Hockey is back, and although it’s only preseason hockey, that’s as good of a reason as any to dust off the cynicism and overanalyze the hell out of the 3-2 Wings loss to the Penguins last night. OK, I’m not ACTUALLY going to overanalyze anything because – as we mentioned – this was just a preseason game, but I’m sure there are some out there who feel that this many words about a meaningless split-squad game is way too much analysis considering the circumstances. Your patience will be rewarded.
- Do we even need to say anything about Pavel Datsyuk? Dude looked like he was in mid-season form one game into the preseason. The big key will be keeping #13/#24 healthy this year, and should that happen, it’s safe to assume that he’ll be Datsyukian Dekeing his way to one of the best seasons of his career. Fingers crossed.
- Somebody needs to tell Jimmah that the short-side is part of the net, because he apparently forgot all about it over the summer. Two of his three goals against came on that side of the net, with the first one being particularly worrisome. Again, it’s only the preseason, but Howard was less than spectacular last night.
- Kronwall looks like he hasn’t missed a step from the end of last season, and that is a giant +1 for this team. He was composed, pinched responsibly and found his way on to the score sheet. Frankly, it will be interesting to see what happens with him this season. He’s stepped up his game to the point that he brings consistency and spark to the lineup, but is that only because he’s in a contract year? If so, do Ken Holland and Co. hold off on an extension and encourage Kronwall to play for his money this year, or do they bag this thing up early and hope that a vote of confidence keeps #55 on his current trajectory? If it’s me, I’m holding off until 1/3 of the way into the season before I start unloading the armored truck. As previously mentioned, Kronwall has been consistent of late, but can he keep it up over the course of time?
- Fabian Brunnstrom. Not really sure what to make of the kid, other than it really looked like he was trying too hard last night. You can’t really fault him for trying to make an impression, but unfortunately that impression doesn’t really jive with what the Wings are trying to do. He tried to be fancy, which OK, but then would get knocked off the puck too easily and seemingly give up on plays. His backcheck was worrisome, but his potential is obvious. The jury is still out on this one, but early returns suggest an AHL stint is in the cards if Fabian wants to stick in the organization.
- On the other side of the spectrum is our old buddy, The ‘Sak. Jan Mursak looked excellent last night, doing the small things that eventually pay off with a full time roster spot, and I couldn’t be happier. If utilizing his speed and size mean we get to say “The ‘Sak” all season long, sign me up.
- Brendan Smith looked pretty good, but it’s obvious he’s still a little green when it comes to the NHL game. He’ll get there.
- As for Mike Commodore, well, he looked pretty “meh” to me. Played physical, but didn’t really stand out, which can be a good or bad thing depending on who you ask. I know Petrella has some additional thoughts on Commodore, which – God willing – you will all get to enjoy as much as I did this morning.
- Cory Emmerton is venturing into Mattias Ritola territory. This is not good.
- Jiri Hudler scored a goal. I know that folks are hoping this means he’s primed for a great season, but not this guy. I see Hudler goals as increased trade value. Nothing more.
- Tatar has some work to do, but still gets the heart pumping. The line he was on with The ‘Sak and Chris Conner had plenty of jump, which was nice to see.
The Wings are back at it tonight in London, Ontario, where they will lock horns with the Philadelphia Flyers. Quickly, a few things to watch for:
- Nicklas Lidstrom. Enough said.
- Todd Bertuzzi makes his return to competition after Dany Heatley’s helmet concussed him in Game 7 last year. Let’s hope he didn’t forget how to backcheck.
- The THREE MILLION DOLLAR MISTAKE I MEAN MAN gets to tout his shit tonight. $10 says Ian White outplays him.
- Jurco. Enjoy it while you can before the kid goes back to juniors.
- Gustav Nyquist. Babcock has a hard-on for this kid, and it sounds like it may be for good reason. Here’s hoping he delivers.
- The Conk-Block is between the pipes. Feel good if he looks better than Howard did last night. Worry if he looks like he did last year in St. Louis.
LOSS CANDY (!!!)
Poppy Montgomery wants you to feel better.
And since we all love Swedes, here’s Alexander Skarsgård.
Game photo courtesy of The Associated Press