After taking a look at the guys we're hoping shut us up, we now shift focus on the guys we're hoping shut everybody else up.
Friday, we posted a list of players on the Red Wings who have something to prove to their detractors in Detroit. While we always root for everybody on the Wings to do well (because that means the Wings are doing well), there are some whose successes give an added touch of a smirk to the smile their goals bring to my face. I don't know if you know this, but not everybody likes the Red Wings. There are some people who even hate them. What's more is that it's not always just about the team, but it's because of certain players.
Today, we'll be looking at the players who make other fanbases cringe and who we will be cheering on specifically for that reason through the entire stretch. Yes, there's going to be some overlap of lists. Just know that for players who show up in both spots, that's twice as many faces to shove it in when they do something good.
Who hates him: Nobody really...yet.
Not many in North America are really that aware of Brunner and nobody in the world knows how well he'll do in the NHL. What we do know is that the smug jerkoffs who think Datsyuk and Zetterberg were fluke picks and who like to laugh about Leino really don't want to see what will happen with Wings fans if this guy can score at a pace similar to what he put up in the Swiss League. If Babcock wasn't lying to us all about his linemates, he's certainly going to get his chance to shine.
In-Your-Face Factor: a tap on your temple and a knowing smirk
People aren't rooting against Brunner for the person he is; they're rooting against what he represents. Since his victories are a cerebral victory for the Wings' braintrust, there's nothing better than a smug acknowledgement to his haters.
Jimmy Howard is not Tim Thomas or Pekka Rinne or even Jonathan Quick. Unfortunately for his detractors, he's also not Marc-Andre Fleury or the Chris Osgood from whom he took the Red Wings' starting job. He went through a sophomore slump where his numbers regressed to average. Then he followed it up with a .920 performance the next year. Is he a product of the system playing in front of him? Who cares? He wins games and that makes people who hate the Red Wings sad.
In-Your-Face Factor: A wave of the hand and a dismissive two-finger salute.
Just pretend you're wearing Jimmy's Crosby-slobbered glove on your hand as you're waving at the slack-jawed idiot who misjudged your goalie.
Who hates him: Maple Leafs fans, advanced stats fans.
Gustavsson was another in a long line of Maple Leafs goalies who was supposed to have been the guy that could finally get the job done at least enough to get Toronto back into the playoffs. He wasn't. Now he's Detroit's backup in Detroit's system hoping to prove that his objectively awful stats were created by an objectively awful hockey team in front of him and a subjective nightmare of too many coaches pulling in too many directions. There's no defending Gustavsson's career performance to this point. He's going to have to do better.
In-Your-Face Factor: Thriller
C'mon. He's the Monster and he's back from the dead. At least do the claws-up back-and-forth walk. You really should do the whole damn dance though. You're probably not going to get as many chances to do this in somebody's face as you might think.
Just listen to them whine. All of them. Listen to them cry about how he "always" leaves his feet. No hitter in the NHL is more-hated for bad reason. Of course Kronwall has probably crossed the line a few times. But to listen to the people who dislike him, you'd think he's got dirt on somebody to get away with the constant barrage of hits. It's even funnier when it comes from fanbases like Anaheim, who wouldn't recognize a clean hit if it nicked them crossing into the slot with their heads down.
In-Your-Face Factor: Double High-Five
People probably won't appreciate the metaphor of going high with double-fives, but they'll at least get the message that what just happened was in their face.
Who hates him: Predators fans, most other Western Conference/Central Division teams
Tootoo is a pain in the ass. That's his whole job. You're supposed to hate him if he's not on your team. That's the great thing about when a guy like that succeeds; like every time Kirk Maltby potted one, you just know that somebody watching that goal wanted to swing a cactus at his dick for doing it. Even though a good portion of Nashville fans didn't even want him back, you can be fairly confident that they probably didn't want him staying in the division after going elsewhere.
In-Your-Face Factor: Pull that chain, the double-middle fingers express is leaving the station.
Chugga-chugga chugga-chugga chugga-chugga FUCK YOU! Hahaha.
What's there that's left to say about Bertuzzi at this point? The guy made the cheap shot that became the comparative standard for every single cheap shot in the NHL since. He pled to criminal charges for it. He was also allowed to come back with a relatively small punishment because the 2004 lockout ended the season that he maybe should have missed entirely for his hit on Steve Moore. He's the embodiment of everything ugly about hockey, despite that he hasn't earned even a passing consideration for supplemental discipline since two lockouts ago. Every single goal of Bertuzzi's is an insult to the very fandom of a group of dimwits who once happily cheered on Claude Lemieux.
In-Your-Face Factor: Double finger-guns, blow the smoke off the barrels, holster the weapons, hump the air, and don't you dare break your glare for one second while doing it
If he earns you an in-your-face celebration in a shootout, you should start the whole thing with a spin-o-rama to start. Feel free to get creative with this one though.