Red Wings Lose Game, Lose Williams

I’m not recapping tonight’s game. Not that any of you are surprised by that, I’m sure.

The only shot the Wings scored on was a damned-near perfect play. A great pass from Brian Rafalski and an incredible shot by Dan Cleary is what it took to get Detroit on the board.

The funny thing is I didn’t think Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson looked particularly fantastic in stopping 35 shots. Looking at the scoresheet, I’m amazed that the Wings even got that many chances through to him.

Apparently the Maple Leafs blocked 18 shots to Detroit’s 17 but it felt like Toronto was getting in front of many more of the Wings’ chances.

Early in the third period there was a moment that I felt summed up the game. The Leafs had been knocking down Detroit shots all night but now there was some open ice with the Wings on a five-on-three. A Wings defender – Brian Rafalski, I think – fires a shot from up high… Only for it to find a Maple Leaf and get knocked aside.

Toronto only had three skaters out there and still the Wings managed to hit one of them with a shot.

And I’m not a doctor but I know a fractured fibula isn’t good. This isn’t a “put some ice on it” kind of injury. Jason Williams is going to miss some time, and considering the combination he could be with Valtteri Filppula and Johan Franzen it means the Wings are now missing their entire second line.

Mickey Redmond said partway through tonight’s game that the third and fourth lines had played well. Those lines are effectively the second and third lines now.

As a sign of what that means, go take a look at the third-period power plays. Detroit’s second unit included Justin Abdelkader.

I like Abdelkader. I think he’s got a future in the league and I think he deserves to be here now. I also think he’d be better suited to be with the Griffins for one more season, as Ken Holland wanted to do before Franzen got hurt. With all of these injuries, he’s gone from Grand Rapids to centering the Wings’ second power play unit. That is some serious loss of talent Detroit is dealing with.

I’ll also throw out there that this is one of those five-goal-against games where you shouldn’t blame the goalie. We’re all Wings fans so it’ll fall on deaf ears but I’ll put it out there anyway.

Interesting note: The Wings have now lost five “event” games in a row and six of the last seven. In reverse order, they’ve lost the Hall of Fame Game, the two NHL Premiere games, and Games Six and Seven of last year’s Finals. They won the Winter Classic but lost last year’s home opener, where they raised the 2008 Stanley Cup banner.

Hall of Fame Class of 2009 to be Honored in Pregame Ceremony

The Red Wings head to Toronto with a three-game winning streak on the line but with the Maple Leafs having only two wins on the season it’s hard not to look at the pregame ceremony as the more important event tonight.

As part of the annual Hall of Fame Game, the Class of 2009 will be honored prior to tonight’s matchup. Three former Red Wings are included in the class, headlined by longtime captain Steve Yzerman.

Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille round out the Detroit contingent while former New York Ranger Brian Leetch and New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello will also be honored.

The ceremony will be televised by both FSD and the CBC and is expected to push the game’s start time back to 7:28.

The Wings will honor Yzerman at their first home game after Monday’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, next Thursday against the Vancouver Canucks.

In actual game news, Detroit will be without Patrick Eaves, who is nursing a sore foot. He suffered the injury while blocking a shot in Thursday’s win over San Jose.

Brad May will return to the lineup to replace Eaves. May will play on the fourth line with Justin Abdelkader and Kirk Maltby while Ville Leino moves up to the third line to take Eaves’ spot alongside Kris Draper and Darren Helm.

No other lineup changes are expected. Chris Osgood will start in goal.