First Loss of Season Close to Home

The Red Wings took a 4-2 loss to the Flames in their home season opener, despite goals from Kris Draper and Brendan Shanahan, ending the 19 regular season game home unbeaten streak carried over from last season.

The game story was one of penalties, fights, and stoppages in play. Calgary’s Marc Savard got the penalty parade off to its slow start just 1:49 into the game, being sent off for elbowing. The game took on a deceptive flow for a few minutes after that, with both teams taking shots, but neither able to score.

4:20 into the game, Jarome Iginla started a fight with Darren McCarty, after seeing McCarty attempt to hit Savard. Both combatants got 5 minute fighting penalties. Iginla also received a 2 minute instigator call and a 10 minute misconduct. And yet, Detroit’s power play was unable to score.

Kris Draper opened the scoring with 7:17 left in the period. He came off the bench, flew down the ice with all his typical speed, received a bouncing pass from Igor Larionov, and flipped it past goaltender Roman Turek.

The remainder of the period was relatively quiet. Calgary’s Rob Niedermayer received an interference penalty with 5:49 remaining, and Maxim Kuznetsov was called for high sticking with 3:05 remaining, but neither power play unit was able to score.

The second period began with a deceptive calm. 6:11 into the play, Brendan Shanahan and Bob Boughner fought over a rough hit Boughner had landed on Shanahan. Both were sent to the box for five minutes.

With 11:44 left in the period, Mathieu Dandenault was called for elbowing. Detroit’s problems were compounded just 22 seconds later, when Steve Yzerman was given a penalty for high-sticking. The Flames’ Dean McAmmond was able to capitalize on the 5-on-3 opportunity, getting the puck past Dominek Hasek.

Calgary got another 5-on-3 opportunity just moments later. With 6:29 left in the period, Kuznetsov was called for cross-checking. Yzerman made a beautiful breakaway attempt in the short-lived 5-on-4 situation, but Turek was able to deflect the puck. Brett Hull received a tripping penalty at 5:56, and Calgary’s Scott Nichol was able to score on Hasek.

Calgary got another 5-on-3 opportunity just moments later. With 6:29 left in the period, Kuznetsov was called for cross-checking. Yzerman made a beautiful breakaway attempt in the short-lived 5-on-4 situation, but Turek was able to deflect the puck. Brett Hull received a tripping penalty at 5:56, and Calgary’s Scott Nichol was able to score on Hasek.

Darren McCarty, just back from a shoulder injury, elbowed Ron Petrovicky, most likely because Petrovicky had speared the back of his leg with the stick. The referees didn’t see that part, however, and McCarty was given a 5 minute major penalty and a game misconduct, and sent off to the locker room. The resulting Calgary power play was partially cancelled when Craig Conroy took a 2 minute hooking penalty.

The Flames were able to score an even strength goal 3:50 into the third period, with Igor Kravchuk picking up the rebound and sneaking it in behind Hasek, despite Frederick Olausson’s attempt to block the shot.

Kravchuk then took a cross-checking penalty 6:08 into the period, and Detroit’s power play unit kicked into action. Shanahan picked up the puck from where it had slipped away from Turek’s glove, waited for an opportunity, and fired it home.

The game could have changed for the Wings after that, but it was not to be. Shanahan was given a boarding penalty with 7:05 left in the game. Yzerman and Hull attempted to score short-handed, but Iginla picked up the puck and got it past Hasek on a rebound.

Shanahan now leads the NHL in goals, with 5 goals in 3 games. Hasek stopped 29 of 33 shots, most of which came when Detroit was in penalty-killing mode.

Would the game have gone in Detroit’s favor had the penalties not fallen so hard and so fast? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Even a team starring nine future Hall-of-Famers is still going to lose some of the games. Even the Red Wings have to be human once in awhile.

Detroit Defeats Vancouver… Again

The Red Wings’ power play unit may still need some time for the players to get used to each other, but the penalty kill unit seems on target to become a name to be feared throughout the NHL. The Wings continued their great start to the 2001-2002 season on Saturday night with a 4-1 victory against the Vancouver Canucks.

Vancouver continued the rough, tough style of play that caused such a rough time for Colorado in last season’s playoffs. Just 3:40 after the opening faceoff, Vancouver’s Donald Brashear boarded defenseman Maxim Kuznetsov, cutting him in the process. Brashear was given a 5 minute major penalty and a game misconduct. One less thug to worry about.

The game was full of penalties and stoppages in play, yet most of the penalties called seemed to be oddly unimportant. UPN 50 color commentator Mickey Redmond even complained about it, saying that he wished the referees would call more of the hard hits and cross-checks from behind that the Canucks were laying on Detroit. The first period ended scoreless, although a total of seven penalties (four for Detroit, three for Vancouver) had been handed out.

The second period continued in the same choppy fashion. Vancouver’s Ed Jovanovski opened the scoring 9:42 into the period with an unassisted goal against Dominek Hasek. Seconds later, however, at 9:53, the Canucks’ Matt Cooke was handed a penalty for tripping. Steve Yzerman won the faceoff and got the puck to Sergei Fedorov, who shot it right past goalie Dan Cloutier. The power play lasted a total of three seconds.

The Wings took the lead with 3:31 remaining in the second. Defenseman Jiri Fischer stepped out of the penalty box, grabbed the puck that teammate Frederick Olausson had just shot down the ice, and ran with it, flipping it past Cloutier on a bounce. Kirk Maltby was also given an assist on Fischer’s goal.

The Red Wings’ penalty killing unit, which, at this point, had already shut down seven Vancouver power plays, went on the offensive with 1:44 left in the second. Chris Chelios got the puck to Brendan Shanahan, who once again got past the surprised goalie for his third shorthanded goal in two games.

The third period began with Detroit determined not to lose a two goal lead as they had done against the Sharks. The penalties were less frequent. Shanahan and Jason Strudwick received offsetting penalties for roughing with 9:50 left in the game, while Strudwick also receievd a second minor for high sticking. Shanahan’s ear was bleeding from Strudwick’s stick, and he had to go off to the dressing room to receive treatment.

With 5:56 remaining in the game, Yzerman essentially clinched the game for the Wings, receiving a pass from Brett Hull and firing it into the net. Shanahan came back out to finish the game, but was almost immediately removed from the ice again, as he and Strudwick fought it out over the earlier high stick. Shanahan received the two minute instigator penalty and a game misconduct to go along with the regular five minute fighting major.

Detroit’s power play was 1 for 9, while Vancouver’s was 0 for 8. Hasek stopped 29 shots, and Cloutier stopped only 15. The Red Wings have not lost to Vancouver since February 6, 1997. It just goes to show, you don’t have to lay on the dirty hits to win a hockey game. Perhaps Vancouver coach Marc Crawford could learn a thing or two from Scotty Bowman.

Shanny’s Hat-Trick Leads Wings Over Sharks

Brendan Shanahan‘s hat trick gave the Red Wings a 4-3 overtime win in their first regular season matchup last night.

Shanahan, who scored his second shorthanded tally of the night at 1:55 of overtime, now has only thirty-one goals remaining until his five hundreth. He also scored shorthanded with 5:11 left in the second and at even strength forty-nine seconds into the third.

San Jose’s Scott Thornton opened the scoring at 8:41 of the second period. The Sharks also got goals from Stephane Matteau and Todd Harvey in the third period.

Brett Hull scored Detroit’s other goal, his first as a Red Wing.

Sharks’ sophomore netminder Evgeni Nabokov stopped four of the thirty-nine shots he faced, while Dominik Hasek turned aside three of twenty-one in his first regular season start for the Red Wings.

The Wings are back in action Saturday night in Vancouver.

Game On!

The Detroit Red Wings and their new star-studded lineup get their first chance to shine tonight in San Jose.

The Red Wings play their first “real” game tonight when they start their regular season against the San Jose Sharks. Vezina Trophy winning goaltender Dominik Hasek will start against Calder Trophy winning netminder Evgeni Nabokov.

Luc Robitaille, Brett Hull and Fredrik Olausson are all expected to play for Detroit. The only injured regular from last season for the Red Wings will be Darren McCarty, who’s out with a sore shoulder but expected to return in time for the Wings home opener next week.

With the addition of rookies Jason Williams and Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit will still be able to roll four lines without a problem, but it’s anyone’s guess as to who will be on which lines.

The first regular season matchup for the new look Red Wings is tonight from San Jose and ten o’clock Eastern Time.

What the Hull?

Hockeytown has yet another new face to get used to as the Red Wings announced the signing of free agent sniper/cherry-picker Brett Hull on Monday.

The addition of Hull is the summer’s fourth example of the Red Wings refusual to take a look at the team’s average age. Hull, 37, joins goaltender Dominik Hasek, left wing Luc Robitaille and defenseman Fredrik Olausson as the newest members of the Red Wings’ way-over-30 club.

To most people in Detroit, last year’s early exit from the playoffs showed that the team lacked the toughness to advance far into the postseason. The Red Wings have responded by allowing their most physical forward to leave via free agency, trading for a new goalie, and signing two ultra-lightweight forwards.

Tell me how that fixes the problem.

Brett Hull is possibly the least defensive, least tough player in the league. There is no doubt that he has incredible offensive skills, but those aren’t what the Red Wings need right now.

The Wings need grit. They had it in 1997 and they won the Cup. Now they have finesse. It remains to be seen if they can win the Cup with that alone.

4 January, 2001

Tonight’s game is an important one, Detroit’s done well against the good teams in the league but continues to struggle at home, even after the last second win on New Years Eve. Dallas is on a role but is reeling from injuries to key players like Jamie Langenbrunner and Brett Hull. Seems to me like a good chance to let Chris Osgood prove he’s ready to be number one again, but Bowman never agrees with me. Brendan Shanahan said of tonight’s game, “It’ll be good. Dallas always brings out the best in us.” And lucky me, I’ll be there. Tonight’s the first game I’ll be able to go to this season. If I find a way to get from K-Zoo to the Joe in time to catch the warm-ups, I’ll add more pictures to the site tomorrow. We’ll see how my cross-state dash works out.

The grades don’t look all that good for the Wings at mid-season. I disagree with most of them but they’re done by the Free Press and they’re considered more of a hockey authority than I am. The second half of the season should be better for Detroit, even Bowman thinks so.

Some cool stuffs been going on around the NHL… Jose Theodore of the Canadiens became only the eighth NHL goalie to be credited with a goal in a shutout win over the Isles. He actually scored the goal, like six of the other goalies, including Ron Hextall, Martin Brodeur, and our very own Chris Osgood. Mario Lemieux has nine points in his first three games back. Probably makes Gordie Howe think he can do better himself. That’s all for now, more tomorrow.