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.


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.

Every second counts

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2010 by Steve Klein

Happy Wings come flying home for Sidney.

Happy Wings come flying home for Sidney.

What is it that Lance Armstrong says? Every second counts.

It’s a 60-minute game, or 65 when you play regulation overtime. That’s 3600 and 3900 seconds, and the Red Wings have needed every last one of them the past two nights to pick up 3 of a possible 4 critical points in the standings.

After Brian Rafalski scored with .02 seconds remaining in regulation to save a point against Edmonton, Henrik Zetterberg did the same in OT to give the Wings 2 points.

Score: Red Wings 4, Canucks 3, OT

Game #71 (11 games to play, 22 points), 83 points, 8th-place, 2 points ahead of Calgary, 3 behind 7th-place Colorado (which has a game in hand — hi, Avs),  4 behind Nashville (but a game in hand) and Los Angeles (which has a game in hand).

The good news: If the Wings keep winning, 5th and 6th places could come into play.

The bad news: Nashville keeps winning, too. … Dan Cleary and Patrick Eaves missed the game with injuries, forcing Mike Babcock to dress eight defensemen.

What I liked about the game: The Wings didn’t give up a power play goal in two tries and now have allowed just 3 power play goals in the last 17 games. … Valteri Filppula‘s shorthanded goal gave the Wings a 3-2 lead against the Canucks. Filppula had a goal and 2 assists. … Todd Bertuzzi scored his first goal in 18 games. … Jimmy Howard stopped 29 of 32 shots. … Wings took 54 shots at Roberto Luongo.

What I didn’t like about the game: The Wings didn’t show up again, falling behind 2-0 and not scoring for more than 32 minutes into the game before scoring 3 goals in 5 minutes.
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, 10 and 10:30 MT and PT games as a member of the Western Conference?

The BIG question: Are you ready for Sidney Crosby and the Penguins Monday night in Hockeytown? I’m surprised Gary Bettman didn’t change the game to Sunday afternoon for NBC. Why would the Wings playing a third-straight game and the night before in Vacouver be a problem, right, Gary?

Mood meter: Sleepy from waking up at 12:30 p.m. to catch the end of the game. Worth it, but NOTE to Gary Bettman

Quote: “I didn’t know how much time was left, but it was enough.” — Henrick Zetterberg

Making a point

Posted in Red Wings with tags , , , , on March 20, 2010 by Steve Klein

What an opposing goalie looks like after his first win.

What an opposing goalie looks like after his first win.

It’s a sports cliche: Some wins feel like a loss. And vice versa. This was a vice versa. The Oilers had the Wings beat for 59 minutes, 59.8 seconds Friday night in Edmonton. But it really is a 60-minute game (yet another cliche), as Brian Rafalski proved with .2 tenths of a second to play, tying the game at 2. Unfortunately for the Wings, 65-minute plus games are not their forte, and the Oilers won the game in a shootout, 2-1.

Score: Oilers 3, Wings 2 SO.

Game #70 (12 games to play, 24 points), 81 points, tied for 8th place, but with one game in hand on Calgary, which beat San Jose (drat!), 4-3. The Wings are 4 points behind Nashville (with a game in hand) and Los Angeles (they have a game in hand) and 5 behind Colorado (same number of games). But with a second game in two nights Saturday in Vancouver, the Wings immediate concern is pulling away from Calgary if they can. Time is running out.

What I liked about the game: In the final battle for the puck in the corner to the right of Edmonton rookie goalie Devan Dubnyk, Henrik Zetterberg dug out the puck to Pavel Datsyuk, who threaded the quick pass to Rafalski just in front to Dubnyk’s left. … Jimmy Howard‘s 60.2-minute shutout after a tough start.

What I didn’t like about the game: Terrible, terrible way to start the game against a bad team, down 2-0 5 minutes into the game. If the Wings squeak into the playoffs (and they haven’t missed since 1989), that may have been the point. Of course, if they miss the playoffs for the first time in three decades, they left the points on the table against the worst team in the league. The Wings are 6-12 in OT this year. Do the math: If Detroit is 12-6, golly, they’re in 5th place.
Also: 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?

The BIG question: Why are the Wings 0-2-1 against the Oilers this season?

Quote I: “It’s definitely a point gained the way it came. We couldn’t have waited any longer to score than we did.” — Brian Rafalski

Quote II: “I shot it in, looked up, and it said zero, zero, zero. I didn’t hear the horn, so I just had to wait.” — Rafalski

Quote III: “Huge point that we got, absolutely huge point, you feel real good about that, and on the other side, you feel like you left one out there.” — Mike Babcock

Mood meter: Relieved.

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.

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.

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.

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?