Datsyuk Out Four Weeks with Broken Wrist

Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk will miss four weeks with a broken wrist, head coach Mike Babcock confirmed after the team’s 5-4 overtime win over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.

Datsyuk suffered the injury late in the first period. He was tripped by former teammate Mikael Samuelsson and fell awkwardly, jamming his hand into the ice on the way down.

He returned to play out the rest of the period but did not take a faceoff. Datsyuk was not on the bench to start the second period.

The Red Wings play 14 games in the upcoming four-week span.

Red Wings – Canucks Postgame Notes

Half-asleep, the wife just asked, “Was it a good game?”

Detroit scored five goals and got the win, but I’m not sure it was. It was, however, the game the Red Wings needed.

It was a gritty game against a streaking team with Pavel Datsyuk out of the lineup. The Wings fought for this one. Guys had to step up to make it happen.

Ten Red Wings had points. All but Jiri Hudler had at least a shot.

Darren Helm made a nice, smart play to keep the puck in the Vancouver end leading to Henrik Zetterberg‘s game-winning goal.

Tomas Holmstrom took an absolute beating on the power play that produced Nicklas Lidstrom‘s game-tying goal.

Jimmy Howard made a couple key stops early in the third with the Canucks still leading by a goal.

Brian Rafalski picked up three assists, rebounding from what was probably his worst game as a Red Wing.

Patrick Eaves was all over the place; I already said late in the third that I thought he would have scored if there was more time. He was one of seven Wings with three shots.

Johan Franzen is still snake-bit but he had a ridiculous nine shots on the night.

This win was a team effort when Detroit needed it most. It wasn’t going to be a night where one player put the team on his back, especially with Datsyuk out after a period. Everyone needed to contribute and they did.

Red Wings – Stars Postgame Thoughts

As I said earlier, this is why you don’t go planning around possible milestones.

Midway through the third period you’ve got fans chanting “Ozzie, Ozzie” after routine saves. Signs celebrating the not-to-be win number 400 are in the crowd like Chris Osgood‘s milestone had already been reached. Then the team started playing like they believed it was.

Not surprisingly, they lost.

The shift leading up to Brenden Morrow‘s tying goal with 3:14 left in regulation was colossally bad. The puck could have been cleared several times, with each failed attempt worse than the previous one until finally Brian Rafalski put it right on Jamie Benn‘s stick. Benn put it to Morrow all alone in front of the goal and the puck ended up in the net.

Blame Osgood if you want. I see some already are. The third and fourth goals could have been stopped. Typical weak Osgood goals, they might say.

I say they those chances never should have happened. If it comes down to Osgood having to make a superb stop, something has already broken down to get to that point. It’s the goalie’s job to make stops but if the entire team quits in front of him then I don’t blame him.

Blackhawks Take Early Lead, Cruise to 4-1 Win over Red Wings

The Chicago Blackhawks scored twice in the first 4:32 Friday night, all the scoring they’d need as they held off the Detroit Red Wings for a 4-1 win.

Patrick Sharp opened the game’s scoring with a power play goal just 1:04 in. Jonathan Toews won a faceoff in the right circle back to Brent Seabrook on at the point. Seabrook sent it along the blue line to Sharp for a one-timer past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.

It was 2-0 3:28 later, when Bryan Bickell jumped off the bench and into the play in the Detroit end, snapping a shot from the high slot past Howard.

Just 27 seconds later, Patrick Eaves got Detroit on the board. A Jonathan Ericsson shot went wide of the net and off the boards behind the goal, bouncing back out the other side for Eaves to put past Chicago netminder Corey Crawford.

Former Red Wing Tomas Kopecky restored the two-goal lead at 11:22 of the second. On a delayed penalty, Kopecky got in behind the defense and took a feed from Brian Campbell, beating Howard one-on-one.

Kopecky added an empty-net goal in the game’s closing minutes to wrap up the scoring.

Chicago scored on their only power play, as well as on the delayed call of the only other penalty of the game. The Red Wings were without a power play for the first time in six years.

Crawford stopped 29 of 30 shots against. Howard made 27 saves on the same number of chances.

The Red Wings will be back in action on Sunday when they host the Dallas Stars as Chris Osgood goes for his 400th career victory.

Red Wings – Blackhawks Pregame Notes

It’s Chris Chelios Heritage Night in Chicago tonight but some say he’s been tainted by his time in Detroit. Personally, I love the fact that the Red Wings took a Chicago icon and turned him into one of our own. The Blackhawks can try to claim Bob Probert all they want, we still love him. We made them hate their hero.

The Red Wings sit atop the Central Division (and the Western Conference) while the Blackhawks are in the basement. Both teams are slumping a bit as of late, though slumping is relative. The Wings are 6-3-1 in their last ten but the three losses are of only seven total on the season. The Blackhawks are 5-4-1 over the same time period and have lost two in a row to the Colorado Avalanche.

Chicago will start backup goalie Corey Crawford. Jimmy Howard gets the start for Detroit after the Wings’ players convinced Mike Babcock to give Chris Osgood the start at home on Sunday, with the chance to get his 400th win in front of the Joe Louis Arena crowd.

Changing up the goalie schedule to accommodate a possible milestone worries me. Especially with how the Wings usually play on Sundays.

Drew Miller is back onto the Wings’ fourth line in place of Kris Draper.

Chicago will be without Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Victor Stralman.

Lidstrom’s First Hat Trick Carries Red Wings over Blues

Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom scored the first hat trick of his twenty-year NHL career Wednesday night, leading the Red Wings to a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues.

Lidstrom opened and closed the scoring for the Red Wings as they looked to rebound from a 5-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

After a scoreless first period, Lidstrom got Detroit on the board with a slap shot from the top of the left faceoff circle 4:02 into the second. Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk gained the St. Louis zone before Lidstrom jumped into the play, taking a pass from Zetterberg and slapping a shot past Blues netminder Jaroslav Halak.

Carlo Colaiacovo responded just 1:18 later for St. Louis. Colaiacovo gave the puck off to Dave Scatchard as he gained the Detroit zone, drove to the net, and got the puck back to put a backhander past Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.

Niklas Kronwall put Detroit back up with 3:53 remaining in the period, snapping a shot from the high slot past Halak just after the expiration of a St. Louis penalty.

The Red Wings made it 3-1 just 1:31 later, when Danny Cleary tapped in the rebound of a Lidstrom shot on the power play.

Lidstrom’s second of the night gave Detroit a three-goal lead at 2:26 of the third. He blasted a shot from the blue line past Halak on another power play.

Brad Winchester tipped an Alex Steen shot past Howard at 6:42 of the period to give the Blues a power play goal of their own and cut the lead back down to two.

Lidstrom wrapped up the hat trick with an empty net goal with 30 seconds remaining.

The Red Wings finished the night two-for-five on the power play. St. Louis went one-for-three.

Halak stopped 32 of the 36 shots he faced on the night while Howard made 19 saves on 21 St. Louis chances.

Kris Draper was back in the Detroit lineup, with Drew Miller out to make room in the lineup.

Red Wings – Kings Postgame Notes

I think after two periods tonight you had to have the feeling that the floodgates were about to open one way or the other. Unfortunately for the Red Wings, it was not in their favor.

The story tonight was the goalies. Jonathan Quick was incredible in net for the Kings, stopping all 51 shots he faced. Jimmy Howard, on the other hand…

Howard did not lose this game for Detroit. If you don’t score any goals, it’s not your goalie’s fault. He did get outplayed, however. Given how good Quick was, saying that Howard got outplayed doesn’t mean he had a bad game. That said, Howard did not make the stops that Quick did.

We’ve seen this all before. The offense gets stifled by a hot goalie at one end of the ice. At the other end, every mistake the Wings make is pounced on and turned into a goal against. It’s never pretty.

I don’t mind Detroit not scoring. It’s gonna happen. I don’t want to see it but sometimes you’re gonna hit the hot goalie.

I do mind the goals against. As I said in-game, I didn’t like how Howard looked on them. He completely lost track of the puck on the second goal (though someone should have had the King who went to the net), he kicked the puck right out to the oncoming forward on the third goal, and I don’t think the screen on the fifth goal was as bad as it could have been. Momentary bits of sloppiness that turn into goals against.

Early Goals Lead Red Wings over Devils

The Detroit Red Wings scored twice in the opening 1:42 Saturday night, cruising to a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.

Just 28 seconds into the game, Tomas Holmstrom deflected a Nicklas Lidstrom past Devils netminder Martin Brodeur. The puck bounced off the post, off of Brodeur, and into the net.

Danny Cleary made it 2-0 1:14 later. Cleary raced through the neutral zone and took a cross-ice pass from Todd Bertuzzi, gaining the New Jersey end and snapping a shot past Brodeur’s glove from the left faceoff dot.

Henrik Zetterberg made it 3-0 with 8:23 left in the second period, driving to the net to knock his own rebound chance past Brodeur.

The Devils finally got on the board 39 seconds into the third period. Patrick Elias snapped a shot from the right faceoff circle through a screen by Dainius Zubrus and by Detroit goalie Chris Osgood.

Pavel Datsyuk wrapped up the game’s scoring with 9:48 left in the game. Henrik Zetterberg beat out an icing call and sent the puck to Datsyuk in the slot. Datsyuk moved to his backhand and beat Brodeur to make it 4-1.

After allowing goals on the first two shots he faced, Brodeur finished the night with 19 saves on 23 Detroit chances.

Osgood stopped 33 of 34 New Jersey shots en route to his 399th career win.

The Red Wings went scoreless on three power play tries. The Devils scored once on five tries with the extra attacker.

Detroit is back in action on Monday when they host the Los Angeles Kings.

My Weekend Without Wings: Part Two

Turns out that I didn’t miss the Red Wings’ game in New Jersey Saturday night after all, so my weekend wasn’t quite as Wing-less as expected. After missing Friday night’s win over the Canadiens, I’d expected Saturday’s Big Chill at the Big House to be all of my hockey for the day.

One could probably argue there wasn’t much hockey being played in Ann Arbor, as only one team showed up for that one.

Disclaimer here: I went to MSU but have about as little school spirit as anyone could. I like to see my school win but when they lose I don’t care. I worked for the university for too long to give them any effort cheering for them. I pay even less attention to college hockey on a daily basis than I do to the AHL. I’d like to think that gives me a neutral perspective of the game and the event.

On the game side of things, it was all Wolverines. I complained last night that the Griffins looked sloppy but compared to the Spartans they may have been an All-Star team. And Michigan made them pay. Repeatedly.

I didn’t like a couple of the penalties and I think the called-back MSU goal is the reason there need to be allowances for a goal to be scored when the net is off its pegs. The position of the goalposts had absolutely nothing to do with the trajectory of that puck or anyone’s ability to stop it.

Not that one goal would have made a difference, though.

As far as the event goes, I’m a little torn. There’s always this insane “cool” factor with the outdoor games that comes with seeing a sheet of ice where it shouldn’t (or should, depending on your view of things) be. You walk through the tunnel into the bowl of the stadium and see the ice and it’s fantastic.

That said, I’ve been trying to compare the Big Chill to my previous outdoor hockey experiences and it just comes up lacking.

The 2001 Cold War had a lot of the same negatives as the Big Chill. There are reasons I don’t go to college football games. Too many people in too little space. Crazy college traditions that seem ridiculous to me. But at least the Cold War was a good hockey game.

The 1999 Winter Classic in Chicago is still the gold standard for me. The atmosphere was amazing. The game was pretty good, with the Blackhawks getting their early lead and Detroit rallying back to win.

The Big Chill? The atmosphere wasn’t quite there and the game was awful. If I’d had a rooting interest it might have helped, I’m sure Michigan fans would say it was great but I’d ask if that was the game or the outcome (the same way a ‘Hawks fan might not think the Winter Classic was as good of a game). It was unique but at the same time not because it felt so much like being at a football game.

Maybe that’s a sign that outdoor hockey events are getting played out or that they’re better-suited for baseball stadia. I don’t know.

Speaking of outdoor games in general, there’s something I noticed about hosting one of these events that I think is worth mentioning.

I don’t have a perfect memory but in 2001 it felt a lot like even though MSU was hosting the Cold War, it was a joint effort between them and U of M. The first Winter Classic was the same way, with promotional material playing up both teams. Since then, however, it seems like all of the focus is on the host team.

While the 2008 Winter Classic seemed like it could have been a neutral site game, the 2009 edition was clearly a Chicago home game with Detroit just a part of the show. The Big Chill was all about celebrating U of M in the same manner. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, I just think it’s interesting to see the change from the inaugural event.

In the end, I had a great time but it didn’t live up to expectations. I kind of feel bad saying that ’cause I’d do it again (maybe wouldn’t drag the wife along) but things don’t have to be perfect.

My Weekend Without Wings: Part One

The Red Wings face two Eastern Conference opponents this weekend but I’ve traded in those games for a couple others. Last night I skipped out on the Detroit – Montreal matchup to head to my first Griffins game of the year, a 4-3 Grand Rapids loss to the Texas Stars.

The loss reminded me of many Detroit losses this season. The Griffins were sloppy early. Their passes weren’t connecting, they weren’t taking shots, and when they did shoot they were firing right into Texas goalie Tyler Beskorowany’s chest protector.

The Stars were up 3-0 by the end of the first and made it 4-0 4:09 into the second.

Griffins coach Curt Fraser looked like he wanted to throw something. At various points he was laying into the players on the bench and the officials on the ice. I’m not sure how effective it was but it was entertaining.

The Griffins’ special teams helped them rally back. Brendan Smith had a shorthanded goal on a rush in the middle of the second and Jamie Johnson scored a power play goal late in the period.

Ilari Filppula scored with 48 seconds left and the Griffins skating six-on-four but Grand Rapids couldn’t get the tying goal.

As I said, this looked a lot like some Detroit losses earlier this season. Several Wings looked bad in those games and you’d never guess how good they really are, so I don’t want to pass judgement on the Griffins players based on one night.

That said, Smith looked really good out there. Head and shoulders above everyone except for Jakub Kindl, who’s not even supposed to be there anyway.

Joey MacDonald was strong in net considering the porous defense. He got a little lucky on a first-period penalty shot that beat him but went off the post.

Derek Meech is never coming back to Detroit but looked good. Ilari Filppula looks a lot like his younger brother, passing too much when he should shoot.

I’ve got some photos I’ll get posted to the site when I can.

Part Two of my weekend puts me at the Big House for U-M vs. MSU this afternoon. With the 3:00 start, traffic, and incoming snow, I’m not expecting to make it back to catch the Wings and Devils at 7:00.