I’ll get to the goals in a minute, but what I think is more interesting than any one play is how Mike Babcock handled the goaltending tonight. The two first period goals were of the “pretty weak” variety – and they came in quick succession. This season, Chris Osgood has been pulled in very similar situations, allowing semi-weak goals in a two minute span. The fact that Howard was allowed to stay in the game is very telling, if you ask me. Babcock said earlier in the week he’ll announce starting goalies as the games come up, but that he would ride Howard as long as he played strong. He did not, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chris Osgood starting on Thursday. But it should be noted that Babcock stayed with Howard in a situation where he absolutely would not have stayed with Osgood. I bet that burns Ozzie’s ass. Perhaps that’s a motivator. Or perhaps he’ll shit the bed on Thursday and use the long layoff as an excuse. I’m betting on the latter.
I missed a good chunk of the first period, because it was relegated to the little screen of my picture-in-picture. That World Junior finale was a hell of a hockey game and if you didn’t watch it, try to catch the replay. Team USA walked away overtime winners, dethroning Canada for the first time since 2004. Really a fantastic game, and I tried keeping an eye on both games, but admittedly shook my fist and ran out of the room when that John Carlson shot hit net. Bittersweet as I recently received a letter from USA Hockey notifying me that they’d no longer be covering me after twenty years.
Anyway, back to the Wings…
The first goal was, like I mentioned above, fairly weak. It was a shorthanded goal off the stick of Saku Koivu that Jimmy Howard should have had. He thought he had it in between his legs, but obviously he didn’t and it trickled through the back. The Red Wings were the final team in the NHL to allow a shorty this season, which is pretty incredible given the off year they’re having. @jennbikegirl, who always has my back, and is a loyal friend to (and honorary member of) the Contuzzi Brigade, was quick to point out who turned the puck over leading to the goal. Later, Bertuzzi would whiff on a shot that only he could miss: with 23.9 square feet to shoot at, he kept the puck on the ice and slowly slid it into Hiller’s pads. Way to go, Todd. Still waiting for my curly fries.
The second Ducks goal was from Matt Beleskey – his first career goal. The third Duck goal was hand delivered by Brian Rafalski, who made a completely shit-for-brains pass from behind the net directly onto the stick of Corey “Of All Goddamn People” Perry. It was only two minutes after Flip’s goal (more on that later), and any confidence the Wings had was promptly donkey punched. Kyle Chipchura added an empty netter.
Nick Lidstrom looked strong, taking lots of shots. He even saved a sure-fire Ducks goal in the first. He still didn’t net one, but he did assist on the lone Wings goal, a Flip rebound effort – which Val scored from his kiester. I tell ya what, I love that kid. It was his third game back, and like I said in my WIM recap, he seemed to be the only one that gave a damn all night.
What’s this? Doug Janik in another fight? Go on with your bad self.
What’s this? Brad May dry humping Sheldon Brookbank and earning a “double minor” – presumably for acting like a sophomore after homecoming?
What’s this? Derek Meech dropping the gloves? Ultimate badass, he is.
What’s this? Todd Bertuzzi ripping off his jersey and bodyslamming Bobby Ryan? The Ducks announcers spent some time debating whether or not Bertuzzi’s jersey was strapped down before coming to the conclusion that yes, yes it might have been….four minutes after everyone else stopped caring.
REVISITING THE PRE-GAME QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Jimmy Howard really didn’t play well. He was fighting the puck all night, and rarely had any idea where shots were headed and where his rebounds might end up. Poor effort, and I gotta think Osgood is in on Thursday vs. the Kings because of it.
2. Nick Lidstrom still didn’t get a goal, but it’s not like he’s not playing. He’s a great hockey player, and he still takes shots with complete confidence. I don’t feel like he’s the kind of guy that is really mentally affected by his scoring drought.
3. With guys coming back, it was an important game for the lower half of the forwards to step up and make it impossible for Babbles to take them out of the lineup. Here’s the breakdown:
–Ritola :: very strong game, but we all know he’s back down as soon as Z and Buckets can play.
–Leino :: where he belonged, in the press box. So that Brad May and Mattias Ritola could play…that’s saying something.
–Abdelkader :: pretty good effort, but when the entire squad is back, one has to think he might be an odd man out because of his waiver exemption.
–Miller :: strong game, great forechecker, I think he’s really solidifying his place in the lineup. I think he’s ahead of Gator and Leino.
–Eaves :: also played a strong one, but did make a handful of bonehead plays. But his chemistry with Helm and Draper is undeniable and I gotta think he’s a candidate for an extension.
–Maltby :: he’s a little pain in the ass, I’ll give him that. He makes things happen, but I’ve always felt that Uncle Mike has viewed him as partially replaceable, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him land in healthy scratch territory when the bodies are all back (assuming the bodies will ever be all back).
4. The Red Wings had a clear advantage heading into this game, but this is why they don’t play hockey games on paper. They’ve had more days off than the Ducks, they were on a confidence-building streak, but the Ducks flat out played better hockey. Very bad effort from the Wings…