Posts tagged “Kings”

Game Day Notes: @ Los Angeles

Briefly, because a 12:30 meeting means I have about 31 minutes to type this:

… First off, sorry about the lack of a post on the Sabres game. Turns out I didn’t get to watch it after all.

… Second, it looks like Jimmy’s been locked up for two more years. The terms have been agreed upon, but ink hasn’t hit paper yet. It’s as close to done as it can be, though, so that’s great news. As Cotsonika suggests, $2.25 million per is a vote of confidence from the Wings. I’m not arguing that he’s worth it, but I do need to add the qualifier “… if he finds consistency.” Jimmy can be one of the better goalies in the League when he’s on and if he gets in that groove, $2.25 million a year will end up being a steal.

… On to the game: this is the third of four games the Wings have with the Kings this season. The Kings’ve won the previous two meetings, including a 5-0 beatdown on December 13th.

… The Kings have won their last three and sit in fifth place in the Conference with 74 points.

… The LA Times’ coverage of the Kings apparently sucks, but George has done some digging with his set-up for the game.

… The Wings halted a skid with their win over Buffalo Saturday night, but have a tough schedule ahead of them as they face down four road games by Saturday.

… Mike Modano made his return to the lineup Saturday and didn’t make much of an impact, but that’s not unexpected.

… Valtteri Filppula also made it back Saturday. Unfortunately, Brian Rafalski was out with back issues so the team didn’t have the full lineup (short of Osgood).

… Franzen’s out tonight for personal reasons: his wife’s having a baby and he didn’t make the trip to LA. Drew Miller should be back in.

… Jimmy Howard will get the start and should have plenty of reason to kill it tonight.

… The Kings are a hot team and a fast one, so the Wings will have to be on top of their game. I can’t speak for how they played in Buffalo, but they haven’t been sharp since their streak was ended. Tonight they need to find a way to return to the form that had them win five in a row.

Wings 0, Kings 5

Update (12:58 PM): Ugh, I suck. Brain cramp fixed in the title. – Matt

Like most everybody else, I’m not going to dwell on this game. It’s a long season and these kinds of games happen: a goalie gets hot and beats your best efforts to notch the win. The Wings spent two periods throwing the everything and the kitchen sink at Quick and couldn’t crack him. So it’s hard to fault their effort through two. They were in a position to pull it out in spite of Quick at the start of the third.

That’s where the problems I do have with this game start. First, you’ve got Jimmy Howard. He already wasn’t having his greatest night with two weak showings on the first Kings goals. But he pretty much sabatoged the Wings’ comeback hopes with the first Kings goal of the third and really sealed the deal with the 5th. The fourth was in off his own guy, but the rest of the goals, in my view, were all Jimmy.

That said, I’m not laying the blame for this entirely on goaltending. The Wings still collapsed in the third and that’s a problem, even for a throwaway game. You never want to see the Wings quit, even if continued pressure seems like it won’t crack the opposition goaltender.

You know Jimmy will be better Wednesday and you know the Wings aren’t going to make a trend of giving up, so this isn’t a game to get upset about. It sucked in the moment and was a major disappointment, but whatever. I’m moving on.

I will say, though, that I don’t like the thought of playing the Kings in the playoffs.

Game Day Notes: vs. Los Angeles

Briefly:

… This is the second of four games between the Wings and Kings this season. The Kings won the first of the series, 3-2 in OT on the 4th.

… Since then, the Kings have only played twice. They won the game following their win over Detroit with another win, over Calgary on the 9th. Then they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Wild in OT on Saturday.

… The LA Times’ Kings section sucks, so I don’t have a lot else on them. Sounds like the offense has been having trouble lately, and Quick had a mistake-prone game Saturday. The Wings can capitalize on both issues with some solid defense and some serious pressure on net.

… The Wings have played four games since they saw the Kings last, and lost two of them. They bounced back Friday night with a win over Montreal and followed that up with another over New Jersey. But fatigue, relative to the fairly rested Kings, could play a role tonight.

… Jiri Hudler is back in the lineup. So much for emphasizing the point by sitting him 2-3 games. Here’s hoping he learned the lesson better than the last time he sat for just one game.

Hudler will skate with Abdelkader and Cleary, says Khan.

… Jimmy Howard is back in net after sitting in New Jersey. He had a strong outing against the Habs.

… The Wings took advantage of an undisciplined Montreal team Friday night and a hapless Devils team Saturday. Tonight they face an opponent could be a challenge if they take them for granted. Offensive troubles or not, the Kings have young, speedy talent and a strong goaltender. The Wings will need to pick up where they left off against the Devils.

Wings 2, Kings 3 (OT)

Fatigue: That may have been the story of this game, as the Wings looked pretty flat overall. I thought they were somewhat better in their own end this time around, but they generally lacked jump. The Kings played an energetic game and the Wings looked flat, at least relative to what they looked like the night before. That’s to be expected, so it’s not a complaint.

And though they looked somewhat tired, they provided better support to Osgood than they did to Jimmy Friday night. So that’s something.

Osgood: I thought he played a heck of a game considering how long he’d been out. He made some bigtime saves throughout the game and kept the Wings in it when they were flat offensively and had little chance on two redirect goals in regulation. The overtime goal has some idiots pissed off, but that was a goal-scorers shot. Hold it against him if you want, but I guarantee no one would be talking that way about Howard if the play was exactly the same.

Osgood plays a very solid game following up an injury and all some people can do is find fault. Whatever.

I will say, though, that the penalty was stupid of him. Fortunately, he cleaned up that mess with strong work on the PK that followed.

Ericsson: Another strong game from young Jonathan. He was, you know, Jonny on the spot, for his goal off a rebound, and made some solid defensive plays at various points in the game. If he can keep this up, he might actually have his career back on track.

Hudler: Invisible at full strength, but his positioning on the point on the power play is growing on me. As long as the puck doesn’t get behind him, he looks pretty good up there dealing out the puck. And he’s not bad at holding it in. I still don’t like the thought of a SHed rush going down his wing, but maybe a position on the blue line is the fast track to getting him some points.

Penalties: I think there’s something about the air in California that has the officials taking a more casual route about penalties. The “let it be” attitude we saw on this trip was pretty lame. Four penalties last night? Four the night before? The Kings aren’t a dirty team, but the Ducks could have had four penalties themselves. Are penalties down around the League lately?

Stuart: Played a physical game. He had two big hits along the boards that really stood out. His version of Kronwalling, I guess. Nik does it in open ice, Stuart crushes guys into the boards. I’ll take it.

Quick: Played a strong game at the other end of the ice. He made things difficult for a Wings offense that didn’t need a challenge in addition to their apparent fatigue.

Draper: Didn’t play a whole lot. I didn’t really notice him when he did. I guess 5:14 is about what a guy just getting back into games is expected to get, so we’ll see what he gets in his second game, whenever that is. I thought it was too bad Eaves was the scratch for him over Miller.

Kings and Perspective: The way the Kings celebrated the game-winner, you’d think they’d just won something bigger than a mid-season game. Maybe not quite Cup-celebration level, but certainly more than necessary. At least I thought it was excessive.

Next: The string of games against Californian opponents continues Monday, though it’ll be at home this time. There’s not a lot of room for rest between Kings game and that one, though, especially given the travel. But there’s not a lot of room for rest in the schedule coming up, either. The Wings’ schedule up to Christmas is going to be a nice test of their endurance.

Wings 4, Ducks 0

Jimmy Howard: One of two big stories in this game, for sure. 41 saves to close out his starting streak in style. He was very much on his game and had to make a number of key saves. A big game for a guy who has to start entering discussions on big time goalies.

Offense versus defense: The other story of the night. The Wings’ offense is as dangerous across the board on an otherwise average night as anyone’s in the League is on a stellar night. The defense still needs work, however. It’s unusual to me to see the Wings look so lost in their own end after years of defensive prowess, but it’s what we’re getting right now. They’re leaning too heavily on the the Jimmy in the defensive end and that’s not Red Wings hockey. Any team with the likes of Nick Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart in the top four and a resurgent Jonathan Ericsson and a steady Ruslan Salei in the third pairing should not be giving up 41 shots to a team of the Ducks’ quality.

Because here’s the thing: offense is cyclical. At some point, the odds are it’s going to dry up, even on a team as deep as the Wings. A steady defense is kind of important during those stretches.

Refereeing: I did think the Ducks played about as clean a game as I’ve ever seen them play, but it was still absurd that the Wings had to deal with three penalty kills in a row before they finally got one power play. That’s pretty pathetic.

Perry: I’m not sure there’s a more gutless guy in the League today. Cross-checking Holmstrom after his goal? Just another in a long line of evidence in the case against Corey Perry. There isn’t a player in the League less worthy of respect.

Getzlaf: I’d like to know who picked the stars. Getzlaf as #2? When Fil had two points? Franzen as #3 when he had two points and the game-winner?

Ericsson: Jonny’s back.

Tonight: Facing off against a Kings team that started out the season 12-2-0. That ended when a six-game winning streak was halted by the Sharks on November 15th. They’ve since gone 2-7-0 and fallen to third in the Pacific, though their fast start has them only three points out of first.

They’d lost four in a row before they beat the Panthers 3-2 Thursday.

On the Wings’ side, we’re getting Chris Osgood and Kris Draper back tonight. Should be interesting to see what their respective rust level. Would be good if the D shows up.

Here’s hoping the Wings can stand in the way of the Kings getting back on their feet for at least one more game.

Wings 3, Kings 4

You know, I’m finding it hard to work up the emotion any more. I watched the game on DVR after my dad and sister left and couldn’t restrain myself from finding out the score first. Knowing what happened, I still subjected myself to it. Interestingly enough, I didn’t feel angry. I watched this game with a kind of dark humor. This is a season out of a dark comedy.

Three more injuries, to forwards, no less, on the day the Wings trade a forward to clear up cap space. Defensemen passing pucks to the opposition like they’re Benedict Arnold in hockey pants. Pesky slow-moving pucks beguiling the honest efforts of sainted goalies to corral them with nobody around. Herds of white jerseys forming a hilariously ineffectual shield around one solitary part of the net, leaving the other open for easy exploitation.  Speedy young forwards with their backs turned to a threat busily victimizing his goalie. New levels of fail reached in blowing three goal leads.

I still believe they’ll somehow manage to stumble drunkenly into the playoffs and at that point, anything’s possible. But whatever happens, this is going to be a regular season Wings fans are going to wincingly remember into their nursing home days. A season that will cause your arthritis to flair and your eyes to glass over. A season you’ll laugh incessantly about as they close the door on your padded room.

The Olympic Break cannot come soon enough. I only wish the team’s leaders weren’t going to Vancouver. Much like that guy who has to regain respect from everyone on an annual basis like no one else in the League apparently did last year, they seem to need a sabbatical. Maybe some kind of seminar on How To Do Their Jobs And Not Let Everybody Down. The guys that are working hard, the guys that aren’t disappointing on a nightly basis, are the guys who don’t need the break. The Lidstroms, Datsyuks, Zetterbergs, Rafalskis, Kronwalls, Stuarts, do. Fortunately, Stuart is getting a break, but the others aren’t. Maybe being around players who want to win desperately will inspire them and shame them into stepping it up into that extra level down the stretch for the Wings. Because they need it. This team needs it.

This comedy needs to stop. Can we switch from the low-budget indie dark comedy to a big-budget blow-em-up blockbuster? I want to see explosions, not be made to painfully laugh-cry.

Game Day Open Thread: @ Los Angeles

Keeping this real short because of lack of time this busy Saturday….

Yeah, the Kings have 74 points, a whopping nine more than the Wings have. That’s thanks to their 8 game winning streak, which has put them in 5th place. See what winning can do, Red Wings?

Get it? That’s a hint. Win this and keep on winning.

That is all.