Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

Bubba’s On The Hunt

USA Today's Kevin Allen ran an interview with the Big Bubba today. Naturally, the Central Division title came up.

How much emphasis are you putting on winning the Central Division? Trotz: I think it's very important to us. We have been chasing Detroit for eight years now. That's the first step we have to take — to win the division. The division guarantees you at least the third spot. If you don't win your division, you aren't guaranteed anything. You might end up ninth or 10th. I think there are 10 really quality teams.
Let me translate that for you. Here's what Trotz really said: "We realize winning the division means nothing. We know we're making the playoffs regardless. However, my team has a mental hurdle we can't seem to leap over and that hurdle is Detroit. We think we're better but we can't prove it on the ice, or in the standings. Until we do, we can't expect to do jack squat in the playoffs."

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One Year Later?  Huh?

Maybe the Deep Diggers got together in Edmonton, or on the plane back, and made a conscious decision. There had to be some sort of consensus, because while they've been generally apathetic and lazy before...this would be monumental, even for them. It's November 21st, 2006: exactly one year after Jiri Fischer collapsed, died for thirty seconds, and was brought back to life at Joe Louis Arena. And there is not a single mention of it in the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press or MLive.

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Bucci And The Griffs

John Buccigross has a couple Wing references in his mailbag today. * I hope a new Red Wings' rink is better than the Tigers' Comerica Park. Of all the "new" old ballparks built since Camden Yards opened in 1992, Comerica is a second-tier park. I wouldn't expect a new Red Wings' arena for some time. Municipalities are not building millionaires arenas and stadiums any more. Plus, Ilitch probably has a lot of debt from Comerica since he financed half of it himself and the Tigers didn't really draw until this season. * Who are your top five best hockey commentators (both play-by-play and color) around the NHL? I base this on the strength, listen-ability, and likeability of the play-by-play man and the color man. 1) Dallas Stars 2) Detroit 3) Buffalo 4) Vancouver 5) 26 tied for fifth. Hmmm...no mention of Abbott and Costello in Nashville. And, over at On The Wings Megan Hirdes breaks down the freefall in Grand Rapids.

So what’s going wrong? Well, everything, apparently. While Howard hasn’t been horrible, he’s not playing like we know he can-like he did last season. Jimmy was outstanding during the playoffs, but he doesn’t have the same confidence. Liv has been terrible. He lets in weak goal after weak goal, and when he does that, it seems like the team gets frustrated and self-destructs. The offense is not scoring and the defense is not helping the goaltenders.

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Eliot: Analyzing Shot Totals

It's something we've been discussing here for weeks. The paltry number of shots the Wings are giving up, and the small number of those that are of quality, is raising eyebrows. SI's Darren Eliot looks at Detroit's success in that area so far, and how it translates to overall success.

The Wings, tied with Nashville for the top spot in the Central Division with 26 points, have allowed a league-low 20.9 shots-against per game while firing an average of 32.7. That nearly plus-12 disparity is far and away the best ratio in the NHL (see chart below) and, correspondingly, the Red Wings have only been outshot twice thus far.
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Looking Back At The Summer Of Ken

I whined like a little girl. I stomped my feet and pouted and fretted. Free agents were being gobbled up like possum steak at Bubba's. Ken Holland was asleep at the switch!! I invented a cynical term and used it again and again. It's the Summer of Ken. The Summer of Ken is sucking. The Summer of Ken is passing us by. I wrote things like, "tick tock Kenny". Because sitting here in Memphis, with the internet at my disposal and KNOWLEDGE OF MY TEAM, I knew exactly what should be done, who should be signed and, by god, how they should be used. Well, let's take a look at some of the players that would have made my Summer of Ken a bit more palatable, and how they're faring with the teams who--in some cases--got suckered.

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Kronwall, Homer Look Good For Wednesday

Both practiced hard today, according to Helene St. James; and the Wings expect them to play Wednesday against Vancouver.

The two, both recovering from groin injuries, practiced Monday and both said afterwards they felt pretty good about being able to play in two days. The only one not so happy was Chris Osgood. He was out for part of practice but said his left wrist bothered him and he was going to get it checked out during the afternoon. X-rays last week were inconclusive because they were taken while his wrist was too swollen. With a full house back on the ice, the Wings returned Josh Langfeld to Grand Rapids.
Khan(!) goes into more depth on the Osgood wrist issue.
Goaltender Chris Osgood practiced Monday for the first time in eight days but said his sore left wrist didn't feel good. He will have it looked at by doctors on Tuesday and said he doesn't know when he'll return to the lineup. Osgood said he doesn't think the wrist is broken, but X-rays in Vancouver were inconclusive because of the swelling. He hurt it in practice last Sunday, getting hit by a shot.

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Giving Babcock His Due…And Plenty Of Rope

Buried in the comments of this post are these words from W2J2:

Kopecky is consistently pounding the boards. Hudler is good on the puck, knows where to be on the ice, gives a hit, and can take one, too. Filpulla is a natural. Cleary is amazing. He was a star scorer in the minor leagues, and now look at him score after years playing checking forward in the big show. One other thing: Lilja was kicking butt Saturday night. Listen guys, a lot of this player development is happening because of Mike Babcock.
A homer, you say. A typical A2Y reader so biased for the Wings that he's blinded to the pitfalls that lay ahead, like...the implosion perhaps?. Not quite.

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Monday Odds and Ends

Skimming around the MSM and the blogs this morning. We start with Ted Montgomery of USA Today. If you were a reader of A2Y 1.0, you know I was a harsh critic of Ted's. Now, with Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, and a feeling of goodwill and fellowship enveloping me on this chilly Monday morning, I'm wondering if I was a tad too harsh on the lad. Nope. He is the absolute worst...Teddy The Toolbag.

Since we are about to be firmly ensconced in the holiday season, it's time for my annual column giving thanks to those things hockey-related for which I'm grateful: — The fans in Atlanta, Minnesota, Nashville and Columbus, who seem more than ready to cheer their teams on to greater glories. — Most of all, to hockey fans, far and wide. We've endured tough times and came back even stronger than before. Thanks to all of you who take the time to write to me. I really appreciate how you challenge me every day.
Would those fan letters you speak of include the few I've sent in your direction Ted? You know...the ones where I suggest you, ummm, find another line of work? Oh, and "annual column giving thanks to those things hockey-related for which I'm grateful"? Might want to look up the meaning of "annual." It means yearly. Column indexes are funny things.

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Monday With The Deep Diggers

Two days after the fact and Dwayne Roloson's sprawling second-period save Saturday night is still the topic of conversation around the Wings. Kulfan/Detroit News

...then Cleary was asked about the save. The one Edmonton goalie Dwayne Roloson's made in the first period, with Cleary all alone beside the net for a one-timer, that will be on every NHL highlight DVD for the next decade. "I didn't think you guys would bring that up," Cleary said. "To be honest with you, I don't know what else I could have done with it. He made a highlight-reel save. My hat's off to him."
Yes he did and so's mine. But...watch the clip. Cleary settles the puck just momentarily before shooting. If he one-times it, Roloson's beat. Something else about that particular sequence. Every time I watch it, I like the way that play was set up more and more. A nice pass from Samuelsson to a moving Datsyuk, who zips it cross-ice to an open Cleary. I like that line.

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Rol’d Again

A note on game recaps: I'm in the process of moving from Bubba to Cap territory. Until I settle in DC, I'll be without Center Ice. So, games I have to listen to six inches away from my computer screen like a pathetic gamer will feature recaps a little skimpier than those I watch on tv (Versus!) or through Yahoo streaming. Bear with me until mid-December when the hockey package is once again the primary ingredient to my successful marriage. ------ Oh, the fond memories Dwayne Roloson provides the Wing faithful. Oiler fans will have to give us some insight on a question I have, and how they respond will make you feel better, worse or both...if that's possible. I think we deserve to know whether Roloson plays this well against everyone or if he saves these kind of performances just for us. Let's just get it out of the way. If you passed out in the fetal position after another sporting event yesterday and perhaps slept through the Wing game, well, here's the game for you right here. Wasn't that fun?

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com

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