Monday, September 17, 2007

Timing = Everything

I liked Mathieu Schneider when he was here; good guy, played hard, scored a lot of points, and put in, not great, but solid defense. I thought Holland was a bit loony to invest 3.3M of our tiny cap to the aging Schneids after the lockout, but it turned out Ken Holland knows what the fuck he's doing and I don't, generally.

Turns out that's still true. My opinion, and a lot of others' I've seen, has been that the Rafalski signing was a good deal, but that if the Wings were willing to spend that much (6M) on him, why not give Schneider less (~5.6M) on a shorter deal, get arguably more production, and have more flexibility for the future when the Kindls and the Ericssons and the Pyetts show up. Well, here's why.

Now first of all allow me to lawl a little. Not at Schneids, who is a class act, and upon whom I wish nothing bad. But rather at Brian Burke, who is a toolbox, and the decision he made. Okay, lawl over. When Schneids went down this past season for 10 games in February with a knee issue, I remember a quote of his that was something to the effect of "I've never had a knee problem". I also remember him saying he'd had a relatively injury-free career. So these things were good signs to Wings fans who could look upon the knee issue as an freak issue to be disregarded.

But when Schneids hurt his arm on a harmless looking play in the playoffs, Ken Holland, if no one else, probably started considering that while Schneids took great care of himself, and much like Chris Chelios had the ability and the work ethic to keep playing at a high level for a long time, injuries are a whole 'nother ball game. As Steve Yzerman showed, while pure talent and desire to play and win may remain as high as ever as age progresses, the ability of the body to stay injury free and recover from injuries is what deteriorates rapidly with age.

What Holland probably thought after that freak arm injury of Schneider's, was that while Schneids's determination, work ethic, and ability remained high, it might be about to time to sell off in case two health-anomalies in one season for a relatively injury free, but old player meant the beginning of the end. And with another injury, while I'm not saying Schneider's career or production are anywhere near the end of the tunnel, I'm thinking, today Holland deserves credit for another very savvy move.

Catching Up

So I'm in Chicago now, but still don't have internets or TV, so my ability to follow the various news events or update here is still spotty. Which really sucks because apparently I missed an amazing weekend in sports.

The Tigers swept and are just 4.5 back of the Twins. I will reiterate:
Oh yeah, and I've got the Tigers winning the AL Central.
Jair fucking Jurrjens! Give Jurrjens the 5th spot in the rotation next year. Let Miller develop some more pitches in AAA in '08.

The Lions won! Wow. Who could have predicted that? Me:
I also like the Lions to go 8-8 after a 2-0 start. Yeah, I went there.
Oh yeah and all this Red Wings business. Grigorenko sucks, Downey has steel balls, Koko's a killing machine, Jimmy Howard is Skeletor, etc., etc. Draper is on the wing now. Holland says he scored 24 goals that way and putting him with Fil and Cleary will re-ignite his offensive ways. Hmm, you know, Holland is correct here, Draper did put up some sick numbers as a winger. But, based on these last few years, I wonder how. The guy has the offensive creativity of Andreas Lilja. How many times have you seen this wicked maneuver: Draper streaks up the wing. Draper gets to the circle. Draper fires a slapshot directly into the waiting goaltender's pads. If this is what he does, put him back on the grind line. But for now I'll trust Babcock.

Más luego.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Watching the Tigers tonight, with men on 1st and 3rd, I wondered "Why is it called 'runners on the corners'?" I mean when you think about it it's pretty stupid. It's a diamond. They're ALL corners.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


These days, my day pretty much consists of waking up at 1pm and hanging out all day with a toddler. In between watching endless Baby Einstein DVDs, Curious George episodes, coloring, and playing with objects that light up and make noise, sometimes we have to do things the two-year old wants to do. And lately my nephew has taken an interest Jonathan Ericsson, standout converted defenseman, slated to play in Grand Rapids this year.

There appears to be some disagreement about how Ericsson did last night in the Wings' prospects' loss against the Rangers'. Bruce MacLeod calls Ericsson's performance "subpar", but Sarah Lindenau, who has been doing some great work at Red Wings Central, says,
once again impressed with his physical presence and sound defensive game.
Hm. Well regardless of Ericsson's performance last night, few prospects excite me more. And Ericsson's team leading 3 goals (as a d-man!) has Lindenau suggesting he could beat out the likes of Derek Meech and Brent Sopel for the final spot on the D. First of all, that's extremely unlikely since conventional wisdom is that you only let a young prospect on the team if they're playing every day - the exceptions being guys who can no longer be sent down and are on their last chances with the organization, like Meech, Hudler, or Kopecky. Ericsson certainly doesn't qualify.

Now, the question is, if Ericsson really knocks our socks off, does he take the a starting role? Maybe #4 alongside Nik Kronwall? Or perhaps #5, bumping out Brett Lebda? I could imagine Ericsson playing that well; he's clearly very talented and bound to be a top flight d-man for the Wings some day. But I would suggest that the Wings send Ericsson to GR no matter what, given the wall he hit last year. He had 22 points in his first 36 games, but just 7 in his last 31. Ericsson is still getting used to the length and the grind of the North American game, and we can't count on him to go a whole season this year. He needs another year in GR no matter what. Jakub Kindl though? I could see him winning a spot.

And as for Igor Grigor? MacLeod:
Igor Grigorenko needs to do a lot more to make this team. He had a sub-par game against the Rangers. He was above average in a tournament against 18-22 year-olds, a tournament that he could have dominated. He came to camp out of shape. There's still time for Grigorenko, but at the moment, the Red Wings' brass is not impressed.
But Jim Nill, via Lindenau:
The Red Wings are happy with the play of Russian rookie Igor Grigorenko through three games of the prospects tournament.

The 5-foot-10, 209 pound winger has four assists and is a plus-1.

“He’s played pretty well,” Nill said. “He’s really got the head (for the game). He makes plays that guys aren’t ready for, but this has been good just to get him ready for main camp.”
I'm not ready to panic, given Nill's statements. My guess? Grigorenko spends October in Grand Rapids, getting in shape and getting adjusted, then comes up to the big team when his out-clause kicks in on Nov 1. If he's ready at that point he jumps to the second line with Dats, if not he splits time with Hudler or Drake, a la the Hudler/Kopecky arrangement early last season.
If the Wings ate a roster spot and put up with Hudler before he proved himself, they'll do so for Grigorenko.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sopel, and Reinventing the Power Play

Word on the street is, the Wings want Brent Sopel to come in for a try-out. Dave at Gorilla Crouch suggests he, Lilja, and Kindl will be duking it out for the 4th D position. Over at A2Y the Chief questions why this guy is still available if he's so good, and why he'll settle for a try-out and not a contract. And, as I write, I see Bruce MacLeod confirms Sopel will be in camp. Whatever the circumstances, I don't see why the Wings should sign this guy, at least to the big club.

He doesn't put up lots of offense. The guy had ten more points than Brett Lebda last season, for a total of 28. TSN's player profile says:
Owns a booming point shot and solid offensive potential. Is a great student of the game and willing to play any style necessary.

Must make better use of his 6-1, 205-pound frame. Can at times make a mental blunder in the defensive zone.
He has offensive potential? At least Kronwall and Lebda are young for all we hear that phrase. And he doesn't look like a defensive stud either. You replace him with Lilja and what do you get? No better on defense, less physicality, oh yeah, and the almighty slapper. Let's talk about that.

The slapshot has been a highly prized tool for the Wings, driving their power play all through the Mathieu Schneider era. When Schneider was hurt, the Wings' PP suffered terribly. The Wings' whole strategy involved getting Schneids the puck, him drilling it at Homer, and the Wings forwards cleaning up down low.

Unfortunately, this strategy does not work in the playoffs. In the playoffs, guys are suddenly willing to sacrifice their body time and time again to block shots, even from the fearsome Schneider. While the slapper is a valuable commodity in the regular season, in the playoffs it becomes dramatically less valuable. The Wings must develop a powerplay that focuses on cycling down low, using the creativity of Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Hudler, and Fil, and crashing the net hard with Homer, Cleary, Franzen, and Grigorenko. As for blueliners, we need guys who can make good passes, move quickly along the line, and can release an accurate shot. The only times Detroit successfully got pucks through was when they had a lot of movement at the blueline. So, Lidstrom, Kronwall, Rafalski, maybe Lebda (given his speed) ... oh yeah, and Meech. Red Wings Central:
Smooth, fluid skater ... great poise with puck ... carries puck up the ice efficiently ... crisp breakout passer ... excellent vision ... good point shot including strong one-timer ... intelligent on power play ...
Sounds like an ideal candidate when it comes to getting quick shots on the move from the blueline. I'm not saying he'll get lots of time, but if the Wings' PP is struggling Babcock would be crazy not to insert this guy, even if as basically a PP specialist. Sopel? HockeyinHD comments on the A2Y post that the Wings might carry him, keep everyone else, and end up with 8 d-men, possible since I don't believe the Wings are carrying a 3rd goalie this year. I could get behind that, especially when you consider this quote via MacLeod:
"We've got six NHL defensemen under contract now," said Holland. "We want to carry seven."
Given that Meech is under contract, that tells me Holland is not counting him when he tallies the seven NHL D-men. Which means, he may be simply getting a roster spot by default, and will be the Wings' eighth D. I'm fine with Sopel or Cullimore filling bench space. But making Sopel the 4th D? He doesn't make sense, and neither does centering your whole PP strategy on a big shot from the point, even if it does bring success in the regular season.

Wings Promo Contest: Fire In... Places

So I said I would post my second (and very late) entry to A2Y's Fake Promo Contest (you know, the one to replace the Wings' shitty "Fire on Ice" campaign), and that was supposed to happen yesterday. I got a couple of images together, started my photoshop magicks, came up with a few designs, and picked my favorite. Then I realized the picture it was based on is (barely) NSFW.

Well, A2Y is a family site, commonly read by churchgoing schoolchildren, old ladies, and infants. Ergo I don't know whether the Chief will allow it into the contest. But I couldn't let it go to waste so I'll post it anyway (linked of course). Again, all due warning: NSFW (barely).

Fire on Ice! Fire in... Places

Sunday, September 9, 2007

GRIGORENKOWATCH: Prospects Tourney

Introducing a new feature here at YIG, GRIGORENKOWATCH. It's basically where I talk about Igor Grigorenko. I don't know if that qualifies as a feature, so much as something I'm gonna talk about a lot over the course of the upcoming year, but you know. Shutup.

I'll start by doing what any good blogger does, quoting theirself. Here I talked about Igor in what might be considered the first installment of GRIGORENKOWATCH:
There are a lot of open questions about the guy, though. How healed is that leg? How will he transition to the North American game? What will his nickname be? What number will he wear? To me the latter two are the most important.
Hmm, indeed. The number? Looks like it's 21, something I boldly and clearly predicted:
[He] seems to have worn 21 for the WJC U20 team in 2002, and that number has been available for a while now.
Hah, well played, Pete. You left nothing to doubt with that ballsy assertion. As for the nickname? Here's what I had to say back then:
[There are] the following possibilities for Igor: Iggy, Griggy, Grigs, Iggs, Grigger, Igg, and, uh... Gregory. Grigs seems the most likely, but my vote is Gregory. That's just amusing. And let's stay away from Grigger, please.
Hahaha. Who the hell would call him Grigger. Iggy or Grigs are so obvious, I mean... what's that, Bruce MacLeod of Red Wings Corner?
After one power play, Coach Mike Stothers hollered on the bench "Not one f-ing shot on the power play. Grigger, shoot the puck."
Aww, sonuvabitch. Grigger? Seriously? Let's hope this is an invention of Stothers's and won't be adopted by Babcock and the Wings lockerroom.

So where is all this information on Gregory coming from? Well that's the Traverse City Prospect Tournament, currently underway. For the best coverage, go check out one of the RWCs: Red Wings Central or Red Wings Corner. Both sources are covering the crap out of the tourney and it's great. Both sources are also reporting that Grigs has looked strong, with MacLeod calling him "the best offensive forward in the game".

Dallas Drake looks like the 12th forward at this point, and Matt Ellis is as of now probably the 13th. So as of now, Grigorenko is going to have to upend some people to make it, as discussed by the Chief. Later today I'll post my last-minute, second entry to the A2Y Promo Contest.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


It may be bad sportsmanship (or, as Neil Patrick Harris says, a dick move) to delight in another team's misery; perhaps the true fan should only revel in his team's success and commend the other side for a game well played. Well, fuck that shit. UM's latest loss has me giddy with... giddiness, I guess. I'm not even that into MSU Football, I mean I follow it but it doesn't really get me going as much as Detroit pro hockey, baseball, or football. I don't really have any analysis (you can read all about it at Gorilla Crouch or TWFE edit: or Quo Vadimus) to offer,but it seems to me that every last Wings blogger is a UM fan, and as such I need to, as the French say, "represent". (To be truly fair, I should also mention my delight in Notre Dame's shitty season thus far... "Charlie Weis" rhymes with "douchebag".)

In other news, I'm, uh, coming around to this Timo Pérez character. Left-handed bat, solid at the plate, solid on defense (although I've noticed he can be slow getting to balls that get past him), with two diving grabs made today (so far...). He and Ryan Raburn might be able to hold down the LF spot pretty well the rest of the year. Plus Inge (HOMERUN!) and Pudge turning it on? Oh yeah, and I've got the Tigers winning the AL Central. CAN YOU HANDLE MY OPTIMISM!? I also like the Lions to go 8-8 after a 2-0 start. Yeah, I went there.

Tomorrow I'll get back on the Red Wings beat with some discussion of the prospects tournament and various other bits.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Breaking News!!!

What could rouse me from my vacation? With a dearth of hockey and me being in moving-limbo until I settle in my new place in Chicago on the 14th, I've taken some time off from the ol' blagoblag.

Could it be U of M's delightfully soul crushing defeat at the hands of the mighty Appalachians? Would I come back just to frolic and dance in the misery of the Wolverines? Would I come back to ask whether Lloyd Carr will be fired at the end of the season or at the end of the week? Would I come back to expound upon the fact that MSU easily handled their powderpuff? Nah, I wouldn't do any of those things.

No, I came back to discuss, with great excitement, the huge news out of the bay area, of the SJ Sharks' signing of none other than Jeremy Roenick! After questions about the Sharks' post-season production and lack of leadership that led to their ouster in the second round, how about this deft move, bringing in a 28-point scorer and lockerroom distraction! I, for one, am excited about the increased challenge the Sharks will pose to the Red Wings this upcoming year with JR in the lineup.

Back mid-month. In the meantime, looking forward to the Central Division preview, and glad to see Gloveside back in action with a nifty new layout.