming chode, I made a quick wish to the Hockey Gods. I wanted our young, scrappy grinder who's been in a bit of a slump lately to provide the spark that can light a fire under this teams ass in the third period of a shitshow of a game. Drop 'em, Abby. The Preds are ready to scrap. Engage in fisticuffs.

Early in the third - holy shit. On the other side of the ice, away from the play, Justin Abdelkader and a Redneck Inbred, er, Nashville Predator tangle up. Abby's ready to go. He shakes his gloves free, and drops his stick. Not only that, but Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a taker. Here we go. Old time hockey. Two athletes ready to defend their team's honor. Ready to throw down like so many have thrown down before. Fists clenched, eyes locked, they begin to engage and - wait what the fuck?

Oh. No no. Gary wouldn't like this. No he would not. No fighting! That would just be far too entertaining and strategic! 

The shitbird officials drag the two willing particpants apart - then giving them each penalties for some crazy shit. Two minutes for trying to make this fun to watch! 
  • Alice Fucking Cooper
Hey... Alice... you're from Allen Park. You don't show up to a game in Nashville and provide entertainment for the enemy. You damn well beter spend that time actively rooting for the Wings. I get it... those "Schools Out" residual checks probably aren't that huge anymore. But fucker... honor thy roots.
  • Shit-Kicking, Wife-Beating, Mouth-Breathing, Nascar-Watching, Inbred Fuckwads
Hey dickholes... this is the NHL. Conduct yourselves accordingly. Sure - I suppose I get the allure of acting like a freshman-drunk frat boy at a professional sporting event, but lets make it a bit less about how fun it is to yell the word "suck" and more about the game, alright? Sell out crowd at Big Bo's Pork Rinds Arena? I'm guessing that has more to do with the more-tattoos-than-teeth confederates that wanted to see whoever the hell ate Vince Gill during intermissions than watching the product on the ice.

Seriously, that chant sheet might have been the most unoriginal piece of shit I've ever read. Gotta give props where its due though... I didn't expect that many Preds fans could actually read.

Sigh...

How 'bout we score a fucking goal next time, ok? Dats is back Monday. Let's hope that lights a spark.