Well, that was sixty full minutes of hockey, buoys and gulls (boom – aquatic humor). The team looked poised, ready, and confident — a trio of qualities almost foreign to this year’s version of the Red Wings, but we all knew that the tides would turn (yup, another one) at some point in the season, and here’s hoping last night was the line in sand (okay, I’ll stop).
On the lone Sharks goal, scored by Patrick Marleau (his TWENTY NINTH, by the way), Jimmy Howard was left out to dry. Tiberius made two really strong saves, and the defensemen were just kinda standing around watching. For the record, it was Nick and Brian Rafalski. I’m inclined to blame Rafalski more than Lidstrom because A) he isn’t Nicklas Lidstrom, B) it’s happened a few times this season, and C) Nick’s body language almost caused closed captioning to appear on my television and say “homeboy, that’s your man… WTF you doin’?”
Later in the first period, Dan Cleary had a breakaway. Darren Helm he is not, and it appeared that Cleary was skating in mud. I thought perhaps it was the end of a long shift, or the ice in California sucks, or both — but he stayed on the ice and backchecked pretty hard. Moral of the story, that breakaway was ugly. But, we all know the Red Wings aren’t friends with the breakaway, and Cleary made up for it anyway.
Everyone was hoping for more out of Pavel, and boy oh boy did he deliver. His goal, the Red Wings’ first, was Classyuk Datsyuk. He somehow stole the puck (from Clowe, I believe), transitioning into a nifty two on one, looked off the pass, and sniped shelf. He didn’t even celebrate, he just kinda had a “yeah, I can do that, remember?” look about him.
The second Wings goal went to review (of course it did), but for once, Toronto didn’t stick it in the Wings chute, and the goal stood. Doug Janik had a shot from the blue line, which Patrick Eaves re-directed. If you ask me, his stick did look pretty high, but none of the angles I saw were very clear showing where the puck made contact, so it wasn’t obviously not a goal. Maybe Detroit’s feed had some better angles, but frankly I was shocked it stood up, for more than one reason.
With 1:09 left in the second period (a period which was 350% Detroit), Dan Cleary found some redemption for his failed breakaway as he scored on a 3-on-1. He had a sick little toe-drag, and whipped a wrist top corner. It was very similar to Datsyuk’s shot, which is a hell of a statement for a guy that isn’t Pavel Datsyuk and isn’t expected to be.
At one point in the third, Darren Helm lost his stick and I was thinking “oh boy, you gotta get to the bench, kid,” but he stuck around in the defensive zone. It’s not like he couldn’t get to the bench in 2 seconds flat with those wheels, but obviously he knows better than me and stuck with his assignment. He got his feet against the boards, trying to kick the puck loose, and ultimately — when the rest of the team failed to clear the zone on the Sharks makeshift man advantage — he slid along the ice and got the puck into the neutral zone with his chest. Darren Helm is the closest I’ve ever been to in love with a man.
Later, Mr. Helm had the puck on his stick, went toward the net, did a little dipsy doodle, deked out everyone in the state of California, and buried it to make it 4-1. Uh oh, National Hockey League, Darren found some hands. That was his fifth goal in five games.
With the game out of reach, and some of the Sharks looking frustrated, Dan Cleary and Devin Setoguchi fought. Kinda. I’d prefer Buckets didn’t do such things, what – with his injured shoulder and all, but he held on, never looked overly angry or nervous, let Setoguchi get some licks in, and then put him on the ice. Dan Cleary: The Shit.
INTERESTING NON-GAME RELATED NOTES
Seems Jiri Hudler called Tick Tock to wish him a Happy New Year. Good will action? Will Munchkin be back in the Wings lineup next year because the Big League in Russia, ya know, sucks donkey nards?
Former Red Wing Curtis Joseph will hang the pads up on Tuesday. Always seemed like a nice guy, but never quite fit in on the Wings. A wonderful (regular season) career, sure to see him considered for the Hall of Fame and TPL wishes him the best in his future endeavors.
REVISITING THE PRE-GAME QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Woo, baby, Jimmy Howard is turning out to be the real deal. In his eight straight starts, he’s gone 5-2-1 and has a goals against average of 1.74. His save percentage is now third in the entire league, and he’s climbing the chart in a bunch of other categories. Anyone that thinks Chris Osgood is still the starter is living in Dream Land.
2. Nick Lidstrom still didn’t pot one in the Sharks game, though he sorta had that feel about him. I thought for sure he was going shelf on a play in the first period, but he — like he does — dished the puck to someone with a better angle. He’s looking, folks, he just doesn’t care that its not him scoring.
3. Zetterberg didn’t go lights out, but he looks pretty good. His return is certainly being overshadowed by Cleary’s (who has a goal in each of their games back), but Z is valuable in so many situations, not the least of which is calming us all down.
4. About to hop on and record the Obstructed View, and I’m happy to say that Todd Bertuzzi gave me a break this time. No two goal performance, no random spin-o-rama goal, no penalties even. Twelve hours later, I don’t have a whole lot to say about Tuzz from last night’s game, which is actually fantastic news for you in the Protuzzi Camp, because it means he didn’t do anything that makes me want to vomit with rage.
New York Islanders on Tuesday.