… I only caught the first period of the game, so I can only comment directly on that.
I thought it was a marked improvement over their first period performance in Chicago Wednesday night. Dominik Hasek looked strong, the forwards were dangerous, and the defense was relatively tight.
It’s easy to write the Jackets off because they aren’t making the playoffs once again. However, they have developed into a talented team and are just a piece or two away from providing competition in the Central. The common assessment is that they just need a center for Rick Nash and a puck-moving defenseman. It’s hard to disagree. They’ve already got most everything else.
… Just from the highlight reel, it’s easy to see why the Wings had to make a comeback in this one: Pascal Leclaire. The guy had 36 saves in his first game back from a concussion and there were some very impressive ones.
Hasek’s 20 saves is an obvious improvement over his performance prior to being pulled Wednesday, but I’m a little concerned about the two goals he did allow. The replays show long shots that were only marginally screened. I can’t tell if either of them was tipped, but I do know that the original shooter got credit both times. So, if they came off deflections, it was off a Red Wing both times. That would just be Dom’s luck.
Maybe someone who saw them live can comment on Dom’s performance.
… The good news to come out of the game, aside from the win, was the fact that the Wings finally locked up first place overall and home ice throughout the playoffs. I hear they hand out a trophy for that, but I’m more interested in the fact that they won’t have to deal with any road Game 7’s.
… The bad news to come out of the game was the injury to Tomas Kopecky. He hurt his knee 6:40 into the third period when he got tangled with Manny Malholtra. He didn’t make it back and the initial impression isn’t a positive one. He’ll be undergoing tests to determine the severity of the injury.
Kopey is a role player on the team, but a valuble one. He’s still in the maturing phase of his game, but he plays with an edge that will be vital in the post-season. Here’s hoping he’s not out long.
… In addition to the bad news about Kopecky, the news on Maltby was less than good: Mickey Redmond said before the game that it looks like he’ll be out 10-14 days.
… With Vancouver’s loss and Nashville’s win, the Canucks and Blackhawks were eliminated from playoff contention. The remaining possibilities are Calgary and Nashville.
If Chicago beats the Preds tonight, we’ll see Nashville in the first round. If the Predators lose and the Predators win, we’ll get the Flames in the first round for the second year in a row.
… By all accounts, it sounds like Justin Abdelkader had a strong debut. Given that and the fact that Kopecky is hurt, he may find a regular injury replacement spot in the coming weeks.
Of course, there remains the small issue of his entry level contract, on which he and the team must agree by Saturday or he’ll be inelligible for post-season play. I doubt there’ll be much trouble with that, though.
… An injury update: Tomas Holmstrom (groin/abdomen) characterized himself as definitely in for Sunday’s game.