Archive for November, 2009

Game Day Notes: vs. Dallas

The Wings look to end their home-ice goalless streak tonight against the team that tripped them up and started their recent skid in the first place.

… The Stars have played just twice since beating the Wings on the 18th. How’s that for awesome scheduling? The Wings have played six times.

… Dallas lost their first game in between meetings with Detroit, 5-2 to Phoenix on Friday. They beat the Lightning 4-3 in overtime the next night, however.

… Both Turco and Auld played in Phoenix Friday night, but Turco was on the bench against Tampa Bay. We probably can expect JLA’s favorite visiting goalie tonight.

… The Stars apparently have no injuries right now.

… The Wings pulled out of a dive with a shootout win over St. Louis Saturday night. The win followed up a pair of shutout losses to Calgary and Atlanta. Prior to that, they’d lost to Nashville and Florida, but beaten Montreal in between.

… Looks like we’ll get the same lineup tonight, unless an unspecified player can’t go. Ansar Khan speculates it’s Patrick Eaves. If this player can’t play, Kirk Maltby will be in.

… “The same lineup” extends to the net, as Jimmy Howard will be rewarded for his win Saturday with another start.

… Last time these two teams met, the Wings were underwhelming but managed to keep it close. They’ll need to keep the Stars in the rear-view mirror tonight and not give Marc Joanette and Rob Marteli cause to doubt any goals they score.

Wings 4, Blues 3 (SO)

Holmstrom: Raise your hand if you were irrationally thrilled with Holmstrom’s goal. Having the shutout streak ended felt pathetically good.

Bertuzzi: Raise your hand if you were shocked and amazed by Bertuzzi’s game-winner. I know I was. For all the flak I’ve given Todd so far this season, I do want him to succeed, so watching him roof that puck was not only shocking, it was good to see.

That said, that kind of action by him should be far less shocking: we need that from you more often, Todd.

Helm: Had a heck of a game. Would have had a record-setting night had he buried all of his big scoring chances. He had a rough night in the finishing department. One of these days, he’ll find his AHL touch and convert it to an NHL one, but for now we’ll probably have to continue grinding our teeth every time he puts the puck in the netting when it should go into the net.

Meanwhile, he can keep creating chances like the one that led to Draper’s goal last night all he wants.

Howard: I thought he played a strong game. 32 saves, and a couple goals allowed he had little to no chance on. I would have liked to have seen him play a little more patiently on the Boyes goal, but no harm done there in the end.

The other shoe may drop at some point with Jimmy, but the longer he plays this way, the better his chances are of remaining a Wing in the medium- to long-term.

Bottom two: Lines, that is. The third and fourth lines were far and away the best of the night. Their STL counterparts no doubt had a lot to do with that, but no other lines generated the sustained pressure those two units did. They only got one goal and three points to show for it, but that kind of work is what the team needs. The top two lines could take a page from that book.

Eurotwins: John W. pointed out “Datsyuk was on the ice for 2 goals, but both were with Z, hey there’s a thought.” Yep.

Line mixing: Babcock went with the same units as before to start the game, starting mixing them as the game went on and then returned to the same units later in the night. That’s when I stopped paying attention to the forward units (out of disgust). When you allow new units to play together for only a few shifts, it just seems like a token gesture toward fixing the problem, Babs.

That said, he did have a different unit out there for the final minute push to tie the game: Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Holmstrom, Bertuzzi (Howard pulled). So I guess he’ll be flexible when the chips are down.

Miller: I’m really impressed with the guy and how quickly he’s fit in on the team. He’s not going to put up big points, but he’s got a great work ethic and really works well on the fourth line. Megan said last night she hopes the Wings keep him, and I couldn’t agree more.

Next up: The Wings get today off and then have to be ready to play Dallas on Monday. Here’s hoping this time they make sure their goals are indisputable. Let’s see some revenge taken.

Game Day Notes: @ St. Louis

I’ll comment on last night’s “game” later on in this post.

… This is where it all began: with the Blues. Maybe this game can act as a reset button on the season.

… St. Louis is 4-1-0 in their last five and 10-9-4 overall. They’re two points behind the Wings in 12th place in the West.

… They played last night and handled the Predators with a 3-1 win.

… The media notes for the game list DJ King as the only injury. Yahoo! tells me it’s a broken hand.

… Chris Mason played last night, so my guess is we’ll see our old budy Ty Conklin in this one.

… The Wings are coming off their third straight loss and their second straight shutout one. Last night they at least got shut out by one of the best goalies in the League, but before that it was Ondrej Pavelec. A good young goalie, to be sure, but not one that should be shutting the Wings out.

… They got 40 shots on Kiprusoff, but never really seemed in the game. They gave up a goal 28 seconds into the first period and 25 seconds into the third. The second goal allowed was a freak thing. The Flames did a good job of capitalizing on the Wings’ defensive miscues and the Wings couldn’t find a way to do the same at the other end.

… But they did score two goals that were disallowed. The first involved a shot from the blueline that beat Kiprusoff cleanly, but because Cleary was in the crease, the ref ruled incidental contact. No penalty, but no goal.

The second involved a flurry around the net that had Kipper’s glove over the puck for just a split second even in a slow replay. The ref whistled the play dead while the puck was still live and ping-ponging around. It ended up in the net, but the lightning-fast whistle cost the Wings another goal.

I guess I’d feel more upset about those things if the Wings were playing well, because I’d feel they earned a win but were denied it by incompetent officials. But they’re not playing well and the last thing I want is for those plays to be used as excuses.

… Osgood started in net for the Wings last night. Howard should be in tonight.

… Maltby got shaken up at one point, so he may be scratched tonight. I would certainly hope May would be in for this one.

… I consider Babcock to be the best coach in the NHL. He knows what he’s doing. But I can’t help feeling that his sticking with the same lines night in and night out is pure pig-headedness. That is his one obvious downside and it’s killing the team right now.

He has got to be willing to break up the Datsyuk line, for one thing. More importantly, he’s got to be willing to break up the energy Helm line: spread those guys throughout the lineup, as John W.’s been suggesting in the comments lately.

Maybe put Bertuzzi on Zetterberg’s wing. Maybe Pavel’s too cerebral for Todd and needs someone more straightforward with the puck. I dunno. But something’s got to change. Babcock and the team need to wake up and realize they’re pissing away points while they point to 40 shots on goal and other fluff stats. What matters is goals, guys, and you’re not getting them right now. Plugging away in the same old way with the same old lines isn’t cutting it and isn’t suddenly going to cut it.

… The Wings need this one tonight. More importantly, they need to need it, if that makes sense. Their mindset needs to be set to “all out.” You know the Blues’ will be.

Game Day Open Thread: vs. Calgary

I’ve been tied up all day with stuff involved with getting a washer and a dryer to the house and hooked up, so I haven’t been able to post. Since gametime is less than three hours away, I’ll pass on the usual game day notes and stick with an open thread.

Hope you have FSN+.

Wings 0

Who cares what the rest of the score was? What matters is that goose egg there. Do not come to me citing the 40 shots—they mean next to nothing. This was a sad effort.

I wish the Thanksgiving break were longer for the team so they could spend some time taking stock and maybe decide to stop making excuses. Maybe one day with family and food will be enough. I hope so.

They’ve got two games against dangerous, but highly beatable, opponents coming up. How are they going to handle them? Like last night? I sure hope not because the result will be the same.

It’s time to stop “plugging away like we’ve been”  (not a direct quote, just a general sense of mindset) and start doing something different. The same “plugging” is not cutting it.

It’s time to right the ship. Three quarters of the season remains, but don’t take time for granted. Get it done now.

By the way, Happy Thanksgiving, folks. Among many other things, I’m thankful it’s not March.

Game Day Open Thread: vs. Atlanta

So, the Thrashers are an even 10-7-3 so far this season and 0-1-2 in their last three. The Wings are 11-7-4 and 1-1-1 in their last three. We’re not exactly talking a hot matchup here. Which may be what both teams need: a kind of blank slate meeting with another team that’s hit a rough patch.

Could be interesting. Could suck. Which will it be? You can find out tonight at 7:30. If you have FSD+.

Three more thoughts:

Eaves got shafted.

Babcock’s defense rotation will be interesting.

Ilya Kovalchuk’s shot vs. Jimmy Howard. Scary.

Wings 1, Predators 3

First period: My thoughts after 20:

First period now over. Not impressive on Wings’ part. NSH looks like a team on a win streak. Wings look disoriented.

Not deep analysis on the Preds side, but you know what I mean. Nashville looked like a hot team: they had all the confidence and energy of a team firing on all cylinders. Meanwhile, the Wings looked like they were in trouble.

They managed to escape the first down by only one goal, but only because of one man.

Osgood: He came to play last night. He looked very strong and was the only reason the game didn’t get out of hand. I want to see more nights like that, Oz.

Penalty killing: Two of three goals allowed last night came while the Wings were on the PK. One of them looked like the photo Ellen posted today. As Drew wrote this morning, “… you could throw a blanket over all four of the Wings…”. And one of them is interfering with his own goalie.

PKing has been better this year, but it still needs a lot of improvement. The Predators have their threats, but never should the Wings allow two PPGs to them.

Bertuzzi: Even typing his name is a waste of pixels. He has singlehandedly ruined Pavel Datsyuk’s season. Worthless.

Miller: Best game as a Wing. Doubtful we’ll see many more drives to the net like that from him again given that he’s not that kind of player, but it’s good to see his confidence level growing. He’s in the right place to have success.

Erat: Since when does he have that kind of a rocket as a shot? I’m a little annoyed he scored from Brett Hull’s office twice on Osgood, but they were such good shots it’s hard to fault Oz on them. Defense should have had him covered.

Versus: Just when you think a Versus broadcast can’t get more painful and offensive to the ear? They break out even crappier announcers. Ugh. They sucked.

To be fair, I did notice a higher number of informative replays from Versus. By that I mean one or two. Finally getting it, if slowly…

Mac: The one upside of the Versus broadcast was Darren McCarty, who looked hilariously awkward in his suit and on a TV set. He managed to make a factual error on Osgood (claimed he was making his return from illness last night…when in fact he did on Friday) in his first three spoken sentences, but otherwise he did a good job. Hope to see more of him when we’re subjected to Versus again.

Nashville fans: Please note, you’re at an NHL game, not an Ice Vols one. College-level coordinated chants don’t really apply. They’re funny coming from a student section. They’re classless coming from adults and pro fans.

Also, a hat trick is three goals by one player. Not three goals by your team.

Credit: To the Predators. For playing a very strong, high-energy game. They really wanted it and showed it by playing tight defense and dangerous offense. Too many Wings passes were intercepted by the Preds for my taste, but that takes hard work. Same with all the offensive opportunities generated.

The Wings managed 16 shots in the third, but because of the Preds earlier effort as well as a last-stand mentality in the third, it didn’t matter.

Starts and Finishes: The Wings need to find a way to consistently excel at both because right now they’re doing one or the other (if either) more often than not. Last night was a major case of failing to start well and it killed them.

They’ll have a chance to work on that tomorrow night at home against Atlanta.