Tuesday, May 08, 2007

It Only Gets Tougher For The Red Wings

Look. There is no sense dodging the issue. The Red Wings, especially with Mathieu Schneider out, will be an underdog in the Western Conference finals against the Anaheim Ducks.
If the Red Wings Nicklas Lidstrom isn’t the best defenseman in the world, then either Scott Niedermeyer or Chris Pronger of the Ducks is. The Red Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are highly-skilled, world-class players, but neither ranks with Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne as a sniper. And there is a lot of depth there for the Ducks - in the kid from Ferris State, Chris Kunitz, Andy McDonald, Dustin Penner and Samuel Pahlsson, the latter who just might be the best defensive forward in the NHL. And the Ducks have quality goalies in old Red Wing nemesis Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Ilya Bryzgalov. Even if Schneider and Niklas Kornwall were healthy, the Red Wings would be underdogs in this series. It doesn’t mean, however, the Red Wings can’t win it. Some teams just get on a roll during the playoffs. The Red Wings are on that roll. They have rallied to win games. They have overcome injuries. Nothing seems to phase these guys. While clinching the Western Conference semifinal series against the Sharks, the Red Wings got 26 minutes out of Chris Chelios. He also logged nearly four minutes on the power play. Think he wasn’t effective? Think again. The old man was on the ice for both Red Wings goals. He assisted on both. Amazing.
Hasek is in one of his zones. There is no way the Red Wings would have gotten this far if Manny Legace or Curtis Joseph were still in goal. Lidstrom keeps getting asked to do more and more. Somehow he always gets it done.What a tremendous save he made to bail out Hasek Monday, eh? The one thing the Ducks won’t do is roll over at the first sight of adversity like the Sharks did. If he didn’t make that play, the complexion of the game might have entirely changed. This could be a long series. If it is, the Red Wings would have home ice advantage for Game 7. That’s a definite edge. Make me pick a winner of the series, and I have to be honest and say the Ducks in six games. But then again, I picked the Pistons to lose in the NBA Finals in seven games to the Mavericks. And look how that fearless forecast has already turned out.

Random Thoughts

- Not having Kenny Rogers was bad enough, but Joel Zumaya’s injury is far worse. Fernando Rodney hasn’t been the least bit dependable and he is basically the Tigers’ only option as the setup man with Zumaya out. The Tigers best options for help may come from Double-A instead of Triple-A. Dallas Trahern at Erie is a bonafide prospect, who is off to a great start. He is 5-1 with a 1.78 ERA. Trahern just pitched eight strong innings in a 2-0 loss Monday. He throws in the low 90s and has an excellent slider. He was a 34th round draft pick, but it is misleading. He was considered a second- or third-round talent coming out of high school, but committed early to the University of Oklahoma and let scouts know he wasn’t going to sign. Then the pitching coach who recruited Trahern was fired, so he decided not to attend school and signed professionally instead. Also, the Tigers have been using Eulogio De La Cruz as a starter at Erie to expand his pitch menu, but he is really a reliever. The kid hits triple digits sometimes on the radar gun, but he has a little bit of that Fernando Rodney inconsistency in him. I like these two guys better for the bullpen role than Jair Jurrjens or Virgil Vazquez. Trahern and De La Cruz have better stuff.

- It was amazing the ovation the Tigers’ players received at the Pistons’ game Monday. It was a lot louder than when they have showed the Lions’ players on the overhead scoreboard in the past. Wonder why? The loudest ovation was probably for Magglio Ordonez. That was a bit of surprise considering he is sometimes harshly criticized by Tiger fans, including some of you commenting on this blog.

- Have the Bulls been exposed by the Pistons or what? They have no inside game - period. And their bench is awful.

- Look Roger Clemens’ record is a matter of record, but I am getting a little tired of his act. Nice of him to show up for four months, 20 starts, not travel with the team and collect a cool $18 million. The guy throws 92 mph now - not 98 like he used to. And he won’t be pitching against the weak sticks in the National League Central so much now. This move is just as likely to break as make the Yankees’ season.


Blogger maddog52 said...


I agree a hundred percent about the Wings matchup not getting any easier. The Ducks are a different breed on that blue line compared to the Sharks. Pronger made life hell for us with a in my lesser talent Oilers team. Plus they got just a tad bit better goalie and one that can steal games Jean-Sebastian. Loosing Schneider will hurt, but I really like the addition of Quincy. I think he definately deserves a look for next years squad. We been talking about Homer and I think he will play the big key this series by being physical and standing in front of the net.

The Pistons I don't think there is any question what so ever who is the better team here. One thing I love about this team is that they finally get it. They had their foot on Orlando and now Chicago's throat and they are putting the preasure on until the opposition can't breath any more. No letting up what so ever which is what they did in the past and even last year. In my mind the most telling game will be this game 3. To me this will show how serious this team is. Even if the stones lose. If they compete at a high level the way they are this team is for real and I don't see to many teams that can beat them in a 7 game set including the West power houses. I think that is what cost them last year. They let up the foot on cleveland and instead of taking care of business early they struggled to get out a live. leaving nothing in the tank for the series that mattered. So they jsut need to keep pressing that foot in on Chicago.

Sad story about Zumya. Tough lost very tough. He was so steady in that pen. Especially matching power with the opposing teams power hitters. What do you see them doing? With the #4 and #5 spots in the rotation having question marks. Now losing a big component in that Bull Pen. Do you see a move or two that Dombrowski might make for an arm or is he going to stand pat?

Hey all the excitement going on nobody realized the news out of Oakland. Mike Williams already has a sprained foot.

9:01 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Yeah, Quincey has been real good. He is solid and knows what to do in his own end. But he will be tested more in this series. The only concern I have about the Pistons is that this has almost been too easy for them. Baseball trades are difficult to make this time of the year. They usually don't start until early July. If they are going to get any real help, it will have to be from within the organization. LOL on Mike Williams.

9:22 AM 
Blogger Fred C. Brill said...


Am I wrong or are the Tigers right on pace for where we (yes the royal "we") stood last year at this time?

Even without Rogers and Zumaya, our starters and bull pen are still stronger than the rest of the AL. The Yankees had to beg back Roger Clemens for crying out loud.

However Seattle may give us a wake up slap in the face tonight! Be on your toes boys.

Amazing about the Red Wings - The Pistons and the Tigers - all 3 just
personify TEAM WORK!

You're the best Pat!

9:27 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred C Brill,
Thanks for the compliment. I appreciate it. The Tigers have done very well under the circumstances. The key to keeping it up is beating teams like Baltimore and Kansas City and Seattle regularly. They can't blow games to average or below average teams. It will be more difficult to beat the better teams now. But they struggled against the better teams last year - and still reached the playoffs.

10:56 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if the Ducks are so great. They said the same things about the Sharks.

2:09 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

That's true. But the Ducks have more players who have been through this before. Pronger was to the Finals last year and is very hungry. Niedermayer has won it before. Giguere nearly single-handedly won the Cup for the Ducks in 2003.

2:13 PM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, what a time for sports in Detroit, eh? Wow? The last few days have been crazy, every game won by the Wings, Pistons, and Tigers.
Love the intensity of the Pistons in the playoffs, especially these two against the Bulls. Looks like they learned the lesson about the difference in the playoffs and the regular season, including the coach.
Injuries are really weird and come at the most unexpected times - Kenny and Zumaya down. I am not ready to throw in the towel, however. I think they may find a way to persevere, even in this division. Trahern sounds interesting. I thought he was being groomed as a starter. Guess Rodney will get his chance to be the first choice out of the pen in the 8th. (Guess I will have to start walking around the kitchen earlier than usual during the games...)


2:49 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

It is an incredible time. My head is spinning. The Pistons have been incredible. They are just killing the Bulls. I just have a feeling it will be more of the same in Chicago. As for Trahern, Zumaya was groomed as a starter, too. So was Ledezma. Most good minor league pitchers are. They are even starting De La Cruz at Erie. I don't see him as a setup guy, but as providing what Ledezma does, but from the right side. I like him more than any of their pitching prospects other than Miller.

3:18 PM 
Anonymous Nick P said...

This is getting ridiculous. I don't care if he did get the win, another 3 run first. It has to be some kind of mental block, but come on, these first inning issues are what is stopping bondo from being a truly elite pitcher. But all in all, I suppose I can't complain with the run the Tigers are on right now.
Durbin also looks like he might be starting to turn it around. With Zumaya out, going to need good starts from everybody.
Looking at our offense, it looks like this team may be correcting a problem from last year, Mags and Guillen both have OBPs over .400 and Sheff and Polanco are both close, nice to see this team getting a little better eye for the strikezone, just need that to carry over to the younger players a little bit.
Good game tonight for the baseball fan in the NL, smoltz vs maddux.

Pistons. Wow. Think they were a little pissed coming into this series about all the upset talk?

7:08 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Nick P,
I have no answer for that. It must be some sort of weird mental block. Certainly it isn't an issue of talent. I honestly feel the Tigers are a really good team and will probably get to the postseason again. They seem to do what winning teams do - when area struggles, another one picks it up. Earlier, the pitchers were carrying the hitters. Now the hitters are starting to do the same with the pitching staff more limited because of the injuries to Rogers and Zumaya.

12:38 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pronger killed the Wings on the power play last year. I don't see them stopping him.

6:07 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Their penalty kill has been suspect at times, but the Red Wings were better at it against San Jose.

6:08 PM 
Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Pat the Book,

Is it Friday yet? I can hardly wait for the puck to drop. The last five years has been so, so-so without the beloved Winged Wheel in a third round match-up. Last four standing. So much fun.

8:33 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
I'm fired up about it, too. I love sports. Each has it own unique element. But honestly, it doesn't get any better than the Stanley Cups playoffs.

9:34 AM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, talk about incredible Pistons, last night takes the cake. You knew the shots had to start falling sometime, but the intensity was incredible in the comeback. They were so professional about getting it done.

Leyland actually had a grin on his face (he tried hard to suppress it) when walking on the field yesterday after the day game against Seattle. He usually has the blank/neutral look. Seay looked terrific again and everyone stepped up and got it done. Nice.

And now Wings tonight! Doesn’t get much better than this.

How many cities have three legitimate title contenders playing at the same time - and winning?!


1:17 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

The Pistons couldn't have been better. It was the utter dismantling of the Bulls emotionally. What a terrific effort. This from a team with just one player, Billups on the third team, among the NBA's first three all star squads. Seay has been excellent.

2:29 PM 

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