Archive | November 2011

Game Recap: Red Wings 4, Lightning 2

Strangely, the Lightning don’t play the 1-3-1 trap when they never have a lead in the game.

1st period: Detroit dominated play in the first, outshooting the Lightning 18 to 8. Pavel Datsyuk opened the scoring with a nice tap-in of the rebound from Todd Bertuzzi’s shot. Johan Franzen set up the play. Jonathan Ericsson put Detroit up 2-0. Valtteri Filppula made an excellent pass from behind the goal line, and Ericsson was waiting in the high slot to snap the puck past goalie Dwayne Roloson.

2nd period: Tampa Bay came on strong in the second after successfully killing off a Detroit power play. When the Lightning got a power play of their own with Ericsson in the box for tripping, Marty St. Louis got them on the board by tapping a Teddy Purcell pass into the net. Steven Stamkos tied the game with scant seconds left to play in the period, scoring on a bad angle shot from near the side of the net while Vincent Lecavalier screened Jimmy Howard. Shots in the second were 6-5 in favor of Tampa Bay.

3rd period: This was a more evenly matched period in play, but Detroit’s goaltending carried away the honors. Tomas Holmstrom broke the tie by redirecting a Nicklas Lidstrom power play shot. (The classic Homer goal!) Darren Helm added an insurance goal by taking a nice pass from Jakub Kindl on his skate, kicking it up to his stick, and flipping it past Roloson. The Red Wings had a 4 minute power play late in the game with Lecavalier out for high sticking Bertuzzi, but the Lightning went all out with offensive pressure. This was when Howard had to be at his best, absolutely robbing Matt Gilroy on a breakaway with a quick glove save and staying solid through the mad scramble that followed. Shots in the third were 12-9 in Detroit’s favor.

Notes: Holmstrom’s power play goal was the 116th of his career, moving him past Brendan Shanahan for 5th all time in Red Wings power play scoring.

Next game: Detroit will travel to Buffalo to play the Sabres, 7:30 PM Friday.


Game Preview: Lightning at Wings, 7:30 PM

By now you’ve probably heard or read every possible take on the “Steve Yzerman returns with his new team to face his old team” angle of tonight’s game, so I’ll leave that one alone. Except, since this is a Versus game, do you think that if Pierre Maguire interviews Yzerman and does his usual creepy stand-too-close thing, we’ll get to see Joey Kocur and Darren McCarty step out of the shadows to rough Pierre up? Protecting The Captain from ruffians and creepers is instinctive for them, after all!

So let’s look at what we’ll be seeing on the ice tonight. The Red Wings recalled Fabian Brunnstrom from Grand Rapids, and he’ll be in the lineup in place of Cory Emmerton. Brunnstrom, whose wife could go into labor any second (their first child’s due date was Friday), will be playing on the third line with Danny Cleary and Darren Helm (assuming Baby Bruno doesn’t make an appearance between now and puck drop). Jimmy Howard will be making his 16th consecutive start in net.

For the Lightning, Dwayne Roloson will be in net. The Tampa Bay netminder hasn’t played since being pulled after giving up six goals on 21 shots to Toronto last week. While the Lightning have gained plenty of negative attention this season for their extremely passive 1-3-1 trapping style of play (see here for an example on YouTube of how it went when the Philadelphia Flyers decided to make an example and not challenge the Lightning’s trap), their offense is still capable of generating dangerous chances. Steven Stamkos leads the team with 15 goals and 10 assists, so his line with Ryan Malone and Teddy Purcell will certainly be playing hard and trying to get the Lightning any sort of lead so they can revert to their overly safe trap.

Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing Pavel Datsyuk deke the shorts off all five Lightning skaters in a drive to the net.

Let’s go, Red Wings! *clap clap clapclapclap*

Patrick Eaves update # 2: surgery required

It seems Patrick Eaves will need surgery to repair his busted jaw after all, per the Detroit Free Press. General manager Ken Holland expects Eaves to be out 6 to 8 weeks, although this is based on the timeline of how long it took past players with broken jaws to get back in the lineup, not on any official word from doctors. (Danny Cleary and Brad Stuart have both had broken jaws in recent seasons.)

Keep in mind that with a broken jaw, the healing bone is not the only concern. The player also has difficulty consuming nutrition enough to keep up with his usual physical training regimen, so Eaves’s conditioning is likely to slip a little while he heals.

Get well soon, Patrick. I hope your GIANT DOG Nurse Reuben takes good care of you while you’re out!

Patrick Eaves Update

Ansar Khan of MLive has reported that Patrick Eaves has been diagnosed with a fractured jaw. No word yet on whether or not the jaw will require surgical repair, and no timeline has been set for Eaves to return. It’s likely that the reason he fell when he was hit last night was partly from pain and partly from dizziness– a hard hit that close to the ear could easily cause a shakeup in the inner ear fluid, leading to temporary balance issues.

The good news here is that there’s no mention of concussion. I’m sure it’s small comfort to Eaves and his poor aching jaw at this point, but it could have been so much worse.

Game Recap: Red Wings 4, Predators 1

The Red Wings extended their winning streak to five games with a dominant 4-1 win over Nashville, but may have lost Patrick Eaves to a possible concussion.

First period: Unlike what we’ve seen many times in back to back games which include a road trip, the Wings came out strong from the start (instead of taking half a period or so to get their skating legs back under them). Valtteri Filppula opened the scoring with a gorgeous power play goal, taking a rebound off Todd Bertuzzi’s shot, spinning around, and backhanding it high over Pekka Rinne. Nashville had an almost-goal which looked like it was millimeters from crossing the line, but referee Dan O’Halloran ruled it no goal. Shots at the end of the period were 14 to 3 in Detroit’s favor. So, yeah, no road trip sluggishness there.

Second period: Henrik Zetterberg put Detroit up by two with a patient play, keeping possession of the puck behind the net, skating it out front, and waiting for Rinne to commit to a low save before shooting it high. Jiri Hudler and Filppula had the assists. Filppula added his second of the night shortly thereafter by deflecting Jakub Kindl’s point shot. The goal was originally credited to Hudler, but review determined that the puck was tipped first by Hudler then by Filppula before it went past Rinne. Shots in the second period were 11 to 5 in favor of the Wings.

Third period: Danny Cleary gave Detroit a 4-0 lead when he and Darren Helm rushed the net. Helm stole the puck from a Nashville defender and tossed it to Cleary, who tapped it past Rinne. The Predators ended Jimmy Howard’s shutout bid at 5:34 of the third when Jack Hillen scored from Colin Wilson and Martin Erat. Shots in the third were 12 to 11 in favor of Detroit.

Patrick Eaves was injured late in the game when a rising shot by rookie Roman Josi struck him in the side of the head. Eaves collapsed on the ice. The medical team brought out a stretcher, and Eaves was actually able to move up to it partially under his own power. Eaves was definitely cut, probably from where the puck knocked his helmet into his skin. He was taken to the Detroit Medical Center for further tests and observation. Josi apologized to Eaves as the stretcher was wheeled out. “I felt bad,” Josi told FOX Sports Detroit after the game. “I said that to him and he said it’s all right and he’s going to be fine.”

Can I just say, I love seeing athletes demonstrate class like this? Everyone knows it’s a dangerous sport and you run plenty of risks by playing, but I think it shows a wonderful lack of entitlement when someone is hurt and the person who accidentally caused it apologizes. And also when the person who is hurt graciously accepts the apology.

Next game: The Red Wings host their legendary captain’s new team when the Tampa Bay Lightning visit on Wednesday, 11/30/11. (TV: FOX Sports Detroit. Radio: 97.1 The Ticket.)

Notes: Mike Babcock adjusted the lines this game by putting Hudler on the second line with Zetterberg and Filppula and having Cleary play the third line with Helm and Eaves. I think we can safely say it was a successful game for both lines.

Game Preview: Predators at Red Wings, 7 PM

Perennial pains in the rump Nashville come to play at the Joe tonight.

Nashville comes in on a three game losing streak. Star defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber have been their usual reliable selves, but goaltender Pekka Rinne has been unusually sieve-like. The usually solid and often spectacular Rinne was pulled after giving up three goals to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. Then on Wednesday, Rinne and the Preds took a 1-0 lead into the third period against Minnesota and proceeded to give up three goals on eight shots, eventually losing 3-2.

Think of that. Three goals on eight shots to the Minnesota Wild. The trappiest team in the West just offensively exploded all over you.

(This may actually be partially due to my cosmic influence. I made a point of choosing Rinne for my fantasy team this year. I figured he’d either play lights out like he did last season and bring my fantasy team to glory, or he’d tank like my fantasy goalies almost always do and make the Central Division an easier place for Detroit. Nashville’s opponents can thank me later.)

That said, Nashville always brings their A game against the Red Wings and they should not be taken lightly. Furthermore, the Minnesota Wild just offensively exploded all over them. This is humiliating. This is likely to result in a Nashville team looking to take out some aggressions.

Detroit comes in having put away the defending champion Bruins yesterday, but the win was not exactly a pretty one. The Wings were outplayed by the Bruins for considerable stretches of the game, and it was superb goaltending from Jimmy Howard which kept them in it long enough to give them a chance to win.

Travel time may also be a concern for the Red Wings, although it helps that yesterday’s game was a matinee, which should mean that everyone was home and tucked in to bed at a reasonable hour. Pavel Datsyuk’s resurgent offense with Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen on his wings could rattle Rinne since he’s already feeling a lack of confidence, but goalies have strange mental focus abilities ordinary humans don’t. The key will be to test him early and often.

George Malik reports from the morning skate that Patrick Eaves will be in the lineup in place of Cory Emmerton (healthy scratch) tonight. Jimmy Howard will be getting his 15th straight start. (The possibility of wearing out the goalie is an issue that will be addressed later.)

Let’s go, Red Wings! *clap clap clapclapclap*

NOHS uncovers the truth about Hudler’s year in the KHL

Nightmare on Helm Street investigative reporter Jordan has dug deep to find out what Jiri Hudler was really doing in Russia that year he was gone from the Wings. Please read! You may never look at Jiri the same way again.

Happy Hudler’s Magical Mystery Globe-Trotting Travels

Recap: Wings 3, Bruins 2 (SO)

Detroit heads home now on a four game win streak having snapped Boston’s ten game streak with shootout goals by Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi.

First period: The Wings looked, quite honestly, flat. At one point Boston had outshot them 11-2. Jimmy Howard was absolutely outstanding to keep the game scoreless, and Valtteri Filppula gave the Wings a 1-0 lead on a pretty tap-in off a Henrik Zetterberg pass. The Bruins generated some intense play, but Howard held them off.

Second period: Detroit looked far better in the second. Puck possession, intensity, and energy were all better. Daniel Paille scored for Boston after intercepting an errant Howard pass intended for Jonathan Ericsson, but Datsyuk regained the lead within 35 seconds with a perfectly Datsyukian goal: he took a pass from Bertuzzi (and that pass deserves praise for The Todd’s veteran patience to get a clear passing lane), went stick to skate to stick and flipped the puck past Tuukka Rask. Lots of high intensity, end to end play for both teams in the second. This is probably exactly what the NHL was hoping for with a nationally broadcast game. That’s edge of your seat hockey, there!

Third period: The game tempo slowed down a bit, but both teams still played with some intensity. Zetterberg made a rare defensive error and turned the puck over to Rich Peverley in the slot, allowing the Bruins to tie the game at two. Danny Cleary had an excellent chance to regain the lead late in the period, but the puck rang off the post and Rask cleared it away.

Overtime: Howard made the save of the game on a point blank shot by Peverley.

Shootout: Tyler Seguin‘s shot was gloved by Howard. Datsyuk scored a relatively plain shot on Rask (who was probably expecting to be deked out of his shorts). Howard stopped Peverley. Jiri Hudler (?????? WHY is Hudler in the shootout????) took a weak shot which was stopped by Rask. Nathan Horton put one past Howard. Bertuzzi sealed the win with one of those lovely fancy showoff shootout goals he’s so known for, and the Wings skate off with two points.

Next game: The Wings host the Nashville Predators Saturday night at the Joe at 7 pm. Note the early start time– 7, not 7:30. See you tomorrow, hockey fans (and people who are reading this because you’re related to me)!

Note: If you’re trying to write a game recap while your spouse is in the same room looking at the Gallery of Regrettable Food, it may take longer than usual to get the recap done. Just so you know.

Goalie Correction

Boston Bruins started Tuukka Rask, not Tim Thomas. Rask starts today with a 2.32 GAA and .919 save percentage.

Game Preview: Thanksgiving SHOWDOWN! Wings at Bruins, 1 PM

Happy Black Friday! Today’s the day we get to stagger in from our early morning shopping and collapse on the couch just in time to catch the Red Wings play the Boston Bruins on NBC at 1:00. (For those of us who were out shopping, at least. Me, I was too busy recovering from yesterday’s emotional turmoil, cooking injuries, and property damage to drag myself out of bed and get out to fight the crowds. Only minor hand injuries from knives and hot pans– don’t worry, I’m day-to-day.)

The idea of a Black Friday afternoon game is actually a pretty good one, and I find myself compelled to actually compliment Gary Bettman and his marketing minions. The day after Thanksgiving is not traditionally a big sports day in the U.S., aside from some college football matchups. It’s a nice open spot to slide in and showcase a game with wide appeal on a national stage– and I’d certainly say an Original Six matchup, with one of the participants being last year’s Stanley Cup winner, is going to have wide appeal to even casual hockey fans. Who might bring their shopping-weary, turkey-stuffed friends to sit on the couch and watch with them. And so the love of the game spreads. This is a good one, Gary. I admit it. The NHL even got a Red Wings/Bruins themed float in yesterday’s Macy’s parade to publicize today’s game. It looked like a frozen pond with small children in Wings or Bruins gear skating around playing a mock game, and R&B artist Cee Lo Green singing from a sort of balcony above the ice. (Although I expect that Red Wings former defenseman/current broadcaster Larry Murphy, playing the role of one of the coaches on the float, is still wandering around the streets of Manhattan, lost and sampling the wares of every single hot dog vendor he can find…) The one problem I have with the Thanksgiving Showdown concept is that they’re calling a Black Friday game the Thanksgiving Showdown. True, it’s on Thanksgiving weekend, but Thanksgiving is over. We’re moving on to other things.

Like an actual game preview.

The Red Wings had a very brief morning skate yesterday before being dismissed for an early holiday meal with their family and friends, then reassembled for the trip to Boston Thursday evening. No lineup changes are expected. The Wings are going into this game on a three game winning streak.

Boston, on the other hand, had yesterday off. Is it too much to ask for that they’d have overeaten yesterday and be sluggish today? Probably. The Bruins are coming in on a ten game winning streak, having caught fire after shaking off the Stanley Cup hangover they suffered early in the season. Young center Tyler Seguin has been tearing it up on the scoresheet, leading the team with 12 goals and 11 assists. Goaltender Tim Thomas is one of the few goalies in the league who actually has better stats than the Wings’ Jimmy Howard, coming into today with a goals against average of 1.85 and a save percentage of .936 (compared to Howard’s 1.92 and .927).

What I’m expecting today is actually a goaltending battle– no, not the exciting kind like Patrick Roy getting his ass handed to him by Mike Vernon or Chris Osgood (and I’m sure Dominik Hasek would have put up a good fight too if he hadn’t tripped on a glove on his way down the ice in that 2002 game). I’m expecting loads of shots by both sides and stellar goaltending from both sides. The Wings have regained their offensive confidence and been shooting the puck far more than they were during their slump. The Bruins’ story is the same. Basically, I think this game is going to come down to whether it’s Howard or Thomas who blinks first– or at least, which ever one of them blinks more often.

One possible storyline to watch is that of Milan Lucic and Drew Miller. Miller’s brother Ryan, the goaltender for the Buffalo Sabres, was hit hard by Lucic in the Bruins vs Sabres matchup on November 12. Ryan Miller suffered a concussion and has not yet been able to return. Lucic was given a minor penalty for charging and not disciplined further by the NHL. Drew Miller is not exactly known as a gritty player or a fighter, but he has said for the record that Lucic’s hit was uncalled for and should have been disciplined further. It could be interesting to see if he and Lucic have any interactions on the ice today.

So, pull up a plate of leftovers and get ready– it’s a lunchtime game!