Posts tagged “Blackhawks”

Believer

This team, with this run, is making me a believer in Mike Babcock again. After a season where I wasn’t sure what to think about this group, except kind of depressing thoughts, and where I was (unfairly) pretty sure Babcock’s time had maybe run out, I’m now stunned to find them up 3-1 on a Blackhawks team that looked like an unbeatable juggernaut before the series.

This group doesn’t quite have the buy-in to the system that the 2008 team had, but this is coaching. It’s Babcock. He has them playing with an edge that is driving the Hawks nuts and they’re keeping their cool that’s exemplified by Z’s complete non-reaction to Toews’ slashing start to that Penalty Trick. There are gaps, but as long as they continue to drive opponents crazy, this could turn into something really good.

If I were anybody on another NHL team, I wouldn’t want to face the Detroit Red Wings right now.

I’m sorry I ever doubted you, Babs.

Game Day Notes: @ Chicago

Update (6:14 PM): Okay, so this sucks: Helm is out, with a flared up back injury.

On the plus side, Brian Lashoff will stay in the lineup if Ericsson is good to go. Kindl’s time may be running out. I expect Lashoff will be watched closely tonight, though. - Matt

… This will be the first of just four meetings between the Wings and Blackhawks this season. I guess it was more important to get that extra game in against the Blue Jackets than against, you know, an all-time rival.

… The Hawks are off to a fast 5-0-0 start that includes a 3-2 win over the Blue Jackets last night. They last started undefeated after five back in 1971. A win tonight would set a team record.

… They’ve played on consecutive nights once already this season and put up six goals on night #2 on their way to outscoring opponents LA and Phoenix 11-6 on the road.

… Their 10 points leads the league, though San Jose is just two points back with a game in hand.

… Patrick Kane has 9 points already, which is more than he had over any other five-game span last season. That’s an 86 point pace.

… The Wings are just 2-2-0 and sit fourth in the Central. That’s just one point up on Columbus. You have to remind yourself that it’s early to avoid being too depressed about that.

… They played Friday and took out the Wild 5-3 in a bit of an offensive explosion you hope continues tonight against a Chicago team that hasn’t been super tight defensively (except on the PK, which is third at 94%*).

… It’s possible that Jonathan Ericsson will be back in the lineup tonight, which will bring the blueline close to full health. Just Ian White and his lacerated knee would be out in that case, unless you count Kyle “Crap Bag” Quincey as out with an injured hockey sense.

… An Ericsson return would likely mean Brian Lashoff’d be out. The Red Wings Way and all.

… Mikael Samuelsson (forgot about him, didn’t you?) and Jonas Gustavsson are out with groin injuries.

… The Wings showed they have it in them offensively to beat a highly-skilled team despite the defense being weaker than it’s been in forever. They’ll need something like the same kind of offensive output tonight.

*The Bruins and Islanders both are at 100% (!).

Stretch Run Watch: Final

Date DET CHI NSH
4/1 W 2-1 SO L 5-4 SO
4/3 W 2-1 SO
4/4 W 3-2 SO
4/5 L 2-1 L 2-1 SO W 2-0
4/7 L 3-2 SO W 3-2 SO W 6-1
Points 102 101 104
Place 5th 6th 4th

So, that’s it: the Wings’ shootout loss to the Blackhawks ensured a fifth place finish and a first round date with the Predators. And to make us feel slightly better about the fact that they didn’t beat the Blackhawks outright, the Preds destroyed the Avs, which would have made a Wings win purely symbolic.

A Wings regulation loss would have meant facing the Coyotes for the third year in a row. I know there are some in the fanbase who would rather have that.

I’m okay with how things turned out, though. They played a strong final game against a very talented Blackhawks team and managed to come back from a two-goal deficit. Given the intensity of that overtime period, a few more minutes and they might have taken it in OT. So if they can carry that kind of play into the playoffs, they’ll be in decent shape even against the Predators. It was an encouraging finish in that regard.

It won’t be easy, but no path through the playoffs will be easy in the West this year for various reasons. Nothing less than their best will be enough and that would be true even if they were simply fighting the travel factor of a series out West.

That they’re facing such a stiff test at the start will be a good thing if they can pass it.

Stretch Run Watch: April 6

Date DET CHI NSH
4/1 W 2-1 SO L 5-4 SO
4/3 W 2-1 SO
4/4 W 3-2 SO
4/5 L 2-1 L 2-1 SO W 2-0
4/7 vs. CHI @ DET vs. COL
Points 101 99 102
Place 5th 6th 4th

The Wings’ loss last night cost them 4th place, probably for good. The Predators took care of business against the Stars and now just need a point against Colorado to seal up home ice.

The Wings need to beat the Blackhawks on Saturday or lose in extra time to take fifth. So they have at least that much control over their fate, after lacklusterly rescinding most of it last night in a must-win game.

I’m not bitter. Except I am.

Stretch Run Watch: April 5

Date DET CHI NSH
4/1 W 2-1 SO L 5-4 SO
4/3 W 2-1 SO
4/4 W 3-2 SO
4/5 vs. NJD @ MIN vs. DAL
4/7 vs. CHI @ DET vs. COL
Points 101 98 100
Place 4th 6th 5th

The Wings’ win over the Blues last night put them in 4th place again, and means they retain control over their own fate: they can still finish a point higher than the Predators.

All three teams are active tonight. The Wings need to beat the Devils not only to guarantee holding off the Predators, but avoid the possibility of the Hawks passing them with a win in the finale.

Stretch Run Watch: April 4

Date DET CHI NSH
4/1 W 2-1 SO L 5-4 SO
4/3 W 2-1 SO
4/4 @ STL
4/5 vs. NJD @ MIN vs. DAL
4/7 vs. CHI @ DET vs. COL
Points 99 98 100
Place 5th 6th 4th

Nashville’s 2-1 SO win over the Wild last night put them in 4th place with two games left. They can max out at 104 and have a good chance of doing so with that schedule. Meanwhile, the Wings, with their game in hand, can max out at 105.

Unfortunately, they’ve got actual playoff teams to finish the season, including tonight’s huge game against St. Louis and Saturday’s finale against Chicago.