Make no mistake: the Red Wings should not need a shootout to beat the Florida Panthers in April. That said, these Wings seem to, so I’ll take the two points however they come.
In the final week of the regular season, I’ve got a lot of concern about a lot of Red Wings. Henrik Zetterberg’s line with Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler I’m not worried about but that’s the only one. Pavel Datsyuk and Gustav Nyquist look great together but Nyquist still makes some rookie mistakes and they’re not getting help from the other winger, whether it’s Johan Franzen or Todd Bertuzzi (who look like they’ve been skating in sand). The third line is apparently Justin Abdelkaer centering the rejects from the top two lines (today it was the aforementioned Bertuzzi and the perma-injured Danny Cleary). The fourth line… You know something’s wrong with the fourth line when Tomas Holmstrom is outskating the other players on the line (I don’t think Drew Miller looked bad and he was big on the PK, not thrilled with Cory Emmerton though).
Going back to the Datsyuk – Nyquist pairing… That needs to see power play time. I’m also not happy that Nyquist wasn’t out for overtime. The rookie is ready, play him.
On defense, it looks like the six-man group is set for awhile as I expect Kyle Quincey to get at least a few games of suspension for his stupid elbow to Tomas Kopecky. He’ll probably be helped by the fact that, like Jakub Voracek when Niklas Kronwall hit him a few weeks ago, Kopecky kept his head down and led with it, but Quincey jumped and lifted his elbow, two entirely unnecessary actions.
I wanted to like the Quincey acquisition but he is not adapting to the Red Wings’ style of play and he’s still taking bad penalties. Highly disappointing.
On the flip side, Jonathan Ericsson looked very solid today. Maybe the time off shook the cobwebs out of his head and he’ll go back to playing like he did in his first stint with the Wings.
Other random notes from this afternoon…
I love it when Datsyuk does crazy stuff like throw the puck over the net from behind it. If there had been anyone there to take that pass, it would have been a highlight-reel play whether or not a goal was scored.
Hudler’s shot in the shootout was sick. This is the Hudler the Wings expected to get back from the KHL last year. Of course, it’s a contract year so we’ll see what happens to him this summer.