Yzerman Bolts for Tampa

All the buzz is that the Tampa Bay Lightning are set to announce Steve Yzerman as their new general manager this afternoon.

I’m with Saler on this one. Tampa? Really?

Yzerman is probably the most coveted potential GM in the league right now. He could have had his choice of team and he goes to the complete mess that is the Tampa Bay Lightning? I wish him the best of luck (only because he’s in the Eastern Conference now) but I can’t say I understand this.

A lot of the local media seemed to think this wasn’t going to happen. I think not enough stock was put in the report that Ken Holland had been asked to vacate the Detroit GM role and move up to president of the Red Wings. In hindsight, you can see that a move like that wouldn’t have been requested if there wasn’t a need to make an offer to Yzerman immediately, so we should have known this was coming.

On Franzen, History, YouTube and Babbling

I expect this to be a pretty long and babbling post so let’s just get the sound byte that everyone really wants out of the way early: I was wrong about Douglas Murray’s hit on Johan Franzen.

More on that later, I’ve got babbling to do, starting in “back in my day” territory.

A lot has changed in technology and hockey since I started this site. Fourteen seasons ago the Hartford Whalers still existed and the term “blog” had yet to be uttered (though the original long-form “weblog” would be coined roughly three months after I published my first page of HTML). Google was just a research project, their domain wasn’t even registered until the first birthday of what was then “YzerFan19’s Detroit Red Wings Page.” Facebook and Twitter were ten years away from launching.

Every time I think about that, I feel ancient. It shouldn’t be a surprise then, that to a certain extent I miss the old days.

Despite the fact that so few sites from back then are still around – in fact this site’s own news archives “only” go back to 2001 – at the time it seems like there was more permanence to what people posted. When you wrote something it had to be true, or it was like a permanent black mark against you. There was more personal investment.

Now I feel that there’s no need to be concerned about that. It’s too easy to “fire and forget” when posting online, whether it be via a forum, blog or Twitter. There’s no sense of ownership anymore.

I’ve gotten more email and seen more comments in the DH.N forums (admittedly, the latter is always low) from fans of opposing teams in these playoffs than I have probably in the last two seasons combined. And none of them were as cool as that BewareThePenguin guy from the 2008 Cup run.

After Saturday night’s loss and Detroit’s elimination from the playoffs, I posted three things that the Red Wings did wrong that cost them the game. Immediately after that, I also criticized the lack of a penalty call for Douglas Murray’s hit on Johan Franzen. In response, one of the emails told me “Quit whining. YOU LOST TO A BETTER TEAM.”

I had three reasons that the Red Wings lost other than that call and the focus is all on perceived whining. Even Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog quoted only my comments on the lack of a penalty, not my thoughts on what Detroit did wrong.

What I find most funny is that I knew that would happen. From Saturday night’s post…

I know, tinfoil hat Red Wings fan means I’m just blaming the refs, despite the four paragraphs before the previous three.

By removing all context from my notes, the Puck Daddy guys created a convenient whining Red Wings fan to fit their needs, which drives offended Sharks fans here to pitch a fit. Those fans have no personal investment in what they write on an opposition team’s site, no need to find the context here, so they can fire and forget.

I guess we call that progress?

I’ve always said that this is a site for fans of the entire league but first and foremost it is for Red Wings fans. If you’ve got a problem with what Wings fans as a whole (or even just what many Wings fans) think, this isn’t the place for you. Emailing me won’t change that.

As I mentioned off the top, there is one thing that my failure to mention would be as irresponsible as quoting out of context.

Having had more time to see video of the play I’ve realized that Murray did not hit Franzen with his elbow. Murray’s elbow came up after Franzen was already going down. I was wrong about that when I posted on Saturday night.

That said, I refuse to call this a clean hit. At the 1:03 mark of the video linked to above you can see Murray’s shoulder making contact with the side of Franzen’s head. At 53 seconds, you can also see Murray rising up to aim at Franzen’s head before making contact.

Ignoring the controversy over head shots and whether or not a shoulder to the head is clean or not, at the very least it was a late hit as Murray begins moving towards Franzen as Franzen moves the puck on. Murray had plenty of time to back down.

If I could go back in to talking like a grandpa for a moment…

With video capture so easy these days and free hosting avaialble via YouTube (among other places, of course), controversial calls end up on the Internet almost before the game is over. If there is anything to complain about, it ends up where the whole world can see it.

At the same time, I see fans of other teams talking about how Tomas Holmstrom causes tons of goals by interfering with the goalie or how the Red Wings are cheap shot artists.

Search on YouTube for “Holmstrom interference” and there’s not a single video where the uploader thought a penalty should have been called, only goals that have been called back. Search for “Red Wings cheap shot” and the majority are things that happened to Wings players. If the Wings are such cheaters, why is there no video evidence to back it up?

I said I was going to take some time off after Saturday’s loss but obviously that didn’t happen. That might mean my season recap gets delayed so I get some time off. If it even happens, of course.

Red Wings Eliminated in 2-1 Loss to Sharks

The Detroit Red Wings were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday night, dropping a 2-1 decision to the San Jose Sharks.

The win gave the Sharks a 4-1 series victory, advancing them to the Western Conference Finals to face either the Chicago Blackhawks or the Vancouver Canucks.

For the third time in the series, the Red Wings scored first.

Brian Rafalski blasted a shot from the blue line past San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov through a screen from Todd Bertuzzi at 2:40 of the second period, putting Detroit on the board.

The Sharks responded quickly, with Joe Thornton getting his stick on the rebound of a Jason Demers shot and putting it past Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard on a power play just 2:14 later.

Thornton helped put the Sharks into the lead at 6:59 of the third, stealing the puck from Brian Rafalski behind the Red Wings’ net and sending a pass out to Patrick Marleau for a one-timer past Howard.

That would be enough for San Jose, with the Red Wings unable to tie the game while skating six-on-four in the game’s final minute.

Thornton’s power play goal was the lone tally with the extra attacker. Each team had four tries.

Howard stopped 30 of 32 shots on the night. Nabokov made 33 saves on 34 shots.

The Red Wings were without forward Patrick Eaves for the fourth consecutive game… Detroit dressed seven defenseman as the status of Brad Stuart was unknown until the pregame skate.

Game Five Postgame Notes

I’ve been having a hard time coming up with the words to match my thoughts about the Red Wings’ ouster from the playoffs at the hands of the San Jose Sharks.

As I said earlier, I’m proud of the team’s effort tonight. I haven’t always been. I didn’t like the way they seemingly went to sleep in Game Three (or several games in the Phoenix series, for that matter) but tonight that wasn’t the case. They weren’t at the top of their game tonight but it certainly wasn’t a case of lack of effort.

If you’re looking for something to blame, one big thing sticks out but – as is often the case no matter what gets reported – it’s not the only thing.

The Red Wings had four power plays and failed to score. For the first time, power play opportunities were completely even and Detroit’s failure to take advantage left them coming up short.

Their offense in general wasn’t enough. You can’t expect to win games in which you only score one goal. Evgeni Nabokov came up big a couple times but if you deserve to advance you find a way to solve the opposing goalie.

Turnovers absolutely killed the Wings tonight. There were stretches of time where they simply could not clear their own zone, and you can’t win a game if you’re playing in your own end. The game-winning goal came off of a turnover. Brian Rafalski lost the puck and it ended up in the net.

That said, about the GWG…

It never should have happened. Rafalski never should have had a chance to lose the puck because the previous faceoff shouldn’t have been in the Detroit end.

On the preceding play, Douglas Murray clearly threw an elbow to Johan Franzen‘s head from the blind side and after Franzen had passed the puck off. The kind of hit that the NHL made a big deal about wanting to get out of the game. And no call was made. Instead of a power play and a faceoff in the San Jose end, Jimmy Howard had to make a stop as the Sharks took it back down, then the faceoff in the Wings’ zone and the Rafalski turnover.

I know, tinfoil hat Red Wings fan means I’m just blaming the refs, despite the four paragraphs before the previous three.

I’m not happy with how the season ended and I don’t have to be, but I feel better about it than I did last year. Last year the Red Wings did not appear to put forth their best effort when it mattered most. This year their best wasn’t enough and there’s not much you can do about that.

As per usual, I’ll probably take a break from writing for awhile now. If any Red Wings news comes up I’ll post it but I won’t be covering much of the remaining playoffs. Like many have said happened to the Wings, I’ve also run out of gas. I’d rather be watching my team advance but there’s a part of me that likes the idea of having about 12 extra hours of free time each week.

I’ll probably do a season review / offseason preview sometime soon. It’s important to remember that no matter how this season ended, the Wings will be back next year.

Game Four Postgame Notes

There is a giddy part of me that wants to look at this game as the tide having turned. That wants to point at Evgeni Nabokov‘s .444 save percentage and say that he finally cracked, the floodgates are open.

Unfortunately, however, a more rational part of me knows that we can’t say that.

I’ve said before, after blowout wins and losses alike, sometimes there’s a game that you just can’t take much from. Tonight was one of those. The Sharks will put it out of their minds and the Wings would be smart to do the same.

That said, there are a few momentum-unrelated things that are great to see.

While Brad Stuart leaving the game early was not good, Khan reports that he’ll be back for Game Five.

Johan Franzen. Do I need to say more?

So the Wings stay alive and the Mule snaps out of his slump. Definitely good points but Detroit still has quite a bit of a hole to climb out of.

Game Four Pregame Notes

Kicking this thread off early ’cause I’m planning on building my new deck all day and really don’t know if I’ll have time to post later. Hell, I don’t even know if I’ll catch the game yet.

Only note I find interesting is that Mike Babcock is considering swapping out Jason Williams for Mattias Ritola. To that, I shrug.

Ritola didn’t knock my socks off in his stint with the team earlier this year but I’m also of the opinion that Williams can’t get out of Detroit fast enough. Brad May would be no better of an addition. Jan Mursak? Not really a lot of options. And having Williams as the right-handed shot on the point on the power play doesn’t matter if you don’t get any power plays.

I still have a tiny bit of hope that the Red Wings can pull this off but not if they play like they’ve played the first three games of the series, specifically the third period on Tuesday.

Win tonight and it’s back to San Jose with the Sharks knowing they blew a chance to sweep. Win Saturday and it’s back to Detroit with everyone in the hockey world talking about how this could be a classic San Jose choke job.

So it’ll take a lot, and it’ll take the Sharks crumbling a bit, but stranger things have happened. I’m not sure I see it happening but the possibility is there if the Wings can rise up and take it.

Game Three Postgame Notes

It may or may not be a popular opinion, Detroit hockey fans are notorious for their opinions on goalies after all, but I’m throwing Jimmy Howard under the bus for this loss.

San Jose’s first and third goals never should have happened and they fall on Howard. On the first goal he got lazy and lifted his pad, giving room for Devin Setoguchi to slide the puck in. On the third goal he was off his post and in a stance that left too many holes open, making it possible for Logan Couture to bank a shot in off of him.

Brian Rafalski deserves some goat credit as well. As the defenseman on a two-on-one, your only purpose is supposed to be to cut off the pass. Rafalski failed to do that and didn’t seem to make that much of an effort.

I can’t decide if it’s funny or not but the Red Wings accomplished pretty much every goal they said they needed to before today’s game and they still lost.

They silenced Joe Pavelski. They didn’t allow a single power play goal. They were better in the faceoff circle and they had more shots on net.

And they still lost.

Some people will continue to blame the refs but – while I didn’t like a couple calls – this was the best-officiated game of the series. That said (and I said it at the time), the penalty shot call in the first period was absolutely horrible.

Which reminds me of the two coaching complaints I have.

One is that Todd Bertuzzi should have taken that penalty shot. He was one of Detroit’s more reliable shooters in the tiebreaker during the regular season while Henrik Zetterberg was inconsistent at best.

The other is wondering how the hell the fourth line ended up on the ice against Thornton, Heatley and Marleau for the last shift of the game. I’m blaming Rafalski for that one but you’ve gotta wonder if it would have happened in the first place if another line had been out there.

I’m not sure what to think going forward. I think the Red Wings have the talent to win the next four but, like too many times in the Phoenix series, I’m not seeing the desire at all. They quit in the third period with a two goal lead tonight. That’s unacceptable and if they’re playing like that they deserve to lose.

Game Three Pregame Notes

The Red Wings face a must-win in their first home game of the series tonight against the Sharks. A loss puts them a game from elimination and needing to win four in a row.

Patrick Eaves is out again for Detroit. I’ll let Mike Babcock explain the impact of that…

Patrick Eaves for us is a forechecking, banging, penalty-killer. Thats’ where the adjustment is. When you take 10 penalties in a game you can use a penalty-killer. Our plan tonight is to not take any penalties, so we don’t have to worry about it as much.

And that’s all I’m saying about penalties before the game.

Detroit also needs to be better in the faceoff circle. It hasn’t hampered much of their offense but winning some defensive-zone faceoffs in the first two games could have prevented several goals.

Tonight is the Red Wings’ fourth home game of the playoffs but the first at their usual home start time of 7:30 PM.

Red Wings Fall to Sharks in Penalty-Filled Affair

The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 4-3 decision to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night, falling down two games to none in their playoff series in a game that was marred by 14 penalty calls.

The Sharks trailed 3-2 heading into the third period and the Red Wings seemed to have momentum. Then Todd Bertuzzi and Niklas Kronwall were sent to the box. On the ensuing five-on-three, Joe Pavelski scored his second of the night to tie the game 4:40 into the period.

Joe Thornton would score the game-winner with 7:23 left in regulation, putting home the rebound of a Dany Heatley shot on a three-on-one after Nicklas Lidstrom‘s stick shattered at the San Jose blue line.

Pavel Datsyuk had opened the scoring at 6:51 of the first period, flinging a wrister off the post and in behind goalie Evgeni Nabokov while covered by two Sharks.

Pavelski tied things up on a power play blast from just inside the blue line 2:10 later.

Ryane Clowe put the Sharks ahead with a backhander from in close with 9:28 left in the first but Tomas Holmstrom tipped a Brian Rafalski power play shot past Nabokov 2:45 later to tie things back up.

Nicklas Lidstrom blasted a shot past Nabokov to put Detroit in front just as a power play expired, two minutes into the second period.

The Red Wings finished the night one-for-four on the power play with 4:38 of time with the extra attacker. The Sharks went two for ten in 12:54 of time, including 1:06 of five-on-three.

Jimmy Howard made 41 saves on 45 San Jose shots. Nabokov stopped 28 of Detroit’s 31 chances.

The series will shift to Detroit for Game Three on Tuesday.

The Red Wings were without forward Patrick Eaves, out with an elbow injury. He was replaced in the lineup by Jason Williams.

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