On Red Wings

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


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

Happiness ... or relief?

Happiness ... or relief?

So, at 2-2 in games following a 3-0 Detroit victory over Phoenix in Hockeytown, are the Wings finally in charge of this opening round Stanley Cup series?

I can see three equally possible scenarios:

With the series down to a best-of-three with two of the games in Phoenix, if Home Ice Rules, the Coyotes win in seven. Of course, home ice hasn’t ruled; both teams have a win in the other’s building.

Then there’s the Hockeytown Special: The Wings win in Phoenix Friday and at home on Sunday to win in six.

And then there’s looking at Tuesday’s shutout as the Wings’ Last Hurrah: The Coyotes win at home and win the series in Hockeytown. This one scares me. The Coyotes play like hungry dogs. They lack the Wings’ star power, know it and play with the kind of desperation that trumps talent in the playoffs.

Two of these three scenarios favor the Coyotes; the series is best two-out-of-three now. Will the Wings’ talent trump the Coyotes’ hunger? You won’t find the answers here. We’ll see them on the ice.

What I liked about the game: Quite a bit, really. Joe Louis Arena was noisy. The crowd helped because the Wings helped the crowd by playing well. The Wings hung in there. They killed six more power plays and have not given up an extra-strength goal since the three in the first game. Five of the last six penalties in the game were against Detroit; the Wings had to kill back-to-back penalties at 10:20 and 12:02 of the third period, which means they played 18 seconds down two men (AND lost the faceoff in their own zone to start those 18 seconds).
So, three things won this game: penalty killing; goalie Jimmy Howard, who made 29 saves; and the Wings best two players scored. Henrik Zetterberg scored the first (at 15:33 of the second period) and third goals of the game; he now has five goals in the series. Pavel Datsyuk scored the killer second goal after the Wings killed off the back-to-back penalties.

What I did’t like about the game: Faceoffs continue to be a concern. The Coyotes dominated the first period 20-7, yet the Wings finished with a 31-30 advantage, 24-11 in the last two periods. Also: The Wings continue to chase the pucks for shifts on end at times. The Coyotes really move the puck well. And you can expect to see more of that on Friday.
Also: Even without their best player, Shane Doan, the Coyotes were in this game until the final five minutes.

The BIG question: The three scenarios at the top of this posting.

Quote: “They were a very determined team without a doubt.” — Phoenix coach Dave Tippett

Mood meter: Trepidation.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!