Posts tagged “Blues”

Wings 0, Blues 6

Okay, Get It Out of Your System: It’s only the first game of the season, but it was pretty terrible. It’s far too early to panic, but color me concerned. In a season this short, they can’t afford not to show up every night. They need to move onward and upward from this or it will be a long season despite being a short one.

Life After Lidstrom: Okay, so it wasn’t responsible for everything that went wrong last night. But let’s not kid ourselves, either: it played a role. There were a few cracks about Lidstrom finally winning a Hart Trophy and voters apologizing for ever depriving him of the Norris and for good reason. The Wings need to find their way without him, but last night, they looked completely lost.

Kronwall: The guy you most expect (and need) to step up, didn’t. Two penalties brought on by failure to do his job…not encouraging.

Quincey: Before the game, FSD played footage of Quincey saying that while he was away, he wanted to prove he belonged on this team. Well, he didn’t last night, unless this team is going to be terrible. In which case, he showed he’d fit right in.

But because I’m hoping that’s not the case, I’m also going to hope that his complete inability to defend an unknown quantity like Vladimir Tarasenko boils down to a lack of time to prepare due to the rushed start to the season.

The Defense In General: Was terrible. Quincey stood out in a specific way and Kronwall failed to show the leadership the unit needs from him, but it wasn’t just them. And it extended to the rest of the team’s own-zone play. It of course remains to be seen whether the system will take off from here, with a little more practice, but this wasn’t a good start.

Jimmy: The best player on the ice, but that wasn’t saying much. He wasn’t great, even accounting for the fact that he was hung out to dry all night.

Eurotwins: Zero shots. Unacceptable.

Brunner: Had three shots, but still adjusting to the rink size. Understandable.

The Offense: Didn’t crack double digits in shots until the third period and only reached 14 in the end. They had 44 shots in even their 10-3 drubbing at the hands of the Blues two years ago and that game was a real low point. I’m not saying 44 shots as ineffective as those two years ago would have been great, but this offense should be able to generate more than 14 against even a team as defensively systematic as the Blues.

Forwards on the Power Play: I guess Tom Renney has inherited Mike Babcock’s predilection with forwards on the power play. I think Brunner’s going to be an asset when he adjusts to the rink size, but those adjustments probably aren’t going to add weight to his shot. When he did get set up for a blueline blast, it was always more of a blueline bloop.

And he wasn’t very good when circumstances dictated he play a more defensive role back there. But I’ll mark that down to the aforementioned rink adjustment process.

Samuelsson got some time back there too, with predictable results.

David Backes: Played like a wrecking ball and demolished Mursak into the bench boards (taking him out of the game with a shoulder injury). The Wings’ wrecking ball, Jordin Tootoo, got a 10 minute misconduct for missing a hit. A new era.

Next: The Wings head to Columbus for a chance to redeem this performance. The Jackets are already off to a better start, with a win over Nashville under their belt. With Nash no longer with the team, the Wings should be in good shape, right?

Wings 3, Blues 2 (OT)

Now That Is a Road Game: My knee-jerk reaction is that this may have been the best Wings road game of the year. You might not think that from the score, but watching them, I’m not sure we’ve seen them play that hard on the road yet. I’m not sure what it means yet, though. Have they turned a new leaf? Or was this a one-off thing?

Jimmy: Looked locked in again, which is a level he hasn’t quite reached yet since getting back from his injury.

The Blues: Are relentless in their puck pursuit. They play with ridiculous energy and were all over the Wings’ puck carriers all night. That made it a very close game and made things a little too exciting at various points. I would hate to face them in the playoffs.

Nyquist: Didn’t last long on the Datsyuk line. Though to be fair to Babcock, the Bertuzzi change worked out with Franzen getting two goals from Pavel. Bertuzzi’s size arguably played a role in one of them, so whatever. Still like Nyquist with Franzen and Datsyuk.

Kindl: Awful, awful game. Wouldn’t shock me if he gets another chance at some point, but it also wouldn’t shock me if we don’t see him until September.

Ericsson: The heads to Kindl’s tails. He’s looking much better suddenly, which is awesome.

Franzen: Looked energized by his goals and nearly made it a hat trick. Can’t get too excited yet, because he’s so streaky, but I’m tentatively hopeful he’s breaking out.

Stuart: Scary moment in the third when he was belted from behind by Reaves and hit his head on the glass. I thought the punishment during the game was appropriate, though the replay wasn’t quite as nasty as it seemed. Still, an unnecessary hit. And a stupid one.

Power Play: The power play had a couple great moments, but the one we’ll all remember is it blowing the major penalty after the hit on Stuart. That was not good. The single biggest negative from this otherwise strong game. They can’t squander that opportunity. And it should be more dangerous for their opponents than for themselves when they have the man-advantage. This shorthanded goal bull has to stop.

The Race: They pulled ahead of the Predators again and need to keep winning. That’s it.

Tonight: They play another playoff team, the Devils. They’ve won four straight. The Wings need the same effort they brought last night.

Game Day Notes: @ St. Louis

… This is the final game between the Wings and Blues this regular season. The Wings lead the series 3-2-0, with each win coming in the last three meetings.

… When we last saw the Blues, the Wings were in first place in the League, one point up on St. Louis. Now, the Blues are on top of the Central, though they’re three points out of the League lead with three games remaining.

… They’re 2-2-2 in their last six with a pair of a pair of losses sandwiching a pair of wins. They earned a point last Thursday in Chicago, but blew it at home against the Blue Jackets on Saturday. Their last win came against Nashville last Tuesday.

… They clinched the Central Division title on Saturday during that loss. But they lost the West lead that night as well.

… Interestingly, they took 12 minors that night, which is triple their average minors per game (though only double their average PIM/G). How they do in that department tonight will be interesting.

… That was also the first night in “160 games” where they had a completely healthy roster.

… Good point by the St. Louis beat writer: with a full roster, spots in the lineup have to be earned. Which should in theory result in Blues playing even harder than they already have been under Hitchcock. Should be fun.

… Brian Elliott is the starter for the Blues. He’s been extremely good this season and lately in particular: no regulation goals allowed in three starts.

… The Wings fell out of fourth place last night with the Predators’ win over the Wild, but can take it back with a win over St. Louis.

… They’re coming off a shootout win over Florida on Saturday. That game followed up a pair of losses: first to Columbus on Wednesday and then to Nashville on Friday.

… They’re not quite healthy, with Darren Helm still out, Joey MacDonald still unknown and Patrick Eaves shut down.

… They’ll be without Kyle Quincey tonight while he serves his one-game suspension for a stupid hit on Tomas Kopecky Sunday. He might have sat out anyway.

… Ian White will be back in the lineup, but he won’t be with Nick Lidstrom. Jonathan Ericsson’s continuing at Nick’s side on the top pairing.

… It looks like Gustav Nyquist will remain with Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen.

… Jimmy Howard will get the start.

… The Wings are in a position where they need to win out to ensure they get fourth place. They’ve got a steep hill to climb with the Blues, but they’ve won their last three games against them and should have what it takes to make it four straight.

Wings 3, Blues 1

Stewart/Stuart: Okay, after my earlier downer of a Stuart post, I’ve got to lead with this. Also because it’s the pivotal sequence of the game.

The video starts with Stewart jumping Stuart. More on that in a second. The kickoff point for all of this is Stuart owning Pietrangelo about here in the video. That, boys and girls, is a clean hit. And a catalyst-style one, a probable bit of lighter fluid on the flickering flame the Wings had going at that point. What follows is Chris Stewart pouring jet fuel on top of that.

This is the best replay of the first leg of Stewart’s trip to the box. He starts from the bench and makes a beeline for Stuart all the way across the ice. According to the play-by-play, he reaches Stuart about 29 seconds after the hit that has him forgetting all about hockey.

For his trouble, he got a 10 minute misconduct, an instigator and a fighting major. Stuart got off with a major. And the Wings scored on that instigator power play to tie the game in the first minute of the second period on the carry-over. By the time the official directed Stewart to the box, the game had already changed.

All because of Stuart’s hit and Stewart’s immaturity.

Backing Up A Bit: The Blues came out of the gate looking more prepared. They buzzed early and it wasn’t much of a surprise that they opened the scoring. The Wings looked a bit out of it or taken aback by the Blues’ energy. Thankfully, Chris Stewart was around to change that. The Wings responded much more in line with their usual way of dealing with thuggery and though the remainder of the game wasn’t all Wings, it went from being this kind of game to a much more likely win.

Jimmy: Notched his belt’s “win” row for the 30th time this season and earned another notch for the “scrappy goalie” section. He only faced 22 shots, but looked sharp and held the course he’s set for this season. At the end of the game, he went berserk when a Blue bumped him, which led to this conflagration.

It was awesome, but I hope guys around the League don’t see that and decide to test Jimmy’s toughness by running him harder than ever. A scrappy goalie won’t do much good if some donkey in the League decides to pick up the gauntlet he lays down every time he attacks skaters.

That said, it made this happen.

NBC: I can’t go any longer in this post without mentioning the abject fail that was the NBC Sports Network broadcast. I already posted on this last night, but it bears repeating: it was amateur hour. And a serious embarrassment for the network the League has entrusted with the privilege of conveying the great game of hockey to the masses.

The League has a pretty sweet deal getting NBC mostly to itself, but the deal starts to feel less sweet when that network can’t even get the names of 20-year super stars right, quite apart from misspelling Abdelkader’s name or blowing off the lineup card. It’s one thing to present a skewed view of a game or something, but to publish such black-and-white errors is pretty ridiculous.

You misspell Nicklas Lidstrom’s name in two different ways, you hang your head in shame.

Monday Nights With Babcock: Babs opted to live out the dream of no doubt every coach who’s ever been bench-interviewed last night. This clip of him talking to Pierre McGuire is classic Babcock. He politely answers Pierre’s question in such a way that prevents further input from Pierre and firmly shuts him down on the possibility of a followup. A classy way of saying, “get out of my face.”

I missed that live since we had the game on FSD+, but it would have been worth it to watch on NBC Sports just for that.

Power Play Giant: Has it been awakened? Between the Wings’ shaming Chris Stewart and capitalizing on Carlo Colaiacovo’s stupidity, I’m starting to wonder. We’ll see what it looks like going forward.

Flashback: Watching the Blues unravel as the game went on reminded me of their Quenneville-coached days, where they’d so often just goon it up if they were behind later in the game. I’m a bit surprised Hitchcock allowed that. I wonder if that gets addressed.

The Points: The Wings ensured the best possible outcome for themselves, getting two points in regulation over a Blues team that’s not going to go away just because they were beaten on January 23rd. The Wings are in first place in the Central by 3 points, but need to continue their strong work in order to hold that lead. They’ve won  17 straight at home, where they don’t return for five games, and need to find a way to convert 7 consecutive wins into 8+ despite that. Not to mention the All Star Break is this weekend and could have a momentum-stalling effect.

The job’s not done. Keep at it.

Game Day Notes: vs. St. Louis

… This is the fifth, and so far most important, meeting between the Wings and the Blues. So far, the series is tied at 2-2-0, with the Blues winning the first two and the Wings taking the second pair. The series finale isn’t until April 4th in St. Louis, and if the current course holds, it’ll be huge.

… Since we last saw the Blues, on December 31st, they’ve been nearly unbeatable, going 8-0-1. Their only loss in that span came to the Canucks on the 12th. Since then, they’ve won four in a row.

… That’s improved their record to 29-12-6, which is good for second in the Central at 64 points.

… Under Ken Hitchcock, the Blues are 23-5-6, which is pretty impressive for a team that was 6-7-0 when he stepped on the bench for the first time.

… Win #23 for Hitch came Saturday at home against the Sabres with a 4-2 score.

… One possible edge for the Wings tonight is the fact that the Blues play at home tomorrow against Pittsburgh. If they get caught looking ahead at all, there’s an opening.

… The Blues and David Backes dodged a bullet Saturday night when Backes went heavily into the boards and had to leave the game for a bit. Backes leads the team in points and goals with 37 and 16, respectively.

… St. Louis is 17th in goals/game at 2.55, but pretty solidly in first place in goals allowed/game at 1.94, having allowed just 96 goals all season. Hitchcock has them playing pretty tight, and their goaltending stable’s done a lot to help as well.

They’ll be short Alex Steen, Andy McDonald, and Kent Huskins tonight.

… Jaroslav Halak will be in net. He hasn’t been quite as good as Brian Elliot this year, but still has a 2.00 GAA and a .920 save-percentage on top of a 14-7-5 record. Update: I should note three of his last five starts have been shutouts. - Matt

… The Wings are coming off a shootout win over the Blue Jackets, which was their sixth win in a row and their 16th consecutive at home.

… They’re currently in first place in the League and have a good opportunity to solidify their position a bit with a win tonight.

… It looks like they’ll be using the same lineup they used against the Jackets, though Babcock has reserved the right to change his mind during warmups. If he sticks with it, it’ll mean Mike Commodore instead of Jakub Kindl and Cory Emmerton instead of Jan Mursak.

… Jimmy Howard will be in net and looking for win #30 of the season.

… This game is huge, obviously. Points won here could make all the difference in April. The Blues may not be able to keep up the pace, but the Wings are on a streak that’s not going to last forever either. The important thing is to take advantage of opportunities like this and for them to position themselves in the best possible way going forward.

The last thing anybody wants is to miss out on the Central title and a guaranteed third-or-better seed because of a blown January game. Given the tightness of this race, that’s entirely possible.

Win this one in regulation.

Wings 2, Blues 3

Since my day is meeting-full, this’ll be brief:

The Blues: … own the Wings so far this season. Two of their least-inspiring losses of the year have come against those punks. I hope it’s not becoming a trend.

Jimmy: Not a game he’ll want to highlight on his resume. One of those nights where the Wings leaned on him and he figuratively collapsed under the weight. He’s entitled to these games every once and a while. It’s just too bad it came on a night where the Wings’ offense was so anemic.

Franzen: I want to see him make that move to the net every night. The perfect Franzen play is Johanian nonchalant coasting along the boards followed hard by a sudden firing of all 8  cylinders in an unstoppable drive to the net, punctuated by a sick short-range sniper shot to the top shelf. There’s no reason he can’t do that at least once a night and score on half of them.

Ericsson: Two Blues goals in one of his shifts. That’s special even for him. Notable about the second was Jimmy’s apparent lack of trust in Jonny’s ability to take away the shot, leaving some space to his right for Berglund to put the puck in. I wonder if Jimmy thinks Jonny’s worth $3 million.

Elliot: Think of the most stereotypical image of a fainting 19th-century woman and you have the act Brian Elliot pulled when slightly bumped by Abdelkader last night. Justin got a charging for that, which just proves Elliot should win an Oscar. No one’s action has resulted in more complete suspension of referee disbelief.

Jimmy, on the other hand, got trucked later in the game by Perron and didn’t waste time laying on the ice. He went after Perron, which is how it should be done.

Miller: Got jobbed by a Blues stick catching Arnott up high, resulting in a high-sticking penalty for the grey-haired dude. Unbelievable. Between that and the Elliot dive, I’m wondering what the refs had in their eyes last night. Because it sure wasn’t the photons bouncing off those events.

Boring: This game was mind-numbingly so at times. Between Matt Shepard’s valiant-but-vain attempts at calling the game in an entertaining way, the Blues stifling style and the Wings’ unwillingness to break it open, it was hard to focus on what was or was not happening on the ice. Shepard also struggled with some names, which broke through some of the fog, I guess.

Next: The Coyotes on Thursday. Shane Doan’s recklessness always makes things interesting.

Game Day: @ St. Louis

… This is the second of six meetings between the Wings and their future Conference B and current Central Division (baby) brothers in St. Louis. The Blues won the first meeting 2-1 last month.

… The Blues are 8-2-3 under Ken Hitchcock, who has turned their 6-7-0 start into third place in the Central and 31 points. Not bad.

… They’ve lost their last two, though they earned a point going to OT and a shootout against Colorado on Friday. They played again on Saturday and lost to Chicago 5-2. Prior to that pair of losses, they’d won four straight. They’ll obviously be keen on getting back to that tonight.

… The St. Louis Dispatch points out that the Blues have had some trouble scoring goals. Their G/G of 2.42 is good for 22nd in the League. The Wings are up at 9th with 2.96.

They’re without Kent Huskins, Andy MacDonald and BJ Crombeen. Carlo Colaiacovo’s supposed to be back tonight.

… Brian Elliot will be in net for the Blues. He leads the league in SV% (.954) and GAA (1.53).

… The Wings lose their first in 7 on Sunday, dropping a game 4-2 in Colorado.

… They’re still chasing Chicago and their 36 points in the Central with 33.

… Another game, another injury: Valtteri Filppula will miss tonight’s game with a cut to his shin suffered Sunday. Cory Emmerton will be in.

… Patrick Eaves and Jan Mursak are still out, of course.

… Jimmy Howard will be in net again after Ty Conklin squandered another start. Here’s hoping the Wings don’t have to run Jimmy into the ground. Get it together, Ty.

… I missed most of the game Sunday, but the little I did see was of a Red Wings team that was pretty flat. They need to be much better than that tonight, even with their Jimmy-crutch back in the lineup. The Blues under Hitchcock are not a team to be taken lightly, which is what they did last time we saw St. Louis. I would like to see a return to the 7-streak form.