Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

Chasing Manny

Big night for Brett Hull, and perhaps the biggest night of the season for a player he mentored in Detroit: Pavel Datsyuk. Statistically? Mediocre by Datsyuk's regular season, career standards. But, placed back on a line with Hank Zetterberg and immediately rewarding Mike Babcock for the move? Oh, that's pretty big. Ted Kulfan/Detroit News

"The bottom line is, they're good players," said Babcock of Datsyuk and Zetterberg. "They were a good line for us (with Mikael Samuelsson), but we had four good lines tonight."

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Hull of a Night

Like that title? Thanks. I thought of it myself. The Blues will honor Brett Hull tonight, retiring his number 16 prior to the game against the Wings. The Deep Diggers are all over it. Ted Kulfan/Detroit News

"We knew he was a little bit lazy, and he was a little bit overweight," goalie Dominik Hasek said Monday. "But we knew he could play. Nobody before him, and nobody after him, had the same type of shot like him."
MLive: Wings Praise Hull Detroit Free Press: Hull's Mouth, Shot Moved at Top Speed St. Louis Post Dispatch: Hull Can Still Draw a Crowd

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Desperation or Common Sense?

Helene St. James mentioned in her Wing blog yesterday that Pavel Datsyuk has been practicing on a line with Hank Zetterberg and Mikael Samuelsson. Many of you read that and said something to the effect of, "Golly, it's about darn time." A smaller number may have raised an eyebrow and thought, "uh oh. That's desperation right there, brother." I'm somewhere in the middle.

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Monday Deep Digging

Our little pals bring you startling insight this morning into a shocking scoring drought, stitches to the face of another forward, and a little goalie discussion to tag on to yesterday's rant. Ted Kulfan had a revelation over the weekend. Apparently, and this one is a shocker, Pavel Datsyuk is having a little trouble putting the puck in the net.

Datsyuk now has gone 15 games without a goal. He hasn't scored since Oct. 27 against Dallas, and has only three assists in the last nine games. But even with more than a quarter of the season gone, coach Mike Babcock isn't concerned. "We don't feel this is a crisis situation," Babcock said last week. "Yet, don't get me wrong, your best players have to be your best players to be successful. We're going to challenge and support (Datsyuk) in making that happen."
Yes, we know. Support the lad. Rub his tummy and hope for the best. I found Ted's lead to this story interesting.
A number of Red Wings are having disappointing seasons offensively. Who would have thought Pavel Datsyuk would be one of them?
Well, umm, I did. You did. Many of us did, Ted. Did we expect this kind of struggle? No. But after three consecutive paltry playoffs, it's not exactly a shock that teams have looked back at those series' and figured out how to defend young Pavel. Kris Draper took a puck to the face Saturday, off the stick of a teammate this time. George Sipple/Detroit Free Press
Chelios attempted to clear the puck out of Detroit's zone during the second period of a 3-2 loss Saturday to the San Jose Sharks. Draper later returned to the game. The gash to his right cheek required 15 stitches. "He was just shooting it out and, of course, my face just happened to be in the wrong place again," Draper said. "Just kind of came right under the visor."
Yesterday I wrote a little piece questioning the logic of playing Hasek against St. Louis and Minnesota, when he could have been in net for the Bubba and San Jose games. A little more on that: yes, I know MacDonald played well. The point remains that the decisions regarding which games to start him leave me baffled. It would seem obvious that when given the choice between two goalies, you play your best guy against the best teams. We didn't do that and it makes no sense. Would Hasek have beaten San Jose, as the Wings gave up 19 shots in the third? Who knows? Maybe MacDonald doesn't defeat Minnesota Friay night either

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Weekend (lack of) Planning

Back to a semi-regular rate of posting tomorrow. For now, I'm mystified. I get it. I know the Wings are taking it slowly, that keeping Hasek out of back-to-back games was the plan and they're sticking to it. I know that, and I see it. But playing Hasek against St. Louis last Friday, sitting him against Bubba; then playing him against Minnesota, and sitting against the Sharks? Am I the only one who can't wrap his head around this? I guess I'm slow, or overly critical. The difference between the Wild and Sharks isn't as great as that between St. Louis and Bubba, but a little advance scouting would have told us Minnesota was more likely to get off only 20 shots, while San Jose has an offense a bit tougher to contain. Also, playing the second game in two nights...doesn't it make sense to have your number 1 going to offset tired legs from the rest of the team? Yes, the Hasek situation is a touchy one; best approached with caution. I'm not going to argue with Mike Babcock's refusal, at this point, to use him relatively sparingly. But, it seems to me that in a span of one week the Wings played arguably the two best teams in the West hamstrung from the opening faceoffs.

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Gordie Getting Better

As you probably know, Gordie Howe's wife Colleen suffers from Pick's Disease, or dementia. The last several months have been hard on him and the entire Howe family. But, he's slowly coming to grips with her condition. Via Slam,

"It's hard at times like this, at Christmas, because I don't know what to do. I was always thinking she would do this. We're going out later with Mark to go through the stores and come up with something." Through all of this, Howe remains a class act and wants nothing more than to remain in touch with the game and the fans who still flock to see him. "That's been my life," Howe said. "I try to be respectful to the game of hockey and its followers. That's because some wise old man told me if someone is interested enough in you to ask for your autograph, you should be interested enough to sign it."
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Saturday Morning Odds and Ends

Despite traffic you wouldn't believe, Bubba's attempts to sabotage me several times across Tennessee, evil speed traps in Virginia and an amazing display of navigational ineptitude, I can happily report my safe arrival in Washington, DC. Having been here a little over 24 hours, you'd think that my presence in the seat of government would automatically give me some sort of insight into Andres Lilja's claims that he's being "politically" blackballed by the Wings. Alas, no. More on that in a moment.

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DC Bound

image Alright troopers. I'm headed east. I'll be traveling for much of the next two days and hope to update again prior to Friday's game. At the very pessimistically least I expect to be fully back up and blogerational no later than Monday. As you can see, the Chief-Jeep will be traveling directly through the heart of Bubbaville. No, I won't be stopping at the Gay.

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Scotty…Please Help

Warning: This one's going to be all over the place. Domestic metaphors, movie references, mind wandering. Crazy, disjointed stuff. Stick with it. A point will be made. The common theme amongst our DD's today? Ted Kulfan/Detroit News "Whether the Wings need one, an enforcer, that is, is the growing question." Khan(!)/MLive "Holland doesn't believe the Wings need to bring in a player for the sole purpose of being their enforcer." Bruce MacLeod/Macomb Daily Tribune "So do the Red Wings need to add an enforcer to keep opponents from taking liberties?" Would we be having this conversation if the Wings were scoring? Nope. But, as we know, this is a chicken-egg-Kocur question. Oh, you need me to explain that? Well, I can't. It is a chicken and egg thing, but I just threw Joey's name in there because we're talking toughness. Confused? I understand.

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NBC Blasts Wings

NBC's "Bellowing Moose", which I've successfully avoided reading until today, has selected your Wings as his target of opportunity this week. Here are some highlights. * A season removed from capturing a second straight President’s Trophy as the top regular season team, Detroit entered this week in the midst of a five-game losing streak (although thanks to the NHL’s new math, it managed to pick up points in three overtime losses along the way), and was suddenly in danger of dropping out of the top eight in the West." At last glance the Wings were 7 points up on Vancouver (currently in the 9 spot) and 8 up on Calgary. Minnesota, Colorado and Edmonton would be in today which means in order for the Wings to miss, at least 4 teams from the Northwest make the playoffs. Ummm...I don't think so. But, hey, that kind of forward thinking obviously isn't the "moose's" style. *In the parlance of the auto industry, the NHL is a league full of sleek sports cars, while the Red Wings are a ’76 Monte Carlo running on leaded gas. Consider Detroit’s 6-2 loss in Nashville Saturday night, where the Predators' oldest player was 32-year-old Steve Sullivan. Detroit had nine players older than him in the lineup. Original. Look at it this way, though, Moose. Nashville has 16 players under thirty. The Wings have 13. The "aging Wing" monikor of years past, while still popular among the truly creative, is less and less accurate. * The Red Wings are playing a new, defensive style of game, trying to limit opposition scoring chances and depend on the goaltending of Dominik Hasek, along with the blueline work of Lidstrom. But more and more often, the once mighty Wings look beatable, and like a lot of other acts from Motown, they look old. Fickle, fickle. Just two weeks ago the Wings were the toast of the league. Now, they're just plain toast. Which is true? Find the middle if you can, then wait for the playoffs.

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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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