The Wings fell to 4-5-1 versus the Central Division with last night’s 3-2 loss to Nashville. It was a game they should have had well in hand by the end of the first period, as the Predators took six penalties in the first 20 minutes. The Wings couldn’t convert on two 5-on-3s, though they did score on their first power play. By and large, the Wings dictated the game until the Predators scored and gained their legs. The rest of the game consisted of the Wings gradually losing steam as the well-rested Predators took over.
… Dominik Hasek looked good, for the most part. He had no chance on at least two of the goals, though I thought the Preds’ second was a little weak.
On the first, Dan Cleary gave no support to Nick Lidstrom, who was covering JP Dumont, allowing Jason Arnott to skate into the low slot unmolested and knock the puck home on an easy slam-dunk play.
On the second, there was all kinds of traffic in front, but it would have been nice to have seen Hasek handle the rebound better off the shot from the blueline. Martin Erat had an easy time of it flipping the puck over a down-and-out Dom.
On the third, the Preds got a bit of a lucky bounce off the initial shot, which allowed Bonk to pick it up and snipe the top corner over Dom’s glove from 18 feet out. No real chance there.
Dom definitely gave the Wings a chance to win the game, especially after making 15 saves on 16 shots in the second. The loss cannot be pinned on him.
By the way, Chris Osgood will be the starter Saturday against Columbus.
… Johan Franzen finally got a goal last night, not long after he scored on a shot taken after the whistle. It came on the Wings’ first power play, not long after a great effort by Niklas Kronwall to keep it in. Johan put a nice backhander between Mason’s arm and his body as he went to cover the post. I thought Franzen played well last night overall, though he took two penalties in a row in the second.
… Henrik Zetterberg’s goal in the second period was a beauty. Pavel Datsyuk carried the puck in down the right wing and quickly dropped it off to Zetterberg in the slot. Hank deked Zanon out of his jock strap and beat a startled-looking Mason top corner.
… Matt Ellis had to leave the game after taking a hit from Jordin Tootoo in the second period. It was a heavy hit, but not particularly dirty. Apparently, Ellis’ head was hurting afterwards and the team decided not to take any chances. Hopefully it’s not a concussion.
Tootoo, by the way, was much more noticeable last night than he was the first time around. Still quiet according to his own standard, but more noticeable.
… The Wings’ top line was ground down by the Preds, who really took it to them physically. As the game wore on, the physical toll started to tell, as the Wings as a whole looked slower and more tentative.
… The story of the game was the blown power play chances, particularly the two 5-on-3s in the first period. The first was just 19 seconds long, but the second was 1:12. They did not generate much pressure on either of them and did not come particularly close to scoring. Definitely not the results you want to see.
So, despite the fact that the Predators’ penalty trouble was virtually handing the Wings the game early on, they went into the lockerrooms at the end of the first tied at one. The Wings do a lot of talking about “killer instinct,” but until they start doing something about it, they’ll continue to have games likes this. Of course, they did play the night before and were up against a team that hadn’t played since Monday. The way I see it, though, is that if they’d pushed harder in the first when they seemed to have energy, they may not have had so much trouble later in the game as fatigue became more of a factor.
… One more thing about the penalties: I hate it when referees micromanage a game like that. When they call every little thing, it takes the flow out of the game and drains some of the top players, who are forced to kill penalties and play in higher stress situations. When refs start whistling everything, you start to think they’ve forgotten the game isn’t about them, it’s about the players. It got to the point where I didn’t want to see another penalty, even if it was deserved.
… Anyway, the Wings are home today having a late Thanksgiving with their families. Evidently, they’ll head out tonight for the game in Columbus tomorrow.