He's BAAAAAAAAACK and he's RIIIIIICHHHHH - Dave Sandford
The Ducks welcome back Corey Perry tonight after serving a four game suspension. Tonight's game versus the Red Wings is the first Perry will play in since signing his eight-year contract extension for $69M. And hey! An interview with The Score's Rob Pizzo, the only Red Wings fan in Toronto.
Hmmm, well, Corey Perry is back. Yeah! Remember that guy we thought the Ducks would have trouble winning without and they didn't?! What a difference a four game suspension makes! Lose over $100K in game checks and gain a $69M contract extension. Not bad for a day's work.
With Perry's return to the lineup, the lines go back to somewhat 'normal'.
The one thing I'm really looking forward to with Perry's return is the return of D-bag Perry. Pre-contract extension, he looked to me like he was playing not to get hurt. He still played his slightly over-the-line game but not with the same 'cross-check opposing players in the back of the head when they're not looking' kind of way. Now he's locked in for the next eight, he can begin to recklessly throw his body around in front of the net once again.
Detroit may be having their struggles this season but the Ducks can't afford to 'play down' to their level. Wednesday's win over Chicago was epic but Anaheim was pretty crappy through large parts of the game. This can't happen versus Detroit, especially when they have to face them again on Sunday.
Even more important for the Ducks is to keep their tempers in check. The Red Wings already had a couple pro-grade divers on the ice but they added the Olympic champion (and spawn of satan) Jordin Tootoo. The Ducks are far too aware of the former Nashville Predators penchant for fake injuries. With a better, yet still iffy penalty kill, Anaheim has to be extra careful with the after the whistle shenanigans and be very wary of Tootoo's whereabouts when he's on the ice.
A couple notes: Viktor Fasth in net against Jimmy Howard. Brandon McMillan was sent back to Norfolk. Patrick Maroon signed a two-year, one-way extension for $1.15M. Ducks going for 14th straight home victory.
As a bonus to the thread, I checked in with friend of the site, Rob Pizzo from The Score and the sole Red Wings fan in Toronto.
Jen: PIZZO! How's it going? I just want to let you know I am in no reveling in the current state of the Red Wings. Nor am I smiling as I think back to game one of this season series. Did you see that one? To refresh your memory, the Ducks won 5-2 AT THE JOE!
Rob Pizzo: I choose to ignore that game, much like someone I know who ignored a certain bet that we made last year when I did an interview on this very site. I believe the Red Wings won that season series, and someone was supposed to don some Detroit paraphernalia. Do you remember THAT, Jen?
JN: I do speak Canadian, however, it's a little rusty. Not entirely sure what you just said.
Anyway, as I inferred above, 2013 hasn't been what we've all become accustom to as a 'normal' Red Wings season. What's wrong? Is Mike Babcock being tuned out by his players? Are Detroit fans finally figuring out that Jimmy Howard is a slightly above average goaltender?
RP: Both of your examples are not only false, but ludicrous. A vast majority of teams in the NHL would LOVE to have Mike Babcock as their coach and Jimmy Howard has actually stolen multiple games for this Red Wings team.
Everyone was looking at the blue line before the season started, so I can't really blame them for being the reason for the lack of success. We knew what that blue line was going to be ... much weaker than it was the year before!
Their offense has been uncharacteristically inconsistent. Even guys like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have gone through stretches where they just couldn't score. This offense could not fall down a step like they have and still expect this team to succeed with that weak blueline.
[Post-interview note: Uh, didn't a certain team from Detroit want to have Babcock as their coach so much they snaked him away from the team he just took Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final?! Just sayin'. - JN]
JN: Ever consider the Red Wings aren't playing well because they have a lot of former Sharks on the roster? All they know how to do is choke.
RP: Do not try to drag me into your California turf wars. That's like asking me if I am a Blood or a Crip.
JN: Ugh. Typical peace loving Canadian.
So, Pavel Datsyuk will be 108 years old at the end of the season. Is this his last with the Red Wings or is he finishing his career in Detroit? Could you see him going as long as Teemu Selanne in the NHL?
RP: I don't know if I could see him going as long as Teemu, because let's face it, Teemu is obviously not from the planet earth. No one could be that successful for that long and still claim they were born on this planet. But I do believe that Pavel will finish his career with the Red Wings, but maybe that's just wishful thinking!
JN: Armchair GM question. Say you were building a team. Which ONE of these players in their prime would you choose to build around? Stevie Y, Nicky, Datsyuk or Zetterberg.
RP: If we are talking about building a team, you go from the blue line out. As much as Stevie Y was one of my heroes growing up, and Datsyuk and Zetterberg are incredible, I would have to go with Lidstrom. I've never seen anyone control a game the way he could. You can see it this year now that he is not there, teams attack the Red Wings much differently. They don't look up and see the second greatest defenseman of all time staring at them, so that "fear" is gone. That is very intimidating for a team to face. Scorers come and go, a guy who can control the game like that come once maybe twice in a lifetime
JN: Finally, you're a sportscaster in Toronto. Be honest, how much attention are the Ducks getting for their current run from the Canadian media? Are they still waiting for Anaheim to fail? How about you? Giving any love to the Ducks on The Score?
RP: Who the hell are these Ducks you speak of? Let me call my friend Emilio and see if he knows.
The Ducks were not getting a lot of attention mainly because there was a certain team from Chicago that happened to be making history! It has nothing to do with some made-up hatred for teams that play hockey in really nice weather, where girls where next to nothing , and the only ice you really see is in your drinks, while sitting on the beach, and....I hate you guys!
Now that that Blackhawks streak has ended and the Ducks are not only are nipping at their heels but beat them twice this season, they are finally getting some attention from Canadian media. Try as we might, we couldn't ignore them, even in a shortened 48 game season!