Numbers Game 2010

Red Wings Central has published Detroit’s training camp roster, meaning I moved too slowly getting my annual sweater number predictions made. It turns out I was right on a couple of my unpublished guesses and wrong on some others.

Mike Modano, as widely-reported, will wear #90 rather than switching to #89 with his usual #9 unavailable.

Free agent signee Ruslan Salei will keep his usual #24, inheriting it from Brad May.

Jiri Hudler will be making no change upon his return from the KHL, picking up the #26 he left behind a year ago.

This will not be the year that Justin Abdelkader takes the #87 he reportedly asked for last year. He’s back with #8.

Like Derek Meech and Kyle Quincey before him, Jakub Kindl is changing his number for his full-time jump to the big club. The #5 he wore in Grand Rapids is – of course – in use with the Red Wings so he’s switching from #46 to #4. This was one of my predictions.

Griffin Tomas Tatar has a somewhat expected switch. With his star rising in the organization, his jersey number drops from #72 to #21. I had expected him to get the #27 he wore last season in Grand Rapids. That number went to Travis Ehrhardt, who previously wore #45.

Given his status as a high-risk, high-reward European free agent signing, I’d expected Ilari Filppula to get the cursed #21 of Igor Grigorenko and Ville Leino. He gets neither that nor the #81 he wore in Finland, instead taking his brother’s original #41.

Rookie Brendan Smith will make his first appearance at Detroit’s camp wearing the #2 formerly belonging to Jiri Fischer.

Making their second runs with the Red Wings, Joey MacDonald returns to his #31 while try-out Aaron Downey will wear #32 with his previous #20 and #44 now taken.

The following are the remaining number changes for Red Wings prospects:

Mitchell Callahan, from #73 to #65
Jan Mursak, from #39
Andrej Nestrasil, from #56 to #49
Brent Raedeke, from #62 to #47
Jamie Tardif, from #67 to #29
Gleason Fornier, from #54 to #67
Brian Lashoff, from #49 to #25
Sebastian Piche, from #58 to #54
Logan Pyett, from #60 to #22

Red Wings Sign Defenseman Salei

The Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of defenseman Ruslan Salei to a one-year contract on Monday.

Financial terms of the deal were not officially announced but the deal is reportedly worth $750,000.

Salei is coming off of an injury-shortened season with the Colorado Avalanche that saw him appear in only 14 games, though he did captain the Belorussian squad at the Vancouver Olympics.

The Red Wings had been in the market for a defenseman to play on the third pairing with Jonathan Ericsson. With Salei signed and Jakub Kindl moving up from the Grand Rapids Griffins, Derek Meech is expected to be moved.

Legace Injured as Wings Fall to Ducks

The Detroit Red Wings lost the game and their goaltender Friday afternoon in Anaheim, falling to the Mighty Ducks, 3-2, in a game that Manny Legace left after the first period.

Legace was shaken up near the end of the first period, appearing to injure his leg while kicking at a puck. On a strange play, he was forced to make two saves when officials did not blow play dead while the Red Wings had possession of the puck in the Anaheim zone before the Ducks carried it back in to Detroit’s end.

Legace was tended to by trainers after play was finally stopped and finished the period before Chris Osgood took over between the pipes at the start of the second. The extent of Legace’s injury was not announced.

Legace had allowed the games first goal before the injury. With 4:40 left in the first, Legace stopped a shot by Anaheim rookie Dustin Penner from the right circle. He kicked it out to his right but Andy McDonald snuck in to bang it back into the net.

Detroit evened things up in the second, with Henrik Zetterberg scoring a power play goal just 2:49 into the period. Pavel Datsyuk faked around a defender to gain the Anaheim zone and sent a pass to Zetterberg at the right side of the slot. Zetterberg skated in on goal and sent a backhand shot off netminder Ilja Bryzgalov’s shoulder and into the net.

The Ducks regained the lead with a power play goal of their own at 9:26 of the third period. Ruslan Salei fired a shot from the blue line that Osgood kicked out. McDonald picked up the rebound and couldn’t get a shot off. The puck came to Selanne at the edge of the crease and he popped it past Osgood.

The Red Wings couldn’t get their offense going to get the tying goal and Anaheim added a shorthanded empty-net goal by Johnathan Hedstrom with 16 seconds remaining.

Legace stopped nine of the 10 shots he faced while Osgood made 17 saves on 18 shots and Bryzgalov stopped 28 of 29 shots agains.

The Red Wings went one-for-five on the power play. The Mighty Ducks scored on one of their three chances with the man-advantage.

Detroit will continue their West Coast road trip on Saturday, facing the Sharks in San Jose.

Wings Overcome Ducks and Media Circus for Decisive Win

The media hype was tremendous. Sergei Fedorov returns to Detroit! Red Wings to face the team who shut them out in the playoffs! The Red Wings are used to media scrutiny, here in the heart of Hockeytown, and they put it all aside to play a solid game and beat the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, 7-2.

Manny Legace was solid in his fourth start in a row, and saved a potentially game-breaking goal early in the first period when Petr Sykora got in all alone on a breakaway. Legace’s save led right into Detroit’s first goal. The Red Wings got the puck back down the ice, but the Ducks tried to clear it out of their zone. Kris Draper stole it away from Niclas Havelid. He handed the puck off to Kirk Maltby, who centered the puck for Mark Mowers to chip into the net.

Pavel Datsyuk won a faceoff in the Anaheim zone late in the period, thus setting up Brett Hull to wind up and blast the puck right past Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Then the scoring floodgates opened.

Maltby and Jason Williams scored within 50 seconds of each other midway through the second period, both with hard wrist shots which sailed over Giguere’s glove hand. Four goals was enough for Giguere, who reluctantly left the net to be replaced by Martin Gerber.

Gerber didn’t fare any better than did his counterpart. Detroit kept pressing their advantage. “They just got better and better and faster and faster and we got slower and slower,” said Ducks coach Mike Babcock.

Detroit’s speed led to their fifth goal. Steve Thomas held the puck in at the blue line. He passed it to Hull on the left wing side, who passed it to Schneider on the right side of the crease. Schneider lured Gerber over, then made a fast pass to Datsyuk, who had a wide open net into which he shot the puck.

Fedorov finally got Anaheim onto the scoreboard with 4:40 left in the second. He carried into the zone, then took a hard shot which beat Legace high on the stick side. However, Datsyuk answered with hardly a minute gone by. He beat Fedorov in a faceoff, drew the puck back to Schneider, then deflected Schneider’s shot down to slide beneath Gerber’s glove.

Brendan Shanahan beat Ruslan Salei to what should have been an icing call against Detroit””Salei went right past the puck without touching it””and Shanahan slapped the puck past Gerber to cap off Detroit’s scoring 1:53 into the third period. Tony Martensson scored his first goal for Anaheim at 8:53, leaving the final score at 7 to 2.

The Red Wings outshot the Mighty Ducks by a count of 40 to 23. The Wings won 35 of the 60 faceoffs.

In the end, the game wasn’t about avenging Detroit’s loss to Anaheim in last year’s playoffs. Nor was it about Fedorov’s much-ballyhooed first game against his old teammates. In the end, this game was about the present, with veterans Hull and Maltby playing strongly, and the future, with young stars-to-be Datsyuk, Williams, and Mowers running up the score. Sure, it was satisfying to see Detroit repeatedly beat Giguere, their bane of last spring, and finally chase him from the net. On some slightly shame-faced level, it was even satisfying to hear the fans booing Fedorov every time he got near the puck. But in the end, it was simply two points well-earned, a fine display of offensive talent, and a tide of momentum to carry Detroit into St. Louis to face the Blues tomorrow night.

Home Ice No Benefit in Game One

The wacky 2002-2003 Game One home ice jinx has spread throughout the NHL. The Red Wings succumbed with a 2-1 loss in triple overtime to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, making the New Jersey Devils the only one of the teams with home ice advantage to win their playoff opener.

The Red Wings started out quite well. They got a power play chance early when Ruslan Salei was sent to the box for holding, and good passing allowed the Wings to capitalize. Igor Larionov sent the puck up to Tomas Holmstrom behind the net. Holmstrom sent it out across the goal crease, and Brendan Shanahan was able to wrist the puck in past goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

Anaheim was able to get on the scoreboard late in the first period. Kurt Sauer took a shot on net from the right boards. The shot was deflected by Mike Leclerc on its way through. Curtis Joseph was able to make the save, but the rebound slid out at an awkward angle and Adam Oates was able to get to it and flip it into the net.

The Ducks came on strong in the second and third periods. They had a golden opportunity to score late in the second: 29 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time with Mathieu Schneider and Darren McCarty both in the penalty box. Fortunately for Detroit, Steve Yzerman won the faceoff and sent the puck deep into the Ducks’ zone, killing off most of the 5-on-3. Joseph was amazing in net and was the key reason the game went to overtime.

The Red Wings completely dominated the first two overtime periods. Luc Robitaille thought he won the game with 10:39 left in the first overtime, but review showed that his shot deflected off the bottom of the crossbar and never crossed the goal line.

That was the way it went for Detroit in overtime. Shots were blocked. Shots were deflected up and out of play. Shots rebounded in just the right spots that no Red Wings could get to them easily. In the end, though, the game belonged to Giguere, who had a phenomenal game, stopping 63 of the 64 shots he faced and setting a new record for a goaltender in his playoff debut. In the end, Giguere kept the Ducks in the game, knowing that an overtime game is a one shot game.

That one vital shot came early in the third overtime period. The faceoff came to be deep in the Red Wings’ zone. Steve Rucchin won the faceoff back to Paul Kariya, who sent a hard wrist shot over the shoulder of Curtis Joseph. Joseph was accidentally screened by Sergei Fedorov, and couldn’t see the shot coming until it was too late.

The Red Wings will regroup and come back at it on Saturday afternoon to try to even up the series with their second home game.

Fluke Goal Helps Lift Wings Over Ducks

Sticks were high in Anaheim: three times, the Mighty Ducks got away with cutting Red Wing players with high sticks unseen by the referees, even though a high stick which draws blood is supposed to be an automatic double minor. But the Red Wings’ shot percentage was also high, and Manny Legace‘s save percentage was high, and the Red Wings will come home with a 4-2 victory over the Ducks.

Brendan Shanahan scored his first goal of the season in the first minute of the game. Jason Williams passed the puck across the rink and across the blue line, and Shanahan got in after it. With two Anaheim defenders closing in, he wristed the shot, and the puck soared over the arm of goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

Most of the second half of the first period was spent with the Red Wings in penalty-killing mode. Even though the Ducks had over a full minute of 5-on-3 advantage with Darren McCarty and Nick Lidstrom both in the box, Mathieu Dandenault, Chris Chelios, and Sergei Fedorov kept Anaheim from setting up an effective scoring chance, and Manny Legace stopped any shots which made it through.

Legace came up huge for his team early in the second period as well. Peter Sykora got through on a breakaway while the Ducks were shorthanded, but Legace gloved the high shot, leaving Sykora shaking his head in confusion.

Again, the second period was full of penalties. The Wings were able to capitalize on a hooking call to their former teammate Freddy Olausson with just over a minute left in the period. Luc Robitaille passed the puck from the blue line to Chelios on the left wing side, then Chelios dropped the puck back to Lidstrom. Lidstrom one-timed the shot, and Giguere had little chance to see it, screened as he was by Robitaille and one of his own defenders.

Thirty seconds later came a strange goal, a rare “gift” goal. Shanahan was going to be sent to the penalty box on a delayed call, and Giguere had left the net so the sixth skater could come in. Anaheim was applying pressure in the Detroit zone. Adam Oates turned with the puck near the side of the net to pass it back to a teammate at the blue line.

The teammate was not there. The puck slid down, down, all the way down the length of the rink and directly into the empty net. Shanahan, being the last Red Wing to touch the puck before Oates, was given credit for the goal before being sent away to the box. Paul Kariya put the Ducks on the board during the resulting power play when the puck bounced from a skate to his stick while he was waiting in front of the net.

The third period settled down for both teams. Ruslan Salei did bring Anaheim back within one goal by one-timing a shot up the center while his teammates screened Legace, but Henrik Zetterberg‘s first NHL goal ensured a Detroit victory. The goal came on the power play. Chris Chelios fired a hard shot from the right point. The rebound bounced back out on the left where Zetterberg waited. He one-timed the bouncing puck into the net before Giguere could slide back across.

The Ducks pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker with just under two minutes remaining, but the Red Wings kept control, and kept the shots away from Legace. Final shot totals were thirty-two to thirty in favor of Detroit.

The Red Wings play next in their home opener on Thursday night, when they will raise the Stanley Cup banner to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena before hosting the Montreal Canadiens in an Original Six matchup.