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.


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.

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.

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!


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.

Coyotes 5, Wings 4 (ot)

Posted in Red Wings with tags , on January 26, 2010 by Steve Klein

Brad Stuart: Minus-3.

Brad Stuart: Minus-3.

Game #: 52, 30 to go (that’s 60 points).

Score: Coyotes 5, Wings 4 (ot).

Quote: Versus Hockey Central: “What a collapse by Detroit!”

Quote 2: Nick Lidstrom: “We have to find a way out of this. Playing a lot better in our own zone and bearing down when we have to. It’s not fun. It’s disappointing when you’re giving points away the way we have been. We know we need the points right now.”

What I liked about the game: Nick Lidstrom scored two goals in the third period to give the Red Wings a 4-2 lead with less than five minutes to play.

What I didn’t like about the game: Do the math. Another 2-goal blown lead. Wings wiped in the FO circle, 39-26 (how did that fall apart this season?).

What I don’t like about the way the Wings are playing: The Wings have given up 2-goal leads in four of the past six games and let third-period leads slip in five of their past six.

In search of: The playoffs? One point out 4 in back-to-back home games?

What might have been: If Detroit wins, Wings have 60 points, 1 point behind 7th-place Nashville, 2 points behind 5th-6th place Phoenix and LA.

What is: Wings have 60 points, 8th, 2 points behind 7th-place Nashville, 4 points behind 6th-place LA, 6 points behind 5th-place Phoenix. Talk about your 4-point game!

Mood meter: I am not pleased.