Monday, May 26, 2008

Sports Blogging: These Are The Times That Try Fans' Remotes

The Wings and Pistons both play tonight. At the same time. Again. Happened on Saturday, it's happening again tonight, and it's going to happen on Wednesday, too. After that, fortunately, the NBA is on an every other day schedule while the Stanley Cup finals go Mon, Wed, Sat until they're finished so the two will diverge and I'll no longer have to decide which team I want to watch. Oh, sure, I can go back to the sports bar and catch one out of the corner of my eye while listening to the other that has its sound on or I could do the same in the privacy of my own home with picture in picture. But I can only watch one. Pay attention to it, follow it along, the anticipation or anxiety building and falling with the ebb of the play. Hockey and to a lesser extent basketball (At least, the parts I like to watch.) aren't like football or baseball, after all. The action isn't broken down into discrete units that make it perfectly suited to flicking away and coming back to a moment later. It's back and forth and up and down and one of the big reasons to watch is that you don't know what's going to happen.

So, I'm going to have to pick. And just as I did on Saturday, I'm going to have to watch the Wings and catch up on the Pistons later (I'm not alone, either. Keep in mind, too, that's just Versus. A lot of Detroit fans, including myself, watch the Candian broadcast from across the river. The CBC's only been doing hockey for 50 odd years now, they kinda know what they're doing and I can't resist listening to a play by play man who turns "Detroit" into a three syllable word.). The Wings are playing for the championship while the Pistons are only playing to get there. But an elimination game trumps that so I might be switching over to watch the Pistons try to avoid being brushed away in whatever it is they're called whatever replaced the Garden these days.

If, of course, they don't win tonight. That'd put them down 3-1 with a decisive Game 5 in Boston (You don't get much more decisive than determining whether you're going to keep playing, after all.). At this point, though, I have no idea what's going to happen. I'd like to think that the Pistons, having once again learned that you can't really sleepwalk your way through the opening minutes and expect to win will come out strong and start looking like the team that won Game 2. But they could just as easily start off with Billups running on court during the introductions, tripping over a loose floorboard, and collapsing, clutching at his ruined leg in pain. In short, if the Pistons come to play with the desperation they lacked on Saturday, they can get this series tied up again. If not, well, I don't think they can keep it going much longer.

As for the Wings, well, the Penguins have tinkered with the lineups they've breezed through the rest of the playoffs yet. Game 2 is a little early for it but it strikes me as nothing so much like that time in the Finals against the Devils when Detroit was outclassed and turned to the neutral zone trap in the desperation. It might not be as easy as it was in the opening game (Especially now that the Pens opening jitters will have subsided somewhat.) but I'd expect the Wings to continue to roll. The key the other night was the special teams. Detroit smothered Pittsburgh's power play while theirs was tilting the game towards them. And that all starts with face-offs and puck possesion where the Wings have a clear edge.

Word is Franzen's going to be back, too. Even if he's not in the line-up for this game (And looks like he will be), he'll be there on Wednesday and that's even worse news for Pittsburgh. Because they haven't seen the Wings at their best yet.

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