A New Era

Not only was it not a surprise to see Nicklas Lidstrom named captain of the Red Wings tonight, taking over the spot vacated by Steve Yzerman, I found it less odd seeing the “C” on a different player than I thought I would.

Yzerman has been – or had been, now – the leader of this team for litterally as long as I can remember. No one will be able to say that about Lidstrom, getting the captaincy at such a late point in his career.

As everyone seems to be saying, though, Lidstrom was the obvious choice, already in place as a leader of the team, now just elevated to the top spot in that heirarchy.

Part of me wanted to see Henrik Zetterberg take on the captaincy, if nothing else than to try to repeat the long tenure of Yzerman. It’s not Zetterberg’s time, though, I know that and so, too, do the Wings, it would seem.

The new captain is much the same as the old captain. The “C” looks the same on his jersey. With luck, the success of the Nicklas Lidstrom Era will be the same as that of Steve Yzerman’s.

Red Wings Lose to Vancouver in Season Opener

The Detroit Red Wings’ offense never really clicked and defensive lapses helped the Vancouver Canucks pick up a 3-0 lead in both teams’ season opener Thursday night.

Detroit came out flat to start the game, which began after a brief ceremony in which defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was named captain of the team, taking over for the retired Steve Yzerman.

The Red Wings couldn’t take advantage of the parade of Canucks to the penalty box that started early in the first period and Vancouver got on the board first.

With just 4.5 seconds remaining in the first period, defenseman Sami Salo fired a shot from the point that deflected off of Kris Draper and Markus Naslund before getting past Detroit goalie Dominik Hasek for a power play goal.

At 2:25 of the second period the Canucks extended their lead after a giveaway by Andreas Lilja gave Josh Green the puck all alone in the slot. Hasek stopped his initial shot but Trevor Linden was there to knock the rebound between Hasek’s pads.

Only 2:16 later, the Vancouver lead became three goals when Salo skated into the slot untouched on a Canucks power play and wristed a shot off of Hasek’s blocker and in.

With 4:05 remaining in the period, Henrik Zetterberg threw a shot on net from the left hash marks and the puck managed to get through Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo, putting the Wings on the board.

Detroit was unable to score in the third period, despite a short 6-on-4 in the final minute of the game. The team did show some life after their slow start but it was too little, too late.

The Red Wings finished the night scoreless on nine power play chances, while Vancouver made good on two of their four tries.

Hasek made only 14 saves on 17 shots in the first game of his third stint with Detroit. Luongo’s first game as a Canuck saw him make 27 saves on 28 Detroit shots.

The Red Wings will be back in action on Saturday when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With Nicklas Lidstrom becoming the team’s captain, Henrik Zetterberg and Kris Draper were named Detroit’s alternate captains.

Wings Close Out Preseason with Shootout Win

The Detroit Red Wings wrapped up their exhibition schedule Sunday night with a 3-2 shootout win over the Original Six rival Toronto Maple Leafs.

Jiri Hudler and Henrik Zetterberg scored in the shootout while only Mats Sundin could beat Detroit goalie Chris Osgood.

Sundin and Pavel Kubina – who was later ejected after cross-checking Hudler in the face – scored Toronto’s regulation goals, while Kris Draper and Danny Markov scored for Detroit.

Osgood stopped 23 of 25 shots. Toronto goalie Andrew Raycroft made 28 saves on 30 Detroit attempts.

The Rodent was Right

This marks two out of three posts that I talk about something specifically because the Hockey Rodent mentioned it. It’s probably the trend rather than the exception.

Since the NHL’s salary cap was put in place, Ro’ has been predicting that salary cap space will become a tradable commodity – he refers to it as “CapCash.” The first such trade happened today.

The San Jose Sharks and New Jersey Devils completed a deal that saw supposedly-retired defenseman Vladimir Malakhov and a first-round pick head to San Jose for forward Alexander Korolyuk and defenceman Jim Fahey.

The Devils were due to take a cap-hit of $2.5 million for Malakhov, money that they don’t have. With a handful of players still unsigned just days before the start of the season, the Devils needed to clear cap space.

San Jose, on the other hand, had room to spare. Malakhov will never play for them, they accepted his cap-hit because they also got the first-rounder.

Read the Rodent for the rest.

Shut up and let Holland do his job

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and assistant GM Jin Nill have been awarded contract extensions that run through 2011, the team announced this weekend. Already, the boo-birds are responding.

On a certain message board that I won’t name, I was disappointed to read many posts claiming that Holland doesn’t have what it takes to assemble a winning team in the salary cap era. Reasons given for this included the signing of Dominik Hasek and the failure to bring some always-elusive “grit” to the team.

Of those who complain that Holland did too little, I have to ask, what would you have preferred to see him do?

Keep in mind that Hasek came to Detroit because the asking price for Giguere or Nobokov or Biron was too high, so if you say you would have gone that route you have to be prepared to forfeit something of value.

Was Anson Carter your answer to the Wings’ lack of grit? If so, don’t forget that his $2.5 million salary would put Detroit over the cap, so someone on the roster today would have to go.

And for the people with the ridiculous plan to trade Pavel Datsyuk to Pittsburgh for Evgini Malkin, ask yourself why the Penguins would ever want to make that deal.

The red-and-white-colored glasses tend to make one think that the Red Wings can do anything they want, if they just wanted to. Take off those glasses sometime and look at the real world. Holland has done what he can with what he has, don’t make yourself look stupid by saying otherwise.