Tag Archives: detroit red wings

The Blue and White Blog Game 6: MoTown, Mo Problems

It’s the four year anniversary of the greatest debut in Maple Leafs history.

 

Just a throwback to better days. If you haven’t been paying attention Toronto is having are having a rough time lately. Well a whole year actually. At 2-2-1, turns out the Leafs have been a .500 for longer than you’d expect.

Not good!

Image result for michael scott rough year

All of this has been punctuated by the 7-3 shellacking at the hands of the Lightning on Thursday night. After a 4-3 first period the wheels fell off. Horrible play in their own end, penalty kill out of sorts and an uninspiring performance by Andersen. It’s all doom and gloom in the Maple Leafs new cycle. So why not bring on the Red Wings!

Tonight’s Game

The Red Wings are actively tanking yet sit at a 3-1-0 record. They’re essentially a one line team, but that one line has been off to a hot start. This is a team that has most of their young talent still in the minors (only one of their six first round picks since 2014 (Dennis Cholowski) made the team out of camp). I expect the Red Wings to cool off at some point, hopefully by tonight. I’m not one to put a “must win” label on a game, but a loss would whip the Toronto sports media machine into a frenzy. Leafs are 1-1-1 against their Atlantic division rivals so they have to shove these guys into a locker.

Players of Interest

Tyler Bertuzzi

Being from the Guelph area, I used to watch Bertuzzi chuck knucks and bury pucks since his time with the Storm. He currently has 3 goals and 6 points in 4 games, locking down the left wing on the top line with Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin. The top line has accounted for 10 of the team’s 14 goals so far. Tonight this line should receive a healthy amount of Toronto’s attention.

Frederik Andersen

Fair or not, the run and gun Leafs rely heavily on goaltending to bail them out. Even with a revamped blueline, Andersen had to shoulder much of the burden in their own end. Now Andersen is known to start regular seasons off slow, but he has to round into form if Toronto is even going to pretend to be a threat this year.

I’m a big Freddy guy so I believe he’ll be fine. But I can’t help but feel a bit of worry settle in.

Anthony Mantha

6 goals in 4 games? Sheesh. Mantha has come out of the gate red hot looking like a legitimate 30 (40?(50?(probably not 60))) goal threat this year. The big boy from Longueuil, Quebec, vanquisher of the 2014 Guelph Storm’s Memorial Cup dreams, is finally delivering on his big time potential.

Phil’s Thoughts

Here’s some quick talking points from couch correspondent Phillip Waind:

“Ceci stinks. Kapanen stinks. Hyman, doesn’t stink as much as I thought until watching Kapanen. Andersen stinks right now. Marner stinks but still picks up apples. Matthews. Simply the best.”

 

Final Thoughts

Since it’s Thanksgiving weekend and I’m already mixing in some birthday drinks, I’ll keep it short and simple. Beat Detroit.

Steve Yzerman Returns Home, And With Him, Brings Hope

Early on Friday morning, the Detroit Red Wings have confirmed that the worst kept secret in hockey is indeed coming to fruition. The team will introduce Steve Yzerman as the new general manager in the Motor City during a press conference at 3:00 p.m. ET. Ken Holland, who has been running the ship since 1997, will remain with the organization as the senior vice president.

Yzerman’s reunion with his former team has been speculated since the summer of 2018, if not earlier. Once he relinquished his GM duties to Julien BriseBois at the start of the 2018-19 season, rumours ran rampant. Alas, the prodigal son has returned to the city he led to glory back in the late-1990s and early-2000s, although, the franchise is in a much different state. The Red Wings were synonymous with success for much of Yzerman’s playing career, but the team has missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons. They have not won a playoff series since 2012-13. Likewise, gone are the familiar faces that carried the torch when Yzerman retired in 2006. Nicklas Lidstrom has been out of the league since 2011, Pavel Datsyuk has been in the KHL since 2016, and Henrik Zetterberg’s wonky back forced him to retire after the 2017-18 season.

In their place, stands a new young core that Yzerman will attempt to build around. Dylan Larkin is the unquestioned leader of the team at 22-years-old. His 73 points in 2018-19 were the most by a Red Wings’ player since Zetterberg tallied 80 points back in 2011-12. Larkin is the odds-on favourite to become the team’s captain heading into next season and has blossomed into a legitimate NHL center. Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Andreas Athanasiou showcased they are capable of being difference-makers in the waning stretch of the season as they collectively produced 71 points from February to April. Taro Hirose, the Big-10 player of the year in the NCAA, showed promise during a 10-game trial with the team while Filip Zadina, the sixth-overall pick from 2018, is still a tantalizing prospect that will make the jump to the NHL next season.

The defensive side of the roster is a mess, aside from the emergence of Filip Hronek, as aging veterans like Mike Green and Niklas Kronwall are relied upon far too much. This is the largest area that Yzerman will need to overhaul in the coming years if the team is going to regain relevancy. Kronwall does not have a contract for the 2019-20 season yet, and at 38-years-old, it may be best to utilize his roster spot on a younger rearguard like Dennis Cholowski. In goal, Jimmy Howard signed a team-friendly deal for the upcoming season while NCAA-stalwart Filip Larsson is still a few years away.

The team’s salary cap situation is drastically improving, even though there are still some albatrosses on the roster (looking at you, Justin Abdelkader). The Red Wings could have upwards of $19 million in cap space assuming they do not re-sign Kronwall and Thomas Vanek. Furthermore, the Trevor Daley and Jonathan Ericsson will come off of the books at the culmination of the 2019-20 season. While snagging a premium free agent like Artemi Panarin or Erik Karlsson this summer is a fantasy to consider, it does not seem likely that one player will change the fortune of the franchise overnight. With that being said, Yzerman has not shied away from making a big splash in the past. Regardless, financial flexibility allows Yzerman to shape his roster how he pleases.

Yzerman will also have plenty of picks at his disposal for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. While the lottery balls did not fall the Red Wings’ way, they own the sixth-overall pick as well as three picks in the second round. If anything was proven during Yzerman’s tenure with the Lightning, it was his savvy drafting ability (although some credit must be offered to their scouting department). He produced players like Nikita Kucherov (58th overall), Ondrej Palat (208th overall), Brayden Point (79th overall), and countless other NHL-caliber players outside of the draft’s top round. In today’s NHL, drafting well is the only way to build a sustainable winner and Yzerman will be leading the war room come June 21.

All of this equates to one word: hope. Yzerman, a fresh-faced center out of Peterborough, gave the Red Wings hope when he was drafted back in 1983. He blossomed into a star and gave them hope in the 1990s when they had not won the Stanley Cup in 42 years. Now, he is back to the lead the team, albeit in a different role, but with hope riding on his shoulders yet again. It may not be a quick fix, but Yzerman is the man for the job, and he has Red Wings fans daydreaming about the future once more.

Jersday Blog March 29, 2019

Back to back weeks I’ve posted this blog a day late. Sometimes life gets in the way even when jerseys are at stake. Last week I got caught up in March Madness. This week I had the flu.

The Round-Up

Roy Halladay Powder Blue Throwback Blue Jays Jersey

This puppy came in from China just in time for Opening Day. The Toronto Blue Jays Opening Day starter has been a real revolving door since they traded Halladay to the Phillies in 2010.

Screen Shot 2019-03-29 at 6.01.25 PM.png

What a wrecking crew. The fact that Doc pitched seven consecutive Opening Days is a testament to his longevity and dominance. He was truly the GOAT of Blue Jays pitchers. Read more

The Jersday Blog January 17, 2019

The Round-Up

Pavel Datsyuk 2013-14 Winter Classic Detroit Red Wings Jersey

Since the lockout, Crosby has undoubtedly been the best player in the NHL. Ovechkin the best goal-scorer, Joe Thornton the best set-up man and Cal Clutterbuck the most-hitting player. But in my mind, Datsyuk was easily the most fun to watch. Lock the door, put a sock on the door knob and and feast your eyes on this puck wizardry:

This guy was pure electricity. Not to mention he also won faceoffs! And actually back checked! And won 2 Stanley Cups! His 2007-08 season where he won a Selke for league’s best 2-way forward, scored 31 goals and 97 AND won a Stanley Cup has to be one of the most impressive seasons in the modern era. What a stud.

Auston Matthews Centennial Classic Toronto Maple Leafs Jersey

Auston Matthews Jersday Count: 3

Let’s take a look in at how Matthews has been doing lately.

Not a hot start to 2019 but there’s a reason the season is 82 games long and not 2 weeks. Anyone panicking about the Leafs current slide are the same ones who kept projecting Matthews’ scoring totals back when he was on pace for like 100. But that’s the Toronto sports scene for ya. The sky is always falling.

Just remember… the Leafs have Matthews, Marner, Tavares, Reilly and Andersen. LFG.

Travis Konecny Philadelphia Flyers Jersey

I’m a big fan of the Flyers’ oranges. They look a lot better than their mid-2000’s black primary jerseys from the Robert Esche era.

As for Konecny, he’s a cool pleyer to root for. The former Chatham-Kent Cyclone and Ottawa 67 has been a real player for the Philadelphia Flyers. The speedster was taken 24th overall in 2015 but is ninth in scoring from his draft class (ahead of him are McDavid, Eichel, Rantanen, Marner, Aho, Barzal, Werenski and Hanifin (holy shit this was an awesome draft year)). While he’s have a slow year compared to his 24 goal 2017-18, Konecny has a lot in the tank.

Cam Neely Boston Bruins Jersey

Greatest power forward of all-time is a bit of a stretch. Then again guys who average a point-per-game and around 100 PIMs a season don’t grow on trees. Fighting is a bit of a lost art form these days and anytime a guy can effectively chuck knucks and score goals I do take notice.

Some people think that I hate the Bruins and that… well that is true. But that’s only been a recent thing. Pre lock-out 2005 the Bruins and Leafs never seemed to be good at the same time so I could appreciate the Joe Thorntons, Sergei Samsonovs, Cam Neelys and  and Ray Bourques or what have you. But that ship has unfortunately sailed. Kick rocks Burgess. I have no time for your irrational Matthews-hating ways.

Steve Nash 1st stint Phoenix Suns Jersey

Heavens to Bettsy I’m blushing. What a jersey. This era of Suns jersey was before the long hair and MVP trophies.

Image result for steve nash phoenix suns rookie

Full disclosure. Steve Nash is my favourite basketball player of all-time.

But any Canadian and/or basketball with a beating heart can appreciate MVSteve. He’s the only Canadian to win NBA MVP and is the 11th player to ever win back-to-back MVP’s.

Here’s a fair warning, I’m about to hit you with a Datsyuk montage and a Nash highlight reel in the same blog. Buckle up.

Jersey of the Week

Jaromir Jagr Czech Republic National Team Jersey

The man, the myth, the mullet. The jersey speaks for itself.

Jagr has officially suited up for the Czech Republic for 133 games internationally in his career. That’s more than his time in Philly, Boston, Dallas and Calgary.

1921 points in 1733 career NHL games. He left the NHL last year at age 45 to play in the Czech Republic. The guy was an absolute legend. I doubt we’ll see him in the NHL again but don’t be shocked if it happens.

 

Image result for jaromir jagr mullet

 

The Weekly Jersey Dump

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NHL Week In Review – Joel Quenneville, The Resilient Red Wings, And The Senators Wild Ride

Hello, beautiful Bench-Lifers. I am back again for another look at the biggest NHL storylines from the past week. There was a ton to talk about during the past seven days so let’s jump right in.

Blackhawk Down

A new day has dawned for the Chicago Blackhawks. On Tuesday morning, in the midst of a five-game losing streak, the team fired long-time head coach Joel Quenneville. The mustachioed bench boss was the longest-tenured coach in the NHL at the time of his firing and had won three Stanley Cup championships over his 10 seasons with the team. Jeremy Colliton, who was coaching the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL, was named his successor and became the youngest coach in the league at 38-years-old.

Quenneville is the second-winningest coach in NHL history (890 wins), trailing only the legendary Scotty Bowman (1,244 wins). Ironically enough, the Bowman regime has a massive part to play in this whole scenario. Stan Bowman, the Blackhawks general manager (and Scotty’s son), butted-heads with Quenneville over organizational matters throughout the entirety of their working relationship. Mark Lazerus has a fantastic piece about the whole situation on The Athletic, but basically, there were three main points of contention that the article covered.

  1. In the 2011-12 season, Bowman forced Barry Smith upon Quenneville as an assistant coach. Scotty Bowman was a senior advisor in the organization at the time and Smith was an old friend who had coached with him for over 15 seasons. The decision infuriated Quenneville and started a theme of resentment between him and the Bowman clan. Interestingly enough, Smith was immediately brought back this past week as an assistant coach once Quenneville was canned.
  2. At the end of the 2016-17 season, Quenneville’s best friend/assistant coach Mike Kitchen was fired by Bowman. The two started coaching together in 1998 with the St. Louis Blues and had spent over 12 seasons alongside one another behind the bench.
  3. Bowman had made some trades that Quenneville vehemently disagreed with over the past few years, most notably, the Niklas Hjalmarsson and Artemi Panarin deals.

The way I see it is that Bowman saved his own ass by firing Quenneville. Apparently, that is how former Blackhawks’ tough guy Daniel Carcillo sees it too.

Now, the head coach was not perfect by any means. He was not some infallible deity that could do no wrong with the hockey gods. Quenneville routinely frustrated fans by showing blind loyalty to veteran players while youthful talent waited for their chance. The Blackhawks had first-round exits in both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons before completely bottoming-out last year. Due to this, changes definitely had to be made. With that being said, Bowman is more responsible for an under-performing roster than Quenneville was.

The head coach did not trade Hjalmarsson to the Coyotes nor did he make the Panarin for Brandon Saad swap. He did not trade Teuvo Teravainen, Philip Danault, or Vinnie Hinistroza in the past two years. The general manager is responsible for those moves. Furthermore, Bowman inherited his Cup-winning core from Dale Tallon when he was hired in 2009. He did not draft Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, or Corey Crawford. Likewise, Bowman responded to the Blackhawks’ worst season in a decade by signing Chris Kunitz, Brandon Manning, and Cam Ward this past offseason. Talk about some real game changers.

Negativity aside, I fully believe Bowman deserves credit for the moves he made during the 2012-13 and 2014-15 Cup wins. Players like Johnny Oduya, Michal Handzus, and Antoine Vermette were integral playoff pieces and shrewd acquisitions.

All of this adds up to the Blackhawks losing the first two games of Colliton’s NHL coaching career. Their losing streak now sits at seven games. After a 6-2-2 start, their record sits at 6-8-3. Quenneville was caught up in a power struggle, and he ultimately deserved a better fate. Regardless, he will be able to coach again any time he wants to as certain teams are likely drooling at the thought of bringing him in. Quenneville will be fine. I am not sure the same can be said about the Blackhawks.

Comebacks And Curly Fries In The Motor City

Before saying anything else, the Detroit Red Wings are not a good team. I am a diehard fan myself, and while they have been incredibly fun lately, I am not mistaking them for a team with realistic playoff aspirations.

With that being said, OH MY GOD THE RED WINGS REBUILD IS IN FULL SWING! WE’LL BE BACK IN NO TIME! IN LARKIN WE TRUST!

*ahem*

Yes, the Red Wings have won six of their last seven games after a dismal 1-7-2 start to the year. They have won three straight games despite trailing by multiple goals in each contest. It is the first time in franchise history that the team has accomplished such a feat. Up front, there have been fantastic performances from some of their young leaders. In particular, Dylan Larkin is playing like an absolute stud. He has seven goals and 10 assists through 17 games this season including the overtime winner against the New York Rangers on Friday.

Similarly, Andreas Athanasiou has been dangerous on a nightly basis. He has four points in his past two games and 10 points through 13 games this season. On Saturday, Anthony Mantha single-handedly spearheaded the comeback against the Carolina Hurricanes with two goals in the third period. Tyler Bertuzzi has shown he belongs at the NHL level and 2017 first-round pick Michael Rasmussen has delivered tantalizing flashes of his power-forward potential.

With that in mind, perhaps the best part about the whole start to the season has been 2016 first-round pick Dennis Cholowski on the back end. On draft night, many fans (including myself) were skeptical when the team traded down, jettisoning Pavel Datsyuk’s contract to the Arizona Coyotes, but passing on Jakob Chychrun in the process. Cholowski was a moderately unknown commodity at the time as he played in the BCHL during his draft year. On the other hand, Chychrun had been considered a top-10 pick early on in 2016 while playing for the Sarnia Sting in the OHL. Cholowski surprised many people out of training camp this season and ultimately wound up on the team for opening night. Since then, all he has done is impress with two goals, six assists, and a poise that far exceeded expectations.

Again, the Red Wings are not good. This is a team that was so bad early on in the season, that Arby’s changed a decade-old curly fries promotion. In years past, fans would get a free order of curly fries whenever a Red Wings player scored a hat trick. All they had to do was bring in a box score of the game. Now, Arby’s is giving away a free order of curly fries whenever the Red Wings score three goals in a game. There is lowering the bar, and then there is that. But hey, since the changeover the Red Wings have scored at least three goals in seven of eight games. All praise the power of the curly fry.

The Uber Ride Heard ‘Round The World

At this point, I hope we all know what happened. If not, here is the video. During a road trip to Arizona in late October, several Ottawa Senators players were unknowingly recorded by their Uber driver as they mocked their coaching staff in a five-minute rant. Matt Duchene was the most vocal of the bunch and continuously mentioned how clueless assistant coach Martin Raymond was while Chris Wideman and Thomas Chabot laughed at the team’s inefficient penalty killing.

Now, this is not a great situation, especially for a franchise that has had such a tumultuous year. It is embarrassing for the players and provided an unnecessary headache in an already challenging season. With that being said, I thought this whole ordeal was blown way out of proportion. I mean, who hasn’t badmouthed a co-worker, customer or boss before? The difference is, if you knew you were being recorded, you probably would have kept your opinions to yourself. Gerard Gallant, head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights, had a great take on the situation when asked by a Toronto Sun reporter.

“All the players talk about coaches all the time, believe me, and vice versa.” He paused to laugh. “We talk about them too.”

Obviously! It is cliche, but you cannot please everyone. A hockey team consists of a ton of individuals having to try and work together to achieve a common goal. Not everybody is going agree with the methods, and in return, they will vent about it in privacy. This video never should have surfaced because all it is are athletes voicing their frustrations.

Thankfully, the Senators won two of their four games this week, including a wild comeback against the powerful Tampa Bay Lightning. Things would have been brutal if they went on a massive losing streak after this media firestorm.

I will say, one positive from the whole situation is that this tweet was made (sorry Sens fans).

Fabulous Firsts

These players scored the first NHL goal of their careers this week: Denis Gurianov (DAL), Brett Seney (NJD), Jeremy Lauzon (BOS).

Quick Hits

The Boston Bruins top line of Brad Marchand (2G,3A), Patrice Bergeron (2G,4A), and David Pastrnak (5G,2A) absolutely dominated during four games this week. The trio has accounted for 58% of the Bruins goals this season (31/53). They are simply terrific.

Continuing on with the Bruins, shoutout to Jaroslav Halak who has been downright magnificent with Beantown this season. Halak has posted a 6-1-2 record with a 1.77 goals-against average, .945 save percentage, and two shutouts to start 2018-19. Aside from a five-goal clunker against the Canucks on Thursday, he has been practically unbeatable. Tuukka Rask remains on personal leave which means Halak is manning the crease for the near future.

The Minnesota Wild have been quietly formidable through their first portion of the season. They are riding an 8-2-0 record in their last 10 games and sit at 11-4-2 on the year. Zach Parise’s resurgence has been a big part of their success. He has delivered seven goals and nine assists through his first 17 games after posting back-to-back seasons with less than 50 points. Here’s hoping he stays healthy!

William Nylander continues to play the waiting game with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The slick Swedish forward has until 5PM on December 1st to sign a contract or else he will be ineligible to play this season. Both parties are apparently still quite far apart with the financials. I understand the hesitation from Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas. 1). This is his first big contract dispute as an NHL general manager. If he caves and gives Nylander a big contract, agents will prey on him for years to come. 2). He has to try his best to get Nylander signed to a reasonable contract that will not handcuff the team’s financial abilities in the future. Apparently, the Leafs have reached out to possible trade partners in recent days. Dubas has continuously stated that he will not trade Nylander, but with the clock ticking, desperation may set in during the coming weeks. Not having Nylander playing and/or not having assets in return would severely hurt the Leafs chances of getting past Tampa Bay and Boston in the playoffs this season.

A couple of streaks were extended for Florida Panthers players on Sunday evening. Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov both picked up an assist during a 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators. This extended their point streaks to 12 and 11 games, respectively. The two have formed a daunting unit with Aleksander Barkov on the top line.

The Nashville Predators have become the third team in NHL history to win their first eight road games of the season. Last year’s President Trophy winners are well on their way to another magnificent campaign. They sit atop the NHL standings with a 13-3-0 record and are currently rolling on a five-game win streak.

About three weeks ago, New Jersey Devils center Brian Boyle announced that his leukemia was in remission. Boyle was diagnosed with the disease back in 2017. On Tuesday, which was coincidentally Hockey Fights Cancer night in Pittsburgh, Boyle scored the first hat trick of his 705-game NHL career. Sometimes sports can be pure poetry. What a touching moment for Boyle and his family. Good luck to him the rest of the season.

Milestone Makers

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton played in his 1500th career game on Thursday night during a 4-3 loss to the Dallas Stars.

Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise scored the 700th point of his career on Thursday night during a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.

Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Patrick Marleau picked up the 600th assist of his career on Friday night during a 6-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils.

Thanks for reading and see you next week!

2017-18 Bench Life NHL Previews: 28. Detroit Red Wings

Part 4 of 31 in our NHL previews where Ballantyne, Burgess and I rank each NHL team 1 through 31 and give you an outlook on their season. We’re delivering each team’s preview in the order that we collectively power ranked them. This isn’t an exact science, but unlike like Bryzgalov’s musings of the universe, it’s not a humangus big deal.

Check out our other previews:
#31. Colorado Avalanche 
#30. Vegas Golden Knights
#29. Vancouver Canucks

2016-17 Recap

Record: 33-36-13 (79 points) 7th in the Atlantic division (25th overall) 
GPG:
2.41 (26th)
GAPG:
2.98 (26th)
PP%:
15.1% (27th)
PK%:
80.8% (16th)
Corsi For %: 48.5 (23rd)

Last season was a bit of a let down in the Motor City as the Red Wings ended Detroit’s famous record breaking playoff streak at 25 seasons. Their legendary core from earlier this decade has slowly but surely decayed to the point that 36 year-old Henrik Zetterberg is now the last man standing. The underwhelming Wings seemed to struggle at both scoring and preventing goals which is generally not a recipe for success. Read more

PHPA Feature: Tom McCollum

This is my second professional interview and article written for the Professional Hockey Players’ Association. Like Ben Harpur, Tom McCollum is a former Guelph Storm because… well to be honest when I submitted a list of potential interview candidates I just fired off former junior players that I was familiar with. Coincidentally Ben and Tom know each other despite never playing on the same team and Tom being 6 years older than Ben. Apparently they  met through the Storm and have skated with each other in past off-seasons because they live an hour apart on different sides of the border (Ben lives in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario and Tom is from Amherst, New York).

McCollum was a really cool interview for me. His OHL career spanned from 2006 to 2009. For me that was Grade 6 to Grade 9. Despite those Storm teams not being overly successful, I loved watching them play live. Off of the top of my head I remember watching McCollum, Drew Doughty, Peter Holland, Taylor Beck, Michael Latta, Tim Priamo, Rafael Rotter, Brandon Buck, Leigh Salters, Luke Pither…

I’ve regularly checked Tom’s HockeyDB page ever since he got drafted by Detroit. So after talking to him over the phone and hearing what he’s about, I wish him nothing but the best and am rooting for him to crack the NHL for good.

Tom is an awesome guy with a lot to say, which made for a great interview experience. He gave me too much good material to fit in my piece for the PHPA so I’ll share some of my unused quotes below.

Read more