Hasek Earns Second-Straight Shutout as Red Wings Blank Avalanche

Red Wings goaltender Dominik Hasek blanked his opponent for the second-straight game Tuesday night, with Detroit picking up a 1-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

Combined with a 3-0 win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday and the final minutes of a 2-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues on New Years Eve, Hasek’s last 134 minutes played have been shutout hockey.

Hasek made 19 saves in the effort. Colorado’s Jose Theodore was nearly perfect as well, stopping 24 of 25 shots against.

The game’s lone goal came just after the expiration of a Detroit power play late in the second period.

With 1:39 left in the middle frame, Niklas Kronwall fired a shot on net that was stopped by Theodore. Stationed at the top of the crease, Tomas Holmstrom backhanded the loose puck to the side of the net, where Pavel Datsyuk stepped in and put it past Theodore.

Holmstrom was making his return to the Detroit lineup after a leg injury. Kirk Maltby also returned, coming back from a back injury.

It was Hasek’s third shutout of the season and the 79th of his career… Matt Ellis and Aaron Downey were healthy scratches.

Thoughts on the NHL Draft Lottery

Over at SportsLogos.Net there’s a debate about whether or not the 2005 NHL Entry Draft was rigged to make sure that the Pittsburgh Penguins got Sidney Crosby.

The debate is in the Winter Classic thread (registration required) so rather than clutter that up with off-topic chatter, I figured I’d bring it here.

User capsfan1000 points out the following, from which I’ll work…

# 2002: Ryan Whitney (5th overall)
# 2003: Marc-Andre Fleury (1st overall) (originally pitsburgh had the 3rd pick)
# 2004: Evgeni Malkin (2nd overall)

Those are some low draft poistions. The Penguins should have been in the same position as the Caps (and the Panthers for that matter) and both should have been in the same boat with one draft ball each. But the NHL fixed it so that the Penguins would have three thereby giving Pitssburgh a better chance of drafting Crosby. In that way the NHL did fix the draft.

That’s where my complaint lies, as well, but it’s not that Pittsburgh got Crosby rather the flaw in the draft system.

The league is set up so that continued dominance is supposed to be difficult. Bad teams are rewarded with the opportunity to draft better players while good teams pick later on. The idea being that the better players will make the bad teams better. Meanwhile, the good teams get worse by losing the ability to pick higher. The Rodent calls it the lava lamp. It doesn’t always work that way but that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

Now lets look at the Penguins. Three pre-Crosby top-five picks in a row. It’s not any other team’s fault that the Penguins failed to use those picks to get anyone who could immediately help their team. Why should Pittsburgh have gotten yet another shot at a top pick because they chose people who wouldn’t have an immediate impact?

I pick on the Penguins because it’s the example that actually happened. In theory it could be much worse.

Lets say Winnipeg (just to use a team that doesn’t currently exist, so as to not piss off a current fanbase) realizes that they need a massive rebuilding effort and are willing to sacrifice several seasons to do it. They know their fans will pack the arena every night no matter how bad they are, so they bomb a season and get a lottery pick. They pick someone who could have an immediate impact but decide not to sign him. Next season, they do the same thing. The year after that, another bombed season (after all, the draft hasn’t helped them yet since they haven’t signed those players).

After three lottery picks in a row, they finally sign all three of those guys, and they’ve got an entire line of future stars coming in. That first player selected should have helped the Jets, maybe even taking them out of the lottery for the next couple years, but the front office deliberately held out for more lottery picks.

Is that extreme? Absolutely, but I think the idea shows the flaw in the system. I think that after a certain number of lottery picks in a row, a team needs to be told “No, you’ve had your turn, you’re doing something wrong, go to the end of the line and try again.” Whether it’s from front office shenanigans or poor drafting, there has to be a point where enough is enough.

Coming back to Pittsburgh, it means that Whitney and Fleury and Malkin should have been enough. It’s the team’s own fault that they drafted people who either weren’t ready for the NHL or couldn’t be signed. No more do-overs.

Cryptic Message from Wings to Press

Bruce MacLeod posted an interesting note in his blog a little while ago. An email was sent out to the media this morning saying the following…


The Detroit Red Wings will make a player personnel announcement today (Jan. 9) at 11:45 am via www.DetroitRedWings.com

The Red Wings practice today at Joe Louis Arena beginning at Noon. Interview availability will follow practice in the Detroit dressing room.

Speculation on my part? I’ve got nothing. Could be as minor as the monthly waiving of Aaron Downey, which was put on hold by injuries but can continue with everyone healthy now.

Edit: It could also be something to do with Darren McCarty, which was my original thought but I dismissed it and promptly forgot since he won’t even be playing his first IHL game until a few minutes from now, but Christy Hammond reminded me.

Three Red Wings to Start All-Star Game

Three Detroit Red Wings will be on the ice at the start of the 2008 NHL All-Star Game, the league announced today.

Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Nicklas Lidstrom were voted as starters to the Western Conference squad, to be coached by Detroit head coach Mike Babcock.

Lidstrom led all Western Conference players in votes with 477,787. Zetterberg and Datsyuk led all forwards with 326,244 and 303,309, respectively.

It marks the tenth All-Star appearance for Lidstrom, who has played in every All-Star Game since 1998. Zetterberg and Datsyuk were selected for the second time, though Zetterberg opted out of his prior opportunity with a back injury.

Calgary’s Jarome Iginla will be the other forward starter with teammate Dion Phaneuf joining Lidstrom on the blue line. Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo will get the start in net.

The Eastern Conference forward starters are Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier, and Daniel Alfresson. Zdeno Chara and Andrei Markov start on defense with Martin Brodeur in goal.

Red Wings Snap Slump Against Blackhawks

The Detroit Red Wings beat the Chicago Blackhawks for the first time in five games this season on Sunday, earning a 3-1 win to end the losing streak to their divisional foe.

Through the first four matchups with Chicago, Detroit had gone -3-1, with the shootout loss coming in the second game of the season.

Detroit got the victory on Sunday with three goals in the first period, including one by Henrik Zetterberg just 50 seconds into the game.

Jiri Hudler gained the Chicago zone on the right wing and sent the puck across the ice to Andreas Lilja, who had joined the rush. Lilja snapped a pass to the middle, where Zetterberg was in behind the defense and right in front of goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. Zetterberg’s quick move beat the Russian goalie and got the Wings on the board early.

Dan Cleary put Detroit up by a pair with 5:54 left in the period, snapping a shot from in close past Khabibulin after taking a pass in the slot from Pavel Datsyuk.

Mikael Samuelsson finished the Red Wings’ scoring with just nine seconds left in the period. With Detroit on a power play, Samuelsson fired a wrister from the bottom of the left circle that slipped past a screened Khabibulin.

Chicago got on the board exactly twenty minutes later, scoring with nine seconds left in the second period when Rene Bourque tipped a Tuomo Ruutu blast past Detroit netminder Chris Osgood.

Osgood finished the night with 19 saves on 20 shots. Khabibulin stopped 25 of 28 Detroit chances.

Hasek, Red Wings Blank Stars

The Detroit Red Wings and goaltender Dominik Hasek earned a 3-0 shutout win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday afternoon. It was the 78th shutout of Hasek’s career.

Making the start as his turn in Detroit’s goalie rotation came up, Hasek made 22 saves in the effort. Chris Osgood was in net on Wednesday when the Red Wings posted a 4-1 win over the Stars.

The Red Wings, meanwhile, scored on their first shot of the game.

Just 3:44 in, Pavel Datsyuk and Dan Cleary forced a turnover behind the Dallas net. Cleary sent it out front as Brian Rafalski jumped up into the slot for a one-timer past goaltender Mike Smith.

The Stars would stay in the game until Cleary scored with 9:52 left in the third period, whipping a shot between Smith’s pads after Valtteri Filppula won a fight for the puck along the left wing boards.

Johan Franzen scored an empty net goal in the game’s closing seconds.

Smith stopped 20 of the 22 shots he faced from Detroit. Marty Turco had started against the Red Wings on Wednesday.

Detroit returns to the ice on Sunday in Chicago, facing a Blackhawks team they have yet to beat in four tries this season.

Red Wings Beat Stars to Open ’08

The Detroit Red Wings opened the 2008 calendar year with their 30th win of the season, a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. Playing their 41st game of the season, it was the fastest run to 30 wins in Red Wings history.

Henrik Zetterberg returned to the team after missing five games with back spasms, notching two assists.

Zetterberg’s first point of the night came as the secondary assist on the opening goal, scored by Dan Cleary.

With 7:59 left in the first, Valtteri Filppula carried into the Dallas zone and lost the puck. Cleary stepped across the blue line and blasted a shot that was blocked by a defender, but Cleary stepped around him to pick the puck back up and snap it by goalie Marty Turco.

Detroit took a two-goal lead at 7:28 of the second, when a long outlet pass by Aaron Downey sprung Johan Franzen in all alone. Franzen faked and got Turco to sprawl out before skating it into the open side of the net.

Dallas Drake scored his first goal of his second stint with the Red Wings at 4:32 of the third period. The Wings regained control of the puck after Johan Franzen missed an open net and eventually Zetterberg got it in the high slot. Spinning into the left circle, he sent a pass down to Drake near the bottom of the right circle to punch between Turco’s legs.

Pavel Datsyuk scored Detroit’s final goal with 6:47 left in regulation, deflecting a Nicklas Lidstrom blast past Turco.

Loui Eriksson scored Dallas’ lone goal 46 seconds later. A broken play left Detroit netminder Chris Osgood out of position and Eriksson put a wraparound chance into the open net.

Neither team converted on any of their power play chances. Each team had three attempts with the extra attacker, one lasting only a matter of seconds.

Osgood made 23 saves on 24 shots to earn the win. Turco stopped 22 of 26 shots against.

The two teams will face each other again on Saturday afternoon in Dallas.

Lidstrom’s assist on Datsyuk’s goal was his 700th career assist… Downey’s assist on Franzen’s goal was his first point as a Red Wing.