Report: Wings Eyeing Babcock as Lewis Replacement

A report in Toronto’s Globe and Mail states that the Detroit Red Wings could be looking to replace current head coach Dave Lewis with Mike Babcock, the current coach of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Lewis’ contract expired on July 30th. The Red Wings have stated that they would wait until after the end of the lockout to negotiate new coaching contracts for Lewis, associate coach Barry Smith, and assistant coach Joey Kocur.

New Anaheim general manager Brian Burke made Babcock an offer for a one-year deal with a deadline of Thursday to accept or decline.

The Lewis-led Red Wings had regular-season success in 2002-03 and 2003-04 but couldn’t get past the second round of the playoffs. Lewis took over the team after the retirement of legendary head coach Scotty Bowman.

Babcock coached the Ducks to a first-round upset of the Wings in 2003, en route to the Stanley Cup Finals. In 2004 Anaheim missed the playoffs.

Lewis Signs Contract Extension

Detroit Red Wings head coach Dave Lewis signed a one-year contract extension at the NHL Entry Draft Saturday, ensuring that two early playoff losses in two years will not cause him to be replaced this summer.

Since Lewis took over head coaching duties from Hall-of-Famer Scotty Bowman in the summer of 2002, the Red Wings have had little success in the playoffs. In 2003 they were eliminated in the first round by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and in 2004 they fell in the second round to the Calgary Flames. Both seasons, the team that eliminated them advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing in seven games.

“We’ve talked about some of the areas that hasn’t been as good in the playoffs,” said general manager Ken Holland, specifically mentioning a need to get bodies in front of the net. “We need to focus on scoring those ugly goals.”

Associate coach Barry Smith and assistant coach Joe Kocur are expected to return to the bench alongside Lewis next season but their contracts have yet to be worked out.

Joseph Exits Early as Wings Sink Sharks

One day after becoming the undisputed number one goaltender for the Detroit Red Wings, Curtis Joseph was forced to leave the game early due to a slight ankle sprain. Joseph was hit by a falling San Jose Shark in the middle of the first period. He finished the period but was replaced by Manny Legace at the start of the second period.

With Dominik Hasek out for the remainder of the season and Joseph in the locker room, Legace helped the Red Wings hold off the Sharks and stretch their unbeaten streak to six games.

The Red Wings got on the board first, scoring shorthanded with 841 remaining in the first period. Kirk Maltby stole the puck at the Detroit blue line and sent a pass to Kris Draper. Draper was stoned by Sharks’ netminder Vesa Toskala but Maltby put in the rebound and the Red Wings were up by a goal.

The Red Wings extended their lead 7:09 into the second period when Tomas Holmstrom put the puck by Toskala. Henrik Zetterberg carried the puck into the San Jose zone and tried to split the defenders but the puck bounced out to Holmstrom, who wired a shot from the high slot between Toskala’s pads.

San Jose got on the board just 2:19 later when Nils Ekman picked up a long pass at center ice and broke in on Legace all alone. Ekman fired a shot over Legace’s blocker and the score was 2-1.

Detroit regained the two-goal lead with 3:23 remaining in the middle frame. Steve Yzerman took the puck untouched into the high slot and fired a shot through the pads of the unscreened Toskala.

Yzerman scored his second of the night to round out Detroit’s scoring at 8:26 of the third period. While on the power play, Nicklas Lidstrom fired a shot from the left point that Yzerman deflected in the faceoff circle. The puck bounced between Toskala’s pads to put the Red Wings up by three goals.

The Sharks had plenty of chances in the game’s closing minutes but could only score once more. With 7:59 remaining in the game, Wayne Primeau took a pass from center ice at the Detroit blue line and skated in untouched to the goal. He faked out Legace and slid the puck by him to give the Sharks their second goal of the game.

Joseph stopped all of the five shots he faced in the first period while Legace made 17 saves on 19 shots in the second and third periods for Detroit. Toskala stopped 29 of the 33 shots he faced in net for San Jose.

The Red Wings are next in action on Saturday when they host the Colorado Avalanche. Detroit defeated the Avs last in overtime last Thursday.

Joseph’s injury is expected to keep him sidelined for only one or two days. Assistant coach Joe Kocur confirmed that if he had been called upon, Joseph could have returned to the net Wednesday night.

Wings Blank Preds to Clinch Central Division

“At that point in the game, we really wanted to send a message.” -Barrett Jackman of the St. Louis Blues, on Saturday’s classless attempt at sore loser revenge on the Red Wings

Well, Barrett, here’s the response to your “message”: Have fun with the Avalanche or Canucks in Round One. The Red Wings ensured themselves the Central Division banner and at least third seed in the standings with a 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators.

The Predators, out of the playoffs altogether, proved to be a tough opponent to crack. Part of the problem, obviously, was the lack of energy which seems to be inherent when playing a team which cannot make the playoffs. However, the Predators always bring their best game when they have to play the Red Wings, and tonight was just the same.

The first period started at a slow pace. The Red Wings had some penalties to kill off, but they did so skillfully, and Curtis Joseph was sharp and ready to stop any shots which made it through to his net.

When the Red Wings got a power play chance of their own midway through the second period, they showed once again why they have the highest ranked power play in the NHL. Pavel Datsyuk made a pass up to Sergei Fedorov in front of the net. Fedorov rang a hard shot off the goal post, but Steve Yzerman was waiting on the other side of the goal crease to grab up the rebound and stuff it into the net past goaltender Tomas Vokoun.

The Predators had a good chance to tie the game up in the third period. Tomas Holmstrom was sent to the penalty box for a high-sticking double minor penalty, but the Red Wings’ penalty killers did an excellent job of playing “keep-away” with the puck and not letting Nashville get set up. In fact, the best scoring chance on the Nashville power play was for Detroit, when Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby stole the puck and sped up the ice on a two-on-one rush.

Fedorov added his 33rd goal of the season to increase Detroit’s lead to two with 6:49 left to play. The Red Wings were on a power play, with Karlis Skrastins in the penalty box for holding. Holmstrom brought the puck back towards the blue line, then made the pass across to Fedorov. Fedorov rifled a hard shot towards the net. The puck deflected just slightly off the stick of a Nashville player, and lifted up and over Vokoun into the net.

The Predators pulled Vokoun from net for an extra skater with 1:26 left to play, but again, the Red Wings puck control was excellent. Brett Hull made a rinkwide pass to Henrik Zetterberg, skating up the left wing side. Zetterberg carried the puck into the Nashville zone and flipped it into the empty net to put the game away.

Shots on net were 27 to 24 in Nashville’s favor. The Red Wings’ next game will be Thursday night against the New York Islanders.

Assistant coach Joey Kocur was suspended for two games for throwing a folding chair onto the ice during the brawl at the end of Saturday’s game in St. Louis”¦. Zetterberg’s goal was the first empty net goal of his young career”¦. The shutout was the 41st of Joseph’s career and his second in the past week”¦. Fedorov’s goal was the 397th of his career. Hmmm, can we fit in one more milestone before the end of the season?

Wings Dominate in Important, Emotional Win

If there are many more games like this one in St. Louis, the Savvis Center’s management may want to consider building an expansion for their penalty boxes. The Red Wings came up with a 6-2 win over the Blues, and the Blues were really letting their frustration show by the game’s end. By the final buzzer, there were a total of seventeen players between both teams who hadn’t been tossed out of the game. And the playoffs haven’t even started yet. Bring it on!

Emotions were running high early. The Blues were fired up at the return of Chris Pronger, who has been out of the lineup all season. However, his first impact on his team was to take a high-sticking penalty. The Blues’ penalty killers did a good job of not letting Detroit get set up on that one. Tyson Nash managed to generate a shorthanded scoring chance, but Manny Legace was sharp on the shot and the rebound.

Brett Hull opened the scoring midway through the period. Henrik Zetterberg carried the puck up the right side and passed it back across the crease once he gained the goal line. Hull was following the play, driving to the net with his stick on the ice, and he was in perfect position to lift the puck over Chris Osgood.

Pavel Datsyuk increased the lead a few minutes later. Pronger fanned on a slapshot attempt in the Detroit zone, and Datsyuk stole the puck to carry it up ice. Pronger and Bryce Salvador backed up to defend, but Datsyuk cut right between the two of them and stuffed the puck into the net underneath Osgood.

The Blues got themselves on the board with 3:29 left in the first. Steve Martins won a draw deep in the Red Wings’ end. The puck came back to Pronger, who wound up and took the shot. The puck tipped off a Detroit skater on the way through, and flew just past the end of Legace’s catching glove.

The second period was a story of penalty killing. Chris Chelios had taken a four minute high-sticking double minor penalty just at the end of the first period. Thirty seconds had gone by in that when the referees saw fit to send Kris Draper out for boarding. Kirk Maltby, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Mathieu Schneider played an excellent penalty kill, and Legace came up with a huge save on Pronger to stop the clock and allow Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan to come over the boards to replace Schneider and Maltby. When play started again, Lidstrom cleared the puck, and that did it for the 5-on-3. The remainder of the Blues’ 5-on-4 was negated when Pronger took another penalty, this one for interference, but then the Red Wings’ resulting shortened power play was negated when the team was assessed a bench minor for having too many men on the ice.

The one call which probably should have been made in the second was not made at all. Tyson Nash was sticked in the mouth by Shanahan””Nash was falling at the time, so a stick at that height would ordinarily have hit a skater somewhere in the stomach, but the stick did draw blood, which would ordinarily be an automatic four minute penalty. None of the officials saw it, and the Blues apparently swore revenge.

Vengeance was not coming in the second period, however. Corey Stillman received an elbowing penalty shortly thereafter. Shanahan made the pass from behind the net to the high slot which allowed Lidstrom to pinch in from the blue line and wrist a shot through a screen of players over Osgood’s shoulder.

Nash, having had his lip stitched up neatly, was out on the ice to take a pass from Alexander Khavanov and fire it into the net from point blank range, bringing the Blues back within one goal with 7:38 left in the game. Just as the goal was called, Reed Low and Darren McCarty were handed coincidental minor penalties for diving and cross-checking respectively. Sergei Fedorov added a goal with a wrist shot just under the crossbar during the resulting four-on-four.

As soon as McCarty and Low were out of the box, they dropped the gloves and went at each other. Both were given five minute fighting majors, and McCarty was given a game misconduct for not having his jersey strap tied down””Low pulled it right off as soon as the fight started.

Scott Mellanby took an interference penalty with 5:11 left to play. Nash decided his goal wasn’t good enough revenge and attacked Shanahan directly. While those two fought, Fedorov tangled with Barret Jackman. Once the officials cleared the ice, Hull scored a power play goal. Datsyuk made a pass from behind the net to Schneider. Hull picked up the rebound from Schneider’s shot and put it into the empty corner of the net.

Hull’s third goal of the night barely two minutes later””set up by amazing passing from Zetterberg and Datsyuk, of course””opened the floodgates to chaos. Mellanby, Jackman, Dallas Drake, Ryan Johnson, Maltby, Draper, and Dmitri Bykov were all thrown out of the game. The very next shift, it started up again. Matt Walker tried to pick a fight with Tomas Holmstrom, who was skating away from it, but Luc Robitaille came in to defend his linemate. From the resulting battle, Walker, Salvador, Shjon Podein, Doug Weight, Holmstrom, Robitaille, Schneider, and Mathieu Dandenault were sent out. The Detroit bench took a penalty when assistant coach Joey Kocur threw a chair onto the ice in frustration at the way the Blues had simply decided to run at his players, and he and St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville screamed obscenities at each other until calmer heads prevailed, the linesman dropped the puck, and the few remaining players let the clock run down.

The count of shots on net was 24 to 21 in favor of the Blues. The total number of penalty minutes, for those who count such things, was 114 for Detroit and 129 for St. Louis. The Red Wings’ next game will be Monday night at the Joe against the Nashville Predators.

Determined Flames Burn Bright At Home

The Calgary Flames were ready to break out, after having been shutout by the Red Wings twice already this season, and after suffering an embarrassing 7-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes in their last home game. The Red Wings were perhaps tired after playing the Canucks just last night. They couldn’t quite match the Flames’ hustle, and the Flames managed to win, 4-1.

Calgary began the game by immediately putting Detroit into defensive mode. They carried the play and kept the puck in the Red Wings’ end of the ice most of the time. The Wings’ defense, playing without Chris Chelios for the second straight game, did a good job of meeting the challenge for the most part, but Rob Niedermayer got the Flames on the board 6:47 into the game. Stephane Yelle pushed the puck into the zone and up to Niedermayer, whose shot went high over Curtis Joseph.

Brendan Shanahan and Bob Boughner got into a fight at center ice less than a minute later. Shanahan won the fight, by most accounts, but the fight didn’t give the team much momentum. Sean Avery and Jarome Iginla had some strong words and some pushing and shoving shortly thereafter, but the officials broke that up before it could develop into a real fight and the pair was given incidental roughing minors.

Martin Gelinas increased the Flames’ lead early in the second period. He shoved his way through to the front of the net, and when Chris Drury made the pass, Gelinas flipped it in over Joseph.

The Red Wings began to come into their own after that, taking back control of the game and generating more scoring chances against Roman Turek. They finally got the break they were looking for at the tail end of a power play towards the end of the period. Micki Dupont was in the penalty box for holding, and the Grind Line had come out on the ice to play the last few seconds of the power play and defend against any odd man rushes that might result from Dupont’s escape from the box. Instead, Kris Draper got the puck down deep, Mathieu Dandenault moved in from the right point, and Draper had a clear passing lane. Darren McCarty was screening Turek, and Dandenault was able to one-time Draper’s pass into the net.

The Flames got the game-making break just seconds before the end of the period. Iginla let loose a shot which trickled through Joseph’s leg pads and started to cross the goal line. Pavel Datsyuk scooped the puck away from the net just before it could cross the line completely, and the referee said it was not a goal. It went to video review, and the video goal judge overturned the on-ice ruling to give the Flames a 3-1 lead.

The late, controversial goal took away a lot of the Red Wings’ momentum for the third period, and Calgary basically shut the game down to sit back and play defense for the last twenty minutes. Detroit pulled Joseph from the net for a last-ditch effort to score two goals in a minute and a half, but Dave Lowry sent the puck into the empty net from center ice to put the game away.

The shots on net were fairly even. Calgary had 29, and Detroit had 28. The Red Wings will return home for a short rest before heading east to face the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Calgary coach Darryl Sutter sported a painful-looking black eye, the result of being hit in the face by an errant puck during the Flames’ loss to Phoenix…. Flames mascot Harvey the Hound, whose tongue was ripped out and thrown into the crowd by Edmonton coach Craig McTavish when the Oilers and Flames met a few nights ago, was back in action, tongue firmly reattached. He did seem to be avoiding Joey Kocur and the Red Wings’ bench, however.

Wings Tie Stars While On the Mend

Twenty-four hours can improve a team’s defensive outlook greatly. It might be an exaggeration to say that the Red Wings looked like a completely different team against the Dallas Stars than they did the night before against Ottawa, but they certainly looked like a team ready to put a bad game behind them. The Stars, on the other hand, had an embarrassing loss of their own against the Columbus Blue Jackets to shake off, and the two determined teams skated to a 3-3 tie.

Dallas got the first goal of the game 5:49 into the first period. The puck bounced away from a tangle of players along the right boards. It went right out in front of the net, where Ulf Dahlen was able to flip it past Curtis Joseph and just under the crossbar.

Shortly afterwards, Brenden Morrow was given a penalty for interference against Kirk Maltby, and the Red Wings’ power play extended its scoring streak for another game. Pavel Datsyuk passed the puck from behind the net to Brett Hull. The rebound from Hull’s shot came back to him, and he sent it back to Datsyuk. Datsyuk then slipped a pass through to Nick Lidstrom at the left faceoff circle. Lidstrom took a split second to settle the puck before wristing the shot high past goalie Marty Turco.

Joseph and Turco both made some impressive saves throughout the first and second periods, but Turco blinked first. Jason Williams made a pass which sent Boyd Devereaux and Datsyuk up the ice on a two-on-two rush. Devereaux stumbled slightly as he carried the puck over the blue line, but he got back up and made a clean pass across to Datsyuk anyway, and Datsyuk tapped it right into the net to give the Red Wings the lead.

The Stars began to lay on the offensive pressure then, trying to get back into the game, but Joseph and the reinvigorated Detroit defense held them off until only 8 seconds remained in the second period. Scott Young took a wild shot on net from the right half-boards. Joseph made the save, but the rebound bounced straight out front to Mike Modano. Modano’s shot deflected slightly off the leg of Jiri Fischer and past Joseph to tie the game back up.

The Stars took the next lead of the game 7:30 into the third period while Henrik Zetterberg was serving a penalty for holding. Sergei Zubov took a shot from the right side. The rebound bounced off the skate of Darrell Sydor and over to Dahlen, who had skated around behind the net without attracting attention. He was able to stuff the puck past Joseph before anyone quite realized he had it.

A Detroit power play tied the game back up. Brendan Shanahan faked a shot from his usual power play spot on the left side, but instead he passed the puck to Williams waiting in front of the net. Williams was able to angle a shot into the tiny space between Turco and the goalpost.

The Red Wings dominated the overtime play. Sergei Fedorov had two breakaways, but he shot the puck wide of the net both times. Turco held his ground against the seven shots that did get to him. Meanwhile, Joseph made two huge stops at the other end of the rink, and the game ended with a 3-3 tie.

The game was also nearly equal in terms of total shots on net: the final count was 37 to 35 in favor of the Stars. The Red Wings’ next game will be on Tuesday evening when they host their ancient rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Igor Larionov was a healthy scratch for tonight’s game, allowing Sean Avery to rotate into the lineup. Tomas Holmstrom and Dmitri Bykov are still out with their respective injuries”¦.Head coach Dave Lewis used Scotty Bowman‘s example and rearranged the forward lines to shake up the team after Saturday’s game. What did he come up with?
Line 1: Brett Hull, Henrik Zetterberg, and Sergei Fedorov””A goat, a kid, and Sergei, who is neither goat nor kid, but certainly seemed to match well with the other two.
Line 2: Brendan Shanahan, Kris Draper, and Kirk Maltby””Not sure if it was a demotion for Shanny, or a promotion for Draper and Maltby, but with Shanahan’s innate grittiness and Maltby’s and Draper’s tendency to score goals exactly when no one expects them to, it could work pretty well.
Line 3: Jason Williams, Pavel Datsyuk, and Boyd Devereaux””a high-energy line of three young guys who are excited to be playing. They will make some rookie mistakes sometimes, but this is a line that can make good things happen.
Line 4: Luc Robitaille, Sean Avery, and Darren McCarty“”Leftovers? Okay, they were the three left without anywhere else to go, but a line with the highest scoring left winger of all time and two of the best agitators in hockey is bound to accomplish something. Just let it remind you of Steve Yzerman playing with Joey Kocur and Bob Probert, back in the day.