Detroit won’t like this one. They absolutely, wholeheartedly deserved the two points tonight, badly outplaying the Florida Panthers throughout much of the game. They only allowed two shots in the first period, eventually winning the shot war 40-20.
Pavel Datsyuk got off his schneid and Henrik Zetterberg continued his point streak, but the best player on the ice for the Wings was Darren Helm. He used his speed to create quite a bit of offense, including two breakaways (neither of which he could convert, however). He was blazing all night, and I was sure he was going to net one at some point. That’s just bad news for Montreal…
Scott Clemmensen won that game for the Panthers. He stopped 39 of 40 shots, playing in his first game since criticizing the defense. Take that, karma.
1. Chris Osgood played admirably in his return from flu-like symptoms. The numbers don’t look so great, though, allowing the two goals on just twenty shots (.900 save percentage), but this one can’t be hung on him.
2. On the bright side, Jonathan Ericsson didn’t score for the Panthers.
3. Darren Helm is my hero. That kid has wheels.
4. So does Kris Draper. Rob mentioned during the game that someone should remind him of his age, because he looked two decades younger tonight.
5. Come to think of it, the entire third line was good. Patrick Eaves had a buzz about him, nearly netting himself a goal on a nifty feed from Draper.
6. The fourth line was solid, as well. Great effort along the boards from Justin Abdelkader. Drew Miller was putting himself in the right places. Kirk Maltby was making things happen at both ends. That’s a good line.
7. The Panthers played quote-unquote effective defense. They allowed a ton of scoring changes in the first, and a ton of shots the whole game, but there weren’t a ton of “oh man, how is that not in the net” moments. Eaves’ one-timer probably should have hit net, but that was a hell of save. Todd Bertuzzi (surprise!) whiffed badly on an attempted one-timer. If Darren Helm could have gotten a stronger shot of on either of his breaks, it would have been a different game, but he lost the handle the first time and was being mugged on the second.
Photo Credit: Jerry S. Mendoza, AP