Posts tagged “Avalanche”

Game Day Notes: @ Colorado

… This is the Wings’ third meeting with the Avs this season. They won the second 5-2 on November 8th and the first 3-0 on October 8th. The fourth and final matchup will be on February 25th.

… Since November 8th, the Avs have gone 5-6-0 to end up at 12-13-1. That’s good for third in the Northwest and 12th in the West.

… They’ve won their last two after going 1-3-0 in the previous four. On Friday, they beat the Blues in a shootout 3-2 and on Wednesday, they took out the Devils 6-1.

… Erik Johnson has been out with a groin injury, but could be back tonight. The Avs are without Peter Mueller and Mark Olver.

… Ryan O’Reilly, the team’s leading scorer, has two goals and two assists in his past two games. He’s got 19 points total, just one ahead of Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk. One-time Red Wing Kyle Quincey’s managed 16 points so far this season.

As George notes, there’s not a lot else in terms of setup for this one on the Avs’ side. That, as much as anything, is a sign of where this rivalry stands.

… Varlamov will be in net.

… The Wings have won 7 in a row and are coming off a 4-1 win in Buffalo on Friday night.

… They’re still chasing the Blackhawks for the Central lead, but are within two points with 33.

… The skating lineup will remain the same as it was Friday, which means Chris Conner is in and Cory Emmerton and Mike Commodore are out.

… The one change is in net: Ty Conklin will get to shake off the rust after sitting for 17 straight. No pressure.

He did manage a shutout against the Avs in October, so here’s hoping he can recreate the magic. Because there’s been very little of that from him this season.

… The Wings have a good thing going in the win column, but they tapered off a bit against a really crappy Sabres team on Friday. They’ll want to pick it back up and try to play a more complete game against a more dangerous Avalanche team. They’ll also want to be tighter on defense, because they won’t have Jimmy Howard to lean on tonight.

Wings 5, Avalanche 2

Still On the Horse: This was a solid effort overall. An excellent one through the Avs’ first goal, though after that it wasn’t quite as great. Maybe not as complete a game as Saturday’s, though without that gifted goal, I expect it would have been. They do need to be able to react better to opposition goals, however. The Avs got right back in it despite being down by two at that point.

Jimmy: Continues his strong play. He’s looking reliably strong so far, which is a great sign.

Nick: If he keeps this up for the full season, he’s going to be hard pressed to justify walking away from the game. Certainly, his usual basis for considering it, a decline in play, won’t apply. He’s playing great right now.

Cleary: I’ve seen a few down comments from fans on Twitter about Cleary and while a single goal in one game isn’t going to change any minds, 100 goals in a Red-and-White does mean something. The guy belongs here.

Mule: Barely got anything on that Filppula shot, but the hat trick stands. All I want is for him to not consider his monthly goal quota met. More please, Johan. Don’t slow down.

That Goal: … by the way, was awesome. Great set up started by Hank to end up on Fil’s stick for the actual scoring shot. Pretty slick.

The Avs’ First: Couple things: I’m shocked the ref didn’t lose sight of it there and it’s a little annoying that Jimmy being pushed into the net didn’t mean anything. Oh well.

Brunnstrom: Barely played, but he’s looking better in this stint than before he went to GR. Guess that provided a little motivation.

Next: The Wings have Edmonton on Friday. The Oilers are 9-3-2 with 20 points and second in the West. That likely won’t last forever, but it’s a definite sign that things have changed in Edmonton. The Wings can’t skate into that one expecting to walk over them. A complete game would be a great thing to bring to the ice.

Game Day Notes: vs. Colorado

Briefly:

… So this is the second time we’ve seen the Avs this season, with the first being the road opener a month ago. The Wings won that one 3-0 in front of Ty Conklin.

… That was the Avs’ season opener. Since then, they’ve gone 7-5-1 en route to a third place spot in the Northwest Division, behind Minnesota and Edmonton.

… They’ve lost three in a row, though they gained a point in their 7-6 loss to the Stars on Friday. Their last win came against the Kings on October 30th. They’re just 1-4-1 in their last six and so have had troubles of their own since rebounding from their loss to the Wings with a five-game win streak.

… The Avs are a bit different in goal this year, with Semyon Varlamov, tonight’s starter, and JS Giguere. Neither guy is all that scary, which probably means Varlamov will shut the Wings out tonight or something.

… Looks like the Avs are healthy. Lucky them.

… The Wings stopped a skid at six games Saturday with a 5-0 win over the Ducks. Tonight they have a chance to further convince us they’ve turned over a new leaf and put that skid further in the rearview mirror.

… They’ll have to do it without Patrick Eaves and Todd Bertuzzi again, as both are scratches. Todd’s been sick and Hobo’s been battling back soreness. Brunnstrom will be in again and should be looking to build on a solid performance against the Ducks.

… Kindl’s back in for Commodore.

… Jimmy Howard gets another start tonight. By my count, he’s 4-2-1 after shutouts in his career.

… The Wings took a big step in the right direction with a cathartic win over the Ducks. They need to use the other foot now and follow up that effort with maybe an even better one tonight. The Avs are in a rough patch, but even with the decline in the rivalry to near-zero, they’re sure to get up for this one. A strong Red Wing effort should be more than enough to repel that and come out on top. Let’s hope they bring it.

Wings 4, Avalanche 5

Update (1:37 PM): Horrifyingly embarrassing headline gaffe fixed. Thanks, @jacobrussell. – Matt

Fatigue: No doubt this was the single biggest factor in this loss. The first period was marked by players such as Niklas Kronwall, Brian Rafalski and Jonathan Ericsson making stupid mistakes that had all the earmarks of mental fatigue. The Wings’ skating was off, offering evidence of physical fatigue. So, yeah, fatigue.

But I don’t want to overemphasize that angle. The late push demonstrates that fatigue, while a legitimate factor in early events, wasn’t everything. The Wings had the energy to compete in this game, but opted to wait until it was too late to use it. I don’t know why and I’m not angry about it like I would be another night where they follow the “slow start+hey, wait, we’re losing, let’s go for it with 10:00 left” script, but I am disappointed. I wanted the trip sweep. I guess we’ll have to be satisfied with sweeping Western Canada.

Jimmy: I think everybody is on the same page with this, but just to be sure: pulling Jimmy was a move directed at shaking up the Wings, not a commentary on his play. He maybe could have stopped the second goal, but the others were the result of breakdowns (such as Kronwall’s turnover on his doorstep) and simply not his fault. It was one of those situations where Babcock was just getting him out of there for his sake, not because he was letting his team down. Instead, they were letting him down.

Joey: Acquitted himself rather well, I thought, for a minor league goalie stepping in on a night where the Wings looked headed for a drubbing. I was definitely concerned that he wouldn’t be able to pull it off, but he did well, and made some strong saves. The 6-8 weeks of the MacDonald era may not be so bad.

Joey’s supposed to play the games Osgood would have played, so we’ll see how that goes. Osgood, by the way, is having sports hernia surgery.

Miller: I may have noticed Drew Miller more than any other forward last night. The bottom two lines were the most active of the Wings’ forward units, but Miller was leading the charge with what seemed like 5 or 6 big scoring chances. He notched an assist, but could have had a couple goals had Budaj not been so lucky/good.

Mursak: Congrats on the goal, which was timely and should have had a greater impact on the game than it ended up having (didn’t shake up the Avs much). Seconds prior to the goal, I wondered out loud why he’d been kept up over Tatar. Mursak’s answer was scoring a goal. Tots had a goal, too, but Mursak probably is more NHL-ready.

Kronwall: Awful game.

Rafalski: Not so hot either, despite the goal.

Ericsson: Rounding out the suckage triplets, I think.

Rest up: Despite my reluctance to lean too heavily on the fatigue angle, it’s obvious the team needs the next few days to rest up and recharge for the back-to-back with Columbus. It was a very successful trip, final sour note notwithstanding, so the outlook for this depleted squad going forward is still pretty good. If nothing else, they’ll be forced to play a tighter game, which will be good in the long run.

Game Day Notes: @ Colorado

Update (2:44 PM): Sounds like Filppula could play tonight after all. If so, Tatar will sit. – Matt

… This is the fourth and final game between the Wings and Avs this season. The Wings lead the series with a 2-0-1 record. They lost the opening meeting 5-4 on October 12th in a shootout, but followed up with a pair of wins in the next two meetings, 3-1 on November 13th and 4-3 on December 27th in OT. That last one was notable for being Chris Osgood’s 400th win.

… Since we last saw the Avs, they have posted a 2-3-1 record, with wins over Edmonton (SO) and Buffalo (OT). They’ve lost two in a row, but earned a point Saturday at home against the Islanders.

… The Avs haven’t been hot at home lately, going 1-4-2 in their last seven in Colorado.

… They are 12 points back of Vancouver with 48, but still in the playoff race at 7th in the West.

… Their offense is pretty strong, at 139 goals for this year, which is good for third in the West. Their goals allowed number, 134, however, puts them at 14th in the conference.

… The Avs are relatively healthy (in that they’re not missing big pieces). Kevin Shattenkirk (as opposed to Pinenkirk? Sorry.) is questionable for tonight with a hurt foot, and Cody McLeod, Christ Stewart and Kyle Cumiskey will not play. And former Red Wing Kyle Quincey is out for the season after having surgery on his left shoulder.

… Peter Budaj will be in net for the Avs.

… The Wings are 4-1-1 since beating the Avs last month. They’re in the middle of a western road trip that has been a success thus far, with each of the previous  games coming up wins. They had to go to a shootout for the last two, but the second as an impressive gutsy win over a strong Vancouver team Saturday night.

.. They added to their list of injuries Friday night in Calgary, when Tom Kostopoulos broke Brad Stuart’s jaw. While the Flames get to play without that idiot for six games, the Wings are forced to bring in Jakub Kindl for the next 6-8 weeks. How fast Jakub can adjust to being thrust into a regular NHL role will tell us who got the better end of that deal.

Stuart joins Pavel Datsyuk, Dan Cleary, Mike Modano on the longer-term injury roster, a roster that may soon be swelled by the addition of Chris Osgood. Oz has a groin issue that’s finally gotten to the point where he can’t play through it and the team is investigating surgery options. Also on the groin injury front is Valtteri Filppula, who’s supposedly out until the weekend.

… Jimmy Howard will start for the Wings, after starting both games of the back-to-back. He’ll be backed up by Joey MacDonald, who was called out to Denver today. Joey’s been doing pretty well for Grand Rapids lately, and his recall to the Wings likely means the Griffins are headed for a dive. That is, unless Thomas McCollum can get out of his funk.

Anyway, Jimmy played very well in Vancouver and finished the Calgary  game on a strong note, so there’s good reason to think he’s come out of his mild slump and is ready to help carry the team through the next few weeks, after which we can hope they’re back to health.

… Technically, the Wings have another road game after this, but this is the actual end of their road trip. They’ve done well to earn 6 of 6 points so far, but they’ve got a good chance to take advantage of a somewhat struggling team and make it 8 of 8 tonight. One more big effort on the road, and then they get to return home for a couple days before heading to Columbus.

Wings 4, Avalanche 5 (SO)

So we knew the Wings weren’t going to go 82-0-0. The first loss had to come at some point. Last night just happened to be it. And maybe that’s a good thing.

Shots: The Wings were outshot 38-28, though that doesn’t tell the whole story. The Avs managed to block 26 shots and the Wings sent a further 11 wide. That’s a lot of shooting. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. either.

Possession: Time of possession isn’t a stat in hockey like it is in football, but if it were, I’d say the Avs would have owned that statistical category last night.  They had the puck, it seemed to me, in the Wings’ end far more than the Wings had it in the Avs’.

The Wings arguably had the better scoring chances, but they were somewhat isolated and though the stats showed they had a ton of offense generated with pucks headed toward the net, I almost don’t believe the numbers because that’s not how it felt in-game. The Avs were causing trouble for the Wings in the defensive end all night as the Wings struggled to get control of the puck and then get it out.

Defense: So that’s what I mean when I say maybe the first loss coming now is a good thing. During the Ducks game, Hollis tweeted this:

#redwings may be up by four, but there’s alot of room for improvement in their own zone. Lots of turnovers. Need to stay focused.

I think that perspective was somewhat lost in the excitement over the 2-0 start. But as far as I’m concerned, it was thrown in full relief last night (and after registering the Ducks’ two followup games). The season is young, but so far the Wings are leaning fairly heavily on the offensive side of things, to the detriment of the defensive.

That’s been a problem the past two years, the first as the prime issue and the second as a contributing factor second only to the injuries. I feel like I say this a lot, but they need to find a way to return to the wholesale sacrificial team defense of 2008. The Wings have the offensive talent to win more often than not, but that’s the easy way and it’s not the key to real success.

You want to see the Wings racking up the shot blocks and limiting the opposition to under 30 (preferably low 20s), not getting hemmed in their own end and watching the goalie get peppered. They have the opportunity to fix this before they get too comfortable.

Goaltending: Some nights, the goalie is the victim of his team’s failures to do their jobs. He showed up to play, even though they didn’t. He puts on a heroic, but failing effort as he is inevitably overwhelmed.

I may face an angry pro-Jimmy mob for this, but last night as I saw it was not such a night. The Wings’ skaters had a rough outing, and so did Jimmy. The Avs’ second, third and fourth goals were all weak and on a night where the Wings’ offense managed to net four despite being outplayed in their own end, giving up three softies is not acceptable.

I point out above that the defense wasn’t so strong last night, so the defense most often used for games where Osgood is shellacked seems to apply, right? I say wrong, because like I didn’t see Howard’s effort as a heroic failing one, despite a few big saves. It’s one thing for a goalie to be overwhelmed. It’s another for him to whiff on shots he should be stopping.

The Avs were getting a lot of traffic out front and in the crease (as on the first goal), so maybe that threw Jimmy off his game. Whatever the cause, he didn’t give the Wings a chance to win a game they didn’t deserve to win. And if you’re a big believer in fairness, that’s not a problem. But the Wings did manage to score four and that should be enough to win most nights, even if it’s not fair.

He did almost make up for it in the shootout, but the shooters did the letting down in that phase.

It’s not nearly early enough to detect a trend, but when you look at how bad the Ducks apparently are and how he looked last night, that game one shutout is looking somewhat ess shiny. I hope he plays Thursday so he can bounce back.

Third Line: Not their best night. -3 for all three guys? Rough.

Janik: Made me wish Meech was on a two-way.

Mule: 2 more goals, but still seems like he’s not going all out. Yet. Which should be a scary thought for the 29 other teams.

Passing: Another thing the Wings had a hard time with last night. A lot of passing to spots on the ice, which is all well and good if you have guys skating to get to those spots. But they weren’t. So a lot of pucks got missed. especially those sent up ice by the D. A definite area where Rafalski was missed. Could have used his breakout passes.

Thursday: It’ll be Mike Modano’s return to Dallas, so that’ll be a little awkward. Here’s hoping he lights it up for fun.

Game Day Notes: vs. Colorado

Update (2:59 PM): Ugh, bad news on Rafalski: out 3-4 weeks. So yeah, that means Ericsson/Kindl when Jonny heals up. Better start getting some sleep now, because it’s going to be nightmare city… – Matt

Update (12:34 PM): Okay, so I was wrong. It’s Budaj tonight, not Anderson. – Matt

… This is the first Wings game on Versus, which would have meant a 7:00 start last season. Thankfully, Versus has the puck drop at 7:30 this year, though.

… The Avs are 1-1-0 at this point, having won their home opener against Chicago in OT on Thursday. They then dropped a 4-2 decision to the Flyers last night.

… The game against the Flyers kicked off what the Denver Post is calling a “five-game Eastern road trip.” Apparently they mean that geographically, because though four of their opponents are in the East, the Wings still aren’t.

… There isn’t any Post content up about tonight’s game yet, but based on the stuff from Sunday, we can expect no David Koci (broken jaw) and no Peter Mueller (concussion). The latter is obviously bigger news than the former, as Mueller is one of their better young forwards.

… Joe Sacco wasn’t giving anything up about his goalie rotation for the trip, but my guess is he goes with Craig Anderson tonight, even though he was in net last night and had a fairly busy 37-shot (34-save) outing.

… The Wings are 2-0-0 after kicking off their season with a solid beatdown of the Ducks on Friday and following that up with a gutted-out win over the Blackhawks the next night. This is a pit stop homegame before a short trip to Texas and Arizona for games Thursday and Saturday.

… Jonny Ericsson is still out with back pain and will again be covered for by Jakub Kindl.

… Brian Rafalski will miss the game and likely a few more after having arthroscopic surgery on his knee today. Khan has the details on why that was necessary.

To fill in for Rafalski, Doug Janik has been called up. A roster spot was made for him by placing Draper on short term IR (7 days). Khan says Janik will play with Stuart to start the game.

… Abdelkader remains out, so the lineup is thus:

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

Lidstrom-Kronwall
Janik-Stuart
Kindl-Salei

… Jimmy Howard gets the start and a shot at repeating his opening shutout performance.

… The Wings have looked good through two games. Tonight, they have to keep that up. I don’t expect them to have a problem with accomplishing that.