Odd Man Rush
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Odd Man Rush

Game #1: The Introduction

I spent my entire childhood and adolescence watching and playing high level ice hockey. Growing up in southeast Michigan meant hockey has always been a integral part of my identity. From playing AAA for Little Caesar’s for many years, deciding to play high school, playing D2 club at Bowling Green State University, and then coaching University of Detroit Mercy’s short-lived men’s ice hockey team — hockey is, and always has been, in my blood. My most cherished childhood memories involve watching the Red Wings or playing hockey.

The other thing that’s in my blood is writing. So, I figured I’d try combining these two loves of mine.

I watch nearly every Red Wing game during the regular season so I’m going to try to do a little recap/reaction to every game I see. I’ve played and thought about the game at a pretty high level so maybe some of my observations will be interesting. And, if not, at least I’m doing two things I love (well, three if you count the pizza I’m currently eating while watching this game).

Let’s get into it.

I’m going to break each recap, for now, into four pretty self-explanatory sections: Noticeable in a Good Way, Noticeable in a Bad Way, Wait, Who?, and Odds and Sods. If those don’t make sense, I trust your ability to interpret context clues will lead the way to clarity.

  • Zetterberg’s line, particularly Nyquist. The only line that impressed me with their five-on-five play. They had some jump!
  • The power play success. What a breath of fresh air after the embarrassment of last year.
  • Was having flashbacks to the copious number of third period breakdowns last season when Minnesota came out and scored two quick ones to start the third. But then we apparently pulled it together.
  • I like our new power play zone entrance, “Give Larkin the puck with speed.” He’s like a faster Datsyuk with worse hands.
  • The fact that Howie started over Mrazek. I know we shouldn’t look too deep into the preseason games but I was thoroughly unimpressed by Mrazek’s play. I wouldn’t be surprised if Howie/Mrazek go 60/40 in workload this year (barring injuries).
  • Green kept standing out to me in a bad way. But then it turns out he had 4 assists. Apparently I know nothing about hockey.
  • Wings’ utter inability to break out of their own zone cleanly. Our forwards spent a lot of time chasing pucks into the neutral zone.
  • The fourth line. I mean, you can’t have wild expectations for a fourth line but I can’t think of anything of note they accomplished in this game. They did have a memorable shift right after the shift where they got scored on — the power of shame! Other than that, though, Sheahan did Sheahan things. Booth was quiet. Luke skated hard and accomplished very little.
  • Watched the highlights of the Oilers/Flames game last night and had my mind boggled by how good McDavid is. I mean, I know he’s good… but I haven’t really seen him in action much. That second goal where he just takes off from his own hashmark and skates directly down the ice before cutting in and placing it top corner? That was nuts. It was a borderline nothing play that turned into a goal because of sheer speed. Nobody, except him, thought that was the play he had in front of him. Alert the media — this kid ‘gun be good.
  • I’m glad I’m not a Jets fan. Tough to watch your team dominate for the first fifteen minutes, execute several crisp power plays without scoring, and then get absolutely stomped on. Having a string of unconverted power plays early in a game is always dangerous…
  • Five goals by defensemen in the Pittsburgh/St. Louis game last night made this old defensemen’s heart happy (granted, I was a stay-at-home-defensemen so it’s not like I had much familiarity with the back of the net…)
  • Weird to see the boys playing in a new barn. Mixed feelings on that one. Excited to see it in person, though.
  • Anybody else watch the game on the NBC Sports Apple TV app? If I never see this Jagermeister commercial again it would be too soon. It has been awhile since a commercial has repulsed me from a product that much while also embodying its product so perfectly. Amazing or terrible advertising?
  • Pre-game JLA tribute on NBC was pretty great. Quite the nostalgia bomb for this 30 year old… is that wing sauce in my eye? Someone cutting onions in here?

Wings win, 4–2. Not a bad way to kickoff the Little Caesar’s Arena era, eh?

Have a thought? A reaction? Leave a comment below or via Twitter where I’m @samspurlin.

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Game recaps and commentary from someone who used to be kind of good at hockey.

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