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Abel to Yzerman

Happiness For The Mule; Angry Minnesota Deep Diggers

I guess I started to dislike the state of Minnesota in 1987. I believe it was game 4 against the Twins, maybe game 3. Darrell Evans was picked off third, ending a rally and essentially ending the Tigers' magical run. That series really blurs for me. I remember that play in Detroit, the standing O the Tiger faithful gave Evans the next day (which reduced little Bobby Costas to tears), NBC showing closeups of Gibby every time he struck out and went NBA on any dugout object he could find, and I remember those infernal homer hankies in that plastic dome of pure evil. I'm quite certain the Wings had that in mind when they laid the final piece of wood to the Wild last night, ending Little Gary's series of fun.

I’m positive that when the suddenly prolific Kirk Maltby scored sixteen seconds in, he had ‘87 in mind.

Ted Kulfan/Detroit News

The best way to demoralize a floundering team is to score quickly, and that’s exactly what the Wings’ Maltby did, deflecting a puck shot by Franzen that bounced off Wild defenseman Keith Carney and past goalie Niklas Backstrom.

“It’s good to be on the goal-for in something like that, rather than goal-against,” Maltby said.

Whoa…deep.

Ted’s description of Minnesota as a “floundering team,” is of course in reference to the fact that they lost in Toronto the night before and, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, are “suddenly in danger of losing more successive games on the road than the Washington Generals.”  Nice!  That’s quality digging right there.  More on an angry Minnesota press pool in a few.

Back to the Joe and your boy Johan Franzen, who had himself a nice little game last night.  Not only did he assist on Maltby’s opener, but he also took a nifty pass from the latest re-Wing Josh Langfeld in the second and buried that too.  Pa was happy.

Sipple/Freep

“We need The Mule, because he’s a big, physical, strong guy, and the better he plays, the better team we have,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought the Maltby-(Kris) Draper-Mule line was excellent for us. Come out and set the tone right away, and then got another big one for us.”

They also need Dominik Hasek, who faced 30+ shots for the second straight game: 24 in the final two periods…and came up huge, again.  Pick an MVP. Do it now. Pick a Wing MVP. Don’t think about it. Just think it and say it. 

Who’d you say?

Yep. Me too. 

Kulfan/Detroit News

“The last 30 minutes of the game I was very busy,” Hasek said. “We played a little better defensively at the beginning of the year (compared to lately), but my job is to stop the puck and win the game.”

He’s doing both.  In the midst of a decent little run (7-2-1 in their last ten) the Wings have come to rely on Hasek a bit more than at the beginning of the year.  The results have been obviously positive as he’s stayed healthy and embarked on a Vezina-like run of his own.  As of today his league-leading GAA has dropped to 1.82 (more impressive than when the Wings were allowing 20 shots/game), a save percentage of .919 (4th among goalies with 25+ starts) and his 19 wins are 3rd in the league.

The Minnesota writers found all that enthralling, but didn’t dwell on it too much.  They had bigger fish to fry.  That is one pissed off group of deep diggers, brother.  And they are not shy.

Michael Russo/Minn. Star Tribune

It’s always something on the road, and there was a new low Wednesday. It took the Wild a remarkable 16 seconds to fall behind 1-0.

Bruce Brothers/St. Paul Pioneer Press

Remember how optimistic Minnesota hockey fans were when the Wild acquired a warming-house full of players with offensive credentials during the summer and opened their season with a 9-1 record?

Since then, the team is 9-16-2 and often looks simply offensive.

Russo/Star Tribune

Things imploded in the second. The Wild graciously allowed Detroit to come through the neutral zone uncontested. Pavel Datsyuk was allowed to cross the blue line uncontested. Henrik Zetterberg was allowed to stand in front of Backstrom uncontested.

Guess the result? A Datsyuk-to-Zetterberg goal for a 2-0 lead. Detroit made it 3-0 by seven minutes in when Backstrom surrendered a cheesy, bad-angled goal to Franzen by not being tight on the post.

You have to respect that.  You have to respect these guys, the Minnesota writers, who follow this team every day, who have to travel with them, practically live with them…and still blast them when the situation calls for it.  I read those stories this morning and realized, again, what party hacks we have on the Detroit side of the coin. 

Babcock, in the Mike Babcock Consolidated Quote of the Day (MBCQD) was typically concise in his description of last night’s events.

“I was listening all night.  I had a cup to my ear, with the other end of the cup on the glass. I was listening for those sounds a mule makes when he’s happy, or when he’s angry.  I think it’s something like ‘mooooooooooo’.  So I listened for that.  I think I heard it once but I was watching Hasek so it could have been ‘ooooooooooh’ and I might have said it, but if I had the cup wouldn’t have picked it up.  Styrofoam, not plastic.  We have plastic cups at the Joe. Scotty used to spit ice into them.  Remember that? He loved ice.”

Lost in the excitement of the stirring three-gamer with Minnesota may be the fact that the Wings are climbing up the conference standings, now one point behind San Jose for the 4th spot in the West.

Later today:  Preparations for the renewal of the hate-fest with Columbus.

 

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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