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.