Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wings v. Canucks in review 10/27/09

Looks like those new lines worked out pretty well. The Wings offense showed up in spades on Tuesday, and the Wings managed to win their first road game of the year.

Vancouver goal (1-0) 00:30 in 1st period; Sedin from Samuelsson & Bieksa:
Osgood plays the puck behind the net and tries to clear it out of the zone. There are no Wings along the boards to pick up the puck, and it is instead intercepted by a Canucks player. He quickly passes to the right defenseman, who lays a shot on net from the blue line. The rebound bounces off of Osgood. Osgood curiously keys on Sedin to his left, and it looks like he watches him the whole time as he moves into the crease. Somehow, the puck also ends up in the middle of the crease. A Wing defender turns and tries to stab at the puck and get it out of the zone but is unable to. Sedin comes in with speed and backhands the puck past Osgood.

Vancouver goal (2-0) 7:05 in 1st period; Ehrhoff from Kesler & Bieksa:
This really was a routine play and I'd like to think 9 times out of 10 Osgood stops this. Three Canucks come into the offensive zone and there are three Red Wings there to check them. Ehrhoff unleashes a simple wrist shot from the left circle that beats Osgood.

*Osgood gets pulled at this point*

Detroit goal (2-1) 15:47 in 1st period; Holmstrom from Zetterberg & Datsyuk:
This goal exmplifies exactlly how good this line is. Holmstrom camps out in his signature spot in front of the net the whole time and does a great job screening the goalie. Zetterberg carries the puck up the right side wall. He's able to dump the puck to Datsyuk in the right circle. He then slips around behind the defense and makes his way to the left edge of the crease. Datsyuk gains the attention of four (!) Canucks players, and he uses some of his fany stick work to keep them focused on him. Once they commit, Dats passes the puck across the crease to an open Zetterberg. Z puts a snap shot on net, which is then banged home by Homer.

Detroit goal (2-2) 3:51 in 3rd period; Kronwall unassisted:
Zetterberg carries the puck into the zone and gets the puck knocked off his stick in the right circle. The puck shoots up towards the blue line, where Kronwall enters the zone at just the right time. He picks up the puck and carries it to the right circle, where he puts a high wrist shot on net. Holmstrom is screening Luongo in front of the net as per usual, and I think a large part of why this shot goes in is because Luongo can't track the puck.

Vancouver goal (3-2) 5:05 in 3rd period; PPG Schneider from Sedin & Bieksa:
Sedin has the puck on the right side. He waits until the Wings defense shifts towards the right, leaving Schneider wide open a little above the faceoff circle on the left side. He fires a nice cross ice pass and Schneider fires a hard slap shot past Jimmy Howard.

Detroit goal (3-3) 6:05 in 3rd period; Datsyuk from Williams & Ericsson:
Go to and watch the video. Seriously. Datsyuk carries the puck into the zone on the right side and unleashes a truly Datsyukian deke in the right faceoff circle. He freezes the defender, and shoots and scores while falling to his left.

Detroit goal (4-3) 9:31 in 3rd period; PPG Datsyuk from Rafalski & Holmstrom:
For the third time tonight, Homer's netfront position leads to a goal. I know people think he can't play 5-on-5 hockey anymore, but just look at how integral he is to creating better scoring chances. End rant. Luongo can't see the wrister Datsyuk fires from the left circle, and the Wings get the lead back.

Vancouver goal (4-4) 12:03 in 3rd period; PPG Sedin from Edler & Kesler:
Howard makes a couple good first stops, but the Wings never get to the puck to clear. The third shot in the sequence is a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that Howard turns aside to the right. A Canucks player is to the right on the red line. Howard sees him get the puck and dives towards it but the puck is already past him.

Detroit goal (5-4) 14:57 3rd period; PPG Williams from Filppula & Bertuzzi:
Bertuzzi passes the puck to Filppula to the left of Luongo down on the red line. Filppula threads a cross crease pass to Williams, who bangs it home. Luongo was unable to get back across the crease fast enough to recover. In large part this is because Flip was on the red line, which meant Luongo had the get tight against the post. This made it even hard for Luongo to slide across. Good positioning on the Wings part.

Nice to see the Wings fight through adversity to get a win on the road. I think things are starting to click, and hopefully the Wings can carry this into Edmonton tonight. This one has to be a confidence builder, and getting a win on the road is huge.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Paging Dr. offense

The Free Press is reporting that the lines were shuffled again at practice today. Look for Filppula to center Bertuzzi and Cleary tomorrow. Personally, I like this move. I think Bertuzzi especially is ready to break out, and pairing him with Filppula could work well.

Wings v. Avalanche in review 10/24/09

Ok, there's good news and bad news here. The good news: the Wings played what is probably their most complete game of the season. The bad news: they lost...again. The Wings outshot the Avs 49-23. Another nice stat is that the Wings outshot the Avs in every period, indicative of them outplaying the Avs for a full sixty minutes. Credit goes to Anderson in goal for Colorado, because allowing one goal on 49 shots is truly impressive.

Detroit goal (1-0) 3:09 2nd period; Draper from Cleary & Ericsson:
Nice goal here. Draper pulls a Holmstrom and camps out in front of the net. Cleary puts one on net and Anderson can't scoop up the rebound. Draper is right in front and whacks at the puck until it finds the back of the net. This sequence started on a failed clear attempt from behind the Colorado net that was intercepted by Detroit. Nice to see this one go Detroit's way after a similar play in Phoenix in which the Wings were unable to clear and Phoenix took advantage, tying the game that would eventually end in an OT loss.

Colorado goal (1-1) 14:26 2nd period; Galiardi from Stewart:
Well, the luck ran out pretty quick. A failed clear attempt by Rafalski hits Ericsson and falls to the ice. No Detroit player is able to get to the puck, and the Avs player passes to a wide open teammate in front of the net. One deke later, and the puck goes right between Howard's legs.

Colorado goal (2-1) 9:20 3rd period; Stewart from Galiardi & Cumiskey:
This one's embarrassing. Stewart is entering the offensive zone with speed, and he unleashes a simple wrister from near the top of the right circle. He beats Howard, who outstretches his blocker but can't slide cross-crease fast enough. He's about four inches too far to his left, and gets beat far side.

Colorado goal (3-1) 19:00 3rd period; Stastny from Hannan & O'Reilly:
Wings lose the faceoff, Stastny gets a nice loooong pass right on his stick, he shoots from the neutral zone and scores. Oh yeah, this one was an empty netter.

Well, the story of this game was really Anderson's stellar goaltending. The positive I take from this is that the Wings made fewer mistakes and had some great scoring chances. I truly believe that things will start clicking soon. After all, a little puck luck can go a long way.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wings v. Coyotes in review 10/22/09

Yet another win that got away. We've already experienced way too many of these this year, but this one was more controversial than most. Should this have ever reached overtime? No way.

Phoenix goal (1-0) 16:30 1st period; PPG- Lombardi from Aucoin & Doan:
Good passing leads to a wide open slap shot from the blue line by Aucoin. The puck bounces up and off of Osgood in front of the net, where Lombardi gets his stick on it and knocks it into the net. A good goal all around, and Lombardi makes a good effort to keep his stick below the crossbar.

Detroit goal (1-1) 19:40 1st period; PPG- Holmstrom from Datsyuk & Zetterberg:
Zetterberg shoots from the top of the right circle, and Homer is in his signature place right in front of the goalie. He tips in the puck to tie the game.

Detroit goal (2-1) 7:45 2nd period; Lebda from Datsyuk & Zetterberg:
Hey hey defensive breakdowns! No one picks up the trailer (Lebda), who comes into the zone with speed. The defense is fixated on Datsyuk and Zetterberg, and they pay the price as Datsyuk sees the open man and fires a cross ice pass to a widdddddde open Lebs.

Phoenix goal (2-2) 17:20 3rd period; Prucha from Michalek & Hanzel:
Should this goal have been allowed? No. No no no no no. The Yotes throw the puck on net in what looks like a pretty routine play, and Osgood absorbs the puck with his body and holds on to it. He is then pushed into the net (goaltender interference? yeah, definition of) while Prucha whacks at Ozzie with his stick. The puck gets knocked out on Osgood's left side, and Prucha pushes the puck into the net PAST the goal line. This never should have been allowed.

Phoenix goal (3-2) 1:57 OT; Aucoin from Vandermeer & Fiddler:
Fiddler fires a pretty textbook cross ice lead pass that lands on the stick of Aucoin. Osgood can't recover in time and Aucoin backhands it in. I think. Honestly, the play happens quick enough (and my video is blurry enough) that I can't really tell if its a backhander or on his forehand. Doesn't really matter though, cuz it's a game winner.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Datsyuk will play tonight

After two games out of the lineup, Pavel Datsyuk will return tonight against Phoenix. This is great, as Phoenix doesn't look like the cakewalk they used to be. Their start this year has been impressive and pretty unexpected. The Wings will have to hope Pav's truly healthy because the Coyotes have only given up something like 10 goals so far this year (I think I read that somewhere). Pav will be paired with Zetterberg and Homer on the top line. I am and have always been a fan of playing Pav and Z together, so I'm glad there won't be any line shuffling going on.

-John Buccigross has a pretty interesting little column up over at ESPN. He says that Dats and Z are both past their prime. I don't think I can bring myself to agree with this, but he makes a better point than you'd think from just reading the title. My take on this is that he's probably right, the athleticism of a player peaks in their mid 20s, but I don't think that means they're past their prime when this diminishes. Look at Pavel, who didn't come into the league until he was 24. He's a lot better at 31 than he was at 25. However you feel about it, it's worth a read. Here's the link:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wings v. Avalanche in review 10/17/09

I apologize for missing the Wings/Avalanche preview. I have a lot of work right now and just didn't have time to get it done. Moving on, here's the in review for what should have been a victory for the Wings but, like far too many games already this year, was a loss. The Wings have shown a propensity for letting games slip away in spans of less than five minutes, and that continued again in this game.

Detroit goal (1-0) 3:25 in 1st period; Abdelkader & Helm:
Tremendous forechecking by Helm sets this one up. He takes away the puck and skates hard to the net, where a bunch of guys flop around, including the goaltender. This leaves the puck unattended and at the edge of the crease, and Abdelkader wastes no time in flipping it over the goalie for his first regular season goal.

Detroit PPG goal (2-0) 1:14 in 2nd period; Bertuzzi from Zetterberg & Cleary:
A pretty pass from Cleary results in a shot from Zetterberg off to the goalie's left. Bertuzzi is in front of the net in good position for the tip, and he banks it home.

Colorado goal (2-1) 9:06 in 3rd period; McLeod from O'Reilly:
A turnover along the boards by Abdelkader leads to a 2 on 1, and Lebda doesn't have much of a chance to make a play here. Not the kind of goal you want to give up at this point in the game.

Colorado goal (2-2) 11:45 in 3rd; Duchene from Clark:
Wow. Now this one was impressive. Duchene picks up the puck at the Avs blue line, carries it across center, and shoots under the glove and the right side of the leg of the defenseman. He beats Osgood stick side.

Detroit goal (3-2) 13:37 in 3rd period; Filppula from Williams & Leino:
Williams and Leino had a nice give and go on a 2 on 1, but the shot from Leino was stopped. The goalie was on his belly and the puck was directly in front of him. Filppula came in with speed from the right side and put it in the net.

Colorado goal (3-3) 17:28 in 3rd period; McLeod from O'Reilly & Galiardi:
The Wings get caught on a line change at the wrong time. This leads to a 2 on 1, and the Wings defender commits to the wrong guy. Ozzie scrambles to get the other side of the crease, but the one time gets past him to tie the game.

Shoot out:
Det- Williams goal 1-0
Col- Svatos goal 1-1
Det- Zetterberg stopped 1-1
Col- Hejduk goal 2-1
Det- Leino stopped 2-1

This one hurts. Unfortunately, that pharse is starting to lose its effect because I've had to use it so often this season. This was way closer than it should have been. The Wings need to string together a full 60 minutes because there are four games already this year that they could have won if not for lapses of a few minutes that buried them. This team is obviously better than its record, and they need to make up ground immediately or risk falling into a far larger hole than necessary.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wings v. Kings in review

Nice to see the Wings stay hot at the Joe. Losing this would have hurt, especially after working hard in practice to re-establish the system.

LA goal (1-0) 5:41 in 1st; Brown from Greene & Stoll:
The Kings win the faceoff, the puck trickles back to the D man, and he pucks a hard shot on net. It looks like Ozzie gloves it and is then run into and drops the puck. Maybe Ozzie never had it in the glove, it's hard to tell from the replay. Brown is waiting on the left side of the crease to put the puck behind Osgood.

Detroit goal (1-1) 3:33 in 2nd; Ericsson from Abdelkader:
Abdelkader wins the faceoff cleanly and the puck goes to Ericsson at the top of the left circle, who fires a slapshot that beats Quick short side.

Detroit PP goal (2-1) 8:47 in 2nd; Holmstrom from Lidstrom & Rafalski:
In typical Holmstrom fashion, this one comes on a tip in off a slap shot by Lidstrom. Homer got great position in front of the net and had his stick at just the right height for the tip.

Detroit goal (3-1) 3:24 in 3rd; Zetterberg from Lidstrom (Lidstrom's 1000th point):
Lidstrom puts yet another slap shot on net that gets tipped in. Zetterberg's stick redirects the puck and puts in the far top corner, just beating the glove of Quick.

LA goal (3-2) 11:57 in 3rd; Williams from O'Donnel & Kopitar:
Good passing led to a good shot, and from the replay it looks like this one was tapped in right in front of the net.

Detroit goal (4-2) 14:43 in 3rd; Maltby from Bertuzzi:
Now this one was nice. Relentless checking led to an LA turnover, and Bertuzzi ends up with his back to the goalie but manages to dump the puck right into the slot where Maltby finishes the job. Great effort goal.

Detroit goal (5-2) 19:53 in 3rd; Rafalski from Zetterberg & Ericsson (empty netter):
Pretty straightforward. A good pass finds Rafalski all along past the blue line, and he does a good job of not embarassing himself and converting.

Overall, a good effort from the Wings. The comforts of home seem to work magic for this team. They'll need to continue this kind of effort in order to make up for the injured stars.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Detroit Red Wings v. Los Angeles Kings 10/15/09

Wings offense v. Kings defense:
Another crucial piece of the Wings offense will be missing tonight. Pavel Datsyuk isn't playing tonight, as he's out with an upper body injury. This matchup isn't as favorable as it used to be, as the Kings have some pretty solid defensemen in U of M grad Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty. I think the Wings offense has the advantage here, however, because they should be determined not to get outskated again tonight. I wouldn't be surprised if the Wings score 4 tonight, with at least three of those being tip ins and tough work goals. The Kings are allowing 28 shots per game, which is pretty respectable but not stiffling. Keep in mind that LA played a tough game against NYR last night, and that could work against the Kings tonight.
Kings offense v. Wings defense:
The Kings have been impressive so far, averaging 3.5 goals per game on 28.3 shots. Ryan Smyth has at least a point in all of the Kings games so far, and talented center Anze Kopitar already has 10 points. I really don't know what to expect here. If the Wings play like they did against Chicago and Washington, then this matchup shouldn't be a problem. But if the Wings blow defensive assignments and look as slow as they did against Buffalo then this could be a long night.
Wings goaltending:
Osgood gets the start again, and I'd expect him to have a good night. If the Wings tighten up defensively this shouldn't be a problem. I don't think many of the goals against Buffalo were directly attributable to mistakes by Osgood, and I think he's played well so far this year.
Kings goaltending:
It looks like Jonathan Quick will get the start tonight. He's gotten better as the season has gone on after a couple of shaky starts early. His stats are a little diluted by this, but his save percentage and GAA aren't anything to write home about (.898 and 3.00, respectively). If he continues to play as well as he has the last two games (1 GA and save percentage of .966% in both) then the Wings are in trouble.
An opportunity to lose any credibility I have (aka my score prediction):
Wings 4 - Kings 1

Red Wings v. Sabres in review

So it seems my score prediction was indeed half right; the Wings scored 2 goals, but the Sabres didn't score just one. They scored six. SIX!!! This is a team that hadn't scored more than a single goal in their first four games. Oy.

I mentioned in my game preview that there was a chance that the Sabres could explode, as teams that play as well as the Sabres played through the first four games are due for a breakout. Unfortunately, I thought the possibility of this happening against the Wings was slim, and I was so very wrong.

The Wings didn't do themselves any favors Tuesday night. They just looked off the whole game and no one seemed to be on the same page. When Nick Lidstrom leads the Wings in giveaways (a far too many 4), you know it's a bad game.

In what had to seem like an awful flashback, the Wings had an atrocious second period. They allowed 4 goals in 7 minutes, all of which were full strength goals.

I'm going to try something new in this segment and provide a brief analysis of each goal. We'll see how this works out.

Buffalo goal (1-0) 12:36 in 1st: PPG Stafford from Gaustad & Pominville
-Your typical bang-bang PP goal. Stafford is left completely unaccounted for. Ericsson isn't able to switch quick enough and this one ends up in the back of the net off a high point shot.

Detroit goal (1-1) 15:30 in 1st: PPG Filppula from Kronwall & Williams
-Kronner throws one on net and gets a great tip-in from Flip in front of the net.

Buffalo goal (2-1) 6:03 in 2nd: Kaleta from Myers
-This one came off a rebound. The forwards were well defended on the first shot, but Kaleta is allowed to get into the slot without having anyone one him. Williams blew the assignment here and is caught behind him.

Buffalo goal (3-1) 8:04 in 2nd: Vanek from Roy
-The puck gets flipped over the head and outstretched arms of the Wings D (Ericsson, not that it really matters), which leads to a 2 on 1. Roy makes a beautiful pass and finds Vanek.

Buffalo goal (4-1) 10:58 in 2nd: MacArthur from Roy & Pominville
-The Wings had the Sabres pinned against the boards, and then everything fell apart. Looks like the Wings got outworked here, as there's no reason to have guys D'd up against the boards and then allow them into the slot totally unaccounted for. Bad goal to give up.

Buffalo goal (5-1) 12:46 in 2nd: Vanek from Roy
-Kronwall's carrying the puck up the boards, and instead of looking ahead to make a pass he tries to make a cross ice pass despite the fact that he has a defender draped on him to the right. He gambles and loses big time. Roy gets the first shot on net and sprawls across the crease but needs Vanek's help to get the puck in the net.

Buffalo goal (6-1) 4:28 in 3rd: Gaustad from Kaleta & Ellis
-It's worth noting that at this point Osgood has been pulled and Howard is in net. A second effot goal off a rebound from Howard. The puck lands right in front of Howard off the first shot, and with Kronwall behind his man Gaustad is able to put the rebound in the net.

Detroit goal (6-2) 9:25 in 3rd: Holmstrom from Rafalski & Zetterberg
-A shot from along the right boards by Rafalski gets tipped in front by Z and then again by Homer. At least, I think that's how things happened in front of the net. The goal happens so fast it's hard to tell, and I haven't been able to find a slow-mo replay or an alternate angle.

After watching the film, the Wings looked like they made a lot of defensive miscues. They looked sluggish and unaware at times. Hopefully this was a one and done deal for the Wings, because they find themselves in the unusual position of having to fight for ground in the division and falling behind early won't do them any favors.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Detroit Red Wings v. Buffalo Sabres 10/13/09

Wings offense v. Sabres defense:
This one should go in the Wings favor. The Sabres have done a good job of limiting shots allowed (22 per game) but they haven't faced an offense as good as the Wings' yet this year. There are good players on Buffalo's D but no real studs so I wouldn't be surprised if the Wings are able to get over 30 shots on goal tonight.
Sabres offense v. Wings defense:
The Sabres have talented forwards in Vanek and Roy, but their offense this year has been anemic. They are averaging just 1.33 goals per game despite throwing an average of 38.7 shots on net per game. I think the Wings defense will shut Buffalo down, and I'd expect them to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 shots on net. I'm a little nervous because a team that's been so constrained for so long seems due for a breakout, but that shouldn't happen tonight. I fully expect the Wings to keep the Sabres in check as long as they can stay out of the penalty box. The Wing's penalty kill needs to find its legs, and I think the only way the Wings lose is by giving Buffalo PP chances.
Wings goaltending:
Not much to say here. Ozzie looks to be in good form, and I think the Wings defense is fully capable of helping him out. If they don't and he ends up facing a tremendous amount of shots, then this is anyone's game.
Sabres goaltending:
The only reason the Sabres have any wins this year is Ryan Miller. He's been outstanding thus far, with a microscopic 0.97 GAA and a nearly 98% save percentage. I think the Wings will be able to get a lot of shots on him, but I think he'll keep Buffalo in the game. The Wings better hope they can keep Buffalo as offensively limited as they have been all year because there's no reason to believe Miller won't continue his phenomenal play.
Hey, look! An opportunity for me to lose credibility! (aka my score prediction):
Wings 2 - Sabres 1

Red Wings v. Capitals in review

The Wings played arguably their best game of the season against the Caps, winning 3-2. They essentially shut down the league's highest scoring offense, including what was to that point the highest scoring line in the NHL.

Defensively, the Wings were great. Pairing the Dats-Z line against the Ovechkin line worked very well, as it made the Ovie line expend extra energy playing defense. Backstrom and Semin were absent from the scoresheet, and Ovechkin tallied only an assist after averaging 3 ppg to that point. I was really impressed with Ovechkin's overall play despite his lack of offensive output. He had something like 10 hits and I just think he's a far more complete player at this point than Crosby, but that's neither here nor there. The one lingering concern here is the penalty kill. The Wings allowed yet another PPG, dropping their PK% for the season to a woeful 64.7 Why this unit can't get it together I don't know, but this is definitely a glaring weakness on what looks like an otherwise strong team.

The Wings were impressive offensively as well. Perhaps the best goal of the game was the first, which resembled a playoff goal. Clearly and Leino both fought for position in front of the net, with Leino putting away the loose puck and subsequently taking a fist to the face. Nice to see that he's not just a pure scorer put is willing to jockey for position and take one on the chin in. The Wings other two goals came on the PP, raising the Wings PP% for the season to an impressive 30. Both times the Wings were able to get traffic in front of the net along with good puck movement, which really makes me think the PP is in mid season form. The Wings also outshot the Caps by 13, which is nice to see after the Wings were outshot by the Blackhawks. Thirty four shots on goal and outshooting the oppponent by 13 is Wings hockey in a nutshell, and it's nice to see this finally appear this season.

Ozzie was huge once again. He robbed Ovechkin alone in the crease, and though he didn't have to stop that many shots (a moderate 24 faced) he was nevertheless impressive. I think we can all safely say that the season operner against the Blues was a fluke and that last year is way behind him.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Detroit Red Wings v. Washington Capitals preview 10/10/09

Sorry for the tardiness of this preview. My internet disappeared last night in the middle of writing this. Anyways, the Capitals are in town tonight, which pretty much means Ovechkin Ovechkin Ovechkin. Oh wait, they also have the other two top scorers in the league. On the same line...

Wings offense vs. Capitals Defense:
The Capitals defense is far more scoring oriented than defense oriented. Led by Norris trophy finalist Mike Green, the Caps talked earlier in the week about re-committing themselves to defending. I'd expect that the Caps to play on their heels a bit in the beginning of the game, not wanting to join the rush too much and get away from what they worked on in practice. The Wings need to come out strong early in order to win this game. Getting the first goal could prove to be crucial in this game, especially against an offense as potent as Washington's.

The big news for the Wings offense is the tremendous amount of line switching due to the loss of Johan Franzen. Here's how the Wings will look tonight against the Caps:

The Wings would be smart to try and take advantage of the pairing of Dats and Z. With the Wings getting the last change, there could be times where Washington won't have the defensive pairing they want to defend against this line. Besides, the fact of the matter is that it'll be hard to account for both of them simultaneously anyways.

Capitals offense vs. Wings defense:
No reason to beat around the bush here, as this is about as challenging as it gets. The Capitals have the top three scorers in the league in Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin. The bright spot here is that the Caps don't have a great third or fourth line. If the Wings can play to their potential, they should be...ok. Not great, but ok. I don't think they'll be able to totally shut down Washington, but now would be a great time to play responsibily on defense.

Wings goaltending:
Chris Osgood played fantastically against Chicago, probably better than he did during the whole regular season last year. There's no reason not to have the utmost confidence in him right now, even facing the most potent offense in the league. He faced an unusual amount of shots against the Hawks (over 30) and only allowed 2 goals, so things are looking good. Hopefully the Wings defense can help out and reduce the number of shots he faces tonight.

Capitals goaltending:
Not a whole lot to say here. I don't even know who the started will be tonight as both Jose Theodore and Semyon Varlamov have split time in goal and neither have been spectacular, as evidenced by the Caps averaging 3.75 goals allowed per game. The only thing I really know; Varlamov's rookie cards are worth a lot of money. Seriously. That's it.

Very well thought out, very analytical score prediction:
Wings 3 - Captials 4

Wings v. Blackhawks in review

The Wings beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Thursday night at the Joe, earning themselves their first win of the young season. The game was a quality win as Detroit addressed a number of issues that plagued them in the first two games (and most of last year).

Perhaps the best news for the Red Wings is that their penalty kill unit made strides and managed to kill off a 5-3 that lasted almost two minutes.

The first period was largely controlled by the Hawks, and as a result Christ Osgood had to come up big a number of times.

In a reversal of the first two games of the year, the Wings played their best hockey in the second period. The Wings got a powerplay goal from Nick Lidstrom midway through the period, followed by goals from Kris Draper and a powerplay goal from Johan Franzen.

The Blackhawks responded in the third with a powerplay goal, but once again Osgood came up big to preserve the win. Of some concern was the number of shots the Hawks were able to get off in the third (15). The Wings were only able to get 4 shots on goal during the period.

This is not the Red Wings hockey we're used to seeing, as one of the most basic principles of the Wings game was violated here, that being puck possession. The Wings were badly outshot in total (34-23). This is obviously a concern going forward, especially with the offensively gifted Capitals coming to town. The Wings have been disappointingly streaky thus far, and their much discussed commitment to defense has been no exception to this.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Franzen out FOUR MONTHS!!!

So it looks as though Johan Franzen is going to be out for at least four months with a torn left ACL. FOUR MONTHS!!!! Ahh panic no no no. That puts Franzen out of the lineup until around the beginning of February. It'll be interesting to see who takes over his spot on the top line. No doubt there will be some major line shuffling going on before the Wings take on the Caps tomorrow. I'll update the blog as soon as I find out what these new line combos are expected to be.

The silver lining: maybe this means Franzen will be fresh going into the playoffs. Assuming we make the playoffs, of course...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lids moves closer to 1000 pts.

Lids recorded the 998th point of his career tonight on a powerplay goal in the 2nd period tonight against the Blackhawks.

This is quite the achievement, but I was very surprised to see that Nick is somewhere around 8th all time. Bourque is first with over 1,500 points, which is majorly impressive. Any way you look at it, 1,000 is still quite the achievement.

The Wings won 3-2 tonight (not bad for my first prediction, eh?). Expect further analysis of the game later. One more thing of note: the return of the organ?! I guess they're going to use it for "special" games during the year. Very cool during the game, very weird during player intros. I thought it gave the player intros a kinda creepy Phantom of the Opera-ish vibe.

Line Shufflin'

Justin Abdelkader may be out of the lineup tonight against the Blackhawks. If this is the case, Patrick Eaves would take his place on the fourth line. Also, Brett Lebda will be a healthy scratch. He is being replaced by Derek Meech, and will be paired with Jonatahan Ericsson.

Injury notes: Darren Helm continues to return from a clavicle injury. He will not play tonight againt the Hawks.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Red Wings v.Chicago Blackhaws 10/8/09

After what can only be described as a disappointing performance in Sweden this past weekend, the Wings return to the friendly confines of JLA to host the Blackhaws in the first home game of the season. Though the Blackhawks will be without newly minted public enemy no. 1 Marian Hossa until November, they still feature a potent offense that has been quite impressive so far in this young season.

Red Wings offense v. Blackhaws defense:

The Wings haven't exactly been anemic offensively thus far, but there are facets of the offense that need some major work. The powerplay (2-10 through two games) has once again disappointed, and the Wings have indicated they'll work on this coming into the game against Chicago. It is likely that the powerplay will be a big factor in this game. The Hawks are trying to play a more puck possession type game (essentially mirroring the Wings), and what with the Wings also trying to play puck possession this could turn into a game that's determined on the PP. The Hawks defensemen are good puck movers and are pretty mobile defensemen, so the Wings will need to be careful on the forecheck not to get caught out of position. With that having been said, the Wings offense is still a better unit than the Hawks defense. The Hawks defense, while serviceable, is not yet an elite unit while the Wings have two elite lines and two very good lines.
Advantage: Wings offense
Blackhaws offense v. Wings defense:
The Blackhawks essentially play like a bunch of over-caffeinated monkeys: they play uber up-tempo, for better or for worse. Granted, I've never seen over-caffeinated monkeys play hockey, but if I did I'm pretty sure it would resemble the Blackhawks. Perhaps the biggest story of the game is that the Hawks will be without turncoat Marian Hossa. This really shouldn't have much impact on the game, as Wings fans saw in the playoffs how well Hossa plays against previous teams (i.e. he pulls a disappearing act). Having said that, the real concern for the Wings is containing the Hawks super young superstars Toews and Kane. Luckily, the Wings have two tremendous d-pairings to match up with Toews and Kane whenever their lines are on the ice. I'd expect Lidstrom and Rafalski to shadow Kane and Kronwall or Stuart to shaow Toews. The biggest mismatch is probably with the Hawks second line and the Wings second defense pairing. Kronwall and Stuart are very physical but are questionably mobile, while Toews and linemate Patrick Sharp are very quick and shifty scorers. If Kroner and Stuart can rub the Toews line off the puck then the Wings should be in good shape, but if the defense is overly physical they could end up getting burned.
Advantage: Hawks offense
Wings goaltending:
Shaky at best in Sweden, the Wings will look to regroup on Thursday. Osgood will likely get the start here after only playing one of the first two games of the season. He's vowed not to repeat last year's lackluster regular season, and one game isn't enough to pass judgment on. There's no reason not to believe in Ozzie at this point.
Blackhawks goaltending:
Cristobal Huet assumes the number one starter spot after Khabibulin departed this offseason. The Wings have seen him many times before, so there really shouldn't be any surprises here. Huet has played well enough thus far. How he'll fare against the Wings is largely a product of how well the Hawks can keep the Wings out of their own zone
Very well thought out, totally analytical score prediction:
Wings 3 -- Hawks 2