Red Wings Return Home with Win over Predators

The Detroit Red Wings came back home following a six-game road trip and promptly defeated the Nashville Predators, 5-2, on Saturday night.

Tomas Tatar scored twice for the Red Wings, including the goal that saw Nashville goalie Carter Hutton removed from the game.

Hutton, starting in place of the injured Pekka Rinne, lasted just 12:32 after allowing three goals on four shots.

Just 57 seconds into the game, Gustav Nyquist took a centering feed from Tatar on a two-on-one and flicked a shot past Hutton to open the game’s scoring.

With 8:38 left in the opening period, Kyle Quincey‘s shot off a Pavel Datsyuk faceoff win deflected off Nashville’s Mike Ribeiro before bouncing off the ice and past Hutton to make it 2-0.

Just 1:10 later, Tatar snapped a shot from the right faceoff dot through a screen by Riley Sheahan and past Hutton to end the Nashville netminder’s night.

Mattias Ekholm got the Predators on the board with 1:22 left in the period, whipping a shot from the high slot through traffic that deflected past Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek for a 3-1 score.

Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg made it 4-1 with a power play goal at 2:14 of the second period. Skating down below the goal line, Zetterberg threw the puck out front, off goalie Marek Mazanec‘s helmet, and into the net.

Tatar added his second of the night with 39 seconds left in the middle frame. Tatar drove to the net to take a pass from Riley Sheahan in the corner and knock it past Mazanec for a power play goal.

Nashville’s Mike Fisher closed out the game’s scoring just 49 seconds into the third period, collecting the rebound of a Roman Josi shot in front of the net and lifting a backhander over Mrazek on the power play.

The Red Wings finished the night perfect on two power play opportunities while the Predators scored once on three tries with the man-advantage.

Mrazek made 34 saves on 36 shots in the Detroit net. After Hutton went one-for-four, Mazanec stopped 18 of 20 for Nashville.

The Red Wings are right back at it on Sunday as they host the Buffalo Sabres.

Late Goal Lifts Red Wings Past Blues in Overtime

Detroit forward Pavel Datsyuk scored with less than three seconds remaining in overtime on Thursday, lifting the Red Wings to a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues.

Datsyuk’s shot from the right faceoff circle deflected off defenseman Barrett Jackman, then snuck under the blocker of goalie Brian Elliott with just 2.2 seconds left in the overtime period. The goal salvaged the win for Detroit after the Red Wings blew a 2-0 lead in the third period.

Joakim Andersson opened the game’s scoring with 1:56 left in the second period. Drew Miller threw the puck to the front of the net from the corner and Andersson swatted a backhander that slipped past Elliott’s pad.

Just one minute later, Tomas Tatar collected the rebound of a Jonathan Ericsson chance on the doorstep and lifted a backhander past Elliott.

David Backes got the Blues on the board at 3:58 of the third period, tipping a Jay Bouwmeester shot from the top of the right circle past Detroit netminder Petr Mrazek on a power play.

The Red Wings thought they had a late 3-1 lead when Gustav Nyquist beat Elliot on a power play but the goal was called back due to incidental contact between Elliott and Justin Abdelkader.

The Blues would force overtime with 48 seconds remaining in regulation when Alexander Steen tipped an Alex Pietrangelo shot past Mrazek while St. Louis skated six-on-five.

Mrazek finished the night with 25 saves on 27 shots. Elliott stopped 21 of 24 Detroit chances.

Detroit was scoreless on four power play tries while the Blues scored once on three attempts with the man-advantage.

With the win, the Red Wings close out their six-game road trip with a 4-2 record. They’ll return home on Saturday to host the Nashville Predators.

Renaming the Whalers

Now that it has been announced that the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers are heading to Flint for next season (pending OHL Board of Governor approval next month) talk as turned to what will the new team be called?

Those not in the Flint area find themselves to be hilarious with names like the Flint Tropics and Flint Stones. Yes, because the team wants to start off as a joke. There are enough jokes about Flint the team will have to deal with, why go further down that road.

Now, Ken Campbell from The Hockey News did suggest Flint Hurricanes and his reasoning behind it would make any hockey fan giggle:

There have been a lot of proposed names bandied about for Flint’s new Ontario League team that will hit the ice next season. I’m kind of partial to Hurricanes. After all, that’s what the team was named the last time Peter Karmanos played a key role in a city losing its Whalers.

Well played.

Again, someone not from the Flint area and it is a joke.

Being a Flint native and still living in the Flint area myself I took up the discussion on Twitter with two others Adam Biggers (@AdamBiggers81) whom writes for Bleacher Report and hockey lifer Savi Sr. (@SavMoney1point0).

Here are some of the names we came up with:

Flint Phoenix
Flint Toxic Walleye
Flint Assembly
Vehicle City Assembly
Flint Arrows
Flint Hatchet men
Flint Union Jacks
Flint Masons
Flint Transmission
Flint Union
Flint Vikings
Flint Fuel
Flint Fire
Flint Fight
Flint Turbo
Flint Diesel
Flint Firebirds
Flint Bishops
Flint Oilers
Flint Grizzlies
Flint Timber
Flint Bandits
Flint War Machines
Flint Freedom
Flint Twisters
Flint Barons
Flint Ignition
Flint Bucks
Flint Tradesmen
Flint Flyers
Flint Strikers
Flint Railroaders
Flint Horsepower
Flint Revolution

And of course keeping it as the Flint Whalers.

Most of these names have to do with the history of Flint itself. While Detroit to the south is the Motor City Flint is the Vehicle City. General Motors was headquartered in Flint before Detroit; and at one point all Buicks and Chevrolets were built in Flint (during WW2 the factories made tanks). The Sit-Down Strike took place in Flint from 1936-37 leading to the era of labor unions.

Flint started as a settlement along the Saginaw Trail that connected Detroit to Saginaw and just like the bookend cities for the trail fell upon hard times, especially with the recent recession which started in the 1980’s here at factories started to close up and were demolished after NAFTA was signed, hitting the Michigan manufacturing base hard.

Flint’s motto is “Strong, Proud” and while many are knocking the move from Plymouth and many find any reason to crack a joke about Michigan’s hard times those here will keep going. This area was built on strength and pride; and that will keep it pushing towards recovery.

Plymouth Whalers To Start 2015-16 Season In Flint

Announced today was the sale of the Plymouth Whalers (OHL) to Rolf Nilsen and IMS Hockey Corp. pending OHL Board of Governors approval (set to meet February 2nd). IMS Hockey Corp. recently purchased the Perani Arena in Flint, Michigan and is set to put millions into the revitalization of the arena which was once a hot spot for sports and entertainment for Flint and Genesee County.

A few years back I had an experience at the Pernai Arena that I wrote about here.

The move of the Whalers to Flint give the Flint and surrounding communities what they have been missing since the fold of the IHL and the beloved Flint Generals. A high level hockey team to rally around and an organization that that has pride in their product and community.

After the IHL and the Generals vacated Flint the Michigan Warriors (NAHL) were brought to town from the Upper Peninsula; however, the Flint hockey fans were used to higher level players like: Doug Shedden, Bobby Reynold and Darren McCarty.

If you were to sit down and talk hockey with those in the Flint area and you will hear stories about the Championships, the loss of the team, the return of the team, and how every once in a while you could catch some of the Detroit Red Wings players on the ice there.

Sadly, Flint has not been the hockeytown that their neighbor to the south Detroit has become in quiet some time. That doesn’t mean the fans are not still there. When the economy took a downturn Michigan was hit hard when the Big Three and other manufacturing companies started laying off thousands. Flint is slowly on the mend, just as hockey is returning to the area.

Recently, the Crystal Fieldhouse Ice Arena reopened (two exits down on I-69 from the Perani Arena). University of Michigan – Flint campus is using it as their home rink and area youth are returning to the ice rinks to learn to skate. Atwood Stadium in Flint has been installing ice rinks that are free to the public – just one catch, you have to have your own skates.

The timing with the OHL moving to town as the arena is being updated, ice rinks are making their come back, and the people are ready for high quality hockey could not have been better.

Mrazek Shines on Hasek’s Night in Buffalo

On the night that saw his idol’s jersey number raised in Buffalo, Detroit netminder Petr Mrazek stopped 25 of 26 shots to earn the win for the Red Wings.

Longtime Sabre and former Red Wing Dominik Hasek was honored before the game with his Number 39 raised to the First Niagara Center rafters. The Czech Olympic champion was an inspiration for a generation of players from his country, including Mrazek and Buffalo goalie Michal Neuvirth, who stopped 27 of 30 shots in taking the loss.

Darren Helm opened the game’s scoring for Detroit at 9:42 of the first period. On a shorthanded two-on-one with Joakim Andersson, Helm snapped a shot from the right wing over Neuvirth’s stick and into the top corner for a 1-0 lead.

The special teams continued to produce for the Red Wings in the second period. At 7:34 of the middle frame, Gustav Nyqiust knocked home the rebound of a Pavel Datsyuk shot after it bounced off Justin Abdelkader for a power play goal.

Mike Weber‘s first goal of the season cut Detroit’s lead to 2-1 with 6:36 left in the period. After a turnover in the Buffalo zone by Tomas Tatar, crisp passing from Drew Stafford and Brian Flynn got the puck to trailing man Weber for a shot past Mrazek as the Red Wings struggled to recover.

Tatar would make up for the turnover 1:45 later, knocking the rebound of a Kyle Quincey chance under Neuvirth for a 3-1 score in what would be the last goal of the game.

Detroit finished the night one-for-four on the power play while Buffalo went scoreless and allowed a goal in two chances with the man-advantage.

The Red Wings will close out their six-game road trip on Thursday in St. Louis.

The Red Wings announced earlier in the day that starting goalie Jimmy Howard is expected to miss two-to-four weeks with a slight groin tear… Howard, Jonas Gustavsson, Johan Franzen, and Jakub Kindl all remained on injured reserve… Xavier Ouellet and Teemu Pulkkinen remained in the Detroit lineup while Tom McCollum backed up Mrazek… Daniel Cleary, Tomas Jurco (back), and Brian Lashoff were healthy scratches.

Howard Out 2-4 Weeks with Groin Tear

Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland announced on Tuesday that starting goalie Jimmy Howard is expected to miss two-to-four weeks with a slight groin tear.

The injury occurred just 1:53 into Saturday night’s loss to the Washington Capitals. Howard made an awkward slide across the crease, failing to stop a Troy Brouwer attempt, and had to be carried off the ice on a stretcher.

An MRI showed damage on Sunday when the team got back to Detroit and an ultrasound on Monday confirmed the severity.

Howard will be unavailable for the All-Star Game. He was named as the Red Wings’ lone representative only an hour before the injury occurred.

With backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson still out with a separated shoulder, Petr Mrazek takes over between the pipes for Detroit. Tom McCollum will be his backup. As the shift cascades down to the Red Wings’ affiliates, Jared Coreau is now the starter for the Grand Rapids Griffins (backed up by pro tryout Pat Nagle) and Jeff Lerg starts for the Toledo Walleye (backed up by Neil Conway).

Red Wings Lose Howard in Loss to Capitals

The Detroit Red Wings lost the game and their starting goalie on Saturday night.

Jimmy Howard, just an hour removed from being named to play in the NHL’s All-Star Game, injured his groin on Washington’s first goal, just 1:53 into the game.

With the Capitals on a power play, Mike Green dumped the puck into the Detroit end. Howard came out to play it behind the net and left it there, while defenseman Danny DeKeyser seemed to think he was going to pass it out. With DeKeyser slowed up, Troy Brouwer raced in and grabbed it for a wraparound attempt. Howard couldn’t get back fast enough and was seemingly injured doing an awkward split in a failed attempt to stop Brouwer’s chance.

Petr Mrazek would replace Howard in net and make it almost twenty minutes before allowing his first goal against.

At 1:35 of the second period, the Caps gained the Red Wings’ zone on a three-on-three break. Andre Burakovsky dropped the puck off to late-man John Carlson for a blast from the high slot past Mrazek to make it 2-0.

Joel Ward made it 3-0 with 8:21 left in the middle frame. His initial chance from the right faceoff circle was blocked by DeKeyser but Ward stuck with it and swatted a shot from the slot past Mrazek for what would be Washington’s last goal of the game.

Detroit broke Braden Holtby‘s shutout with twelve seconds left in the period but would be unable to get more. Jonathan Ericsson‘s shot from the blue line deflected through traffic and past Holtby for the game’s final goal.

Holtby finished the night with 26 saves on 27 shots. Howard made two saves on three shots before his injury, after which Mrazek stopped 12 of 14.

Each team had two power play chances on the night, with Washington scoring once and Detroit held scoreless.

The Red Wings will play the fifth game of their six-game road trip on Tuesday in Buffalo.

Teemu Pulkkinen made his season debut for the Red Wings, called up to replace the injured Johan FranzenTomas Jurco missed the game with a back injury… Daniel Cleary and Brian Lashoff were healthy scratches… Howard will be re-evaluated in Detroit on Sunday.