Archive for December, 2009

Christmas Wish List Revisited

Posted in General Hockey, General Thoughts with tags on 12/24/2009 by Ben Gilbert

Below is the Christmas list I wrote up at Thanksgiving.  Now that the wonderful holiday is upon us, I’m going to check the list and see if I’ve gotten what I wanted…

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…
      E-ville has been a bit better of late, but when guys start coming back from injury I would still prefer the likes of Eaves, Miller, Abdelkader et. al. to Leino being in the lineup.  He’s just too slow and isn’t quite “bringing it” every game.
  2. I want Todd Bertuzzi to join Ville.  Reference everything I wrote above and apply it to Bert.
      So, yeah, um.  He kinda showed up a bit.  I’m still not gonna start a love fest, but Bert can stay for now.  He can sleep on the couch while we work this out.
  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.
      It appears that Franzen will not be back for the Olympics, and we’ll know very shortly if he is even named to the roster.  Please Mr. Naslund, I’m begging you, do not put the Mule out there in February.  We need him healthy for the amazing March and April we’ll need to have.
  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.
      Well, the penalty kill is certainly better. To the tune of 14th in the league better, when we were near the bottom.  At one point we were 36 of 37.  Those numbers were unheard of last year.  Malik has a great write-up from a week ago on it.
  5. I want Ken Holland to go back in time and sign Vinny Prospal to play wing rather than Bert or Williams.  Oh hindsight…
      Still kinda wishing, although Vinny has cooled off a bit.  I still think he would fit better alongside Datsyuk than Bert, and he is the same price.
  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.)
      Still a wish, dangit.  As I watched the completely inept power-play the past few games against the Blackhawks, I kept wishing we had Nik Jr. back there quarterbacking the 2nd unit.  Merry Christmas Georges Laraque, you still have a job.
  7. I want Ryan Getzlaf.  What!? I’m allowed to dream alright.  It’s Christmastime, maybe a surprise is awaiting me…
      Nope. No trades either. I did get a Drew Miller Bobby Orr style goal though!
  8. I want the Red Wings to sign Darren Helm for life so that I can feel confident purchasing a #43 jersey soon.
      I’m still waiting.  The more and more I watch this kid though, you gotta think he’s the kinda player that could develop into a #2 pivot one day for the Wings if he could get his shot/finishing skills up to par.  He’s so fast that he makes more plays and chances out of nothing than any other player on the ice.  Detroit loves him.  The fans can’t get enough of watching a player like Darren.  I have an inkling he’ll be around for quite a while.
  9. I want the Red Wings to have a 4-game winning streak at any point this season.
      Check. They did in fact win 4 straight from the 11th to the 17th of this month.  They beat the Ducks, Preds, Coyotes and Lightning respectively.  Not the highest caliber of opposition, but considering our lineup, quite an accomplishment.  Bert scored OT winners in the first two against the Ducks and Preds as well.  I’m still wondering if I’m in a bad hockey Twilight Zone episode.
  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.
      Well, we’re still not in the top 8.  My views have lessened a bit though.  We’re still a top team when healthy.  We’ve just gotta find a way to make a great stretch run, and then anything can happen.  Hopefully we’ll get Chicago in the 1st round and wreck their hopes of a Cup right away.  That is my new “wish”.

So there it is.  I got some of the things I wanted.  It’s Christmastime, so I feel ok about everything right now.  We even get the Blue Jackets to help our ills.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and a Merry Christmas.

BONUS: Check out all the hockey players in the following.  The song is by Igor Larionov’s daughters, and they got quite a few Red Wings and other players to help out…


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Uncle Mike’s Christmas Present (Review: Chicago Blackhawks)

Posted in General Hockey, General Thoughts with tags , , , on 12/24/2009 by Ben Gilbert

An early Christmas Present to you all via Uncle Mike:

I’m not even going to review last nights game.  I was there.  It wasn’t fun…but it’s almost Christmas.

What do I want for Christmas?  An NHL power-play that is functional.  Please Santa.  I’ve been extra good.

Preview: Chicago Blackhawks

Posted in General Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 12/23/2009 by Ben Gilbert

Detroit Red Wings vs. Chicago Blackhawks

December 23rd 7:30pm, Joe Louis Arena

I’ll be in attendance at tonight’s game since I bought tickets for my mom for her birthday a month ago.  It is perhaps the greatest single blessing that I have as a hockey fan to have a mother who cares about the team probably more than I do.  Let’s pray for an early Christmas miracle that the Wings win…

Game Notes:

  1. As has already been reported by Khan and Malik over at Mlive, Mattias Ritola is in the lineup tonight and Kris Newbury has been sent back west to Grand Rapids.  Ritola is apparently supposed to provide tempo.  Hopefully he takes this chance and runs with it since his season in GR has been very up and down.
  2. Also of note, Jakub Kindl has been recalled as well to take the place of Brian Rafalski, who is out of the game with the flu.  If it’s not those darn back spasms it’s the influenza…and you thought H1N1 took the Christmas season off…
  3. The lineup tonight looks pretty ragged and I’m beginning to think I should write it down on a post-it, put it in my wallet, and every time I think of how bad things are for the wings, pull the post-it out and laugh.  All we can do is laugh at this point.  The amazing thing is the team is still competitive.  I still honestly believe we have a shot tonight….because….
  4. Jimmah Howard is your starter in net.  As odd as this is to say, I believe less crappy goals will go in the net tonight than did on Sunday.  Here’s to Jimmy playing out of his mind and possibly stealing a point or two for the Wings tonight.
  5. The Blackhawks played last night at home against San Jose and lost 3-2.  Hopefully the back-to-back catches up to them as it did to the Wings on Sunday.
  6. Those in attendance get a FREE MOUSE PAD!!  The Joe is 30 years old!  This might be the worst marketing ploy gift I’ve received yet…but I keep going back.  The question is whether the Red Wings believe a gift like a mouse pad is bringing fans into the building or simply making those already paying to see hockey think “oh, that’s nice.”  I’m thinking the vast majority of responses will be the latter.

Bold and Stupid Predictions:

  1. Matias Ritola gets himself on the score sheet with an assist to Drew Miller as the lines will likely be jumbled all night.
  2. Toews to Hossa strikes and Hossa nets one.  The collective teenage breakup angst at the Joe will be palpable.  Let him go folks.  Let him go.  We’re better off without his salary restrictions in the long run as is.
  3. There are at least 3 people dressed as Santa Claus at the game tonight.  I’m banking on this one.
  4. Jimmy makes a couple clutch saves as an early Christmas present to Detroit and somehow limits the Blackhawks to 2 goals.
  5. Merry Christmas, the Red Wings pull off a minor miracle with the lineup they have.
  6. Final Score: Red Wings win 3-2.

Once again, please consider donating to the Bring Herm To Hockeytown movement.  Check out Tyler from TTD’s video appeal.  If that doesn’t convince you, nothing will.  Donate. Do it.  It just feels right.

Finally, It’s good to be back blogging again.  Feel free to let me know your Christmas wish for the Red Wings in the comments below.  Whoever has been the best boy or girl this year will get their wish…it’s guaranteed…isn’t that how this thing works?

I’m Back!

Posted in General Hockey on 12/23/2009 by Ben Gilbert

To the sincere and wonderfully amazing readership of this blog…my apologies for a complete disappearance over the course of the last 3 weeks.

I won’t bother you with excuses about “finals” and me still being a “student” etc. etc.  Not worth it.

Suffice it to say I’m back for now and will hopefully never let you down like this again. (Although my thanks to the many of you that apparently still felt compelled to be checking the blog even in my absence…)

Instead of recapping the last few weeks and giving my own input on everything, I think I’m just going to jump into the present and move on from where we are.  I’ve been keeping up with the Red Wings though all of this and have been a dedicated reader at many of the great blogs to the right on my “blogroll”.  Frankly, there is too much to talk about and I’m moving forward with this small recap:

1. The Wings are injured…at one point 9 main players injured.  Now we’re down to 8 currently, and hopefully 7 soon with the imminent return of Filppula.

2. If you have been under a rock and haven’t heard about Bring Herm to Hockeytown, I encourage you to immediately check out the great show of goodwill started by A2Y and the chief.  This is one of the greatest things I’ve ever been a part of as a Red Wings fan.  I’m honored to be part of a fanbase that is pulling something like this off.  Let’s bring our great Brazilian friend up here and show him a great time at the greatest of all sporting events.  We take it for granted so much that we can see the Wings.  Herm, here’s to a great trip and hopefully a bunch of money raised for you and for the Children’s Hospital.

3. Seriously, if you aren’t reading them, read the blogs on the right.  It’s the only way to get through a season that is this stress-inducing and the writers are fantastic.  I’m especially glad to also be a listener of The Obstructed View, the new Red Wings blogger podcast that is being put on.  Great stuff there.  Keep up the good work guys.

4. Side note, This Red Wings team is fun to watch.  Why?  They’re the friggin Red Wings.  I don’t care how injured they are.  I love watching that Winged-Wheel on the ice every time I get the chance.  You should too.  Period.  We all complain…even I do, in the end, we’re fans of the greatest sports franchise on the planet.  Own it.  It’s a great feeling to sit back and realize our minor-leaguers are competing and winning against regular NHL lineups.  LGRW.

5. Recap over.  I’m moving on to the Chicago game tomorrow.  Preview coming soon.