FINAL SCORE (Hi Mr.P!)
4-0 Red Wings
If you wanted an opening night to remember, boy, this one sure didn’t disappoint.
Scoring? Check. Johan Franzen took care of that just five minutes into the game.
Nostalgia? Count it. Mike Modano scoring on his first shot in a Red Wings uniform should do the trick.
Fisticuffs? Youbetcha. Ruslan Salei, Brad Stuart and the new lightweight champion of the world, Pavel Datsyuk, dropped the gloves and threw some haymakers against the poultry this evening.
Yes, it was a night to remember for sure. The 84th edition of the Detroit Red Wings came storming out of the gates and never looked back as they rolled the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 4-0. Was it 60 solid minutes of hockey? Not quite. But it WAS impressive, and the Wings sure look like they have the potential to put some points on the board this year.
Franzen, Modano, Datsyuk and Dan Cleary had your tallies tonight, but each of the goals was set up by excellent team play and a level of perseverance that wasn’t always evident on last year’s squad. Sure, some will go ahead and chalk this one up to the whole “opening night so we want to play with alot of intensity” mantra, but if you watched the game you know that the Wings hustled pretty darn hard and earned everything they got tonight. That’s not to say that there aren’t some issues that need to be worked out, but it is only the first game of the season so let’s keep expectations in check a bit.
That said, the Wings did struggle with turnovers in their own end again, coughing up pucks right in front of Jimmy Howard and forcing him to make some difficult saves. A quick look at the stat sheet might lead you to believe that Howard didn’t have to do alot to earn his fourth career shutout, but don’t let the numbers fool you. Out of the 21 saves he made tonight, there were at least five or six that he had to be pretty darn sharp on, and he answered the bell in this one. For a guy who has had questions marks surrounding him most of this offseason, his first rebuttal was pretty darn convincing. However, if the Wings don’t clean up the play in their own end, some of those turnovers are bound to eventually lead to goals, so you better believe that Babbles and Co. will be putting extra emphasis on puck control and smart decision making when practice rolls around next week.
Additionally, the injury bug reared its head against the Wings yet again, this time claiming Jonathan Ericsson with back spasms in the second period (which may be a good thing in some people’s minds.) The Rig left the bench early in the period and was out for the rest of the evening, leaving the Wings a man down on the blueline for a good half of the game. We haven’t heard a timetable for Ericsson’s return to the lineup, but we know it won’t be against the Blackhawks in Chicago as Jakub Kindl has already been tabbed as the sixth defenseman.
OK. Now that we’ve covered the bad, let’s take a second to cover the good. And for that, I’m dusting off the trusty bullets…
- Jimmah: 21 saves, a shutout and a blocker facewash to Corey Perry. Now that’s a good night.
- Rusty Sleigh: Look, he’s not the flashiest guy out there, but Salei has really impressed me since he arrived in Detroit and his first regular season game didn’t disappoint. He;s incredibly confident with the puck, making smart decisions and showcasing a smooth, controlling demeanor on the ice. Rarely out of position tonight, Salei is a definite upgrade for the third pairing in my mind (Andreas WHO?) and was excellent tonight against a chippy, physical Anaheim team. Hell, he even got into the first fight of the season for the Wings, although he only got two minutes for roughing.
- Loins: Cleary is supposed to be back and healthy after surgery and rehab, and he quietly got it done tonight. 2 points (1 G, 1 A) and a +2 is a pretty darn good night for Cleary, although his biggest contribution may have been cleansing all of the bad goal review juju out of Joe Louis Arena when his kneejob goal was ruled as good when it looked pretty clear that it should have gone the other way. Whatever, we’ll take it.
- Line #2: Tuzz’/Mulo/Flip looked pretty darn good all night long, although Filppula still needs to be a little bit more judicious in his shot selection. I understand that the coaches want him to shoot more, but it doesn’t do anyone any good when 95% of those shots are into the opponents shin guards. Unless they go down, that is.
- Dangle: Dude is the first star for a reason tonight. He had one of the prettiest redirections I’ve ever seen for a goal, made a nice pass on the Loins goal and then dropped the gloves with Bitchtits McNuggets himself, Corey Perry. Despite holding my breath and outwardly praying that he wouldn’t break a hand or get KO’d, it was still pretty damn fun to watch Dats hold his own against that POS from the Ducks, complete with the two-point takedown at the end. Now don’t ever do it again.
- Brad Stuart: Homeboy was a pissed off animal tonight out there. Not only did he almost destroy Bitch McNugs ona huge hit in front of the net, he dropped the gauntlets himself late in the game and ANNOUNCED HIS PRESENCE WITH AUTHORITY! (Yes, that’s a Bull Durham reference in this post. Deal with it.)
Again, alot of good in the win tonight, but there are definitely some things that will need to be worked on from an execution and decision making standpoint. At the end of the day though, this is a fun team to watch and a team that looks like they are primed to tackle the lofty expectations that both the media and fans have set for them. Alot can happen over an 82 game season, but for one night things were pretty damn perfect.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Petrella is in enemy territory with the wifey for the weekend, and I’m switching off the hockey mode for a few hours in favor of that pretty important FOOSBALL game that’s taking place tomorrow. Disch has graciously stepped up to the plate and will have your pregame before the puck drops in Chicago. You owe him a beer at H2H2.