Larkin, Pulkkinen Lead Red Wings in Rout of Penguins

In a preseason battle of “B” teams, Detroit’s youth led the Red Wings to a 6-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.

Both Detroit and Pittsburgh iced lineups devoid of many of their top stars. Pittsburgh was without Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel while the Red Wings went without Henrik Zetterberg, Brad Richards, and most of their regular regular blueline corps.

Tyler Bertuzzi opened the scoring for Detroit with 6:37 left in the opening period, slipping a shot through Pittsburgh netminder Matthew Murray that just made it across the goal line.

With 3:16 left in the period, Dylan Larkin put the rebound of a Teemu Pulkkinen chance into the open side of Murray’s net on a five-on three.

Just 1:27 later, Pulkkinen snapped a shot from in close over Murray’s shoulder to make it 3-0 with another power play goal.

Drew Miller scored the only goal of the second period, deflecting a Brian Lashoff shot past Murray to put the Red Wings up 4-0 with 2:32 left in the second period.

Pulkkinen added his second just 1:08 into the third, taking a feed from Bertuzzi to break down the right wing and snap a shot past Murray for a 5-0 lead.

Beau Bennett ended the shutout bid with 9:16 left in regulation, putting a rebound chance past Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard off a net-front scramble.

Larkin rounded out the scoring with ten seconds remaining, whipping a shot from the bottom of the left circle past Murray off a quick passing play.

Howard finished the night with 34 saves on 35 shots. Murray made 21 saves on 27 Detroit chances.

The two teams played a three-on-three overtime after the game as a test run of the NHL’s new tiebreaker format. Pittsburgh scored a late shorthanded goal to end it.

Postgame: Red Wings @ Penguins – 4/9

Kind of hard to do postgame notes on a night when the lone point the Red Wings earned clinched the team’s 23rd consecutive playoff appearance. In the end, that point is all that mattered. Two would have been nice and the Wings are now in a quick battle with the Blue Jackets for playoff seeding, but the team can drop the last two games and their season will still go beyond next Sunday.

I guess I’ll work backwards?

The minute I saw Jussi Jokinen’s shootout goal, I knew it would hold up as the winner. Jonas Gustavsson successfully poke-checks the puck away only for it to pop up, flutter over him and in? That was the kind of ridiculousness this game deserved as a finish.

A similarly wacky bounce tied things up with 1:15 left in regulation, as Riley Sheahan‘s shot from the point was deflected, floated over Marc-Andre Fleury, off the crossbar and in. The play kind of summed up Detroit’s season, as the Kid Line was out there for a crucial faceoff in the offensive zone in the closing seconds and came through. Sheahan beat Sidney Crosby on the faceoff the started the play off. These guys weren’t even supposed to be on the team this year (okay, Tatar was on the roster but a healthy scratch to start the season) and they got the Wings into the playoffs.

Detroit seemed to be heading home with no points earlier in the period, when Jokinen found the loose puck off a Kris Letang chance and knocked it home to put the Penguins up 3-2. Letang’s shot slipped through Gustavsson, who thought he had it covered, and Jokinen got to it before anyone else realized it was still live to give Pittsburgh its first lead.

James Neal scored both of Pittsburgh’s previous goals early in power play opportunities. Tomas Jurco and Jakub Kindl scored for Detroit.

I’ve gotta say, I thought Kindl’s goal could have come back for goalie interference. I guess the Wings are only owed about seven more of those at this point.

But as I said off the top, the loser point is all that matters tonight. With it, they sit eighth in the East, tied with Columbus but the Blue Jackets have the tiebreaker. Detroit hosts Carolina (a game they should win) and visits St. Louis (a game they should lose). Columbus visits Tampa (a game they should lose) and Florida (a game they should win). The Jackets’ finish up on Saturday while Detroit does on Sunday, so the Wings will go into their last game knowing what they need to do.

Miller Scores Only Detroit Goal in 5-1 Preseason Loss to Penguins

Drew Miller scored the only goal for Detroit on Wednesday as the Red Wings dropped a 5-1 preseason decision to the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.

Miller avoided being sandwiched by defensemen Brooks Orpik and Deryk Engelland at the Penguins’ blue line but lost control of the puck, giving goalie Marc-Andre Fleury a chance to race out. Miller beat Fleury to it, though, and chipped a shot over the diving netminder and into the vacant net with 7:11 remaining in the middle period to make it 3-1.

It would not be the start of a Detroit comeback, as Chris Kunitz stole the puck in the neutral zone and broke in alone on netminder Petr Mrazek, rifling a shot from the slot past him with 2:34 left in the second.

Kunitz would add another at 9:28 of the third, roofing a shot over Mrazek from in close after being left all alone on a Pittsburgh power play.

Jussi Jokinen had opened the scoring with 4:54 remaining in the first. Jokinen got in behind the Detroit defense at the Red Wings’ blue line and took a long pass from Matt Niskanen, breaking in alone on Mrazek before putting a backhander past him.

Pascal Dupuis made it 2-0 2:29 later taking a feed from Sidney Crosby on a two-on-one before snapping a shot past Mrazek from the slot.

Craig Adams tipped a blast by Evgeni Malkin past Mrazek at 3:14 of the second to make it 3-0 before Miller finally got Detroit on the board.

The Penguins got two power play goals to Detroit’s zero, with each team having three tries with the extra attacker.

Mrazek made 32 saves on 37 shots against. Fleury stopped 16 of the 17 shots he faced.

The Red Wings wrap up their preseason schedule this weekend, facing off against the Maple Leafs at home on Friday and in Toronto on Saturday.

TGTW: Wings Fall From Central Lead in Week Twelve

The Games That Weren’t is one of many projects simulating the games lost by the NHL lockout. In the absence of actual games to write about, I’ll be checking in periodically on the fictional Red Wings’ season.

The Detroit Red Wings went 1-2 on a Christmas week road trip, dropping them out of first place in the Central Division heading into the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor.

Opening their trip in Raleigh on Wednesday, the Red Wings rallied late for a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. After a scoreless first period, the Hurricanes got on the board with a Drayson Bowman goal at 6:30 of the second and made it 2-0 with 1:29 left in the period on a Jamie McBain tally. Pavel Datsyuk cut the lead in half at 3:10 of the third but Eric Staal made it 3-1 at 4:41. Johan Franzen put the Wings back within a goal while shorthanded at 7:27 and Todd Bertuzzi tied things up with 8:21 left in the period. Jonathan Ericsson‘s sixth goal of the year with 2:23 remaining gave Detroit their first lead of the game and they held on for the win. Jimmy Howard made 24 saves on 27 shots in earning the win while Cam Ward stopped 30 of 34 shots for Carolina.

The next night in Pittsburgh would feature no such comeback for the Wings, dropping a 5-1 decision to the Penguins. Chris Kunitz opened the game’s scoring at 4:40 of the first and Tanner Glass made it 2-0 midway through the opening period. Sidney Crosby‘s shorthanded goal at 3:16 of the second extended the lead to three and Kunitz added another with 6:19 left in the middle period. Carlo Colaiacovo finally got the Red Wings on the board with a power play goal with 3:03 remaining but Evgeni Malkin scored with 1:13 left to chase Howard from the Detroit crease. Jonas Gustavsson would face only six shots in the third, stopping them all for a 5-1 final. Howard finished the night with 12 saves on 17 shots in 38:47 of play while Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves on 25 shots.

The Red Wings’ scoring troubles continued on Saturday in Ottawa, where they couldn’t score a goal in a 1-0 loss to the Senators. Daniel Alfredsson scored the game’s only goal at 5:13 of the first period and 28 saves by Robin Lehner made it stand up as the game-winner. Howard rebounded from his awful night in Pittsburgh with a 31-save performance.

With only two of a possible six points earned on the week, the Red Wings fell to third in the Central Division, four points back of both the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators but with two games in hand on the Preds. The Blues are the hottest team in the league heading into the New Year, riding an eight-game winning streak.

The next week will see the Red Wings take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Winter Classic at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Stadium, then host the Nashville Predators in the last game before a five-game road trip.

Datsyuk Leads Red Wings over Malkin’s Penguins

Pavel Datsyuk scored Detroit’s first goal and made a slick stick play to set up another as the Red Wings earned a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Fellow Russian Evgeni Malkin scored Pittsburgh’s lone goal as the countrymen appeared locked in a duel early in the game.

Malkin got the Penguins on the board with just five seconds remaining in the first period. Racing down the right wing on a two-on-one with Chris Kunitz, Malkin snapped a quick shot to the wide side of Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, off the post and into the net.

Datsyuk pulled the Red Wings back even with 3:59 left in the second period. After Todd Bertuzzi took the puck away from Matt Niskanen in the left corner he got it to Datsyuk at the top of the left circle. Datsyuk slid across into the high slot and flung a backhander back across Penguins’ netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, beating him stick-side.

Johan Franzen‘s power play goal at 5:15 of the third period put Detroit out in front. Datsyuk knifed an attempt to clear the Pittsburgh zone by Matt Cooke out of the air and worked the puck down to Franzen in the left faceoff circle. Franzen wristed a high shot past Fleury to make it 2-1.

Danny Cleary added an insurance goal with 4:24 remaining. On a rush with former Penguin Chris Conner, Cleary drove to the net and tipped a pass through Fleury, giving Detroit a 3-1 lead.

Cleary’s empty-net goal with six second remaining rounded out the scoring.

Franzen’s goal was the only power play tally of the night. The Red Wings had two tries with the extra attacker while the Penguins had four.

Howard finished the game with 25 saves on 26 shots while Fleury stopped 21 of 24 chances.

The Red Wings are back in action on Thursday when they visit the Nashville Predators.

Healthy scratches for Detroit were Cory Emmerton and Mike Commodore… The Penguins were without Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek.

Postgame: Red Wings @ Penguins – 12/13

Always good to go into Pittsburgh and get a win, whether or not they’re healthy. How well that team plays even without Sidney Crosby shows how dangerous they are.

The game was much closer than the final score shows. The teams were within a goal of each other for 55 minutes and the Penguins outshot the Red Wings. But for a couple posts, Pittsburgh could have had a decent lead.

Thankfully, the puck luck was with the Red Wings tonight and they made some fantastic plays to go with it. Datsyuks goal was an impressive individual effort. Franzen’s was great play all around. Cleary’s first came off a real nice feed from the former Penguin Conner. Even the ENG was nice, as Cleary took his time to get around Malkin and get the clear shot, rather than rushing it.

Coming off a blowout win, a close, hard-fought game is good for the Wings. They’ll need to get wins like this down the road so remembering how to do it now is important.

Red Wings – Islanders Pregame Notes

Because Mike Modano, Pavel Datsyuk and Danny Cleary weren’t enough… Patrick Eaves will miss tonight’s game against the New York Islanders with an upper-body injury.

Eaves his coming off of his first career hat trick and is listed as day-to-day.

Tomas Tatar will make his NHL debut, having been called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins to take Eaves’ spot in the lineup. Tatar is the Griffins’ leading scorer, with 29 points in 35 games.

Jimmy Howard gets the start in net for the Red Wings.

The Islanders are coming off a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, in which they stopped Sidney Crosby‘s scoring streak at 25 games. They’re second-to-last in the league but are on a 5-1-1 run.

Howard Solid Again as Red Wings Fall to Penguins in Shootout

Jimmy Howard stopped 46 shots for the second consecutive game but this time the Detroit Red Wings couldn’t pull out a win, falling in a shootout to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon.

After a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators in which Howard stopped 46 of 48 shots, the Penguins picked up a 2-1 win despite Howard allowing only a goal on 47 chances. Pittsburgh scored on two of three shootout attempts while the Red Wings missed on two tries in the tiebreaker.

The Penguins carried the play in the first two periods but their only goal came with 3:14 left in the second, when Alex Goligoski fed a wide-open Sidney Crosby on the left wing. Crosby skated in on Howard, faked around him, and put it into the open side of the net.

Danny Cleary tied the game for Detroit with 8:50 left in regulation, tipping a Brad Stuart blast past Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury.

Crosby and Evgeni Malkin scored the only goals of the shootout.

Neither team scored a power play goal on the night. Detroit had five tries with the extra attacker – including a four-on-three to end the overtime period – while Pittsburgh had three.

Fleury stopped 23 of the 24 shots he faced.

The Red Wings were without Tomas Holmstrom, whose return from injury was delayed at least one more game.

Red Wings Wrap Up North American Exhibitions, Set Lineup for Sweden

The Detroit Red Wings finished off their North American exhibition schedule Sunday night with a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in a game that saw both teams rest many of their star players.

Detroit was without Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Chris Osgood, Dan Cleary, Valtteri Filppula, Brad Stuart, Todd Bertuzzi and Niklas Kronwall. Pittsburgh sat Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar.

Pascal Dupuis scored the lone goal for the Penguins while Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk, Jason Williams and Ville Leino all scored for Detroit. Jimmy Howard stopped 25 shots on the night, including a Jordan Staal penalty shot.

After the game the Red Wings made their final preseason roster cuts. Johan Ryno, Mattias Ritola, Andy Delmore, Francis Pare, Logan Pyett, Jakub Kindl and Evan McGrath were all assigned to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. Brad May was released from his pro tryout but he is expected to join the Griffins. Earlier in the day the Wings had assigned Jeremy Williams, Doug Janik, Thomas McCollum, Kris Newbery and Jan Mursak to the Griffins.

The Red Wings now head to Sweden, where they will open up the regular season with a pair of games against the St. Louis Blues at Stockholm’s Globe Arena.

On Wednesday Detroit will play their final exhibition game of the season in Karlstad against Farjestads BK.

Lidstrom is Superhuman and Other End of Season Ramblings

Yesterday I thought I was ready to dive back into NHL news and see what the rest of the hockey world was thinking. Turns out, I was wrong.

I don’t know why I never learn my lesson. Every time I try to read what people think about happenings around the league I feel stupider and angrier for trying.

Examples of what I’ve read in the last day or so:

  • The announcement of Nicklas Lidstrom‘s injury was just the Wings organization making excuses for their loss.
  • Sidney Crosby snubbed the Red Wings by refusing to shake hands, with the counterpoint being that the Wings snubbed Crosby by leaving the ice too soon.
  • Wings fans are horrible for booing during the Cup presentation.

So, yeah, the season is over but the name-calling and general hate isn’t and in all honesty I can’t handle that hate.

I don’t understand the people that troll blogs and forums, hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet to make immature comments in an attempt to start fights. There’s this lack of logic out there in the world that just bothers me, so for the most part I’m just staying away and not getting into it anymore.

Instead, I’m hoping to look at each of those points with a bit of logic.

You’ll notice that I’m not linking to much of anything in this post. It’s because I don’t want to send traffic to the places where these comments have been made.

Lidstrom’s Injury
Nicklas Lidstrom missed the last two games of the Western Conference Finals after being speared between the legs by Chicago’s Patrick Sharp. The testicle injury required surgery that would have kept Lidstrom out of the lineup for two more weeks had it been the regular season.

The details of the injury were announced leading up to Game Seven with the rest of the Wings’ injuries announced after the game. Similarly, the Penguins made note of Crosby having been injured shortly after their elimination in the 2008 Finals.

There’s no excuse here. Several Wings were hurt and that’s a fact of the playoffs. Sergei Gonchar was hurt, too.

Once the games are done, there’s just no need for secrecy anymore.

You could even spin this into a complaint about the refs, asking why Sharp wasn’t penalized for the spear. It wouldn’t have helped the Wings in the Finals but it is one sign of the inconsistent officiating that was commented on throughout the playoffs.

Crosby’s Handshake Snub
Lidstrom led the Red Wings through the traditional handshake line only to discover that he made it through the line without seeing Crosby.

Some of the Wings, who feel that Lidstrom was snubbed, say that Crosby was too busy celebrating to take part in the tradition. Crosby did eventually make his way over but it was after Lidstrom had left the ice.

The Penguins contend that Lidstrom quickly left the ice, not giving Crosby the chance to shake his hand.

My opinion is that Crosby should have been in that line, if not leading it. If Lidstrom left the ice too quickly, how long was he supposed to wait?

I don’t have the video to do this but I’d love to see someone check the tapes from 2008 and compare to 2009 to find out how long the winning team celebrated for before joining the handshake line.

For the record, I don’t think that Chris Chelios skipping the handshakes in 2007 excuses anyone. He was wrong then, anyone else who does it is also wrong.

Booing the Cup
This one’s an easy one because I was there. There was plenty of booing but there was also a chant going that clearly points out what the booing was directed at. That chant?

“Bettman Sucks.”

In fact, the Penguins fan in front of me turned around and said, “I think that’s something we can all agree on.”

Amazing what context does for a person’s opinion.

Now there is a twist on this one, and that would be that Wings fans not only booed during the Cup presentation but also cheered when Crosby limped off the ice midway through the game.

That one’s true. There were plenty of people cheering that, and cheering for long enough that they can’t hide behind the idea of cheering a good hit.

I wasn’t one of those people but I can tell you why I would have done it: Turnabout is fair play.

In Game Five we saw Max Talbot slash Pavel Datsyuk‘s injured foot. Talbot later said he was going for the puck, which video replay showed was nowhere near Datsyuk’s feet.

Talbot tried to take out Datsyuk and then Crosby got taken out two games later. It’s not right but there’s no denying a feeling of satisfaction from it.


Blind homerism annoys the hell out of me. I don’t like it from anyone, including Wings fans. There are no conspriacies, just idiocy.

Anyone who can’t back up their arguments with facts is just spouting off. I don’t get what the point of that is.

I feel like I should yell at someone to get off my lawn. Maybe I am getting too old for this, if not physically then mentally.

I’ve seen these Red Wings make the Finals six times and win the Stanley Cup four of them. That makes me cocky and it might make me arrogant but it doesn’t mean I have to be blind.

No team does everything right. No player does everything right. No fan does everything right. It’s ridiculous to think otherwise. That doesn’t mean, however, that we need to make a big deal about every little thing.

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