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The Strange Snowy Journey of Ty Conklin’s Goalie Paddle

Part 1: Shopping at the Joe

My husband and I were at Thursday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. We had gotten tickets for this one long ago, actually as soon as they went on sale. It was Bobblehead Thursday! And as my husband’s Twitter name is @fakebertuzzi44, we really kind of need to have an actual Fake Bertuzzi in our large bobble collection, don’t you think? Only as it turned out (because it’s hard to plan in September what you’ll be doing on a given day in February), he’s currently assigned to a clinical rotation in Findlay, about an hour south of Toledo where we live, which is of course about an hour (in really good traffic) south of Detroit. So we decided to go in separate cars– I would leave straight from work to make sure I was at the Joe when the doors opened to guarantee we’d get one Bobble Todd for sure, and he would get there as soon as he could.

So we were there to see the home win streak come to an end, and it was absolutely a hell of a run, and I feel very privileged to have gotten to see as many of the wins as I did. It was strange walking out onto the concourse; quieter than I’ve seen it in months. I’ll call it bittersweet.

It was also HOT. I’m not sure if the ventilation wasn’t working properly that night or if the collective will of 20,066 fans heated the building or what, but it was overheated and everyone was eager to get outside. We, however, had a stop to make: the small Hockeytown Authentics shop. (Their main store is up in Troy, MI, but they have a tiny shop at the Joe.) They sell game used sticks and jerseys, autographed pucks and photos, that kind of thing. And there were two goalie paddles hanging on the wall which I’ve been coveting for MONTHS– both game used and autographed, one from Jimmy Howard and one from Ty Conklin. After some careful budgeting and much dithering and wharrgarbling, we decided that one of them could be my birthday present. (I know my birthday is still over two months away– humor me here!)

The Howard one had been sold, but the Conklin one was still there. In a way, this is actually better because this way I didn’t have to make a choice. In theory, I will have many years to get a Jimmy Howard goalie stick. (I know he’s only signed through next season, but come on, do you really think Kenny Holland is going to let him go?) But with Conk having been demoted to the Griffins, well, a goalie paddle from him could become hard to find. And I really did want this one, it wasn’t just an instance of taking what I could get. Because Ty Conklin is my FRIEND.

Part 2: Why a NHL/AHL Goalie Is My “Friend”

We met Conk at Hockeyfest before the season started, and there weren’t too many people in his autograph line, so we spent a few minutes talking to him and welcoming him back to town. He’s really a super-sweet guy who seemed to thoroughly enjoy talking with the fans.

Well, I think after that, he would recognize me when I’d go down to ice level to take pictures of warmups. (My hair is kind of a bright purplish-red, so I’m pretty easy to pick out in a crowd. Not a lot of people around Detroit with purple hair.) But if he noticed I was there against the glass, he’d flash this grin at me, like we had a joke the other people around weren’t in on. It was the sort of grin that invariably should make the recipient feel warm and fuzzy and happy, and it did. Now maybe Ty just smiles at all the female fans that way, or maybe, as the season went along and his numbers got worse, he was just happy to see a friendly face. But whatever the reason, basic human psychology dictates that if someone smiles at me like that on something resembling a regular basis, my brain will start registering that person as a friend.

Don’t worry, I’m not quite crazy enough to believe that these interactions mean any sort of connection deeper than what they are on the surface: an exchange of smiles between two people who met one time. But they were very nice smiles, and I’ll be honest with you: that night without Conk there, I missed his smile a lot more than I had thought I would. I know Joey MacDonald earned the second string spot and I know demoting Ty was the right choice for the team, but I still missed seeing him there and wish things had gone differently. (This is why I’m glad I don’t have Ken Holland’s job.)

Anyway, that’s why I was walking out of the Joe Thursday night with a signed, game used, Ty Conklin goalie paddle.

Part 3: Goalie Paddle Fun Facts

Did you know that when you walk down the Riverwalk from the Joe to the RenCen, and then through the RenCen to the Port Atwater garage, carrying a great big goalie paddle, people will either be like “Whoa! Cool!” or they’ll look at you, their eyes will get huge, and they’ll get as far away from you as possible as quickly as they can? So that was fun.

And did you know that a goalie paddle is kind of heavy if you take it for a one mile walk while stinging snow is blowing in your face? (Google says it’s a mile; I’m not sure this is true, but it felt like it Thursday night!) I came out of that walk with a whole new respect for goalies’ arm strength if they can wield those paddles for an entire game, let me tell you! Granted it was specifically designed for a guy who’s considerably taller and stronger than I am, but still! (Fake Todd Bertuzzi would have carried it for me, but I wouldn’t let him– it’s from MY friend!)

And did you know that it takes some odd contortions to try to fit a big goalie paddle into a small Saturn? It turned out that it was really a good thing that Fake Bert and I had to drive up separately, since the best way to get the stick to fit was to have the paddle part in the floor of the passenger seat with the stick/knob part stretching into the backseat.

And did you know that goalie paddles are not really great conversationalists, but they’re pretty good at listening?

Part 4: Goalie Paddle Anxiety Therapy

We (Fake Todd and I, not the stick and I) had been joking on the walk that I would have a nice long conversation with the stick on the way home.

As it turned out, the roads were absolute shit from a snowstorm blowing through. (We’ve had about 4 storms that have made the roads terrible so far this winter. Three of them were on nights we went to games and the other was a night we were driving home from helping my aunt who lives Downriver to move house. WHY do we keep getting the storms ONLY on long drive nights?) It started out in Detroit with poor visibility from snow, but the roads not too bad, just wet. Then Downriver the visibility was still poor and the roads were getting kind of slick. (The visual effect of the blowing snowflakes looking like hyperspace from Star Wars was entertaining for only about 30 seconds, since I couldn’t see past them.) Then just north of Monroe, the snow turned to sleet, so the visibility improved some, but the roads were just brutal and a convoy of three semis deliberately tried to run me off the road. (I was chugging along in the right lane at about 45-50 mph, and I can swear truthfully I was fully in the lane because I’d drifted right and been checked by the rumble strips just before, and they came barreling through, straddling the lane line, and blaring their horns at me like I was the one doing something wrong! Fucking douchebag bullies.)

Needless to say, I was kind of white knuckling things. I had a spinout on I-475 a few years back– I didn’t hit anything and landed safely on the shoulder, but I’ve never been the same about snow and ice driving since.

So I really did wind up having a long conversation with my goalie paddle in an attempt to keep myself calm. I started out addressing it as “Ty Conklin’s Goalie Paddle,” but over the course of the 2 hour drive (which should have taken 1 hour), I wound up just calling it Ty. Yeah, I’m on a first name basis with my game used, autographed, Ty Conklin goalie stick.

Part 5: What Does One Talk About With A Goalie Paddle?

Part of the time I talked to him (yes, it’s a boy) the way I might to a dog or a stuffie if I were nervous and by myself, more or less just talking myself through the bad drive but addressing it to him. Part of the time I talked to him the way I might to the real Ty if he were a real friend instead of a smile-through-the-glass friend– about the Wings’ chances, the Griffins’ chances, the strange nature of goons, the strange nature of goalies, the strange nature of goalie girls and whether a goalie girl’s particular goalie crush reveals aspects of her psyche. That kind of thing. And singing along with the radio whenever a song came on that I know and that is at least vaguely near my range. Which means I was singing Matchbox 20 and Katy Perry songs. To a goalie paddle. Whatever it takes to keep my mind off the ICY DEATH FALLING FROM THE SKY, right? And then I had a (VERY) minor visual hallucination– thinking the clock said 1:22 when it was really 12:27. And then I told Ty I was hallucinating.

And then I realized I just told a goalie paddle I was hallucinating.

Part 6: Aftermath

Once we reached the state line, the road improved vastly. I guess ODOT must have brined I-75 recently, to which I must say, thank you, ODOT! The surface streets were pretty slushy, but no big deal. So Ty (the paddle, not the goalie) and I made it home in one piece. (I’m sure Ty the goalie also made it home in one piece, but I had no direct personal involvement.) And there you go.

To add insult to injury, the snow and ice pretty much all melted off during the few hours I was asleep. That whole traumatic thing left no evidence of itself!

But here we are safe and sound.

Here are Ty and I defending our hallway against incoming wrist shots:

And here we are doing our best Dominik Hasek impression:


And here’s a closeup of the autograph:


And just for good measure, here’s @FakeBertuzzi44, holding a fake Bertuzzi, in front of a picture of Bertuzzi:

 

 


 

TODDCEPTION!

 

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Game Live Blog, Sharks at Red Wings

Pregame: NBC coverage starting us with Penguins at Sabres. Liam McHugh assures us we’ll be switched over to Sharks at Wings at 12:40. He’d better not be lying.

Meanwhile, FSD’s Dana Wakiji reports on Twitter that the Sharks will be starting Antti Niemi in goal, with Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, and Tommy Wingels up front and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Joe Pavelski on defense. The Wings will be starting with Joey MacDonald in net, Nick Lidstrom and Ian White on defense, and the Pavel Datsyuk, Todd Bertuzzi, and Johan Franzen up front.

Oh, Liam wasn’t lying! Here’s our own game.

1st period:

13:30 GOAL for Henrik Zetterberg! Backhand shot from the slot that manages to go through the legs of Jiri Hudler and Colin White who are effectively screening Niemi.

Detroit doing a decent job of breaking up the Sharks’ attempts to cycle the puck in the offensive zone, but they need to get some more scoring chances. Shots 6-4 Sharks with 6:10 left to play.

5:12 Penalty to Brent Burns for slashing.

0:06.9 Penalty to Todd Bertuzzi for goalie interference.

Shots 8-6 Detroit. Faceoffs even at 8 each.

2nd period:

18:12 Excellent quick right pad save by Joey Mac on a hard shot.

12:56 Penalty to Logan Couture for tripping.

11:31 Penalty to Johan Franzen for hooking.

Darren Helm gets a great shorthanded chance.

9:20 GOAL for Drew Miller! Rush down ice by Justin Abdelkader after a MacDonald save, then Miller picks up Abby’s rebound.

8:43 Penalty to Mule for boarding.

Joey MacDonald is having an amazing game here.

6:12 Penalty to Jonathan Ericsson for interference.

5:27 Possible Sharks goal, knocked in by Couture. Being reviewed to see if it was a high stick.

It was a goal, apparently.

Shots 19-8 San Jose in the second. Ouch. Faceoffs surprisingly still even at 10 each.

3rd period:

19:19 Strong save by Joey Mac to start things off.

18:23 Penalty to Jason Demers for holding.

17:41 Vlasic hurt by an Ian White shot. Looks like the puck smacked him in the face, deflected off Dan Boyle’s stick.

14:58 Pavelski  blocks a Lidstrom shot with his FACE. He’s staying on the bench, though.

Colin White also hurt– he took a shot off the knee, apparently.

13:15 Niemi comes up big with a quick succession of saves against Franzen and Datsyuk.

12:59 GOAL for Helm! Miller steals and carries into the zone, makes the centering pass to Helm.

5:06 FIGHT! Abby vs Ryane Clowe. The linesmen let them go for awhile, and it ends in more or less a draw.

4:44 Goal for Patrick Marleau. Gets a rebound from Pavelski’s shot.

1:15 Empty net for San Jose.

0:03.8 Offside, stop in play. Gah! The crowd is taking the opportunity to belt out “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

And they’ve done it! 3-2 win. 23 straight home wins. Three stars of the game: #3 Helm, # 2 Miller, # 1 MacDonald.

Next up: Tuesday night at Chicago, 8:30 PM.

Game Preview, Sharks at Red Wings, 12:30 PM

Good morning! Who’s ready for some early afternoon hockey?

The Red Wings are looking for some personal validation as the Sharks come in to town. Think about it. They’re on top of the NHL standings. They’ve won 22 straight at home. They’re staying ahead of the competitive Blues and Predators in the tight Central Division race. But they haven’t yet beaten the Sharks. Five straight regular season games (two already played this season). Two straight playoff eliminations.

The motivation today should be not so much to keep the home win streak going as it is to beat the Sharks for the sake of their own heads.

Drew Miller agrees. “They’re the team that put us out of the playoffs; it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. You definitely want to continue the streak, but I think there’s going to be extra energy to beat them.” Joey MacDonald added, “We don’t want to see these guys come in and push us around.”

As Mike Babcock put it, “It must be time to say enough’s enough.”

The Red Wings will put off their Goaltending Conundrum for one more game; MacDonald will be starting this afternoon, giving Jimmy Howard a couple of extra days for his broken finger to heal up. Joey Mac, as you can imagine, is more than happy to get another chance to shine. “The coaching staff have the confidence to throw me out there again against another good hockey team. I just gotta keep building on them and take advantage of the opportunity.”

Howard and Danny Cleary are both expected to return Tuesday against Chicago. No other injury changes to report; Tomas Tatar has been reassigned to the Griffins. I’d expect Babs to go with the same line configurations he’s been using with the possible exception of swapping Mike Commodore for Jakub Kindl. A little added sandpaper against San Jose could never be a bad thing.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan says his team would certainly love to be the one that ends the historic winning streak, but that they don’t need any extra motivation against Detroit. “We could use that as a motivating tool, but I think there’s enough between the two teams that you wouldn’t approach it any other way if it were the first game of the season.”

San Jose is likely to be playing like a team desperate for points; they lead the Pacific Division, but they’re only two points up on the suddenly surging Phoenix Coyotes (albeit with three games in hand). They’ve lost their last two, 3-2 to Carolina on Friday and 6-5 (OT) to Tampa Bay on Thursday. Yahoo! Sports claims the biggest problem has been the inconsistent play of goalie Antti Niemi, quoting McLellan as saying, “He wasn’t any good. I protect him… and talk about the team. He has to be better. Flat out, has to be better.” Niemi is likely to start today, however, given his past successes against Detroit. The Sharks will be without left winger Marty Havlat (torn hamstring) and defenseman Jason Demers (lower body), and may also be without defenseman Douglas Murray. Murray took a puck to the throat (!!!!) during the Sharks’ game against the Lightning. Initial reports claimed his Adam’s apple was fractured (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), but later testing showed that to be not the case.

What I hope to see today from the Wings is same sort of efficient, relentless play they displayed against the Stars last Tuesday. Patient. Insistent. Unyielding.

Like, oh, I don’t know, a carpet shark eating a bamboo shark.

NBC (proper network NBC, not NBCSN/Versus) will have the game for you as part of their Hockey Day In America coverage; however, FSD’s Ken Daniels will be doing the play by play with Darren Pang as his color commentary partner.

Let’s go, Red Wings! *clap clap clapclapclap*

Game Preview, Predators at Red Wings, 7:30 PM

Tonight the Wings seek to extend their home win streak to 22 when they host the Nashville Predators.

We could possibly expect a letdown tonight after the euphoric madness of Tuesday’s win over Dallas, but the Wings are adamant that their real goal– favorable positioning in the standings for a long playoff run– is their main focus. “It’s cool to be part of history, but at the same time there’s no point we can just sit down and relax,” said Niklas Kronwall. “You lose a few games and all the sudden you’re in trouble. We have to keep it going and take advantage of the opportunity we have with the homestand.”

Justin Abdelkader agrees. “The West is tough, all of the top teams just seem to keep winning. Even though we’ve been winning, there’s no separation. Nashville and St. Louis just keep winning. It’s a battle. Wins in the division are going to be important.”

The Wings may be without Henrik Zetterberg tonight; Z is nursing a lower body injury. At first it was reported that he’d be out for sure tonight, but now the Freep is reporting that after today’s optional morning skate he considers himself a game time decision. Tomas Tatar has been recalled from the Griffins. If Hank can’t go, Tatar will skate on the fourth line with Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak, and Justin Abdelkader will be promoted to the second line with Jiri Hudler and Valtteri Filppula. (Filppula will play center.) Tomas Holmstrom will take Abdelkader’s spot on the third line with Darren Helm and Drew Miller.

Danny Cleary has been skating but probably won’t return to  the lineup until Tuesday’s game at Chicago.

Jimmy Howard is slated to return Sunday against the Sharks, which leaves us with a bit of a goaltending controversy. Who’s going to be sent to the Griffins, Joey MacDonald or Ty Conklin? Ken Holland stated bluntly, “Right now, Joey is the No. 2 guy.” On one hand, Joey Mac’s stats are inarguably superior to Conk’s. But on the other hand, Conk would have to clear waivers before being assigned to the Griffins. This close to the trade deadline, teams are certainly on the hunt for cheap veteran goalies, and Kenny Holland isn’t the sort of guy who likes to lose assets for nothing. MacDonald, having a two-way contract, would not have to clear waivers. It’s also possible that the Wings could carry all three goalies on the active roster, but Holland said that’s “not an ideal option.” My feeling is that the Wings will send Joey Mac to the Griffins. Not only does this eliminate the possibility of losing a player for nothing, but it also means Joey will be playing frequently rather than sitting on the bench charting faceoffs while Howard gets the majority of the starts, keeping him in game shape in case he’s needed later in the season or in the playoffs. I won’t say Holland has never surprised me with a move before, but this scenario seems pretty likely to me.

Nashville currently sits in third place in the Central, eight points behind Detroit and five behind St. Louis.

The Predators will be without center Blake Geoffrion, as they just traded him to Montreal for defenseman Hal Gill. Nashville will also be without wingers Brian McGratton and Patric Hornqvist (both upper body injuries). Adding Gill to a blue line which already includes Shea Weber and Ryan Suter would indicate that the Preds intend on making some real noise in the playoffs this year. As for the threat Nashville poses to Detroit, tonight, I’ll let Mike Babcock say it for me: “Their goaltending is spectacular. The last two games their goalie’s been unbelievable. You get 30 minutes out of (Ryan) Suter and (Shea) Weber, and that’s the core of their group. They got two responsible centers in (David) Legwand and (Mike) Fisher. I like their team. I always hear every year how they’re overachieving, but every year I look at a team that looks pretty good to me.”

Just to be safe, I did start goalie Pekka Rinne for my fantasy team again tonight. It’s worked two times out of three so far this season, right?

Fox Sports Detroit Plus will have the game for you. My internet connection has been kind of spotty and weird today, so I may or may not have a live blog this time. I’ll do what I can.

Let’s go, Red Wings! *clap clap clapclapclap*

Game Live Blog, Stars at Red Wings

Pregame: FSD’s John Keating is very adamant that Joey MacDonald will be the goalie going to Grand Rapids when Jimmy Howard returns from injury, in spite of the persistent internet rumors that Kenny Holland will actually send Ty Conklin to the Griffins instead. I’d think he would know, at least as much as anyone would.

Loui Eriksson is on a 9 game point streak against the Wings.

Tomas Holmstrom was honored for his 1000th game before puck drop.

1st period:

The third line gets in a good scoring chance against Kari Lehtonen early. Drew Miller and Lehtonen appear to be chirping a bit.

12:59 MacDonald makes a good save after a goalmouth scramble. The ref helped out a little with a quick whistle– not that I’m objecting.

12:36 Penalty to Jamie Benn for goalie interference.

12: 03 GOAL Henrik Zetterberg! Takes a strong pass from Pavel Datsyuk, shoots from the side of the net, gets his own rebound and puts it past Lehtonen.

10:45 GOAL for Brad Stuart! Helm wins the faceoff in the Stars’ zone, Stuie shoots from the blue line and it goes right in.

5:47 Roughing penalty to Adam Burish.

1:01 Cory Emmerton knocks Tom Wandell right down behind the Dallas net. (Clean hit.)

Shots 20-10 for the Wings in the first.

I think they want this.

2nd period:

13:55 Joey Mac thanks his goal post after it blocks a Stephane Robidas shot.

9:17 Slashing penalty to Steve Ott.

7:02 High sticking penalty to Ott.

3:44 Holding penalty to Nik Kronwall. (He and Ott were shoving each other around in front of the Detroit net.)

1:28 Drew Miller and Vernon Fiddler both off for roughing. (Result of a big scrum.)

0:55 HUGE save by Joey Mac on the notorious Loui Eriksson!

Not as dominant in the second period, but still solid, and Joey Mac was able to cover the lapses. Shots 11-6 Detroit.

3rd period:

A lot of Dallas pressure in the first five minutes of the third.

13:33 Interference penalty to Philip Larsen. Come on, make this one count!

In spite of the Stars’ puck control early in the period, they didn’t manage a shot on goal.

4:49 GOAL for Jiri Hudler! Jumps off the bench on a line change, scurries down the right side with no Stars watching him. Valtteri Filppula gets the pass across to him and he gets a high shot past Lehtonen.

Mike Ribeiro called for a 10 minute misconduct penalty.

2:38 Hooking penalty to Helm.

The crowd at the Joe is SO LOUD with time winding down! They’re chanting “21!”

0:32.8 Goal for Adam Burish. He redirected a centering pass, ruining Joey Mac’s shutout. Oh well. Less than a minute to History Being Made.

WOW.

Do I have to say more than that?

I’ll pause to tell you that the next game for Detroit will be hosting the Nashville Predators on Friday night. And the three stars of the game were Joey MacDonald, Darren Helm, and Henrik Zetterberg. But now I’m done and going to stop typing because 21 consecutive home wins to break a record which has stood since the 1929-30 season can really speak for itself.

Game Preview, Flyers at Red Wings, 7:30 PM

Nineteen was great, so let’s go for twenty.

Tonight the Red Wings try to tie the NHL record of 20 straight home wins when they host the Philadelphia Flyers.

Mike Babcock swears the record hasn’t been on the team’s minds, but right here on the threshold of the record? “I like the points more than anything,” Babs said. “But when you can have a record, you might as well tie it … [and] see if you can break it. But Philly’s going to be a tough opposition for us.” Coach added that he is NOT happy with the Wings’ effort in the 2-1 shootout win over Anaheim Friday night. “We’ve found ways to grind out games with good goaltending and defense and yet we think we can be better than we’ve been, and we have to be.”

Jakub Kindl, meanwhile, is most excited about his first opportunity to play against his childhood idol, Jaromir Jagr. “If I get the chance to be out there against him, I just gotta be good defensively. He’s usually a very strong guy on the puck, especially one-on-one.” Kindl hopes to get a souvenir stick from Jagr. “It feels kind of awkward for me even asking. I’m going to have to find a way somehow.”

The Red Wings will be going with the same lineup they used on Friday night. Danny Cleary remains sidelined while he recovers from a cortisone injection to his left knee. Jimmy Howard has resumed stopping shots in practice, but remains out while his broken finger heals up a bit more. Both plan on being back in the lineup for Friday night’s game against Nashville. Joey MacDonald will most likely be getting the start this evening.

The Flyers could be without goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who missed Philly’s game yesterday against the New York Rangers (a 5-2 loss) with the flu. Bryzgalov did make the trip to Detroit, but Sergei Bobrovsky is more likely to get the start. They may also be missing Jakub Voracek, who left yesterday’s game with an upper body injury. Center Blair Betts (lower body) and winger James Van Riemsdyk (concussion) will definitely be out, as of course will defenseman Chris Pronger, who has missed most of the season with knee and concussion issues.

The Flyers are likely to be feeling extremely frustrated after yesterday’s loss and should come out playing hard. Defenseman Kimmo Timonen called his teammates out yesterday. “To be honest, I think we had half the guys going, half the guys not. That was my opinion. You might have seen differently, but that’s what I saw. It was a big game for us, and I was expecting more.”

The 20 game home win record Detroit is trying to tie this evening is held jointly by the 1975-76 Flyers and the 1929-30 Bruins, so I’d also expect the Flyers to have that in mind during the game. This is likely to be a big test for Joey Mac and by extension, a test of the Wings’ ability to win games against playoff-caliber teams without Howard in net. On the other hand, the Joe has not been a friendly place to Philadelphia over the past several years; true, they did win there last year, but prior to that they were 0-16-2 in Detroit, going back to November of 1988 (including the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals).

It should be a tight one, at any rate.

I won’t have a game blog for you this evening, since I won’t be online. You can find the game on NBC Sports/Versus.

Let’s go, Red Wings! *clap clap clapclapclap*

Game Preview, Oilers at Red Wings, 7:30 PM, with bonus other stuff!

Okay, you guys, you know how we all know already that the 2013 Winter Classic is going to be Red Wings vs Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium? And you know how we already know that the U of M Board of Regents approved the stadium lease to the NHL (even including beer sales)? Gary Bettman is finally ready to announce the Worst Kept Secret In Hockey (TM) tomorrow! Let’s all act surprised so the funny little troll feels gratified, okay? I know we boo him every time he shows up. Let’s throw him a bone for once. Keeps him on his toes.

Meanwhile, in the Wings’ training room… Jimmy Howard doesn’t have any real updates on his broken finger. “I got nothing for you,” he said, laughing, to reporters. “I’ve seen a doctor. I saw him this morning. It was the same news as before – it’s just going to take a little while to heal.” Tiberius did admit that he is a little concerned about losing some of his timing if he doesn’t get back in quickly. “Ideally, I’d really love a couple of good practices before I get in there,’’ Howard said. “It’s been seven days now, the timing can go away. Every single day my finger is getting better. One thing the doctor said was I’m lucky being young enough where the bone is going to (heal) faster. Hopefully by the end of the week I’m out there taking shots.”

So let’s move on to what we need to know for tonight’s game against Edmonton.

Joey MacDonald will be our starting goalie this evening. Danny Cleary will play in spite of a sore knee, and Brad Stuart has recovered sufficiently from his flu bug to play. (Meaning that Mike Commodore will be a healthy scratch.) Pavel Datsyuk will play, but will be taking only the very barest minimum of faceoffs. “He’s got a – I don’t even know – hand, wrist, forearm,” explained Mike Babcock. “He just doesn’t feel like he should take (faceoffs) right now. He can take them at key times of the game if we need him. We’re just going to back him off for a bit and get him ready to go.”

Furthermore, this will be Tomas Holmstrom’s 999th career game– not bad for the guy Scotty Bowman expected to send back to Sweden in 1998. (For those who don’t know the story, Homer told reporters he picked jersey number 96 for his draft year, and Scotty commented that he should have picked 98 instead because that’s the year he’d be done in the NHL and going back to Sweden. Even genius coaches are wrong on occasion.)

As well, the Wings are looking to extend their home winning streak to 18 games. This is the first of a six game homestand, and to say the Joe has been friendly to the Red Wings this year is an understatement. These next six games are going to be of great value to stash away points to help guarantee home ice advantage through most (or even all!) rounds of the playoffs.

The Oilers will have head coach Tom Renney back behind the bench tonight. Renney had to sit out for Monday’s 6-3 loss against Toronto after taking a puck to the head in practice that morning. Renney actually had to take the same concussion baseline tests the players do when they get knocked in the head.  “Failed it twice. It’s a good thing they had the Coke machine in Toronto or I would not have known who we played last.” The coach estimated that he had to get 12 stitches to close up the cut and thinks he’ll be okay behind the bench tonight. “I’ll be fine … if I don’t yell.”

Nikolai Khabibulin is expected to start in net. Defenseman Tom Gilbert will be back in the lineup after healing his injured ankle, but Calder-candidate Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will most likely be out due to a sore shoulder.

Fox Sports Detroit has our coverage for this one, 7:30 start time.

Let’s go, Red Wings! *clap clap clapclapclap*

Late update: Make that Fox Sports Detroit PLUS, not regular FSD!

Game Preview, Red Wings at Coyotes, 8:00 PM

Okay, I go on vacation for a few days and you guys break our goalie while I’m gone? This is why we can’t have nice things!

(As an aside, I got the news about Jimmy Howard’s broken finger while I was using the restroom at a sports-themed restaurant that has televisions in the restroom. I happened to glance up just in time to see the info go across the news crawl at the bottom of the screen. The other women who were in the restroom are probably still wondering why a big Vader-style “NOOOOOOOO!” came out of one stall.)***

As you probably know, Mike Babcock was, shall we say, less than impressed with Ty Conklin’s performance against the Oilers on Saturday. He was, however, impressed by Joey MacDonald giving the Wings a chance to win after Conk was pulled, so Joey Mac will be getting the start tonight against Phoenix. MacDonald sounds like he’s ready to take advantage of the opportunity. “I didn’t sign here to be down in Grand Rapids,” he said. “You got to keep working hard wherever you are and when you get the opportunity, take advantage of it.”

Brad Stuart is listed as “probable” (flu). (How many of us could have flu and still play a hockey game, or, really, do anything beyond traveling from bed to bathroom and back again?!?) Danny Cleary is also listed as probable with a sore left knee. (This will be Cleary’s 800th career game.)

Per MLive, the starting lines are as follows:

Franzen-Datsyuk-Bertuzzi
Filppula-Zetterberg-Hudler
Miller-Helm-Cleary
Emmerton-Abdelkader-Holmstrom
Lidstrom-White
Kronwall-Stuart
Ericsson-Kindl

Jan Mursak and Mike Commodore are ready to step in for Cleary and/or Stuart if need be.

Power play improvement is going to be key; Detroit was 0 for 4 on Saturday and only 6 for 65 in the past 22 games. “Our power play hadn’t been wearing on the other team, hadn’t been grinding, grinding, grinding, spending two minutes in the zone,” Babcock said. “Motion and not taking the shots,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom added. “Sometimes we’re guilty of making that extra pass. When we get the shot through, we have to get the puck back. That’s been one of our problems, too, puck retrieval.”

The Coyotes are fighting for the 8th playoff spot, and they’re coming off a strong 5-3 win against San Jose on Saturday. Detroit has won all three of their games against Phoenix so far this season, so undoubtedly the Coyotes will have that somewhere in the back of their minds as well. Mike Smith is expected to get the start in net.

Tonight’s game will be on NBCSN, the network formerly known as Versus. 8:00 for broadcast start time.

Let’s go, Red Wings! *clap clap clapclapclap*

 

*** The “NOOOOOOO!” part didn’t really happen, but the rest of it did.

Game Live Blog, Red Wings at Canadiens, Statler and Waldorf Edition (L 2-7)

Pregame: With Nick Lidstrom out of the lineup tonight (flu), his streak of 213 straight games is coming to an end. It just doesn’t seem right that Captain Nick should be susceptible to flu viruses like a normal human would be. Our starting D-pairing will be Ian White and Jonathan Ericsson. (!!!!) Although I admit I have been curious to see how Mike Commodore and Jakub Kindl will do as a pair.

1st period:

14:52 Goal for Rene Bourque. Crashing to the net, deflects a pass by Scott Gomez with his skate. Play is being reviewed to make sure it wasn’t kicked in, and it wasn’t.

14:15 Montreal penalty to Lars Eller, two minutes for tripping.

9:04 Goal for Alexei Emelin. Andrei Kostitsyn makes a pass from behind the net (while falling), and Emelin gets the wrist shot through for his first career goal.

5:56 Montreal penalty to Hal Gill, two minutes for hooking.

3:48 Detroit penalty to Kindl for hooking– trying to recover from a bad turnover at the Detroit blue line.

3:30 Montreal penalty to P.K. Subban for elbowing.

2:02 Goal for David Desharnais. He gets in on a semi-breakaway and Jimmy Howard just plain misses the save.

0:55 Goal for Tomas Plekanec.

I’m thinking we’ll probably see Ty Conklin starting the second period. This is just not a good night for James Tiberius. Shots 12-6 in favor of the Habs. Obviously not a good night for the Wings’ defense either.

I’m experiencing technical difficulties and neither my netbook nor my husband’s old laptop are working now. So I’m on my desktop trying to piece together a blog from Tweets, box scores, and the Wings’ radio broadcast. Yeesh.

2nd period:

Conk in net.

18:08 Goal for Max Pacioretty.

16:42 Power play goal for Desharnais with Ericsson in the box for tripping.

13:27 Montreal penalty to Emelin for cross checking.

I tell you guys what, I love listening to Ken Kal and Paul Woods, but it is way harder to describe a game when I can’t see what’s happening!

Babs has put the Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Holmstrom line back together.

Well, the Wings outshot the Canadiens 12-5 in the second, but Ken Kal barely got excited about anything, so presumably there were very few quality scoring chances.

The gang over on Twitter seems to be mostly blaming this fiasco on Lidstrom’s absence. I disagree. It certainly doesn’t HELP to have Captain Nick out of the lineup, but I’m getting more of an impression that they’re all mentally on vacation already, going into the All-Star break after a fairly grueling stretch of schedule.

3rd period, because I may as well finish up:

19:39 GOAL for Jiri Hudler! Pass from Darren Helm and Hudler wrists a high shot right under the crossbar. It’s a start.

13:53 Hey, Hudler scored again! If Jiri Hudler brings the team back… I just cannot comprehend this. Danny Cleary was screening Carey Price.

11:49 Ericsson penalty for tripping. Ah, Ericsson. You know, my friend Michelle has suggested that when E retires from playing, he can work as the penalty timekeeper who sits in the box, because he’ll be so familiar with the setting. Maybe it’s like crate training for a dog, and E needs to go in the box when he feels insecure?

I think Statler and Waldorf must be in a suite somewhere in the Bell Centre making bad jokes about the game.

Statler: Wake up you old fool. You slept through the game.
Waldorf: Who’s a fool? You watched it.

1:23 Goal for Erik Cole. Eller makes a backhand pass and Cole taps it past Conk.

Oh good, it’s over. Final shot count 27-25 Detroit, final score 7-2 Montreal. Blargh. Let’s go have an All-Star break, shall we? Shake it off, rest up, and get ready to start the home stretch by laying some wrath on the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night.

I’ll let Statler and Waldorf sum this one up.

Waldorf: Seeing a game like that always makes me nostalgic.
Statler: Oh, yeah? Nostalgic for what?
Waldorf: D.D.T.

Special Guest Blogger Game Preview: Red Wings at Canadiens, 7:30 PM

Blogger’s note: I JUST got home from work. So knowing how late I would be, I asked Special Guest Blogger Fake Todd Bertuzzi (@fakebertuzzi44 on Twitter) to fill in with the game preview. I’ll have my head back on straight in time to do the live blog a little later! 

Guest blogger Fake Todd Bertuzzi here, reporting in with today’s game preview.

Tonight, the Habs. I’m fairly sure that’s French for “The Haves”, but they way things are going, I’m changing their name to the Habnots. They’re 4th in the Northeast, 12th in conference, and riding a princely 1-game winning streak.  The men of Detroit are first in division, conference, NHL, possibly world at the moment, 7 straight wins.

Lineup for the Canadiens is a bit on the depleted side, with Moen out with an upper body injury, and Nokelainen, Gionta, Bishop, B. Nash, Ryan White and Markov all sitting on IR. Cole and Pacioretty are doing reasonably well this year, over 30 points each for the season. Drops off quickly, though- Cole, Pacioretty, Plekanec and Desharnais are over 30, fifth is Cammalleri with 22, then a host of sub-20 guys.

Detroit’s lineup has Kindl in for Commodore, possibly so he can catch another nap on the plane, or work on that impressive ‘fro.  Stuart’s in after a missed practice yesterday.  Lids might be out- minor flu symptoms, but it looks likely he will play. (Blogger’s note: It’s been confirmed that Captain Nick will be out tonight.) Commie’s in otherwise. No word yet on the lines, but I’ll probably be alongside Dats and Mule, which works for me. Now if only Mule would learn the Maytag…

Starters look like James Tiberius Howard III to improve on his Vezina campaign, and Carey “Shoot it into his chest to build his confidence” Price.

I’m sitting at 299 goals. I would have liked it to be Monday with the home crowd, but the Bell Centre will do!

Now, if I may step on my soapbox…

Montreal, I expect better. Trading Cammalleri during the Bruins game? That’s just classless, and even this reforming goon knows it! At least man up enough to do the trade after the game.

Didn’t get the fight I wanted during the Blues game, but I’m thinking of one tonight. Need let off the leash a bit. Goal, fight, maybe I can join Pavs with the Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

Now to keep Scott Gomez’s scoreless streak going!

He’s 0 for his last 54 games. 353 days, 20 hours, 53 minutes as of this writing. 948 minutes of ice time.   He’s even depriving Montrealers of free booze- there’s a pool hall in Montreal that offers free shots when Gomez scores.

I didn’t know Gomez was Carrie Nation in disguise.