The Wings’ defensive dominance continued last night as they beat their Central Division rivals, the Nashville Predators, 3-0. I’m not up to writing a full, chronological summary so this game report is just going to consist of some notes and impressions.
Dominik Hasek was in net for the Wings and was credited with his second shutout in a row (his 71st overall), and, unlike the Edmonton game, he actually had to make some saves. Very little signs of rust from Dom, though his unorthodox style still takes some getting used to after a couple seasons of watching standard goalies like Osgood and Legace. It was good to see him stand up to getting a bit more action last night as the Wings’ defense had a little more trouble with the Preds than they did with the Oilers. My confidence in the goaltending is satisfactory now, as long as everyone stays healthy and the defense continues to limit chances.
Mathieu Schneider had a “chin” guard on to start the game, though it looked like it was protecting his nose more than anything else. It was gone by the 6:00 mark.
What exactly does Jordin Tootoo bring to the Preds that keeps him on the team? He took an incredibly dumb penalty at 2:57 of the first when he handed Kirk Maltby a completely unnecessary face-wash well after the play was over, and was doing similar crap all night. I can appreciate scappiness and energy, but I can see very little redeeming value in the guy.
Robert Lang continues to surprise me with his quality play. He’s still a little too laid-back for my taste, but he’s having a good season so far. His goal last night was effortless and lucky but he can score them like that all the time, as far as I’m concerned.
Both teams were physical last night, dealing out hits on a pretty regular basis. Not all were squeaky clean (such as the Nichols hit from behind on Lebda in the corner around 9:00), but most were just good solid body checks. One hit that stood out in my mind was the Kronwall hit on Sullivan at the Predators’ blueline at 12:59. Nice to see the little speed demon getting up-ended, I have to say.
The FSN crew kept saying how Kris Draper professes to have the most trouble in faceoffs when in the circle with Jason Arnott. Apparently, Arnott’s strength makes it particularly difficult for Drapes, who practiced specifically to face the Predator center this week. Kris ended the game having won 11 of 14 faceoffs against his supposed nemesis.
The power play still sucks big time. Do you remember a couple weeks ago when they decided teams had figured out how to defend against their strategy of using the points for a deflectable shot or a big rebound. So, they changed the strategy. Appparently, the new plan was to keep the puck down low and have a defensemen creep up into the slot for a one-timer. They did it for about a game. Now, they seem to have no strategy at all, except to just pass the puck around and hope it goes in. It’s really gotten old. I’m grateful that the penalty kill is so effective now, but I’d trade a few power play goals against for some PPGs of our own.
The Wings blew a number of sure goals last night, but this one took the cake. Henrik Zetterberg carried the puck in and faked out Vokoun as he went around behind the net. Coming out the other side, he centered the puck to Samuelsson who was only slightly tied up in the slot. With the net wide open, Samuelsson whiffed on it, causing considerable shock to myself and those watching the game with me. Fortunately, Cleary made up for it by scoring an empty net goal at the end of the game.
Overall, another solid win by the Wings. They can now turn their attentions to next week’s three-game road trip that will take them to Vancouver (Tuesday), Calgary (Friday), and Edmonton (Saturday).
IwoCPO has a more complete recap here.