Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

Previewing The Wings Part 2

Defending the republic can be hard work. Hard, stressful work that I sometimes interrupt to entertain you bastards with my prose and seemingly endless wealth of hockey knowledge.  Consequently, I tend to find amusement in things that other people don’t, well, get.  Oh, I’m not talking about the simple stuff like Transvestite Dive Fans or Dive Fans Who Rip The Heads off Defenseless Duckies.  Don’t get me wrong…those situations do make me laugh. 

But I’m going to give you some insight you haven’t had before.  And this is some sophisticated, high-brow stuff. If you’re drunk, you may want to stop reading now because this may just fly right over your heads.  Today, on the phone, taking down an email address:

Me: “What’s your address?”
Caller: “somethingsomething at cox dot net.”
Me: “Ok…is that C-O-X”?

That made me laugh for frigging hours.

Juvenile?  You bet.  Filthy?  Yes.  Like it or leave it, Thom.  Something tells me you’ve heard that before.  As Gene Hackman says in the movie that falls in at #6 in the IwoCPO top ten, “I apologize for nothing.” 

We finish the riveting Wing preview tonite with a look at the defense and then the coaches/organ-I-zation.

Nick Lidstrom’s going to win his sixth Norris Trophy because no one comes close.  No one.  He was shafted the two years before his first one and he was shafted between the third and fourth.  He owns that award now, and that is right and just.  But that wasn’t the question last year.  Nope.  Last season the question was whether Nick Lidstrom could handle the pressure involved with assuming the duties.  I was of the opinion, and I lobbied for it all summer, that Hank Zetterberg should have been named Captain at the beginning of camp last year.  My silliness knew no bounds as I whined like a biotch and said that if Steve Yzerman could handle it at a young age, then so could Zetterberg by God.  What I didn’t take into account, and what none of you geniuses pointed out either, was that Steve Yzerman was no Danny Gare.  Asking a young player, even one as composed as Zetterberg, to fill the shoes of Steve Yzerman would have been stupid.  Instead the Wings selected the one player who is immune to pressure.  And all he did was lead us further in the playoffs than the Wings had been since the glorious southern Michigan summertime (Seger reference, but it’s live…so you may not get it) of June ‘02.  There is no reason to expect any less this season, not from Lidstrom personally or from the Wings in general. 

We haven’t watched Brian Rafalski enough to have an opinion. When I say “we” I mean you, all of us, the entire village.  We haven’t seen enough of him in the pre-season and don’t you lying liars lie to me and tell me you watched him when he was a Devil because nobody watched the Devils except David Puddy and the rest of the Devil fans.  So we don’t know him well enough to predict how he’ll contribute to our happiness. But I can tell you what I damn sure expect.  Steadiness and puck movement.  Mathieu Schneider gave us plenty of the latter but little of the former.  An offensive force, yes.  But a defensive liability.  Rafalski, if he plays as advertised, will start the breakout, qb the PP if necessary and play a Lidstrom-like style of defense.  Will the Wings score as much with him? No. But come playoff time when Mitch Albom remembers there is hockey in our state, he’ll be of greater value than Schneider due to his defense.

Niklas Kronvall needs to stay healthy.  It’s beyond coincidence now and bordering on guaranteed that he can’t do it.  But he needs to because this injury crap is starting to sour us on the young man.  Read the message boards this offseason? Of course you did.  Of course you did.  What’d they say? What’d you say?  Any of you suggest, perhaps, trading Kronvall?  I did. In fact I endorsed it here. It was a Saturday morning and my wife had just told me that in order to save the backyard we were going to hose down every spot where the dog pee’d.  My dog, Sailor, found that amusing and pissed in the living room instead.  I pretended I didn’t see him do it and suggested trading Kronvall.  Ok, I made that up.  He didn’t pee in the living room.  Kronvall shows us glimpses when he’s healthy. Glimpses of offense that we haven’t seen from a defenseman since Paul Coffey was kicking pucks into his own net.  Nick Lidstrom can control a game.  Kronvall can break one open.  He can do it with finesse, nimbly maneuvering along the boards, or veering toward the net.  Or he can do it with a brutal hit.  We’ve seen both, but we’ve been teased.  Stay healthy Nik.  Prove to us you deserve that contract.  More importantly, prove to us you can stay healthy a full season.

Brett Lebda has speed.  Andres Lilja has braun.  Brett Lebda can be offensively gifted and he can give a game away on the blue line.  Andres Lilja brings nothing to the table on offense and he has great potential to ruin a perfectly good Western Conference Final.  Both have their faults, but both bring different ingredients to the table that keep them off the trade block.  As I check in on the spanking at the Joe (4-0 Wings over Rangers with 16 left in the third), I see that Lilja has five hits. Lebda has two shots and is +2.  Great, now we wait for the other shoes to drop with these two.  And that’s how we’ll roll all season.  Good with the bad.

Derek Meech is probably going to make this team because the Wings have no choice.  Can’t send him down because the second he hits the waiver wire the bastard bitter Blues will yank him up.  Do we really care about the Blues getting him? No. We could release Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Lidstrom and Hasek tomorrow. All could be grabbed up by JD and the Blues would still never beat the Wings because God says it can’t happen.  We’ll see what happens with Meech.  An injury fill-in, unless Lilja regresses to the point that he has to sit.  But keeping Meech means losing Quincey and that kid earned himself a spot last year in the playoffs.  It’s maybe the toughest decision the Organ-I-zation has.

Chris Chelios wants more minutes. He wants top-four minutes and he wants time on the PP.  He scored again tonite, by the way.  And so did Kopecky…just now. Really. Not lying.  And Hasek’s going the whole way? Interesting.  5-0 Wings.  Eleventh Cuppeth Runneth Overith.  Anyway, back to Chelios.  The thing is, he could probably handle all of the above.  I don’t mind Chelios on the PP because he’s highly intelligent. He has no slapshot anymore but he’ll get the puck to the net and I’ll guarantee nothing will get behind him.  Where Lidstrom is the brains of this team and Zetterberg is the engine, Chelios is the soul.  His work ethic and his heart, his will to win are infectious.  According to him, he’s in even better shape than last year.  Babcock is going to rest him and that could send Chelios into a Hasek-like rage.  Another year of “Chelios Is Really Frigging Old” feature stories from every city the Wings visit. Bank on it.

There’s your defense.  In my opinion, top five in the league…if not top two.

Mike Babcock has the team he wants.  Finally, he has the team he feels is completely his.  It’s his style, his attitude and his philosophy.  I was a doubter after year one.  After year two, I’ve bought into it and it’s going to take a pretty damn persuasive argument to convince me he’s not Adams material.  He’s turned a soft team into a fierce one, a playoff disappointment NO ONE predicted to get out of the first round last year into a popular pick for the Cup this year.  Andy Strickland can stick his implosion up his bitter Blue butt. 

Finally, Ken Holland.  Been quite the topic of conversation here lately and I’ve stayed out of it.  Here’s a little justification as to why he’s the best in the business:  Hank Zetterberg. Pavel Datsyuk. Nik Kronvall.  Johan Franzen.  Jimmy Howard.  Jacob Kindl.  Igor Grigorenko (who would have been a star). Jiri Hudler and Val Filppula.  Anyone who bashes any of those players is ignorant and just looking for a debate that never comes.  They’ve all developed at a pace equal to, or faster, than any young star in this league with the exceptions of Crosby and Ovechkin.  The only difference is Holland’s drafted them from a spot dictated by his team’s success.  He’s built and maintained the most consistent winner in all of pro sports. 

Plus, he’s not a transvestite, which is nice.

I’m tired again and cranky. Two goals for Hank tonite and Hasek finally let one in.

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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