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The Daniels Diary

by Ken Daniels / Detroit Red Wings

Taking it easy

05.01.2010 / 4:22 PM EDT
Ken Daniels

Fatigue may not have been a factor in the Wings dropping Game 1 to San Jose, despite just one day between series. But looking ahead to Game 2, Sunday ( VS ) at 8 Detroit time - the good thing is - the Wings have been out here on western time for six days now - having arrived to prepare for Game 7 in Phoenix last Monday. And for the only time this series, the Wings (and Sharks ) are enjoying a two day break between games. Mike Babcock mentioned the break certainly could have been better served with a travel day, but that's not how it shook out.

The off day Friday involved golf for some players, pool-side sun for others, movies and dinner. Our fine radio voice Ken Kal, and our PR man Todd Beam, took in a California League baseball game, between the San Jose Giants and the Modesto Nuts. Yes, that's the name. Ken tells me there is a promotion that designates one Nuts player to be the "beer batter", meaning that if he strikes out in a certain at-bat, then beer is half price for the next 10 minutes. Ken did all he could to distract the batter, but to no avail. It was just good for everyone to get away from the rink. 

And for this play-by-play announcer, waiting to work until Game 3 on FSD at JLA, I had the opportunity to see The Eagles in concert Friday night at HP Pavilion in San Jose.

It sure helps to know people (Executive VP/GM Ken Holland ) who knows people. We had great seats, and along with Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Curt Fraser, and friends, we saw an outstanding show from a band that sounds as good today as it did nearly 40 years ago.

And only one of the seats, wasn't so good. It was completely broken and unusable. When we called it to an usher's attention, he mentioned maybe he shouldn't get it fixed for Sunday and "hopefully a Red Wings' fan will sit in it." I said, "I'm a Red Wings' fan, take that back". He abruptly said, "No". Now, that's a playoff concert!

Glenn Frey, from Royal Oak, Michigan (greeted with a smattering of boos from Sharks' fans when that was mentioned) referred to The Eagles' show dates as "The Assisted Living Tour". And at intermission mentioned they were taking a break, since, "we all needed a rest". Funny stuff. This wasn't a young crowd, me included.

It sure brought back memories. When they played "Lyin Eyes", a huge hit in 1975, Ken Holland remarked the song took him back to his junior playing days in the Hat. (Medicine Hat, Alberta).  It reminded me of my high school hockey days playing for Iron Mike Keenan ( when he would actually give me a shift or two) at Forest Hill Collegiate in Toronto. Believe it or not, we all loved playing for Mike. Seriously. Stop laughing.

As for hockey in the present. At practice today, Patrick Eaves was absent, nursing a sore arm from the Phoenix series. He is still hopeful he can play in Game 2, but if not Jason Williams, who has been a healthy scratch, will play. Darren Helm and Eaves are the first pair out on the penalty kill, so Eaves absence would certainly be felt. And speaking of the PK, the head coach said the defensive zone face-offs have to be better, "and we will get it fixed".

As for San Jose, look for Patrick Marleau to return, following a bad fever and will liklely take the place of Jed Ortmeyer. Dany Heatley and Joe Thornton were both very good together in Game 1. We could see Marleau with Thornton and Heatley on the power-play, and maybe late at 5-on-5.

And now it's on to San Francisco as the Giants take on Colorado. I hope Dany Heatley is throwing out the first pitch again ... like he did last week. Here's the clip, if you missed it:

Get over Game 1 loss

04.30.2010 / 1:51 PM EDT

I discovered again last night, I don't enjoy watching hockey!

Ok, before you say, “for the love of Nicklas Lidstrom, what are you talking about?”

I don't enjoy watching the team I love to work for, when I should be working! It's just too intense. Now I know how most of you feel. 

Once again, that NHL network some of you get, and some of you don't, put Mickey Redmond and me on the sidelines – something it can do with its exclusive broadcasts two times in the second round – and it will do so again for Game 2, and then FS Detroit takes over as long as the series goes.  And if you listened to San Jose coach Todd McLellan during his post-game conference last night, he said, "This is just one game, with six to go". Oops. He let the cat out of the bag. This thing is going seven. For Red Wings’ fans, at this point, that's great news! Almost as great as the news that Jiri Hudler will return next season. But back to Game 1.

I spoke with the officials after the game, and none of them saw the high-stick Devon Setoguchi put to the face of Johan Franzen at the blue-line. How they thought Johan tripped Devon is another story. It's one of those phantom calls we all dislike. But they seemed to admit to me privately, in a perfect world that at least would have been a four-minute high-sticking penalty to go along with the tripping call. From the Wings' world, it should have been just four-minutes for high-sticking. Welcome to the playoffs, when every detail is magnified. But not nearly to the extent of the welt under Johan's eye, which is half the size of a golf ball, to go along with nine stitches.

It certainly wasn't the way Mike Babcock wanted to celebrate his 47th birthday on Thursday. However his wit and wisdom is still sharp. When asked after the game about a penalty accessed to Valteri Filppula for high-sticking Setoguchi (yes, that guy again), the Wings' head coach said, "That's a penalty, it's a slash for sure, but don't dive and embellish it. You're from Western Canada, don't do that crap.''

Mike certainly had Western Canada in his thoughts last night. His dad, Mike Sr, took ill and was in the hospital. We are happy to report, he is doing much better today. 

And his team will do much better Sunday. And it's a 8 p.m. EDT start too! We know how early afternoon playoff games go. Not well. The Wings won't have to worry about that again this round.

Mike said fatigue was not a factor at all in Game 1. He didn't feel the Wings' short turn-around as opposed to four days off for San Jose hurt his team. The Wings found their legs in the second period, after the puck kept finding the Sharks in the first. Special teams, as usual were a big factor. San Jose with two power play goals while Detroit failed to score on five tries. The Wings will have to get their power play clicking again.

Some positive notes: Down 3-0, and to come back and make a game of it says something. After all, teams that play Game 1 of a series after going to seven games the previous round have only won 49 times in 115 tries. The effort was there. They stayed with the program despite being down early. Franzen had his best game of the playoffs. He’s on an eight-game point streak, but it might be the quietest eight-game point streak I've seen. Danny Cleary also had his best game by far. All great news!

The bad news: The Sharks won without forward Patrick Marleau, who took ill before the game with a raging fever. He wasn't good in the first round and seeing how inspired his team played in Game 1 – the Sharks' first home-opening win in the past five series – he may have no choice but to up his game when he returns. He will have a long way to go to match the work of Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle, who were the Sharks’ top performers.

It's an off day today. No practice for the Red Wings. Time to relax. Two days in between games will surely help. Here's to hoping the Wings will soar in Game 2. Speaking of which, tonight, it's off to The Eagles concert at the Shark tank. So for Game 1, "Get over it", and let's chalk it up to just being, "One of these nights."
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