Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

Faith, Steam, Trust and Hope Fading In Hockeytown

I’m going to be blunt, and most likely borderline obscene.  I say that now so that Paul can call the attorneys, so that you can hold off on reading this post until your kids have headed back to their television induced acceptable behavior, so that you can lock up your pets and remind your wives, significant others, spouses, half-sisters (good afternoon to you in Tennessee)...that on days like today no one is safe.  No one is untouchable. 

Nothing is off limits.

And let’s start with the end because that’s where we are: this team will not repeat.  Period.

Well…maybe semi-colon.

Wait. Before we get to the inevitable end, the painful early exit, the farce, the wasted season, the quick and pathetic end to a year that had so much promise….let’s consider how it could be avoided.

Well, if Hossa comes back Saturday all healthy and chipper and full of puppy-like energy?  I suppose that could help, eh?  I mean..he hasn’t been in there for the last three tire-irons to the face has he?

So, maybe that’s it.

Whew.  Now that I think about it, that is it.  Hoss is the solution to all that ails us.  He’ll be back on Saturday and we’ll be JUST. FINE.

And that’s stupid.  Disregard it.  Have a Fresca and deal with this:  With 14 games left, the Detroit Red Wings have no idea who their starting goalie is going to be.  Oh and you just shut your whore mouth if you want to sit there and tell me it’s going to be a home/away rotation.  I don’t care what Uncle Mike is saying or what Digger is believing it.  It won’t happen because it wouldn’t work. 

“So, umm, Ozzie. We dig you and you’re our starter…but only on the road because we don’t have confidence you’ll win at the Joe so you go ahead and trot your happy ass out there for Game 3. See you in a few days.  Meanwhile…Conk, you big bastard.  You’re our starter.  At home.  Not on the road.  Not quite sure you can hack it.  So get out there. Get out there and win those first two because I’m sitting your ass when we take this thing to Dallas.”

It makes no difference. Really.  It makes no motherfu**ing difference because…honestly?....neither goalie is good enough.  That’s that. And that’s all. Neither one.  You know. I dig Malik. I do.  But holy mother of fu**....this?

Snapshots

Whatever happens, please don’t tell me it’s all goaltending anymore. This game masterfully illustrated the ways which the Red Wings’ defensive issues and lapses in concentration have made good goaltenders look bad and goalies who occasionally give a few softies up when they’re overworked thanks to a sudden enemy surge worse.

George.  I like you.  But my god.  Conklin was horrible last night.  Horrible. As bad as Chris Osgood has been this year, last night might have been the worst performance we’ve seen from an alleged goaltender all year.  At least three of the goals were completely soft, bad goals, “tough pills to swallow”.  And the shootout?  He got his ass kicked three times.  Even when Iginla was drunkenly staggering toward him on the wing, stumbling, practically TRIPPING OVER THE PUCK…Conklin still got beat.  Post.

Our goalies are not only not going to steal us a game…they’re not even going to keep us in most games.  Of the 8 teams who would qualify for the Western tournament right now?  Name me a bitch who’s worse than either one of our studs.  Name it.  Roloson?  Backstrom?  That’s as close as we get.  The two kids in Columbus and Nashville?  Talented and dumb enough to not let the pressure get to them.  More talent in Chicago, Calgary and Vancouver…for sure.  The only team I’m comfortable comparing goaltenders with?  San Jose. And how weird is that?

Dan Cleary got run last night.  Run.  He could have broken his ankle. Actually, I thought he had.  Then the cross-checking began. Ferocious, reckless.  Slashes.  Two handers between the shoulder blades, to the neck to the head when Franzen, Homer, Datsyuk were down.  There was no governor, nothing holding the Flames back. And they didn’t care. It was obvious that Keenan’s orders were to beat the living shit out of Detroit in front of the Calgary crease, then beat them some more.

And for four and a half minutes the Wings proved him right.  And they proved Don Cherry right while they were at it.  Penalties…hard ones, violent ones…with no retribution of any kind.  Take note of that.  Note it.

Didn’t like the third too much did you?  Ooh.  40 minutes “of great hockey, followed by 20 of….” whatever phrase you want to use. Shit works.  Well, it wasn’t 40 minutes of great hockey. It just wasn’t.  It should have been 5-1 after 1. Then it would have been great hockey.

Back to the third.  Pulled ‘em back didn’t you Mike?  You told them to sit on it.  Dump it, then head back.  Dump it, chase a little (maybe)...go the conservative route.  Interesting.  Doesn’t sound too much like Red Wing hockey.  Anyone want to hazzard a guess as to why our Uncle Mike would give that kind of direction?

Sure.  I’ll give ‘er a go.  Do you think Babcock pulled the reins because he thought doing so was the right tactic, a planned response?  Or did he do it because, like his team, he was feeling tight?  Why? Because he doesn’t have the goaltending to do anything but go “prevent” when he should be putting the skate where?

On the throat.

Oh. And there’s the crux of it, eh?  Remember that little phrase from last year?  Skate is on the throat. Now’s the time to press down.  Have you seen that this year?  At all.  Hey. Want to see something fun.  As we like to say in the Chief’s Mess….watch this shit.

November 11th, Pittsburgh

Nonetheless, pulling off that kind of comeback against an opponent of such high caliber, has the potential to make a lasting impression on their season, much as a come-from-behind victory in Ottawa last Thanksgiving did.

They didn’t play a perfect game—not even close—but still found a way to manufacture a victory, on the road, against one of the league’s elite clubs.

“We just battled back,” Therrien said. “We showed a lot of character winning that game.”

You like that?  I know you do.  Gather the family.  Go get ‘em. I’ll wait.  We got, as Clubber said in III, a “lotta mo.”

January 13th, Dallas

“We told ourselves we just had to stay with it, and that’s exactly what we did,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. The Stars fell behind 2-0 in the first period and looked like the same scared team that was dismantled by Detroit a few days earlier. Detroit came in on a six-game win streak as the hottest team in the NHL. However, the Stars decided to fight back instead of wilt.

“Honestly, we were [mad],” Ribeiro said. “We wanted to go and hit people and play hard and make a statement.”

Challenged by a hot goalie and struggling on the power play, the Stars tallied with the man advantage to tie the score with three minutes left and then beat the red hot Detroit Red Wings, 5-4, in overtime.

In other words, stick with it.  Stick with the Wings. Keep chipping away at them and eventually, this year, they’re gonna crack. 

Or maybe they won’t.  Maybe you’ll just go right at them and blow them the hell out.

Whatever.  You find the articles.  Nashville, Columubs then Calgary last night.  While you’re at it, check out the Anaheim game from October.  The San Jose game, any of the Colorado games except the last one.

I’m tired.  Tired of hockey. Tired of stressing about this team. 

Interesting thing?  We all know the playoffs suck and suck royally. But in previous years, we at least looked forward to them.  Now?  Do you?  Or do you just want this thing to be over?

I know.  Some of you are so frigging pissed right now that you can’t get to the comment section fast enough.  What kind of traitor, naysaying, whining, disloyal, bandwagon, fairweather motherfuc**r am I?

More of you are nodding and just waiting and wondering if there’s any way this team can pull out of this.

I’ll tell you right now I don’t think they can.  I don’t think a team can play that way all year and just flip that switch for Round 1. 

But I’ll tell you this.  All it takes is one series win. And you’d better prepare yourselves for this.  Round 1, win or lose, is going to be painful.  But if they can get past that? 

See that? Even at my most pessimistic, I start with the “what ifs?” 

February?  Some of you are comparing this to February.  News: this ain’t February. This is 2008/2009. This is an entire season of defensive irresponsibility, shoddy goaltending, terrible penalty killing and a lack of fight for what’s yours.  This isn’t February. This is a campaign. An entire year.  Feeling better?

I don’t know man. I have no idea.  I’m not in that room and I’ll never back away from my stance that a fan still has no access to a player’s head or his heart.  We simply have no idea what these guys are capable of.  We can watch them and we can speculate, but we don’t know the soul of this team and won’t until it’s decided…in April, May or June.

Can. They. Do. This?

Yes.  Hell yes.  Ability? Plenty.  I just really have no idea where the heart is on this team.  I have no clue.  But I’ve got this, and it’s an outsider’s perspective….I don’t care how many shutouts Ty Conklin has at the Joe or how many Chris Osgood had last playoff. I don’t care what anyone says in the papers or even to one another.  I believe they all have one common thought: that their goaltenders are the weak link, and everything else crumbles around that simple fact. 

And goaltending is the reason I just don’t have faith that this team can do it. I hope I’m wrong. You guys know I do.  But I’m not feeling it.  Not this year. 

And guys…depression, pessimism, sadness, disillusionment, even distrust?  That doesn’t mean anyone’s abandoning their team.  No one’s doing that.  No one’s throwing in the towel, turning their allegiance to Columbus.  That’s not happening. Not anywhere.  All this boils down to is the obscene level of frustration that comes with watching such a great team play so very poorly.

Losing belief that they’ll win the Cup again doesn’t equate to loyalty or want.  It just means that some of us don’t have the same kind of antibodies of others.  It’s harder for us to fend this off. 

And that rock-solid belief that 12 isn’t in the cards for Detroit?

That shit’s down the drain Saturday night if we blow out the Bitter Bitch Brittle Ass Blues. 

 

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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