Posts tagged “Blackhawks”

Stretch Run Watch: April 2

I’ll make this a recurring feature to the end of the season.

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

The Wings won and took fourth place, while the Hawks’ point in a shootout loss wasn’t enough to vault them over the Predators. All three teams are idle tonight.

Wings 1, Blackhawks 2

Legit Excuses: Okay, so the Blackhawks were riddled with injuries, too. But the difference is they got to gameplan for all of theirs. Meanwhile, the Wings had two guys go down during the game and one guy possibly playing when he shouldn’t have been, based on news following the game.

Losing Kindl doesn’t seem like a big deal on the surface, because he’s last in the corps and all that. But it did throw off the rotation and had an apparent trickle down effect to the offense. When your game flows out of your own end, that can happen even if the guy you lose is Jakub Kindl.

The Wings also lost Jimmy Howard, which is a much more consequential loss. Fortunately, Mac played well in relief. However, my guess is the Wings clenched up with Mac in there, even as comfortable a they are with him. He’s still no Jimmy.

Then Todd Bertuzzi, who is likely out tomorrow. Todd Bertuzzi is a lot of things, but one thing he’s not is a guy you want in the lineup dragging an injury around the ice with him.

Yes, the Wings could have adjusted better. They’re a veteran team, yada yada. But as it was, they played the Hawks tight and had a chance to win. That they didn’t is disappointing, as it cost them the Central lead.

The Start: The Wings did have things going in their favor early, as they seemed to be taking control of the puck in the first couple minutes. Then they took a penalty and gave up a Sharp goal.

Power Play: Completely worthless. With Lidstrom and Datsyuk out, you may think that’s unfair. But come on, you know the power play sucks and it sucks either way. It’s gotten old.

Smith: Surprisingly tough fight with Andrew Shaw. Not sure I’m big on the Wings’ bluechip defensive prospect putting his hand and head at risk like that, though. Add the fact that he put the Wings at four defensemen for five minutes and I stamp that fight with a big “Fail” stamp.

Kronwall: Laid a hit on Sharp, but his timing was slightly off and it looked like he left his feet before making contact. The fact that he ended up bouncing off Sharp rather than wrecking him adds to the case on that one. Not malicious, just not up to his usual timing standard.

Quincey: Needs more time to adjust to the Wings’ style.

Next: They’ll have to find a way to beat the Flyers tomorrow night without Howard, Lidstrom, Bertuzzi, Datsyuk, etc. and with MacDonald, Smith, Conner and Janik.

Game Day Notes: vs. Chicago

… This is the 794th meeting between the Wings and the Hawks, with the all-time series standing at 398-311-84 in the Wings’ favor.

… The Hawks have managed two wins in the prior four games against the Wings this season.

… They’ve won their last two, after losing the prior three. And won the four before that. That has them in 6th place in the West, with 77 points and a 12 point deficit on the Wings.

… That nine game skid they hit between January and February really set them back. On the day before it began, they were just a point behind the Wings in the Central race.

… They last played on Friday, when they beat the Senators 2-1 in Ottawa to improve to 13-17-3 away from Chicago.

… The Hawks have been without Jonathan Toews for six games and will be without him for at least one more. He’s got a concussion, reportedly.

… Niklas Hjalmarsson is also out, as is Steve Montador.

… Ray Emery will get the start for the Hawks.

… The Wings are coming off an emphatic 6-0 win over the Wild on Friday night. That win made it a pair for the week, as they also beat the Jackets on Tuesday in a game that cut a skid off at three. That skid began with the Wings’ 2-1 loss to the Hawks on February 21st.

… The win over the Wild put the Wings up two on the Blues in the Central (ground since regained by the St. Louis) and one back of the Canucks in the West. A win today puts them ahead of the Canucks, who are inactive.

… They’ll have to do it without Nicklas Lidstrom, who remains out with a disturbingly reluctant to heal ankle injury. Pavel Datsyuk also remains out. Todd Bertuzzi is a game-time decision, and will be filled in for by Chris Connor should he prove to be unavailable.

… Jimmy Howard will be in net.

… As usual, two points are important here. The Hawks are comfortably far back, but it still makes no sense to spot them two, especially when the Wings can take the West lead, however tenuously.

Wings 1, Blackhawks 2

Short on time today, so this’ll be a brief overview.

True to their road form, the Wings looked like a totally different team from the one that beats up opponents at home. Their first period was a promising effort, but throughout the second and third periods, about the only guy in red-and-white to show up was Jimmy Howard. He apparently hasn’t missed a beat, which makes the Wings’ squandering his outing all the more disappointing.

The other Wing to stand out from a positive effort standpoint was Jakub Kindl, who knows his ice time will be limited for the duration. If we won’t be seeing him for a while thanks to the Quincey acquisition, he went out with a bit of a bang for a rookie.

Aside from those two, however, the Wings were pretty flat to awful. They had their moments at the end of the first and third periods, but it was too little too late. It still feels ridiculous to complain about a team that has had such a successful season so far, but this road issue is one they have got to work out before the playoffs. They’ve been as good as gold at home, but they’re giving themselves a razor thin margin of error, even if they do secure home ice.

They’ve added to Chicago’s momentum, which is something I hope they don’t come to regret. They can’t be giving up points to anybody, let alone a direct competitor for the Central title. I expect to see a better effort tomorrow night, but it’d be cool if we could count on one for Tuesday’s game in Columbus.

Game Day Notes: @ Chicago

… This is the fourth of six games between the Wings and Hawks this season. The series stands at 2-1-0 in the Wings’ favor. The Hawks won the first 3-2 on December 30th, and the Wings won the next two: 3-2 in OT both times.

… The Blackhawks are coming off a 3-1 win over the Blues Sunday that extended a little win streak they have going to three. Prior to that, they’d had an 0-8-1 stretch that was both hilarious and not long enough.

… That skid and mini streak have them sitting at 6th in the West, 13 points back of the Wings, with a 32-21-7 record. That’s right, over a third of their regulation losses came in the last month.

… To their credit, however, they seem to be on the upswing: one win in their last three was against the Rangers (albeit with Biron rather than Lundqvist in net) and another was against the ridiculous Blues. The other was against Columbus, but they put up 6 goals so it wasn’t close. They’re a team to watch out for again, in theory.

And the fact that they seem to be heating up again makes getting points against them tonight all the more important.

… This is kinda cute. Whoever wrote the Blackhawks’ media game notes cites their home record: 20-6-4. To be fair, that is the third best home record in the League, so it’s no joke.

… To give you an idea the toll the Hawks’ skid took on them, they were 7th in goal-differential at +24 on January 20th, the day before the skid started. They’re now at 9th and +11. Not terrible, but their high-powered offense was misfiring for sure. The Wings’ number changed from +48 to +51 over that span.

… The Hawks will be without Dan Carcillo (out for the season). Niklas Hjalmarsson is out as well. And the big one is Jonathan Toews: out with an upper body injury.

… Corey Crawford is the presumed starter for Chicago.

… The Wings are on a six-game winning streak that beefed up their home record to 26-2-1, 23 wins of which came consecutively. They’ll look to improve their comparably dismal 15-15-1 road record.

… They’re coming off a 3-2 win over the Sharks on Sunday.

… Major news this afternoon: Pavel Datsyuk’s out for two weeks after having knee surgery this morning. Yeah. That sucks. But there is a plus side.

… Dan Cleary should be back tonight.

… Jimmy Howard is scheduled to start for the first time since injuring his finger against Vancouver earlier this month. Joey MacDonald will be his backup. Ty Conklin made it through waivers and will head to Grand Rapids.

… The Wings have been stellar at home and have a chance to pick up where they left off there on Thursday. But in the meantime, they have an important road game against a Central Division rival. The Hawks are well back of them now, but that can change over time, making this specific meeting a key one for ensuring they don’t give an inch in the race. It being Jimmy’s first game back, the Wings will need to be on top of things in case there’s any rust that needs to be shaken off.

Wings 3, Blackhawks 2 (OT)

Promising and Not So Promising: First, the good news. The Wings can dominate the Blackhawks, as evidenced by the first period and overtime. They can own the offensive zone and make life miserable for Chicago for long stretches of time.

Now the bad news: the Blackhawks can still dominate them and they can do it for longer.

The Wings showed they have it in them to skate at the Blackhawks’ level, but they’ve still got a ways to go in terms of staying power at that elevation. This game was played at two extremes: roughly 25 minutes of Red Wing dominance, and roughly 40 of Blackhawk ownership. I fully realize that expecting the Wings to dominate 60 minutes over Chicago is unreasonable, but the balance needs to be closer to equal for success against them to be sustainable.

It’s a good sign that they were outplayed that much and still managed a win, but that’s on Jimmy Howard, not so much the skaters.

Jimmy: Had a stellar game in two areas: 1) in his focus during the Wings’ dominant first period, where he faced only four shots yet remained zeroed in on the game, and 2) the third period, where he faced a sickening level of pressure right out of the gate and turned the puck away every time. The man was virtually flawless in the crease.

And that gets to the area that made me sad: his attempts at corralling the puck behind the net. He didn’t look so hot a couple times when he went out to play it. On one, he only just got back in time to make a kick save, and on the other, he was out of the net for the Hawks’ first goal. Granted, that second one game off a freak bounce, but I’d still prefer he stick to what he does best: stopping the puck in the crease.

Bertuzzi: I guess missing a game means a given guy’s going to have a big impact on his next one. Datsyuk looked on fire Thursday night and Bertuzzi was heavily involved yesterday in his first game back. His goal in the first period was about as sweet as it gets with that unreal backhand roofer, and his game winner was über clutch, putting the puck in the net out of the air like that.

I wish he could do that stuff every night.

In the Slot: Not sure what Nick was doing in the slot on the Wings’ first goal, but I love it. The man does everything.

Third Line: It seemed like a lot of the pressure the Wings generated came from the third line, with Miller in particular looking strong. If they could produce a little more, the Wings’d really be in good shape because they’ve already got the “tying up the opposition” thing under control.

Babcock: Not sure I agree with the “sink or swim” attitude of the third period. The Wings were being absolutely owned by the Hawks for the first 6+ minutes and he had plenty of opportunities after Howard puck freezes to all a time out, but chose not to. Granted, as @jmwall24 pointed out, the Hawks push came immediately following a long timeout of sorts, but it seemed like an extended break in play would have done the team good, if for no other reason than to throw the Hawks off the tracks.

That theory was lent some credence at 6:28 when NBC cut to commercial and the Blackhawks were forced to cool their heels a bit before starting a four minute power play. That power play had its moments of sheer terror, but it wasn’t quite the same, and though the Hawks did still control much of the period, the game had turned a corner.

Disappointing Point Concession: Despite all the Hawks’ pressure in the third, the Wings were headed for their best-case scenario regulation win until Toews scored at 19:08 to force overtime. That was extremely disappointing. Once again, the Wings when presented with an opportunity to pull away from the Blackhawks, however slightly, blew it. Now they’re still looking up at them in the standings, when a regulation win would have put them in second.

Given the importance of the Central Division title this season, the Wings’ troubles taking the necessary moves to work toward securing it when given direct opportunities are discouraging.

Next: They play host to the Sabres tomorrow night before heading to Dallas for a road game Tuesday night. Non-conference game or not, they need to keep on winning tomorrow and carry that through to a win in Texas.

This is Special

I hate to bring attention to these clowns, but there’s something hilarious in all of this (apart from the inherent hilarity of the comments themselves).

This week, the following comments were left in response to this post:

mpcgohawks: “the red wings are thug primadonnas. todd bertuzzi should be in jail”

Guest: “You are obviously in denial. The Wings get away with murder. All you had to do is watch the last game and two of the goals should not of even happened because of penalties by the Wings that were not called. The first game they played against each other Shaw was hit in the face twice with a stick and yet no penalty was called even though he was bleeding. LMAO”

Guest: “Every year it’s the same thing. Wings get all the calls until the end and then they cry like babies because the refs are finally calling a little fairer game. For some reason the league wants the Wings in the playoffs because if they didn’t they would probably be one of he most penalized teams in the league!!!”

Guest: “Carcillo is a dirty player and I am actually happy he is out for the season. Justin Abdelkader is as dirty as Carcillo and probably even more because he gets away with most of his dirty play.”

WingNut: “Guest, I have to agree with you about the refs and the Wings. They do seem to ignore a lot of the dirty play of my beloved Wings.”

For your entertainment.

Oh, and that last one? From what I can tell, it looks like it’s “Guest” posting under another name.

How far these people will stoop.

Added wrinkle: from the site logs, OtW started getting hits from Facebook right around the time those comments were posted, which suggests some Hawks fan felt it necessary to post the link on their wall to all their Hawk friends. Awesome.