On Red Wings

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

A Shark tanking

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

If the Wings can put the goalie in the net, why can't they put the puck in, too?

If the Wings can put the goalie in the net, why can't they put the puck in, too?

If you can’t win a hockey game when you outshoot an opponent 52-26 that played (and lost to Columbus, 3-0) the night before, just what does it take? Another shootout, another loss.

Game #60 (22 to go, 44 points): 66 points, tied with the Stars (told you last post that the rearview mirror was crowded) for 9th, 1 point behind Calgary with a game in hand (Stars, too), 1 point ahead of 11th-place Ducks (I can hear ’em quacking).
Update: The Preds lost to the Devils, 5-2, Friday night, so the Wings trail 7th-place Nashville by 3 points; both teams have played 60 games. So, 7 points separate 13th-place Minnesota from 7th-place Nashville (69 to 62), with the Wings right in the middle with 66. Three teams are tied for 4-5-6 at 76 points, but that’s 10 points away for Detroit with just 44 points to go. It’s going to be easier to finish lower than any higher than 7th in the Western Conference for the Wings this season. And it has been 20 years since the Wings were this low in the standings this late in the season — and that was the last time Detroit missed the playoffs.
Got all that?

Score: Sharks 3, Red Wings 2 (SO).

What I liked about the game: Jason Williams scored. Wings played well.

What I didn’t like about the game: Wings can’t finish. Second-straight shootout loss in which the Wings had a 4-on-3 power play late in the overtime and didn’t score. What’s that all about?

Quote: “It looked like last year, not like the past two months here,” Johan Franzen, who scored a goal in his second game back from a season-long knee injury.

What is: Ottawa at home Saturday, then the Olympic break.

Mood meter: Depression working OT.

The Blues

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

Yo-han Franzen returns.

Yo-han Franzen returns.

OK, so the Wings suck at shootouts. Well, not Jason Williams, who is good for something, it appears. But Pavel Datsyuk AND Henrik Zetterbeg have to miss all the time?

Game #59: 65 points, 9th, 2 points out of 7th, 2 points ahead of 11th. All it takes is a little whoopsy and Dallas, Anaheim, Minnesota and even St. Louis are going to shoot past the Wings.

Score: Blues 4, Wings 3 (SO).

What I liked about the game: Ask me later. Oh, I’ve already had a day to think about it? How about Brad Stuart? He was plus-1 and now is only minus-14 for the season. Brett Ledba was plus-2. Johan Franzen played more than 17 minutes without getting hurt.

What I didn’t like the game: Sitting through the shootout. I could have fallen asleep two minutes earlier.

Quote: “It felt like the last game I played. I thought it was going to be worse. Better than I thought it was going to be.” — Johan Franzen

What is: The Wings have lost three in a row.

Mood meter: Can’t we all just be happy with ties?