Before Game 5: It’s fun to learn about the Wings (fans)

Although I haven’t exactly joined the conversation on any of the Red Wings blogs in my sidebar, I have enjoyed reading them through this first round. It’s given me a much more well-rounded view of Detroit — and the psyche of its fans, in particular.

It’s incredible the things a fan sees when watching a team closely for 82 games. After the first four games of the series, it’s clear from the Detroit blogs that Mikael Samuelsson and Robert Lang are to Red Wings fans what Tony Amonte and Andrei Zyuzin are to Flames fans (or bloggers, anyway). The, “WHY are they in the lineup?” players, if you will. Meanwhile, Jiri Hudler is the Wings’ Mark Giordano, on the other side of the “Why?” equation. I can’t say I’ve noticed Lang and Samuelsson to be extremely bad or extremely good — but I’m willing to bet the Wings fans would say the same thing about Amonte and Susan.

While almost everyone in Wingsland was disgusted by the officiating in Game 4, some were quick to judge players. Matt at On the Wings, who says, “If you’re a Flames fan and your sensibilities are offended by my comments below, I can’t say I’m sorry,” goes on to write:

… My respect for Iginla goes down further with every game in this series. I used to think of him as a good leader and a guy who stood up for his teammates in the mold of Brendan Shanahan. How wrong I was. Rather than an exemplary leader and someone I can respect in spite of the heat of the series, I’ve found he’s a whiner and a micro-cheapshot artist. I’d almost prefer a macro-cheapshot artist like Tootoo because he at least gets called for crap every once in a while. I’m glad to see someone getting upset at Iginla. I just wish it wasn’t Hasek.

Unapologetic or not, I’m not offended, just as I’d hope any Wings fan wouldn’t be offended by my constant railing about the failings of Todd Bertuzzi. Of course, we all know that this four-game sample isn’t nearly enough to judge Iginla as “a whiner and micro-cheapshot artist,” just as the two poor games Nicklas Lidstrom played in Calgary aren’t enough for me to say something like: “Oh, clearly he’s an overrated defenceman and is at the tail end of his career. He’s coasted on team talent for a long time, and has been exposed as average by a superior Flames offensive group.”

But hey, this isn’t a criticism of anyone in the blogosphere, just an observation. I’ve been getting emotional during the playoffs — overemotional, by a wide margin — for years. Formerly, the outlet for that emotion was my TV screen, my wife and my cat. Now it’s a keyboard and anybody who cares to drop by Flames Blog. And the interaction and sharing of emotion that has followed has been a true pleasure. Matt and I had a back-and-forth in a comments string here early in the series, and it was invigorating because it allowed me direct interaction with someone who understands the Flames’ opponent the way I do — not from the perspective of a beat writer or columnist who has to answer to the teams and their editors.

So, what happens today? Apparently, it depends on whether Steal Thunder PVRs the game instead of watching it live, but on the ice:

1. I’m with Kyle on both of his key points. This series has been all about Kiprusoff, and he’s the focal point for both teams the rest of the way. And you’re not going to see the same Flames team this afternoon that you saw in Games 1 and 2 at the Joe.

2. Nick Lidstrom is not going to make any mistakes. So barring power plays, you can forget about scoring goals when he’s on the ice — meaning the new second unit with Tanguay, Conroy and Moss is going to have to come up with something on the scoresheet. (I’d take goals from the Yelle and Lombardi lines too, of course.)
3. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are going to be dangerous. Some Wings fans are speculating that something’s wrong with Zetterberg. I don’t buy it, because he’s still getting involved physically and skating extremely well in transition. Home is going to feel good for these guys.

4. The Flames WILL be getting in Hasek’s domain. This two-games-in-two-days thing is going to be hardest on two guys: GrandpAmonte and Dom. And we know who’s more important to his team. The Flames have to make Hasek work and think at every moment tonight, even if it means taking a goaltentender interference penalty here or there. (And no, I’m not endorsing a run at the goalie, but a bump never did any real damage. Unless it’s on Hasek, whose flopping can produce good AND evil.)

At last word, Regehr’s skating and might play today. If he does, we’ll get to see if Giordano’s showing in Calgary was enough to keep him in Playfair’s good books. My money’s on no, but you can always hope. I’m MORE THAN WILLING to admit I was wrong and place a halo on Playfair’s weird mugshot in place of that red X.

Go Flames!

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~ by duncan on April 21, 2007.

One Response to “Before Game 5: It’s fun to learn about the Wings (fans)”

  1. Duncan,

    I’m glad we’ve been able to have respectful dialog myself. That’s what I love about blogging, being able to have discussions with fans of other teams that are knowledgeable and love their teams like I love mine. Of course, the downside to blogging is you run into a lot of real idiots, as you’ve probably experienced. I’ve found you’re a great rep for the Flames’ fanbase.

    Anyway, I stand by my comments on Iginla, though, especially after today’s performance. I guess the biggest thing for me is that he wears the “C” and so the immediate comparison in my mind is to Steve Yzerman. Of course, pretty much every captain will come up short in such a comparison, but even accounting for that, I find Jarome too mouthy and chippy for my taste. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect him as a highly skilled player. If he didn’t have the “C,” I wouldn’t hold him to such a high standard.

    You know him better than I do and are better able to defend him than I am to attack him. Still, I look at his play as a long-time hockey fan and it’s hard not to have a reaction to it, even if it’s only based on a small sampling.

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