(Found an old draft that was never posted due to a dying iPod battery: Enjoy).
I am currently on the road with ‘da bois,’ which means a fun-filled weekend of bad decisions off the ice and somewhat high stakes on the ice. League playoffs are upon us, though with last week eliminating us from Natty Fever, motivation runs thin.
There is an odd feeling around the locker room. Though we weren’t exactly favorites to go to Natty’s, we had as good a shot as any and missed it but just one goal. A 4-3 loss to Michigan State in a game that could have just as easily gone our way put an extremely bad taste in our mouths and I find myself among uncharted waters.
Guys talk about not caring about Leagues, but our game today (a swift and decisive 8-4 W) says otherwise. I have a sneaking suspicion we all care just as much as any other important weekend, yet not many down the bench would tell you that. But back to the subject of Roadies; the rest, we shall see.
Roadies could be, at the very least in the hockey world, the greatest notion ever gifted to us by the all-powerful and ever-honorable Hockey Gods. Think about three straight days full of your teammates, yet intermittent amongst three games of meaningful (for lack of a better word, as partially explained above) hockey. Team bonding at its best. For any non-athletes, this is not a cheesy team building weekend in the woods. It’s something you look forward to all off-season, and all year long – it’s a roady.
Someone's mad at me.
Let’s be honest. Nobody reads BD enough to actually be mad. Regardless–It’s been a while. And when I say a while I mean a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng time. My life has been so out of order in the last year, but I’m back, and I’m gonna make some more time for blogging hockey. Stay tuned for more, including an enormous paper-turned-post of my thoughts on fighting in the NHL. Maybe I’ll do some review on the overall state of the game itself, as well as some college stuff, definitely including big, press-busting events like the Big Chill, the Winter Classic, HBO’s 24/7 series, Crosby’s first facial hairs, etc. etc.
See? I’m already a-cooking some stuff up.
It’s been a rough year. In my first few months of blogging, the two most prominent teams I follow have decided to give me a hard time, and I honestly thought they’d make a fool out of me.
The Detroit Red Wings and the CCHA’s Michigan Wolverines are teams I predicted to roll through 2009 and coast through 2010. This did not happen. I talked a LOT of shit to family, friends, frenemies, and even coworkers that we would see the Wings in the 1 or 2 spot, and the Wolverines wipe up the CCHA. Can you fault me?
The Wings, perennial dominator of all things Central Division and Western Conference, suffered MILLIONS of injuries and are now battling for the 8 seed, though only due to returning healthy players and the right guys finally stepping up. Zetterberg (who was definitely playing hurt during the Olympics and right after) and Datsyuk now have ridiculous point streaks. Franzen is back (thank God) and not only is sporting some nice numbers as well, but now gives us much-needed energy, depth, and confidence. Not to mention the guy who kept us out of the bottom of the league, rookie goaltender Jimmy Howard, has worked out NHL jitters and sits on a few top-ten goalie categories (and was announced NHL Player of the Week). If he keeps this up, not only will Ozzie be the definite backup for once, but we’ll be riding Howie deep into the playoffs.
As far as Michigan is concerned, it was absolutely horrifying. Red Berenson has not yet failed to give us a winning season, and this year we were put to the test. At one point we found ourselves in second-to-last place in the CCHA, only being able to split weekends with even the most mediocre teams. Somehow our season was turned around, beginning some time after the outdoor game at Wisconsin (which I’ll attribute to a change from CCM helmets to the faithful Bauer 4500s).
We now have become the first 7 seed to win the CCHA playoffs, and in doing so secured an autobid to the NCAA tournament (20th straight appearance). After convincingly toppling last year’s giant killer Bemidji State, the referees stole our Frozen Four berth with a (very) botched call in the first of two overtimes.
So much for full redemption. Let’s go Wings.
We’ve all been there. Whether at noon during the week, late Fridays and Saturdays, or afternoons on Sunday: You pay your $8-12, sign your name on the list, and just hope for two goalies.
I’ve been to drop-in on and off for the last five years, and have seen some crazy things. Part of the beauty of drop-in is the crazy characters you’ll find in the locker room and on the ice; and for a PHEW like me, you gotta love the stupid setups guys show up with.
There’s the bender who wears his customized CCM Wings jersey, jaws on to anyone who’ll hear about his new forty dollar stick, and rips slapshots into garbage cans after the session, recounting his every goal and assist to impressed parents and wannabe-gangster-friends who came to watch.
Then there’s the old men, still grinding it out after a few decades in the sport; they say they just wanna stay in shape, but they are humbly fueled every week by their meager rebound goals which reveal some old skill set gone to seed or overshadowed by young, fresh legs coupled with thousands of dollars worth of new technology.
Of course, the group of snotty high school seniors who show up in droves, all wearing the same color jersey so they can stay on a line together and never take a shift on the bench.
And eeeeeevery so often you get a couple guys who are in the pros now, home on break from their school or semipro team. Point is, even those guys know how to NOT act like complete douchers at drop-in.
The 10 Commandments of Drop-In
Especially the Blackhawks.
Even though the Red Wings seem to be teetering on and off the bubble of a playoff spot, I can’t help but feel passively confident (maybe that’s just another phrase for optimistic). The unbelievably moronic buffoons who broadcast games for NBC and Versus may think the Hawks are a Stanley Cup favorite, but to me they’re actually nothing more than an outside chance.
This is because of, first and foremost, goaltender Cristobal Huet. He was absolutely sievous the other night (I’m not at a point of caring about that being a word right now, because it should be). Even the aforementioned buffoons noticed that he was off his angles and not exposing himself to the right lines of sight. He looked just plain uncomfortable about having big guys like Holmstrom, Cleary and Johan ‘The Mule’ Franzen in front of him. Therein lies the problem for Chicagoers (Illinoismakers? Chicagoons?).
Playoff hockey is all about the physicality of the game. You’ve got to be most effective when you’re sore and tired, and you espescially need to stay on top of your game when your opponent is all over you. If Huet is squeamish about a couple heels in his crease (and he was fishing for calls like that drunk fat chick from work you hooked up with at the bar but now wanna ignore for the rest of your life) then he’s gonna be in real trouble come April.
That said, the Detroit Red Wings are still THE Detroit Red Wings. I always knew, even after missing almost 300 man games this season that they would find a way to stand tall in at least an 8 seed.
I’m also not really counting on them to bow out in the first round either. They’ve had a really tough season but they have definitely learned from that and I think there are guys like Pav and Lidstrom who are finally starting to produce.
Thank God. 18 straight years and counting. Don’t stash away your winged wheels just yet, Detroit.
This is a beauty of an article. Hear hear! Bob McKenzie has been around the game for a very long time, and it shows. He is often the voice of reason among overly commercialized hockey analysts who begin to “sell out” and thus surrender their credibility in the hockey community. His stance on this is right on the money. If we, as influential hockey fans, want to keep both hard hits and fighting in the game, let’s make sure they stay, but make sure they stay in their rightful place. Though McKenzie labeled himself as an old-school type of mind on the subject, sometimes, especially in hockey, that same vibe is spot on with the entire community.
And here’s why: