Tuesday, January 29, 2013

To Panic, Or Not To Panic, That Gives Me Indigestion.

When I Say I'm Not Panicking, I don't Mean I'm Not Worried.

     The first five games of the season have been... rough... and that's an understatement. I barely recognize the Red Wings team I've seen on the ice so far, but didn't I know to expect this? I'm worried, frustrated, scared and uncertain. I don't know what to expect and it's even affecting my sleep. The other night I had a dream that I was arguing with Babcock about line combinations and he looked me square in the eyes and said "Ok, you make the lineup then" and walked away. I stood there on the ice, players practicing behind me, and agonized over who to put where, who to put them with and how the hell I was going to get it all figured out before game time. I kept penciling in players, erasing, mumbling, moving names, figuring out who to sit, and worrying about all the players injured. It was one of those dreams where you really just need to wake up and start over again because you're so frustrated and agrivated that you're not getting any rest anyway. Luckily for me Daren Helm skated over and helped me put the lines together, what a nice young man he is. This is what Hockey does to me, it completely takes over my life and there is no escaping it- as if I wanted to even if I could. 

     There were numerous big changes going into this "season" that we knew the Wings were going to have to deal with and adjust to, and I don't think any of us were delusional enough to think we wouldn't be in for a bumpy ride.

Let's take a look at some of the changes and uncertainties going into this season shall we.
  • Lidstrom retired
  • Stuart went to San Jose because of family reasons
  • Homer retired
  • Hudler followed his nose to more money and Canadian hookers in Calgary
  • We signed Colaiacovo
  • We signed Samuelsson
  • We signed TooToo
  • Red Wings assistant coach Blashill became Griffins head coach Blashill
  • Tom Renney became Red Wings assistant coach Renney
  • Grand Rapids Griffin Brendan Smith became Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith
  • Grand Rapids Griffin Gustav Nyquist finally became Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist (Hahaha, Just kidding)
  • Damien Brunner was projected to be a top 6 signing, but was still an unknown factor
  • We signed Jonas Gustavsson
Add to that list:
  • Quincey was still an unknown factor 
  • Patrick Eaves was still suffering from a concussion and we didn't know if he'd play this season at all
     We knew the that this Red Wings team was going to be very different from last season, and I tried to temper my expectations so I wasn't soul crushingly disappointed should the worst happen. We as Red Wings fans are used to having high expectations and those expectations being met. We're used to such a high standard of excellence that what many other teams see as "good" "ok" or "acceptable" are merely average to us and gosh darn it that's not good enough! I'm not trying to poo poo on the other teams, and I'm not trying to make Red Wings fans sound like arrogant jerks. Understanding that our standard have been so high for so long that our expectations are higher than most others' is an important factor in how we process these changes.There are a lot of things we could be negative about so far, but there are also positive things, and I'd rather focus on the positive things because.. why not? I watch Hockey because I enjoy it, I love it and I need it. Hockey is my crack, I'm hopelessly addicted, and I don't ever want to quit. I'm a Hockey junky. I watch the Red Wings for enjoyment, pleasure and excitement so I want to maximize my absorption of the aforementioned as much as possible. I'd rather cheer on a player for what they did right than tear them down for what they did wrong, I don't ignore their mistakes or put on happy glasses and pretend it's all rainbows and unicorn farts; but why should I spend my time and energy getting angry pissed off at something I have absolutely no control over? I'm an optimistic realist and realistically, we have quite a few things to be optimistic about so far.

     Remember the first game? Of course you do, how could any of us forget that dumpster fire.
We couldn't score a sing goal, I could have gotten a breakaway behind our defense, Jimmy Howard was rustier than my old Radial Flyer wagon, Datsyuk looked like he had been replaced with... well, someone un-Datsyukian, we couldn't score on our power play (but the Blues could), we couldn't kill off penalties, couldn't get shots on goal, the injury list was already too long, our forwards looked like they forgot how to play Hockey, the defense was more porous than cheesecloth and I wanted to sit in the corner and cry.

Don't lose hope Red Wings nation! There is improvement.

     Our defense is looking more solid, confident and competent. In the first game, our defensemen looked a bit like they just met each other for the first time and there was a lot of confusion and poor execution all around. With each game their communication has gotten better, they're working better together as a team and it looks like they're maybe shaking off the physical and mental uncertainty and settling in a little. I mention mental uncertainty because there's no way you can convince me that losing Lidstrom didn't affect every single player in that room. His on ice perfection and his calming, confidence boosting presence can't be replaced nor duplicated, and Hockey is a very mental game. We currently have two rookies on defense and while Smith has had a little experience already in the NHL, he's still very much a rookie and Lashoff has been impressive in his NHL debut. The fact that neither of these rookies have been the worst defenseman on the ice in any game so far is a credit to both of them. Lashoff's look very solid and though he's made a few rookie mistakes, right now I'd take him over Kindl.

     I think Datsyuk is fighting an injury right now, that's not good news, but the fact we can expect him to be more Datsyukian once he's healed is something to look forward to. Pav hasn't been playing like himself and while he's usually taking faceoffs, we've seen Zetterberg taking them instead of him. The last time we saw that was when his wrist was injured last year. I suspect that if we weren't already being ravaged by the injury troll, Datsyuk might sit out a game or two, but because he know how much we need him and many other players are "more" injured,  he's instead playing as best he can right now.

     With so many roster changes and a new assistant coach, the Wings really missed having a full training camp and preseason games to work on team chemistry, new plays, styles and techniques and for Renney to have a chance to really prepare the players for his power-play ideas. Which leads me to

     Our power-play can't be this bad for much longer. We have the capacity for so much better (heck, it can't get much worse), and it's the players who have to make it better. Last year our power-play sucked, it was painful to watch and we all wanted to decline it every..single...time. Blashill took a lot of hear from fans for "ruining our PP". He was the new guy brought in during the off season, it was his first stint in the NHL and he was in charge of the power-play. Last summer Blashill took the head coach position in Grand Rapids and Tom Renney come over from Edmonton to replace him. It's hard to make a definitive judgement only 5 games in, but if the PP still sucks this badly after a coaching change, the common factor we're left with is the players. This is where the aforementioned lack of training camp and preseason games really hurts. That's would have been the time to experiment with, implement and give the players and coaches a chance to work these kinks out and make adjustments, and they didn't have that opportunity.

     Playing 3 games in 4 nights isn't an easy way to start the season, especially for those players who haven't played since April 20, 2012. Sure most of the guys were working out and practicing, but that can't substitute for game action and all the sore groins and muscle pulls are proof of that. The Wings have looked tired, slow and are taking stupid "I'm tired, slow and desperate" penalties they shouldn't be taking. I think they've looked a little better each game and I expect that trend to continue until they're back up to speed.

     I'm nervous and worried, but I'm also hopefull. I'm not sure what to expect tonight, but I'll be in front of my TV cheering on my team and hoping for progress... lots of progress. Some people may get as frustrated with my optimism as I get with their pessimism, and hey, we all cope in different ways.

Hopefully the Red Wings give us all something to cheer about tonight.

Let's Go Red Wings!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dollar Hotdog Power Hour: Episode 6

Wait, what is this wizardry? We actually have real, current, honest to goodness, Red Wings Hockey to talk about? Huzzah!

I'm a little behind the 8 ball getting this out, but I've had the flu and consequently am behind on a lot of things right now. Guess what though? WE HAVE HOCKEY! Wooo! We answer some tough questions, pay tribute to the Demolition Man, discuss what we're looking forward to this season, some Captain Zetterberg discussion and oh so much more.

As always, you can check out Kevin and Mike's blogs for some great Hockey reading.

Hope you enjoy the podcast, and as always, feeback is appreciated.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Welcome Home Patrick Eaves!

I woke up to the best news this morning.

I suddenly had the energy to jump out of bed and happy dance all the way to the shower... I'm not even joking. If Peter wasn't halfway around the globe (I'm only exaggerating a little) I would have hugged him to hard his eyes may have popped out.

In case you're not familiar with Eaves' situation, I'll give a little back story before continuing with my celebration.

On November 26, 2011 in a game against the Nashville Predators, Patrick Eaves dropped to his knee to block a shot on a penalty kill. Roman Josi shot the puck and it hit Eaves in the side of the head. Eaves dropped to the ice and lay sprawled on his back not moving. I'll link to a video, but I can't bring myself to watch it. It's horrifying and I can still see the events and images in my head like it happened yesterday. The original diagnosis was a broken jaw and 6-8 weeks out of the lineup, the reality turned into a broken jaw, a concussion, and so far 1 year, 1 month, and 23 days out of the lineup as well as a constant battle with post concussion symptoms including dizziness and debilitating headaches. As time passed and there was no good news, I had an idea that our amazing Hockey community helped turn into a reality. Operation Eaves was born and Patrick Eaves was touched by the outpouring of support, encouragement and love from fans around the world. Josh even started "Eavesdropping" in his game day movie posters at NOHS.

I'm always looking for good news and hoping to hear about Eaves making progress and getting closer to being healthy and being able to play Hockey again. After constantly disappointing news and report of no progress and lingering headaches and dizziness we received good news earlier this week that Eaves had been cleared for contact and would be able to participate in the Training Camp activities. He said he was no longer suffering from post concussion symptoms and was excited to be getting closer to being back. I began to have hope that we would at least see him back sometime this season and that was exciting. When I woke up to news that he is well enough to be taken off LTIR, cleared to play and is on the active roster my joy was overflowing. I've used caps lock more this today than probably the whole last year. And I'm not the only one excited...

 I searched the internet for a picture, video or gif that accurately conveyed my excitement at the fantastic news, but I couldn't find anything that was exciting or celebratory enough, even the most excited gif dancers couldn't compare to the celebration in my head and heart. My love, respect and admiration for Eaves is no secret and I can't wait to see him play again.

Me too Patty, me too!
I want Patty to take is slow and ease back into the swing of things and make sure he's fully healed and doesn't aggravate anything or regress. At this time I have no idea if he's ready to play Saturday or if he maybe needs a little more time. Either way, I'm ecstatic that Patty is healing and making progress. You can bet your sweet curly fries that I'll be celebrating long and loud the first time Patty hits the ice wearing that beautiful Winged Wheel again.

I'm sure Kronwall has missed having someone to push around. 


And he needs a chance to redeem himself in the shoot out.

I have plans for more celebratory Eaves posts, but you'll just have to wait for that.

Until next time..... I'll leave you with some Hatrick Eaves Hockey Porn

Let's Go Red Wings! and Welcome Home Patrick Eaves!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Picture That Brightened My Day

They say laughter is contagious and they're right. I don't know if they also say smiles are contagious, but if they did, they'd also be right. David Guralnick posted a photo gallery of a few Red Wings players practicing today. I of course went to browse through the pictures because, why wouldn't I? I was scrolling through the pictures enjoying myself when suddenly a picture appeared that made me smile and laugh (ok I may have giggled a little bit as well).

Todd Bertuzzi, right, has a laugh after falling over goalie Josh Block. (David Guralnick / The Detroit News)
 It's no secret that I like Todd Bertuzzi, I also like smiles and happy Hockey players. This picture is a perfect trifecta of awesomeness. Just look at that smile! Maybe just having Eaves on the ice practicing brightens everyone's day.

I hope this brightened your day as it did mine.

Monday, January 7, 2013

I think I need some time to figure out how I feel.

     Something just happened, something I expected to happen, but didn’t know when it would… I just experienced my first giddy excitement about NHL Hockey in what seems like an eternity. All day yesterday, as my Twitter feed exploded with Hockey reporters, players, fans and bloggers expressing their relief, joy, excitement and anticipation, I couldn’t feel anything. I woke up to news that the NHL and PA had reached a tentative agreement, training camps would be starting in the next few days, and we could expect to be watching glorious Red Wings Hockey as soon as a short week away. It was as if the lockout clouds parted, the glory of NHL Hockey shone down and the Hockey fans began to sing the Hallelujah chorus. If you listened to the most recent episode of the Dollar Hot Dog Power Hour, you may remember that I said I expected to have Hockey soon but that I was conflicted about it.

      Before I go on any further, I have a confession to make. I’m an addict, a Hockey addict. I like, love, and need Hockey. I need Hockey like Hudler needs Vodka and Hookers, like Datsyuk needs to dangle, like every Howard needs a Stuart (oh god Stuart's gone, noooo.... I miss you already Brad) like Babcock needs to death stare and like Red Wings fans need to never, ever, ever EVER use a whistle for Jordin Tootoo… Ever… I was anticipating feeling conflictingly excited  when news of a CBA agreement broke, I expected to have a wave of relief, excitement and bittersweet joy wash over me; but I was instead met with nothing. The fact that I felt nothing made me kind of sad and angry. I think part of my delayed feelings are because I'm still suspicious. We've been toyed with enough through this whole fluster cuck and the full blown addict in me probably won't be awakened until I'm glued to my TV soaking in the glory of watching my beloved Red Wings in action. I suspect that on that day I will look and sound like a crazy person, my elation from having Hockey will be at war with my anger and hurt about the whole stupid lockout. 

It may sound something like this: 
"Oh man I've missed you guys, Woo Hockey! 
"You *&%#$^ NHL robbed me of 3 1/2 months of this, you rat bastards!"
"Oh Datsyuk you beautiful dangle machine you!"
"I should have been watching this since October"
"Oh god I've missed this, it's wonderful and magical and orgasmic"
"But it's only a half season because the NHL and PA couldn't get their shit together and act like adults and now we have a mess of a season and the Cup will be tainted for whoever wins it and it just doesn't feel right"
"I love you!"
"I hate you!"
Alternate between screams of joy and cursing in anguish and rage.

I fully expect that anyone who were to spy on me while I'm watching may think I've lost my mind and might call the funny farm... It's going to be an emotionally tumultuous time and I"m trying to prepare myself as much as I can now, but also know full well that it'll still Kronwall me and I'll probably be a mess.

As today progresses though and I start to allow myself to anticipate seeing the Wings play again, and as Josh tweets me pictures of Bertuzzi jumping over the boards, and I see quotes from players like Abdelkader saying things like (It Feels Great!) I've found myself getting a little more excited. By the time I'm done writing this post, for better or for worse, I'll probably be just about giddy with anticipation.

     I sort of feel like it's somehow a dirty thing to be excited already because it appears that I'm not angry, pissed and feeling used and abused as a result of the stupid, unnecessary lockout. It feels like I should keep myself from getting too excited on moral grounds. I've already said numerous time though that I can't stay away. Given the opportunity to watch my Wings, I'll be right there watching and cheering. After some serious consideration, I've decided that I'm going to allow and even encourage myself to let the anger go. Will me being angry affect the NHl at all? Not really. I'm not going to be spending any money on NHL stuff or supporting them financially in any way, but the only person my anger would really affect is me. I don't want it to taint my enjoyment of the game and team I love. I want to watch my Wings with unadulterated joy, excitement and elation. I won't know for sure how this will play out until it's really real and I'm watching the Wings. Until then I plan to proceed with cautious optimism.

In the meantime, I've started thinking about the things I'm excited about with Hockey most likely coming back (I won't say it's back definitively until NHL teams actually play a game).

What am I excited about? In no particular order:

Seeing what Jonas Gustavsson will become in Detroit. 
When we first signed him I was a little surprised, but then I got excited. It you look at his stats alone, you may be confused as to why I'd be excited about his signing.


   He has an average .898 Sv% and 3.03 GAA, but given that he put up these numbers and performed as well as he did while playing in Toronto; while having the his coaches try to completely remold his style and kill the very things that made his appeal to them in the first place... *deep breathe* Monster has a lot of talent and skill, and put into the Detroit system and given top notch goalie coaches (Bedard and Osgood) who will work with him to use his natural style and talent and mold him to play the Red Wings style and I wait with eager anticipation to see what he he can grow to become.

Zetterberg and Brunner making sweet Hockey love.
     Trying to find positives from the lockout is worse than pulling teeth. It's not only difficult, but the angry biter part of me doesn't want to. However, the chemistry and success that Zetterberg and Brunner have had while playing together in Switzerland gives me funny tingly feelings inside. When we signed Brunner, Babcock made a comment about him already being a top 6 player. I don't know if this was in sincerity, or to cause people to think, or maybe up the competition level for current roster players. Regarldess of the intent behind his comments, he may have been right. Granted there's a big difference between European and NHL Hockey, and there will be adjustments and things he still needs to learn and perfect and bla bla bla. Damien Brunner has been playing with, learning from and developing beautiful chemistry with Henrik Zetterberg. Is there any way that can be a bad thing? I'm looking forward to seeing how Brunner plays in the NHL style and what he and Z can do together on the ice.

     I don't think this needs any explanation at all. Datsyuk embodies the purity of Hockey, the love of the game, the skill and magic that feels so good it makes wearing pants uncomfortable. I can't wait to watch Datsyuk in the Winged Wheel again.

     I know we haven't seen many recently, but I still get that excited anticipation when he lines someone up for a hit. I miss that anticipation and excitement.. So... much...

Nyquist and Smith
     I'm not as much excited about Smith being full time in the NHL as I am apprehensive and uncertain. I think the kid has a lot of talent and potential and we certainly need help on D. I'm hoping that his rookie mistakes will be limited, he'll have a better attitude and work his ass off to earn his spot and stay there. Nyquist? Nyquist I'm excited about. We have a sort of log jam in the forward department, but I still hold out hope that the Goose will be loose and it will be glorious and beautiful and I can't wait.

Patrick Eaves recovering and playing Hockey again.
     I'm always on the lookout for news of Eaves progress and anticipated recovery, but it seems like every time I get news, it goes like this: Eaves is doing better but still suffering from dizziness, headaches and other post concussion symptoms and is not ready to play. On November 26, 2011 Eaves was hit in the head by a Roman Josi (a Predators player, yeah you thought I'd forogten it was a Preds player didn't you?) shot. It's been an nightmare for poor Eaves even since. I was hoping for some good news, but today am hearing that he's still having issues and isn't ready to play yet. This makes me extremely sad and I wish there was something I could do to help. I haven't given up on him and I'll keep hoping for good news, and when Eaves finally does return, you can bet your sweet Datsyuk Dangles I'll be celebrating.

Hockey discussions!
     I don't like to leave things on a sad note, so I've left this happy topic for last (but certainly not least). I look forward to getting to talk Hockey on Twitter and WiiM, I look forward to the crazy fun we have in game threads, I look forward to agonizing who I'll pick for my player of the game predictions, I look forward all the Hockey talk, discussions, arguments, and trolling that will take place. I've greatly missed the comradery, game threads, morning skates, CSSI, game recaps and so much more. I look forward to logging in to my Winging it in Motown account and seeing posts with new Red Wings news, and reading the comments and laughing, getting angry and maybe throwing things occasionally.

 What about you? How do you feel now that Hockey is being dangled in front of us?

Dollar Hotdog Power Hour Episode 5

If you've come here to listen to our latest episode, then I thank you heartily. However, I must warn you that this was the toughest episode for me, and a couple times I didn't know if I could go on and finish. This episode focuses on the most improved Griffins player, whether or not Mike, Kevin and I expected there to be NHL Hockey and what our plan was either way, as well as an in depth discussion about who the Wings would or should buy out if given an amnesty option. Those of you who know me very well, know that I love Todd Bertuzzi, I've defended him numerous times and will do so as long as it's needed. Mike is a twisted individual and knowing this about me, took this podcast down a road I never wanted to be on. I was actually shaking just trying to get the words out, it was terrible and I'm so sorry about what I said Todd, I truly didn't mean it.

For more great Red Wings and Hockey discussion and information, check out Mike and Kevin's blogs.

I hope you enjoy the latest episode of the DHDPH, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we look forward to having new Red Wings and NHL Hockey to talk about in the future.