Red Wings – Blue Jackets Pregame Notes

The Red Wings ride their three-game winning streak into a matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight.

After Chris Osgood‘s successful return to the ice on Saturday, Ty Conklin gets the start in net for Detroit as coach Mike Babcock attempts to start a goalie rotation. Osgood is slated to get the nod on Thursday against Dallas.

Chris Chelios and Brett Lebda will be the Wings’ third defensive pair, with Andreas Lilja and Derek Meech coming out of the lineup.

The Blue Jackets will get winger Jared Boll back into their lineup but will be missing Raffi Torres. Rookie Steve Mason is expected to start in net.

Osgood Returns to Lead Red Wings Past Wild

Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood made his first appearance in net since a December 15 loss in Colorado, stopping 33 shots and two shootout attempts to lead the Red Wings to a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild.

Osgood had been struggling before a groin injury kept him out for over two weeks, posting a 3.19 goals-against average and a .876 save percentage in sharp contrast to his 12-2-4 record.

“I want to win, that’s all,” Osgood said. “It’s a fresh start to the year, a new chance to have a real good second half, and that’s what matters most to me. The most important thing for me is I feel real good for the first time all year, so that’s good.”

Pavel Datsyuk scored a highlight-reel goal in the shootout, faking out Wild netminder Josh Harding before putting the puck into the top of the net. Combined with Osgood’s stops on Krys Kolanos and Mikko Koivu and a missed chance by Brent Burns it gave the Red Wings the win.

Detroit scored first with 3:43 remaining in the opening period. Henrik Zetterberg took the puck behind the net during a Detroit line change and four Wild players followed him, leaving Mikael Samuelsson wide open as he jumped off the bench and into the play for a one-timer into the back of the net.

The Red Wings carried that lead into the third period but lost it quickly as the Wild scored twice in the first minute of the final frame.

Just 35 seconds into the period, Owen Nolan put a backhander past Osgood from in front of the net, scoring on the rebound of a Brent Burns chance from the blue line just after a five-on-three for Minnesota expired.

Sixteen seconds later, Antii Miettinen capitalized on a turn over by Niklas Kronwall and snapped a shot past Osgood to put the Wild in front.

Detroit tied the game on a disputed power play goal with 4:37 remaining. Nicklas Lidstrom fired a shot off the glass behind the goal and as it bounced back out front, Johan Franzen swatted it out of the air and into the net. Initially ruled to have been played with a high stick, video replay overturned the call and made it a goal.

The Red Wings will be back on the ice on Tuesday when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Harding stopped 35 of 37 shots against and made a save on Henrik Zetterberg in the shootout… Brett Lebda was a healthy scratch in favor of Derek Meech, who got his first playing time on defense since November 11… The Red Wings’ first power play of the game came with 8:12 remaining in the third period.

Red Wings – Wild Pregame Notes

Still coming down from the high of the Winter Classic two days ago, the Red Wings head into St. Paul tonight to take on the Minnesota Wild.

After skipping practice on Friday with a sore groin, Henrik Zetterberg is expected to play tonight. There’s no official word either way but Zetterberg pronounced himself fit to play.

Chris Osgood makes his first appearance in the Detroit crease since December 15. Rumor is that he’s been healthy for awhile but coach Mike Babcock held him out until after the Winter Classic to get him p*ssed off and fired up.

I’ll probably be missing a lot of this game as I’m hosting family tonight but I’ll DVR it so I can catch up sometime. I get the feeling it’ll be quiet around here anyway.

Late Winter Classic Notes

After dealing with in-laws all day I figure I’ve pretty much run out of time to put down some thoughts about the Winter Classic experience. I say experience because that’s really what it was. It was the NHL’s big event and it didn’t disappoint.

To save time, I’ll just mention a couple things that have stuck with me. I’ve got a set of Winter Classic photos posted in the multimedia section of the site.

I stopped for gas just east of Battle Creek on I-94 sometime around 9:30 PM on my way home. I got out of the car still wearing my Winter Classic scarf and lanyard over a vintage Steve Yzerman jersey (1991-92 edition, not the new throwbacks). Before I even had time to get the gas pumping a guy had come over from the other side of the pump to ask me if I had gone to the game. He was excited enough about the event that he was willing jump out of a warm car into the cold and ask a total stranger about it. I get on the NHL all the time but good on them for creating that kind of interest.

Also of the “lengths people will go to for this game” note… The two guys to my left during the game were a ‘Hawks fan and a Flyers fan who flew down from Edmonton to go to the game. It’s a testament to their dedication and the game’s draw that fans would make that kind of trip.

It was slightly disappointing to hear the ‘Hawks fans, even as their team was hosting such a positive event, repeatedly resorting to the “Detroit sucks” chant. I just don’t get some teams’ fans’ obsession with hating their rivals more than cheering for their own team. I don’t know why I expected better just because this game was different but I did. Every Chicago fan I talked to was great fun, though. There are places where it’s not safe to be a road fan but this was not one of them.

The question I was asked most by family afterwards was “Was it worth it?” Absolutely. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

On the Way to Wrigley

Winter-weather gear at the ready and tickets and camera in hand, I’m about to start my race to Chicago. As such, there’ll probably be no more news-related posts from me until late tonight.

If the technology holds up, I’ll try posting updates via Blackberry but I’ll probably be doing so blind to anything else that’s being posted so I won’t be able to reply to questions or anything very well until I get back. We’ll see how it all works out, I’m psyched however it goes down.