Red Wings Bounce Back with 7-3 Win over Avalanche

The Detroit Red Wings had a lot of reasons to be down heading into Wednesday night’s matchup with the archrival Colorado Avalanche.

On the ice, they were on a season-high four-game winless streak. Of the ice, concerns about defenseman Jiri Fischer‘s health were still at the front of everyone’s mind. And just 1:30 into the matchup they had another thing to come back from, as the Avs already had a 1-0 lead.

Detroit was able to get past all of that and pick up a 7-3 win over Colorado, a win that comes at the time when it is most needed.

After Andrew Brunette opened the game’s scoring with a power play goal, Detroit took over.

Mikael Samuelsson scored the first of his four points just 48 seconds later, at 2:18. Jason Williams skated around the Colorado net for a wraparound attempt and picked up his own rebound as he skated along the goal line to Avalanche goalie Peter Budaj‘s left. He sent a crossing pass through the crease and Samuelsson was on the far post to knock the puck in.

Robert Lang scored on a two-on-one with Samuelsson at 5:32 of the second to give the Wings their first lead of the game.

Ian Laperriere tied it 2:22 past the game’s midway point. Alex Tanguay controlled the puck behind the net and sent it out to Laperriere, who blasted home a shot from the slot.

Detroit regained the lead on Dan Cleary‘s first goal as a Red Wing just 2:19 later. Samuelsson ripped a shot on net from the right circle and it was kicked aside. The long rebound came to Cleary in the left circle, who rifled it through the scrambling Budaj.

A power play goal by Brendan Shanahan put Detroit up by two with 1:30 remaining in the period. Nicklas Lidstrom fired a shot from the blue line that Shanahan tipped in front of the net, setting the score at 4-2 after two periods of play.

The Avalanche pulled to within one when John-Michael Liles scored at 7:14 of the third. Joe Sakic sent a pass from the right circle to Liles on the edge of Detroit goalie Manny Legace‘s crease. Liles put the puck on net and Legace got a piece of it but not enough.

With 4:16 left, another two-on-one put the Red Wings back up by two. Pavel Datsyuk made a quick move at the Detroit blue line to break past a defender and he and Jason Williams faced Budaj and a lone defenseman. Datsyuk got the puck to Williams, who redirected it into the net from the top of the crease.

Samuelsson added his second goal and fourth point of the night with a wicked wrist shot from the slot just 55 seconds later and Johan Franzen added a shorthanded empty-net goal with 54 seconds remaining.

Legace ended the night with 24 saves on 27 shots, while Budaj stopped 22 of the 28 shots he faced.

The Detroit power play went one-for-three on the night. Colorado, whose power play had been slumping of late, scored on two of their seven opportunities.

The Red Wings will be back in action for an afternoon game from Anaheim on Friday.

Jamie Rivers took Fischer’s spot in the Red Wings lineup and Kyle Quincey was called up from Grand Rapids to serve as an extra defenseman… Fischer was released from the hospital Wednesday afternoon and has been placed on the 24-day disabled list. Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill expects the situation to be sorted out in a month to six weeks.

Wings Sign Defenseman Kronwall

The Detroit Red Wings finally wrapped up one of their “big three” restricted free agents, announcing Friday that Niklas Kronwall had signed a two-year deal. As per club policy, financial details were not announced, but reportedly Kronwall will earn just under $2 million over the life of the deal.

Kronwall shone in the games he played with Detroit before a leg injury sidelined him in 2003-04. His play with the Grand Rapids Griffins during the 2004-05 season earned him the Eddie Shore Memorial Trophy as the American Hockey League’s top defenseman.

Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill complimented Kronwall’s physical play.

“He’s not imposing to other players until he hits — then he’s imposing,” Nill said. “He hit a guy in center ice, with his shoulder, a clean hit. The guy had his head down, and he ended up with a broken jaw and a concussion.”

Management hopes that Kronwall will continue to play that kind of game in the NHL, slotting him as one of Detroit’s top four defensemen, alongside Nicklas Lidstrom, Mathieu Schneider and Jiri Fischer.

With Kronwall’s signing, general manager Ken Holland only has young superstar forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg left to sign. Datsyuk is entertaining offers from Russian club Moscow Dynamo but his agent states that his priority is to return to Detroit.

Wings Sign 2003 Pick Howard

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Thursday the signing of 2003 draft pick Jimmy Howard to a three-year entry-level contract. Howard will forego his senior season at the University of Maine and is likely to join the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit’s American Hockey League affiliate.

Howard, a 21-year-old goaltender, was drafted by the Wings with their first pick (2nd round, 64th overall) of the 2003 NHL entry draft. In three seasons with the Maine Black Bears, he posted a 1.84 goals against average, a .931 save percentage, and a school record 15 shutouts. His overall record was 47-23-10.

“Howard had an outstanding collegiate career,” said Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill. “We expect him to come into camp battling for the No. 3 position. He’s a strong prospect and we look forward to having him in our organization for many years.”

“I have been dreaming of playing in the National Hockey League all of my life, and to get one step closer to that goal is special,” said Howard. “I really enjoyed my three years at Maine. Playing in front of the greatest fans in college hockey is something that I will never forget. It has been a priviledge to wear the Maine sweater. I wish all my teammates the best this season.”

Wings Pick Seven on Second Day of Draft

With only one draft pick on the first day of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, the Detroit Red Wings had to hope they could find a diamond in the rough to use their later picks on in the fourth through ninth rounds Sunday.

The Wings have had success with this strategy before, selecting Pavel Datsyuk in the sixth round of the 1998 Draft and Henrik Zetterberg in the seventh round in 1999.

After choosing Maine goaltender Jimmy Howard in the second round on Saturday, the Red Wings stuck with forwards and defensemen on Sunday.

In the fourth round they picked defenseman Kyle Quincey of the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights. The 6’1″, 194-pound seventeen-year-old was described by Detroit assistant general manager Jim Nill as “a solid all-around defenseman.”

Detroit’s fifth-round pick was used on center Ryan Oulahen from Brampton of the OHL. Oulahen could have been drafted earlier had he not suffered a knee injury during the season. “Very tenacious, hard-working kid. We really like his drive, and he’s got good size. Just a real competitive kid.” Nill said of him. The eighteen-year-old stands at 6’0″ and weighs in at 180 pounds.

The Red Wings took Swedish winger Andreas Sundin with their first pick in the sixth round, acquired from Columbus. The 6’0″, 185-pound nineteen-year-old “has a scoring touch” according to Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson. “One of his first games in the Elite League, he got a penalty shot and scored a highlight goal. The coach said everybody on the bench was like, ‘Wow. How did he do that?'”

With their second sixth-round pick, Detroit selected underscouted Swedish defenseman Stefan Blom. The seventeen-year-old is 6’2″ tall and weighs 189 pounds. Nill says of him, “He’s getting better and better. He has good skills. You’re hoping he develops and in three or four years is on the national team.”

Tomas Kollar, a 21-year-old Swedish winger, was taken with the Red Wings’ seventh-round pick. He’s big at 6’2″ and 211 pounds and the Wings hope he will make the Swedish national team next year or the following year.

Detroit rolled the dice on their eighth-round pick, Vladimir Kutny. Scouts expected him to be a first round pick after seeing him an a tournament last August, but he joined Quebec of the QMJHL and hardly played during the season. Nill said the Wings “don’t know why” 6’4″, 195-pound eighteen-year-old winger didn’t get much ice time.

The Red Wings final selection of the draft was virtual unknown Mikael Johansson. The small (5’10”, 176 pounds) seventeen-year-old Swedish forward was another gamble for Detroit. “He’s one of those smaller, weaker guys that you hope will grow up one day and be 6-feet, 190 pounds,” Nill said.

Wings Prospect Grigorenko out of Intensive Care

Red Wings prospect Igor Grigorenko has been moved out of intensive care as he continues to recover from injuries sustained in a May 16 auto accident.

Grigorenko, a twenty-year-old forward and Detroit’s top prospect, lost control of his car driving during a rainy night and crashed. His injuried included broken shin and thigh bones in his left leg. He later developed a fat embolism – fatty tissue causing the blockage of blood vessels – in his left lung. Grigorenko was heavily sedated and on a ventilator to cope with having trouble breathing, high blood pressure and a fever.

Having been taken off the ventilator last week, Grigorenko has begun talking and eating on his own. He spoke to his agent, Mark Lapush, on Saturday night.

“He’s doing well,” Lapush said. “He’s healing fast.”

“It was a miracle with him,” Lapush said. “The doctor told me now he feels Igor’s going to be all right.”

The Red Wings hope to bring Grigorenko to Detroit, but he can’t be moved until his condition betters.

“He can’t travel until he gets stronger,” assistant general manager Jim Nill said. “We’re just kind of going week by week now. We’re just waiting to get him out of the hospital.”

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