Friday, May 25, 2007

Red Wings Post-Mortem

A few days have gone by, the depression has subsided (thanks largely in-part to Rasheed Wallace and Rip Hamilton fouling, but not really fouling LeBron James, who probably shouldn't have been playing in the game anyway, so Cavs fans can probably STFU, thanks!). I'm finally ready to post my final thoughts on the 2006-07 edition of the Detroit Red Wings.

First and foremost, I couldn't be more proud of what that team accomplished this season. We went from Ken Holland saying before the year, "We think we're probably a playoff team" to the brink of the Stanley Cup Finals. It was disappointing to have the season end the way it did--losing in 6 games to a team that Detroit outplayed for vast portions of the series. But they can definitely feel good about what they accomplished, even if non-Cup seasons are thought of as a failure in Detroit.

After the run that this team has had, there's not a lot that they could do that would impress me. Beating San Jose impressed me. I was scared of that team the entire season, they whupped us a few times in the regular season, and they seemed to be the worst possible matchup for the Wings. But they dug deep and somehow found a way to contain those big, fast, talented forwards of San Jose.

So what went wrong against the Ducks? Plain and simple, I think it was just hockey. Sometimes it not your year and the bounces prove it. It's hard to explain, but sometimes Patrick Roy can do the Statue of Liberty with the puck not in his glove leading to a crucial goal, and sometimes the puck can take almost a 90 degree turn as it's heading into the empty net, I assume from hitting a patch of snow (That really did happen in Game 6).

Did the better team win that series? I think not, but then again, I'm horribly biased. In all fairness, the Wings dominated 3 games, the Ducks dominated 3 games. Strangely enough, the "dominating" team was 3-3 in those games. It just so happened that the Wings were the ones that were 1-2. It was a close series (apart from Game 3) between two very evenly matched teams. The bounces went the Ducks' way and they're moving on.

What was the turning point? It'd be easy to say Game 4. The Wings outplayed Anaheim, the Ducks didn't have Chris Pronger, and they still managed to get a win. That was definitely our chance to step on Anaheim's throat, but we were still fine at that point. 2-2 heading back to Detroit, and realistically no one thought we'd win both games out there after being outplayed in games 1 and 2. The turning point in the series was the penalty call on Datsyuk late in Game 5 with the subsequent goal off Lidstrom's stick. In a way, it was kind of fitting. The Red Wings scored in a similar situation late in game 4 against the Sharks. If they hadn't, the series would've been 3-1 San Jose and we likely would've been out in the second round. This time, the Ducks get the late goal and steal a win on the road, when a loss would've put them on the brink.

How pissed are you about the officiating? It wasn't a blatant screw job, by any means. The officials certainly did everything in their power to let the Wings get back into Game 6. The Wings did have two very critical calls go against them, and they played huge roles in costing Detroit two games in this series. In Game 2, Hasek was pushed into the net for the tying goal. The rule explicitly states that a goalie can't be pushed into the net and have the goal count. To go one step further, the puck was hidden between Hasek's pad and his pants. The whistle probably should've blown. In Game 5, the Ducks received a "makeup call" in the form of a Datsyuk interference penalty in the last minute. To their credit, they made the most of that power play, sent the game to overtime and won. Was it a penalty? Absolutely not. If that was interference, then Detroit should've been on a power play any time they dumped the puck into the offensive zone and had their player pushed into the middle of the ice. Calling Datsyuk's play interference, in a game featuring the Anaheim Ducks, would be akin to Sheed being called out for a flop in a game against Sideshow Bob.

But the Wings can't complain too much. They had countless 5 on 3s, less success on the power play that you would hope, and even with those two calls, the Wings had the rest of regulation and overtime to make the call in Game 2 a non-factor, and in Game 5, the Ducks still had to score on that gift powerplay, plus Detroit could've won it in overtime. Not to mention Lidstrom hit the post, and Holmstrom missed an open net Esa Tikkanen style, which could've not even let Game 5 get to the point of a gift power play sending that game to overtime. Bad calls happen. They went against us this time, but the Wings still had plenty of chances to end this series.

Should Babcock have pulled the goalie on the Wings last power play in Game 6? I think Babcock made the right call in not pulling Hasek. It looks bad, because the Wings didn't score, and Anaheim scored the game before on a 6 on 4, but I still think Babcock was correct. The penalty was called with 3 minutes left in regulation. Obviously you can't pull the goalie that soon. For the first minute of the power play, the Wings were all over Anaheim. If you pull the goalie, the chances of you scoring go way up. But it also brings into play the chance that Anaheim could shoot it all the way down the ice into the empty net, with no risk of it being icing. Additionally, you lose the ability to have the goalie come out and head-man the puck on a dump in.

Chances were, Babcock was getting second guessed on that decision. Leave the goalie in and don't score, he should've pulled him. Pull him, and the Ducks score, then he's an idiot because he didn't give the power play a chance to work.

As it was, the Wings had 2 PPGs in the third period alone. The PP was looking very effective, the Ducks were on the verge of collapse, and by pulling the goalie after the penalty expired (with 1 minute left) the Wings, in effect, had a 3 minute long power play with almost no risk of a short-handed goal. And Holmstrom had the puck on his stick with a chance to tie the game, and I'm not sure how he missed.

Babcock is a very good coach and the Wings are lucky to have him. He makes some questionable moves on occasion, but I don't think this was one of them. If he deserves to be criticized for anything, it's the fact that his team came out sluggish in an elimination game and didn't wake up until it was 4-1.

How do you feel about Pavel Datsyuk and his contract NOW? It's tough. Datsyuk definitely showed up for this playoff run. 8-8--16 in 18 games is not bad at all. But he was invisible on the road until the last period of Game 6. His playoff performance was a definite step in the right direction. As long as he keeps improving, and the cap keeps going up, this signing might not be the "Franchise killer" that I originally thought it could be. That said, he's going to turn 29 this offseason. It's hard to imagine that he's going to improve a whole lot more over the course of the deal, and by the time the deal is done, he'll be 36. I still disagree with the length of the contract, if for nothing more than the fact that he's essentially untradeable if things don't work out so well. In a salary cap era, with guaranteed contracts, there are very, very few players in the league that I'd be willing to give a 7 year contract to.

I still think he's a bigger question mark than you would like a $6.7 million a year player to be. But after declining to deal him last offseason, the Wings had to either pony up to keep him (and overpay if necessary) or lose him for nothing in a year where there aren't a ton of top-notch free agents on the market. I still would've preferred to see him dangled in a deal for Roberto Luongo, who is well worth the money, but he showed up in the playoffs--at least for the home games, he drastically improved as a defensive player this season, and we've got him locked up through his prime now. Worst case, he's a great regular season player, and you're always getting a good defensive effort out of him. Is he worth what we're paying him? Probably not, but probably only by about a million dollars or so.

What needs to happen this offseason? You got me. As it stands right now, the Wings have $12.3 million under the cap for next year. The cap will probably go up $4 million or so, but we owe Hasek and Chelios about $1.1 million in bonuses. That puts us at $15.2 million under the cap. They want to keep about $2 million for the trade deadline and injury call-ups, meaning we've got $13.2 left to spend on a goalie, three defensemen, and four forwards (Hasek, Chelios, Schneider, Markov, Hudler (RFA), Lang, Calder, and Bertuzzi are free agents.

Holland said in an article that Calder wasn't what they hoped and that his injury problems were not the reason for the decline in his play. I was hoping to have him back (for much less than the $3 million he was making this year) but it doesn't look like he's an option. Bertuzzi is a risk, and he may come cheap because of that, but the fact that the Wings have to give up a 2nd round pick if they re-sign him would be enough for me to part ways. Lang shouldn't return either.

You can bring up Kyle Quincey full-time for about $500,000 and Grigorenko will be on the roster next year at about $900,000. If Hasek comes back for about a million and Chelios returns for $800,000 again, that leaves $10 million for 1 defenseman and 3 forwards. Hudler will get a bump in pay, but it wouldn't shock me to see the Wings trade him, as Babcock has never seemed to like him much. As it is, we'll put him down for $1.5 million (I assume he'll get more than he's worth, since Kronwall parlayed potential into a $3 million/yr deal which is absolutely ridiculous). Figure on another forward coming up from the farm, like McGrath for $700,000 or so and that leaves us $7.8 million for a defenseman and a forward.

This team really missed Schneider and Markov had his moments but was pretty solid overall. We can probably only keep one. Schneider would be more expensive, but Markov doesn't give you much in the way of offense. There are a few good forwards out there. We need to find one. Chris Drury would be the ideal fit, but he might be too expensive. He's the guy I would really like. Another name that intrigues me is actually an old Red Wing, Slava Kozlov. He's posted 2 of his 4 best seasons over the last two years (and was only about 3 points away from having his two best seasons overall). Granted he's on a great line, but he showed that he can still be very productive. Would Datsyuk like having a guy like that on his line? We probably wouldn't have to break the bank to sign him. As long as he's not bitter about the Wings trading him when they were instructed not to move any "good players" in the deal.

Basically what it comes down to is that the Wings can probably afford 1 decent-to-big signing, but they probably have to let Schneider go if they want to sign a higher-level forward. I also don't know that they can afford to sign a top-notch guy to a long-term contract with Zetterberg coming up for a max extension in two years. That would be a lot of money to pump into 3 forwards, even if you are going to free up Lidstrom's money before too much longer (probably...who knows, he could go Chelios on us).

If Hasek doesn't come back, we're absolutely screwed as a Cup contender for next year. We'd lose the best goalie of his era, but we wouldn't free up more than $300,000 in cap space. Some people have thrown around the idea of JS Giguere. He's a good goalie, certainly in the upper echelon of the league, but I don't think you can pay him $5 or 6 million to get him here. He's not an upgrade from Hasek (even if he's got more years left in him) and you'd be paying him a ton of money. Even though he was great at times against the Wings, Detroit still pushed almost 3 goals per game past him. And you'd probably have to let Markov and Schneider go to afford him. I don't see how that improves the team. If Hasek leaves, we're probably going to just have to bite the bullet and go with a Howard/Osgood tandem, and hope that Howard can pull some Cam Ward magic out. There would be a few options out there in trade, the only problem is that two of the best ones (Toskala and Bryzgalov--if the Ducks keep Giguere) play for teams that probably wouldn't have an interest in helping the Wings.

If Hasek is back, this team is in the mix next year. If he doesn't come back, it's hard to see (at least right now) how this team is a legit contender in 2007-08. It's just too hard to replace a guy like that when his retirement wouldn't free up any money.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Little More on Brandon Burlon

Here's a little more information about the newest Michigan Wolverines verbal, Brandon Burlon.

From the Hockey Prospects Online draft guide for the 2006 OHL Draft:

Burlon has been the prospect we have seen some of the most improvement from over the course of his minor midget season. He is a very good passer and plays the game with heart. His skating is more than adequate and he possesses a bullet of a shot that he put on display with 3 goals in the OHL Cup. I feel that Burlon's ability to read the play and make the right decision will make him a late first round or early second round pick in this year's draft.

McKeen's writes the following about him, based on his play at the aforementioned OHL Cup, where he had 3 goals in 3 games:

Is a physically strong player who can contain his man...he shows a lot of confidence in his puck handling abilities as it was not uncommon for him to dance into the offensive zone and set up shop and quickly recover if he got safe decisions with the puck in offensive situations...great skater with wide range of motion who could still use a little work on his foot speed.

Outlook: Shows tremendous promise and while he may not be the biggest defender in terms of height he compensates that deficiency with sound positional skills and brute force. Burlon worked hard and impressed many with his play this season and should be worthy of a high pick come the OHL draft.
As an added bonus, since I love you all, here's what Hockey Prospects Online wrote about Robbie Czarnik and David Wohlberg (even though they spelled his name wrong) in the same preview:

Czarnik is a dynamic forward who can take over a game with his shifty moves and his long reach. He is able to get around defenders with his reach and has one of the quickest releases in midget major hockey. Czarnik just has that scoring touch that not many players are gifted with. He takes a lot of abuse on the ice, but he seems to handle it well and even shows some grit to his game when defenders challenge him.

[Wohlberg is the] Detroit Honeybaked Captain and leads by example on and off the ice. Has a great all-around skill-set and possesses a great mind for the game defensively. He is a great passer who uses his teammates and he can really create a lot of offense on the rush.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

That Pipeline is Flowing

4 posts in one day. That's gotta be a record for me.

As M71 from the Yost Post pointed out, the official website of the St. Michael's Buzzers is reporting that defenseman Brandon Burlon has committed to the Wolverines for the 2008 season. He's reported to be a "smart, mobile defenseman" who is offensively gifted.

He had 4-19--23 and 46 PIMs in 45 games back on the blueline for the Buzzers this year. He had 1 assist and 4 PIMs in 4 playoff games. Sounds like a nice pickup.

I'll try to dig up some more stuff on him after I'm finished drowning my sorrows about the end of the Red Wings' season.


Lost in the Cogliano departure and the goalie merry-go-round was the fact that one of the most important players in this year's class, defenseman Kevin Quick, was selected in the OHL Draft by Sarnia, who also selected his brother. Even though the DEFCON never went to 1 with him, the chance was still there that he could bail for the OHL.

Looks like he's not going anywhere.

MaizeOut found a great interview with Kevin over at in which he says that he has "no intention of ever going to the OHL."

The interview is outstanding a provides a lot of information about Kevin. Both of his coaches (prep and Midget Major) seem to think he's got the potential to be a Top 4 defenseman in the NHL. The latter coach compared him to Scott Niedermayer and Jack Johnson. He also has a Lloyd Carr-like ability to use the word "tremendous".

It's a really great interview and well worth the read. He sounds like a great kid, and we're lucky to have him at Michigan. Despite being a third-round NHL draft pick, he's kind of been under the radar, at least in my own consciousness due to the fact that he plays out East and it's not nearly as easy to get information about him as it is the guys at USA or in the USHL. He could be a very important addition to our team, however. We're going to need some help in scoring from the blueline after the losses of Matt Hunwick and JMFJ. It sounds like Quick could very well help pick up the slack.

The Jersey List

As stated below, this post was inspired by Westsider Rider's jersey list. I like lists. I like jerseys. So here's mine:

Michigan Football Home #32 Anthony Thomas (No name on back)
Michigan Football Home #1 David Terrell (No name on back)
Michigan Football Away #32 Anthony Thomas (No name on back)
Michigan Football Away (New style) #20 Mike Hart (No name on back)
Michigan Basketball Blue #30 LaVell Blanchard (No name on back)
Michigan Hockey White with Blue M
Michigan Hockey White with Blue "Michigan"
Michigan Hockey Blue with Blue M
Michigan Hockey Blue with Maize "Michigan"
Michigan Hockey Maize Script (98-style)
Michigan Hockey Maize with Blue M (autographed by entire 2001-02 team)
Michigan Hockey Maize with diagonal "Michigan"
Louisville Football Home #7 Chris Redman (No name on back)

Pistons Away #3 Ben Wallace
Pistons Home #1 Chauncey Billups w/NBA Finals Patch
Pistons Home Throwback #36 Rasheed Wallace
Pistons Away Throwback #32 Richard Hamilton
Pistons Red Alternate #22 Tayshaun Prince
Pistons Red (old style) #4 Joe Dumars
Pistons Practice Jersey
Suns Black #34 Charles Barkley
Nuggets Blue #5 Jalen Rose

Hockey Jerseys:
Red Wings Home #96 Tomas Holmstrom (signed)
Red Wings Away #17 Doug Brown
Red Wings Away #39 Dominik Hasek
Red Wings Winter Classic #81 Marian Hossa
USA White #7 Chris Chelios (signed)
USA Blue #27 Jack Johnson (signed)
Canada Red #19 Steve Yzerman
Sweden Yellow #5 Nicklas Lidstrom
Russia CSKA #8 Igor Larionov
Detroit Vipers White Authentic
Sharks Teal #17 Pat Falloon ($4 at Goodwill...couldn't pass that up!)
Blackhawks Home (no name--potential Hasek throwback? Hmmmmm....)
Oilers Navy 3rd Jersey (gear number)

Packers Home (5 stripes on the sleeve) #4 Brett Favre
Packers Home (3 stripes on the sleeve) #4 Brett Favre
Packers Home (3 stripes on the sleeve) #4 Brett Favre (Signed, Authentic)
Packers Home #56 Nick Barnett
Packers Home #92 Reggie White
Packers Home #25 Dorsey Levens
Packers Away #4 Brett Favre
Packers Away #87 Robert Brooks
Packers Away #21 Charles Woodson
Packers 75th Anniversary Throwback Style #4 Brett Favre
Jets Home #4 Brett Favre
Vikings Home #4 Brett Favre
Saints Home #26 Deuce McAllister

Not Counted:
Packers Home #7 Don Majkowski (Not counted because there's no name on the back and it hasn't fit me in about 15 years)
Tigers Home #33 Matt Nokes (Not counted because I think my mom gave it to Purple Heart when I outgrew it. I want another one.)

Current Count: 48

The Zoltan of the Michigan Blogosphere

The addition of links to the sidebar today was spurred by a very funny post from Maize n Brew, assigning a football player to many of the blogs in the Michigan Blogosphere. My humble site was said to be the blog equivalent of everyone's favorite punter:


The explanation:
"How do you fit a mostly hockey blog into a football post? You make him a kicker! Hockey players and kickers are all ferriners anyway. Yost Built is not only your home for all Michigan hockey related gossip and analysis, but an excellent source of insight into the football program."

I appreciate the compliment, and the reasoning is very sound.

Anyway, I realized that I've been remiss in linking to some excellent Michigan blogs out there. So I added a new batch of links. Hopefully I haven't missed anyone. If I have, shoot me an email and let me know.

Another fun post that I stumbled across was Westsider Rider's current jersey list. I'm also a jersey collector. I don't have nearly as many, but I also--to this point--have only purchased jerseys of teams that I root for, and not necessarily individual players (or jerseys themselves) that I like. My list will be in a post to follow. I want to keep that on the sidebar along with my Sporting Event Counter.

I hope to make some more improvements to the site in the near future, including a new header to replace last year's Worst Year In Sports History banner (I resisted the urge to put up the Double Championship Countdown banner again this year, fearing a jinx). If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them. There's a lot of blank space on the sides of this page, so revamping that would be something on the docket as well. If I can figure out how to do it.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Clarification on the Goalie Situation

I spoke with a source close to the situation about the four-goalies-three-spots issue and this is the way it's shaking out, as I understand it:

Steve Jakiel has left school and won't be coming back next year. Hunwick is in, and it's reportedly not a one year thing. In addition, from what I've heard, Bryan Hogan will be coming this year, with the intention of winning the starting job.

I expect that the guys from The Wolverine will have more on the situation in the coming days, but it seems that the above is the way that things are going to play out. And it makes sense. Jakiel barely played last year with only Sauer in front of him. He wasn't going to play any more next year with Hogan potentially being in front of him as well.

In Hogan, we get a guy that put up outstanding numbers a year ago--who actually got Jakiel traded in the first place--and struggled quite a bit last year. If he gets back to form, I expect him to at least challenge for the starting job.

Hunwick won a AAA State Championship with Victory Honda and put up impressive numbers there (2.54, .942) before heading to the NAHL last year where he got off to a good start before being injured.

Anyway, it seems that issue is taken care of, and will be ending in the way that I was hoping, at least. The next issue: Can Sauer get it together or will someone take the job from him?

Unfortunately, that won't be answered until the skates come on in the late summer/early fall.

Friday, May 18, 2007


So I wasn't really worried about Bryan Hogan getting drafted by Erie in the OHL draft when it happened. Now I am.

Bob Miller has reported an unconfirmed situation where Matt Hunwick's younger brother, Shawn, has decommited from D-3 Adrian College to play for the Wolverines next year (more as a replacement for Mayhew than a replacement for Sauer as starter). Some high-quality facebook stalking confirmed that it does appear he's Michigan-bound.

But, with Sauer and Steve Jakiel already on the roster, Baby Hunwick would make 3 and Hogan would make 4. Which is probably one too many. Which means the rumblings about Hogan not appearing in a Michigan jersey next year may in fact be true. Unfortunately.

Bob had also mentioned awhile back that there were rumors that Hogan would hang out for another year in juniors before enrolling at Michigan (which doesn't make sense to me), but I guess that would still be an option as well (rather than him just going the OHL route). The addition of Hunwick is adding some smoke to the fire that Hogan won't be coming.

Quick info about Hunwick: He split-time for Alpena in the NAHL last year and posted a 17-9-1 record with a 3.04 GAA and a .904 save percentage. He didn't start any of their playoff games, as they were swept out in 3 straight.

Personally, I'm still hoping that Hogan is coming and can get back to last year's form to contend for the starting gig. It appears less likely with today's development, however. Then again, it's also possible that this is more of a "I'm probably not making the NHL, so I might as well go get a great education at Michigan rather than play for a D-3 school, and maybe I can play some in practice" decision rather than a "They need a 3rd goalie for a year or two since Hogan isn't coming, so why not?" decision. Either way, best of luck at Michigan to Shawn.

Update: Another possibility. MHNet posted that someone on Mlive said they heard that Jakiel is leaving. Granted it's Mlive, but it wouldn't be the most shocking thing in the world. With one (shaky) goalie in front of him, Jakiel started one game last year. Seems reasonable that if Hogan is still coming, the playing time would go down to 0 next year. Basically, no one knows at this point. The Wolverine hopes to know more early next week.

In other news, Andrew Ebbett has signed a one-year entry level contract with the Anaheim Ducks. Congrats to Ebby. Hopefully he'll get called up and can cancel out some of the suckiness that Chris Kunitz brings.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lolcats meet The Rockbiter

And I'm officially bookmarking this site which Brian helpfully pointed out. I have to have a little fun with this. My submission:

I Love The Playoffs

As much as I love football--both college and pro--this is the absolute best time of the year.

I just love everything about this time of year. Out-of-market games are entertaining, because not only do you get to see the other stars of the league in action, it's hard not to have a rooting interest in every single game.

I love that we just went through a stretch of a month where there was hockey on every night but two or three. And when there wasn't hockey--and a lot of times when there was--there was basketball on every night, including TNT's amazing studio show, Inside The NBA.

I love that I watch games that I would've had no interest in in the regular season. Would I watch a Mavericks/Warriors game in the regular season? Probably not. Come playoff time, you're damn right I want to see the #1 team in the league upset in the first round. The entire Western Conference bracket mattered to me in the NHL, due to the seeding and my (it turns out, irrational) fear of playing the San Jose Sharks in the second round.

I love triple-headers.

I love staying up til O-dark-30 watching quadruple overtime games, knowing that the next day is going to be hell.

I love that slight feeling of disappointment when someone finally scores, just because it's over.

I love how I feel slightly cool for staying up until the end of one of those epic overtime games, even if it actually just makes me kind of a dork.

I love my superstitions, and hearing about everyone else's.

I love the fact that just because the Wings won a game against Calgary, while two friends from high school and I were in a group chat on AIM, we've repeated the chat almost every game since then. The one game we didn't? Game One against San Jose, which we lost.

I love that I was blamed for the loss by my friends, for not coming into the chat.

I love that I felt some remorse for that.

I love that when one of my buddies was going to the bar to watch the game, since it was on Versus and the Sopcast feed wasn't working, he left his screen name signed into the chat "to keep it going".

I love that I actually spent 20 minutes standing in front of my closet, trying to decide which jersey to wear on a day when both the Wings and Pistons were playing.

I love that I've dubbed my Nicklas Lidstrom Team Sweden jersey "The Closer" and I only bust it out when the Wings really need the luck.

I love that I'm actually having a debate whether to wear "The Closer" tomorrow, even though it's only Game One, just because we're 3-0 in the playoffs when I wear it.

I love that I fully intend on dragging my girlfriend's cat into the room to watch all future overtime playoff games, since he was in our living room for both overtime winners the Wings have had in the playoffs.

I love that I was turned on to how wonderful the crowd out in Oakland is for Warriors games. And I love Charles Barkley for ripping on them, just for the hell of it.

I love the moment of dread when you realize that Barry Melrose might actually pick your team (Thankfully, it hasn't happened in these playoffs).

I love the excitement of winning a series that your team isn't supposed to win.

I love waking my girlfriend up at 2 in the morning with a joyful yell, after an overtime game winner.

I love that when I wasn't sure Mathieu Schneider's OT shot went in, I waited until after seeing the replay to get excited about the GWG (even though both teams had left the ice), and upon seeing it gave a yell anyway, simply because I didn't want to be deprived of waking up the neighborhood.

I love that I felt a need to post a "Why shouldn't I dread this series versus Anaheim" thread over at (even though I don't actually fear the Ducks all that much--not to say they can't beat Detroit), simply because I posted the same thread before the San Jose series and we won.

I love that most people got the joke.

I love that there's no rational explanation for any of this, and I love that I quite simply don't care.

I love the added bonus (beside, well...winning) that if your team keeps winning, you get to keep watching them.

I love that the Calgary Flames are golfing right now. The Indiana Pacers, too.

I love the 1:00 am "Did you see that??!!" calls to my dad.

I love that Rasheed gets 7 more technicals to burn.

I love how the Pistons think of the little things, like adding a steam whistle behind the basket and including a sound byte of Rip Hamilton exclaiming "Yussirrrrrrr" after he makes a shot.

I love how the intensity of the game picks up ten-fold over the regular season.

I love watching the reaction of the crowd on replays, when I already know the shot is going in.

And lastly, I love that the Wings and Pistons have provided so much entertainment over the years. And I love that I've learned to enjoy every second of it, because you never know when you might get back.

15/32nds of the way to the Double Championship that I longed for last year. Keep it going, guys!

Monday, May 07, 2007

God is That Crow Delicious

I really didn't think that the Wings could take out the Sharks. What I underestimated was the heart of a veteran team. And the whole we've-got-the-best-goalie-in-the-world thing....

It's amazing how fast things can change. With a minute to go in Game Four, I was so bummed out. The game was over, the season was essentially over. Then Big Shot Robert Lang woke up long enough to not turn the puck over and put one in the net. And suddenly everything was different. Instead of being down 3 games to 1, as they probably should have been, it was heading back to Detroit tied 2-2. Then Nabokov has a horrifically bad giveaway and it was the Sharks on the verge of elimination. And Hasek is just automatic when a series is on the line.

You want clutch? In our last 3 game sixes--all on the road, mind you--Hasek has allowed 1 goal. That's one goal in eleven periods of playoff hockey, in series that are contested enough to have made it to a game six. In elimination games (either us or the opponent) as a Red Wing, Hasek has allowed: 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, and 4 goals. That six goals in seven games, six games of which he allowed one or less. He gives this team the swagger that they've been missing since he retired the first time. He gives them the confidence to play loose, because they know that if they make a mistake, he'll be there to bail them out.

So now we bring on the Anaheim Ducks. Better defense than San Jose (though the Sharks defense impressed me, especially early on in the series...they were better than I thought they'd be). They've got more offense from their blueline than the Sharks. They have a better goalie than the Sharks. But they don't have the depth or the high-end talent up front that the Sharks have. They have some good players, don't get me wrong. But they're more of a 2-line-plus-their-checkers team, rather than 4 lines of big, skilled forwards that SJ could throw out there.

They also haven't played anyone that can put the puck in the net in these playoffs. The Wings are battle-tested. They've played, and beat, two very good hockey teams. They've beaten a better goalie than Giguere in Kiprusoff, which should give them confidence to keep at it if Giguere starts standing on his head.

The one thing that scares me is Giguere's record in playoff overtime games. He's 10-1 in his career. Nothing you can say about that record other than it's absolutely stellar.

This will be a great series, but I think the Wings just beat a superior team in the Sharks. There's no reason this team can't be headed back to the Finals, especially if Hasek keeps up his play. I wish we had Schneider though.

I'd also like to give a call to the Sharks for playing a hard-fought, but extremely clean series, and not gooning it up like those assholes in Calgary. That's a team that I really respect. They're going to get a Cup in the very near future. I can't believe how good they are, even as the youngest team in the NHL.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Exactly How Many Sporting Events Have I Been To?

It's currently 1:45 am Central Daylight Time. I've been laying in bed for the last hour and a half unable to sleep. One of the thoughts that has been running through my head for the last hour is: Exactly how many sports venues have I been to, and how many sporting events have I attended? This is going to end up being quite the challenge for me, but out of sheer curiosity I have to figure it out. The rule that I've decided is that if I went to the venue for the express purpose of watching an event that took place, it counts.

So both semifinal games of the Frozen Fours I've attended count. Both the IROC and Craftsman Truck races (which occurred on the same day) at Daytona count. The Indy Lights race that preceeded the IndyCar race at MIS does not. Nor does the Celebrity Dodge Neon race on Belle Isle. In some cases, I've had to make a best guess...if anything, I'd say my numbers on these are low.

Let's have at it!


Tiger Stadium-
Right off the bat it's evident how challenging this project will be at times. For a complete guess, I'd say 15 games. Seems reasonable since I used to really like baseball.
Comerica Park-3 games, two in one weekend (which was far too much baseball) and another game which included 3 hours of rain delays and overlapped with a Pistons/Spurs NBA Finals game. I was thrilled.
Wrigley Field-2 games, one which we were basically sitting in Ferris Bueller's seats, another in mid-April when it was like 25 degrees.
Comiskey Park (Now US Cellular Field)-1 game, horrifically hot. Bo Jackson homered though, which was cool.
Joker Merchant Stadium-4 games in one week. Ate a lot of strawberry shortcake.
Skeldon Stadium (Toledo Mudhens)-At least 2. My best guess is 3 games.
Ray Fisher Stadium (Michigan Baseball)-2 games.
Alumni Field (Michigan Softball)-I ran the music for a year, and worked an absurd number of tournament games, most of which were in looooong rain delays (a game between Illinois-Chicago and Tennessee ended at 2:15 am). My best guess is about 30 games.
Warner Park (Madison Mallards)-3 games.


Michigan Stadium-
6 years of season tickets x average of 6 games per year, plus 3 in 2006, 1 in 2007, 2 in 1999 and one when we lost to Northwestern with Griese at QB. Includes the 100th Michigan/OSU game, and that wonderful, wonderful comeback vs. Michigan State. 43 games.
Lambeau Field-5 games. 4 of them at night. 4 in precipitation. 4 with Milwaukee fans. 2 wins. I saw Brett Favre break the all-time completions record though. And LeRoy Butler's last game.
Ford Field-1 game. Favre's 400th touchdown pass.
The Silverdome-6 games is my best guess. Saw Desmond Howard break the single-season return yardage record and Sterling Sharpe break the single-season completions record (at the time).
Rose Bowl-2 games: The snoozer against USC in 2004 and the epic battle with Texas.
Camp Randall Stadium-2 games: The Brett Bell game and the disaster in 2007.
Welsh Ryan Stadium (Northwestern)-1 game, though there were so many Michigan fans there, I might as well count it under the Michigan Stadium tally.
Ohio Stadium-1 game. And the only enjoyment I got out of it was watching that dude on his buddy's shoulders get pepper-sprayed and face-plant into the ground.
Notre Dame Stadium-1 game. 1 glorious, glorious game.
The Palace of Auburn Hills (Detroit Fury)-1 game. R Kal is Our Pal.


Joe Louis Arena-
Best guess of 20 Wings games, 3 Jr. Red Wings games, roughly 22 college hockey games, including the 2007 GLI Championship. 45 games total.
The Palace of Auburn Hills-I went to a lot of Vipers games during that Turner Cup run. Best guess of about 15.
Yost Ice Arena-7 years of season tickets x 20 games or so a year (for my first 6 years, I had missed a total of 2 games that were included in our student ticket package), plus 2 Regionals, NTDP/NHL All-Stars game, 2007's victory over the Evil Empire in the Showcase, 2009 vs UNO = 150 games.
Munn Ice Arena (Michigan State)-4 games.
Ann Arbor Ice Cube-10 NTDP games.
Bowling Green State University Ice Arena-2 games.
Ewigleben Ice Arena (Ferris State)-1 game. Long-ass drive for one game.
Allen County War Memorial Coliseum (Ft. Wayne, IN)-1 Michigan/Notre Dame game. I think it was like 8-2 and TJ Hensick had the dirtiest goal I've ever seen in person.
Joyce Center (Notre Dame)-2 games. And they were both stellar. Because that wasn't the worst weekend EVER or anything....and at least I didn't throw a bottle of Powerade against the wall only to have it break all over Scotty's bag.
HSBC Arena (Buffalo...NCAA Frozen Four)-2 games. And let's never speak of the second one again. Didn't stay for the Championship. Fuck you, Scott Hansen.
XCel Energy Center (St. Paul, MN....NCAA Frozen Four, 2007 Icebreaker)-4 games. Didn't stay for the Championship in 2002. Michigan/BC & Michigan/Minnesota in 2007.
Van Andel Arena (Grand Rapids, NCAA Regionals)-7 games.
Lawson Ice Arena (Western Michigan)-1 game.
Value City Arena (OSU)-2 games.
United Center-1 game.
Compuware Sports Arena (Plymouth Whalers)-2 games.
Windsor Arena (Windsor Spitfires)-Best guess 3 games.
Spartan Stadium-1 game, biggest crowd ever to watch a hockey game!
Broadbent Arena (Louisville, KY)-1 Louisville Icehawks game (ECHL).
Fraser Ice Arena-1 Motor City Mechanics game. Chelios and Hatcher vs. David Wyzgowski. Go figure.
Pepsi Center (Denver, CO...NCAA Frozen Four)-2008 Frozen Four. 3 events, including the NCAA Championship.
Kohl Center (Madison, WI)-2008 College Hockey Showcase Michigan vs. Wisconsin


The Palace of Auburn Hills-
15 or so Pistons games and I have a very vague recollection of seeing the Fab Five against some foreigners there, but I could've made that up. 16 games.
Cobo Hall-This had to be a UDM game. 1 game.
The Silverdome-1 game. A really really hot Pistons/Celtics playoff game. All I remember is that it was hot and we lost 99-98. I was like 5.
Crisler Arena-2 years of season tickets, 1 year of working every home game, 2 games or so in the Ellerbe era, 1 loss to Boston University, and Cheryl Burnett's first home game where we were supposed to throw mini-basketballs into the crowd when we scored our first basket. At the first media timeout, I was still holding the friggin little basketball. I never went to another women's game. 49 games.
Conseco Fieldhouse-1 game. Pistons/Pacers game 5 the year we won the title. The arena almost got hit by a tornado, it was the same day as the Indy 500, and the upper bowl was all Pistons fans. And we won.

Auto Racing:

Daytona International Speedway-
4 days, 8 trips in bumper-to-bumper traffic from Orlando to Daytona and back, 1 Craftsman Truck through the fence causing a 2 1/2 hour delay, 6 races.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway-The first two Brickyard 400s. 2 races.
Michigan International Speedway-2 IndyCar races, 3 NASCAR races. 5 total.
The Raceway on Belle Isle-I went to the "Free Prix Day" pretty much every year. We'll go with 7 of those, 4 races themselves, plus the 2007 American Le Mans race. 12 events total.
Molson Indy Toronto-"Free Prix Day" while we happened to be in Toronto. They were filming "Driven". 1 event.
Lowe's Motor Speedway-2008 Coca-Cola 600. 1 event.

Churchill Downs-
Never for the Derby, but I've been there probably 6 times. Met Paul Hornung there one time.

Other Michigan Sports:

Cliff Keen Arena (Michigan Volleyball)-
Roughly 20 events.
Ocker Field (Michigan Field Hockey)-4 years of working games....probably seen about 30 games.
Michigan Soccer Field-3 years of working men's and women's games. We'll go with 40 games. That's far too much soccer.
Crisler Arena-1 wrestling match. Met Big Poppa Pump.

There may be more I haven't thought of off the top of my head. I'm sure there will be more in the future. I'm going to post this on the sidebar, mainly so I'll keep it updated, because it's pretty cool to have around for my own benefit. As of right now, that works out my best estimate of 577 sporting events at 54 different venues.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Cogliano is Gone

The news is spreading quickly this morning that Andrew Cogliano has decided to skip his junior and senior seasons at Michigan in favor of signing a contract with the Edmonton Oilers.

This is an absolutely huge blow to the Michigan hockey team, who it seems more and more likely will have to outscore its opponents in order to win games. Cogliano would've been a big help with the "Win every game 6-5" project. He definitely came on as a sophomore, putting up a 24-26--50 line, and would've likely been our top candidate to have a Hobey-type year.

The impact? Well, we'll now be looking at having a freshman center our top line, and there's at least a chance that we could be starting four freshmen centers. Another option would be to slide Kolarik back to the middle, which would open up a spot for Pacioretty on the right side of the top line.

Even with Cogliano's departure, I still feel that Michigan is much deeper up front than they were last year. We just don't have that top-end talent that we had with Cogliano and Hensick. One also has to wonder what Cogliano's exit means for Kevin Porter. Will he be the next to bail, since his numbers will likely take a turn for the worse not having Hensick or Cogs to get him the puck?

If you're a Michigan hockey fan and feeling down about this news, however, I offer up this suggestion: Amazon now has copies for sale of the 1996 NCAA Championship Game on DVD. Get yourself one of those bad boys, sit back, relax, and dream of the days when the top players didn't leave school early. And then curse Amazon for offering up Free Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25.00 and then setting the price of this DVD at $24.99. Thanks to Michigan Hockey Net for the discovery.