Making friends with Nick

Bowl Cut / Side Part Alert!

Back when they were terrible in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the Red Wings would host dinner events at the Joe. They’d put carpet on the ice, and arrange tables so that you were guaranteed to sit with a player. Once it was Kevin Miller (who gave me hell because I didn’t finish the meal, then asked if he could). Another it was John Chabot (memba him?).

My folks went a bunch of times, but I was lucky enough to go twice – when I was eight and nine. Some of the guys, like Steve Yzerman, were difficult to get near — everyone wanted to chat for a minute, get an autograph, or just hang out in their presence. Others, like the young guns or “role players” were a little more accessible – happy to talk to you, sign your jersey, or talk about the photo on their hockey card.

My second time around, in 1991, I noticed a younger looking guy sitting at a table, with no one but a young lady around him. He seemed really shy, kept to himself, stayed seated, didn’t really get into schmoozing so much. I asked my mom if she thought he was a player or if he was just another fan in attendance, like we were. We decided to go over and strike up a conversation.

He had a pretty thick accent, and he introduced us to his beautiful then-fiancee (now, wife). We talked for a good twenty minutes, the two of them couldn’t have been any nicer. Throughout our entire conversation, I don’t remember a single person coming to the table to meet him, but that could just be the memories of a nine-year-old. He said that he hadn’t played in Detroit yet (which explains why nobody was knocking chairs over to shake his hand), but he was excited to join the team and hoped he could stay in Motown for a long time. He told me his name was Nicklas, shook my hand, and signed my jersey right between the shoulder blades, just below where Ted Lindsay had signed. How symbolic.

Almost twenty years later, it’s hard to imagine I ever had that kind of time with such a special hockey player.

Those nights were awesome. I got to shake hands and chit-chat with so many of the guys. I remember Dennis Vial being impressed I knew his birthday (I share it, so it’s probably cheating), meeting Yves Racine’s son who was only a few years younger than me, taking a picture of my mom who was fake-punching Bob Probert on the chin, taking a photo with Vladdy Konstantinov (obviously, a cherished memory now more than ever), taking a photo with Steve Chiasson (obviously, a photo opportunity that won’t come up again), questioning why a will-remain-unnamed-goaltender needed glasses for dinner but not for games (he probably could have used them…).

But as fantastic as those moments were, they don’t even come close to sharing a private, lengthy conversation with Nicklas Lidstrom. I remember watching some 1991-92 games on television, hearing his name, and saying, “hey, that’s the guy we made friends with!” I always hoped he’d succeed, and for those first couple years, the “guy from that dinner” was how I thought of him.

It didn’t take long, however, for him to go from “that guy from that dinner” to the “future captain,” the “future Hall-of-Famer,” the “perennial Norris winner.”

He seemed genuinely happy that we came by and chatted with him, and when it became time to move on, he seemed a lot more comfortable talking with folks, less embarrassed by his accent, and started making the rounds. I doubt he remembers that chat, but it meant the world to me, a nine-year-old diehard Red Wings fan. Nearly twenty years later, it still means the world to me.

Sorry, Ma

The first line is always the hardest to write. Luckily, Ansar Khan took care of it this time:

The initial estimate of Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson being out for two weeks appears overly optimistic. 

Thanks, Ansar! Perhaps next time open articles with “so I was kicking some puppies off a cliff…” In the article, with the inauspicious title “Jonathan Ericsson has knee drained”, Ericsson discusses his knee, which is still swollen, and that his timeline is “a guess.”

We figured he was tough, perhaps even Chuck Norris tough, but I think deep down we all knew that when his leg bent backwards, it wasn’t going to be quick. Ericsson continues:

My whole leg from my knee down to my ankle is pretty swollen. I don’t have that much motion right now. Got to work to get the swelling down and go from there. Doctor told me it’s a guess to say when we think you’re going to be back; these things are so different from case to case.

The article concludes by Ericsson’s estimate of two to four weeks, presumably from NOW and not from the time of the injury, which has us looking at mid to late January for a return.

Newbury west, Ritola east

Some transaction news this morning: Kris Newbury has been returned to Grand Rapids and Ken Holland says that the “plan is” to recall Mattias Ritola this afternoon.

Newbury got into four games, and immediately became the Most Fascinating Man on the Planet: being penalized on his first shift, and then scoring before making it back to the bench. The last three games have been rather quiet from #32, but its apparent he’s not afraid to muck it up (or attempt to hurdle goaltenders).

Ritola played two games with the Wings at the end of 2007-08, netting one assist. One would assume that with Darren Helm back, the need for a center becomes secondary to the need for a winger. Also, it might be safe to assume that Valtteri Filppula is on track and is set to return on December 26th. He must know I’ll be in attendance. BOOYAH.

I’m excited to see Ritola, assuming he gets into the game Wednesday (and there are no delays on my way home to Michigan for the holidays). For more insight into Ritola (and any other Griffin, for that matter), follow @MrsOTW on Twitter. She offers the following, via Twitter:

He’s highly [thought of in] the organization; has some good offense, tendency to give away the puck at both blue lines. My guess is the Wings are trying to find offense, which Newbury has not provided. Ritola is usually a good place to find offense, but Williams is a better place. Ritola deserves this look, though.

Ritola has seven goals and seven assists in 31 games, good enough for seventh on the Griffins in scoring.

In somewhat-related news, the NHL roster freeze is in effect (from the 19th until the 27th), meaning the Wings cannot make any waiver moves, trades, or loans. Clearly, these types of transactions don’t count.

Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

No Dice! Wings fail to gain ground in Central

WONDERTWIN POWERS, ACTIVATE!

Vomit. The Wings were shut out for the fourth time this season — one more than they had all of last year. The final score wad 3-0, but it almost doesn’t matter. It didn’t seem like it was to be as soon as the puck dropped. The Hawks dominated almost every aspect of the game: out-shooting the Wings 35-20, winning 65% of the faceoffs, and ultimately winning the game 3-0.

For a more complete write-up, check out my recap at Winging it in Motown.

TPL’S TAKE
1. The Blackhawks first goal, scored by Duncan Keith from the blueline, was a bomb. It’s kind of a long way to feel good about it, but it was certainly the most forgivable of the goals allowed by Osgood. Which isn’t saying much.
2. It took thirteen minutes for the Red Wings to register their first shot. They had trouble getting in the zone (and staying in the zone) all night. They ended the night with 20 shots, and very few of them were dangerous.
3. There was a flurry of penalties early (on both sides), but only Chicago benefited from their power play. Todd Bertuzzi took a hooking penalty (more on that later) that seemed really close to being a penalty shot.
4. Right before the second period, we learned that Patrick Eaves was getting x-rays as the result of a blocked shot. They weren’t even done talking about him being gone when a camera shot showed that he was making his way back to the bench. Phew, dodged a bullet there.
5. At one point in the second period, Doug Janik was beaten BADLY, and looked like he was skating in mud. It was a near breakaway, until Chris Osgood pulled a Hasek, meeting the Hawk at the blueline to poke the threat back into the neutral zone.
6. There were questionable calls all night: first, Bertuzzi’s “hook” wasn’t really much of a hook. Later, it was a too many men call that really could have been ignored. Finally, Justin Abdelkader was the lone player to go to the box after some post-whistle festivities. I’m not about to blame the officiating, because the Wings lost all on their own.
7. Whoa – is that Darren Helm on the power play? Go get it, kid.
8. The second Hawks goal was extraordinarily soft (Osgoodesque, if you will). Brian Campbell floated one through the wickets, which for some reason were spread like butter.
9. Make that two in a row: the final Hawks tally came from about 65 feet away, and off of the stick of Best Name Nominee Dustin Byfuglien. Osgood must have been thinking about Spongebob or something. As I said in the WIM Game Thread, he looked like a goalie from NHL 94 on Sega Genesis…shooting out a leg, pretending he was paying attention, and missing it badly.
10. Missing Z and Flip on the draws is starting to show. The Wings had only won nine faceoffs through two periods, and were right around 35% for the night. That’s dreadful.

REVISITING THE PRE-GAME QUICK THOUGHTS
1. I thought Hossa would have a big game, but he was a relative non-factor. I only saw him a handful of times, and he didn’t look particularly dangerous. Must have been Playoff Hossa.
2. At the same time, no one laid the body on Hossa, like I was kind of hoping for.
3. Osgood could have used a strong showing, and the Wings could have used a big win. We got neither.
4. After a great game from the top line on Saturday, they — like the rest of the team — laid goose eggs. Honestly, though, the effort was there from that line, and they were the closest to netting one.
5. Abdelkader certainly wasn’t invisible. He’s mucking it up a bit, almost got into a fight, laid a big hit on Patrick Sharp. The kind of effort we’ve grown to expect from Gator.

What’s next?
Re-match. The Hawks visit the Joe on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Charles Cherney, AP

12/20 :: Wings and Hawks renew acquaintances





WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?

Sunday, December 20th. 7pm Eastern. Red Wings at Chicago. I’ll be hosting the Game Thread at Winging it in Motown. Stop by and say hello.
WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
1. Chris Osgood starts finally, and it’s an important one. We hope he has the fire.
2. Our first crack at Marian Hossa – who was injured the last time these teams met.
3. Games against division rivals are big – especially on the outside looking in.
NOW WHERE WERE WE?
The Wings and Hawks met last on October 8th. It was the first game in North America for the Wings this season, and also their first win.
WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE THEN
Everyone and their mother has been placed on IR (yet, I haven’t received a call to fill in), and the Wings have struggled a bit. Lately, they’ve played better, but they’re still looking up at Chicago in the standings.
OH, HI AGAIN 
The Blackhawks famously have two former Red Wings: Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky. Kopecky has been a healthy scratch lately, but Marian Hossa has been on a pretty good run since returning from shoulder surgery.


MEMBA ME?! 
Likewise, the Red Wings have two former Blackhawks, but they’re both injured. Neither Dan Cleary nor Jason Williams will be available for this game against their former squad.

BEST NAME NOMINEE

Dustin Byfuglien. If anyone on the planet can tell me how that’s “BUFF-LIN,” it’d be greatly appreciated. Honorable mention to Niklas Hjalmarsson.

THEIR LAST GAMES
–Detroit lost to Dallas, 4-3, on Saturday afternoon.
–Chicago defeated Boston, 5-4, in a shootout on Friday night.
RECORDS
–Detroit Red Wings :: 18-12-5 (3rd in Central, 8th in West) :: 7-6-3 on the road.
–Chicago Blackhawks :: 22-8-3 (1st in Central, 1st in Wast) :: 15-3-1 at home.
BLACKHAWKS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Dave Bolland (injured) :: Marian Hossa :: Patrick Kane :: Helicopter Down :: John Madden :: Patrick Sharp :: Jonathan Toews :: Kris Versteeg :: Cam Barker :: Brian Campbell :: Duncan Keith :: Brent Seabrook
EXPECTED LINEUP
Bertuzzi — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Leino — Abdelkader — Eaves
Draper — Helm — Miller
May — Newbury — Maltby
Lidstrom — Meech
Rafalski — Janik
Lebda — Stuart
Osgood (starts)
Howard

***Injuries
Andreas “Megatron” Lilja
Johan “Bumblebee” Franzen
Valtteri “Starscream” “Hot Rod” Filppula [courtesy good friend of TPL, Baroque]
Jason “Arcee” Williams
Niklas “Sideswipe” Kronwall
Dan “Ironhide” Cleary

Jonathan “Shockwave” Ericsson

Henrik “Soundwave” Zetterberg
QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Marian Hossa might want to shut Red Wings fans up real early — look for him to be on a tear.
2. Likewise, I assume some Red Wings would love to shut Marian Hossa up — look for Brad Stuart to go all KABOOMY on him.
3. This would be a great game for Chris Osgood to pull off a big win.
4. Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi connected against Dallas and had three points each. With all the injuries, it’s nice that somebody’s picking up the slack. Even if it includes Dumbass McGee.
5. Look for Justin Abdelkader to give more of an effort. I’m not used to not seeing him for sixty minutes.
WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Stars
The Red Wings are not good at ping-pong. (Courtesy @goaliemom31)
HAWK WE COVET (JJ Special)
I made no secret that I wanted the Wings to take a run at John Madden this past off-season, but one could argue we have a lot of players in his mould. I’m a big fan of Dave Bolland and Patrick Sharp – at least when the latter isn’t spearing our captain in the nuts.

Red Wings lose to Stars, but KEEP ALL THEIR PLAYERS.


“Why the ear?!”

Oy. It looked good for a while there, but the back-and-forth second period clearly gained more momentum for the Stars than it did for the Red Wings, as Detroit falls 4-3 in regulation, ending their four game winning streak.


TPL’S TAKE
1. Clearly, Brad May and Krys Barch like one another – they were hardly throwing actual punches. Entertaining nonetheless, but it sure as hell doesn’t have the hate factor of a McCarty/Lemiuex or Probert/Domi.
2. Drew Miller continues to make things happen. He and Kris Draper had a great flurry in the first period, and had Turco flopping all over the place. Later in the first, Miller had another scoring chance. I’m becoming a very big fan of his. I’m not certain he’s one of the top 12 forwards when everyone’s healthy, but he’s sure as hell on his way.
3. Tomas Holmstrom buried the puck to a vacated net for the first goal of the game. Great play all around: strong effort in the defensive zone, nice handling through the neutral zone, and even though Bertuzzi’s “shot” couldn’t have been much weaker, the fact that he got a stick on that puck as he was draped by two defenders was impressive. With Turco way out of the net, Homer made sure there was no “intent to blow” on the play.
4. This may have been Nicklas Lidstrom’s best game in a while. On the first power play, he made two really nice plays to keep the puck in the zone — one on EACH SIDE OF THE ICE. If you’ve never played hockey, you might not realize how insanely difficult that is, and watching him you’d think it was easy. It is not.
5. The first Stars goal was beautifully set up. Just another one of those goals that should hit mesh. Lebda maybe could have had this man (Benn) a little stronger, but Mike Ribeiro made a great pass to Karlis Skrastins.
6. I think Bertuzzi put the puck in the Wings net on the second Stars goal. It looks like it hit Rafalski somewhere, James Neal’s toe/stick, and finally Bertuzzi’s skate. Not sure it counts in Todd Bertuzzi’s OMFG TOTALLY AWESOME GOAL SCORING STREAK. He immediately made up for it, by softly passing past his man onto Pavel Datsyuk’s stick for a very slight re-direct (in fact, on the replay, it looked like it might have gone right from Bertuzzi to net). Very weak goal for Turco to allow, particularly right after having the lead for the first time all day. Tied 2-2.
7. Oh wait, we’ll take the lead back, thanks. James Neal scores his second of the period. Stars lead 3-2 on the third goal in about 11 seconds. OH WAIT AGAIN! Pavel Datsyuk with a nifty pass to Bertuzzi, who absolutely crushed a slap shot into the corner. End of the second period, which somehow finds the score 3-3. Real goaltending duel all of a sudden.
8. Not how you want to start the third period of a back-and-forth game. A little over a minute in, the Wings found themselves playing from behind – again. Great shot from Skrastins, who buried his second of the game (and season). Howard left a bit to be desired in the second half of this game after starting really strong.
9. The Stars played the last two minutes with a hell of a lot more fire than the Red Wings did, and they already had the lead. Very little urgency from our boys. With a minute left to go, Jimmy Howard made a save that gave the Wings a chance for the tie.
10. Blech. Poor second half of the game kills the Wings.

REVISITING THE PRE-GAME QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Howard played well in the first period penalty kill and the shifts following – lots of big saves, looked very confident. He had great saves on Ott and Richards. Then, the second period was a bit of a wild card: pucks were getting past both goaltenders, and it’s a period I’m sure Howard would like back. The fourth Stars goal was of the weak variety, but Howard made up for it as he stopped a breakaway with just under a minute to go.
2. Helm played a TON. He wasn’t eased into the lineup at all, playing over 19 minutes – the most of any Red Wings forward. Shows a lot of man-love that Babcock clearly has for Helm. He looked great. No rust. He had another breakaway and, even though he didn’t convert, I’m convinced he’ll find his hands eventually. And when he does, everyone else will have to watch out because he’s one of the biggest threats the Wings will have.
3. Datsyuk. That’s what I’m talking about. A goal and two assists, clearly realizing he has to pick up his game in Z’s absence.
4. The second line didn’t generate much, and to be honest – outside of Eaves – I don’t remember seeing much of it. Fact is, I’m not sure Eaves-Abdelkader-Leino is expected to be explosive.
5. Bertuzzi. Son of a bitch. A goal and two assists. YOU’RE KILLIN ME, SMALLS! In related news, Tyler from The Triple Deke and I are working on some sort of Contuzzi Alliance and/or Fight to the Death. Visit Twitter for details as they unfold.

What’s next?
The Wings visit the Windy City tomorrow at 7pm, getting their first glimpse of Hossa since his defection.

Photo Credit: Tim Sharp, AP

12/19 :: Zetterberg out, Helm in, Howard again

Obligatory photo of Mrs. Mike Modano: Willa Ford


WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?
Saturday, December 19th. 3pm (Eastern). Red Wings at Dallas — the closest hockey town to our very own Rob.
WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
1. The Red Wings are playing their first game without their newest injured superstar: Henrik Zetterberg.
2. Darren Helm returns to the lineup after missing two.
3. Jimmy Howard gets the start — again.
NOW WHERE WERE WE?
The Wings and Stars last played on November 30th – the first time the teams met after LaRueGate. The Red Wings (like usual) whooped Marty Turco’s ass. The final was 4-1, with goals from Cleary, Bertuzzi, Helm, and Miller. Jimmy Howard played in that game, as well.
WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE THEN
Oh, ya know…Rafalski got injured, returned; Leino was benched, became needed; Cleary was injured; Helm was injured, and is set to return; Ericsson was injured; Zetterberg was injured. So…”the norm” ’round these parts.
OH, HI AGAIN / MEMBA ME?! / BEST NAME NOMINEE
All of these were covered last time, but here’s a refresher: Doug Janik used to play for the Stars (and 28 other hockey teams), but no former Red Wings are on the current Stars roster. Mark Fistric was my best name nominee.
THEIR LAST GAMES
–Detroit defeated Tampa Bay 3-0 on Thursday.
–Dallas lost 6-5 in overtime against Atlanta on Thursday.
RECORDS
–Detroit Red Wings :: 18-11-5 (3rd in Central, 8th in West) :: 7-5-3 on the road.
–Dallas Lonestars :: 14-9-1 (4th in Pacific, 10th in Wast) :: 7-3-5 at home.
STARS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Fabian Brunnstrom :: Loui Eriksson :: Jere Lehtinen :: Mike Modano :: The Sun :: Brendan Morrow :: James Neal :: Mike Ribeiro :: Brad Richards :: Matt Niskanen :: Marty Turco
EXPECTED LINEUP
Awww yeeeaaahhh, Darren Helm is back in. The rest is the same.
Bertuzzi — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Leino — Abdelkader — Eaves
Draper — Helm — Miller
May — Newbury — Maltby
Lidstrom — Meech
Rafalski — Janik
Lebda — Stuart
Howard (starts)
Osgood
Injuries
Andreas “Controversy” Lilja
Johan “Let’s Go Crazy” Franzen
Valtteri “Little Red Corvette” Filppula
Jason “Raspberry Beret” Williams
Niklas “Delirious” Kronwall
Jonathan “U Got the Look” Ericsson [you’re welcome, mom]
Dan “7” Cleary
Henrik “When Doves Cry” Zetterberg
QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Jimmy Howard starting again after his first shutout. He’s on a hell of a tear, and it’d be swell if he kept that up.
2. Darren Helm might have some rust to shake off, but something tells me he’ll still be going ten thousand miles an hour.
3. Losing Zetterberg hurts — but hopefully it’ll finally light a fire under Pavel Datsyuk’s mishen.
4. Everyone who thought that Patrick Eaves, Justin Abdelkader, and Ville Leino would comprise a second line at any point this season raise your hand. And send me lottery numbers.
WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Lightning
Drew Miller could have been a Street Fighter character. HADUKEN!

STAR WE COVET (JJ Special)
I’ve already picked Morrow and Lehtinen. The logical next choice is the resident Italian, so Mike Modano it is.

Wings Lose Zetterberg, Win Game

No snarky caption could possibly trump the awesomeness of this photo.

Ouch. Zetterberg. A big win, though, four in a row for the first time all season. But if you asked me before the game “Zetterberg or a win,” I would have kept Z. Hopefully it’s not as bad as it looked (like Johnny Cakes) and he’s back soon.

TPL’S TAKE
1. First and foremost, the Henrik Zetterberg injury. He got wrecked. The injury situation is clearly beyond ridiculous, and if Zetterberg misses significant time, it’d be incredible if the Red Wings stay as afloat as they have. After the game, it was learned that it was Z’s shoulder being tested, and that he drove himself to the hospital (which is pretty encouraging). In the same press conference, Babcock shared that he thinks Flip is closer to returning to action than any of the others – including Helm. What what what what? He was a game-time decision yesterday, and now he’s out for three weeks? Anyway, I think we should all revisit the Malocchio post and offer up additional sacrifices.
2. Drew Miller’s goal was beautiful. Yes, the Bobby Orr pose was nifty as he avoided Mike Smith’s poke check, but the most incredible part was knocking the chest-high pass out of midair. I won’t take full credit for that goal, but I will remind you what was said in the pre-game: “Drew Miller is quietly becoming a very reliable point producer. He should feel a little extra motivation against the team that waived him earlier in the season.” Does that effort count as extra motivation? I’d say so.
3. Okay, I have to get something off my chest. I alluded to it in the podcast, but it needs to be said again. Jesus Christ, Brad May. That “fight” with Best Name Nominee Zenon Konopka was woeful, like most of them have been this season, but that’s forgivable I suppose. But, after Zetterberg gets ROCKED, it’s Patrick Eaves that takes exception and does something about it. I know May wasn’t on the ice for that hit, but come on man… invisible the rest of the game. Patrick Eaves? I mean… I guess it’s nice that SOMEONE does something. Earlier in the season, I gave Brad May the goal in the Stars game because he scored, dammit, and if the league wouldn’t recognize it, I sure as hell would. Now, May gets a new honor. He gets a TPL GTFO.
4. Speaking of Eaves following the Ohlund/Zetterberg hit, that’s one of those penalties you just let go. The Wings had a player injured on the play and the shoving match was nothing to get excited about. Let it go. Losing Z and then being shorthanded is shortsighted nonsense from the overcautious parents on the ice known as referees.
5. Look at Justin Abdelkader doing his best Dan Cleary impression, blocking shots on the kill, getting stung, and going back for more. Balls.
6. In the second period, Todd Bertuzzi made the cupcakest attempt to strip an opposing player of the puck that I’ve ever seen. He’s a goddamn mountain, and he waved his stick all “scuse me, mista” and ended up just skating away empty-handed. Later, he would somehow put himself five feet off-sides while carrying the puck. Then, a penalty, which was best argued in the following manner, courtesy of our friends at Hockeytown Static:

You should not be allowed to call high sticking on Martin St. Louis. Of course it hit his face. Keenan Draper could hit his face.

Brilliant.
7. Okay, now that I’ve purged my Bertuzzi Hate (for the night), time to discuss his goal. First of all, it was a beauty. Great re-direction and excellent use of a turnover. I was alerted of this phenomenon via Twitter from the following friends of TPL: @jennyquarx, @jennbikegirl, @FightNightatJoe, @chollis, @inhyung. Okay, so my “he won’t score again until March” was off by a few…months. Good thing I kept all those ProTuzzi shirts!
8. Anyone else think Kris Newbury looks like a Goonie?
9. Rob and I were having a discussion via email, and he mentioned that he can’t believe the Lightning aren’t better, and he couldn’t be more right. How the hell are they always bottom-feeders? Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, even Matthias Ohlund, Victor Hedman who will be good, Mike Smith who is very underrated and one of the best stickhandling goalies on the planet. Don’t make no sense, yo.
10. And then Patrick Eaves? Hell yes. Chalk another one up for Rob, who called it and may have just become an even bigger BUY on the Sobotka Index. He was thanked by Kurtis Foster with a boom behind Mike Smith.

REVISITING THE PRE-GAME QUICK THOUGHTS

1. Janik looked okay. That holding or interference or whatever they called it is going to get called 100 times out of 100 and he probably should have known better. But, the Wings penalty kill went all pimp-hand again, and bailed him out.
2. All of a sudden, my staying afloat analogy with the injuries has more meaning. I thought it was a good time for Lidstrom, Datsyuk, and Leino. Lidstrom didn’t get on the board for the eleventy billionth time in a row, Pavel Datsyuk seems snake-bitten, too, and if Ville Leino didn’t get penalties, you wouldn’t know he was there.
3. Drew Miller. Booyah. I’m going to start charging these players for the good juju.
4. Good on Jimmy Howard, who needed to play out of his mind to quiet those who questioned why Chris Osgood wasn’t playing, given his 17-0-0 record against the Lightning. His first career shutout, and he looked sharp getting it.
5. The moral of the story is the Wings keep winning. Which is amazing considering they played the majority of tonight without NINE regulars.

What’s next?
Stars. In Dallas. Afternoon game on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Paul Sancya, AP

12/17 :: Lightning and Red Wings Pre-Game

Oh, 1990’s Courtney Cox hair, where have you gone?



WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?

Thursday, December 17th, 2009. 7:30pm. Tampa Bay Lightning @ Detroit Red Wings. It’s Ugly Sweater Night at the Joe.
WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
1. Jimmy Howard. Sure is getting a lot of starts for someone who ISN’T the starter, eh?
2. The Red Wings are without yet another player – this time Jonathan Ericsson.
3. Detroit’s looking for its fourth in a row. It would be the first time all season.
NOW WHERE WERE WE?
The last time the Wings played the Lightning was November 13, 2008 – a little over 13 months ago. The Wings won 4-3 with goals from Zetterberg, Franzen, Datsyuk, and Samuelsson. Chris Osgood was in net, and Dan Cleary was out with an eye injury. It was the first of five wins in a row. Come on, repeating history!
WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE THEN
The Lightning finished the season near the basement, and drafted Swedish Mountain Victor Hedman. They were off to a better start this season, but again find themselves at the bottom of the standings. It’s been a long drop from the 2004 Stanley Cup season,
OH, HI AGAIN
The Wings and Lightning made a trade on Draft Day, as Detroit swapped its 29th pick (Carter “Son of Former Red Wing Brent” Ashton) for the 32nd (Landon Ferraro) and 75th (Andrej Nestrasil). There are no former Red Wings on the current Lightning roster.
MEMBA ME?!
Earlier this season, the Red Wings plucked Drew Miller off of waivers from Tampa Bay. So…thanks for that. Doug Janik played for the Lightning, just like he did for every other team in the NHL.
BEST NAME NOMINEE
Zenon Konopka.
THEIR LAST GAMES
–Detroit defeated Phoenix on Monday by a score of 3-2.
–Tampa had a rough outing on Tuesday, losing to Nashville 7-4.
RECORDS
–Detroit Red Wings :: 17-11-5 (3rd in Central, 8th in West) :: 10-6-2 at home.
–Tampa Bay Oren Koules :: 11-13-9 (4th in Southeast, 13th in East) :: 4-9-5 on the road.
LIGHTNING YOU SHOULD KNOW
Martin St. Louis :: Vincent Lecavalier :: Ryan Malone :: Steven Stamkos :: Ed Kowalczyk :: Alex Tanguay :: Matthias Ohlund :: Mike Smith
EXPECTED LINEUP
Doug Janik will play his second game this season, in Ericsson’s place, including on the penalty kill. Helm can’t go, Newbury will play his second game, and presumably get eight penalty minutes and two goals. In the first period.
Datsyuk — Zetterberg — Holmstrom
Bertuzzi — Eaves — Leino
Miller — Abdelkader — Draper
Maltby — Newbury — May
Lidstrom — Meech
Rafalski — Janik
Lebda — Stuart
Howard (starts)
Osgood
Injuries
Andreas “Part-Time Lover” Lilja
Johan “Higher Ground” Franzen
Valtteri “Superstition” Filppula
Jason “Living for the City” Williams
Niklas “Uptight” Kronwall
Dan “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” Cleary
Darren “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” Helm
Jonathan “Sir Duke” Ericsson
QUICK THOUGHTS
1. If Doug Janik plays like he did the last time he was called up, he’ll be fine. He kept it simple, and it worked.
2. How this team stays afloat with all these injuries is amazing, but someone’s going to have to step up. Prime candidates now that they’ve had a few days to decompress are Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Ville Leino.
3. Drew Miller is quietly becoming a very reliable point producer. He should feel a little extra motivation against the team that waived him earlier this season.
4. Jimmy Howard has been playing well enough to keep getting the nod. Osgood will likely have the second of the back-to-back games, so it’s important that Howard makes this opportunity count – a tiny bit more so than usual. Also, I’m the last one to state this stat: Chris Osgood is 17-0-0 against Tampa Bay in his career.
5. This is the first game of the season that the Red Wings are going into while seeded 8th or better. The trick now is staying there, and going only up. Win, boys.
WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Coyotes
Kris Newbury. Booyah.

BOLT WE COVET (JJ Special)
Drew Miller. Oh, wait…  James Wright — what a cool story. Interestingly, they have Matt Walker and Paul Ranger. Neither are from Texas.