Archive for February, 2011

Detroit at Los Angeles (2/28/11)

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Detroit continued their road trip tonight in Los Angeles with a game against the Kings. The starting goaltenders were Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Quick. Franzen was out of the lineup tonight to stay home with his wife who just delivered their first child on Sunday. Congratulations to the Franzen family! Rafalski had joined the team but wasn’t able to play so Kindl was in instead.

The first period was a little bit strange. I didn’t feel like Detroit was playing very well and yet by the end of the period they were winning three to one. Early in the period Howard went to catch a puck that was lobbed up in the air but was coming in on net. He seemed to lose it in the lights and missed in. The Kings went after it and Helm took a hooking call trying to prevent their scoring chance. On the ensuing power play Howard got beat for a goal when Handzus popped in a rebound. A few minutes later Miller answered with a shot that snuck between Quick’s pads and into the net. Then, just 30 seconds later, Hudler shot the puck towards the net and Cleary knocked it down and in. Just like that the Wings had the lead. Near the end of the period Lidstrom scored with a nice power play blast that got through a bunch of bodies and went off the post and in. Even with all the scoring it seemed like L.A. was playing better than the Wings. Their fore check especially was much more effective than Detroit’s. L.A. seemed to be controlling the puck more but it’s hard to complain about a two goal lead!

In the second period I thought the Wings started playing a lot better. They were more aggressive on the loose pucks, they were faster and they controlled the play a lot more. There was no scoring though until the very end of the period. The Wings were on the power play and Datsyuk made a great play to keep the puck in the zone. Then he took it to the net and snapped it over Quick’s shoulder. That made it four to one Red Wings at the end of the second.

Hudler was called for hooking immediately when the third period started so the Kings thought they could get back into the game. Helm had other plans. He made great move to chip the puck away from one of the Kings players and started up ice with it. He blasted it and beat Quick five-hole for a shorthanded goal that put Detroit four goals up on the Kings. Then Miller scored his second of the night and Hudler scored one, too. Those three goals were the Red Wings’ first three shots of the period. After Miller’s second goal the Kings pulled Quick and put in Bernier. The Kings scored three goals in the second half of the third period but at the point nobody was all that interested anymore so I don’t think we should worry too much about the late goals.

So the Wings have won two out of two so far on this road trip. Now they head to Anaheim for a game on Wednesday night.

This 7-4 win brings us to:
84 points

Detroit at Buffalo (2/26/11)

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

The Red Wings started their five game road trip tonight in Buffalo. Joey MacDonald was in net for the Wings and the Sabres started Ryan Miller. Filppula and Modano both returned to the lineup tonight so that’s excellent news for the Wings. Mursak was sent back to Grand Rapids and unfortunately Drew Miller was a healthy scratch. He had been expecting to compete against his brother and his parents and other family members were on hand to watch the game live so it’s too bad he wasn’t in the lineup. Rafalski was out with back spasms but he’ll be joining the team for the rest of the road trip. They’ll return to Detroit to pick him up and drop off Franzen so he can be with his wife who’s expecting to deliver their first child soon. Salei’s wife is also about to deliver a baby but they live near L.A. so when the Wings land there he’ll be heading right out to join her.

It started out like a home game for Detroit in the sense that they were badly outplayed in the first period and spotted the Sabres two goals. The Sabres outshot the Wings 15 to 7 in the first period. Their first goal was a rare one by defenseman Sekera. It was a hell of a shot though. He roofed a backhander perfectly over MacDonald’s shoulder. Their second goal was a wrister by Grier. So the Wings ended the first period down two to nothing. Having just played the night before, the Sabres seemed more warmed up than tired.

In the second period the Red Wings got back to their game. They started playing much better defensively and scored a power play goal. Datsyuk shot from the slot area and the rebound came right back to him. He snapped it back at the net before Miller could get himself reset. That brought the Wings to within one.

In the third period the Sabres just collapsed back to their own end and played a purely defensive game. They had no fore check and were content to just dump the puck back into the Red Wings’ end whenever they got it. That meant that Detroit had lots of time in Buffalo’s z0ne and were able to keep up the pressure. That’s a dangerous thing to allow the Red Wings but Ryan Miller was playing very well and the Wings weren’t able to beat him. Until almost the end, that is. In the final minute the Wings pulled Joey MacDonald and Hudler came out in his place. Hudler jumped over the boards and charged straight for the net. Just as he reached the slot area a rebound bounced off Miller right to him and he one-timed it into the net for the game tying goal. The first goal of Hudler’s NHL career was against Miller in Buffalo so it was fitting that he scored one tonight and at a critical time, too!

The final minute passed with no goals and the game went to overtime. There were some great saves at both ends but no goals in the OT so it went to the shootout. First was Stafford and MacDonald stopped him. Then Datsyuk went and hit the water bottle with a beautiful backhand. Vanek was next and MacDonald stopped him as well. So, Hudler came up next with the game on his stick. He moved in on Miller, made a few dekes and then released the same backhand shot that Datsyuk had scored with. The puck hit the crossbar and bounced off Miller’s back and into the net for the game winner. Hudler was mobbed by the team and the Wings checked off a win to start their road trip.

It was a great comeback for the Wings and a great game for Hudler. After being outshot in the first period, the Wings outshot the Sabres in the second and third periods 12 to 7 and 16 to 7, respectively. They really need to get these slow starts under control though because this won’t cut it in the playoffs.

This 3-2 win brings us to:
82 points

Dallas at Detroit (2/24/11)

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

The Dallas Stars came to Joe Louis Arena to play the Red Wings tonight. The goaltenders were Jimmy Howard and Kari Lehtonen. Eaves was out of the lineup after being injured in the previous game. Luckily his knees are okay, it’s just a sore groin and he’s only expected to miss a few weeks. Mursak was called up to fill in for him.

It was another slow start for the Wings tonight. In the first period they were outshot by the Stars even though they had two power plays. Ribeiro scored towards the end of the period and then, even worse, Loui Eriksson scored a shorthanded goal with just a few seconds left. So the Red Wings went to the dressing room down two to nothing after one period.

Detroit came to life in the second period. Early on it looked like Rafalski had scored but the goal was waved off because of incidental contact between Holmstrom and Lehtonen. About halfway through the period Barch scored to make it three to nothing Stars. A few seconds later things started to get nasty after Ribeiro gave Howard a jab and a lot of pushing and shoving ensued. No actual fights broke out but there was a long list of penalties. There was no more scoring in the second period so the Wings were down three to nothing to start the third.

Early in the third period tempers flared when Ott started slashing at Franzen. Ericsson took exception to it and dropped the gloves. Ott landed a few punches towards the end but it was pretty clear that Ericsson won the fight. That’s saying something since Ott is a pretty experienced fighter. Towards the end of the period the Red Wings finally got on the board when Holmstrom scored a power play goal. They pulled goalie in the final few minutes but Langenbrunner scored an empty netter and that was all she wrote.

Once the Wings got going they badly outshot the Stars but Lehtonen played remarkably well and they had already spotted them two goals by that point. Detroit hasn’t been playing very well at home lately; maybe they’re too comfortable there. The good news is that the next five games are on the road.

This 4-1 loss brings us to:
80 points

San Jose at Detroit (2/22/11)

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

The Red Wings hosted the San Jose Sharks tonight at Joe Louis Arena. The goalies were Howard and Niemi.

Detroit seemed to be playing really well early in the period but they started to get into penalty trouble about halfway through. Ericsson had a four minute high-sticking penalty and a few minutes later Lidstrom was called for another high-sticking penalty; this one for two minutes. The Sharks had a full two minutes of 5 on 3 power play time. The Wings successfully killed off all that penalty time but at the end of the period Hudler was called for holding and the Sharks scored a power play goal with just a few seconds left in the period. That gave the Sharks a boost and was somewhat demoralizing for Detroit after getting through all the penalty time they endured throughout the first period.

There was a lot scoring in the second period. Cleary scored two goals that were nicely set up by Hudler. The Sharks had goals from Clowe and Setoguchi. Halfway through the period Eaves collided with Torrey Mitchell and injured one or both of his legs. He labored to the bench and went straight to the dressing room and did not return.

In the third period the Wings were battling to tie the game when Setoguchi scored again to put the Sharks up by two. Towards the end of the period Heatley took an interference penalty and Zetterberg scored a power play goal. That pulled the Wings to within one. They pulled Howard for an extra skater as much as possible in the final minute but they weren’t able to tie the game.

This game was quite a battle. Detroit had 38 shots on goal and San Jose had 43. There was some great goaltending going on for both sides. I thought Detroit had the better scoring chances overall but Niemi was just superb.

This 4-3 loss brings us to:
80 points

Detroit at Minnesota (2/20/11)

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

The Red Wings spent Hockey Day in America in Minnesota for an early afternoon game against the Wild. The goalies were Jimmy Howard and Niklas Backstrom. This was a milestone game for Todd Bertuzzi who was playing in number 1000 of his career. Mike Ilitch flew Bertuzzi’s family in to Minnesota for the game so they could be there to witness his milestone.

This was a very defensive game. Neither team gave up much to the other. The chances were mostly all kept to the outside and there weren’t a lot of rebounds. It turned in to quite a goaltending battle as there were no goals scored until the third period. There were a lot of great saves though, mostly by Backstrom since Howard wasn’t challenged as much by the Wild’s shots. He was calm and poised however and was always ready when shots came his way.

In the third period the Wings got on the board when Hudler found Lidstrom entering the slot and made a nice pass to him. Lidstrom slapped it by Backstrom and made it one to nothing Wings. Just a few minutes later the Wings turned the puck over to Havlat who took off all alone to the Red Wings’ net. He made a nice move and beat Howard with a shot to tie the game.

From that point on the goaltending dual resumed and both goalies were stellar. Through the rest of regulation and through the overtime period they gave up nothing.

Datsyuk was the first shooter in the shootout and he scored a beauty. Then Howard made a save on Bouchard, Hudler missed the net and Howard made a save on Cullen. Bertuzzi was up next with a chance for the game winner in his 1000th game and in front of his family and friends. He took a leisurely pace toward the net, got in tight and shot a backhander up and over Backstrom to win the game.

What a great memory that will be for Bertuzzi and his family. Of course after his game winning goal he was mobbed by his teammates and they saved the puck for him to keep. He was all smiles and I’m sure that’ll be one of the special moments of his career.

It was nice to see the Wings win in a low scoring, defensive battle. That was more of a playoff style of game. They’ve been in some high scoring games lately so it’s good to know they can still win a game two to one.

This 2-1 win brings us to:
80 points

Detroit at Florida (2/18/11)

Friday, February 18th, 2011

The Red Wings played the Florida Panthers tonight in Sunrise, FL which is outside of Ft. Lauderdale near Miami. Joey MacDonald was in net for the Wings and Tomas Vokoun started for the Panthers. The Wings were coming off a big win last night in Tampa and were continuing their father’s trip. Salei was back from his time off so he replaced Kindl. This was the second of back to back games for Detroit and Florida was waiting and rested.

This game was pretty similar to the game in Tampa. The Red Wings got off to a great start and grabbed an early lead. Bertuzzi and Cleary both scored first period goals to put the Wings up two to nothing. Bertuzzi’s goal was the result of an incredible backhand pass from Zetterberg. He threaded the needle from almost below the goal line to get the puck back to Bertuzzi in the slot. Cleary’s goal was an awesome second effort. His first shot was stopped by Vokoun but as he was tumbling passed the net he took a second whack at it and popped it in. But then the Panthers scored a leaky goal that MacDonald had at first but it trickled between his knees and slowly rolled across the goal line.

In the second period Datsyuk scored with a great wrist shot that fooled Vokoun. Then Wideman scored a power play goal for the Panthers. It was three to two Wings at the end of the second.

About halfway through the third period Weiss scored for the Panthers so we suddenly had a tie game with about ten minutes to go. A few minutes later the Wings entered the zone on the rush. Franzen had the puck and he held up at the blue line until everybody except Bertuzzi had gone forward toward the net. Then he passed it across to Bertuzzi who one-timed a bullet that hit the post and went in. That gave the Wings the lead again with about seven and a half minutes to go. The Panthers battled hard to try to tie the game again but they took a penalty with a little over two minutes left so they had to pull the goalie just get even. Only during the final 30 seconds did their empty net earn them a man advantage. They pressured but the Wings were able to hold them off and get the win.

It was another great road game for the Red Wings. The crowd was once again covered in red. Some knucklehead threw an octopus on the ice during play right next to the players. That could potentially be a dangerous situation but luckily it didn’t hit anybody and nobody tripped over it. There were more octopi throw after Bertuzzi’s second goal and at the end of the game but they were smart enough to throw them during stoppages. The Wings are really cranking on all cylinders right now. It’s so much fun so see them play well!

This 4-3 win brings us to:
78 points

Detroit at Tampa Bay (2/17/11)

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

The Red Wings were in Tampa tonight to play to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brad Stuart returned with full face shield in place. Salei was given some time off to be home with his pregnant wife so Kindl was still in the lineup to fill in for him. The goalies were Howard and Roloson.

This was the first meeting between the Red Wings and Steve Yzerman’s new team. I’m sure there were some conflicting emotions on both sides but when the puck dropped it was all business. The Wings had their fathers along on this trip and they had a few days off to have fun in Florida before the game. Apparently they did some golfing and went on a Gulf of Mexico fishing trip. There were several sunburned faces on the Red Wings bench.

The Wings got off to a great start. They had lots of jump in this game. It was text book Red Wings hockey. They jumped out to an early lead with a power play tip-in by Cleary and then a nice backhand goal by the opportunistic Datsyuk.

In the second period the Lightning seemed to get their game in gear a little bit. They were inspired after getting their first goal even though it deflected in off Ericsson’s stick. It energized them enough that they scored again a few minutes later with a goal by Steve Downie. The tie didn’t last long though. A few minutes later in the period Kronwall scored a power play goal that deflected in off Hedman’s skate. That was justice since it was Hedman’s goal that had gone in off of Ericsson. Then Abdelkader scored another opportunistic goal when the rebound came right to him on the empty side of the net.

In the third period the Wings continued to roll. Datsyuk scored a nice goal on the rush after a pass from Hudler. Then Helm scored a great unassisted goal after intercepting a pass and taking off to the net all alone and burning Roloson.

Detroit allowed 40 shots on goal, but for the most part they were poor quality, low percentage shots. The Wings were pretty much in charge of the pace for the whole game. There was a surge by Tampa Bay in the second period but the Wings stayed calm and played their game and it wasn’t a problem.

There were plenty of Red Wings fans in attendance at the St. Pete Times Forum. Whenever they showed the crowd it looked about 80% red. You could also hear the “Let’s Go Red Wings” chant a few times. Someone even threw an octopus which I don’t think has happened in any game yet this season, home or away.

Although Yzerman’s team lost, he hopefully at least gained some insight into what tweaks he wants to make before the trade deadline to make sure his team can compete against the top teams of the Western Conference. They’re already a really strong team though and if this were a seven game series I’m sure the Lightning would win at least a few.

This 6-2 win brings us to:
76 points

Boston at Detroit (2/13/11)

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Part two of the Red Wings’ home and home series with the Boston Bruins took place today at Joe Louis Arena. Jimmy Howard started in net again for the Wings and Tim Thomas started for the Bruins. Brad Stuart was not ready to go so Kindl was still in the lineup in his place.

This was an excellent game for the Wings and for the fans. It was such a fun game to watch. I was on the edge of my seat through almost the entire thing. The battles around the net were amazing and the energy level of both teams was fantastic. It had the feel of a playoff game.

The Wings gave up the first goal of the game pretty early on but they didn’t let it get them down. They continued to battle hard and Bertuzzi was rewarded with a gift when he received a turnover right in front of the Bruins’ net. He took his time and chipped it up and over Tim Thomas to tie the game at one. The Bruins scored a power play goal later in the first so the Wings went to the dressing room down two to one at the first intermission. They were playing pretty well though so I don’t think they were discouraged at all.

In the second period Datsyuk and Draper both scored to give the Wings their first lead of the game. In the third period Franzen and Bertuzzi teamed up on a two on one and Bertuzzi scored to give the Wings a little cushion. Detroit had to kill off a penalty near the end of the game and then the Bruins pulled their goalie to extend the man advantage right up until the end of the game. The Wings kept the pedal to the metal until the final horn and won the game two to four.

These last two games against the Bruins were probably as good as the Red Wings have played all season. And that’s without Modano, Filppula and Stuart. It’s so good to see that they can still play well after several recent sub-par games. If this is a taste of the playoff Wings then I think they’ll be in pretty good shape to go on a run. Jimmy Howard was excellent. The whole team played great defensively and played really well around the net, too. They had tons of second chances and tons of really hard plays at the net. This was textbook Detroit hockey. The Wings have a few days off now as they don’t play again until Thursday.

This 2-4 win brings us to:
74 points

Detroit at Boston (2/11/11)

Friday, February 11th, 2011

The Red Wings were on the road tonight to play the first half of a home and home series with the Boston Bruins. The starting goaltenders were Jimmy Howard and Tuukka Rask.

This was a much better performance by the Wings than we’ve seen lately. They played very well tonight. They got off to a good start and kept up the pressure for the entire game. They were great defensively and Jimmy Howard was sharp when he had to be. There was a short stretch in the second period when they seemed to relax a little and the Bruins started coming to life but it was short lived. They essentially dominated the game.

Bertuzzi got the scoring started just 1:10 into the game with a great snapper. Then Cleary got one just a few minutes later when Hudler made an incredible pass to him as he was coming down the slot. Krejci scored a power play goal for the Bruins near the end of the first period to bring them back to within one but that was the only goal the Wings allowed.

Hudler scored a beautiful goal on a one-timer after a brilliant backhand pass from Zetterberg. Then Zetterberg scored with a great backhand shot. Bertuzzi got another goal after stealing a puck that was mishandled by Rask which he banked in from behind the goal line. The puck went off Rask’s pad and then off his mask and into the net.

At the start of the third period Tim Thomas came in to relieve Rask. That didn’t have much effect though. Holmstrom scored one standing in front of the net after Hudler made a great pass to him from behind the net.

The Bruins kept trying to get the Wings to fight but there was no reason for them to do so and I’m glad no one took the bait. They just held the lead coasted to the win.

This was exactly the game the Red Wings needed. It was good, hard-working win. They out played the Bruins all over the ice and they worked as a team. Now the Bruins come to Detroit for a rematch on Sunday afternoon. Hopefully, the Wings will be able to keep the scoring going.

This 6-1 win brings us to:
72 points

Nashville at Detroit (2/9/11)

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

The Nashville Predators came to town tonight to play the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. This was a rematch of last Saturday’s game in which the Wings were shutout three to nothing. Joey MacDonald started last time and tonight it was Jimmy Howard. Pekka Rinne was the starter for the Predators. Filppula was out of the lineup after spraining his MCL Monday night in the game against the Rangers. However, Holmstrom was back in action so it wasn’t all bad news.

This game was a serious stinker. The Wings didn’t get a good start and they never really got it going. There were a few short bursts of good pressure but defensively they just weren’t effective. Jimmy Howard wasn’t to blame for the goals. The Predators just had their way with the Wings. They got in behind defense easily and had lots of second chances. About halfway through the game Howard was pulled and MacDonald was put in but even that didn’t seem to motivate the team.

The only high note was the Ruslan Salei finally got his first goal as Red Wing. Unfortunately, it was the only goal of the game for the Wings.

This was a very weak effort by the Red Wings. I don’t know how to explain it. It seems like they’ve just lost their mental edge. I also think the loss of Brad Stuart has been much more devastating than people realize. That’s no excuse though.

They have a home and home coming up with the Bruins on Friday and Sunday, so hopefully they’ll get their act together before then.

This 4-1 loss brings us to:
70 points