Postgame: Panthers @ Red Wings – 4/1

Make no mistake: the Red Wings should not need a shootout to beat the Florida Panthers in April. That said, these Wings seem to, so I’ll take the two points however they come.

In the final week of the regular season, I’ve got a lot of concern about a lot of Red Wings. Henrik Zetterberg‘s line with Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler I’m not worried about but that’s the only one. Pavel Datsyuk and Gustav Nyquist look great together but Nyquist still makes some rookie mistakes and they’re not getting help from the other winger, whether it’s Johan Franzen or Todd Bertuzzi (who look like they’ve been skating in sand). The third line is apparently Justin Abdelkaer centering the rejects from the top two lines (today it was the aforementioned Bertuzzi and the perma-injured Danny Cleary). The fourth line… You know something’s wrong with the fourth line when Tomas Holmstrom is outskating the other players on the line (I don’t think Drew Miller looked bad and he was big on the PK, not thrilled with Cory Emmerton though).

Going back to the Datsyuk – Nyquist pairing… That needs to see power play time. I’m also not happy that Nyquist wasn’t out for overtime. The rookie is ready, play him.

On defense, it looks like the six-man group is set for awhile as I expect Kyle Quincey to get at least a few games of suspension for his stupid elbow to Tomas Kopecky. He’ll probably be helped by the fact that, like Jakub Voracek when Niklas Kronwall hit him a few weeks ago, Kopecky kept his head down and led with it, but Quincey jumped and lifted his elbow, two entirely unnecessary actions.

I wanted to like the Quincey acquisition but he is not adapting to the Red Wings’ style of play and he’s still taking bad penalties. Highly disappointing.

On the flip side, Jonathan Ericsson looked very solid today. Maybe the time off shook the cobwebs out of his head and he’ll go back to playing like he did in his first stint with the Wings.

Other random notes from this afternoon…

I love it when Datsyuk does crazy stuff like throw the puck over the net from behind it. If there had been anyone there to take that pass, it would have been a highlight-reel play whether or not a goal was scored.

Hudler’s shot in the shootout was sick. This is the Hudler the Wings expected to get back from the KHL last year. Of course, it’s a contract year so we’ll see what happens to him this summer.

On WiiM’s Operation Eaves

There’s no denying that the latest effort from Winging it in Motown is pretty fantastic. From SlapShotGoal…

I love hockey, you guys love hockey, that’s why we’re here. One of the things I love about hockey fans is the sense of community and family that brings us together. There are countless examples of the hockey community coming together for a cause, to help someone in need, or to provide support. Today we have a special opportunity to come together and show our support for one of our own. As most of you know, Patrick Eaves is currently struggling to recover from a concussion that started out as a broken jaw that resulted from taking a puck to the face on November 26th. What looked to be a painful, arduous recovery from a broken jaw, originally expected to take 6-8 weeks, has turned into a probable season ending injury. With Eaves being out of the lineup for so long, many seem to have forgotten him; but not us. Over the last couple months, I’ve been thinking a lot about Eaves and wishing there was something I could do, some way to encourage him and let him know that he’s still in our thoughts; and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Guess what? Turns out I was right! Today I’m proud to say that we have that opportunity; an opportunity to tell him that we appreciate the heart and dedication he brings to the game, and that we look forward to his full recovery and return to the Wings lineup. I’m sure he’s battling not only through the post-concussion symptoms and physical pain, but also the uncertainty, the discouragement and maybe feeling like he’s been replaced or forgotten. Well here’s our chance to let him know what he means to us and offer up our encouragement. For the details on how, I’ll throw it back to J.J.

More at WiiM…