Rather than the standard previews of Central Division foes from an outsider’s point of view, I decided to take a different approach. This week, Behind Enemy Lines will take a look at our divisional rivals through the eyes of those invested in the team in one way or another. Today, we look at the Detroit Red Wings with some good-natured, R-rated discussion followed by a great charity opportunity from Greg of The Winged Wheel.

Bartl: I’m going to get this out of the way quickly though it’s been discussed madly by pretty much everyone, but I’d like to know your opinion: Is Chris Osgood a Hall of Fame goaltender?

Greg: Abso-tittyfucking-lutely. (That’s me, all class right out of the gate). 3 rings. 400 wins. Hands-down the most mentally tough goaltender to step into the blue paint. The dude dominated throughout the playoffs, had a crazy-long career, and punched Patrick Roy in the mouth several times. That translates to one result: In.

Obviously, there are a good number of people who strongly believe that The Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz does not deserve a bid to the Hall. Those people are wrong. They often cite just absurd arguments. They argue that his career was unimpressive because he played behind an outstanding team. Not so coincidentally, these arguments are usually made by fans of historically shitty teams. Your favorite barely-mediocre first line-center looks a whole lot better when you write off every player to have ever played for any team who ever came close to winning anything. These buffoons also make the argument that Osgood just isn’t of the same caliber as Roy, Sawchuck, or Brodeur. That’s kind of like saying Dino Ciccerelli is not Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, or Steve Yzerman. Well… yeah. No shit. But, he’s still in the Hall.

Long story short – Ozzie belongs in the hall of fame. You don’t luck your way into 400 wins. Period.

Bartl: That being discussed, the Wings brought back Ty Conklin to back up Jimmy Howard. How do you feel about this move, especially if Howard were to go down with an injury or just radically suck as we in Chicago all hope?

Greg: Honestly, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of jumping behind a guy who as recently as last season was so bad that he didn’t even fit in with the St. Louis Blues. But, then again… he was playing behind the St. Louis Blues. Either way, he’s cheap and less of a shit sandwich than the other superstars on the market at the time. He’s done well for us before, and Joey MacDonald did a good job last year, so he’s always an option.

As for losing Howard to injury? You shut your whore mouth.

Ok, I suppose if the worst happens, we can always call Marty Turco from the Island of Misfit Toys and sign him to a contract. Of course, we’d have to then rely on our offense to put up 17 goals a night, but that’s not too bad, right?

Bartl: Out is Brian Rafalski, in come Ian White and Mike Commodore. Nicklas Lidstrom is back at the ripe age of 41. How are you feeling about the blue line given these moves?

Greg: Well, none of these moves in themselves replaces Raffi. However, the outlook isn’t as grim as it otherwise seems. Rafalski, while key, hasn’t been himself the last season and a half or so. He still had an outstanding outlet pass and a wicked shot from the point, but he’s been slowed down by the fact that he was somehow functioning with approximately 3 less ACL’s than the average player. Not to mention a back like a roadie for the Stones who’s been hauling half-stacks from day one. I’m resting my hopes on Kronwall continuing to step up, Ian White fitting the puck moving Detroit system well, and Jonathon Ericsson falling out of the team plane early in the season.

Oh, and did I mention how huge Nick Lidstrom is, in both length and girth? The dude is made of pure awesome. He eats small stars for a pre-game meal. The key to his cardiovascular health is that he blood dopes with Unicorn plasma. He sneezes the Sgt. Peppers album. The Printing Press? Johannes Gutenberg can suck it. That was Lidstrom’s idea.

So, yeah. I’m alright with the Wings’ blue line as long as Captain Norris continues to don the Winged Wheel.

Bartl: Health has been a concern for the Wings the past couple of seasons, possibly keeping them back a bit from competing at the level it’s accustomed. Is there enough balance on this team to outweigh potential injuries to Henrik Zetterberg and/or Pavel Datsuyk if that completely and totally awesome occurrence were to happen?

Greg: First, if Z and Dats both end up injured at the same time, I will start a Headbutt Across America campaign out of pure frustration. I’m not sure we’re quite to the point where we’ve got the depth to deal with that kind of injury situation. We’ve been close, though, in the last few years and we’ve managed. We’re real deep in the bottom 6. We’ve got some young guys who can kill penalties and hustle with the best of them. A few prospects like Jan Mursak and Cory Emmerton are finally ready to show what they’ve got, and have some serious promise. Darren Helm has continued to develop into the kind of player that makes us thankful that games don’t go on for four hours, because we’d be forced to call a doctor. Still, I think we’re a top 6 forward away from being super comfortable.

Bartl: Finally, please let us know your completely unbiased opinion of where the Wings will finish this season and how far you can see them advancing in the postseason.

Greg: Unbiased? Well, we’ve got just under $6m in cap space and the best GM in hockey. I’m thinking Kenny’s got a move or two up his sleeve before the deadline. Health could be an issue, and the blue line has just gone through a revamp. There’s a wild-card in there with the new assistant coaches that makes it tough to really know what’s going to happen.

So… my best guess? I think 163 regular season points isn’t out of the question. One overtime loss sounds about right. As for post season success, I see #12 in our future. You know… that’d be three times the number of shiny silver things you bandwagoning, racist caricature sporting, Wrigleyville collar popping, fancy hot dog eating, Chelios losing, city-infrastructure-having, Hawks fans have.

I mean… if I’m being unbiased.

Ahhh, jokes. I get jokes. But there’s no joking about the charity effort Greg is putting in over at The Winged Wheel. Here’s what’s he’s put together straight from his site. It’s for a charity in the Chicagoland area, so if you don’t participate you’re a damn fool:

You know, or whatever else you want to call it, in the interest of appropriateness.
For all those who donate, join the cause, or recruit others, you’ll be entered into a raffle for a Red Wings Jersey, signed by Henrik Zetterberg shown at the top of this post.
A couple of years ago, at H2H, I was lucky enough to win this bad lad as a raffle prize. It’s made its appearance at one exhibition game, but has otherwise sat in a revered corner of my closet. Well, I’m confident it can be put to better use, and what better use than this?
Everyone who joins and passes along the information to others will get an entry into the raffle. PLUS, you’ll also get an entry for every dollar you so generously choose to contribute. By following the links below, you can donate any amount.
AS AN ADDED BONUS: For the individual who donates the highest amount, I’ll throw in the following:
  • The Winged Wheel will change it’s banner to one of your design for three months. You can have it proclaim your glory, honor your favorite player, or hell – if you’re a fan of a rival team that would like revenge for all the mean things I say about you – you can even have it pay tribute to your inferior, crappy excuse for a hockey program. The only limitations are that I won’t mock Stevie or Vladdy. Everyone else is fair game.
  • I’ll also do my damndest to write and record a Winged Wheel original song, based on the topic of your choice. Same idea as above – it can be about anything. It should be noted, that I make absolutely no guarantee that the song itself will consist of anything resembling talent or ability – but hell, I’ll try my best.

How Can I Donate?

  • Go to the Learning Through Giving Cause Page, join the cause through Facebook, and donate to your heart’s content. As the administrator, Mike will record your donation, and secure your entry.
  • If you aren’t all hip with the Facebooks, or you just don’t want to use it for some reason, you can make a direct donation through the Learning Through Giving Cause Page, without signing in. If you do that, however, you’ll need to send your information and the amount you donated to me at wingedwheelblog@gmail.com so that we can record your entry.
  • You can also send a check made out to Genesis Therapy Center (put Schools Program in the Memo line) at the following address:
Genesis Therapy Center
6006 W. 159th St, Bldg. C
Oak Forest, IL 60452

(Again, if you choose to donate this way, send me an email to confirm your entry)
All payments are completely secure, and all donations are Tax Deductible. If you’d like a receipt, just email me and I’ll make sure that happens for you.
All entries before puck drop for the Wings season opener on October 7th against Paul MacLean’s moustache will be entered into the contest.
Email me or inquire on the twitters (@captnorris5) if you have any questions. Also, if you’ve got something to donate to raffle off as well to sweeten the pot and help entice even more good deeds, shoot me an email and we can put it up.
Also, while you’re at it, go ahead and “Like” this shindig on the book of faces by clicking here.
Folks, if Puck Daddy can raise over $6k for a dumb little joke on the back of a sweater, then we can make big things happen here. You’ve blown me away more than once in the past, lets do it again. Thanks so much for all your support for this cause, and Go Wings!