Posts tagged “Panthers”

Wings 2, Panthers 1 (SO)

Another Conservative Start: Both teams took it easy to begin with. I’m not sure what the Wings think they’re accomplishing by doing that however. A team like Florida makes its living off waiting until the opportune moment and then shutting things down once they’re able to take a lead. That was how this game went and it nearly paid off for Florida.

Quincey: I can’t go any further in this without mentioning Kyle Quincey’s idiotic hit on Tomas Kopecky. So idiotic, he’s facing a hearing with the NHL today at 1:00.

I’m not sure what he was thinking. And trying to pass the buck off to Kopecky (“he slipped“) is BS. He deserves a suspension, maybe for the three remaining games.

And it won’t be any great loss to the Wings. He’s been a liability more than anything else so far as he attempts to mesh with the system. At this point, Brendan Smith would be a better guy to have in the rotation.

Nyquist: Played with the Datsyuk line and, as expected, contributed to that line’s much-improved outing. He finished with three shots, 12:24 in TOI and nearly got Franzen going. If they continue with that group for Wednesday’s game, they could break out.

Penalty Kill: Did some great work, particularly on the Quincey major. That’s a good sign.

A Win’s a Win Doesn’t Always Cut It: So the Wings got a win when they needed one. I’m still a little concerned with how they got the win, however. The Panthers are a division-leading team, but they’re not exactly the cream of the crop. The Wings should have handled this game much more decisively than they did. With the playoffs so close, that’s more than a little bit of a concern. I’m glad they got the points, but it’s time to elevate the game, not squeak out wins to a team like the Panthers.

Datsyuk: Awesome attempt at banking the puck in off Clemmenson’s head from behind the net. Would have been incredible.

Zetterberg & Co.: Continued to be the best line on the ice, though the Datsyuk line closed the gap some with the Nyquist addition.

Ericsson: Had a very strong game and it wasn’t just relative to his own standard. He looked sharp.

The Race: The win put the Wings back in fourth and gives them a shot at widening the gap Wednesday should the Predators lose tomorrow to Minnesota.

Game Day Notes: vs. Florida

… This is the only meeting between the Wings and Panthers this season. They’ve only played each other 22 times, ever. The Wings lead the all-time series stands at 13-4-5.

… The Panthers are 5-2-3 in their last ten, but only one of those wins came since the first four games of that segment. They lost three in a row before winning in Montreal on Tuesday. They then lost two more, including Friday’s 4-1 decision to the Jackets. Their five losses in their past six came against non-playoff teams.

… They’re holding down the third seed in the East, thanks to the Division leader privilege, but they have 8th seed Washington breathing down their necks with a two point deficit. They can clinch the division if they earn five points down the stretch or the Caps cough up five points. Or any combination of the two.

… There are a couple former Wings on the team: Mikael Samuelsson and Tomas Kopecky. So we can flash back to glorious scoring chances going wide of the net and freak injuries.

… They had the day off yesterday.

They’re without Jack Skille and Matt Bradley.

… Looks like Jose Theodore could be the starter.

… The Wings blew a chance at solidifying their fourth place position Friday night, instead ceding it to the Predators with a 4-1 loss. The loss was their second in a row, with the first coming Wednesday night against the Blue Jackets.

… They’re now in fifth place and sharing a points total with Chicago at 97. They have one more ROW than the Hawks and thus win the tie-breaker.

… The Hawks’ win over the Predators last night put them in that position and held Nashville back. Here’s a look at the final schedules for the three teams fighting for beta dog status in the Central:

Date DET CHI NSH
4/1 vs. FLA vs. MIN
4/3 vs. MIN
4/4 @ STL
4/5 vs. NJD @ MIN vs. DAL
4/7 vs. CHI @ DET vs. COL

As you can see, the Wings have one game in hand on both Nashville and Chicago, but that game is against St. Louis. Which is somewhat unfair.

… The good news out of practice yesterday was that Babcock is considering reuniting Datsyuk and Nyquist, with Johan Franzen. Nothing’s official yet, but it is a promising development.

… Kyle Quincey will be back in after getting a “rest” game Friday. Ian White was the odd man out in practice, but that doesn’t for sure mean he’ll be the guy resting tonight.

… I get a kick out of this section from Khan’s morning piece:

Johan Franzen, back for two games after sitting out five with back spasms, needs to skate better and be more physical.

“That’s what I was focusing on, try to skate hard and try to play physical,” Franzen said.

… Apart from Darren Helm, Joey MacDonald and Patrick Eaves, the team is healthy.

… Jimmy Howard will start.

… The Wings need a win today. So do the Panthers. Which team will get their way? If the Wings want it, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be them.

It’s time to bring it all together and finish the season on a tear, starting today.

Wings 4, Panthers 3

Got It Done: It wasn’t the Wings’ tidiest game of the season, but they got the job done in the end. For a team playing their second game in two nights on the road, it’s hard to complain about things on a team level, even with the Panthers’ comeback. That was frustrating, but given that they pulled ahead again before long, it’s something to note in the “need to improve” column rather than get upset about.

Joey: MacDonald’s performance is one that earned some complaint, I think. He spent the majority of the game looking very uncertain. He let in a really weak one on the first Panthers goal and in general looked like he was leaning on his defense for support.

He made a great save late in the game to preserve the Wings’ final lead, but this is probably one of those games in which the Wings won in spite of their goalie rather than with or because of him.

Ericsson: Made a good case for himself to be the healthy scratch tomorrow. At least from my perspective. Two stupid penalties and a number of dumb plays.

Bertuzzi: Continued his recent hot streak with another two goal night. The more of those, the better, Todd.

Hank and Pavel: Early on, it looked like those two were in a contest aimed at deciding which of them could carry the team better. Z was flying early on and Pavel wasn’t far behind. Datsyuk probably took the lead later in the game, but altogether, seeing both of them playing like that was great.

Helm: Fortunately made it back into the game after taking a knee the thigh in the second period. That was maybe the best news of the night.

Octopi: I cannot emphasize this enough: the idiot who threw that octopus on the ice during play in the second is an embarrassment. You do not throw anything on the ice during play and to abuse our tradition in that way makes us all look like fools. You wait until after play and do it only after a goal or with a win. It’s that simple.

The later octopus was timed perfectly.

Next: The Wings don’t get much of a break as they’re playing in Minnesota tomorrow afternoon. How they react to that and the following stretch of games will be interesting. They’re going to have to draw off this past week’s break for a while, as they will be getting next to nothing in terms of rest until after they return from California next month.

But they’ve got some good momentum going into this, with four straight wins.

Game Day Notes: vs. Florida

Notes on tonight’s game against the Panthers.

… The Panthers are predictably low in the standings, having posted an 8-9-2 record thus far this season. Their 18 points are good for 13th in the East, but are still significantly more respectable than the ‘Canes 13 or the Leafs’ 12.

… They are coming off a 6-2 win over the Sabres Wednesday night. They managed to get four goals on Miller, which is not something that’s easy to do. So, they have it in them to be dangerous.

… The Panthers will be without Nick Tarnasky (broken face) and David Booth (concussion) tonight. It’s the latter that’s most unfortunate: the circumstances of his injury were ridiculous and preventable.

He was the victim of a disgusting, vicious Mike Richards blindside hit last month and has been out ever since. So out, in fact, he’s unable to do any physical activity because he gets a headache at the drop of a hat.

I don’t think I could care less about the Panthers, but just thinking about that hit and the fact that Richards got off without so much as a slap on the wrist really, really pisses me off. Booth is a promising young player in this League and now he’s sidelined because the NHL has failed to protect its players.

Scott Clemmensen will start tonight rather than Tomas Vokun. I’d laugh at Clemmensen, who used to be Brodeur’s “backup,” but last year, he got the Devils to the playoffs while Martin was out with an injury. And then he got demoted to the AHL, if I recall correctly. He’s got a 5.14 GAA this year, but I’m not writing him off.

… The Wings will look to rebound from a weak effort Wednesday night against Dallas. They’ll need a return to the effort levels that won them six in seven.

… Brad May will exit the lineup for Kirk Maltby tonight.

… Chris Osgood finally returns to the net after battling a bad case of the flu.

… Unfamiliarity with the Panthers together with some possible taking of a win against a 13th-place team could make this one interesting. Play a full 60, guys.

Wings 5, Panthers 2

Update (6:25 PM): George Malik has posted his wrap-up for the game. - Matt

Update (4:33 PM): I should point out that last night was the first time in the Wings’ history that they had two penalty shots in the same game. - Matt

The Wings notched their eighth win in nine games last night with a 5-2 decision over the Florida Panthers. It was an exciting game, but also a strange one, with two own-goals and two penalty shots to go with continuous action and a good pace. It was definitely a different game than I expected.

Chris Osgood got the start for the Wings and played yet another solid game. He essentially had a shutout, as the Panthers were unable to beat him on their own and required the help of two of the Wings’ defensemen.

The game was not fast-paced and exciting from the start, as the Panthers managed to ice the puck three times in the first four minutes. For their part, the Wings were pretty sloppy in their own end and had trouble linking up passes. They turned the puck over a few times, but the Panthers only manged to lob it toward the net, where it either went wide or was blocked.

Gradually, the Wings got it together, however. Around the 4:20 mark, Dan Cleary had a glorious scoring chance from Pavel Datsyuk while Tomas Vokoun was without his stick. He nearly managed to stuff it in 5-hole, but Vokoun got his right pad in front of the shot and made the save. Following that play, the top line of Datsyuk, Cleary, and Henrik Zetterberg finished out their shift with some solid pressure.

At 5:03, the Panthers  took a penalty just after Vokoun made a big save with Johan Franzen right in his face. On the ensuing power play, the Wings set up well while Florida played an aggressive penalty kill. Nick Lidstrom, left wide open and found by Zetterberg, had a great chance to score, but sent it high and wide.

At 5:48, Florida took another penalty and handed the Wings 1:15 in 5-on-3 time. Although the first power play unit had been on the ice 45 seconds already, Babcock chose to keep them out rather than put fresh legs in. After Dan Cleary tipped the puck wide of the net twice, the Wings set up their first goal of the game.

Brian Rafalski, on the right point, sent the puck down to Zetterberg to Vokoun’s left. Hank sent the puck through the crease to Datsyuk, who put it in the net off Vokoun’s left skate. Pavel’s fortunate Vokoun’s skate was there, as the puck would have gone back through the crease rather than into the net without it. 1-0 Wings at 6:18.

Because the goal was scored while the Wings were still on a 5-on-3 power play, they continued to have the man-advantage. The only noteworthy thing that occurred before the Panthers killed off the penalty, however, was a nifty move by Nik Kronwall to fake out a defender at the blueline. It led to a Mikael Samuelsson chance, but not, unfortunately, to a goal.

By 7:30 of the first period, the Wings were leading 13-0 in shots.

Following the 5-on-3, the Wings continued their dominance. Johan Franzen nearly scored around the 9:10 mark when he sent a shot off a rebound through the crease. The fourth line did a great job of holding the Panthers in their own zone as they cycled the puck well and generated a lot of energy. Pavel Datsyuk made a nifty between-the-legs pass to Henrik Zetterberg, who promptly squandered a chance to drive to the net by wheeling around behind it, leading to nothing.

Throughout the first two-thirds of the period, the Panthers had little or no offense. They managed  their first shot at 8:14, but did not get a second until five minutes later. Chris Osgood earned cheers for making saves on both, as the fans were happy to see him get some work. Florida did eventually get going in the final 7 minutes of the period, though.

Richard Zednik nearly beat Brett Lebda around the 15:00 mark, but Brett managed to recover and make a nice defensive play at the last minute. That was the Wings’ defensive mode of choice in the final minutes of the period. The Panthers would get a great chance only to be stopped at the last second by the desperate play of a Red Wing, such as Valtteri Filppula, who broke up a sure goal with a well-timed poke-check.

The Panther’s surge came in the midst of an eight minute stretch of play in which there were no whistles. Chris Osgood finally froze it at 2:46, however, but that only led to a couple Florida chances after the faceoff. The last couple minutes of the period were fairly even, though .

Twenty seconds into the second period, Datsyuk stole the puck and somehow got it through to Zetterberg, who ended up running out of real estate, so the chance came to nothing.

At the other end, Olli Jokinen threw the puck  out front of the net and Nick Lidstrom, in an effort to clear it, ended up putting it in himself. His first swipe knocked the puck up in the air and when it came down, it bounce toward the net off his shoulder. Nick then tried to knock it out of the air, but only managed to knock it into the net. It looked worse live than it did on the replay, but it was still a shock. I don’t think he’s ever made a mistake like that in his career. 1-1 at :46 of the second period.

After the goal, the Wings’ second line of Jiri Hudler, Valtteri Filppula, and Mikael Samuelsson, together with Chris Chelios and Brett Lebda had a solid pressure shift, until Lebda fanned on the puck at the blueline. Not long after that, Dallas Drake had a couple scoring chances, but couldn’t capitalize. The Wings were looking a bit sloppy at this point.

Chris Chelios put the Panthers up 2-1 at 4:59. Radek Dvorak carried the puck in on a rush and took a shot that was stopped by Osgood. Chelios, following up on the play, took a swipe at the rebound in an effort to clear the front of the net, but he fanned on it a bit and it hit his skate and headed toward the net. He tried to knock it away again, but only managed to stuff it just inside the left post. Needless to say, Cheli was less than impressed with himself. Osgood could only shake his head.

Almost immediately after the Chelios goal, Zetterberg nearly scored on Osgood, too. I missed that one because I was still writing notes on the last own-goal, but it came on a flurry and disaster was only narrowly averted.

At this point, despite not having actually scored a goal, the Panthers were looking quite confident. They took a delay of game penalty at 7:35, however, and ended up giving up a goal as a result.

With Rostislav Olesz down on the ice after blocking a shot with his ankle, the Wings effectively had a 5-on-3 power play. Kronwall sent a shot/pass to Jiri Hudler to Vokoun’s left, but Jiri’s shot went through the crease and missed the net. Johan Franzen picked it up and stuffed it into the net with Vokoun’s help as the latter fell backward into the net with his hand on the puck.  2-2 at 8:58.

At 10:40, Valtteri Filppula took a holding penalty and put the Wings on the penalty kill. Florida’s power play did not last long, however, as Ruslan Salei was called for tripping Dallas Drake at 11:19.  It was easily the worst call of the night, as Drake was already falling when Salei got mixed up with him at the blueline. For 1:21, the teams skated four-a-side, but nothing much of note happened. Pavel Datsyuk managed a couple shots on the Wings’ abbreviated power play, but that was all.

Chris Osgood made a great save on a dangerous Florida chance following a bad bounce in the Detroit end. Olli Jokinen and Nathan Horton were in on that one. Not long after that, Tomas Kopecky had a solid scoring chance of his own from Johan Franzen. Dan Cleary nearly scored off a feed from Datstyuk at 16:44, but Vokoun made a huge save on the tip.

The Wings went back on the power play at 18:00 after Richard Zednik slashed Datsyuk’s stick in half in the Detroit end. It was an incredibly dangerous play, as it would have easily broken  Pavel’s hand had it landed anywhere other than the stick. Fortunately for the Wings, however, Datsyuk was not injured on the play, though he was bowled over Branislav Mezei before the play was whistled dead.

On the ensuing power play, the Wings’ second unit cycled the puck very well and generated a couple strong chances. The power play was cut short by another Filppula penalty at 19:18, however. It was another weak call, but may be seen as a make-up for the bad call on the Drake trip earlier.

With the teams skating 4-on-4, Pavel Datsyuk had a breakaway, but ran out of real estate and put the puck in Vokoun’s chest. He stayed with the play, however, and fed the puck to Lidstrom, who got off a shot that didn’t go in. The Panthers took it the other way, with Jokinen carrying, and had a great scoring chance developing when Zetterberg made a diving play to knock the puck away from the Florida captain. The play did not stop there, however, Nathan Horton managed to get his stick on the errant puck as it flew across the net and deflected it just wide.

At the start of the third period, the Panthers controlled the play, with Radek Dvorak wrecking havoc in the Detroit end. Gradually, however, play evened out as the Wings regained their feet.

Dan Cleary broke the tie with his 10th of the season at 5:40. Andreas Lilja lobbed the puck at the net and forced Vokoun to make a save, and Cleary picked it up from around his feet, knocking it in 5-hole. Brian Rafalski extended the Wings’ lead a 1:04 later with a blast from the blueline that beat Vokoun high glove side. It may have been deflected by a Panther on the way to the net, but it was not a screened shot at all and probably one Vokoun would like back.

At 7:47, Pavel Datsyuk got a step on the Panther defense and broke in on Vokoun. Although he got a shot off, he was hooked by the Florida defenseman and was awarded a penalty shot as a result. For those wondering whether or not that was the right call, Rule 25.8 says that four conditions must be met in order for a penalty shot to be awarded:

(i) The infraction must have taken place in the neutral zone or attacking
zone, (i.e. over the puck carrier’s own blue line);

(ii) The infraction must have been committed from behind;

(iii) The player in possession and control (or, in the judgment of the
Referee, clearly would have obtained possession and control of the
puck) must have been denied a reasonable chance to score (the fact
that he got a shot off does not automatically eliminate this play from
the penalty shot consideration criteria. If the foul was from behind and
he was denied a “more” reasonable scoring opportunity due to the
foul, then the penalty shot should be awarded);

(iv) The player in possession and control (or, in the judgment of the
Referee, clearly would have obtained possession and control of the
puck) must have had no opposing player between himself and the
goalkeeper.

Obviously, the play met conditions i, ii, iv. As for condition iii, the official must have decided Pavel would have had a better chance to score had he not been hooked.

So, Pavel Datsyuk got the Wings’ second penalty shot in three games. Unfortunately, he tried the same move he used in the shootout Thursday (backhand to forehand deke) and was stopped by Vokoun.

At 11:14, Valtteri Filppula picked up the puck following a Franzen chance and drew another penalty shot, as Vokoun threw his stick in order to stop another scoring chance. Fil used the same move he used in his first penalty shot, a deke to the backhand, and beat Vokoun over his left pad. Vokoun tried to poke check the puck away, but failed miserably. 5-2 Wings at 11:17.

The Wings took a penalty at 13:14, but put on a good kill as the Panthers managed only a scattered power play.

After the Florida power play, Mark Hartigan rang a shot off the post. Ken Daniels chose that time to inform us that the Wings needed one more shot to set a season high with 46. I thought, “And now they won’t get one.” For the next few minutes, it looked like I would be right, as they stopped forechecking and settled back into a defensive posture. They did finally notch that last shot with 40.6 seconds left , but it was a harmless long shot that Vokoun stopped easily. The game ended with Osgood freezing the puck after a late Florida push.

It was Mike Babcock’s 200th career win, but he won’t get the last game puck as Chris Osgood threw it into the crowd as he left the ice.

Overall, a solid game by the Wings and a much better one than I was expecting. I figured the Panthers would slow things up so much that they’d lull Detroit to sleep and win because of a garbage goal or two. I never dreamed I’d see Lidstrom and Chelios score own-goals like that and I never expected to see two penalty shots in the same game. I was impressed with the pace at which the game was played and enjoyed the long stretches where there were no whistles. I have to say, I like Dan Cleary with the Eurotwins, but I’ll be glad to see Tomas Holmstrom return to that line.

Hopefully the team will be ready to play a similarly active game against Washington on Monday.

Links

GameDay: vs. Florida (14-15-2, 30 Pts) 7:00 ET

Update (6:46 PM): You can watch the game via the FSN Detroit feed on NHL TV here. - Matt

Update (6:30 PM): There are two liveblogs going on tonight: one over at Abel to Yzerman (though IwoCPO will not participate because he’ll be at his own surprise birthday party) and one over at the Miami Herald blog On Frozen Pond. - Matt

 Update (6:00 PM): HockeyTownTodd points out that there is a major disparity between the teams’ two +/- ratings: -50 for the Panthers and +109 for the Wings. Todd has the Wings headed for an embarrassing loss, so let’s hope he’s wrong.  - Matt

Update (5:39 PM): According to Bruce MacLeod, Tomas Holmstrom said he’ll be back Monday, though obviously that’s contingent on his being cleared by the medical staff. If his injury really is as minor as has been reported, that shouldn’t be much of a problem. - Matt

Update (2:05 PM): Looks like local kid David Booth won’t return to the Panther lineup tonight after all. The Miami Herald’s George Richards now reports that he did not skate and therefore won’t play, despite the fact that 50+ friends and members of his family will be there. - Matt

Update (1:55 PM): George Malik has a preview roundup over at Snapshots. - Matt

Update (1:47 PM): Ansar Khan reports that Tomas Holmstrom participated in the full practice today, which should mean a Monday return isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Khan also says Kris Draper (knee) is hoping to return this week, though that seems optimistic. - Matt

Tonight marks the only meeting between the Wings and the Florida Panthers this season. The Panthers won the last meeting 3-2 in overtime two years ago.

Florida is 2-2-1 thus far in December. They snapped a three-game losing streak with a 3-0 win over the Islanders on the 7th, but lost four nights later to the Flames, 2-1 in a shootout. On Thursday, they kicked off a four-game road trip with a 1-0 win over St. Louis. The Panthers will be trying to beat a team record for consecutive road wins by notching a fifth.

Predictably enough, Olli Jokinen  leads the team in goals (16), assists (15), and points (31). He is the only Panther with 10 or more goals, though Nathan Horton is not far away with eight.

Forward Dan David Booth will make his return to the lineup tonight, but the Panthers will be without Mike Van Ryn, Glen Murray (shoulder), Chad Murphy (shoulder), Brett McLean (hand), and Noah Welch (shoulder).

Tomas Vokoun has been unbeatable in his last three games, posting  a .989 save-percentage (92-for-93) over that time span. He put on a 33-save performance on Thursday and should get the start tonight.

Fan-run Panthers blogs are a little thin on the ground, but  you can stop by The Daily Growl and Panthers Daily Puck for the Florida perspective. The newspaper blogs, On Frozen Pond (not that one), and  Panthers Blog are also worth checking out. It’s nice to see the contrast between this post by the Miami Herald’s George Richards and this one by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo (which has since been somewhat toned down from its first incarnation).

The Wings had a seven-game winning streak snapped Thursday night with a 4-3 shootout loss to Edmonton. Tonight is the second of a four-game homestand for the Wings, who will play host to Washington on Monday and LA on Wednesday.

Mikael Samuelsson has gone 10 games without scoring a goal and has a mere two points over that span. The Wings need him to get going and tonight’s as good a time as any for the former Panther to make his return to the scoreboard.

Tomas Holmstrom (knee), Kris Draper (knee), and Kirk Maltby (back) are all out tonight. Mark Hartigan, Aaron Downey, and Matt Ellis will fill in for them.

Mike Babcock told the media on Wednesday that Chris Osgood would start today and confirmed it once again yesterday.

For more of the Wings perspective, see  Snapshots, Gorilla Crouch, Abel to Yzerman, HockeyTownTodd, Gloveside, Behind the Jersey, No Pun Intended, Red Wings Nation, and Winging It In Motown. Dougie has some pre-game comments already posted at HockeyTownTodd.

The Wings are going to need to take control of the game from the start tonight. They can’t let the Panthers play their dump-and-chase style and slow the game down to a snail’s pace. If they can manage to play with the energy and efficiency they showed versus the Wild on the 7th, they should have no trouble putting a couple past Vokoun and shutting down Jokinen. If they get lulled to sleep by the Panthers, it’ll be a different story.