BY CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Staff Columnist
It’s a brand new year for Detroit sports and we can only hope that means good news. The Tigers have made some moves in the off season, the Pistons continue their awful play, the Red Wings have the hottest home winning streak in franchise history, and the Lions made it to the playoffs!
Detroit Tigers: The Tigers start Spring Training in a few weeks down in Lakeland, Florida and are working on finishing off their roster. In some big news, they have lost designated hitter/catcher Victor Martinez for the season because of a torn ACL. He was a key piece to the team that went to Game 6 of the ALCS last season. Replacing Martinez will be tough as he batted .330 and had over 100 RBIs. The possible replacements include Bobby Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes, Johnny Damon, Vladimir Guerrero, and Derrek Lee.
Other than the problem of losing Martinez, they have had a good off season. The Tigers re-signed Delmon Young, Phil Coke, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and Don Kelly. As we work towards Spring Training, we can only hope that they can replace Martinez with a solid player and have a great season.
Detroit Pistons: The Detroit Pistons started their 2012-2013 season after the lockout late in December. They opened the season with three straight losses and won their first game against the Indiana Pacers on the last day of 2011. They earned their second win of the season against the Orlando Magic and their first of 2012. After that they would lose 10 of the next 11 games. Their only win came in the middle against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Greg Monroe currently leads the team in points, rebounds, and steals. He has 15.7 points per game, 9.6 rebounds per game, and 1.1 steals per game. Rodney Stuckey has 4.4 assists per game and Ben Wallace has .8 blocks per game. Their next game will come against the Miami Heat tomorrow night at the Palace of Auburn Hills at 7:30pm.
Detroit Red Wings: Well it’s been a great new year for the Detroit Red Wings. They ended 2011 with a win against the St. Louis Blues. They started 2012 with a win against the Dallas Stars. Since the start of the New Year, they have only lost two games, both being away from Joe Louis Arena. The losses came against the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Islanders.
During their 16 game home win streak, they have beaten St. Louis, Columbus, Buffalo, Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Winnipeg, Tampa Bay, Nashville, Calgary, Dallas, Anaheim, Colorado, and Edmonton. Pavel Datsyuk is leading the Red Wings in points with 51, and assists with 38. Johan Franzen leads the team with 18 goals, while Jonathan Ericsson has 39 penalty minutes and Jimmy Howard leads the team with a 1.98 Goals Against Average.
The Red Wings are on top of the Central Division standings and the Western Conference as usual. It will be a sprint to the end for the Red Wings as the Blues, Nashville Predators, and Chicago Blackhawks are all competing for first place in the Central which could translate to first place in the Western Conference and NHL.
Detroit Lions: Our Detroit Lions, four years removed from a 0-16 season, made it to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. They earned their first playoff berth in twelve years against the San Diego Chargers. The following week on New Year’s Day, they would fall to the Green Bay Packers, costing them a spot against the New York Giants in the first round of the playoffs. Instead, they went on to face the New Orleans Saints as the sixth and final seed in the NFC.
For their first playoff game since 1999, many of the key players including Ndamukong Suh, Matthew Stafford, Nick Fairley, and Kevin Smith were healthy and ready to go. If you were to watch the first half of this football game, you would think the Detroit Lions would be headed for the second round of the playoffs. That wasn’t the case, however, in the second half. The Lions took the lead in the first quarter with a Will Heller 10-yard touchdown reception on their very first drive. The Saints answered in the second quarter, with a Darren Sproles two-yard touchdown run. Pro Bowl receiver Calvin Johnson connected with Stafford on a 13-yard touchdown reception to re-take the lead 14-7. The first half ended with a John Kasay 24-yard field goal and a 14-10 lead for the Lions.
The Lions caused two turnovers and throughout the season, the Lions were known as the “Comeback Cats,” because of how well they played in the second half of many of their football games. The Saints are a very good team, and though they lost in the next round of the playoffs, they knew how to play and perform. The Saints definitely came marching in for the second half. Devery Henderson caught a 41-yard touchdown reception from Drew Brees to take the lead, 17-14. The Lions had no answer, as the Saints again scored with a three-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham. It was now a 10 point deficit for the Lions, but they answered. Stafford ran one yard into the end zone for a touchdown to cut the lead to three, at 24-21. It was looking good for the Lions heading into the fourth quarter. They had been a comeback team and could do it again, but sadly, they wound up short.
The Saints took over the fourth quarter and blew out the Lions. Sproles scored his second touchdown of the game with a 17-yard run, quickly followed by a 56-yard touchdown reception to Robert Meachem. Johnson would catch a 12-yard pass from Stafford to cut the lead to 10 points but the game was already out of reach nearing the end. The nail in the coffin was a Pierre Thomas one-yard touchdown run to seal the game for the Saints. The final score was 45-28, a score unimaginable in the first half.
The Lions have a lot of promise going into next year. They are young team, with promising signs of success. With some improvements on the defensive side of the ball and less penalties, they can be a real contender for the Super Bowl next season. Go Lions!