TGTW: Wings Rebound in Week Two

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.

After dropping a 5-4 decision to the Nashville Predators to open the 2012-13 season, the Detroit Red Wings rebounded with three consecutive wins in the second week of the schedule.

On Tuesday, it looked like Buffalo Sabres’ goaltender Ryan Miller was going to shut the Red Wings down until Todd Bertuzzi broke the scoreless tie with 90 seconds left in regulation.  Miller made 27 saves on 28 shots in taking the loss, while Detroit’s Jimmy Howard needed to stop just 14.

Defenseman Jakub Kindl was ejected at 3:02 of the third period after charging former Red Wing Ville Leino.  Leino would end up missing one game with a concussion, while Kindl was not suspended.

The Red Wings continued their road trip in St. Louis on Thursday, with a 6-1 rout of the Blues.

St. Louis got on the board first when Andy McDonald scored just 6:29 in but Valtteri Filppula‘s second of the season tied things up ay 10:22 and Henrik Zetterberg put the Wings in front 1:40 later.

After a scoreless second period, Filppula added another just 29 seconds into the third.  Jonathan Ericsson scored his second of the season at 3:56 and Mikael Samuelsson scored the first goal of his return to the Wings on the power play at 9:24, chasing Blues’ goalie Brian Elliot.  Jakub Kindl added a power play goal with 2:06 remaining to round out the scoring.

Howard finished another slow night with 14 saves on 15 shots.  Elliot stopped 20 of the 25 shots he faced while Jaroslav Halak made four saves on five shots.

Detroit closed out the week in Chicago with a 3-1 win.

The Blackhawks opened the scoring at 5:31 of the first period on a goal by Jonathan Toews but Danny Cleary answered right back for the Wings 2:05 later.

Filppula’s league-leading fourth goal of the season put Detroit out front at 2:19 of the second period and Niklas Kronwall scored his first of the year at 4:39.

Howard had a third consecutive quiet night, facing just 17 shots and stopping 16.  Chicago’s Corey Crawford made 30 saves on 33 shots in taking the loss.

After four games, the Red Wings sit one point back of the Predators in the Central Division with a game in hand.  The team’s leading scorer is Filppula, with four goals and three assists.  Jimmy Howard has made all four starts, going 3-1 with a shutout, a 1.79 GAA, and a .899 save percentage.  Jonas Gustavsson appeared late in the opener, facing no shots.

The Red Wings lead the league in shots allowed with just 17.25 per game.  Second are the Pittsburgh Penguins at 21.2 per game.

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 – Wild: Post-H2H Notes

I’ve got to say, H2H was a hell of a lot of fun. It helped that the Wings won, of course, but many thanks to all of Team Herm for putting it together.

As for the game itself… The first period worried me quite a bit. The Wings were getting chances but no goals and I thought for sure the 3-1 power play advantage would get evened out.

Four quick goals in the second pretty much knocked the Wild out of it. Franzen’s first was a hell of a shot and the one eventually credited to Ericsson was a great (though also lucky) play.

Ericsson might have had his best game of the year. A goal, an assist, and +4.

That Detroit let Minnesota back in it late in the second and at the start of the third is a definite negative. The PPG to make it 4-1 might not have been able to be helped but the second Wild goal was absolutely awful. Jimmy Howard simply cannot give that goal up.

Drew Miller continues to show why he’s still in Detroit and Ville Leino was moved to Philadelphia (something Malik and I talked about before the game). A strong defensive game, as always, and his goal was nice, too. Good speed coming up the wing and a quick shot. It was past Backstrom before he could do anything about it.

The player of the game was, of course, Franzen. He was all over the place and played like he was hungry, with four points to show for it.

The Wings are now tied with the Colorado Avalanche for seventh in the Western Conference but Colorado has a game in hand. A win in Nashville tomorrow will tie the Wings and Predators with Detroit having a game in hand.

Saturday Wrapup

In the words of Bill Clement, “Well, where do you wanna start?”

The Red Wings started today with cap issues and extra forwards. In about a seven hour span they lost four forwards and a game. At least the cap isn’t an issue anymore.

Ville Leino was shipped to the Philadelphia Flyers this morning in return for Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and a fifth-round draft pick in 2011. Tollefsen was immediately placed on waivers and will be sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins if he clears.

The move cleared $800,000 in cap space for Detroit and freed up a roster spot, meaning that Johan Franzen can return from injury as scheduled on Tuesday.

I can’t say it’s a move I’m thrilled about. Leino still has a lot of potential. That said, in the salary capped NHL it was the right move to make.

If Tollefsen ever plays a game for Detroit I’ll be surprised. He’s a restricted free agent this summer, though, so the Wings might be able to get something for him.

Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller earned their roster spots this season and Leino played his way out of one. Detroit didn’t have the luxury of keeping all three and Leino was the right one to move. He may blossom with the Flyers but the Red Wings can’t wait for that to happen right now.

Eaves and Miller, unfortunately, finished the day in the Detroit dressing room, alongside Tomas Holmstrom.

All three were injured in Detroit’s 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, begging me to ask when was the last time you saw an entire forward line’s worth of players go down to injury in an NHL game?

Ansar Khan says

Leino Deal a Sign of Things to Come

It doesn’t look like we’ve seen any quotes out of Detroit on the Ville Leino trade just yet so I’m basing my thoughts purely on assumptions at this point.

Ole-Kristian Tollefsen only makes $200,000 less than Leino so this move alone doesn’t solve the Red Wings’ cap problems. Add in the fact that the Detroit blueline is already overloaded and you can see another move is coming.

The way I see it, there are two possibilities.

Tollefsen was acquired simply to be bought out, much like the Boston Bruins did with Patrick Eaves last summer. From what I understand, buying out Tollefsen means the Wings will have shed $500,000 from this year’s cap. Still not enough but a start.

The other option is that Tollefsen takes over as the Wings’ depth defenseman making both Brett Lebda and Derek Meech expendable. If that’s the case, the Wings will have dropped $1.333 million from their cap this season, a decent number.

This move was not about talent or potential or a need at a given position, simply a financal deal.

Red Wings Trade Leino to Flyers

TSN of Canada reports that the Detroit Red Wings have traded forward Ville Leino to the Philadelphia Flyers.

In return, Detroit will get defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and a fifth-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

The Red Wings are looking to clear cap space with the return of injured forward Johan Franzen coming on Tuesday. Leino has a cap hit of $800,000 this season while Tollefsen is scheduled to make $600,000. Leino is also under contract for next season while Tollefsen is a restricted free agent.

Guessing the Odd-Men Out

Sooner or later the Red Wings will be healthy again. Given how much they miss their injured players right now, that’s a good thing. It is going to cause quite the roster crunch, though.

The Wings currently have one extra forward. Last night it was Ville Leino who sat in favor of Brad May. Bill at A2Y questioned why May would play when Detroit’s offense has been so anemic.

He admits that having Leino on the ice last night wouldn’t have made a difference but it got me thinking… How are the Red Wings going to put together their lineup when their four missing forwards come back?

There are thirteen healthy forwards right now, including Mattias Ritola who can be sent to Grand Rapids at any time so I assume he’s gone as soon as someone comes back.

Dan Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg could be back tomorrow in Los Angeles. Jason Williams is looking at returning later this month. Johan Franzen is expected back after the Olympic break. That’s four of twelve forwards right there.

I don’t see Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk, Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm or Tomas Holmstrom losing their spots in the lineup. I also highly doubt that Kris Draper would be a casualty of the numbers. Justin Abdelkader could be sent to Grand Rapids but the Red Wings told him to find a house in the Detroit area so I’m assuming he sticks with the team.

We’re up to eleven of twelve roster spots.

Patrick Eaves, Ville Leino, Kirk Maltby, Brad May and Drew Miller. Only one stays. Who is it?

May, Leino and Maltby are my immediate choices to be left out. This leaves either Eaves or Miller. I think I’d keep Eaves due to his slightly better offensive potential.

The choice is not an easy one no matter how you look at it.

May In, Zetterberg and Cleary Remain Out Against Ducks

There will be a change to the Detroit lineup tonight but it’s not the one Red Wings fans have been waiting for.

Henrik Zetterberg will not return from his separated shoulder tonight in Anaheim. Both he and Dan Cleary are aiming for comebacks on Thursday in Los Angeles.

Instead, one-time Duck Brad May will face his former team, replacing Ville Leino in the Detroit lineup. May missed Sunday’s game in Phoenix with a lower-body injury.

Eaves Out Against Avalanche

The Red Wings host the Colorado Avalanche in Detroit’s annual New Years’ Eve matchup tonight.

Patrick Eaves will be out with the flu so Ville Leino will return to the lineup after missing one game as a healthy scratch. Mattias Ritola remains with the Wings.

Jimmy Howard gets the start after allowing only one goal in Sunday’s overtime loss to Columbus.

Red Wings Waste Stellar Performance by Howard, Fall to Columbus 1-0

Jimmy Howard stopped 39 of 40 shots against on Monday night but it wasn’t enough for the Detroit Red Wings, who dropped a 1-0 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime.

Blue Jackets netminder Steve Mason stopped all 34 shots he faced – including two in overtime – in earning the shutout victory.

It was the third time in their last four games that the Red Wings were shut out.

The only goal of the game came 3:12 into the overtime period when Fredrik Modin walked around Detroit blueliner Brad Stuart and snapped a shot on net from the top of the left faceoff circle. Modin then jumped into the slot to pick up the rebound and slid it in around the sprawling Howard.

The Red Wings were once again unable to capitalize on any of their four power plays, including 43 seconds of five-on-three.

Columbus went scoreless on three power play tries.

The Red Wings next action will be their annual New Years Eve game as they play host to the Colorado Avalanche.

Detroit forward Ville Leino was a healthy scratch in favor of call-up Mattias Ritola… The Blue Jackets were without Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina, acquired earlier in the day from the Washington Capitals for Jason Chimera.

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