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Abel to Yzerman

Naming Names

This year’s Red Wings team seems content to wallow in mediocrity.  They are afraid to get the job done.  Like a horny teenager afraid to escalate with a girl he likes in fear of rejection or poor performance, our team seems content to let whiskey dick prevail.  The team knows they are not good enough to win the Cup this season, and have resigned themselves to putting in minimal effort to avoid the disappointment of a playoff defeat.  They have given up before the season-within-a-season even begins.

Someone needs to bitch-slap the entire squad to remind them that giving up is not an option.  The good people of Michigan have not given up despite the well-publicized troubles of the state.  Every morning they get up and fight on, knowing they must make the most of even the toughest situation.

It is time for the Red Wings to look around them and draw inspiration from the real people who fill the seats of the Joe Louis Arena.  The team needs to pack their lunch boxes and put their nose to the grindstone to eke out a living.  Their only job is to win.

Fresh off our loss last night, Gramps does what he’s been doing best all season, rubbing our noses in it.  And I got pissed off.  Not that this is a first, as I’ve been pissed off at his smugness all season.  I respect him for his long-standing support of hockey and the Wings, but I’ve had enough and I fought back.  In order to avoid the questions some of the 19 and I raised, Gramps decided to remind us that he doesn’t choose coaches.  No fauxing shit, Gramps.  None of us do but at least we try and add something to the conversation instead of whining like a broken record.

Gramps asked me if I had a list of players who are on my shit-list.  While I didn’t answer him directly, I will now.  Here is my assessment of the entire roster and their recent play.  You may not agree with me, but I welcome your comments.  Even though we have no say as far as the roster, coaches, or prospects are concerned, this is the place where the 19 can discuss the team as a form of group therapy.

Grab a drink and settle in, this is a long read and may get nasty.

First line:  Mule - Dangle - Homer
I love these bitches.  Every shift they are making things happen and playing with heart/hart.  Datsyuk is showing more shoot with his dangle, and Franzen is an absolute beast when he decides enough is enough.  Homer is doing what he does best and is excelling just outside the blue paint.  Were it not for the officials calling him on reputation calls every game, Homer would be leading our top line with amazing numbers.

Do not break up this line, Uncle Mike, they are the only line that are regularly a scoring threat.

Second Line:  Buckets - Zetterman - Williams
The invisible line.  I got serious love for Hank and Cleary, but they seriously need to stop dragging their asses around the ice all night.  It is hard for me to criticize Zetterman as he is usually so good for the team, but recently he is only effective in the defensive zone.  He is a non-threat in the offensive zone.  Hank should be a points machine, and his lack of production worries me that he is hurt and playing through the pain.  In the offseason the truth may come out, unfortunately that offseason may come too soon for the 19.

Charlie Buckets is schizophrenic.  He can play with tenacity and grit, a legitimate scoring threat.  He also can play outside the blue paint quite effectively, when he wants to.  I don’t know why, but he hasn’t chosen to live up to his potential this season.  He has to play like he did before he signed his big contract/his jaw got broken, with desperation and intensity.  You want to be a second line player, Danny boy?  Start manning up and playing like you are.  Get some starch in your spine and start making the smart plays around the net.  Enough is enough.

When I think about Williams, I think “he still plays for the Wings?”.  Perhaps the disappearance of the second line is due to Williams being mostly ineffective.  I doubt it, but the fact remains that Williams is completely lost when we need him to be a threat on the wing.  Start playing like you have some talent, J-Will, or I will be forced to start kidnapping your family pets and mailing you their body parts.

Third Line:  Draper - Helm - Eaves
Also known as “The Red Corvettes”.  They have been our second-best line consistently all season, just behind Danglium’s line.  While Draper is getting up in the years, he is still playing very smart hockey and getting to open areas of the ice effectively.  He compliments the raging bull that is Helm very well.  Speaking of Helm, he regularly makes my pants tight during games.  An absolutely tenacious player with speed that is blowing D-men out of the play.  He needs to learn to finish a lot better, as he is only capitalizing (scoring) on a small percentage of the plays he creates for himself.  If/when he learns to deke at high speeds, he will be a thirty goal scorer.  For me, that can’t come soon enough.

Eaves compliments the Red Corvettes well.  Despite being the slowest guy on the line, he keeps up well and is playing his role effectively.  I’d like to see him mop up some of the rebounds Helm creates for some scoring chances.  Overall, for the salary he earns, I couldn’t ask for much more out of him.

Fourth Line:  Unabomber - Filppula - Miller
In the times of the Roman Army, decimation was used to punish mutinous or cowardly soldiers.  One tenth of the offending unit was selected by lots and the soldiers on whom the lot fell were executed by their fellow soldiers either by stoning or clubbing.  In today’s salary cap world, in lieu of lots, I’d like to nominate this entire line for immediate execution.

Let’s start with the hairdresser, Filppula.  Far too concerned with colouring the tips of his streaks, Filppula has completely fallen off the map.  Let’s not forget he makes $3,000,000 a season and is essentially less useful than your appendix.  He has lost all desire to create scoring chances or to play smart hockey.  His punishment should be to have his face smashed in on the urinal troughs at the Joe.  Grab his pretty hair and bash him until he either bleeds to death, shrapnel enters his brain, or he becomes so ugly he stops worrying about his looks and plays hockey like he is supposed to.

There are many adjectives/euphemisms for Bertuzzi:  Unabomber, Serial Killer, Stillwoozi, etc., but they all mean the same thing.  “A completely talentless hack who has no business on the ice with the greatest sports team in the world.”  The Unabomber experiment, version 2, is a complete failure.  My grandmother could push Bert off the puck and she is 81.  She could also take a broom and show him how to cause damage with a stick. 

Tick-Tock signed the Unabomber to be tough and to create scoring chances through shooting.  So far he has done neither at the expense of terrible turnovers and a complete lack of brains on the ice.  As he loves to take bad penalties which cost the team dearly, his punishment should be to have his head caved in by putting it in the penalty box doorway and slamming the door repeatedly until his brains ooze out and are used to re-paint the red line.

Drew Miller also falls into the category of “he still plays for the Wings?”.  When you make me miss Maltby who was having a decent season, and Abdelkader who was horrible this year, you know you are not performing well.  Miller is completely invisible on the ice, and I can go an entire game without realizing he has played a shift.  Were it not for the dismal and overpriced play of his linemates, Miller would likely stand out more for being a waste of space.  His punishment should be to be decapitated and have his head put on a stake just outside the Wings dressing room so no one forgets the price to pay for being invisible on the ice.

1st Pair:  Lidstrom - Rafalski
Nick is the Lizard King.  Absolutely timeless and mystical, he is the best player on our team nightly.  Whether shutting down Rosby, Nash, and Iginla, making them cry, or spearheading our PP, TPH is just that… Perfect.  Since the Olympic break, Raffi has tightened up his defensive play and is getting the puck on net effectively.  Combined with his lethal breakout passes, Raffi is doing exactly what we need him to do.  And I dig both these bitches.

2nd Pair:  Stuart - Kronwall
Stuart has looked a lot better since taking the Olympic break.  While starting the season as our best defenceman, he faltered with fatigue in January and late December.  I’d like to see more offensive output from him and Kronwall, but not at the expense of being defensively responsible.  I think Stuart is joining the rush a bit too eagerly and not generating the offense required for such a risky move.  As well, when Stuart is in deep along the boards and Datsyuk or Mule has to cover his position, you know that is a problem.  Kronwall has been decent all season.  I’d like to see him be more effective especially in his own zone.  He is not taking his man quick enough and that is leading to goals against.  I’d also appreciate if he started stepping up and Kron-walling more players like we know he can do.  If the other teams starts worrying about if they will run into the Kron-wall, that will create chances for our forwards to steal the puck and generate scoring opportunities.

3rd Pair: Lilja - Ericsson/Lebda/Meech
Lilja has looked great since his return.  Making smart plays and rarely getting caught out of position.  This makes me happy.  The play of the Trio of Turd, Ericsson/Lebda/Meech, has made me angry.  I said it before and will repeat it now, I am giving Ericsson some rope as he is a young player who only started playing defence once the Wings drafted him.  It is a cerebral position and the skill and pace of the NHL game is exposing his weaknesses.  If his on-ice brain catches up with his 6-5 frame, he will be a beast.  And I am willing to wait for him to develop, for a while.

Lebda/Meech are absolutely infuriating and completely useless.  While Lebda has looked decent since Lilja’s return, he has been dog vomit the rest of the season.  Slow, out of position, and making bad turnovers is a sure-fire way to cause ulcers among the team, its coaches, and its fans.  When announcing Lebda is playing, the press releases should come with a coupon for Pepto-Bismol.  Same goes for Meech.  I can’t describe how infuriating it is to watch him screw up every shift.  But I probably don’t need to explain to you bitches, you are probably throwing things at your TV just as I am becauseof Meech’s sub-sub-par play.  The faster we get some of the talent in the AHL up to the Red Wings to replace these two, the better off my sanity and the team will be.

Goalies:  Howard - Osgood
We don’t have the luxury of letting Osgood crap the bed until he finds his groove.  If he wanted to be the all-time leader in wins for a Wings goaltender, he has to remove his head from his ass and wake up.  He has cost us far too many games with completely abysmal play, and now his just reward is riding the pine watching his future usefulness wash out with the tide.

Jimmah has been great.  Some were ready to ship him off to Siberia in the beginning of the season, but he has completely turned his game around and is rightfully being discussed as a Calder candidate.  Just a little thought exercise for you:  Imagine if Jimmah played like a rookie usually does, and was struggling in his first NHL season, where do you think we’d be in the standings?  That’s right… Jimma H. Howard saves and he is saving our season.  It is time that the rest of the time gave him some support and started winning games with scoring and sound defensive play for 60 minutes.

Uncle Mike
Babcock has not been perfect, but he has been great and the best choice among all coaches to lead this squad.  He has been juggling lines with the acumen of a court jester due to injuries, and is getting AHL talent to perform at an NHL level.  Yet the players may be tuning him out.  He cannot play on the ice, or make players do the right thing, but he is supposed to drive the players to perform to the level the team expects of them.  And he has to do something about our break-out plays.  The forwards are too far away from the D-men leading to continual stretch passes.  When the passes don’t work, we usually have an odd-man rush coming into our zone.  Even when they do work, the D-men are too far behind the play to provide secondary support to the rush, typically resulting in the play stalling as our forwards are stifled by the opposing defenders and backcheckers.

Still the greatest GM in hockey, along with Lou in NJ,  what he has managed to do with our team is quite amazing.  Yet even Tick-Tock cannot replace the scoring we lost in the offseason with the players he brought in and the salary cap hanging over his head.  I am scratching my head about his signing the Unabomber.  Whether or not I get furious at Tick Tock will depend on if he signs the Unabomber following this season.  If he does, Tick Tock will have made my shit-list.  Until then, I still love him and think he is the greatest GM in hockey.

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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