Wings Hold Off Ducks as Babcock Faces Former Team

The Detroit Red Wings took an early 2-0 lead on power play goals and held off a surging Mighty Ducks of Anaheim team to hold on for a 3-2 win. It was the first meeting between the Wings and Ducks since head coach Mike Babcock left Anaheim for Detroit.

Pavel Datsyuk opened the scoring with a power play goal 4:37 into the game. Jason Woolley grabbed the puck at the blue line and sent it down to Datsyuk in the left circle, who fired a shot over the shoulder of Anaheim goalie Ilja Bryzgalov.

Robert Lang put Detroit up by two with the Red Wings’ second power play goal, scoring through a screen from the left circle at 9:56.

The Ducks struck back with 2:31 remaining in the opening period. Teemu Selanne got a pass from Scott Neidermayer in the low slot and one-timed the puck past Detroit netminder Manny Legace.

After a scoreless second period, the Wings’ power play struck again in the third. Mikael Samuelsson scored his sixth goal in eight games at 4:55, tipping a shot by Jason Woolley past Bryzgalov from the low slot.

At 7:58, Ryan Getzlaf pulled the Ducks back within one, firing a shot from the point that deflected off Dan Cleary‘s stick and over Legace’s glove.

In the closing minutes, the Ducks couldn’t control the puck to get a chance at tying the game and the Wings held on for the victory.

Legace finished the game with 23 saves on 25 shots while Bryzgalov made 36 stops on 39 shots.

The Detroit power play went 3-for-8. Anaheim went 1-for-4 with the man advantage.

The Red Wings will be back in action Saturday night for the first of two straight games in Columbus.

With Kris Draper injured and the Grand Rapids Griffins on a road trip, the Red Wings dressed seven defensemen rather than call up a 12th forward. Draper could return on Saturday.

Wings Beat Sharks in OT, 3-2

Jiri Fischer‘s goal with 51 seconds left in overtime gave the Red Wings a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. It was the first extra session game for both teams in this young season. The win for the Wings was a bit bittersweet as Kris Draper left the game early in the second period after taking a puck to the face.

Manny Legace made his seventh straight start for the Red Wings and had to work a bit hard early on as the Sharks controlled the play early. With a combination of penalties and abbreviated situations, the Wings fought off 4 Shark power plays in the first 6 and a half minutes of the game.

The Sharks eventually struck first at 12:29. Nils Ekman picked up a loose puck at center ice and blew past Nicklas Lidstrom and Mathieu Schneider to create a break away. He then slid the puck under Legace’s glove to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead.

The Wings got the goal back just three minutes later on a Brendan Shanahan power play goal. With time running out in the man advantage Jason Woolley‘s shot from the right point was saved by Sharks’ goalie Evgeni Nabokov, but created a big rebound that Shanahan put in from the slot.

In the final minute of the first period and back on the power play, the Wings took the lead 2-1 as Mikael Samuelsson took a ricochet off the back boards from a shot by Jason Williams off a face off. Nabokov was out to cut off the angle at the top of the crease on the right side giving Samuelsson the left side of the net open to score.

The Wings took control of the play early in the third but the Sharks took advantage of their opportunities. A little over 11 minutes into the second period Marco Sturm deflected a high shot from Kyle McLaren past Legace on the power play to tie the game at 2.

Along with Draper, Tomas Holmstrom was also hit in the face with a puck. Both required stitches, but Draper was taken to the hospital on a precautionary basis.

The Wings out shot the Sharks 34-28. They also held the Sharks to one power play goal on nine chances, while they scored twice on six chances.

The Wings will face the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim next, this Friday at Joe Louis Arena.

Wings Blank Coyotes, 2-0

On the night that former Detroit Red Wing Brett Hull announced his retirement from the Phoenix Coyotes, a goal like so many that Hull scored helped the Wings to a 2-0 victory over the Coyotes.

Former Hull linemate Pavel Datsyuk scored with 5:50 remaining in the game on a one-timer reminicent of the goals scored by the future Hall of Famer. Nicklas Lidstrom sent a cross-ice pass from near the point to the left circle, where Datsyuk fired the shot that beat former Red Wing Curtis Joseph and gave Detroit a two-goal lead.

The Red Wings had opened the scoring on a second period power play goal by Henrik Zetterberg. Zetterberg sent the puck from behind the net to Jason Williams, who sent it on to Jason Woolley, who fired it back down to the side of the net where Zetterberg got it. Zetterberg skated out in front of the net and beat Joseph to the far side from the top of the crease.

Detroit finished the game 1-for-6 on the powerplay while Phoenix was unable to score on their three chances.

Manny Legace made 23 saves in the shutout effort and Joseph stopped 18 of 20 shots for Phoenix.

The Red Wings will be back in action when they host the San Jose Sharks on Monday.

Wings Defeat Kings as Yzerman, Woolley Return

Steve Yzerman and Jason Woolley each played their first game of the season Thursday night as the visiting Detroit Red Wings picked up a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Both players were held without a point on the night.

Johan Franzen‘s first career NHL goal ended up being the game-winner for the Red Wings. With 4:52 remaining in regulation and just 53 seconds after the Kings had tied the game, Franzen took a pass from Mikael Samuelsson that was tipped by Dan Cleary and wristed a shot past the left side of Los Angeles goalie Mathieu Garon, making the score 3-2.

The goal deflated the Kings, who had been buzzing after Jeremy Roenick tied the game at two with 5:45 remaining. Dustin Brown drove the net with the puck and was stopped by Red Wings goaltender Manny Legace. The puck bounced out to Roenick at the top of the crease and deflected off his skate and into the net.

The Red Wings had opened the scoring late in the first period. With 2:15 remaining, Jason Williams broken into the LA zone with Brendan Shanahan and Robert Lang. Williams fired a pass past Lang to Shanahan on the far side of the ice. Shanahan deflected the puck into the top of the net for his first even strength goal of the season.

The Kings tied the game 3:04 into the second, when Tim Gleason sent a long pass to Derek Armstrong at the Detroit blueline. Armstrong gained the zone and passed cross-ice to former Red Wing Sean Avery, who stepped into the slot alone and rifled a shot past Legace.

The Red Wings regained the lead momentarily in the third on a shorthanded goal by Kirk Maltby 5:29 in. Kris Draper chased Joe Corvo from behind the Kings’ net and forced him to make a bad outlet pass at his own blueline. Maltby jumped up from center ice and picked it off, skating in alone on Garon and beating him for his first of the season.

After the Red Wings killed off a late penalty, Henrik Zetterberg added an empty net goal to increase the Detroit lead. Avery started some pushing and shoving that ended with a Los Angeles power play, so the Kings pulled Garon again but Jiri Fischer closed the game’s scoring with a second empty net goal for Detroit.

Legace finished the game with 26 saves on 28 shots, while Garon stopped 16 of the 19 shots he faced. Neither team scored on the power play, Detroit having three chances and Los Angeles having seven.

The Red Wings are back in action on Saturday night from Phoenix, where they will meet former Wings Brett Hull and Boyd Devereaux, longtime Detroit associate coach Barry Smith will be behind the bench, and former Detroit goalie Curtis Joseph could be between the pipes.

Week 2: October 9-15

Sure, the Red Wings can beat a St. Louis team which added a new goalie and lost two all-star defensemen, but what does that mean?

Detroit had a light first week this season with only two back-to-back games, the same way they started out the 2003-2004 season. That year, they quickly beat the Los Angeles Kings and the Ottawa Senators for a 2-0-0-0 start. They have won the season opener for six straight seasons, and have finished the regular season in the top five of the Western Conference for a long time. There isn’t much you can take from the first two games, but here are a few notes:

The new guys are contributing already. Mikael Samuelsson and Brett Lebda have more points than Kris Draper and Nicklas Lidstrom. Jason Williams isn’t new, but he’ll get more ice time this year and had three assists on Thursday.

There should not be a goalie controversy. Manny Legace has proven himself as a great goalie no matter how often he plays, and you can bet on Chris Osgood to win 30 games every year if healthy. Jim Howard might get in a game or two this month, but he looked good in preseason and is well liked so far by the other goalies.

Draper and Kirk Maltby will have to go above and beyond what they’ve normally done as defensive forwards. The Wings were shorthanded 11 times in Thursday’s game at St. Louis, and these two are the best penalty killers on the team.

With the signing of Jason Woolley, the Wings can make the decision to either rest the veterans Chris Chelios and Lidstrom a bit or take time away from youngsters Lebda and Jiri Fischer. These players are all going to have to adjust with the penalties being called, and a deep defensive core will help.

This Week’s Matchups:

October 9 vs. Calgary – Steve Yzerman may not play, but you can be sure Darren McCarty will. He won’t take it easy on his former team, but claims his heart is still wearing red. Many are picking Calgary to once again win the Western Conference, so this should be a good game. (Update: Detroit wins 6-3)

October 10 vs. Vancouver – Finally knocking Colorado off the top of the Northwest Division, Vancouver remains dangerous. Like Detroit, they’ve had good regular seasons and that doesn’t appear to be in jeopardy. They usually give the Wings a hard-fought game; the teams split four games last season.

October 13 at Los Angeles – The Kings may have lost the biggest offensive output of any team in the off-season, parting ways with Zigmund Palffy, Jozef Stumpel, Jason Allison and Martin Straka. To counter, they did sign Pavol Demitra and Jeremy Roenick. If the Kings want any chance of making the playoffs, goalies Mathieu Garon and Jason Labarbera have to immediately make an impact. Lababera won his first game, stopping 27 of 29 shots against Phoenix.

October 15 at Phoenix – Call it the sequel to the Wings’ Red vs. White game in training camp. Lots of familiar faces are in Phoenix now: Brett Hull, Curtis Joseph, Boyd Devereaux and assistant coach Barry Smith. Speaking of coaches, Wayne Gretzky is still in the spotlight – not for what he has done, but what he can do. There have been reports of the players being intimidated by the presense of The Great One, which may explain their 0-2 start. The Coyotes are re-tooling quickly, acquiring Geoff Sanderson from the Blue Jackets in a five-player deal.

Wings Sign Woolley, Send Lebda to Griffins

The Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of defenseman Jason Woolley on Saturday. The contract is for one year, with financial terms not announced.

To make room for Woolley on their roster, the Red Wings assigned Brett Lebda, who scored a goal and added an assist in Detroit’s first two games, to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.

Woolley played for the Red Wings for two years before going unsigned at the start of this season, which will be the 15th of his career. During his time in Detroit, he scored 42 points and played in 117 games.

“We’re very happy to have Jason return to the Red Wings,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. “He’s a veteran defenceman who handles the puck very well and should excel with the new rule changes in the NHL.”

Three Wings Join UHL Team

The United Hockey League’s Motor City Mechanics announced on Tuesday that Detroit Red Wings defensemen Derian Hatcher and Chris Chelios and forward Kris Draper would be joining the team.

All three, along with many other locked-out NHL players, were looking for a place to play that was close to their metro Detroit homes. With the NHL season on the brink of cancellation, more and more players look for places to play to stay in game shape. Over 350 NHL players have signed with European teams. Others, such as Red Wings defenseman Jason Woolley, have been working out with college teams. Still more, including New Jersey Devils forward Scott Gomez and now Hatcher, Chelios and Draper, have signed with minor-league teams.

Chelios had talked of signing with the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves early on in the lockout. An unrestricted free agent, Chelios hopes to return to the NHL when the lockout ends.

Hatcher spent most of the 2003-04 NHL season recovering from a torn ACL and is looking to continue his rehabilitation on a more regular schedule.

Draper joins the Mechanics with the hope of earning a spot on Canada’s World Championship team this spring.

Red Wings forward Kirk Maltby was also rumored to be signing with Motor City but he denied those reports.

The Mechanics, a first-year team, are currently in last place in the UHL standings. They also announced that Detroit native Steve Shannon would take over as head coach from former Red Wing Garry Unger.

Wings Go Home Empty-Handed After OT Thriller

It wasn’t for a lack of trying, but Miikka Kiprusoff was too hard a nut for the Red Wings to crack. Martin Gelinas scored with 43 seconds left in the first overtime period to give the Calgary Flames the victory in the Western Conference Semi-Finals, four games to two.

The Red Wings were, of course, playing without Steve Yzerman, after the Captain underwent surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone damaged in Saturday’s Game Five. “I’m travelling with the team,” Yzerman said as soon as he came out from under the anesthetic. “No, you aren’t,” said the doctors. The pressure changes of air travel would easily damage the delicate orbital bone. The Captain spent hours on the phone encouraging his teammates late Sunday and early Monday. Before the game, the coaching staff carried a Number 19 jersey into the locker room. “How many of you,” they asked, “are going to play like this guy would play?”

It’s generally expected in Detroit that the Red Wings fall apart without their Captain. This game, they did no such thing. Brendan Shanahan and Kris Draper stepped up and showed the way, leading volley after volley of attacks towards Kiprusoff’s net. Nicklas Lidstrom and Mathieu Schneider barely left the ice, sitting on the bench only long enough to give Derian Hatcher or Jamie Rivers a chance to lay a hard check on one Flame or another and give Mathieu Dandenault or Jason Woolley a chance to get out and skate down loose pucks before the speedy Flames could get to them.

Curtis Joseph excelled under the pressure, making saves at least as phenomenal the saves Kiprusoff made at the other end of the ice. All night long, he stopped backhanders from Jarome Iginla and screened shots from Andrew Ference and Chris Clark. He stopped a high shot by Matthew Lombardi with his helmet.

In the end, Gelinas was only able to score due to a missed defensive coverage. Somehow, he managed to sneak into the Red Wings’ zone and wait by the corner of the net. Craig Conroy was tied up in the corner, but managed to bank a centering pass off the skate of Derian Hatcher. Joseph was facing his right to guard against Conroy and Iginla, which meant that Gelinas was able to fire the puck into an open net.

Now What?

Last year in this situation, writing my last game summary of the season, I strung together a list of predictions for how the Red Wings would pull themselves back together in the off-season.

This year, I don’t feel I can do that. The uncertainty of the collective bargaining agreement and the state of the NHL, not to mention the number of free agents the Red Wings will have come July 1, make it nearly impossible for me to think of what might happen.

The only prediction I have for next season is this one: if there is a season, Stevie Yzerman will play again.

Wishful thinking? Maybe. But the NHL is a changing place. The days of the defensive trap are passing, as young, speedy teams like the Flames, Sharks, and Lightning come to the forefront of the league. The Red Wings’ management is intelligent enough to see this and retool to meet the changing demands of professional hockey. The Captain, old-school player he may be, will wish to be there to help his team on its transition into the future. And the team would be foolish not to keep him and his wisdom.

Flames Regain Series Lead with 3-2 Win

Shean Donovan scored just 40 seconds after a Jiri Fischer goal to lead the Calgary Flames to a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night. The Flames now have a 2-1 lead in their second round playoff matchup.

Donovan fought off Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk to break through the left faceoff circle. He took a pass from Marcus Nilson and skated around Red Wings’ goaltender Curtis Joseph before putting the puck in the net for the eventual game-winning-goal.

Fischer had tied the game with 8:16 remaining in the second period, firing a one-timer by Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff off a faceoff win by Datsyuk and a pass by Brett Hull.

The Red Wings opened the scoring 1:17 into the second with a goal by Robert Lang. Lang one-timed a pass from Brendan Shanahan on net but Darren McCarty couldn’t handle the puck on the doorstep. The puck bounced back to Lang, who put it in the net to give Detroit the lead.

Calgary responded 2:21 later with a Stephane Yelle goal. Yelle fired a shot from the far edge of the right faceoff circle that seemed to deflect off the stick of Mathieu Schneider before slipping between Joseph’s pads.

On their fourth-straight power play, the Flames took the lead. At 5:46 of the second, Jarome Iginla was left alone in the slot and one-timed a shot past Joseph to put the Flames in front for the first time in regulation in the series.

Joseph stopped 24 of the 27 shots he faced in net for the Red Wings. Kipprusoff made 27 saves on 29 shots.

Detroit was held scoreless on their two powerplay attempts, while Calgary went 1-for-4.

Game Four is Thursday night in Calgary.

Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios did not play. He was scratched with an “upper-body injury.” Jason Woolley and Jamie Rivers played for the first time this postseason.

Lang Out for Three Weeks

The Detroit Red Wings lost their third center in less than a week to injury on Monday night, as newly-acquired Robert Lang left the game with just over two minutes remaining in the second period.

Lang has been diagnosed with a rib injury and will miss the next three weeks. He had played just four games with the Red Wings after being traded from the Washington Capitals.

Detroit is also without centers Kris Draper and Pavel Datsyuk, defensemen Mathieu Dandenault, Jason Woolley and Niklas Kronwall, and goaltender Dominik Hasek. Defenseman Derian Hatcher and goalie Curtis Joseph returned from injury Monday night.