And with that, the Wings end the first half of the season. After 41 games, the Red Wings are 21-14-6, and are on pace for 96 points. At this point last season, they were 29-7-5 with 63 points.
TPL’S TAKE (Part I – Rob’s post coming soon. Guaranteed Lulz)
On a delayed penalty, and with Jimmy Howard already on the bench, Todd Bertuzzi rifled a pass back to the blueline, which was missed, and it sailed dangerously close to the empty net. I was expecting 75 emails, texts, tweets and phone calls, but apparently that only happens when Todd does something NOT retarded.
Nick Lidstrom ALMOST buried a shot in the first period. It was followed up almost immediately by the first Homer goal, a tip-in. Later, Holmstrom would guide a perfectly redirected Lidstrom shot into the net for his second of the game. It’s been said by folks smarter than I am, but here it goes anyway: Tomas Holmstrom is the best net-front player of all-time (Cue Dino Ciccarelli photoshops… “Yo, I’m real happy for you, and Imma let you finish…).
That third line of Kris Draper, Darren Helm, and Patrick Eaves is simply nasty. The chemistry they have is incredible. I think it’s time to lock up Patrick Eaves on the cheap. I’m thinking four years. Speaking of Eaves, he looked damn good in his first game back from the flu. Didn’t seem to miss a step at all.
There were some weak penalty calls in quick succession in this one. The Lebda slash was pretty weak, but they’ve been making that call all season, so it wasn’t ridiculous. Darren Helm’s roughing call while already on that penalty kill was retarded. Fox Sports Arizona didn’t show many replays, but even the Coyotes announcers (who, aside from Dave Strader, are absolutely mind-numbing) felt it was a dumbass call. I thought hockey was a contact sport, but some of these penalties lately would have me think otherwise.
Jimmy Howard looked great tonight, quietly. He made some rather tough saves, 35 in total, and walks away with yet another victory and only one goal against (he had no shot on the Coyote tic-tac-toe 5-on-3 goal). There was a 2-on-1 save that I promise would have gone in on Osgood. Instead, Jimmy Howard made it look like an easy save. Like, ya know, it was.
Pavel Datsyuk snapped a nifty wrister past Bryzgalov, as it looked like the Coyotes had already given up at that point. Once again, the top line of Datsyuk, Bertuzzi, and Holmstrom was the most noticeable – as they should be – and Pavel is finally kinda-sorta taking the offense over, with his second goal in two games. But….
Darren Helm sealed it with another empty netter: his second in two games — and third goal total in that span. Take THAT, Pavel.
I don’t remember even seeing the following players: Doug Janik, Ville Leino, Derek Meech, Brett Lebda, and Brian Rafalski.
REVISITING THE PRE-GAME QUICK THOUGHTS
1. A very pleasant start to 2010. I’ll take 4-1 wins through June, thanks.
2. Flip may not have looked as strong as he did on Thursday, but he is a damn good hockey player. He didn’t look NOT strong, he just didn’t stand out in the way I thought maybe he might.
3. I’m hoping for seven or more points on this road trip, and these two points are a great start. Keep it going…
4. Ritola looked fantastic. He started on time tonight, and totally fit in on his line and certain instances of the power play. He’s going to be a good player when he gets up full time, maybe as early as next season.
5. Jimmy Howard. Not quite sure if anyone has any argument anymore. He’s your starter. Even Chris Osgood apologists have to agree that five starts in a row, when Osgood isn’t sick or hurt, means something. Ozzie only played five straight ONCE in the last season and a half (excluding the playoffs), and he was the definite starter for those months.
I have to think that anytime you don't notice Meech, Lebda or Janik, that's a good thing!
@Jennie: I agree. They weren't that horrible last night.
@Michael: Are we now in full agreement that empty netters doesn't count?
I like the new grind line.
On the penalty kill, I get the feeling that Helm and Eaves are the new Draper and Maltby. They used to excell at that when they were younger.
Janik had a couple of *gasp* moments in the game, but was overall solid. I've been keeping an eye specifically on Leino because for reasons even alien to me, I feel like I've adopted him as a project (yes, for only 97 cents a day, you too can help a former Finnish Elite League MVP not turn into the next Robert Lang, call now). Leino actually hit somebody last night. That was the first one I could remember in a while. I liked his effort last night.
Rafalski was flat-out good with the passing. I thought Datsyuk did more to make the first goal happen, but Raffi's assist was very well-earned as he was pressured by Doan immediately at the point at the end of the power play and got a cross-ice backhand over to Lidstrom for the eventual tipped-in shot. Later in the game, when the Wings were cycling back trying to get through the Yotes' trap, I remember Raffi bouncing one off the boards from inside his own zone to a full-speed Datsyuk at the blue line that he took in and got a real quality scoring chance against Bryzgalov.
Still though, with how well Helm, Datsyuk, Bertuzzi, Lidstrom, Homer, Filppula, Eaves, Ritola, Draper, Miller, and Maltby played, those guys were pretty easy to overlook. The whole team looked good last night
@Jenn — totally agree. Plus, I was watching the Coyotes broadcast, so they don't really go out of their way to make sure they mention everyone or alert you that they're in the game. But, as a rule, anytime you don't see Lebda or Meech, it's probably positive.
@Andy — I don't know about Empty Netters. I was just being funny on Twitter last night, because Todd Bertuzzi has no business being on the ice when the other net is empty. What do you think?
@Baroque — I'm with you. I'd love to have that grind line for the next decade. Maybe Drew Miller fits in for Draper when Kris decides its time to hang 'em up? I dunno…
@JJ — I'm not sure I'd pay 97 cents a day for Ville Leino. Imagine how Ken Holland feels paying 700k.
We all know Brian Rafalski is a good hockey player, and an unbelievable passer, but this season I feel like he's had more brainfarts in 41 games than he usually has in 82. Perhaps he's feeling the pressure of missing players more than the others. But if I had to pick one guy who isn't living up to his contract (besides Leino), it's Brian Rafalski and his 6 million.
I couldn't agree more on Rafalski. Whenever I bemoan the Wings' cap situation that led them to losing Hudler, Samuelsson, and Hossa, Rafalski's contract is one that makes me stop just short of bemoaning. The guy's good and he puts up points, but he is overpaid for the way he's played over the last season and a half. The only thing that keeps me from tearing my hair out and looking more like him is that he's probably only overpaid by $500k-$1M, which isn't enough cap space for us to have kept those guys anyway.
For all the crap we Wings fans give Mebdeech (tm Kyla @ BDS) for poor passing decisions behind their own net and for getting beat out for position low, I think Rafalski gets a free pass for being another with that tendency (see the Avs 2nd goal on New Year's Eve for more). Still, the guy was money against the Yotes'
The last thing that keeps me from putting a hit out on Rafalski, for being mildly overpaid, he's still head-and-shoulders better defensively than Chicago's ginger albatross and he gets paid a bunch less.
I wouldn't pay 97 cents a year for Leino at this point. Of course, I'm kind of a b*tch when it comes to my favorite little Finn. But I will say once again that I'd adore it if he'd prove me wrong by actually, you know, playing some hockey. Wouldn't that be a kick in the pants, huh?
@Andy Oh, I still count empty netters, espeically when they come off Helm's stick. At this point, he can pick up and carry the puck into the net if that's what it takes to build up his touch. Maybe with all this practice, he'll start potting some shots now and then.
Christine, I would love Leino to prove us all wrong and net 20. It's just a long shot at this point, I gotta think…
The empty-netters Andy and I are referring to are Todd Bertuzzi's. We have a little bet going. If Todd Bertuzzi scores 20+, I'm changing the banner of TPL to a Bertuzzi Love Affair-type thing. If he fails to net 20, Andy is recording an acoustic version of the Todd Bertuzzi Song and throwing it on his blog (and you better believe it'll be here, too).
What do you think? Should Empty Net goals count in this quest for 20? I don't think Bertuzzi will get many (if any), but he was close last night, so it's something that needs to be established before it happens. HA
Tough call. I'm all for Andy singing the Todd Bertuzzi song (can we hear a Norwegian language version on the B-side, too?) But I'd like to see the banner as well. Especially it if were to involve you and Bert in a Shanny-Yzerman type pose.
Ah, decisions, decisions…
I say let empty netters count. It takes some good defensive play to get the chance at an EN goal.
It should count double if he does it the same way Helm did last night.
Good point, JJ. Fact is, Bertuzzi will RARELY be on the ice with an empty net at the other end, and generally EN goals ARE earned, one way or another.
It looks like they're going to count…
okay. They count then. I kinda wanna do the song though…
Oh don't you worry. You'll be doing the damn song.