Archive for November, 2010

Game Day Notes: @ San Jose

Update (1:53 PM): It is Nittymaki. – Matt

… This is the first meeting between these two teams since the Sharks knocked the Wings out of the playoffs.

The San Jose Mercury News issues what could be fighting words for the Wings, if they were the type of team to let this kind of crap bother them:

In May, after the Red Wings were unceremoniously booted by the Sharks in a second-round playoff series, there was talk about how their era of domination might finally be coming to a close.

Putting aside the “unceremoniously” lie, just ponder that last statement. Has there ever been a playoff loss that has not been followed by questions about the Wings’ era ending? Has that era yet ended? You’d think people would learn to not only stop asking but to stop being so surprised when the answer keeps coming up “no.” This “omg can you believe it, the Wings have the best record in the West! Stunned.” crap should end.

… The Sharks are 11-7-4 and looking up at three teams in their division (Dallas, Phoenix and Anaheim).

… They’ve won just two of their last six, including their most recent game, a 4-3 decision over Edmonton. The night before, however, they were thumped pretty hard by Vancouver, 6-1.

… The Sharks’ offense prior to last week’s 5-2 win over Chicago was having some trouble finding the back of the net. They had just 50 goals through 19 games (the Wings had 67). They’ve since scored 15 goals to bring their total up to 65. But they’re still only 12th in goals per game and there’s always a chance they’ll fall back to the pace they were at. That or they could continue to rack up goals. Here’s hoping it’s the former.

The Sharks will be without Niclas Wallin, Kent Huskins, Devin Setoguchi and Jason Demers tonight. Scott Nichol, however, is expected to be in the lineup.

… LeftWingLock has Nittymaki starting this one, but it’s also possible Antti Niemi will get the nod.

… The Wings are coming off a miniseries sweep of the Jackets and are first in the West at 15-4-2. They’re kicking off a three-stop road trip to the other California NHL cities.

… The big loss this weekend was that of Mike Modano to a sliced wrist. He talked with Helene St. James for the read of the day.

… The forward corps for tonight should look like this, per the Freep:

Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Holmstrom
Franzen-Filppula-Bertuzzi
Hudler-Abdelkader-Cleary
Miller-Helm-Eaves

The D, presumably, will look the same as it did Sunday.

… Draper’s close to returning, but not there yet.

… Jimmy Howard gets another start, but may actually be backed up by Chris Osgood, who’s finally nearly over his groin injury.

… The Wings have plenty of reason to play looking for revenge tonight, but they need to just focus on winning. They’d be better off settling in and focusing on doing their jobs as efficiently as possible than on taking it to the Sharks.

Either way, though, dismantle them, guys.

Wings 4, Blue Jackets 2

Close One: After two close games in a row, it may be time to take notice of the Jackets as a power in the Central. It’ll be interesting to see how they look going forward, but they seem like a good young team, finally. Their work ethic combines nicely with their skill level to make a team that can skate with the Wings when the Wings haven’t engaged that final gear or two that they have. There was some small amount of playing down to them last night, I think, but I don’t want to emphasize that too much because it takes away from a Columbus team that may be getting close to finally arriving.

Goaltender Battle: Great games from both guys. Mason looked annoyingly unbeatable at points and Jimmy was right there, too. Assuming James doesn’t price himself out of Detroit and the Jackets don’t let Mason go, we’re probably headed for a lot of years of those kinds of battles.

Penalty Kill: They gave up one PPG, but the PK really came out strong for that lengthy PK in the third. Babcock broke out the big guns in Zetterberg and Datsyuk to shut it down and they did a heck of a job with Stuart and Lidstrom. Especially Hank, who killed of a big chunk on his own with that SHed foray. I loved the crowd reaction, too. That cheering was just short of what you’d hear for a goal, which is some quality fanship right there.

Full game: I thought the Wings came pretty close to playing one this time. There were periods where the Jackets had more control than you like to see, but in general, the Wings looked strong the whole game. Definitely good to see.

Filppula: The Wings need Fil to step it up with Modano out and they got it. He had a heck of a game.

Hudler: They  need him to step it up, too, but I didn’t see much out of him. Disappointing.

Abdelkader: With Modano out, Abdelkader can now step into the role he was headed for before the Wings brought Mo to town. He didn’t get a lot of ice time to do that, but he looked good. I think his ice time will go up.

Power Play: Some more conversions would be nice. Just saying.

Zetterberg: Had a strong offensive game, too, but couldn’t get it in the net. Here’s hoping Hudler hasn’t rubbed off on him.

Budd Lynch Goals (via): It’d be great if those stopped, forever. Nothing leaves a sour taste in a fan’s mouth like a last minute goal allowed.

Next: The first of a three-game road trip to California. Fun. Fortunately, two of the three games are on the weekend, so only Wednesday should be a Zombies At Work Day. It’d be cool to see them get 6 of 6, starting with a nice emphatic dismantling of San Jose tomorrow night, eh?

Game Day Notes: vs. Columbus

Couple things, since the Friday preview could practically cover this game, too:

… The Blue Jackets spent a lot of time practicing the power play yesterday, no doubt looking for the same consecutive freely-given gifts from the refs they got Friday night. Teemu Selanne, though, would tell them that won’t happen at the Joe.

… The injuries are the same for the Jackets. And Steve Mason’s expected to start again.

… The Wings took a hit to their depth Friday night with the loss of Mike Modano to an errant RJ Umberger skate. Modano suffered a sliced tendon and some nerve damage, so it’s no small cut. He’s out indefinitely and the nerve damage news helps me understand Ken Holland’s words about hoping he’ll be back this season. Not so surprising any more. In fact, I’ve pretty well swung the other way to where Greg Wyshynski is: “… you just hope this isn’t how an NHL legend ends.”

… The loss of Modano has it being suggested that Hudler will play the point on the second power play. Again, I reiterate that I hope that’s not true.

… Jimmy Howard gets another start today.

… I missed the game Friday, but it sounds like the Wings played a solid one. They need to pick up where they left off and close out this little mini series with the Jackets, afternoon game or not.

Modano Out Indefinitely

Update (10:14 PM): Bill’s got the video (surprisingly innocuous play). And a reminder of the central issue here: Modano’s got a serious injury and deserves our thoughts and prayers before snap analysis about what it means for the lineup. Get well soon, Mo. - Matt

Update (10:00 PM): Apparently, Ken Holland’s taken the “indefinitely” thing to heart, as he’s saying things like, “we hope he’ll be back this season, but we don’t have anything to base that on. It’s a significant injury.” A significant injury made any worse by his age, I wonder? Still, it’s surprising to hear anything close to a suggestion that this could be a season-ending thing.

Also: Hudler’s supposedly slated fr the second power play’s other point position, to replace Modano. Even if Huds weren’t having a terrible season, I’d question that decision. A guy with Huder’s skating ability has no business on the blue line. – Matt

Note: Meant this to go out a couple hours ago. Guess I never hit Publish.

@mserven’s @RedWingsFeed had it via NHL Network an hour ago:

Via the NHL Network: Mike Modano has a cut tendon in his wrist and is out indefinitely

TSN reports that he had surgery this morning to repair the damage and confirms the indefinite timeline story. Meanwhile, the Detroit media is lagging on the story. Stellar, guys.

Needless to say, this sucks. A cut tendon’s no joke, so the team’s likely to be without him for a while. He hasn’t been huge for the team so far, so it’s not like they’re losing a huge chunk of offense. But this is a hit to the forward depth. It’s now more important than ever that Hudler get it in gear.

Anyway, we didn’t end up catching the game because the Griffins did in fact lose again. I meant to have my phone on me to tweet observations, but I forgot it at home. The main observation I have for you is this: Janik sucks. He was second star for a goal, but he looked pretty bad. Also, Smith fought, and Rockford’s Exelby’s a filthy player.

Game Day Notes: @ Columbus

Update (1:40 PM): We’re going to the Griffins game tonight, so I won’t be tweeting the game. I’ll set the DVR, but I may not have a reaction to the game tomorrow, depending on whether or not we’re in a mood to watch after the Griffins game. They don’t typically win at home these days and may sour us on hockey for the night. – Matt

… The Jackets have had a hot start, jumping out to 14-6-0 and second place in the Central due to the Wings’ better points percentage. They’d also be second in the  Conference if Phoenix and Vancouver didn’t get free 2 and 3 spots thanks for being division leaders. This is a big game for Columbus, as first place in the Central and the Conference is on the line at a time other than the first few games of the season. To be in first after 21 games played would be a big deal for a franchise that’s not had much to be proud about over its short history.

Expect them to play hard for this.

… Last year, they were in similar shape, but dropped off the face of the earth and never looked back. They “believe in [their] hot start” this year, though, so maybe things’ll be different.

… This year, they’re looking for their 15th win almost a month earlier than they’ve ever gotten #15.

… The Jackets are riding a 5-game win streak, with the last loss coming two weeks ago against the Avalanche. They’ve since swept an LA, Anaheim, San Jose trip, shut out the Predators 2-0, and beaten the Islanders in overtime. That last one may not be much to crow about, but the California road trip is impressive, Anaheim notwithstanding. For the moment, at least, the Jackets are not a team to take lightly.

… Nikita Filatov missed Wednesday’s game as a punitive measure after he missed a team function due to oversleeping. He’s back in tonight.

… Prepare your eyeballs: the Jackets are wearing their new third jerseys tonight. Those shades of blue momentarily had me thinking “Another jersey, Pittsburgh?” when I came on the PD post while cycling through Google Reader. Not a fan.

… Marc Methot is questionable for tonight with an upper body injury. Ethan Moreau is still out with a hand injury. Disappointing. Kristian Huselius is out with a high-ankle sprain, which is really good news for the Red Wings. His 10 career points in 22 games against the Wings aren’t that impressive, but he does seem to cause them trouble.

… Probable lines and pairings via the Columbus Dispatch:

Nash-Brassard-Voraceck
Filatov-Vermette-Umberger
Dorsett-Pahlsson-Clark
Wilson-MacKenzie-Boll

Hejda-Russell
Tyutin-Commodore
Klesla-Stralman

… Steve Mason is starting tonight. He’s 8-5-0 with a .909 save-percentage, a 2.94 GAA and one shutout. Not stellar stats, but the Jackets are still third in goals-allowed per game at 2.35.

… The Wings are coming off an embarrassing 5-1 loss to the Thrashers Wednesday night. Here’s hoping they’re more prepared for this game than they appeared to be for that one.

Ansar Khan reports that Jiri Hudler’s back in tonight, apparently just to shake up a losing lineup a little, however lightly Jiri’s likely to shake it. Drew Miller’s out as a result.

… Lines and units via Khan:

Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Holmstrom
Hudler-Filppula-Franzen
Cleary-Modano-Bertuzzi
Abdelkader-Helm-Eaves

Lidstrom-Stuart
Ericsson-Rafalski
Kronwall-Salei

… When Jimmy was pulled after the second period, the Atlanta feed said it was to give him a rest and to give Joey MacDonald some shots ahead of a scheduled start tonight. Apparently, they were wrong, as Howard’s in net again, per Khan.

… The Wings need to get back in the saddle after being thrashed out of it Wednesday night (sorry). They’ve got a pair of games here against a motivated team with both delusions of grandeur and a little brother’s issues with a successful older brother. Both mindsets can be dangerous to a team that takes their opponent too lightly.

It’s easy to laugh off the Jackets as a fanbase, but here’s hoping the Wings don’t follow our example.

Wings 1, Thrashers 5

Yeah, that was brutal. I don’t know if half the team was too excited about Kris Draper’s Thanksgiving Extravaganza or what, but they were not prepared for a fast and surprisingly dangerous Thrashers team. Oh well. These games happen. Given that it’s a holiday, I’m not interested in doing a full postmortem. Seems to me this is the kind of loss you typically talk about forgetting and moving on from, so I’m going to do that.

It being Thanksgiving here in the States, it seems appropriate to do a short list along these lines:

  1. In spite of some quibbles over the means, I’m thankful the Wings have started the season out with such a great 13-4-2 record. Given that they have it in them to be even better, that record’s pretty freaking impressive.
  2. I’m thankful Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are off to such great offensive starts. Sure they’re not close to the leaders, but their defensive responsibilities coupled with that production make them the most valuable forwards in the League.
  3. I’m thankful Jimmy Howard and “sohopmore slump” don’t appear to go together. The Wings would be in poor shape right now if they had to rely on Chris Osgood as heavily as they’ve had to rely on Jimmy. I’m also thankful Osgood’s nearing a return, though. Jimmy needs some rest.
  4. I’m thankful Lidstrom’s back in Norris form. Or rather, Hart form.
  5. And I’m thankful I get to watch all of this with the best hockey fans in the world through the miracle of the internet.

Last night was a downer, but I really believe we’re headed for a heck of a year. Happy Thanksgiving, Americans, and happy mid-day football day, the rest of you!

Game Day Notes: @ Atlanta

Update (1:33 PM): It’s official: Hudler’s scratched and in the doghouse.

Khan also has the lines and pairings:

Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Holmstrom
Abdelkader-Filppula-Franzen
Cleary-Modano-Bertuzzi
Miller-Helm-Eaves

Lidstrom-Stuart
Ericsson-Rafalski
Kronwall-Salei

Abdelkader sure benefits from the Hudler scratching, eh? - Matt

… This is the one and only game between the Wings and the Thrashers this season. If Clark’s chart is up to date, the Wings lead the all-time series 9-3-0. Atlanta won the last meeting, 2-0 a year ago. I had a pretty negative reaction to that one…

… The Thrashers themselves are 9-9-3 this year, but have won two in a row so for the moment they have to be feeling pretty good about themselves. The first win came over Washington 5-0. Then they reverted back to their level and squeaked out a 2-1 OT win over the Islanders. They’ve been off since Sunday, like the Wings.

… They’re in the middle of a six-game homestand. They’ve played in front of an average of 10,449 fans in an 18,545-seat arena (based on announced numbers). It’ll be interesting to see the number after tonight.

… Apparently Dustin Byfuglien, that noted adherent to the Favre/Wednesday School of Pronunciation, has had a good start to the season. So much so that questions like this are leaking from the minds of pundits. I don’t know about you, but I’d take even one year of my young defensemen watching Nick Lidstrom over a career of Dustin Byfuglien. If for no other reason than they wouldn’t learn how to improperly pronounce the letters b, y, f, u, g, l, i, e and n strung together.

All kidding about his name aside, are we really in a place where Byfuglien and Lidstrom can be pitted against each other in any way that doesn’t leave Lidstrom the winner by a light year? Is the media that tired of Nick?

… Anyway. I kind of like this perspective from Thrashers Nation going into the game.

… Bryan Little and Fredrik Modin did not practice yesterday due to injury. Doesn’t look like they’ll be in.

… Ondrej Pavelec will get the start. He’s allowed three goals over the past three games, so it’s safe to say he’s hot.

… The Wings improved to 13-3-2 with a win over Calgary Sunday evening.

… It sounds like Jiri Hudler may be the odd man out tonight, as Babcock is indicating he’s considering having both Eaves and Miller in the lineup. The team needs to get Hudler going, but there is a point where he needs to stop getting bones tossed to him. Maybe a few whacks over the head with one will help him find some motivation.

… Cleary left the game with an upper body injury, but is good to go tonight. Same with Ericsson, who came back after a puck hit his ankle, and Modano, who was shaken up late in the game.

Chris Osgood skated yesterday, but not with the team. He’s thinking he’ll be back with them and back on the bench after Thanksgiving.

… Jimmy Howard will start again.

… The Wings need to be careful not to take the Thrashers for granted tonight. As Atlanta showed against Washington, they’re capable of taking teams by surprise so any let up in the attitude that closed out the Flames game and the Wings could be in trouble. Just take care of business.