Howard Signs Two-year Extension with Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings signed goaltender Jimmy Howard to a two-year contract extension on Monday.

As per team policy, financial terms were not announced. reports that the deal will pay Howard $4.5 million for an annual cap hit of $2.25 million.

Howard is in his second full season with Detroit, having joined the team for the 2009-10 campaign. He took over the starting role from Chris Osgood in his rookie year and was a finalist for the Calder Trophy.

In 47 games played this season, Howard has gone 30-12-3 with a 2.79 GAA and .908 save percentage.

Red Wings Rally for Shootout Win over Sabres

Jiri Hudler scored with less than a minute remaining in regulation and then again in the shootout to help lead the Detroit Red Wings to a comeback win over the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night.

The Sabres led 2-0 after the first period before the Red Wings rallied.

Hudler tied the game up with 58 seconds left in the third period. He jumped off the bench as an extra attacker just in time to jump into the play and put the rebound of a Johan Franzen shot past Sabres netminder Ryan Miller.

Pavel Datsyuk had gotten the Red Wings on the board with 9:17 left in the second period, with Detroit on a power play. Datsyuk’s attempted shot from the high slot was blocked but the puck came right back to him to swat through traffic and past Miller.

Datsyuk and Hudler provided the scoring in the shootout, as well. Datsyuk beat Miller on a backhand on Detroit’s first attempt and Hudler tried the same move, putting a shot off the crossbar before the puck bounced back down off Miller’s back and across the goal line.

Detroit goalie Joey MacDonald stopped Drew Stafford and Thomas Vanek in their shootout chances.

Buffalo scored twice in 2:04 in the first period to get out to their early lead.

Andrej Sekera lifted a backhander on a quick two-on-one over MacDonald with 7:05 left in the period.

With 5:01 left, Mike Grier kicked the puck from his skate to his stick and beat MacDonald from in close to make it 2-0.

MacDonald finished the night with 30 saves on 32 Buffalo shots. Miller stopped 35 of Detroit’s 37 chances.

Datsyuk’s goal was the lone power play goal of the night. Detroit had two tries with the man-advantage to Buffalo’s one.

The Red Wings continue their five-game road trip in Los Angeles on Monday when they face the Kings.

Detroit was without defenseman Brian Rafalski, who missed the game with back spasms. He is expected to return in Los Angeles. Jakub Kindl played in his place… Mike Modano and Valtteri Filppula returned to the Red Wings lineup from injury. Drew Miller was a healthy scratch to make room for them.

Red Wings – Stars Postgame Notes

I said before the game that the Red Wings’ effort would have to be raised against the Stars and unfortunately it was not. Dallas took advantages of the opportunities they got and Detroit couldn’t respond. My thoughts on the night, in no particular order…

Effort, or lack thereof
I tweeted about this (and a lot of the things I’m going to write) but I think the play leading to Jamie Langenbrunner’s ENG sums things up nicely. Four Wings on one Star with the puck. Puck gets out to Langenbrunner. Goal.

How do you have a four on one and not come up with the puck in the game’s dying minutes? At that point it’s better to take a penalty running the guy into the ground than it is to lose the puck. You have to make the effort. But no one made a move, the puck gets out, and then it’s in the Detroit net.

Ericsson vs. Ott
Worthless fight. Give Ericsson the win but it accomplished nothing. The Wings could have built off of it so I have no idea why Ott would even be willing to drop the gloves. Of course, they didn’t, so he’s off the hook for that.

Kari Lehtonen came up with some big stops at key times. The scoresheet says he made 38 saves but I can’t believe the Wings got that many shots through. Bottom line is he kept the Stars in front when Detroit (finally) attempted to mount a comeback.

Debate about whether or not it’s okay to boo your team raged on Twitter during this game. For a long time I thought it was classless to boo the team you’re a fan of but I’ve since changed my mind.

If you’ll recall, my brain kind of broke after attending Game Seven of the 2009 Finals. Not because of the outcome but because of the effort. I had just paid something like $250 to watch the Red Wings skate like the game didn’t matter.

When you buy your ticket you can’t dictate what kind of game you’re going to see. Lots of stuff happens in a game, you don’t get to say something like, “I only want to go if it’s a win.” There are things you should be able to expect, however, such as the level of play.

You buy a ticket to an NHL game expecting an NHL-level game. When the Red Wings don’t put in the effort, you are not getting what you paid for. In that case, you absolutely have the right to boo.

There’s not a fine line on this. I still think booing your team is tacky. I just think that if your team isn’t putting in the effort they’re not really your team anymore.

Okay, I don’t like the Rafalski goal that was called back but I’m not sure it was the wrong call. There was incidental contact. By the book, the right call was made.

That said, I don’t know the last time I saw that call go the other way. I’d have a lot less of an issue with it if I didn’t have the feeling that it would have been allowed were it a Goligoski shot past Howard with Ott screening. No official rule or specific play to back that up, just a feeling.

Dallas’ first goal… Shot that deflects wide, straight to an open player with an empty net. Okay, one lucky goal.

Dallas’ second goal… Bouncing puck gets past Niklas Kronwall at the point and Loui Eriksson races in all alone to stuff it past Howard. Two lucky bounces?

Dallas’ third goal… Stars on the two-on-one, Rafalski blocks the pass but it comes right back to Barch, whose shot then deflects on its way past Howard.

That’s a lot of bounces going against Detroit. I know better defense takes care of that but you need luck, too, and they didn’t get it tonight.

Mike Modano and (possibly) Valtteri Filppula will be back on Saturday so maybe that’ll shake things up a bit. The Wings begin their epic five-game West Coast road trip in Buffalo (WTF?) and this could have major playoff implications, so they’ll have t get their act together.

Red Wings – Stars Pregame Notes

With Patrick Eaves out for a week after falling awkwardly on his leg against the Sharks on Tuesday and neither Mike Modano nor Valtteri Filppula ready to return from their respective injuries (both are expected back on Saturday against the Sabres), the Red Wings have called Jan Mursak back up from the Griffins to fill in tonight against the Stars.

Dallas has dropped five in a row and nine of their last ten. They’ve dropped into a three-way tie for ninth in the Western Conference. GM Joe Nieuwendyk is reportedly shopping star forward Brad Richards, so this is a team on its way down. As seen in the Florida game last week, those can be tough for Detroit.

The Wings dropped their last game to San Jose but had a five-game winning streak going before that. I didn’t see the loss so I won’t comment on it. I will say that you could see it coming, as three dominant wins (twice over Boston, then one against Tampa Bay) were followed by a sloppy effort against Florida and a snoozer against Minnesota. The effort level needs to be back up tonight against a team that loves to give Detroit fits.

Red Wings’ Bertuzzi Marks 1000th Game with Shootout Winner over Wild

Detroit forward Todd Bertuzzi made the most of his 1000th career game Sunday afternoon, scoring the deciding shootout goal as the Red Wings defeated the Minnesota Wild, 2-1.

Bertuzzi slowly skated in on Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom and faked him out, lifting a shot into the top of the net. The goal gave Detroit two after three shots, with the Wild having none after two.

Pavel Datsyuk had also scored in the shootout, evading a poke check by Backstrom to lift a shot into the net.

After two scoreless periods, Nicklas Lidstrom drove a shot from the hight slot past Backstrom just 1:10 into the third.

Martin Havlat evened the game back up 3:40 later, taking advantage of a Detroit turnover at the Minnesota blue line to race in all alone and snap a shot past Jimmy Howard.

Howard finished the game with 25 saves on 26 shots. Backstrom stopped 38 of 39 chances.

Neither team scored a power play goal. Detroit had two chances to Minnesota’s three tries with the extra attacker.

The Red Wings return to the ice on Tuesday when they host the San Jose Sharks.

Red Wings – Panthers Postgame Thoughts

Well, that was pretty much what was expected, just with a better outcome.

The Red Wings played a sloppy, uninspired game against a Panthers team that’s just not very good and barely earned the win.

Detroit was sloppy in their own zone and lazy on offense. They had a horrible time clearing the puck past their own blue line. Aside from the goals, they didn’t generate a whole lot of scoring chances.

Thankfully, they came up big when they had to.

Todd Bertuzzi with two goals. I thought he was going to get one last night and he was just as good tonight.

Danny Cleary‘s goal was a fantastic effort, as was Pavel Datsyuk‘s.

I was berating Joey MacDonald all night, especially after the first goal against. That’s was just inexcusable. The stop on Stephen Weiss in the closing minute almost makes up for it, however.

That last-minute chance shouldn’t have happened and was a sign of the Wings’ struggles keeping the Panthers out of the Detroit end.

I do think the Wings can rebound from this, they’re just signs of a tired team.

Red Wings – Lightning Postgame Notes

Tweeted some of this already but figured I’d post here too.

Overheard someone in the concourse at St. Pete Times Forum say that the game was closer than the score showed. That’s BS, though, aside from a five-minute stretch in the second period, the Red Wings dominated.

There was a guy behind me who kept yelling “Come on, Vinny!” to Vincent Lecavalier. A sign of how lopsided the game was is Lecavalier. He led the Lightning with six shots but got absolutely nothing and finished the night a -2.

The Wings did a fantastic job of limiting Tampa’s chances, even if they allowed 40 shots against. There weren’t a lot of times the Lightning really threatened (again, ignoring the five minutes in the second period).

Jimmy Howard came through with a strong performance on the chances that the team in front of him did allow. He made some big stops in the first period and looks more confident than he did during the Wings’ mini-slump a couple weeks ago.

In all, it was a shutdown effort against a team that wanted to use Detroit as a measuring stick. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Datsyuk, Cleary Lead Red Wings in Rout of Lightning

Pavel Datsyuk scored twice and Danny Cleary factored into two more goals, helping to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 6-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night.

Much was made of the matchup, as it was the first between the two teams since Steve Yzerman left the Red Wings organization to become general manager of the Lightning.

Cleary opened the game’s scoring on a Detroit power play 6:40 into the game. Nicklas Lidstrom fired a shot from the blue line that Cleary tipped at the top of the crease, past goalie Dwayne Roloson.

Datsyuk made it 2-0 with 5:03 left in the period, pouncing on a rebound and swatting it past a sprawling Roloson on the backhand.

The Lighting would briefly rally in the second period, scoring twice in 2:47 to tie the game.

With 8:09 left in the period, Victor Hedman wristed a shot from just inside the blue line that deflected past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard to get Tampa Bay on the board.

With 5:22 left, Steve Downie snapped a loose puck past Howard to make it 2-2.

The Red Wings regained control 1:56 later, when a Niklas Kronwall shot deflected off of Cleary’s skate and into the net for a power play goal.

Justin Abdelkader put a rebound chance past Roloson from the edge of the crease with 2:00 remaining to restore the two-goal lead.

Datsyuk’s second of the night came with 8:21 left in the third period. He was left uncovered to race into the Tampa zone and take a feed from Jiri Hudler before snapping a shot past Roloson.

Darren Helm wrapped up the game’s scoring with 1:51 left in the game, turning a turnover at the Lightning blue line into a breakaway goal.

Detroit’s power play goals gave them two on three tries with the extra attacker. Tampa Bay went scoreless on five chances with the man-advantage.

Howard stopped 38 of the 40 shots he faced on the night. Roloson made 25 saves on 31 shots.

The Red Wings continue their Florida road trip on Friday night as they visit the Panthers.

Brad Stuart returned to the Detroit lineup after missing 15 games with a broken jaw… Ruslan Salei was given the night off to spend more time with his California-based family. He will return to the lineup against the Panthers.

Stuart to Return as Red Wings Visit Lighning

Brad Stuart will return to the Detroit Red Wings lineup on Thursday as the team visits the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Stuart has missed 15 games since suffering a broken jaw on a hit from Tom Kostopolous in Detroit’s 5-4 win over the Calgary Flames on January 7.

The Wings are coming off of a sweep of the Boston Bruins in their home-and-home series last weekend. Thursday’s matchup in Tampa is the first game of a two-day road trip through Florida, with a visit to the Panthers on the schedule for Friday night.

The Lightning are coming off a shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

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