Posts tagged “Blue Jackets”

Wings 4, Blue Jackets 3 (SO)

Briefly:

That’s Kinda More Like It: As far as followups to Saturday’s performances go, this was a move upward. But still, the Jackets took the Wings to a shootout, and contrary to what James Wisniewski might believe, I’m not convinced they’re not still the league whipping boys. So, it’s a plus to get a notch in the win column, but I award no points for the execution.

Brunner: I will award Damien Brunner points for this, though. Pretty sweet.

Even without that, Brunner had a strong, if frustrating, night. He was a puck magnet and had some great scoring chances that he has to be burying before too long.

Colaiacovo: Got knocked out of the game in the third period with a shoulder injury and was largely unnoticeable before that. Now he’s out for a while and the Wings have signed Kent Huskins as an exciting replacement.

Eurotinws: Much better in this game. Between Brunner’s puck attraction and the Eurotwins’ ramping it up, this line was a threat most shifts.

Kronwall: Also looked better. He made a sweet heads up play to Datsyuk for the final real goal of the night and seemed sharper on defense.

Eaves: Had a couple chances in his first game back but otherwise I didn’t notice him a ton.

Lashoff: Gotta say I was wrong. He looked impressive in his first NHL game and managed to score with the help of a screen. We’ll see if he can carry it through but I’m glad I was wrong about last night.

Tootoo: I could have done without the dumb staged fight.

Quincey: Another poor game from him. That’s going to get old real fast if it hasn’t already.

Refs: The refs really got involved as the game went on and sapped the energy out of it. Frustrating. We lost nearly half the season, guys. Let them play.

Next: The Wings host the 1-1-0 Stars for the home opener. Jaromir Jagr already has four points.

Update: I should add that Gustav Nyquist has been recalled to replace Mikael Samuelsson, who will be out with a groin injury.

Game Day Notes: @ Columbus

… Tonight is the first of five games against the Blue Jackets in this shortened season.

… The Jackets are 1-0-0, having kicked off the season with a 3-2 shootout win in Nashville on Saturday.

… NBC Sports has picked up this game, because they know what a national viewing audience wants.

… It looks like Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start for the Jackets.

… The Jackets will go with the same lineup they used Saturday. Aaron Portzline has the scratches listed here.

… The Wings blew their first game badly, notching a 6-0 loss to their belt.

… They’re already down a few guys to injury and sickness, starting with Todd Bertuzzi and his bout of mono.

… Jonathan Ericsson is a game-time decision with a sore shoulder. He’d be replaced by Brian Lashoff, because apparently even a mostly-recovered Jakub Kindl isn’t preferable to a guy who probably maxed out in the AHL.

… Jan Mursak will be out a few weeks with a shoulder/collarbone injury courtesy of David Backes. Patrick Eaves will take his spot in the lineup and will see his first meaningful ice time since November 2011.

… Darren Helm is out of the lineup as well, with a sore back. Eaves is technically in because of that, too.

… Jonas Gustavsson is out with a sore groin and will be replaced on the bench by Thomas McCollum. Jimmy Howard gets the start.

… Ansar Khan has the lines used in practice here.

… So yeah, obviously, the Wings would do well to win tonight. A shortened season means a smaller margin for error. Here’s hoping the defense makes a 180 and let’s just go ahead and hope that for the offense too.

Wings 2, Blue Jackets 4

Should Have Seen This Coming: In retrospect, this was a likely outcome following the Wings’ public humiliation of the Jackets on Monday. Graham put it perfectly:

“The Blue Jackets, who despite their record and lack of talent are still a team of professional athletes with a lot of pride, were more determined to show that they didn’t like being embarrassed by Detroit on Monday night than the Wings were to repeat their performance.”

Exactly. That’s a trap the Wings fall into a lot. They may well have it together enough going forward to take care of business in the medium to long term, but this was a trap game for them.

Stuart: Doesn’t help when the guy you generally rely on to be the second-most steady defenseman on the team has an awful night. Stuart’s been awful lately and the timing of it coincides with the virtual confirmation that he’s not returning. I doubt it’s anything on purpose, but the guy might be a tad distracted. And it’s bleeding into his work.

Conklin: Let me preface what I’m about to say with this: I will grant that Stuart & Co. did Ty no favors last night. However, I’m embarrassed that I ever thought he might have found his game in the AHL. He looks like a goalie that’s lucky to make a save again. Again, he was hung out to dry, but on at least a couple of those, an NHL goalie has to make the save.

Conklin gets to start against Nashville. Sleep well tonight. (before this went to press, the news broke that Jordan Pearce was sent back to Grand Rapids. Which presumably means Jimmy Howard will be backing up tomorrow. Even if Conklin gets torched, I doubt we see Jimmy on the ice.)

The Road: The Wings need to avoid it at all costs. Which makes taking fourth place all the more crucial. Too bad they hurt their chances of taking it by failing to go up three points on Nashville. Fortunately, there’s just the one road game left.

But this issue is by far the biggest worry heading into the playoffs. Something for the coaching staff to correct, if they can.

Power Play: At least they’ve got that moving along. That’s a start.

Nyquist: Criminally underused in this game. 5:19 of ice time, all even strength. Two shifts in the third period. I get that it was a losing effort and that the received wisdom is to lean on more experience guys in those instances. And if Nyquist were a particularly green rookie, I’d be fine with that. However, he plays older than his years and there’s at least a decent argument to be made that he would have been much more of a help than a hindrance.

I get the idea behind switching in Franzen for Nyquist on the Datsyuk line, but it’s the kind of thing that works on paper rather than in reality. I stand by my theory that a Franzen-Datsyuk-Nyquist line would have been better. But I’m not the coach.

And though I’m also not the GM, I do say Nyquist should be sent down if he’s only going to get 5:00 a night. He would be better served playing top line minutes in the AHL than sitting on the bench so much here. I guess we’ll see what the plan is for tomorrow night.

Zetterberg: Continues to be the best guy in Red and White.

Filppula: Nearly had his head taken off by a Jack Johnson cross-check in the first period that went uncalled. And apparently unnoticed by the League.

The Race: The Predators’ inactivity meant the Wings maintained their lead in the Division. But they have to win tomorrow night against the Preds to keep that lead.

Wings 7, Blue Jackets 2

That Was Fun: A 7-goal outburst by the Wings is surefire fun, but this one was particularly so. You had sweet passing, Nyquist’s first goal, goalie demoralization and all around Big Red Machine dominance. It was awesome.

Nyquist: My favorite thing about the Nyquist goal is that he wasn’t fazed by Datsyuk’s set-up. This kid gets it. Which makes today’s practice news sad.

Here’s hoping there’s some rethinking of the lineup for tomorrow, with Babcock finding a way to keep Nyquist and Datsyuk together. I bet those two could get Johan Franzen going out of the gate. Sorry Todd.

Zetterberg: What an incredible game he had. All four of his assists were great and all four demonstrated his vision of the ice, which was stellar. It’s nights like that where you start to both understand the doubters and get angrier about them.

Holmstrom: Nearly got us fries with two goals coming on actual shots of the puck that he initiated. It’s strange, because I’ve seen some grumbling about his play lately (and done some myself) and then he whips this game out. Obviously, Zetterberg had a lot to do with it, but Homer still has value. If only on the power play.

Power Play: Speaking of that. Two power play goals. That has the Wings’ PP humming along at 25% over the last four games. It doesn’t make up for their other PP work over the year, but it’s nice to see them clicking more frequently now.

Conklin: Couldn’t hold on for the shutout. Of course, the first goal was a defensive breakdown. But the second was all him. Still digging for his game. Unless this is his game. Which is probably true.

Negativity: There’s not much in this game. But I have to point out that when they let off the offensive gas, it did not come with a corresponding tightening of the defensive holes. It’s fine that they didn’t gun all night, but I could stand to see a little more focus on the defensive side in the latter stages of the game.

They tightened up after the Jackets scored, but they’d already gotten through. With that kind of lead, it made no difference at all, so it’s nitpicking. But if they’re going to put on an offensive clinic, why not put on a defensive one too?

The Race: The two points put them one up on the Predators again. Nashville is in St. Louis tonight for a game you wish could end undecided. The Wings just need to take care of business again tomorrow and go into the game Friday ready to create some more separation. That much is in their hands.

Game Day Notes: vs. Columbus

… This is the fifth of six games between the Wings and Jackets this season. The series stands at 3-1-0 in Detroit’s favor. The final meeting with Columbus will come on Wednesday.

… The Jackets are coming off a 6-3 loss to the Oilers yesterday and will now finish the season as the worst team in the League, no matter what they do. They’re 24-44-7, with 55 points.

… They do have this positive to carry into the game: they beat the Hurricanes 5-1 the other night and severely crippled that team’s playoff hopes. They have another chance to play spoiler this week if they can disrupt the Wings’ hopes to maintain their position in the standings.

… However, the loss yesterday was not at all uplifting: they had a 1-0 and then a 2-1 lead, before giving up four straight goals in the second period. So that was ugly. They got within 5-3, but then gave up an ENG to seal the deal.

… They’ll be without Derek McKenzie, Curtis Sanford, Fedor Tyutin, James Wisniewski, Mark Methot, Radek Martinek and Kristian Huselius. So a lot of guys.

… Steve Mason should be the starter. He was yanked yesterday after giving up five second-period goals. But he’s been playing better lately, winning nine of fifteen.

… The Wings cut short a six-game winless skid Saturday night with a 5-4 win over Carolina.

… The win kept them in fourth place, but they’ve since fallen to fifth thanks to the Predators’ emphatic win over Chicago last night. They’re now a point back of the Preds with 7 games left and a game in hand.

… Bill Roose points out that the Wings can secure a playoff spot with a win tonight. They can also do it if they get a point and the Kings and Sharks lose in regulation.

… The lineup will be the same as Saturday.

… Jonathan Ericsson is close, as is Franzen.

… Ty Conklin will start again, with Jordan Pearce backing up. Jimmy Howard is looking at a Friday return.

… The Wings got back in the saddle Saturday night and need to maintain their seat in this one, despite the Jackets’ potential for playing spoiler as a team with nothing to lose.

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.