Great Calls in (Recent) Red Wings History

Jamie Samuelsen has a piece in the Freep today about the lack of great sports calls in Detroit history, relative to the great announcers.

Nowadays, and Samuelsen touches on this, the availability of video highlights kind of negates the effect of the related call. As he puts it, “We still listen to the games, but when the big moments come up, we make sure that we’re sitting at the game or sitting in front of the TV.”

Nothing against Ken Kal and Paul Woods but when I think of the Red Wings announcers, I think of Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond. That’s just how it is. I watch the games on TV, I don’t listen on the radio unless I have to.

That said, just because the TV guys have the benefit of video to accompany them doesn’t mean their words are any less powerful. There are still plays that I saw on TV, I know the video of, but just the sound is enough to bring back memories.

As a counter to Samuelsen suggesting that Detroit sports doesn’t have any great calls, I’m posting my top three for the Wings. Unfortunately, none of them come from Detroit’s own broadcasters, all coming from ESPN/ABC’s Gary Thorne. In no particular order…

“Here’s Holmstrom. Dropped it, Larionov in, Larionov for the game-winner, Larionov shot, score! Igor Larionov! The Detroit Red Wings, three; the Hurricanes, two.

Larionov’s triple-overtime game-winner to put the Red Wings up 2-1 on the Hurricanes in the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals. The way it all runs together, puncuated by Larionov’s name and the final score… Just fun to listen to.

“And a great save… The goal counts! The goal counts! The goal counts!

The “Statue of Liberty” goal by Brendan Shanahan in Game Six of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. This call sums up the confusion of the time. Patrick Roy had just made a tremendous save (two, in fact), and suddenly, somehow, the puck was in the back of the net.

“Gretzky had it, lost it, Yzerman picks it up. Yzerman moving, blueline chance, SCORE! STEVE YZERMAN! DETROIT WINS!”

Okay, I’ve said time and time again that this is my all-time favorite goal. Of course it’s on this list. I actually think Thorne’s call is better than the radio version from Kal. The eruption is just so sudden, it fits with the crowd and the scene on the ice. And Bill Clement’s later addition of “That is everything Steve Yzerman had in the bag” is about as good of a description as you can get.

Red Wings – Predators Postgame Notes

Compare Wednesday’s game against Vancouver and tonight’s matchup vs. Nashville and it’d be tough to believe they featured the same Red Wings team.

Jimmy Howard looked sharp, the forecheck was strong and the defense was sound positionally for most of the night against the Predators.

Negatives? Three of the four goals (not counting the ENG) were on amazing individual efforts rather than great team play and the fourth included a lucky bounce. Of course, as Mickey Redmond is fond of saying, “They don’t ask ‘How?’ just ‘How many?'”

The Nashville goals came on mental lapses and on most nights the Wings can’t afford that. Tonight they could but it’s something to be concerned about.

The two points are huge no matter what led to them. Detroit now sits three points back of Nashville with two games to play between the teams. No matter what else happens tonight, the Red Wings won’t drop out of eighth spot in the Western Conference. That’s a successful night.

Red Wings Lose Game, Lose Williams

I’m not recapping tonight’s game. Not that any of you are surprised by that, I’m sure.

The only shot the Wings scored on was a damned-near perfect play. A great pass from Brian Rafalski and an incredible shot by Dan Cleary is what it took to get Detroit on the board.

The funny thing is I didn’t think Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson looked particularly fantastic in stopping 35 shots. Looking at the scoresheet, I’m amazed that the Wings even got that many chances through to him.

Apparently the Maple Leafs blocked 18 shots to Detroit’s 17 but it felt like Toronto was getting in front of many more of the Wings’ chances.

Early in the third period there was a moment that I felt summed up the game. The Leafs had been knocking down Detroit shots all night but now there was some open ice with the Wings on a five-on-three. A Wings defender – Brian Rafalski, I think – fires a shot from up high… Only for it to find a Maple Leaf and get knocked aside.

Toronto only had three skaters out there and still the Wings managed to hit one of them with a shot.

And I’m not a doctor but I know a fractured fibula isn’t good. This isn’t a “put some ice on it” kind of injury. Jason Williams is going to miss some time, and considering the combination he could be with Valtteri Filppula and Johan Franzen it means the Wings are now missing their entire second line.

Mickey Redmond said partway through tonight’s game that the third and fourth lines had played well. Those lines are effectively the second and third lines now.

As a sign of what that means, go take a look at the third-period power plays. Detroit’s second unit included Justin Abdelkader.

I like Abdelkader. I think he’s got a future in the league and I think he deserves to be here now. I also think he’d be better suited to be with the Griffins for one more season, as Ken Holland wanted to do before Franzen got hurt. With all of these injuries, he’s gone from Grand Rapids to centering the Wings’ second power play unit. That is some serious loss of talent Detroit is dealing with.

I’ll also throw out there that this is one of those five-goal-against games where you shouldn’t blame the goalie. We’re all Wings fans so it’ll fall on deaf ears but I’ll put it out there anyway.

Interesting note: The Wings have now lost five “event” games in a row and six of the last seven. In reverse order, they’ve lost the Hall of Fame Game, the two NHL Premiere games, and Games Six and Seven of last year’s Finals. They won the Winter Classic but lost last year’s home opener, where they raised the 2008 Stanley Cup banner.

Red Wings’ Filppula Out Against Blue Jackets

An early batch of pregame notes for today’s Red Wings – Blue Jackets tilt before I hit the road…

Head coach Mike Babcock has ruled out forward Valtteri Filppula, who left Saturday’s game with back spasms. Derek Meech will shift to forward once again to take his place in the lineup.

Babcock has not announced which goalie he’ll go with today. During yesterday’s FSN Detroit broadcast Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond were pretty certain Chris Osgood would get the nod for a second game in as many days.

Columbus will be starting Calder Trophy candidate Steve Mason, back from missing one game with the flu.

Parity by Officiating

If I was a Tampa Bay Lightning fan I’d be pretty upset this morning. I’m a Red Wings fan and I’m still not happy with the officiating last night.

I thought the five-on-three that started Pittsburgh’s comeback on Tuesday was a joke and the one that put the Red Wings in front last night in Tampa was just as bad, if not worse.

The Paul Ranger penalty to start things I can almost understand ’cause it looked worse than it was but I still call it weak. The Adam Hall penalty I have no complaints about. Chris Gratton’s penalty to make it three calls in 18 seconds? I still don’t even know what it was.

Two of three calls probably undeserved. Detroit scores twice on the ensuing power play to go from being down 2-1 to up 3-2.

With Detroit up 4-3 in the game’s final seconds, Marian Hossa skates in on an empty net. He’s hooked, poked, and otherwise assaulted and does not score. No call.

Almost a quarter of the season is down and it’s becoming abundantly clear that in the eyes of the officials the team with the lead can do nothing right while the team looking to pull even can do little wrong.

Players and coaches who can be fined for complaning about the refs and announcers who are supposed to be impartial are making little effort to hide their opinions on the matter. Chris Osgood, Andreas Lilja, Mike Babcock, Philadelphia’s Mike Richards, Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond have all spoke about how the officiating is seemingly being used to keep games close.

The cynical part of me thinks the NHL could never keep a conspiracy like this under wraps so this can’t be possible. That said, that there is so much discussion of it might mean that it hasn’t been kept as secret as it should be.

I don’t know what to think of what’s going on with the guys in the striped shirts. I don’t know if it’s a league mandate or circut-wide bad reffing. I just know I don’t like it.

Red Wings at Blackhawks Game Thoughts

Some final thoughts on the Red Wings – Blackhawks matchup on Sunday night…

The Wings didn’t seem to get really moving until midway through the third period. Once they got going, they were really in control, but their best chances didn’t come until later in the game and were too little, too late.

Brian Rafalski had possibly his worst game as a Red Wing. My notes don’t have any specific instances but I remember several of his passes going off-target or being intercepted. That said, his role is to be a puck-moving defenseman, those kind of things are going to happen.

Chicago’s forecheck was better than Detroit’s.

The Red Wings took some awful hooking calls. I don’t mean ones that Mickey Redmond likes to complain about (though those were there for both teams), I mean unnecessary ones.

Nikolai Khabibulin outplayed Chris Osgood. Osgood had a decent game but Khabibulin made more big stops.

At least Henrik Zetterberg‘s scoring streak continued. That’s been fun to watch and it’s good to see a Red Wing in the lead of the scoring race.

Bounces Not Enough

I’ve been complaining through the last few games that the Wings just haven’t been getting enough bounces to go their way. I was pretty shocked at how little luck they’d had.

Tonight, they got some of those bounces I’d been complaining about but it still wasn’t enough, Anaheim got a few of their own and that was all they needed.

The good news is that Detroit played a complete game tonight. For the first time in three games, the loss wasn’t for lack of trying.

That doesn’t change the final score, but it might say something about things to come. Mickey Redmond talks about how teams in the final games of a winning streak will win games they “should” lose, with the reverse also true.

Tonight’s game looked a bit like that to me. Maybe not a game the Red Wings “should” have won but definitely one they could have.

It Was Everyone, or Was It No One?

I didn’t post a news update or a message here in my blog after Detroit’s 6-2 loss in Nashville a couple days ago. I believe that’s the first time this season that, aside from the score, DetroitHockey.Net went without mention of the outcome of the game.

I wasn’t trying to ignore it, though – as I mentioned in the forums – I did turn the game off in the second period. I just felt that I needed time to reflect before putting my thoughts together on such a horrible performance.

Two days later, I find myself thinking that the performance wasn’t as horrible as it seemed.

Right before I turned the game off, Mickey Redmond said something along the lines of “If there was ever a game where the goalie gave up six goals and didn’t have a bad night, it was tonight.” I think – to a certain extent – that applies to the whole team.

Thinking back, there weren’t really too many bad plays or stupid decisions made by the Red Wings, it was just that Nashville capitalized on every single chance they got.

I’d love to complain about the officiating (the name of this blog is “Misconduct” after all) but the refs don’t score six goals on a team.

Mike Babcock called it a “team effort” (I belive those were his words). An off-night, others might say.

While it comes at a bad time, during a losing streak that needs snapping, it’s not indicitive of Detroit’s play as of late.

As long as they bounce back, the game is an outlier and can be forgotten.

Frustration Boils Against Canucks

Dan Cloutier has cause to thank his goalposts – five times over.

That’s how many times the Red Wings had Vancouver’s goalie beaten but rang shots off the posts or crossbar, and that would have given them more than enough goals for a win. Instead, thanks to Cloutier’s luck and a strong game by Vancouver, the Canucks took a 4-1 win.

The Red Wings looked very strong to start the first period. Tomas Holmstrom scored early to take a 1-0 lead. Nicklas Lidstrom sent the lead pass up across the blue line, and Holmstrom fired straight on net. The shot got past Cloutier on his short side.

The Red Wings got a power play shortly thereafter when Marek Malik was sent out for obstruction tripping, and the Canucks basically stood there and watched them pass the puck around. Cloutier had to come up with some good saves to keep the puck out.

The skillful power play was basically the last thing to go well for Detroit. Trent Klatt got the Canucks even with 6:39 left in the period. He brought the puck out from behind the net, with a teammate rushing to join him on the other side for a sort of reverse 2-on-1. Maxim Kuznetsov took away the passing play, but Klatt was in close to the net, and his shot deflected off the stick of Curtis Joseph and in for the goal.

The goal seemed to energize the Canucks, and they took the lead before the period was over. Joseph had stopped the first shot by Markus Naslund, but he was down and the rebound slipped away from him. Bryan Allen was able to sneak in from the left point to the low slot and put the puck high into the net.

Joseph did a fine job in the second period to keep the Red Wings within one. He shone in stopping a breakaway by Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi. Luc Robitaille, back in the lineup after having been a healthy scratch against Colorado, had multiple scoring chances, but the shots would go just wide or bounce off the posts, contributing to the growing frustration of the team.

Chris Chelios and Bertuzzi continued their feud from last year’s playoffs, and their teammates joined them in the fray. Chelios wound up with a double minor for roughing and high-sticking (one was served by Sean Avery), and Kirk Maltby, Naslund, and Bertuzzi each had two minutes for roughing, resulting in a Vancouver power play with just over seven remaining in the second. Sami Salo was able to score by one-timing a pass from Mattias Ohlund. The shot appeared to brush Joseph’s elbow on its way into the net.

A horrible defensive breakdown midway through the third led to the Canucks’ fourth goal. Malik carried the puck right past two Detroit players with Matt Cooke keeping up on his right side, and the last man back, Mathieu Dandenault, lost a skate edge and fell. Malik looked as if he would shoot, but passed across to Cooke, which fooled Joseph and allowed Cooke to put the puck in for the goal.

The Red Wings made an attempt to come back. Holmstrom was hooked down on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot late in the game. He deked well enough to fool Cloutier, but- story of the game- the puck hit the goalpost.

The final count of shots on net was 34-31 in favor of Vancouver. The Red Wings will head out west for a few games after tonight. Their next matchup will be with the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.

Boyd Devereaux was a healthy scratch to make room for Luc Robitaille in the lineup…. This was Nicklas Lidstrom’s 900th career game…. The Red Wings’ television color commentator, Mickey Redmond, was back in the broadcast booth after undergoing a successful lung operation to remove a malignant tumor. According to doctors, the cancer was completely removed.

Sharper Against the Sabres

Dominik Hasek‘s former teammates were unable to defeat his new teammates, “Lucky Luc’s” luck seems to be returning, and Nicklas Lidstrom became the Red Wings’ top scoring defenseman of all time, as the Wings gained a 4-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

Compared to recent games, this game had an amazing amount of flow to it. There were no stoppages in play until a full 3:26 into the first period, when icing was called against Buffalo. Slava Kozlov, given to the Sabres this summer in exchange for Hasek, nearly got the puck past the Red Wings’ goaltender, but Hasek was able to block the shot.

Seven minutes, thirty-six seconds into the game, Detroit’s Maxim Kuznetsov was penalized for interference, but the situation went to a 4-on-4 just over a minute later, when Buffalo’s Jason Woolley was handed a penalty for holding the stick. Detroit wound up with 29 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play, because Rhett Warrener got called for tripping, but the power play unit was unable to score.

Kris Draper opened the scoring with 7:17 left in the period. He came off the bench, flew down the ice with all his typical speed, received a bouncing pass from Igor Larionov, and flipped it past goaltender Roman Turek.

The remainder of the period was relatively quiet. Calgary’s Rob Niedermayer received an interference penalty with 5:49 remaining, and Maxim Kuznetsov was called for high sticking with 3:05 remaining, but neither power play unit was able to score.

Detroit’s power play had another chance with 6:33 remaining in the first, when Warrener was penalized for holding rookie Pavel Datsyuk, but the power play was cut short when Brendan Shanahan was given a tripping penalty. Buffalo was not able to score on their resulting power play, but captain Stu Barnes did score exactly two seconds later, after a very patient play and pass from Miroslav Satan.

Many of the shots Detroit fired were blocked by Buffalo’s defense before they even got to goalie Martin Biron, who played backup to Hasek last year. Not that Biron was incapable of stopping shots- far from it! Kris Draper made a beautiful pass to Sergei Fedorov, who left the puck for Shanahan. Shanahan fired the puck hard, but Biron kept it out of the net.

Two minutes, fifty-seven seconds into the second period, Luc Robitaille passed the puck to Nicklas Lidstrom, received the puck back again, and let it fly past Biron, scoring his first goal as a Red Wing. Tomas Holmstrom also received an assist on that goal. Buffalo answered back just over a minute later, with Satan picking up a rebound to slide the puck past Hasek.

Holmstrom was penalized for cross-checking with 11:22 left in the period, but Detroit’s penalty-killing unit was more than adequate for the job: they kept the puck in Buffalo’s zone for over half of the penalty.

With 4:52 to go in the period, Fedorov carried the puck behind the net, eluding a hit by a Buffalo defenseman. He passed the puck to Shanahan, and this time, Biron was not able to stop the shot.

Frederick Olausson scored his first goal as a Red Wing and gave Detroit the lead with only 2:26 left before intermission, in a 4-on-4 situation resulting from penalties to Darren McCarty and Alexei Zhitnik. Detroit had 1:05 of a power play remaining after the 4-on-4 ended, but was unable to score, despite good chances by Brett Hull.

The third period was quiet until near its end. Buffalo attempted to bring Biron back to the bench to have the sixth skater out, but miscalculated and received a penalty for having too many men on the ice. They pulled Biron anyway, with 30 seconds left to go, but Lidstrom got the puck to Shanahan, and Shanahan was able to send it into the empty net with only 5 seconds before the end of the game. This gave Lidstrom a total of 571 career points, sending him past Reed Larson’s record as the Red Wings’ all-time top scoring defenseman.

The Red Wings looked more organized on both offense and defense than they had in their previous games. There can always be improvements, but things look like they’re starting to come together. Former Red Wing Doug Brown, joining UPN 50 regulars Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond in the broadcast booth, put it more succinctly: “That whole line’s gonna score 13,000 goals.”

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