Much like with the Winter Classic, there are two stories to last night: The event and the game.
Actually, the game was two stories, as well. Through the first two periods, the Red Wings controlled play. The Avalanche didn’t even have a scoring chance in the first period, even having the only power play of the game to that point. In a game that was supposed to be about Colorado’s great young players, it was Detroit’s kids keeping the Avs bottled up for shifts at a time.
Unfortunately, a 2-1 lead for the Wings after two periods went the way of so many third-period leads this season. Colorado took control and tied things up. The Wings never looked like they were really in it for the rest of the night. Then a defensive miscue in overtime left a wide-open net and a 3-2 loss.
Given Detroit’s recent track record in “event” games, an overtime loss isn’t that bad. That said, their fighting for their playoff lives, they need as many points as they can get, and they left one on the table.
One major positive is that the first line looked better with trade deadline acquisition David Legwand than it did with Joakim Andersson, who was bumped down to the fourth line. Actually, Legwand looked pretty good, it was Johan Franzen who looked like he was coasting (which, given his historic streakiness and the fact that he’s coming off a run as the league’s first star of the week, you could say might have been due).
As for Nicklas Lidstrom‘s jersey retirement, it was nearly perfect, as you would expect. Steve Yzerman should have been there. More importantly, as Lidstrom himself noted, Brad McCrimmon should have been there. Chris Illitch should have acknowledged that this is Detroit’s eighth retired number, as the Ilitch family needs to stop trying to ignore Larry Aurie.
I have a little rant about not raising the banner straight up to where it belongs next to the others but part of that is a rant about the banners being wrong at the Joe in general, which I’ve made before.
That said, all of the speeches were fantastic. Having so many former teammates there was awesome. The current Wings in their #5 jerseys was a nice (if over-used) touch. It was a fitting send-off.
I had wondered how they would make it different from Steve Yzerman’s jersey retirement and a big part of it seems to be that they had the alumni seated to start rather than walking in when they were introduced. I think this shows how much Yzerman’s ceremony was about him as the leader of an entire era of Red Wings while Lidstrom’s was more about him. It was appropriate.
I’ve got a batch of photos from the ceremony and the game that will go up on the site eventually. As with the Winter Classic photos, I expect they’ll be a little delayed.