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.
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!