Just a few thoughts on the game:
… We’ve definitely established that the Wings don’t play their best hockey the second night of a back-to-back. Last night was no exception. They’ve had better games. They looked pretty lethargic in the first period and though they seemed to pick it up as the game went on, they never really struck that note of pure efficiency that has marked their best games.
… The difference between the October/November Valtteri Filppula and the December iteration is enormous. Although Fil has been a strong defensive player all season, his offensive forays earlier on ended comically more often than not: he inexplicably fell down, fanned on a shot, sent the puck wide of an open net, or failed to finish in some other way. Now, he’s a force out there and everything is going in for him. He’s become very strong with the puck, as his play on his first goal last night demonstrated, and looks like he’s picked up Henrik Zetterberg’s mantle in his absence.
This is the Valtteri Filppula we’ve been waiting for and if he can keep it up when some of the pressure to produce is off him at the return of Holmstrom and Zetterberg, the Wings are going to be even tougher to stop.
… I love it when Jiri Hudler breaks out his cannon of a shot as he did on his goal last night. He gives the impression of being strictly a wrist-shot-after-a-deke type of player, but he has that brute force side that will make him one of the team’s better finishers. He’s fun to watch because he has no idea just how small he is relative to nearly everyone else .
… Brian Rafalski: Please be more aware when you make a cross-ice pass.
… The problem with putting in a rookie like Derek Meech when Chris Chelios is a healthy scratch is that the kid has no veteran to play with. I don’t really think Meech should be paired with Lebda, but I don’t know what else Babcock can do. He can’t exactly put him with Lidstrom or Rafalski.
… It’s amazing to me that the Avs only managed to take one penalty last night. I know they’re the least-penalized team in the League, but how can a team with Ian Lapierre take only one penalty? I know I saw them get away with a lot last night, though, to be fair, so did the Wings. I guess it was just a case of the officials deciding to let them play.
Still, the Lidstrom tripping call in the third was as bogus as they come, and the referee missed a blatant penalty just before Samuelsson scored the empty netter. The Avs hauled Pavel Datsyuk right in front of the official and there was no call. At that point, it didn’t really matter, but you’d still like to see a penalty there.
… Peter Budaj is a strange goalie. It’s hard to describe what I mean. Maybe this example will help: on the Wings’ second goal, Nik Kronwall started things off with a nice play at the blueline followed by a shot. The rebound went to Filppula at the right side of the net, behind Budaj. From his knees, Budaj looked back, saw the puck on Filppula’s stick, and stood up, effectively conceding the goal. Sure, it was inevitable, but most goalies would have tried to dive back or something. Budaj often seemed to freeze or otherwise react strangely after shots like that.
… A win over the Avs always feels good. Especially when they have such an intense finish.
… To end on a personal note, I’ll be out of town this weekend (leaving southeast Michigan and heading to West Michigan) and won’t be posting again until January 1st at the earliest. I’ll probably be watching Saturday, but I’ll miss the New Year’s Eve game because I’ll be at Van Andel watching the Griffins.
This coincides nicely with the onset of a mild case of Blogger Burnout Syndrome that I’ve been feeling lately.
I hope everyone has a good weekend and a Happy New Year!