Archive for February, 2012

Followup: Hudler & Sharp

Still, what I said here stands. The slash wasn’t malicious and it was portrayed as such by some.

Wings 5, Blue Jackets 2

Not Pretty, Mostly: This game in the best of circumstances (read: full health) was a classic trap game. Last night, with Datsyuk and Lidstrom out, and a Quincey-sized hole in the defense filled by Doug Janik/Brendan Smith, it looked even more like one. Then the first and second periods happened and it looked even more like one. By the time Derek McKenzie made it 2-1 Columbus, it was flat out depressing.

Then the Wings said, “Screw this,” and took over. That part was awesome. Doesn’t erase two periods of playing down to the Jackets’ level, but it does move that to the background.

Joey: Looked sharp, though I thought he could have had the McKenzie goal. In the spans where the Jackets were putting on pressure, he held the Wings in it.

Smith: Picked up where he left off looking much better in the NHL than the AHL. Finished +1 and managed 13:15 in ice time.

Janik: Demonstrated that the players we watch are not static. The Janik we remember and joke about is not the Janik we saw last night. He’s gotten better, and did a good job filling in.

Gameplan: I maintain the position I had on the Montreal game: nothing about this was an indication of Life After Lidstrom. It would be nice, though, if they could have a Lidstrom-less gameplan, because while I know they’ll have an off-season to prepare for that eventual day, they now look somewhat leaderless when he happens to be out on short notice.

Hudler: Garth, I think I found the specific need Kyle Quincey addresses. That is, the specific need to not have Jiri Hudler on the point on the power play, ever. Awful showing, Jiri.

Zetterberg: Sick shot on the goal as he continues to heat up. Better late than never.

Franzen: Looked more motivated than usual in this one. Maybe he needs to be banished to the third line more often.

Mursak: Good to see him score a goal. He’s only had 12 games to get one, but hopefully he’ll be able to notch a few more before the end of the season.

Filppula: One reason I’m not so concerned with the lack of a forward acquisition at the deadline. Fil’s having a great year and is oozing confidence. His goal was a great example of that, coupled with patience.

Sometimes what a team needs is just for its own players to get better. Fil’s not static either.

The Race: The win put the Wings ahead of the Blues for at least a night (St. Louis plays in Edmonton tonight), and gave them an opportunity to take first from the Canucks. As of the end of the Wings game, the Canucks were winning the points percentage tie breaker, but a Canucks regulation loss to Phoenix would have put the Wings ahead. Unfortunately, the Canucks lost in a shootout instead and earned a point that puts them on top with no tie breaker involvement.

Next: The Wings get an extra day between games and faceoff against Minnesota on Friday. The Wild are five points out of 8th place, and will play in Montreal tomorrow night.

Game Day Notes: @ Columbus

Update (1:04 PM): Lines and pairings via Bill Roose. - Matt

… This is the fourth of six games between the Wings and Blue Jackets this season. So far, the series stands at 2-1-0 in Detroit’s favor.

… Columbus is dead last in the league with 48 points and an 18-37-7 record. They’ve lost two in a row, but managed to beat the Sharks a week ago and take the Rangers to OT the game before that. The two recent losses, however, include a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the Avs and a closer 4-2 decision to Pittsburgh.

… The Jackets were quiet on the Nash front at yesterday’s trade deadline, but dealt Sammy Pahlsson, which makes things slightly easier for the Wings tonight, on paper.

… The Nash situation is an on-going drama in Columbus, though how much it will affect their play going forward from the deadline remains to be seen, obviously. Though if it has a negative impact, I’m not entirely sure how we’ll tell. But it may be that Nash will play angry tonight, having been thrown under the bus by the organization yesterday.

… The Jackets should be without Marc Methot, Radek Martinek, Kristian Huselius and Jared Boll.

… Looks like it may be Curtis Sanford in net for the Jackets tonight.

… The Wings will be playing their first game since the trade deadline and will be looking to halt a skid at three games. It started in Chicago a week ago and continued through games at home against Vancouver and Colorado.

… The skid has dropped the Wings to fourth in the Conference, as St. Louis has the tie breaker at 85 points. Vancouver has taken first place.

… The Wings’ task got a bit harder yesterday with the news that both Nick Lidstrom and new acquisition Kyle Quincey are hobbled with ankle and groin injuries respectively. Both will sit out and will be replaced in the lineup by Brendan Smith and Doug Janik. Smith was recalled yesterday and Janik was recalled today. No word yet on the pairings.

… Jonathan Ericsson remains out with a broken wrist. Pavel Datsyuk and Patrick Eaves are also out.

… Joey MacDonald will start in what looks like a traditional backup game. There’s no indication that it’s anything more than that.

… The Wings have fallen out of the saddle and need to use tonight’s game against a terrible Blue Jackets team as an opportunity to get back in it. They cannot allow this night to be a classic trap for them, regardless of who’s out of the lineup. The current roster got a vote of confidence from management yesterday and needs to find a way to validate that from this point onward.

They’ve lost valuable ground in The Race. Time to make some up.

A Dissenting Opinion

Garth does not agree with this and this, and with my endorsement of the two:

Respectfully the three of your are out of your minds. San Jose got better. They’re not as big a threat as a year ago? They’ve taken two of three this year and have just gotten better than they were when they beat us two years in a row. Nashville isn’t as good as Detroit in any of those categories? They’ve improved their PK, the didn’t need to improve their PP because it’s already the best in the league, and they added depth to their top AND bottom six forwards AND their defense. Detroit lost depth at defense and doesn’t have depth at forward. There are 4 top six forwards and nine bottom six. Who’s after that? And Vancouver? Well, JJ’s right about Vancouver because unless a lot of our players start playing a lot better then a match up in the WCF is a pipe dream.

And this BS about Gaustad? No, we wouldn’t win the Cup BECAUSE of him, but guess what? We didn’t win the Cup in 2008 BECAUSE of Stuart, but at the same time? Without him? We probably don’t win. It’s called addressing needs.

Quincey was a nice pick up but he didn’t address a specific need. Our defense was already pretty solid, it’s our forwards that needed help. Mursak, Emmerton, Holmstrom? How much ice time do you think they get in the playoffs? And that lack of ice time is going to put extra strain on the other three lines who are going to have to take up the slack.

First off, I don’t buy the argument that the Sharks are that much better this year. I don’t know how things will shake out in the end, but currently, they’re in the middle of the pack fighting for mastery of their own division. That is not particularly intimidating. Their edge seems to me to be more psychological than practical, and the Wings’ recent win over them was a good step in the direction of beating that.

As for Nashville, I do maintain that if the Wings can’t beat a Predators team that added Gaustad, they wouldn’t have been able to beat them with Gaustad themselves. They have a talent superiority up and down their lineup to Nashville and have larger issues than just one player if they can’t win that matchup. The special teams issues are a rut more than anything that would be fixed by a single addition. No denying that the Predators improved themselves, but the Wings were far enough ahead of them to begin with that I’m not losing sleep over it.

There is no need so pressing yet finely-defined on this team that one addition—or even two—would make a difference. This team has an assortment of tools that should be world-beating. Adding a Gaustad or even a Pahlsson to that at those market prices would have been little if any real gain.

As you say, “unless a lot of our players start playing a lot better then a match up in the WCF is a pipe dream.” I don’t think you’ll get much argument about that. I just see that specifically as the problem, not the lack of action on the trade deadline front for the Wings.

… And Hello, Brendan Smith

Update (2:30 PM): Turns out it’s both Lidstrom and Quincey. But they’re both just day-to-day. - Matt

Updated (1:15 PM): Ansar Khan reports that both Kindl and Smith will play tomorrow, which means a defenseman is injured. He suggests Lidstrom. - Matt

Your new competition, Jakub. Could this be Smith’s last trip between Detroit and Grand Rapids?

Goodbye, Mike Commodore

Update (3:06 PM): Turns out it wasn’t to make a roster spot for a deal so much as that Smith option. What we’ve got is what we’re going with. - Matt

It was fun. I hope you get more chance to crack the lineup in Tampa.

The consensus is that this is to set up something else, with the move clearing up a roster spot (that is, it’s not cap related). Alternatively, it makes it easier to get Brendan Smith up should Jakub Kindl not get it done in Ericsson’s absence.