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Game Recap: Red Wings 4, Penguins 1 (Quick Toothache Edition)

Goals are lovely things that can temporarily take away the pain of an aching wisdom tooth, but the relief is fleeting when the game is over, so if it’s all the same to you I’m going to make this a quick one so I can take a double dose of ibuprofen and be off to bed.

Slowpoke’s injury report from the Game Preview was indeed accurate! Sidney Crosby was out. My other sources were less accurate, as Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin did play. I tip my hat to Dan Bylsma’s attempts to confuse his opponents with coachmanship and hope for the sake of Mrs. Bylsma that he does not conduct his personal relationships in the same way.

1st period: Played very tight and careful by both teams. Malkin scored the only goal of the period with only five seconds remaining on a two on one rush. Brad Stuart took the passing lane out of play, but Malkin let a quick wrist shot fly which beat Jimmy Howard on the far side of the net. Shots 8-6 in favor of Detroit.

2nd period: Pavel Datsyuk got the Wings on the board with an excellent backhand shot made possible by Todd Bertuzzi stealing the puck away from Matt Niskanen, but the second really belonged to Howard more than anyone else. Tiberius stopped everything he saw and some things you’d think he couldn’t possibly have seen, including a just-barely-made it stick save on Malkin while being flattened by James Neal (it looked more or less accidental on Neal’s part, but “flattened” describes the positioning so well–it was like a “GET DOWN!” tackle from a movie). Shots 12-5 in favor of Pittsburgh.

3rd period: Howard was certainly called on to be strong in the third as well, but the Red Wings’ offense woke up and gave him some help. Johan Franzen moved Detroit into the lead with a power play goal. Datsyuk knocked a Penguins’ clearing attempt out of the air and passed to the Mule, who put the puck right through Marc-Andre Fleury. Danny Cleary added an insurance goal 10 minutes later when he, Darren Helm, and Chris Conner escaped into the Pittsburgh zone on a three on one rush; Cleary tipped Conner’s pass into Fleury’s net. Cleary added an empty net goal with six seconds left to play.

When asked for commentary, my Penguins correspondent Gus Bailey informed me that nothing he had to say is publishable. I have noted this for the record. Perhaps, indeed, we shall spend the first half of June snarking at each other again, my friend.

Next game: Detroit heads to Nashville to meet the Predators. 8:00 PM Thursday.

Game Preview: Red Wings at Penguins, 7:00 PM

 

Thank you, Slowpoke! I do appreciate your up to the minute injury reports!

Tonight the Red Wings visit the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are having, to put it mildly, some injury trouble. I’m sure Slowpoke’s report is the VERY FIRST you’ve heard of Sidney Crosby’s recurrence of post-concussion syndrome. But the Penguins are also missing defensemen Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek, not to mention centers Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin being game time decisions on whether they can play tonight or not. Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma declined to reveal any details about what might be ailing Malkin and Staal. The Penguins recalled (former Red Wing) Jason Williams from Wilkes-Barre, just in case they really do have this dearth of centermen. Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to be the starting goalie.

Mike Babcock isn’t concerned about Bylsma’s potential line matchups, with or without the game time decisions. “The good thing about it is I don’t have to make any of those decisions,” Babcock said. “I’m going to put my guys out on the ice and then he’s going to follow, so (Bylsma) can make all those decisions.” The Red Wings will be going with the same lineup as in the past few games, including Jimmy Howard getting another start in goal.

I think the key here for the Red Wings is to not think too much (or at all) about the players on the other team. The system works, regardless of who it’s used against (shut up, Sharks). The danger will be any sort of mental slacking off if they get to thinking too much about, “Well, they’re missing that star and that star and that star, so we don’t have to be as tough as we would be otherwise.” And besides, Fleury is hardly a scrub, and goalies have stolen games from the Wings before!

So, make sure Tomas Holmstrom has had plenty of beans today and get him parked in front of Fleury (feet outside the goal crease, of course).

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

Grudging Admiration

Taking a moment out from pre-Thanksgiving housecleaning to grudgingly admit that I’m really impressed with the play of newly-returned Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby. The guy sits out with post-concussion syndrome from January 5th to November 21st, then comes in and scores a goal on his first shot and adds two assists (and the game’s not even over yet as I’m writing– they still have one period left to play). So, over ten months of headaches and feeling off in the head, and not being able to be in true game shape, and he jumps back in and is a scoring threat right away? Granted, the New York Islanders are not exactly one of the elite teams in the NHL, but still.

Damn, dude. My hat’s off to you. At least for tonight.

And just as I’m about to hit publish, he scores yet another goal early in the third. Curse you for wringing compliments out of me!

 

That said, this is still my favorite picture of Sid: 

 

Sports are best when you have an arch-enemy, don’t you think? Patrick Roy is long gone, so Crosby it is. And I am glad this arch-enemy’s career was not ended by a ridiculous accidental concussion. I admit it. It’s the same way that I hate that Joe Sakic’s career was ended when he mangled his hand in the snowblower. Guys like that, you want them to go out, but it needs to be in glory. These are not ignominious opponents, these are the guys you respect even while hating them. So therefore: welcome back, Crosby.

Now let me make sure you haven’t scored again before I hit the publish button.