Take that, Ville!

Check out my mad MS Paint skillz!

The TPL Post-Game report is on its way, but I thought that his dandy little quote from Uncle Mike couldn’t wait. As everyone knows by know, Ville was the healthy scratch for the New York Rangers game — a game in which the Red Wings won 3-1. Said Uncle Mike to Ansar Khan:

I don’t know if it’s a message. The bottom line is we went through it today, talked about [it]. It’s about trying to win, so we dressed the best guys.

OWNED! In a strange coincidence (or is it), the last time Ville Leino was a healthy scratch was Halloween, a game against the Calgary Flames that the Wings also won 3-1. Current General Manager of the Leino Lounge said the following – presumably in broken Finnglish:

It’s never fun to be off the ice, especially now. Obviously, you want to be a part of the group. But something had to be done and I guess it was my turn to be out.

Mike Babcock is notoriously stubborn about changing lines, but one can’t help but wonder if — since this lineup worked — Leino stays out of the lineup for longer than one game. If that’s the case, how long do you think it’ll be until the “I’m going back home” threats come?

Wings join millions of other Bridge-and-Tunnelers in Manhattan

Kenny’s that awesome.

WHATS ALL THIS THEN?
Detroit plays their second game in back-to-back nights, this time in Manhattan.

NOW WHERE WERE WE?
The Rangers came to the Joe in October of 2008, the last time these two teams met. The final score was 5-4 for the Wings in overtime, on the strength of goals from Homer (5), Franzen (3), and Hossa, Hudler, and Samuelsson, each with the first of the season. Zetterberg (groin) and Stuart (knee) were out, and Darren Helm was up from Grand Rapids — the Wings improved to 3-1-1 on the season.

WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE THEN
The Rangers rebounded and slid into the playoffs as the 7th seed, losing in seven games to the Washington Ovechkins. In comes Chris Higgins, Enver Lisin, Donald Brashear, Matt Gilroy, Michael Del Zotto, Marian Gaborik, Ales Kotalik, and Vinny Prospal. Out go Scott Gomez, Colton Orr, Nik Antropov, Derek Morris, Blair Betts, and Nik Zherdev. Lots of turnover. They’re like Montreal Canadiens Lite.

OH, HI AGAIN
Former Red Wing and current douche Sean Avery fits right in on Madison Avenue, even though he wears suits with shorts.

MEMBA ME?!
Red Wings farmhand Doug Janik was property of the Rangers at the end of last season, but never got into a game with the Rags.

BEST NAME NOMINEE
Artem Anisimov

BRAD MAY ALERT
The Rangers have guys like Brashear, Aaron Voros, Brian Boyle, Avery, and Dane Byers. Hint to Brad May: Brashear does not respond well to sticks to the head.

DID YOU KNOW…
Both of Patrick Eaves goals this season came in shootout losses. Let’s hope that doesn’t continue.

THEIR LAST GAMES
–Detroit lost last night, in a shootout, just across the river in Jersey.
–The Rangers defeated Buffalo 2-1, in upstate New York. They actually had to travel further to get to tonight’s game than the Red Wings did.

RECORDS
–Detroit Red Wings :: 13-10-5 (3rd in Central, 10th in West) :: 5-5-3 on the road.
–New York Four Stanley Cups in 85 Years :: 14-13-1 (3rd in Atlantic, 9th in East) :: 7-6-0 at home.

RANGERS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Ryan Callahan :: Michael Del Zotto :: Chris Drury :: Brandon Dubinsky :: Marian Gaborik :: Henrik Lundqvist

EXPECTED LINEUP
I haven’t heard if Rafalski’s back in, so I’ll assume that he’s not. Kindl has been playing very well, and looks to fit in already — which is great news for ’10-’11.  It’s a back-to-back night, so I assume Howard is starting (particularly since Osgood didn’t exactly earn his way into another start).

Leino — Datsyuk — Bertuzzi
Cleary — Zetterberg — Holmstrom
Draper — Helm — Eaves
Maltby/Miller — Abdelkader — May

Lidstrom — Ericsson
Stuart — Lebda
Meech — Kindl

Howard
Osgood

Scratch
Unknown: either Miller, Maltby, or May one would assume.
Injured
Andreas “Precision Rifle” Lilja
Johan “Not the Novelist” Franzen
Valtteri “Google’s Only Valtteri OR Filppula” Filppula
Jason “Sixth Result when Searching Jason Williams” Williams
Niklas “Brother of Steffan” Kronwall
Brian “Professor of Mathematics” Rafalski

QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Not that they played super-well, but if the Wings play like they did against the Devils, they should beat the Rangers.
2. The defense has to pick it up. I know they’re missing three regulars (assuming Rafalski is still out), but now would be a great time to turn it around. Also, Nick Lidstrom needs to start scoring and assising.
3. Kyle from BDS is right. As he said in the comments of the post-game, Zetterberg and Datsyuk need to carry this team better than they have been. I’d love a goal from all four captains against the Rangers (although Draper gets a pass after scoring in the Devils game), to set an example for everyone not named Patrick Eaves.
4. Jimmy Howard has been the stronger of the two goalies the last month or so, but Howard’s last outing was horrendous. Which version shows up will be paramount.
5. As much as I love the Draper-Helm-Eaves line, they really shouldn’t be the best for either team. But, here’s hoping they keep doing what they’re doing. Perhaps a line shuffle is in order to spread the wealth, but I’d be hesitant to break up that trio. Not to worry, Mike Babcock doesn’t believe in change.

WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Devils
Apparently, it’s not the Wings that suck in overtime/shootout – it’s Chris Osgood.

RANGER WE COVET (JJ Special)
I love Michael DelZotto and Henrik Lundqvist (and I know JJ wants Enver the Inosaur), but if I could poach one player from the Rangers, it’d be Ryan Callahan. I think with the right linemates, he’d be a special player.

Wings get a point in Jersey

This is how I do it, right? Legs wide open…?

An abbreviated post-game, as I’m late to the party, having just got back into town and watched the game courtesy of DVR.

Once again, the Wings went to overtime, eventually losing 4-3 in the shootout. Detroit got goals from Kris Draper, Patrick Eaves and Career #200 from Tomas Holmstrom. The only shooter in the skills competition to score for the Red Wings was their first, Pavel Datsyuk.

All in all, a pretty good game. Lots of energy – both teams generating chances. Patrick Eaves was your player of the game – scoring a goal, adding an assist, coming back into the game after smashing his face against the boards. He wants to stay in the lineup, and I don’t see any reason he shouldn’t be staying, especially when guys like Ville Leino are producing criminally less than he is.

TPL’S TAKE
1. The game started strong: lots of chances, good skating, hard work from all four lines. It was the best the Red Wings have looked in a while. Very few SHOTS on Brodeur, many coming from the perimeter anyway, but nearly the entire first period went by with no score.
2. Fantastic save by Osgood on the first penalty kill. There was 24 square feet to shoot at, but Ozzie filled the space pretty quickly.
3. Glad to see Ericsson skating okay. It looked pretty bad when he went off vs. Edmonton, but his knee doesn’t look any worse for wear, and he played well.
4. At least a commercial break separated the Devils first period goals. Could have been worse, ya know, by being 2-0 after 57 seconds like usual. The Oduya goal (the Devils second) was WHACK. More on that later.
5. I’ll say what’s already been said a handful of times: what the hell is Ville Leino doing in the shootout? Dan Cleary, the third shooter recently, was passed over for Todd Bertuzzi — okay, since Bertuzzi scored on his last try. But, when Bertuzzi missed, you’d think Babcock would go back to Cleary, or maybe Patrick “Hot Hands, Goal and Assist” Eaves. Bertuzzi’s attempt was good, so that’s forgiven, but Leino as the fourth shooter is not.
6. I love the first Red Wings goal. Mucking the whole way up ice. Patrick Eaves somehow comes up with the puck along the boards, Darren Helm does what Darren Helm DOES and inch it forward, somehow generates a shot, and Draper picks up the rebound. Thing of beauty. That line is the best the Red Wings have this season.
7. Homer’s 200th was quintessential, wasn’t it? The puck traveled no more than 30 inches from his stick for the goal. Like at LEAST 198 of his prior goals.

REVISITING THE PRE-GAME QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Prudential Center: it’s still there.
2. I got the local NY-feed. The 1995 Stanley Cup was brought up no less than 750 times. Unsure if they’re aware the Cup score is 4-2 since then…
3. Bertuzzi does nothing except go -2 and miss his shootout attempt. It’s back on.
4. Osgood: bad. The first goal is forgivable, although he was diving every which way (except toward the shooter): it was a nice play and a deserved goal. The second goal was terrible. I’m beginning to wonder what the Red Wings’ record would be if they got one less weak goal-against per game. Maybe it’d be the same, but I’m willing to bet there’d be at least another win in there somewhere.
5. I went 0 for 3 on goal scorers. Leino hasn’t scored since 1973, Cleary’s streak was broken, and Datsyuk got one — but in the shootout.

What’s next?
Rangers. Sunday.

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun, AP 

Red Wings travel to New Jersey, wish to be anywhere but there



*Quick TPL Note: I had to leave town rather suddenly to attend to a family matter, so posts will be slim this weekend. Go Wings! You’ll hear from me as soon as we return to New York (and I catch up on DVRed games).*


WHATS ALL THIS THEN
The Red Wings head to beautiful, sunny, not-at-all-smelly Newark to take on the Devils. Gametime is 7pm on Saturday, December 5th.

NOW WHERE WERE WE?
It’s been a long time… the Wings and Devils last met in November of 2008. The Red Wings – and Chris Osgood – won that contest 3-1, on goals from Marian Hossa (his seventh and eighth of the season) and Maltby (his first).  Franzen was out with a knee injury (SOUND FAMILIAR?!) but the team improved to 9-2-2 on the young 08-09 season.

WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE THEN
The following injuries have been sustained since the last Devils game: Cleary (eye), Kronwall (ankle), Holmstrom (back), McCarty (hernia), Maltby (ankle), Lidstrom (ankle), Franzen (hip), Stuart (ribs), Zetterberg (back), Holmstrom (hernia), Meech (groin), Franzen (hand), Lebda (back), Osgood (brain), Hossa (neck), Lilja (concussion), Filppula (back), Holmstrom (knee), Rafalski (groin), Draper (upper body), Kopecky (face), Datsyuk (foot), Ericsson (appendix), Helm (shoulder), Franzen (knee), Datsyuk (upper body), Filppula (wrist), May (eye), Eaves (foot), Williams (leg), Kronwall (knee), Rafalski (back).

That means that the only players on the current roster who have not been injured in that time are Justin Abdelkader, Drew Miller, and Jimmy Howard.

OH, HI AGAIN
As everyone knows by now, Brendan Shanahan retired and has been hired by the NHL. He was to be the only former Red Wing on the Devils this season.

MEMBA ME?!
A former big-time Devil is on the Red Wings, though it appears that he won’t play against his former mates. Brian Rafalski, a Stanley Cup winner with New Jersey, is questionable with a sore back.

BEST NAME NOMINEE
You thought Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers was long? Take a peek at Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond.

BRAD MAY ALERT
The Devils have 15 majors this season (compared to six for Detroit – all of them courtesy of Brad May). David Clarkson, Andrew Peters, Matthew Corrente each have three, Bryce Salvador and Rod Pelley have two apiece, and Mark Fraser and Mike Mottau each have one.


THEIR LAST GAMES
–Detroit pitched a stinker against Edmonton, losing 4-1 on Thursday.
–New Jersey played Tampa Bay on Friday night, winning 3-2, so here’s hoping they’re tired.

RECORDS
–Detroit Red Wings :: 13-10-4 (4th in Central, 11th in West) :: 5-5-2 on the road.
–The Once-Colorado Rockies :: 18-7-1 (2nd in Atlantic, 4th in East) :: 8-5-0 at home.

DEVILS YOU SHOULD KNOW
That’s a good team. A damn good team. Here are some names you should be familiar with:
Parise :: Zajac :: Bergfors :: Elias :: Brodeur :: Langenbrunner :: (and in case my buddies Wade and Ed are reading…ZUBRUS!)


EXPECTED LINEUP
Jonathan Ericsson WILL play, despite looking really, really hurt during the final minutes of the Oilers game. Presumably Chris Osgood will be back in net after the shitstorm delivered by Jimmy Howard. The latest on Patrick Eaves and Brian Rafalski is that they are on the trip, and potentially ready.

Leino — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Bertuzzi — Zetterberg — Cleary
Draper — Helm — Miller
May — Abdelkader — Maltby

Lidstrom — Ericsson
Stuart — Lebda
Meech — Kindl

Osgood
Howard

Injured
Andreas “No Timetable” Lilja
Johan “February” Franzen
Valtteri “Xmas Present” Filppula
Jason “Early 2010” Williams
Niklas “January” Kronwall
Patrick “Any Day Now” Eaves
Brian “Ditto” Rafalski

QUICK THOUGHTS
1. I went to see a game at The Rock a few weeks ago. It was a nice place, particularly when compared to an aging Joe Louis, but it wasn’t as awesome as everyone makes it out to be. The coolest feature, by far, was the high school hockey jerseys from around New Jersey displayed throughout the mezzanine.
2. While at the Prudential Center, I heard an awful lot of mocking of the fans of other teams – usually about how many Stanley Cups they had compared to the Devils. Though I don’t expect most East Coasters to be able to count higher than three, that shit wouldn’t fly with the Wings – who have 11 Cups, and four since New Jersey began winning in ’95 (where they did, admittedly, whip Red Wing ass).
3. Like I said in the Oilers post-game, Bertuzzi got a one-game pass for his, well, pass. A goal against the Devils, and I lay off for a week. No goal, yo’mama jokes all over the place. His last few games have been his best in a Red Wings uniform and here’s hoping it keeps going.
4. It’ll be interesting to see how Chris Osgood fares in his return to the crease, playing his first game in a week (three straight starts by Howard).
5. Predicted goal scorers: Ville Leino (take two), Danny Cleary (going for three in a row), and Pavel Datsyuk. I’m not saying they’ll stop at three…but those are my three picks.

WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Oilers
Some nights, the Red Wings juts straight up don’t feel like playing. Unfortunately, it’s becoming the norm.

DEVIL WE COVET (JJ Special)
Sigh…imagine a Red Wings team the last two decades with Martin Brodeur on it. I’d love to have Travis Zajac and/or Zach Parise, but realistically I think Brian Rolston would have been a great fit this past off-season. He was at the top of my free agency covet list.

Red Wings sticks prove to be the REAL enemy

Nothing good can come from this photo. 

Any good will that Jimmy Howard had built up may have just flown out the window with that performance. Not to put it all on him, but a handful of weak ones squeaked by the young netminder, who was starting his third game in a row.

In a game against one of the few teams more injury-depleted than the Red Wings, our boys in red couldn’t muster much — unless you count the goals they put in their own net. The final score was 4-1, but two of those Oiler goals came off the stick of a Red Wing: the first, which was swatted into the net by Brett Lebda; and another off of Datsyuk, which Jimmy Howard literally watched as it slowly rolled under his arm after making a half-assed stab at it with the blocker.

The Red Wings lone goal was a thing of beauty, however. After a sweet break-out pass from Nick Lidstrom, the puck was on Todd Bertuzzi’s stick, with just a couple of seconds left on the clock in the first period. As I’m screaming “SHOOT!” at the television because I assume Bertuzzi has no concept of time (or space, hygiene, or literacy) – but he sent a beautiful pass to the slot, through two Oilers, onto the stick of Danny Cleary, who buried it off the post.

Ken Holland gave some insight into the injury situation in a clip played during a break. The gist is as follows:
LILJA :: no timetable for his return. They are encouraged when he goes a few days without a headache, but then he has a setback. It doesn’t sound good.
FRANZEN :: hoping for his return soon after the Olympics. Which might upset Mulo, who hoped to play in the Games.
FILPPULA :: late December-ish, New Years.
KRONWALL :: January – after New Years but before February. Somewhere in there.
WILLIAMS :: no update was given, proving Ken Holland or the question-asker cares about Jason Williams as much as the rest of us. If my math is correct, his return is scheduled for January/February.

TPL’S TAKE
1. First, and most importantly, Ericsson left the game in pain with only a few minutes left in the third. A stick was tangled in his feet behind the net, he kind of jerked awkwardly and was down for the count. He barely got himself over to the bench, was unable to put any kind of weight on his foot at all, and needed help getting down the hallway. Very, very bad time for another injury – particularly to a defenseman. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he broke an ankle – or at least sprained it. After the game, it was revealed that Ericsson suffered a knee injury, after theoretically getting caught in a rut, but he would head to NY/NJ with the team. But, so is Kindl, and no other call-ups will be made.
2. Like mentioned above, two own-goals by the Red Wings were the death knell. The second was truly deflating. Everyone in the building (not that there were many of them) sighed at once. I don’t know what it is about Jimmy Howard, but he can’t seem to see pucks that come off of the sticks of his teammates. It’s like a glitch in a video game.
3. The first real Oilers goal was absolutely amazing. Ken and Mick mentioned that Ericsson missed his assignment, and that’s probably true, but those hands on Robert Nilsson were SICK NASTY. That’s a highlight reel goal.
4. It’s usually the Red Wings on the receiving end of Budd Lynch goals (in the ‘last minute of play in this period’ — get it?), but tonight’s Red Wing goal, which came with 0.9 seconds left in the first was magic. I was hoping that their young goaltender Deslaurier would spend the next 17 minutes thinking about it and that the Wings would build off of it. No dice.
5. There was a dust-up featuring Brad May and Zack Stortini in the second period, which May’s gloves hitting the ice. The linesmen jumped in right away and no punches were thrown. At the time, I felt like the stripes should have let it happen, because they were delaying the inevitable and it would be a circus until it did. But, it never did happen, and May got four minutes (to Stortini’s two), presumably for dropping his gloves.
6. The cause of the skirmish was a series of rough hits, first on Abdelkader, then on Vishnovsky (by Maltby). Was it me or were the Wings getting tossed around like G.I. Joe in this game? Meech was hit so hard in the first period, it looked like a scene from Die Hard – and the Abdelkader hit would have been another one of those “blindside head hits” if he hadn’t gotten up so quickly.
7. Homer missed a glorious chance to tie it up: with the puck on his stick in the crease, he spun quickly, a la Bubble Hockey, had about 3.9 feet to shoot at, but sent it wide.
8. Likewise, a great pass from Ericsson to Abdelkader should have made it 3-2, but it wasn’t to be. Abdelkader is starting to look frustrated with his lack of finish lately, too.
9. A third missed chance came from Datsyuk – who double (or possibly triple) cocked on what was once a gaping view of white net. By the time he decided it was time to shoot, Deslaurier was taking a nap at the angle.
10. Overall, it was a pretty uninspired effort by the Red Wings, which – sadly – is becoming the norm. Almost completely unphased by their level of suck in games like these.

REVISITING THE PRE-GAME QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Rafalski’s injury hurts, but Ericsson’s would hurt a bit more – particularly if Rafi isn’t able to play this weekend. However, the good news is, everyone should be excited about Jakub Kindl. I didn’t mention him above because I was saving it for here, but that kid’s good. He was -2 (although, on the first goal against, he made a fantastic play to strip the Oiler puck-carrier, and then Lebda took that play, hocked a loogie on it, and threw it into the Wings net by himself). Don’t let the stat line fool you, he played really well. He only made one bonehead play (a failed attempt to clear the zone – which, let’s face it, means he’ll fit in well), but he knew IMMEDIATELY it was a dumbass play. If Rafalski or Ericsson can’t go this weekend, I think Kindl will only improve and I thought it was a fantastic first game.
2. I promised no smack-talking Bertuzzi if he scored again. Well, he didn’t. But he did make a great pass to Dan Cleary in an otherwise turnover-fest of a game. Considering the foresight and accuracy of that pass, I’ll let the deal ride. If he scores in Jersey on Saturday, he’s shit-talk-free for a week. If he doesn’t, it’s back on.
3. I called Ville Leino goal. And I failed miserably. He was terrible tonight. I feel like if the Wings had a healthy lineup, he wouldn’t be in it.
4. Have you voted for the Wings in the Team of the Decade thing?
5. A Twitter update, if you will. Good friend of TPL, Natalie from The Scrappy Octopus, is – as promised – delivering the goods via Twitter. She’s already up to 35 followers, which took me like six months, so my countdown was a bit off, but a great showing nonetheless.

What’s next?
The Wings are coming to my hood for the weekend: they’re in lovely Newark on Saturday, and stinky disgusting Manhattan on Sunday. This is the annual dad’s trip — which we learned thanks to well-placed sources that Ville Leino’s dad took a pass on.

Photo Credit: Jerry S. Mendoza, AP

Kindl Recalled

Well, that was fast. Just as the pre-game is posted, we learn that Jakub Kindl, has in fact been recalled. Can I patent the nickname “Amazon” for him or what?

Kindl, pictured above on his ninth birthday, will play in tomorrow’s Oilers game if Brian Rafalski’s back continues to be all geriatric-like.

UPDATE
Kindl will, in fact, be in the lineup vs. the Oilers, according to Ansar Khan. Not only is he getting in the game, even HE is playing on the power play before Johnny Ericsson. Said Uncle Mike:

“We’ll think about it a little more and see how the game’s going and the rhythm we get in,” Babcock said. “Our forwards got to do a real good job tonight to protect our D. Kindl’s a real good player, moves the puck real well. He’ll play on our first power play tonight because he has that kind of ability.”

Shanahan back in the NHL

The most dapper photo I could find…

Shanny’s days as a player may be over, but we all knew he couldn’t stay away from hockey. I suspected he’d be tapped to run the union, although that would make far too much sense for anyone associated with the NHLPA to actually pull the trigger on it.

He will, however, be returning to the NHL in some capacity, though details are a little slim at the moment. It was announced today that Brendan Shanahan has been hired as the Vice President of Hockey and Business Development, and will work closely with Bill Daly and Gary Bettman, as well as Colin Campbell and Hockey Operations. In related news, I’d also like to be the Vice President of Hockey.

The news broke around 11am this morning. According to Bob McKenzie of TSN, via Twitter:

Shanahan will be formally announced on Bettman’s radio show today as being hired by the NHL. Sources say Shanahan will work in NYC office with Bettman and Daly but will also be involved with Campbell and Hockey Ops in Toronto.

A link to the story on TSN appeared a few minutes later.

Brendan Shanahan immediately becomes the most clear-thinking employee of the National Hockey League, and we at TPL think he’s going to turn this damn thing around if it kills him. Gray skies are gonna clear up…put on a happy face!

Congratulations, Shanny.

Two days!? Yawn. Is it game time yet?

This, apparently, passes for hot in Alberta.

Before we get to the Oilers pre-game, TPL would like to congratulate prospects Brian Lashoff and Max Nicastro, who have been selected to be on the preliminary roster for the United States World Junior Championship team. Here’s hoping that one — or both — make the team, as it would be a huge honor.

NOW WHERE WERE WE?
The Wings and Oilers met a few days before Halloween, losing 6-5 in a shootout. The Red Wings got goals from Ericsson (3), Bertuzzi (2), Zetterberg (2), Helm (1), and Eaves (1). Jimmy Howard played in his third game in a row (he replaced Osgood seven minutes into the game before), an opportunity he’ll have again vs. the Oilers.

WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE THEN
After the Edmonton game, Detroit won six of their next seven. Then, they lost five of their next six. They’re currently riding a two-game winning streak. Talk about streaky…

OH, HI AGAIN
Edmonton, despite all of its recent success and its reputation as a popular landing spot for all the top free agents every summer, has no former Red Wings. The last time a once-Red Wing played for the Oilers was 2003-04, when Adam Oates played his final season in the NHL.

MEMBA ME?!
Two former Oilers on the current Red Wing roster: Dan(ny) Cleary and Kirk Maltby. Maltby was acquired in a 1996 trade that saw competent defenseman Dan McGillis go the other way.

BEST NAME NOMINEE
Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers. It never ends.

BRAD MAY ALERT
The Oilers have a kid named Ryan O’Marra. You may remember him from this hit (although, the kid from the Czech Republic doesn’t…):

My favorite part of the video is where the commentator goes “aahhhh…BANG!”

DID YOU KNOW…
…the last game between these two squads was the last time Justin Abdelkader was a healthy scratch? Unlike Brad May, Patrick Eaves, Kirk Maltby, and Drew Miller, Gator has played in each of the last 15 games.

THEIR LAST GAMES
–Detroit defeated the Dallas Turcos 4-1 on Monday.
–Edmonton got whooped 7-3 by the Canucks on Saturday. They should be well-rested.

RECORDS
–Detroit Red Wings :: 13-9-4 (4th in Central, 10th in West) :: 8-4-2 at home.
–Edmonton Oilers :: 10-13-4 (4th in Northwest, 14th in West) :: 2-8-2 on the road.

EXPECTED LINEUP
Uh oh. Patrick Eaves will not play his second game in a row, due to a sore left ankle, but the bigger news seems to be that Brian Rafalski is iffy. He left practice, per Khan, and Jakub Kindl will be recalled if Rafalski cannot, in fact, go. In other news, Ville Leino is back on the top line instead of Bertuzzi, similar to the Dallas game. The rest looks familiar:

Leino — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Bertuzzi — Zetterberg — Cleary
Draper — Helm — Miller
May — Abdelkader — Maltby

Lidstrom — Ericsson
Stuart — Lebda
Meech — Kindl?

Howard (starting)
Osgood

Injured
Andreas “Post-Concussion Syndrome” Lilja
Johan “Torn Left ACL” Franzen
Valtteri “Broken Right Wrist” Filppula
Jason “Broken Right Fibula” Williams
Niklas “Sprained Left MCL” Kronwall
Patrick “Sore Left Ankle” Eaves
Brian “Stiff Old-Man Back” Rafalski

QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Jeez, man… enough with the injuries. Rafalski makes seven. But, if he can’t go, I’m excited to see what Kindl can do. It seems like a wise time to get him some games, considering he’s on a one-way next season and there is every indication that he’ll be a Red Wing full time in less than a year. Keep your eye on #46.
2. Can Bertuzzi continue his steak of games in which he sucks slightly less than he had been? If he scores again, I will go an entire week without a single ill-spoken word about him. You have my word.
3. In an attempt to continue my good juju predicting goal-droughts ending, here goes Thursday’s baseless claim: Ville Leino scores in this one.
4. Regardless of the bile you feel rising up when hearing “Puck Daddy,” vote for the Red Wings as the team of the decade – which pits the ’02 Cup-winning team against the best teams from all the other sports.
5. Follow Natalie from the Scrappy Octopus on Twitter. Her blog is fantastic, and the tweets are guaranteed to be, as well (especially if we continue talking about Mila Kunis). Countdown to her having more followers than I have in 3…2…

WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Stars
If Marty Turco was cloned and played for the other 28 teams, too, we’d go 82-0 every season.

OILER WE COVET (aka The JJ Special)
Andrew Cogliano. There aren’t enough of my people on the Red Wings. Come to think of it, there are a bunch of Italians on the Oilers: Cogliano, Stortini, Pisani.

Happy Birthday Tomas Tatar

I’m very happy to be here!
Happy 19th birthday to future Red Wings superstar Tomas Tatar. NINETEEN. Christ, I’m old.
Tots could use your support in the AHL All-Star balloting, which can be accessed by visiting the AHL website. He’s currently fourth on the Griffins in scoring, but only has 15 games under his belt. He’s got five goals and seven assists, and is a +9. He’s averaging 0.80 points per game, which is the most of any Griffin to suit up this year NOT named Michael Nylander.
When things were heading toward rock bottom, I was a strong advocate of calling up Tatar, mostly to rustle some feathers. Here’s hoping for a long career in red and white.

Wings score four goals (and all of them counted!)

Whoa, oh, here he comes. See if you can find the Hall and Oates references. 

Was that sixty full minutes by the Red Wings? If it wasn’t, it sure looked like it. Marty Turco continued his streak of awful, awful play in Detroit as a pro, and the Wings won 4-1 on the strength of goals from Drew Miller, Darren Helm, Dan Cleary, and Bodd Tertuzzi (I’m not ready to say his name yet, but acknowledging his existence is an important first step).

Everyone was on their game tonight: another strong outing from Jimmy Howard, who had earned a second straight start after defeating the Blues on Saturday; the defense played well top-to-bottom (though, once again, I don’t recall seeing Lebda or Meech); Z and Datsyuk did what they do, and the third and fourth lines grinded (ground?) and drove (drived?) the game their way.

Detroit won back-to-back games for the first time since November 12th and 14th – which doesn’t sound like that long ago, but it was. Trust me. The Wings were 8-5-1 this month, which is actually a significant improvement over October even though it featured a three-game losing streak and back-to-back shutouts at home for the first time since 1977. November was kind of a bitch, but thankfully, she’s gone.

TPL’S TAKE
1. Drew Miller. Best free acquisition of all-time? I know there’s some debate about whether or not he actually beat out the icing, but he certainly seemed more willing to play through the whistle than Karlis Strastins. Great job gaining possession after a little joust, and we were all rewarded with a goal. That was a great hockey play.
2. How about those ten minutes in the first period where there were no whistles? It was like pond hockey. Everyone’s legs looked weary – reaching out for something to hold. And it ended in the most glorious of ways: with the Red Wings netting their first goal at home in, like, six years.
3. I don’t care if Kris Draper was passing to Todd Bertuzzi, Darren Helm got the puck that Bertuzzi missed (or wasn’t intended for him, but much more likely missed) and BURIED it. He looked 300 pounds lighter as soon as rubber hit netting.
4. Speaking of Helm, we all know the man-love I have for him. We’ve tossed around the idea of having a 23-man roster of Darren Helms, but our new friends at Red, White and Black-n-Blue would settle for an all-Helm PK unit. I CAN go for that, especially after seeing his minute-long shift on the kill on Monday. He’s just so full of awesome while shorthanded.
5. On the Wings third goal, Danny Cleary just went to the net. It was dirty, it was mucky, it was un-Wings-like. And it was beautiful. It made-a my dreams come true.
6. Did you see that puck trickle through Jimmy Howard’s legs as he nonchalantly attempted to play it? Good lord, can you imagine if that had gone into the net? Notoriously-hard-on-goaltenders Red Wings fans would have run him out of the building. Let’s not get too cocky yet, Howie, we’re watching you. We see your every move.
7. Brett Lebda was +3 tonight. Let that marinate for a second. He led all players. There were only two players in the NHL that were +4 on Monday, meaning BRETT LEBDA had the third highest +/- in the NHL – if only for a day.
8. Jimmy Howard has been in the net for the last six Red Wings wins. He has seven wins on the season, which is one more than Chris Osgood – who has played two more games than Howard.
9. Bert’s goal may have been flukey, but it was a shot he should have taken. Good on him. Here’s hoping that a shootout goal followed by a regulation goal is the tonic he needs to get off his personal schneid.
10. Just a reminder, the Wings Blog-Off is underway at the NHL Arena. Thank you to everyone that’s voted for TPL so far. We’re very thrilled to have you stopping by every day! If you haven’t yet voted for your favorite Wings blogs (and there are plenty of them), click here.

REVISITING THE PRE-GAME QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Fabian Brunnstrom didn’t end up playing after all, but he ALMOST outplayed Ville Leino anyway.
2. Alex Auld did NOT play, and Marty Turco kept up his streak of FAIL at Joe Louis Arena.
3. Well, we straight up called this one. The third and fourth lines were – again – the most noticeable on the ice, but our boy Darren Helm finally flipped the monkey off of his back.
4. Johnny Ericsson once again played well. Aside from his weak penalty (that shouldn’t have been), he was flawless and a +2 on Monday.
5. Whatever the reason he was playing back-to-back games, Jimmy Howard looks like the number one goaltender at the moment. He leads in all of the following categories: wins, goals against average, save percentage, and he’s allowed six fewer goals in only 24 fewer minutes played.

What’s next?
What’s this?! Two whole days off in between games? Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.

Photo Credit: Paul Sancya, AP