Archive for December, 2008

Chicago at Detroit (12/30/08)

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Tonight the Blackhawks came to Detroit for a preview of the Winter Classic coming up on New Year’s Day.  Lidstrom wasn’t ready to play yet after injuring his ankle but further tests have shown that there’s no fracture.  He’s expecting to play on Thursday in the outdoor game.  Samuellson was also out since he wasn’t feeling well.  Meech was playing forward to fill in for him.  The Hawks came into this one streaking on an incredible nine win run which is a franchise record.  The goalie for Chicago was Khabibulin and Conklin was in for the Wings.

In the first period Patrick Kane was hit by Cleary and had to leave the bench.  His right leg twisted awkwardly under him.  It looked like it might have been bad but he was able to return in the second period.  That’s good news for the Hawks and for hockey fans in general who like to see great players.

Detroit got the first goal of the game.  It was scored a power play in the first period.  Holmstrom was screening the goalie and Datsyuk snapped the puck into the corner of the net.  That was some good teamwork by the power play unit.

That was the only goal of the first period.  There were a lot of good saves at both ends.  Chicago was badly out-shooting the Wings halfway through the period but by the end of the first Detroit had caught up and passed them on the shot total.

In the second period things got a little chippy and more physical.  This matchup is turning out to be a pretty good rivalry (again).  The two teams don’t seem to like each other all that much.

Later in the second Detroit got another power play goal.  They were moving the puck well and it came to Franzen down low.  He had absolutely no room to shoot at but somehow he picked the top corner so well that it hit Khabibulin on top of the shoulder and just barely snuck in under the crossbar.  That was one of the most precise shots I’ve ever seen.

That was the only goal in a very exciting second period.  Holmstrom took a puck in the face and left the ice to get stitches.  He was in front of the net on a power play and got hit by a long slap shot.

Just 37 seconds into the third period Franzen added to his goal tally.  The puck went to the boards behind the net and Franzen went after it and forced his way to the front of the net.  He pushed the puck into the net between the goalie’s legs.  That was a great example of how strong he is.

Past the halfway mark of the third period Filppula caught the puck in the Red Wings end with his glove.  He turned with it, dropped it and then started up ice.  It probably should have been a penalty but it wasn’t caught.  That created a breakaway chance and he passed up ice to Kopecky.  He made a move with it and blew it past the goalie putting the Wings up four nothing.

This was a great game.  Even though the score was lopsided the Hawks still played pretty well.  Some of the passion from this game will hopefully carry over to New Year’s Day.  The Red Wings played very well for the entire game and Conklin was very sharp as well.

This 4-0 win brings us to:
53 points

Detroit at Colorado (12/27/08)

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

After losing in Nashville last night, Detroit went to Colorado for the second half of back to back games.  Conklin was in net again for the Wings and and Budaj was playing for the Avalanche.

Lidstrom was not able to go for this game because of the ankle injury he sustained blocking a shot in Nashville.  The initial x-rays showed no fracture but it was too swollen for him to play.  He will have additional tests when the Red Wings return to Detroit.

Colorado struck first with a power play goal in the first period.  The puck had squirted out to the high slot area and Salei took a shot.  It looked like it went off the inside of Conklin’s left leg, then hit his right leg and then ricocheted into the net.

A few minutes later the Avalanche scored another power play goal.  There was a hard shot that went off the back boards and came back to the side of the net right to Smyth.  Conklin didn’t get his skate to the post in time and Smyth pushed the puck into the net to give the Avs a two nothing lead.  The Wings just seemed to be scrambling on the penalty kill.  They didn’t look very good at all.

Later in the first period the Avalanche got ANOTHER power play goal.  Right off the power play’s first faceoff the Avs took a shot.  The rebound dropped out front and Stuart picked it up.  For some reason, instead of clearing it up ice, he sent it to the point where Liles took it and shot it into the net.

Three nothing in the first period on three power play goals.  All I can say after that period is that I hope Lidstrom never retires because they looked like garbage without him.

In the second period the Red Wings finally scored.  It was a power play goal.  Datsyuk shot the puck and Budaj lost sight of it because of traffic.  The shot never got through because it hit Holmstrom.  It dropped right back down to Datsyuk and Budaj didn’t know where it was.  It made for an easy goal for Pavel.  That brought the Wings to within two goals of tying the game.

Just  a few seconds later Detroit struck again on the power play.  Samuellson shot the puck from near the blue line and Holmstrom tipped it masterfully.  The shot was going well wide of the net and he redirected it perfectly in.  There was no way any goalie could have stopped that one.  All of the sudden it was a one goal game.

A few minutes after THAT, you guessed it, the Red Wings tied the game.  There was some nice puck movement and it came to Franzen who beat Budaj with a great shot.  That was the sixth goal of the game and the first one to come at even strength.  All three of the Red Wings goals game within about a five minute stretch.  That was the end of the second period so it was a whole new game heading into the third.

Early in the third period Detroit had some glorious chances on a power play and Budaj was able to keep them out to maintain the tie.  The Red Wings continued to take it to the Avs for most of the third period but Budaj came up huge with some monster saves.  This entire period had a sudden death feel to it.  There was desperation on both sides.  At the Red Wings end Conklin also made some big time saves to keep this game tied.  Thanks to a goaltending showcase throughout the third period, this game headed to overtime.

This game was three different games in one.  The first period was owned by Colorado’s offense.  The second period was owned by Detroit’s offense.  And the third period was owned by the goaltenders.

The overtime period continued in the style of the third.  Neither team was able to score so they headed to the shootout.

Colorado chose to shoot first and they started with Wolski.  He faked Conklin out of his pants and scored an easy goal.  Datsyuk was up next for Detroit.  He hit the post.  Svatos was next for the Avs.  He came in very fast and took a hard shot that Conklin stopped.  Next it was Zetterberg and Budaj stoned him.  Hejduk was up for the Avs to try for the win but Conklin stopped his shot.  It was up to Hudler to tie it back up for the Wings.  He took a shot but Budaj stopped it giving the Avs the shootout victory.

This was a strange game for the Red Wings.  Considering how bad they looked in the first period I think they’re lucky to come away from this one with a road point, especially after playing the night before.  They made an amazing comeback in the second period and then didn’t let their foot off the gas from that point on.  

This 4-3 overtime loss brings us to:
51 points

Lidstrom Injures Ankle

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

In Saturday night’s game against the Predators Lidstrom took a puck in the ankle.  It swelled up and he as unable to push off with that foot.  He left the game in the second period and did not return.

The good news is that according to the Detroit Free Press the x-rays are negative.  Lidstrom may be able to play tonight against the Avalanche but his status is questionable.  It all depends on the swelling.

Detroit at Nashville (12/26/08)

Friday, December 26th, 2008

For tonight’s game Detroit travelled to Nashville to take on the Predators.  Conklin was the starting goalie for the Wings, and Dan Ellis was in for the Predators.

The Predators scored first after the Red Wings had killed off a spirited power play.  The next faceoff was in the Red Wings zone and it was delivered to Zanon who shot immediately.  Conklin didn’t react in time to stop the quick shot which put the Predators up one to nothing.

A few minutes later the Red Wings had their own spirited power play.  They were in the Predators zone for almost the entire two minutes.  They also were unable to score with the man advantage.  However, after the power play ended Datsyuk stole the puck at center ice and moved into the Predators end.  He was knocked off the puck but Hudler picked it up.  He worked hard to keep possession and finally passed it to Cleary and took the hit afterwards.  Cleary went around his man and took the puck to the net.  He released a quick shot that beat EllIis up high to tie the game at one apiece.

In the second period the Predators were on the power play.  The Red Wings were being very aggressive on the penalty kill.  They had several great short-handed scoring chances.  The Predators finally got the puck deep in the Wings end and dug it out.  Klein was standing in the slot area with nobody near him.  He got the puck and shot it quickly past Conklin to put the Predators up by one.

Late in the second period Lidstrom left the game with an undisclosed “lower body injury”.  More on that in future posts.

With just over a minute left in the second period the Predators scored again.  Conklin might not have been able to see the shot because there were three Red Wings and one Predator standing in front of him.  Two of the Wings were actually standing in the crease.  It was a little crowded.  Somehow Fiddler got the shot through all the traffic to give the Predators had a two goal lead.

Early in the third period Detroit was pressuring.  Lilja had the puck near the blue line and he passed it to Samuellson down near the goal line.  He one-timed it so quickly that by the time they put the camera on him the puck was already in the net.  That goal brought us back to within one.

In the final minute and a half of the game the Predators were called for a slash.  The Red Wings went on the power play and pulled the goalie.  They had a two man advantage for the rest of the game but weren’t able to tie it up.

The Wings played pretty well for the most part.  There were  just a couple of defensive mistakes that the Predators capitalized on.  Both teams played hard in this game and you could tell they both wanted the win.  

This 3-2 loss brings us to:
50 points

St. Louis at Detroit (12/23/08)

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

For tonight’s game the St. Louis Blues came to Detroit to face the Red Wings.  Ty Conklin was the Red Wings goalie for the third straight game and Manny Legace was in net for the Blues.  Osgood is still out with a groin injury but he says that he won’t have to go on IR.  He may return as early as Saturday.

There was a bit of a shaky start to this one.  Detroit nearly gave up a goal in the opening seconds of the game.  Luckily they got through that exchange without giving up a goal.

Detroit scored first on a great power play goal.  They were moving the puck very well and it came to Datsyuk.  He moved towards the net and snapped one into the top corner past Legace.

A few minutes later the Blues were penalized for tripping and then again for crosschecking.  After the second penalty the faceoff came to Lidstrom who had a wide open slot between him and the net.  He let one rip and beat Legace for great goal to go up two nothing.  The second power play ended when Franzen was called for goalie interference.

The Blues had their own 5 on 3 power play at the end of the period but the Red Wings were able to stop them.  The period ended with the Wings leading two to nothing and just a few seconds left on the second penalty.

In the second period the Red Wings had a beautiful play that started when Hossa took the puck right out of the pocket of one of the Blues players.  He took it to the net and went back and forth with it between him, Filppula and Kopecky.  They got the puck into the net but it was under Legace’s pad and you could not see the puck.  It was obvious where the puck was, but since you couldn’t see it there was no way to call it a goal.  It’s a shame because it was an awesome bang-bang play.

Later in the second Detroit scored again.  Datsyuk got the puck to Stuart at the top of the circle.  He let it rip and Holmstrom tipped it in from his usual spot on the doorstep.

Then, just a few minutes later they scored again, this time shorthanded.  Hossa forced another turnover and got the puck to Datsyuk.  He made a great move on the defenseman and then shot it past Legace.  That made it four to nothing.

The Wings shutout ended early in the third period.  Berglund had the puck with about three Red Wings on him.  He took an extremely quick shot.  It didn’t even look like was shooting, it looked more like he was just stick handling.  It surprised Conklin, too.  He didn’t react in time to make the stop so the Blues were on the board with one.

That was the end of the scoring for this one as the Red Wings cruised to an easy win.  The impressive thing was that they expected this one to be easy and they still played hard.  They kept their focus which has been a bit of a problem lately.  This is as much a mental victory as anything and it was great to see.

This 4-1 win brings us to:
50 points

Los Angeles at Detroit (12/20/08)

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Tonight the Los Angeles Kings were in Detroit to take on the Red Wings.  The goalie for the Kings was Jon Quick and for the Red Wings it was Ty Conklin.  The Red Wings were coming off their best performance of the season after beating the Sharks six to nothing in the previous game.  The risk coming into this one was that the Wings might not take this game seriously enough.

In the first few minutes of the game the Kings capitalized on a mistake by Hossa.  They were getting shots on goal and Conklin made some good saves.  Then the puck came to Hossa along the boards in the Red Wings end.  He tipped it to the slot area but no one was there.  One of the Kings got to it first and threw it on net.  Conklin made the first save but the Kings kept after it and scored on the rebound.  Once again the Red Wings had an early hole to climb out of.

Detroit tied the game later in the period on a great goal by Datsyuk.  Entering the zone he passed to Holmstrom on the wing.  Homer threw it back to Datsyuk in the middle.  Datsyuk went skate to stick and then backhand to forehand.  Quick had already committed to the backhand shot so Datsyuk just put it in around him.  It was a great move.  There are few goalies who wouldn’t have bit on that one.

A few minutes later in the first period Lilja scored on a long distance shot from the point that surprised Quick.  It looked like he couldn’t see it until the last second.  The shot came right off the faceoff so nobody was really expecting it.

Lilja’s goal celebration didn’t last long.  Just a few seconds later Frolov took the puck to the Wings net and skated all around the crease.  He waited and Conklin went down.  He kept skating around Conklin and put in into the net.

The first period ended tied at two.  It featured a total of 25 shots which is quite a surprise in a game featured two teams that are known for allowing few shots on goal.

Early in the second period Zetterberg was called for a trip when he literally never touched the guy.  From the point of view of the ref it looked like Zetterberg’s stick was in the guys skates.  From a different angle it was obvious that the stick was next to the skates and the guy simply tripped over his own feet.  It was a bad call but an honest mistake by the ref.  He called it as it looked from his angle.  Luckily the Wings were able to kill off the penalty so no harm done.

Near the end of the second period the Kings defense tried to go up the middle with the outlet pass.  Lidstrom read the play and picked it off in the high slot.  He took it to the net and shot.  Quick stopped the shot but Samuelsson pounced on the rebound and scored to give Detroit the lead.

Then, just a few seconds later, the Kings scored to tie it up again.  They passed through the crease but Conklin was set for a shot.  He got a piece of the pass but it made it through to the other side of the net where Kyle Calder put it home.

Early in the third period the Kings broke the tie.  They entered the zone and Lilja was the only defenseman back.  He tried to block the shot but it was a pass across instead.  I don’t know why he was trying to block the shot since Conklin was set and ready for it.  The pass made it through to Dustin Brown and he had a wide open net to put it into.

 As the third period was winding down Detroit tied it up again.  Lidstrom sent a hard pass from the point to Filppula near the goal line.  He shot it and Quick blocked it but the rebound came right back to Filppula.  He threaded the needle to get the puck through the crease to Hudler on the other side of the net for the easy tap in.

With about a minute and a half left in regulation the Red Wings broke the tie.  Cleary shot from the far side of the circle.  Hudler was in front of the net.  Quick couldn’t see the shot because of Hudler and the guy defending him so he never had a chance to stop it.  The shot was perfectly placed by Cleary who seems to be seeing just fine with the new visor.

In the final minute the Kings pulled their goalie.  They tried hard to score but Detroit smelled blood and wouldn’t let up.  Franzen got the puck in the neutral zone and selflessly gave it to Draper to score the empty net goal.

In general it seemed like the Red Wings played pretty well tonight.  There were again just a few defensive breakdowns that almost ruined it.  Detroit was lucky to be able to pull out the win to overcome those few lapses because the Kings seemed to take advantage of any little break that was offered them.

This 6-4 win brings us to:
48 points

San Jose at Detroit (12/18/08)

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

San Jose came to town tonight to test the Red Wings.  Nabokov was in net for them and Conklin was in for us.  Osgood is nursing a sore groin but was still able to back up Conklin.  San Jose is the best team in the league right now so the Red Wings needed to bring their A-game tonight.  The Sharks had just played the night before and had played a lot of road games in a short period.  For that reason we probably didn’t see them at their best.

The Wings got off to a much better start then they’ve been doing recently.  They were playing pretty tight defensively and getting some saves from Conklin.  There were a couple of close calls including one where Conklin was down and the puck was in front of the net and up in the air and seemingly everywhere.  Somehow it stayed out of the net though.

The Red Wings got the first goal of the game.  Lebda made a short little pass to Franzen just inside the blue line and Franzen ripped it from way up there.  Nabokov wasn’t expecting such a quick shot and he just flat out missed it.  Then less than two minutes later Datsyuk ripped a shot from the high slot that also beat Nabokov giving the Wings a two goal lead.  Kronwall was in front of the net and may have distracted Nabokov but he was out of the way by the time Datsyuk released the shot so he should have had a clear view of it.

In the second period Detroit continued to play very well.  They scored their third goal thanks to an amazing pass by Datsyuk and quick shot by Hossa.  Datsyuk entered the zone while the rest of the team was changing.  Without looking he passed the puck back to the slot where Hossa was headed.  It was placed perfectly for him to snap it.  Nabokov got a piece of it but it ricocheted into the net giving the Wings a three nothing lead.

In the third period the Red Wings played some tight defense.  The Sharks did have a few good chances but Conklin made some excellent saves to preserve the shutout.  Detroit added to their goal total with a nice play that had almost everybody involved.  Lilja got it started with a pass into the zone which was taken by Hudler.  He passed it to Cleary who sent it to Filppula.  The passes were fast enough that Nabokov wasn’t in position to stop Filppula’s shot, he just had to tap it in.

Later in the third there were offsetting penalties so we had some 4 on 4 play.  San Jose turned the puck over in their own zone to Datsyuk.  He took a quick shot from the slot that may have been deflected.  It got past Nabokov to give the Wings their fifth goal.

To add insult to injury the Wings scored yet again.  It was right off the face off and the puck came back to Kronwall.  He passed to Stuart in the middle who shot from the blue line and it found it’s way into the net.  Datsyuk took the face off so he got one of the assists which gave him four points for the night.

That was the end of the scoring.  Conklin played very well and earned the shutout.  The Wings looked great in this game.  It was a solid sixty minute performance.  Exactly what I’ve been wanting to see all season long.  The only thing that could detract from the victory is the knowledge that the Sharks were really out of gas before this game even started.  Still though, the Red Wings played a great game.  They didn’t give the Sharks any chance to come back and they continued to played well with the lead.

This 6-0 win brings us to:
46 points

Osgood Out With Sore Groin

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Chris Osgood missed practice today with a sore groin.  There’s no indication yet as to how serious it is.  They also haven’t said when this problem started or if Osgood’s poor play of late is in any way related to this injury.

Mike Babcock implied that Osgood might be out ten days but cautioned that he didn’t really know yet.

Colorado at Detroit (12/15/08)

Monday, December 15th, 2008

The Colorado Avalanche were in town tonight to face the Detroit Red Wings.  They used Raycroft as their starting goalie and Detroit went with Osgood.

Well, the old rivalry between the Avalanche and the Red Wings is clearly dead.  In the first period this had the feel of a preseason game.  Everybody on both teams looked like they were playing in slow motion.  Detroit gave up two goals in the early minutes of the period.  Osgood looked shakier than I’ve ever seen him.  He didn’t seem to have any confidence at all and he was always fighting the puck.  In fact everybody looked like they were terrified of making a mistake.  Outside of the score and shots on goal, I think there were two good indicators that the Red Wings weren’t playing well.  The first is the lack of confidence that was evident in Osgood.  The second is the fact that Datsyuk would not shoot the puck.  He had some great chances and always tried to make a pass.

Colorado’s first goal came just over a minute into the game.  It was a turnover in the neutral zone as the Red Wings were changing.  They ended up in a 2 on 0 against Osgood.  That goal was scored by Wolski; it was the first shot on net for the Avs.  The second goal was a pass across the ice to a side that had been left uncovered by the defense.  Stastny took the pass and snapped it past Osgood.

I wonder if the Red Wings got an earful from Babcock during the first intermission.  I can almost imagine him not saying a word to them.  It’s not like they don’t know what to do.  I don’t think that’s his style though.  I suspect he probably gave them an encouraging pep talk.

It took until almost half way through the second period and it was a really ugly goal, but the Red Wings finally scored.  There was a big mess in front of the net and Holmstrom had several whacks at the puck.  It dropped on the goal line behind Raycroft and trickled in.  Originally, Rafalski was credited with the goal but it was later changed to Holmstrom.

Early in the third period there was a scrum in front of Osgood.  The puck got between his legs and was trickling into the net.  Lebda dove in behind Osgood and pushed the puck back into his pads.  Because Lebda covered the puck in the crease a penalty shot was awarded to Colorado.  Leopold took the shot and scored to give Colorado a three to one lead.

A few minutes later Detroit scored right off of a faceoff to Raycroft’s right.  Zetterberg took the draw and the puck ended up loose.  Hossa muscled his way to it and snapped right between Raycroft’s legs before he even knew what hit him.  That brought Detroit back within one goal.

Although Detroit played a little better in the second and much better in the third it wasn’t enough to make up for the lackadaisical performance in the first period.  The Red Wings didn’t deserve to win this game and it’s about time they start losing games that they don’t deserve to win.  Otherwise, what’s the incentive to play hard if you can still win anyway?  I remember a few losing streaks last season that helped the Wings in the long run.  Maybe a little bit of that is what they need right now to remind them to play hard for 60 minutes.

This 3-2 loss brings us to:
44 points

Detroit at Phoenix (12/13/08)

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Detroit was in Phoenix tonight to play the Coyotes at the ridiculously named Arena.  Bryzgalov was the starting goalie for the Coyotes and Osgood was back in net for the Wings.  Chelios was also back in the lineup for this game.

It took just over 30 seconds for Detroit to score.  Holmstrom dug the puck out along the boards and hit Zetterberg with it right on the faceoff dot.  Zetterberg snapped it and Bryzgalov got a piece of it but not enough.  It got through him and just like that the Red Wings were up one to nothing.

With about 30 seconds left in the period the Coyotes tied it up.  It looked almost exactly the same as the goal the Red Wings scored to start the period.  Lindstrom (not to be confused with Lidstrom) shot from just above the faceoff dot.  Ozzie was screened which prevented him from seeing it in time to stop it.

Early in the second period the Coyotes took the lead with a power play goal.  Doan took the long pass for a breakaway.  He ended up one on one against Ozzie.  He was going to the right and stopped on a dime.  Osgood kept going and ended up down on the ice which left the entire left side of the net wide open for Doan.  It was a really good move that Doan made.  Osgood didn’t have much choice but to bite on it.

A few minutes later Phoenix was on the power play again.  Franzen stole the puck at his own blue line and took off all alone to the Coyotes net.  He made a nice move and burned Brzygalov for the shorthanded, game-tying goal.

About halfway through the second period Detroit scored a power play goal.  Homer was in front of the net screening and battling for position.  Brzygalov was paying attention to him and wasn’t ready for the shot.  Rafalski released it from the blue line and Holmstrom tipped it passed the goalie to take the lead back for the Red Wings.

Near the halfway point of the third period Phoenix scored another goal on the power play.  Lindstrom made a nice cross ice pass just above the crease to Boedker.  He shot the puck into the net before Ozzie had to time to get over and get set.

Later in the third the Coyotes took the lead.  Osgood got a piece of the original shot but it got in behind him and hit the post.  It then bounced toward the middle of the net and sat on the goal line.  Reinprecht seized the opportunity and pushed it over the line giving Phoenix the lead three to four.

Detroit got a power play chance with less than two minutes left in the game.  They pulled Ozzie for the 6 on 4 advantage.  Since the Coyotes were shorthanded they didn’t have to worry about icing.  It was a free for all shooting at the empty net whenever they got the puck.  They had at least three chances but missed the net each time.  Then the Red Wings got the puck in deep behind the net.  Zetterberg passed it behind the net to Hossa.  He passed it to Franzen in front off the net and Franzen scored to tie the game.  Tic Tac Goal.  The score held until the end of the game so they went to overtime.

In the final minute of OT Datsyuk shot what looked like the game winner in full speed but it actually hit the post and came straight back out.  Nobody scored in the OT so they went to the shootout.

In the shootout Detroit went first.  Datsyuk was our first shooter.  He made some moves but Bryzgalov didn’t bite and made the stop with his right pad.  Next Mueller went for the Coyotes and he beat Osgood high on the stick side.  Zetterberg was up next.  He made a nice move and Bryzgalov went down.  Zetterberg put it up and over him into the net.  Lindstrom went next for the Coyotes.  He made some great moves and Osgood bit in the wrong direction but he put his stick back to cover the other side of the net.  He ended up making an incredible stop.  Franzen came up next and missed the net high.  Finally for the Coyotes it was Kyle Turris.  He also shot the puck over the net so they had to extend the shootout.  Hudler came up next.  He made some dekes and put it up into the corner.  That left it up to Doan to save the game for the Coyotes.  He tried to make some moves and go around Osgood.  He was up to the challenge and made the save giving the Wings the win.

The Wings blew another lead in this game which is quite the trend now.  They also managed to pull a win out of their keisters anyway which seems to be another trend.  The overall numbers aren’t that bad.  Shots on goal were 38 to 28 in favor of Detroit.  But there were stretches where they didn’t play well enough defensively.  For a road game though where they got into town at 1AM the night before, I guess this is a pretty good win.  We’ll always take a ‘W’.

This 5-4 win brings us to:
44 points