Archive for January, 2009

Five

The only Detroit highlight today:

Okay, maybe calling that the only highlight is a little much. There were other nice plays and other highlight reel-worthy clips. I just don’t remember any of them. Ville Leino’s great individual effort on that play was an atypical example in a host of average individual efforts played out by virtually everyone on the team.

To continue with Leino for a second, I thought he had a great first game as an NHLer. He looks like a keeper, and I hope the Wings are able to sign him to another contract this summer. The guy wants to play in the NHL and has dutifully taken his assignment in the AHL while waiting for his chance to prove himself at this level. I thought he did that today. It’s a tiny sample size, to be sure, but the evidence to this point shows this guy should have a spot next year. That’s about all I have positive to say about this one.

On to the rest of the team: what’s it going to take to get these guys to snap out of it? This was their fifth loss in  row and it was to a team they should have had no trouble getting excited to play. You’d think that they’d be chomping at the bit to put  a guy like Alexander Ovechkin in his place, as only they and maybe a couple other teams can. Instead of a fast-paced exhibition of elite skill, though, we were treated to a pretty boring example of afternoon hockey. And Ovechkin pretty much had his way with the Winged Wheel at the end.

A few guys played at a level above their teammates, but even they didn’t truly transcend the lethargy into which the Wings as a team have fallen. They’re not putting forth the effort required for success in this League and that’s the biggest difference between this year’s squad and last year’s. It’s not a changing in personnel, whether behind the bench or on the ice. It’s a change in mindset.

Until these guys recover the sacrificial attitude that carried them through Game 6 of the Finals last year, they’ll be fortunate to get past Game 4 of the first round this year. 

We can hope that a game against the Blues Monday will spark some emotion back into the team, but right now I’m having trouble seeing this skid end before it goes a bit further.

The rematch with the Penguins is next Sunday. If that doesn’t wake ’em up, what will?

Abdelkader Up, Downey Back to Grand Rapids

Update (2:45 PM): Whoops, shot that post out without checking other sources. Apparently, Abdelkader will play tomorrow after all. Ansar Khan says Hank is still out with back spasms, and Homer won’t play due to a sore groin. Jiri Hudler may also miss the game with a sore foot.

The injury bug strikes. Good thing they have some depth in the organization. – Matt

The Wings are taking full advantage of the cap space cleared up by Brad Stuart’s LTIR stint. They’ve called up Justin Abdelkader, who will replace Aaron Downey on the roster, presumably as a reserve tomorrow in Washington.

Abdelkader had a great AHL start, but like Leino, trailed off. He’s got a tendency to take penalties, but is still the promising kid we saw last spring. It’ll be interesting to see what he does this time around.

Wings 2, Stars 4

Update (30. Jan, 9:30 AM): George Malik’s post-game comments are here and his media wrap-up is here.

In the first, the line full of “win”: “the Wings aren’t part of a bakery, but they produced turnovers in assembly-line fashion.” Indeed. – Matt

… First off: four straight losses. Is the second half of January this year’s February slide?

… Second, this game may have been a lot different had two Detroit goals not been waived off. The first was ruled currectly ruled no goal on review.

The second, however, was another of this infamous incidental contact calls that nuke perfectly good goals. When the defenseman pushes the forward into the goalie, it should not be considered goaltender interference. It’s one thing to protect goalies, it’s another to make the sport basketball in a crease.

… Of course, waived off goals are no excuse for this loss. This was a pretty poor effort by the Wings. There was a stretch of about 5 minutes in the second period that was as exciting as a playoff game. The rest of it involved lethargic play by nearly the entire Detroit squad.

… I said “nearly.” At least three Wings came ready to play tonight: Pavel Datsyuk, Marian Hossa, and Tomas Holmstrom. The difference between that line and the rest of the team was ridiculous. It seemed as though every time the Wings got a pressure shift going, it involved those three.

… I thought Datsyuk in particular looked good. That fits with his character, which seems to include playing with a chip on his shoulder when he’s offended. He had an extra edge tonight, as evidenced with his near fight with Trevor Daly in the second, and the source of that, you have to think, is The Suspension.

… Datsyuk made a great play in the first period that didn’t result in anything, but was nonetheless worth reounting. Skating at center (right to left across the screen), he took a pass off the inside of his right skate and kicked it up to his stick in one smooth motion. It’s the kind of play you have to see to appreciate, so if I find a replay, I’ll post it.

… Chris Osgood got the hook after the first period in an “it’s not you, it’s me” move by Babcock. His teammates really hung him out to dry on two of the three goals he allowed, and the other was a redirect. Babcock made the easy change, but it didn’t pay off.

… The Wings dodged a bullet in the third period when Dallas’ Neal took a run at Nick Lidstrom and hit Johan Franzen with an elbow to the jaw instead. Johan needed a couple minutes to get up, but he was just shaken up. He was pretty animated after that and played the angry Franzenstein part fairly well for the rest of the game.

… Back to the disallowed goal, which would have gone to Nick Lidstrom. Dan O’Halloran made the call, but didn’t have the decency to talk to Mike Babcock about it at the end of the period.

O’Halloran is under no obligation to explain himself to the coach, but when the coach in question is handling the situation with the calm Babcock displayed, the decent thing to do is to go talk to the guy. If Babcock had thrown a fit, that’d be one thing. But he didn’t, and as a result O’Halloran came off looking like a coward.

… After the finish to the second period, the third period looked poised to be a barnstormer. Then the Stars sat back in such a stiffling defensive posture that even a motivated Detroit team wouldn’t have had an easy time of it. As it was, the Stars controlled the play and managed to make even 3-on-2’s look like they were being replayed in slow motion. So much for the exciting game I was hoping for earlier today.

… The Wings need to find a way out of this funk they’ve been in lately and they need to do it fast. Washington is next on the list of opponents and if they don’t tighten up defensively, they run a serious risk of getting lit up by Ovechkin and Company.

… With Leino reportedly a lock to play Saturday, it makes you wonder what will happen to the lineup. Does that mean Zetterberg is still out? He is listed as day-to-day, after all, and no return date has been set that I’ve seen (correct me if I’m wrong).

Or does it mean someone sits ( with Zetterberg back, and aside from Downey)? No one forward stuck out in my mind tonight as the obvious choice, but it probably boils down to Kirk Maltby or Tomas Kopecky.

However they get Leino into the lineup, here’s hoping he can help provide the spark this team apparently needs these days.