Monthly Archives: May 2009

We’re Back In The Finals (and to daily blogging!)

zetterbergwest

(Photo courtesy of Carlos Osorio/AP)

I’m back from an excellent vacation and feel rested and ready to go. What does this mean for you, the reader? Probably not much, but I like to fool myself into thinking that my writing will be miraculously better after some R&R. Anyways…

In case you’ve been living under a rock or been religiously tuned in to prime time television on a major network, the Red Wings defeated those pesky Chicago Blackhawks last night to win the Western Conference and head back to the Stanley Cup Finals against our old friend Cindy Crosby and his Pittsburgh Penguins.

First, a tip of the hat to the Wings for getting it done without Nick Lidstrom, Kris Draper, Pavel Datsyuk and Jonathan Ericsson. That said, HURRY UP AND GET BETTER! With the Finals starting on Saturday, and Game 2 the next day (Thanks Uncle Gary!), the depth of the Wings will need to be exactly that: DEEP. It’s no secret that Crosby and his trusty sidekick Evgeni Malkin will probably cause some problems with their speed and playmaking abilities, but the depth of the Wings remains their greatest asset and will be crucial in leveling the playing field against the Pens.

Which brings us to the big question: Who will be lugging the Cup around the ice when it’s all said and done?

If you believe the media, go ahead and give it to the Pens right now. Krista Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press has already pulled together a formidable plethora of opinions, and the common belief is that the Wings are too banged up, too tired and just generally too overwhelmed by the superpowers of Crosby and Malkin. Apparently, it’s also destiny that the Pens win, as evidenced by the incessant references to the Oilers knocking off the Islanders dynasty in the Mid 80’s. And lest we forget, poetic justice MUST be served to Marian Hossa, who left the Pens after last season to come to Detroit to pursue his goal of winning a Cup.

My turn.

Yes, the injuries are worrisome. And while many folks will point to the shorthanded efforts put forth in Games 4 and 5 against the Blackhawks, it’s realistic to believe that the Wings will struggle to sustain and win enough games to clinch the Cup while rolling four main defensemen. But, all signs point to Nick Lidstrom being back in the lineup on Saturday, and Jon Ericsson is shooting to skate with the team on Friday, with his return coming, at the latest, on Tuesday for Game 3. Offensively, Datsyuk appears to be getting better each day, and is just waiting to get his step back before suiting up. I expect to see him by Game 2 at the latest. I honestly doubt we will see Kris Draper again in these playoffs, but Justin Abdelkader and Ville Leino have done a solid job filling in for him.

Next.

Oh yes, the “timing” issue. Due to Uncle Gary being under the thumb of NBC, the only way the NHL was getting network coverage was if the games were played this weekend. While it’s not an ideal situation for a tired team, this isn’t the death knell that some are making it out to be. Both teams have played back-to-back games before. Both teams will be tired after Game 1. There’s nothing we can do about it. Suck it up, Wings. Adjust your game plan to control the puck, slow down the pace of the game and stay away from dumb penalties.

Next.

“It’s destiny that the Pens end the Wings dynasty. Just like the Oilers did to the Islanders.” For the love of all things hockey, PUH-LEEZ. If the Pens win this series, it has nothing to do with some sort of “hockey destiny.” The past is the past, and let’s leave it at that. However, recent history for teams looking to repeat as Cup Champions isn’t quite as favorable. Both Dallas and New Jersey lost the Cup in the Finals after winning it the previous year (Dallas: ‘99-‘00, NJ: ‘00-‘01). Fine. But let’s not forget that this year’s Wings squad has bucked seven years of history by clinching two series at home when they hadn’t done that since the ‘02 Finals. Point? You can make history say anything you want. Someone will write history in this series and his has nothing to do with what happened in the past.

Next.

Marian Hossa didn’t get along with Michel Therrien’s system. He left. It happens all the time in this league. Yet everyone still wants to make this all about Hossa vs. the Pens. Get over it. The Pens have. They realized that he wasn’t working well with Therrien, and he decided to make a move that was good for him. It just worked out that Therrien got the boot and the Pens made it back to the Finals. Hossa’s there too, and he’s not complaining or making a big deal out of it. Neither should you.

OK, that’s that. I’ve addressed all of the story lines that are permeating the Interwebs today. Now, you probably want a prediction.

I’ll say this: The Canes, Caps and Flyers are most definitely NOT the Jackets (ok, maybe), the Ducks and the Blackhawks. Has Pittsburgh been tested? In their mind, sure. In mine, eh. Yes, they are good enough to beat the Wings. Yes, the Wings are good enough to beat the Pens.

So what happens?

I’ll letcha know…

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TT: Hitting the road

Tigers 4, Rangers 3

23-16, 1st in AL Central (3.0 GU on KC)

everettwin

(Photo courtesy of Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press)

While the Tigers aren’t hitting the road until Monday, I will be heading out of town tomorrow for a weekend on the Oregon coast. With that in mind, I’ve been busy doing all of those fun and exciting things that come with preparing for a trip. Despite my best efforts, there are still things to get done, so please pardon me for “mailing it in” on this post.

The short of it: The Tigers won an interesting game that saw Edwin Jackson go eight innings, throwing 132 pitches, Clete Thomas homer and Fernando Rodney try to give away another save. Whatever. The boys got it done, and have rattled of a six game win streak.

If you want more details on today’s afternoon game, I encourage you to check out the much more thoughtful and in-depth writings over at Bless You Boys. Ian does a great job breaking out every game, and if you don’t come back here because he’s far and away better than me, well, I don’t blame you.

The Tigers kick off interleague play tomorrow with a three game series against the Rockies.

Probable starters for 5/22:

  • Tigers – Rick Porcello (4-3, 3.86 ERA, 25 SO)
  • Rockies – Ubaldo Jimenez (3-4, 4.30 ERA, 41 SO)

As for me, I am going to actually attempt to disconnect as much as possible, so don’t expect much from me until Tuesday of next week. I think you will survive. If you MUST follow along with my ridiculous thoughts while I step away, feel free to check out my twitter (@chollis) which will be updated sporadically throughout the weekend.

Talk to you all on Tuesday.

GO WINGS! GO TIGERS!

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Odds and Ends from A2

Between covering the Red Wings for both ‘Sleepless’ and ‘Winging It In Motown’, keeping up with the Tigers, and doing that thing called a “real job”, I haven’t had the time to comment on the recent happenings in Ann Arbor. So, (with apologies for being late to the game), here’s my take on what’s been going down in Wolverine nation.

Kevin Grady

Honestly, I could sum this one up in one word: IDIOT. But you don’t come here to read just one word, so let me break it our for you in multiple words:

KEVIN.GRADY.IS.AN.IDIOT.

For those that don’t remember, Grady drank himself to within five feet of death last year, got arrested for drunk driving and was placed on a year probation. The good news for Grady was that he got to stay out of jail, pending the completion of the conditions set forth by the judge. Guess what? He didn’t. MLive had the details of his newest infractions:

Court officials said he failed to properly report to probation agents in Ann Arbor, failed to complete a victim impact panel and alcohol highway safety education class, failed to complete 24 hours of community service and tested positive for opiates, a type of pain killer.

EPIC. FAIL.

Grady was sentenced to seven days in jail for parole violation. RichRod has said he wants “more details” before deciding on Grady’s fate, but this one should be as open and shut as the door on the cell Grady is/was in. Grady escaped sever punishment once with a slap on the wrist. It’s time to cut the cord with this kid, as he obviously doesn’t have a clue about responsibility and will do nothing except tarnish the image of a Michigan program that is already under the microscope. Good riddance.

Michigan Baseball

Quite simply, you’re defending Big Ten Champions…well, they won’t be Bid Ten Champs this year. This is nothing short of an utter disappointment, giving the amount of hype that followed this team into this season. It really seemed like the Wolverines were on the fast track to a long run of both conference and postseason success, and then they fail to make the conference tournament. It’s back to the drawing board for Rich Maloney, as he has to find a way to do better than 30-25 next season. The good news? Michigan only graduates six seniors. The bad news? Those seniors include Kevin Cislo and Chris Fetter.

Some good news you say?

Michigan Softball

The ladies will host Baylor this weekend in a best two-out-of-three NCAA Super Regional series, with he winner advancing to the College World Series. Michigan beat Miami (Ohio) on Saturday, and then followed up by dropping Notre Dame twice on Sunday to go undefeated for the weekend.

Michigan LAX

Congrats the the club lacrosse team, who won their second straight MCLA National Championship, with a 12-11 win over Chapman. Time to make this a varsity sport? I think so.

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TT: Wilkin Wagon!

Tigers 5, Rangers 3

22-16, 1st in AL Central (2.0 GU on KC)

verlandertoss

(Photo courtesy of Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press)

  • With Magglio Ordonez out to be with his wife (best wishes, Mags!), rookie Wilkin Ramirez got the opportunity to suit up with the big boys tonight. Despite striking out twice, Ramirez came in with a bang. A 433 foot bang. Ramirez launched a monster blast into the center field greenery in the sixth inning, giving Tigers fans a preview of what the future holds. Not to mention that his blast jump started a four run sixth for the boys. Well done young man. Looking forward to many more of those shots.
  • Justin Verlander continued his winning ways, despite struggling to get out of the fifth inning. Following four hitless innings, Verlander was rushed onto the mound in the fifth following an inning ending TRIPLE play (yes, TRIPLE play) and it showed. JV wound up tossing 41 pitches in the fifth frame, but was able to escape with one run of damage against him after David Murphy grounded out with the bases loaded to end the inning. All-in-all, not a bad outing for JV. Final line goes like this: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO.
  • Brandon Inge and Ryan Raburn also got back into the HR column tonight, while Fernando Rodney picked up his seventh save in as many tries.
  • Bonus thought: Last Tiger to homer in his major league debut? Reggie Sanders in 1974.
  • Bonus Bonus thought: Kevin Millwood is on the bump for the Rangers tomorrow. He pitched against the Tigers on April 12, going seven innings and allowing no runs and four hits, while striking out six, but wound up with a “no decision”.

Probable starters for 5/21:

  • Tigers Edwin Jackson (3-2, 2.42 ERA, 41 SO)
  • Rangers – Kevin Millwood (4-3, 2.93 ERA, 32 SO)

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TT: That’s What I’m Talkin’ ‘Bout, Willis!

Tigers 4, Rangers 0

21-16, 1st in AL Central (1.0 GU on KC)

DTrain

(Photo courtesy of Duane Burleson/AP)

  • Finally. That’s about all that needs to be said. After enduring the roller coaster ride of the majors to the minors and now back up to the majors, Dontrelle Willis put it all together, at least for one night. Willis went 6.1 innings, allowing only one (yes, ONE) hit. Willis did a nice job working the zone, throwing 61 of 101 pitches for strikes, and retiring five by way of the “K”. Honestly, if you don’t feel good for this kid, you don’t have a heart. Let’s just hope he keeps it up.
  • The bullpen was lights out again, keeping the shutout intact. Brandon Lyon, “The Real” Bobby Seay, Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney teamed up to throw 2.2 innings of perfect baseball.
  • If you’re curious, Michael Young had the only hit for the Rangers last night. As opposed to the 10 the Tigers put on the board. Big ups to Placido Polanco and Miguel Cabrera, who both notched a two-out RBI last night.
  • Bonus thought: The Tigers will face Matt Harrison tonight, who threw against the boys on April 11th. His result? A big fat “L”, with a line of 5.2 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 2 SO.

Probable starters for 5/20:

  • Tigers – Justin Verlander (3-2, 4.29 ERA, 69 SO)
  • Rangers – Matt Harrison (4-2, 4.23 ERA, 24 SO)

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Prepare Thyself: May 18 – May 24

It’s all about the “D” this week, now that Michigan baseball’s season has come to an end (Check back later today for more on the disappointing season for the Wolverines baseball squad.) However, there were still plenty of positives from the week that was, so let’s get to the breakdown.

To the good stuff…

  • The Red Wings started the week off on a rough note, falling to the Ducks in Game 6 of the Western semis, but bounced back for a clutch win in Game 7 to advance to their third straight Western Conference Final. The Wings then shook off the early rust, and defeated the Chicago Blackhawks to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
  • The Tigers got swept by the Twins in the house of horrors known as the Metrodome, but bounced back to complete a three game sweep of the visiting Oakland A’s.
  • Michigan baseball watched the season come to an end at the hands of Northwestern, as the Wolverines couldn’t get the job done in Evanston and secure a bid for the Big Ten tournament. The baseballers finish with a record of 30-25.

Numbers? Numbers

  • Red Wings: 2-1
  • Tigers: 3-3
  • Michigan Baseball: 3-2

Grand total: 8-6

Team of the Week

With grit, determination and a ferocious passion, the Red Wings muscled past the Ducks in an intense Game 7, returning to the Western Conference Finals for the third straight year. That gets them the nod as your Motown “team of the week.”

Without further ado, the matchups for the week:

Red Wings

  • Tuesday, May 19 vs. Chicago – 7:30 PM (Game 2) (Versus)
  • Friday, May 22 at Chicago – 8:00 PM (Game 3) (Versus)
  • Sunday, May 24 at Chicago – 3:00 PM (Game 4) (NBC)

Tigers

  • Tuesday, May 19 vs. Texas – 7:05 PM (FS Detroit)
  • Wednesday, May 20 vs. Texas – 7:05 PM (FS Detroit)
  • Thursday, May 21 vs. Texas – 1:05 PM (FS Detroit)
  • Friday, May 22 vs. Colorado– 7:05 PM (FS Detroit)
  • Saturday, May 23 vs. Colorado – 7:05 PM (FS Detroit)
  • Sunday, May 24 vs. Colorado – 1:05 PM (FS Detroit)

Game of the Week

Red Wings: Tuesday, May 19 vs. Chicago – 7:30 PM (Versus)

 

Look, all of the WCF games are going to be important. I’ll go ahead and say Game 2 is the biggest one…to date. If the Wings can take both games at home, they put themselves in a great position in this series, especially if they can steal one on the road. But if the young, hungry ‘Hawks can bounce back and steal one at the Joe, the series gets a whole lot more intense heading back to the Windy City.

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WW: It’s Been Real

They say all good things must come to an end. In the case of “Where’s Watson?” the end came far too soon.

I didn’t want to believe it when the NHL released the schedule of conference finals officials late last week. It just couldn’t be true.

Referees
Paul Devorski (160)
Eric Furlatt (35)
Dave Jackson (64)
Marc Joannette (64)
Dennis LaRue (45)
Bill McCreary (275)
Dan O’Halloran (72)
Kevin Pollock (91)

Linesmen

Derek Amell (59)
Greg Devorski (108)
Shane Heyer (108)
Brad Lazarowich (174)
Steve Miller (42)
Jean Morin (147)
Pierre Racicot (97)
Jay Sharrers (125)

I momentarily thought about contacting the league to tell them there was a misprint and that they accidentally misspelled “Watson” as “Lazarowich” while inadvertently making Watson a lineman. But I figured out would just wait out this OBVIOUS mistake, and the NHL would correct it later. No dice.

After Game 1 of the WCF? Nope.

Game 1 of the ECF? Negative.

It was at this point that I realized our glorious run here on “Where’s Watson?” had come to an end.

So farewell B-Rad. Enjoy your offseason in Saskatchewan. Get in a little golf. Read some new books. Maybe even indulge in a Timbit or two. But don’t forget to practice those arm raises and wave-offs. We want to see you back at the top of your game next season.

**For those who are curious, the fine officials that were ridiculously inconsistent in Game 1 of the WCF were Bill McCreary and Eric Furlatt, with Greg Devorski and Shane Heyer on the lines. Furlatt: You’re on notice. McCreary: You would be too, but you have a sweet moustache.

And who do we get for Game 2? Paul Devorski and Dennis LaRue will be rocking the orange armbands while Derek Amell and Pierre Racicot work the lines.

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