Archive for November, 2009

Update: College Hockey Calls

Posted in General Hockey on 11/28/2009 by Ben Gilbert

So I will be heading to the Michigan vs. Wisconsin game tonight in Ann Arbor with my Dad at 7:30.  Feel free to leave comments about the outcome of the Wings game and let me know how they looked.

Much appreciated.  Go Blue!

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Preview: St. Louis Blues

Posted in General Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , on 11/28/2009 by Ben Gilbert

Detroit Red Wings vs. St. Louis Blues

November 28th 8:00pm, Scottrade Center

Game Notes:

  1. Khan reports that Brad May will be back in tonight, but in a surprise turn of events, Kirk Maltby will be benched to keep Drew Miller on the ice.  This is some high praise for Mr. Miller and he deserves it.  He’s been one of the Wings most consistent forwards throughout this slump, so why not reward that.
  2. Howard is likely to get the start in goal, not that this matters in the least until the Red Wings decide scoring goals is part of hockey again.
  3. St. Louis is in 5th in the division, Detroit is in 4th.  Hopefully tonight the Red Wings can keep it that way.  Who knew a quarter of the way through a season Detroit would be a part of a battle of the bottom dwellers of the division matchup.  This is what we have come to, and the only way out is to claw our way back to the top.
  4. Chris Mason starts for the Blues tonight, not our old friend Ty Conklin.  I don’t know if this is good or bad, since we know how Conks can play when he wants to.  Maybe we’ll have as much luck on this Mason as we did on youngster Steve a few weeks ago.  (9-1 against Columbus in case you forgot…)

Bold and Stupid Predictions:

  1. Zetterberg scores twice.  Breaking the scoring drought and providing some much needed leadership by example for the Wings forwards.
  2. The referees do not blow a goal/no-goal call tonight.  Surprising, but hey, it could happen.
  3. Brad May gets in a fight. (Not bold or stupid, but it’s been a few games so I’m excited…)
  4. Despite all the odds, I think that playing back-to-back helps the Wings.  Their anger and passion carries them to a 2nd period lead they do not relinquish.
  5. Final Score: Red Wings win 3-1.

A Campaign of Manifest Despair (Review: Calgary Flames and Fight of the Night)

Posted in General Hockey with tags , , , , , , , on 11/28/2009 by Ben Gilbert

Calgary Flames 3 – Detroit Red Wings 0

The depression sets in.  Embrace the darkness.  The dawn must come eventually…

Sad Mickey, the dog, knows how you feel.

It’s too tough to do a review of tonight’s game.  The Wings are trying, and it’s not good enough.

I want to take a cue from Kenny the sleepy panda and nap until the playoffs, and hopefully Detroit will be there when I wake up in mid-April.  This hurts.  It hurts really bad.

I’m not attacking any particular player or coach after today.  I just don’t have the energy.  Please let’s just score a goal tomorrow against St. Louis.

We’re such a delicate team and fan base right now.  Hold strong everyone, the refs cannot hate us forever.  Gary can’t screw us into oblivion.  We need to take a cue from the little guy and get scared…

There.  Are you scared yet?  Are you scared that maybe the Red Wings are not as good as they have been over the last 14 years?  Are you scared that the playoff run will have to come to an end at some point, and this year is as good a year as any?  Are you scared that all that we have held to be sure in Detroit is failing, and that everything we thought we had seems to have been taken?

Now…take that fear.  Embrace that fear.  Convince yourself that it is still worth it to be a Detroit Red Wings fan.  It is still worth it to be a hockey fan.  When you are scared that everything you love could be taken from you, you’ll begin to cherish what you have so much more.  Every amazing play from Dats and Z, cherish it.  Every time Helm creates a scoring chance because he’s the fastest guy in the league, cherish it.  Every time Jimmy Howard gives up a huge rebound but Nick Lidstrom sweeps it away from trouble, because he is all that is perfect, cherish it.  We cannot have excellence forever…but we do have the Red Wings forever, both good and bad.  I’m still on board.  As painful as this season is, it  only serves to make the wins that much sweeter.

Let’s. Go. Red. Wings.

Random Fight of the Night:

Joey Kocur in late 80’s form…

Preview: Calgary Flames (Christmas Wish-List)

Posted in General Hockey, General Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/27/2009 by Ben Gilbert

Instead of just doing the typical game notes and predictions, in the spirit of the season, I’m going to submit you to my early Christmas wish-list.  Maybe the Red Wings can get me some of these on black-friday…

All I want for Christmas:

  1. I want Ville Leino to purchase a nice cottage in northern michigan and retire there.  He obviously does not want to put out the effort Detroit fans expect form their players, and this way he’d be able to tell all the people up-north about his glory days playing for our beloved hockey team.  Maybe in 20-25 years an age group will come along that will marvel at the fact that he once wore the winged-wheel, failing to realize that he was a complete disappointment the entire time he did.  Little would they know, he only played for us because of gary’s salary cap and the obnoxious amount of injuries we’ve sustained.  I’m done with Ville…yes, I’m writing him off.  I hear Charlevoix is nice this time of year…
  2. I want Todd Bertuzzi to join Ville.  Reference everything I wrote above and apply it to Bert.
  3. I want Johan Franzen to stop thinking that he’s going to make it back for the olympic games.  This scares the thanksgiving stuffing out of me.  So he wants to skate in a month, then play in a couple games with the Wings, followed by a grueling 2-week single-elimination tournament.  Coming off ACL surgery, somehow this doesn’t seem like a spectacular idea to me.  The last thing the Wings need is Franzen to re-injure anything or even be hurting heading into March.  This is all considering that we may, unfortunately, be battling in the playoff race come that time of year.  We need the Mule back strong and healthy.
  4. I want better Special Teams.  Namely I want better Penalty-Killing.  We’re the Red Wings, and we have “great” defensive depth and a good core of penalty-killers.  Yet somehow we can’t actually stop other teams from scoring…it baffles me.
  5. I want Ken Holland to go back in time and sign Vinny Prospal to play wing rather than Bert or Williams.  Oh hindsight…
  6. I want Georges Laraque to never play another NHL game.  It’s painful to watch this man play hockey, and no fan should ever have to pay to see it.  End this.  Immediately.  (I’m looking at you Bob Gainey.)
  7. I want Ryan Getzlaf.  What!? I’m allowed to dream alright.  It’s Christmastime, maybe a surprise is awaiting me…
  8. I want the Red Wings to sign Darren Helm for life so that I can feel confident purchasing a #43 jersey soon.
  9. I want the Red Wings to have a 4-game winning streak at any point this season.
  10. Finally, I want to wake up and have this nightmare be over.  I’m ready for April and for us to be a top-4 seed.  I don’t enjoy watching games like the last two.  I’m sick of hearing about different players “trying” and “working hard.”  This is the Red Wings.  To quote our favorite muppet Yoda: “Do or do not, there is no try.”  That is a mantra the Wings need to pick up and run with.  The Red Wings win.  Period.  If they aren’t then things need to get changed.  I’m tired, and I’m not enjoying the fact that we’re not even in the top 8 in the conference right now.  I’m not completely freaking out, but this is taxing as a Wings fan and I’d simply like to be reminded at Christmastime that my hockey team is still one of the premiere franchises in the league.  Let’s start with tonight.

Side note, at the pace the Red Wings are taking shots and failing to score goals, I only have one thing to tell them…You’ll shoot your eye out.

Calgary Flames vs. Detroit Red Wings

November 27th 7:00pm, Joe Louis Arena

Game Notes:

  1. Eaves is back in the lineup and Brad May is the odd-man-out for the rotation tonight.  It was surprising to see Eaves sit, but I’m glad he made a quick return.  He’s played decent and deserves to be in the lineup.
  2. Ozzie starts tonight due to the goaltending carousel the Red Wings have going on right now.  Howard will probably get the start tomorrow since it’s a back-to-back.
  3. Jarome Iginla is really awesome.  As in 16G-7A-23Pts-28PIM awesome.  Hopefully his awesomeness is not on display tonight…
  4. Mikka Kiprusoff will likely start for the Flames in goal tonight, since he plays like 95 games a season for them.  He is prone to have some great games followed by 6-7 goal duds. He’s given up 5 goals in his last 3 starts.  Hopefully this means his due for a flop.

Bold and Stupid Predictions:

  1. The Red Wings score tonight. (Bold, I know…)
  2. Dion Phaneuf puts a questionable hit on a Wing and we somehow are left wishing Brad May was in the lineup to respond…
  3. Abdelkader puts a goal in tonight.
  4. The Red Wings have the lead in the 3rd but blow it due to defensive let-downs…
  5. Final Score:  Flames Win 4-3/SO.

Preview: Atlanta Thrashers

Posted in General Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/25/2009 by Ben Gilbert

Atlanta Thrashers vs. Detroit Red Wings

November 25th 7:30pm, Joe Louis Arena

Game Notes:

  1. Khan is reporting that Patrick Eaves will be out of the lineup tonight. This is an interesting decision since Eaves has the best +/- of any Red Wing forward and is 2nd on the team to Lidstrom.  Perhaps Babcock thinks that May might have to get in a scrap tonight, otherwise I would have figured Eaves stays in.
  2. On the flip-side of Eaves watching from the press-box for a night is Kirk Maltby being in the lineup and Drew Miller being bumped up to the 3rd line.  Tonight we’ll get to see what a Draper/Helm/Miller line can do.  I’m ok with this and I think rewarding Drew Miller for being one of the only Red Wings to fully show up on monday is a good thing.  It lets the whole team know where things stand and that the players that work hard are going to get the better playing time.  Congrats to Drew, maybe he’ll even work up to a scoring line if he keeps this up.  Can we all smile a bit and say once again, what a great pick up by Ken Holland as usual…
  3. The Thrashers have the 2nd best Power-Play in the East.  The Wings have the 3rd worst Penalty-Kill in the league.  Special teams will be key.  C’mon Brad McCrimmon, earn your freaking paycheck.
  4. Ilya Kovalchuk is ridiculously good.  I wish the Red Wings could have him on the wing of Datsyuk.  Seriously though.  14 games and 21Pts is mighty nice.  He’s also +1, so he’s not a total defensive liability.
  5. Rumors continue to swirl about Atlanta being a team that could be re-located relatively soon if things do not turn around there.  Considering their play this season, if they continue to have strong outings and make a run at the playoffs, my guess is these rumors die down.  I don’t think Atlanta should necessarily have a team, but now that they are there, I think the Thrashers can have success in Georgia.  Even if the entire state probably has 2 snow-plows.
  6. Jimmy Howard is back in net.  Almost time-share status with Ozzie at this point.  It’s good experience for the kid though, and for the most part right now, he’s earning the time as much as Ozzie is.

Bold and Stupid Predictions:

  1. The Red Wings power-play gets back on track and they score 2 on the man-advantage.
  2. Ilya Kovalchuk scores a hat-trick.  Yes.  He hasn’t scored in 2 games and he is definitely due.
  3. Darren Helm is finally able to have a big night with a goal and an assist.  2 points, count it.
  4. As you can tell, it will be an offensive battle-royale.  Which probably means it will be a 1-0 slug-fest.
  5. Final Score Red Wings Win 6-4.

Around the League: Atlanta Thrashers

Posted in Around the League with tags , , , , , , on 11/25/2009 by Ben Gilbert

In the spirit of beginning a break from my coursework, I debut a new feature of the blog.  “Around the League” will be an approximately weekly feature which will take an in depth look at another NHL team and examine how their season is progressing.  It’s good to stay informed about the opposition folks, so enjoy reading a bit about the rest of the NHL…

AROUND THE LEAGUE: Atlanta Thrashers 2009-2010


Thrashers Blog to Read: Bird Watchers Anonymous

Relative Predicted Finish: 14th in the West.  Last in the Southeast division.

Current Standings: 20GP. 10-7-3.  23pts.  3rd in the Southeast.

Top Performers:

  1. Ilya Kovalchuk – 14GP.  13G-8A-21Pts
  2. Rich Peverley – 20GP.  8G-16A-24Pts
  3. Maxim Afinogenov – 20GP.  9G-11A-20Pts

Calder Candidate? (Top Rookie on the Team…):

Evander Kane – 20GP.  7G-5A-12Pts  18 years old.

Surprise Player:

Ondrej Pavelec (Goaltender)  14GS.  6-5-3.  2.96 GAA.  .917 SV%.

Disappointment:

Colby Armstrong (D) – 40Pts in 2008-2009.  6Pts so far this season.  On pace for 25Pts.

Biggest Trade or Contract Rumor:

Ilya Kovalchuk is so itsy-bitsy close to signing a contract extension.  Rumor has it that the length could be 10+ years at around $9 million a year.  He’s good, but better than Malkin good?  I guess that is what you pay for a guy when you want him to stay in Hotlanta and not be lured to a bigger hockey market.

Outlook for the Rest of the Season:

If Pavelec keeps up steady play in net and the defense plays consistently, the Thrashers have a definite shot at a playoff spot.  Beyond that they need more time and more development of their youth.  This is a young team with a lot of building blocks and an absolute world-class talent, thus they can be dangerous at any time.  There are still too many holes and inconsistencies due to inexperience and lack of depth to be a serious playoff threat.

My Predicted Finish:

The Thrashers are likely to fade over the season due to their streaky play.  I just don’t see them being able to ride Pavelec the whole time to an above .500 record.  Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian are going to hit a bit of a wall as well as the season progresses.  They’ve had a heavy workload, and if that keeps up, production will drop.  Therefore,

I predict the Atlanta Thrashers will finish 39-34-9  87Pts.  10th in the East.

Preview: Nashville Predators

Posted in General Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/23/2009 by Ben Gilbert

So yeah.  Apologies for being gone all weekend.  Blogging was on the backburner for a bit, but I now make my triumphant return! We resume with a belated look at tonight’s matchup:

Nashville Predators vs. Detroit Red Wings

November 23rd 7:00pm, Sommet Center

Game Notes:

  1. After the highly-offensive and downright vile shift Georges Laraque took on saturday night, where he high-sticked Helm in the mouth and then took out Krons for up to 2 months, the Red Wings are a bit battered.  Helm is fine, but the Kronwall injury hurts…a lot.  We thought we’d be subject to a Derek Meech/Brett Lebda 3rd pairing, while Big-E will moved up to the 2nd pairing. However, per Khan, it appears we’ll see Big-E up with Lidstrom and all the pairings will be jumbled.  Having Brad Stuart on the 3rd pairing while Brett Lebda is on the 2nd seems comical to me, but I guess Babcock knows what he is doing.  Please come back soon Nik Jr.
  2. Ozzie will be starting in goal tonight.  Considering the state of the defense we might need a big game from our goaltender.  I’m left wondering though if we’ll actually get that game.  Ozzie was good against the Preds, and I think this time-share of late with Howard has been helping him get his head on straight.  No matter what people like/dislike about Howard, the fact remains I want to see Ozzie be the goalie that can still keep the Wings in the close games. Hopefully he has returned to that form with Jimmy “giant-rebounds” Howard taking up so much playing time.
  3. Nashville has won 5 in a row and Pekka Rinne has been on fire for the Preds.  He’s sporting a 9-1 record in his last 10 starts and his peripheral stats are spectacular. 1.71 GAA and .931 Sv%.  I guess all we can hope is that Z’s Red Hot power can help the wings put more than 1 goal in against the guy.
  4. Darren McCarty will be doing analysis for Versus during the intermission.  This will likely be the highlight of the night.  I can’t wait to see D-Mac doing analysis.  Does he wear a suit?  Does he punch Brian Engblom in the face?  The intrigue and suspense is killing me.

Bold and Stupid Predictions:

  1. Meech gets an assist on the power-play.  No this doesn’t mean he should be a stalwart on the point from now on…
  2. Eaves puts one in finally.  He’s been working too hard not to.  I like the Draper/Eaves/Helm line to get a goal tonight.
  3. Pekka Rinne reminds the Red Wings of the power of the Finnish Goaltender and holds the Wings to a low-scoring battle.
  4. Osgood holds it down just enough, but let’s in one goal he certainly shouldn’t.
  5. Red Wings Win 3-2.