Miller Clears Waivers, Roster Logjam Remains

Red Wings forward Drew Miller cleared waivers on Monday but, due to injuries to Thomas Vanek and Dylan Larkin, Detroit’s roster situation remains unclear.

Miller has technically been sent to Grand Rapids but could be called up as soon as tomorrow.  The Griffins do not play tonight.

Neither Thomas Vanek nor Dylan Larkin will play in Boston tomorrow night.  Larkin has also been ruled out of Wednesday’s tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs, so he could go on seven-day IR to clear room for Miller’s temporary return to Detroit.

Report: Miller Waived to Make Room for Kronwall

Per Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News, the Red Wings will be placing Drew Miller on waivers at noon today to make room for the return of Niklas Kronwall from injured reserve.

My understanding of waivers was that the player had to have cleared before his roster spot opened up, so I’m a little confused here, but I could just be misunderstanding.

Either way, it’s not the move I expected or preferred, but it’s acceptable.  I expected Ryan Sproul to get waived, as he’s the odd-defenseman-out.  I would have liked Steve Ott to get waived, but he can’t be while he’s on injured reserve.  It’ll be interesting to see if someone takes a flier on him or if he ends up in GR.

Per Winging it in Motown, a player can still be on the roster but not count towards the limit if they’re on waivers. This seems weird to me because there are cases where a player has played while on waivers.  Maybe it’s a case-by-case basis or something.

Gameday: Red Wings – Sabres + Jablam Hockey

If you happen to be looking for something to listen to leading up to tonight’s Red Wings – Sabres tilt in Buffalo, I appeared on this week’s episode of Jablam Hockey.

Jablam Hockey – Episode 61

We talked a bit about Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Jared Coreau, and the logjam once everyone is healthy.  Thanks to the guys for having me on.

As far as tonight’s game goes, I’ll stick to a SSOTD.

Stupid Stat of the Day: The Red Wings are 2-8 all time on days a new President of the United States is sworn in.

Morning After: Red Wings – Bruins

That was fun.

I’m not saying that Detroit’s 6-5 shootout win over Boston was good, it was just a lot of fun to watch.

I keep mentally comparing the Boston game with the Montreal game.  Both were wins, much-needed points against division rivals.

Against Montreal, the Red Wings locked things down.  Detroit was strong defensively and Jared Coreau was stellar when challenges got through.  But it wasn’t necessarily fun to watch.  It was good to see the Wings play a game like that, but it wasn’t exciting.

Against Boston, the Wings started horribly.  They looked awful in that first period.  Mike Green‘s giveaway leading to the shorthanded goal really represented the whole 20 minutes.  Then they took control.  Petr Mrazek looked great.  They moved the puck well.  They got some great scoring chances.  They were still sloppy defensively, though, which bit them in the ass on the fifth goal.  They looked like they had a chance, though.

I mean, this should come as no surprise.  Scoring chances are exciting.  Bad defense (by both teams) can lead to scoring chances.  So the well-played Montreal game is less exciting than the sloppy Boston game.

I focus on these two games because, even with the three-game winning streak, I don’t see the Red Wings making the playoffs this year.  That doesn’t mean good won’t come of the season.  There will be games where the team plays well and there will be games that are exciting.

I think that there’s a lot of talk out there that equates a rebuild (which the Wings can’t even really do anyway, given their contract situations) with years of bad, boring hockey.  I think it’s worth noting that it doesn’t have to be that way.  Even teams that miss the playoffs have good nights and it’s okay enjoy those in the midst of a losing season.

Postgame Notes: Red Wings @ Blackhawks

Just a few thoughts on the Red Wings’ 4-3 loss to the Blackhawks tonight.

First off, I’ll drop this here:

And another tweet to note:

But as far as actual game thoughts go…

That was a really good second period by the Wings and a not-terrible third.  The first?  Not so good, but not bad enough that they couldn’t overcome it.

I like that they didn’t give up.  They never really dominated stretches of play but they kept grinding it out.  That’s what a team with a lack of talent needs to do.

That said, while there’s a lack of talent, part of that is also because of the lack of power plays for Detroit.  Look, the calls that were made against the Red Wings were pretty justifiable.  But the Blackhawks simply weren’t held to the same standard.

The Red Wings got called for chintzy hooks that Chicago got away with.  Justin Abdelkader gets a cross-check to the back of the neck from Richard Panik and there’s no call.  Then Abdelkader goes into the corner with Niklas Hjalmarsson in the closing seconds of regulation and comes out with a boarding penalty, which leads to the overtime power play on which the Blackhawks win the game.

I don’t know how the officials can justify it but they won’t have to publicly so…  Whatever?

Final note: No matter how many signs they put up, United Center is not the Madhouse on Madison.  Chicago Stadium was the Madhouse on Madison.  It’d be like calling Little Caesars Arena “The Big Red Barn” or something.

Nielsen Named to All-Star Team

Frans Nielsen was named as the Red Wings’ lone representative to the 2017 NHL All-Star Game on Tuesday.

As I said via Twitter, I think Thomas Vanek or Anthony Mantha would have been better options.  Vanek is probably the team’s MVP right now but if he wanted the time off, Mantha is a pick in the mold of Dylan Larkin last season.  That said, I’d rather no one go.

Horrible Idea of the Day: Enforced Odd-Man Rushes

The never-ending struggle in the NHL is the search for more scoring.  I was thinking about it the other night and horrified myself with an idea.

The easy answer for the problem, but the one fought hardest by traditionalists (myself included), is to increase the size of the nets.  Suddenly pucks that were once shot wide will become goals and scoring has increased.

“But wait!” we cry.  “That doesn’t actually make the game more exciting, it just artificially inflates the number of goals!”

Alright, then how do we make the game more exciting?

Well, the most recent way is three-on-three overtime.  Though teams have adapted since its adoption to limit its impact, with only three players per side out there, man-on-man coverage is more necessary.  It’s easier for one defender to lose his man and an odd-man situation to develop, creating a scoring chance.

My horrible idea is to take this a step further:  Only allow defensemen into their own zone.

Even if the offense only sends two forwards in (keeping three skaters back to counter the opposing three forwards not allowed into the zone), they’re facing the same man-to-man coverage seen at three-on-three and all it takes is one guy to shake his defender.  If they send all of their forwards, it’s automatically an odd-man situation.  Or maybe they’re really gutsy, they send all five skaters in, and pray it doesn’t turn into a three-on-none against them (and we’ve got scoring chances at either end of the ice, so, hey, go for it).

This is a horrible idea.  Thankfully, there’s no indication that anyone, anywhere, is seriously proposing it.  It would fundamentally change what hockey is.  But if we’re truly considering everything…

Ranking the Red Wings’ Outdoor Games

I’ve seen a lot of reports – many out of Toronto, of course – that the Centennial Classic was the NHL’s best outdoor game.

Personally, I think that’s a lot of Auston Matthews love talking.  The league’s (and Toronto’s) newest toy scored the game-winning goal in overtime.  Forget the Wings’ pathetic defensive performance and the Leafs’ complete collapse late, that’s good enough for so many people to declare, “Best! Evar!”

It got me thinking about how I’d rank the Wings’ outdoor games.  It’s hard to put them all on a level playing field, but maybe they’re not meant to be.  As such, here is my ranking.

#1 – 2014 Winter Classic, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI

The largest NHL crowd ever.  Two storied rivals.  The day after an epic pair of alumni games.  In the middle of a snowstorm.  This wins on atmosphere alone.

Unfortunately it wasn’t that great of a game.  Neither the Red Wings nor the Maple Leafs were very good that year and that was only multiplied by the ice conditions.  That said, it was far from a terrible game, which, as I mentioned, the atmosphere more than made up for.

#2 – 2009 Winter Classic, Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL

Another Original Six rivalry and a game played in a legendary ballpark.  As just the second Winter Classic, the outdoor games still had their uniqueness.

On top of that, Detroit was just closing out its dynasty-ish run while Chicago was just beginning their ascent.  This was a pair of very good teams.  The Blackhawks dominated the first period, then the Red Wings took over in a pretty great game.

#3 – 2016 Stadium Series, Coors Field, Denver, CO

This was a new experience for the Red Wings.  A night, warm-weather, outdoor game.  Under the lights, through the clear air, this game simply looked beautiful.

The game itself was okay, but not great.  The once-fierce Detroit-Colorado rivalry hasn’t been anything since about 2002 (maybe 2009) and while both teams were fighting for playoff spots, that also meant neither team was very talented.  Brad Richards‘ late-game heroics made it memorable, but not necessarily good.

#4 – 2017 Centennial Classic, BMO Field, Toronto, ON

This was the first Red Wings outdoor game that felt like it had all been done before.  I kept finding myself describing everything in terms of the other games.  “The Fan Fest was more crowded than Ann Arbor.”  “The weather was clear like Denver but cold like Chicago.”  As a night game with clear weather, it was beautiful, but it felt like it had all been done before.

As far as the game itself goes, it was probably the most uneven matchup the Wings have faced outdoors.  Detroit is a declining team with a core of aging vets hoping that its youth will step up.  Toronto is on the rise and built around high draft picks.  We got two periods of boring, then the teams traded collapses.  A goal that should have been called back forced overtime.  Ugly stuff.

Bonus ranking time…

My daughter was looking over my shoulder while I wrote this and commented on some of the jerseys.  Inspired by her, here are my rankings of the Wings’ outdoor game jerseys:

#1 – 2009 Winter Classic

A classic look, straight throwback to the team’s original uniform.

#2 – 2014 Winter Classic

I’ve complained about this one a lot but, aside from the number font and the wordmark above the logo, this is a solid design.

#3 – 2017 Centennial Classic

I still think this design is stupid and I’m disappointed that the Red Wings chose to wear white when they could have worn red against blue as they did in 2013.  This is only redeemed by the fact that it ended up looking good under the lights.

#4 – 2016 Stadium Series

A stupid sash and oversized numbers.  Even if the latter is part of a template, it’s still not good.  These were not redeemed by looking good under the lights.  I do still like that logo, though.

Postgame Thoughts: Centennial Classic Edition

Everything the Red Wings had going for them tonight felt like a fluke.

That’s the best way I can sum up today’s Centennial Classic loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at BMO Field.

Aside from the final two and a half minutes of the game, with Detroit’s net empty and the team down a pair of goals, there was maybe one shift of sustained pressure from the Red Wings all game.

Zone entries were awful, especially on the power play.  I’m shocked at the number of shots the Wings had because I can’t remember a time when it felt like Frederik Andersson was challenged.

The Wings defense got absolutely undressed on at least two of Toronto’s goals, probably three.  Jared Coreau was the only thing keeping the Red Wings in the game.

Then they rattled off a series of improbable goals, capped by one that probably shouldn’t have counted.  Maybe it’s just a case of my eye test failing, but the way I see it, they made what should have been a disaster of a game into one that looked respectable and they got a point out of it.  Some people would take that as a positive.  I don’t.

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