Blackhawks – Red Wings Pregame Notes

Though they’ve already got a “home” game under their belts, the Red Wings have their home opener tonight hosting the Chicago Blackhawks. Like the Wings, the ‘Hawks opened their season in Europe, going 1-0-1 against the Florida Panthers in Helsinki, Finland.

Tonight’s matchup will be the Detroit debut for Brad May, who signed a one-year deal with the team earlier in the day. His visa paperwork came through meaning Patrick Eaves will have to wait for his first game as a Red Wing.

May will take the place of Justin Abdelkader, who was sent down to Grand Rapids to make room in the lineup when the enforcer was signed.

The Red Wings will be going with one other lineup change, adding Derek Meech to the blueline in place of Brett Lebda.

Chris Osgood will start in goal.

Former Red Wing Tomas Kopecky gave Detroit some bulletin board material, telling the Chicago Sun-Times, “It’ll be fun, and more fun when we beat them.” Kopecky will be playing his first career game against Detroit.

The Blackhawks will be without Marian Hossa, who also left the Wings for Chicago over the summer. He is recovering from shoulder surgery and will be out for two more months.

Game time is 7:30 with television coverage by Fox Sports Detroit.

Red Wings Sign Forward Patrick Eaves

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Tuesday that they have signed forward Patrick Eaves to a one-year deal. As per club policy, financial terms of the contract were not announced.

Eaves spent the 2008-09 season with the Carolina Hurricanes, scoring six goals and adding eight assists in 74 games. He was traded to the Boston Bruins on July 24th for Aaron Ward before being bought out of a contract that would have paid him $1.1 million this upcoming season.

Eaves broke into the NHL in 2005-06 as a 21-year-old, scoring 20 goals and 9 assists in 58 games for the Ottawa Senators. He tallied 32 points the following season but has not broken 20 points since then.

In an offseason where the Red Wings have lost Marian Hossa, Tomas Kopecky, Mikael Samuelsson and Jiri Hudler, Eaves is the team’s first free agent signing expected to play significant time in the NHL next season.

Red Wings Release 2009-10 Schedule

The Detroit Red Wings released their regular season schedule for the 2009-10 season Wednesday afternoon.

As previously announced the Wings will open the season in Stockholm, Sweden, with a pair of games against the St. Louis Blues on October 2 and 3.

Detroit’s home opener will see former Wings Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky visit as members of the Chicago Blackhawks on October 8. One game later, Alexander Ovechkin brings the Washington Capitals to town.

The Red Wings will have three five-game road trips but their traditional New Years Eve game returns to the schedule with the Colorado Avalanche visiting Joe Louis Arena.

The Wings have three home-and-home series on the schedule, two in late December against Chicago and the Columbus Blue Jackets and one more in April against Columbus.

Games on consecutive days appear twelve times. Aside from the two games in Stockholm, every single one of those sets involves travel between games, though one is only from Newark, New Jersey, to New York City.

Detroit’s previously-announced preseason schedule is as follows:

September 16 – Philadelphia – 7:30
September 18 – NY Rangers – 7:30
September 19 – Buffalo – 7:00
September 21 – @ NY Rangers – 7:00
September 22 – @ Philadelphia – 7:00
September 25 – Toronto – 7:30
September 26 – @ Toronto – 7:00
September 27 – Pittsburgh – 5:00
September 30 – @ Farjestads BK – Time TBD

Red Wings Sign Leino to Two-Year Deal

After losing several free agents last week, the Detroit Red Wings retained the services of one on Monday, signing Ville Leino to a two-year deal. Reportedly the contract is worth $1.6 million.

Leino had opted for salary arbitration before coming to terms with Detroit.

In his first year in North America, Leino scored five goals and added four assists for the Wings. He spent most of the season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, scoring 46 points.

The Red Wings lost Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky to the Chicago Blackhawks, Ty Conklin to the St. Louis Blues and Mikael Samuelsson to the Vancouver Canucks in the opening days of free agency, a conseguence of being up against the NHL’s salary cap.

Restricted free agent Jiri Hudler has also opted for salary arbitration.

The Free Agent Frenzy is About to Begin… And I Won’t Be Around for It

In less than twenty-four hours we will probably know where Marian Hossa will play next season. Maybe even Ty Conklin, Mikael Samuelsson, and Jiri Hudler.

NHL free agency opens up Wednesday and I won’t be around to pay attention to any of it. I think it’s the first time since about 2000 for that to be the case.

Every now and then life just doesn’t schedule things in line with hockey and since I’m pretty sure the Red Wings will lose all four of the aforementioned players anyway (Conklin having already been confirmed), I’ve gotta prioritize.

It’s sad, because I like to treat July 1 like a holiday even though I’m not Canadian, but this is for very good reasons so I’m cool with it.

Feel free to post comments about whatever happens here or discuss everything in the forums. I’ll check in when I can.

Datsyuk Tallies Two Assists in Return as Red Wings Trounce Penguins

Pavel Datsyuk returned to the Detroit lineup Saturday night, notching two assists in his first appearance in this year’s Stanley Cup Finals as his Red Wings lit up the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 5-0 win.

The Red Wings now lead the series 3-2 with a chance to claim their second consecutive Stanley Cup on Mellon Arena ice in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Chris Osgood made 22 saves en route to the shutout, his second of these playoffs and third against Pittsburgh in the last two Finals.

Detroit had to survive an early push by the Penguins. Pittsburgh got the game’s first power play and outshot the Red Wings 10-8 in the first period but it was the Wings with a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Dan Cleary opened the game’s scoring with 6:28 left in the period. Datsyuk carried the puck into the Pittsburgh zone, drawing defenders to him before pushing the puck off to Cleary for heavy wrister past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from near the top of the right faceoff circle.

The Red Wings opened the game up in the second period, scoring four more goals including three on the power play, tying an NHL playoff record for most power play goals in a single period.

Valtteri Filppula put Detroit up by a pair just 1:44 into the period, five seconds after Chris Kunitz got out of the penalty box for goalie interference.

Osgood sent a long outlet pass to Marian Hossa, catching the Penguins in a line change. Hossa gained the offensive zone and centered the puck on to Filppula, who drove to the net and lifted a backhander over Fleury.

Niklas Kronwall scored the first of Detroit’s power play goals at 6:11 of the second. Kronwall gained the Pittsburgh zone and passed the puck off to Johan Franzen at the right point before driving to the net. With no play, Kronwall went down to the corner, getting the puck back from Franzen then jumping back out to the top of the crease, lifting a shot over Fleury.

Just 2:15 later, Brian Rafalski snapped a shot from the high slot past a screened Fleury to make it 4-0.

Henrik Zetterberg ended the game’s scoring with 4:20 left in the period. Jiri Hudler sent a hard pass from the left point down to Zetterberg in the left faceoff circle and Zetterberg roofed a shot that saw Fleury chased from the crease, replaced by backup Mathieu Garon.

The five Detroit goals came on 21 shots against Fleury. Garon would go on to stop all eight shots he faced in 24:20 of playing time.

The Red Wings finished the night with three goals on nine power play chances after having scored just once with the extra attacker in the previous four games of the series. The Penguins were held without a goal on two power play tries.

Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals will take place Tuesday.

With Datsyuk’s return, rookie Ville Leino was scratched.

Reffing Bad But Not at Fault for Wings’ Loss

As any frequent readers might guess, I’m not doing a formal recap of the Game Three loss. I’ve got an opinion about this one and I’m going to babble.

Malik already has a post up called “I don’t want to hear about the refs.” I do want to hear about them but not in the context of why the Wings lost.

Detroit lost because they got three shots in the third period. They lost because they failed to clear their defensive zone repeatedly. They lost because they did an awful job of blocking shots and because they scrambled and were out of position in their own end. None of that is any ref’s fault.

That said, I don’t think the refs can go without being criticized. While they didn’t cause the loss, they sure as hell didn’t call a good game.

The big thing that a lot of people will have trouble letting go is four officials all missing the fact that the Penguins had an extra man on the ice for a whole 20 seconds in the first period. I agree with that one. Given that it’s one of the penalties a linesman can call it’s insane to me to think that no one saw it. What else do they miss if they couldn’t see that one for over 20 seconds?

I’ve gotta just shake my head at that one. Thankfully nothing really came of it so it’s easier to ignore after the fact. Someone should get chewed out for it, though.

The penalty on Jonathan Ericsson in the third period… That’s the painful one. The Penguins got their game-winner on that one and it’s hard to ignore the cheapness of the call.

First off, yes, it was a penalty. As written in the rulebook, that is a play that should be called. So in the context of the rulebook it was the right call.

In the context of the game, however, I’m not happy about it.

First off, it’s a play that Hal Gill made repeatedly throughout the game. I can remember without video replay two or three times he held up Marian Hossa coming into the Pittsburgh end chasing after the puck. And it wasn’t called any of those times. So to treat that play as if it weren’t a penalty all game only to call it midway through the third is confusing to me.

Additionally, this came just minutes after Chris Kunitz put a high hit on Johan Franzen that went uncalled. One that even the NBC guys were questioning. By not calling that, the refs have signaled that they’ve “put the whistles away” but then they seemingly reverse that by calling Ericsson. What you end up having is a high hit not being worth a penalty but a cheap hold getting called.

It’s not a conspiracy, these refs didn’t do this to give Pittsburgh an advantage, it’s just something that looks bad. The Red Wings didn’t lose because of it but hockey fans everywhere have a right to feel like it left a bad taste in their mouths.

And just because I’m sure someone somewhere will make the argument, this is how these are different from the calls Penguins fans made for Henrik Zetterberg to be penalized for covering the puck in the Detroit crease earlier in the series:

That call was entirely subjective. The official announcement was that the officials didn’t think Zetterberg closed his hand on the puck, instead he was just sweeping the puck off Osgood’s back. Kind of like how you can knock the puck down with your glove and it’s not the same as catching it.

I can see how some might say the dirtiness of Kunitz’s hit was subjective, too, though I don’t agree that it was clean.

I can’t see how you can compare any of Gill’s uncalled holding to Ericsson’s called holding and see any subjective difference. The two players made the same play. Maybe not the exact same steps but the same effect and the same intent. Someone will have to explain what the difference is.

Speaking of subjective, the Penguins’ best player in Game Three was Evgeni Malkin with three assists. Lucky Pittsburgh that he was ruled to have not been sending a message at the end of Game Two, otherwise they’d have played this game without him.

Osgood Stops 31 as Red Wings Take 2-0 Series Lead over Penguins

Detroit netminder Chris Osgood stopped 31 of the 32 shots he faced for the second night in a row, leading his Red Wings to another win over the Pittsburgh Penguins and a 2-0 lead in their Stanley Cup Finals matchup.

It was the eighth time in Detroit’s 18 playoff games this spring that Osgood allowed one goal or fewer.

Unlike in Game One, the Penguins opened the game’s scoring, with an Evgeni Malkin power play goal with 3:10 left in the first period. After a goal-mouth scramble, Malkin snapped a shot on net that Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart bounced off of Osgood and across the goal line.

Jonathan Ericsson got the Red Wings on the board at 4:21 of the second period, blasting a one-timer from the point past Marc-Andre Fleury off of a faceoff.

Valtteri Filppula put Detroit in front 6:08 later, just after the expiration of a Red Wings’ power play. Marian Hossa put a shot on Fleury from the bottom of the left faceoff circle and the puck squirted free on the other side of the net. As Jordan Staal knocked Tomas Holmstrom into the crease, Filppula backhanded an acute-angle shot into the top of the net.

For the second consecutive game Justin Abdelkader wrapped up the scoring. Just 2:47 into the second period he skated into the Pittsburgh zone against three defenders, looped along the top of the circles with the puck, and then swatted a fluttering puck over Fleury’s glove.

The goal gives Abdelkader two on the series, leading all players.

Fleury finished the night with 23 saves on 26 Detroit chances.

The Penguins scored on their only power play while the Red Wings were held without a goal on two tries with the extra attacker, one of which was a 19-second five-on-three to end the game.

The five-on-three came about after Maxime Talbot speared Osgood in an attempt to knock the puck loose after a save. In the ensuing scrum, Malkin instigated a fight with Henrik Zetterberg.

The NHL has announced that the automatic suspension from an instigator penalty in the final five minutes of a game will be rescinded for Malkin and he will be available for Game Three.

Game Three will be on Tuesday night as the series shifts to Pittsburgh.

The Red Wings were once again without Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper, who remain out of the lineup due to injuries.

Red Wings Make Their Own Bounces in Game One Win over Penguins

The Detroit Red Wings score two goals on plays off the end boards and one more with a bouncing puck Saturday night, leading to a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins and a 1-0 lead in their Stanley Cup Finals matchup.

Brad Stuart, Johan Franzen and Justin Abdelkader were Detroit’s goal scorers. Ruslan Fedotenko scored Pittsburgh’s lone goal.

Stuart opened the scoring with 6:22 left in the first period. After holding in the puck at the Pittsburgh blue line, Stuart snapped a shot purposely wide of the net in an attempt to work it down low to Marian Hossa.

Instead, the puck bounced off of the end boards and came back to the side of the net, hitting the back of Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury‘s leg and deflecting into the goal.

Fedotenko tied the game with 1:23 left in the period. Stuart gave the puck up to Evgeni Malkin on the left wing in the Detroit end and Malkin fired a hard shot on Red Wings’ netminder Chris Osgood. Osgood couldn’t control the rebound and Fedotenko swept in to put it into the back of the net.

Franzen put Detroit back in front with 58 seconds left in the second period. Brian Rafalski fired a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle wide of the net, bouncing it off the back boards. Franzen picked up the puck at a low angle to the goal mouth and banked a shot of of Fleury and in.

Just 2:46 into the third period Abdelkader extended the Detroit lead. In a goal mouth scramble, Abdelkader gloved the puck out of the air and dropped it down to his stick. As it bounced, he golfed a shot into the top corner over Fleury’s shoulder.

Fleury finished the night with 27 saves on 30 Detroit shots. Osgood stopped 31 of 32 Pittsburgh chances, including a Malkin breakaway early in the second period.

Neither team scored a power play goal. Detroit had one chance with the extra attacker while Pittsburgh had two.

The two teams will meet in Game Two on Sunday night.

The Red Wings played without Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper, both of whom missed the end of the Western Conference Finals with injuries. Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson returned to the Detroit lineup to start the Stanley Cup Finals.

Stanley Cup Finals Thoughts, Game One Pregame

It’s been quiet around here since the Red Wings finished off the Blackhawks and for good reason. Like the Wings themselves, I’ve needed some time off. Much like my hiatus at the end of the regular season it hasn’t been for any bad things, just very busy right now.

Detroit finished off Chicago in five games an as a reward got all of two days rest. Their injuries at the end of the Western Conference Finals have partially healed but they’re still hurting. Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson are scheduled to return to the lineup tonight but it’s looking like the Red Wings will begin the Stanley Cup Finals without Pavel Datsyuk or Kris Draper.

It looks like this puts Chris Chelios and Derek Meech back in the press box while Justin Abdelkader and Ville Leino make their first-ever Finals appearances.

A lot has been made of what the Pittsburgh Penguins learned during last year’s Finals loss to the Red Wings and that Pittsburgh is a better team than last season. While I won’t deny they’re playing extremely well, I have a hard time taking them seriously.

Their team has gotten better but last year they had Marian Hossa and this year they don’t. That’s a huge loss, one that the addition of Bill Guerin doesn’t make up for. While the Penguins individual players have gotten better I don’t see them as being as talented of a team as a whole without Hossa.

It’s not like the Red Wings haven’t gotten better, too. Assuming Datsyuk and Draper will make an appearance in this series, the only players they’ve lost from last year’s team are Dallas Drake and Andreas Lilja. Lilja has been more than capably replaced by Jonathan Ericsson. Drake’s spot in the lineup has been taken by the aforementioned Hossa, who defected to the Red Wings over the summer.

Hossa is the key to this series, to me. The Penguins couldn’t beat the Red Wings last year when they had Hossa but now they’re expected to when not only do they not have him but Detroit does? On paper, the Penguins are toast.

Of course, the games aren’t played on paper. Cliche but true.

Detroit’s defense will be the other key. Ericsson plays on the Wings’ third defense pairing and could fight for a spot on the top pair of any of the teams the Penguins have eliminated thus far. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have torn it up against Kimmo Timonen and Mike Green and Tim Gleason but will that continue against Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski and Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall?

The Wings and Penguins split the regular season series this season, one game a defensive collapse by Detroit leading to a 7-6 Pittsburgh win, the other being a dominating defensive performance by the Red Wings in a 3-1 win.

That stresses to me the importance of defense in this series. If the Wings shut things down like they’ve done all but one game of these playoffs, they have the series. If it becomes a run-and-gun game then they lose their advantage and the Penguins have a chance.

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