Final Score (Hi Dad!)
Wings 4, Kings 1
A very strong second period proved to be the difference-maker as the Red Wings ended their two-game slide, earning their first points of the road trip. They’ll have to hope their legs don’t seize up in the next twenty-four hours, since they’ll have to do it again in Anaheim, and this was — for the most part — the kind of complete effort they’ll need to remember over the next 64 games. They scored two power-play goals (but allowed a shorthanded goal), and killed all of their penalties (including a late-game 5-on-3) — a marked improvement over the last few weeks for a team that ranks in the bottom half of both of those statistics.
Bullets of Importance
- “Special” Teams :: For the second game in a row, the Wings gave up a whiskey dick shorthanded goal on what is supposed to be a man advantage. It was also Exhibit #740 in the case against using a forward on the point of the power play, just in case “shit” happens. Jiri Hudler had no idea how to regroup with the break going the other way, and the puck ended up in the Wings’ net. The five guys that were on the ice (Zetterberg, Cleary, Hudler, Kronwall, and Filppula) were yanked even though their shift was only 8 seconds long, and they were probably unloaded on once they got back to the bench.
- Special-er Teams :: The following shift saw the second PP unit playing with a little more desperation. Pavel Datsyuk tied the game up, and the team didn’t have to suffer the embarrassment of going -1 for 1 on the power play. It was Datsyuk’s third of the season (and first in twelve games) that seemed to have eyes as the puck found its way around Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick. Later in the game, Niklas Kronwall would add another PP goal (his sixth goal of the season and fifth in seven games). Justin Abdelkader made it 3-1 when he and a streaking Brendan Smith (who was fresh out of the box serving a hooking penalty) converted a 2-on-1. Pavel Datsyuk would double his season’s goal total, as he netted a second goal (his fourth of the season) in the third period.
- Welcome Back, Tuzzi :: Todd Bertuzzi missed six games and looked damn good in his return. He had a dumbass pass in the first period directly onto the tape of a King, and took a (SURPRISE!) tripping penalty, but he was hustling all over the ice and digging pucks out of the corner. To have #44 be one of the catalysts of that kind of energy was odd to witness, but certainly a welcome addition to a team that has shown very little drive
- Penalty Not :: In the second period, the Kings were awarded a penalty shot after Niklas Kronwall’s stick got tangled up in Anze Kopitar’s legs on a breakaway. Kopitar got a shot off during the play, which — by the way — is one of the stipulations that would prevent him from being awarded a penalty shot. Bogus call, and Jimmy Howard was having none of it, and made a nasty glove save on the ensuing shot.
Bullets of Less Importance
- The Kings forecheck is filthy. They really have a system down and they look damn good operating it. The Red Wings had a strong puck possession game and — after the first few shifts — adjusted their method in the D Zone to keep the Kings’ very strong forecheck at bay.
- Congratulations to Brendan Smith, who registered his first NHL point — an assist — in his second game with Detroit. In the third period, he surpassed Mike Commodore’s total time-on-ice for the season (just like he surpassed Commodore’s point total in the second).
The Disch Approved “Horsecop” of the Game
I was tempted to take Darren Helm, who was an absolute madman on the kill as well as at even strength, but Pavel Datsyuk made a statement today and that statement was “I’m tired of this losing bullshit, and Hollis made me realize it’s my responsibility to do something about it.” He refused anything less than an equalizer following that shorthanded goal against, and added an insurance goal in the third.
The Riggy “Shitbox” of the Game
Until he proves otherwise, this slot may default to Henrik Zetterberg. The other supposed leaders of the team played angry today (Datsyuk and Kronwall each had goals, Franzen had an assist and was buzzing around the net, Lidstrom was strong defensively and added an assist), but Z went goose egg again and you may not have known he was on the ice aside from playing center during the shorthanded goal against. The boxscore tells me he had 7 shots on goal, but I don’t remember a single one of them.
Point Pace :: The Wings are on pace for 95 points. Last season, 97 was the playoff cutoff.
Quick turnaround, as the Wings play the Ducks in twenty-four short hours. I’ve got your pre-game again.
Photo Credit: Christine Cotter, AP Photos