Friday, December 10, 2010
No more nouveau expansion "rivals" like the Senators. No more West Coast market 90's expansion teams like the teal-clad Sharks. No teams that keep moving around and interloping on established team's markets like the Devils. Heck, not even some ne'er-do-well WHA castoffs like the Oilers this weekend, folks. The Habs are going old school, Original Six this weekend, starting with some old enemies from Detroit. Awesome.
Now, here's the thing about Detroit: I grew up in Leaf-mad Muskoka and Detroit was THE enemy. Even I have fond memories of Leafs-Red Wings wars through the 80's and 90's (it's a lot more enjoyable to sit back and watch two teams hammer each other when you don't have a real vested interest). My first ever game at the ACC (courtesy of my old roommate and his firm's tickets ... whooo-hooo lawyers!) was an afternoon Detroit/Toronto tilt and the place was fucking amped. Toronto fans HATE Detroit and the feeling is mutual. My in-laws are Sarnia/Windsor born-and-bred and would cut your throat for liking the Leafs. I'm sure the PPP folks would do likewise to a Detroit fan given the chance.
Me? I don't hate Detroit. Habs fans of a certain vintage don't hate Detroit. For anyone born after the late 60's, Detroit has had four phases: the average 70's Detroit that was poorly run, which lead to the "Dead Things" era Detroit of the early 80's when crowds at the Joe hovered in the 10,000 range on a good night, to the nearly men Yzerman Wings of the early 90's who would often lose in the playoffs in excruciating fashion, to the current Red Wings, the model franchise, perennial contenders with sound management, great ownership, rabid fans and a roll-call of Hall of Famers dotting the lineup (as an example, at that Detroit/Toronto ACC game, there were SIX current or possible future-hall-of-famers on the ice: Detroit fielded Lidstrom, Hasek, Chelios, Datsyuk, & Zetterberg, and the Leafs had Sundin. The Wings had another Hall of Famer in the stands in Yzerman and had just lost Robitaille and Hull. Yowza.)
Point is, to me, the Red Wings are a team to admire and emulate. As I told my 8 year old Wings fan neighbour a few years back, when I was his age, the Canadiens were what the Wings are now. I don't hate them, I respect them. My Dad (b. 1937) treats every Wings game like a blood-feud because he remembers Howe, Lindsay and Sawchuk going toe-to-toe with Richard, Moore and Plante. I remember Yzerman scoring 65 goals and getting dumped out of the playoffs in Round 1 by a BlackHawks team that finished 27-41-12. Different times.
Does that mean I'm not excited for Habs/Detroit? Hell no. It's an old-time hockey, cool sweaters and logos, traditional hockey markets game. Original Six-y Friday. Let's get to the old-time details:
Read your ticket made of cardboard you picked up at the box office: Game time is an old-school 7:00 pm, in the Joe Louis Arena (sheds tear for the Olympia and Forum) in old-school downtown Detroit, Michigan. On the old-school CBC so you don't have to watch that new-fangled RDS. Wings losers of two straight but still rolling out West; Habs have one three straight and are trailing only Washington and the State of Pennsylvania in points in the East.
Hotter than the new Studebaker: Carey Price has given up a goal a game or less for the past three. His current save percentage is .936 and his GAA is 1.92. The Hanukkah Hamr has 2 goals and 4 assists in his last 4 games and is playing excellent defensively. Captain Gio has 4 goals in his last 5 after a slow start. Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk is 2-7-9 in the last 7 and the Mule Franzen has 3 goals 2 assists in his last 4. Brian Rafalski has 12 assists in his last 11 after a slow start.
Cold as the wind blowing off Lake Michigan as you step off the train: Uh oh, Big Tits is in a bit of a funk. Travis Moen, despite seeing time alongside Cammy and Gomez is pointless in 10. Jaro 2.0 is pointless in 4. Is Hall-of-Famer Nik Lidstorm finally slowing? He's pointless in 8. Todd Bertuzzi is pointless in a couple and nowhere near the menace he was in his heyday.
Hurting like the Big Three Automakers: We can probably stop writing Markov in here. Gomez left with a "lower body injury" versus the Sens and is questionable. Mike Modano is out indefinitely with a wrist injury (resisting urge to make Modano sissy joke ... resisting ... must ... move ... on ...)
Ink-Stained Wretches: While it would have been nice to link to "Babcock'sDeathStare" that blog hasn't been updated since August. Up-to-date newsreel footage on the Winged Wheel can be found at Winging It in Motown.
Who sits in the gondola with Foster Hewitt: Does PK ever come back? If Gomez is out, who's in? Word from Boone on Wednesday was Halpern joined Cammy and Moen and Dustin Boyd (!) was coming down from press-box exile to center Mad Max and Tommy Pyatt. We shall see.
Post-game entertainment: An old school steak and beer at Morton's, then across to Windsor for some old school ... you know.
Original Six-y Friday wouldn't be complete without: An Original Six-y Friday Fan, like noted Red Wings fan Kirsten Bell.