Postgame: Red Wings @ Canadiens – 4/5

I was going to do a postgame post with all sorts of multimedia on why Montreal’s final two goals were off bad calls but, while I do think that and will spend some time on it, that’s not the biggest story of the night, just the part that makes me most angry.

There were really four parts to Detroit’s 5-3 loss in Montreal on Friday.

In the first period the Red Wings came out… Not strong but acceptable. They looked a bit like they had played the night before – which they had. Jonas Gustavsson had a huge save early. Nothing really got going offensively but not for lack of trying.

Then Montreal scored first and everything fell apart. Any momentum the Wings had was gone and by the second period they had absolutely nothing going, outside of their still-unsuccessful five-on-three.

By the start of the third period, it was looking like a loss was a sure thing, which actually wasn’t a problem to me because I’d chalked this up as a loss earlier in the week so my expectations were set. But then the Wings came back. Pavel Datsyuk scored and it was kind of “Hey, look, Datsyuk managed to get a goal, it’ll be awesome if he can get going.” Of all people, Luke Glendening scored and suddenly its a one goal game. Then Niklas Kronwall‘s PPG ties things up and it’s a new game.

But just as quickly as as Detroit stormed back, Montreal added two more controversial goals to make it 5-3, where the game ended.

You’re not supposed to win games where you only play one period. Sometimes you do but you’re not supposed to. Hell, I used to rant when the Wings were only putting in 40 minute efforts, 20 minute efforts should clearly not be enough. So one period of effort in a game the Wings were slated to lose ends up being a loss. No surprise there.

But then there’s the controversy.

I don’t know how you can look at Montreal’s fifth goal in the context of Boston’s apparent first goal on Wednesday or this goal or this goal and not question it. Either they’ve gotten it wrong three times this season that I can mention off the top of my head or they got it wrong tonight. Or all of them have been wrong and right is somewhere in between. I lean towards that last option.

The fourth goal might be worse because it’s not a matter of opinion, though it does seem to be subject to an interpretation of the rules. I keep reading “You’re not offsides coming in backwards if you have possession of the puck.” Gionta had possession as the puck crossed the blue line. The problem is that’s not the rule.

…a player actually controlling the puck who shall cross the line ahead of the puck shall not be considered “off-side,” provided he had possession and control of the puck prior to his skates crossing the blue line.

By the time Gionta had possession, he had a skate and a half in the Detroit zone.

Put it this way: If he was cherry-picking in the Detroit zone and reached back out to take the pass just on the other side of the blue line, would it be allowed? That’s effectively what happened here.

So mediocre play, then awful play, then an awesome comeback, then controversy. Eventful night.

My Argument Against Glendening

I spent a bunch of this morning Tweeting my displeasure about the Red Wings’ signing of Luke Glendening to a contract extension. I stuck to Twitter because I was mostly on my phone, but I want to pull it all together with some thoughts here.

Here are the pertinent (and sarcasm-laced) Tweets. There were some more but they were almost entirely me being a smart-ass rather than trying to make an argument.

Last year Brian Lashoff wasn’t expected to see a second of ice time in Detroit. He was nominally the team’s eighth defenseman, simply because he was the longest-tenured Griffins blueliner. Then Detroit was down three defensemen three games into the season. Not only was Lashoff pressed into service, the Red Wings had to sign Kent Huskins just to have a full roster for the home opener. In those circumstances, Lashoff stepped in and played like a third-pairing defenseman. And was signed to a three-year extension a month later.

This year, every Detroit penalty killer was injured and Glendening stepped in. Glendening proved that he could somewhat be counted on to kill a penalty at the NHL level. Much like playing third-pairing defense it wasn’t setting a very high bar but it was enough, and Glendening got a similar three-year extension.

Additionally, the Wings have just added an NHL contract to the books for next year. Assuming everyone is healthy and all of the restricted free agents return, the Red Wings have 14 forwards who are not waiver-exempt already under contract for next season (that includes Glendening as he’ll likely burn off his waiver exemption this season). That’s with Tomas Jurco (waiver exempt) back in Grand Rapids, no roster spot for star prospect Anthony Mantha, and none of David Legwand, Daniel Alfredsson, Todd Bertuzzi, or Daniel Cleary re-signed. It also leaves no room to bring in someone else via free agency.

A few other people said things I liked about the deal and I want to talk about that, too.

The “fancy stats” seem to show that, no matter how much Mike Babcock likes him, Glendening isn’t very good. He’s a replaceable fourth liner. Fourth liners are important but not so important that you give them a deal for three years after most of one season.

There is a saving grace, though.

Before this season, I don’t think I’d ever expect the Red Wings to bury a guy in the AHL all year. Yeah, they did it to Derek Meech back when he would have been claimed off re-entry waivers but that was different as the Wings would have been stuck with half of his cap hit. Then this season happened and we say Cory Emmerton, Patrick Eaves, Jordin Tootoo and even Mikael Samuelsson pass through waivers and end up in GR for at least a few games. With that in mind, I still think this is an awful deal because it means the organization is placing high value (though not necessarily high contract value) on a fourth-liner. It’s an awful deal that can be entirely hidden in the minors, though, so if the organization decides Glendening isn’t as necessary as they seem to think now, it won’t hurt them going forward.

Red Wings Extend Glendening

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Saturday the signing of center Luke Glendening to a three-year contract extension.

As per club policy, financial terms were not formally announced. The deal reportedly carries a $628,333 salary cap hit for $1.885 million total value.

In his first NHL season, the 24-year-old has six points (all assists) in 51 games played. After four years at the University of Michigan, he turned pro last season, starting the year with the Toledo Walleye before moving up to his hometown Grand Rapids Griffins. He had 26 points for the Griffins in 51 games there, adding 16 more in 24 playoff games en route to a Calder Cup Championship.

Postgame: Sabres @ Red Wings – 4/4

Two points are two points but, man, that was uglier than it needed to be.

Playing against the worst team in the league who also played last night and didn’t even get into Detroit until 4:00 AM, you could expect the Red Wings to take a 3-0 lead early. Unfortunately, given Detroit’s penchant for giving up leads, you could also expect them to let the Sabres back in it, which they did as Buffalo cut it to 3-2 by the midway point of the third period. The Sabres had all the momentum late but couldn’t get a shot on net on their final shift as the Red Wings held on for the win.

Coupled with Columbus’ late loss to Chicago, that gives Detroit a three point lead for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re up four on ninth-place Toronto with a game in hand. New Jersey is six back, Washington seven, and Carolina is all-but-eliminated at nine back.

Montreal is up tomorrow night, coming off a 7-4 win in Ottawa.

With the win, Red Wings’ head coach Mike Babcock moved into a tie with Jack Adams for first place all-time in wins among Detroit coaches with 413. Babcock reached that mark in 265 fewer games.

Postgame: Bruins @ Red Wings – 4/2

I’ve said a lot of this via Twitter already but I’m going to collect my postgame thoughts here.

Detroit got outplayed for roughly 50 minutes tonight, but pulled it together in the last ten to rally from down 2-1 for a 3-2 win. After skating in circles in their own end for much of the night, as soon as they got the lead they suddenly were stronger on the boards and clogged up the middle better. You shouldn’t be able to win with a ten minute effort. Tonight they did.

They got some help early, though, as the Bruins had an apparent goal waived off for goalie interference where there was none. We’ve seen that enough as Red Wings fans that you had to figure one would eventually go in their favor, but that doesn’t make it the right call.

Gustav Nyquist… What more can be said about this kid. Scores the game-winner, blowing past Zdeno Chara and then snapping a shot past Tuukka Rask. That’s his six GWG in 51 games this season. He’ll play at most 57 games, meaning he’ll finish the year having scored the game-winner in over 10% of his games played.

Not only did Nyquist remain on fire, so did the Kid Line, as Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco scored Detroit’s first two goals. Tatar actually did most of the work on Jurco’s, breaking free of a headlock to kick the puck over to Jurco to knock past Rask.

Not to be lost in celebrating the kids, Jimmy Howard stood on his head tonight, stopping 33 of 35 shots. This win doesn’t happen without him keeping the team in in.

With the win, the Red Wings now have a three point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first wild card playoff spot, with Columbus having a game in hand. Toronto is four back and Washington five with Detroit having a game in hand on the Leafs. Graham from Winging it in Motown says the Wings are projected to need seven more points to clinch a playoff spot. There are two games against last-place Buffalo and one against out-of-the-playoffs Carolina that should yield six points. That means three games to find one more point.

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