Sharper Against the Sabres

Dominik Hasek‘s former teammates were unable to defeat his new teammates, “Lucky Luc’s” luck seems to be returning, and Nicklas Lidstrom became the Red Wings’ top scoring defenseman of all time, as the Wings gained a 4-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

Compared to recent games, this game had an amazing amount of flow to it. There were no stoppages in play until a full 3:26 into the first period, when icing was called against Buffalo. Slava Kozlov, given to the Sabres this summer in exchange for Hasek, nearly got the puck past the Red Wings’ goaltender, but Hasek was able to block the shot.

Seven minutes, thirty-six seconds into the game, Detroit’s Maxim Kuznetsov was penalized for interference, but the situation went to a 4-on-4 just over a minute later, when Buffalo’s Jason Woolley was handed a penalty for holding the stick. Detroit wound up with 29 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play, because Rhett Warrener got called for tripping, but the power play unit was unable to score.

Kris Draper opened the scoring with 7:17 left in the period. He came off the bench, flew down the ice with all his typical speed, received a bouncing pass from Igor Larionov, and flipped it past goaltender Roman Turek.

The remainder of the period was relatively quiet. Calgary’s Rob Niedermayer received an interference penalty with 5:49 remaining, and Maxim Kuznetsov was called for high sticking with 3:05 remaining, but neither power play unit was able to score.

Detroit’s power play had another chance with 6:33 remaining in the first, when Warrener was penalized for holding rookie Pavel Datsyuk, but the power play was cut short when Brendan Shanahan was given a tripping penalty. Buffalo was not able to score on their resulting power play, but captain Stu Barnes did score exactly two seconds later, after a very patient play and pass from Miroslav Satan.

Many of the shots Detroit fired were blocked by Buffalo’s defense before they even got to goalie Martin Biron, who played backup to Hasek last year. Not that Biron was incapable of stopping shots- far from it! Kris Draper made a beautiful pass to Sergei Fedorov, who left the puck for Shanahan. Shanahan fired the puck hard, but Biron kept it out of the net.

Two minutes, fifty-seven seconds into the second period, Luc Robitaille passed the puck to Nicklas Lidstrom, received the puck back again, and let it fly past Biron, scoring his first goal as a Red Wing. Tomas Holmstrom also received an assist on that goal. Buffalo answered back just over a minute later, with Satan picking up a rebound to slide the puck past Hasek.

Holmstrom was penalized for cross-checking with 11:22 left in the period, but Detroit’s penalty-killing unit was more than adequate for the job: they kept the puck in Buffalo’s zone for over half of the penalty.

With 4:52 to go in the period, Fedorov carried the puck behind the net, eluding a hit by a Buffalo defenseman. He passed the puck to Shanahan, and this time, Biron was not able to stop the shot.

Frederick Olausson scored his first goal as a Red Wing and gave Detroit the lead with only 2:26 left before intermission, in a 4-on-4 situation resulting from penalties to Darren McCarty and Alexei Zhitnik. Detroit had 1:05 of a power play remaining after the 4-on-4 ended, but was unable to score, despite good chances by Brett Hull.

The third period was quiet until near its end. Buffalo attempted to bring Biron back to the bench to have the sixth skater out, but miscalculated and received a penalty for having too many men on the ice. They pulled Biron anyway, with 30 seconds left to go, but Lidstrom got the puck to Shanahan, and Shanahan was able to send it into the empty net with only 5 seconds before the end of the game. This gave Lidstrom a total of 571 career points, sending him past Reed Larson’s record as the Red Wings’ all-time top scoring defenseman.

The Red Wings looked more organized on both offense and defense than they had in their previous games. There can always be improvements, but things look like they’re starting to come together. Former Red Wing Doug Brown, joining UPN 50 regulars Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond in the broadcast booth, put it more succinctly: “That whole line’s gonna score 13,000 goals.”

First Loss of Season Close to Home

The Red Wings took a 4-2 loss to the Flames in their home season opener, despite goals from Kris Draper and Brendan Shanahan, ending the 19 regular season game home unbeaten streak carried over from last season.

The game story was one of penalties, fights, and stoppages in play. Calgary’s Marc Savard got the penalty parade off to its slow start just 1:49 into the game, being sent off for elbowing. The game took on a deceptive flow for a few minutes after that, with both teams taking shots, but neither able to score.

4:20 into the game, Jarome Iginla started a fight with Darren McCarty, after seeing McCarty attempt to hit Savard. Both combatants got 5 minute fighting penalties. Iginla also received a 2 minute instigator call and a 10 minute misconduct. And yet, Detroit’s power play was unable to score.

Kris Draper opened the scoring with 7:17 left in the period. He came off the bench, flew down the ice with all his typical speed, received a bouncing pass from Igor Larionov, and flipped it past goaltender Roman Turek.

The remainder of the period was relatively quiet. Calgary’s Rob Niedermayer received an interference penalty with 5:49 remaining, and Maxim Kuznetsov was called for high sticking with 3:05 remaining, but neither power play unit was able to score.

The second period began with a deceptive calm. 6:11 into the play, Brendan Shanahan and Bob Boughner fought over a rough hit Boughner had landed on Shanahan. Both were sent to the box for five minutes.

With 11:44 left in the period, Mathieu Dandenault was called for elbowing. Detroit’s problems were compounded just 22 seconds later, when Steve Yzerman was given a penalty for high-sticking. The Flames’ Dean McAmmond was able to capitalize on the 5-on-3 opportunity, getting the puck past Dominek Hasek.

Calgary got another 5-on-3 opportunity just moments later. With 6:29 left in the period, Kuznetsov was called for cross-checking. Yzerman made a beautiful breakaway attempt in the short-lived 5-on-4 situation, but Turek was able to deflect the puck. Brett Hull received a tripping penalty at 5:56, and Calgary’s Scott Nichol was able to score on Hasek.

Calgary got another 5-on-3 opportunity just moments later. With 6:29 left in the period, Kuznetsov was called for cross-checking. Yzerman made a beautiful breakaway attempt in the short-lived 5-on-4 situation, but Turek was able to deflect the puck. Brett Hull received a tripping penalty at 5:56, and Calgary’s Scott Nichol was able to score on Hasek.

Darren McCarty, just back from a shoulder injury, elbowed Ron Petrovicky, most likely because Petrovicky had speared the back of his leg with the stick. The referees didn’t see that part, however, and McCarty was given a 5 minute major penalty and a game misconduct, and sent off to the locker room. The resulting Calgary power play was partially cancelled when Craig Conroy took a 2 minute hooking penalty.

The Flames were able to score an even strength goal 3:50 into the third period, with Igor Kravchuk picking up the rebound and sneaking it in behind Hasek, despite Frederick Olausson’s attempt to block the shot.

Kravchuk then took a cross-checking penalty 6:08 into the period, and Detroit’s power play unit kicked into action. Shanahan picked up the puck from where it had slipped away from Turek’s glove, waited for an opportunity, and fired it home.

The game could have changed for the Wings after that, but it was not to be. Shanahan was given a boarding penalty with 7:05 left in the game. Yzerman and Hull attempted to score short-handed, but Iginla picked up the puck and got it past Hasek on a rebound.

Shanahan now leads the NHL in goals, with 5 goals in 3 games. Hasek stopped 29 of 33 shots, most of which came when Detroit was in penalty-killing mode.

Would the game have gone in Detroit’s favor had the penalties not fallen so hard and so fast? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Even a team starring nine future Hall-of-Famers is still going to lose some of the games. Even the Red Wings have to be human once in awhile.

Detroit Defeats Vancouver… Again

The Red Wings’ power play unit may still need some time for the players to get used to each other, but the penalty kill unit seems on target to become a name to be feared throughout the NHL. The Wings continued their great start to the 2001-2002 season on Saturday night with a 4-1 victory against the Vancouver Canucks.

Vancouver continued the rough, tough style of play that caused such a rough time for Colorado in last season’s playoffs. Just 3:40 after the opening faceoff, Vancouver’s Donald Brashear boarded defenseman Maxim Kuznetsov, cutting him in the process. Brashear was given a 5 minute major penalty and a game misconduct. One less thug to worry about.

The game was full of penalties and stoppages in play, yet most of the penalties called seemed to be oddly unimportant. UPN 50 color commentator Mickey Redmond even complained about it, saying that he wished the referees would call more of the hard hits and cross-checks from behind that the Canucks were laying on Detroit. The first period ended scoreless, although a total of seven penalties (four for Detroit, three for Vancouver) had been handed out.

The second period continued in the same choppy fashion. Vancouver’s Ed Jovanovski opened the scoring 9:42 into the period with an unassisted goal against Dominek Hasek. Seconds later, however, at 9:53, the Canucks’ Matt Cooke was handed a penalty for tripping. Steve Yzerman won the faceoff and got the puck to Sergei Fedorov, who shot it right past goalie Dan Cloutier. The power play lasted a total of three seconds.

The Wings took the lead with 3:31 remaining in the second. Defenseman Jiri Fischer stepped out of the penalty box, grabbed the puck that teammate Frederick Olausson had just shot down the ice, and ran with it, flipping it past Cloutier on a bounce. Kirk Maltby was also given an assist on Fischer’s goal.

The Red Wings’ penalty killing unit, which, at this point, had already shut down seven Vancouver power plays, went on the offensive with 1:44 left in the second. Chris Chelios got the puck to Brendan Shanahan, who once again got past the surprised goalie for his third shorthanded goal in two games.

The third period began with Detroit determined not to lose a two goal lead as they had done against the Sharks. The penalties were less frequent. Shanahan and Jason Strudwick received offsetting penalties for roughing with 9:50 left in the game, while Strudwick also receievd a second minor for high sticking. Shanahan’s ear was bleeding from Strudwick’s stick, and he had to go off to the dressing room to receive treatment.

With 5:56 remaining in the game, Yzerman essentially clinched the game for the Wings, receiving a pass from Brett Hull and firing it into the net. Shanahan came back out to finish the game, but was almost immediately removed from the ice again, as he and Strudwick fought it out over the earlier high stick. Shanahan received the two minute instigator penalty and a game misconduct to go along with the regular five minute fighting major.

Detroit’s power play was 1 for 9, while Vancouver’s was 0 for 8. Hasek stopped 29 shots, and Cloutier stopped only 15. The Red Wings have not lost to Vancouver since February 6, 1997. It just goes to show, you don’t have to lay on the dirty hits to win a hockey game. Perhaps Vancouver coach Marc Crawford could learn a thing or two from Scotty Bowman.

Shanny’s Hat-Trick Leads Wings Over Sharks

Brendan Shanahan‘s hat trick gave the Red Wings a 4-3 overtime win in their first regular season matchup last night.

Shanahan, who scored his second shorthanded tally of the night at 1:55 of overtime, now has only thirty-one goals remaining until his five hundreth. He also scored shorthanded with 5:11 left in the second and at even strength forty-nine seconds into the third.

San Jose’s Scott Thornton opened the scoring at 8:41 of the second period. The Sharks also got goals from Stephane Matteau and Todd Harvey in the third period.

Brett Hull scored Detroit’s other goal, his first as a Red Wing.

Sharks’ sophomore netminder Evgeni Nabokov stopped four of the thirty-nine shots he faced, while Dominik Hasek turned aside three of twenty-one in his first regular season start for the Red Wings.

The Wings are back in action Saturday night in Vancouver.

Game On!

The Detroit Red Wings and their new star-studded lineup get their first chance to shine tonight in San Jose.

The Red Wings play their first “real” game tonight when they start their regular season against the San Jose Sharks. Vezina Trophy winning goaltender Dominik Hasek will start against Calder Trophy winning netminder Evgeni Nabokov.

Luc Robitaille, Brett Hull and Fredrik Olausson are all expected to play for Detroit. The only injured regular from last season for the Red Wings will be Darren McCarty, who’s out with a sore shoulder but expected to return in time for the Wings home opener next week.

With the addition of rookies Jason Williams and Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit will still be able to roll four lines without a problem, but it’s anyone’s guess as to who will be on which lines.

The first regular season matchup for the new look Red Wings is tonight from San Jose and ten o’clock Eastern Time.