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No game diary tonight, what with it being a Saturday and all. But please enjoy an open thread as we discuss the thrills and chills of Game 2 of the Weekes Era in all its Brookbank/Salmela d-pairing glory. Also, enjoy this long-forgotten gem we pulled out of the IPB Art Gallery yesterday (we thought it was lost! Thank heavens we’ve found it again!):

oh-oh-oh-pando_edited-1

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It could be the last night of the 07-08 NHL season, Gentle Reader. Just as we’re typing that the Cup is in the building, Doc, ever the stickler, points out that the Cup won’t actually be in the building until it looks like the Wings have it in the bag. Wait… Don’t they already? In any event, we’ll be here, updating our thoughts and opinions as the game goes along.

— During the Wings’ early power play in the first, Doc makes his first mention of the evening of how Cleary will be the first Newfoundlander to get his name on the Cup. Boomer: “I bet there are a lot of things that no Newfoundlanders have ever done.”

— Pierre reports that the winning Pennsylvania Lottery ticket today was 7171, and brings us this information with all the gravitas one would normally use when a devastating injury has just happened. “I’m serious,” he insists. Pookie, who spends most playoff years reporting on hilariously convoluted omens and signs she’s seen during the course of her days, says, “He sounds like me talking about that hawk catching a mouse last year that meant the Senators were going to win.”

— After coming back from commercial, Pierre reports from between the benches about the relative invisibility of Petr Sykora in this series. Sykkie is sitting right next to him and watches dumbly as Pierre gesticulates emphatically while reporting that no one’s talking about it, but Sykkie is clearly very injured. He concludes that Sykkie’s a hero, because he’s not complaining about his “upper body” injury. Schnookie: “Yeah, because he’s got you complaining for him.”

— Hossa’s really making himself cheaper by the minute, isn’t he?

— Boomer has had it with the Playoffs and is ready to move on. At the top of the game she vowed this will be the last game she watches this season. As Kronwall shoots the puck perfectly over his own goalie’s shoulder (the goal is credited to Adam Hall), Boomer mutters, “This was not what I was hoping for tonight.”

— Even when not paying attention, Schnookie never gives up the role of angry hockey fan. While doing some research on Lansing, MI for IPB Irregular Myra, she reads off a history of the town from Wikipedia: “Lansing was founded in 1835 when several settlers came from AND SOMEONE NEEDS TO SHOOT THE PUCK, RED WINGS!!! Where was I? Oh yes, settlers from New York State…”

— Pierre interviews Sid Crosby and asks him if he’d like to play more minutes. Sid narrows his eyes and says “Whatever we need to win.” Take that, Pierre! That Sid, what a pro!

— In the pregame banter, Edzo mentions he spoke to MAF that morning who asserted that he would have to be “perfect” this evening. That puck slowly trickling through his five hole was… not perfect. Heh.

— Fleury must read IPB (uh, during games — he’s a good multi-tasker, ok?) because he just shouted “perfect this” on a spectacular save.

— Malone takes a slapper directly to the face in front of the net. Pierre shouts, “He had no option but to take that in the nose.” Except, you know, wearing a fucking visor.

— The Wings tie it up with 13 minutes to work with. The play is a gorgeous tip in front, and surely that will destroy the Penguins’ remaining hopes and dreams. Hey! Just as we type that, NBC gives us a long, slow-motion shot of the Pens bench reacting. Just like with Ralphie Wiggum and the valentine, we’re fairly sure you can see the exact moments when their hearts break.

— After Rafalski puts the Wings up 3-2 midway through the third, is it time to start unpacking the Cup?

— We finally get the money shot of the Cup being taken out of its box. PandoNation feels compelled to point out that the name Jay Pandolfo appears on that beauty twice! EEE!!!

— Well, that was unexpected! With less than a minute left Talbot ties it up sending us to overtime. The Hockey Gods just want Boomer to see as much hockey as she can in her final game of the season. The Joe Louis Arena, for a handful of seconds after the final buzzer, was the quietest place on the planet just then. We predict a quick, painless, no-nonsense OT from Detroit.

— Pierre runs up the stairs to get to the studio set a few minutes after they go to air. Milbury gives him “gentle ribbing” about Pierre’s flushed faced and heavy breathing. Pierre sniffs, “I ran up the stairs and I made it!” Wow, Pierre’s delusional about everything, including the most insignificant of his own accomplishments or lack thereof. This explains a lot.

— It merits mention every time we see a playoff OT, because we worry the NHL isn’t always paying attention — there is nothing in all of sports that’s better than NHL playoff OT. NOTHING. And that first OT? Was a prime example of it.

— Being Devils fans we can’t help but snicker at Pierre’s report that Petr Sykora tapped the glass and told him “I’m going to score”. Pierre, we’re pretty sure he said, “I”m really sore” as a prelude to taking himself out of the big game when the going gets tough.

— Ah, another OT intermission, also known as “nap time”. Wake us up when the hockey starts again, okay?

— Pookie declared during that intermission that she’s got at least two more periods of hockey left in her. Then, when we returned to see the teams on the benches, a lingering shot of Dallas Drake on the Detroit bench makes her say, “Oh no. I just thought that was Dave Andreychuk. I think that’s a sign that I don’t have two more OTs in me.”

UPDATE:

— Oh for FUCK’S SAKE. Petr Sykora? The Red Wings owe us HUGELY for having sat through this crap. Seriously, Petr Sykora. That’s just shameful.

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Is it Game 4 already? Guess so! We’ll be here, Gentle Reader, not with a full diary but just a smattering of our thoughts as the game goes along. If we believed in signs, we’d be a little confused today. All day long a day-or-two-old baby deer has been camped out next to our garage, all spindly legs and fluffy white spots. That suggests the helpless, hapless Pens of Games 1 and 2 might have something in store. Of course, the fact that when we turned on the TV for tonight’s hockey, the channel was set on NHL Network, which was showing highlight clips of Scott Stevens leveling Kozlov, Lindros, and Francis, suggests the juggernaut Wings might return to form. We’ll just have to tune in to see which portent wins out — cute baby deer, or Scotty Stevens’s elbow.

— Hossa gets the Pens on the board and our feed quickly flips over to the not-so-subliminal messages suggesting we buy Flyers season tickets. We see visions of what the Flyers would do if they were facing down a baby deer and decide we’ll skip those season tickets, thanks.

— We become deeply engrossed in Baby Deer Watch ’08, and spend several long moments watching breathlessly as the baby deer makes its adorable, wobbly way across our backyard through the gloaming, disappearing silently into the woods where its mother is waiting. When we come back, the score is 1-1. We have no regrets; the baby deer is a million times cuter than this hockey game, no matter how good the game is.

— As the period winds down, still 1-1 and with the teams trading chances off some turnover-filled, end-to-end wheeling, Pookie waxes nostalgic: “I’m just thinking back to the Devils’ Sykora trade, and all it gave us… A Stanley Cup with Jeff Friesen, and then the joy of not having Friesen or Tverdovsky on our team anymore, while still not having Sykora! It’s the trade that keeps on giving!”

— It would behoove NBC to tell Pierre to stop thinking “X got into Y’s kitchen” is a cool thing to say.

— We also wouldn’t mind if the MSM would quit thinking that we care about a player’s nationality. We don’t care any more about Lidstrom being the first European captain to win the Stanley Cup than we do about Modano being the highest scoring American. They’re all just hockey players. We’ve past the point where anyone is going to like or dislike Lidstrom more or less because he’s a “furriner”.

— We don’t watch much of the Red Wings, so we were very excited to get to see these Datsyuk and Zetterberg fellows we’d heard so much about. But you know what? They kind of seem like piles of puke. Madden totally should win the Selke over those two guys.

— Boomer spent the first intermission complaining that she’s ready for hockey to be over, that the playoffs have gone on too long.

Boomer: You know what I’m tired of? Pierre McGuire!

Schnookie: But we didn’t even seen him in the second and third rounds.

Boomer: So? I’m tired of him!

That, NBC, is the power of Pierre McGuire. Please, use that power sparingly.

— The second intermission studio segment, with its “banter” and “analysis”, leaves us in a state of stunned silence. It’s finally broken by Schnookie asking, “Was that just a new nadir for intermission shows?” Boomer: “I hope so. Because if it can get lower than that…” She trails off ominously.

— Hudler scores to put Detroit ahead. We didn’t get a great look at the play thanks to the difficult-to-decipher weather warning map our local NBC feed put up. We think they’re might be a severe thunderstorm warning for our county, or it might be in Maryland. Damn our US educations, not teaching us geography better! (Marc-Andre Fleury, however, has no such excuse for not getting a good look at the scoring play. What the hell?)

UPDATE:

— The Wings ended the game with some prevent defense, but proving hockey pundits everywhere wrong, it did not prevent them from winning. The final thirty seconds looked like we might be in for some OT, but mercifully the Pens couldn’t quite put the puck in the net. Monday night the Cup will be in the building. Given how much better the Wings have looked than the Penguins, we’ll almost forgive the fans if they start chanting “We want the Cup” before the 3rd period.

— So, in the end, it seems Scotty Stevens’s elbow won out over the baby deer. Better luck next time, Bambi.

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So we’ve decided to show up to diarize tonight – does that mean the Pens will show up, too? Whatever happens, we can be pretty much guaranteed the presentation of it will suck, because it’s on NBC. We’d say something like, “Buckle your seatbelt, Gentle Reader,” but with the way NBC presents hockey, we’re afraid we’ll all be dozing by 9:00.

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! After Doc’s intro seems to imply that Sid invented the white-out, we then cut to an “outside the dressing room” interview with Marion Hossa (who we suspect didn’t bother going to Detroit for the first two games), and it’s Pierre McGuire doing the interviewing! Oh Pierre, how we’ve missed you! Of course, we take all our jubilation back if it turns out that Mike Milbury’s reign of terror reporting from between the benches hasn’t ended.

We ignore most of the rest of the pregame stuff as we try to figure out whether the HD picture is better on the cable or satellite. We decide we like the cable picture better, in case you’re wondering.

Comparing NBC to Versus, it’s actually hard to say which commercials for the network’s other programming are worse, Extreme Fighting and/or rodeo, or “Celebrity Circus”.
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WOOOO HOOOOO! After three terrible nights, the playoffs are back! We never would have thought we’d be so happy to see the VS studio guys again. Less surprising than that, though, is how happy we are to see Doc again. It looks like hockey… It sounds like hockey… Must be hockey!

Edzo really earns his paycheck when Doc asks him to pick players from each team who were key in the second round and he goes off the charts by picking Franzen and Morrow. Thanks for the hard-hitting analysis, Eddie. After a bit of time filler about those two and a short interview with Morrow, VS sends us to commercial with some of those HD studio close-ups of stars from both teams: Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Richards, and Ribiero. Ribs looks so much like Clifton Collins, Jr. in his shot that Pookie reaches for the timeworn Tigerland reference, “No really. I’m a butcher.” Don’t let your meat loaf, Ribs! (We say it every time we see him. And we laugh like it’s never been said before each time, too. Because we’re cool that way.)

Okay, those “Messin’ With Sasquatch” commercials didn’t have to come back.

When we come back from commercial, Doc informs us this game is available in HD, “the same shape as the surface this game is played on.” We love Doc more than anything, but… huh?

FIRST PERIOD

19:22 Pookie, slowly and stunned: “I don’t think I’ve really paid any attention to the Red Wings this season. I had completely forgotten they had Rafalski. And I had no idea he was wearing 28. He looks totally different.”
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It hardly feels like a year since our last Conference Finals Tale of the Tape, but it’s time to break out IPB’s highly scientific approach to determining who should win. Today we’ll address the Western Conference. You know, that conference we know we sooooo much about. Tune in tomorrow for the Eastern Conference.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Detroit (1) vs. Dallas (5)

Skaters:

We are really well-informed about this series. What can we say? We’re bloggers. That makes us experts. We’ve been paying very close attention to the Stars in the early rounds of the playoffs, and have watched a grand total of maybe 40 minutes of all the Red Wings games so far. But they were a very convincing 40 minutes. If the Stars decide to look at all like the Avalanche did in Game 4 of the second round, it’s going to be a quick and bleak series for them. Apparently, when their opponent is utterly incompetent at the sport of hockey, the Red Wings are really good. But are they as good when their opponent is, like the Stars, not utterly incompetent? Probably. But don’t go trying to burst our bubble of newfound Stars fandom. We love how confident both of these teams look, and the fact is that while we know a lot of the names of the players on both rosters, we wouldn’t be able to pick more than three guys from either team out of a police lineup. Advantage: Red Wings

Goaltending:

This is a head-to-head battle between two guys who’ve long struggled with a terribly unfair, burdensome label — no, we’re not talking about the whole “playoff choker” or “underrated” thing, we’re talking about us thinking they’re douches. As it turns out, we were just projecting our dislike of their teams, when in reality, they’re both adorable in their own unique ways. First up, there’s Marty Turco, who won us over completely with his charming mic’d up turn during last year’s All-Star Game. Who knew he could be so personable? And he blazed a trail by doing in-game play-by-play that made the way for Manny Legace’s star-making hilariousness during this season’s ASG, and Pretty Ricky’s magnificent slip-up when he declared over an open mic that he’d just “fucked up” his hip during the Superskills. On the other side of the coin is Chris Osgood, who, for some inexplicable reason, has prompted us for years to shout, “Yo yo yo! Ozzie in da house!” every time we see him on TV. Seriously, we have no idea why we do this. But look at this picture! He’s too cute for words! Advantage: Push, unless Hasek gets back in net. Then decided advantage Stars

Coaching:

This one’s a no-brainer. Dave Tippet is freakin’ adorable. Bored during the lock-out he took up motorcycle building to pass the time! Following the 8th longest game in NHL history he wrote on the dressing room white-board that every player had given “195%”! We’re fairly certain he spends his weekends volunteering at the animal shelter, delivering food to shut-ins, and planting flowers in downtrodden neighborhoods. Mike Babcock, on the other hand, is a monster. He once said IPB’s beloved Mike Commodore “never should have been drafted”. He held hockey fans everywhere hostage in 2003 with his overuse of the word “greasy”. We’d be surprised if he doesn’t spend his weekends releasing kittens into the wild to repopulate feral cat colonies, boxing in Meals on Wheels trucks, and planting invasive weeds on every corner. Advantage: Stars

Uniforms:

As Devils fans we have to salute the Red Wings for making as few changes to their uniform as was possible for this season of the Sexy Slimfit Look. The winged wheel is hands-down one of the greatest logos in all of sports, maybe even of all logo-dom. That logo alone more than makes up for the fact that the Wings wear red pants, which is almost always a terrible idea. The Stars, meanwhile, took the makeover opportunity and ran with it, completely revamping their look. Since the previous look included the mooterus and those dopey star ponchos, it should leave us without complaint. But… We’re just not sure about the “Dallas” baseball-style design. It’s a little too sparse for us. We’re not “sparse” people. Advantage: Red Wings

Mascots:

While both teams’ media guides might tell you they don’t actually have mascots, that’s a load of bunk. The only reason the Stars don’t have an official mascot is because they promoted him to co-GM after firing Doug Armstrong. And we’re not talking about Les Jackson! ZING! Meanwhile, Detroit acts like they’re all “too Original Six” for a mascot, but if Toronto, Montreal, Boston and Chicago can have them, then really all you’re doing by refusing to have a giant plush dude wearing team colors and running around your arena is aligning yourself with the Rangers. The Wings seem to be hedging their bets by having that insipid purple polystyrene octopus that descends from the rafters, a half-measure that fails worse than not trying at all. So the tale of the tape for the mascots in this series come down to the unofficial mascots Brett Hull and Octopussy — Advantage: Stars

Players We Love, In Spite Of Ourselves:

Remember how we mentioned earlier that we don’t really know anything about these teams? Yeah. That means we don’t know which guys we shouldn’t like. There’s really no “in spite of ourselves” when we say we’ve fallen in playoff love with Brenden Morrow, is there? Schnookie has strangely set her playoff goggles on Tomas Holmstrom, but really, that’s not really very “in spite of ourselves” either. We’re not sure if the problem is us, or if it’s that neither one of these teams is particularly ugsome if you don’t play in the Western Conference. Advantage: Push

Players Who Annoy The Living Crap Out Of Us:

Relevance is no issue here, as in one corner we have Darren McCarty, washed-up ex-grinder, and in the other we have Willa Ford, who we think was on some network reality show we don’t watch (if it ain’t ANTM, it’s a waste of airtime). Darren McCarty was the cherry on the sundae of the Wings-‘Lanche Turn The Clock Back To 1996 fiasco this post-season. ’96 was the first playoffs we watched as truly crazed hockey fans, but even then, when we were jumping on any and every bandwagon we could, we hated McCarty. Willa Ford reminds us why we’re glad we don’t care about celebrity gossip anymore. Advantage: Stars

Playoff History Against New Jersey:

Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Advantage: Push

City Claims To Fame:

In 2003 we packed up trusty Pando the Prius and headed out from Arizona to New Jersey. The best part of the drive, by far, went through North Texas. North Texas? Is stunningly beautiful. (The 80 mph speed limit is also beautiful.) The worst part of the drive, by far, went through Dallas. Our driving directions from AAA involved merging into the far left lane of an 8,000-lane highway and then taking an off-ramp on the right-hand side of the highway 10 feet later. We still have the white knuckles to show for it. After a long day of being in the car and after braving and barely surviving the famous Death Merge, we arrived at our hotel, desperate for room service. Gentle Reader, there was no room service. We dragged our sorry asses to the front desk and begged for directions to the foodstuffs that would require the least amount of driving on our parts. The concierge directed us to the one place that didn’t require getting back on the highway — some chain restaurant industrial park. Whatevs, said we, as long as there’s no death merge. In place of a death merge we got a series of shadowier and shadowier back service roads littered with billboards for strip clubs and gun shows. Now when we think of Dallas we think of the Famed Stripper-Gun-Show District. Good times, good times. The only time we’ve been to Detroit, we sat on the tarmac at the Detroit airport in a non-deplaning layover while waiting to fly to Vancouver for the ’98 All-Star Game. Advantage: Detroit

Conclusion:

This one’s almost too close to call, Gentle Reader. At first glance, it looks like a 3-3 tie, but if Hasek gets in net, the Stars eke out the win in the Tale of the Tape.

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There are not sufficient words to describe how happy we are to have hockey to write about tonight — dude, off-nights are so brutal! The NHL needs to look into how to solve this recurring problem of the games going away this time of year.

Something else the NHL needs to look into? Chris Simpson’s wardrobe choices. Why would she wear that puke yellow color if she knew she was going to be interviewing Wings in clashing red? Tonight’s exploration of why HD isn’t necessarily a good thing involves an interview with Zetterberg. We agree he looks like if Jake Gyllenhaal and Petr Sykora had a kid, and while some people might say, “That sounds like a very handsome kid,” those people are wrong. Furthermore, his hair is going to haunt our nightmares tonight. So unfortunate.

We come back from commercial to get an interview on the bench between Chris and Andy McDonald. The puke yellow doesn’t match the Duck ensemble any better than it did the Wings one. Pookie cries with dismay, “I can’t take my eyes off her coat!” (Andy McDonald seems to be trying his hardest to do just that, as he keeps his head ducked and turned away from her for the duration of the interview.)

FIRST PERIOD

Okay, we may have just complained about interviews with ugly people in HD, but as soon as we get a sweeping vista of the Honda center, we thank the Television Gods for this most magnificent invention.
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