Howard Stops 46 in Red Wings Win over Predators

Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard stopped 46 of the 48 shots he faced Friday night, leading the Red Wings to a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators.

The Red Wings got goals from four players. Nicklas Lidstrom continued his hot streak with a goal and an assist and Jason Williams scored in his first game back from injury.

Williams opened the scoring with 1:33 left in the first period, tipping home a chance on a Detroit power play. Valtteri Filppula put the puck on net from the left wing, catching a piece of Drew Miller‘s stick on its way to Williams for the tap-in past Nashville goalie Dan Ellis.

The lead was short-lived as Francis Bouillon snapped a shot past Howard from the right circle just 1:09 later.

Lidstrom blasted a shot from the high slot past Ellis at 5:55 of the second, putting the Red Wings back in front on another power play goal.

Drew Miller extended the lead with a tip-in on a rebound chance from the front of the net 3:02 later, just after the expiration of another Nashville penalty.

A Shea Weber shot snuck past Howard at 5:57 of the third to pull the Predators back within a goal but Henrik Zetterberg banked a shot off of Ellis and into the net from an acute angle with 9:48 remaining to wrap up the scoring.

Detroit finished the night with two power play goals on four tries with the extra attacker. Nashville was scoreless in as many chances, including a six-on-four to and the game while Ellis was on the bench.

Ellis stopped 25 of 29 Detroit shots on the night.

The Red Wings will spend their next five games on the road, starting in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Abdelkader Sent to Grand Rapids as Williams Returns

Jason Williams will make his return from a fractured fibula tonight as the Red Wings host the Nashville Predators.

To make room in the lineup for Williams and to accommodate the expected return of Tomas Holmstrom on Sunday, Justin Abdelkader was sent down to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. Abdelkader does not have to clear waivers on his way down so Detroit is in no danger of losing him.

The Red Wings will have to worry about a roster crunch again when Johan Franzen or Andreas Lilja return.

Red Wings – Wild Postgame Notes

This season there have been far too many of these games that are just so bad you can’t even take anything from them.

What’s the lesson learned tonight? Don’t take so many penalties? Don’t allow guys to get open on the far side of the ice?

Those should be basics. Not things learned throughout a season. There is nothing worth taking from this game, which means the whole thing was a waste.

Detroit – Phoenix: Post-Collapse Notes

I’m going to half-heartedly put on my tinfoil hat for just a second to point out one thing.

It sure is convenient that the league-owned Coyotes just happened to get a power play in the final two minutes of the game, just in time to spark their comeback. And that the game-tying goal was scored with a guy a foot into the crease.

Okay, that out of the way, I’ll jump to the other side of that argument and point out that a Detroit team that can’t clear a defenseman (Ed Jovanovski) from their own crease with 30 seconds left in regulation doesn’t deserve to win. Nicklas Lidstrom should have been on him, or Jimmy Howard should have laid the lumber into him.

Instead, Howard backed all the way into his net to accommodate Jovanovski. From that spot he had no chance of stopping any puck put at him.

Detroit should know better than any team that you can get away with beating the hell out of a player camped out in the crease. Rather than doing it, they played nice and let Phoenix tie the game.

Aside from the nap the Wings took in allowing the first and second Phoenix goals, I have no other complaints about the game. To me it all comes down to that tying goal.

Looking Up at the Joe Louis Arena Rafters

I’ve been working on a new feature for DetroitHockey.Net on and off for a couple months now and maybe it’s appropriate for it to launch just two days after a group of fans had to be removed from the Joe Louis Arena rafters.

Back in October I got an email from reader Adam Pavlik with an interesting note about the rafters at the Joe. Adam’s question made me realize that despite my own interest in the Red Wings’ banners and their placement in the rafters, I had never documented any of that information.

It led me to create a new part of DetroitHockey.Net, a Joe Louis Arena rafter diagram, detailing the position of each Wings’ banner.

That diagram is correct as of November, the last time I was at the Joe personally. The thing is, had I made it based on a trip to the arena last season there would have been something very interesting on it.

The Red Wings, by my count, have 66 banners hanging in their rafters. There are two more for College Hockey at the Joe but I don’t count those. Last year they had 65, adding a Central Division Championship and a Campbell Bowl banner over the summer.

Do the math and you see that while they raised two banners they also took one down.

What I had never noticed before, and apparently neither had anyone else in the Red Wings organization, is what Adam had emailed me to ask about. Why was there a banner for the 1933-34 League Championship hanging at Joe Louis Arena?

That banner was there when I first started taking pictures of the rafters and was still there in last spring’s Stanley Cup Finals.

The problem is that in 1933-34 the Toronto Maple Leafs were the NHL’s regular season champions.

For at least ten years (I have to imagine longer), the Red Wings flew a banner that they never won.

Adam contacted the Red Wings organization looking for answers about the banner but none were forthcoming. That it no longer hangs at the Joe is all of the acknowledgement that I expect from the team’s front office.

I could spend a whole other post on what I think should be hanging from the rafters, from team accomplishments to retired numbers. That’s all opinion.

That the Red Wings were honoring an accomplishment that never happened is a fact. Unfortunately, we may never know why.

Update, 11:20 AM, 1/26: Adam has corrected me to note that he did get a response from the Red Wings organization, thanking him for pointing out the out-of-place banner. They did not, however, explain why it was there.

Kronwall to Return Tuesday, Lilja Inching Closer

Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall will return to the Red Wings’ lineup on Tuesday as the Phoenix Coyotes visit Joe Louis Arena.

The team announced on Monday that Kronwall, who has been out since November 21 after a knee-on-knee hit from Montreal’s Georges Laraque, will rejoin defense partner Brad Stuart on the second blueline pairing and will take his usual place on the point with the second power play unit.

Kronwall’s return comes along with the news that defenseman Andreas Lilja hasn’t experienced a headache in 13 days. Lilja, who hasn’t played in a year with post-concussion symptoms, needs to go 14 days without a headache to be cleared to begin full-contact practices. He is hopeful that he could return to the lineup soon.

Tomas Holmstrom, out with a broken foot since early this month, is targeting this week for a return. Jason Williams hopes to return from his fractured fibula in early Feburary.

Johan Franzen, originally expected to be out until March, could return on the same West Coast road trip as Williams.

Red Wings Blow Two-goal Lead, Fall to Kings, 3-2

The Detroit Red Wings had a two-goal lead less than halfway through the first period Saturday night but couldn’t hold onto it, dropping a 3-2 decision to the Los Angeles Kings.

Valtteri Filppula walked in untouched on Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick, beating him with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle at 5:29 of the first to open the scoring.

Just 2:02 later, a Brian Rafalski shot bounced off Todd Bertuzzi‘s knee and went past Quick on a five-on-three to put the Red Wings up by a pair.

The rest of the game would be all Los Angeles, however.

Anze Kopitar beat Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard on a rebound chance after a turnover by Jonathan Ericsson only 1:55 into the second period.

Peter Harrold tied it up at 6:27 of the third, then Brad Richardson put the Kings in front with 7:57 remaining, tipping in a chance from the slot.

The loss leaves the Red Wings three points behind the Kings in the standings and drops them back out of a playoff spot.

Howard made 30 saves on the night, facing 33 Kings chances. Quick stopped 31 of 33 Detroit shots.

The Red Wings went 1-for-3 on the power play while the Kings were scoreless in the same number of chances with the extra attacker.

Three fans made their way into the Joe Louis Arena rafters over section 124 at the start of the third period. The section was evactuated while security handled the situation.

Red Wings Suvive Wild Comeback, Win in Shootout

The Detroit Red Wings survived a late two-goal comeback by Minnesota and the longest shootout in team history Thursday night, earning a 4-3 win over the Wild.

Drew Miller won the game for Detroit in the eighth round of the shootout, snapping a shot over Niklas Backstrom‘s shoulder.

Miller had scored what seemed to be an insurance goal at 9:03 of the third period, deflecting a Derek Meech shot from the blue line past Backstrom to give the Red Wings a 3-1 lead.

Minnesota battled back with a pair of goals one minute apart.

With 6:12 remaining in regulation, Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard got his toe on a Kyle Brodziak chance from in front. The puck then deflected off of Martin Havlat‘s skate and trickled into the net.

The game was tied when Andrew Brunette gloved the puck out of mid-air, dropped it to his stick, and swatted it past Howard from the slot with 5:12 left.

All three of Minnesota’s goals came on fortunate bounces, as they got on the board with 7:26 left in the second when a Shane Hnidy shot went high, deflected off the glass behind the goal, then floated back out in front before hitting the chest of Robert Earl and dropping into the net.

The Red Wings had opened the scoring at 7:52 of the first when Todd Bertuzzi beat Wild goaltender Josh Harding.

Harding left the game with a lower body injury after the first period and Backstrom allowed his first goal against at 2:28 of the third when Patrick Eaves banged in a rebound chance after Darren Helm drove the net.

Howard finished the night with 27 saves on 30 Minnesota shots, stopping six of eight shootout attempts. Harding stopped ten of the 11 first-period shots he faced while Backstrom made 16 stops on 18 shots and went five-for-eight in the shootout.

Neither team scored a power play goal. Detroit had three chances with the extra attacker and Minnesota had one.

Wings – ‘Hawks a Great Game Despite Outcome

Quite a few hours later and I’ve still gotta say, today’s game was one of the better ones we’ve seen all season.

That is as a hockey game, of course. There have been better outcomes for the Wings and there have been better games for the Wings but both Detroit and Chicago played a fantastic game this afternoon.

I can only complain that it had to go to a shootout, but even then Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi provided a couple highlight-reel goals. It doesn’t take away from my dislike of the tiebreaker but I’ve always said the shootout is fun to watch and those two didn’t disappoint.

I’m sure the Wings would have preferred to get two points. I would have preferred it, too, but if today’s game had to be a Detroit loss then that was a fantastic way for things to go.

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