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.

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.

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.

Making a point

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , on March 20, 2010 by Steve Klein

What an opposing goalie looks like after his first win.

What an opposing goalie looks like after his first win.

It’s a sports cliche: Some wins feel like a loss. And vice versa. This was a vice versa. The Oilers had the Wings beat for 59 minutes, 59.8 seconds Friday night in Edmonton. But it really is a 60-minute game (yet another cliche), as Brian Rafalski proved with .2 tenths of a second to play, tying the game at 2. Unfortunately for the Wings, 65-minute plus games are not their forte, and the Oilers won the game in a shootout, 2-1.

Score: Oilers 3, Wings 2 SO.

Game #70 (12 games to play, 24 points), 81 points, tied for 8th place, but with one game in hand on Calgary, which beat San Jose (drat!), 4-3. The Wings are 4 points behind Nashville (with a game in hand) and Los Angeles (they have a game in hand) and 5 behind Colorado (same number of games). But with a second game in two nights Saturday in Vancouver, the Wings immediate concern is pulling away from Calgary if they can. Time is running out.

What I liked about the game: In the final battle for the puck in the corner to the right of Edmonton rookie goalie Devan Dubnyk, Henrik Zetterberg dug out the puck to Pavel Datsyuk, who threaded the quick pass to Rafalski just in front to Dubnyk’s left. … Jimmy Howard‘s 60.2-minute shutout after a tough start.

What I didn’t like about the game: Terrible, terrible way to start the game against a bad team, down 2-0 5 minutes into the game. If the Wings squeak into the playoffs (and they haven’t missed since 1989), that may have been the point. Of course, if they miss the playoffs for the first time in three decades, they left the points on the table against the worst team in the league. The Wings are 6-12 in OT this year. Do the math: If Detroit is 12-6, golly, they’re in 5th place.
Also: 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?

The BIG question: Why are the Wings 0-2-1 against the Oilers this season?

Quote I: “It’s definitely a point gained the way it came. We couldn’t have waited any longer to score than we did.” — Brian Rafalski

Quote II: “I shot it in, looked up, and it said zero, zero, zero. I didn’t hear the horn, so I just had to wait.” — Rafalski

Quote III: “Huge point that we got, absolutely huge point, you feel real good about that, and on the other side, you feel like you left one out there.” — Mike Babcock

Mood meter: Relieved.

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.

Saddle up

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

Jimmy Howard is the Wings' MVP this season.

Jimmy Howard is the Wings' MVP this season.

So let’s not get carried away here.

The Red Wings are 8th again the Western Conference, 1 point ahead of the Fames (who have a game in hand they’ll play tonight in Vancouver), 1 point behind 7th-place Nashville and — are you ready for this? — 4 points behind 6th-place Colorado!

That all works the other way, too, of course. Calgary could be back in 8th by the time I wake up Monday morning, and 10th-place St. Louis is hanging on just 5 points behind with a game in hand.

Huge, huge, huge payback game for the Wings Monday night in Calgary. The Saddledome will be rocking. The Wings owe the Flames a snuffing after last week’s 4-2 come-from-behind Calgary victory (remember those 3 goals in the third period?).

Score: Wings 3, Sabres 2 (OT)

Game #68 (14 to play, 28 points), 78 points, 8th place.

What I liked about the game: I liked the way the Wings played from the git-go. They were really moving their feet, putting passes on the tape. Jimmy Howard’s goaltending was important. Pavel Datsyuk was a bundle of energy … I keep wondering whether Brian Rafalski‘s role with the Wings allows him to be the often dominant player we saw in the Olympics for Team USA. His winning OT blast against the Sabres was exactly what I’ve been looking for this season.

What I didn’t like about the game: Ryan Miller should be a Red Wing. Someday, maybe … Another 2-goal lead, another struggle to put away a game. But this time, the Wings didn’t blow it.

The BIG question: Calgary on Monday. Last week’s game (and loss) was big. This is in the huge category.

Quote I: “It was a huge win.” — Jimmy Howard, who made 24 saves.

Quote II: “We owe Calgary after they embarrassed us in our own barn in the third period. We’ll be ready.” — Jimmy Howard

Mood meter: Lift a brew to Miller time.

Point(ing) to the golf course

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , on March 10, 2010 by Steve Klein

Maybe Homer can give his teammates lessons?

Maybe Homer can give his teammates lessons?

This isn’t going to be easy, is it? In fact, this may not happen at all, eh? The Wings may miss the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in almost two decades.

You can see it, right? I mean what was that third period Tuesday night IN Hockeytown other than an early tee time? Up 2-1 after two periods IN Hockeytown, and you get outshot 14-4 in the third period and give up three unaswered (as in: hey, is anyone home?) goals for a 4-2 loss.

I’ve written earlier on this blog that whether the Wings make the playoffs this spring or not, this same team will not make the playoffs in 2011. This Lidstrom-Datysuk-Zetterberg era is over. The Wings are dead (remember them)? Long live the Wings.

Score: Flames 4, Wings 2

Game #66 (16 games to play, 32 points), 9th place, 1 point behind 8th-place Calgary, 3 points behind 7th-place Nashville (which won Tuesday), 4 points up on 10th-place Dallas.

What I liked about the game: Tomas Holmstrom scored a goal and an assist.

What I didn’t like about the game: No Wing was a plus player, not even Holmstrom. Obviously, I didn’t like the third period collapse — or the fact that the Wings trailed 1-0 for the first 30 minutes.

Quote: “It’s not going to be easy.” — Jason Williams

The BIG question: Simple: making the playoffs.

Mood meter: Cloudy in Miami.

Point(ing)s to the playoffs

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , on March 7, 2010 by Steve Klein

Sorry, but I couldn't resist this one. Hope Homer didn't have gas.

Sorry, but I couldn't resist this one. Hope Homer didn't have gas.

BIG, BIG, BIG, BIG, BIG 2 points for the Red Wings Sunday afternoon in Chicago.

Score: Red Wings 5, Black Hawks 2.

Game #65 (17 to play, 34 points), 74 points, 8th place, 1 point behind 7th-place Nashville (which now has a game in hand; playing now against Vancouver — c’mon Canucks!) and 3 ahead of 9th-place Calgary (which now has a game in hand; playing now at Minnesota and leads 1-0 19 seconds into the game!).
The Wings play the Flames Tuesday in Hockeytown.
UPDATE: OK, Calgary won, 5-2 over the Wild on a Jerome Iglina hat trick; but Vancouver beat Nashville, 4-2. So: Preds 75, Wings 74, Flames 73.

What I liked about the game: Nick Lidstrom and Brian Ralfalski played a BIG plus-2 with an goal and an assist each. Todd Bertuzzi was a BIG presence in front of the net with 2 assists before suffering an injury and missing the second half of the game. BAD game for the Hawks’ Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews (both minus-3) thanks to Lidstrom and Rafalski. Five goals in the second period, including another Pavel Datsyuk steal (from Kane) for an unassisted goal with 3 seconds remaining in the period.

What I didn’t like about the game: Wings got away with getting outplayed in the first and third periods; Hawks had 2 goals in each; Wings had five in the second.

The BIG question: When will a two-goal lead ever be safe for the Wings? Good thing they were up 3 in this one.

QUOTE: “We came out and went to town in the second period.” — Jimmy Howard

Mood meter: Scoreboard watching. But the Wings won three of four during the first week after the Olympics. I’ll take it.

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.