LGW Calendars

January 13, 2006

 

Every month, LGW.com posts a calendar featuring the Wings’ schedule.  Visit their site and download one.

 

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Slam columnist Jim Kernaghan spoke with Brendan Shanahan recently regarding his current 8-game goal drought.

But nowadays, the Detroit Red Wings power forward sees scoring slumps for what they are — blips on the career screen, annoying little flatlines that invariably end.

“Two weeks ago, I’m on a scoring streak of 10 or 12 games and all of a sudden, the puck is bouncing the other way,” the veteran and former London Knight said.

“My linemates are scoring and I’m not. It’s almost comical.”

Shanahan, on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in last night’s 6-3 win over East-leading Philadelphia, racked up 4 assists.

More from Kernaghan

Thumbs up…so far

January 13, 2006

Darren Eliot at NHL.Com has a piece today focusing on the coaches who have made a difference in their teams’ success. As we’ve stated here before, Mike Babcock definitely falls into that category.  Eliot agrees.

First year Red Wings coach Mike Babcock came into “Hockeytown” and immediately infused energy that the team had lacked in recent seasons. The Wings continue to ride that fast start atop the Conference standings.

Energy the team had lacked the previous seasons?  Previous POST seasons, maybe.  But looking at Detroit’s record on January 13th the last four (played) years, the results have been similarly consistent under two previous regimes.

  • 05/06      29 wins
  • 03/04      27 wins
  • 02/03      25 wins
  • 01/02      32 wins

We’re not disputing Babcock’s influence on this Wing team. His impact can’t be disputed in a number of areas; particularly the care and feeding of the youngsters.

But as he well knows, the proof will be in the playoff pudding.  Babcock has demonstrated a knack for juggling lines effectively, at the right times.  His regrouping of Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Shanahan last night was a prime example.  Not only did he put a scoring line together capable of putting up big points, but he recognized that all three were in ruts and, hopefully, brought them back to life.

Tests that await him are:

  • getting more out of Robert Lang
  • Streamlining a defensive corps that will have to change when Nik Kronwall comes back
  • Winning the Central Division and the West without wearing down the veterans (particularly Chelios and Schneider)
  • Dealing with 9 Wings playing two weeks of high-stress, physically demanding hockey in Turin
  • Deciding on a number 1 goalie.  I think he already has. The hard part will be to make it public (is that necessary?) and to get enough games under Legace’s belt and keep Osgood fresh at the same time.
  • And the big one:  getting this team to play like it did last night in the playoffs with ferocity on the forecheck, a killer instinct in the third period and defensive responsibility. 

So, yeah, we like Mike.  But we’ll like him a lot better when he’s got a cigar in his mouth, riding a convoy through the streets of Detroit in June.

More from Eliot

Made in the USA

January 13, 2006

Japer’s Rink has chimed in on Roenick’s latest idiocy–his claim that he and Mike Modano share the title of best American born players; and given us a list of his own.  Chelios, rightfully so, is ranked ahead of JR.

Chris Chelios (21 seasons; active): 179 goals, 918 points in 1438 games (.64 points per game, 44 points per season); career +311; one-time +/- award winner; 3-time Norris Trophy winner; NHL All-Rookie team; 11-time NHL All-Star; five-time first team All-NHL; two-time second team All-NHL; two-time Stanley Cup winner; member 1996 World Cup of Hockey Gold Medal team; 1996 World Cup of Hockey All-Tournament Team; member 2002 Olympic Silver Medal team; 2002 Olympics All-Tournament Team

Find out where Chelios fell out, among others.

On Brown and Bowman

January 13, 2006

Two great articles posted on Kukla’s this morning regarding former Detroit coaching legends.  First, Larry Brown’s respect for the hockey community.

“I was involved in a championship and obviously that was an incredible, special feeling for me. But I just remember reading and hearing what hockey players think about the Stanley Cup, the fact that they can take it home, show their friends and what it obviously has meant. I’m not so sure all our guys until later on in their career, they realize what it means to be part of a championship team.”

More on LB

And another one on Ken Hitchcock and how he recalls coaching against Scotty Bowman.

“The part I liked most was, Scotty got up for good teams. He got animated. You could see him behind the bench, looking very stoic at times, but against us he was very animated. He was really into it. You knew your team had to be at its best.’’

More on Hitch and Bowman

More reaction from Philly

January 13, 2006

Flyers coaches and players all seem to think they were significantly schooled last night by a team that plays that consistently well.  Our impressions are that the Wings played great, and have the ability to play as well or better.  The question is whether they can do that when it matters.

Via Phillyburbs.com:

Mike Knuble added, “We learned something tonight, where we need to go in the future. They overwhelmed us in the third. They have a lot of firepower.”

Jeff Carter, one of the young players who looked slightly awed by it all, said it was a new experience.

“It was definitely the fastest game I’ve been in,” Carter said. “It definitely was an eye-opener and a building block to where we need to get to.”

More…

Report from JLA

January 13, 2006

Paul, of Kukla’s fame, was at the game last night and posted his thoughts this morning:

Nice to see Yzerman pass Gordie in all-time assists, he received a standing O for the accomplishment and Steve looks to be improving his game more and more everyday.  If used correctly, he will be a positive when the playoffs roll around.
Zetterberg returned to the wing and formed a line with Shanahan and Datsyuk.  Shanny had four helpers, Datsyuk and Z were 2/2 giving the line a total of 12 points.

More from Kukla’s…

Missing Aaron Ward

January 13, 2006

No, we’re not talking about Scotty Bowman.  Cason, over at Casonsblog, is fretting over the loss of ex-Wing (and Bowman favorite) Aaron Ward, who played briefly against his former team Tuesday before leaving with what was later diagnosed as the evil “sports hernia.”

AWard
God the ‘Canes are going to miss AWard. Last week I posted my concerns over the loss of Glen Wesley. I suggested that JR should look at making a trade for a stud blueliner and a prospect, dangling Erik Cole as bait. David of Red and Black set me straight, so I won’t go down that road again. Big moves when the team is gellin’ are just not wise. I suspect JR will just hold his cards unless the roof starts to fall in. It should make for some third period nail biting over the next six weeks (thank goodness for the Oly break). Mike Commodore has to stay disciplined and Andrew Hutchinson may have to actually guard somebody in the interim. Danny Richmond will probably be called up, but he’s been less than studly in previous stints.

More from Cason…if you can get by the kilt photo

Those are the words of a tired Ken Hitchcock last night after his team completed an 11-game road trip in Detroit with a 6-3 loss to the Wings.

Is it true? 

That can be debated.  But if you look at the Wings third period last night, saw the energy and the killer instinct displayed by Datsyuk and Zetterberg, it may just be accurate.

When the Wings play the way they can, they are the best team in the league.  That’s exactly twice that we’ve seen it this year, however. 

On to the notes.

Right off the jump it was clear one game plan Mike Babcock stressed was getting into the head of Peter Forsberg.  And with that, the Wings came at him in wave after wave of antagonism.

Cleary–several times, Maltby, Franzen, Draper, Chelios.  Every time Forsberg had the puck, someone was in his face. It was the most abrasive game the Wings have shown us this year. 

Detroit displayed a style so different than what we’ve seen up to this point that it is startling to consider that due to one game in January, a Cup run looks more realistic than ever.

Why? Because the way they played last night is how they’ll beat Calgary.

Dan Cleary took back-to-back roughing and boarding penalties last night.  Good for you Dan.  When the penalty kill looked as good as it did last night (minus one bad goal on poor coverage from Draper), take the occasional opportunity to make a run at someone to leave an impression.

Babcock’s decision to place Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Shanahan back on the same line was genius.  All three were slumping. 

Not anymore. 12 points for that line alone; 9 of them in the third period.

Zetterberg scored twice and added two assists, same for Datsyuk.  Shanny had four assists.  They were so good in the third period that it looked like they’d pop one ever shift.

Second straight game against a quality East opponent that the Wings played tougher than their opponent.  Is this a philosophy change?  Hopefully.  

Babcock and Holland have a touch decision to make when Kronwall comes back.  Who sits, or heads to Grand Rapids, to make room?  Lebda has to stay up here, in my opinion.  The kid is playing so well, so responsibly, that it’s tough to see him leaving.  Lilja is improving, and beginning to use his size.  Wooley is an offensive force, but a liability in his own end.  Cap issues may have more say than I’m willing to explore right now, but I’d guess Wooley will see little ice time once Kronwall gets back into the lineup. 

Milestones all over the place last night as Zetterberg blew by his career high in points (44) to end the game with 48.

In the third The Captain surpassed Gordie Howe on the NHL all time assist list with a gorgeous pass to Robet Lang (he wears #20 for the Wings, in case you hadn’t seen him lately). 

Via the Detroit News:

“That’s how good you’ve been and how long you’ve played when pass a player like Gordie Howe,” Babcock said.

 

That assist was the final act in a three-part play that started about 90 seconds before the goal, though.

Yzerman was leaving the ice when Sami Kapponen ran him.  It was a borderline clean hit, but you could see the old fire in 19’s eyes as he left the ice.  He was back out there about 40 seconds later and he immediately hit the first Flyer he could find: defenseman Randy Jones.  Yzerman then took off up ice and had the puck on a two-on-one with Lang. For the second straight game, we saw vintage Stevie as he waited until the last possible second, threaded a pass to Lang and up the assist list he moved.

Yzerman, with his energy and commitment, could very well lead this team as far as his health will carry him.  If he continues to play the way he has the last two games, it’s going to be an interesting spring.

A 1-1 game broke open 15 seconds into the third when the Wings outstanding penalty killing paid off with a shorty from Chelios (2), helped by a Selke-type play from Draper. 

Via the Detroit Free Press:

“In my case, it was just Maltby and Draper doing all the work,” Chelios said. “Their forwards were kind of lollygagging back and we caught them by surprise.” 

32 seconds later Shanahan fed Datsyuk in front.  Dats went forehand to back hand and buried it top shelf for a 3-1 lead.

Philly countered with a Seiderberg goal of Lilja’s leg, but Zetterberg’s 21st opened the lead to two.  Gagne’s 31st closed the gap again.

And Zetterberg, a future captain, scored again to seal the deal.

Freep:

“Once in a while, you get every bounce on your stick and it goes well for you,” said Zetterberg, who has 22 goals and 26 assists. “I think tonight was one of those nights.”

The chemistry between Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Shanahan can’t be overstated.  It’s a line that is almost certain to make chances, and we may not see it often because all three players are instrumental in getting the most out of the rest of the team.  If the Wings are going to spread the wealth, that line can’t stay together. 

Detroit News:

“(The chemistry) was really good,” Babcock said. “He’d (Zetterberg) been our best center, and your moving him to the wing, you’re saying what are you doing, but he’s also a pretty good winger.”

Babcock said he made the move because Zetterberg “was playing too good down the middle.”

“With him, Lang and Datsyuk we have three quality centers. I’ve got room for two of them,” Babcock said. “The guy who plays the wall the best is Hank. So even though he was playing great down the middle, that’s what we’re doing.”

But there will be times, like last night, when Babcock needs guaranteed offensive production.  That’s when we’ll see that line again.

From Booth Newspapers (Mlive):

“I’ve enjoyed playing center, but the coach put me back on wing and you can’t complain about that either,” Zetterberg said. “It was fun to be back playing with (Datsyuk). He and Shanny had a great game. You just have to enjoy these kind of games. The puck won’t bounce like it did today every game.”

The necessity to keep the Draper, Maltby, Franzen line on against Forsberg, Gagne and Knuble most likely led to the re-unification of the Datsyuk line, as well.  Draper’s line was outstanding, despite Gagne’s two goals. In addition to shutting down Forsberg–as much as any line can do that–and assisting on Chelios’ goal, Draper was also 13 of 17 on faceoffs.

Booth (Mlive):

“It’s the best game, since I’ve been here, that Kris Draper has played, by far,” Babcock said. “He was outstanding. That line did a good job.

“Obviously, Zetterberg and Datsyuk and those guys that scored are going to get the credit, but (Draper’s line) did the work.”

Via the Philadelphia Daily News:

“[Niittymaki] kept us in for two periods but finally even he couldn’t help us,” Forsberg said. “We had too many turnovers, we gave them too many chances. They made good plays, too, but there were too many wide-open chances and Niittymaki couldn’t stop those. They were hungry and we gave up too many quality chances in the third period and they buried them.”

Legace played adequately.   Tested rarely and frankly looked a little shaky.  The key to this whole goalie situation is not who has more ability, mental toughness or experience.  In those areas, Osgood and Legace are fairly equal.  The determining factor has to be which goalie the team plays better in front of.  Right now, that’s Legace.

NHL.com box score (Box score is incorrect here and on TSN. Specifically, both say Maltby scored.  We all know that is just pure, outrageous fiction.)

On the Wings recap

Detroit News: Babcock’s wizardry pays off

Detroit Free Press: Wings ground Flyers

Booth Newspapers: Zetterberg, Datsyuk…

Philadelphia Daily News: Breakdown in Detroit 

 

From Chuck Carlton’s fan Q and A session today:

Q: Now that they’ve finally beaten the Red Wings (in Joe Louis Arena, even), have the Stars caught up to their rivals in the West?

CARLTON: Any psychological edge that Detroit held on the Stars disappeared in that huge 6-3 comeback win Sunday. The game exposed some of the weaknesses that the Red Wings have on defense and in goal. Chris Osgood finally played against the Stars like he does against a lot of contenders. Once the Stars got a couple bounces, goals came in bunches. Plus, it’s impossible to know how good (or how vulnerable) the Red Wings are since they play in the Misfit Toys Division with Chicago, Columbus and St. Louis. Those 24 games are good for 40-plus points a season. Meanwhile, the Stars are slogging it out in the Pacific, where the worst team has a center tandem of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Will a harder schedule help in the playoffs? Who knows? But just past the halfway mark, the Stars can say they have as good a claim to the top spot in the West as anybody.

Well, I’d say the true mental block to be overcome is between the ears of Marty Turco.  It’s not a team thing. It’s a Turco thing now. 

As for Osgood…yeah, we know.

More from Chuck Carlton and Dallas Morning News