On Red Wings

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

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.

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.

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.

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.


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

Going nowhere.

Going nowhere.

— noun
1. Not like the Wings … prone to blow 2-goal leads regularly and 3-goal leads on occasion … injury prone … aging … tends to get outworked along the boards … has trouble scoring goals but can hit goal posts like laser beams … misses the playoffs.

Game #58: 64 points, 9th place in the Western Conference and sinking fast 24 games (48 points) remaining.

Score: Kings, 4, Wings 3

What I liked about the game: The Kings. They outworked the Wings along the boards, never stopped working, and earned their ninth-straight victory. Credit where credit is due. Henrik Zetterberg scored twice in a 3-0 first period and hit a goalpost in the third. Nick Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski each were plus-three, but they couldn’t stay on the ice all the time (56 minutes between them), which meant Brad Stuart and Jonathan Ericsson were on the ice (see: What I didn’t like about the game).

What I didn’t like about the game: Long list. Wings keep getting injured. Nick Kronwall didn’t dress (again). Tomas Homstrom suffered a lower-body injury (again). Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller got hurt, too. Jimmy Howard had a terrible second period, but guess who was on the ice for all four goals against (yup, Stuart with a big minus-4, rivaled only by Ericsson‘s minus-3. At least Ville Leino didn’t have to watch from the pressbox (he was traded for next to nothing earlier in the day).

Quote: “I was very disappointed with the way I played.” — Jimmy Howard. Me, too.

In search of: The Olympic break in a week.

What is: The standings are beginning to look bleak — 2 points out of 8th with one more game played, 3 points out of 7th with a game in hand, 6 points out of 6th with one more game played; only 3 points up on 12th place. I hope the Wings’ scouts are working hard.

Mood meter: Ready for some Tigers baseball?

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.