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 atÂ corrallingÂ 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 wasÂ Ã¼ber 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.