Red Wings Trade Smith to Rangers

The Detroit Red Wings made their first real move a sellers at this season’s NHL trade deadline on Tuesday, sending defenseman Brendan Smith to the New York Rangers for a second round draft pick and a third round draft pick.

McKenzie later corrected that the second-round pick will be in 2018, as the Rangers gave up their 2017 pick trading for Eric Staal last season.

The Wings had previously sent Tomas Jurco to the Chicago Blackhawks, but he wasn’t playing in Detroit anyway so it didn’t mean much.

With the Red Wings far out of the playoff picture and the trade deadline just over a day away, this move isn’t entirely unexpected.  That said, there was some buzz about the Wings re-signing Smith, though that would have given them a glut of defensemen heading into next season.

I like the move.  A second rounder plus “something else” was about the most the Wings could have expected for Smith and I like the “something else” being a usable pick (and a decent one at that) rather than a warm body for the rest of the season.  Additionally, I was wondering earlier today if the Wings might go for 2018 picks given how the 2017 draft is regarded as shallow.

With the Smith deal done, forwards Thomas Vanek, Steve Ott, and Riley Sheahan remain tied to the rumor mill.

Trade Deadline Thoughts

The National Hockey League’s 2016 trade deadline came and went on Monday with the Red Wings refraining from making a move. For the most part, I’m okay with that.

Saturday’s trade of Jakub Kindl to the Florida Panthers for a sixth-round draft pick was a great move. GM Ken Holland unloaded the salary of a player who would probably never play for the Red Wings again and actually got an asset in return.

Kindl became expendable with the emergence of Alexey Marchenko and Xavier Ouellet, both of whom had passed Kindl on the Red Wings’ depth chart and both of whom will have to clear waivers to be assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins next season.

Assuming Kyle Quincey is not re-signed this summer, there will be room on the Detroit roster in 2016-17 for both Marchenko and Ouellet – but not Nick Jensen, who has yet to get a real look at the NHL level (he was a healthy scratch during his call-up earlier this season).

So the Kindl move makes sense on several levels. From there the Red Wings could decide to either load up for a playoff run, as they traditionally do, sell off any additional parts, which they rarely do, or stand pat.

Unless an exceptional deal to add a piece came along, I’d have liked to see them deal away Brendan Smith. His name came up as a player who would be available at the deadline, often compared to Kris Russell. With Russell fetching Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Pollock, and a conditional second round pick, I’m really curious as to what Holland turned down for Smith, assuming anyone called. Smith has seemingly been demoted to being the Red Wings’ seventh defenseman and $2.25 million is too much to pay for someone who’s in the pressbox most nights.

I’m sure Holland thinks he can keep Smith for the run to the playoffs and then deal him at the draft but I’m not sure the market will be as favorable then.

I didn’t want to see the Red Wings load up without an exceptional deal because, frankly, this team is too many missing pieces from being a Stanley Cup contender. It’s possible they ride Petr Mrazek to an extended playoff run but without that, they’re not going to go far. It would have taken something like a trade for Eric Staal, combined with Staal returning to his early-career form, to be enough. Looking at the players traded on Monday, none of the, would have been enough on his own.

Red Wings Drop 3-1 Decision to Hurricanes

Looking to start a new winning streak after snapping their losing streak at four games on Saturday, the Detroit Red Wings faltered at home, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes.

After a scoreless first period, Victor Rask opened the game’s scoring with 7:34 left in the second period. Detroit neminder Petr Mrazek came out to play the puck in front of his cage but sent it right to Rask, who skated around him and put it into the net for a 1-0 lead.

Jakub Kindl tied things up with 2:16 left in the period, firing a point shot through traffic and between Carolina goalie Cam Ward‘s pads.

Ron Hainsey scored a similar goal from the opposite side of the ice off a Detroit turnover to make it 2-1 at 4:35 of the third period.

An empty-net goal by Eric Staal closed out the game’s scoring.

Mrazek made 18 saves on 20 shots against. Ward stopped 25 of 26 chances faced.

Neither team scored a power play goal, with Detroit getting two tries with the man-advantage and Carolina three.

The Red Wings are back in action on Friday when they host the Ottawa Senators.

TGTW: Wings Fall From Central Lead in Week Twelve

The Games That Weren’t is one of many projects simulating the games lost by the NHL lockout. In the absence of actual games to write about, I’ll be checking in periodically on the fictional Red Wings’ season.

The Detroit Red Wings went 1-2 on a Christmas week road trip, dropping them out of first place in the Central Division heading into the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor.

Opening their trip in Raleigh on Wednesday, the Red Wings rallied late for a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. After a scoreless first period, the Hurricanes got on the board with a Drayson Bowman goal at 6:30 of the second and made it 2-0 with 1:29 left in the period on a Jamie McBain tally. Pavel Datsyuk cut the lead in half at 3:10 of the third but Eric Staal made it 3-1 at 4:41. Johan Franzen put the Wings back within a goal while shorthanded at 7:27 and Todd Bertuzzi tied things up with 8:21 left in the period. Jonathan Ericsson‘s sixth goal of the year with 2:23 remaining gave Detroit their first lead of the game and they held on for the win. Jimmy Howard made 24 saves on 27 shots in earning the win while Cam Ward stopped 30 of 34 shots for Carolina.

The next night in Pittsburgh would feature no such comeback for the Wings, dropping a 5-1 decision to the Penguins. Chris Kunitz opened the game’s scoring at 4:40 of the first and Tanner Glass made it 2-0 midway through the opening period. Sidney Crosby‘s shorthanded goal at 3:16 of the second extended the lead to three and Kunitz added another with 6:19 left in the middle period. Carlo Colaiacovo finally got the Red Wings on the board with a power play goal with 3:03 remaining but Evgeni Malkin scored with 1:13 left to chase Howard from the Detroit crease. Jonas Gustavsson would face only six shots in the third, stopping them all for a 5-1 final. Howard finished the night with 12 saves on 17 shots in 38:47 of play while Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves on 25 shots.

The Red Wings’ scoring troubles continued on Saturday in Ottawa, where they couldn’t score a goal in a 1-0 loss to the Senators. Daniel Alfredsson scored the game’s only goal at 5:13 of the first period and 28 saves by Robin Lehner made it stand up as the game-winner. Howard rebounded from his awful night in Pittsburgh with a 31-save performance.

With only two of a possible six points earned on the week, the Red Wings fell to third in the Central Division, four points back of both the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators but with two games in hand on the Preds. The Blues are the hottest team in the league heading into the New Year, riding an eight-game winning streak.

The next week will see the Red Wings take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Winter Classic at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Stadium, then host the Nashville Predators in the last game before a five-game road trip.

TGTW: Wings’ Skid Reaches Seven Games

The Games That Weren’t is one of many projects simulating the games lost by the NHL lockout. In the absence of actual games to write about, I’ll be checking in periodically on the fictional Red Wings’ season.

Two weeks after sitting in a tie for the top spot in the National Hockey League, the Detroit Red Wings have dropped seven consecutive games and are eight points back of the Carolina Hurricanes for the league lead. The Los Angeles Kings are six points up on the Red Wings in the Western Conference. Detroit remains tied with the Nashville Predators atop the Central Division, with the Columbus Blue Jackets one point back and the St. Louis Blues two points back, each with three games in hand.

The Wings’ abysmal seventh week of the season began with a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday. Deryk Engelland, Matt Cooke and Chris Kunitz each scored for the Penguins before the Red Wings got on the board with a third-period Johan Franzen goal. Jimmy Howard made 24 saves on 27 shots in taking the loss. Detroit lost forward Pavel Datsyuk to a knee injury in the first period after taking a charge from Brandon Sutter, who was ejected on the play.

With Datsyuk out on Wednesday, the Wings dropped a 3-1 decision to the St. Louis Blues. Patrik Berglund and T.J. Oshie scored in the game’s first 5:43 before Kyle Quincey got the Red Wings on the board with 6:24 left in the second. Kevin Shattenkirk re-extended the Blues’ lead with 2:47 left in the period to round out the game’s scoring. Howard stopped 23 of 26 shots on the night.

Datsyuk returned to the lineup as the Red Wings visited the Florida Panthers on Friday night but his return couldn’t prevent a rout, with an explosive second period propelling the Panthers to an 8-2 win. Jack Skille and Valtteri Filppula traded first period goals to keep the game even after a period but former Detroit prospects Shawn Matthias and Tomas Fleischmann scored three goals in the first 6:16 of the second to put the Wings out of it. Marcel Goc scored just past the game’s halfway point to chase Howard from the net, then Jonas Gustavsson allowed goals by Peter Mueller and Matthias just 18 seconds apart to make it 7-1. Mikael Samuelsson got the Wings’ a second goal late in the second and Fleischmann wrapped up the hat trick late in the third to round out the scoring.

Howard stopped only six of 11 shots in 30:09 of play while Gustavsson stopped eight of 11 in 29:51.

Howard didn’t fare much better on Saturday in Tampa, where the Red Wings took a 4-2 lead into the third period only to lose, 6-4. Filppula gave the Wings’ the lead just 3:41 into the game but Vincent Lecavalier tied things up 34 seconds into the second. Darren Helm and Franzen put Detroit up by a pair with goals at 5:45 and 7:23. Ryan Malone pulled the Lightning back to within one with 2:56 left in the middle period but Drew Miller‘s first of the season made it 4-2 with 58 seconds left.

Malone’s second of the night cut the lead again at 4:13 of the third and J.T. Wyman tied things up on the power play at 9:00. Teddy Purcell chased Howard from the net just 59 seconds later with another power play goal and Lecavalier rounded out the scoring with a third power play tally with 4:48 remaining.

Howard faced 22 shots and made 17 saves in 49:59 while Gustavsson stopped three of four shots in 10:01. Captain Henrik Zetterberg was lost to a shoulder injury in the first period and did not return to play.

After the disastrous seventh week, Howard has fallen off the NHL leaderboard in all goaltending categories. Filppula remains one of the league leaders in scoring, with his 28 points putting him behind only Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin (31). Despite missing time to injury, Datsyuk sits fourth with 25 points, with Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar (27) in third. The pair lead the league in assists with 18 each, tied with Carolina’s Eric Staal.

The next week will see the Red Wings return from their Florida trip to host a trio of Pacific Division teams in the Phoenix Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks.

Zetterberg Leads Red Wings’ Rally Past Hurricanes

Henrik Zetterberg scored the first two goals for Detroit on Saturday night, leading the Red Wings to a 5-4 comeback win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

The win snapped Detroit’s six-game losing streak and coincided with the return from injury of defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom and Jakub Kindl.

The Red Wings were down 4-1 when Zetterberg scored his second of the night. With 3:02 left in the second period, Zetterberg took a feed from Valtteri Filppula and snapped a shot from the high slot off Carolina netminder Cam Ward‘s mask and into the net, through a screen by Jiri Hudler.

Just 18 seconds later, Todd Bertuzzi batted the fluttering rebound of a Gustav Nyquist chance out of mid-air and past Ward to cut the Hurricanes’ lead to a single goal.

At 8:10 of the third, Filppula banked the puck off the side of the net and out to Brad Stuart just inside the blue line. Stuart’s shot deflected first off Hudler in front of the net, then off defender Jay Harrison before trickling across the goal line to tie the game.

With 8:25 left in regulation, Drew Miller gave the Red Wings their first and only lead. The Hurricanes won a faceoff in their own zone but Cleary knocked the puck loose to Miller, who went to the front of the net alone and beat Ward on the backand to make it 5-4.

Carolina had opened the scoring just 17 seconds into the game, when Jiri Tlusty threw a backhander from down low on the right wing towards the Detroit goal. The puck deflected off defenseman Ian White‘s stick and went over the shoulder of goalie Ty Conklin to give the Hurricanes the early lead.

Another quick goal made it 2-0, with Chard Larose scoring just 26 seconds into the second period. Larose was left alone in the left corner of the Detroit zone and he cut to the middle to take a pass from Eric Staal before beating Conklin.

Zetterberg scored his first of the night to halve Carolina’s lead at 5:10 of the second. Zetterberg threw the puck to the net from the right circle and it deflected off defenseman Bryan Allen to get past Ward.

A pair of power play goals gave the Hurricanes their 4-1 lead. With 4:22 left in the second period and a single second left on a five-on-three, Jamie McBain rifled a shot from the top of the left circle past Conklin. Tlusty got in behind Kyle Quincey and tapped in a chance from the edge of the crease just 17 seconds later.

Those two goals were the only power play goals by either team on the night. Each team had two tries with the man-advantage.

Conklin finished the night with 20 saves on 24 shots, with the Red Wings holding the Hurricanes to just three shots in the third period. Ward stopped 45 of Detroit’s 50 shots on the night.


With Lidstrom and Kindl returning to the lineup, Brendan Smith was a healthy scratch. The Red Wings reassigned him to the Grand Rapids Griffins after the game. Jonathan Ericsson, Johan Franzen, Darren Helm, Patrick Eaves, Jimmy Howard and Joey MacDonald remain injured for Detroit.

Lidstrom Named All-Star Captain

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was announced Tuesday as one of two captains for this season’s NHL All-Star Game.

Lidstrom joins Eric Staal of the host Carolina Hurricanes, having been selected via a vote of the 42 All-Stars who will appear at the January 30th game.

On Friday, January 28, Lidstrom and Staal will select their teammates via a live, televised draft.

Is This the Year? Thinking About NHL Marketing

I was shoveling the driveway today and it gave me a lot of time to think. Way much more time than I would have liked. I need a snowblower for days like this.

Anyway…

One of the things I was thinking about was the NHL’s latest marketing campaign. I complain about the way the league markets itself quite a bit but it’s harder to do that with their “Is This the Year?” commercial.

After the lockout I complained that EA and Molson had better “hockey’s back” commercials than the NHL itself did. Now, the league has finally done something right.

The “Is This the Year?” idea is a great one. Playing on the fact that anytime you watch a game, it’s history in the making. Any night you could turn on the TV and see something that’s never happened before.

That’s not hyperbole, it’s fact. How many people tuned into the Detroit – Columbus matchup on November 24th and saw the fastest two goals ever scored by the Red Wings? That’s a small thing but it validates the point the commercial makes.

But while I love the idea, the execution has three flaws that I consider fatal.

The commercial opens with Ryan Miller asking “Is this the year the Cup comes to Buffalo?” Eric Staal and Sidney Crosby add “To Carolina?” “To Pittsburgh?”

I understand that the players the commerical uses – Miller, Staal, Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier and Alexander Ovechkin – are the ones that the league wants to promote, but to include Carolina and Pittsburgh in that question is slightly ridiculous. Carolina won the Cup just two years ago and Pittsburgh won twice in the 1990s.

Would it have been so difficult to have Anze Kopitar ask “To Los Angeles?” with Marian Gaborik adding “To Minnesota?” It’s not hard to find teams that haven’t won the Cup that also have stars that can be used to promote the game.

One of the greatest lines in the commercial has Eric Staal asking “Is this the year we finally figure out who’s dad’s favorite?” If you know who he is and that he is one of three brothers in the NHL (with another on the way), that’s an excellent bit. The problem is that casual fans won’t know that. Would it have been so tough to add a two-second establishing shot of Eric and Jordan (and Marc, even, though the league probably doesn’t care about him as much) with their backs to the camera and nameplates visible, establishing their names?

Finally, with the commercial closing as the players all repeat the line of “Is this the year?” I love that Ovechkin’s line is in Russian. That said, would it have been so hard to include a Swede, a Czech, or any other nationality in to truely showcase the NHL’s international flavor? If you worked in Kopitar in the opening, he’s available to represent Slovenia. Gaborik could represent Slovakia. The homer Red Wings fan in me says Henrik Zetterberg could be the token Swede.

In all, I’ll admit that they’re small nit-picks. The NHL took a great leap forward here, considering their previous advertising attempts. I’m happy to see that they are trying to improve and hope that they can keep it up.

Red Wings’ Streak Reaches Six with Win over Hurricanes

The Detroit Red Wings extended their winning streak to six games Sunday night, earning a 5-2 victory over the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.

Carolina’s loss stretches their regular season winless streak at Joe Louis Arena to thirteen games. The Hurricanes earned a victory in Detroit in the first game of the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals but haven’t picked up two points in Michigan since November 14, 1989, when the team was still the Hartford Whalers.

The Red Wings had three one-goal leads on the night, with the Hurricanes bouncing back to tie twice.

Valtteri Filppula got Detroit on the board at 4:35 of the first period. Filppula broke in on Carolina netminder Cam Ward from the right wing and almost beat him, putting the puck under his pad. Mikael Samuelsson crashed the net, poking at the puck but not before Ward had pulled his pad – puck included – across the goal line.

Erik Cole scored the first of his two goals just 46 seconds into the second period, tying things back up. His first shot from the side of the net was stopped by Detroit goalie Dominik Hasek but Cole swatted the rebound out of mid-air, over the falling Hasek.

A power play goal at 6:02 of the period put the Wings back out in front. Tic-tac-toe passing on the right side of the ice moved the puck from Dan Cleary to Niklas Kronwall to Jiri Hudler and back to Cleary for a quick shot on net. At the top of the crease, Johan Franzen tipped it past Ward.

Carolina evened things up on a power play of their own 4:34 later. Cole scored his second goal of the night, scoring from the right wing when his shot on net deflected off the stick of Detroit’s Brian Rafalski.

Andreas Lilja scored a rare goal with 7:20 remaining in the middle frame, giving the Red Wings another lead on a rocket shot from inside the blue line.

Detroit would make that lead hold.

With 2:38 remaining in regulation, Pavel Datsyuk added an insurance marker. Datsyuk stole the puck from Eric Staal at the Carolina blue line and broke in alone on Ward. Cutting from his right to left, Datsyuk faked out Ward and lifted a shot over him.

Tomas Holmstrom wrapped up the game’s scoring 36 seconds later. Henrik Zetterberg broke into the Hurricanes’ zone, catching Ward on his way to the bench for an extra attacker. Ward made it back into the crease to stop Zetterberg’s shot but was out of position on Holmstrom’s rebound chance.

Each team scored one power play goal. Detroit had seven chances with the extra attacker while Carolina had five.

Hasek stopped 15 of 17 shots to earn his third-straight win after backing up Chris Osgood for six of seven games. Ward made 33 saves on 38 shots against.

The Red Wings return to action on Monday in Nashville, with Osgood getting the start in net.

Western Conference Triumphant in All-Star Game

In the National Hockey League’s first All-Star Game since 2004, the Western Conference’s veteran team outscored an Eastern Conference squad led by young stars, picking up a 12-9 win.

It was the first win by the Western Conference since 2003 and only their second in the six games that have been played in the East vs. West format.

Daniel Briere of the Buffalo Sabres was the game’s MVP, scoring a goal and adding four assists in the losing effort.

Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets scored the eventual game-winning goal, one of his two goals on the night. He also assisted twice.

Other were Yanic Perrault (Phoenix Coyotes), Teemu Selanne (Anaheim Ducks), Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lighting), Eric Staal (Carolina Hurricanes), Libomir Vishnovsky (Los Angeles Kings), Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks), Justin Williams (Carolina), Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins), Martin Havlat (Chicago Blackhawks), Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals), Brian Rolston (Minnesota Wild), Dany Heatley (Ottawa Senators), Sheldon Souray (Montreal Canadiens) and Dion Phaneuf (Calgary Flames).

Marty Turco of the hometown Dallas Stars got the win in goal while Cristobal Huet of Montreal took the loss, despite having the best save percentage of any of the Eastern Conference goalies.

Earlier in the day, the NHL announced that the Montreal Canadiens will host the 2009 All-Star Game as part of the celebration of the Canadiens’ 100th season. The Atlanta Thrashers will host in 2008, after originally having been selected to host the cancelled 2005 game.