On Red Wings

Just another Red Wings weblog (but it's mine)


Posted in Red Wings with tags , , on April 21, 2010 by Steve Klein

Happiness ... or relief?

Happiness ... or relief?

So, at 2-2 in games following a 3-0 Detroit victory over Phoenix in Hockeytown, are the Wings finally in charge of this opening round Stanley Cup series?

I can see three equally possible scenarios:

With the series down to a best-of-three with two of the games in Phoenix, if Home Ice Rules, the Coyotes win in seven. Of course, home ice hasn’t ruled; both teams have a win in the other’s building.

Then there’s the Hockeytown Special: The Wings win in Phoenix Friday and at home on Sunday to win in six.

And then there’s looking at Tuesday’s shutout as the Wings’ Last Hurrah: The Coyotes win at home and win the series in Hockeytown. This one scares me. The Coyotes play like hungry dogs. They lack the Wings’ star power, know it and play with the kind of desperation that trumps talent in the playoffs.

Two of these three scenarios favor the Coyotes; the series is best two-out-of-three now. Will the Wings’ talent trump the Coyotes’ hunger? You won’t find the answers here. We’ll see them on the ice.

What I liked about the game: Quite a bit, really. Joe Louis Arena was noisy. The crowd helped because the Wings helped the crowd by playing well. The Wings hung in there. They killed six more power plays and have not given up an extra-strength goal since the three in the first game. Five of the last six penalties in the game were against Detroit; the Wings had to kill back-to-back penalties at 10:20 and 12:02 of the third period, which means they played 18 seconds down two men (AND lost the faceoff in their own zone to start those 18 seconds).
So, three things won this game: penalty killing; goalie Jimmy Howard, who made 29 saves; and the Wings best two players scored. Henrik Zetterberg scored the first (at 15:33 of the second period) and third goals of the game; he now has five goals in the series. Pavel Datsyuk scored the killer second goal after the Wings killed off the back-to-back penalties.

What I did’t like about the game: Faceoffs continue to be a concern. The Coyotes dominated the first period 20-7, yet the Wings finished with a 31-30 advantage, 24-11 in the last two periods. Also: The Wings continue to chase the pucks for shifts on end at times. The Coyotes really move the puck well. And you can expect to see more of that on Friday.
Also: Even without their best player, Shane Doan, the Coyotes were in this game until the final five minutes.

The BIG question: The three scenarios at the top of this posting.

Quote: “They were a very determined team without a doubt.” — Phoenix coach Dave Tippett

Mood meter: Trepidation.

Wandering in the desert

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , , , on April 19, 2010 by Steve Klein

Henrik Zetterberg can't contain the great Sami Lepisto.

Henrik Zetterberg can't contain the great Sami Lepisto.

The Red Wings had everything going for themselves except themselves Sunday. They literally had the octopus by the tail.

And then they made a mess of things.

From the moment arena manager Al Sobotka made a mess of the octopus he was swinging traditionally at the start of the game to an uninspired performance that peaked in its listlessness in the third period, the 4-2 loss to Phoenix in Hockeytown that put the Wings in a 2-1 first-round hole was ominous.

The Wings were home after splitting two games in the desert. In the second period, Coyotes’ meanie captain ran himself silly into the boards and never returned. Vernon Fiddler, who was making the faceoff circle his own private Arizona, didn’t play.

Yup, the Coyotes were ripe for a victory, and the Wings accommodated them.

Quote: “They just got better. With no Fiddler and no Doan, they had the puck more than we did.” — Mike Babcock.

What I liked about the game: Not much. I’m still looking for a silver lining and have’t found one. Oh … I’ve got one. The Coyotes. Credit where credit is due.

What I didn’t like about the game: The Wings best players were their worst players. Nick Lidstrom had a bad game. I hate to say it: He looked 40. He finished minus-3. His defensive partner, Brian Rafalski, was minus-2. So was Pavel Datsyuk. Henrik Zetterberg tried. It wasn’t good enough. There wasn’t a plus-Wing for the game.
Also: A goal 29 seconds into the game? A goal with 32 seconds left in the second period? A goal less than 2 minutes after clawing back to within one goal of tying the game in the third period? UN-Winglike.

The BIG question: Where’s Johan Franzen? (Yes, I know he scored a goal.)

Quote II: “When you turn over pucks, you look like you have no energy.” — Mike Babcock

Try, try again: Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. ET. Must win.

Mood meter: Sour.

Bettman … :(

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , , on April 15, 2010 by Steve Klein

Homer needed a little company in the scoring column Wednesday.

Homer needed a little company in the scoring column Wednesday.

Let’s be up front about this. I’m tired, I have a headache and I blame Gary Bettman. This is a blog. It’s supposed to be passionate. I can say that.

I woke up around 11:30 p.m. ET last night and caught the entire third period. Thanks, again, Gary Bettman for putting an Eastern Time zone team in the Western Coference, which means 10 and 10:30 p.m. ET starting times.

That’s why I’m tired and have a headache (although the latter could be caffein withdrawal or the pollen in the air).

But enough about me. The Wings lost their opening-round Western Conference playoff game in Phoenix to the Coyotes, 3-2.

The Wings trail the best-of-7 series, 1-0.

Game 2 is Friday (10 p.m. again, thanks Gary Bettman) in Phoenix.

What I didn’t like about the game: I only saw the third period (have I thanked Gary Bettman?), but three things pissed me off big time. You know the first (hint: Gary Bettman).
On the Coyotes’ winning goal, which came with 17 seconds remaining in a power play, the Wings failed to win a single faceoff. The goal came on a shot from inside the right point by defenseman Derek Morris. He also assisted on the first two Coyote goals, both on the power play, which should tell you a lot about this game even if you were sleeping — thanks Gary Bettman) — and didn’t see all of the game.
The third was a high stick by the Coyotes’ Vernon Fiddler — even I could see it! — to Nick Lidstrom‘s mouth (now how is NBC going to interview him before Sunday’s game?) that drew blood and took 5-stitches to close. The idiot ref said it was a Wings stick that did the damage. It wasn’t. “The (referee) would have been better off telling me he missed it,” said Lidstrom, who last complained about something a couple decades ago. The Wings were already on a power play. They should have been on another one for 4 minutes.

What I (grudgingly) liked about the game: That said, I was impressed with the way the Coyotes limited the Wings’ space. There wasn’t any. And Phoenix outshot Detroit 20-10 in the third period and was 3-of-4 on the power play while Detroit was 1-of-6. So the Wings had their chances, even without the phantom stick to Lidstrom’s face. The Wings outshot the Coyotes 30-15 through two periods and 20-7 in the first period. But if those periods were anything like the third, the chances likely came from the periphery. I didn’t see a lot of great Wings scoring opportunities in the third period.
If I had picked a score for every game this series, it would be 3-2 — first team to 3 wins, so to speak. I don’t see the Wings beating Ilya Bryzgalov four times in a game. I can see the Coyotes beating Jimmy Howard four times in a game, however.

The BIG question: The Coyotes were 28th in the league on the power play during the regular season. The Wings penalty kill was the league’s best the last half of the season. So what happened Wednesday night? The Coyotes won this game on special teams; the Wings lost it on special teams.

Good for the ‘Yotes: I thought they moved the puck fast (faster than the Wings) with speed and skill. And they really banged the Wings, a lot like Calgary or Edmonton always does in the playoffs. This was their first playoff victory since 2002, and they earned it.

I need to see: Goals by Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen. They had 11 shots between them.

Quote I: “The second we ran out of position totally and the third one should have been an interference penalty. That’s the way hockey goes some times, but the bottom line is their specialty teams were better than ours tonight.” — Mike Babcock

Quote II: “There’s a message for all of us. If you want to win at this time of year, then you’ve got to have a lot of determination and a lot of will. You’ve really got to compete hard. I thought that was a message that they sent tonight, that they’re willing to do that. Now, if we want to win the next game, we’ve got to dig in.”         — Mike Babcock

Mood meter: Pissed at Gary Bettman. But the Wings needed one of the first two games on the road in Phoenix. They get a second chance Friday night at 10 p.m. ET. Thanks again, Gary Bettman.


Posted in Red Wings with tags , , on April 11, 2010 by Steve Klein

Brad Stuart scores the OT winner.

Brad Stuart scores the OT winner.

I like the way the Wings did this on Sunday.

The Kings had already won their game in come-from-behind fashion at Colorado, 2-1, in OT. So the Wings had to win to finish fifth — which they did with a wonderful 3-2 OT victory of their own on a beautiful Dan Cleary-to-Brad Stuart pass for the winner.

So the Wings will open up at Phoenix — no easy match, but a better travel situation than the West Coast.

The rest of the matchups:

  • Chicago gets stuck with Nashville. Good luck, eh?
  • San Jose wins the West and gets Colorado.
  • The Kings get a West Coast matchup with Vancouver.

Score: Wings 3, Black Haws 2, OT

Final standings: Wings 44-24-14, 102 points, 5th in the Western Conference, 2nd in the Central Conference, 10 points behind Chicago. Considering where the Wings came from following the Olympic break and all the injuries this season, it feels like a championship.

What I liked about the game: The Wings finished 16-3-2, taking 34 of a possible 42 points. No team played better down the stretch — not even the Presidents Cup winning Washington Capitals — than the Wings.

What I didn’t like about the game: I’d be nitpicking faceoffs and 0-2 on the power play.

The BIG question: How will the Wings do against the Coyotes’ Ilya Bryzgalov? Or should we ask, how will the Coyotes do against Jimmy Howard? Let the playoffs begin!

Quote: “We’ve had a great run, but in saying that though, the most remarkable stretch for me was when we had no players, when we had eight guys missing and the guys hung in there and they battled and they chipped away and found ways to win games. To me that’s more remarkable than what we’ve done since the Olympic break. Since the Olympic break it’s been great, but we had skill to do it with. When we were doing it when we had no skill — or not near as much I thought that was impressive.” — Mike Babcock

Mood Meter: Celebratory.

Playoff opponents

Posted in Red Wings with tags on April 11, 2010 by Steve Klein

Today's goalie?

OK, this is still confusing, but maybe not totally confusing.

Depending on their game this afternoon with the Black Hawks and the Kings game at Colorado (both at 3 p.m. ET), the Wings could finish 5th, 6th or 7th.

Right now, the Wings are tied for 5th with Nashville with 100 points; Los Angeles is 7th with 99 points. However, the Wings lose all ties with the Preds and Kings. But the Predators are done, so Nashville finishes ahead of the Wings if  Detroit doesn’t get at least one point. The Preds win all ties with the Wings and Kings, who have 99 points and are 7th at the moment.

The Kings can finish 5th if they get to 101 points, meaning they must win, and the Wings don’t.

Whoever finishes 5th gets Phoenix.
Whoever finishes 6th gets Vancouver.

If the Wings win, they have 102 points and finish 5th.

If the Wings get 1 point, they have 101 points.
If the Kings win and tie Detroit at 101 points, the Kings get the Coyotes and the Wings play Vancouver.

If the Wings lose and the Kings win, Detroit could finish 7th and play San Jose (since that means Chicago wins and takes the Western Conference by tying San Jose at 113 points).

I think that covers all the possibilities. But as Dennis Miller likes to say, I could be wrong!

The BIG question: Who will Mike Babcock start in goal?

Mood meter: Great day in sports with the Wings game, the Masters, the Tigers and Cleveland and Paris-Roubaix in cycling.

Happy Wings

Posted in Red Wings with tags , on April 10, 2010 by Steve Klein
Red Wings Flyers Hockey


  • Since we last chatted, the Wings made the playoffs for the 19th-straight season.
  • The Wings reached 100 points for the 10th-straight season.
  • The Wings improved their post-Olympics record to 15-3-2, the best in the NHL.

Score: Wings 1, Blue Jackets 0, SO

Game #81 (1 game remaining on Sunday at Chicago, 2 points), 100 points, 5th place.

What I liked about the game: Jimmy Howard with the shutout and 22 saves … The way the Wings played the game.

What I did’t like about the game: I wish scoring was easier for this team, even when it’s healthy. But this was playoff hockey, and the Wings look playoff ready.

The BIG question: Who will the Wings play in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. And, does it matter? Maybe Phoenix? Vancouver?

Quote: “We got what we needed (and) got some exercise. The team played really well and everyone’s doing good.” — Mike Babcock.
Well, aren’t we jaunty.

Mood Meter: Happy. The Wings are playoff ready.

Ozzie, Ozzie … Ozzie?

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , on April 4, 2010 by Steve Klein

We sure don't get to look at Ozzie much, do we?

We sure don't get to look at Ozzie much, do we?

Back when I thought the Red Wings were headed to the golf course this month rather than the Stanley Cup playoffs, I certainly wouldn’t have predicted that they would go on a 10-0-2 streak and become the team nobody wants to play.

The team I don’t enjoy watching the Wings play is Nashville, despite an 11-round, 1-0 shootout victory in Nashville a week ago and a 4-3 OT loss in Hockeytown Saturday.

Both the Wings and Predators should be somebody else’s problem in the first round of the playoffs unless they somehow manage to finish 4-5 in the Western Conference. Now that would be just awful!

Score: Predators 4, Wings 3 (OT).

Game #78 (4 games to play, 8 points), 96 points, 6th place, 2 points (with 2 games in hand) on Nashville. The Kings are just a point behind (95, also 4 games remaining), and both the Avs and Flames, tied for 8th with 89 points, should be more each others concern than the Wings — as long as they keep winning.

Up next: At Philadelphia (boo!) at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC. I wonder how many times they can mention Sidney Crosby?

What I liked about the game: Pavel Datsyuk scored his 26th goal with 37 seconds to play and the goalie pulled to tied the game a 3-3 and assure the Wings of at least a point.

What I didn’t like about the game: Playing the Predators is just so darned hard. Could it be that the teams are so similar? If you watch a replay of the goals, they even look similar, especially those by defensemen from the point.

The BIG question: I really shouldn’t be doubting Jimmy Howard at this point, should I? Interestedly (or not), Chris Osgood starts against the Flyers for the first time since Jan. 27.

Quote: “I’ve got to get some games in, get ready in case I have to go in in the playoffs. Plus, it’ll be a big game. We’re pretty close in the standings, so it’ll be good to get back in and play. I feel really good. I haven’t played in awhile, but I’ve felt good in practice, and hopefully, I can take that into games.” — Chris Osgood

Mood meter: It can change SO quickly, even when the Wings haven’t lost in regulation since March 9.

Take a deep breath

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , on March 28, 2010 by Steve Klein

A good defense is the best offense.

A good defense is the best offense.

Breathing room. And, no room to breath: 3 points separate 5th through 8th place in the Western Conference. But Calgary has flamed out (knock on wood), and the Wings have a solid shot at finishing fifth.

Worth noting: San Jose, Chicago and Phoenix have certainly separated themselves from the rest in the West. Vancouver, with 94 points, suddenly isn’t out of sight.

Score: Wings 1, Preds 0, 11-round SO

Game #75 (7 games to play, 14 points), 91 points, 6th place. Wings are 11-2-1 since the Olympic break, 8 up on 9th-place Calgary (can we stop worrying about the Flames now?), and 1 point behind 5th-place Nashville with a game in hand.

Team        Games   Points   Place
Preds         76             92            5th
Wings     75             91            6th
Kings        74             90            7th
Avs            74             89            8th
Flames     75             83            9th

Upcoming: Edmonton on Tuesday, Columbus on Thursday in Hockeytown. Then Nashville again on Saturday in Hockeytown.

What I liked about the game: Jimmy Howard, the Wings’ MVP this season as a rookie. Calder Trophy? The defense. And Niklas Kronwall‘s shootout winner.

What I didn’t like about the game: Boy is Nashville ever tough. What a great rivalry.

The BIG question: Can the Wings keep it up with 7 games to go? Still too early to worry about the first round of the playoffs. The remaining question has to be how high can the Wings go. Suddenly, 4th place isn’t unrealistic.

Quote: “Shootouts haven’t been our friend this year. Howie did a great job, save after save after save. His confidence has got to be growing, that’s a good thing for him and it’s a good thing for us.” — Mike Babcock

Mood meter: Fourth the goal?

Wild Wings

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , , , , on March 27, 2010 by Steve Klein

Homer and Johan, so happy together!

Homer and Johan, so happy together!

So now we can think about Nashville. A lot. Mike Babcock is a terrific coach. So is the Preds’ Barry Trotz, even though he reminds me of No Neck Williams.

Score: Wings 6, Wild 2

Game #74 (8 games to play, 16 points), 89 points, tied for 7th place. Wings are 10-2-1 since the Olympic break, 6 up on 8th-place Calgary and 2 behind 5th-place Nashville with a game in hand.

Team        Games   Points   Place
Preds         75             91            5th
Kings        73             90            6th
Avs            73             89            7th
Wings    74             89            7th
Flames     74            83            9th

Upcoming: Two games in 8 days with Nashville — at Nashville Saturday night, in Hockeytown for a matinee April 3 (iPad day!). In between, Edmonton on Tuesday, Columbus on Thursday in Hockeytown. Detroit (8-1-1) Phoenix (8-1-1) and Nashville (8-2) are the hottest teams in the NHL the last 10 games.

What I liked about the game: The Wings have two great lines and one pretty good one. Against the Wild, it was the Pavel Datsyuk-Johan Franzen-Tomas Holmstrom line’s turn with all 4 goals, 2 by Franzen. Tough to stop Detroit the way Jimmy Howard and the defense is playing when they have three lines going.

What I didn’t like about the game: Dan Cleary, who is obviously injury prone, reinjured his groin.

What I like about today: Between the Wings game, four more college hockey quarterfinal games (most of them on ESPN-U), and the Criterium International (Lance and Alberto) from 2:30-4 p.m. ET, I’m not going anywhere today!

The BIG question: Whose the second-best team in the Central Division this year, the Wings or Preds? Chicago has earned No. 1 (but would you want their goaltending right now?) this season, but it’s time to put up or shut up for Detroit and Nashville.

Quote: “There were a lot of teams close to [the Wings] for a while, but they’ve definitely stepped up their game to make sure they’ll make it into the playoffs.” — Greg Zanon of the Wild.

Mood meter: Predatory.


Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , , , , on March 25, 2010 by Steve Klein

Whiner Crosby doesn't like it when the Wings lean on him.

Whiner Crosby doesn't like it when the Wings lean on him.

“Sleep is overrated,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after being asked if he was resting easier after the Wings’ 4-2 victory over the Blues in Hockeytown Wednesday night.

I’m not sleeping great, either, although I am resting easier about the Wings’ playoff chances.

Housekeeping: Servers were down earlier in the week, so I missed an update following the Wings’ 3-1 victory over the Penguins Monday in Hockeytown. The highlight for me came at the end of the game when the NHL’s favorite player, Whiner Crosby, expressed his frustration with Henrik Zetterberg with a couple crosschecks to the back for — horror of horrors — covering him like a Swedish massage all game. Zetterberg pushed back, but goalie Jimmy Howard decided he didn’t like Crosby’s actions in front of goal and gave the “Face of the NHL” a face wash with his big, smelly catching glove. Best moment since Johan Franzen yanked the mouthpiece out of Yakker Kane‘s mouth against the Black Hawks in the playoffs.

Score: Wings 4, Blues 2

Game #73 (9 games to play, 18 points), 87 points, 8th place. Wings are 9-2-1 since the Olympic break.

Team        Games   Points   Place
Kings         72             90            5th
Avs             73             89            6th
Preds         74            89             6th
WINGS   73            87            8th
Flames      73           83              9th

Up next: The Wild in Hockeytown Friday, then a big one in Nashville Saturday.

What I liked about the game: Have you noticed that Valteri Filppula (3 goals the last 2 games) and Todd Bertuzzi (2 assists vs. the Penguins, 1 vs. the Blues) since Babcock put them both on a line with Zetterberg (3 goals in the last 2 games)? … Nobody’s asking if Howard is the Wings’ No. 1 goalie anymore.

What I didn’t like about the game: This is a didn’t like/like moment since the Wings won. Paul Kariya‘s goal was a thing of beauty as he split Brian Rafalski and Nick Lidstrom just past the Wings’ blueline, then outraced Zetterberg with a burst of speed to score on Howard. Kariya, who played for the late Shawn Walsh at Maine, would have made a great Red Wing (my highest hockey complement).

The BIG question: Can the Wings pass any of the three teams immediately ahead of them to finish 5th in the Western Conference? And do they want to?

Quote: “Some wins aren’t easy and this was one.” — Mike Babcock

Mood meter: We’ll see at what point of the day Babcock is wrong about sleep being overrated.