Archive for March, 2010

Calgary at Detroit (3/9/10)

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Tonight was another very important game for the Red Wings in their run for the playoffs. The Calgary Flames rolled in to town just one point behind the Wings in the Western Conference standings. Miikka Kiprusoff was in net for the Flames and for the Red Wings it was Jimmy Howard.

There was a really good pace to the first period but no scoring. The stats were pretty even. Both teams looked pretty good and were battling hard. It was shaping up to be a great game.

In the second period the Flames dumped the puck into the corner and it came hard off the boards right to Langkow. He fired a perfect shot that got up and under the crossbar making it one to nothing Calgary. It was a pretty easy goal for the Flames on kind of a lucky bounce.

Later in the second Datsyuk took a pass from Holmstrom as he was flying up the wing and shot a backhander. It looked like Kiprusoff should have had it but somehow it got through him and went in the net. That tied the game at one and gave Datsyuk his 20th goal of the season.

Nearing the end of the second period the Red Wings went on a power play when Calgary was called for too many men on the ice. During the power play Lidstrom fired the puck from the point. It was going well wide of the net but Holmstrom redirected it with the heel of his stick and scored. It was classic Holmstrom and it put the Red Wings up two to one.

The score held until the end of the second period. The hectic pace and playoff atmosphere continued throughout the period.

In the third period Bourque shot the puck and Howard made a nice stop. The rebound came to Iginla though and he quickly put it in the net to tie the game at two.

Just a few seconds later the same line was on the ice for the Flames and they started pressuring hard. Things got a little sloppy in the Red Wings’ end. Iginla fired a shot and it hit Bourque in the shin and went in the net. Just like that the Flames had the lead three to two.

Late in the third period Detroit had about a minute of power play time. They pulled the goalie to make it six on four. Just after the power play ended Higgins threw the puck down the ice and put it in the empty net making it four to two Flames. He must have thought they were still on the penalty kill because if he’d have missed the net it would have been icing.

That was it for this game. The Red Wings looked good up until the third period when it looked like they just rolled over. I don’t know if Calgary stepped up their play or if the Red Wings eased off but either way the third period was much different than the first two. The Wings were outshot 15 to 4 in the third. The Flames had a couple of power plays in that time but that wasn’t really that much of a factor.

It was a bad loss for the Wings. They just keep making it harder on themselves.

This 4-2 loss brings us to:
74 points

Detroit at Chicago (3/7/10)

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

The Red Wings were in Chicago today for an early afternoon game against the Blackhawks. Jimmy Howard was in net for the Red Wings and Cristobal Huet was the starter for the Blackhawks.

In the first period the Red Wings came out firing. They had a lot of energy and were getting a lot of scoring chances. Unfortunately they weren’t getting any luck. A few minutes into the game Seabrook took the puck all the way from his own end, through the neutral zone and deep into the Red Wings’ end without anybody bothering him. He shot the puck on net and Howard turned it aside sending the rebound to the other side of the ice. Keith picked it up at about the top of the circle. He fired it from there and the puck hit Rafalski in front of the net. It bounced off his leg into the net giving the Blackhawks the early one to nothing lead.

After the goal Detroit continued playing well. They had some really good scoring chances. Howard gave up another bad rebound which he put right in the slot and it almost turned into a goal. Luckily, they avoided disaster on that play.

Then Filppula charged into the corner to pick up a puck that Lebda had over skated. Filppula tried to tap it ahead just a few feet to Lebda but Lebda was expecting him to send it up the boards and out of the zone so he missed the pass. Ladd didn’t miss it though. He immediately ripped one than burned Jimmy Howard for the Hawks’ second goal of the game.

The first period ended with Chicago up two to nothing. Even though there were no goals I thought the Red Wings looked really good offensively. The problems that I saw were mainly some terrible rebound control by Jimmy Howard, and some bad giveaways and miscommunication in their own end. I thought they were battling hard and had a good energy level. Shots on goal were pretty even. Chicago had a lot more blocked shots and Detroit had a lot more hits.

Early in the second period the Blackhawks had a power play. They got the puck in the net but it was waived off because the referee said Byfuglien bumped Howard. It wasn’t much contact but the ref felt it prevented Howard from doing his job. He also felt that it didn’t warrant a penalty.

Then at the other end Holmstrom bumped Huet and WAS penalized. I don’t understand what the difference was between the two plays except that the Red Wings didn’t score. At the same time Bolland was called for tripping so it was four on four.

During the four on four Franzen was hit in the face with a high stick so the Red Wings had a four on three power play. Lidstrom passed across to Rafalski who one-timed it. The puck hit something, possibly Seabrook. It changed direction and went in the net bringing the Wings to within one.

Then, less than 30 seconds later, Detroit got the puck in deep. Filppula dug it out of the corner and passed it back to Lidstrom who fired it with Bertuzzi in front of the net. Huet didn’t see it very well thanks to Bertuzzi and it went in the net. That goal tied up at two each. The Hawks called a timeout at that point to settle things down.

A few minutes later Rafalski brought the puck into the Chicago end and passed it to Zetterberg. He shot it but it was blocked and then it came right back to him. He passed it to the front of the net where Williams was closing in. As Williams was falling down with two guys on his back he swept the puck into the net giving the Red Wings the lead three to two.

Just a few minutes after THAT, Bertuzzi brought the puck in and passed it to Filppula in the slot. He skated to the net and shot one that beat Huet. That made it four to two Red Wings. That was the end of the game for Huet. Apparently, he was a little bit rattled. Joel Quenneville pulled him and put in Niemi.

Near the end of the second period Bertuzzi was hit by Eager. They both fell awkwardly together and they banged knees on the way down. It took a long time for Bertuzzi to make his way across the ice to the bench and then he went right to the dressing room. He did not return to the game so let’s hope this won’t be a serious knee injury.

As time was expiring in the second period Kane tried to shoot the puck but Datsyuk took it away from him and started up ice all alone. He moved in on Niemi and shot it through the five hole for Detroit’s fifth goal of the game. It came with under three seconds to go in the period and made it five to two Red Wings.

Early in the third period Versteeg was hounding Zetterberg as he tried to get the puck out of his own end. He forced Zetterberg to lose control of it and Madden was able to tip it to Johnsson. He passed it across to Ladd who shot it and beat Howard. It was a great play by the Hawks and it made it five to three Wings.

Later in the third, right off a faceoff win, Keith shot the puck from the point. Ladd redirected it down and it bounced a few times and went between Howard’s legs. It slowly rolled across the goal line bringing the Hawks to within one and making it a hat trick for Ladd.

The Hawks applied a lot of pressure from then until the end of the game. There were several close calls but the Red wings were able to hang on and win the game five to four.

This game was quite a test for the Wings. They played one of the hottest teams in the league and held their own. They were even able to battle back and win after giving up an early two goal lead. The only real downside was losing Bertuzzi. Let’s hope he won’t miss much time, if any.

One unusual note about this game was that all nine goals were scored at one end of the ice. All of Chicago’s goals were in the first and third periods and all of Detroit’s goals were in second. Not even an empty net at the end was enough to get the puck in the net at that side of the ice. Weird!

This 5-4 win brings us to:
74 points

Nashville at Detroit (3/5/10)

Friday, March 5th, 2010

It was put up or shut up time for the Red Wings tonight. They were facing the Nashville Predators at Joe Louis Arena. The Predators were in 7th place coming into the game and the Wings were sitting in 8th. The Red Wings were in need of a dramatic improvement in their win percentage if they’re going to make the playoffs. It’s not being negative to say that if they continue at this rate they will not make the playoffs. We’ve known for a month or two that they need to start winning more in order to get in but so far they haven’t done it. They’re not out of the running yet by any means but there’s a point at which their fate will be out of their own hands no matter how much they win and that point is fast approaching.

This was the old four point swing game. A win for the Red Wings would mean they’d only be three points behind Nashville, and a Predators win meant they’d be up by seven. So it was a four point swing based on this game assuming it ended in regulation.

Tonight Ericsson was a healthy scratch and Lebda was in, paired with Lilja. Jimmy Howard was in net for the Wings and Dan Ellis was in for Nashville.

I thought the Red Wings started the game looking a little bit sloppy. Their passes weren’t connecting and they were turning the puck over. Then they had a nice play where they almost scored after the puck got through Ellis but it was cleared away by Goc before it made it to the goal line.

Before the halfway point of the first period Datsyuk made an am amazing individual play to put the Wings up by one. He was fore checking Klein and just completely picked his pocket right next to the net. Then he turned with the puck and made about four moves in about one second and shot it up and over Ellis into the net. It was an unbelievable goal, just beautiful!

Later in the first, after Nashville had hit a post and looked like they were starting to surge, Detroit got a power play. Datsyuk passed through the slot to Lidstrom who shot it but it was deflected off the stick of a Predators player. The puck ended up right on Holmstrom’s stick in front of the net with Ellis all the way over to the side of the net. Holmstrom popped it in and put the Wings up two to nothing.

After the initial sloppiness in the first period the Red Wings looked really good. They had a lot of energy and they worked hard. They more than doubled the Predators’ shots on goal in the first period so you can’t ask for much more than that.

The Red Wings had an early power play in the second period. They didn’t score but they pretty much had their way with the Predators passing-wise. They moved the puck at will and came really close to scoring. Ellis saved his team’s bacon a few times on the power play.

A few minutes after the power play ended Helm received a pass in the slot. He turned around with it and shot one that hit Ellis in the shoulder and then continued on into the net. It was a great shot by Helm. He had been having a very good night and it was nice to see it pay off. That made it three to nothing Red Wings.

Later in the second period the Predators were on a power play. Kronwall jumped on a loose puck in the Red Wings and sprung Helm on a breakaway. Ryan Suter was back to go one on one with Helm. Helm got a shot away and Ellis stopped it but the rebound came right back out. Suter whacked at it but he didn’t control it and skated right by. Helm didn’t give up and gathered it in again for another shot. By that time Ellis was out of position and deep in his net and Helm beat him easily for the shorthanded goal making it four to nothing Red Wings.

Just a few seconds later Bertuzzi had a great chance after jumping on a loose puck but Ellis stopped him. Then going back the other way Dumont made a nice move to step around Rafalski. Then he passed it to Sullivan in the slot who passed it right back to him. Dumont shot the puck and beat Howard for the Predators’ first goal. There was no chance for Howard on that one. It was a beautiful passing play between Sullivan and Dumont.

Early in the third period Sullivan had a breakaway chance after a Red Wings turnover. Howard came out to challenge him and backed in staying with him as he closed in on the net. He waited him out and when Sullivan shot, Howard snatched it out of the air. It was a top notch save and an important one. If the Predators had scored there they would have had new life in this game.

A few minutes later they did score though. There was a quick pass across the ice to Joel Ward. His one-time shot was so hard and fast that Howard didn’t have time to get all the way over. He just flat out beat him with a great scoring play. That made it four to two Red Wings.

The Predators had a power play a bit later when Franzen was careless with his stick and accidentally smacked Bouillon in the face with it. It was lucky that that there was no blood and he only got two minutes. He really nailed him right in the chops. The Wings killed that off nicely. Then Rafalski was called for high sticking a few minutes later. The Red Wings killed that one off, too.

The Red Wings locked it down from then on and the Predators didn’t really get any more chances for the rest of the game. They pulled the goalie in last few minutes and Zetterberg bagged an empty net goal with about three seconds left. So the Red Wings won it five to two.

This game was just what the Wings needed. They pulled together and everybody played really well. They got contributions from all over the place. Helm played great as did Datsyuk. Zetterberg and Bertuzzi didn’t score (except for the empty netter) but they generated a lot of chances and looked good. Howard was strong in net; the goals allowed were essentially unstoppable. There were a few mistakes but all in all I’d say it was a great game.

This 2-5 win brings us to:
72 points

Vancouver at Detroit (3/3/10)

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

The Vancouver Canucks came to town tonight to face the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Jimmy Howard was in net once again for the Wings. For the Canucks it was Roberto Luongo fresh from his gold medal winning performance for Team Canada. His head coach was Mike Babcock just a few days prior to this game. I’m sure that made for a strange situation.

Vancouver didn’t waste any time scoring. Kesler took a pass at the blue line and skated through everybody to the net. He made some nifty moves and caught Howard through the five hole. It was a great play by Ryan Kesler and it gave the Canucks the early lead one to nothing.

Later in the first period Zetterberg dug the puck out of the corner and sent it back to Jason Williams. He blasted one and burned Luongo, tying the game at one with five minutes left in the period. It was a beautiful shot by Williams.

Just 90 seconds later Kronwall had another scoring chance but he stepped on the puck and fell down. That caused a turnover that the Canucks started up ice. Daniel Sedin threw it to the net and Burrows tipped it past Howard. The Canucks had the lead right back again.

Early in the second period Zetterberg took the puck into the zone and it looked like he was going to shoot. He hesitated and waited for Luongo to commit. Once he did, Zetterberg released a beautiful shot that beat him for the Wings’ second goal. That was Zetterberg’s 200th NHL goal. It was great for him to score since Babcock had called him out a little bit after Monday night’s game saying that his line wasn’t as effective as they should be.

The tie didn’t last long that time either as the Canucks scored on a breakaway just a few minutes later. Lilja was changing and the Canucks jumped on the opportunity. Wellwood took the pass on the fly, skated it in, hesitated long enough to freeze Howard and burned him for a goal. That made it three to two Canucks.

A bit later the Canucks went on the power play and almost immediately after the faceoff Salo shot from the blue line. Howard was screened and never saw it. It went right by him and into the net making it four to two Vancouver. At that point Howard got the hook and Osgood came in. I don’t think Howard was playing all that badly. This was more of a message to the rest of the team.

A little while later in the second period our old friend Mikael Samuelsson shot the puck from far out near the wall. Samuelsson never looked at the net and Osgood wasn’t ready for it. The shot beat Osgood for the Canucks’ fifth goal of the game and their third unanswered one. It should have never gone in the net but it sure was a smart play by Samuelsson to fool Osgood that way. Things were looking pretty bad heading into the second intermission.

In the third period the Canucks went on the power play again. Daniel Sedin sent the puck from the point to the front of the net. Kesler was there and he redirected it between Osgood’s legs and into the net. Kesler was all alone in front of the net. Babcock did not look happy.

Later in the third the Wings scored a power play goal on a really nice play between Franzen and Datsyuk. Franzen made a nice move and dished it to Datsyuk down low. He continued to the net and Datsyuk sent it back to him. Franzen tipped it by Luongo and made it six to three.

That was pretty much it for this one. The Red Wings looked pretty sloppy defensively. They didn’t seem to have as much energy as they did in Colorado. They looked great on their scoring plays but they didn’t take care of business at their own end very well. Babcock will have some words, I’m sure.

This 6-3 loss brings us to:
70 points

Detroit at Colorado (3/1/10)

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Well, the Olympics are over and it was a quite a show. Congratulations to Mike Babcock and Steve Yzerman for Team Canada’s gold medal performance. Congratulations also to Brian Rafalski for Team USA’s silver medal. Rafalski was awesome in the Olympics including back to back two goal games. Paul Stastny of the Avalanche was also on Team USA. And, congrats to Filppula for his bronze medal with Team Finland. Filppula got one extra day of rest since the bronze medal game was on Saturday. The rest of the Red Wings’ Olympians had multiple days off since they didn’t make it to the final four.

There’s no rest for the weary as Detroit and Colorado jumped right back into their NHL seasons just one day after the gold medal game. Game on!

Tonight’s game was on the road in Denver. Jimmy Howard was in net for the Wings and Craig Anderson was the goalie for the Avs. One big bit of news was that Lilja returned to the net lineup tonight after being out for a full year. Welcome back, Andreas! Maltby decided to go ahead with his shoulder surgery so he went onto long term injured reserve which freed up the cap space needed for Lilja to come back.

The Red Wings didn’t waste much time getting warmed up. In the first period the Wings brought the puck up ice and Stuart dished it back to Datsyuk. Datsyuk passed across to Holmstrom streaking up the left wing. Holmstrom ripped a perfect shot and buried it to take the early lead one to nothing.

A few minutes later the Wings went on the power play. Lidstrom shot the puck and the rebound was turned aside to the corner. Holmstrom went after it and passed it to Franzen. Franzen walked it towards the net and fired it, beating Anderson and giving the Wings the two goal lead.

In the second period the Red Wings had a power play goal waived off because of incidental contact with the goalie. It was a very questionable call. Holmstrom was definitely in the crease but he hardly made any contact with Anderson. Apparently Kerry Fraser felt that he was preventing Anderson from moving freely in the crease.

A few minutes after that, the Avalanche scored. Chris Stewart passed the puck from behind the net to the slot where Stastny whacked at it. Howard stopped it but Galliardi was there to put it right back on net, beating Howard for the Avs’ first goal of the night.

Not long after their first goal Colorado tied it up. Stewart fired it on net and it got between Howard’s legs. This was one that he’d probably want to do over since I’m sure he could stop it nine times out of ten.

Just past the halfway point of the third period the Red Wings were on the power play. Datsyuk worked the puck down low and crossed in front of the net with it. It looked for all the world like he was going to shoot and the longer he held it the farther over Anderson moved. Instead of shooting he put a nice bow on it and dished it back to Lidstrom who was standing in the high slot. He received the pass and shot it into the net, which was wide open. Fantastic play by Datsyuk! That made it three to two Red Wings.

Colorado pressured hard and pulled their goalie at the end but the score held. The Red Wings won it three to two.

It was a great game for the Wings. The Avalanche didn’t play very well for the first half of the game but the Red Wings looked really sharp and had a ton of energy. I’d say the time off (for some) and the extra work (for others) has been beneficial for the Wings. Now they just need to keep it rolling.

This 3-2 win brings us to:
70 points