Red Wings – Sharks Postgame Thoughts

A few thoughts on Thursday night’s 6-0 Red Wings win over the San Jose Sharks…

The same excuses the Wings had when they lost in San Jose at the end of October apply for the Sharks this time around, so while there are plenty of good things the Wings did, some of it can be written off as the Sharks being tired. San Jose was at the end of a long road trip, having played extra time the night before.

This was Detroit’s first 60-minute effort since their 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on December 1. They were a little slow early but not outright asleep like they’ve appeared as of late. Ty Conklin made some key saves early and the Wings’ defense wasn’t as passive as it’s been.

The Red Wings made smarter passes in their own zone and it led to a better transition game. In general, Detroit as a team played better positionally. They were where they needed to be to pounce on loose pucks and to slow up San Jose’s offensive breaks.

Speaking of breaks, the first two goals were absolute gifts from Evgeni Nabokov. He flat-out missed Johan Franzen‘s shot for the first goal and should have had Pavel Datsyuk‘s attempt a few minutes later.

Credit the Wings for not resting on their laurels after those two goals. They kept pushing and the final four goals were the more Wing-like goals they haven’t been getting as many of this year, ones generated by driving the net (Valtteri Filppula‘s goal), nice passing (Pavel Datsyuk to Marian Hossa) and contributions from the defense (Brad Stuart).

I’m a little surprised that Todd McLellan kept Nabokov in for the whole game. I probably would have pulled him at 4-0. I don’t think that would have made a difference but it seems to show that the Sharks were resigned to losing at that point already so the goalie switch wouldn’t have made a difference.

These were two points the Red Wings needed and it’ll give the national media something to talk about but the next two times these teams meet will be better “measuring stick” games as both teams should be better-rested than the first two matchups this season.

Conklin to Start Against Sharks

Ty Conklin gets the start in net for Detroit against the San Jose Sharks tonight as Chris Osgood is battling an injured groin.

To avoid the Red Wings needing to make a roster move, Osgood will back-up Conklin. If the team had needed to call up Jimmy Howard or Daniel Larsson from the Grand Rapids Griffins a player would have had to have been moved off of the Detroit roster.

Should Osgood’s injury keep him out longer he could be moved to the long-term injured reserve which would mean he would have to miss at least ten games. The only other current option for the Wings would be to move another player, either through waivers or a trade.

Red Wings – Stars Pregame Notes

Ty Conklin gets the start for the Red Wings tonight, his third in a row. This means that Chris Osgood will go tomorrow in Phoenix.

The Stars are without a whole slew of players. Zubov, Fistric, Robidas and Morrow are all out and of course Sean Avery is suspended and unlikely to ever play for Dallas again.

Marty Turco starts in net for Dallas.

I’ll be missing this game at a holiday party. Last year this same party made me miss the game where Hasek upended Marian Gaborik. I hope this game has the same kind of result.

Shifted Lines Help Red Wings Rally Against Flames

The Detroit Red Wings started Wednesday night’s matchup with the same lines they had used all season but a change midway through the game sparked a comeback to earn a 4-3 overtime win over the Calgary Flames.

Coach Mike Babcock had the team practice with different sets of lines all week so that he could see what worked after trying to switch things up on Saturday against Chicago and being unhappy with the results.

Marian Hossa – usually on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom – skated with Henrik Zetterberg and Dan Cleary. Johan Franzen left Zetterberg’s line to join Datsyuk’s. The updated lines generated two third period goals as the Red Wings forced overtime.

Down 3-1 midway through the third period, Zetterberg put the rebound of a Cleary chance past Calgary netminder Curtis McElhinney to pull the Wings to within a goal.

Brian Rafalski rifled home a shot from the right point with 6:17 remaining in regulation to tie the game.

Nicklas Lidstrom scored the game-winner in a similar fashion, blasting a long shot past McElhinney with Datsyuk screening.

The Flames had taken a 2-0 lead into the first intermission on goals by Craig Conroy and Daymond Langkow. Valtteri Filppula tipped a Kris Draper shot past McElhinney to make it 2-1 after two periods. A power play goal by David Moss made it 3-1 at 8:51 of the third.

Ty Conklin stopped 29 of 32 shots in the Detroit net. McElhinney made 35 saves on 39 chances for Calgary.

Red Wings – Flames Pregame Notes

The Red Wings wrap up their four-game homestand tonight, hosting the Calgary Flames.

For the Flames it will be there third game in four nights, meaning that backup goalie Curtis McElhinney will likely get the start. Ty Conklin will make his second start in a row for Detroit after picking up a 5-4 shootout win over the Blackhawks on Saturday.

Mike Babcock juggled the Red Wings’ lines in practice this week but will sticking with the combinations used on Saturday for Wednesday’s game. The lone change is Kirk Maltby‘s return to the lineup, leaving Derek Meech as a healthy scratch.

Wings Metablogging

Over at Abel to Yzerman Bill commented on the still-new official blog of the Detroit Red Wings, the Hockeytown Blog.

… They seem to be legitimately making the effort, and should be applauded for that…at the very least. Consider that they’re actually putting together a useful, interesting product? Well, now we’re talking groundbreaking stuff for an organ-I-zation that has been remarkably stale in all areas communications-related. Hell, I even Twittered them, and I still don’t know how to use that frigging thing.
So congrats to Shannon Paul and the Wings for taking a big step forward with the fans. Now don’t blow it.

When I first saw Hockeytown Blog I ignored it. For too many years I’ve seen the Red Wings organization pretend to try to connect with fans while actually just trying to make a quick buck off of them. The team still bills Red Wings World as “the most complete, in-depth fan site available” dispite the fact that it hasn’t been updated in months. Sadly, people believe the advertisements and pay their $40 to sign up, only to end up posting in one of the complaint thread in RWW’s forums.

(Don’t worry about me, I don’t pay to view those forums anymore. I’ve mentioned before that after my account with them expired I found a back door that lets me view them for free.)

So I filed away Hockeytown Blog in my head, remembering it but not giving it any thought, until a couple weeks ago when the “chief evangelist” at my day job came down to my office to rave about what a job Shannon Paul was doing for the Wings.

I checked it out and I have to agree. With the Hockeytown Blog, it actually looks like the Wings organization is making an attempt to connect with the fans.

There are always things I can complain about. I’ve said before that though I write in one, I hate the idea of blogs, so a lot of my issues can be chaulked up to that. The Hockeytown Blog design is awful, a complaint that I won’t let go of because – as a web developer – I know how easy it would be to fix that.

Those complaints don’t take away from that fact that I can see that the organization – or at least Ms. Paul – are trying. Five years ago would the Red Wings have allowed a fan to design an “I voted” graphic for the All-Star Game? Not a chance. That’s just one thing that’s changed this season.

Listing fan-run sites in the blogroll is a huge step forward, too (though leaving you off is a crime). Considering the fans have done a better job promoting the team than the team has for the last ten years, they deserve some credit from the organization.

I said that in my comment at A2Y. I’ve been running DetroitHockey.Net and its predecessors for over 12 years now and this is the first time I’ve seen the Wings organization do something of remotely the same quality of what fans have been able to put out without the backing of the team. Those fans deserve the link they get from HTB (as does Bill, even if he didn’t get one yet).

So, like Bill, I say congrats to Ms. Paul. I look forward to seeing what changes the Hockeytown Blog can make in an organization that is traditionally unfriendly to new media.

Postgame Questions

Over at A2Y, Bill is ranting about tonight’s 6-5 Red Wings win over the Vancouver Canucks. I don’t think things are quite as dire as he does but I think there are definitely questions about Detroit’s play this season.

On Vancouver’s first goal I asked, “Should Ozzie have been faster with the glove? How did that turn into a three-on-two?” My later notes are similar.

Blown defensive coverage on Raymond for the third goal or bad lateral movement by Osgood?

Vancouver’s fourth goal: Bad rebound or missed clearing attempt by Lidstrom?

The questions raised by three of the Canucks five goals helped me realize why I haven’t been able to put a finger on one thing that’s been wrong with the Wings’ play this season. It’s not one thing, it’s a combination of defensive lapses and weak goaltending.

If Osgood is faster with his glove it doesn’t matter that there was a three-on-two. If the Wings change faster there’s no three-on-two so Osgood doesn’t need to be faster with his glove.

If there’s no blown coverage on Raymond, Osgood’s lateral movement doesn’t matter. If Osgood’s quicker moving right to left he makes up for Raymond being open.

The problem we’ve been seeing all year is that for some reason the Red Wings continue having these full-team momentary lapses. A “perfect storm of suck” if you will.

That said, the defense has made some great plays and Osgood has made some big, big saves. About 3:00 into the second period tonight Osgood had a great stop on the Sedins. These things shouldn’t be forgotten.

Bill says trouble is coming. I say it’s here but I’m not ready to worry about it. Moments of brilliance have been shown, it’s just a matter of the Wings pulling it all together into one complete effort.