Pregame: Red Wings @ Lightning – Game 1

Though they may not deserve it, the Red Wings open their 25th consecutive trip to the playoffs in Tampa tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

These two teams met in the opening round last year, with Tampa Bay rallying from down 3-2 in the series to win in seven games, but there are some differences this year.

For the Red Wings, Jimmy Howard has reclaimed the starting role in goal. Forward Brad Richards – who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs with the Lightning during their Stanley Cup run in 2004 – joined Detroit in the offseason. Mike Green is in on the blueline with Marek Zidlicky having moved on to the New York Islanders. Landon Ferraro is now in Boston. Rookies Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou will be making their playoff debuts.

For the Lightning, a powerhouse team has been crippled by injuries. Forward Steven Stamkos is likely to miss the entirety of the playoffs with blood clots. Anton Stralman is out on the blue line. Tyler Johnson – who the Red Wings couldn’t contain last year – is questionable for Game One. Victor Hedman is returning from injury.

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings are a perfect split 17-17 all-time in Game One of the playoffs coming off a loss in their last game of the regular season.

As previously mentioned, Jimmy Howard gets the start for the Red Wings opposite Ben Bishop of the Lightning. Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen, and Brendan Smith will be healthy scratches for Detroit.

Game time is 7:00 on FSD and NBCSN.

Red Wings Sign Jurco to Two-Year Deal

The Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of forward Tomas Jurco to a two-year deal.

As per club policy, no other terms were announced. The annual cap hit will reportedly be $900,000.

Jurco, 22, had been a restricted free agent. Originally drafted by Detroit in the second round (35th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, 2014-15 was his first full season with the Red Wings. In 63 games, he scored three goals and added 15 assists for 18 points.

In 99 career NHL games, Jurco has 11 goals and 22 assists for 33 points. In 106 game with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins, he has 27 goals and 33 assists for 60 points.

With Jurco signed, all of the Red Wings restricted free agents will be returning to the team. Unrestricted free agents Erik Cole, Marek Zidlicky, and Jonas Gustavsson will not return to the team. Daniel Cleary‘s future has yet to be determined.

Red Wings Eliminated in Game Seven Loss to Lightning

The Red Wings beat the NHL’s best home team twice on their own ice but couldn’t make it a third time in four tries, as the Tampa Bay Lightning eliminated Detroit from the playoffs with a 2-0 win in Game Seven of their Atlantic Division Semifinal.

Tampa Bay netminder Ben Bishop stopped 31 shots to earn the shutout, the first of his playoff career.

After two scoreless period, trade deadline acquisition Braydon Coburn got the Lightning on the board at 3:58 of the third. With the Red Wings pinned down low, the puck came out to Coburn in the left faceoff circle for a fluttering shot past Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek.

Detroit would be unable to tie it, with Anton Stralman adding an empty-net goal with 1:18 remaining.

Mrazek finished the night with 15 saves on 16 shots against.

The Red Wings were scoreless on three power play chances while the Lightning were held off the board on their four.


Detroit was without defensemen Niklas Kronwall (suspension) and Marek Zidlicky (concussion)… Petr Mrazek, Tomas Jurco, and Alexey Marchenko are now eligible to play for the Grand Rapids Griffins in their Calder Cup run.

Pregame: Lightning @ Red Wings – Game 7

The Red Wings and the Lightning meet in Game Seven of their Atlantic Division Semifinal in Tampa tonight.

Detroit will enter the deciding game without two of their top six defensemen. Niklas Kronwall is suspended for one game for his hit on Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov in Game Six while Marek Zidlicky is out with a concussion. Alexey Marchenko and Jakub Kindl will replace the pair in the lineup.

Petr Mrazek gets the start in goal for Detroit.

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings have never won only the odd-numbered games to win a series.

Game time is 7:30 PM on FSD.

Red Wings Fall to Lightning, Series to Go to Seven

The Detroit Red Wings had their chance to finish off the Lightning at home and couldn’t do it, as Tampa Bay earned a 5-2 win in Game Six to force a Game Seven back in Tampa.

It is the second first-round series of this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs to reach a deciding seventh game, as the Washington Capitals finished off the New York Islanders at home on Monday night.

Tyler Johnson opened the game’s scoring just 3:47 into the game. Victor Hedman sent a long pass from his own goal line to Nikita Kucherov in the neutral zone, who dished it off to Johnson streaking into the Detroit end. Johnson drove in undefended on Detroit netminder Petr Mrazek and lifted a shot over him for a 1-0 lead.

With 8:50 remaining, Jason Garrison made it 2-0, jumping up to turn a three-on-three rush into an odd-man opportunity and snapping a shot from the high slot past Mrazek.

Johnson struck again at 9:09 of the second period, beating Mrazek on a shot from the slot off a long pass from Ondrej Palat on a bad Detroit line change.

The Red Wings got on the board with 7:34 remaining in the middle period as Tomas Tatar snapped a shot from the left faceoff circle past Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop for a power play goal.

Tatar pulled Detroit to within a goal just 1:39 into the third, controlling the puck in front of the net until Bishop opened up his five-hole and then sliding it into the net.

Alex Killorn ended Detroit’s comeback hopes with 5:09 remaining, taking advantage of a Marek Zidlicky turnover at the Red Wings’ blueline to break in on Mrazek and beat him high.

Cedric Paquette added an empty net goal to finish off the scoring.

Game Seven will be on Wednesday at 7:30 PM.

Red Wings Steal Game One from Lightning

Though badly outplayed and outshot, the Detroit Red Wings earned a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, taking a 1-0 lead in their Atlantic Division Semifinal series.

Detroit rookie goalie Petr Mrazek made 44 saves on 46 shots to deliver the Red Wings the victory. Lightning netminder Ben Bishop made just 11 saves on 14 Detroit chances.

Luke Glendening scored the eventual game-winner at 5:50 of the third period. While shorthanded, Glendening chipped the puck past Tampa defenseman Victor Hedman and raced down the right wing to catch up with it. Former Red Wing Valtteri Filppula caught up with him but Glendening held up and spun to his backhand, flinging a shot between Bishop’s pads to make it 3-1.

Just 2:36 later, the Lightning would pull back to within one, as Nikita Nesterov snapped a shot from the high slot past Mrazek through traffic.

Tampa Bay would be unable to even things up despite controlling play for the remainder of the game.

Pavel Datsyuk opened the game’s scoring at 9:03 of the first period, tipping a Kyle Quincey chance from the blueline past Bishop.

With 5:29 remaining in the opening frame, Brian Boyle tied things up on a shorthanded breakaway after blocking an attempted pass by Marek Zidlicky.

Datsyuk would strike again just eight seconds into the second period, snapping a shot over Bishop’s shoulder from the slot off a feed from Darren Helm while on the power play.

Datsyuk’s second was the only power play goal of the night. Detroit had three chances with the man-advantage to Tampa Bay’s seven.

The two teams will meet Saturday afternoon for Game Two of the series.


Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader (hand) was unable to play.

Red Wings Add Defenseman Zidlicky

The Detroit Red Wings acquired defenseman Marek Zidlicky from the New Jersey Devils in the final hours before the NHL’s trade deadline on Monday.

Zidlicky waived a no-movement clause to accept the trade to Detroit. The Devils received a third-round draft pick in 2016 in return. If the Red Wings make the Stanley Cup Final, they will also get Detroit’s second-round draft pick this year.

The Devils retained $1 million in salary on Zidlicky’s contract, which expires this summer.

In 63 games with the Devils, Zidlicky has four goals and 19 assists.

It was the second trade in the final 24 hours before the trade deadline for Detroit, as the Red Wings acquired forward Erik Cole from the Dallas Stars on Sunday night.

Defense Carries Red Wings Past Devils

Three of Detroit’s four goals on Friday came from their defense as the blue line led the Red Wings to a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils.

Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith and Niklas Kronwall all scored for the Red Wings. Johan Franzen had the lone forward goal for the team.

Kindl got Detroit on the board with 1:05 left in the first period. His shot from the blue line deflected off New Jersey defenseman Adam Larsson and past goalie Cory Schneider for a power play goal.

Just 33 seconds later, Smith took a drop from Joakim Andersson and stepped in near the slot to snap a shot past Schneider.

With 8:19 left in the second period and the Red Wings on another power play, Franzen cut through the left faceoff circle, stepped around defender Bryce Salvador, and put a shot in behind Schneider.

Kronwall rounded out the team’s scoring with 2:21 left in the period when his shot wide of the net bounced off the back boards, then off Schneider and into the goal.

Former Red Wing Jordin Tootoo made it 4-2, scoring for the Devils at 2:26 of the final frame, putting the rebound of a Marek Zidlicky shot past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.

Steve Bernier had opened the game’s scoring for New Jersey at 3:18 of the first period. Perched at the top of the crease, Bernier picked up the rebound of a Salvador shot and tucked it around Howard.

Howard finished the night with 15 saves on 17 shots against. Schneider stopped 20 of 24 Detroit chances in the first two periods before giving way to Kevin Kincaid in the third period. Kincaid stopped all seven shots he faced.

The Red Wings went two-for-four on the power play. New Jersey was scoreless in three tries with the man-advantage.


Center Pavel Datsyuk was a late scratch for the Red Wings, with Joakim Andersson taking his spot in the lineup… Tomas Jurco was a healthy scratch… Kyle Quincey was also out injured.

Free Agent Preview Redux

A couple days ago I took a look at possible Red Wings free agent targets. Things have changed a little bit since then so I figure I’ll go over it again with just hours remaining before NHL free agency.

Centers
Vincent Lecavalier is now off the market after agreeing to a five-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers but a surprise addition is Mikael Grabovski, who was waived on Thursday by the Toronto Maple Leafs in order to be bought out. He’d be a great fit in Detroit, having had success playing with Pavel Datsyuk in Russia in the past. The two also share an agent, so there’s an “in” there. The issue is that his current $5.5 million cap hit – while more than the Red Wings would probably want to spend – really isn’t that bad. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a team that claims him on waivers before the Leafs even get a chance to buy him out, meaning he never hits the free agent market.

The Wings are supposedly still in on Valtteri Filppula but the local reports state he’s all but gone. I think he’s the best available fit for Detroit’s second-line center but I really don’t think he’s worth the money he’s supposedly asking ($5.5 million for five years).

Stephen Weiss plays a similar game to Filppula and he’s my third choice for the second-line center spot. He’s older and has accomplished less, and is supposedly asking for more money ($6 million/year), which he’s not worth. I wouldn’t pay him more than $4 million but given that his actual salary last season was $4.1 million, I don’t see him going for that.

Mike Ribeiro‘s name keeps coming up as an option for the Wings but I don’t see the fit. He probably wants a raise from his previous $5 million salary and his wife has been ranting about having to leave Washington, so he probably doesn’t want to move as far away as Detroit.

For some reason Matt Cullen’s name has come up as well. If the Wings sign him, it will be because they whiffed on all the other centers. He’s 36 and can probably be had for short term (two years) in the $3 million range. This signing would disappoint me so much. I’d rather see Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg split up (again), Johan Franzen shifted to center (again) or one of the kids being given a shot centering the second line than see Cullen signed.

Wingers
The Red Wings have been linked to Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson in recent days. I’ve long coveted him but would be shocked if he actually leaves the Senators. No idea what money he’s asking but it would be a one-year deal for the 40-year-old. I’d rather see Alfredsson signed for a year than Daniel Cleary brought back. Boston is also interested.

Damien Brunner is reportedly asking for $2.5 million per year, which I’d give him in a heartbeat. The concern is what he can do over a full season but I think he’s worth the risk at that relatively low amount. If he gets up to $3.5 million, then it’s something to worry about.

Daniel Cleary is apparently looking for a three-year, $9 million deal ($3 million cap hit). That just seems obscene to me. Given the Wings’ ability to fill his role from within via someone like Tomas Tatar, I don’t see a fit here anymore.

The Wings are reportedly among the many teams interested in ex-Flames captain Jarome Iginla. He’s another I’d love in Detroit (having hated him in Calgary for years) but I don’t think it’s a fit. Unless the Wings lose out on Brunner, they’re not looking for a scoring winger (I know, I said I want Alfredsson anyway) and Detroit wasn’t on Iginla’s list of acceptable trade destinations when he moved on from Calgary at the trade deadline. Maybe the prospect of a whole season with the Wings would be better than just closing out last season, but I don’t see it.

Defensemen
The Red Wings have seven defensemen under contract already after cutting loose Ian White and Carlo Colaiacovo but for some reason Tom Gilbert’s name has come up. The Minnesota Wild buyout is a right-handed shot, which the Wings could use, but it’d necessitate Detroit moving one of their current d-men and I don’t see a move available.

Similarly, both Marek Zidlicky and Andrew Ference have been rumored as targets for the Red Wings. Specifically, it’s been stated that bringing in one of them would make Kyle Quincey expendable. I don’t see a market for Quincey so I don’t know how the Wings would dump him. I’d be very confused if Detroit signed a defenseman, I think they’ll look to make a trade if they want to upgrade.

Red Wings Open Home-and-Home with Win over Predators

In the first game of a home-and-home series, the Detroit Red Wings held off third-period pressure by the Nashville Predators to pick up a 5-2 win.

The win lifts the Red Wings to within one point of the Predators in the Central Division standings with one game in hand.

Nashville had four power play opportunities in the third period and converted on one of them.

Martin Erat scored for the Predators on a two-man advantage at 5:07 of the period. A Shea Weber blast from the blue line was stopped by Detroit goalie Chris Osgood but Erat got the rebound at the side of the net and put it in, pulling the Predators to within a goal.

Nashville wasn’t able to even things up and Detroit scored twice at the end of the period to seal the game.

Attempting to throw a pass across the top of the crease with 2:02 remaining, Kyle Calder scored when the puck deflected off the skate of Marek Zidlicky and over Nashville goaltender Tomas Vokoun‘s shoulder.

Valtteri Filppula put the game away 41 seconds later after stealing the puck at the Detroit blue line with Vokoun on the way to the bench. Filppula raced in on the goal as Vokoun got back but the netminder never got settled and Filppula whipped a shot past him to make the final score 5-2.

The Red Wings opened the game’s scoring just 1:39 into the game when Robert Lang banged the puck through a crowd in front of the Nashville net and past Vokoun.

Rookie Alexander Radulov tied the game at 7:02, ripping a shot from the high slot past Osgood with Nashville on a power play.

Early in the second period, Kirk Maltby put Detroit back out in front. Filppula moved the puck into the Nashville zone and got it deep to Kris Draper, who moved behind the net and sent it out front to Maltby. Maltby lifted a shot over Vokoun at 4:30 to make it a 2-1 game.

Jiri Hudler extended the Detroit lead at 1:24 of the third, scoring on a one-timer off Vokoun’s glove from a pass by Calder.

Both of Nashville’s goals came on the power play, which they had eight chances with, including the two-on-one that led to Erat’s tally. Detroit was held scoreless on three chances with the extra attacker.

Osgood made 29 saves on 31 shots against, including key stops with the Predators threatening to pull even in the third. Vokoun stopped 25 of the 30 Detroit chances he faced.

The two teams will meet again tomorrow in Detroit.


The Predators lost Erat in the third period after a collision with teammate Jason Arnott.