Thoughts on the Red Wings – Avalanche Alumni Game

If you were following DetroitHockey.Net on Twitter during the Red Wings – Avalanche alumni game at Coors Field (before my phone battery died on me), you could probably see the narrative I found most interesting about the event. It’s something I commented on when the ticket sale for this game was announced and when the rumor that the Red Wings might be visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs for an outdoor game last year broke.

When Detroit hosted their outdoor game, half the stadium was reserved for Toronto fans. The scoreboard videos pandered to each fanbase. Merchandise stands had items representing both teams. Even in Detroit at the Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park, the rivalry was celebrated rather than the individual teams. It was treated much as a neutral-site game.

But come out to Colorado and it is very much an Avalanche home game. The video about the rivalry consisted mostly of Colorado goals and Patrick Roy saves. There was no clip of Claude Lemieux turtling, Roy left bloodied at the hands of Mike Vernon, or his Statue of Liberty save.

So it’s frustrating to have been to Detroit’s “home” game and seen extra effort made to make the visitors feel welcome, only to not have it happen when the tables are turned. Maybe the next time the Red Wings host one of these, they’ll get to keep it as a home game.


As for the game itself, I was shocked to see the final shot totals. Both Patrick Roy and Craig Billington made some really solid saves for the Avalanche but overall it felt like the Red Wings never got anything going. By shot totals, it seems like the goalies stole the show. I never got the feeling that Detroit was pressuring that much, though.

I did get the feeling that the Avalanche simply cared more. There were quite a few times a Colorado defender laid out to block a shot or a pass and it doesn’t seem like that happened as much in the Detroit end. The feeling I couldn’t shake throughout the game was that the Red Wings were just having fun and the Avalanche were trying to win.


I took a bunch of photos, mostly during warm-ups, and will aim to have those on the site next week.

And From There, Pandemonium

It’s hard to believe that it’s been fifteen years since the infamous “Brawl in Hockeytown” that inspired the Red Wings to make their 1997 Stanley Cup run and really kick-started what was briefly the NHL’s fiercest rivalry.

It’s kind of funny that the game is so celebrated, as removed from the emotion of it all, it really was a dirty affair. Darren McCarty jumping Claude Lemieux, Brendan Shanahan and Mike Vernon teaming up on Patrick Roy and Adam Foote. In today’s NHL, I have to think we would have seen suspensions galore.

But at the time, it was a kind of catharsis. Until then, the league knew that the Wings were a soft team that wouldn’t stand up for themselves. The league’s two-game suspension to Claude Lemieux for breaking Kris Draper‘s face in the 1996 playoffs was light and there was almost an unspoken mandate that if the Red Wings didn’t like it, they’d have to do something about it themselves.

That they did, with McCarty playing the hero with his fists and his stick.

Fifteen years removed, I won’t say it was good hockey but it was what the Red Wings needed and it’s still fun to go back and re-watch.

Red Wings Beat Canadiens in Original Six Matchup

On a night when their Original Six rivalry was honored with a pre-game ceremony, the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 4-1.

Former Canadiens Jean Beliveau, Dickie Moore, Jean-Guy Talbot, Stephane Richer, and Claude Lemieux and former Red Wings Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio, Marcel Pronovost, and Marcel Dionne were all on hand for the ceremony. Current Red Wing and former Canadien Chris Chelios also participated.

The game began with scoring chances by each team but neither would get on the board until there was only 3:20 left in the first period.

After a giveaway in the Montreal zone, Pavel Datsyuk grabbed the puck and outwaited a Canadien defenseman, freezing him and putting a shot between his legs, slipping it between the pads of goalie Carey Price to give the Red Wings a 1-0 lead.

Christopher Higgins evened the game up at 4:15 of the second on a broken play. Saku Koivu‘s shot from the left circle defected to Higgins off the skate of Aaron Downey. From the bottom of the circle, Higgins lifted a shot over goalie Dominik Hasek.

Datsyuk put the Wings out in front again with 8:58 remaining in the middle period, scoring on a wrister from the top of the right circle.

Niklas Kronwall extended the Detroit lead just 2:37 later, scoring on a fluttering shot from the blue line that may have been deflected on its way to the net.

Henrik Zetterberg wrapped up the game’s scoring on the power play with 6:10 remaining in the game, beating Price with a quick wrister from the high slot.

Price made 30 saves on 34 shots against and Hasek stopped 14 of 15.

Zetterberg’s goal was the lone power play goal for either team. The Red Wings had three chances with the extra attacker and Montreal had five.