Any good will that Jimmy Howard had built up may have just flown out the window with that performance. Not to put it all on him, but a handful of weak ones squeaked by the young netminder, who was starting his third game in a row.
In a game against one of the few teams more injury-depleted than the Red Wings, our boys in red couldn’t muster much — unless you count the goals they put in their own net. The final score was 4-1, but two of those Oiler goals came off the stick of a Red Wing: the first, which was swatted into the net by Brett Lebda; and another off of Datsyuk, which Jimmy Howard literally watched as it slowly rolled under his arm after making a half-assed stab at it with the blocker.
The Red Wings lone goal was a thing of beauty, however. After a sweet break-out pass from Nick Lidstrom, the puck was on Todd Bertuzzi’s stick, with just a couple of seconds left on the clock in the first period. As I’m screaming “SHOOT!” at the television because I assume Bertuzzi has no concept of time (or space, hygiene, or literacy) – but he sent a beautiful pass to the slot, through two Oilers, onto the stick of Danny Cleary, who buried it off the post.
Ken Holland gave some insight into the injury situation in a clip played during a break. The gist is as follows:
LILJA :: no timetable for his return. They are encouraged when he goes a few days without a headache, but then he has a setback. It doesn’t sound good.
FRANZEN :: hoping for his return soon after the Olympics. Which might upset Mulo, who hoped to play in the Games.
FILPPULA :: late December-ish, New Years.
KRONWALL :: January – after New Years but before February. Somewhere in there.
WILLIAMS :: no update was given, proving Ken Holland or the question-asker cares about Jason Williams as much as the rest of us. If my math is correct, his return is scheduled for January/February.
1. First, and most importantly, Ericsson left the game in pain with only a few minutes left in the third. A stick was tangled in his feet behind the net, he kind of jerked awkwardly and was down for the count. He barely got himself over to the bench, was unable to put any kind of weight on his foot at all, and needed help getting down the hallway. Very, very bad time for another injury – particularly to a defenseman. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he broke an ankle – or at least sprained it. After the game, it was revealed that Ericsson suffered a knee injury, after theoretically getting caught in a rut, but he would head to NY/NJ with the team. But, so is Kindl, and no other call-ups will be made.
2. Like mentioned above, two own-goals by the Red Wings were the death knell. The second was truly deflating. Everyone in the building (not that there were many of them) sighed at once. I don’t know what it is about Jimmy Howard, but he can’t seem to see pucks that come off of the sticks of his teammates. It’s like a glitch in a video game.
3. The first real Oilers goal was absolutely amazing. Ken and Mick mentioned that Ericsson missed his assignment, and that’s probably true, but those hands on Robert Nilsson were SICK NASTY. That’s a highlight reel goal.
4. It’s usually the Red Wings on the receiving end of Budd Lynch goals (in the ‘last minute of play in this period’ — get it?), but tonight’s Red Wing goal, which came with 0.9 seconds left in the first was magic. I was hoping that their young goaltender Deslaurier would spend the next 17 minutes thinking about it and that the Wings would build off of it. No dice.
5. There was a dust-up featuring Brad May and Zack Stortini in the second period, which May’s gloves hitting the ice. The linesmen jumped in right away and no punches were thrown. At the time, I felt like the stripes should have let it happen, because they were delaying the inevitable and it would be a circus until it did. But, it never did happen, and May got four minutes (to Stortini’s two), presumably for dropping his gloves.
6. The cause of the skirmish was a series of rough hits, first on Abdelkader, then on Vishnovsky (by Maltby). Was it me or were the Wings getting tossed around like G.I. Joe in this game? Meech was hit so hard in the first period, it looked like a scene from Die Hard – and the Abdelkader hit would have been another one of those “blindside head hits” if he hadn’t gotten up so quickly.
7. Homer missed a glorious chance to tie it up: with the puck on his stick in the crease, he spun quickly, a la Bubble Hockey, had about 3.9 feet to shoot at, but sent it wide.
8. Likewise, a great pass from Ericsson to Abdelkader should have made it 3-2, but it wasn’t to be. Abdelkader is starting to look frustrated with his lack of finish lately, too.
9. A third missed chance came from Datsyuk – who double (or possibly triple) cocked on what was once a gaping view of white net. By the time he decided it was time to shoot, Deslaurier was taking a nap at the angle.
10. Overall, it was a pretty uninspired effort by the Red Wings, which – sadly – is becoming the norm. Almost completely unphased by their level of suck in games like these.
REVISITING THE PRE-GAME QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Rafalski’s injury hurts, but Ericsson’s would hurt a bit more – particularly if Rafi isn’t able to play this weekend. However, the good news is, everyone should be excited about Jakub Kindl. I didn’t mention him above because I was saving it for here, but that kid’s good. He was -2 (although, on the first goal against, he made a fantastic play to strip the Oiler puck-carrier, and then Lebda took that play, hocked a loogie on it, and threw it into the Wings net by himself). Don’t let the stat line fool you, he played really well. He only made one bonehead play (a failed attempt to clear the zone – which, let’s face it, means he’ll fit in well), but he knew IMMEDIATELY it was a dumbass play. If Rafalski or Ericsson can’t go this weekend, I think Kindl will only improve and I thought it was a fantastic first game.
2. I promised no smack-talking Bertuzzi if he scored again. Well, he didn’t. But he did make a great pass to Dan Cleary in an otherwise turnover-fest of a game. Considering the foresight and accuracy of that pass, I’ll let the deal ride. If he scores in Jersey on Saturday, he’s shit-talk-free for a week. If he doesn’t, it’s back on.
3. I called Ville Leino goal. And I failed miserably. He was terrible tonight. I feel like if the Wings had a healthy lineup, he wouldn’t be in it.
4. Have you voted for the Wings in the Team of the Decade thing?
5. A Twitter update, if you will. Good friend of TPL, Natalie from The Scrappy Octopus, is – as promised – delivering the goods via Twitter. She’s already up to 35 followers, which took me like six months, so my countdown was a bit off, but a great showing nonetheless.
The Wings are coming to my hood for the weekend: they’re in lovely Newark on Saturday, and stinky disgusting Manhattan on Sunday. This is the annual dad’s trip — which we learned thanks to well-placed sources that Ville Leino’s dad took a pass on.