On Red Wings

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

Take a deep breath

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

A good defense is the best offense.

A good defense is the best offense.

Breathing room. And, no room to breath: 3 points separate 5th through 8th place in the Western Conference. But Calgary has flamed out (knock on wood), and the Wings have a solid shot at finishing fifth.

Worth noting: San Jose, Chicago and Phoenix have certainly separated themselves from the rest in the West. Vancouver, with 94 points, suddenly isn’t out of sight.

Score: Wings 1, Preds 0, 11-round SO

Game #75 (7 games to play, 14 points), 91 points, 6th place. Wings are 11-2-1 since the Olympic break, 8 up on 9th-place Calgary (can we stop worrying about the Flames now?), and 1 point behind 5th-place Nashville with a game in hand.

Team        Games   Points   Place
Preds         76             92            5th
Wings     75             91            6th
Kings        74             90            7th
Avs            74             89            8th
Flames     75             83            9th

Upcoming: Edmonton on Tuesday, Columbus on Thursday in Hockeytown. Then Nashville again on Saturday in Hockeytown.

What I liked about the game: Jimmy Howard, the Wings’ MVP this season as a rookie. Calder Trophy? The defense. And Niklas Kronwall‘s shootout winner.

What I didn’t like about the game: Boy is Nashville ever tough. What a great rivalry.

The BIG question: Can the Wings keep it up with 7 games to go? Still too early to worry about the first round of the playoffs. The remaining question has to be how high can the Wings go. Suddenly, 4th place isn’t unrealistic.

Quote: “Shootouts haven’t been our friend this year. Howie did a great job, save after save after save. His confidence has got to be growing, that’s a good thing for him and it’s a good thing for us.” — Mike Babcock

Mood meter: Fourth the goal?

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.