Archive for April, 2011

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 1 (4/29/11)

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Round two finally got underway for the Red Wings tonight after what seemed like an eternity of down time. The rest was just what the doctor ordered for Franzen and Zetterberg who were both back in the lineup tonight. Draper and Modano were healthy scratches. The goalies were Howard and Niemi.

The Red Wings scored the opening goal in the first period when Datsyuk made a nice feed to Lidstrom in the slot. Lidstrom slapped it past Niemi to give the Wings the first lead of the series. For the rest of the game Jimmy Howard faced a barrage of shots from San Jose. For the most part though, I thought the Sharks’ chances were not very dangerous. Even though the Wings were outshot for most of the game, I felt like they had the better opportunities to score. Jimmy Howard was superb and the Red Wings defense did a great job of keeping the Sharks to low percentage shots.

In the third period Bertuzzi was called for boarding. It was a marginal call and I thought Pavelski overreacted. It certainly wasn’t flagrant, but Pavelski reacted like he’d just been hit in the back with a sledgehammer and collapsed into the boards in a heap. It’s amazing how getting hit up high can make your legs give out like that. Of course the San Jose broadcasters from CSN didn’t have a problem with the call. They also blind to Pavelski’s knee hitting Jimmy Howard in the head earlier in the game. No matter how many times they watched the replay all they ever saw a simple snow shower. The knee wasn’t that bad in my opinion but neither was Howard’s shove afterwards. I would have had no problem with them not calling anything on the play but if they’re going to call one it’s only fair that they should call both, which is what they did. The CSN crew seemed to think that only Howard should have been penalized. I don’t know why broadcasters in certain markets feel the need to spin things like that; as if their viewers can’t handle the truth. In Detroit you can tell that they want the Red Wings to win but they also want the game to be called consistently and fairly. Mickey Redmond will routinely complain about bad calls even if they favor the Red Wings, and rightly so. Nobody wants to win a game because of a bad call. These guys from San Jose seem to think it’s part of their job to skew everything to favor the Sharks. The broadcasters in Nashville are notorious for that as well, but I digress. Pavelski went on to score during the ensuing power play and tie the game for the Sharks.

The tie held until the end of regulation. In the overtime period Abdelkader was called for an accidental high stick that didn’t look all that violent but apparently drew blood because he got a double minor. The Wings managed to kill off the four minute penalty. Shortly after that Ferriero threw a puck towards the net. It deflected off of Kronwall’s stick in front of Howard and went into the net giving the Sharks the win in game one. Ferriero was a last minute addition to the Sharks’ lineup and it was his birthday so it was quite a special night for him to get the game winner in OT.

I thought the Red Wings played pretty well tonight and just got a bad bounce at the end. They had a good start to the game, Howard was excellent and, although they were badly outshot, I thought they did a good job of limiting quality scoring chances. They need to generate more offensively, especially considering that Niemi has been inconsistent in the playoffs. He was pulled twice in the first round. The Wings have a lot that they can take from this game and build on for game two.

This 1-2 loss brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to 0-1 San Jose.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 4 (4/20/11)

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Game four of the Red Wings’ series with the Coyotes once again featured a goalie matchup between Howard and Bryzgalov. Franzen was a last minute scratch due to a lower body injury so Modano was in the lineup tonight. Zetterberg was still unable to play.

The Wings scored first and, as usual, it was early in the period. This time, however, the Coyotes answered with two of their own giving them their first lead since the opening period of game one. Both of the Coyotes’ goals deflected in off of Red Wings players but Phoenix still felt a boost to their confidence and generated some momentum. Detroit was unfazed. They just continued playing their game and working hard all over the ice. Near the end of the first period they tied it up when Eaves tapped the puck in the net after being set up by an awesome play by Helm. The period ended with the score tied at two.

The Red Wings and the Coyotes each scored power play goals in the second. Hanzal scored for the Coyotes and Kronwall for the Wings. After two periods it was tied at three. I was starting to think they might be in store for an overtime battle tonight. It seemed to be the night for it since two other games had gone to double overtime earlier in the night including the Capitals and the Rangers which caused the national viewers to miss the beginning of the Red Wings game on Versus. I wish they could put the national games on Center Ice as well so that we don’t have this problem. It’s just a matter of time until somebody goes three or four overtimes and we end up missing an entire game.

Phoenix gave it their best in the third period and Bryzgalov was playing very well. The back breaker came at 13:41 when Cleary fired a shot with absolutely no angle and banked it in off the back of Bryzgalov’s leg through the tiniest of openings. It was an amazing goal and I think it really deflated the crowd and the players for Phoenix. Just a few minutes later Bertuzzi scored on a wrap-around that bounced in off the skate of a Phoenix player. With their hopes dwindling, the Coyotes pulled the goalie with about two minutes to go. After several players missed the net, Eaves finally nailed the empty net goal putting the final nail in the coffin for the Coyotes’ season.

So it was a first round sweep for the Red Wings who are really cranking on all cylinders right now. The best news is that they’re the first team done with round one so they have the most possible time to rest up and recover before round two. Hopefully, Franzen and Zetterberg will both be ready to go in time for the start of the next round. Way to go, Red Wings!

This 6-3 win finishes this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to 4-0 Red Wings.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 3 (4/18/11)

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Tonight it was game three of Detroit’s first round series against the Phoenix Coyotes. The goalies were Bryzgalov and Howard. The rest of the lineups were also unchanged from game two.

This game picked up right where game two left off; with the Red Wings completely in charge. Detroit jumped to early lead again tonight. Salei scored with a slapper from the point and then Miller tipped in a point shot from Kronwall. The Coyotes were two goals down before the game was three minutes old. That pretty well took the crowd out of it and it also put the Coyotes off their game. They were playing catch up for the rest of the night.

Filppula scored early in the second period and Franzen scored early in third. They were both great shots but Bryzgalov is taking a lot of heat for not being good enough in this series. Howard, on the other hand, was excellent once again last night.

On the Phoenix side of the score sheet, they had had power play goals from Schlemko and Whitney. They can build on the fact that they outplayed Detroit on specialty teams. The Wings were 0 for 4 on the power play and Phoenix was 2 for 3. There were some very weak penalties called in this game. The roughing call on Hanzal early in the second period was particularly ridiculous. I don’t understand what the ref was thinking making that call.

They Coyotes were pretty ineffective against the Wings. They did a pretty good job of controlling Datsyuk tonight but as a group the Wings just completely rolled over them. I don’t know if the Wings are just that much better or if maybe the off-ice issues are interfering with the focus of the Coyotes. Not to take anything for granted, but at this point my biggest concern is that the Red Wings will be over confident heading in to round two where they’re sure to face much stronger resistance.

But for now it’s time to stay focused on game four which will be Wednesday night in Phoenix. The Red Wings will try to keep it rolling and close out this series early with a sweep.

This 2-4 win brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to 3-0 Red Wings.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 2 (4/16/11)

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Today was game two of the first round of the playoff series between the Red Wings and the Coyotes. The goalies were Howard and Bryzgalov. Modano was a healthy scratch again.

This was certainly an exciting game! There were incredible individual plays, injuries and heroic returns, lots of violent hits, utter domination by the Red Wings throughout much of the game, and a heart-pounding come back by the Coyotes at the end.

Franzen went face first into the boards early in the first period and cut himself pretty badly. He was very unsteady leaving the ice. I was worried that along with the obvious cut, he might have whiplash or even a concussion. The crowd was really on Shane Doan about it because he made contact with Franzen just before the wipe out. It wasn’t Doan’s fault though. Franzen’s skate got stuck and he was losing his balance as Doan hit him. It was just an unlucky play. Doan is not a dirty player so I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. Incredibly Franzen returned in the second period after receiving 21 stitches in his face. You could see Babcock asking if he should be wearing a visor and Franzen was just shaking his head. When he skated out for the first time the crowd chanted his name. It was a great moment. Later, Franzen shoved Doan after a whistle and Doan gave him a face wash with the glove. I thought that was pretty cheap and probably hurt like hell after the injuries to Franzen’s face.

By the end of the first period, the Red Wings had three goals and the Coyotes had none. Datsyuk had a goal and two assists. The third goal was scored thanks to an incredible move by Datsyuk. He came in on Bryzgalov showing backhand but Bryzgalov was well-positioned. Datsyuk pulled the puck back between his own legs and got off a great shot. Even though it surprised Bryzgalov he still made the save, but he kicked a juicy rebound right out to the slot where the trailer, Helm, was in perfect position to bang it in for the third goal. Earlier in the first period, Datsyuk and Rafalski had each scored power play goals. The Wings were on fire.

Detroit scored again early in the second period when Holmstrom tipped in a puck that was fired by Filppula. It looked like the Wings were going to coast to an easy win, but then Vrbata scored a power play goal to give the Coyotes some hope.

Also in the second period, Helm was called for boarding against Jovanovski. It didn’t look that bad to me at all. In fact, Jovanovski’s reaction was worse than the hit, in my opinion. He came up to Helm after the play and grabbed him by the chin. He held on to Helm’s face and yelled at him. Helm made no attempt to resist or fight back, which I thought took a lot of discipline. I really didn’t see what the big deal was but the refs gave Helm two minutes for boarding. Something must have happened though because Jovanovski left the game after that and did not return.

In the third period the Red Wings got into some serious penalty trouble and the Coyotes scored two power play goals bringing them to within one of tying it up. That made for a pretty interesting finish as they battled to try to tie the game. The Wings were able to hold them off and take a two game lead in the series.

By the time this game was half over, Datsyuk had made about three games worth of highlight reel plays. He was an absolute force of nature out there. He was totally in charge of the game in the first period and the Coyotes were powerless against him. It was a treat to watch.

The Red Wings are playing great hockey right now. Datsyuk looks as good if not better than ever. Howard is playing really well, in fact I can’t think of anybody who isn’t pulling their weight. Now they shift to Phoenix for game three on Monday night.

This 3-4 win brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to 2-0 Red Wings.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 1 (4/13/11)

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

The Red Wings and the Coyotes opened round one of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight at Joe Louis Arena. The goalies were Jimmy Howard and Ilya Bryzgalov. Zetterberg was sidelined with a lower body injury and is day to day. Hopefully, he’ll be ready to play by game two on Saturday. Modano was a healthy scratch.

The Red Wings got off to a little bit of a slow start tonight. They weren’t really playing badly but they made a mistake early and Turris scored with a perfect shot over Howard’s glove. Then the Wings got into some penalty trouble and had to kill off a 5 on 3. They did that and built some momentum from it along with some help from the fans.

In the second period the Red Wings really ramped up their play. The started to really dominate like we know they can. Datsyuk was really working and he scored the first Detroit goal with a nice wrap around that Bryzgalov wasn’t expecting. Then Franzen fired a long shot using the defense a partial screen and beat Bryzgalov again. Suddenly, the Wings were up two to one. Towards the end of the second period Rafalski scored on the power play giving the Red Wings a two goal lead.

Hudler scored with a beautiful shot over Bryzgalov’s glove hand in the third period. Vrbata scored one for the Coyotes but the Wings were able hold them off from scoring any more than that.

Jimmy Howard was fantastic. He made several incredible and timely saves to keep the game one to nothing early on, and he did not get rattled at all after giving up the early goal.

Datsyuk was amazing, and Franzen also had a great game. Bertuzzi had a fight with Klesla that was short but much appreciated by the fans. While Bertuzzi was sitting in the penalty box the fans chanted Todd-Ber-tuz-zi with the same cadence as Let’s Go Red Wings. As the Versus announcers pointed out, Detroit loves spunk.

This was a great start for the Wings. I’ll be surprised if Phoenix doesn’t start playing tougher but the Wings have shown that they can really turn it on when they need to. It took a little while for them to warm up tonight but they’re humming now and hopefully they can keep it rolling.

This 2-4 win brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to 0-1 Red Wings.

Detroit at Chicago (4/10/11)

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Now THAT was more like it! The Red Wings wrapped up their regular season this afternoon on a high note. They had a lot to atone for after Friday’s lackluster performance in Detroit and they did so in spades.

The goalies once again were Jimmy Howard and Corey Crawford. The Blackhawks needed at least one point today to guarantee them a spot in the playoffs. The Wings were already in the playoffs but a win would earn them a higher seed.

Chicago played well in the first period but Detroit weathered the storm and there were no goals after one. The Hawks scored the first goal early in the second period. The Wings didn’t get rattled and continued playing well. Shortly after the Hawks goal, Holmstrom scored unassisted to tie it up. Then Datsyuk scored a few minutes after that giving the Red Wings the lead at the second intermission.

The third period was an all-out classic battle with a playoff feel. The Red Wings and the Blackhawks traded goals. Miller, Seabrook, Cleary and Keith all scored in the third. The Wings had to kill a penalty in the final few minutes and Corey Crawford went to the bench as much as possible for the extra skater. The Red Wings held them off for the win and forced Chicago to wait for the outcome of the game between the Stars and the Wild to find out whether or not they’ll be in the playoffs. If the Stars win tonight the Blackhawks are out of the playoffs.

The Red Wings did not have a single power play in this game. There were plenty of things that could have been called and at least a couple that certainly should have been. In one case Franzen was high-sticked in the face and bleeding all of over the place and there was no penalty on the play.

It was great to see the Wings finish the season with such a great game. They’ll now face Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs starting next Wednesday or Thursday. Hopefully, they’ll be able to keep the momentum from this win going.

This 4-3 win brings us to:
104 points

Chicago at Detroit (4/8/11)

Friday, April 8th, 2011

The Red Wings put forth another disappointing performance at home tonight. The Blackhawks were in town and fighting for their spot in the playoffs. The Red Wings were also there. The goalies were Jimmy Howard and Corey Crawford.

The Wings were behind by a goal before the first 30 seconds were up. It just got worse from there. They gave up three goals in the first period and were outshot 13 to 5. They turned the puck over time after time in their own zone and they just looked sloppy and slow.

They finally scored a goal at the very end of the second period. They came to life a little bit in the third and outshot the Hawks by a wide enough margin that the shot totals for the game ended up nearly even.

It was too little, too late however. The Red Wings scored once more near the end of the game but weren’t able to come closer than two goals behind.

The Hawks won the game 4 to 2. The Red Wings will have a chance for redemption on Sunday in their final game of the season. This is a bad time to start sagging. There just isn’t any urgency in the Wings’ game right now. It’s understandable, but hopefully they’ll start to feel the urgency quickly once the playoffs start.

This 4-2 loss brings us to:
102 points

Detroit at Carolina (4/6/11)

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

The Red Wings were on the road tonight to face the Carolina Hurricanes. The goalies were Jimmy Howard and Cam Ward.

Overall, the Red Wings did a lot of things right tonight. They played well except for a few costly mistakes. The big problem was that Cam Ward brought his A-game and the Wings just couldn’t find a way to beat him. They had tons of scoring chances and plenty of shots on goal but Ward was perfect throughout the night and earned himself a shutout. The Hurricanes were two points behind the Rangers for the 8th playoff position in the Eastern Conference, so they couldn’t afford to miss out on any possible points. That desperation showed in how well they played, starting with their goaltending. As well as the Wings played, they didn’t have the same level of urgency as the Hurricanes.

Even worse than the loss, was the fact that Zetterberg left the game in the first period with a lower body injury and was not able to return. Let’s hope that it won’t be the sort of injury that will nag him during the playoffs or sideline him altogether.

There are just two more games left for the Wings before the playoffs. They’re both against a Chicago team that’s battling to hold on to the 8th playoff spot in the West. We can expect to see some more desperation in those two games which are coming up Friday and Sunday.

This 0-3 loss brings us to:
102 points

Minnesota at Detroit (4/3/11)

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

The Red Wings played the Wild this afternoon in Detroit. Both teams played yesterday so the fatigue factor was about even. Detroit won in Nashville and Minnesota lost a home game to the Lightning. The goalies were Jimmy Howard and Jose Theodore. Datsyuk returned to the lineup today so that’s great news for the Wings.

After a statement game in Nashville yesterday there was some concern that the Wings could have had a bit of a letdown for today’s game against the Wild who are out of the playoff race. It turned out that wasn’t a problem for Detroit. They played another solid game and looked good right from the start.

The Red Wings had goals from Helm, Lidstrom, Holmstrom and Franzen. Jimmy Howard was excellent when called upon but the Wings did a good job of limiting shots against.

Another Red Wing goal was waved off in this game for incidental contact with the goaltender. This time it was Abdelkader in front of the net. I really can’t believe the call because Abdelkader was pushed into the goalie and he got out of the way before Brad Stuart’s point shot was released. There’s no way that goal should have been waved off. It didn’t matter in the end but this is a disturbing trend.

The Wild didn’t put up much of a fight in this one and the Red Wings rolled to a relatively easy win which clinched the Central Division title for them. Now the lowest they can be seeded in the playoffs is third. This is the ninth division title for the Wings in the last ten seasons.

This 2-4 win brings us to:
102 points

Detroit at Nashville (4/2/11)

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

The Red Wings were on the road this afternoon to play the Predators in Nashville. Jimmy Howard was back from injury so he was the starting goalie for the Wings. The Predators started Pekka Rinne. Datsyuk, Kronwall and Miller were all out of the lineup today for Detroit.

After the 10 to 3 beating the Blues handed the Wings the other night at the Joe, the Red Wings had something to prove here this afternoon. And prove it, they did. They played very well today. They were aggressive, played good, tight defense and they generated a lot of scoring chances without giving up much. They were also playing tough. Bertuzzi got into a fight with O’Brien not even five minutes into the game. It was a one sided fight with Bertuzzi landing all of the punches and taking O’Brien down to the ice.

There were some questionable calls in this game starting with what looked like the first goal of the game being waved off and Holmstrom being sent to the penalty box for goalie interference. On the replay it was very difficult to see how Holmstrom interfered with Rinne at all. To the contrary, Rinne shoved Holmstrom in the back of the head. Holmstrom was just standing there at the top of the crease. You could argue that Rinne wasn’t able to come out as far as he wanted to challenge the shooter but there’s no way they can claim that Holmstrom initiated any contact. Instead of the Wings being up one to nothing, the Predators got a power play. While Holmstrom was in the box, Abdelkader was called for boarding so the Wings were down two men for a short time. When Holmstrom came out of the box he had to stay on the ice to help with the penalty kill, which he isn’t used to doing. He accidentally shot the puck over the glass while trying to clear it. That gave the Predators a long 5 on 3. With one minute left in the period, Ryan Suter scored a power play goal giving the Predators the lead which is how the period ended.

Early in the second period Erat scored a power play goal and then Kostitsyn scored less than a minute later making it three to nothing Predators. It was starting to look pretty dire for the Red Wings even though they were still playing well; they just weren’t getting good results. Then Kindl fired a long shot that beat Rinne and put the Wings on the board. Shortly after that Bertuzzi and O’Brien fought again with essentially the same outcome as the fight in the first period. Bertuzzi landed several punches to the back of O’Brien’s head and then took him down to the ice. It was great to see Bertuzzi step up like that and the team appreciated it. It really seemed to get them fired up. They started playing even harder. They were first to every loose puck and didn’t give the Predators anything. Just a few seconds after the fighting majors, Abdelkader scored with a tip in to bring the Red Wings to within a goal of tying it up. The Red Wings pressured like crazy but the period ended without another goal.

In the third period Abdelkader scored the game tying goal. He was playing like a man possessed. It was the best game of the season so far for Justin Abdelkader. He was all over the ice and just doing it all. The Wings generated a ton of scoring chances and were throwing everything at the net but they didn’t score again in the third period and regulation timed ended with a tie. At the Red Wings’ end Jimmy Howard made some incredible saves to preserve the tie.

The Red Wings continued playing with great intensity in the overtime period. With about two minutes left in the overtime Rafalski fired a shot from the point and Cleary tipped it into the net for the game winner.

It was a fantastic game for the Wings today. They really bounced back after the big loss the other night and they had to come back from a three to nothing deficit to do it. They really showed a lot of character on the ice today. Abdelkader was excellent. Cleary also had a great game. They were the first two stars of the game. You also have to credit Bertuzzi for getting the team riled up and Howard for keeping them in the game with some very timely saves.

This win clinched a playoff spot for the Red Wings for the 20th consecutive season and also gave them 100 points for the 11th straight season. Next up for the Wings is Minnesota at the Joe tomorrow afternoon. Minnesota also played today, losing at home to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

This 4-3 win brings us to:
100 points