Well, John Mapplethorpe went to Chicago this week for a conference and in the meantime all hell broke loose in Detroit sports. The Red Wings dropped games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Pittsburgh, and the Tigers have lost 4 straight to the Red Sox and Angels with today's 2-1 loss to the Angels at Comerica Park. Speaking of which, our old pal Fernando Rodney blew today's game by giving up 2 runs in the 9th inning after Justin Verlander threw a scoreless gem in 8 innings of labor. But hey Bobby B, at least Fernando didn't get credited with a blown save, right? The Tigers are holding onto first place by two games with Minnesota playing tonight in Seattle, but they need to start hitting if they are going to be in contention down the stretch, even with the Central Division as weak as it is. (The Tigers are currently the only team above .500, and they are only three games above .500 themselves.)
So the Stanley Cup Finals got very interesting with the Pens evening the series up in Steel Town. The series shifts back to Detroit tomorrow night for game 5, tied up at 2-2. With the Wings losing their vice grip on the series and Marian Hossa struggling, a lot of attention is being focused on Hossa and his decision to sign a one-year contract with the Red Wings for this season after playing with Pittsburgh against the Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals last year. People in Pittsburgh were expectedly upset about this, and saw the move as a slap in the face. Now people are jumping on Hossa and chomping at the bit to throw it in his face if the Red Wings lose to the Pens in the Cup Finals in the ultimate of ironies, and in the really ironic way, not in the stupid Alanis Morissette way.
Now, I realize that Marian holds onto the stick with one hand a lot; he is definitely the Rickey Henderson of the NHL. This gives some folks the perception that he is a hot dog. He also takes a lot of shots from horrendous angles, which is really annoying. And I recognize that he doesn't have Gretzky-type career playoff numbers by any means. But when he is surrounded by a bit of talent, he has posted pretty good numbers, numbers certainly not deserving of earning him a reputation of disappearing in the playoffs. First of all, his teams have made the playoffs in 9 of his 11 seasons, despite playing for the non-powerhouse Ottawa Senators and Atlanta Thrashers in his first 9.5 seasons. He has 75 points in 95 career playoff games, including 31 goals, 6 of which were game-winners. His teams are 9-8 in playoff series, which is definitely respectable. He's a +4 in the playoffs despite being on a handful of Senator and Thrasher teams which were completely overmatched, being swept out of the first round on three separate occasions.
Consider that Hossa had his talented centerman, Pavel Datsyuk, taken away from him in the middle of the playoff run, as Datsyuk has missed the last seven games due to a foot injury. Yet, Hossa has still managed to tally 14 points in 20 playoff games this postseason, and is a +5. Datsyuk is a Hart AND Selke Trophy candidate, and is debatably the best two-way player in the NHL. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock announced a few hours ago that Datsyuk WILL play in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals tomorrow night. This will be a huge boost to the Wings and to Hossa. Oh, and by the way, I haven't heard anything about the beloved Datsyuk being a "playoff choker". And how many playoff points does the talented Datsyuk have in his career, you ask? How about 61 points in 95 career playoff games, (does that number of career playoff games sound familiar?), with 4 game winners. Things that make you go, "Hmmmmmmm."
So John Mapplethorpe is pumped up about tomorrow's game 5. He will be wearing his patented Wings Chelios shirt, that Bob and Dupree got him for Christmas, at the Detroit sports bar the Tin Lizzie in Lincoln Park after watching the White Sox hopefully drop one at U.S. Cellular. And he's expecting Hossa and the Red Wings to shine.