Red Wings Reach All-Star Break with Win over Devils

The Detroit Red Wings defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-1 Wednesday night, wrapping up their January schedule as the NHL heads into the All-Star break.

Darren Helm opened the game’s scoring just 1:43 into the first period, picking off a pass from Mark Fraser at the New Jersey blue line and skating in all alone on Martin Brodeur, beating him over the shoulder.

Brian Rolston tied things up at 6:35 of the period, banging home the rebound of an Anton Volchenkov shot after Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard bobbled it.

Valtteri Filppula put the Red Wings back in front at 5:32 of the third period, taking a cross-ice feed from Jiri Hudler and snapping a shot past Brodeur from the left faceoff circle.

Ilya Kovalchuk appeared to tie the game late in the third but the referee ruled he had pushed Howard into the net with the puck. Replay would show this was not the case but the call on the ice stood as it was not reviewable.

Johan Franzen finished off the game’s scoring with 44 seconds left in the game, snapping a shot from the high slot past Brodeur on a rush into the zone.

Neither team scored a power play goal on the night. Each team had three tries with the extra attacker, though all of Detroit’s came on a double-minor and an overlapping penalty for a long five-on-three.

Howard stopped 23 of the 24 shots he faced. Brodeur made 26 saves on 29 shots against.

The Red Wings are off until next Wednesday when they visit the Ottawa Senators.

Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom is the only Red Wing going to the All-Star Game. He will captain one of teams there… The Red Wings expect Pavel Datsyuk and Danny Cleary to return from injury in Ottawa. Tomas Holmstrom is expected to return shortly after.

Stating the Obvious: The Wings Lucked Out

I spend enough time questioning the officiating when it goes against the Red Wings that it would be hypocritical of me not to do to so tonight.

With Detroit up 2-1 in the game’s closing minutes, Ilya Kovalchuk poked a loose puck past Jimmy Howard. Tie game? Nope. The referee ruled that Howard had been pushed in with the puck.

Replay shows this is clearly the wrong call. The puck was loose and the goal should have been good. But the ref couldn’t have been in position to see that.

This is a case where more replay has to be allowed. Either that or more input from the other officials on the ice.

None of the spots on the ice where that ref should have been would have allowed him to see the other side of Howard’s pad. Based on a strict interpretation of the rules – the kind of interpretation that the Wings get burned on with “intent to blow” calls – the referee can never make the right call because he will never be able to see exactly what’s happening.

The Red Wings lucked out on this one but that doesn’t change the fact that it was a bad call made possible by flawed rules. It’s time to accept the simple fact that the referee can’t see everything on the ice.

Red Wings – Blackhawks Postgame Thoughts

I said before the game that it wasn’t going to be a good one and it certainly turned out to be true.

The morning after, I’m trying to think of a single time where the Red Wings had sustained pressure in the Chicago zone, excluding their power plays. I can’t remember any.

I’m not going to directly blame that on injuries. There may not have been a lot of pressure but the kids called up from Grand Rapids were moving well. Cory Emmerton scored his first NHL goal (on a bit of a lucky bounce) just hours after being called up. The problem wasn’t so much a lack of talent out there for the Wings. It was a lack of energy.

Maybe that’s the ultimate effect of the injuries, but what we saw yesterday was a very tired Detroit team against a very rested Blackhawks squad. Aside from the fourth line, I didn’t see any jump from anyone.

You’re not going to win many games where you can’t get anything done in the offensive end but I think defense might have lost this game for the Wings. They’re relatively healthy on the blue line so there’s no excuse for Ruslan Salei backing off Bolland in the slot for Chicago’s first goal or the awful miscommunication that left both Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall going behind the net on the fourth goal, leaving the slot open.

That first goal still bothers me for another reason, though. I don’t agree with Salei backing off Bolland but I can see why he did it. Bolland got away with whacking the hell out of him in their battle in front of the net. I think that was why Salei backed off, and the minute he did the puck got there. Bolland then scored and hit Salei one more time for good measure.

It’s a common thing for Red Wings fans to say but I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that Tomas Holmstrom would get away with doing the same thing without a penalty.

Just to pile on the refs, I thought the Henrik Zetterberg non-goal was a quick whistle. We’ve been through that one before. Yes, the ref lost sight of the puck. Yes, the play is dead as soon as he intends to blow the whistle. As I’ve always said, that’s not an absolute. The ref loses sight of the puck when he blinks but he assumes it’s still in play. In this case, the ref assumed Corey Crawford had control when he didn’t. I think he made that assumption too quickly.

I don’t think there’s much to take from this except for the All-Star break is coming exactly when the Red Wings need it. One game in the next eleven days, with many of the team’s injuries expected to return at the end of the break. Things should turn around.

Islanders Claim Nabokov off Waivers

Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has been claimed off waivers by the New York Islanders.

Nabokov was signed by the Detroit Red Wings to a one-year deal on Thursday. Because he started the season in Russia, he had to be placed on waivers on Friday before he could join the Red Wings.

The Islanders already have three goalies on the roster. Rick DiPietro is currently ill and Nathan Lawson left Friday night’s game with a knee injury. Kevin Poulin finished in net.

Nabokov was not expected to clear waivers, as his $570,000 salary and lack of performance-based bonuses was not enough to prevent other NHL teams from being interested in him.

With Nabokov lost, the Red Wings will likely call Joey MacDonald back to Detroit to back up Jimmy Howard. Jordan Pearce will back up Howard in Saturday’s matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks. Chris Osgood is expected to return from sports hernia surgery in mid-March.

Red Wings Blow Lead, Score in OT to Beat Blues, 4-3

The Detroit Red Wings gave up a three-goal lead Thursday night but got an overtime goal from Darren Helm to pick up a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues.

Helm’s goal came after the Blues forced overtime, rallying from down 3-0 midway through the game to tie things up with 5:46 remaining in regulation.

After Helm chipped the puck out of the Detroit zone, Jiri Hudler carried it down the right wing and into the St. Louis end. Hudler centered the puck to Helm, who swatted it past goalie Jaroslav Halak to give the Red Wings the win at 1:51 of the overtime period.

Patrick Eaves had opened the game’s scoring with 7:35 left in the first. Eaves forced a turnover in the right wing corner and then went to the front of the net, taking a pass from Henrik Zetterberg and banging home the puck.

At 7:34 of the second, Todd Bertuzzi made it 2-0 when Halak tracked Valtteri Filppula‘s wraparound attempt, not noticing that the puck was left for Bertuzzi at the side of the goal. Bertuzzi roofed a shot with Halak looking the other way.

Jakub Kindl‘s first NHL goal made it 3-0 2:16 later. Kindl joined Filppula and Hudler as the late man on a rush, getting the puck from Filppula and trying to work it to Hudler at the side of the net. The attempted pass deflected off of defenseman Roman Polak and past Halak.

TJ Oshie got the Blues on the board with 8:16 left in the middle period. Oshie put a shot from the left faceoff circle over Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard‘s shoulder.

Patrick Berglund was left uncovered in the slot at 6:35 of the third period, open to take a pass from Vladimir Sobotka and snap a shot past Howard, pulling St. Louis to within a goal.

David Backes tied the game with 5:46 remaining, banging home the rebound of a Brad Boyes chance.

Neither team scored a power play goal on the night. The Blues had two attempts with the extra attacker to Detroit’s one.

Howard made 26 saves on 29 shots in his first game back after missing two with a bruised knee. Halak stopped 25 of 29 shots.

The Red Wings host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday afternoon and then are off until Wednesday when they host the New Jersey Devils.

Detroit announced the signing of free agent goaltender Evgeni Nabokov immediately after the game. Nabokov will have to clear waivers before joining the team but is not expected to do so.

Red Wings Sign Nabokov

After ten hours of speculation, the Detroit Red Wings confirmed Thursday night that they have signed goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to a one-year deal covering the remainder of this season.

Now all they have to do is keep him.

As Nabokov started the season playing for SKA St. Petersburg of the Russian Kontinental Hockey League, he must be placed on waivers before returning to the NHL. That will happen at noon on Friday and it is considered highly likely that a team will claim him before the deadline of noon on Saturday.

The deal is reportedly for $570,000 on the year, prorated down to approximately $250,000 for the rest of the season. It includes a no-movement clause that does not apply to the initial waiver period.

Red Wings – Penguins Postgame Notes

I’ll qualify the thoughts that follow by saying that I didn’t see the entire game tonight. As previously mentioned, I joined late due to another appointment.

From what I did see, tonight was the first night since all of the injuries hit that I thought the Red Wings actually looked shorthanded.

Whether it was because they are missing so many players (which they are) or because the Penguins played a very solid game (which they did) – or some combination thereof – I just kind of had a feeling like it was going to require a Herculean effort for Detroit to get a win tonight. That no matter what they could throw at the Penguins, Pittsburgh could stop it.

I don’t have stats to back that up, it’s just a feeling I got watching the game. That the Wings didn’t have enough gas to get it done.

The funny thing is that it wasn’t a lack of depth. The third and fourth lines had some great shifts.

It wasn’t that the top (remaining) guys weren’t performing. Henrik Zetterberg made a hell of a play and Patrick Eaves made a great pass on Johan Franzen‘s goal.

It was a sense of sloppiness that maybe comes from unfamiliarity with teammates. Joey MacDonald taking too long to move the puck or Niklas Kronwall taking too much time to make a pass. Turnovers that turned into goals.

The Red Wings weren’t clicking like they can. Against the Blue Jackets last weekend it didn’t matter as much. Against the Penguins tonight it did.

Lidstrom Named All-Star Captain

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was announced Tuesday as one of two captains for this season’s NHL All-Star Game.

Lidstrom joins Eric Staal of the host Carolina Hurricanes, having been selected via a vote of the 42 All-Stars who will appear at the January 30th game.

On Friday, January 28, Lidstrom and Staal will select their teammates via a live, televised draft.

Franzen Lifts Red Wings over Blue Jackets in OT

Johan Franzen scored 45 seconds into overtime Saturday night, carrying the Detroit Red Wings to a 6-5 win over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets.

The win came a night after Detroit dropped a 3-2 shootout decision in Columbus, losing two players in the process. The Red Wings were without goalie Jimmy Howard and forward Tomas Holmstrom for the rematch, bringing their total injured players to seven.

Franzen’s game-winner came when he jumped in from the right point to the top of the faceoff circle and took a pass from Henrik Zetterberg, snapping a shot past Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason. The puck bounced off the bottom of the crossbar and into the net, giving the Red Wings the win.

Columbus seemed to be in control with an early 2-0 lead when Derick Brassard and Grant Clitsome scored in the first 4:12 of the game.

The Red Wings rallied with two quick goals of their own late in the period. Valtteri Filppula snapped a shot past Mason with 2:26 left and Drew Miller tied things up with 40 seconds remaining on an attempted pass from behind the goal line that deflected multiple times to get into the net.

Matt Calvert beat Detroit netminder Joey MacDonald on a breakaway just 2:57 into the second but Jonathan Ericsson‘s backhander one minute later snuck past Mason on the short side to tie things back up.

A shot from the high slot by Brian Rafalski slipped past Mason at 8:02 to give the Red Wings their first lead. Rafalski’s initial shot was knocked down at the top of the crease but it had enough momentum to continue on into the net.

RJ Umberger re-tied the game at 1:10 of the third period, banging the rebound of a Fedor Tyutin shot past MacDonald on a Columbus power play.

Kris Draper poked home a rebound 2:22 later to make it 5-4.

With 1:04 left in regulation and Mason on the bench for an extra attacker, Rick Nash snapped a shot from the high slot through traffic and past MacDonald to force overtime.

Umberger’s goal was the only power play goal of the night. Columbus had two tries on the power play and Detroit had one.

MacDonald stopped 25 of 30 shots in earning the win, his first since a 6-3 win against the Blue Jackets while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2009. Mason made 28 saves on 34 shots against.

The Red Wings are back in action on Tuesday when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Red Wings – Blue Jackets Postgame Notes

I was going to do a full write-up for this game but I just can’t. Here’s the three important things…

#1 – Jimmy Howard
Less than a week after Chris Osgood has surgery for a sports hernia, Howard goes down with a bruised knee. No timeline on that injury. Joey MacDonald replaced him tonight and will get the start tomorrow in the rematch. Thomas McCollum gets the call-up to back up MacDonald.

#2 – Joey MacDonald
In two games this week he’s stopped 36 of 37 shots faced for a .923 save percentage and a GAA of 0.62. Star of the Week numbers if it weren’t for the fact that because he entered those games down by a combined five goals, he’s got a 0-1-1 record.

#3 – Tomas Holmstrom
Because things weren’t bad enough when Howard went down, the Red Wings lost Tomas Holmstrom to a broken hand in the third period. He’s out for four weeks. In something like a law of conservation of Tomas, Tomas Tatar is expected to be called up.

So here’s the injury report as it stands right now…

Mike Modano (wrist), out until March
Pavel Datsyuk (hand), out until February
Danny Cleary (ankle), out until February
Brad Stuart (broken jaw), out until March
Chris Osgood (groin), out until March
Jimmy Howard (knee), day-to-day?
Tomas Holmstrom (hand), out four weeks

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