Postgame: Avalanche @ Red Wings – 3/6

Much like with the Winter Classic, there are two stories to last night: The event and the game.

Actually, the game was two stories, as well. Through the first two periods, the Red Wings controlled play. The Avalanche didn’t even have a scoring chance in the first period, even having the only power play of the game to that point. In a game that was supposed to be about Colorado’s great young players, it was Detroit’s kids keeping the Avs bottled up for shifts at a time.

Unfortunately, a 2-1 lead for the Wings after two periods went the way of so many third-period leads this season. Colorado took control and tied things up. The Wings never looked like they were really in it for the rest of the night. Then a defensive miscue in overtime left a wide-open net and a 3-2 loss.

Given Detroit’s recent track record in “event” games, an overtime loss isn’t that bad. That said, their fighting for their playoff lives, they need as many points as they can get, and they left one on the table.

One major positive is that the first line looked better with trade deadline acquisition David Legwand than it did with Joakim Andersson, who was bumped down to the fourth line. Actually, Legwand looked pretty good, it was Johan Franzen who looked like he was coasting (which, given his historic streakiness and the fact that he’s coming off a run as the league’s first star of the week, you could say might have been due).

As for Nicklas Lidstrom‘s jersey retirement, it was nearly perfect, as you would expect. Steve Yzerman should have been there. More importantly, as Lidstrom himself noted, Brad McCrimmon should have been there. Chris Illitch should have acknowledged that this is Detroit’s eighth retired number, as the Ilitch family needs to stop trying to ignore Larry Aurie.

I have a little rant about not raising the banner straight up to where it belongs next to the others but part of that is a rant about the banners being wrong at the Joe in general, which I’ve made before.

That said, all of the speeches were fantastic. Having so many former teammates there was awesome. The current Wings in their #5 jerseys was a nice (if over-used) touch. It was a fitting send-off.

I had wondered how they would make it different from Steve Yzerman’s jersey retirement and a big part of it seems to be that they had the alumni seated to start rather than walking in when they were introduced. I think this shows how much Yzerman’s ceremony was about him as the leader of an entire era of Red Wings while Lidstrom’s was more about him. It was appropriate.

I’ve got a batch of photos from the ceremony and the game that will go up on the site eventually. As with the Winter Classic photos, I expect they’ll be a little delayed.

Pregame: Avalanche @ Red Wings – 3/6

I’ll be heading down to Detroit for Lidstrom Night shortly so I figured I’d throw together a whole bunch of stupid notes leading into it…

The Red Wings are 3-2 all-time on nights that they formally retire a player’s number. They lost, 3-2, when Gordie Howe‘s number was retired. It was a 6-4 win twenty years later when Alex Delvecchio and Ted Lindsay were honored. In the only other March 6th jersey retirement, they dropped a 3-2 decision as Terry Sawchuk‘s banner was raised. When Sid Abel’s number went up, they won, 4-2. Most recently, they won, 2-1, for Steve Yzerman Night.

The only players in the Detroit lineup tonight who dressed for Yzerman Night are Niklas Kronwall and Johan Franzen.

Daniel Cleary, Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Zetterberg all played on Yzerman Night but are out of the lineup now.

Pavel Datsyuk is the only player to have been hurt for both ceremonies.

This is only the second jersey retirement in team history to come after the NHL’s trade deadline. The other was Abel’s during the lockout-shortened 1995 season.

Ceremony time is 6:30 PM on FSD. Game time is 8:00 PM.

Trade Deadline Thoughts: Offense vs. Defense

I’ve already written my thoughts on the Red Wings’ trade for David Legwand so I won’t go into that right now, but Bill Roose has a piece about today’s transaction that piqued my interest. Specifically, the opening paragraph:

Late Tuesday night, general manager Ken Holland scrapped his original plans to enhance the Red Wings’ defense as the league’s Wednesday trade deadline approached.

I wrote earlier (and was a little more outspoken about it throughout the day via Twitter) that I thought defense should be Detroit’s first priority. Specifically, I was concerned that the current Red Wings lineup has only three real top-four defenseman, with the fourth spot taken by whoever happens to pair up with the odd-man-out of Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Danny DeKeyser. By paycheck that really should be Kyle Quincey but, while he’s been better of late, he hasn’t really seized that role.

It’s great to see that the Wings’ brass thought a defensive upgrade was the top priority, too. It’s also understandable that, upon learning of Darren Helm‘s injury, the team would decide to add some depth at center. Those were clearly the holes in the lineup heading into the NHL’s trade deadline.

What’s shocking to me is that the team considered it a “one or the other” situation, and that they chose to fill the gap at center over the one on defense; that fixing both issues was not an option.

By adding Legwand, the team has partially addressed their needs at center. Legwand, at this point in his career a second- or third-line center, will center the top line until Pavel Datsyuk returns from injury. Rookie Riley Sheahan will take the second line while rookie Joakim Andersson has the third and rookie (sensing a theme here?) Luke Glendening has the fourth line. It’s a band-aid but it prevents the team from having to shift Johan Franzen or Justin Abdelkader to center or use Cory Emmerton.

But they still have a big hole on defense. In adding the band-aid up front, they neglected the problem they had in the first place. Is it worth fixing the forward issue if you don’t resolve the problem on defense?

For me, the mid-term repercussions are the damning ones. If you accept that the team was going to have to – and is able to – make the playoffs with either a weakness at center or on defense, then you’ve also got to assume that the Red Wings will be playing in the postseason with a healthier lineup. Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg will be back, as will Helm and Stephen Weiss. Suddenly Legwand is your third- or fourth-line center… And you’re still missing a number four defenseman because no amount of return from injury is going to make one of those appear on this lineup.

Trade Deadline Thoughts: Snap Judgement

Okay, the Red Wings’ only move of the deadline was to acquire David Legwand for Patrick Eaves, a conditional third-round draft pick (it becomes a second-rounder if the Wings make the playoffs), and Calle Jarnkrok. I’ve been ranting on Twitter but I’m going to put it all in one place here.

I wouldn’t have traded Jarnkrok for Legwand straight-up. I hate this deal.

As I said earlier, I can justify a deal. I don’t like losing a guy like Patrick Eaves but he’s expendable and the Preds were going to ask for a roster player back, so it’s not a big loss. He’s also an unrestricted free agent this summer so he was gone anyway. The third-rounder is what I would expect to deal. I really don’t like that it’s conditional but that’s not too bad. Jarnkrok… TSN is reporting that he’s considering returning to Sweden this summer so the Wings might have lost him anyway.

In that optimistic view, it’s a second-rounder to rent Legwand and that’s not too bad. Especially if maybe Legwand re-signs with Detroit, his hometown team, this summer.

I don’t think that’s the case, though.

First off, even with injuries to Pavel Datsyuk and Darren Helm, forward was not Detroit’s biggest problem. Eventually they’ll get healthy up front. No amount of returning from injury will help their defense and they did nothing to augment it.

Secondly, I think you have to look at things in relation to other trades. The Montreal Canadiens acquired Thomas Vanek today for a second-rounder and a prospect. The Wings essentially spent more to get Legwand.

Third, if Detroit is healthy next season, as should be expected right now, they don’t need Legwand so re-signing him becomes unnecessary.

So best-case it’s a second rounder and two players the Wings would have lost anyway, who weren’t going to help them much this season. Worst-case, it’s a second-rounder and the fourth-best prospect in the Detroit organization (Eaves is a wash either way).

I dislike the deal. I think it has the potential to be the worst Ken Holland has made. But if things work out perfectly, I can justify it.

Red Wings Acquire Center Legwand at Trade Deadline

Detroit Red Wings have acquired center David Legwand in a trade deadline day deal from the Nashville Predators, the team announced on Wednesday..

Legwand was Nashville’s first-ever draft pick, selected second overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, behind Vincent Lecavalier of the Tampa Bay Lightning. In 894 career games with the team, he had 200 goals and 326 assists.

A native of Detroit, Legwand played junior hockey for the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers.

To acquire Legwand, the Red Wings gave up forward Patrick Eaves, a conditional third-round draft pick that would become a second-rounder if Detroit makes the playoffs this season, and prospect Calle Jarnkrok, who was the Grand Rapids Griffins’ third-leading scorer in his first season in North America.

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