Archive for December, 2003

Wings beat Thrashers 6-5

The battle of the top two offensive teams in the NHL didn’t disappoint, as the Thrashers and Wings accumulated 11 goals. The Wings overtook the Thrashers in overtime on a pretty give play from Whitney to Zetterberg, who stuffed it in upstairs. The Wings finally got a powerplay goal, after going dry in their past 20-some chances. Chelios returned to the ice tonight from a sprained knee. Cujo got the start.

In the first period, there was no scoring. Shots on goal were pretty even at 11-9 in Detroit’s favor. The best part was the Shanahan/Exelby fight Shanny started to get back at Exelby for taking shots at Yzerman.

In the second period, the offensive powers exploded on the ice, with 6 goals total. Detroit got into the scoring first on a neat Mathieu Schneider goal where he took a point shot, and followed through to stuff in the rebound when Maltby couldn’t reach it from his knees. It was a great effort by Schneider. Draper and Maltby got the assists. 1-0 Wings. Then Tomas Holmstrom saved Hull’s butt after Hull missed a wide open net by following up the gaffe with a goal. The Hull miss ended up being the first-assist “pass” on the play. I’d like a Hull quote on that one. Holmstrom’s goal was a trademark stuff pointblank on Thrasher goaltender Pasi Nurminen. Datsyuk and Hull got the assists. 2-0 Wings. Then ex-Wing Slava Kozlov blasted a shot from the point, which was tipped several times, and beat Cujo. The goal was credited to Kozlov, but I believe it was taken away and given to one of the guys who created the redirections on the shot. 2-1 Wings. Then Ray Whitney got a goal from Shanahan and Kronvall. I’d say more, but I don’t remember the play. I guess it’s a luxury not being able to remember a Wings goal, because, for me, it means there was a lot of offense!! 3-1 Wings. Then the Thrashers stormed back with goals from Ronald Petrovicky and Zdenek Blatny, making it a tie game at three apiece.

The Thrashers opened the third period on fire, getting a goal from Ilya Kovalchuk, putting him at second in the league in points at 43 after his 3 point night. Robert Lang is first with 44 and Datsyuk is tied with Naslund at 42. The goal made it 4-3 Atlanta, stunning the homecrowd. Luckily, the Wings weren’t done. On the powerplay, Zetterberg got it done with a between-the-circles goal fed by a neat backpass from Datsyuk. Hull got the second assist. Game tied 4-4. Then the Irish Jig was played as Shanahan got a pointblank tip shot over Nurminen’s stick fed by Zetterberg. It finished off Shanny’s Gordie Howe hat-trick, with a goal, assist, and fight on the night. Fischer got the second assist. 5-4 Wings. The Joe Lewis Arena homecrowd thought the game was in the bag with 8 minutes remaining, but Daniel Tjarnqvist got the equalizer to send the game to overtime. The remaining minutes had both teams playing relatively conservative to preserve the all-important point.

Overtime was pretty open, as the game was against the non-Conference Thrashers, so the teams took in the attitude that they had nothing to lose and everything to gain in getting that second point. Losing in overtime wouldn’t be that bad, as giving a point to a non-conference team is no big deal. Anyways, 4-on-4 overtime play commenced, and Schneider got the puck up-ice to Whitney, who gained control and went up with Zetterberg on a 2-on-1 rush. Whitney passed the puck over to Zetterberg, and Henrik made a great shot to give Detroit a 6-5 victory and two-points to give the Wings more breathing room from St Louis in the Central Division standings. Wings 6-5.

It was a scary moment when the skate of a Thrasher caught Pasi Nurminen on the back of the neck, creating a bloody gash. Luckily, it wasn’t deep and he was quickly bandaged and ready to play. While waiting as Nurminen laid on the ice, the crowd booed a little, probably not realizing the severity of the situation and thinking that he was just bluffing to get a breather in the huge offensive clash, certainly not a goaltender’s game.

The Wings really took it to Nurminen, outshooting Atlanta 44-27, but more importantly in the third period when the game was on the line: 14-4. And the powerplay is hopefully revived, with the Wings finally organizing a successful effort.

Mickey Remond wore his trademark flannel suite tonight, as the Fox Sports Net staff was all dressed up for the New Years Eve game.

Overall, the biggest impression I got from this game is that the Wings were playing with much more chemistry than they had in the four previous games, where they only had 4 goals total. Allowing 5 goals is usually defensive suicide, but against the Thrashers, that is almost to be expected. The Thrashers, unlike other expansion teams, are willing to play an open game rather than a I’ll-wait-until-you-mess-up style. And that’s because they have offense and don’t want to suppress it. The Wings played really well tonight and brought in the New Year with an entertaining victory. And the Wings continue to roll at home. We just need Hull to break out of his goal slump, but he still was a strong contributor with two assists tonight.


GameDay: vs. Atlanta (19-16-3-1, 42), 7:00 EST

Tonight is the first and only meeting between the current two highest scoring teams in the league. The Wings lead the all-time series 6-0 and have outscored the Thrashers 30-10.

The Wings went 1-2-1 after going on a four-game winning streak. They scored just four goals during that time and were shut out twice. They are coming off a 3-0 loss to Blackhawks in Chicago on Sunday.

The Thrashers lead the Southeast Division but they have dropped two straight games, most recently a 2-1 decision to the Habs. Tonight is the first game of a five-game road trip.

Curtis Joseph should get the start tonight, with Dominik Hasek still out and the fact that Manny Legace played Sunday.

Chris Chelios is questionable for tonight and will be a game-time decision. He practiced yesterday and felt better than he did over the weekend but said it’s up to the trainers whether he plays tonight or not.

Darren McCarty skated yesterday and Steve Thomas said he might try today as well.

This is a game I’ve been looking forward to ever since I realized who it is the Wings are playing. It should be an exciting game and by no means an easy one for the Wings to win. They’ll have to put in a heck of a lot better effort than they did Sunday because the Thrashers have really come on this season. The Pavel Datsyuk/Ilya Kovalchuck matchup is what I’m looking forward to the most. Probably the two best young players in the league and it’s the only time this season they’ll face each other. Hopefully the Wings will show up to play because I know the Thrashers will.

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Dan Snyder Patch

The Red Wings have agreed to wear a patch with Dan Snyder’s No. 37 on their jerseys for the New Years Eve game against the Atlanta Thrashers, who will also don the patch as they have and will all season long. After the game, both teams’ jerseys will be auctioned off by the NHLPA, with proceeds benefiting the Dan Snyder Memorial Scholarship, an award established by the NHLPA and the Atlanta Thrashers players. The Wings have some ties to the Atlanta Thrashers, as Thrashers GM Don Waddel is an ex-Wings assistant GM, so I’m sure that that helped expedite this classy move. The Wings have participated in wearing memorial patches/stickers in the past, including ones for Keith Magnuson , Steve Chiasson, and Vladimir Konstantinov.

12/30 Injury Update

— Jason Woolley broke his toe during Friday’s game against the Wild and will not play against the Thrashers on Wednesday night. The Wings are treating the injury as day-to-day and say he could be back by the weekend. Woolley did not play in the loss to Chicago on Sunday.

— Darren McCarty is scheduled to skate today before practice, according to Dave Lewis. He has been out since November 8th with bulging disks in his back. He “expressed optimism Saturday that he could return this week.

— Chris Chelios will not return Wednesday after all. He says he did not feel strong skating over the weekend and so will most likely return either on Friday when the Wings play in Carolina or Saturday when the Ducks come to town.

— Dominik Hasek probably will be out for at least another two weeks. He has only played 14 of 39 games this season. I think it’s time for the Wings to reconsider their goalie plan.

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Blackhawks Stymie Wings Yet Again

In a truly lackadaisical performance by the Wings and an inspired effort by the Chicago Blackhawks, the Wings fell 3-0. Legace was the unfortunate one to get the start, with his team pretty much leaving him out to dry for 60 minutes. Through two periods of play, the show-up-when-they-feel-like it Wings had only 10 shots. But at least the Wings acknowledged their inconsistency against some of the worst teams in the NHL:

*Shanahan: “I don’t know why they give us a hard time. I just know that tonight we didn’t play well at all. We were stupid. That’s one of the dumbest . . . We made poor decisions. Our commitment to work and battle was maybe the lowest it’s been in any game this year. There have been lots of games we’ve lost this year where I’ve felt that we worked hard and battled hard, but I didn’t think it was there tonight. Physically, mentally, both aspects of the game, we just really took this one off.”

*Lewis: “We got outworked, I thought. They had a good game plan. They stuck to it. I thought they skated better than we skated. . . . They have a game plan that’s effective. They take our centers away. We didn’t establish enough forecheck to create turnovers, and that was, I think, the difference in the game besides their special teams.”

*Lidstrom: “After two periods, we only had 10 shots. It’s tough to score goals when you only have 10 shots after two periods. . . . It seemed like they had the jump out there. They were going at us pretty good.”

The Wings shot breakdown was five in the first and second periods, and ten in the third, outshot 27-20. It was the second time in four decisions that the Wings were shutout. And for a team rich in powerplay technicians who should be getting a powerplay goal each game, the Wings have not gotten one in on the powerplay in the past five games. Versus the Hawks, the Wings were 0-6. The Wings need to capitalize on these man-advantages, and not just use them as time to kill when the opposition is unlikely to score.

In the first period, Legace allowed a bad angle goal from Nathan Dempsey with four minutes on the clock. It was a stinker, but, in the end, it didn’t really matter because the Wings generated absolutely no offense to support their goalie. One positive I got was the physical play of Jiri Fischer, which was best represented by a crushing open-ice check on Steve Sullivan. I won’t comment on whether it was clean, but I think Sullivan might’ve gotten some elbow.

In the second period, Tuomo Ruutu snuck in a rebound past Legace with two minutes left. Nothing much else happened, except I switched the channel a couple times and watched the Red Wings accomplish nothing. With all these bad performaces against weak teams, I almost look forward to games against Vancouver, St Louis, Colorado, and other upper echelon teams, because the Wings usually are inspired to perform and enjoy the more-open and fast-paced play.

In the third period, the Hawks scored on a 45 foot slapshot from Deron Quint with five minutes left in the game. I was disappointed to see Lidstrom allow Sullivan blow by him for a breakaway, but, thankfully, Legace stopped it. Nick needs to play like his $10 million dollar contract: like a superstar. Lately, he has been just good. I expect greatness from him though.

There were quite a few weird stantion bounces out there, but none led to Hawks’ goals. Another notable is that Brett Hull has a 10 game goal drought now, which is his longest as a Wing.

In news not directly related to the Wings, but that could potentially affect our division standing, St Louis goaltender Chris Osgood bruised his knee Monday in their win over Columbus. It happened three minutes into the game, when Ozzie fell after being struck in the leg from a shot by teammate Bryce Salvador. I don’t wish injury on anyone, especially our beloved ex-Wing who hasn’t been talking trash about the Wings like others have (Fedorov comes to mind first), but I wouldn’t mind his absence hurting the Blues in the standings.

New Years Eve we get to watch the high-flying Atlanta Thrashers at the Joe: a 7:00 start. We also get to see Mickey Redmond and the Fox Sports Net crew all dressed up for the gala event. I know they’ll show up in suite and tie, ready for action; let’s just hope that the Wings decide to show up too and get some goals against a chugging offense in Atlanta. In the past four games, the Wings have just four goals, a paltry number to their league-leading 126 goals-for in 39 games played (an average of 3.23 goals per game).

Wings 0, Hawks 3

There really is not much to say about the game last night. Basically, the Wings put on one of their most lazy performances of the season and looked terrible. They switched paces completely, making the Hawks look like a Stanley Cup contender and themselves like some bottom feeding team. The Wings were so universally bad and ineffective last night that I can’t even point out anyone individually. The game was a blur of lackadaisical play and the Wings got absolutely nothing going. They can’t expect to play like that and win games. They know it. They’d better act on it and not let it happen again.

Next up: vs. Atlanta, Wednesday, 7:00 EST

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Manny Legace