Osgood Remains Perfect Against Lightning, Wings Win 4-2

Goaltender Chris Osgood improved his career record against the Tampa Bay Lighting to 16-0 Thursday night, helping his Detroit Red Wings to a 4-2 win to remain in first place in the National Hockey League.

The Red Wings earned the win without forwards Kirk Maltby or Kris Draper. Draper is expected to miss two weeks with a sprained knee while Maltby – nursing a sore back – sat out for the first time in 189 games.

Detroit got on the board early and never let up, scoring just 3:24 into the game.

Jiri Hudler opened the scoring, jumping off the left-wing boards to redirect a Chris Chelios slap-pass from the blue line past goalie Marc Denis.

The Lighting survived being outshot 17-1 in the first period down by only a goal but they would fall further behind in the second.

Pavel Datsyuk scored a power play goal at 4:04 to put the Red Wings up by a pair. Nicklas Lidstrom fired a shot from the blue line that was knocked down as Denis fought off a screen by Tomas Holmstrom. Datsyuk grabbed the loose puck from the side of the net and put it in.

Tomas Kopecky, playing in his first game back from a shoulder injury, made it 3-0 3:35 later. Andreas Lilja sprung Kopecky with a long outlet pass to the Tampa Bay blue line. Kopecky broke in on Denis down the right wing and froze him with a shoulder fake before putting the puck into the top of the net.

Brad Richards put the Lightning on the board with 7:57 left in the second. Andreas Lilja couldn’t control a dump in behind Osgood’s net and the Lightning recovered, working the puck out front to Richards to put into the top corner of the net.

Dan Cleary scored another early-period goal to re-extend the Wings’ lead. Just 2:05 into the third, Brett Lebda put a shot from the blue line on Denis. At the top of the crease, Denis kicked it aside, straight to Cleary on the right wing for a shot back into the open net.

Mathieu Darche scored the game’s final goal with 3:06 remaining, tipping a Shane O’Brien shot past Osgood from inside the crease.

Osgood stopped 21 of 23 shots to earn his twelfth win of the season. Denis made 35 saves on 39 Detroit shots.

Detroit went one-for-two on the power play and the Lightning did not score on any of their three tries with the extra attacker.

Mark Hartigan was called up from Grand Rapids replace the injured Maltby. He was sent back to the Griffins after the game.

More Tampa Bay Pre-Game Notes

More injuries for the Tampa game. Mark Hartigan has been called from from Grand Rapids to cover for Kirk Maltby, who’s out with a shoulder injury.

MacLeod has the lines from the morning skate. Hartigan was centering Kopecky (previously mentioned as returning to the lineup and Downey.

This is Maltby’s first missed game since before the lockout.

No word on who was placed on the IR to make room for Hartigan’s call-up. My guess would be Draper since his injury timeline is more defined than those of Maltby or Ellis.

MacLeod’s Practice Notes

MacLeod has his notes from today’s practice up. Important things related to the game against Tampa:

  • Wings’ #1 goalie Chris Osgood will get the start yet again
  • Draper is out, expected to miss 10-14 days with a sprained knee, Maltby could be out, Ellis could still be out, and Kopecky will be back in the lineup

Yeah, you read that first note right. I’m changing my position. There is no controversy, Osgood is the #1 and that’s that.

Datsyuk Leads Red Wings over Flames

Pavel Datsyuk scored two highlight-reel goals Tuesday night, leading the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-3 win over the visiting Calgary Flames.

Datsyuk finished the game with three points, adding an assist on a Tomas Holmstrom goal to his two goals. Holmstrom and Nicklas Lidstrom contributed to a pair of goals.

Robyn Regehr put Calgary on the board first putting a quick wrister through a screen and past Detroit goalie Chris Osgood with 8:59 remaining in the first.

Datsyuk responded for the Red Wings with 4:11 remaining in the period. Datsyuk took a Holmstrom pass while cutting across the Calgary blue line, then stepped around defenseman Cory Sarich and ripped a shot into the top of the net.

The Wings took the lead just 23 seconds later when Kris Draper scored a rebound goal. The goal came just minutes before Draper would leave the game with a leg injury, suffered after fighting for the puck along the boards with Owen Nolan.

At 4:36 of the second and with Detroit on a five-on-three, Holmstrom scored to put the Red Wings up by a pair. Datsyuk got the puck in the left faceoff circle and Holmstrom moved out from his usual spot at the top of the crease into the slow. Datsyuk got him the puck and Holmstrom threw it through Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.

Rookie Curtis McElhinney replaced Kiprusoff in the Calgary net after the Holmstrom goal. Moments earlier, Kiprusoff blocked a shot with the side of his mask and complained of jaw soreness.

Dion Phaneuf pulled the Flames to back within a goal on a five-on-three with 5:57 remaining in the second, blasting a shot from the high slot past Osgood.

The teams traded goals early in the third period, with Datsyuk adding his second and Alex Tanguay closing the gap for the Flames.

Only 37 seconds into the period, Datsyuk carried the puck from the Detroit blue line and into the Calgary zone. He skated through a group of three Flames and picked the puck back up on the other side before roofing a backhander over McElhinney.

Tanguay’s goal came at 3:02 on a two-on-one with Jarome Iginla. Andreas Lilja was caught up-ice, leaving Lidstrom back to cover Iginla and Tanguay. Both Lidstrom and Osgood moved to face Iginla coming down the right wing and he passed off to Tanguay to score into the open side of the net.

Valtteri Filppula wrapped up the game’s scoring 3:10 later. A Phaneuf giveaway sprung Mikael Samuelsson down the right wing. Samuelsson gained the Calgary zone and passed up top to Jiri Hudler, who faked a shot and dropped the puck to the trailing Filppula to put past McElhinney.

With just over seven minutes left in the game, Phaneuf laid out Hudler with a high open-ice hit. Hudler remained on the ice for a few seconds but went off under his own power and later returned. Lilja fought Phaneuf in retaliation.

Osgood finished the night with 19 saves on 22 shots against. Kiprusoff stopped 12 of 15 shots while McElhinney stopped 18 of 20.

Each team scored once on the power play, both goals coming on five-on-threes. Detroit had seven power play chances and the Flames had five.

The Red Wings will be back in action on Thursday when the Tampa Bay Lightning visit Joe Louis Arena.

Draper drove himself to the Detroit Medical Center for an MRI on his injured leg. The results are expected to be known on Wednesday.

Thoughts on the Columbus Experience

Since I was at tonight’s game in Columbus and won’t make it back home to check out replays, I decided not to do a game recap just yet (if at all) and just to a comparison of the Nationwide Arena in-game experience to that of Joe Louis Arena.

The fact that Nationwide Arena is 20 years newer than the Joe is hard to miss. It still has a cleanliness that has long left JLA. The main concourse may actually be narrower than that at Joe Louis but they have at least four concourses to spread out the traffic. While the Joe has one for the “normal people” in the main bowl and one for the suites, Nationwide has one for the lower bowl, one for the club seats, one for the lower suites, and one for the upper bowl. There could be more above it, I don’t know.

Before the game they run an actual pre-game show on the scoreboard. It recaps Columbus’ last game, their opponent’s last game, yesterday around the NHL, and gives a preview of the coming game. Detroit doesn’t even try this. How hard would it be?

Exiting the arena after the game is much easier because there are doors specifically reserved for exiting. They’re not open before the game so they’re not a security concern but they are opened afterwards so when you have 20,000 all trying to leave, they’re not being channelled to two sets of doors.

There are at least five restaurants within a two-minute walk from the Arena. Those are just the ones I counted between there and my hotel during a pre-game walk. Nothing is within two minutes of Joe Louis Arena.

Now, I’ll argue forever that none of this is required. I love the Joe because it’s a great place to watch hockey. That’s all it’s good for, though. Casual fans want more. Casual fans want food. Casual fans want to be able to get in and out. How would it hurt the hockey-watching experience to have more doors in the next Detroit arena? How would it hurt to have more concourses?

If the Wings are trying to attract casual fans now, that pre-game show must be implemented immediately. It’s a brilliant idea to get the fans who haven’t been watching every game up to speed on what to expect in the game they’re about to watch. But the Wings will never do it because it takes effort, the same reason why the Steve Yzerman jersey retirement ceremony wasn’t released on DVD.

Just some thoughts from here in Columbus. More on the game later.

Red Wings Fail to Finish, Fall to Predators

The Detroit Red Wings led the Nashville Predators twice on Thursday night but failed to finish them off, leaving room for the Predators to pick up a 3-2 win.

The Red Wings led in the first and second periods on power play goals by Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg.

Franzen’s goal came just 2:49 into the game. After barely holding the puck in at the Nashville blue line, the Wings worked it down low to Franzen. He backed up to the side of the net and backhanded a shot under goalie Chris Mason‘s arm for his first point of the season.

Zetterberg scored with 1:24 remaining in the second period to give Detroit their second lead. Pavel Datsyuk carried the puck into the Nashville zone and sent a centering pass to Zetterberg in the high slot. Zetterberg faked out defenseman Greg Zanon and rifled a shot past Mason.

Both times the Predators rebouned. Jason Arnott scored from right in front of Dominik Hasek with 7:40 remaining in the first period and Martin Erat evened things up just 32 seconds after Zetterberg’s goal, putting a rebound over the sprawling Hasek.

Radek Bonk scored the game-winner on a Nashville power play just 2:22 into the third. A blocked shot stopped right at Bonk’s feet in front of the Detroit goal and he roofed a shot over Hasek.

Detroit’s power play went two-for-eight in a night that saw the teams combine for 44 penalty minutes. Nashville was one-for-seven with the extra attacker.

Hasek stopped 26 of 29 shots in his first start in three games. Mason made 28 stops on 30 Detroit shots.

The Red Wings return to the ice on Saturday when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets to close out a stretch of nine-straight games against Central Division opponents.

Matt Ellis left the game with what the Red Wings’ PR staff described as a headache.

More on the Goalie Controversy

Back from a brief hiatus, Bill over at Abel to Yzerman runs with the ball I’ve been carrying for the last couple weeks, that Chris Osgood is outplaying Dominik Hasek.

Chris Osgood’s your starter. He has to be. 17-1-5 his last 23 starts. 10-1 this year. And a team that plays differently in front of him than they do in front of Hasek.

I’ve said before that Osgood’s play this year reminds me of the end of the first Matrix movie, when Neo is fending off Agent Smith using only one arm and yawning. Osgood is in that kind of zone right now, like the rest of the world is moving slower.

Of course, I should attach the disclaimer that I’ve always been an Osgood fan. He didn’t deserve the blame he got in 2001, that was an awful series all around and the Kings got extremely lucky on one reviewed goal in particular.

But Bill admits to having picked on Osgood for years, so maybe his words carry more weight.

And, try this: what have we seen over the last year that proves Dominik Hasek is actually a better goalie than Chris Osgood? If Hasek is the unquestioned starter, it’s due to reputation and the possibility of success rather than anything he’s proven since he signed last summer.

Bottom line: Hasek’s the number one in name only right now. If he turns it around, great, but if not then the Wings have got to be ready to make Osgood their playoff goalie.

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