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.

Thoughts on Goalie Interference

The “crease rule” does not exist.

It’s something that often gets forgotten in oversimplification of goalie interference calls. Shortly after Brett Hull beat Dominik Hasek to give the Dallas Stars the 1999 Stanley Cup Championship, the NHL eliminated the rule that said any time a skater was in his opponent’s crease, any goals scored would be called back (unless they were Cup-winning goals, it seemed).

Thus, when I see people reviewing Pavel Datsyuk‘s waved off goal from last night and saying, “Yeah, Abdelkader’s skate was in the crease.” cringe a little.

Okay, a lot.

Abdelkader could have been tap-dancing on the goal line and if there was no contact between he and Montreal goalie Carey Price, any puck that ends up in the net should have counted.

Rule 69.1, Interference of the Goaltender, is now entirely based on contact. Incidental, non-incidental, or lack of contact.

No contact and it’s a good goal. Non-incidental contact (the attacking player did it on purpose) and there’s a penalty in additon to the goal coming back. Incidental contact gets no penalty but the goal doesn’t count either.

Incidental contact is described as follows:

an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal

It’s further explained as

The overriding rationale of this rule is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. If an attacking player enters the goal crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

The problem is that there are two sometimes-competing scenarios here.

The goalie should be allowed to defend his goal. That’s the one we hear a lot, where an attacking player prevented the goalie from making a save.

An entirely different concept is that the goalie should be allowed to move freely within his crease.

I submit a series of scenarios: A goalie, call him Carey Price, is coming out to face a shooter, call him Pavel Datsyuk, wide open in the faceoff circle to his right. At the opposite post, another attacker, call him Justin Abdelkader, is perched in the crease, tap-dancing.

In Scenario 1, Datsyuk’s shot is easily stopped. No interference penalty, no goal.

In Scenario B, Datsyuk rips a shot over Price’s shoulder to the near corner. No contact between Price and Abdelkader, the goal counts.

In Scenario III, Datsyuk rips a shot into the near top corner. Price, inexplicably, dives across the crease and crashes into Abdelkader. Abdelkader has impeded Price’s ability to move about his crease, even though there’s no reason for Price to have gone there in the first place. The goal comes back.

Last night, Price inexplicably moved to his right, where Abdelkader was, causing the incidental contact while Datsyuk’s shot flew past him to his left. If the “overriding rationale” of the rule is to allow the goalie to move wherever he wants in his crease for whatever reason, I concede that he right call was made. If it’s to stop a player from impairing the goalie’s ability to defend his goal, that was the wrong call.

On Red Wings Veterans Earning a Roster Spot

Okay, this is old news by now but I was thinking tonight about the idea that Daniel Cleary will supposedly have to earn his roster spot and decided to look into some history around that kind of decision.

I think it’s safe to say you don’t give a guy a $2.5 million contract with the intent of dumping him in the minors. Cleary is going to be on the opening night roster, barring injury. So Ken Holland and Mike Babcock (and Cleary himself) saying he has to earn it… Just talk.

But lets say it wasn’t. Lets say the Wings were bringing back Cleary but that Tomas Jurco had just as much of a chance to make the final roster. Would that be as groundbreaking as it seems?

It turns out, yes.

In the Ken Holland era, no veteran has ever been waived at the start of the season in favor of a younger player who could be sent to the minors without passing through waivers.

Okay, yeah Cory Emmerton lost his roster spot to Joakim Andersson last fall but Andersson was out of waiver options. Patrick Eaves and Jordin Tootoo and Mikael Samuelsson were all sent to Grand Rapids but not at the start of the season.

Derek Meech was waived and sent to GR in 2010 but not in favor of a player who wouldn’t have to pass through waivers.

Kyle Quincey was lost off waivers in 2008 but that was so the team could keep Meech and Chris Chelios.

Before that, we go back to the waiver draft era. Chris Osgood was lost in 2001 when Dominik Hasek was signed to replace him. Brent Gilchrist was lost and then re-acquired in 1998. In 1997, Tim Taylor was lost but because he was out of options, not because someone beat him out.

Not that it’s a surprise but history shows that veterans haven’t needed to earn a roster spot since Holland took over the team.

Hasek, Modano Among Hockey Hall Class of 2014

Former Detroit Red Wings Dominik Hasek and Mike Modano were part of the group named as the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014 on Monday.

The pair join Peter Forsberg and Rob Blake as player inductees. Late coach Pat Burns was selected as a builder while referee Bill McCreary also got the nod.

Hasek won two Stanley Cups with the Red Wings and played 735 total NHL games split between the Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Red Wings, and Ottawa Senators. He won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie six times in the 1990s with the Sabres and finished his career with a .922 save percentage and 2.20 goals-against average.

Hasek notably retired twice, only to resume his career. After Detroit’s 2002 Stanley Cup, Hasek called it quits only to return to the Red Wings a season later. He retired again after his second Cup in 2008 but came back for two more seasons in Europe.

Modano was long the face of the Dallas Stars franchise, having been drafted by the Minnesota North Stars and playing twenty seasons with the organization. He won his lone Stanley Cup in 1999 over Hasek’s Sabres on a controversial goal by Brett Hull.

Modano completed his career in 2010-11 with one season playing for his hometown Red Wings. In 1499 career NHL games he had 561 goals and 813 assists for 1374 points, most all-time among Americans.

The Class of 2014 will be inducted on November 17.

Red Wings Ink Howard to Six-Year Extension

The Detroit Red Wings made it official on Tuesday, announcing the signing of a six-year contract extension for goaltender Jimmy Howard.

Howard had spoken about the deal late last week, stating that the two sides were “really, really, really close” to an agreement.

Though team policy prevents the release of financial details, the contract is reportedly worth $31.8 million, good for a $5.3 million salary cap hit. It makes Howard the Red Wings’ highest-paid goalie since the team had both Dominik Hasek and Curtis Joseph signed to $8-million deals during the 2003-04 season.

Howard has a 17-12-6 record this season, with a .920 save percentage and a 2.31 goals against average. In four seasons since becoming the starter for Detroit, he has a 126-61-25 record. His career save percentage is .917 and goals against average is 2.39.

With the signing, the Red Wings are projected to have approximately $12.5 million remaining in cap space for the 2013-14 season, with 18 current roster players (including goalie Jared Coreau) already signed. The team has nine pending free agents. Brendan Smith, Jakub Kindl, Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson will be restricted free agents while Damien Brunner, Valtteri Filppula, Daniel Cleary, Drew Miller and Ian White will be unrestricted.

On Free Agent Splashes

With about fourteen hours before NHL free agency opens up, Hockeytown anxiously awaits what Red Wings’ general manager Ken Holland will do to address the holes in the team’s lineup.

Holland has gone on the record saying that he’s looking for a defenseman to help offset the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart, possibly a top-six forward (especially if Jiri Hudler bolts) and possibly a goaltender (either to back up Jimmy Howard in Detroit or to take Joey MacDonald‘s spot in Grand Rapids, with MacDonald as Howard’s backup).

There is an expectation that the Red Wings will make a “splash” given those holes to fill and approximately $20 million of cap space to use.  The primary targets are expected to be Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter and New Jersey forward Zach Parise.

Here’s what terrifies me:  Considering who Detroit has already lost this summer, would signing Suter even be a splash?

That move seems more like signing Brian Rafalski when Mathieu Schneider left the team, or Curtis Joseph to replace Dominik Hasek when he retired the first time.

As much as we talk about the Red Wings being big spenders, aside from Marian Hossa in 2009, those are the kind of moves they’ve made since the last lockout.  Their big signings are still somewhat lateral overall.

To make a splash, the Wings can do no less than sign both Suter and Parise.  I’d love to see it but I’m less and less convinced that it’s possible,

I’ve decided to lower my expectations.  There’s no replacing Lidstrom and it’s hard to replace Stuart, but it’s impossible to do that by promoting from within given the Red Wings’ current blueline.  That means that Suter is a must.

Parise?  I hope so but it’s not enough without Suter.  I’d rather Suter and Alex Semin or Shane Doan than Parise without Suter.

Of course, 24 hours from now I might be saying something else entirely.  We’ll see what Holland does for us.

The (True) Summer of Ken

I had planned on writing a bit on where the Red Wings should go from here, following their first-round loss to the Nashville Predators, but over at TPL Petrella already has a nearly-perfect post up so I’m not going to waste time just repeating him.

There’s an entry in the A2Y Glossary for “The Summer of Ken.” A little bit of an ode to Detroit general manager Ken Holland. Put briefly, the summer is Holland’s time to shine. It’s when he can spend Mike Ilitch’s pizza money to plug holes in the Wings’ roster. It’s when he can wheel and deal, turning spare parts into something useful.

This summer we’re going to find out just how good Holland is at his job.

Last year the Red Wings were a little underwhelming in the offseason. They replaced Brian Rafalski with Ian White at a good price and added Mike Commodore for some grit. They retained Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller and Jonathan Ericsson. We were told that they wanted to add more scoring but none was available for the price.

That was okay. The Wings had plenty of cap space, still, and would be able to make a move at the trade deadline. It was good to wait to see who would be available as a rental.

Detroit’s lone deadline acquisition: defenseman Kyle Quincey. Even knowing the outcome, knowing he didn’t play as well as anyone had hoped down the stretch, I’m not against this move. Quincey is not a rental (he’ll either be back or be moved, as an RFA he can’t bolt for free). The first-rounder traded for him will be after all the blue-chip prospects are off the board.

Quincey didn’t fix the Wings’ scoring issues, though.

By the time the trade deadline had passed, Detroit’s forward corps remained unchanged. Holland addressed the media and seemed unhappy that he hadn’t been able to make a move, so we know he tried, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot.

Now we enter an offseason where the Red Wings need to make changes. As Petrella notes, teams have the “Red Wings Way” figured out. Now Detroit needs to evolve. And I worry that Holland can do it.

Name a free agent signing that Holland has made since the salary cap was implemented that really made a splash. Ignore Marian Hossa, since everyone knew going in that it was a one-year deal and he’d be gone the next summer.

The aforementioned White? Hardly a splash no matter how well it worked out. Dominik Hasek? No one else was after him. Todd Bertuzzi?

True, Holland hasn’t been working with the same kind of cap space as he’ll have this summer, but his record does leave a bit to be desired.

Now lets look at trades. Per Petrella, the Wings have a lot of roster spots taken for next season already. One way to make room for new blood while adding the scorer the team needs could be to deal depth for talent.

Holland hasn’t made a significant trade since the 2008 deadline, when he acquired Brad Stuart from the Los Angeles Kings. That’s another piece of track record that could be concerning.

I’m not saying Holland should be fired. He’s done a fantastic job of keeping Detroit’s core together and supplementing it with parts off the scrap heap. Danny Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi? Hasek and Chris Osgood? Classic Holland moves that paid off over time for the Wings.

Right now, though, the Red Wings aren’t looking to plug holes, they’re looking to reload. They need high-profile pieces to make an immediate impact.

It’s a situation that Holland hasn’t faced, at least not in the cap era. I think it will define his career. It will probably define the Red Wings as a team for years to come.

Yzerman Named to Hall of Fame

Long-time Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman headlines the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2009, it was announced Tuesday.

Jim Gregory, co-chairman of the board for the Hockey Hall of Fame, made the announcement on a conference call.

Yzerman will be joined by two former teammates, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille, as well as former New York Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch.

“It is a tremendous honour to receive this news,” Yzerman said. “I want to thank the Selection Committee for recognizing my contributions – I truly had chills down my spine when I got the news.”

Yzerman was drafted fourth overall in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft by Detroit and spent his entire 22-season career with the Red Wings. He was named team captain as a 21-year-old, at the time the youngest captain in NHL history and the longest-serving captain by the time of his retirement.

Hull joined the Red Wings in during the summer of 2001 and was with the team for their 2002 Stanley Cup Championship, his second time claiming the trophy. He broke into the league with the Calgary Flames before making a name for himself with the St. Louis Blues. He moved on to the Dallas Stars, winning the Cup there before coming to Detroit and ending his career with a short stint for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Robitaille also joined the Red Wings in their eventful summer of 2001, part of a trifecta of future Hall-of-Famers to come to Detroit that also included Dominik Hasek. Robitaille won his only career Stanley Cup that year in a career that included three stints with the Los Angeles Kings, a season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and two years with the Rangers.

Leetch spent nearly his entire career with the Rangers, claiming the Stanley Cup in 1994 with them and remaining with the team until he was moved to Toronto at the 2004 trade deadline. He played one season with the Boston Bruins to close out his career.

This year’s induction ceremony will be November 9.

Datsyuk Named Hart Trophy Finalist

I gotta say, I’m surprised to see Pavel Datsyuk getting MVP recognition.

http://www.nhl.com/i…vid=DL|NHL|Home

This makes him a Hart, Lady Byng, and Selke trophy finalist all in the same year.

I don’t think there’s a chance he wins it (though he deserves it) but it’s good to see people overlooked the fact that the Wings are stacked and voted for him anyway.

I also like this “fact” in the NHL.com article…

Ovechkin is bidding to become the first repeat Hart winner since Dominik Hasek led the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup in 1997-98.

Osgood Blanks Blue Jackets in 4-0 Red Wings Win

Detroit netminder Chris Osgood stopped al 23 shots he faced Sunday night, leading the Red Wings to a 4-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The shutout was the 49th of Osgood’s career and his 385th career win, tying him with former Red Wing Mike Vernon for 11th all-time. He now sits four wins behind Dominik Hasek for 10th all-time.

With the win, the Red Wings clinched a playoff spot for the 18th consecutive season and reached 100 standings points for an NHL-record nine seasons in a row.

Marian Hossa scored from the side of the net 5:09 into the first period, getting the Wings on the board after an apparent goal in the game’s first minute was waved off due to Tomas Holmstrom having a foot in the crease.

With the Red Wings on a five-on-three 3:53 later, Niklas Kronwall blasted a shot past Columbus goalie Steve Mason to put Detroit up by a pair.

Mikael Samuelsson beat Mason on odd-man rush slap shot with 1:32 remaining in the second period.

At 9:40 of the third period, Johan Franzen sent many of the Columbus fans at Nationwide Arena packing, cutting through the top of the crease and putting a backhander in behind Mason to finish off the game’s scoring.

Kronwall’s goal was the only power play goal by either team. Detroit had five tries with the extra attacker while the Blue Jackets had four.

Mason stopped 26 of the Red Wings’ 30 shots.


Detroit was without forward Valtteri Filppula who missed the game with back spasms. Defenseman Derek Meech was shifted to forward to take his spot in the lineup.