Not so fast Bubba; Wings take Game 1

January 6, 2006

Earlier in the week, I posted my Wing-specific midway trophies and said Henrik Zetterberg would get the Hart. 

I still believe he is the Wings’ MVP so far, but Nick Lidstrom is gaining.  The two Swedes are sharing the load.

They’re carrying the Wings as Lidstrom scored twice last night and Hank, despite being held scoreless for only the third time this year, was a dynamic, tenacious force in the Predator end all night.

The performance you saw last night by this team is one that can win a Cup.  It was inspired, tough, opportunistic hockey; the kind that wins playoff series’.

Mike Babcock must be having a blast coaching this team.  Last night he threw Draper, Lang and an energized Steve Yzerman out there to start the game.

Franzen was scratched with an “upper body” injury as a result of a big check from Eric Brewer Thursday night. Mark Mowers took his place.

Wings came out fast, as they had to.  The Barbecue Pit was jumping and the Preds, while no longer the team that averages an age of 14, completely feed off that crowd’s energy. 

Conversely, we all know the troubles Detroit’s had in the first period lately, so it was vital that the Wings match that tenacity from the start. 

They did. 

They established the forecheck well before Nashville did and had three great scoring chances in the first. Datsyuk hit a post, Mowers with a breakaway and Zetterberg nearly scored to end the period close in but Vokoun made a nice save.

Vernon Fiddler, yes that Vernon Fiddler, scored the Preds only goal on the PP with Lilja in the box.  This goal was the only disappointing moment for the Wings all night as he and Hartnell were alone and, I believe, discussing Star Jones’ later appearance on 20/20 in front of Legace when Fiddler tapped a rebound past Manny.  Chelios and Lidstrom were near them but decided no forms of violence were necessary to keep the crease clear.

Wings looked great from that point forward.  They didn’t dominate the second, but clearly had the edge.  Mark Mowers played a great game last night.  He nearly scored on the breakaway in the first.

But, more importantly, he seemed to understand his role very well.  Numerous times he crossed into the Nashville end, looked briefly for a chance then moved the puck to the corner where he and Cleary established the forecheck. 

Steve Yzerman had his best game of the year.  More than 13 minutes of ice time and a crisp pass to Lidstrom on the Wings’ third goal.  If this is the Yzerman we have in the playoffs, we are in good shape.  That assist tied him with Gordie Howe for 7th on the NHL all time list with 1,049.

The Jason Williams power play experiment should stop.  He played great 5-5 last night, but if his blast of a slap shot is the only reason Babcock gives him so much time with the advantage, then he needs to be in a position to shoot more.  It seems that every time Williams tries to enter the zone, the puck ends up headed the other way.  When Kronwall comes back it will be interesting to see if he eventually moves to the point on the PP.

When Chelios was called for an early interference penalty, he went to the box for the first time in six games.  Yes, he had early trouble adapting to the “new” rules.  But look at this:

  • 1st 5 games:   16 PIM
  • last 20 games: 12 PIM

I’d say he’s adapting ok.

Manny Legace was fantastic with 29 saves, several very difficult.  His glove save in the first set the tone for a good night and he maintained it.  Nothing he could do on the only Nashville goal as he was hung out to dry by Chelios and Lidstrom.

Game 1 of 8 and the Wings are in good shape, up by 6 points.  Unfortunately, Nashville has a relative cakewalk of month–the exception being one game with Carolina, and two more with Detroit.

Center Ice featured the Preds broadcast with Pete Weber and Terry Crisp.  They are hokey, irritating and Weber seems to know about as much hockey as a Navy Ensign knows about leadership.  But, it dawned on me last night that they’re a perfect fit for the Nashville audience–and no, that’s not an insult. For a community just getting to know hockey, it’s effective to have a couple affable old guys laughing at themselves, displaying a little homerism and not talking above the heads of a fan base that is growing more passionate.


On the Wings Game Recap

Detroit Free Press Game Recap

Mlive Game Recap

Daily Tennessean Game Recap

Daily Tennessean: two horse race

Daily Tennessean: Preds still catching up to Detroit

Detroit Free Press: Wings Corner


12 Responses to “Not so fast Bubba; Wings take Game 1”

  1. w2j2 Says:

    Great Game recap, IWO! What about the poor camera work? It felt like we were in the goodyear blimp!

  2. iwocpo Says:

    I hear ya bro. Sticky BBQ fingers make it tough to run a betacam. A little moonshine between periods probably didn’t help either.

  3. Olongapo Joe Says:

    Wow, this is weird.

    I clicked on “comments” to read the mussings and Paul and his KK url were auto-filled in the appropriate field.

  4. iwocpo Says:

    Not sure what you mean, but I think you might have clicked on the “kukla’s” permalink in the post below.

  5. Olongapo Joe Says:

    Didn’t click on the permalink.

    Clicked on “comments” under this post to read who said what. When I looked at the message field, “Paul” was already filled into the name field and his KK domain addy was already filled into the url field.

    I typed my message, deleted the name “Paul” from the name field, typed my own nic in, deleted the URL and clicked “say it!”

    Hope that helps.

  6. iwocpo Says:

    Paul’s obviously attemtping to sabotage me. Glad you figured it out.

  7. Laura Says:

    That Tennessean article was pretty annoying. Seems the only reason the Red Wings won was that the Predators giftwrapped it for them by taking dumb penalties. Yet who scored the game’s even-strength goal? And how many of those penalties were really so dumb?

    This is a great blog, beginning with the name. Thanks.

  8. Paul Says:

    Just trying to get some pub, yep, I hard coded my name and website address in the fields.
    Really don;t know what would cause that, hope you figure it out iwo.

  9. iwocpo Says:

    Good points, Laura. The Predators have a nasty tendency to whine after losses. In this case, they sound silly using our PP success as an alibi since, by my count, we hit at least two posts even strength and outplayed them in the second and third periods, no matter the situation.

    One thing I forgot to mention was Hartnell going after Schneider as soon as the second period ended. The Wings had them frustrated and it showed.

    Thanks for the compliment. A reader over at Kukla’s wondered why it wasn’t Abel to Zombo.

  10. Laura Says:

    If anyone gets to be an honorary Z, I think we can agree it’s Stevie. :>

  11. iwocpo Says:

    Yep, and if anyone (eventually) gets to be an honorary Stevie, it may very well be Z–as in Zetterberg. In my opinion, the Wings next captain.

  12. Paul Says:

    Taken from a Preds forum:
    The third period was frustrating to watch. The LONG flurry of activities down in the wings end, 3-4 Preds at a time tripped/knocked down/cross checked to the ice, and NONE of them merits a whistle? Compare the scratch lists and imagine we have Z and Legwand back as they will be in future matchups and the Preds will fare much better I think.
    I am not sure it would have changed the outcome but this was a very inconsistent officiating crew, especially during that crucial stretch of the game. I still think there is a tendency by some crews to give the benefit of the doubt to the historically top franchises on some of the marginal calls/no calls. This observation is based on MANY games I have watched this year specifically excluding the ones I have an interest in and might be bias.

    That says it all- they were robbed

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