Wings Take Goalie with Lone Day One Draft Pick

With their lone pick on the first day of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, the Detroit Red Wings selected goaltender James Howard of the University of Maine.

The Red Wings had no picks in the first or third rounds, having traded their first-round pick to the Los Angeles Kings in the March deal for defenseman Mathieu Schneider and their third-round pick to the Nashville Predators in return for a third-round pick in last year’s draft (used to select Valtteri Filppula).

Rounds Four through Nine will take place on Sunday. The Red Wings have picks in each of the remaining rounds.

The Wings chose Howard with the sixtieth overall pick late in the second round. The Hockey News had rated him at fiftieth overall. The 19-year-old, 6’0″, 218 pound netminder was ranked by NHL Central Scouting as the No. 2 North American goalie available in this year’s draft.

Howard had an 8-1-0 record at Maine prior to the World Junior Championship but his play tailed off at the end of the season. He finished at 14-6-0 with a .916 save percentage.

The feeling among NHL scouts is that Howard could become a top NHL goalie.

“I look at so many college goalies who are 20 or 21, and he was every bit as good as them,” said one scout.

Day One Draft Notes:
Ninety minutes into the draft, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the passing of Ottawa Senators assistant coach and Hall-of-Famer Roger Neilson. Neilson died at his Peterborough, Ontario home after a lengthy battle with skin and bone cancer. He was 69.

Several trades took place on Saturday. Florida traded their first-overall pick along with their third-round pick to Pittsburgh for the third-overall pick, a second-round pick and Mikael Samuelsson. Carolina acquired defenseman Danny Markov and a conditional pick from Phoenix for d-man David Tanabe and prospect Igor Knyazev. The Colorado Avalanche sent enforcer Scott Parker to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a fifth-round pick and got forward Andrei Nikolishin from the Chicago Blackhawks for future considerations. The Atlanta Thrashers traded their second round pick to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Ivan Majesky. The St. Louis Blues picked up a second-round draft pick from Tampa Bay for forward Cory Stillman and either a fifth-round pick this year or a fourth-rounder next year from Phoenix for forward Tyson Nash.

The Penguins selected goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with the first-overall pick.

Wings Dominate in Important, Emotional Win

If there are many more games like this one in St. Louis, the Savvis Center’s management may want to consider building an expansion for their penalty boxes. The Red Wings came up with a 6-2 win over the Blues, and the Blues were really letting their frustration show by the game’s end. By the final buzzer, there were a total of seventeen players between both teams who hadn’t been tossed out of the game. And the playoffs haven’t even started yet. Bring it on!

Emotions were running high early. The Blues were fired up at the return of Chris Pronger, who has been out of the lineup all season. However, his first impact on his team was to take a high-sticking penalty. The Blues’ penalty killers did a good job of not letting Detroit get set up on that one. Tyson Nash managed to generate a shorthanded scoring chance, but Manny Legace was sharp on the shot and the rebound.

Brett Hull opened the scoring midway through the period. Henrik Zetterberg carried the puck up the right side and passed it back across the crease once he gained the goal line. Hull was following the play, driving to the net with his stick on the ice, and he was in perfect position to lift the puck over Chris Osgood.

Pavel Datsyuk increased the lead a few minutes later. Pronger fanned on a slapshot attempt in the Detroit zone, and Datsyuk stole the puck to carry it up ice. Pronger and Bryce Salvador backed up to defend, but Datsyuk cut right between the two of them and stuffed the puck into the net underneath Osgood.

The Blues got themselves on the board with 3:29 left in the first. Steve Martins won a draw deep in the Red Wings’ end. The puck came back to Pronger, who wound up and took the shot. The puck tipped off a Detroit skater on the way through, and flew just past the end of Legace’s catching glove.

The second period was a story of penalty killing. Chris Chelios had taken a four minute high-sticking double minor penalty just at the end of the first period. Thirty seconds had gone by in that when the referees saw fit to send Kris Draper out for boarding. Kirk Maltby, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Mathieu Schneider played an excellent penalty kill, and Legace came up with a huge save on Pronger to stop the clock and allow Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan to come over the boards to replace Schneider and Maltby. When play started again, Lidstrom cleared the puck, and that did it for the 5-on-3. The remainder of the Blues’ 5-on-4 was negated when Pronger took another penalty, this one for interference, but then the Red Wings’ resulting shortened power play was negated when the team was assessed a bench minor for having too many men on the ice.

The one call which probably should have been made in the second was not made at all. Tyson Nash was sticked in the mouth by Shanahan””Nash was falling at the time, so a stick at that height would ordinarily have hit a skater somewhere in the stomach, but the stick did draw blood, which would ordinarily be an automatic four minute penalty. None of the officials saw it, and the Blues apparently swore revenge.

Vengeance was not coming in the second period, however. Corey Stillman received an elbowing penalty shortly thereafter. Shanahan made the pass from behind the net to the high slot which allowed Lidstrom to pinch in from the blue line and wrist a shot through a screen of players over Osgood’s shoulder.

Nash, having had his lip stitched up neatly, was out on the ice to take a pass from Alexander Khavanov and fire it into the net from point blank range, bringing the Blues back within one goal with 7:38 left in the game. Just as the goal was called, Reed Low and Darren McCarty were handed coincidental minor penalties for diving and cross-checking respectively. Sergei Fedorov added a goal with a wrist shot just under the crossbar during the resulting four-on-four.

As soon as McCarty and Low were out of the box, they dropped the gloves and went at each other. Both were given five minute fighting majors, and McCarty was given a game misconduct for not having his jersey strap tied down””Low pulled it right off as soon as the fight started.

Scott Mellanby took an interference penalty with 5:11 left to play. Nash decided his goal wasn’t good enough revenge and attacked Shanahan directly. While those two fought, Fedorov tangled with Barret Jackman. Once the officials cleared the ice, Hull scored a power play goal. Datsyuk made a pass from behind the net to Schneider. Hull picked up the rebound from Schneider’s shot and put it into the empty corner of the net.

Hull’s third goal of the night barely two minutes later””set up by amazing passing from Zetterberg and Datsyuk, of course””opened the floodgates to chaos. Mellanby, Jackman, Dallas Drake, Ryan Johnson, Maltby, Draper, and Dmitri Bykov were all thrown out of the game. The very next shift, it started up again. Matt Walker tried to pick a fight with Tomas Holmstrom, who was skating away from it, but Luc Robitaille came in to defend his linemate. From the resulting battle, Walker, Salvador, Shjon Podein, Doug Weight, Holmstrom, Robitaille, Schneider, and Mathieu Dandenault were sent out. The Detroit bench took a penalty when assistant coach Joey Kocur threw a chair onto the ice in frustration at the way the Blues had simply decided to run at his players, and he and St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville screamed obscenities at each other until calmer heads prevailed, the linesman dropped the puck, and the few remaining players let the clock run down.

The count of shots on net was 24 to 21 in favor of the Blues. The total number of penalty minutes, for those who count such things, was 114 for Detroit and 129 for St. Louis. The Red Wings’ next game will be Monday night at the Joe against the Nashville Predators.

Wings to Start 2003 on Top

For many years the Red Wings have had the tradition of playing a home game on New Year’s Eve. This year, that tradition also fulfilled a goal head coach Dave Lewis had set for his team last month: to be alone atop the NHL standings by the end of 2002. The team set to work, outplaying the rest of the NHL to gain a 10-1-4 record through the month of December, capping off the month with a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues.

The Blues did manage to score first, 4:20 into the game. Sean Avery had been sent to the penalty box for slashing, leaving Detroit shorthanded. Pavol Demitra faked a shot from the right point and passed across to Doug Weight. Weight made a pass across the goal crease, and Keith Tkachuk tipped it past Curtis Joseph.

Avery made up for his penalty later on, with 6:48 remaining in the first period. Mathieu Dandenault, playing in his first game back after missing time with an orbital fracture, made a good play to hold the puck in at the St. Louis blue line, then shot the puck towards the net. Avery got his stick on the flying puck to angle it underneath goaltender Brent Johnson.

The Wings-Blues rivalry generally leads to some intense play and not a few penalties, so it should come as no surprise that the first period ended in fights. Tyson Nash was so irritated by Avery that he lost his temper and started the fight, while Reed Low threw a punch at Tomas Holmstrom, who isn’t really one to start a fight, but doesn’t seem to mind finishing one. The combatants were all given roughing minors, and Nash and Holmstrom each picked up an extra ten-minute misconduct.

The Red Wings increased their lead in the second period with two more goals from not-so-likely sources. The first came on the power play, with Low back in the box for high-sticking. Jason Woolley shot the puck on net from the left point, and Darren McCarty tipped it past Johnson to take the lead.

Goal number three came just after a penalty on Corey Stillman had ended, but before Stillman could really get back to the play. Dmitri Bykov shot the puck from the blue line, and Kirk Maltby redirected it past Johnson, who was already sliding the other way.

Brendan Shanahan put the game away with two goals in the third period. The first came 1:59 into the period. He took the pass from Sergei Fedorov and carried into the Blues’ zone, shooting on Johnson just as he crossed the blue line. Johnson had the puck in his glove, but dropped it. It bounced off of his foot and into the net, signalling the end of the game for the young goaltender. Backup Fred Brathwaite came in to take his place.

The change in goalies didn’t make any difference to Shanahan. His second goal came less than five minutes after his first, during a hooking penalty to Christian Laflamme. Fedorov passed along the blue line to Nicklas Lidstrom at the right point. Brathwaite was out of position, angled to stop any possible shots from Lidstrom. Meanwhile, Shanahan was open on the left side, and Lidstrom saw it. The pass came across, and Shanahan one-timed it into the wide-open net.

Joseph made 29 nice saves on 30 shots, for a 96.67% save percentage. Johnson stopped 12 of the 15 he faced, and Brathwaite stopped 5 of 6.

The Red Wings will play their first game of 2003 on Friday against the Phoenix Coyotes.


Pavel Datsyuk and Jesse Wallin are both expected to be cleared to return to the lineup sometime in the next week…. Maltby’s goal was his 10th of the season, passing his total for last season and keeping him right on pace for what could be a 20-goal season…. The Red Wings are scoring almost as many goals as they did last season, but the scoring is much more spread out across the team. Seventeen different players contributed at least one goal during the month of December.

One Octopus Down, One To Go

This time, the Red Wings got the lead and kept it. The Irish Jig blared out over the Joe Louis Arena speakers, and three octopi managed to make their way onto the ice. There’s nothing like getting a shutout in your home rink, especially when it’s a 4-0 shutout over the St. Louis Blues to close out the Western Conference semifinal series at four games to one.

The Red Wings had to start out the game by dealing with a tripping penalty to Brendan Shanahan less than one minute into the game. They killed it off neatly and took control of the game. Detroit outshot St. Louis eleven to three in the first period. The Wings were not able to put the puck past goaltender Brent Johnson in the first, but they kept the Blues from getting the puck anywhere near Dominik Hasek.

Jiri Fischer opened the scoring for the Wings early in the second period. The puck squeezed out of a tangle in the left wing corner and Shanahan got it free to Fischer at the left point. Fischer’s hard wrist shot went off Johnson’s elbow and into the net.

St. Louis followed with a power play chance quickly afterwards, but the Red Wings’ penalty killers were very efficient in keeping the puck away from the net. Kirk Maltby was especially notable; his stick had been knocked away, but he stayed in position and used his body to block several Blues’ shots.

Detroit got a power play chance of their own midway through the period when Tyson Nash was sent off for roughing. The Blues’ penalty-killing had been very efficient over the course of the series, but this time they were outclassed. Just nine seconds after the puck was dropped, Shanahan unleashed a hard shot from the left point. The puck deflected off of Tomas Holmstrom, who was screening Johnson, and got through for the goal.

The Red Wings thought they had scored their third goal early in the third period, when Sergei Fedorov got the puck on net in spite of the two Blues’ defensemen pulling him down to the ice. Johnson slid backwards into the net with the puck, and the referee originally ruled it a goal, but official review decided that Fedorov had knocked Johnson into the net and the goal was disallowed.

The Blues should have been able to pick up some momentum from having the goal against them disallowed, but they did not. Detroit continued to dominate the game. Hasek turned away any shot which came near him, and the Red Wings kept possession of the puck for the majority of the time.

Shanahan increased the Red Wings’ goal cushion with just over three minutes left to play. He flew into the Blues’ zone with the puck and fired off a quick wrist shot from his usual spot halfway up the left wing side. The puck went underneath Johnson’s arm for the goal.

The St. Louis bench pulled Johnson for the extra skater shortly after that, but it was to no avail. The Red Wings got the puck down to the other end of the rink without icing it. Shanahan carried it around the back of the net, waited for the Blues’ defensman to drop low, then put the shot high into the empty net to put an end to this series.

The Red Wings will have to wait at least until Monday to find out who their next opponent is. The San Jose Sharks and the Colorado Avalanche are playing a tough series out west, which the Sharks are currently leading three games to two. The winner will come to Detroit to face the Red Wings in the Western Conference Final, starting late next week.


Detroit’s fascination with octopi came from the old days of the NHL, when the playoffs went for two rounds. The octopus was first thrown onto the ice by a man who owned a fish market near Olympia Stadium: he said the eight legs symbolized the eight wins necessary to win the Stanley Cup. The Red Wings went on to win the Cup that year. Of course today with four playoff rounds, sixteen wins are necessary. The Red Wings have eight. One octopus down, one to go.