Conspiracy Central: Live Blogging Red Wings/Predators Game 4

April 17, 2012

Features, Hockey

Welcome to TheFarmClub’s live blog of Game 4 of the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators first round playoff series, where everything (and I mean everything) is at least probably a conspiracy. Full coverage starts in just under 30 minutes.

7:10 PM- Watching Darren Helm discuss his arm injury makes me lament medical science’s refusal to create Luke Skywalker-like artificial limbs. Kid deserves better.

7:20 PM- My problem with local coverage of the Red Wings (which, being a Detroiter, I’m obligated to watch) is the constant blaming of the officiating on the state of the series. Yes, the officials have been awful, but they’ve been awful both ways, and they’re only awful because the rules are awful (which is in and of itself a conspiracy that I will elaborate on throughout the night).

7:22 PM- Todd Bertuzzi allegedly had a ping pong table taken away when he saw Predators players using it at The Joe. Hopefully they were European players. Those European guys love their ping pong. Good job Bert. /foxsportscoverage

7:26 PM- This needs to be said: Anyone watching the 8 hour NFL Schedule release extravaganza is a bad person and a worse sports fan. I don’t care if you don’t watch hockey but don’t contribute to the monopolization of sport by the mega powers of the NFL and ESPN colluding against literally everything else in sports. Game time in 2 mins.

7:30 PM– John Keating looks worse then George Hamilton. Sunscreen is your friend kids. Remember that.

7:36 PM- I’m pretty sure that Samuel L. Jackson (or Sam, as Siri leads me to believe his friends called him) selling me an iPhone is a questionable marketing choice on the part of Apple. At least they didn’t use a Whitney Houston hologram to do it. Too soon?

7:39 PM- I love the national anthem. But please God someone force Karen Newman to retire. She literally does my least favorite rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Yeah, she does it worse then Roseanne Barr. And looks almost as bad.

7:43 PM- Wings using the boards well early, but need to keep the puck off of them if they want to get a win tonight. Preds just need to grind and hope they keep racking up power plays the way they have been.

7:47 PM- Ads superimposed on the back glass are clearly part of a conspiracy to annoy the crap out of me.

7:50 PM- Zetterberg looks to be skating better then I’ve come to expect of him this season. Preds will probably be allowed extra leeway on holding calls to compensate, per the Commissioner’s office. #conspiracy

7:51 PM- Solid scoring chance by Danny Cleary. Doesn’t go in because of league conspiracy against Newfies.

7:53 PM- PING PONG GATE CONTINUES. Red Wings called babies for not sharing their toys.

7:55 PM- Mike Fisher saves the day for the Preds. Wings get phantom interference call in retaliation. #conspiracy

7:59 PM- Todd Bertuzzi chants break out at the JLA, proving that no matter how big of a dirtbag you once were, people can and will love you again someday.

8:04 PM- PING PONG GATE UPTDATE: Bertuzzi gets 2 for elbowing. Refs clearly not happy that Bert doesn’t understand that sharing is caring. #conspiracy

8:08 PM- Nobody takes a faceoff from his stomach better then Hank Zetterberg. This followed by a nice chance by Kronwall who clearly forgot briefly that HE’S NOT PETER FORSBERG. Possible brainwashing conspiracy?

8:13 PM- Two bad penalty calls in a row. There’s clearly a conspiracy to make hockey boring.

8:21 PM- It seemed like Nashville might have made a surge before the end of the period, but they couldn’t sustain pressure. Preds seems slugish. Except Rinne. He’s his regular brick wall self.

8:31 PM- Promo for WWE Raw running over Larry Murphy’s shoulder on the intermission report. This is noteworthy for 2 reasons: Brock Lesnar is back in the WWE, and he’s a complete badass (second only to WWE Champion CM Punk), and the rules in the WWE are about as legitimate as they are in the NHL. The real problem with the league isn’t that the players are reaching a sort of “uncanny valley” of talent as it were, or because the fundamental format of the game is flawed, but the rules of the game promote the most boring and/or violent form of the game. While the violence itself is not necessarily a bad thing, the league treats it as such, which is wrong because they’re treating the symptom, not the problem. The rules which punish competitive play cause the violence that the league abhors. Relaxing interference rules, finding ways to minimize the effectiveness of the neutral zone trap, and downsizing goaltender equipment would all be steps in he right direction for the league. How is this a conspiracy? More to come in the 2nd intermission.

8:41 PM- 2nd period under way. Preds seem to be more awake. Must have shaken off the symptoms of PING PONG GATE CONSPIRACY 2012.

8:43 PM- During stoppage in play, Wings and Refs engaged in intense conversation. Discussing the outcome of the game perhaps? Trying to decide on a finish?

8:50 PM- Pekka Rinne is a better goaltender when facing a barrage of shots. Which is weird, because that’s the opposite of how goaltending tends to work. Micky Redmond and Ken Daniels are happy to point this fact out pretty much non stop, while simultaneously expressing disbelief in this veracity.

8:54 PM- No penalty shot on that play? Say it with me boys and girls.. #conspiracy

8:57 PM- Someone at the Comish’s office must have gone into the settings and turned interference calls off. They’ll likely realize this error and attempt to correct it in some unexplainable way.

9:01 PM– I’m being informed that the NHL is in fact not a poorly simulated hockey video game. Sorry for any confusion.

9:04 PM- The Preds are actually playing a solid defensive game. Score would likely be 0-0 even if the Preds ended up in the box more frequently. 90% of the Wing’s shots are extremely low percentage.

9:09 PM- When did Kyle Quincy remember how to play hockey? Beautiful poke check by the young defender.

9:12 PM- Elsewhere in the league, the conspiracy to ruin hockey continues as the Florida Panthers have somehow chased Martin Brodeur from the net. In the playoffs. The. Florida. Panthers. Have done this.

9:15 PM- Anyone surprised that Detroit is 0-4 on the man advantage is dumb and you should stop talking to them.

9:19 PM- Whatever is in Pekka Rinne’s glove that is attracting pucks has clearly rubbed off onto the blade of Kyle Quincy’s stick. #conspiracy

9:24 PM- As promised, my thesis on the conspiracy to make hockey suck will follow shortly

9:30 PM- Do I honestly believe that there’s a mass conspiracy to make hockey bad? Yes, yes I do. And here’s why. My least favorite league in all of sport is the NBA. Which is ironic, because, as a child, it was my favorite. its well documented that David Stern and Gary Bettman are close. Some even call Bettman a disciple of Stern. I think that term is somewhat generous, as it implies that Stern is capable of leadership. But I digress. The NBA became insanely popular thanks to the megastar that was Michael Jordan. The problem? The league decided to cater its rule set so that they could create a MJ for every team. This created a stunted, malformed version of the game that persists to this day. I’m not saying basketball is bad, I’m saying the NBA is bad. It took a game that any moderately skilled athlete could  adapt to and turned it into a circus where overgrown man children could leap over slightly less overgrown man children then bitch about playing time in their post game interview. How does this relate to hockey? Because Gary Bettman wants this for hockey. More to come.

9:45 PM- Perfect example of nonsense NHL rules. Intent to blow the whistle. If someone can explain this rule i a way that makes sense I’ll eat my hat. (Its all for not though, since Nashville comes back and scores again and it counts this time).

9:46 PM- Back to the conspiracy. Gary Bettman wants to make his league like the NBA. But the problem is that he doesn’t seem to be going all in on his idea. He changes interference rules to benefit offensive play, but these rules are called inconsistently and with seemingly selective enforcement. Furthermore, these rules apply just as much to the offensive side of the puck as the defensive. And they don’t even begin to address the real problems of plugged up neutral zone play, oversize goaltenders and equipment, and too small of a playing area.

9:52 PM- CONSPI-lokjk. Helluva shot by Kronwall. He’s got a rocket when they let him use it.

9:54 PM- Before I return to conspiracy talk, I have to say is there any more illogical of a in game tradition then dancing to bad techno at Joe Lewis during hockey games?

9:56 PM- Poor play in the transition by the wings. Like little leaguers chasing a puck. Shameful.

9:57 PM- Now, as the ref’s miss a tripping call, and Kronwall manages to keep a skate on the ice during a hit for once, back to conspiracies. The problem with Bettman is that he’s a business man,  not a hockey man. The sport comes second in his eyes to marketability. But the issues is when you don’t know or care enough about the sport you’re in charge of you’ve can’t make it marketable. He’s great at identifying young talent who can and should be stars, but the problem is that there isn’t enough of them to sustain a league of this size. The talent pool for hockey is small because it takes so many coordinated skills to excel at it. If I asked someone to name the 20 biggest stars in basketball it would be easy, but naming the 20 biggest stars in hockey is harder because after the top 5 or 6, there’s a lot of guys who fit the bill. Bettman doesn’t recognize this, and he doesn’t recognize that the NBA formula can never work for the NHL because of this. Therefore his conspiracy to make hockey popular is accidentally a conspiracy to make hockey suck, because he’s created a vague, labyrinthine set of rules which benefit a few players based on supreme skill, and are detrimental to teams that rely on a combination of several players playing together to succeed.

10:09 PM- Back to the matter at hand, the conspiracy to make hockey suck actually is detrimental to both Nashville and Detroit, because of their playing styles rely on techniques that are likely to be labeled as interference or any number of other things that are being called increasingly in order to try to “open up the game.” This leads to a game where teams are relying on power plays or fluke break aways to beat increasingly talented (and equipped) goaltenders. Sure, goalie equipment is smaller now then it was before the lockout, but the problem is the goalies are bigger, and this compensates for it.

10:13 PM- Pavel’s sticks keep breaking. Retaliation for Ping Pong Gate? #conspiracy

10:17 PM- 3:10 in the third, and this is where Detroit’s problems become evident. They don’t have a closer. They have several guys who can close out a game like this. We’ve all seen them do it. But there isn’t one guy who does it every time- like an Alex Ovechkin or a Steve Stamkos or a Evgeni Malkin. I’m not saying you need one of those guys to win, but you at least need someone spry enough to pretend they’re one of these guys- and the Wings have lost the only player they have akin to that in Darren Helm.

10:22 PM- The Predators are following the model that once allowed the Red Wings to overcome the league’s format. Capitalize early, and hold on late. This works for two reasons- lucky teams tend to get lucky because they have good timing, and the Wings used to have the best timing of any squad in the league. They’ve lost a few steps collectively and that’s showing in this series.

10:25 PM- The other reason this strategy works is that the league’s format rewards conservative defensive play. Trapping the puck on the boards, clogging the neutral zone, collapsing in the defensive zone to cut off passing lanes all work because the league lets them, plain and simple.

10:27 PM- This game is on ice now. The conspiracy to make hockey suck strikes again. Mind you, I’m not upset Detroit lost, they got outplayed where it counted and deserved to lose under the system that’s in place. But the system that’s in place- where a team can get beat by a goaltender almost singlehandedly and scoring chances/shots on goal are border line irrelevant- isn’t the kind of system that makes the NHL entertaining or fun to watch. This has nothing to do with the Wings being better (which I would argue, they aren’t) or Nashville being cheap (they play by the same method that once made Detroit a franchise), its about a league that makes no sense, which Gary Bettman has conspired to create.

10:38 PM- In conclusion- Hockey is my favorite sport of the same reason The Walking Dead is my favorite TV show: it has so much potential to be great. But it constantly falls short of that potential despite itself, or perhaps in spite of its leadership. This game was a perfect example of what’s wrong with hockey. The only goals scored were on the power play, or on broken defensive plays or breakaways. And while a goal is a goal, these were more goals of attrition then goals of accomplishment. And that doesn’t make for an entertaining game, it makes for a game that passes as watchable. Sure, it benefits a few stars, but stars don’t make for a good game. And the NHL is capable of producing great games. It just needs to drop the conspirators, and do what’s right for the sport.

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  1. Please, Direct Your Fists Away From My Face and Vital Organs: The Case for Nicklas Lidstrom’s Retirement « The Farm Club - April 25, 2012

    […] of consistency and skill in a game that is increasingly determined by luck (see my live blog Conspiracy Central from last week for more on the why dumb luck matters more then ever in the […]

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