Red Wings Return Home with Win over Predators

The Detroit Red Wings came back home following a six-game road trip and promptly defeated the Nashville Predators, 5-2, on Saturday night.

Tomas Tatar scored twice for the Red Wings, including the goal that saw Nashville goalie Carter Hutton removed from the game.

Hutton, starting in place of the injured Pekka Rinne, lasted just 12:32 after allowing three goals on four shots.

Just 57 seconds into the game, Gustav Nyquist took a centering feed from Tatar on a two-on-one and flicked a shot past Hutton to open the game’s scoring.

With 8:38 left in the opening period, Kyle Quincey‘s shot off a Pavel Datsyuk faceoff win deflected off Nashville’s Mike Ribeiro before bouncing off the ice and past Hutton to make it 2-0.

Just 1:10 later, Tatar snapped a shot from the right faceoff dot through a screen by Riley Sheahan and past Hutton to end the Nashville netminder’s night.

Mattias Ekholm got the Predators on the board with 1:22 left in the period, whipping a shot from the high slot through traffic that deflected past Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek for a 3-1 score.

Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg made it 4-1 with a power play goal at 2:14 of the second period. Skating down below the goal line, Zetterberg threw the puck out front, off goalie Marek Mazanec‘s helmet, and into the net.

Tatar added his second of the night with 39 seconds left in the middle frame. Tatar drove to the net to take a pass from Riley Sheahan in the corner and knock it past Mazanec for a power play goal.

Nashville’s Mike Fisher closed out the game’s scoring just 49 seconds into the third period, collecting the rebound of a Roman Josi shot in front of the net and lifting a backhander over Mrazek on the power play.

The Red Wings finished the night perfect on two power play opportunities while the Predators scored once on three tries with the man-advantage.

Mrazek made 34 saves on 36 shots in the Detroit net. After Hutton went one-for-four, Mazanec stopped 18 of 20 for Nashville.

The Red Wings are right back at it on Sunday as they host the Buffalo Sabres.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Free Agency Preview 2013

With the 2013 NHL Entry Draft completed, focus around the hockey world turns to the league’s free agents.

We’ve hit Canada Day, the traditional start to NHL free agency, but it will be a quiet day this year as the new CBA has pushed free agency back to July 5 to avoid this week’s holidays in the United States and Canada.

With a couple days before unrestricted free agent signings begin, I figured I’d take a quick look at where the Red Wings sit right now.

With pending restricted free agent Jakub Kindl having been signed last Friday, Detroit currently has 21 players signed for next season and roughly $8.2 million remaining in space under the salary cap. The 21 players include forward Tomas Tatar, who spent most of last season with the Grand Rapids Griffins but is expected to join the Red Wings full-time next season (and has also requested a jersey switch from #21 to #90, reportedly). Not included are any of Detroit’s seven pending free agents.

External Targets
Now-former Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavalier is the only external target I’d really like to see the Red Wings bring in, even at the cost of internal options, and I don’t expect him to come cheap. He’s reportedly asking for $5 million per season for five years. The $5 million I think is entirely appropriate (much more so than Valtteri Filppula requesting that amount, which I’ll get to shortly) but the term worries me. I’d hate to see the Wings lose out on him because of term, though. The contract he was just bought out of carried a $7.727 million cap hit and carried through the 2020 season.

Nathan Horton (Boston) and Viktor Stalberg (Chicago) are other names that Detroit is being associated with, as well as Stephen Weiss (Florida). Horton has injury concerns and Stalberg is entirely unproven, I have no interest in them. Weiss has local ties, having played with the Plymouth Whalers, and I like him if the Wings are unable to land Lecavalier or retain Filppula, but he has to come at a good deal. He carried a cap hit of $3.1 million on his last deal with an actual salary of $4.1 million, I’d hate to see the Wings give him more than $4 million annually.

Mike Ribeiro (Washington) and Michael Ryder (Montreal) are also options but will likely want more money and/or term than Detroit is willing to offer.

Unrestricted Free Agents
The aforementioned Filppula is Detroit’s highest-priority unrestricted free agent. There were rumors that his rights might be moved during the draft, ending his tenure with the Red Wings. As that didn’t happen, it would appear that the two sides are still working on a deal to keep Filppula with the team that drafted him. He’s reportedly asking for five years at $5 million or more, which is an obscene amount for a player who’s scored twenty goals once (though he came close with 19 in his last contract year). He’s likely to get it in the open market as there’s a weak free agent pool this summer. I think he’s gone and I’d rather give his money to Lecavalier anyway.

Both the Red Wings and forward Daniel Cleary have said they’d like to work our a deal but I just don’t see a roster spot for him. At 34 he might be convinced to come back at a discount to the team that resurrected his career following the Great Hockey Stoppage of 2004-05 but even if he signs for $1 million annually, I don’t see a spot for him unless the Wings move players out before the start of the season. They may have to do that anyway (more on that below) so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cleary brought back on the (relative) cheap but I expect him to head elsewhere.

Damien Brunner is the big wild card of the UFA bunch. He says he wants to come back and Detroit wants him back but how do you value a player who has half an NHL season under his belt? I wouldn’t mind throwing him a three or four year deal for Filppula’s old cap hit of $3 million but, like Filppula, Brunner has a chance to get paid on the shallow open market. Brunner is the only Detroit UFA I’d be disappointed if they lost out on.

Ian White is Detroit’s last unrestricted free agent and it’s already known that the team won’t offer him a contract, nor should they. He should have been dealt at the trade deadline, as he only played a grand total of two games after that date anyway.

Restricted Free Agents
With Kindl signed, Brendan Smith is Detroit’s lone defensive RFA. He’s not going anywhere, the Red Wings will match offers for any of their RFAs this season. I don’t think Smith should get much more than Kindl’s $2.4 million cap hit but he’ll probably get somewhere between that and the $3.775 that Kyle Quincey makes. Smith hasn’t proven himself so the Wings would be paying for potential if they hit the high end of that range, which always happens with players coming off their entry-level deals.

Gustav Nyquist falls into that scenario. As a projected top-six forward, he’s got a lot of potential to get paid for. He hasn’t shown (because he hasn’t had the opportunity) that he can play on a top line consistently, though, so I wouldn’t be shocked if he got a deal under $2 million, in the Justin Abdelkader range.

Joakim Andersson is in much the same position as Nyquist but seemingly has less offensive upside. On a team loaded with bottom-six forwards, that doesn’t give him as much leverage. $1.3 million?

Buyouts / Trades
Even assuming the Wings retain only their restricted free agents and don’t bring in anyone new – thus losing Filppula, Cleary, Brunner and White with no replacements – the team will still have 24 players on its roster heading into training camp. Someone won’t be coming back.

Mikael Samuelsson is a frequent mention as a possible candidate for a compliance buyout, which would get his $3 million off the books. He’s got a no-trade clause so this is the only way the Wings could be rid of him, but he may not be eligible for a buyout as he spent much of the 2013 season injured and injured players can’t be bought out. If he’s injured all year next year that’s not a problem as he can go back on long-term injury reserve but it’s tough to count on him being hurt the whole time. Samuelsson is probably the fan consensus as the most likely buyout.

Todd Bertuzzi is another buyout candidate with a NTC and a $2.075 cap hit. I have to think the team would prefer to keep him but might buy him out if Samuelsson can’t be dumped.

Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo is almost assuredly gone, whether by buyout or trade. General manager Ken Holland was reportedly looking to move him during the draft but apparently didn’t find any buyers. The thought on Colaiacovo has been that he’d been a relatively cheap veteran guy for a team to pick up, so there would be trade interest. If no trade is found, he’ll probably be bought out, so we should know what happens to him by July 3 (the last day a player can be placed on waivers with enough time to clear before the July 4 buyout deadline).

Jordin Tootoo is like Colaiacovo in that the team seems open to trading him. They probably won’t buy him out, though, so if a deal comes along that works they’ll take it but if not they’re fine keeping him.

Cory Emmerton could be this year’s Mattias Ritola. The Wings likely won’t try to move him until they know whether or not they have to as the season gets closer. If they can’t move him, they’ll lose him for nothing on waivers in October.

Three-goal Third Period Lifts Red Wings Past Stars

The Detroit Red Wings scored three times in the third period Saturday night, breaking a 2-2 tie to earn a 5-3 win over the visiting Dallas Stars.

The win was Detroit’s fourth in a row after a six game losing streak. It gave them nine of a possible twelve points over their now-completed six game homestand.

Johan Franzen knocked home a loose puck in a goalmouth scramble at 3:47 of the third period to give the Red Wings a 3-2 lead.

Darren Helm tipped the puck past Dallas goalie Andrew Raycroft on a two-on-one with Jiri Hudler at 9:19 of the third to extend the lead, while a Brad Stuart shot from the right point off a faceoff win made it 5-2 just 1:13 later.

Dallas’ Loui Eriksson had opened the game’s scoring with a power play goal at 7:09 of the first period. Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard stopped Trevor Daley‘s shot from the point but Eriksson was in close to put home the rebound.

A Niklas Kronwall drive from the top of the left faceoff circle with 2:43 remaining in the opening period got Detroit on the board.

The Red Wings took their first lead of the game when Ian White put a shot from the right point through traffic to beat Raycroft at 3:08 of the second.

The Stars tied things back up with 7:49 left in the middle period. Brendan Morrow was left uncovered as Dallas gained the Detroit zone and was free to snap a shot from in close past Howard off a pass from behind the net by Mike Ribeiro.

Dallas’ first goal was the only power play goal of the night, scored on one of the Stars’ two tries with the extra attacker. Detroit was scoreless on four power play attempts, one of which was only fourteen seconds long.

Raycroft finished the night with 35 saves on 40 shots. Howard stopped 25 of 27 Dallas chances.

The Red Wings are back in action on Tuesday when they visit the St. Louis Blues.

Detroit defenseman Ian White left the game midway through the third period after blocking a shot with his face. He recieved stitches but was otherwise expected to be fine… Todd Bertuzzi remained out of the lineup with a sinus infection… Fabian Brunnstrom and Mike Commodore were the healthy scratches.

Final-ly: Red Wings Down Stars to Head to Stanley Cup Finals

In their third try, the Detroit Red Wings eliminated the Dallas Stars and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals Monday night with a 4-1 win.

After taking a 3-0 lead in the series, Detroit dropped the following two games, in which they could have finished off the Stars. In those games, the Red Wings were held to a total of two goals.

Lack of offense wouldn’t be their downfall this time, as Kris Draper got Detroit on the board just 3:45 into the game. Dallas Drake fired the puck on net from the left wing corner and it came high, bouncing off of Draper’s chin before dropping down and finding it’s way into the net as Draper whacked at it.

A Pavel Datsyuk power play goal put Detroit up by a pair with 8:19 left in the period. Nicklas Lidstrom‘s long shot was stopped by Turco but Nicklas Grossman couldn’t find the rebound in his skates at the edge of the crease. Datsyuk jumped up and lifted it over Turco.

Drake added a goal of his own with 3:43 left in the first, going to the top of the crease to bang the puck past Turco when Brett Lebda threw it on net from the right wing.

The Stars looked to get back into the game with a early second period power play but Henrik Zetterberg put an end to those thoughts, picking off a pass high in the Detroit zone and racing in all alone on Turco, faking him for a shorthanded goal at 3:11. It was his second shorthanded goal of the series.

Dallas finally got on the board when Stephane Robidas beat Chris Osgood on a Dallas power play at 2:27 of the third period, blasting a shot from the top of the left circle off a feed from down low by Mike Ribeiro.

Osgood stopped 28 of 29 shots against on the night, including 15 of 16 in the third period as the Stars attempted a comeback. Turco made 25 saves on 29 shots.

Each team scored once on the power play, with Detroit getting two chances with the extra attacker and Dallas having seven tries.

The Red Wings advance to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals, beginning Saturday night in Detroit.

The Red Wings were without Chris Chelios, who missed the game with a leg injury. Andreas Lilja played in his place.

Red Wings Take Game Two without Franzen

Missing the NHL’s leading playoff scorer, Johan Franzen, the Detroit Red Wings still claimed victory over the Dallas Stars in Game Two of their Western Conference Finals matchup Saturday night, holding on for a 2-1 win.

Franzen was a late scratch from the game. The team revealed he had been experiencing concussion-like symptoms since early in the second round. He will be re-evaluated on Monday and miss Game Three in Dallas.

With Franzen shelved, the Red Wings got scoring from an unexpected source, as fourth-line rookie Darren Helm got the game’s first goal.

Just 5:56 into the game, Jiri Hudler gained the Dallas zone and sent a pass off to the left wing for a trailing Helm. Helm rifled a shot over the glove of Stars goalie Marty Turco for his first career playoff goal.

Stephane Robidas tied things up on a Dallas power play at 10:41, blasting a one-timer off a cross-ice feed from Mike Ribeiro into the open side of Chris Osgood‘s net.

The Red Wings thought they had regained the lead minutes later but an apparent goal by Pavel Datsyuk was called back on a hand-pass.

With 4:47 left in the period they did take the lead back on a power play goal by Henrik Zetterberg. Zetterberg got the puck from Datsyuk up high and powered a shot past Turco.

The remainder of the game would be played without scoring but was not uneventful.

The teams traded power plays throughout the second period, with each team having short five-on-threes. Defense held strong throughout the rest of the game as the Red Wings preserved their lead and the Stars kept Detroit from pulling further ahead.

In the game’s closing seconds, Osgood stuck out his stick as Ribeiro skated around the net, catching the forward up high. After the clock ran out, Ribeiro swung his stick from the back of the net and caught Osgood high on his chest, earning him a match penalty.

Osgood finished the night with 17 saves on 18 shots. Turco stopped 32 of the 33 shots he faced.

Each team went one-for-four on the power play.

The series shifts to Dallas on Monday with the Red Wings carrying a two games to none lead.

The Stars were without forward Stu Barnes and defenseman Philippe Boucher to start the game and lost forward Jere Lehtinen to a leg injury in the first period.

Stars Bounce Back for Shootout Win over Red Wings

The Dallas Stars scored three times in final ten minutes of regulation on Friday night, rebounding from a 3-0 deficit to the Detroit Red Wings before scoring the lone shootout goal to earn a 4-3 win.

Sergei Zubov roofed a shot over Detroit goalie Dominik Hasek in the second round of the shootout for the eventual game-winner.

The Stars were held scoreless until only 8:59 remained in the third, when a backhander from the slot by Brendan Morrow just trickled under Hasek and into the net for a power play goal.

With 3:29 remaining in regulation, Mike Ribeiro pulled Dallas to within one. A shot from the point by Nolan Baumgartner was pushed to the other side of the crease by Loui Eriksson and Ribeiro banged it home.

Just 47 seconds later, Philippe Boucher scored to even things up.

The Red Wings had controlled the play in the first two periods as they tallied three goals.

Todd Bertuzzi scored his first goal as a Red Wing at 7:04 of the opening period. Bertuzzi threw an attempted pass through the slot but it bounced off the stick of a Dallas defender and over netminder Mike Smith.

Kirk Maltby extended Detroit’s lead to two just 1:08 into the second, firing a shot from the bottom of the right circle that snuck past several defenders and through Smith’s pads.

Kris Draper finished Detroit’s scoring with 5:28 left in the period, taking a long lead pass from Mathieu Schneider and scoring on the breakaway.

After allowing Dallas’ three third-period goals, the Red Wings turned it up in overtime but were unable to score, despite outshooting the Stars 8-0.

Each team had five power play opportunities. Morrow’s goal was the lone tally with the man-advantage.

Both Hasek and Smith faced 34 shots, stopping 31.

The point for the shootout loss lifts Detroit to the top of the Central Division and Western Conference standings, breaking a tie with the Nashville Predators, who face Dallas on Saturday.

The Red Wings’ next game will be on Sunday when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first game of a home-and-home series.

The Red Wings were without defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who suffered a hip injury on a hit by Joel Lundqvist on the first shift of the game.

Late Goals Lift Red Wings over Stars

Three goals on their final three shots helped lift the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars Wednesday night.

Dallas rookie netminder Mike Smith stopped the first 29 shots he faced on the night but it wasn’t enough to earn the win.

It took an incredible pass from Henrik Zetterberg to Pavel Datsyuk just to get Detroit on the board. With 8:46 remaining in the third, Zetterberg carried the puck behind the net and delayed until Smith moved from post to post before backhanding a pass between his legs out front to Datsyuk, who banged the puck into the open side of the net.

With 4:36 remaining, Zetterberg would get a goal of his own to put the Wings out front, drifting with the puck from the right circle into the slot and whipping a shot past Smith with Tomas Homlmstrom providing a screen.

Mathieu Schneider would add an empty net goal.

Making his first start since January 26, Detroit goalie Chris Osgood stopped 17 of 18 Dallas shots, with Mike Ribeiro picking up the lone goal against at 6:34 of the second.

With the Stars on a power play, Osgood came out of the net to cut down the angle on a Stephane Robidas shot. Jussi Jokinen defelcted the puck over to Ribeiro who had an open net to put the puck into.

The goal was the game’s only power play goal. Dallas had three tries with the extra attacker while Detroit had one.

Following Nashville’s 5-0 win over the San Jose Sharks, the win leaves the Red Wings one point behind the Predators in the standings. Detroit’s next chance to gain ground will be Saturday night in Phoenix, with Dominik Hasek expected to return to the lineup.

Habs Hold Off Late Surge To Win 2-1 Over Wings

The Red Wings did their best to overcome a slow start on Monday night, but the Montreal Canadiens held on to keep the 2-1 lead.

Dominik Hasek had plenty of work to keep him busy in the first period. The Canadiens started the game with plenty of offensive fire, and the Red Wings struggled to keep up. Hasek, on the other hand, was superb, keeping his team in the game until they could find their skating legs and take a little bit of control back from Montreal.

The opening twenty minutes was fast paced for both teams, but no one got on the scoreboard until the second period. Detroit made an error on a line change, which let Jason Ward and Steve Begin get into the zone all alone against Hasek. Jason Williams did his best to catch up and try to get in between the two skaters, but Ward got the pass through to Begin, and Begin slid the puck past Hasek’s left side.

Another defensive error by the Red Wings allowed the Canadiens to increase their lead to two. Stephane Quintal poke checked the puck away from Brendan Shanahan at the Montreal blue line. The Red Wings had four players on the offensive rush, so only Jason Woolley was back to play defense. Mike Ribeiro and Richard Zednik brought the puck into Detroit’s zone. Woolley tried to take the pass away so that Hasek would only have to worry about stopping Ribeiro, but the puck jumped over Woolley’s stick and Zednik was able to knock it into the net.

Things seemed to go from bad to worse for the Red Wings when Chris Chelios was given a roughing penalty just one minute after Zednik scored. Detroit managed to shift the momentum in their favor, however, with a shorthanded goal. Jiri Fischer intercepted the puck in his own zone. He carried it up ice with Henrik Zetterberg on his right and Mathieu Dandenault trailing. Two Canadiens were in front of them. Fischer passed to Zetterberg as they entered the Montreal zone. Zetterberg carried into the right corner, then centered the puck for Dandenault. Goalie Mathieu Garon was screened by his own defender and couldn’t see Dandenault’s shot until the puck was in the net.

The shorthanded goal turned the game’s momentum in favor of the Red Wings. Detroit controlled the play through the end of the second and into the third period, but Garon had a strong night. The young netminder stopped a number of quality scoring chances, including a pair of shots by Brett Hull and a hard point shot by Shanahan.

The Red Wings pulled Hasek from the net in the final minute to send in their extra attacker, but the Canadiens were able to clear the puck and keep the Wings from scoring.
The final count of shots on net was 19 to 15 in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings’ next game will be at home Wednesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Curtis Joseph will play a conditioning game with the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday night so that the Wings can get a better idea of how his surgically repaired ankle is rehabilitating. If all goes well, Joseph should make his season debut with the Red Wings within the next week or so.

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