That’s how it’s done. A full sixty minute effort, and a win for the good guys. The calendar will switch over to 2010, and the Red Wings have 20 wins on the season, thanks to a 4-2 victory over the once-hated Colorado Avalanche.
We all know the league is ass backwards, but I think the biggest problem I have is the inconsistency of penalty calls, and I don’t just mean for or against the Red Wings. I learned early in my playing days that it is a fact that, as it’s always been, there’s a offense worthy of a penalty on every single play if you look hard enough for it. Early in the games, refs choose to call those (as they did in the game against the Avs), and later in the game, they let them go (except on that redonkulous Filppula tripping call). It’d be great if a penalty was a penalty and a suspension was a suspension. But we don’t live in that world. Sadly.
Filppula is back. His shift in the final couple minutes of the first period was beautiful. A little bit of dangle, a little bit of footwork, a little bit of drive to the net. He’s just a good hockey player. There’s not a whole lot more to say about Flip, really. He’s just good. I’m pretty sure he’ll never be a Datsyuk/Zetterberg calibre of player (meaning, All-Planet), but he doesn’t need to be and he isn’t terribly far off, anyway.
Ken Daniels dropped this nugget on us during the second period: since November 27th, the Red Wings have the best PK in the league – over 95%. That’s a sick-nasty number, and as an outspoken “It’s all your fault, Brad McCrimmon” guy, it’s only fair that I offer him a beer. Next time I see Brad McCrimmon, I’ll totally buy him a beer.* They did allow two PP goals to the Avs, but they also scored two short-handed goals (more on that in a minute). I’ll take that trade every single night.
What a shot from Pavel – coming across the blueline, he snapped one off real quick and it ended up top shelf cookie jar. Craig Anderson did his best Chris Osgood “What the–!?” impression as it sailed by him and back out.
OH THE HELMANITY! I love Darren Helm. I always have. I knew that eventually he’ll find some hands, and GOOD LORD was that shot perfect. Not quite sure where Anderson was headed with his side along the ice, but Helm ROOFED that puck. Shorthanded, no less. By my count, that’s the third shorty of the season. Later, he iced the game with his second short-handed goal of the night, an empty netter, DOUBLING the amount of SH goals the Red Wings have scored in all of 2008-09. And with that, the final Red Wings goal of the 00’s was scored by Darren Helm. He’s a restricted free agent in July, but he’s eligible for re-signing after January 1st, and I – for one – would love to see him wrapped up in a nice ten year deal. Keep him in Detroit forever.
Jimmy Howard misplayed the puck badly on the first Avalanche goal. Should have gotten out to play the puck a bit quicker (and more efficiently) – it ended up behind him with bodies everywhere: five players total. One of them swats the puck into the empty net. Next season, I’m going to keep track of Budd Lynch “Last Minute of Play in This Period” goals allowed by Red Wings goaltenders. It has to be a ton. Howard made up for that weak goal against with an unbelievable save halfway through the third. The one-timer was destined for the back of the net, but Jimmy got over quickly and threw a leg at it.
Needing a goal more than anyone else on the planet, a helmetless Ville Leino, lookin’ like Mickey Redmond out there, tipped that puck (after it had already been tipped once) past Craig Anderson. Derek Meech let it go, Justin Abdelkader got a piece, and Ville Leino got another piece. Craig Anderson looked like he was high on peyote, and couldn’t find his own feet. Leino wasn’t as visible as Mattias Ritola was all night (which doesn’t bode well for the Finn), but he did do something Ritola didn’t: get on the scoresheet. Perhaps it’ll increase Uncle Mike’s confidence in him and he’ll be a regular in the lineup again. I have a gut feeling Ritola will be sent back down before the next Wings game…
*Offer only valid if he prints a copy of this TPL article and presents it to me to sign.
REVISITING THE PRE-GAME QUICK THOUGHTS
1. I said the Wings needed to finish on a high note – and that they did. A regulation victory felt really good, and I’m sure the boys in red couldn’t be happier with the way their calendar year ended. Hopefully the dark days are behind them and it’s all uphill from here.
2. Here’s my official scouting report on Mattias Ritola: this was the first time I got to really watch him — during his few game call-up two seasons ago, I was in Mexico on business and watched the games using Rob’s GameCenter Live subscription to dial in. In the first period, he looked exactly like an AHL player playing as a call-up in the NHL. No offense to him, because that’s exactly what he is – but he definitely looked a step slower than everyone else, didn’t make decisions quick enough for this level of hockey, and had no business whatsoever on the power play (though, the Wings are trying anyone that is warm and has a beating heart on the second power play unit). But, as the game went on, he got more comfortable, and looked 100% better. He was a hit machine in the second period, and he was one of the players that really stood out to me in the third: great puck control, great poise, smart play-making. I think he’s going to be a really good hockey player in the NHL, but maybe has some jitters as a call-up. It takes a special Filppula-like player not to display those kinds of nerves, so I’m not worried about him at all. I look forward to seeing him more regularly (and not in a jersey number too closely resembling Helm’s 43).
3. Jimmy Howard straight up beat Craig Anderson in a battle of Olympic bubble goalies. It’ll be interesting to see who the USA picks as their third netminder, especially now.
4. I thought that this was one of the last chances Pavel would get to take over and be savior. He scored a beautiful goal, and his line (with Bertuzzi and Holmstrom) was the most noticeable on the ice all night (thanks, in part, to 476 penalty minutes from Homer). He didn’t exactly own the game, but he didn’t have an invisible game, either. Good on Pavel to break the Bertuzzi-only schneid, and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.
5. The game was chippy, but there were no Brad May fights (or any other fights, for that matter). He did, however, try to pull an old school Mayday play, attempting to dipsy doodle around some Av defenders, before losing the handle completely, skating back to the bench, and snickering about it.