Posts by Matt Saler

I’m Still Alive

Well, it’s been over a month since I posted and if you haven’t caught me on Twitter the few times I’ve chimed in there, you may be wondering if I’ve given up on this thing.

I haven’t, but the realities of a demanding past six weeks or so at work and life with a baby have made it difficult to fit blogging in.

I have been watching games, though not as regularly as I would like, and have kept tabs on the headlines, if not every detail like I used to be able to. So, I’m rusty.

I don’t know exactly what this is going to be for the rest of the season. But I am going to try to post more frequently than once a month. It just may not be in the same format as before, which I admit got a bit stale.

I started this thing 10 years ago today, which seems crazy. I’m not done yet, even if it might seem like it so far this season.

Side note for any of you that use RSS to read the blog: if you’re using Google Reader, you’ve probably heard that it’s being shut down in a couple months. I’d recommend starting the transition to another reader now. I’m giving Feedly a try, but I also got a NewsBlur subscription to get behind one with an actual business model (and thus some insurance against sudden app death).

On Last-Minute Goals Against

We were with non-Wingnut family during the game yesterday so we only caught the last few minutes.

It was enough to see Joakim Andersson nearly stop the tying goal from behind Jimmy Howard. My initial reaction to the replay was of course disappointment that the break had gone the Kings’ way. Then it hit me: “why was Andersson out there?”

I’ve checked the play-by-play and there wasn’t a faceoff that I forgot about. Andersson was sent over the boards at 18:45 in live play, closing in on the final minute of a one-goal game. He was replacing Valtteri Filppula and joining Abdelkader and Miller, who had already been out there 43 seconds by that point. The Kings were pressing.

This is a kid with 7 NHL games under his belt. A good kid, who has done pretty well for himself with the Griffins. But not a kid who has any business being on the ice in the final minute of a one-goal game.

Guys like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg had been off the ice for nearly 1:20 at that point. That’s who you send out if you can manage a one-player swap when the opposition is pressuring.

These are the moments where I don’t understand Mike Babcock. I understand his interest in testing people in higher pressure situations, which is why you put Brian Lashoff on the penalty kill pretty much right off the bat after he gets called up. But the final minute of a one-goal game is when you put out guys that can hack it. It’s not the time to test a rookie.

That Jonathan Ericsson won the game with a trickle-through with 4 seconds left does not validate this strategy. That’s just luck.

David Backes on Jan Mursak

Not the dirtiest hit you’ll ever see, but this is the kind of crap we’ve come to expect from Backes. Not the kind of thing that necessarily leads to fines and suspensions; just close enough to the line to develop a reputation among people who are not Blues fans.

Well, at least among fans of Central Division teams.

Okay, maybe just Red Wings fans. I can’t speak for the others.

Thanks to @Weallbleedredd (here) and @Muero for posting footage of the hit.

David Backes is Still a Loser

Despite the fact that it was a completely inaccurate call, David Backes is still one of the underrated dirty players in the League. Just ask Jan Mursak.

One thing of note in that replay, though: note in the view from behind Huskins how Backes half leaves his feet and elevates contact. Maybe a failed headshot as much as it was a failed headshot call.

I do think I’d rather see blown calls like this than real head contact go uncalled. The NHL has to get rid of head contact or it will follow football’s long term trajectory. Of course, the NHL isn’t getting it right in either category and ideally they’d always only call real headshots. But this isn’t an ideal world.

As I was reminded last night for having the gall to call David Backes a dirty player (and a donkey):

Jonathon Schad, I’m going to do what I can to ensure this comes up should any future employer run a search on you. Enjoy college.

Skipped Day

Sorry, I was slammed at work so I didn’t have time to crank out a post on the game last night. I’ll just say that the Wings will have to play better, longer, if they want to beat a team like Chicago. As it was, they got closer than they really had any business doing.

Game Day Notes: @ Chicago

Update (6:14 PM): Okay, so this sucks: Helm is out, with a flared up back injury.

On the plus side, Brian Lashoff will stay in the lineup if Ericsson is good to go. Kindl’s time may be running out. I expect Lashoff will be watched closely tonight, though. - Matt

… This will be the first of just four meetings between the Wings and Blackhawks this season. I guess it was more important to get that extra game in against the Blue Jackets than against, you know, an all-time rival.

… The Hawks are off to a fast 5-0-0 start that includes a 3-2 win over the Blue Jackets last night. They last started undefeated after five back in 1971. A win tonight would set a team record.

… They’ve played on consecutive nights once already this season and put up six goals on night #2 on their way to outscoring opponents LA and Phoenix 11-6 on the road.

… Their 10 points leads the league, though San Jose is just two points back with a game in hand.

… Patrick Kane has 9 points already, which is more than he had over any other five-game span last season. That’s an 86 point pace.

… The Wings are just 2-2-0 and sit fourth in the Central. That’s just one point up on Columbus. You have to remind yourself that it’s early to avoid being too depressed about that.

… They played Friday and took out the Wild 5-3 in a bit of an offensive explosion you hope continues tonight against a Chicago team that hasn’t been super tight defensively (except on the PK, which is third at 94%*).

… It’s possible that Jonathan Ericsson will be back in the lineup tonight, which will bring the blueline close to full health. Just Ian White and his lacerated knee would be out in that case, unless you count Kyle “Crap Bag” Quincey as out with an injured hockey sense.

… An Ericsson return would likely mean Brian Lashoff’d be out. The Red Wings Way and all.

… Mikael Samuelsson (forgot about him, didn’t you?) and Jonas Gustavsson are out with groin injuries.

… The Wings showed they have it in them offensively to beat a highly-skilled team despite the defense being weaker than it’s been in forever. They’ll need something like the same kind of offensive output tonight.

*The Bruins and Islanders both are at 100% (!).

Wings 5, Wild 3

Data Collection Update: The Wings improved to 1-2-0 against legitimate hockey teams with this one, though parts of it looked like they’d fall to 0-3-0. The picture is filling in.

Offense Reliant: Although the defense played a solid game, this game hinted at the likely recipe for success for the Wings this season: the offense. The team will have to have a medium to high goal output with a defense the weakest the Wings have had in years.

Jimmy: Especially during the first period and middle of the second, Howard was very strong. He had no chance on two of the three goals and not much of one on the other. He kept the Wings in the game when they weren’t invested in it and the Wild were a threat. He’s even improving, which bodes well for his part in this season.

Bertuzzi: I definitely did not expect him to come back and immediately be so effective. I hope it wasn’t a fluke!

Also, I really enjoy how popular he is with the fans at the Joe. I doubt he would have ever earned that kind of reception in another city if he hadn’t come here.

Eurotwin Breakup: So yeah, spreading the wealth across two lines worked out. Stunning.

Helm: Like Bertuzzi, he was immediately effective and an impact player. Just having him in the lineup makes me feel more optimistic about the season.

Brunner: Still a beast with soft hands. His goal was a thing of beauty and he continues to be a threat on most shifts.

Z Line: The swapping in of Franzen worked out better than I would have expected. The Datsyuk line was the best but Zetterberg’s line was not far behind.

Kindl: Looked worse than Quincey. Yeah.

Lashoff: You know he’ll be headed to GR as soon as Ericsson is ready to go, but you also know it’ll be a shame. I’m definitely glad to be wrong about him. He’s an undrafted callup that outplayed a first round regular (Kindl) and would have earned a spot if he weren’t waiver-exempt.

Penalties: The Wings did a lot of standing around and that of course led to a lot of penalties. They need to work on moving their feet going forward.

Parise & #20: Parise scored a goal and was a threat, but I only really noticed #20 when JLA fans booed him.

Next: The Wings faceoff against Central-leading Chicago tomorrow night on the road. They’re four points back of the undefeated Hawks. A real challenge.