Well, let's see. We haven't been together since last Saturday night and that thrilling down to the last cup Big Ten Title game. Tonight, a contest of much less import as the Wings try to put an end to a modest two-game losing streak against the Phoenix Coyotes, a team many say is playing its last year in the National League. For the record, this will go down as the day Albert Pujols got a contract worth a smidge (4 million dollars is indeed a "smidge" when it's part of a $254 million dollar deal) over a quarter of a billion dollars. Wow, etc. That is more that the current owner of the Angels, the team shelling out the dollars for Pujols, paid for the entire franchise short a few years ago.
I've been at this for about five minutes and can report that the Red Wings lead the hockey game 2-0. Twice Wings were left all alone in front of Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, and twice they buried the thing. Todd Bertuzzi made no mistake at 1:16 and Valteri Filppula--who I had heard earlier today wasn't even going to dress tonight due to a leg injury--found the net at 2:09. The goals were strikingly similar. In each case, the goal scorer was all alone below the hashmarks on the circles, right out in front of the goal. In a strange oddity, Phoenix has outshot Detroit 5-4 here in the early going. DETROIT 2, PHOENIX 0.
8:05 Make it 3-0, Detroit. Phoenix put Detroit on the power play and Tomas Holmstrom put it on the board at 14:46. He fired in a rebound and in spite of a 10-10 shots on goal total, the rout is on. And now it is REALLY on. Darren Helm just took a feed off to the side of the net and made it 4-0 at 15:29. Which turns out to be bad news in the extreme to those of us up here in the press box as Mike Smith is replaced in goal by Jason LaBarbera which is much more difficult to spell. DETROIT 4, PHOENIX 0.
Juri Hudler greeted LaBarbera with yet another goal and Detroit's running away, 5-0 after one. In a statistical oddity, or quirk if you prefer, shots on goal in the period were even: 12-12. Sometimes things just don't add up. AFTER ONE: DETROIT 5, PHOENIX 0.
True story: back in the day, Phoenix coach Dave Tippet was the coach of the Houston Aeros, and when we'd go down there to play them I'd run into him outside the arena between periods, pacing, having a smoke. I don't know if Tippet's quit yet, but if he hasn't I'll bet he's lighting the last one with the next one right now outside the building between periods here at the Joe.
Hockey hurts. I'm out there tending some net this very afternoon and some guy winds up for the slapper from the point to my left and I go down but the puck surprises me a little and goes up. No problem--I figure to snag it with the trapper but I miss and it ticks the edge of the ole catch glove (that's what they call it: a "catch" glove) and deflects a little but that's no problem because it has to hit me in the chest and stay out but no, it finds a gap between my torso and arm and in it goes and I'm left down on my knees muttering some very bad words which I will not share with you here except to mention that one of them (which I may have uttered more than once truth be told) is a perfect rhyme for "puck". Literally adding injury to the insult which this goal was, is the fact that on its way through it nicked my left side which felt a lot like being snapped with a wet towel in the boys locker room and which left a welt. I hate hockey. I hate it so much I have vowed never to play again until next Tuesday when the usual crew gets together again at the Oak Park Ice Arena.
There was a fight out there today which you really don't like to see in Rec Hockey. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm out there to have some fun and get some cardio and that's it and the boys know that if they screw with me--slashing me with their sticks trying to dig the puck out from under my pads and crap like that--I will up and leave which apparently ruins their entire game because it's better with a goalie than it is without even if it's a crummy goalie like, oh I don't know, me. Anyway, out there today one guy gets it into his head that he's Gordie Howe and this other guy decides that he's John Ferguson (look it up if you have to) and they stand each other up and then there's a shove and then there is the dropping of the gloves and then there is a guy prostrate and motionless on the ice and I decide I've played enough hockey for this day. They say the goalies are the crazy ones, right? Let me tell you, the boys who skate out are, as was so well put by goalie Denis Lemeaux in the movie classic Slapshot, all a "bunch of English pig-dogs with no brains." And with that, the second period is underway here in Detroit.
Here's your Middle of the Period update: still 5-0, Detroit. Phoenix got back-to-back power plays, including an overlap which gave them :49 of a two-man, and got nothing. 9:13 left in the middle twenty.
Ok, 5-1 after two. Radim Vrbata slapped one by from the left circle late in the second. Same thing that happened to me today. Jimmy Howard went down and the puck went up. There wasn't much of an opening under the bar but these are NHLers and they don't need much. 21-20 shots after 40 mins, favoring the Coyotes. Did you know that Detroit and Phoenix each have 33 points and are tied for 3rd place in the Western Conference? Me neither. AFTER TWO: DETROIT 5, PHOENIX 1.
Here's the quote of the day/year, courtesy of Pujols circa 2009 via Deadspin:
"People from other teams want to play in St. Louis and they're jealous that we're in St. Louis because the fans are unbelievable. So why would you want to leave a place like St. Louis to go somewhere else and make $3 or $4 more million a year? It's not about the money. I already got my money. It's about winning and that's it. It's about accomplishing my goal and my goal is to try to win.
The third period is about to begin. I'm going to do something I rarely do in deference to the score. I am going to go downstairs early tonight and get set up for the post game interviews. I've the Wings blow the lead it is on my for the karmic disruption this change in routine will cause. If I don't get back to you tonight, we will see you Sunday at Ford Field for the Lions and the Vikings (I can't come to the game here Saturday against Winnipeg because we are going to cut down the Kincaide Family Christmas Tree and we always get the chicken dinner in Frankenmuth afterwards and we never get home before ten or so). So, for now and unless a change in conditions warrants it, goodnight from the Joe Louis Sports Arena!