Archive for November, 2011

Game Day: vs. Tampa Bay

… Today is the long-awaited return of Steve Yzerman to Detroit after leaving the organization to run the Tampa Bay Trap Trapping Trappers, I mean, Lightning. The Wings ventured into the trapping grounds of Tampa Bay last year and came out on top 6-2. This year, the Lightning will be trapping on the Wings’ turf, where such a style is generally reserved for lead maintenance rather than lead generation.

… The Lightning have trapped their way to a sterling 11-10-2 record, which is good for third in the Southeast Division.

… They’re coming off a loss to the Wild Monday night, but had a pair of wins prior to that.

… Hey, did you know the Lightning play the trap a lot? The Detroit media would like you to know. There is at least as much talk about that as there is about Yzerman’s return. Trap (beware autoplay videos), trap, trap.

… Steven Stamkos shoots and scores, to the tune of 9 goals in his past 11 games. The Wings’ Stamkos shutdown strategy will be interesting to see.

… They’re without Mattias Ohlund and Steve Downie, which is good news for the Wings on both fronts.

… Dwayne Roloson will be in net for the Lightning. He’s posted a 3.46 goals-against and .887 save-percentage. Which means he’ll have a shutout tonight or something.

… The Wings are 14-7-1, which puts them at third in the Central and fifth in the Conference.

… They’ve won five in a row, including a 3-2 shootout match against Boston on Friday. They’re on a good stretch, but will look to extend it into six in a row for the first time after stopping at 5 and 4 two separate times.

… Fabian Brunnstrom is back with the team after going up and down the past few week or so. He’ll play instead of Cory Emmerton.

… Patrick Eaves is out with a broken jaw after taking a puck to the side of his head on Saturday. Franzen had a “maintenance day”  yesterday for a lower body injury, but is supposed to play.

… Jimmy Howard will get the start tonight.

… The Lightning are a team with skill and a defensive system that they’re committed to so they present a challenge to the Wings. They’ll need to be at their puck-moving best and keep their feet moving to beat the Tampa Bay structure that could be set up early. The trap hasn’t done great things for the Lightning this year, but if the Wings play to the script they sometimes fall into, it could work for them tonight. Here’s hoping the Wings are in the statement-making business tonight.

Eaves’ Jaw Broken

Update (2:57 PM): Turns out Patrick does need surgery. He’ll miss 6-8 weeks. The good news is he apparently doesn’t have a concussion, so his recovery should be pretty straightforward. - Matt

We missed the game last night because family is in town, but I got the press release from the Wings about Eaves’ injury: a broken jaw. Ugh. They say he’ll be under observation to determine if he’ll need surgery and that there’s no estimate on the timing of his return. Ugh.

George has the video here.

Wings 3, Bruins 2 (SO)

Playoff Feel: This game had it. It was far from the Wings’ best game of the year, but it may have been the most exciting. Between the tempo later on, the intensity of the overtime period and the arena atmosphere, this was a fun one to watch, and beat your average regular season game in the entertainment department.

Puck Security: The stat sheet says the Wings had the puck taken from them 12 times and that they gave it up 6. The Bruins had 10 giveaways and lost the puck to the Wings 16 times, according to the sheet. So why do I feel like the Wings were coughing up the puck left and right while the Bruins were holding on to it?

By way of comparison, the Wings coughed it up one way or another 11 times against the Ducks and 13 against the Flames, according to the statisticians. Obviously, this may not be the most reliable stat, but it’s still clear the Wings were too free with the puck yesterday. That’s something they need to fix.

Jimmy: Another strong outing. Maybe this game being on a national stage will help him get some more recognition.

He did look stupid on the Bruins’ first goal, though. His weak pass across to Ericsson was incredibly interceptable, so it was no surprise that it was intercepted and translated to a goal. That was one play involving Jonny that was somebody else’s fault.

The Bruins: Owned the game early, as the Wings played to their usual afternoon game script. They had the Wings in shell mode in their own end, and while they couldn’t crack Jimmy and the D, it was frustrating to watch them pin the Wings so much. Especially when so much of the pinning came out of turnovers.

They’re a rough team, which put the Wings off their game. That in itself is a sign of how far the Wings are still from where they’d like to be: it used to be that a physical opponent brought the best out of them. The Wings did pick it up as the game went on and things got a lot more even, but early on, it was looking like the Bruins’ game.

Sudden Strikes: But the beauty of the Wings is their ability to strike without warning. The Filppula goal was a perfect example of that. It was just their second shot and developed out of nowhere, with a great pass from Zetterberg finding Fil up the gut for an easy tap in.

Then, after the Bruins tied it, Datsyuk did this. Beautiful, eh?

Ice Quality: Not sure if the ice was bad or what, but both teams overskated he puck a lot. Could have contributed to the crappy passing, too.

Datsyuk vs. Zetterberg: Pavel’s on a sharp upswing, but Zetterberg’s on a much shallower one, if he’s on it at all. Not sure what’s going on with him. I’d like to think that if he were injured to the point that it’s effecting his game this much that he’d be out, but I also don’t like the thought that it’s a mental thing.

The Shootout: I generally don’t get riled up about the shootout, but this was one case where I would have preferred a longer overtime instead of the anticlimactic finish of a shootout. Oh well.

Next: The Wings get the Predators tonight. They’ve lost three in a row, which sort of sets up a trap for the Wings. Here’s hoping they can dig out some of the energy they expended yesterday.

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, we didn’t make it to the Griffins game last night (lost tickets), so I did catch the Wings and Flames after all, though without the benefit of notes. I’ll skip the recap, though, and just say I hope everyone has a great day!

Game Day Open Thread: vs. Calgary

No full notes today—have to take care of some things on my lunch break.

A couple lineup notes:

Per Khan, it looks like Brad Stuart is a game-time decision tonight, as will be Johan Franzen. Franzen’s injury is a lower body one that he says won’t keep him out, but Eaves is waiting in the wings if he’s needed. If Stuart’s not able to play, Brendan Smith will be in. Otherwise, Smith will head back to GR (though likely not in time to play there tonight).

The Wings finished their road trip on a solid note, but tonight’s a decent test of their focus after a couple days off. The Flames have enough threats to make this an unpleasant night if the Wings decide not to show up.

I won’t catch the game tonight, since Megan and I are going to the Griffins game.

Smith May Stay

Update (3:17 PM): Brian Hedger (@BrianHedger) suggests the mystery defenseman may be Jakub Kindl. - Matt

Update (2:49 PM): Per a team press release, Brunnstrom’s been reassigned to GR, which means Smith is sticking around and that the mystery defenseman won’t be out long enough for STIR, if he’s out at all. - Matt

At least temporarily, reports Chuck Pleiness. He’s at least staying through the skate tomorrow and depending on just how “banged up” the mystery defenseman is, he could be in despite White’s return to the lineup.

I half wonder if the guy Babcock calls “banged up” is Mike Commodore and that the description is more a commentary on his play than his health. Realistically, though, it’s possible Kronwall could use a break given how heavily he went into the boards in St. Louis. That may buy Smith another game of time to show he should be in Detroit and then the storyline will be that the Wings face a decision. Knowing their usual routine, though, he’ll end up in Grand Rapids again regardless.

If the mystery defenseman isn’t banged up enough to go on STIR, Brunnstrom is your likely odd man out of the lineup, as Pleiness suggests.