Red Wings 4-2
Detroit leads 3-0
:: The big news before the puck drop was whether or not Johan Franzen would be in the lineup, after skipping practice yesterday and taking it easy at today’s morning skate. Well, Franzen’s less of a man, more of a beast; and not only did he dress, he started the game with Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom. He played a bit tentatively (for a mule, that is) and I bet that’s attributed to the visor. He’s not used to facial protection and it takes some getting used to. In college, you must wear full facial protection, and the summer before my junior season, I decided I’d try out one of those hybrid visor/cage deals, with the clear window on the top half and a wire cage on the bottom. I used it for all six weeks of tryouts with an old helmet. The night of our first game, our team-issue helmets were sitting in our stalls, and they were all fitted with the full cage. I thought I’d see if I liked it before, because I could always swap it out between periods. It’s night and day. The visor combo SUCKED compared to having a cage and while I never played without anything in front of my face, I will say that having “polycarbonite” in front of your eyes isn’t an easy thing to get used to. By the third period, though, it looked like Johan Franzen had gotten used to it — scoring the Red Wings fourth goal.
:: Ruslan Salei, of all people, opened the scoring for the Red Wings as he unleashed a bomb from the blueline that found its way through “potential series MVP” Ilya Bryzgalov. Drew Miller would add a second goal 44 seconds later, on a deflection. If Mike Modano’s going to get into the lineup, it’s likely going to have to be with Kris Draper having a seat. Drew Miller’s just playing too damn well, and even chipping in on the offense. You can’t sit him.
:: Speaking of grinders, how about Justin Abdelkader? Before the season started, you couldn’t have convinced me that he could be a top six on the Red Wings. But in the absence of Henrik Zetterberg, he’d stepped into a slot in between Todd Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary and looked damn good doing it. The kid’s playing like he’s on fire, hitting everything and creating offense. What a stud.
:: Sticking with the muckers theme, Patrick Eaves went down after an awkward collision at the blue line with 14 minutes left in the third period. He would miss a few shifts, but eventually returned with about five minutes left in the contest. He continued playing physical and looked good on the forecheck so it looks like crisis averted.
:: Jimmy Howard is in the zone. He was making brilliant saves and seemed to have his head in the game, which is great because there were a handful of games in the regular season where he just didn’t. On the other side of that coin, Ilya Bryzgalov was having trouble seeing the puck. A few squeakers got by him, but it was even more evident in the replays where the puck would hit him and he’d just have no idea what was going on. Take a look at the replay of the Franzen goal… Bryzgalov didn’t even give it much of an effort, and didn’t even react. Almost like I could hear him say “ah to hell with it.” It’s not a good sign (for Detroit) and I hope the Red Wings continue to exploit his fallibility. In his last four post-season games against the Red Wings, Bryzgalov has allowed 18 goals (that’s 4 1/2 per).
:: Despite my partner in crime (let’s not name names… we’ll just call him C. Hollis. No, that’s too easy… Christopher H.) taking every opportunity to give Val Filppula an Ericsson-like ribbing, Flip showed a few flashes of why I love him. With excellent patience and super soft hands, he made the game 3-0. He may not be as flashy as Hank or Pav, but I’m a big fan and it’s certainly possible I’m overlooking his downside.
:: A player I compared first to Jonathan Ericsson and then to Cory Cross (earning a Wyshynski RT), David Schlemko got the Coyotes on the board in the second period. They’d add a second goal with 7 minutes left in the third, as former Wing Ray Whitney scored on the power play, after the puck bounced around in front of the net and eventually found the back of Ruslan Salei and the net. Seeing eye puck.
:: Nicklas Lidstrom got knocked around a little bit tonight, taking some body from Shane Doan and others. We’re not used to seeing him on his back, but Lidstrom’s resilient and didn’t seem any worse for wear. The Twitterverse was abuzz, but I didn’t see anything dirty about the hits, which I’m sure makes me a shitty fan. Apparently it’s not a contact sport if you’re a legend. I’d prefer he didn’t get hit, too, but that’s not realistic, and if anyone’s proven they can handle the physical aspect of the sport, it’s our captain.
Photo Credit: Ross D. Franklin, AP