Second Period Sinks Red Wings in 4-2 Loss to Coyotes

The Red Wings scored first on Thursday night in Glendale but a three-goal second period propelled the Phoenix Coyotes to a 4-2 win over Detroit.

Valtteri Filppula opened the game’s scoring just 1:56 into the first period on a power play. Gustav Nyquist‘s chance from the slot was knocked down and Nyquist caught up with the puck for another try. Phoenix netminder Chad Johnson knocked it aside but Filppula got to the rebound in the left faceoff circle and backhanded a shot into the open side of the net.

Michael Stone knotted things up at 1:47 of the middle period with a blast from the top of the left faceoff circle through Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.

Former Red Wing Chris Conner put the Coyotes out in front at 8:08. Mikkel Boedker carried the puck into the Detroit zone and as soon as Detroit defender Brendan Smith shifted to pressure him, he passed the puck off to Conner all alone in the left circle to snap a shot between Howard’s legs.

With 3:59 remaining in the period, Shane Doan made it 3-1. Doan and Martin Hanzal were left all alone at the Detroit blue line during a Red Wings’ line change and Keith Yandle hit Hanzal with an outlet pass. Hanzal passed it around a diving defender to leave Doan all alone in front of Howard for a wrister into the back of the net.

The Red Wings made it close with 1:13 remaining when Henrik Zetterberg threw the puck on net and it deflected off Daniel Cleary to get past Johnson for a power play goal with Howard on the bench for yet another attacker.

Hanzal would add an empty-net goal to round out the scoring in the game’s final second.

Detroit finished the night with two power play goals on six tries with the man-advantage. Phoenix was scoreless on four attempts.

Howard stopped 34 of 37 shots he faced while Johnson made 34 saves on 36 shots.

The Red Wings are right back in it on Friday night in Colorado.


Brian Lashoff, called back up from the Grand Rapids Griffins with the NHL’s roster limits no longer in place, swapped into the lineup for Ian White… Henrik Zetterberg returned from a groin injury to replace the injured Damien Brunner (hip flexor) in the lineup.

How Signing a Forward Could Have Helped the Wings’ Defense

With the news today that forward Alexander Semin had signed with the Carolina Hurricanes and the report that the Red Wings are out of the running for Shane Doan, much has been made of Detroit general manager Ken Holland‘s summer inactivity.

I’m on record as saying that I don’t think you can call a summer in which you sign Mikael Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo and Jonas Gustavsson and have $11 million in cap space remaining a successful summer.  Reasonable, perhaps, as it appears the available players just didn’t want to come to Detroit.  Not successful.

There is an argument that going after Semin or Doan is counterproductive because the Wings’ holes are on defense, not forward.  As of right now, the team has six defensemen on the roster and 15 fowards, before signing restricted free agent Justin Abdelkader.

Let’s take a look at a possible set of forward lines…

Gustav NyquistPavel DatsyukJohan Franzen
Valtteri FilppulaHenrik ZetterbergDamien Brunner
Danny ClearyDarren Helm – Mikael Samuelsson
Drew Miller – Justin Abdelkader – Todd Bertuzzi
Jan MursakCory Emmerton – Jordin Tootoo
Patrick Eaves

More important than actual lines here is where each player fits in the depth chart.  That’s why I’m throwing a healthy dose of optimism in there, with both Nyquist and Brunner panning out and fitting into the top six.

Send Brunner to Grand Rapids and slide Samuelsson up if you want, either way I think this shows that the Red Wings have about six forwards that you can actually define as “top six” and not just “players who happen to play on the top two lines.”

Signing Semin or Doan would give Detroit one more of those.  Why is that a good thing?

There are no more top defensemen on the free agent market.  Detroit already has enough bottom-pair defensemen, adding one more of them doesn’t help.  As Holland has already suggested, if the Wings want actual help on their blue line they’ll need to trade for it.

Dealing forward depth for defensive help seems like a perfect fit for this team.  The problem is that you’re not going to see a deal of Emmerton and Miller and Mursak for a Keith Yandle.  No one is going to deal a top defensemen for a bunch of third- and fourth-liners, even a whole line of them.

To make a deal for a top-four defenseman, you’ll have to include a top-six forward.  Do that with this lineup and suddenly you’re pretending that Todd Bertuzzi belongs next to Pavel Datsyuk again, and I say that as someone who likes Bertuzzi.

Signing a top-six forward gives the Wings the option of including Johan Franzen or Valtteri Filppula in a deal for their new defenseman.  It gives them flexibility that they don’t have right now.

The Wings’ forward depth in its current form does not help them in bringing in a defenseman.  All it does is push Brunner and Nyquist to Grand Rapids because they can be sent there without losing them, and then you have both Bertuzzi and Samuelsson in the top six and still no addition on defense.

Maybe the new CBA will make certain players available but as of right now, with no top-six forwards available to sign and the free agent market dried up, I don’t think the Wings have what teams will want for a top-four defenseman.

Free Agency 2012: Day 4

So far since the NHL’s free agency season opened, we’ve had a day where the Wings brought players in, a day where players left Detroit, and a day when the team was quiet.  Today we had the day the team was left out.

Things started with defenseman Ryan Suter and forward Zach Parise – both Red Wings’ free agent targets – choosing to sign with the Minnesota Wild around noon.  About ten hours later, Detroit’s supposed Plan B – defensman Matt Carle – signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

I’m not going to fault any of the players for signing where they did or taking the time they needed to sign.  You become one of the top hockey players in the world and hit free agency, you get to decide things like that.

I’m not happy with the Wings’ organization, however.

I said on Twitter that I didn’t like comments that GM Ken Holland made after the Suter/Parise signings were announced.

“At the end of the day, we feel good about our offers. It was in the ball park of what they signed for.”

To me, that sounds like Holland is fine being close but not finishing on top, which sounds a lot like when Mike Babcock talks about winning forty minutes of a game after a loss.

It’s easy to look at the deals that Parise and Suter signed and say Minnesota overpaid.  It’s also easy to extend that and say we wouldn’t have liked Holland making those deals.  I don’t think it’s true, though.  I think Wings fans would have been thrilled to have the pair for that price and we’re only shaking our heads at the amount or the term because it’s another team that spent it.

“There’s also got to be an opportunity for some of our kids and the guys we’ve just signed to play. It’s not a high profile, big-star team that we’ve had in the past. We made our pitch the last three days and it didn’t fall in our favor.”

Quite honestly, that quote pisses me off.  After all the “we’re going to be very agressive” we heard from Holland, now we’re getting “We don’t need free agents, we’ll let the kids play.”

That means that we’ve got something like a top pair of Niklas Kronwall and Kyle Quincey with Ian White and Brendan Smith next and Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl on the third pair.  Quite honestly, I’m not okay with that.  Maybe I’m spoiled but I expect better from this team.

And something tells me that if the Wings roll into the 2012-13 season with a $60 million payroll instead of the expected $70 million, season ticket holders won’t be getting 1/7th of what they paid back.

The summer isn’t over and the Wings aren’t done.  I’m not going to write them off.  The buzz now is that they’re looking to make a trade and/or sign Shane Doan, who won’t make a decision about his future until July 8th.

Things could still happen for Detroit, I’m just not happy with how the organization has handled it thus far.

On Free Agent Splashes

With about fourteen hours before NHL free agency opens up, Hockeytown anxiously awaits what Red Wings’ general manager Ken Holland will do to address the holes in the team’s lineup.

Holland has gone on the record saying that he’s looking for a defenseman to help offset the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart, possibly a top-six forward (especially if Jiri Hudler bolts) and possibly a goaltender (either to back up Jimmy Howard in Detroit or to take Joey MacDonald‘s spot in Grand Rapids, with MacDonald as Howard’s backup).

There is an expectation that the Red Wings will make a “splash” given those holes to fill and approximately $20 million of cap space to use.  The primary targets are expected to be Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter and New Jersey forward Zach Parise.

Here’s what terrifies me:  Considering who Detroit has already lost this summer, would signing Suter even be a splash?

That move seems more like signing Brian Rafalski when Mathieu Schneider left the team, or Curtis Joseph to replace Dominik Hasek when he retired the first time.

As much as we talk about the Red Wings being big spenders, aside from Marian Hossa in 2009, those are the kind of moves they’ve made since the last lockout.  Their big signings are still somewhat lateral overall.

To make a splash, the Wings can do no less than sign both Suter and Parise.  I’d love to see it but I’m less and less convinced that it’s possible,

I’ve decided to lower my expectations.  There’s no replacing Lidstrom and it’s hard to replace Stuart, but it’s impossible to do that by promoting from within given the Red Wings’ current blueline.  That means that Suter is a must.

Parise?  I hope so but it’s not enough without Suter.  I’d rather Suter and Alex Semin or Shane Doan than Parise without Suter.

Of course, 24 hours from now I might be saying something else entirely.  We’ll see what Holland does for us.

Bertuzzi Scores in Shootout to Carry Red Wings Past Coyotes

Todd Bertuzzi scored the only goal of the shootout Thursday night, lifting the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes.

The victory put the Red Wings back into first place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of both the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Bertuzzi’s shootout goal came on the backhand on a spin-o-rama move at the edge of the crease.

Phoenix netminder Mike Smith stopped Pavel Datsyuk and Jiri Hudler on Detroit’s first two stops. Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard stopped Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata while Gilbert Brule lost the puck on his chance.

Bertuzzi had given the Red Wings their only lead of the game with 8:47 left in the second period. Johan Franzen sent the puck from behind the net to Bertuzzi at the bottom of the left circle, where he fired a rocket of a shot past Phoenix netminder Mike Smith to put Detroit up 2-1.

Brule tied things back up just 2:55 later when he carried the puck into the Detroit zone on a three-on-two and drove to the net, putting a shot between Howard’s pads.

Raffi Torres opened the game’s scoring only 2:23 into the game, beating Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard on a wraparound chance.

Ian White‘s shot from top of the right circle made it 1-1 at 1:36 of the second period. It was the Red Wings’ 30th goal of the season from a defenseman.

Howard finished the night with 31 saves on 33 shots against. Smith made 33 stops on 35 shots.

Neither team scored a power play goal. Detroit had five tries with the extra attacker to Phoenix’s two, the second of which was in overtime.

The Red Wings’ next game is Saturday evening when they host the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets.


Mike Commodore and Jan Mursak were healthy scratches for the Red Wings.

Red Wings Score Five in the First to Power Past Coyotes

The Detroit Red Wings scored five first period goals Thursday night, all the scoring they needed to defeat the Phoenix Coyotes, 5-2.

Todd Bertuzzi and Valtteri Filppula scored in the first 2:09 of the period to get the Red Wings out to the early lead. In the final 5:14 of the opening frame, Tomas Holmstrom, Darren Helm and Jiri Hudler added three more goals.

Bertuzzi opened the games scoring 1:16 into the game. He took a pass near the top of the right faceoff circle from Pavel Datsyuk and backhanded the puck into the slot, where he caught up with it and snapped a shot between the pads of Coyotes’ goalie Mike Smith.

Just 53 seconds later, Filppula – returning to the lineup after missing a game with a deep cut on his leg – was left all alone in front of the Phoenix net to take a pass from Henrik Zetterberg and put a wrister past Smith.

Holmstrom restarted the scoring on a power play with 5:14 left in the first. Ian White drove into the slot and threw a shot on net with Holmstrom there to knock in the rebound.

Helm made it 4-0 43 seconds later. He gave the puck to Chris Conner in the right circle and went to the net. Conner carried it down low and got it back to Helm to bang past Smith. Smith would be pulled for Jason Labarbera after the goal.

Hudler wrapped up the period’s scoring with 43 seconds left. After failing to score off a turnover in the Phoenix end, Filppula took the puck to the left wing boards and sent a pass across to Zetterberg in the slot. Zetterberg moved it on to Hudler in the right circle and he threw it into the open side of the net.

Radim Vrbata got the Coyotes on the board with 4:15 left in the second period, rifling a shot from the top of the right circle past Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard.

Martin Hanzal added another Phoenix goal with 8:28 left in the third when a Shane Doan power play shot deflected off of his pants on its way past Howard.

Both teams had five power play chances on the night and each scored a goal.

Howard finished the night with 30 saves on 32 shots. Smith stopped seven of the eleven shots he faced in 15:29 of play while Labarbera made 20 saves on 21 shots to close out the night for the Coyotes.

The Red Wings will next be in action on Saturday when they host the Winnipeg Jets.


Pavel Datsyuk was kept out of the third period as a precaution, as he reported feeling sore earlier in the day. He is expected to be available on Saturday… Cory Emmerton and Mike Commodore were the healthy scratches for the Red Wings.

Red Wings Finish Sweep of Coyotes with 6-3 Win

The Detroit Red Wings rode three third-period goals to a 6-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes Wednesday night, completing a four-game sweep in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

Danny Cleary scored on a shot from the left corner with 6:19 remaining in regulation to break a 3-3 tie. Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov came off the near post and Cleary’s acute-angle shot deflected off of Bryzgalov’s arm and into the net.

Todd Bertuzzi put Detroit up by a pair 1:53 later when his wraparound attempt deflected off defenseman David Schlemko’s skate and slipped past Bryzgalov.

Patrick Eaves added an empty net goal to finish off the scoring, his second goal of the night.

Detroit had opened the game’s scoring just 3:47 into the first period. Tomas Holmstrom chipped the puck through the neutral zone for Pavel Datsyuk to gain the Phoenix zone. Datsyuk cut latterally through the slot and dropped a pass for a streaking Holmstrom to fling past Bryzgalov.

The Coyotes responded 1:59 later, when Taylor Pyatt’s attempted crossing pass from the left wing boards deflected off of Jonathan Ericsson‘s skate and slid past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.

At 9:46 of the period, Shane Doan gave Phoenix its second lead of the series, winning a battle along the boards and stepping into the left faceoff circle to fire a shot that deflected off of Nicklas Lidstrom and squeaked past Howard.

Eaves scored his first of the night to tie things back up with 1:13 remaining in the opening frame. Darren Helm bowled over Michal Rozsival and Keith Yandle behind the Phoenix net and came away with the puck, coming out to the side of the goal and sending a cross-crease pass to Eaves for a tap-in.

Martin Hanzal put Phoenix back in front just 1:09 into the second. Radim Vrbata drifted across the front of the net with the puck on a Coyotes power play before passing off to Hanzal at the far side of the net. Hanzal buried it into the open goal as Howard dove to get back.

Detroit countered with their own power play goal as Niklas Kronwall buried a rebound chance from the slot after a scramble in front of the net at 4:49.

The Coyotes finished the night with one goal on two power play tries while the Red Wings went one-for-three with the extra attacker.

Howard stopped 24 of the 27 shots he faced. Bryzgalov made 34 saves on 39 shots.

Detroit must now wait for the conclusion of the other first-round matchups to know who they will play in the Western Conference Semifinals.


The Red Wings played without Henrik Zetterberg (knee) and Johan Franzen (ankle). Zetterberg missed all four games of the series while Franzen was a late scratch, having taken the pre-game skate. Mike Modano replaced Franzen in the lineup… Jakub Kindl was a healthy scratch on defense.

Red Wings Hold Off Coyotes for Game Two Win

The Detroit Red Wings took a 4-0 lead early Saturday and held off a comeback attempt by the Phoenix Coyoted to pick up a 4-3 win. The Red Wings now lead their Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup, 2-0.

Pavel Datsyuk carried Detroit to their early lead, factoring in on all four goals, scoring once and assisting three more times.

Shane Doan played the same role for the Coyotes in their comeback, scoring twice and adding an assist on three power play goals.

Datsyuk got the Red Wings on the board with 9:18 left in the first period, the first of Detroit’s two goals on the power play. After getting the puck from Nicklas Lidstrom above the left faceoff circle, Datsyuk drifted into the high slot and dragged the puck to his right, snapping a shot past Ilya Bryzgalov to give Detroit the early lead.

Brian Rafalski added another power play goal with 4:10 left in the period, blasting a shot from just inside the blue line past Bryzgalov.

With just 59 seconds left in the first, Darren Helm made it 3-0. Datsyuk broke away from three defenders in the neutral zone and raced in on Bryzgalov, taking the puck between his legs for a shot that the Phoenix netminder got his pad on. After the initial save, no one made a move to stop Helm, who jumped in and banged the rebound over the sprawled-out goalie.

Tomas Holmstrom deflected a Valtteri Filppula shot into the top of the net to make it 4-0 at 1:11 of the second period, at which point the Red Wings seemingly let off the gas.

Radmin Vrbata got the Coyotes on the board at 7:02 of the middle period, snapping the rebound of a shot by Doan through an attempted block by Kris Draper and into the open side of Jimmy Howard‘s net while Danny Cleary was off for elbowing.

Doan’s first came at 5:49 of the third period, pulling Phoenix to within a pair. With Todd Bertuzzi off for slashing, Doan got to the side of the net and backhanded the rebound of a Keith Yandle shot past Howard.

In the closing seconds of a five-on-three, Doan slapped a shot from the high slot past Howard to make it 4-3 at 8:37 of the closing frame.

The Red Wings were outshot 11-10 in the third period but held on, taking back puck control in the final three minutes to limit the Coyotes’ chances with Bryzgalov on the bench for an extra attacker.

Detroit finished the afternoon with two goals on five power play chances. Phoenix went three-for-seven with the extra attacker.

Howard stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced in net while Bryzgalov made 27 stops on 31 chances.

The two teams will meet again on Monday in Glendale.


The Red Wings lost Johan Franzen for a significant portion of the first period after he went face-first into the boards on a hit by Doan. He required over twenty stitches and returned early in the second period… Detroit was without Henrik Zetterberg again, still out with a leg injury… Mike Modano and Jakub Kindl were healthy scratches for the Red Wings.

Datsyuk, Lidstrom Each Score Twice as Red Wings Rout Coyotes in Game Seven

With their season on the line, Detroit’s top players came through as Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom each scored a pair of goals in leading the Red Wings to a 6-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes in Game Seven of their Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup.

Henrik Zetterberg and Brian Rafalski each had three assists on the night while Brad Stuart and Todd Bertuzzi rounded out the scoring.

The Red Wings advance to face the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Detroit outshot Phoenix 17-6 in the first period but couldn’t solve goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. It wasn’t until 2:01 of the second period that his countryman, Datsyuk, opened the game’s scoring.

With the Red Wings on the power play, Datsyuk took a bouncing feed from Lidstrom in the slot and snapped a shot through traffic in front of the net and past Bryzgalov.

Datsyuk scored his second just 1:41 later, taking a long stretch pass from Zetterberg and breaking in all alone on Bryzgalov. He faked to his backhand and cut back to his forehand, lifting a shot over Bryzgalov’s shoulder to make it 2-0.

Vernon Fiddler got Phoenix on the board at 8:23 of the second, taking advantage of a miscue by Datsyuk to snap a shot off the faceoff past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.

Lidstrom’s first of the night, another power play goal, restored Detroit’s two-goal lead with 6:08 left in the period. The rebound of a Zetterberg chance came into the high slot, where Lidstrom stepped in and blasted it past Bryzgalov.

The Coyotes had a chance to cut into the lead again in the period’s closing minutes with a 72-second five-on-three. Detroit limited Phoenix to only two shots, however, and turned the tables as the second penalty expired.

Lee Stempniak tried to throw a pass to former Red Wing Mathieu Schneider at the point but it was off target and left the Detroit zone. Just out of the penalty box, Brad Stuart picked up the loose puck and raced in to beat Bryzgalov with 4.6 seconds left in the period.

Bertuzzi banged home the rebound of a Valtteri Filppula chance 6:35 into the third period, virtually ending the series.

Lidstrom wrapped up the scoring with his second of the night, snapping a shot into the top corner of the net from the right faceoff dot. It was another power play goal, coming with 7:46 left in the game.

The Red Wings finished the night three-for-six on the power play. The Coyotes were scoreless on five tries with the extra attacker, including the 1:12 five-on-three.

Howard stopped 32 of 33 shots in earning the win. Bryzgalov made 44 saves on 50 Detroit chances.

The Red Wings are expected to open the second round on Thursday.


Phoenix captain Shane Doan sat out his fourth consecutive game after being injured in Game Three.

Game Seven Postgame Notes

This was a complete, sixty minute effort by Detroit tonight. This was what we were waiting for all series.

The Red Wings wanted this one, and that was obvious from the start. The only reason Detroit didn’t have a multi-goal lead after the first period is that Ilya Bryzgalov had a fantastic night. Not something that often goes hand-in-hand with allowing six goals but the truth.

Two goals by Pavel Datsyuk, including a beauty of an eventual game-winner. Two goals by Nicklas Lidstrom, a day shy of his 40th birthday. Three points each for Brian Rafalski and Henrik Zetterberg. The Red Wings needed their leaders to lead and they came through.

On the flip side: Phoenix captain Shane Doan. Lower-case “c” for a reason. I know I’m spoiled by growing up in the Steve Yzerman era but to me, when the season is on the line the Captain (capital “C”) is on the ice. A Captain plays on one leg. A captain watches the game in street clothes.

The Coyotes that were dressed gave it their all. They had some good chances and forced Howard to make big stops while the game was still close but they were just overpowered.

So now the Red Wings advance to face the San Jose Sharks. While the official schedule won’t be released until after the Washington – Montreal Game Seven on Wednesday, with concerts scheduled for Friday and Saturday in San Jose it looks like the Wings and Sharks will go on Thursday and Sunday.

If we see the Detroit team we saw tonight, the Sharks are in some trouble. If the Wings go back to playing lazy they’ll pay for it quickly.