On Red Wings

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

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.

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.

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.

Penguins 2, Wings 1 (SO)

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , on January 31, 2010 by Steve Klein

Henrik Zetterberg: Looks good, tastes lite.

Henrik Zetterberg: Looks good, tastes lite.

Well, you can’t beat a Sunday afternoon with Wings-Penguins for a main course and the Capitals for … an appetizer? An after dinner drink? Whatever. It’s five-plus hours of hockey on a lazy afternoon.

Game #55: 62 points, tied for 8th again with Calgary with 27 games  to go (that’s 54 points). But four teams ahead of the Wings are playing later today.

Score: Penguins 2, Wings 1 (SO)

Quote: Niklas Kronwall — “We were on our heels a little bit, I think we gave them too much respect. We have to do a way better job. It’s going to be a tough year if we keep letting 40-plus shots go past us. He (Howard) is keeping us in games.”

Unquote: Uh, you think? Too much respect? My how the worm has turned. Why do the Wings look like the teams that used to look up to them the last decade?

What I liked about the game: Jimmy Howard. I keep saying that, don’t I? But when you get outshot 47-24 (that’s 2-to-1 for you non-math majors), if you don’t like your goalie, you probably didn’t win the game. Oh, the Wings didn’t win the game. But escaping with a point hardly felt like a loss.

What I didn’t like about the game: Why does Herik Zetterberg look tired to me? Even clumsy at times. Something we don’t know?

In search of: Scoring.

What is: Wings are hanging on to playoff contention as their players return to the lineup. But just because players return, that doesn’t mean the Wings are a better team. We’re waiting for the to happen.

Mood meter: Oddly not terrible. It took Crosby and Malkin to beat the Wings on Sunday. They beat a lot of teams. Of course, that’s the Wings this year: Like a lot of teams.

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.