Archive for December, 2008

Detroit at Dallas (12/12/08)

Friday, December 12th, 2008

Tonight the Red Wings were in Dallas to play the Stars.  Turco was their starting goalie and for the Red Wings it was Conklin.  This was the the third straight start for Conklin.  That makes me wonder what might be wrong with Osgood.  Perhaps he’s injured or just not looking good enough in practice.  Hopefully, therell be some news about this situation soon.

Early in the first period Detroit got on the board first.  They had just failed to convert on their first power play.  I think it was the very next shift and Hudler got the puck along the boards in the offensive zone.  Lebda crept down towards the goal and Hudler made nice pass across the ice right to his tape.  Lebda put it in for the goal.

At the end of the first period the Stars had a long 5 on 3 power play.  Detroit held their ground thanks to some good shot blocking by Lilja and a great save by Conklin.  Dallas still had a few seconds of 5 on 3 left when the period ended.

The Wings killed off the rest of the penalties to start the second period.  Then Dallas tied the game with a goal by Wandell.  Maltby was trying to gather the puck in his own zone but he never really got possession of it.  Wandell came from behind him, took the puck away and put it in the net.  That was a pretty soft looking sequence for the Wings.

A few minutes later the Red Wings collapsed again.  Brunnstrom came streaking in from the neutral zone.  He took the pass on the fly just inside the blue line.  As he was driving up the slot he made a move to his left and Lidstrom bit the other direction which gave Brunnstrom the wide open slot.  He drove it in a little further and burned Conklin with the shot.  That made it two to one Stars and it was another pretty weak play by the Wings.  Babcock called timeout after that goal.  After the timeout the Wings got more scoring chances but they still pretty much seemed like they didn’t really care.

In final minutes of the game Detroit pulled the goalie to try to tie it up.  Ribeiro got the puck and he shot it into the empty net to give Dallas a three to one lead.  That was it for the wings.

There was one stretch in the third period where the Wings were playing like they should, but Turco was on fire and stopped everything.  If they’d played like that for sixty minutes they probably would have scored more than one goal.

The Wings are playing like a teams that’s learned over the first quarter of a season that they can play like crap and still be at top of the league.  The fact that that’s true is a testament to the talent they have.  However, when you get in the habit of playing like crap, I suspect it’s tough to crank it up when the time comes.

From what I’ve seen I think Conklin needs to work on rebound control, and the rest of the team just needs to work.  They did put the pressure on in the third period, but it was too late at that point.  They need to be working like that from start to finish.

Everybody assumes that it’s a Stanley Cup hangover because the Wings have basically the entire team back from last year along with a few great additions.  I think that’s a bunch of crap.  One thing that I haven’t heard mentioned but which I think may be a key factor is the loss of Todd McLellan.  Consider that he was an assistant coach for the Wings who was obviously of top tier head coach caliber.  That’s a pretty serious loss of talent behind the bench.  I could be wrong but I don’t see any other differences that could have had such a profound impact.  Unless you think that last year’s great play was all because of Chelios.  :-)  No offense to Chelly, but I don’t think that’s the problem.

This 3-1 loss brings us to:
19-5-4
42 points

Calgary at Detroit (12/10/08)

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

For tonight’s game the Flames faced the Red Wings in Detroit.  Conklin was given the starting goalie job again for the Wings and McElhinney was in for the Flames.

Everyone in attendance at this game received a replica of the 2008 Red Wings Stanley Cup ring.  That’s a great giveaway for the fans.  I’ll be looking for those on ebay this weekend!

The Red Wings got off to a slow start.  By the middle of the first period they were being badly outshot by Calgary.  WIth about five minutes left in the period the Flames were pressuring and Conklin made several great saves in a row.  Then Conroy got the puck in front of the net and shot it.  It seemed to deflect off of Datsyuk’s stick and went into the corner to give the Flames a one nothing lead.

In the final minute of the period the Flames scored again.  There was some action in front of Detroit’s net and Conklin stretched out on the ice.  Langkow shot the puck up and over him into the net.  

In the second period Detroit got into the act.  Draper ripped a shot / pass to the corner of the net were Filppula was waiting.  It was probably going just wide of the net but Filppula redirected it perfectly in.

Overall the Red Wings looked a lot better in the second period.  They got more shots on goal and had some good scoring chances.  McElhinney made some great saves to maintain the Flames lead.

Near the midpoint of the third period Moss scored for the Flames to regain the two goal lead.  The original shot came from the point but it didn’t get to Conklin.  It hit somebody near the net and dropped down near Moss who grabbed it and shot it in from a bad angle.

A few minutes later Detroit got that goal back.  Cleary shot the puck and the rebound dropped in front of McElhinney.  Zetterberg pounced on it and chipped it in before the goalie could react.

A few minutes later Holmstrom passed the puck across the ice to Rafalski at the point.  Rafalski walked it up to the top of the circle and ripped it.  McElhinney couldn’t see it because Franzen was screening him so it got past him to give Detroit the tying goal.

There were some very exciting chances at both ends to break the tie but it held until the end.  Both goalies came up big at the end.  McElhinney was especially impressive both at the end and throughout the game.

As the overtime was winding down Lidstrom ripped a shot and hit the top corner of the net to win it for the Wings.  Datsyuk provided a screen so McElhinney didn’t see the shot until it was too late.

The Red Wings started out pretty poorly in this game but they really buckled down after the first period.  It was a great comeback win.

This 4-5 win brings us to:
19-4-4
42 points

Chicago at Detroit (12/6/08)

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

The Chicago Blackhawks faced the Red Wings tonight in a preview of the Winter Classic which will be played New Year’s Day at Wrigley Field.  Tonight the starting goalies were Conklin for the Wings and Huet for the Hawks.  I always love to see these two teams play.  They both have such a long and legendary history.  Ken Daniels said that this was the 699th meeting between the two teams!

It took the Wings less than two minutes to score the first goal.  Cleary passed the puck to Filppula and he shot it on goal.  Huet got a piece of it but it got through him and trickled over the line.  Hudler didn’t get an assist but he was a big factor in that goal.  He was right in front of the net distracting Huet.  That gave Detroit a goal on their very first shot.

Then a short time later the so called third line struck again by capitalizing on a big mistake by Huet.  He went behind the net to play the puck but he wasn’t able to clear it.  Filppula took it away from Huet and sent it out front.  It was on Hudler’s tape in front of the empty net before Huet had time to get back.  Hulder didn’t hesitate and just like that it was two nothing Wings.

Later in the first period Filppula was sent to the box for a very weak hooking call.  On the power play Patrick Kane made a beauty of a pass to Patrick Sharp who rifled it past Conklin.  It was a bang bang play that Conklin never had a chance at stopping.

Then with about three or four minutes left in the first period, Toews tied the game with an amazing goal.  He made a great move around Dan Cleary and then faked out Conklin big time.  Conklin followed the fake to his right and Toews went left.  He had an empty net for the tap in.  It’s tough to swallow but it sure was a pretty goal.

At the end of the first period Hossa was called for hooking.  The Hawks went on the power play and with four seconds left Toews took a shot and Conklin went down to his knees exposing the top of the net.  Toews roofed it off of Conklin’s shoulder and into the net.  Just like that a two goal lead was turned into a three to  two deficit heading into the first intermission.

In the opening minutes of the second period Chicago scored for the fourth time.  Andrew Ladd was the late man entering the zone and none of the Red Wings paid him any attention.  The puck came back to him and he nailed it past Conklin.  There was a lot of traffic in front of Conklin which made it tough for him to see the puck.

A few minutes later it looked like Detroit had scored on the power play.  Unfortunately it was just an optical illusion.  Huet had lifted the net a bit when he put his skate up against the post.  The puck went under the net and in instead of between the pipes.  It was a great job by the replay officials and the camera crews to get the good looks at the play.  It was unfortunate for the Wings but at least they made the right call.

In the third period Conklin recognized that the Hawks were in a line change at the end of a Wings power play.  He came way out and moved the puck up ice to Franzen.  Franzen passed to Zetterberg coming up the slot.  Zetterberg shot the puck and scored to bring the Wings back to within one goal.  That was a really heads up play by Conklin but for some reason he was not credited with an assist.  I hope they get that changed because he deserves the point.

Around the mid point of the third period Hossa scored the tying goal.  It was a highly skilled, pinpoint shot.  He picked the far corner and nailed it surprising Huet a bit.  It was a beautiful shot

The tied score held until the end of regulation and then again until the end of the overtime.  Once again these two teams were headed to a shootout.

Datsyuk was the first shooter.  He waited out Huet and scored.  Then Toews went and Conklin stopped him.  Zetterberg shot next and Huet stopped it.  Sharp was up next and Conklin stoned him.  That left it up to Hossa once again.  He wasn’t able to score so Kane was up and Conklin stopped him to win it for the Wings.

This was another crazy one against that Hawks.  It’s always entertaining when these two teams play.  The Red Wings have a lot to improve upon after this game.  They can be happy though that they basically stole two points tonight.  It shows a lot of poise to rally back after giving up a lead the way they did.  Kinda messy, but we’ll take it!

I was really impressed with Conklin.  He gave up a lot of goals on a few shots but he didn’t get rattled.  At least a few of the goals weren’t his fault.  Nobody could have stopped them.  Not only did he keep it together but he got involved offensively as well and then made some huge saves to hold the tie.  Then he won the shootout by getting the final save.  Great job by Conklin!

This 5-4 win brings us to:
18-4-4
40 points

Vancouver at Detroit (12/4/08)

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

The Vancouver Canucks were in town tonight to play the Red Wings.  Curtis Sanford was in net again for Vancouver because Luongo is still injured.  Osgood was the starter for Detroit.

It only took Vancouver a minute and a half to score.  Pyatt ripped a wrister that was over Osgood’s glove and in before he even reacted.  It’s not that Ozzie was slow, it was just a bullet of a shot.

Not long after that, the Red Wings struck back with a beautiful play by the third line.  Filppula stole the puck and quickly passed it to Kopecky.  He tapped it to Hudler, who nailed the goal.  It was such a fast play.  It seemed like it was touched by all three forwards and buried within a second or two.  What a great play by those guys!

Later on in the period Lilja sprung Hudler with a nice pass up the middle that caught two defensemen standing still.  Hudler, at the end of a shift, out-skated them both and kept the puck in front of him as he charged up the middle.  He picked the top corner and snapped it home.  Not a bad night so far for Hudler!

Early in the second period Datsyuk was called for a trip after going for the puck and getting a little bit of skate with it.  On the ensuing power play Wellwood scored to tie the game.

Just  a few minutes later Raymond scored again for the Canucks.  It was a shot off the back boards that came to the other side of the net from Osgood.  It was an easy tap in for Raymond.

Around the middle of the second period the Red Wings power play had just ended and Rafalski passed across the back end to Lidstrom.  The puck bounced when it hit his stick so Lidstrom pinned it to the ice out of mid air.  Then he ripped a shot to the front of the net that was deflected up and in by Dan Cleary.

In the third period, with the score tied, Meech brought the puck around the back of the net and Sanford sort of hesitated on the wrong side of the net.  Meech wrapped around quickly and put the puck in the mostly open net.  It was Meech’s first career goal and it was a big one.

Just  a few seconds later Lidstrom picked the top corner on the short side and beat Sanford for another goal.  That put the Wings up by two.

A few minutes after that Detroit scored AGAIN, this time on the power play.  Lidstrom shot the puck and Sanford made the save but the rebound sat right in front of him in the middle of the ice.  He couldn’t really see it though because there was traffic in front of him.  Cleary saw it though and he popped it up and into the top corner of the net.  That made it six to three Wings.

Sanford was pulled after that goal and replaced by Cory Schneider.

The Sedin brothers teamed up for the Canucks fourth goal.  Daniel shot it and Ozzie made the save but the rebound came right to Henrik in the middle.  He shot it passed Osgood for the goal.

The Canucks scored again with a high shot and a tip down by Burrows.  It was reviewed to see if it was hit with a high stick but it was a good goal.  That made it a one goal game again.

The Canucks comeback hopes ended when they were called for hooking.  It was a very weak call but with the Red Wings on the power play they weren’t able to tie the game.

The Red Wings looked pretty good in this game but I’d rather not see such an exciting finish after being up by three in the third period.  We need to get better at locking things down when we have a big lead.

This 6-5 win brings us to:
17-4-4
38 points

Anaheim at Detroit (12/1/08)

Monday, December 1st, 2008

The Ducks came to Joe Louis Arena tonight after playing the day before.  Mike Babcock called out his team’s work ethic before the game and said that last year he knew that the Wings were the hardest working team in the league and that so far this year he wasn’t able to say that.  He also pointed out that Anaheim played the night before and the Wings didn’t so we should have more energy.  I think his point was that if you’re going to use back-to-back games as a reason for having less energy then you’d better have more energy than the other team if they played the night before.  It has to work both ways.  I hadn’t heard anybody use that as an excuse after the Boston game but I guess that was probably the assumption.

The starting net minders for tonight’s game were Osgood and Giguere.  Osgood had had a few days off and Giguere was just coming back after being off on personal leave for a family matter.  He’d been out for over a week.

Very early in the first period Detroit made an unforced error.  Stuart had the puck behind the net and Osgood thought he was going to clear the zone.  Somehow instead he turned it over and it was in the back of the net before Ozzy realized what had happened.

Giguere made some great saves early on to rob Datsyuk on a rebound try that looked like a slam dunk.  He didn’t seem very rusty for how many days he was away.

Detroit was badly outshooting the Ducks throughout the entire game but didn’t have anything to show for it until they were down to about 5 minutes left in the second period.  Lidstrom released a shot from the point and Franzen tipped it down and in from right on the doorstep.  At that point Detroit had about three times as many shots as the Ducks.

In between the second and third period Mike Babcock complimented his team’s work ethic and said that he was impressed.  That was pretty classy of him in my opinion.  It’s fine to call out guys when they’re slacking but it’s nice to be vocal with the compliments, too when deserved.

The Ducks took out Giguere and put in Jonas Hiller to start the third period.  Early in the third period the Red Wings took the lead on a great play by Cleary and Hossa.  Cleary entered the zone with speed and passed back and across the ice to Hossa.  He shot the puck and beat Hiller on his first shot on goal.  It may have deflected off of a skate because it looked like it surprised him.  

That was the end of the scoring for a game in which the Red Wings dominated pretty much from start to finish.  They about tripled the Duck’s shots on goal.  Anaheim tried to come back but they just didn’t seem to have any gas left.  It was a great performance by the Wings; much more like the Red Wings hockey that we’re used to seeing.

This 2-1 win brings us to:
16-4-4
36 points