Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Blow up the Red Wings or: How I learned to stop worrying about the NHL playoffs

Well, there was one good thing about last night. The game didn't start at 10:30 pm. Other than that? Christ almighty, where do you start?

Following are sour grapes and frustration spilling out from a Wings fan.

Two Wing forwards showed up to play. Zetterberg and Yzerman.

Manny Legacy proved one thing. He's an excellent backup goalie. From his comments this series, the poor guy doesn't sound like a starting goalie, but it does sound like he needs to be on a suicide watch. You now blow up goal and get a true #1 netminder. Dangle Datsuk, Lang, whatever it takes. What's worse when you think about it, the Wings had a #1 guy in net, but we fans and Red Wing management ran CuJo out of town on the proverbial rail. He might have been the difference if he were still a Wing.

Mike Babcock was out coached, out schemed, and out whined by Craig McTavish. Especially out whined.

Will Pavel Datsuk ever score a goal in the playoffs? Considering the Wings will be knee deep in the goalie market, when Datsuk finally does, it may not be with Detroit.

How do you miss both a high stick and a kicked in goal on the same play? Video review is a good thing, but why does it takes so much time to review a goal, you could hear Mickey Redmond start to doze off. You can also unequivically say that refereeing uniformly sucked for both the Oliers and Wings. Gary Bettman must be a big fan of the power play, as entire periods seemed to be played by special teams.

We learned that in the playoffs the Red Wings are a great team when 5 on 3. Pretty good 5 on 4. Not so hot 5 on 5.

Why play a regular season if home ice and seedings don't mean a thing?

There's something wong with a league where the game changes so much from the regular season to the playoffs that the high seeds lose any advantage they gain over an 82 game season. A puck posession team is suddenly playing at a disadvantage against a team that uglies ups the game with the dump and chase, and muck up center ice with a press/diamond/whatever code name Edmonton was using to describe their trap style of play. Whatever you call it, it was ugly. My God, the 1-2-4 seeds are out and the 3 seed is playing a game 7 in the West. I hope Gary Bettman is happy when he sees bull riding and arena football getting better TV ratings than the NHL finals in the states. Our Canuck friends to the north may be happy with upsets, but it's bad for the overall health of the NHL.

Do not get me going on how biased HNIC has become during the playoffs. I expect it, and honestly like it, from the xenophobic Don Cherry. But listening to the the rest of the HNIC crew call and analyze a game with a blatant pro Canada bias was exacty like listening to an American home team announcers. In other words, they have changed from the impartial observers they were during the regular season (and should be at all times) and have turned into flag waving homers. HNIC has been bought and paid for by the home team, so to speak.

Now that all is said and done, nothing can change the fact that the Oilers won, deservedly. We can bitch and moan all we'd like, but all that counted was Edmonton putting up 4 W's. Edmonton hustled their asses off, devised a strategy that worked, stayed with it, and Babcock and the Wings were unable to counter strategically or emotionally. Which was the main reason Babcock was hired, to win series like this one. So you have to place Babcock on the hot seat. Think Dave Lewis is smiling under his 'stache?

The question everyone is asking is, "Do you blow up the Red Wings?" No, not entirely. But a surgical strike could work wonders. But where do you start, other than the most obvious place, in goal? Is it time to move on without old standbys like Brendan Shanahan and Chris Chelios? How much of the cap do you tie up with Nicklas Lidstrom's new contract? You cannot let the Norris trophy favorite walk, but if he gets the max, can you still afford a big time goalie? Does Yzerman come back? If not, who fills the massive leadership void? Do the Red Wings move even farther away from the puck posession game that has failed them in 3 succesive playoffs, and look for more muckers and grinders? Will the Wing faithful accept an uglier style? I know I don't have the answers, and neither does Ken Holland at this point.

So who's to blame for the Wings collaspe? Blame Canada, Blame Canada, with all their hockey hullabaloo...

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