4-2 Red Wings
:: With two points, the Red Wings clinched the Central Division for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons. Detroit will secure either the 2nd or 3rd seed in the Western Conference playoffs, depending how the rest of the season — and that of San Jose — goes. It’s still nearly impossible to tell who the Wings will play in the first round, as it could literally be any of Los Angeles, Phoenix, Nashville, Anaheim, or Chicago. The Predators or Ducks seem the most likely, but who knows what the hell is going to happen in the next week.
:: The game started much as the last one ended: with the muckers and grinders playing hero. Darren Helm took a loose puck in the slot and ripped an absolute beauty of Jose Theodore’s shoulder. Less than three minutes in, the Red Wings have a 1-0 lead and look to be playing with the confidence they were lacking for a few weeks.
:: With 19 seconds left in the first, the Wings would make it 2-0, though there is some debate as to whose stick it went in off of. Nick Lidstrom had a blast from the blue line that may have gone straight through the traffic, or it may have been tipped by Pavel Datsyuk who returned after missing seven games. Regardless of who scored this one, Pavel Datsyuk proves how important he is to this club, as he was a difference-maker all over the ice for all sixty minutes. What a stud.
:: The Wild would get on the board in the second, and it was a strange one. The puck seemed to have been trapped under Jimmy Howard and the players in white were able to continue jabbing at him. But, the referee was right on top of the net and must not have lost sight of it, since a whistle never blew, and the puck eventually crossed the line. I couldn’t see the puck in several slow-motion replays, but I didn’t have the vantage point of the stripes, so… who am I?
:: Homer plays a little dangle dangle, as he stickhandles (!) his way into a third Red Wings goal, making a pretty move around a sliding Brent Burns and firing a wrister past Theodore. He’s probably still smiling. Johan Franzen finally broke through, adding his 28th goal of the season in the third period. It was another strange goal that seriously may not have crossed the line, but we’ll take it. Because…
:: Another game, another goal called back. Justin Abdelkader was checked into Theodore, but Gator was up and out of the crease long enough for Theodore to see the play set up, get squared to the shot, and just be beaten on his own. For some reason, no goal.
:: The Wild would add another one — Carson McMillan scored his first NHL goal with about 3 minutes to play. Congratulations on the feat, future Best Name Nominee.
:: The Grand Rapids Griffins were eliminated from playoff contention last night, losing to Abbotsford, so it looks like we’ll be seeing quite a few of the guys up as Black Aces as soon as the regular season ends. I would expect Brendan Smith, Derek Meech, Doug Janik, Jan Mursak, Tomas Tatar, Ilari Filppula, Cory Emmerton, Gustav Nyquist, and Jordan Pearce to be up with the big club on April 11th.
:: It’s not Red Wings-related, but the sport of hockey lost a hero this morning as former Yale University player Mandi Schwartz lost her long battle with acute myeloid leukemia. The cancer returned in December after all signs pointed to her being on the road to recovery, and she opted to stop painful treatment. She is survived by her parents, her fiance, and two hockey-playing brothers at Colorado College. The 23-year-old will be playing on a line with Boom Boom and The Rocket tonight. Rest in peace, Mandi.
Photo Credit: Paul Sancya, AP