Abel to Yzerman
by IwoCPO on 10/27/07 at 08:00 AM ET
Stu Nahan, in the second round of the second Balboa/Creed fight, said, “...and I thought Balboa took a beating the first time these two fought but this is a butchering. That’s what it is, plain old butchering.” Rocky, of course, eventually wore the Master of Disaster down, waited until the 13th to break a few more of his ribs, then miraculously rose to his feet as the Spectrum crowd sobbed in joy. It was, as Rocky would tell you, the greatest moment of his life—with the exception of his kid being born.
Last night was, as Stu would tell you, a butchering from start to finish. Every facet. Every shift. San Jose can go 65 and 5 the rest of the way, but they’re not beating Detroit in a playoff series. Not after last May and not after last night.
Valteri Filppula, slumping, scored a beauty. Andres Lilja, lumbering, put a dart past Nabokov—after a perfect feed from Filppula. Joe Thornton, pouting and surly, drew three more penalties and looked as frustrated as ever. Ron Wilson, out of idiotic metaphors and Dr. Phil references, could do nothing but whine. Mike Babcock, eloquent and brilliant as ever, offered this nugget.
“You don’t have to be very good in your own zone when you’re playing in their zone.”
Yes. Absolutely. I think he may have given us a bit more. I’ll try and remember. Have it for you soon.
It would appear that, well, the Wings are finding their stride. After some early issues with even strength scoring, they’ve scored 12 times 5 on 5 the last three games. Ulterior scoring? IE: players who don’t appear regularly in the traveling magic show called Monty Babcock’s Flying Circus? Yeah, kind of working itself out. Ten goals for players not named Zetterberg, Datsyuk or Holmstrom the last four games. Uh oh. Hasek’s out with a hip thing. Trouble brewing. Trouble. Nevermind because Chris Osgood hasn’t lost a frigging game his last 17 starts. And, this is where I throw up in my mouth a little bit, he’s looking as confident as any goalie in the league.
But, hey, the Sharks are the Cup favorite. As American icon Jack Black said in “Orange County”, they’re kick ass. Big, burly and ready to lay the wood to those bastard Wings.
Grier, who appeared to be injured in a collision with teammate Ryane Clowe but came back for a late shift, said the decision to come out hitting contributed to the loss.
“At times tonight, we got too carried away with trying to be physical with them,” he said. “We’re a big team and we can be physical and we need to be physical, but we also have some talent and we do move the puck and we got away from that.”
That collision? That collision was a three second synopsis of the rivalry brewing between these two teams. Pavel Datsyuk, bringing the puck out of his own zone (trying to get to their zone, so that he doesn’t have to be good in his own zone, no doubt), was suddenly confronted by the possibility that Grier and Clowe had evil intentions. As the two converged on little innocent Pavel, he shifted slightly to starboard and the two Sharks felt shame and probably some pain. And that’s the way it is with these two teams. San Jose…looking for the hit, forsaking all else. Detroit…letting them think for a moment that the chance is theirs for the taking, then snatching it away.
Back to the balanced scoring idea, which I kind of, you know, talk about the importance of sometimes. It’s coming. We’re getting there. And the key is going to be Filppula, the fourth most talented forward (probably the third when you consider that what Homer has isn’t really, technically, “talent”), and the key to second or third line scoring. Uncle Mike has seen recent signs of awakening and it makes him feel warm.
“It was good to see Fil get one, he’s had so many chances,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s a really good player, he’s going to take off here, we all know that. We just need to give him some time to get rolling.”
This was supposed to be even more of a statement game for the Sharks than the last statement game against Detroit that they didn’t make a statement in. Coming off their best win of the season against Calgary, a three-day tummy rub at some provincial resort, and the memory of last week when the Wings had owned them in the Tank. But, not even master strategist Ron Wilson can save them when every one of them hits the ice frothing at the mouth and thinking that the Wings can be beaten simply by using their well-documented size advantage. Didn’t last year’s playoff give them a hint?
This week James Mirtle wrote about the average size of each team in the NHL. We all know the Wings are the oldest team [and are assured to remain so with the re-signings of Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby]. But it turns out they’re also the smallest and lightest. The Sharks, conversely, are the heaviest and the second biggest team in the league.
That size didn’t make much difference tonight.
No it didn’t. Not when your biggest, and best, player keeps parading to the box for losing it like Ed Belfour after three days in rehab. Joe Thornton is scary good, and with that reach it’s hard to believe the Wings have stifled him the way they have. But, Detroit’s in his head. He went after Zetterberg last night when he should have been seeking out Chelios. And not just because it was Chelios who put a forearm shiver to his chin last game in San Jose. If Thornton’s blasting Chelios it means he’s at least wreaking some havoc in the Wing end. But going after Zetterberg in the neutral zone, from behind, wacking at him while he skates away? A frustrated dude.
Also frustrated? Homer. Called for another bogus interference penalty last night. His twelfth of the year (minor penalty). Fourth goal of the year called back, three of which—I believe—would have been Zetterberg’s. Yes, Gary, there is an agenda. Yes, Gary, Holmstrom’s a target for your refs. No, Gary, the phantom penalties haven’t cost the Wings a game—yet. So you’d better take a look before this situation gets out of control.
“Unfair, and not right,” Babcock said of the recent penalties against Holmstrom.
Yeah. And Uncle Mike wasn’t done. Nope. Not by a long shot.
“When I see Homer smiling and laughing it reminds me of the episode when Arnold and Willis first got to the Drummonds. Everyone was so darn happy. But then when those goals get called back, and I see Homer skating to the bad place I think of Fonzie crashing after jumping those trashcans behind the chicken restaurant and I get scared. I need a Twizzler.”
Babcock seems to think the league is going “to take a look.” He’s probably right. Ken Holland’s probably got Jimmy D on it already, blabbering and spouting. However it happens, the league has to see what’s going on. Everyone else does. Penalty by reputation. It’s to the point where Holmstrom’s not even in the crease, deliberately outside of it in fact. He’s getting called for screening the goalie, not even touching him. Someone’s been in somebody’s ear and Homer’s paying the price.
Enjoy your Saturday.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org