Archive for January, 2011

TP:60, Episode 14

A belated pointer to this week’s show, which includes the TPL gang and Justin Borne, Sean Gentille, and Ryan Lambert. Yes, that Ryan Lambert.

Make sure you take the time to listen in, if you haven’t already.

Team Lidstrom

Your All Star Game rooting interest.

Looks like the better team to me, if for no other reason than it has a guy who was born to play in the All Star Game if anybody ever was: Steven Stamkos.

If he doesn’t light up Ward, Lundqvist and Price I’m going to be very disappointed.

Wings 3, Devils 1

Break Lead-in: This was far from the Wings’  best game of the season, but as far as games leading into a much-needed break go, it was solid. They looked sloppy and slow at points, but if you buy the fatigue storyline, as I do, that’s to be expected at this point. They clearly  need a break, and now they have one. They finished the pre-Break segment of the season with a win, which beats the crap out of finishing it with a loss, especially a loss to the Devils, even if the win wasn’t especially good.

Jimmy: A strong night, though I would have preferred he have a little more puck awareness on that Rolston goal. That said, how many times can you remember the ref whistling a play dead in that exact situation? It seems to me the refs often lose the puck in that kind of scrum. I think it was a lot of bad luck that he happened not to at that particular moment.

Fourth Line: I thought the Abdelkader unit, with Mursak and Emmerton, was the Wings’ best of the night. More often than not, if the Wings were getting pressure in the Devils’ zone, it seemed to be that line. Abdelkader especially was driving their success.

Helm: Not only scored a breakaway goal, but had a strong night in general. He looked good on the penalty kill and was a good source of energy for the Wings throughout the game. He had a bit of an injury scare in the first period when he took a shot off his foot, but he finished the night and seemed to be okay.

Kindl: Had a really good outing, I thought. His maturity and poise is impressive. He’s not perfect, but he makes some neat plays on offense fairly regularly and isn’t too bad defensively. He’s definitely looking better than Ericsson, in my book.

Hudler: Great pass to Fil on the Wings’ second goal. We’re going to need more of that from you, Jiri.

Franzen: I’m still not feeling him this season. I get the knee surgery excuse, but it’s about time for him to break out and scoring a goal last night felt no different than his others. Less a roll starter and more an isolated incident. He had his chances last night, but is still lacking the killer instinct that has marked his best spans. I hope he’s ready to go down the stretch, because he needs to bring more.

PP: So much for capitalizing on Colin White being out. The failed long PP in the third was incredibly disappointing. Sure, the pressure was there, but you’ve got to convert in those situations. There’s just no excuse.

Eaves: Scary moment when he was down at center and I wasn’t sure what happened. He seems to be okay, though, despite taking a stick chop to the face.

Break: Again, the Wings need this. And they need to come out of the gates next month firing on all cylinders. Get the Big Red Machine up and running and drive it hard. The guys who are in need of rest will get it, and the guys who’ve been out with injuries will be coming back, and there will be no more excuses. This team has played its way to 2nd place in the Conference while never quite hitting its full potential for any extended length of time. February needs to be when the defense clamps down, the offense becomes more potent, and the goaltending finds consistency.

If this team can rack up 66 points by this point, imagine how great they can be down the stretch if they find their A-game and stay on it.

Game Day Notes: vs. New Jersey

… This is the second and last game between these two teams this season. The Wings won the first meeting 4-1 in December.

… The Devils weren’t in great shape when we saw them last and while they’re not doing a ton better from a standings perspective, they  have had a better January than they seemed poised to  have. They’ve won their last four en route to a 6-4-1 record, already  their best month of the season. (2-11-0 in December, 5-6-1 in  November, and  3-8-1 in October). They’re even closing in on the Islanders, with 35 points to their 37. But they’ve got a 20 point deficit to make up on #8 Atlanta, so it’s probably smart that Lemaire isn’t thinking of the playoffs.

… This is kind of cheap, but I’m going to do it anyway: Kovalchuk  has 14 goals. That’s $476,190.50 per goal. Patrick Eaves has 13 goals, for $57,692.31 per goal.

Now, to be fair to Kovalchuk, he has a lot more assists (15) than Eaves (4). Because Ilya Kovalchuk was signed by the Devils for his ability to notch assists.

Oh, and Eaves has played in 7 fewer games.

But to be fair to the Devils, I will point out that Z’s 16 goals are good for $380,208.31. But his 52 points and plus-6 rating make up for that. Kovalchuk is minus-27.

… Anyway.

… The Devils are coming off a 5-2 win over the Panthers on Sunday. They won that one without Colin White, their top penalty-killing defenseman, by SH TOI. White was out due to a bruise and will also miss tonight. The injury doesn’t sound serious, but it might put a dent in the Devils’ surge should it go beyond the All Star Break. As for tonight, it should give the Wings something of a leg-up on the PP. Florida’s dead-last PP couldn’t take advantage of it, but the Wings’ #5 PP should be able to, in theory.

… New Jersey beat writer Tom Gulitti has the details on the Devils’ lines and pairings from today’s skate here and here. One of Palmieri and Zharkov will sit.

… Gullitti reports that Brodeur will start tonight. He’s had a rough season, with a goals-against average (2.84) and save-percentage (.894) on track to be the worst of his career if he doesn’t shape up.

… The Wings are coming off a bit of a disappointing week that included losses to Pittsburgh and Chicago bookending a win over St. Louis. The team is obviously in need of a break, but here’s hoping they don’t get caught looking ahead to that instead of focusing on the last remaining obstacle in front of them. Like everybody else, the Wings are aware of the Devils’ little run here, so they shouldn’t be caught off guard. The big question is whether or not they have enough left in the tank to not be embarrassed at home in front of the last-place team.

I hear pride does wonders for empty tanks.

… Khan has the lineup:

Franzen-Zetterberg-Eaves
Hudler-Filppula-Bertuzzi
Draper-Helm-Miller
Emmerton-Abdelkader-Mursak

Lidstrom-Kronwall
Ericsson-Rafalski
Kindl-Salei

… Jimmy is in net, and will be backed up by Joey MacDonald, who’s back on emergency call-up.

… Just one more game, guys. Capitalize on the PP with White out and make Brodeur look bad like last time. Simple.

TP:60, Episode 13

Great stuff from Discher, Petrella, Hathway and Malik in this episode. Make sure you get take the time to listen in.

On the Nabokov discussion, I will say that the Wings’ interest in him has knocked me out of any sense of security I had in the Wings’ goaltending health. They’re royally screwed if Jimmy goes down before March, and won’t be in great shape if it happens then. Time for the team to do their part in protecting him by keeping the net front clear.

Hollis didn’t host this episode because he got engaged the other night. Congrats to Chris and his fiance, Meg!

Shameless Self-Promotion, A Call for Help

It’s a bit of a slow news day, so a little plug:

You may have noticed a new tab in the old nav bar up top: tTWCW. That’s the only way I can fit “The Things We Call Wings” in there.

It’s a new side project I started this weekend after realizing the ridiculous number of great nicknames we have for the Wings Thursday night.

Check it out, provide feedback and help out by submitting your nicknames, if you want.

Wings 1, Blackhawks 4

Never In It: This game was Chicago’s, pretty much from start to finish. Even when the Wings had the lead for 6:30, the Blackhawks owned it. The Wings’ goal was a fluke, a momentary break in a trend that had the Hawks outshoot Detroit 15-8 in the first.

I don’t remember a time in the game that I felt the Wings were on equal or better footing with Chicago. In my book, the late push doesn’t constitute such a situation, because that was desperation.

Jimmy: He had a strong game, I thought. If his knee seemed to be bothering him the other night, I’d say it wasn’t this time around. The Wings leaned on him heavily in the first and continued to do so throughout the rest of the game.

He gave up four, but after watching the replays again, I’d have to be incredibly picky to find fault in him on those plays. Defensive breakdowns, every one.

Net Front/Slot: Three of the four Chicago goals involved uncovered men either directly out front of Jimmy or in the slot. Witness the Hawks’ first goal. Their second goal. Their fourth.

If you, like the Wings, are lulled to sleep by the Hawks’ puck movement on the fourth goal, I hope it was after you saw Brouwer totally uncovered in the slot. That one in particular bothers me. The other two were Chicago power plays, so a guy being uncovered is somewhat excusable (though on the first goal, two guys were uncovered. Not cool.).

But how do Patrick Eaves, Henrik Zetterberg, Todd Bertuzzi, Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson fail so completely at playing in their own zone like that? And don’t tell me it’s because of Bertuzzi and/or Ericsson. Neither is going to win any awards for defense any time soon, but they are both grown up hockey players that understand the basics.

That’s just unacceptable.

Transition: I can’t leave the third goal out, so I should mention the Wings’ total inability to handle the transition on the way to the second Kopecky goal. Awesome. So you had a couple scoring chances fall flat. Recover and do your jobs.

Special teams: Until the incredibly obvious hooking by Hjalmarsson late in the game, the referees apparently decided that giving a power play to the Wings for anything short of an automatic penalty would mean an unfair advantage over the 27th penalty kill. That sucked. But I’m just mentioning it because it was stupid, not because the Wings shouldn’t have played better anyway.

Goal/No Goal: So the Blackhawks were given a offensive faceoff by the referee that mistakenly thought a shot off the crossbar is a goal. Fortunately, it didn’t come back to bite the Wings, but I think when the ref blows the whistle like that, especially when the defensive team had possession of the puck following the goal-like incident, the faceoff should come out of the zone.

Meanwhile, the Wings had a goal disallowed because the referee was too twitchy with his whistle on a loose puck. Disappointing.

Emmerton: I thought he looked really good, overall. His goal was a bit of a fluke, but still cool to see him get one. And he looked like a kid pumped to be in the NHL and with relatively few jitters. He certainly seemed more interested in being there than much of the team.

Fatigue: I will give the Wings this much: they are tired and depleted. The schedule has been killer. I’d still like to see a better effort in games against teams like Pittsburgh and Chicago (especially when they can break out the effort for St. Louis), but they are in need of a break. Fortunately, they’re getting one soon.

Next: They play the worst team in hockey Wednesday night and if they don’t roll over them even in their tired and depleted state, it will be very sad.