As the residence of Thrasherville awake this morning and make their way out of their homes into the streets, they’ll look up and gasp in horor. Greeting them will be a massive mechanical cube hovering overhead. It is the vessel carrying the Big Red Borg, which has made its way here from the Detroit Quadrant if the NHL galaxy and tonight they will invade Philips Arena to battle our Atlanta Thrashers.
The Big Red Borg conduct their activities around one common purpose…to expand their ever-increasing dominance in the NHL, overtake ever NHL opponent they come across and to add the biological and technological distinctiveness of those other opponents into their own in pursuit of hockey perfection.
Or in other words…they’ve come looking to kick our collective butts, much as they have done to others all season long.
The Red Wings bring with them an awe-inspiring 13-3-2 record and lead the Western Conference with 28 points. Their offensive weaponry has scorched opposing goal netting to the tune of 3.67 goals per game, which leads the NHL, and they launch an average of 33.5 shots per game. Defensively they permit the opposition but 27.7 shots per game and have a 2.61 GAA.
They are led into battle by Pavel Datsyuk’s 22 overall points, (7 goals, 15 assists) as well as Henrik Zetterberg’s 7 goals and 13 assists, Danny Cleary’s 9 goals and 5 assists, Johan Franzen’s 9 goals and 4 assists and Todd Bertuzzi’s 3 goals and 12 assists. Bertuzzi is also +11 so far this season.
Balanced scoring, this Red Wing squad has.
Then there is Detroit’s own human cyborg, Nicklas Lidstrom. At the age of 40 he seems to never wear down…if anything he just gets better as he advances throughout the years. He’s dished out 17 assists so far to go along with 3 goals and is a +3 during this 2010-11 NHL campaign. He career +434 is, dare I say, almost superhuman.
In goal they have Jimmy Howard, who is a very impressive 11-1-2 with a 2.46 GAA, .911 SV% with one shutout. The lone team to beat him in regulation was the Vancouver Canuck back on November 6. He has, however, surrendered 11 goals on 90 shots in his last three games, (.878 SV%).
But will any and all Thrashers resistance be futile in the face of the Big Red Borg’s onslaught tonight?
If Atlanta is to overcome this machine-like enemy, they themselves will have to take on some of the characteristics of the foe they face this Thanksgiving-eve. They must continue their recent trend of eliminating unforced, sloppy errors in the end of the ice, they must find away to match the Wings speed and physicality…and must skate each and every shift as if the Stanley Cup Championship hung in the balance.
Seems simple enough, but this Red Wing team will make you pay dearly for any mistake made and will devour any unit not playing to their full potential. The Thrashers could play a near perfect game and still find themselves on the wrong end of a 3-2 score due to one misplay.
Key to tonight’s game, in my opinion, will be the man between the pipes for the Thrashers, Ondrej Pavelec. The young Czech is sporting a stellar 1.93 GAA and .939 SV% despite a 3-4-2 overall record. Since he relieved Chris Mason in Washington ten days ago, he has turned aside 104 of the 108 shots he’s faced in almost 11 periods of play…a .963 SV% in that time.
Last year just prior to Thanksgiving, Opie kicked out 40 Red Wing shots to help the Thrashers take a 2-0 win in Detroit. If he’s got another one of those performances tucked away in his duffle bag, tonight would be a pretty good time to bring it out.
This is a good a test as the Thrashers will face this season…just as much, if not more, than last Friday when the powerful Washington Capitals paid Thrasherville a visit. Atlanta came a way with a 5-0 decision that night, which was initiated by three early goals on a rookie goalie, but I have a feeling this Red Wing team isn’t going to go quietly into the autumn night if they fall behind early.
And finally…tonight there will no doubt be many in our midst that have already voluntarily submitted and have been assimilated into the Big Red Borg collective. They can easily be spotted wearing their winged-wheeled red and white uniforms and screaming in one loud, unified voice.
Resist, if you can, their attempts to lure you into their hives and hook you into their interconnected electronic tentacles. I’ve seen many of our own fall prey to this monstrous machine already … cough … Sara … cough … Alan R…and it’s quite disturbing seeing friends transformed, even if for just one night, into such an unholy, inhuman form after being caught in the spokes of the Big Red Borg.