Posts tagged “Devils”

Wings 1, Devils 2

I don’t have a lot to say about this one. It really frustrated me.

A Continuation, Then Not So Much: For the first 10 minutes or so, the Red Wings team we saw on the ice was similar to the one we saw in St. Louis. They looked like a group invested in grabbing the bull by the horns and controlling their own destiny.

Then, at 10:13, the Devils scored. And this veteran team, with home ice on the line, went “oh.” They did tie it up in the second on a sweet play, but they were much more muted for the remainder of the night. The urgency wasn’t there. The team that went toe-to-toe with the definition of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts on Wednesday looked mostly average against a much lamer Devils squad Thursday.

Very disappointing.

Brodeur: Here’s where I give credit that’s due. Martin Brodeur still has something. And he showed it in the first period when the Wings were gunning to open the scoring. He got some help from the post, but looked good in addition to that.

Jimmy: Looked pretty good himself at the other end. The Wings did him no favors on the first goal or the second.

Datsyuk: Had the post stop a glorious chance in the first ten minutes that would have changed the complexion of the game entirely. He looked pretty good.

Fourth line: Got pinned a lot. Nyquist is wasted on that line. Can’t say that enough.

Hudler: Looked great on his pass to Holmstrom for the goal. Totally fooled Brodeur, who did look old on at least that one play. More of that no-look-equals-success stuff, Huds.

Footspeed: The Devils had it. The Wings, not so much. A Devil rush where the Wings were scrambling to catch up was a frequent occurrence.

The Race: It ends Saturday. All the Wings can do is take care of their end in the afternoon and hope the Avs can beat the Predators in regulation that night. Khan breaks down the full picture today so you can check that out.

Wings 3, Devils 1

Break Lead-in: This was far from the Wings’  best game of the season, but as far as games leading into a much-needed break go, it was solid. They looked sloppy and slow at points, but if you buy the fatigue storyline, as I do, that’s to be expected at this point. They clearly  need a break, and now they have one. They finished the pre-Break segment of the season with a win, which beats the crap out of finishing it with a loss, especially a loss to the Devils, even if the win wasn’t especially good.

Jimmy: A strong night, though I would have preferred he have a little more puck awareness on that Rolston goal. That said, how many times can you remember the ref whistling a play dead in that exact situation? It seems to me the refs often lose the puck in that kind of scrum. I think it was a lot of bad luck that he happened not to at that particular moment.

Fourth Line: I thought the Abdelkader unit, with Mursak and Emmerton, was the Wings’ best of the night. More often than not, if the Wings were getting pressure in the Devils’ zone, it seemed to be that line. Abdelkader especially was driving their success.

Helm: Not only scored a breakaway goal, but had a strong night in general. He looked good on the penalty kill and was a good source of energy for the Wings throughout the game. He had a bit of an injury scare in the first period when he took a shot off his foot, but he finished the night and seemed to be okay.

Kindl: Had a really good outing, I thought. His maturity and poise is impressive. He’s not perfect, but he makes some neat plays on offense fairly regularly and isn’t too bad defensively. He’s definitely looking better than Ericsson, in my book.

Hudler: Great pass to Fil on the Wings’ second goal. We’re going to need more of that from you, Jiri.

Franzen: I’m still not feeling him this season. I get the knee surgery excuse, but it’s about time for him to break out and scoring a goal last night felt no different than his others. Less a roll starter and more an isolated incident. He had his chances last night, but is still lacking the killer instinct that has marked his best spans. I hope he’s ready to go down the stretch, because he needs to bring more.

PP: So much for capitalizing on Colin White being out. The failed long PP in the third was incredibly disappointing. Sure, the pressure was there, but you’ve got to convert in those situations. There’s just no excuse.

Eaves: Scary moment when he was down at center and I wasn’t sure what happened. He seems to be okay, though, despite taking a stick chop to the face.

Break: Again, the Wings need this. And they need to come out of the gates next month firing on all cylinders. Get the Big Red Machine up and running and drive it hard. The guys who are in need of rest will get it, and the guys who’ve been out with injuries will be coming back, and there will be no more excuses. This team has played its way to 2nd place in the Conference while never quite hitting its full potential for any extended length of time. February needs to be when the defense clamps down, the offense becomes more potent, and the goaltending finds consistency.

If this team can rack up 66 points by this point, imagine how great they can be down the stretch if they find their A-game and stay on it.

Game Day Notes: vs. New Jersey

… This is the second and last game between these two teams this season. The Wings won the first meeting 4-1 in December.

… The Devils weren’t in great shape when we saw them last and while they’re not doing a ton better from a standings perspective, they  have had a better January than they seemed poised to  have. They’ve won their last four en route to a 6-4-1 record, already  their best month of the season. (2-11-0 in December, 5-6-1 in  November, and  3-8-1 in October). They’re even closing in on the Islanders, with 35 points to their 37. But they’ve got a 20 point deficit to make up on #8 Atlanta, so it’s probably smart that Lemaire isn’t thinking of the playoffs.

… This is kind of cheap, but I’m going to do it anyway: Kovalchuk  has 14 goals. That’s $476,190.50 per goal. Patrick Eaves has 13 goals, for $57,692.31 per goal.

Now, to be fair to Kovalchuk, he has a lot more assists (15) than Eaves (4). Because Ilya Kovalchuk was signed by the Devils for his ability to notch assists.

Oh, and Eaves has played in 7 fewer games.

But to be fair to the Devils, I will point out that Z’s 16 goals are good for $380,208.31. But his 52 points and plus-6 rating make up for that. Kovalchuk is minus-27.

… Anyway.

… The Devils are coming off a 5-2 win over the Panthers on Sunday. They won that one without Colin White, their top penalty-killing defenseman, by SH TOI. White was out due to a bruise and will also miss tonight. The injury doesn’t sound serious, but it might put a dent in the Devils’ surge should it go beyond the All Star Break. As for tonight, it should give the Wings something of a leg-up on the PP. Florida’s dead-last PP couldn’t take advantage of it, but the Wings’ #5 PP should be able to, in theory.

… New Jersey beat writer Tom Gulitti has the details on the Devils’ lines and pairings from today’s skate here and here. One of Palmieri and Zharkov will sit.

… Gullitti reports that Brodeur will start tonight. He’s had a rough season, with a goals-against average (2.84) and save-percentage (.894) on track to be the worst of his career if he doesn’t shape up.

… The Wings are coming off a bit of a disappointing week that included losses to Pittsburgh and Chicago bookending a win over St. Louis. The team is obviously in need of a break, but here’s hoping they don’t get caught looking ahead to that instead of focusing on the last remaining obstacle in front of them. Like everybody else, the Wings are aware of the Devils’ little run here, so they shouldn’t be caught off guard. The big question is whether or not they have enough left in the tank to not be embarrassed at home in front of the last-place team.

I hear pride does wonders for empty tanks.

… Khan has the lineup:

Franzen-Zetterberg-Eaves
Hudler-Filppula-Bertuzzi
Draper-Helm-Miller
Emmerton-Abdelkader-Mursak

Lidstrom-Kronwall
Ericsson-Rafalski
Kindl-Salei

… Jimmy is in net, and will be backed up by Joey MacDonald, who’s back on emergency call-up.

… Just one more game, guys. Capitalize on the PP with White out and make Brodeur look bad like last time. Simple.

Followup: Nabokov, the Wings and the Devils, and Osgood

Update (1:52 PM): The Devils aren’t going to claim him. Still could end up in Detroit if just one team puts in a claim, but the odds of that remain slim. - Matt

Update (10:31 AM): Taking off my Osgood fan hat for a minute: if the Wings somehow manage to actually  get their hands on Nabokov and he works out in a way that results in an off-season re-signing, it would mean great things for the Wings’ chances at success next year. Nabokov is a guy who could easily and consistently spell Howard enough that both guys would be healthy and rested by the playoffs, so either guy could contribute to a run.

Realistically, Osgood could possibly stand in to a lesser degree in the same capacity, but with his groin injury history, he likely wouldn’t be able to spell Jimmy in the same way. The surgery is not going to eliminate the heightened risk of re-injury entirely. Looking at it as a rational Red Wings fan, a Nabokov eventuality is a good thing for the team.

Putting my Osgood fan hat back on: it would really, really suck if Osgood got shouldered out like that.

But the Wings fan hat comes first, as much as that would hurt to see as an Osgood supporter. - Matt

Update (9:29 AM): CapGeek’s Matthew Wuest has a trio of tweets that clarify the situation with the waiving and the re-waiving: here, here and here (read in sequence). If that’s the case, the Devils theory falls apart, because the odds of just one team (the Devils) putting in a claim are slim to none. - Matt

George has a great roundup post on last night’s news, including a couple late updates that are quite interesting. Read the whole thing, but specifically check out the 11:14 PM update, the first quote of the 11:36 PM update, and the 1:36 PM update. So basically, the favor theory has been turned on its head.

The Devils, despite their cap problems, do actually have the space to claim Nabokov right now thanks to injuries. Why they would do the Wings a favor, when all indications are that the two organizations aren’t all that friendly, is a mystery, but I guess it’s conceivable. I don’t imagine the NHL would appreciate that too much, though, so if that is the way things are going, the Wings and Devils’d better be sure they’re in the clear.

Also, the 10:55 PM update includes this from the CBC’s Jeff Marek:

@TSNBobMcKenzie that must mean Osgood is done for the season

It technically doesn’t have to mean that thanks to the low cap hit on the Nabokov contract, but I have to admit it is looking unlikely that Osgood will make it back. His full recovery from the surgery may take longer than the 6-8 weeks they’ve been claiming, and it may be unlikely the Wings would work him in when they’ve got Nabokov and Howard, especially when activating him would mean getting rid of another player.

What happens beyond the end of the season would be up to the Wings and Nabokov, I guess. If Nabokov decides he wants to stay at a reasonable price, Osgood may be Maltby’d into the front office. It was kind of a crappy way to have a career ended for Kirk and it would be for Osgood too, but nothing’s settled yet. Just projecting for now. I don’t like the thought on a personal level.

Wings 4, Devils 1

Back on Track: If the Habs game had the Wings getting back on track, it may be safe to say that the Devils game has them back on it. That was as good a pair of games as we could hope for following a three-game skid and now we’ve got a team that’s firing on all cylinders offensively and in net. And with last night’s game, not too shabby on defense either. That’s important with a pretty big week coming up.

Start Stunner: Quite the opening sequence, eh? You knew it was going to be the Wings’ night after seeing that puck bounce off the post into Brodeur’s back and then into the net. Bounces like that tend to be hard for the victim to overcome. Then Cleary sniped one of the best goaltenders ever with a rocket snapshot and the Wings had the game in hand before the 2:00 mark.

Of course, after a start like that, more than a few of us were thinking (based on Twitter) about the Wings’ tendency to get complacent. Fortunately, they showed that they weren’t going to fall into that this time.

Osgood: In that, they were helped a fair bit by the goalie. Osgood had a very strong night, I thought and was well on his way to a shutout before Kronwall bumped an already falling Langenbrunner in the third. His performance can’t even be written off to just playing the Devils, because he faced a number of really strong chances and looked extremely comfortable turning the puck aside. A couple times, Nick Lidstrom had to step in to make a couple saves some of the madder flurries, but all in all, the Wings got a great performance out of the backup.

If Osgood can step in and play like that while Jimmy’s playing like he did the night before, the Wings are in very good shape. I admit a certain level of surprise in Osgood. I believed he had it in him to play like this again, but didn’t think he’d do it in just his second game back from injury. It’s a good sign.

BFF Line: Only one member of the line (Bertuzzi) notched a point (not while with the other two), but I thought these guys had a really strong night. Again, no points, but they created problems for the Devils in their end and could have had a big offensive night with a couple breaks here and there. If they keep that up Monday, they may be the line racking up the points and not the top line.

Eurotwins+Homer: Best line on the ice. Hank and Pavel were activated and fully dangerous. Datsyuk was especially noticeable, as he was against Montreal. Zetterberg stood out more than he has some nights this season and Homer was effective, redirecting Pavel’s lob at the net on the first goal and contributing to Zetterberg’s goal in the second.

Eaves: Another strong game. In my mind, he’s separating himself from the pack of the scratch rotation. Which probably means he’s sitting tomorrow night because Babs won’t want him getting too comfortable.

The Lineup: @JennHo remarked last night on Twitter that she liked this lineup, meaning she likes Hudler sitting and all the energy guys suited up. I can’t disagree. I stand by my statement on Hudler that he needs to sit for a bit to really appreciate his spot in the lineup. Maybe then he’ll work harder to keep it. Meanwhile, Draper’s not getting a ton of ice time, but when he is on the ice, he’s not an energy suck.

Hudler still has it in him to be an offensive force, but not until he has motivation to open up. Sitting a game here and there isn’t going to provide it. Sit him all week and maybe he appreciates playing a little more. You run the risk of shattering his confidence even more, but how much further can he fall? I mean, seriously.

Defense: The Devils still managed some pressure shifts and got some chances on Osgood that I would have preferred to see the defense stop, but the D in general was stronger last night than they have been. I also thought that was the case against LA, which begs the question: is the team playing tighter defense in front of Osgood than they are in front of Jimmy? If so, why?

Assuming for a minute that it is true, the answer in Oz’s case is probably obvious: he’s been weaker, so he needs more support. But a possible answer in Jimmy’s case is more disturbing: he’s better and can handle it so let’s take more risks and lean on him. Maybe the distinction is not a real one, but it’s something to watch going forward, I guess. I’d hate to see the Wings slacking on D just because they’ve got a stud in net. They need to be better than that, especially with Jimmy not a lock to be stellar every single night.

Next: Big week coming up, with the Kings, Blues and Blackhawks. Games every other day and a test of endurance. Should be interesting.

Game Day Open Thread: @ New Jersey

Busy Saturday, so no notes post from me today. Also, we’ll be out of town tonight spending time with my family, so we won’t be able to catch the game. Sorry for the spotty coverage these couple days—hope to return to the usual tomorrow or Monday.

I will say this is great news: looks like Ericsson, Rafalski and Eaves will be available tonight. There’s a relief, eh?