Archive for March, 2006

Wings 2, Chicago 3 (OT)

The Wings were luckily to get a point tonight, losing to Chicago 3-2 in overtime. They seemed to run out of gas during the second and third periods, and being without the services of Mathieu Schneider and Daniel Cleary (still sore from the Scott Walker hit) didn’t help either. Chris Osgood got the start for the Wings, and Mowers filled in for Cleary. Even on the 78th birthday of Gordie Howe and with Vladdy Konstantinov in attendance, the Wings just didn’t show the jump you’d expect from them.

Lucky because Pavel Datsyuk tied the game at 2-2 with Osgood pulled at 46 seconds left in the third. But Chicago’s Patrick Sharp made a great individual play at 1:29 of OT, deiking Lidstrom and Kronwall before beating Osgood near the mouth of the crease. The bright spot of the game was Yzerman getting his 691st goal, now 8th all time (and three away from Messier). Yzerman is now on a 7 game point streak. The Wings were fortunate to get the overtime loss point and make it 108 points, all but locking up the Central Division and lengthening the Western Conference lead on Dallas to 7 points. Khabibulin, previously 0-4 against the Wings this season with a 4.98 GAA, was strong in net on the Wings 41 shots.

The first period opened with 4:23 of play without a whistle, with Osgood making a save on a knuckle-ball shot from Canton, MI native James Wisniewski. The Wings’ penalties from Shanahan at 4:51 (hooking) and Lilja at 7:53 (interference) prevented them from establishing much offense, as they were held without a shot until 10:56. The Lilja call drew the ire of Mickey Redmond, as he explained how Lilja was simply holding his ground in front of Ozzie, and merely bumped shoulders with Calder to draw the interference call.

At 10:56, on the Wings’ first shot on net, Yzerman scored off a great pass from Williams to make it 1-0 Wings. On the play, Williams stole the puck streaking up center, and cut left waiting for the trailing Yzerman, who took the pass in front Khabibulin and tipped it in. It was Yzerman’s 691st career goal, passing Lemieux for sole position of 8th place all time. He is now three goals behind Mark Messier at the next position at 694, with nine regular season games remaining.

The Mowers-Holmstrom-Zetterberg line brought a lot of energy to their play around 4 minutes remaining, the Wings only having taken 5 shots up to this point. At 2;38, Osgood made a save on a Calder point shot, and lost track of the puck as it bounced off his chest above his head. It was a tense few seconds until Ozzie caught sight of the puck and was able to get a glove on it.

At 1:12 remaining Shanny was called for interference, and the Wings got a great chance off a faceoff turnover, leading to a Kris Draper chance on Khabibulin. It hit iron, and a few seconds later Maltby had his own chance on a 2-on-1, but was stoned by Khabibulin. Franzen got a chance before the end of the period too, beating the Chicago defense on the near side to get a quasi-break on Khabibulin. The period ended, and Chicago was luckily to be down by only 1 goal.

During 1st intermission, Jason Williams talked of his excitement for having serious play time in this season’s playoffs, and Vladdy was shown on camera.

The second period started with a penalty kill, the Wings killing it without allowing a shot. A few minutes in, Wisniewski was hit in the mouth by a shot in front of Khabibulin. He fell to the ice, and it was a scary minute as he covered his mouth with his gloves. Being a Canton, MI native, his family was in attendance, so it was fortunate that he was able to continue playing the rest of the game. At 14:08, Zetterberg was called for holding the stick, and while the Wings killed it off, Chicago scored at 16:16 on a backdoor pass from Calder to Cullen. 1-1 tie. Osgood didn’t have a chance on the play. Shots in the period were 17-14 Wings, a pick-up in shots but definitely less energy than the first.

During the 2nd intermission, John Keating interviewed Jiri Fischer, with some clips of it shown. The full interview will be shown pregame Sunday and Monday.

The Wings opened the third sluggish, but got a great power play chance at 6:04. On the play, Datsyuk passed to Holmstrom in front, but Khabibulin was as strong as ever on the stop. It was a funny moment when Mickey Redmond started singing lyrics from his favorite Billy Joel song, “It’s 9 o’clock on a Saturday!” Ken Daniels had to remind him it’s still Friday.

At 14:31, the Blackhawks broke the tie on a goal from Lapointe. On the play, Chicago converted on a 3-on-1 with Lidstrom the only man back, and former-Wing Lapointe notched a goal. 2-1 Chicago. The Wings were desperate with a minute left and the score still 2-1. Osgood was pulled, and the Wings converted on the 6-on-5 advantage with a goal from Datsyuk. On the play, Holmstrom did a great job of getting the puck from behind the net to Shanny, who directed it to Pavel in front. Regulation ended 2-2 with shots 40-32 Detroit.

In overtime, Chicago controlled the pressure and Patrick Sharp made a great individual play on his game-winning goal. On the play, he deiked Lidstrom and Kronwall before beating Osgood near the mouth of the crease. 3-2 Chicago, who definitely deserved the win. The Wings were very lucky just to get their point, and better rest on Saturday before their Sunday matinee versus the Wild. Remember to turn your clocks forward an hour Saturday night! The Wings definitely won’t enjoy that, in addition to their 4 games in 5 nights!

Wings 4, Preds 2

The Wings all but locked up the division last night, beating the Preds 4-2 in Nashville. They now have 107 points and a 15 point lead on the Predators for the Central Division lead with 10 games left (and one game in hand). They’re also the first team to 50 wins, a marker they have only reached two other times in their history (’95-’96: 62W, ’01-’02: 51W). The Wings now lead the season series with the Preds 4-3 and remain undefeated in Nashville with one more game to be played there.

Manny Legace did get the start for the Wings and looked strong. He was worked more than in his previous two games and didn’t seem to have much trouble with it.

Babcock started the Swedes, Tomas Holmstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Mikael Samuelsson, Andreas Lilja and Nick Lidstrom. The first minute wasn’t bad and first impressions were that the Wings looked pretty good. Robert Lang, who has been coming to play increasingly often lately, started the game out well. He appears to be getting ready for the playoffs, which is encouraging.

Early in the game, all four lines were generating pressure, and getting chances, as the Wings came on strong. The Preds derailed that a bit by killing off their first penalty, mostly due to the Wings apparently suddenly forgetting how to conduct a power play. In a bit of a momentum swing, Nashville came out of it ahead, with the ice tilted in their direction.

They had a power play of their own beginning at 5:47 and were pretty dangerous on it. Fortunatley, the Wings’ PKers, particularly Manny Legace, were ready and it was killed off. Not long after the teams were back to even strength, Brendan Shanahan went off for hooking and the Wings were forced to kill off another penalty, which they did pretty well.

While still on the power play, the Preds ended up getting a penalty of their own and we got some 4-on-4 hockey. The subsequent Red Wing power play wasn’t bad but Tomas Holmstrom cut it short when he was called for goaltender interference. Five seconds of 4-on-4 followed and then the Preds were back on the power play.

Mike Sillinger made it 1-0 Predators at 13:29. Nashville cycled the puck in the Detroit zone and it ended up on Steve Sullivan’s stick. He sent it over to Sillinger, who blasted a one-timer from the left face-off circle. A good shot.

Forty seconds later, the Wings responded. Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper took the puck in on a 2-on-1, with Pavel carrying and Draper headed to the net. Datsyuk took a shot that was stopped by Tomas Vokoun and though he didn’t give up much of a rebound, it was enough. Kris Draper was johnny-on-the-spot and knocked it in off the backhand just after the initial save. 1-1 game. Shanahan got the other assist.

The Preds wasted hardly any time re-taking the lead, scoring again at 14:36, just 25 seconds after the Detroit goal. The goal game immediatley after a commercial break and the faceoff, which made it a bit surprising. Brendan Witt got the puck after the faceoff and let loose a shot from the point through, somehow threading it through the crowd of nine players in front of him. Legace, who was completely screened appeared to have hardly seen it and it beat him glove side. The goal was later given to Scott Hartnell (the punk!), who had some kind of physical contact with it before it went in, apparently. 2-1 Predators.

At 15:30, Jordin Tootoo kneed Manny Legace’s head after taking the puck along the goalline from the right boards on an individual effort. The ref saw fit to called him for goaltending interference but he shouldn’t have bothered. At first, the resulting Detroit “power play” seemed more like the Preds had the man-advantage. The Wings finally got some pressure going but couldn’t score.

The pace of the game had quickened pretty dramatically and the crowd was loud (and somewhat classless in their choice of cheers, though I couldn’t quite hear what they were chanting), making for some nice atmosphere.

At 18:31, Tomas Vokoun made a nice stop on a good scoring chance involving Pavel Datsyuk. Just after that, Brendan Shanahan and Scott Hartnell (the punk!) had a little altercation that ended with taking the younger player down after a few punches. That was satisfying.

Seven seconds later, Sullivan went off for slashing and the Wings went back on the power play. This time, they scored. Holmstrom tied it up at 19:25 when he tipped in Lidstrom’s pass/shot right in front of Vokoun.

Manny Legace was forced to come up big early in the second period when Paul Kariya and Danny Markov got off a couple dangerous shots in the first two minutes.

Scott Walker ran Dan Cleary into the boards at 2:58, knocking the wind out of him. He turned out to be okay though and the Wings got a power play, which they squandered. The game had slowed down a bit and it wasn’t quite as exciting.

The Preds had a really good scoring opportunity nearing the halfway mark of the period but Mathieu Schneider broke it up and was lucky he wasn’t called for holding on the play. The Predators player had a step on him but Schneider caught up just in time and apparently got the puck first because the ref didn’t call anything. It could have been a penalty shot.

The Wings got a 3-on-1 half way through the period but Hank’s pass to Samuelsson was intercepted by Markov and it amounted to nothing. The pace had quickened, though.

Andreas Lilja got his penalty at 11:41 right after Manny Legace made a big stop. The Wings killed it off pretty well. Lilja somehow got a breakway after leaving the box but he was stoned by Vokoun despite making some passable moves. Better luck next time, Andreas. Lord knows you’ll be in the box often enough that you’re bound to be sprung on another post-penalty breakway!

Something about Lilja’s breakaway must have gotten the Wings fired up. They started controlling the play and looking dangerous. Then, Pavel Datsyuk fell on Tootoo and they were back on the PK.

Kirk Maltby had a glorious shorthanded chance, with Vokoun all to himself, and nearly scored. He sent it off the side of the net after a couple of dekes, though.

At 19:08, the Preds got caught with too many men on the ice. The Wings couldn’t do much before the period ended or when the third started but they capitalized soon after the penalty expired.

Brendan Shanahan completed his Gordie Howe hat trick (a goal, an assist and a fight) at 1:42 after receiving a beautiful no-look pass from Steve Yzerman. Shanny found himself all alone out front and he deked Vokoun forehand to backhand, scoring to the goalie’s right to make it 3-2.

Two minutes later, the Preds got some revenge when the Wings were called for too many men as well. Draper and Maltby had a solid shorthanded scoring opportunity but Vokoun was equal to the task and made the necessary stop.

The Preds were dangerous as the period wore on and Manny was forced to stay sharp. The pace was good, with the teams skating end to end exchanging shots and the goalies playing well.

Lilja went back to the box at 9:43 but the Preds couldn’t do much on the power play and it was killed off. The game began to become chippy after that as the Wings dug in and the Preds attempted to tie it.

Jason Williams put it away at 15:54 after taking another great pass from The Captain. He one-timed it past Vokoun to make it 4-2.

Nashville still pulled their goalie and called a timeout in the final minute in an effort at a successful final push but it didn’t work out. The Wings got their 50th win and the Preds got nothing.

Next up, we have the Hawks tonight at 7:00 ET. They have won just twice since last playing the Wings on the 12th (2-3-2) and are coming off one of those wins, a 3-2 overtime decision against the Blues Wednesday night. It’ll be the 7th of 8 divisional games between these two teams.

Abel to Yzerman game report

Also, A2Y discusses a dilema Babcock faces here.

GameDay: @ Nashville (42-22-8, 92 Pts) 8:00 ET

Tonight is the 7th of eight games between these two Central Division rivals. The season series is tied 3-3, with the Wings winning January 6th (3-1), February 8th (6-0) and February 9th (3-2). The Predators won two in a row in Detroit on January 23rd (3-2) and 24th (2-1 OT) and won the most recent game, 3-2 in a shootout last week. This game was added to this week’s schedule to make up for the home game Nashville lost when the January 23rd matchup was switched from Nashville to Detroit to make up for the canceled November 21st game.

The Wings are coming off a strong 4-1 win in St. Louis on Monday night. They basically dominated the entire game and held the Blues, who came to play as well, at arm’s length, nearly getting the shutout but failing in the final minute. It was a game in contrast to their 5-4 shootout loss to Columbus on Saturday, where their effort was only sustained through a little over two periods instead of all three. They blew a three-goal lead in all of seven minutes in the third and though they forced overtime, were unable to recover enough to pull off the win. It was their second loss in 10 games, both of which came in shootouts.

Detroit is entering a stretch in which they will play four games in five days. Three of those games are on the road (tonight, Minnesota on Sunday, and Calgary on Monday) but one will be at home (Chicago tomorrow night). This will be a real test of their stamina, especially given who they’re playing. The Calgary game could be a rough one.

I expect Manny Legace will start tonight.

The Predators have lost three straight since beating the Wings last Tuesday. All three losses came on the road to Pacific Division teams (Anaheim, LA, and Phoenix), no doubt causing Preds fans to feel relieved they aren’t likely to face the Ducks or Kings in the first round. They allowed 17 goals over that stretch and have their goalie criticizing them in the media as a result.

The Tennessean reports that the Preds are looking to get back in the saddle with tonight’s game, after generating some talk about their current slide. They’re ready for another go at the playoffs and this time there’s a good chance they’ll have home ice advantage.

Tomas Vokoun will get the start tonight.

The Wings are undefeated in Nashville so far this year but that doesn’t mean anything. The Preds need to get themselves back on track and you can bet they see tonight is as good a time as any for a start. Any lax play on Detroit’s part will be pounced on by Nashville and so they’ll need to play a full game. Should be a good one, folks.

Swedish Wings Autograph Signing

So I went to the autograph signing last night at the Fan Zone in Westland Mall featuring the five gold medalists (Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, Kronwall, and Samuelsson). I had pre-bought a signed 16×20 photograph of the five. I must say that I am very pleased with my purchase. Not so pleased with Fan Zone. But the photgraph will look great in my shrine (aka my room).

Here are some photos from the event. Sorry that they are blurry and not the best, but we weren’t allowed to take photos in the “room” so I shot all but one (which I quickly took inside) outside and people kept walking in front ruining my shots. The first two photos are of my 16×20 photograph & certificate of authenticity. I hope to scan both of them in whenever I can over the next couple weeks, but for now these quick photos will have to work! The guys were lined up with Samuelsson closest to the room’s entrance with Lidstrom farthest away (thus, he’s in maybe one photo).

(click on thumbnail to enlarge and I mean enlarge)


My beautiful 16×20 photograph signed by the Swedish Five


Certificate of Authenticity


All five of them (ok, four of them since you can only see Lidstrom’s hat)


Samuelsson and a kid posing for a photograph


You can see Lidstrom in this photo all the way to the right


Kronwall


Holmstrom


The room


Zetterberg

Update: A girl on the Lets Go Wings forum took some sweet pictures of the signing, which you can view here. My personal favorite includes this photo below:

Image hosting by Photobucket

Wings 4, Blues 1

The Wings went into the game last night knowing they had to make a statement, that anything less than a commanding win wouldn’t be an acceptable response to their embarrassing implosion on Saturday night. They had a Blues team gunning for them and the anti-Red Wing factions of the media licking their chops, looking for more reasons to spread doubt. They even risked the loss of some of their bandwagoners (gasp!). They did not disappoint. It’s pretty safe to say that last night was one of the Wings best sustained efforts all season. Because the Blues came to play as well, it wasn’t completely a Detroit-dominated game but it was close.

Manny Legace was in net for the Wings and was a mere 58 seconds away from his second shutout in as many games but just like the Sharks game, he wasn’t worked much. The credit for this win goes to the team.

Other than the win, the best thing to happen last night was Steve Yzerman’s 690th goal, which tied him with Mario Lemieux for 8th all-time. The goal came at 9:45 of the second period and was the result of a nice set up by Brendan Shanahan, who dished the puck to Niklas Kronwall in the slot to get things going. Kronwall’s shot was blocked but Robert Lang and Yzerman were right there on the doorstep. Lang got it to The Captain, who got an easy goal at the side of the net from 13 feet out.

True to form, it seemed to be just another goal for Yzerman, who didn’t make a scene with wild celebration. The OLN guys didn’t even mention what it meant until a few minutes later and it was in sort of an off-hand way, not at all like Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond would have. It’s great to see The Captain move up the charts and at the rate he’s been scoring lately, 700 doesn’t seem completely out of the question for this season.

The Blues came out of the gates flying and for about a minute it seemed like they would be setting the tempo, as the puck spent the first 50 seconds or so in the Detroit end. The Wings soon put those worries to rest, however.

Kirk Maltby opened the scoring at 2:01 with just his fifth goal of the season. The Wings took the puck on a broad-front rush, all three forwards at once, with Dan Cleary carrying the puck. He crossed the blueline and passed it to Maltby, who waited a second before releasing a wrister from the right wing. I thought at first it had just gone off the crossbar but the goallight went on, indicating it had gone in, if just barely. 1-0 Wings.

Henrik Zetterberg and Company followed up with a good, strong shift and the tone was set. Or it would have been had the Wings not gotten into penalty trouble.

At 6:22, Andreas Lilja, who seems to be good for about a penalty a game if not much else, went to the box for holding. The kill was going well until 6:53, when Draper was called for holding himself, handing the Blues a nice long 5-on-3 opportunity. St. Louis got off a couple pretty good shots but after their initial pressure, they had trouble getting much going in the face of strong penalty killing by the Wings.

Both teams looked good but the Wings were more dominant, for sure. The Blues had a few chances but nothing sustained and Legace was up to the task of stopping their shots. In the process of one such scoring opportunity, Nick Lidstrom was called for hooking. The Wings controlled most of the subsequent power play and when Mathieu Schneider went to the box for another hooking penalty at 17:24, they killed that one off easily as well.

Late in the period, OLN had a close in shot of Robert Lang on a breakout with the puck. Just after he passed it, they cut away to a wider shot and the first thing I saw was the puck being intercepted by a Blues player and going the other way. No comment.

With just 3.9 seconds left in the period, Mark Rycroft was sent off for hooking. The Wings won the deep zone faceoff and Cory Cross’ shot rang off the post as the buzzer sounded.

Shots for the period were 8-4 Wings.

Detroit began the second on the power play but it wasn’t very well orchestrated until later on and it resulted in a St. Louis kill. The Blues were looking pretty good but they couldn’t score on yet another power play just four minutes into the period.

The Wings’ second power play, beginning at 7:25, was much better than the first. Both units were strong and created some good chances but Patrick Lalime was too good. Another kill for the Blues.

Yzerman’s goal came 20 seconds after the penalty had expired. It was followed less than a minute later by another goal, this time from Johan Franzen. Kirk Maltby kicked the puck free behind the net to Franzen, who took it out front. His initial shot was stopped by Lalime but he picked up his own rebound and scored off the backhand while cutting across the net. The goal put the Wings up 3-0 at 10:32 of the second period.

At this point, the Blues called a time out but it didn’t appear to have much effect. The Wings started to really swarm and St. Louis spent much of the remainder of the period on their heels. Mikael Samuelsson had a glorious scoring chance at about the 15 minute mark and it was followed up by scoring opportunities for Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom. Patrick Lalime was standing on his head while his defense played the pylon game and prevented a much more lopsided score, especially during this stretch.

Lalime was given some relief when Lilja got his second penalty of the night, at 16:31. The Blues set it up and generated some good pressure but the power play was killed off relatively easily by the Wings. It was followed, however, by a St. Louis flurry down low late in the period, a storm which was fortunately weathered.

Shots for the period were 13-5 Wings (feel bad for Lalime, yet?).

It took the Wings less than 34 seconds to score in the third. The All-Sweden Line of Samuelsson, Zetterberg and Holmstrom took the puck on an 3-on-2 rush over the St. Louis blue line, Hank carrying on the left wing. Samuelsson went to the net and Holmstrom waited for the pass in the slot. He got it and waited for a second as the St. Louis defenseman cleared the way before roofing it backhand over the abandoned Lalime. 4-0 Wings.

Officially, Jesse Boulerice was called for hooking at 3:08 but I think he actually committed the penalty about a minute or more earlier. The Wings were already controlling the puck in the St. Louis zone when Boulerice committed his sin but once the ref put his arm up and the Wings’ brought on a sixth skater, it was as though the officials had skipped the formality of stopping play to escort Boulerice to the box. It was already a power play. They cycled the puck and absolutely dominated until it was finally touched up and the official power play began.

They set up and got off a couple shots but nothing serious. The Blues took another penalty less than a minute into the first and the Wings got 1:11 of 5-on-3. Unfortunately, they couldn’t take full advantage of it, as Lalime was strong once again.

It was clear at this point that the Wings weren’t about to let up. Although I can’t say I didn’t feel uncomfortable at how easily they took the lead and controlled the game as they had on Saturday, they didn’t get as casual at any point during last night’s game as they did on Saturday. The Blues may get the odd chance but 45 seconds out of any given minute was played with the Wings in control of the puck, it seemed. They were going for the kill.

Yzerman and Lang went to the box five minutes apart in the second half of the period but the Wings were up to the task of killing the penalties off. Legace had to come up big just before Lang’s penalty, though, and it was clear the Blues were weren’t going to give up any sooner than the Wings let up.

St. Louis came even more late in the game and Legace was strong. But they still scored, at 19:02. The goal came off a faceoff, with two Blues in front and just one Red Wing (Chelios). Legace was down and out, making it pretty easy for Petr Cajanek to ruin the shutout.

The refs were intent on calling the game right to the end as well. They called Dennis Wideman for delay of game (they had to – he shot the puck out of the rink) at 19:27, giving the Wings one more chance to score. They got off a shot on their first try and forced another faceoff but after it was cleared, they let the clock run down. Final score 4-1 Red Wings.

Shots for the period were 12-11 St. Louis and 32-21 Wings for the game.

A good win for the Wings, after their loss Saturday brought doubters to the forefront. As others have pointed out, this game could very easily have been a loss under Dave Lewis but under Mike Babcock, there are no such worries. Ken Holland has got to be the best GM around and not just because of the gems he’s found in Samuelsson, Franzen, Cleary and all. Getting Mike Babcock on the bench is looking like the best thing to happen to this team in years.

Have to feel for the Blues and their fans. They weren’t unimpressive last night and it makes me wonder just how different things could have been for that team this year, had things gone just a little better. They put up a respectable fight and will hopefully get their feet back on the ground next season.

Maybe it wouldn’t have been such a bad thing if Chris Osgood had been in net last night since now people can point to Manny and say Osgood’s the reason they lost Saturday. Ah well. Who am I kidding? Osgood’s critics will never shut up because it’s so easy to become one.

Next up, the Predators on Thursday at 8:00 ET. It’s the makeup game for the homegame they lost as a result of the scheduling fallout after Jiri Fischer’s heart incident.

Also, this week’s The Hockey News Player Poll asks “Excluding your team, who has the best chance to win the Stanley Cup?” The top three teams picked were Ottawa (30%), Detroit (30%) and Carolina (17%). I guess nine players haven’t read all the media whining about the Wings’ weak divisional schedule. Update (29. Mar, 12:24 PM ET): ESPN has the player-by-player results here. A lot of Eastern Conference guys picked the Wings but the picks mostly cross conference lines so I guess that’s understandable.

GameDay: @ St. Louis (20-37-12, 52 Pts) 8:00 ET

Tonight is the seventh of eight games between these two Central Division teams. The Wings lead the season series 5-1, with their only loss coming November 19th (3-2).

The Wings are coming off a 5-4 shootout loss to Columbus on Saturday. After playing strong for about 40 minutes, they completely fell apart in the third, blowing a three-goal lead in a span of seven and a half minutes. Pavel Datsyuk salvaged the game with a late goal to tie it at four and force overtime. Neither team could score in the extra period so the game went to a shootout. Although only one Columbus player scored on Osgood in the shootout, the Wings ended up losing because their three shooters couldn’t solve Pascal Leclaire. The loss was just their second in nine games (7-0-2).

Manny Legace is slated to start tonight for the Wings and Dan Cleary will return to the lineup after missing two games with the flu. Mark Mowers will most likely be the odd man out.

The Blues have been plagued by injuries this season, having lost nearly 300 man-games to injury, and haven’t performed well in the face of this adversity. Some of their injured players are nearing a comeback, though, so the Blues team we see tonight will be different than the team the Wings’ll face April 15th. St. Louis is last in the West, just a point behind Chicago, and have lost six straight.

Six losses may sound pretty bad but they’ve had a tough schedule in that stretch, playing San Jose twice (one at home, one on the road) as well as LA (road), Nashville (road), Calgary (home) and Colorado (home). Their last win came on the 13th, a 3-2 overtime decision over Columbus at home. They’re coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to the Avs on Saturday, a game in which they blew a two-goal lead in the second period. Joe Sakic scored the game winner on the power play at :57 of overtime.

Looks like Patrick Lalime will get the start tonight for the Blues.

After their meltdown on Saturday, the Wings need to bounce back with a commanding win tonight. Apparently, Babcock didn’t say anything to the team about the loss, counting on the veterans to take a lead in correcting the mistakes that were made. Probably not a bad strategy but it will be disappointing if it doesn’t pay off. Should be interesting.

The game is on OLN and begins at 8:00 ET, so don’t forget.

Also, Mike Babcock has another fan.

Igor Larionov Signing

I attended the Igor Larionov DVD signing at the Best Buy in Novi (the one I actually always go to) on Sunday. Anyways, I got there about 50 minutes early and was between the 5th and 10th person there. I enjoyed the wait very much as I got to talk to 4 wonderful Wings fans about all of their previous Wings encounters the entire time. When 2pm came around, the line started moving.

To get an autograph, you had to purchase a copy of his DVD for $25. With that $25, you got the DVD, autograph on DVD, autograph(s) on any other Wings items you brought (stupid me brought nothing else), and a photo taken of you and Larionov. A Best Buy employee took the photo with his own digital camera and they printed it out for you right there. For once, I actually like how I look in the photo – amazing!

Anyways, I don’t have a scanner at home so once I get one from my parents’ office, I will scan in the autographed DVD cover and photo. I’m also going to Westland Mall on Tuesday to pick up my 5 Swedish Olympian Wings photo and autograph. All of those items will be scanned in for your viewing pleasure, but probably not until this weekend since I have 3 exams and a paper starting today through Thursday.

Until then, these photos below will have to do. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize they were this fuzzy (they looked perfectly fine on that little digital screen – otherwise I would’ve taken more).


The Best Buy in Novi


Larionov signing a guy’s coat


Larionov posing for a photo with the same guy