Archive for March, 2011

St. Louis at Detroit (3/30/11)

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

The Red Wings played the Blues tonight at the Joe. Jimmy Howard wasn’t ready to go yet but he’s expected to be back on Saturday. The starting goalies were Joey MacDonald and Jaroslav Halak. Since Osgood is still on IR, Thomas McCollum was the backup. Salei was a healthy scratch and Babcock said he doesn’t want to rotate between Salei and Kindl. He wants one of them to step up and take the roster spot by playing well. Kindl has been doing a lot of that lately and is very much improved from the start of the season. Datsyuk and Draper were also out for the Wings. The Blues were missing Jackman, Steen and Oshie. Oshie was suspended by the team for missing practice.

This game was one of the worst stinkers I’ve ever seen. There were far too many goals to describe them all. Suffice it to say that Joey MacDonald was hung out to dry a LOT in this game. The Wings were ineffective at clearing the puck and just weren’t playing very hard at all. I don’t know if they thought the Blues would just roll over or what but they didn’t seem to be too interested in this game. The Blues on the other hand are pretty much out of the playoff race and had nothing left to lose. They were quicker and tougher than the Red Wings tonight.

After the fifth goal Babcock put Thomas McCollum in to try to wake up the team. The poor kid is only 21 years old and if not for injuries is probably at least a few years away from being a backup for the Red Wings. This was his first NHL game and he was just abused. He gave up three more goals on eight shots.

Babcock put MacDonald back in to start the third period. It’s too bad that McCollum had to play in a situation like this for his first game but at least he got some time on the ice with the Red Wings. Not a lot of people can say that. Everybody understands that it was a hopeless situation for him.

MacDonald gave up another two goals with help from the team. In the end the Red Wings lost 10 to 3. It was ugly. Everybody on the team was ticked off but nobody seemed to be able to right the ship.

I’m sure they will work heavily in practice before Saturday’s game and there will probably be a lot of self-assessment going on as well.

This 10-3 loss brings us to:
98 points

Chicago at Detroit (3/28/11)

Monday, March 28th, 2011

It was another original six matchup for the Wings tonight as the Chicago Blackhawks came to the Joe. Jimmy Howard was out of the lineup but luckily he wasn’t seriously hurt when Lupul fell on him the other night. He should be back by Wednesday. Joey MacDonald was the starting goalie and since Osgood is on IR, Thomas McCollum was called up to be the backup. The Blackhawks goalie was Corey Crawford. Datsyuk, Miller and Kindl were also scratches tonight. The good news is that Franzen was back in the lineup after being out with a sore groin.

The Blackhawks got the scoring started at around the three minute mark when Toews put the puck in the net after the rebound came right to him. A few minutes later Bertuzzi was given a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for elbowing Ryan Johnson in the head during a hit along the boards. He skated into him backwards with his elbow up. I’m not sure what he was thinking but hopefully there won’t be a suspension. The league is really sensitive to hits like this now. During the five minute penalty Hossa was called for slashing. While it was 4 on 4, Lidstrom ripped one with a pretty good screen in front of Crawford. He didn’t get a good look at it and the puck got by him, tying the game at one. Later in the period Seabrook scored a power play goal to give the lead back to the Hawks.

There was no scoring in the second period.

Early in the third period Zetterberg had the puck down low. He tried to pass it to Cleary in front but it hit the skate of Campoli and deflected into the net to tie the game at two. That score held until the end of regulation but, unfortunately, Zetterberg was called for a hook with just four seconds to go.

The Hawks started the overtime on the power play, 4 on 3. Less than a minute into the overtime Hossa scored on the power play to win the game for the Hawks.

It was an exciting game with a fast pace and great energy. The Wings played very well tonight but so did the Blackhawks. The shots on goal were mostly pretty even. The Hawks were 2 for 5 on the power play and the Wings were 1 for 4. Detroit had far more hits and face off wins. They also doubled the Hawks in giveaways, but also in takeaways. The only difference that really stands out is that Chicago blocked a lot more shots than the Wings did. Could that have made the difference in the game? MacDonald came up big for the Wings tonight. He kept the game close but it just wasn’t enough. Hossa was fantastic for the Blackhawks. He’s playing at his best right now and he’s a force to be reckoned with.

This 3-2 overtime loss brings us to:
98 points

Toronto at Detroit (3/26/11)

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

It was an old-school rivalry for the Red Wings tonight as fellow original-six team the Toronto Maple Leafs came to town for a game at the Joe. The starting goaltenders were Howard and Reimer. Bertuzzi was back in the lineup tonight but the Red Wings were missing Franzen, Datsyuk and Salei.

The crowd was really into it tonight. There were a lot of Maple Leaf fans who made the trip to Detroit and they were battling the Red Wings fans to see who could chant the loudest. Every chant of “Let’s go Red Wings!” was answered with “Go Leafs, go!” The Joe was rocking, for sure!

The game had a great pace and the score was tight through most of the night. The Maple Leafs are in desperate need of points to reach the last playoff spot in the East so they had the motivation. Detroit scored first when Zetterberg got his own rebound on the power play and banged it in. Toronto answered later in the first period when Kadri snapped one through a small opening into the corner of the net.

In the second period Detroit was on the power play and Holmstrom scored with his signature tip-in in front of the net. That made it two to one Red Wings. Later in the second period Boyce hit Rafalski hard into the boards after a pass. It looked to me like a pretty clean hit although Boyce did stick his right leg out a little bit as he hit him. Abdelkader was displeased by that and he stepped up and fought with Boyce. It was a pretty good fight but there was no clear winner. Abdelkader got the takedown, though. With a few minutes left in the period, Phaneuf cracked a pane of glass with a hard shot. As they started to repair it the refs decided to just go to intermission and finish the second period just before start of the third. The only drawback to that was that the Leafs were on a power play and they got a fresh sheet of ice to use after intermission. The Wings killed it off though so it didn’t hurt anything.

In the third period Lupul made contact with Howard in the crease. Howard was down making a save and Draper was on Lupul’s back. Lupul fell down on top of Howard. While he was pinning Howard to the ice, he swung his stick around and swept the puck into the open net. Incredibly, the goal was allowed. It’s pretty easy to score when you’re sitting on the goalie and I cannot understand why they didn’t at least wave off the goal due to incidental contact. I can see not giving him a penalty because Draper was right there and pushed him a little bit after he’d already made contact with Howard. But he clearly prevented Howard from having a chance to stop that puck. He prevented him from even getting up! As if all that wasn’t bad enough, Howard was also injured on the play. He had to leave the game and seemed to be favoring his left shoulder or rib area as he went off which is where Lupul landed on him. MacDonald came in to relieve him.

Just 38 seconds after Lupul’s tying goal, Hudler brought the puck into the Maple Leafs’ end and fired it from the top of the circle. Reimer missed it with his glove hand and Hudler scored to re-gain the lead for the Wings. The Leafs pulled the goalie at the end for the extra skater and Bertuzzi scored an empty net goal to seal the deal.

This was a great game with a lot of energy and a spirited crowd. The Leafs now need a miracle to make the playoffs. Since the Sharks also won tonight, the Red Wings’ two points keeps them tied for second place in the West. MacDonald was great again tonight coming in in relief of Howard. It’s about time he gets a win since lately he’s been playing great and still ending up with a loss or overtime loss.

This 2-4 win brings us to:
97 points

Vancouver at Detroit (3/23/11)

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

The league leading Vancouver Canucks were in Detroit tonight to play the Red Wings. The goalies were Howard and Luongo. Hudler was back in the lineup after recovering from the flu. According to the announcers he said he recovered by drinking lots of fluids and eating Doritos. Must be an old Czech remedy! Datsyuk, Franzen and Bertuzzi were all out of the lineup with problems that wouldn’t keep them out if it were the playoffs, so it’s not too serious. Osgood was supposed be back for this game but wasn’t able to go so he went back on IR and MacDonald was called back from Grand Rapids again. Mursak was also up from Grand Rapids.

Detroit played a great game tonight but the Canucks did the same. The Wings got off to a good start and applied a lot of pressure early. Luongo was incredible throughout the game. Howard was excellent as well, bouncing back nicely after a subpar game on Monday night in which he was pulled halfway through. The first period was a draw on the scoreboard but I thought the Red Wings were the better team.

In the second period the Canucks started to dominate. They weren’t allowing the Red Wings any time in their zone. However the Wings were also doing a good job of stopping the Canucks until they scored a fluke goal that bounced in off of Lidstrom. Daniel Sedin had the puck near the goal line. He threw it towards the front of the net and just got lucky. There was no more scoring in the second period.

Halfway through the third period the Canucks scored again. This time it was a scramble in the Red Wings’ end after they failed to clear the puck. Howard was getting abused by Kesler in front of the net and there were several things that could have been called penalties. After being pinned to the ice he lost his stick and still made several great saves in a row but he didn’t get any help. Eventually Daniel Sedin put it in the net again making it two to nothing Canucks. There wasn’t much that Howard could have done in that situation.

Later in the third, Hudler scored for the Wings to break Luongo’s shutout and bring them within a goal of tying it up. The Red Wings weren’t able to score another one though and lost the game two to one.

Even though they lost, the Red Wings have to be pretty happy with the way they played tonight. It was a good, tight game that was well played by both teams. I think every hockey fan would like to see a seven game series between these two teams. It wouldn’t be boring, that’s for sure!

This 2-1 loss brings us to:
95 points

Pittsburgh at Detroit (3/21/11)

Monday, March 21st, 2011

The Red Wings were at home tonight playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The goalies were Jimmy Howard and Brent Johnson. Datsyuk, Franzen and Hudler were all still out for the Wings. Salei was back in the lineup but since they were short one forward they went with an extra defenseman and Kindl was able to stay in. The Penguins were also missing two of their top players in Crosby and Malkin.

The momentum in this game swung back and forth all night long. The first period started out all Red Wings and then the Penguins picked it up. The Red Wings didn’t score however and the Penguins did. Dupuis and Kunitz both scored for Pittsburgh while the Penguins were surging in the first period. It was clear early on that Howard was having a problem controlling rebounds tonight and the Penguins took advantage of that.

Pittsburgh continued to dominate through most of the second period. Dupuis scored a shorthanded goal and then Kennedy scored to make it four to nothing. Howard got the hook at that point and MacDonald came in to relieve him. The Red Wings continued to battle hard. Their energy level seemed to be going up steadily while Pittsburgh was starting to slow down. The Penguins had played the night before and the Red Wings were rested so that could have made a difference as the game went on. Zetterberg broke the Red Wings’ goose egg when he scored late in the second period making it four to one Penguins.

Incredibly, Detroit scored three more unanswered goals in just over half of the third period to tie the game. Filppula scored one and then Cleary and Modano scored power play goals. With nearly ten minutes left in the game it was all tied up. The Red Wings really dominated the rest of the game but didn’t score again.

In the overtime it was all out war. The two teams went at it with scoring chances galore at both ends. It was really exciting to watch but it didn’t solve anything and the game went to a shootout.

Bertuzzi, Modano and Cleary were the shooters for the Wings and Johnson stopped them all. The Penguins went with Kovalev, Letang and Neal. Unfortunately, the final shooter, Neal, placed his shot perfectly over MacDonald’s shoulder. It was a really tough shot that probably wouldn’t have been stopped by any goalie in the league.

The Penguins got the extra point but the Wings showed a ton of poise to not panic and stick to their game plan even being down four to nothing. It was an amazing comeback and MacDonald deserves a lot of credit for coming into to a really tough situation and battling through it.

This game had a nasty edge to it. The Penguins were running the Detroit players every chance they got. Unbelievably, they were even dishing out shots to the head. I didn’t expect that after the suspension that was just handed out to Matt Cooke. Abdelkader was slammed into the boards by Niskanen who then used his forearm to pin his head into the glass. That was pretty cheap and unnecessary. That one was called at least, but a few other hits to the head were not called even though they looked almost like suspension-worth shots.

All in all this was a great game. It was very exciting and even without a lot of the big stars it still felt a lot like some of the Stanley Cup Finals games of years past.

This 5-4 overtime loss brings us to:
95 points

Detroit at Nashville (3/19/11)

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

The Red Wings were on the road tonight playing the Predators in Nashville. The goalies were Jimmy Howard and Pekka Rinne. The Red Wings were short staffed tonight since Hudler still had the flu, and Datsyuk and Franzen were both out with day-to-day lower body injuries so they went with one forward short. Salei was still out for family leave but Kindl was filling in for him.

This was a violent game.  The Predators were doing a lot of hard hitting and they seemed to be trying to hurt people. There were at least two elbows to the head in the first period alone and neither one was penalized. Lidstrom was hit well after the play at one point and it took him a while to recover. Helm was driven over the boards into the Predator’s bench area. It was really pretty crazy and almost nothing was being called. What they did call, though, was incidental contact on Holmstrom which negated a goal. He was standing at the top of the crease and Rinne bumped into him. I guess Holmstrom is breaking the rules just by existing anywhere on the ice that the goalie might want to be. The Wings scored first anyway, though, when they had a power play near the end of the period. Bertuzzi passed it down low to Zetterberg who centered it to Cleary in front of the net. Cleary chipped it up and over Rinne to make it one to nothing Detroit.

Early in the second period the Red Wings were shorthanded and Eaves went down and blocked a bullet of shot by Shea Weber. He took it in the leg and was unable to stand up. The puck was cleared deep but the Predators were starting back up ice so the referees didn’t blow the whistle. Eaves was crawling to the bench so that somebody could come out to replace him. Kronwall saw what was happening and decided to help him along. He used his stick to shovel eaves over to the boards in front of the bench where the linesman helped him the rest of the way. It was a pretty funny looking scene, although Eaves was clearly in a lot of pain. I can’t say I’ve ever seen that happen before. It was a real display of guts by Eaves to struggle to the bench and some quick thinking by Kronwall to scoot him along. Luckily, Eaves wasn’t seriously hurt and was right back on the ice a few minutes later. It must have just been a stinger that paralyzed his leg for a little while.

Later on in the second period the Predators tied the game with a tip-in goal by Geoffrion.

In the third period Nashville took the lead with a power play goal. Ericsson blocked a shot and it bounced right to Blum who was in perfect position to tap it in.

The Red Wings tried to tie the game but the Predators played great defense. Howard went to the bench for an extra skater toward the end but Legwand put one into the empty net and that was it for the Wings.

This was a good game and was well played by both teams. The goalie interference calls are starting to get annoying though. Also, the non-calls in this game, while sort of refreshing, were pretty unusual considering what’s called on most nights.

The Red Wings have two tough home games coming up next. Pittsburgh comes to town on Monday and Vancouver will be there on Wednesday.

This 1-3 loss brings us to:
94 points

Detroit at Columbus (3/17/11)

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

The Red Wings played the Blue Jackets tonight in Columbus. Steve Mason was the goalie for the Jackets and the Wings went with Joey MacDonald since Jimmy Howard had just played the previous night. Draper was a healthy scratch, Hudler was out with the flu, and Salei was still in California on family leave since his wife had recently delivered a new baby girl. Osgood was supposed to be back but he wasn’t quite recovered yet from his sports hernia surgery.

The Wings played well tonight. There were not a lot of goals in this game and they came early. In fact the game winning goal was scored just 33 seconds into the game. It was on the very first shift. Helm, Eaves and Miller enter the zone and Helm shot the puck. Mason blocked it but the rebound came to Miller who was right in front of the empty side of the net. He tapped it in and it was one to nothing Wings. Later in the period the Red Wings were on a power play and Franzen passed it through the slot to Filppula who quickly shot and scored to put the Wings up by two goals.

Although there was no more scoring in the game, the Wings allowed the Blue Jackets 37 shots on goal. That’s way too many but it was mostly due to Detroit getting penalized a lot, especially in the third period. Luckily, Joey MacDonald battled hard and got the shut out even though he was severely peppered by the Blue Jackets.

Rafalski and Datsyuk both left the game after hard hits. Rafalski went awkwardly into the boards and seemed to hurt his knee but in the post-game report they said he was fine. Datsyuk had some sort of lower body injury but hopefully it isn’t too serious.

This was the fourth win in a row for the Wings who seem to have recovered nicely from their mini-slump. This was also the 300th win for Mike Babcock since joining the Red Wings. He accomplished this feat in just six seasons. Only two coaches in history have hit the 300 mark in six seasons. They were Scotty Bowman with Montreal and Glen Sather with Edmonton, so Babcock is in some highly elite company!

Next up for the Wings is a road game in Nashville on Saturday.

This 2-0 win brings us to:
94 points

Washington at Detroit (3/16/11)

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

The Washington Capitals made a rare appearance at Joe Louis Arena to play the Red Wings tonight. The goalies were Jimmy Howard and Michal Neuvirth. Rafalski returned to the lineup tonight after recovering from back spasms. Eaves and Miller were healthy scratches. Salei was not available because his wife was about to deliver a baby, so Kindl got to stay in the lineup even with Rafalski coming back.

This was a great game between two top teams. The Capitals came into this game on hot streak having won their previous nine games. The Red Wings have been struggling at home lately so they had their work cut out for them.

The defense was pretty tight on both sides. There wasn’t much room in the neutral zone and both teams were doing a good job of not allowing the puck in their own end for any significant amount of time. The Wings seemed to be managing to get set up and cycle the puck more often than the Capitals, but it was tough at both ends. Zetterberg opened the scoring about halfway through the first period. It was a great passing play that went all over the ice from Cleary to Bertuzzi to Rafalski and finally to Zetterberg who slapped it home. Just a few seconds later, though, Carlson scored to tie it up for the Capitals. Howard was screened by Datsyuk and didn’t see the puck until it was too late. The Red Wings got the lead back again a few minutes later when they worked the puck down low and Filppula tipped it in from right in front of the net. The period ended with the Wings up two to one.

There was only one goal in the second period but it was incredible. Ovechkin entered the zone with speed but Stuart was right on him. Stuart appeared to have his stick in the way but Ovechkin still managed to release a blistering shot that I don’t think any goalie in the league would have stopped. From an impartial viewpoint it was a thing of beauty. It was a great display of Ovechkin’s abilities but unfortunately it cost the Red Wings a goal to witness it.

In the third period the Red Wings were on the power play and Zetterberg took the puck in deep. As he passed Neuvirth he let go a backhand shot that found the tiniest of holes over the goalie’s shoulder. Even in slow motion it was tough to see how that puck got into the net but it did, and the Wings had the lead again.

At the end of the game the Caps pulled the goalie and Zetterberg was on the ice hoping for a hat trick with the net empty but there was no more scoring.

Both teams played really well tonight. It was great to see the Wings step it up and play well at home against a tough team. Rafalski had assists on all three goals so clearly it’s nice to have him back in the lineup.

This 2-3 win brings us to:
92 points

Detroit at St. Louis (3/12/11)

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

The Red Wings were on the road tonight playing the Blues in St. Louis. The goalies were Jimmy Howard and Jaroslav Halak. Rafalski was still out but he’s expected to be back in the lineup by Wednesday. Osgood is also expected back sometime next week.

Detroit played pretty well in the first period but it seemed like the Blues were getting too much time in the Red Wings’ zone. During one example of this, the Blues scored the first goal of the game when Cracknell fired a snapper that beat Howard. The lead didn’t last long though as Salei scored just a few seconds later and then Helm scored just 16 seconds after that. The shots on goal were pretty even but Detroit ended the period with the lead.

The second period was also pretty even. Near the end of the period Detroit was on the power play and Kronwall ripped one from high in the slot. It deflected off the stick of one of the Blues and went into the net. That made it three to one Wings at the second intermission.

Early in the third period the Red Wings had a bit of a collapse. The Blues were getting too much time in the offensive zone and were moving the puck well. First Backes scored after the Blues played keep away in the Red Wings’ end for a while. Then a few minutes later D’Agostini scored after the Wings failed a clearing attempt and turned the puck over. Suddenly it was all tied up again. Datsyuk had something to say about that, however. He made a great move between two guys and then went to the net, made another move around a defender and put the puck in the net high on Halak’s glove side. It was an incredible play by Datsyuk and it came at, get this, 13:13 of the third period. Serendipity! Then, just 80 seconds later, Abdelkader scored a beauty after going coast to coast with speed and using a Blues player for a bit of a screen. That made it five to three Red Wings. The Blues pulled Halak in final few minutes but the Red Wings held them off for the win.

I thought the Blues had too much time and space in the Detroit’s end during portions of this game but for the most part the Wings played pretty well. They were great offensively and did a decent job shutting down the Blues most of the time.

This 5-3 win brings us to:
90 points

Edmonton at Detroit (3/11/11)

Friday, March 11th, 2011

The Edmonton Oilers played the Red Wings tonight at Joe Louis Arena. The starting goalies were Jimmy Howard and Devan Dubnyk. Rafalski was still out with back spasms.

The Oilers have been hit with a bunch of injuries this season and they have the worst record in the league. That being said, they can still win a game on any given night especially when they play tight defense, their goalie stands on his head and their opponent gets lulled into complacency. Edmonton played a 1-3-1 defense for most of the night so there was no room for Detroit coming through the neutral zone. It was a frustrating night for the Wings.

In the first period Ryan Jones shot the puck and it looked like it was going wide. Instead it hit the inside of Howard’s right leg and deflected into the net giving the Oilers the lead one to nothing.

For almost the entire rest of the game the Red Wings tried to tie it up and the Oilers just stuck to them like glue. Even through many power play opportunities the Wings could not score. Dubnyk was incredible. He was very big in the net and his positioning was excellent. He stopped everything. The only thing that got by him was a shot from the point that Bertuzzi reached down for apparently trying to catch it. It deflected off his glove and into the net but the goal was disallowed because of the fact that he reached out for it. Even though it didn’t look like an intentional redirection, they ruled that it WAS intentional just because he reached for it. It was an interesting call and will probably spark a lot of debate.

At the end of the game the Wings pulled the goalie. Lidstrom finally broke Dubnyk’s shutout with a shot from the point with just 25 seconds left on the clock. That tied it up and sent the game to overtime.

With just 42 seconds left in the overtime Datsyuk got the puck. He went left to right across the slot with his defender laid out for a block. Datsyuk dangled and waited for him to slide by. Then he fired a wrister that somehow made it through a bunch of people and found the back of the net.

So after trailing almost the entire game the Red Wings came away with the win. Dubnyk played very well and deserved a better fate, but I’m glad he didn’t get it. The Wings needed this win as they try to break out of the slump they’ve been in lately. They head to St. Louis now where the Blues are home and waiting to play them tomorrow night.

This 1-2 win brings us to:
88 points