Briefly, because a 12:30 meeting means I have about 31 minutes to type this:
… First off, sorry about the lack of a post on the Sabres game. Turns out I didn’t get to watch it after all.
… Second, it looks like Jimmy’s been locked up for two more years. The terms have been agreed upon, but ink hasn’t hit paper yet. It’s as close to done as it can be, though, so that’s great news. As Cotsonika suggests, $2.25 million per is a vote of confidence from the Wings. I’m not arguing that he’s worth it, but I do need to add the qualifier “… if he finds consistency.” Jimmy can be one of the better goalies in the League when he’s on and if he gets in that groove, $2.25 million a year will end up being a steal.
… On to the game: this is the third of four games the Wings have with the Kings this season. The Kings’ve won the previous two meetings, including a 5-0 beatdown on December 13th.
… The Kings have won their last three and sit in fifth place in the Conference with 74 points.
… The LA Times’ coverage of the Kings apparently sucks, but George has done some digging with his set-up for the game.
… The Wings halted a skid with their win over Buffalo Saturday night, but have a tough schedule ahead of them as they face down four road games by Saturday.
… Mike Modano made his return to the lineup Saturday and didn’t make much of an impact, but that’s not unexpected.
… Valtteri Filppula also made it back Saturday. Unfortunately, Brian Rafalski was out with back issues so the team didn’t have the full lineup (short of Osgood).
… Franzen’s out tonight for personal reasons: his wife’s having a baby and he didn’t make the trip to LA. Drew Miller should be back in.
… Jimmy Howard will get the start and should have plenty of reason to kill it tonight.
… The Kings are a hot team and a fast one, so the Wings will have to be on top of their game. I can’t speak for how they played in Buffalo, but they haven’t been sharp since their streak was ended. Tonight they need to find a way to return to the form that had them win five in a row.
Really sorry, but I won’t be able to do a notes post today. My sister is in town for a volleyball tournament and Megan and I have to head out soon to catch that. My gameday blogging plans are thrown off track by that and the fact that we’ll be busy later in the day.
Not Their Night: Between Lehtonen’s play and the Wings not getting a single bounce, this was just not their night. It was one of those games where the Wings needed to be pretty much perfect to win and they were far from it. I had a bad feeling about it going in, knowing the Stars would be coming for them and that they might be caught flat-footed and that’s pretty much what happened.
Jimmy: Absolved of any guilt for this game, for sure. He had no chance on the Ribeiro goal, got beaten by physics on the Eriksson goal, and was victimized by a bounce on the Barch goal. Each goal was accompanied by a special brand of defensive breakdown well-known to Wings fans this season. You know, the Completely Inexplicable Headless Chicken D brand. Though to be fair to Kronwall, he was the victim of a bounce at the blueline on the Eriksson goal. But still: Jimmy was left doing his best environmentally friendly clothing care impression. most of the night.
Holmstrom Bumped HIm: Witness the evidence, shot from my very own phone:
Sorry about the shaky cam, but it was the only mean I had to get it online during the game. The TV is HD, though, so I think that helps.
Anyway. By rule, that should have been no goal, just like it was, as Homer didn’t try to avoid contact. And it should have been a penalty. I don’t see leeway in the rule for waiving a goal but not dealing out a penalty. It’s annoying that an offense is big enough to wipe out a goal, but not big enough to mean a trip to the box.
Ribeiro: Got belted into the net by Salei so he was justifiably annoyed. And Jimmy was justifiably annoyed to have a guest in his crease. What I don’t get is why Burish felt he had to get involved and start facewashing and punching Franzen while keeping his cage on. I know Burish can’t take his cage off because he broke his face on someone’s fist, but he shouldn’t be scrumming in that case. Also: you’ve gone well over the line when your shenanigans result in knocking over a linesman on top of your target.
That ended up being more about Burish than Ribeiro, so I’ll close it out with a nod to Ribeiro’s classiness getting into it with the fans while in the box. You’re a great guy.
More seriously, though, those things aren’t relevant any more. All you need to know that the Stars are a bunch of idiots, with Ribeiro at the head of the class, is to play them any time.
Ott vs. Ericsson: Steve Ott is one of my least favorite players in the sport. So I enjoyed this. Thank you, Jonny. Doesn’t make up for your play otherwise, but it was good to see.
Throw away: The majority of the rest of this game was throwaway crap. The Wings looked bad for most of it and when they didn’t, it wasn’t sustained enough to make a difference. They earned boos from the paying customers in the building and I hope they remember them as they start this trip ahead of them.
As an aside, I’m all for limited selective booing by paying fans in the Joe (and criticism from paying fans in another degree: even those of us who watch on TV are paying. Megan and I wouldn’t have the cable package we have if it weren’t for the Wings). It sounds disloyal to the team on the surface, but in reality, it is the only means we have to hold them accountable.
We are the reason they have jobs and it is only fair for us to hold them to a standard. If they don’t meet it, they do need to hear it. It can get out of hand, which is why I said “limited” and “selective.” Booing after allowing a late SHed goal is an appropriate time to let them hear your displeasure. Some boos as they leave the ice after a game’s worth of poor effort is also an appropriate time. Always keeping in mind that it has to be done out of love, and it’s fine.
I’d rather people show they care by booing than show they don’t care by being apathetic.
Next: The team gets to head to Buffalo for a quick Eastern Conference game before heading out West for a string of stops. I anticipate a better effort from them against the Sabres.
I have to take care of some errands on lunch today, so can’t fit in a notes post for this one. George has the set-up here, though, and I will say this is a dangerous game for the Wings. The Stars are in a big-time skid, but they don’t have any trouble getting up to play the Wings and this may be just what they need to get back in the saddle. Detroit will need to be on top of the puck tonight, I’m sure.
Jan Mursak is back in town and will be in the lineup, as Eaves is out for at least a week, and Filppula’s not back yet. Mursak may not have a large impact on this game, but it’ll be good if he can use his speed to create some disruptions.
Update (1:38 PM): I forgot to mention Eaves, who left the game after falling awkwardly. Khan reports they’re waiting to hear back on MRI results, but he is definitely out for tomorrow night’s game. A Griffin will be recalled, apparently, since Filppula is not ready. – Matt
Promising Start: This is one of those games where the Wings get your hopes up early and then let you down in the end. The decline wasn’t as precipitous as it sometimes is, but against a team like the Sharks it was no less fatal. They came out of the gate strong and fairly dominated early play. Passes were crisp, the effort going after the puck was strong, and they were softening up Niemi for a possible shellacking. Then Jonathan Ericsson decided he’d cut open Logan Couture’s face. Nick Lidstrom took another high sticking penalty before the first minor was even over and the Wings were faced with a full two minutes of 5-on-3 hockey. Fortunately, they had the big PK guns in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg available and they made it through, though they gave up 10 shots in the process.
You often see a big kill like that energize the killing team and deflate the team that failed to convert. Not this time: after the kill, you had a Wings team that wasn’t bad, but had a definite loss of wind in the sails. Meanwhile, the Sharks started an upward climb, apparently not concerned that they couldn’t put it in with such a great opportunity.
Jimmy: I thought he acquitted himself quit well in this one, for the most part. He was as much a part of that kill as anyone and looked to be on top of his game. The Sharks’ late first period goal came against a scrambling defense and wasn’t Jimmy’s fault. Maybe you like to see him make the save on the Clowe breakaway, but I’m more annoyed with Ericsson for failing to get the shot through. The first Setoguchi goal came as the result of an unfortunate rebound, but better D might have prevented that one, too. Still. Maybe the second-weakest of the night.
It’s the fourth one I didn’t like. No crowd, no obvious deflection, just a goalie that whiffed on it. When your team is down a goal and still has some time to come back, that’s not a good time to allow one like that. Doesn’t wipe away the good work he did the rest of the night, but it was disappointing.
Goat of the Night: Kronwall. That weak shoot-around attempt off the D-zone faceoff at the end of the first was inexcusable. Absolutely pathetic. If he gets even a little more mustard on it, this game may have a different result entirely. Way to go, Nik.
Sine Wave: The Wings’ passing and effort last night would resemble a sine wave if graphed on quality. The same guys who would make a tape-to-tape pass on one shift would shank it on the next. The same guy who’d go all out for the puck on one shift, would barely stretch out his stick to pick up a pass on the next. Not sure what that was about, but it’s bad enough to do that against a lesser opponent. To do it against a heating-up Sharks team is just stupid.
Datsyuk: Put in a strong effort most of the night, as usual. But he did make a play last night that was untypical: the dumb pass out of the Detroit zone that led to the late icing. Not sure what he was thinking there. It was similar to his turnover that sprung Havlat Sunday in terms of brain crampiness.
Hudler: Took a weak penalty in the first that resulted in the Thornton goal and then nearly took about five while making the play that led to the Wings’s first. So playing a little closer to the edge. But at least he’s noticeable now. Putting him with Hudler was the best thing that’s happened to him this season. If he has to be moved to another line, though, I hope he can continue with this.
Late push: The late push was cool, but it would have been a whole lot cooler had Jimmy not allowed that weak one. And if Datsyuk hadn’t iced the puck. On the plus side, they pushed for it.
Next: Another home game. This time, against Dallas. The StarsÂ have lost five in a row and 9 of their last 10. The Wings’d better watch out for that target on their backs. The Stars will be looking to hit the reset button on that skid.
… The Sharks have had a strong February, winning all but two games thus far. The losses game in a pair on a trip East: first to New Jersey on the 11th and then to Florida on the 13th. Both were one-goal regulation games.
… Since then, they’ve won three to improve to 8-2-0 this month, and 33-21-6 overall. They were fourth in their division when we first saw them back in November, but are now just a point behind the Pacific leader Phoenix.
… Their surge to the top four in the West, completed last week, was in large part due to Antti Niemi posting a 9.98GAA 0.98GAA and .963 save percentage through three games, including a 4-0 shutout of Colorado Saturday. He was named first start of the week and he’ll be starting tonight.
… Shocking news from Mark Emmens: the Sharks are winning now with D. Why didn’t they think of that before? Oh wait. They have for years. They’re typically a balanced team weighted toward defense with strong offensive upside. I’m not sure what the big deal is, Mr. Emmons.
… The Wings improved to 7-3-0 in February with a 2-1 shootout win over Minnesota in a game that extended their winning streak to five. They’ve reacted very well to the embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Predators on the 9th.
… No returns tonight, but Chris Osgood sounds closer to making it back into practice, which is good news. The timeline is tight, though, with the trade deadline coming up. The Wings willÂ need a final determination on his status soon. Filppula should practice tomorrow and might be back as soon as Thursday, while Modano is still scheduled for Saturday.
… Jimmy Howard will be in net again for the Wings.
… The Wings’ pace this month hasn’t been that far off San Jose’s, so they’re similarly hot going into this game. That should make for an entertaining night.
As it turns out, I didn’t get to watch this game on DVR and only caught a little bit of it live (enough to see Pavel turn it over and hand Havlat a breakaway). So I’m deferring to George today.
But congrats to Todd Bertuzzi on making it to 1,000 games and for punctuating the night with the shootout winner. I know there are many people out there who still can’t stand him, both outside of the ‘base and inside it, but I can’t help but root for the guy. And be thankful that I’m a fan of an organization that has made the Todd Bertuzzi we see today possible.