Posts tagged “Canucks”

Wings 3, Canucks 4 (SO)

The Streak Ends: At 23. It was a great ride, for sure. It’s sad to see it end, particularly in such an underwhelming fashion, but I’m proud I got to see them take it as far as they did. Where do they go from here? Onward and upward, I hope.

The First Period: I guess the eventual outcome should have been obvious from the way the Wings started the game. Sure, they got the first goal, but they had little else to do with the period. The Canucks outshot them 17-5 and this was not one of those times where you can say the stats don’t tell the full story. This time, they do. Jimmy Howard was forced to make a number of big saves to keep the Wings in it while they were busy handing ice to the Canucks.

The Second Period: They were more lively in the second period, turning the shot total around, but this was mostly one of those situations where the shot total is misleading. I wouldn’t award the Wings the edge the shot total indicates they had. Play was more evenly  matched, but the Wings were still not close to their best.

The Third Period and Beyond: The Wings had it looking like they’d steal one from the Canucks here. But they didn’t secure the theft: a combination of a bad Bertuzzi clear that turned into a weak icing call and a lame Franzen shot block attempt led to the Canucks tying it up with 16 seconds left.

In OT, the Canucks were mostly in control. Then the shootout was a dud. None of the shooters gave Jimmy even the slightest margin of error. A disappointing end to the streak.

Jimmy: Again, doesn’t look like he’s missed a beat at all, which is awesome. I was expecting him to be somewhat human and come back with some rust, but either he’s just innately that good or the extra practice time Joey MacDonald bought him helped. Probably some combination of both. We’re lucky to have this guy.

Miller: Continues to have a great stretch. The third line was the Wings’ best in terms of energy and Miller was at the center of that most shifts.

Helm: I tend to think he intentionally faked a pass look and shot on purpose, though I’m not sure he got the shot off he wanted. But it worked. His preferred shot probably ends up in Luongo’s chest or something.

Quincey:

Exactly. He showed more than a few flashes of why he could become a key piece of the blueline, but he’s on a whole new team for him at this point in his career. He’ll adjust. And take fewer penalties in a game. It was good to see him score.

Bertuzzi: Continues to be in his Tawd rut. I would have thought the contract being finalized would have inspired him, but it didn’t. He needs to get out of this funk or I will start to be less than fine with the deal.

Franzen: Somebody change all the calendars in his life to March or April, please. If you Google “going through the motions,” you should probably be asked “Did you mean Johan Franzen?”.

Power Play:

The Race: The Blues, of course, won last night in Nashville, so they’re now back 4. The Wings getting the loser point preserved their lead in the West over Vancouver, so that’s good.

Next: The Wings get a chance at reigniting a home streak against Kyle Quincey’s old team. It’s almost disappointing the game isn’t in Denver. I’m curious how he’d be received.

Game Day Notes: vs. Vancouver

Briefly:

… This is the fourth and final meeting between the Wings and Canucks this season. The series stands at 2-1-0 in the Wings’ favor. They bookended their wins first and third in the series and gave up the middle one to the Canucks.

The last meeting was notable for being the game in which Jimmy Howard was injured.

… Since we saw them last, the Canucks have gone 7-1-1, going on three and four game streaks in that span. A shootout loss to the Flames broke things up, and their most recent game was a 3-1 loss to the Predators on Tuesday.

… The Canucks are two points back of the Wings in the race for the West and League leads. They’re also the League’s best road team at 20-10-2. Megan pointed out to me how evenly matched they are with the Wings in a few categories (Wings/Canucks): 191/195 GF, 141/147 GA, 7-2-1/7-1-2 L10. Between that and the two teams’ home/road records, this is sort of the proverbial irresistable force meeting an unmoveable object.

… George has a more complete set up here and here.

… The Canucks will be without Andew Ebbett, Keith Ballard and Byron Bitz, as well as Aaron Volpatti, from the game notes.

… Roberto Luongo gets the start for Vancouver.

… The Wings will be looking to rebound from a failed attempt at a road win Tuesday night in Chicago. One of their less inspiring efforts of the season. They’ll have the opportunity to make it 24 consecutive wins at home if they take this one.

… The big lineup news is Kyle Quincey will be making his return debut, next to Jonathan Ericsson. That makes Jakub Kindl the odd man out. Quincey will be on the power play with Ian White.

… Jimmy Howard is in net tonight, obviously.

… The Wings benefit from the Blues losing last night and have a chance to extend their lead to 7 points with a win here. The Canucks are a stiff challenge with Datsyuk out recovering from his knee surgery, but the Wings still have the personnel to get the job done.

Wings 4, Canucks 3 (SO)

First Off: The big story, which is the Howard injury that no one knew about until this morning. I’ve kept this post updated, so that’s where the latest is. Basically, it’s not as bad as the initial fears projected. Which is great.

But I’m not going to apologize for that reaction and I don’t think anyone should. Jimmy Howard is that important to this team and we all know that. Hence the visceral, overwrought reaction. Anything less than a freakout would have been disappointing. The prospect of a Howard-less team is that horrifying.

Anyway: The game. The Wings dominated statistically and in the scoring chance department, but the margin was much closer in the finishing department. They had, what was it, 5, solo opportunities that were blown thanks to a combination of a sharp Roberto Luongo and bad puck luck/cement hands. On a just night, the Wings win it by a few in regulation. But the Canucks hung in there despite managing just 11 shots through two.

The Canucks: I can see why the rivalry between the Canucks and Blackhawks is so heated. A playoff series between the Wings and this Canucks squad would stoke the fires of hatred to white dwarf levels. Seriously. Those guys are incredibly hateable due to all their stupid antics. Add in their ridiculously expressive and entitled* crowd and you have a recipe for an all-out hate fest.

Zetterberg/Kesler: If we played the Canucks any more than we do, I have to say the battle between those two would be known League-wide. They were chopping at each other all night, and it wasn’t all sweetness and light on Z’s side. Many more encounters and maybe one of them does something he regrets.

Watching it was the final nail in the coffin containing any positive thoughts I ever had for Ryan Kesler. American or not, back off the Bearded Swede, jackass.

Kronwall: I didn’t notice any particularly nasty encounter involving Nik, but the general thrust of the Canucks’ play was petulant, over-large-and-dangerous child. I have to assume the hit had something to do with that.

I guess the Kesler slash at the end of the first would count as a nasty encounter in some books. But it was no worse than that.

Cleary: Sweet goal. More of that, please.

Hudler: Dude’s on fire. I love it.

Miller: Coughed up the puck to set up the Burrows goal and then scored on what must have been his next shift to make it all better.

UnPower Play: The Wings were handed four power plays by the Canucks and took advantage of exactly zero of them. That’s unacceptable. And this is dead-on. I remain far more concerned with the Wings’ inability to make teams pay through special teams than I am with their weakness on the toughness front.

Which Brings Me To: The fights. I assume Lapierre started it with Abdelkader. I just wish Justin had skated away. The fight came right after a Red Wings goal and could have negated the momentum swing. It turned out okay in the end, but Abs has to be smarter than that.

As for the Bertuzzi match, it was underwhelming. But this is a great picture.

The Points: I would have rather the Wings won this one in regulation and in a more emphatic fashion, but they got another win on the road and got two points, which is the important thing. Even better, they did it on the night both Chicago  (to Sam Gagner) and Nashville (to Philly) lost.

They’ve now got six points on St. Louis and Chicago, and five on Nashville. That’s a buffer that will be key with Jimmy out at least two games. They’ve done a great job positioning themselves at the front of the pack in the race. They just need to keep going.

*Shut up. It’s not the same.

Game Day Notes: @ Vancouver

Update (3:56 PM): There’s some discussion on Twitter about the Commodore/Kindl decision, with the question being why the more physical Commodore’s sitting in a game where revenge could  be an issue.

That’s the question asked of Helene St. James, who makes a really good point in response:

I hadn’t thought of that. But it makes sense in the context of the Wings’ longstanding preference for skill over rough stuff: a kid who can in theory aid in the puck movement game is more valuable in this situation than a guy who’s tougher, but not as skilled. And let’s face it: Commodore’s not a great fighter if it were to come to that.

So better that the Wings load up on the puck possession side and attempt to outdo the Canucks that way.

This Babcock guy, he knows what he’s doing. - Matt

Update (3:00 PM): I was half-right:

- Matt

… This is the third of four meetings between the Wings and Canucks this season. The series is tied 1-1-0, with the Wings winning the first game and the Canucks taking the second last month.

… The Canucks finished January 7-2-2 and won their last three of the month. Their losses came against San Jose (SO), Florida, Anaheim and LA (SO), but they beat Minnesota, Boston, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, the Sharks in a second meeting, the Oilers and the Blackhawks.

… That win over the Blackhawks came Tuesday night in overtime. Apparently, they couldn’t make it happen in regulation.

… And that win gave them 66 points, which is good for second in the West, and put them at 31-15-1 overall.

… Their home/away records are fairly balanced: 15-6-3 at home and 16-9-1 on the road.

As George points out, the skate won’t be until later today, so the game day source notage via the media is limited. But you can be sure he’s right about the primary storyline for this game being the Kronwall hit from last time.

… So, this may be the game the Canucks set aside their interest in emulating Detroit … so they can beat up Detroit. Or try to.

… Roberto Luongo gets the nod for the Canucks. They rested him especially for this game. I now find it entertaining that Babcock didn’t think it necessary to rest Howard for this one. Sort of a “he’s Jimmy Howard. He’s got it.” thing.

… The Wings are coming off a 3-1 win over the Flames on Tuesday. It was a bit of a casual re-entry into the swing of things, so in theory, they should be ready to get down to real business tonight.

… We should see the return of Tomas Holmstrom to the lineup now that his knee swelling has gone down. Emmerton scoring a goal probably means he’ll stay in the lineup at Mursak’s expense.

… And Commodore’s probably in, thanks to the winning lineup rule.

… Jimmy Howard got yesterday off, but will start this one.

… If the Canucks are stupid enough to get distracted by the Kronwall hit, the Wings’d better be on their toes from a power play perspective. Let the Canucks run around as long. The Wings just need to keep their heads up to avoid the worst and put the puck in the net to accomplish what matters in a hockey game. They’ve got a divisional race on the line and that’s more important than being dragged down to the Canucks’ level, should things go that route.

The Blackhawks (@ Edmonton) and Predators (@ Philadelphia) are active tonight. The lead is safe whatever happens, but that’s no reason for the Wings not to do their part by winning.

Keep running.

Wings 2, Canucks 4

First Off: Couple things need to be gotten out of the way.

Kronwall: This should have been a charging penalty. Kronwall clearly leaves his feet before making contact, which takes away the usual defense of his hits. Namely, his feet-leaving occurs as a means of powering through a hit already initiated. This time, he’s airborne by the time he and Kesler make contact. Fortunately for everyone involved, Kronwall somehow managed hit Kesler, uh, back-to-shoulder.

So it wasn’t a headshot. But Kronwall has no business leaving his feet before a hit. I’m glad he didn’t target Kesler’s head, but the method of this hit wasn’t cool.

And I’m glad he didn’t fight Kesler.

Hansen: This was total bull. Zetterberg was there, but actually had the sense to pull back rather than shove Hansen into Jimmy. Hansen still managed to plow into the net and run over the goaltender. Completely blown call and it cost the Wings a goal-against.

The Reaction: In the heat of the game, and apparently after it, there was much feeling that it would have been sweet if someone other than Jimmy had gotten pissed with Hansen for that and laid down some kind of law. And throughout the game, cries of regret for the Wings’ lack of toughness were ringing throughout the Twittersphere. Believe me, I was feeling it too. But as I said last night, it’s not going to happen.

What the Wings are missing is not some guy who can take care of business in a post-whistle scrum. They’re missing the killer instinct of their best iterations of the past decade or so that says, “oh, so you’re going to get physical with us, eh? Well, we’ll take that penalty, thank you very much, and make you pay in the only way that matters in this game: goals.” That’s been sufficient for this team for years, occasional bemoaning of the fact notwithstanding. Think of how the Wings dealt with the Flames in 2007: “okay, you go and do that. We’re going to go ahead and win this game. And the series.”

Ken Holland is not going to deal a player on this team for someone who can bring it to a scrum unless they’re going to entirely change the organizational philosophy. What that means is that we fans don’t get the physical catharsis many other fans at least get when their team doesn’t show up,  but when they do show up, we’ve got a team that does showing up better than just about anybody else. I’ll take that in the longrun, even if I sometimes wish for the other thing.

Anyway: Moving on.

Uninspired: I get that the Wings were victims of a scheduling quirk that had them flying from Edmonton to Vancouver and staring down a flight to Calgary after the game, but whether it was because they were caught looking ahead to tonight or because they were just tired from playing Monday, there’s not much excuse for how they came out in this one.  The Canucks were far more into the game from the start.

Kronwall Again: Go watch the Canucks’ first goal and keep an eye out for Kronwall’s backchecking. Note who scored the goal. Note who could have prevented that with a 15% effort level. Note who gave approximately 5%. Yeah.

Nik was not good last night. I’m much more confident in him leading the defense in the post-Lidas era, but nights like these are stark reminders of how big the fall-off is going to be. Nick’s had as many bad nights in 20 years as Nik’s had this season. I exaggerate only slightly.

Censorship: Speaking of Kronwall, this was funny/sad:

@AnsarKhanMLive: Howard has made some big stops to keep the Wings in this one. Kronwall not having a good night. (#)

@DetroitRedWings: RT @AnsarKahnMLive Howard has made some big stops to keep the Wings in this one. (#)

@onthewings: Nicely censored. RT @DetroitRedWings: RT @AnsarKahnMLive Howard has made some big stops to keep the Wings in this one. (#)

@AnsarKhanMLive: @onthewings @DetroitRedWings @AnsarKahnMLive Exactly. Why bother retweeting only part of the statement? (#)

The official account, not afraid to not ever, ever criticize. Yep.

Also notice that in the process of editing Khan’s tweet, they messed up his name. How’d that happen?

Cleary: Blew it on the Canucks’ second goal when White got caught standing up at the Vancouver blueline. Cleary was supposed to cover defensively, but he turned his back on the puck at center and wheeled back up ice, thinking the Wings had won the battle for the puck. Seconds later, Hodgson’s breaking in for his slap shot goal. Sharp.

Helm: The overhead view of the Burrows goal is depressing. As the Canucks develop the play into the Detroit end, Burrows takes a wide arc along the left wing with Helm shadowing him. Something shiny to the right distracted Helm, however, and Burrows was able to set up uncovered to take a Sedin pass that made it 3-1.

The Shift: The shift leading up to the Wings’ second goal was the highlight of the night for them. The third line really did some excellent work. I would love to see more of that tonight.

Miller: A lot of The Shift was Miller. He’s looking very, very good lately.

Next: If the Wings’ excuse last night was fatigue, tonight’s sure to be a blast. But let’s hope they find it within them to come out hard before the break and finish the trip with a pair of wins, maybe even one they earned with a full game’s worth of solid play.

Game Day Notes: @ Vancouver

First off, sorry for the absence here the past couple days. I was sicker than the proverbial dog Sunday night and spent a lot of Monday sleeping. I ended up asleep before the Edmonton game so I  missed that. But I’m better now!

… Anyway, this is the second of four meetings between the Wings and Canucks this season. The Wings won the first 2-0 on October 13th.

… The Canucks are 20-11-2, which is good for 42 points and second place in the Northwest. The Wild are three ahead of them.

… They’ve won a pair of games since going 0-1-1 in the two before that. Their most recent win came in the form of a 4-0 shutout over Minnesota, but their that single point game came in Columbus. I guess somebody has to lose to the Jackets this year, but I also think even beating a divisional rival doesn’t make up for it.

In between those games, they lose 4-3 to Columbus and beat Toronto 5-3. Backing the scope out a little further, the Canucks have won 7 of 10.

… George has your media breakdown/set-up  here. Highlights: the Vancouver Sun characterizing the Wings and Canucks as almost equals, except for those minor, pesky Stanley Cups. Let’s add to that the Wings’ 20 consecutive playoff appearances to Vancouver’s, uh, three.

… The Canucks are without Aaron Rome, Keith Ballard, David Booth and Aaron Volpatti.

… Roberto Luongo should be in tonight.

… The Wings have won two in a row, improving to 21-10-1 with their 3-2 win over Edmonton Monday night.

… There won’t be any lineup changes for the Wings tonight, says Ansar Khan.

… Jimmy will be in net again.

… From what I’ve read about Monday’s  game, it sounds like the Wings will want to have a better start and play with more intensity for longer tonight. The Canucks are fairly hot right now and are more than talented enough to be taken seriously in any situation, so anything less than the Wings’  best probably won’t end well.

Game Day: vs. Vancouver

Big pre-lunch-to-through-lunch meeting today so I won’t be able to fit in game day notes. And as I mentioned yesterday, I won’t be able to catch the game because we’re opting to go to a Griffins game tonight. So, maybe not the best timing for a down day or two in coverage with the Canucks in town, but it can’t be helped.

The Wings are up against it tonight with four forwards out, but at least they were able to recall Mursak because Osgood’s healthy enough to sit on a bench now. They need to focus on playing together as a team in this one and not on the hype surrounding the matchup (much of which is misplaced: if both teams were healthy, then we’d have something here, but as it is, not as much). It’ll be interesting to see, though, how a Wings team as depleted as it is does head to head with the Canucks at this stage of the season.

Let me know what you thought of the game, eh?