Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

Why The Wings Are West And Ding Dong, Jim’s The Best

Never.  You’ll never catch Jimmy D or Tick Tock Kenny Holland or, god help us all, Uncle Mike Babcock begging the league to move or not move another team for the sake of “preserving a rivalry.”  It’s pathetic.  San Jose should have three natural rivals: Anaheim, LA, Phoenix.  And a few others, like Dallas or even Vancouver. 

Doug Wilson doesn’t care about the “rivalry” or the quality of competition. His concern is the same with every other owner and GM in this league.  His concern lies with the dollar sign and how to maximize it through the use and abuse of the Detroit Red Wings. 


The Sharks’ desire to keep Detroit in the conference is no surprise because the teams have developed a strong rivalry with five postseason clashes.

Oh, I know. I know.  San Jose beat Detroit the last two years and couldn’t Wilson be thinking that he’d like to keep the Wings west to sustain a relationship that’s become one-sided?  No.

And don’t think he wants to keep Detroit westward just because the “hockey’s good.”  It’s not.  It hasn’t been.  San Jose beat us behind multiple 5-3s and then almost blew a 3-0 lead, and would have if the home-ice situation was reversed.  It’s not about competition. It never is in this urinal cake of a league.

It’s about money and it’s about filling their arenas.  There isn’t a single West Coast team who wants Detroit to leave because those are at least two dates per year when they know their arenas will be packed. TV ratings skyrocket.  Fake disdain in the media rules the day when the transplants invade with our arrogance and our obnoxious children, our love for cheap beer and our loud mean voices.

The Wings want out of that business. They’ve carried this conference for more than two decades.  Now it’s time to move us back East with the other adults.  Let the Wings see what it’s like to play in arenas filled with, you know, fans of the home team.  Let the Wings feel the seething hatred of a Toronto crowd.  Let the Pens fans boo James F. Howard when he’s announced as the game’s number 1 star. Again and again.  How much red did you see the day after Thanksgiving? In Boston? Not much.  Not much.  Last night in Buffalo?  No? Good.

Supporting the West should no longer be a Detroit burden.  If your franchise is as potent as you seem to think it is, Doug Wilson, then it’s time to support yourself.  Build a brand. Better yet, win some games in May.  Just a hint.

Typically, when I spout something to start the live blog, it usually comes back to haunt me.  Games against the Bitter Bitch Brittle Backbiting Boring Blues have gone that way. I write a ditty blasting them for being stupid and sucking, and then the Wings lose.  It’s happened, you know, more than once.

But yesterday, I had no doubt.  The headline was, “Hockey’s Best Goalie: James F. Howard”.  I had no doubt because I knew for a fact that even if the Wings were to lose last night, it wouldn’t be the fault of the JFH.  Why could I say that?

Because it never is.  I don’t say that facetiously. Back when Ozzie was manning the fort, he used to hint to the Diggers after losses that it may not have been entirely his fault.  Five goals Ozzie? That’s your fault.  It just is.  Chicago gave up five last night and they’re blaming it on team defense.  Sure.  But team defense gets better when your goalie plays kinda good, you know?

Chicago’s giving up goals by the ass ton.  They’ll deny it’s Crawford’s fault because to admit that would equate to just admitting the Cup is a pipe dream.  But here are the facts. His save percentage is .899 to Howard’s .931. His GAA is, uh oh, 2.91 to Howard’s 1.83.  Little Brother’s played two more games and given up 29 more goals than Detroit.  That’s got to be disturbing if you’re a Hawk fan.  Tsk, tsk.

Howard, however, is the best in the business right now.  16 out of 21: less than two goals allowed. That’s disgusting.  It’s obscene and to many of us, pornographic.  He’s playing better than any goalie we’ve seen in Detroit since Hasek’s playoff run in ‘02.  And that was a small sample.  For that entire season Hasek’s stats pale in comparison to JFH’s: 2.15 GAA, .917 save percentage and 5 shutouts.  Shit. Howard’s got 3 on 3 December.  Almost 4 after last night.  Go to Hasek’s stat page and compare.  Howard’s having a better year, statistically, than Hasek ever had.  Ever. He won’t equal the 13 shutouts in 97, but he’ll surpass Hasek’s best win totals.

He’s better than Vernon was in terms of the regular season. Better than Joseph. Better than suicidal Manny and better than Osgood. Better than Chevaldae and Stefan and Hanlon. 

You see where I’m going.  And if you’re the rest of the league, just go ahead and shiver.  This may be the best goalie we’ve seen in Detroit since Sawchuk. 

So, when the bitter bitches in Denver and St. Lose and Chicago point to the imminent departure of The Perfect Human as the certain demise of The Dynasty? 

James Fuching Howard may have something to say about that. 

Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink




Cant have enough of it

Posted by Zqto from Brazil on 12/03/11 at 03:27 PM ET


I love what Jimmy’s doing too, Chief, but a better season than Hasek ever had? Sorry, but that’s crazyspeak. In his prime, there were seasons when he’d be top three in shots against and he’d STILL lead the league in GAA with a save percentage a tenth of a point better than anyone else.

Jimmy might be the best Red Wing goalie since Sawchuk, but Hasek in Buffalo was probably the greatest goalie of all time.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 12/03/11 at 03:37 PM ET

IwoCPO's avatar

I’m not saying Howard’s better than Hasek was.  But, statistically, his season rivals Hasek’s best when you discount the shutouts.  Hasek’s SV perc was never higher than .930 and his GAA was never lower than 1.87.  Right on par with Howard’s numbers this year.

I didn’t mean to infer that Howard is better than Hasek.  But he’s playing so well right now that a statistical comparison is valid.

Posted by IwoCPO from Sunny San Diego, bitches on 12/03/11 at 03:52 PM ET

Rdwings28's avatar

here, here…...glory awaits. Last week Jimmy said he wants his name on THE Cup. Oooooh how that always motivates…..........answer his prayers, please, manger baby.

Posted by Rdwings28 on 12/03/11 at 04:09 PM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

Sure glad we kept on the Red Wing way and overseasoned the chubby faced kid who was dubbed as not being NHL material.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 12/03/11 at 04:19 PM ET


Posted by IwoCPO from Sunny San Diego, bitches on 12/03/11 at 01:52 PM ET

Fair enough.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 12/03/11 at 04:31 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

I got to see Howard in the AHL several times and he looked just okay in GR. He’s a totally different goalie this year. He has confidence to burn. At this point, someone could throw a handful of rice at him and not a grain would get past.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 12/03/11 at 04:45 PM ET


Driving back to Michigan from friggin Pennsylshit last nite, I was forced to listen to the game on XM via Buffacraps feed.  Holy crap.  There were multiple times I thought my radio went out because of silence.  And not once did I hear who won a faceoff.  Horrible.  Ohio went and upped their speed limit on the turnpike to 70.  Which was nice ‘cause that let me get to Ken Kal coverage that much quicker.  Ya know, when you can’t watch the game, it cuts the pain quite a bit by listening to the game with kickbutt game callers such as Ken Kal and his partners.  I don’t think there was a second of radio silence.  When there was a pause in action, they hammered the waves with a plethora of stats that make the offices in Toronto look ignorant. Wait. That’s not very hard to do.  Bad analogy? Oh well.  In any case, Ken Kal calls a kickass game.

Posted by cementslinger from Midland MI on 12/03/11 at 05:05 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Epic post, Sailor.  Howard’s getting some fine help from some great unknown named Jakub Kindl as well.  I think Jimmy’s confidence in his defensemen is reciprocated with his great play in net.  When your goalie talks and taps his defensemen on the helmet (and I’ve seen Jimmy do that A LOT with Stuie and Kronner in the last several games), as Zqto said, “Swagger.”  Bitches, James’ Dong has it.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 12/03/11 at 06:00 PM ET


I have never had much faith in Jimmy and always thought that he was overrated. Now i sit here and eat crow because Jimmy is blowing my mind with how he has played this season. I was wrong and I am ok with that. favorite Jimmy moment so far is when he tossed aside that puck from his catcher like it was a piece of garbage after the Kopitar penalty shot

Posted by Jordan from Detroit on 12/03/11 at 07:27 PM ET

BrendonTO's avatar

If Jimmy keeps playing this way, the adorable little 8 lb’er is going to send us the back-to-back Cup wins we should have had against the Pens very soon.

Posted by BrendonTO on 12/03/11 at 08:09 PM ET

edillac's avatar


favorite Jimmy moment so far is when he tossed aside that puck from his catcher like it was a piece of garbage after the Kopitar penalty shot

hanging dong moment,if there ever was one

Posted by edillac from isolation on 12/03/11 at 08:19 PM ET

calquake's avatar

Chicago’s giving up goals by the ass ton.

And I thought the Metric System was difficult. cheese

Posted by calquake from a.k.a. Uniquake, workin' on my manifesto on 12/03/11 at 08:24 PM ET

YYZerman's avatar

I thought Jimmy’s middle name was Russell? Did I miss a joke or something?

Posted by YYZerman from Detroit, Michigan on 12/03/11 at 09:19 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

I thought Jimmy’s middle name was Russell? Did I miss a joke or something?

It’s actually “Fuching”

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 12/03/11 at 09:28 PM ET


Wilson’s a chum-p: offer-sheeting, trading a guy the day after signing him and now this.  School in summer buddy.

OTOH Mr. Howard has been amazing.

Posted by loojay on 12/03/11 at 10:06 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Jim. Howard. 

Great post, Chief!

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 12/04/11 at 10:56 AM ET

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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