Thursday, November 24, 2011

Let's Watch the Lions and the Packers!

Happy Thanksgiving, gobble, gobble and all that.  We have been here at Ford Field for about an hour and a half.  The Thanksgiving Day Classic (which is the event we are covering today) presents a couple of unique problems.  The first is one of logistics.  The route I take to get to Ford Field, and it is never particularly easy to get to Ford Field, is blocked due to the Thanksgiving Day parade.  My plan "B" worked well as it usually does (this isn't the first trip this turkey has made to the Turkey Day game, after all) so we got here in good order.  The second problem is making sure that you don't overfeast (a word which Spellcheck tells me I just invented along with the word "Spellcheck" so we are off to some kind of a start!) at the pre-game media buffet which, today of all days, features the best spread of the season: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc.  Everything, in other words, that you are going to enjoy when you get home from the game.  One must pace ones self.  Stuffing yourself before the game is a rookie mistake, and you hate to see it.

Well, we have the Packers in here today and there will be a record crowd and, to be honest, I don't give the Lions much of a shot.  There's a reason Green Bay is 10-0 and there is a reason they are the defending Super Bowl champs, after all. And that reason is that they are pretty good.  That said, remember I said a moment ago that this isn't my first trip to this rodeo?  History tells us that when the Lions pull off an upset, particularly a huge upset, they do it on Thanksgiving Day.  So, we shall see what we shall see.

Besides, didn't the Lions beat the Packers the last time they played?  (Hint: they did.  7-3, here last December.)    The last time Detroit beat Green Bay two in a row was the last meeting between the teams in 1998 and the first meeting between the teams in 1999.  And if you like omens, both of the games were played in Detroit.  Well, in Pontiac, actually, but both were at the Lions home field.

I am playing hurt today.  I had the biggest leg cramp of my life overnight and right now my left calf feels like there's a needle sticking into deep tissue,  But, gentle reader, would I let something like that keep me from blogging for you?  I think not.

The Lions get a couple first downs, but a holding call on Nate Burleson costs 'em and they have to punt.  It didn't look like much of a hold in my view, but once again, they didn't ask me...

The Lions get a couple first downs after the kickoff, but a holding call on Nate Burleson costs 'em and they have to punt. It didn't look like much of a hold in my view, but once again, they didn't ask me. The Lions hold the Packers to a single first down, and they punt to Detroit. Which is a case of so far, so good.

Green Bay has scored an NFL-high 94 1st quarter points this season. With 2:12 to go in first today, they have none. Lions have done a good job of ball control but penalties have hurt. They have had 3 holding calls (one hands to the face, actually) called against them. Which hurts. They might have points on the board except for the penalties.

The Lions don't score--but neither do the Packers in the first.  Detroit holds GB to only 8 plays on offense in the entire quarter--not bad considering the Packers are the highest-scoring first quarter team in the NFL this season.  (They are also the highest-scoring first half team in the league).  Detroit has the ball to start the second. 

The Lions moving smartly here.  They've gone from own 15 to GB 48 with a 22y Matthew Stafford run looming large.  When he was tackled I thought to myself, "That HAS to be a career-long run for him!"  Moments later, Lions PR confirmed that it was, in fact, the longest run of his career.  Teams don't expect Stafford to run, and the middle was wide open for him.  TOP right now: 14:09 to 3:33, Detroit. Still scoreless.  Very exciting. 

Lions 6th penalty of the day (GB has 0) gives the Pack a first down conversion when otherwise they'd have been punting to Lions.  0-0, under ten left in first half.  Lions playing really well--but the penalties are hurting them.  

Lions had 'em in 3rd and forever after hold call wiped out 25y GB gain, but are called for hands to the face.  Only a 5y pen--but automatic 1st down.  Lions hold though, and GB has to punt again.  Det 1/10 at own 20 with 5:43 left in half. Detroit defense impresses.  GB has scored 189 first half points this year. Today, zero!  

Stafford pass is tipped and intercepted and GB has it at Det 13.  Pass interference gives them 1st and goal at 1.  They score 2 plays later on Aaron Rogers 3y TD pass.  A 13-yard, :42 second scoring drive.  A bad break and now the boys will have to do with some adversity in this one.

Lions down 7-0 at half, but get a load of these stats: TOP (Time of Possession): Detroit 20:02, GB 9:58.  Total y: Det 218, GB 86.Wow.  This could be a great second half.  

The second half could not have begun any worse than it did for Detroit as GB drives 77 yards in 11 plays in 5:54 to score and go up 14-0.  The Packers gained almost as many yards in that one drive (77) as they did in the entire first half (86).  Worse than that, Ndamukong Suh--last years NFL Rookie of the Year--was ejected.  The call came after the Lions had stopped Green Bay on 3rd and goal.  The penalty gave GB a gift first down and John Kuhn scored from a yard out.  But, there is more bad news.  Kevin Smith--the running back cut by the Lions last March but resigned the week before last due to injuries in the Detroit backfield, the RB who scored 3 TDs and racked up 201 total yards in the win over Carolina just last Sunday, suffered what is being called a lower leg injury and is out for the game.  And there is this: on Detroit's first second half possession, Stafford throws his second interception of the afternoon. So, Detroit's down two scores and Green Bay has the ball again and it is noticeably quieter here.  

The first play after the pick is a 65 y Rogers to James Jones TD pass.  21-0, Green Bay.  Just like that.  5:25 left in 3rd.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Let's Watch the Wings and the Flames!

We are here at the Joe Louis Arena to take in the Red Wings-Calgary Flames game--sort of a pump-primer for the Big Game tomorrow as the Lions host the Packers in the annual Thanksgiving Day Classic.  I'm looking forward to that, indeed, I'll be leaving home for Ford Field and the game in a scant 14 hours or so.  Meanwhile, here, Tomas Holmstrom has just tipped in a right point shot blasted by Nicklas Lidstrom to open the scoring.  It's power play goal (PPG) at 6:14 with Juri Hudler getting the second assist.  So, the Wings, a team at times running hot and at others not, will try to build on their 8-3-1 (.708) record  when scoring first.

Right now, the Wings are running hot.  They've won two in a row.  This comes after the lost two in a row.  Which came after they won four in a row.  Which came after the lost six in a row.  Which came after they won five in a row.  And there you have the entire Wings season to this point.  They are11-7-1 (23 pts.) which you can look at one of two equally valid, equally true ways.  You could say, hey, the Red Wings are just four points out of first place in their division.  You could also say, hey, the Wings are in a tie for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.  As I say, both statements are true.

Sparky Anderson used to say (I don't have to tell you who Sparky Anderson was, do I? Hall of Fame Manager of the Tigers and Reds, etc.), "Let me see 40 games and I can tell you what kind of a team I have."  40 games is about a quarter of a baseball season.  A quarter of a hockey season is, since your hockey season is half the number of games as a baseball season, 20 games.  Tonight is game #20 for Detroit.  Therefore, we should know after this one what kind of a hockey team we have this season.  Which will be good to know because I have to tell you, right now I have no idea.

This is the second meeting between the Wings and Flames.  Calgary came in here and beat Detroit 4-1 nineteen days ago.  It was the last game of that six game losing streak which had everybody so concerned as the month began.  Detroit is 6-2 since losing that game.  Still 1-0 Wings with under four to go in the first.  We'll keep you posted....

The period is over.  Shots are 8-8.  The Wings appear to be defensive-minded tonight which is good because it tends to give you the best chance to win.  On the other hand, it tends to result in a less than thrilling evening at the rink.  So, what do you want?  Two points or goose bumps?

I read some of the Green Bay Packer Game Notes last night.  I say some because they ran 122 pages.  The interesting thing is that it was the Packers who invented Game Notes back in the '50s.  It was the invention of their PR guy and it was called "The Dope Sheet."  Which is what it was, a sheet.  You know, as in a page.  And now it's 122 pages.  At any rate, what I gleaned from what I read is that Green Bay has some kind of an offense.  I will give just one fact from "The Dope Sheet": The Packers are on pace for 568 points this season. The franchise record is 461 points in 2009 and the NFL record is 589 points by New England in 2007.

There's another interesting note, so I guess I'll give you two facts from "The Dope Sheet": The Packers will be the first undefeated NFL team to play on Thanksgiving since a 10-0 Green Bay team visited Detroit on Nov. 22, 1962.

They didn't mention this is "The Dope Sheet" so I'll throw it in for you.  That game on November 22, 1962? Green Bay was 10-1 after it was over.  That was the game--perhaps the most famous single game in Lions history--in which their defense sacked Bart Starr 11 times (still the Lions single-game record) at Tiger Stadium and won 26-14.  The Lions might have been NFL champions that year had it not been for another one of their more famous games earlier in the year.  This one, the first meeting of the season between the Lions and the Packers at Green Bay's City Stadium is more accurately described from a Detroit point of view as infamous, actually.  7 weeks before the upset in Detroit, the Lions were beating the Packers in 7-6 with under two minutes to go when Milt Plum, trying to run out the clock, threw an interception near midfield and the Packers returned to the Detroit 18 before Paul Horning kicked a 14-yard field goal with 26 seconds to go to give Green Bay at 9-7 win.  The game is perhaps best remembered for Alex Karras throwing his helmet at Plum after the game in the Lions locker room in an attempt to do his Great Bodily Harm, an attempt which according to all accounts just missed.  Most of the Lions, hell, most of everybody thought Plum, the responsible party as back in the day the quarterback and not the coach or the coordinator or anybody else called the plays, should have run the ball, forced Green Bay to use their last time out, and let Detroit's great punter, Yale Lary, pin 'em deep.  But they didn't and so by the time they'd KO'd the Pack back in Detroit on Thanksgiving, the damage had already been done and the season was over in spite of their spectacular win over Green Bay.

Meanwhile, back here at the hockey game, Calgary scored a couple of quick ones--quick as in two goals before the second period was three minutes in--on Jimmy Howard (the second was soft as well as quick) but the Wings have answered as Flames goalie Mikka Kiprusoff let in one he should have had, too.  So it's 2-2 and we are midway through the second period.  As I was reminiscing about the Lions and all while all of this was going on below me, I have, actually, no idea, none at all, who scored the Detroit goal.  They'll give me a sheet containing that information during the intermission.  I can wait.  Oh yes, I can wait.  Under 8 to go in the second, 2-2.

Hey, wait.  I do too know who scored that Detroit goal.  I get a text anytime a Red Wings scores a goal.  I am not sure why I do, but I do.  It's a good thing, too.  Some nights it's the only thing that reminds me I'm alive.  It turns out that it was Ian White.  The goal was described as a "47-foot wrist shot."  See, I TOLD you Kiprusofff should have had it.  47-foot wrister, indeed.

I'd chastise myself and say I've got to get my head in the game except I got over self chastisement years and years ago, and besides, I'm bailing, pulling the chute, bugging out, whatever you want to call it, early tonight. The NHL scouts all leave with 5-6 minutes left in the game because apparently nobody ever does anything that is more worth their while than beating the traffic with the, you know, GAME ON THE LINE.  Tonight, I'm with them.  I have to be right back here downtown by 9:30 tomorrow morning and it won't any picnic, either.  That's because it's a parade.  On Thanksgiving Day now, you have to battle parade traffic to get to the football game.  When they played in Pontiac, that parade traffic, due largely to the fact that in affected only downtown Detroit, wasn't nearly as big a factor as it is now that both the parade and the game occur within a few blocks of each other.  So, I'll see enough traffic tomorrow that I feel I can blow it off tonight.  Besides, there are no live radio shows tomorrow that need tape from this game, so I don't need any post-game tape.  I did bring my recorder in case somebody scored 6 goals or died or something big like that, but it is increasingly apparent that nothing big is happening tonight.  So when I leave you hanging this evening, remember, it's for a good cause...

Less than three into the third Holmstrom gets his second PPG of the night to put Detroit up 3-2.  He was alone in front and spun around at the top of the crease to plant his own rebound with a backhand.  It doesn't matter how long your legs are, and Kiprusoff's are among the longest, when a guy like Holmstrom can extend his reach with a backhand like that and you are down in the butterfly, you are going to be scored upon.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Let's Watch the MSU/Indiana Game!

Here we are, high above Spartan Stadium for the last time in 2011, and what a year it has been here.  The Spartans, as you know, can win their division (Legends or Leaders, we are ten or eleven weeks in and I still haven't figured it out) just by beating an awful 1-9 Indiana team here on this blustery fall Saturday and by winning on the road at Northwestern one week from today.  If they do that, they will be in the first-ever Big Ten title game in two weeks in Indianapolis.  I am working the press box this afternoon asking people I know to see if they are going in hopes of finding somebody I can go with and split the driving costs.  If you are going--let me know, okay.

My daughter--accepted a few days ago into the MSU Honors College--spent the night in one of the dorms with a friend last night and had, as I knew she would, a great time.  She's really hoping to come here in the fall.  I'm looking down on the MSU Spartan Marching Band as I write, hoping come next fall when I gaze down upon them, one of the mellophones will be she.  Almost kick-off.  It's Senior Day and all of them have been introduced and now the full compliment of Spartans take the field.  We'll be back to keep you posted on all the fun!
And now from our Twittering today:

MSU wear classic Green and White uniforms today. My favorites. Dwn in AA, Brady Hoke is wearing shirtsleeves. Dummy. It's cold
IU gets first down on first play, then 3 n out. MSU starts own 31.
Kirk Cousins to BJ Cunningham goes for 37 on 3rd and 7 to IU 29, then Cousins hits Garret Selleck for 21 and it is 1st and goal.
Can't convert first and goal, Dan Conroy hits 21y FG. 3-0, MSU w 10:05 left in 1st.

Cousins to Cunningham for 63y and a TD!!!  10-0, MSU 6:24 lft in 1st!  3 plays, 76y is the drive.

I don't know why I haven't ever entioned this before, but did you know you can follow me on Twitter @RichKincaide?  You can and you should on account of I've always got something cool to say.  Yeah, right.

UM, sad to say, is pushing Neb around this aft. Up 7-0 in 1st and are in Red Zone again.  I hate UM, but you prob knew that.

Now is it Cousins to Keyshwan Martin for another score.  47y this time and the drive is 70y in 5.  17-0, MSU. 2:09 left 1st.

IU: 2 1st downs in first. Tot y: MSU 224 , IU 57. MSU 17, IU 0 after 1. NEB on bd in AA, trail UM 10-7 after 1.

KMartin goes end around into end zone from 19y out. 2play/24y drive. 24-3, MSU. 10:06 left in half.  Illinois leads Wis 14-0 near the half!

1/2time. 34-3, MSU. Not that close. Tot y: 241-58, MSU. Ill leads UW 17-7 at half, UM leads Neb 17-10 at half.  MSU band on the field.  It's chilly, 47-degrees.  Hope the kids are finding a way to stay warm! They sound like they are.  Supposed to look up an old friend here at the half--so let the search begin.

Never did find my buddy.  MSU goes right down and scores again.  Cousins to Cunningham TD pass from 7y.  Cousins: # TD passes today.  it's 41-3, MSU. ILL lead over UW down to 17-14 mid-third.

Johnny Adams intercepts pass, runs it back 87y for TD. 49-3, MSU and still not halfway thru 3rd qtr. Blow. Out. 

Adams return is 5th-longest in school history (interceptions and fumbles).

Finally found my friend down in the suites and I hung out with the well-to-do in 4th qtr.  MSU wins 55-3 and now a win at Northwestern one week from today (noon kick, eastern time) means a berth in 1st-ever Big 10 title game.  Time to snag some tasty post-game audio and find my (not so) little girl! Talk to you soon, etc.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

@ The Red Wings-Calgary Game

Come tonight the Calgary Flames, and who ever thought we'd be writing this tonight: the Flames are one of only 3 Western Conference teams (St. Louis and Columbus) with a worse record than Detroit.  The Wings are winless in 5 (0-4-1) and the reason why is no mystery. In the five games, the Wings have managed to score 5 goals.  Tough to win when to do so you have to hold the opponent to zero.  Of course, the Wings came within one minute of doing just that here two nights ago in what wound up being a 2-1 loss in overtime to the Minnesota Wild.  The Wings led 1-0 when the Wild scored with a minute showing on the clock before they beat the Wings on that overtime goal by Devon Setoguchi.  The Wings were shorthanded 9 times in the game Tuesday.  The killed off the first 8, but you know...

I turned out to be prescient here on the blog the night beofre last, saying in the third period that I was worried as soon as I looked through the binoculars and saw Setoguchi down there.  That guy killed Detroit in the series last spring against San Jose.  I had to look up the numbers, but he had a hat trick in Game 3--including the gamer in OT--and he opened the scoring in Game 7, a 3-2 Sharks win.  All told, Setoguchi scored 5 times in that series against Detroit, almost a third of the goals San Jose scored in the series.

Underway here in Detroit,  0-0 in the first.

Mikka Kiprusoff is in goal for the Flames tonight.  He's 10-12-4, 2.86 lifetime against the Wings, which surprises me a bit as I would have thought his GAA vs Deroit would be zero-point-something.  Detroit has had some nights when they can't get a thing past this guy.  Remember the playoffs in 2004?  He eliminated the Red Wings all by himself in that series and Calgary went all the way to the Final.  (They lost, though).  Fun Fact: Calgary has not won a playoff series since they went to the Cup Final in '04.

The Wings are hooted off by some here as they trail the Flames 1-0.  Lee Stempniak scored at 15:53.  Jimmy Howard looked bad on it--Stempniak was along the goal line to his right and slid it in with a shot that Howard should have had with ease.  And I think he would have had not Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart not gotten the blade of his stick on it, changing its direction.  So, it wasn't, at least in my judgement, Howard's fault but you can't bet the number of people in this arena right now who know that numbers fewer than 100.  There are, of course, nearly 20,000 here tonight.  Shots in the period would up 8-5, Detroit.  And there you have it, yet another goal-less period for the Red Wings.

Might be six in a row without a win.  Iginla just scored again--the same shot he used to score his other goal tonight, a one-timer from low in the circle--but it never would have happened were it not for an awful play by Kronwall who had plenty of ice as he looked to lug it out of the defensive zone but he overskated it, turned it over, and Iginla, behind the play, all of a sudden was all alone.  We're under ten to go here, and the Wings are down two and it is not looking good.  At all.

While I had a moment, I refreshed my memory on that Flames-Wings playoff series in '04.  Calgary won the series by winning the last two games by identical 1-0 scores.  In fact, in the four Calgary wins, Kiprusoff allowed a grand total of four goals.  Since two of the games went to overtime, his goals-against against Detroit in those games was less than 1.  Which is pretty good.  Back with more after the intermission...

I was worried when the Red Wings season began.  I mean, yes, the Wings might well have won the Cup last year had they beaten San Jose and I think they would have beaten San Jose without all the injuries.  Remember Franzen couldn't play and then Bertuzzi and (who was it?) Helm or Cleary both got hurt during Game 7?  Plus, I'm pretty sure Datsyuk was playing with a broken wrist.  But, without all of that I think Detroit would have won Game 7 and could well have beaten Vancouver and would have beaten Boston for the Cup.  So, it sounds strange to say all that and in the same breath say you have concerns about a team.  But to me, it's like what Gretzky said to his dad in explaining his retirement; "Every year I get a year older and they all get a year younger".  That was my concern with the Wings.  But when they started 5-0, when they were so dominant, I thought, "Silly me, I'm wrong again."  Now, winless in 5, I'm worried again.  And all the more because Jerome Iginla just scored (open in the left circle for a one-timer high into the net on the power play) and so now it's 2-0 Calgary here.

A rebound just went in off Danny Cleary's shoulder so the Wings are on the board, trailing 2-1 as we approach the mid-point of the period and the game.  It's the first of year for Cleary, which goes a long way toward explaining Detroit's difficulty in scoring goals here of late.  Cleary doesn't score until game #11.  But, at least now he finally has.

Niklas Kronwall went off on an iffy hook with about ten seconds left in the period but the refs missed a high stick to the face of Darren Helm seconds left which left Detroit coach Mike Babcock screaming at the officials as they went off for the second intermission.  You could lip-read the word "joke" on the closeup they showed of Babcock.  You could also lip read the word he said which preceded it, but this is a family blog.  Flames on the PP for almost a full two when the third begins...2-1 Calgary here.

We seem to have lost a paragraph or two.  Oh, well.  It's 3-1 Calgary and the scouts are leaving the press box as it is apparently not important for them to scout how the players perform at crunch time.  Kronwall overskated the puck when he had an easy clear and Iginla, who was way behind the play at the time, was all of a sudden all alone in the circle with the puck following the turnover and he buried his second of the night and now it looks like it's going to be six in a row without a win for Detroit and if any of you have any good questions for Babcock or the boys, the "comments" section is wide open. Only two Wings came into to meet reporters the night before last after the loss to the Wild.  I wonder how many we'll get tonight.

Calgary score into the empty net on the power play and with 1:18 to go and it being 4-1 Flames, that is going to do it.  You are never as bad as you look when you lose, goes the saying, but Detroit did not look good in this one at either end.  Off to the room...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

@ The Red Wings Game

Well, we're back.  For the first time since last May, for the first time since Game 6 of the Western Conference Semi-Final against the San Jose Sharks, we are back at Joe Louis Arena for a Red Wings game.  I know what you're saying: "Rich, the Wings opener was, like, a month ago.  What's the deal?"

The deal is: Shutup!  Do you think I don't know that? Between the Tigers being in the playoffs and my Friday night high school football play-by-play assignments (plus the fact that I blew off the real Opening Night because I hate Opening Nights in general because it's all crowded and a big pain in the whatever) I have had conflicts.  Plus, I skipped the entire exhibition schedule on account of the games not counting and I figure they play enough games that do count (82 regular season plus God knows how many in the playoffs) that I don't need to burn a trip downtown for a game or games that don't.

I am badly under-informed as tonight's game begins.  How badly, you ask?  Here's how badly.  This morning my bride asks me if I'm going to the game tonight and I say, "What game?"  "I thought the Wings were playing tonight," she says.  "I thought they were playing Thursday," I said.  "I'm going Thursday."  So, I go on-line and, sure enough, the Wings are home to the Minnesota Wild so I had to call the PR guy and make an excuse about failing to call yesterday because you are supposed to call 24 hours in advance and what not to get a credential so he's a little miffed but he says he'll leave a pass anyway, and so here we are.  I'm back in the press box again...

The Wings are 5-4-0 which I happen to know because I was paying attention to the scores in October, at least.  Detroit won their first 5 games and we were all planning the parade with the Stanley Cup in early June and then, wham, four straight losses.  It started when I was in the press box at Spartan Stadium a week ago Saturday night for that great Wisconsin game that the Spartans won on that Hail Mary Full of Grace pass with no time left on the clock and the officials confused about whether MSU had actually scored or not.  The Wings--with that perfect record--were in Washington to take on the Capitols that night.  We'd get updates during the Spartans game and, to say the least, they were not good.  Detroit lost 7-1 or something.  "Well, if you're going to lose, you may as well go big..."we said to ourselves.  The thing is, the Detroits haven't done anything but lose since that night and so now we figure they're a bunch of stiffs who will miss the playoffs entirely and so much for our nice parade.

The last loss in the current streak (I should say, "the most recent loss") came to these very Wild in Minny Saturday night, 1-0.  There will be no repeat of that here tonight.  Nicklas Lidstrom, in his 54th season with the Wings, tipped in a shot fired by Henrik Zetterberg at the 6-minute mark and Detroit is ahead 1-0.  Pavel Datsyuk made the play out of the near left wing corner and was, appropriately, awarded an assist as well.

As I scan the Detroit roster I note that, to my surprise, there are 3 players I've never heard of and another who I did not know was playing for the Wings this season.  Like I said, I've been busy.  As far as the Minnesota roster goes, well, let's just say there are several names there with which I am unfamiliar.  Plus, my favorite Wild--and perhaps my favorite player, period--Clayton Stoner, is not dressed tonight.  Who even wants to come if Stoner can't make it, I ask?  I love to say, "Look at the Stoner down there," when he's in the lineup.  I never tire of it.  You'd think I would, but I don't.

I'm gonna watch some of this game for a while and will check back in later.

The first period ends with Detroit outshooting Minnesota 12-4 and leading 1-0.  The Wings are rewarded with warm, sincere applause.

I am somewhat dismayed as I survey the arena tonight to see two large ads sponsored by companies which have actually, personally fired me.  It's a little disconcerting.  Anyway, I saw an article on this afternoon headlined "An Unforgettable First Month", or some such, so I think I'll spend the break reading that so I can learn what it is I'm supposed to never forget.  Back later...

The article about the "unforgettable October" turned out to be eminently forgettable.  Nothing of note appears to have happened in October.  They made a big deal about the games in Finland (who cares?), about the NHL returning to Winnipeg (if you don't happen to be in Winnipeg, who cares?), and the fact that Ottawa and Edmonton either lead or are battling for the lead in their divisions.  Yawn.  Turns out I didn't miss a thing.  That's the problem with the regualar season, no?  82 games nobody cares until the playoffs begin, by which time the Tigers season will have begun.  Oh, there was a 9-8 game between somebody and somebody else on Oct. 27, so I'll go look at the highlights of that one as it sounds like that was a pretty good game.  I love a good 9-8 hockey game. 1-0 here, still.  Read into that what you will.

They just introduced tonight's Red Wings "Oldtimer of the Night" (they call them "Alumni", but we all know what they mean) and the "Oldtimer of the Night" is younger than me.  Which is a pisser.

Oooh.  I just got asked to pick the 3 Stars here on Saturday night when the Wings play somebody else.  Credibility returns to my resume.

I'm planning on reading "Wonkette" during the second intermission and I have to tell you, if things don't pick up here soon, I'm not going to wait for the break.

Second period ends.  Shots 21-16, Detroit.  Score: 1-0, Detroit.  I am glad I am not picking the 3 Stars tonight.  We don't have 3 yet in this one.

The third period begins.  It is 9:22pm, just for the record.

I'm starting to not like this thing and I'll tell you why: Devon Setoguchi plays for the Wild.  This guy killed Detroit in that series against the Sharks last spring.  Had a hat trick--which included the gamer in OT in one of the games, and scored a goal against Detroit in Game 7--a game which Detroit just happened to lose by a goal.  Todd Bertuzzi just went off for slashing him.  And now the Wings are two men short as Drew Miller up and Charged the Wild goalie, which, of course, you cannot do.  We'll see...

Jimmy Howard made five or six really nice stops during the Minnesota two-man, so the Wings still lead 1-0. If Detroit goes on to win, this, the killing of the two-men short thing, will be what we in the sportswriting game call the Turning Point which is something which, for reasons unclear to me, is something we are always looking for: every night, every game.  It gives us something to ask about.  I.E., "Would you say such-and-such was the Turning Point?"  Christ, a nine-year old could do this job.

It was announced during the intermission that the local power company has changed to goal lights here from incandescent bulbs to "energy-saving" LED bulbs.  In addition to this "Save the Earth" initiative, the two teams here tonight are doing their part by never doing anything which might somehow cause those goal lights to have to be turned on.

If the score holds, at least on the Minnesota side of the ledger, four of Detroit's first ten games this season will have involved a shutout.  I'm going to have to shut this down pretty soon so I can get down to the room for pearls.  I hope somebody else has some good questions (they won't) because right now I've got exactly nothing.  We'll go with the "how's it feel to end the losing streak" crap and hope for the best.

A minute to go...and the Wild tie it!  Mikko Koivu tipped in a shot from the line.  The crowd boos at the end of reg time.  It's 1-1, going OT.  I will have to close up shop here now so I can get downstairs in time for postgame.  See you back here Thursday night.  Calgary or somebody will be here.

PS: We are back home now, chopping up the post game interviews.  Nick Lidstrom, in response to my question, said he thought there should have been a penalty against Minnesota's Mikka Koivu seconds before the Wild scored the game-winner in OT.  He may be fined for so saying.  You know who scored  that game winner, don't you?  Devon Setoguchi.  I knew it.  I just bleeping knew it.