Penguins flip young Wings the bird
Pre-season games are a weird thing. While the Joe Louis was far from full on Wednesday evening for the visit of the Pittsburgh Penguins, there were still a few thousand people in for an early hockey game, perhaps desperate to make up for the short season last time around. Beer, pizza and other food and drink items were selling fast, as was a lot of merch. People in this town love their hockey, and that’s great. There’s a lot to be excited about. But then there was the game.
Again, pre-season games are weird. We all sit and hope to be entertained, but Babcock is really using these games to tinker with his squad, see who needs to be cut (the Wings are still $2.7 million over the maximum spending of $64.3 million) and which youngsters are ready to step up, try out formations and generally get ready for game one of the new season. We all know that, and that’s the way it should be. The result really doesn’t matter at all.
Except when you’re there, on the night, it does matter. You want to have fun and cheer the Wings to victory, even if it’s just a symbolic victory. On Wednesday, the Penguins bullied us into submission. It often looked like men against boys, and it kinda was (the Mule said as much in a post-game interview). The Penguins had their best players on the ice (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury), while Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Kronwall and Howard all sat the game out.
So it wasn’t a fair fight, despite Franzen and Abdelkader doing what they could, and Drew Miller refusing to quit and scoring the one Wings goal in what would eventually be a 5-1 game. With a few hours passed, the result doesn’t matter. But sat at the Joe eating pizza, watching your team get dominated stings, more than a little.
Of course, on returning home, the news that the Tigers had clinched the American League Central softened the blow somewhat.