“Too Old and Slow” aka The Broken Record

Well with the Wings down 3-1 in their opening series against Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators, it is no wonder that the annual “too old and slow” critiques begin falling from the sky in Hockeytown.

The Wings have apparently been “too old and slow” for the past 15 years, despite earning 100+ points in each regular season since 1999, by far the league’s longest streak.

This “old and slow” comment is a obvious sign of someone who watches Twitter, and not the game. Clearly, anyone who actually watches the NHL, will know that puck movement trumps speed in all cases. If speed was the only indication of a good team, Apollo Anton Ohno would be taking home his 8th straight MVP this season (but no Lady Byng, he’s been known to trip).

Moreover, the Red Wings are not the grey beards of years past. Their average age is under 30. Abdelkader, Howard, Emmerton, Nyquist, Smith, Kindl, and the list goes on of younger talent within this organization.

Come playoff time, age turns to experience, which often translates into wins. 10 of the 15 oldest teams in the NHL by average age are still fighting for the Cup today.  Meanwhile, only 3 of the 11 youngest squads remain.

That’s not to say the Wings don’t have problems. They’ve scored eight goals in four games this series, have gotten very little production from top scorers and have lost too many pucks in their own end. But please, be better than the parrots on talk radio and social media, who are simply repeating something they overheard at the urinal.  It is far from the truth.

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Game 2: Anything Goes?

Unless Weber has an asphyxia fetish, I doubt he felt very comfortable in Bertuzzi’s chokehold on Wednesday. A little of this and a little of that and we could have ourselves a real good time tonight.

(Never gets old)

Apparently during the 2012 NHL Playoffs anything goes! And all Setoguchi did was high stick…

Game 2 will be on Fox Sports Detroit, CNBC, CBC, and SportsSouth at 7:30 EST. Let’s Go Wings!

Poll: Will Shea Weber Be Suspended?

The Predators took a slow and chippy Game 1 from the Red Wings, but all the reaction is surrounding Shea Weber’s postgame incident with Henrik Zetterberg. I’ll let the the video do most of the talking on the play, but a key thing to note is that the head is targeted, the game is over, and the puck is gone.

Following the game, Weber found himself trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons and many analyst are predicting he will face a suspension from Brendan Shanahan. One thing to keep in mind is that Shanny recently explained his thoughts on playoff suspensions being far more significant than regular season suspensions. So by this line of thinking, I have trouble imaging anything greater than two games of Mr. Weber. But I will pose the question to you, how many games do you think Shea Weber will be suspended for his cheapshot on Henrik Zetterberg?

PS My guess is 1

Pump, Pump Pump It Up

The 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs promos have been released. They’ve definitely achieved their purpose—they’ve given NHL fans the chills and have gotten everyone pumped up for April 11th.

To increase your excitement, check out the highlight of the Red Wings’ Round 1/Game 1 (2011) vs. the Phoenix Coyotes—the Todd Bertuzzi chant:

What seed best suits the Red Wings playoff chances?

With a week left in the NHL season, both conferences have some interesting races for playoff seeding. The Red Wings find themselves currently in 5th place. They have four games in the next seven days and move as high as four and as low as the 6th seed. Below are the standings as of noon today:

 

WESTERN GP W L OTL PTS ROW SOW SOL HOME ROAD GF GA DIFF L10 STRK
1 y – Vancouver 79 49 21 9 107 42 7 7 25-10-4 24-11-5 239 191 +48 7-2-1 Won 6
2 y – St. Louis 79 48 21 10 106 44 4 9 30-5-4 18-16-6 204 156 +48 4-3-3 Lost 2
3 Los Angeles 79 39 27 13 91 33 6 8 21-14-4 18-13-9 185 170 +15 7-2-1 Lost 1
4 x – Nashville 79 45 26 8 98 41 4 5 24-10-5 21-16-3 227 208 +19 4-5-1 Lost 1
5 x – Detroit 78 46 27 5 97 39 7 2 30-6-2 16-21-3 240 195 +45 2-6-2 Lost 2
6 x – Chicago 79 44 26 9 97 38 6 5 27-8-5 17-18-4 240 229 +11 7-1-2 Won 2
7 Phoenix 79 39 27 13 91 33 6 10 21-13-6 18-14-7 206 202 +4 5-2-3 Won 2
8 San Jose 79 40 29 10 90 32 8 5 25-12-3 15-17-7 214 201 +13 6-4-0 Won 1
Dallas 79 42 32 5 89 35 7 4 22-14-3 20-18-2 207 212 -5 4-6-0 Lost 2
Colorado 80 41 33 6 88 32 9 2 22-15-2 19-18-4 205 209 -4 5-3-2 Won 1
Calgary 80 35 29 16 86 32 3 9 21-12-6 14-17-10 194 222 -28 2-4-4 Lost 3

x – cliched playoffs, y – cliched division, courtesy of ESPN.com

The question now becomes, what seed best suits the Red Wings title hopes? A simple answer is the 4th seed, and guaranteed home ice in the first round against either of their Central Division rivals – Chicago Blackhawks or Nashville Predators. A 4th or 5th seed would also eliminate to possibility of a West Coast first round trip, which many believe hurt the club in the 2010 postseason (The Wings won in Phoenix in 7 games, only to lose to San Jose in game 5.

However, the sixth seed would ensure a matchup with the winner of the weaker Pacific Division champion, which today has four teams separated by two points with all teams having three games to position themselves.  As of today, Los Angeles leads, but based on schedule alone Phoenix is sitting pretty. It may come down to San Jose, whose final three games are @DAL, @LA, vs LA.

All that being said, I would think you would want to avoid Nashville at all costs. They are getting plenty of production from KHL pickup Alexander Radulov, plenty of talent on the blue line and perhaps the leagues best keep in Pekka Rinne. Nashville made better additions than any club at the deadline, knowing that this could be the last year with the current core of talent as both D men Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are free agents this year. Nashville has been ousted from the playoffs by the Western Conference champion in three of the past four years, and each of those series went six games.

A drop to sixth place would all but ensure a second round date with either St. Louis or Vancouver, while a fourth or fifth seed could produce a more favorable matchup depending on upsets. I find myself torn, but the one thing I think we can all agree on, is a few wins heading into the postseason would be big in terms of confidence.

So I’ll leave it to you:

Should be a fun one against the Panthers today, who are clinging to their Southeastern Division lead. 4pm at the Joe.

 

 

The Most Interesting Defenseman in the World

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What Lies Ahead: Part 2

The Wings clinched a playoff spot last night with a 7-2 blowout against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the next 6 games will be just as important. The Wings will face the Nashville Predators at the Joe on Friday, which may be the determinant of who gets home ice in the first round of the playoffs.  The Red Wings are just one point ahead of the Predators and are battling for the #4 spot in the Western Conference.  Unless the Blues have a major collapse or Chicago really steps their game up, it’s likely that the Preds will be the first round matchup for the Wings.  The Red Wings have won 3 of their 5 meetings with the Predators this season, 2 of those at home, 1 in Nashville. Here’s a look at the first 5 games:

11/26 Nashville 1 @ Detroit 4

The Red Wings took down the Preds for the 9th game of the 23 game home win streak.  Valtteri Filppula had two goals and an assist, Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and an assist, Danny Cleary scored a goal, Jiri Hudler had two assists, and Todd Bertuzzi, Jakub Kindl and Darren Helm each had one assist. Jimmy Howard had a .947sv% and stopped 18 of the 19 shots on goal.

12/15 Detroit 3 @ Nashville 4

This loss really pissed me off. Shea Weber’s two goals in the last 5 minutes (the GWG with just 1:36 left in the 3rd) gave Nashville the 2 points over Detroit.

12/26 Detroit 4 @ Nashville 1

Valtteri Filppula scored 2 goals, and Pavel Datsyuk and Danny Cleary each scored one to give the Red Wings the win over the Preds in their 3rd meeting of the season.  Howard stopped 31 of 32 shots, but his opportunity for a shutout was ruined with just 2:12 remaining in the 3rd.

2/17 Nashville 1 @ Detroit 2

This was one of my favorite wins of the season — the one and only Pavel Datsyuk gave the Red Wings their 22nd consecutive home win with just 5 seconds left in the game.  Captain Nick Lidstrom hit Zetterberg with a no look pass off the boards, who sent it up to the magician, who then blew past Ryan Suter…and the rest is history.  I can only imagine what Pekka Rinne was thinking. Most likely it was “Oh (insert 4 letter word here).” Datsyuk also had an amazing assist…while he was lying down on the ice.

3/10 Detroit 2 @ Nashville 3

This was the first of the Red Wings 6 game losing streak this month.  Although it was a loss, Datsyuk found a way to make Detroit fans proud.  After Shea Weber blocked and knocked Datsyuk a few times as he attempted to make his way to the net, Datsyuk got back at him…twice as good. The video makes me giggle every time I watch it.

 

The next couple weeks are going to be tough, but if anyone can push hard and prove their excellence, it’s the Detroit Red Wings. It’s time to smash Smashville.

(stats from detroitredwings.com)

Only 20 Days…

The playoffs start in just 20 days! The Wings currently find themselves in a battle for home ice with division rivals Nashville and Chicago. Although the six seed and the right to play the Pacific Division champion might not be a bad spot to wind up.

Now enjoy this magic!

Lidstrom’s Slow Recovery Raises Questions On Future

There’s not much more I can say about The Perfect Human that hasn’t already been said. His value to Detroit has shown as the team has struggled the past few weeks without his steady presence.

All year, Detroit fans have speculated on whether this would be Lidstrom’s final season. Sure he’s got 10 goals, 31 points and a +25 rating. But the Captain is facing the lengthiest recovery of his extensive NHL career, and the first significant layoff since taking a severe hit from Ian Laperriere in 2008 (Click the link to watch the video, reaction, plus Aaron Downey doing what he did best.

So go figure both incidents are against the Avalanche, but you really have to wonder how much more a soon to be 42 year old can take.  He told the Free Press today, “It’s discouraging that I haven’t started feeling better, as it’s going on two weeks now.” On the plus side of things, Nick’s MRIs (he’s had at least two) have revealed no fracture, so the team is hoping staying off the leg will get Lidstrom back on the ice.

Another big factor might be the future of longtime teammate, countryman, and best friend Tomas Holmstrom.  While the winger surely has lost a step from his 2009-10 25 goal output, he still has been serviceable on the fourth line and power play. Tomas turns 40 next year, and the front office will have a big decision to make on the soon to be free agent. Especially when considering how it may effect Lidstrom’s thinking. With the Power Play in peril, is it time the Wings let go of their longtime front of the net force?

With all of the festivities set around the New Year next year, it is hard as a fan to not be selfish and hope we may be blessed with one more year of blueline bliss. In the end, I think we will all respect Lidstrom’s choice, and consider ourselves lucky to have watched him this long.

Kronwall Levels Jakub Voracek

Kronwall has done it again, closing quickly on Flyers winger Jakub Voracek and delivering perhaps his biggest hit of the year.  I’ll let the video do most of the talking, but my observations are that Kronwall’s arm stayed down, his feet are on the ice, and the elbow is not in play. However, the head is the principal point of contact.

Deputy Shanny will have his hands full here. Voracek was hurt on the play, but from the video you can see he is leading with his head. A no call will surely irk Flyer nation, but a suspension will certainly raise questions on how exactly a defensemen can legally hit a player with his head down. One thing that is for sure is that the league will reviewing this hit from Philly.