Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Lidstrom Re-Signs

Well count on the Wings dynasty lasting at least another two years... no word on the finances though. My score-at-home Wings cap spreadsheet eagerly awaits word on how much. Here's hoping for a discount, less than 7M. Wouldn't blame anybody if Nick got his value though.

Also, looks like Hartigan's been recalled, meaning Homer, Z and Malts are all still out. Not concerned about tonight's game. It's a good night to change the Wings' luck against the Central. Of course, we'll still lose, but I'm optimistic anyway. I like this Fil-Dats-Cleary line.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas + Hockey = Ahhhhh.

Over at A2Y, I believe the stress train may be boarding, thanks to Hank Zetterberg's back issues. For me the concern isn't losing Zetterberg for this game, but rather, the lingering question of whether Hank can stay healthy.

As for tonight... no Hank, no Homer. Worried? Naah. Datsyuk cowboyed up last year without Hank and carried the Wings to the playoffs. He can do it again. Bruce MacLeod reports Val and Buckets are his wingers, which I like very much. Fil's on a roll and Pavs will get him the puck. Clears meanwhile will get physical. He's no Homer, he definitely lacks that particular net-front berserk attitude, but he doesn't lack for sac. Haha, did you like that rhyme. Anyway Cleary is without a doubt Homer's only equal when it comes to balls. His performance against Calgary in the playoffs was a work of art. (So was his beard.)

Anyhoo, is anyone else watching the FSN pregame? Gotta love Huds reading the Grinch. Oh here's Filppula. Nice. Also good was the Wings Weekly segment that aired just before, with Murph showing ten year olds how to body check.

"Has anyone here body checked before?"
"Ah, well, today you're gonna learn."

Oh here's Kopecky. Nice leather jacket dude. Okay, enough of the running commentary. Heading over to A2Y for the liveblog now.

Prediction: Wings 3, Wild 1 (Datsyuk 2, Gaborik 0)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

ESPN Sucks

Homer hurt... again? Auuugh. Oh God. Pleeeease tell me it's not serious. Euuugh. I'm gonna be sick.

Making me feel slightly better is watching Melrose on ESPN just now. I know, usually ESPN has shit hockey coverage. But between Gaborik tearing it up with five goals (first since Fedorov in '96) and Sid the Kid getting the Gordie Howe hat trick(!), not even Crapcenter (haha... see what I did there?) could ignore hockey tonight. Oh, despite the loss, a nod to the Wings from Melrose:

" line, best defensemen, and the two best goalies in the NHL."

Nice. We'll see how that best-line is doing when the word on Homer drops.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

So-So Secondary Scoring? Sammy Sucks? Some Say Swedes Seek Sundin, I Say Sign Selanne

Glee! Wings game!
Sadness. It's on NHL Network, so no Center Ice Online.
Glee! There's a Yahoo feed!
Sadness. It doesn't work.
Slightly less sadness. WXYT.

Well in lieu of watching the Wings, how about some wild speculation. The other day I suggested Sammy has not been pulling his weight, and whether you buy that or not there's no doubt the Wings need some scoring help for the playoffs. The Wings are well-suited to load up for the postseason, with ~5M in cap-room or so. At the deadline, that's 20M in July 1 salaries. Wow! The Wings could add a top scorer, a physical d-man, and a goalie if Hasek suffers a groin-catastrophe before then.

(Bah! 2-2.)

But the problem here is that, the Wings don't just need space for these guys, they need to trade for them as well. As amazing as Sundin would be, what do we trade for him? I mean a first, sure, and then... what? Kindl? Would that be enough? A couple more picks and minor prospects? The Wings' cupboard isn't bare when it comes to prospects but we don't have enough to acquire 20M worth of talent.

(Yes! Homer!)

So how do you stock up without blowing the future? How about Teemu Selanne? With the return of Niedermayer, the Ducks have just 1.9M left, my guess is not enough for a guy who scored a ridiculous 48 goals last year, to say nothing of the fact that they traded his former linemate. Wikipedia reports he was waiting for the birth of his fourth kid to announce whether he'd come back, but the same article reports the kid was born on December 7th.

So here's what you do, Kenny: contact Selanne, offer him more than the Ducks can: 2.5M for a half-season, a spot with the Cup favorites, a young Finnish protege for a linemate, and did I mention the best opportunity to win another cup. You let him think it over until after the Christmas-roster freeze. Then of course he says yes to a 5M deal, which is pro-rated to a 2.5M cap hit since he's coming in at the halfway point. By making an acquisition at the halfway point instead of the deadline you eat a lot more salary, but you still leave yourself nearly 3M, and avoid dishing out any prospects, picks, or young players , all the while getting the most potent scorer available on the market, free agent or trade or otherwise.

(Yes! Cleary! And how about Kronwall getting going here. I like it.)

Sure enough as I'm talking about how much the secondary scoring needs a boost, Cleary scores from Kronwall and Sammy. Hudler's got a goal too. Well, the point remains that Selanne would make a badass acquisition. Check out these lines:


Tell me that's not an imposing lineup. And still enough to make one more move... hey, Danny Markov would be another great, for-free acquisition, huh? How about two acquisitions to put us over the top without giving up a thing?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Welcome Back Homer

Please, never leave us again.

All three goals from the Flying Circus + Lidstrom. Hmm, secondary scoring strikes (out) again. HockeyTownTodd makes some good points in defense of Sammy in the comments on my last post. Hmm indeed. Tomorrow (today) I'll have something more on the Wings second-line issues. Stay tuned...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Well, Somebody's Gotta Suck

It can be kind of hard, being a fan of an amazingly awesome team. As dominant as the Wings are, and as much joy as that may bring me, as a blogger my number one priority is to gripe about shit. Well that's hard with the Wings. They're too good. They have no glaring holes. But I have to do what I have to do. Somebody's gotta suck. It's with a heavy heart that I declare Mikael Sammuelsson to suck.

Last couple years, the Wings have found themselves in similar situations. Team just too damn good, no holes, who can we rail on? Well last year we were fortunate enough to find a couple of weak links, namely Jason Williams and Robert Lang. I was never a Williams fan, even during his 20-goal season in 05-06. And when he stopped producing last year my face lit up with glee. The team was doing well and I had someone to rag on.

Well he got traded and I was ecstatic. And I didn't have to look far for my next target, Bobbo Lang, who I hated right up until he joined up with R-Dub in Chicago. Actually I still hate him, but more to the point I can't wish for Ken Holland to trade him anymore. This year there's nobody standing out like Williams or Lang. Hudler started slow but since has become the Wings top scoring threat outside of the Flying Circus. Filppula likewise has been less than stellar offensively but is a long-term project and will undoubtedly get there. Sammuelsson though?

His MO is he's a streaky scorer. Well, he's on a streak alright. After potting 11 points in his first 13 games, Sammy's had 3 since. I know Babcock likes him, because he's a big dude, but it's time to give the guy a little tough love. Not even Hank and Huds as linemates have been able to coax points out of the guy. I'm not calling for the Sammy's trade or anything, but he needs some 4th line time. Worried about who will play the point on the PP? No worries, he can keep that job. Babcock gave Hudler PP time when he was pulling 4th line duty, a good call. But in the meantime, when Homer returns to the Flying Circus on Monday, how about putting Cleary on the second unit with Fil and Huds. Gives you a Grind Line of Draper, Drake, and Franzen, and a fourth unit of Kopecky, Sammy, and Downey/Ellis. When Malts gets back you bump Drake to the fourth line, or you can put Franzen there, and call it the third line.

HockeyTownTodd says the Wings suck right now, despite not having lost in regulation in... a long time. Despite two fluke goals accounting for all of Florida's offense, I have to agree they weren't great last night. The Wings need to shake things up (very slightly) and one move is knocking Sammy down a peg. Combine that with getting Homer and Drapes, leaders each, back on Monday and you have yourself a recipe for a change of momentum. If Sammy starts potting goals on the PP you can reward him with second-line time. But until then, a message to Babcock: size ain't everything, bud. Sammy needs a sit-down.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Blues, Ducks Make Move... Ish

Edit: More thoughts from Nathan over at HockeyTownTodd's (who I've added to the blogroll!)

Andy McDonald, MacDonald's, Golden Arches, St. Louis, that big Arch thing... there's a joke in here somewhere but it probably sucks. So I'll avoid it.

The standings tell me the Blues are 13 points back, but they also tell me the Blues are in second place. And that means I'm keeping an eye out for them. And the Ducks are reigning champs, are getting Niedermayer back, and also their GM is a world-class douchebag. So I'm keeping an eye out for them too.

Blues get McDonald, who is having a shitty season. Ducks get Doug Weight, who is having a shitty season. A couple of crappy players get swapped. (Question though? Ducks take on salary in the Weight (3.5M) for MacDonald (3.33M) deal. I thought the point was to make room for Niedermayer...) But I could see either, or both, being rejuvenated by new surroundings. This move can only lead to bad things. Good to see the Ducks give up young player though. Niedermayer's great and everything, but my only memory of him in the semis last playoffs was him getting burned over and over again by Val Filppula. I look forward to that again.

The Blues have no goaltending so I'm not concerned about them, at least not in the playoffs. The Ducks though? They have all the pieces. And despite a bad season so far, they're just 4 points out of the #2 seed. They're not catching us if Doug Weight lights spontaneously on fire and scores 50 goals, but they will still be scary in the playoffs.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


[Note: Thanks for the comments on the last post. GMail saw fit to send the email notifications I got to the spam filter so I never saw them until now.]

There are important things, and then there are unimportant things. At least, where I'm sitting. Some things are debating and discussing, but not by me. These include:

-Who should get the "Hockeytown" moniker

Yes "hockeytown" is in the name of my blog. But it's just a name. It's just a really stupid name. It was a PR stunt. When did they debut that? As I recall, although I was in grade school at the time, it was debuted before we even won our first Yzerman Era cup. I mean, it certainly didn't belong to us then. Is Detroit the hockey capital of the US these days? Arguably, yes. Which of course implies, arguably no. It's arguable. Personally, I won't argue though. To me it's just a fucking name. (Which isn't to say there aren't good Wings bloggers out there making a commendable defense of the title.)

As for attendance... ahh... I really don't care. I can't even summon the first word. I just don't care.

Now! Here's some things I do care about:

-Tomas Holmstrom's knee
-Kris Draper's knee
-Kirk Maltby's shoulder/back/hindregion

Aha! Now we're talking about players, of the game of hockey, and their ability to play said game. Now I'm excited. And by excited I mean utterly terrified. The standings tell me the Oil are dead last in their division, but the standings also tell me they have as many points as Nashville, who nearly beat us. Also, Edmonton is 6-3-1 in their last ten. And we will be without our top two defensive specialists, and our top offensive specialist.

Which of course may mean nothing if the Eurotwins go out and do their thing, prolly with Sammuelsson on the wing. As Matt at On the Wings suggests, playing with Pavs and Hank should be a great opportunity for Sammy to get going. I'm not too concerned about Homer missing a game. More? I don't want to think about it. I also don't want to think about Draper and Maltby simultaneously going down with injuries, both of which are lasting longer than originally forcasted, both having just signed contract extensions, both being old and causing me to wonder when they'd finally slow down.

The plus side is that the current Grind Line of Cleary, Franzen, and Drake is doing quite well. Reminds me of the Wings' fourth (and best) line during the Punch in the Face: Cleary-Franzen-Maltby. They brought energy and hustle, and outside of Hank and the Captain, were the only guys bringing it.

Tonight? A win of course, even if only provided by outstanding individual efforts from Hasek and Datsyuk. Interested as well to see what Kopecky can do on the second line (if he indeed plays there as Bruce MacLeod reported). He and Fil are both coming off goals, and Hudler is still playing very well. Could be a good night for the second unit.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Return of the Crazy

I like ambiguous titles - see, I could be talking about Dominik Hasek's return to starterdom (or rather, 1A-dom) or I could be talking about my own return, as if a phoenix from the ashes, only instead of a phoenix I'm a geeky Wings fan, and instead of ashes, the first semester of grad school. No promises starting January 7th, when I go back - but at least for the next month, I should be on top of every little scrap of Wings news. Starting with the games against Carolina and Minnesota.

I only saw bits of each game, but of course, when you don't have access to the actual product, any blogger worth his salt can bullshit some analysis based on statistics! So here we go:

Dominik Hasek
Last 3 games: 1.00 GAA, .942 SV%, 100 IR

"IR" is a statistic I made up called "Insanity Rating". It's a scale from 0-100 and the most desirable for a goalie is 100. Patrick Roy is known to have a lifetime average of 97, Hasek's average is 99, which explains why those two are hall-of-famers. (Ed Belfour, however, had a 137 lifetime. ) Anyway, Hasek's game is on: he's healthy, confident, and willing as ever to throw himself out of the crease at lightning pace.

By the way, re: Wild fans' uproar over Hasek's move on Gaborik, the save was legal. Gaborik shouldn't have his head down. Hasek has done that a million times, and 999,999 of those times the forward has gone flying over top, albeit not in such dramatic fashion. Could Gaborik have gotten hurt? Yeah he could have. So could Jiri Hudler have gotten hurt when Phaneuf laid him out. Who's to blame? Hudler and Gaborik. Both of them need to have their heads up. Phaneuf and Hasek are playing by the rules, and doing what they should do to help their team.

Also by the way, I love this video of the save, which I assume is Czech in origin, which has the captions: "Hasek trammels like young. DOMINATOR flying instructor." Anyway, moving on.

Andreas Lilja
This Season: 100% GWGTGR

Another made-up statistical category: Game-Winning-Goal to Total Goals Ratio. As Ken Daniels said during the game, Lilja has scored twice, both game winners. Statisticians may argue about the sample size, but a 100% GWGTGR is a clutch goal-scorer in my book.

Jiri Hudler
Last 16 Games: 1.06 PPG

Another stat pointed out by Ken Daniels, this one actually meaningful. Thanks to Pavel Datsyuk's recent tear, Hudler hasn't even been the Wings' best forward of late. But his contribution is as important - with Datsyuk and Hank rolling the Wings are among the best in the league. Throw in secondary scoring, ie, Hudler? The Wings are unstoppable. That's what distinguishes them now from the earlier streak - both had dominant goaltending, both had suffocating team defense, both had a Eurotwin on fire. The difference now is Hudler.

By the way, here's a real stat: Hudler leads the team in points by a player not on a line with a Eurotwin. When you consider Sammy, Franzen, and Flip have underperformed thus far, Hudler picking up his game is huge.

Johan Franzen
3 PTs last 2 GMs

Franzen looks like he is starting to go the way of Hudler. If this isn't just a blip (given the way he was going in the preseason, I don't think it is) he's going to give the team a huge boost. I'd love to see a Cleary-Franzen-Hudler line, a Draper-Maltby-Drake line, and a Sammy-Fil-Kopecky line, once everyone's healthy. To me Cleary, Mule, and Huds are the top 4 5 and 6 scorers on this team, as far as what they've shown. But just as easily Sammy and Val could turn it up and replace the more grinderly Cleary and Franzen. How that fivesome progresses over the course of the year is going to affect the team more than anything, methinks. As long as three of them are going at any one time, the Wings have will have all the secondary scoring they need to win the Cup. If all five of them get going? Throw in a deadline acquisition forward, and you have three potent scoring lines, and assuming the two-headed goaltending monster is still in form, you have one of the best teams ever assembled, and a lock to win the Stanley Cup. Mind you that's a lot ifs, but none of them is unreasonable.

The European Union
Six-foot twenty, fuckin' killing for fun

Even though both goals were gravy, you knew the Flying Circus wasn't going to get left off the scoresheet. Holmstrom (6:03) had more PPTOI than Nick Lidstrom (6:01). But he's no PP specialist - notice he only scored his goal against the Canes because he was on for a clutch defensive situation. As for Datsyuk, his dominance is hardly quantifiable. You could start with his goals, assists, takeaways, and +/-, but none of that fully demonstrates how much he absolutely owns the ice. Zetterberg, with an assist Sunday, the hat trick against Minnesota; he's continuing a monster season. But I'll go out on a limb: not that it matters because they're always together, but Dastyuk is the better Eurotwin. It occurs to me that I haven't seen anyone ask that question. Well there's my answer, at least for now.