Jimmy Howard: Savior?

Holy shit, is that Gary Busey in the front row?

Roberto Luongo may very well be the best netminder on the planet, but it was the Wings that had the better goalie tonight. Jimmy Howard played a fantastic game, his second in as many nights. He did all the things — WAIT FOR IT — a goalie is supposed to do: make the saves to give his team a chance to win.

You can’t say that the defense tightened up, because they allowed eleventy billion shots*, but – like I mentioned yesterday – they seem to be learning that Howard coughs up monstrous rebounds, and they’re clearing them better than they were in the first dozen games of the season.

Luongo played well in his first game back from a rib injury/the flu. It’d be hard to fault him for any of the Wings three goals: Homer doing what Homer does, an unbelievable backhand from Z, and an empty netter to seal the game, 3-1.

*Note: actual number closer to 32.

TPL’S TAKE:
1. THAT’S HOW YOU HONOR THE CAPTAIN. Tonight was Steve Yzerman Night at the Joe, and the Wings did him proud – unlike the Hall of Fame game in Toronto on Saturday
2. Mikael Samuelsson is still finding a way to shaft the Red Wings. He was rather quiet, as far as the scoresheet goes, but in the second period he high-sticked his own man (raise your hand if you’re surprised by his lack of self-awareness), and Brad Stuart got called for a penalty.
3. Ryan Kesler and Henrik Zetterberg had an awesome joust for sixty minutes. Constantly grabbing and shoving one another, even to the point that they were violently jockeying for position before a faceoff. If this was a playoff series, those two guys would be dead tired by Game 4.
4. Speaking of Z, that backhand he threw over Luongo’s shoulder was menacing. Great breakout pass from Brad Stuart, great job by Z to shake some defenders, and a perfectly placed shot.
5. For the second night in a row, Brad May was involved in an ill-advised fight. The Wings weren’t winning 2-0 tonight, but they DID have possession of the puck in the offensive zone. Not exactly the best time for the gloves to come off. Oh, and if you’re keeping score at home, he lost again.
6. Lots of hate in the building tonight. These two teams don’t seem to care for one another – lots of extra-curricular activity between the whistles. On more than one occasion, Alex Burrows did everything he could to goad Todd Bertuzzi into attacking him from behi– I mean, fight like a man. Bertuzzi, by the way, was doing his best Mikael Samuelsson impression: once, on a breakaway, by firing the puck directly into the logo on Luongo’s chest. A little later, he shot the puck into the 16th row.
7. The penalty kill was good tonight. They were 4/5 – including killing some 5-on-3 time.
8. Speaking of which, I’m pretty sure the stripes are on the Canuck payroll. Aside from that Samuelsson/Stuart conundrum, the Wings only had two power plays: they scored on the first, and kept possession for nearly the entire two minutes on the second.
9. For a while, the shots were vehemently one-sided for the Canucks. If memory serves me, it was 26-12 at one point.
10. Finally, the best moment of the night was Homer’s goal. It popped in and out so quickly, no one noticed and play kept going. So he scored again.

What’s next?
The Wings play the Ducks on Saturday. Another home game.


Photo Credit: Carlos Osorio, AP

Ozzie has the sniffles

oh hai lulz!

Probably from all those pucks that have been whizzing by him all season.

But anyway, neither Osgood nor Kirk Maltby will be available for tonight’s game, according to the Detroit News, as both are suffering through the flu. As a result, new acquisition Drew Miller will make his Red Wings debut, and the team has called up Daniel Larsson to back-up Jimmy Howard, who will make his second start is any many days. The team’s transformation into the Detroit Red Griffins is nearly complete.

Seems to me this would have been a great opportunity to see what Larsson has, the way that Jimmy Howard was given a random game once in a while three seasons ago. But, this team is in a different place in standings than any of the other recent squads, so maybe its not the best time for experiments.

EXPECTED LINEUP
Bertuzzi — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Leino — Zetterberg — Cleary
Draper — Helm — Eaves
May — Abdelkader — Miller

Lidstrom — Rafalski
Kronwall — Stuart
Ericsson — Lebda

Howard (starts)
Larsson

QUICK THOUGHTS
1. It’d be great if seven different Red Wings got their fourth goal tonight.
2. Leino needs to play with the confidence he had last night after scoring his goal. He truly is the best candidate to take over secondary scoring, he’s just gotta start … ya know … scoring.
3. That said, secondary scoring infers that there is primary scoring, which means Z and Datsyuk have to start ripping up the scoresheet once in a while, too.
4. Draper, Helm, Eaves…keep doing what you’re doing. That is all.
5. Brad May should NOT fight Tanner Glass or Kevin Bieksa tonight. Do enforcers still keep the flies off if they go down easier than Andrew Golota? Yeah, I said it, Golota, come get me.


WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Blue Jackets
We learned that the off-season exodus of scoring can’t be used an excuse, as the boys peppered a (snicker, laugh, guffaw) division-leading Blue Jackets team to the tune of nine goals.

Jimmy Howard played admirably but still has trouble controlling rebounds. But the defensemen are starting to learn that, too, and are helping out a bit more.

CANUCK WE COVET
Ryan Kesler. He’s from Livonia. I guess that’s enough.

Red Wings / Canucks Redux

November 12, 2009
Vancouver Canucks @ Detroit Red Wings



NOW, WHERE WERE WE?
The last time the Wings and Canucks met was October 27th in Vancouver. The Wings (who were 3-4-2 at the time) rebounded from Chris Osgood’s atrocious performance in net (he was pulled after seven minutes and two weak-ass goals). Jimmy Howard actually won the 5-4 decision, on goals from Tomas Holmstrom, Jason Williams, Niklas Kronwall, and a pair from Pavel “I Trust Mine Eyes” Datsyuk.

WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE THEN?
Flip broke his wrist, Brad May took a stick to the eyeball courtesy Jason Williams, who – perhaps via Brad May juju – snapped his fibula, I got two trick-or-treaters at my door, Jonathan Ericsson and Brian Rafalski each successfully fought off the pig but missed games with the flu anyway. Patrick Eaves blocked a shot, and missed the next game, which was the Hall of Fame Game: a game in which the Red Wings did little to make Stevie Y proud, getting trounced 5-1 in Toronto, of all places. Former Spartan Drew Miller was picked up on waivers from the Lightning and is supposedly available for tonight’s game.

So to sum up, not much has happened. Long story short, the Red Wings are 4-1-1 since their last meeting with Johnny Canuck. It was just sixteen days ago.

OH, HI AGAIN
Mikael “Logo Hunter” Samuelsson returns to the Joe, this time wearing #26 for the Nucks. Also, noted inductee of the Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Mathieu Schneider, makes a return to Hockeytown, donning #27 for the Ice-Breaking Orca Things.

MEMBA ME?!
Oh wait, it’s not kosher to talk about when Brad May and Todd Bertuzzi were members of the Vancouver Canucks? Move along, nothing to see here…

DID YOU KNOW…
Darren Helm was a healthy scratch that night against the Canucks? Clearly pissed off, he scored his first regular season NHL goal the next game.

THEIR LAST GAMES

–Detroit played last night and trounced the Blue Jackets 9-1. A very distinct victory over the state of Ohio. Here’s hoping there are some goals left in the tank.
–Vancouver played Tuesday and was smoked by the Blues 6-1.

RECORDS
Detroit Red Wings :: 8-5-3 (3rd in Central, 10th in West) :: 5-1-1 at home
Vancouver Canucks :: 10-9-0 (3rd in Northwest, 7th in West) :: 3-7-0 on road

Well, that was a straight-up ass kicking

“What about you, Rafalski…you couldn’t put one past this guy?”

Huzzah! The Red Wings showed up tonight, getting back at karma for kicking them in the ass on Steve Yzerman’s big night this past Saturday. Detroit scored niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine times (cue Edward Rooney), eight of them against defending Calder winner Steve Mason. For some reason, Blue Jackets backup goaltender Mathieu Garon came into the game after three first period goals, only to allow a first period tally of his own, and re-take his assigned seat at the end of the bench. The final score of the contest was 9-1. Happy Veteran’s Day, Ohio!

There were seven different goal scorers for the good guys tonight and, oddly, all of them scored their third goal of the season (though, Justin Abdelkader needed two to get there). Your goal scorers:

Cleary (3) from Zetterberg
Datsyuk (3) unassisted
Draper (3) from Lebda
Kronwall (3) from Cleary on the Power Play
Bertuzzi (3) from Zetterberg and Datsyuk
Leino (3) from Zetterberg and Lidstrom
Kronwall (4) from Rafalski and Bertuzzi on the Power Play
Abdelkader (2) from Eaves
Abdelkader (3) from May and Kronwall

TPL’S TAKE:
1. First of all, Brad May got his ASS KICKED in that fight. Let’s not kid ourselves, he threw a punch that was closer to hitting me than it was Jared Boll. He then fell down, and took two quick ones from his opponent, and was sent to the dressing room to get cleaned up.
2. Darren Helm was penalized in the third period, meaning Patrick Eaves is the only Red Wing left to visit the sin bin (besides Doug Janik and Drew Miller).
3. Jimmy Howard played well, but still had some trouble reigning in rebounds. He seemed to get a little more settled as the game went on, and he made the saves he needed to to keep the Wings composed.
4. That said, the Wings didn’t need much help, as the Blue Jackets took themselves out of the game very early, allowing three Wings goals in the first eight minutes of the game. It was all accelerator from opening faceoff until final whistle.
5. Where you at, Helm, Maltby, Ericsson and Stuart? The only four skaters who didn’t register a point tonight for the Wings. Punks.
6. Huge goal for Ville Leino. Aside from being of the highlight variety, he looked THRILLED to toss the monkey off of his back. He truly needed that one, and played with gusto the rest of the night. Almost got a second one, too…
7. Todd Bertuzzi FINALLY capitalized on countless chances he’s received the last few weeks. He should have had about six goals tonight, but in true Bertuzzi fashion found a way to flub great passes or shoot the puck directly at Mason’s back while the goaltender was checking out some girl (or guy, if that’s how he rolls) in the fourth row. He definitely need to pot one, and he did (though he nearly fell down doing it).
8. Dan Cleary had the line of the night, when reminded he has scored 14 (of his 101 career) goals against the Blue Jackets: “Well, thank God they’re in our division.”
9. Justin Abdelkader played that third period like a man possessed. His second goal was an end-to-ender, which he began behind Jimmy Howard, briefly dished to Brad May, re-acquired the puck and somehow slid it under Steve Mason, who — let’s face it — was probably more concerned about catching the end of Spongebob than he was playing net for the Blue Jackets tonight.
10. Jonathan Ericsson logged more minutes than anyone else tonight, and Nick Lidstrom only saw 16 minutes of action. Why not save him for a game that he’ll actually be needed, eh?

What’s next?
Another game tomorrow — this one at home. Luongo’s expected to go for the Vancouver Canucks, and one of the Sedins (I dunno… I’m not good at twins) might be returning to action. Join me in the Winging it in Motown game thread – chances are good my snark will make it there.

Photo Credit: Jay LaPrete, AP

Wings To Travel 198 Miles South


I wish I knew how to quit you!



It’s been three full days since the embarrassment of getting waxed on Stevie’s night, so hopefully the boys have had their asses thoroughly kicked by Uncle Mike. The Red Wings currently sit in ELEVENTH in the Conference – which is unfathomable for us spoiled fans. The Blue Jackets are co-leaders of the Central Division, with 20 points in 16 games, and at the risk of sounding like the chief officer of the Department of Redundancy Department,

this is a big one…one we really need to win.

EXPECTED LINEUP

Bertuzzi — Datsyuk — Holmstrom

Leino — Zetterberg — Cleary
Draper — Helm — Eaves
May — Abdelkader — Maltby

Lidstrom — Rafalski
Kronwall — Stuart
Ericsson — Lebda

Howard
Osgood
QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Oh joy! Jimmy Howard. This should be fun.
2. What’s it going to take to break up the BRUTAL third pairing of Lebda and Ericsson?
3. If Ville Leino can’t find his confidence playing with Z and Cleary, it may be time for something drastic.
4. Here’s hoping Patrick Eaves’ foot is okay after blocking a shot, and that third line is the best on the ice. Again.
5. It’s a good time for young guys like Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm to start lighting the lamp. I’m aware that this isn’t their primary objective at this point in their careers, but with all these injuries, it’d be nice to know we can rely on the future.

WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Maple Leafs

A few things: first, we shouldn’t have gotten too excited about back-to-back efforts from Chris Osgood. The version we’ve gotten used to the last two years is back, baby!

Next, Mike Babcock would rather play me on the power play than Jonathan Ericsson. Kyle goes into it a bit more than I’m going to, but here’s the gist: Ericsson has a 100mph shot from the point. Brad Stuart does not.

Jason Williams’ injury was pretty unfortunate. Looks like it hurt quite a bit. Yet, even though our forwards are dropping like flies, we haven’t made a call-up all season (aside from Abdelkader). If this game is another loss, I can’t fathom how you WOULDN’T shake up the roster, even just a little bit.

JACKET WE COVET
Rick Nash. Mostly so he stops scoring hat tricks against us.

Photo Credit: Joe Sargent, Getty Images

Red Wings shutout Bruins

Pardon the delay, but – SURPRISE! – Buffalo Wild Wings didn’t have Versus (as a result of the DirecTV/Versus debacle). Luckily, I had the foresight to predict that the world would absolutely screw me, so I set the cable box to DVR the game. However, one of the few things more fail-y than Versus is Cablevision, so all bets were off.
Thankfully, the game DID record, and I did get a chance to see the game – albeit a few hours later than live. All is well, right? Well almost… the DVR cut off with 10.6 seconds left in the game. I mean, at that point, I was shocked my cable company had given me 99.7% of the game – so something was bound to go wrong.
Thoughts:
Chris Osgood – congratulations on his 50th career shutout. He played hard, made some big saves, and – let’s say – “took advantage of the posts.” As a goalie, I’m sure he’ll say it was because he was in the perfect position. I’m going to go ahead and call it lucky. That’s not to say he didn’t earn that victory, because he did.
Brian Rafalski – I wish him good health, but he was not missed.
Derek Meech – great stick last night, at one point preventing a goal and saving Ozzie’s shutout.
Doug Janik – kept it simple, and – HOLY HELL – it worked. Paging Professor Janik, you’re needed in the Kronwall/Stuart/Lebda Annex.
Darren Helm – If I’m the Red Wings, I’m investing in having him cloned. I’d be happy to take the ice with 20 Darren Helms.
Patrick Eaves – I think he’s making a case for himself to stay in the lineup. That third line of Helm, Draper, and Eaves has been the best on the ice for the last few games.
Henrik Zetterberg – how in the hell did he get that lift on that shot that picked that corner? Good lord, what a shot.
Pavel Datsyuk – worth the price of admission.
Tomas Holmstrom – all he does is score goals. He’s on pace for 50.
Ville Leino – that one game grounding by Uncle Mike usually works. It didn’t for Ville Leino. He’s the weakest forward currently in the lineup. Maybe it’s the tail between his legs and sour puss on his face that’s keeping him half-speed.
Todd Bertuzzi – I know my stance on Bertuzzi is biased, so I want you all to tell me if I’m being unreasonable here. Is it me, or is he absolutely awful with the puck on his stick? Passes through the legs to nowhere, a clearing “attempt” that was more like a pass to the Bruins point-man, mindless retardedness everywhere on the ice.
Photo Credit: Paul Sancya, AP

That was better…

Brett Lebda looks thrilled for you, Nick.

Well, the Red Wings looked a little more like the Red Wings last night, as they put together enough of an effort (TWO periods instead of just ONE!) to earn a 5-2 victory over the surprisingly good LA Kings.

I’m hard on Ozzie when he blows, so — to be fair — I’ll admit that he played well in the winning effort, particularly in the first half of the game when he was seeing more rubber than usual. The first LA goal (from Dustin Brown on a rebound) left a little to be desired, but it seemed as if Osgood never even saw the puck as it hit him in the chest and arm before plopping back down to the ice right at the top of the crease. All in all, I’ll take 2 goals against on 26 shots. The fact of the matter is Chris Osgood did what a goaltender is supposed to do: put his team in a position to win – something that hasn’t been automatic this year or last.

Brett Lebda returned to the lineup, and I was expecting fireworks. He’s a fast kid with fairly good offensive instincts and I have to imagine that he was pissed he was in the press box for a spell – but he didn’t do anything overly outstanding, but did finish +1, which – I’m sure – lifted some weight from his shoulders.

Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby also returned after both were healthy scratches on Tuesday (which, by the way, was the first time that had ever happened). Maltby continued to show his scoring touch as he blasted a slapper past Jonathan Quick from about six feet away. Draper went 2-for-8 in the faceoff circle, which was a little odd to see. I think Uncle Mike was onto something when he called out the faceoff specialists, especially since the Dustin Brown goal was a direct result of a clean faceoff loss.

But the night belonged to Nick Lidstrom. Coming into the game with 998 career regular season points, he seemed, right from the beginning, like he wanted to get the milestone out of the way and get back to concentrating on winning hockey games. Two assists and a 90-second ovation later, Nicklas Lidstrom became only the second Swedish player in NHL history to net 1,000 career points – joining Mats Sundin in the uber-exclusive club.

Quick thoughts:

  • What happened to Niklas Kronwall? I never thought he was in the elite stratosphere or anything, but he really doesn’t look good at all this season.
  • How long should I give Todd Bertuzzi before mocking him for falling down often and launching pucks 75 feet above the net on a clean shot?
  • Valtteri Filppula is the best forward on the team. You heard it here first.
  • Homer is on pace for 55 goals. Just sayin…
Photo Credit: Paul Sancya, Associated Press

Hossa-Less Hawks Come to the Joe

For those of us eager to forget opening weekend in Sweden, tonight is opening night (but not really) for our Red Wings. Marian Hossa is sidelined after making one of his patented timely decisions to have shoulder surgery eleven minutes after signing a massive contract that contributed to his then-GM getting fired (oh, I’m sorry… “promoted”).

BUT! All is not lost. We’ll get to re-acquaint ourselves with the immobile uselessness that is Tomas Kopecky, who has been running his mouth, which is a nice thing for a guy made out of glass to do.

It’ll be fun, and more fun when we beat them

Big words for a guy who didn’t play in the last two playoff rounds because he had his face broken by a Frenchman. Perhaps you goon-loving types will have been onto something if Brad May suits up tonight and destroys Kopecky in his first shift — something that Red Wings fans are somewhat familiar with.

Anyway, it’s well-documented that Brett Lebda is coming out of the lineup, with Derek Meech taking his place. Justin Abdelkader has been sent down to Grand Rapids, but it remains to be seen if Patrick Eaves makes his regular season Red Wings debut — or if Brad May does the same. Something tells me it’ll be May. This is a good game to dress a face-puncher.

Franzen — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Bertuzzi — Zetterberg — Cleary
Leino — Filppula — Williams
Maltby — Draper — May/Eaves

Lidstrom — Rafalski
Kronwall — Stuart
Ericsson — Meech

Osgood / Howard

Scratched For Sure: Brett “Turnover” Lebda
Injured Reserve: Andreas “Also Has Broken Face” Lilja, Darren “Please Hurry Back” Helm