TPL Pregame: October 9 – Loving You Makes Life Worth Living

Editor’s Note: I miss The Production Line. You should, too. Back for one night only (unless you guys convince them otherwise), it’s the TPL Pregame.


WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?

The Detroit Red Wings begin their 90th season in the National Hockey League, and will face off against their former coach Mike Babcock and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Puck drops at 7:30pm at Joe Louis Arena.

WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?

The big story will be the changing of the coaching guard. Out with the old (Babcock), and in with the new (Jeff Blashill). The excitement level among the community is higher than it’s been in several years — thanks in part to the new voice behind the bench…as well as the opportunity given to a teenager in Dylan Larkin. If you think a player like Larkin had a chance in hell at making this team with Mike Babcock running the show, you need a CAT scan.

NOW, WHERE WERE WE?

The Wings and Maple Leafs played five times in 2014-15, with the teams splitting the season series 2-2-1. The fifth and final meeting was on December 13th, wherein Detroit lost 4-1 and the Leafs won their fourth in a row. Niklas Kronwall had the first goal of the game — but the 1-0 lead lasted exactly one minute before James van Riemsdyk began the onslaught. The defense took the night off, with Petr Mrazek facing 40 shots (who lost his first contest of the season), and Dan Cleary played in the 600th contest of his career. He would go on to play nine more (and was a healthy scratch for 42 more…but was re-signed anyway).

OH, HI AGAIN

The obvious returnee to the Joe is former head coach Mike Babcock, but he also took former assistant coaches Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer with him to Toronto, where he joined a front office led by former alternate captain Brendan Shanahan. Forward Shawn Matthias was a second round draft pick of the Red Wings in 2006, but he was traded a year later in exchange for — wait for it — 8 games of Todd Bertuzzi (obviously, Bert would sign with Detroit again a few seasons later). It never came to pass, but if Twitter was to be believed on Trade Deadline Day, Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf was AS GOOD AS a Red Wing for a few hours.

MEMBA ME

There are no former Maple Leafs on the Red Wings, because good teams don’t take leftovers from shitty ones. But if you want to get technical, the Griffins assistant coach Ben Simon once played for (and coached) the Marlies. That’s as close as we’re willing to get. –PETRELLA

BEST NAME NOMINEE

I’m going with Stephane Robidas. I’ve always been a Johnny Cash/Boy Named Sue fan, and I can’t help but see some odd connection between a guy sporting a ladies name and who spent a good chunk of his career in Texas. I feel like there’s a “Call me Caitlyn” moment coming here where, during his retirement speech, he reveals that he’s been tucking and wearing silk t-back lady thongs for the past decade. When that happens, people will call me a genius, and I’ll just sit back in my brass buttoned leather wingback, knowing I’d spotted it long ago. –DISCH

THEIR LAST GAMES

While the Red Wings were bounced by the Lightning in the first round last season (losing Game 7 by a score of 2-0), at least they had a date to the dance. The Maple Leafs’ season ended somewhere around January, but — believe it or not — they played until April 11th. They opened their 2015-16 season on Wednesday and — wait for it! — lost to the Montreal Candiens 3-1. Turns out you CAN’T polish a turd, Babs!

EXPECTED LINEUP

Gator :: Hank :: DYLAN LARKIN (!!!)
Tatar :: Richards :: Nyquist
Franzen :: TinkyWinky :: Pulkkinen
Miller :: Glendening :: Ferraro

Kronwall :: Shitbox
Quincey :: Mike Green
Smith :: Kindl

Howard
Mrazek

Injured
Pavel Datsyuk (ankle, expected back mid-November)
Danny DeKeyser (foot, early November)
Darren Helm (concussion, next weekend)

Scratches
Joakim Andersson
Dan Cleary
Tomas Jurco
Alexey Marchenko

NICKNAMES

Mike “Remember When We Held on in the Rain?” Babcock
Niklas “The Nights We Almost Lost It” Kronwall
Jiri “Once Again We Can Take the Night Into Tomorrow” Hudler
Tomas “Living on Feelings” Tatar
Gustav “Touching You, I Feel It All Again” Nyquist
Johan “Didn’t We Almost Have it All” Franzen
Luke “When Love Was All We Had Worth Giving” Glendening
Marian “The Ride With You Was Worth the Fall, My Friend” Hossa
Pavel “Loving You Makes Life Worth Living” Datsyuk
Steve “The Nights We Held On ‘Til the Morning” Yzerman
Nicklas “You Know You’ll Never Love That Way Again” Lidstrom
Jimmy “The Way You Used to Touch Me Felt So Fine” Howard
Darren “We Kept Our Hearts Together Down the Line” Helm
Henrik “A Moment in the Soul Can Last Forever” Zetterberg
Jonathan “Comfort and Keep Us” Ericsson
Jeff “Help Me Bring the Feeling Back Again” Blashill
Sergei “Didn’t We Have the Best of Times” Fedorov
Petr “When Love Was Young and New” Mrazek
Tomas “Couldn’t We Reach Inside and Find” Jurco
Todd “That World of Me and You? We’ll Never Lose it Again” Bertuzzi
Dan “Cuz Once You Know What Love Is… YOU NEVER LET IT END” Cleary
— PETRELLA

THE FIVE HOLE

  1. GOALIES! Both goaltenders — Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek — played very well in the pre-season in what what Coach Blashill called an open competition for the role of starter. Jimmy Howard always had the inside track because he slid out of Mrs. Howard before Pete cartwheeled out of Mrs. Mrazek, but I’d be shocked if three weeks go by before the entire planet realizes that Petr Mrazek is the better goalie.
  2. NEW BODIES! The Red Wings finally got their right handed defenseman in Mike Green. He’s able to contribute some points, and is able to move the puck out of the zone efficiently, which is a prerequisite for the style of play in Detroit. Brad Richards, who either follows success, or whom success follows, adds another option up the middle, and will allow Zetterberg and Datsyuk to be paired together, if the time comes.
  3. TEENAGER! Waterford native Dylan Larkin forced the organization to buck their trends and has made the opening night roster, and it looks like he’ll get a chance to man the first line. That’s very exciting for all involved, included the fans, who get a young local to cheer for, and who has every bit of talent needed to inject some youthful exuberance onto an aging core. And Dan Cleary was waived on Wednesday. Jasper succinctly sums up our feelings on the matter.
  4. HEALTH! Hey, whattaya know, the Red Wing start the season with a bunch of regulars on injured reserve. Pavel Datsyuk will be out until mid-November, Danny DeKeyser is supposed to be out until early November, Darren Helm might be set to return next week, assuming his concussion and shoulder calm down. What, you didn’t think we’d be able to get rid of a drill sergeant coach, a once-useful knee-less veteran, AND Piet Van Zant all at once, did you?
  5. YOUTH! We say it all the time, but the young players really opened some eyes in the pre-season. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that wouldn’t agree that Tyler Bertuzzi, Andreas Athanasiou, and even Anthony Mantha did quite a bit to make some other guys expendable in the coming months and years. Obviously Zetterberg and Datsyuk aren’t going anywhere, but there will have to be some decisions made with some of the other guys, thanks to the guys below Larkin on the depth chart.

Red Wings Drop Third Straight with Loss to Leafs

A 4-1 loss to Toronto Saturday night gave the Detroit Red Wings their third consecutive loss and second in four nights to the Maple Leafs.

Detroit scored the game’s first goal but Toronto took over the scoring from there, potting four goals of their own.

Niklas Kronwall‘s blast from the blue line with 4:33 left in the first period found its way through traffic to beat Maple Leafs’ goalie Jonathan Bernier. The power play goal came off a quick pass from Johan Franzen.

Toronto would even things up just one minute later on a power play of their own, with Phil Kessel‘s shot from the left wing deflecting off of James van Riemsdyk in front and past Red Wings’ netminder Petr Mrazek.

The Leafs took the lead with 2:10 left in the second period, as a bad line change by Detroit let Richard Panik get in behind the defense and take a stretch pass from Korbinian Holzer. Panik beat Mrazek five-hole to make it 2-1.

Just 1:42 into the third period, Morgan Reilly made it 3-1. During a line change, Reilly streaked down the left side all alone and snapped a shot past Mrazek.

Nazem Kadri added an empty-net goal to round out the scoring.

Mrazek finished the night with 37 saves on 40 Toronto shots. Bernier stopped 27 of 28 Detroit chances.

The Red Wings were one-for-two on the power play while the Maple Leafs scored once on five tries with the man-advantage.

After three games in four nights, Detroit is now off until Tuesday when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets.


Detroit remained without forward Justin Abdelkader and defenseman Danny DeKeyserStephen Weiss was also out for the Red Wings, having suffered a shoulder injury on Friday night against the Florida Panthers. Daniel Cleary took his spot in the lineup… Jakub Kindl was a healthy scratch, replaced in the lineup by Brian Lashoff.

Red Wings Fall to Leafs in Shootout

The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.

Tyler Bozak and Mike Santorelli scored on Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard while Pavel Datsyuk beat James Reimer. Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar for the Red Wings and Joffrey Lupul of the Maple Leafs failed to score.

Reimer stopped 41 of 42 Detroit shots to get the Maple Leafs into the shootout. Howard needed to make only 18 saves on 19 shots.

Nyquist opened the game’s scoring with 2:08 left in the middle period, spinning to beat Reimer on the backhand from right in front.

Phil Kessel tied things back up at 5:09 of the third. On a break with James van Riemsdyk, Kessel drove to the net and tipped a pass by Howard.

The two teams will meet again on Saturday in Toronto. The Red Wings face the Florida Panthers on Friday.

TGTW: Red Wings Strong Defensively in Week Thirteen

The Games That Weren’t is one of many projects simulating the games lost by the NHL lockout. In the absence of actual games to write about, I’ll be checking in periodically on the fictional Red Wings’ season.

The Detroit Red Wings didn’t gain any ground in the standings in the NHL’s thirteenth week but they did pick up two wins while allowing only a single goal.

On Tuesday the Red Wings earned a 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor. Mikael Samuellson’s second-period goal and Jakub Kindl‘s marker in the third carried the Wings past the Leafs after Henrik Zetterberg‘s first-period tally was negated by a James van Riemsdyk goal late in the first. Jimmy Howard needed to make only 18 saves on 19 shots to get the win.

On Friday night against the Nashville Predators, Howard stopped all 24 shots he faced and former Predator Jordin Tootoo scored the game’s only goal, as the Red Wings won, 1-0. Tootoo’s tally with 8:10 remaining in regulation was his third of the season for his new team.

With the wins, the Red Wings kept pace with the Predators and the St. Louis Blues, four points behind them for the Central Division lead. They did add an additional game in hand on each, giving them one on St. Louis and three on Nashville.

Howard moved into first place in the NHL with six shutouts on the season, one more than New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur and a host of others.

The Red Wings will hit the road in Week Fourteen, starting a five-game road trip with visits to Chicago, San Jose, and Los Angeles.

TGTW: Red Wings Earn 3-1 Win over Maple Leafs in Winter Classic

The Games That Weren’t is one of many projects simulating the games lost by the NHL lockout. In the absence of actual games to write about, I’ll be checking in periodically on the fictional Red Wings’ season.

It was a cold, sunny day in Ann Arbor Tuesday afternoon, great weather for the Detroit Red Wings to host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2013 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium. The sixth iteration of the NHL’s annual outdoor event made the Wings the first team in league history to go 2-0 outdoors, adding to their 2009 win in Chicago with a 3-1 victory over the Leafs.

The Red Wings came into the game reeling, having dropped out of first place in the Central Division with a pair of road losses in the week after Christmas. The Maple Leafs were even further down, three points out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture despite a shootout win in Ottawa on Friday, where Detroit would lose on Saturday night.

The game would start out chippy and remain physical throughout. Dion Phaneuf and Mikael Samuelsson got tangled up just 13 seconds in, with Phaneuf being sent off for high sticking and Samuelsson for unsportsmanlike conduct. At 3:25, Mike Komisarek was caught elbowing Pavel Datsyuk in the ribs and at 6:43 Johan Franzen added another unsportsmanlike conduct minor.

Franzen’s penalty would lead to the game’s first goal, scored as he exited the penalty box thanks to a tic-tac-toe passing play by Valtteri Filppula and Datsyuk

Datsyuk sent the puck to Filppula on the left wing to gain the Toronto zone, then jumped into the high slot around defender John-Michael Liles to get the puck back before sending it back to the still-moving Filppula. With Liles shifting to Filppula and Mike Komisarek moving to cover Datsyuk, Franzen came out of the penalty box and drove down the right wing, cutting to the side of the crease just in time to take a pass from Filppula and roof it over Toronto netminder James Reimer.

The Red Wings carried the play for much of the opening period but after Henrik Zetterberg went off for charging Phaneuf with with 4:44 left in the period, Toronto picked up the pace. Detroit killed the penalty but the Leafs kept the pressure up and were rewarded for it with 1:29 left, when Wings’ goalie Jimmy Howard stopped a blue line blast from Phaneuf but seemingly got lost in the goalmouth scramble for the rebound, with James van Riemsdyk finding the puck and poking it into the net to tie things up.

Detroit regained the lead on a great individual play by Samuelsson at 4:26 of the second period. Samuelsson – often blamed for Detroit’s offensive woes dispite having twelve goals on the season – poked the puck away from Clarke MacArthur at the Toronto blue line, stepped unchallenged into the high slot, and rifled a shot over Reimer’s glove.

The physicality would resume late in the middle period with Detroit defenseman Jakub Kindl boarding Toronto’s Tim Connolly, then Nikolai Kulemin roughing Kindl up a few shifts later. To start the third, Matt Frattin and Daniel Cleary went off for high-sticking and charging, respectively, at 4:43.

Kindl and Cleary would appear on the scoresheet again midway through the final period, combining to put the game out of reach for the Maple Leafs. After a shot from the left point by Kindl was blocked in front, Drew Miller poked the loose puck from the top of the crease to Cleary in the slot. Cleary shuffled it back to Kindl for another drive that found its way through Miller’s screen and past Reimer to make it 3-1 with 9:09 left.

Down by two and running out of time, Toronto’s patience disappeared. van Riemsdyk tried to start a fight with Cleary with 6:06 remaining, resulting in a roughing call to the Maple Leafs forward. Frattin went off for a second high-sticking double minor with 53 seconds left after getting his stick under Carlo Colaiacovo‘s visor. With just two seconds left, Tyler Bozak went off after catching Justin Abdelkader in the nose with his stick.

With the late penalties, the Red Wings finished the afternoon scoreless on seven power play tries. The Maple Leafs did not score on their three attempts with the extra skater.

Howard made 18 saves on 19 shots. Reimer stopped 22 of the 25 shots he faced.


The announced attendance of 113,411 would be a new world record for attendance at a hockey game. It is the same announced attendance as the 2010 “Big Chill at the Big House,” which was later certified as only 104,173. The official attendance will be announced at a later date.

Red Wings’ Comeback Falls Short, Flyers Get First Win in Detroit Since 1988

The Detroit Red Wings scored twice in the third period but couldn’t pull even with the Philadelphia Flyers, who rode a three-goal second period to a 3-2 win, their first victory at Joe Louis Arena since November 4, 1988.

The Red Wings had gone 16-0-2 at home against the Flyers in the 18 games between Philadelphia wins, including Games Three and Four of the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals.

James van Riemsdyk, Daniel Carcillo and Scott Hartnell scored second period goals for the Flyers, all the scoring they would need.

Just 51 seconds into the period, van Riemsdyk got things started with a shot from down low on the left wing boards that deflected off of Valtteri Filppula‘s stick and over Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard‘s shoulder.

Carcillo made it 2-0 at 5:32 of the period, deflecting an Andrej Meszaros shot past Howard from low in the slot.

Hartnell lifted a shot over Howard’s shoulder through a screen with 5:36 left in the second to finish the Flyers’ scoring.

Filppula got the Red Wings on the board 51 seconds into the third, skating around Meszaros and beating Philadelpha netminder Brian Boucher.

Henrik Zetterberg made it 3-2 with 7:32 remaining when he lifted the rebound of a Nicklas Lidstrom shot over Boucher on a Detroit power play.

The Red Wings were unable to find a tying goal as the Flyers held on for the win.

Zetterberg’s goal was the only power play tally for either team on the night. The Red Wings finished one-for-three with the man-advantage while the Flyers went scoreless on two tries.

Boucher stopped 25 of 27 shots faced on the night. Howard made 24 saves on 27 shots before being replaced by Chris Osgood for the third period. Osgood stopped all five shots he faced.

The Red Wings now embark on a five-game road trip that will last the better part of two weeks.