On Red Wings

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

Home(r) run

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2010 by Steve Klein

The goal scorers.

The goal scorers.

So, I wake up with about five minutes to go in the Wings-Flames game and the score 1-1.

(NOTE to Gary Bettman, who I’m sure doesn’t read this blog: Why does an ET team have to play so many 9:30 and 10:30 MT and PT games as a member of the Western Conference? Heck, the Bruins and Devils were done by the time this game started. Talk about a built-in time zone competitive advantage.)

But I digress.

At the start of the season, I would have told you that this was Tomas Holmstrom‘s last season with the Wings, that he was injury-plagued and wearing down from the constant beating this brave warrior takes every game in front of the net.

But it was Holmstrom’s goal with 1:19 to play in the game that gave the Wings this critical 2-1 victory; it was his screening presence in front of Calgary goalie Mikka Kiprusoff that helped, if not assisted, Pavel Datsyuk score on a power play with 50 seconds left in the second period to tie the game at 1.

Score: Wings 2, Flames 1

Game #69 (13 games to play, 26 points), 80 points, 8th place, 3 points ahead of the 9th-place Flames, 1 point behind 7th-place Nashville, and — dare we think — 4 points behind 6th-place Colorado and 5 points behind 5th-place Los Angeles.

Up next: At Edmonton Friday at 9 p.m., at Vancouver Saturday at 10 p.m. (NOTE to Gary Bettman, who I’m sure doesn’t read this blog: So, the Wings have to wait three days out West to play back-to-back games?)

What I liked about the game: In addition to Holmstrom, how can you not mention Jimmy Howard, who stopped 22 of 23 shots, including a penalty shot.

What I didn’t like about the game: Waking up at almost midnight to catch the end of the game … Brian Rafalski‘s double minor for high sticking. That’s two games in a row that Rafalski has been careless with his stick.

The BIG question: Well, Todd Bertuzzi is a big man, and he carried the Wings for a few games offensively earlier this season. But it has been 17 games since he last scored a goal. To his credit — and there are many who would have doubted it possible — Big Todd is playing well away from the puck and not taking stupid penalties in the offensive zone.

Quote I: “Don’t worry about scoring goals. Worry about being a good forechecker. Worry about being physical. When you get the puck, take it to the net and if you get a chance shoot it. Look after all your defensive responsibilities, take care of the puck and everything will work out just fine. Just play.”
Mike Babcock on Bertuzzi, Dan Cleary (no goals in 11 games) and Valteri Filppula (1 goal in 9 games).

Quote II: “It looked like (Franzen) was going to get control of the puck so I just hung around the net. He knows where I am and I was lucky to get my stick on it.”
Tomas Holmstrom

It’s not all about the Wings: I agree with the Alexander Ovechkin suspension, and I probably would have given him more than two games (sorry, Nate Ewell). It isn’t that Ovie didn’t push the Hawks’ Brian Campbell hard, it’s where he pushed him in relation to the boards. “He fell bad,” Ovie said. Yup. And you pushed him — does Ovechkin know how strong he is? — in a bad place. Ovechkin has great ice awareness. He plays hard, with passion. The hit was careless at best, dangerous at worse.

Mood meter: Sleep deprived but happy.

Up. Down. Up again.

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , on March 12, 2010 by Steve Klein

Henrik's on the go again.

Henrik's on the go again.

I go up, I go down. Wings win and look good doing it, like Thursday’s 5-1 Hockeytown victory over the Wild. Wings lose and look bad doing it, like Tuesday’s 4-2 Hockeytown loss to the Flames.

Up. Down.

Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres are next on Saturday in Hockeytown (hi to the Miller family!), then another big showdown with the Flames Monday night in Calgary. HUGE GAME, but like George Perles always used to say, we’ll play them one at a time (hi, George — although I’m sure you don’t read blogs!).

Score: Wings 5, Wild 1

Game #67 (15 to play, 30 points), 76 points, 9th place, 1 point behind both Calgary and Nashville with 77 points. More and more, it looks like the Wings, Preds and Flames are playing a game of musical chairs with only two seats. The Avs, in 6th place with 82 points, are not out of sight, but neither are the teams trailing the musical chairs players (the Blues, Stars and rapidly fading Wild and Ducks).

What I liked about the game: A goal, 2 assists, plus-2 for Henrik Zetterberg, who responded to being challenged by Mike Babcock. Lots of good performances, though, from Jimmy Howard in goal to 2 goals by Johan Franzen and a shorty by Drew (brother of Ryan) Miller.

What I didn’t like about the game: I liked the game. Just don’t like the game-to-game inconsistency.

Quote: “I always put pressure on myself.” — Henrik Zetterberg

The BIG question: Which Wings show up on Saturday at home vs. Buffalo.

Mood meter: Ryan Miller on my mind.

Strong at the Helm

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , , on March 6, 2010 by Steve Klein

Andreas Lilja hugs Darren Helm after a Helm's shorthanded goal.

Andreas Lilja hugs Darren Helm after a Helm's shorthanded goal.

Can’t sleep.

Fortunately, the Wings aren’t keeping me up tonight like they did Wednesday after the Vancouver stinker. The 5-2 victory over the Predators Friday night was more like the way the Wings keep saying they need to play to make the playoffs.

For only the second time all season, and we’re 64 games into this Death March of a season already, the Wings went up 4-0 in a game, according to FoxSports Detroit broadcaster Ken Daniels. OK, I’m not quite sure what kind of a yardstick that’s supposed to be other than the Wings rarely blow out anybody anymore.

Score: Wings 5, Predators 2.

Game #64 (18 games to go, 36 points): 72 points, 8th place. As a result, the Wings solidified their tenuous hold on the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference (well, not really; Calgary won and is only 1 points behind in 9th), 3 points ahead of St. Louis, 4 ahead of Dallas, 5 ahead of Minnesota and Anaheim. And Nashville is still in sight, 3 points ahead in 7th. When the Wings win 5 games in a row, we can maybe talk about 6th. But let’s not carried away with NBC new-fave Chicago next at 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday.

The BIG QUESTION: Sure, Darren Helm had two goals, one shorthanded. But how come he hadn’t scored in a month? And how come Valteri Filppula only has six goals?

What I liked about the game: Pavel Datsyuk‘s takeaway unassisted goal to give the Wings an early 1-0 lead. That hurt, eh? And Tomas Holmstrom‘s 17 goal from the office.

What I didn’t like about the game: The Preds crept to within two goals. Fortunately, it was 4-0 at that point, not one of those dangerous (to the Wings) 2-goal leads.

Quote: “I thought we were ready to play.” — Mike Babcock.

Mood meter: Caffeinated.

Ugly stinker

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , , , , on March 3, 2010 by Steve Klein

Going nowhere fast.

Going nowhere fast.

I’m going to bed. That was last night when the score was 6-2 Canucks. The 6-3 final didn’t make me feel any better this morning (see Mood Meter below).

It didn’t take the Wings long after the Olympic break to turn in a butt-ugly performance, from the goaltenders (yup, Ozzie was back for a relief appearance) to the sloppy defense to the usual unimpressive offense. It’s 6-2 in Hockeytown with about 10 minutes to play — or whatever it is the Wings are doing tonight.

And let’s be fair about this: Vancouver is the better team. Tonight for sure, through the first three quarters of the season. The Canucks are 10 points ahead of the Wings in third; the five teams immediately ahead of the Wings are 3 to 10 points ahead of them; the five teams immediately behind the Wings are within 4 points.

What that means: It is more likely that the Wings will wake up one of these mornings in 13th place than third. Friday, they are home again to Nashville, the team immediately ahead of Detroit in the standings with 73 points and a game in hand. That game in hand is tonight at home against the Kings. So for the second straight game, the Wings will play a team completing back-to-back games. It didn’t seem to matter against Vancouver, though. So, it will be one of those 4-point games: The Wings could be 1 point out of 7th or 5.

UPDATE: With Nashville’s 4-2 victory over the Kings Thursday night, 7th place is now 5 points distant from the 8th-place Wings while 13th place is only 4 points away. Think tonight’s game in Hockeytown against the Predators is important?

The BIG question: Who plays in goal Friday against Nashville?

Score: Canucks 6, Wings 3.

Game #63 (19 to go, 38 points): 70 points, 8th place.

What I liked: Jonathan Ericsson and Andreas Lilja were both plus-1 in about 17 minutes each. Goals by Jason Williams, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen.

What I didn’t like: Nick Lidstrom was minus-3; the Wings on faceoff.

Quote: “We were poor. We were poor in goal. We were poor in the back end. We were poor up front. We were poor in the work ethic department. The bottom line was we didn’t look like a team that was dying to be in the playoffs tonight in anyway or shape of form.” — Mike Babcock

Mood meter: I have a head cold.

Ready to Wing it

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2010 by Steve Klein
Red Wings Avalanche Hockey

Adam Foote: Wanna fight? Homer: Nope, wanna score.

Oh, THOSE Red Wings! I remember them. AND they way they played.

Everyone was back. Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen, EVEN Andreas Lilja. The Wings looked like … the Wings.

Score: Wings 3, Rockies 2

Game #62 (20 to go, 40 points): 70 points, 8th place. The five teams behind the Wings are within 6 points; Nashville is a point ahead in 7th with a game in hand and a Friday date in Hockeytown.

What I liked about the game: Don’t you just love Swedes? They scored all three Wings goals, including the Lidstrom winner. Henrik Zetterberg was on the ice for all three Wings goals; Pavel Datsyuk had two assists. Homstrom‘s line was a goal and two assists. And let’s not forget Jimmy Howard with 22 of 24 saves.

What I didn’t like about the game: Who made the schedule that scheduled the Wings (and Brian Rafalski) to play the day after the Olympics ended. Thanks a lot, eh? Also, big minus-2s for Jonathan Ericsson, Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves.
Also, the disallowed goal by Holmstrom. But I’m a homer.

Quote I: “We’ve got enough bodies now that we should be a good hockey club. We’ve got to decide to be a good hockey club.” — Mike Babcock.
What he’s saying is that the Wings have to start being the Wings again now that they’ve got all their Wings back. Got it?

Quote II: “That’s the best lineup we’ve dressed all year. Wouldn’t you love to draw us in the first round?” — Mike Babcock

What is: Three quarters of the way into the season, and the Wings are back to being the Wings.

Mood meter: Ready to Wing it!

Only the best

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2010 by Steve Klein

Wings Olympians: Daniel Alfredsson can play for the Wings anytime.

Wings Olympians: Daniel Alfredsson can play for the Wings anytime.

You gotta hand it to the Red Wings at the Olympic break. Show them a good team and the Wings are at their best: the San Jose shootout loss on Thursday (when the Wings outshot the Sharks, 52-26), and the 4-1 victory over Ottawa Saturday — only the Sens’ second loss in their last 15 games.

Go figure.

Game #61 (21 to go, 42 points): 68 points, and you can throw a blanket over 7th-place Nashville (pending their Sunday afternoon game in Pittsburgh) and Calgary at 69 points and 13th-place Minnesota at 62 points. The Wings and Stars are tied for 9th entering the break. That’s why every game is a big game.
UPDATE: The Usless (to the Wings) Penguins lost a shootout, 2-0, to Nashville at home Sunday, so the Preds now have 71 points. Thanks, Sidney.

Score: Wings 4, Senators 1.

What I liked about the game: Niklas Kronwall played nearly 21 minutes. Jonathan Ericsson played less than 11. And this Ken DanielISM: Datsyukian move.

What I didn’t like about the game: First time in a long time I can say I liked everything about the game. The Wings can still look like the Wings. I still think Ken Holland has to blow up this team before next season, but I hope he can do it without having to miss the playoffs this season or next.

Prediction come true: I didn’t exactly say Kirk Maltby would score a hat trick, but gamer that he is, Maltby did score the first goal of the game and his fourth of the season. Now go get that shoulder fixed, Kirk, so Andreas Lilja can play. The Wings are treating you with the respect you deserve.

Olympian quandary: Will Johan Franzen, who scored into the open net, replace the yet-again injured Tomas Holmstrom for Team Sweden? I’m watching my Twitter feeds.

Quote: “I don’t know, but it seems like they’re tough to come back against. They’re strong defensively.” — Ottawa D-man Brian Lee.
First time in a long time I can agree.

Quote II: “I’m thrilled to be here.” — Mike Babcock in Vancouver. With that roster, who wouldn’t be?

What is: Stop waiting for Ozzie. Jimmy Howard is the Wings’ No. 1 goalie. He gives the Wings a chance to win every night. Who wouldathunk we’d be saying that in February?

Mood meter: Placid at the break.

Red Wings 4, Sharks 2

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , , , on February 3, 2010 by Steve Klein

Back in the office: Tomas Holmstrom sticks his rear end in a goalie's face.

Back in the office: Tomas Holmstrom sticks his rear end in a goalie's face.

Sorry, but 10:30 p.m. is too late for me to stay up for a hockey game most nights. But, if I go to bed early enough, I tend to wake up late in the third period, which was the case early this morning. The score was 4-2 Red Wings with about five minutes to go. But I have seen that 2-goal scenario fade into disappointment before — and recently — and wouldn’t you know it, off goes Nick Lidstrom of all people for hooking (of course) at 17:32. San Jose came on like, well, like Sharks, but Joe Thornton, who had scored the Sharks two goals in the first 10 minutes of the game while I was still blissfully asleep took a penalty just 23 seconds after Lidstrom (you should have heard the San Jose colorman complain!), and the Wings weathered the storm (note to my Sports Writing & Reporting students: “weathered the storm” is a cliche; don’t use it).

So, I blissfully returned to sleep with pleasant thoughts, as opposed to dreams, of three-straight Wings victories over the Sharks.

Game #56: 64 points, tied for 7th with Nashville but with one more game played than the Predators. The 6th-place Rockies are 4 points away (and with a game in hand); 10th place is only 3 points in the rear mirror.

Score: Red Wings 4, Sharks 2
Make sure you check out the game photos by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images on Yahoo Sports. He had a great night!

Quote: “If you can do it against good teams why can’t you do it every night?” — Wings coach Mike Babcock

What I liked about the game: Besides waking up to a 4-2 Red Wings lead and missing the Sharks get off to a 2-0 lead, Detroit scored two power play goals. Did I mention that Tomas Holmstrom was back in the lineup and had two assists? And Jimmy Howard made 32 saves. Let’s not start to take him for granted, eh?

What I didn’t like about the game: Late games on West Coast swings. Why aren’t the Wings in the Eastern Conference?

In search of: Johan Franzen and Andreas Lilja: They’re the only two Red Wings still out of the lineup (although Niklas Kronwall tweaked his ankle and will likely miss Wednesday night’s game against Anaheim) after a total of 264-man games missed by Red Wings this season to date. The Sharks, in comparison, have missed 128.

What is: The Wings are getting healthier. But that doesn’t necessarily equate with playing better. The returning players need to get back in game shape. The team needs to recalibrate it’s chemistry. This remains a team that finds scoring challenging.

I gotta mention: The Caps have won 11-straight games! Good for them. … J.S. Giguere debuted for the Maple Leafs last night with a 3-0 shutout against the Devils; happy to see Giguere in the East. … Phoenix, Colorado and Los Angeles, all teams that were not supposed to be playoff contender but are ahead of the Wings in the West, all won.

Mood meter: I slept well.

Wings 4, Predators 2

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , , , , on January 30, 2010 by Steve Klein

Jimmy Howard makes himself big.

Jimmy Howard makes himself big.

I have to admit that I didn’t pay as close attention to this game as I usually do. I’m struggling with a heavy cold.

Game #54: 28 to go (that’s 56 points).

Score: Wings 4, Predators 2

Quote: “Howie was sensational.” — Mike Babcock. The Wings have a No. 1 goalie. Ozzie will play when the Wings need him, NOT when he needs to play. Got it?

What I liked about the game: That the Wings won in regulation, so the Preds didn’t get a point. Are you as tired of these 3-point games as I am? How could I not like Jimmy Howard (46 saves), Drew Miller (goal and an assist) and the return of Jason Williams (first goal of the game) in this one?

What I didn’t like about the game: There are no easy games, and certainly never with the Predators. I did not like all the Detroit turnovers. Not one bit. The Wings were lucky in this one. But they made their own luck by scoring. Scoring solves a lot of things.

In search of: Andreas Lilja. Big body and wingspan. If Holland can figure out the cap issues, I’d rather have him in the lineup than out. Sure, he turns over the puck, but so do Ericsson, Stuart and Ledba. Lilja begins a week-long conditioning stint in Grand Rapids. Is the big headache over?

What is: The Wings are tied for 7th in points with Nashville (which has a game in hand) with 61 points, but as close to 14th place as they are to 5th. That means no more 1-3-3 segments. Can’t afford it.

Mood meter: Better. Still concerned.

Wild 5, Wings 2

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

Datsyuk and Zetterberg: Anybody got a clue?

Datsyuk and Zetterberg: Anybody got a clue?

So, remind me. Why did I start this blog three games ago? Oh yeah. To follow the Wings’ push to the playoffs. Instead, they’re in free fall. Coach Mike Babcock can’t even remember when the season started (see his quote below).

Nashville next on Friday; they’re only 2 points ahead of the Wings in 7th. And at Pittsburgh on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on NBC. Don’t embarrass yourself, boys.

Game #53: 29 to go (that’s 58 points)

Score: Wild 5, Wings 2.

Quote: “We gave up two power-play goals. We haven’t given up power-play goals like that since our trip to Europe in September or whenever that was,” coach Mike Babock said.

What I liked about the game: Pavel Datsyuk scored two goals. So the rest of the boys got shut out.

What I didn’t like about the game: Goalie Chris Osgood is 1-6 since Nov. 7. Any more questions about who the Wings’ goalie is?

What I don’t like about the way the Wings are playing: Detroit is 1-3-3 in their last seven games with five blown leads in the third period.

In search of: Instead of thinking that players returning from injuries were going to turn them around, the Wings need to continue to focus on doing the little things well. Otherwise, the big thing for this team this year, a playoff berth, is going to slip away.

What is: We’ll dispense with “what might have been” in a 5-2 loss. The Wings are still tied for 8th with Calgary, but the teams behind them are closing in, the teams ahead of them pulling away. The 13th place Blues are only 5 points behind Detroit, and everyone will tell you that St. Louis is having a terrible year.

Mood meter: Discouraged.