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.

Trade Deadline Thoughts: Robidas, Draft Picks, and Kesler

In the final twenty-four hours before the NHL’s trade deadline I want to talk on a couple points based on some of today’s news.

Red Wings’ general manager Ken Holland has said the team is looking to make a “hockey trade” and that they want a top-four defensemen. “Hockey trade” apparently means that they’re not looking for a rental, or that they’re not willing to give up big assets for one.

That likely means the price tag for a player like Christian Ehrhoff from Buffalo or Alexander Edler from Vancouver will be too high. Andrew MacDonald was dealt from the Islanders for a fifth rounder this year, a third next year, and a forward prospect. Stephane Robidas was different, however.

Robidas went from Dallas to Anaheim for “just” a fourth round pick. Hardly an exorbitant amount for a right-handed shot on the point and a veteran with a mean streak. The Stars say they’re not selling assets off and that Robidas was an exception, so maybe the seemingly-low price was driven by that. Maybe Robidas wanted a deal to Anaheim, for example.

If Detroit could have had him for a fourth-rounder, though, I have a hard time saying I wouldn’t make that move. It would be a rental, yes. Robidas is 37, he wouldn’t be the long-term acquisition that Holland seems to be looking for. But at that cost, I do the deal. Especially given that the kind of deal Holland says he wants looks less and less likely.

Trading draft picks is a crapshoot, especially a fourth-rounder. No pick is a sure-thing. The fourth round is early enough that you can still find some good talent but late enough that it’s not easy to do so. Recently, the Red Wings have used fourth round picks to select Andreas Athanasiou, Teemu Pulkkinen and Gustav Nyquist. I wouldn’t trade any of those players for Robidas.

Before that, though, the fourth round brought Mattias Ritola, Evan McGrath, Johan Berggren, and Miroslav Blatak. I’d dump all of them (or equivalent players) for a Robidas rental. It would appear that Holland wasn’t willing to take that chance. Or he didn’t get the option.


To jump back to Ehrhoff’s name for a minute… The word is that Buffalo wants prospects in return for him, not picks. I think that, should the Wings decide to make a move, that favors them. Holland won’t want to dump his first-rounder but the Wings have some prospects that could be deemed extraneous. I’m still not sure it’d be worth it but it depends on what Buffalo wants. Trade a defenseman for a defensive prospect or for the best player you can get? I’m not sure I’d move a Pulkkinen but what about Ryan Sproul?

I mean, I’d prefer Ehrhoff for Kyle Quincey, straight up, but we’ve gotta be a little realistic.


After missing out on (or never being in on, or whatever) Robidas, we’ve still got reports that the Red Wings are going after Vancouver forward Ryan Kesler. There was a specific Tweet I wanted to reference on that but I lost track of it.

I just can’t see how this deal makes sense for Detroit. Vancouver wants a top young center plus prospects and picks. Maybe I’m biased against Kesler, he grew up in Livonia hating the Red Wings and I see that as a character flaw, but I wouldn’t deal any of the Wings’ young roster players for him. Dump some vets for him, sure. A couple draft picks? Yeah. The Canucks aren’t going to do that, though. As I said, we’ve gotta be a little realistic.

That said, if Holland somehow swings a deal for him, I’ll probably be able to justify it to myself somehow. As I said awhile ago, a slightly-dirty player who hates the Red Wings? Fifteen years ago that was Chris Chelios and it worked out okay when he came to Detroit.

Some-Stars Game

As has been reported several places today, Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk will be missing the All-Star Game in Montreal this weekend due to injury.

From Khan…

Datsyuk sustained a hip flexor during the third period of Tuesday’s 6-3 loss in Phoenix. Lidstrom, who scored two goals, finished the game, but apparently is still bothered by the ankle injury that caused him to miss two games Dec. 27-30, after he blocked a shot in Nashville.

I find it extremely interesting that the NHL made such a big deal about getting representatives from all 30 teams onto the rosters, only to replace the two Detroit representatives with a Star and a Shark in Stephane Robidas and Patrick Marleau.

Maybe Henrik Zetterberg and Marian Hossa declined the opportunity, like Brian Rafalski did last year (and I assume did again this year). Do you really mean to tell me, though, that Jiri Hudler and Mikael Samuelsson turned down the chance to go? Before you say they don’t deserve it, know that they both have similar or better stats than Colorado All-Star representative Milan Hejduk.

While I hate the NHL’s hypocrisy on the issue, it’s actually a relief for me. Snubbing the Wings means that I won’t be watching the game, which gives me three hours that I didn’t expect to have this weekend.

Final-ly: Red Wings Down Stars to Head to Stanley Cup Finals

In their third try, the Detroit Red Wings eliminated the Dallas Stars and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals Monday night with a 4-1 win.

After taking a 3-0 lead in the series, Detroit dropped the following two games, in which they could have finished off the Stars. In those games, the Red Wings were held to a total of two goals.

Lack of offense wouldn’t be their downfall this time, as Kris Draper got Detroit on the board just 3:45 into the game. Dallas Drake fired the puck on net from the left wing corner and it came high, bouncing off of Draper’s chin before dropping down and finding it’s way into the net as Draper whacked at it.

A Pavel Datsyuk power play goal put Detroit up by a pair with 8:19 left in the period. Nicklas Lidstrom‘s long shot was stopped by Turco but Nicklas Grossman couldn’t find the rebound in his skates at the edge of the crease. Datsyuk jumped up and lifted it over Turco.

Drake added a goal of his own with 3:43 left in the first, going to the top of the crease to bang the puck past Turco when Brett Lebda threw it on net from the right wing.

The Stars looked to get back into the game with a early second period power play but Henrik Zetterberg put an end to those thoughts, picking off a pass high in the Detroit zone and racing in all alone on Turco, faking him for a shorthanded goal at 3:11. It was his second shorthanded goal of the series.

Dallas finally got on the board when Stephane Robidas beat Chris Osgood on a Dallas power play at 2:27 of the third period, blasting a shot from the top of the left circle off a feed from down low by Mike Ribeiro.

Osgood stopped 28 of 29 shots against on the night, including 15 of 16 in the third period as the Stars attempted a comeback. Turco made 25 saves on 29 shots.

Each team scored once on the power play, with Detroit getting two chances with the extra attacker and Dallas having seven tries.

The Red Wings advance to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals, beginning Saturday night in Detroit.


The Red Wings were without Chris Chelios, who missed the game with a leg injury. Andreas Lilja played in his place.

Red Wings Take Game Two without Franzen

Missing the NHL’s leading playoff scorer, Johan Franzen, the Detroit Red Wings still claimed victory over the Dallas Stars in Game Two of their Western Conference Finals matchup Saturday night, holding on for a 2-1 win.

Franzen was a late scratch from the game. The team revealed he had been experiencing concussion-like symptoms since early in the second round. He will be re-evaluated on Monday and miss Game Three in Dallas.

With Franzen shelved, the Red Wings got scoring from an unexpected source, as fourth-line rookie Darren Helm got the game’s first goal.

Just 5:56 into the game, Jiri Hudler gained the Dallas zone and sent a pass off to the left wing for a trailing Helm. Helm rifled a shot over the glove of Stars goalie Marty Turco for his first career playoff goal.

Stephane Robidas tied things up on a Dallas power play at 10:41, blasting a one-timer off a cross-ice feed from Mike Ribeiro into the open side of Chris Osgood‘s net.

The Red Wings thought they had regained the lead minutes later but an apparent goal by Pavel Datsyuk was called back on a hand-pass.

With 4:47 left in the period they did take the lead back on a power play goal by Henrik Zetterberg. Zetterberg got the puck from Datsyuk up high and powered a shot past Turco.

The remainder of the game would be played without scoring but was not uneventful.

The teams traded power plays throughout the second period, with each team having short five-on-threes. Defense held strong throughout the rest of the game as the Red Wings preserved their lead and the Stars kept Detroit from pulling further ahead.

In the game’s closing seconds, Osgood stuck out his stick as Ribeiro skated around the net, catching the forward up high. After the clock ran out, Ribeiro swung his stick from the back of the net and caught Osgood high on his chest, earning him a match penalty.

Osgood finished the night with 17 saves on 18 shots. Turco stopped 32 of the 33 shots he faced.

Each team went one-for-four on the power play.

The series shifts to Dallas on Monday with the Red Wings carrying a two games to none lead.


The Stars were without forward Stu Barnes and defenseman Philippe Boucher to start the game and lost forward Jere Lehtinen to a leg injury in the first period.

Late Goals Lift Red Wings over Stars

Three goals on their final three shots helped lift the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars Wednesday night.

Dallas rookie netminder Mike Smith stopped the first 29 shots he faced on the night but it wasn’t enough to earn the win.

It took an incredible pass from Henrik Zetterberg to Pavel Datsyuk just to get Detroit on the board. With 8:46 remaining in the third, Zetterberg carried the puck behind the net and delayed until Smith moved from post to post before backhanding a pass between his legs out front to Datsyuk, who banged the puck into the open side of the net.

With 4:36 remaining, Zetterberg would get a goal of his own to put the Wings out front, drifting with the puck from the right circle into the slot and whipping a shot past Smith with Tomas Homlmstrom providing a screen.

Mathieu Schneider would add an empty net goal.

Making his first start since January 26, Detroit goalie Chris Osgood stopped 17 of 18 Dallas shots, with Mike Ribeiro picking up the lone goal against at 6:34 of the second.

With the Stars on a power play, Osgood came out of the net to cut down the angle on a Stephane Robidas shot. Jussi Jokinen defelcted the puck over to Ribeiro who had an open net to put the puck into.

The goal was the game’s only power play goal. Dallas had three tries with the extra attacker while Detroit had one.

Following Nashville’s 5-0 win over the San Jose Sharks, the win leaves the Red Wings one point behind the Predators in the standings. Detroit’s next chance to gain ground will be Saturday night in Phoenix, with Dominik Hasek expected to return to the lineup.

Hull Gives Wings 3-3 Tie with Stars

Brett Hull continues to play his best hockey against his former team, as Friday night he took a perfect pass from Brendan Shanahan and rocketed a shot past Dallas netminder Marty Turco with just forty-seven seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Red Wings into a tie with the Stars.

The tie came in a game Detroit led much of. After a scoreless first period, the Red Wings got on the board early in the second while on the power play when Luc Robitaille sent a pass down low to Sergei Fedorov, who pushed the puck past a sprawling Turco to put the Wings up, 1-0.

Detroit had the chance to go up by two at the 6:08 mark of the second, when Mathieu Dandenault was hauled off the puck on a break and was given a penalty shot. Dandenault raced in on Turco but hinted that he was going high on the glove side. Turco knocked the shot out of the air and Dallas stayed in the game.

The Stars finally beat Detroit goalie Curtis Joseph forty-eight seconds into the third, when Bill Guerin used a Detroit defender as a screen and sent a shot through Joseph’s five-hole.

The Wings struck back just over a quarter of the way through the third when Stephane Robidas attempted to clear the puck away from Kirk Maltby in the slot. Robidas knocked the puck away but right between Turco’s legs and into the net, giving Detroit a 2-1 lead.

Just over a minute later, Rob DiMaio tied the game back up for Dallas. While on the power play, Pierre Turgeon scored to give Dallas their only lead before Hull tied things back up. That goal came just past the midway point of the third.

Once again the Red Wings allowed more shots than they took as Joseph made twenty-nine saves on thirty-three shots for Detroit while Turco stopped twenty-six of the twenty-nine shots he faced for Dallas.


The “goal” scored by Shane Doan in Thursday’s game against Phoenix was finally reviewed and it was discovered that the puck never crossed the goal line. Because the play was not reviewed before the next faceoff, the goal still stands, despite never having gone into the net.

No Wings Lost in Waiver Draft

The Detroit Red Wings escaped Friday’s Waiver Draft without losing any of the seven players they had left unprotected. They also declined to make any selections in the Draft.

Detroit made defensemen Patrick Boileau and Eddy Campbell, forwards Derek King, Mark Mowers, Michel Picard and Stacy Roest, and goaltender Marc Lamothe available to the other twenty-nine NHL teams by leaving them off their Protected List. Each team may only protect twenty players.

Six players changed teams through this year’s Waiver Draft. The Atlanta Thrashers selected defenseman Stephane Robidas from the Montreal Canadiens. Mathieu Biron, another defenseman, was claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Right wing Petr Tenkrat was picked by the Florida Panthers from the Nashville Predators’ roster. Nashville then selected defenseman Francis Bouillon from the Canadiens. The New York Rangers added some depth at forward by claiming right wing Ronald Petrovicky from the Calgary Flames. Defenseman Rick Berry, part of the Dariius Kasparaitis trade last season, was claimed by the Washington Capitals from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Last season the Red Wings lost goaltender Chris Osgood to the New York Islanders via the Waiver Draft.