Spring Comes To Hockeytown

Sure, there are still patches of snow and ice on the ground, and sure, the fans walking from the parking garage to Joe Louis Arena had leftover salt crunching beneath their feet. But it was 50 degrees and sunny, the red and white jerseys were visible instead of hidden under heavy coats, the Captain was in the lineup, and there are now only eleven (that’s ELEVEN) games left before the playoffs! Better yet, the Colorado Avalanche left Hockeytown Saturday afternoon with a 5-3 loss added to their record.

The scoring was opened early in the game by Pavel Datsyuk. Henrik Zetterberg made a tight pass to his linemate, and Datsyuk flipped it into the net past Patrick Roy.

The Avalanche struck twice before the first period was over to take a 2-1 lead into the locker room for the first intermission. The first goal came shorthanded, as Greg DeVries sprung Steven Reinprecht on a breakaway. Reinprecht went in all alone on Curtis Joseph and fooled the Detroit goalie with a move to the right before putting the puck in high.

Rob Blake‘s goal came on a power play. He took a pass from Joe Sakic, then shot from the blue line. Joseph was screened and never saw the puck on its way through.

The second period started with an entirely different feeling to it. Detroit was completely dominant, and Colorado didn’t have much of a chance. The Wings outshot the Avalanche 15 to 4 in the second twenty minutes of play. Roy stopped 12 of the shots, but the shots from Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, and Igor Larionov were too much for him to handle.

“Paaaaaaaa-triiiiiiiiiiick! Paaaaaaaa-triiiiiiiiiiick!” taunted the fans at the Joe, as Shanahan stuffed a pass by Fedorov into the net, as Fedorov scored on a feed by Steve Yzerman, and as Larionov turned a pass by Luc Robitaille into the eventual game-winning goal. “Paaaaaaaa-triiiiiiiiiiick!”

Brett Hull didn’t want to be left out of the fun. He scored his 30th goal of the season, the 709th of his career, on an excellent give-and-go passing play with Datsyuk early in the third period. Datsyuk rushed up left and passed to Hull on the right. Hull passed it back to Datsyuk. Roy slid to his right, thinking that Hull’s angle to the net negated him as a threat. Datsyuk passed back anyway, and Hull scored into the empty side of the net at such a tight angle that he couldn’t have had a space any wider than the puck itself to shoot at.

Even Roy was impressed by the goal. “Let’s give them credit for that play,” he said. “He made a great pass to (Datsyuk) and he made a super pass back to (Hull), and he tapped it in. That’s one we’ll see the highlights of a lot.” Hull, characteristically, seemed prouder of his young linemate than of his own accomplishment. “That’s the way you’re supposed to play,” he beamed. “Pass the puck, and get it back.”

Derek Morris did score a power play goal for Colorado before the game was over. The Red Wings played a passing game of “keep-away” with the puck as the game wound down, causing the Avalanche to have to keep Roy in goal instead of pulling him for an extra skater. They did finally get puck control and pull their goalie out in the final minute, but Joseph was ready with some excellent saves to keep the win and tie the regular-season-series between these two teams at 2-2.

The final count of shots on net was 38-24 in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings’ next opponent is the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa Senators. The teams will square off Sunday night at Joe Louis Arena.


Hull’s goal propelled him past Mike Gartner into sole possession of the fifth place on the all-time goal scorers list…. Peter Forsberg left the game with a bruised leg after a collision with Dmitri Bykov at center ice. Bykov was uninjured.

Showdown in Motown

A rivalry that has revolved around a lot of blood, sweat, and few tears will once again be on display this weekend. The Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche will hook up for the final time of the season on Saturday. The Avs currently have the season series lead by a one game margin, but the Wings will be looking to even things up Saturday afternoon at the Joe.

Detroit is coming into the game with only one regulation loss since losing two in a row 15-games ago. Both of those losses came at the hands of Colorado. The Red Wings have picked up 27 out of a possible 30 points during their current stretch, and now have a 5 point advantage over the St. Louis Blues in the Central Division. Detroit is returning home after a 3 game western road swing that saw the Red Wings lose to Anaheim and then go on to pick up wins in both Los Angeles and Phoenix. Newly acquired defenseman Mathieu Schneider donned the red and white for the first time since being traded from L.A. in the win over the Coyotes, and immediately helped to take some of the load off of Chris Chelios and Nicklas Lidstrom by logging over twenty-three minutes of ice-time.

Meanwhile, a resurgent Avalanche team now sits only 4 points behind Vancouver for the northwest division lead, and is in 4th place overall in the Western Conference. Much of their recent success can be attributed to the recent play of goaltender Patrick Roy, who after a slumping start to the season has gotten back to his expected level of performance. Colorado’s most recent game saw them beat up on the Blue Jackets 5-1. Joe Sakic netted a natural hat trick in the blowout, scoring all three of his goals in the first period.

-Player To Watch-
Colorado- #20 Bryan Marchment (D) (2 goals, 9 assists). Will the Avs’ new goon look to make his presence felt in this ongoing rivalry? You can bet on it. Called the dirtiest player in the league by many, Marchment will likely not miss his chance to take the hatred felt by both clubs to a whole new level.

Detroit- #23 Mathieu Schneider(D) (14 goals, 30 assists). The Wings’ newest d-man has no time to settle into his new home. It will be interesting to see how Schneider responds to the intensity that is always present when these two teams meet.

-Out or in Doubt-
Colorado- No major injuries to report.

Detroit- D Jiri Fischer. Even with the addition of Schneider, the Wings are still relying on the return of Fischer for the playoffs. Fischer’s presence is certainly missed in games such as these.

-Between da Pipes-
Colorado- #33 Patrick Roy (28-13-12, 2.23 GAA, .918 SV%, 3 SO)

Detroit- #31 Curtis Joseph (28-17-6, 2.59 GAA, .909 SV%, 3 SO)

-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
Colorado- 3 tied with 3 points. #21 Peter Forsberg (1 goal, 2 assists), #23 Milan Hejduk (3 goals), #40 Alex Tanguay (1 goal, 2 assists) vs. Detroit

Detroit- #14 Brendan Shanahan with 3 points (3 goals) vs. Colorado

The Game will be televised nationally at 3:00 p.m. eastern time on ABC.