Thursday, April 1, 2010

Big Bert Sinks Bluejackets

"I was just going to the net and got hit...there was hit the back of the skate and went in...ended up being a pretty big goal in the end." Forward Todd Bertuzzi

Well, it took some doing, but Todd Bertuzzi remembered what sport he was playing after having a goal disallowed for 'spiking' the puck into the net. His second attempt was a little more hockey-like, but still warranted a very lengthy review that surprisingly went the Wings way. To top it all off, Big Bert's goal happened to be the game winner as the Detroit Red Wings held off the Columbus Bluejackets for a 3-2 final score.

The win was Detroit's 41st of the season, and tentatively puts the Wings in 5th place in the West, barring a win from Nashville tonight. Let's take a look at the Geek's Winning Formula for tonight's game:

1.) Keep Nash Contained - Babs gave Franzen a mission tonight, and guys? Mission. Accomplished. Nash was an even zero for +/- tonight and had only a single shot all night long. Now for anyone who saw the game or watches the highlights will see that his one shot was a dangerous one. The Wings knew who to shut down, and shut him down they did.

2.) Stick to the Plan! - Tonight, Detroit came to play. Tonight, Detroit stuck to a plan, and tonight Detroit won a game in the normal fashion: Score some goals, play good hockey, and give up less than you took. Had the Wings imploded like they did on Tuesday, we would not be reveling in a 7th straight Red Wings victory. I'm glad that the Wings didn't have to 'run up the score', because Columbus played pretty well all around, we just played better.

3.) Poor Mason Work - To give credit, Mason wasn't horrible for the Bluejackets. That's why all the pressure, all the harrying and all the harassment Steve Mason took throughout the game was enough to slip a trio of tallies past the Columbus keeper. Mason took a slapper to the facemask that shook him a bit, and fell awkwardly making a save some time later, so Mason literally took his licks during this game, and it looked to me like an embodiment of the overall punishment Detroit dished out against the Jackets.

Well, let's step back and take a look at where we're at, shall we? Detroit now sits pretty in the West with 95 points. Where were we about a month ago? Well, to put it in perspective, we beat Minnesota 5-1 on March 11th, and that gave us our 76th point. That's right, we had 76 points after March 11th. In 21 days, we've accumulated 19 points. The Wings own the best record in the league since coming back from the Olympics: 13-2-1. See where I'm going with this? The Wings are going to the playoffs, my friends. The only lingering question is which spot we'll be in when they get here.

Now for some sound bytes: Most of the talk in the locker room was in regards to Jimmeh, and with good reason, look at the guy, for God's sake!! Howard was asked about the recent awards he received, to which he replied that it was, "Pretty's a good honor." Reporters then queried Howard about his gameplan tonight as opposed to the game against Edmonton. His response: "There's really no difference...give the guys a chance to win. That's how I play every night." Yes you do, Jimmy, and it's worked pretty well so far.

Coach Babcock also spoke briefly of the Wings' rookie goaltender as he summarized the game: "I thought we got better at handling the puck...put pressure on them...Howie made some big saves." Looking ahead, Mike stated, "We'd like to be in a position to go past them [Nashville]."

Next on the docket: ...Nashville! Yep, even if the Predators win tonight, the Wings get a crack at them in two days, and can force 5th place away from the Preds. If that's what it takes...

So till then, enjoy the 7-game win streak, Wingnuts!! Let's Go Red Wings!!!

P.S. Oh, and to clarify on the post title: A Bluejacket is actually a term for a British naval officer, in contrast to the dorky looking hornet Columbus has used in the past...which is a...YELLOW-jacket...jerseyfail??

Who Doesn't Love the Wings?

Here's a little bonus before the game. Because pet owners aren't always the ones who choose the pet...

Know what she's dreaming of? A big win by Detroit tonight, baby. You can't refuse a kitten, can you Wings? I didn't think so.

Preview: Wings VS Bluejackets

"It was one of those nights for us. Obviously we had the game totally in control and when you stop playing...the other team gets going. It's a real good lesson for us." - Coach Mike Babcock

Detroit (40-23-13) VS Columbus (32-32-13)

Every game is turning out to be crucial in these waning weeks of the regular season. The Red Wings, as Babcock noted above, were taught a valuable lesson in staying disciplined no matter what the score. Let's hope this time the Wings paid attention in class and don't make the same mistake when it really matters. On the docket tonight: The Wings play host to the Bluejackets, who could not emulate their regular season success of last year. They will once again be spectators of the second-season, while Detroit looks to better improve their chances of clinching a berth in the Playoffs.

Let's look at the three keys, which I am going to dub "The Geek's Winning Formula" from here on out:

1.) Keep Nash Contained - Much like we would target a Crosby or an Ovechkin, they man putting pucks in the net for the Jackets is Rick Nash. With 33G/32A/65PTS, this is the man the Wings need to keep quiet tonight. He's not only dangerous as a goal-scorer, but also as a playmaker, splitting his points almost evenly. Keep Nash from moving with the puck, and he'll switch to moving the puck, since he's been effective in both roles.

2.) Stick to the Plan! - For God's sake, Detroit had better know now after the embarrassing meltdown of yestergame to not let up. Now, I made this comment on Twitter and unfortunately did not get any responses back, so I'll posit my query here: What most people would call running up a score, I call sticking to a game plan that works, so why in the hell would you stop running with said plan?? Am I wrong to think this way? Especially after the game against Edmonton??? We pretty much proved Tuesday night the idea that no game is ever over. Is it so wrong, then, to keep playing a style that is working against the other team, regardless of how badly you end up pounding them?? I've always hated the "running up the score is wrong" debate. Why the hell is it wrong!? I'm sorry my team is kicking your team's ass, maybe you should have stayed in the parking lot, or gotten on the bike for a few more hours before gameday!! These guys are, at its roots, working. This is their work, to go out and beat another team. Does your boss tell you to slow the hell down if your office is getting more business than another? No! He gives you a handshake, a raise and a promotion for a good job!! Why is sports any different!? Okay, getting on a rant, onward (though I may continue further below).

3.) Poor Mason Work - This is something that the Wings can cause. Last time Detroit played Columbus, Steve Mason blanked us through regulation and held us off through overtime until the Jackets could score the OT winner. He has already come out to say that he feels Jimmah is worthy of Calder consideration, if not the trophy itself. Though I feel he's undercutting Howard, Mason is still saying that he knows how well Jimmy is playing, so obviously Mason is looking to give another lights-out performance for his team, if only to help try and derail the Wings' playoff aspirations.

I'm still a little stressed at Detroit's blown PP chances, but I'll ease up a bit as they DID score on the man-advantage on Tuesday. I am watching tonight for the Red Wings to improve their poor percentage in this area though. So in closing till tonight, I'll end with this: The Red Wings have the players and the skill and the firepower to obliterate a team to embarrassment, we know this. I say be it 3 goals, 4 goals, or 10 goals, the plan is simple - find what works and do not stop. Maybe you feel different, maybe you agree. Maybe you can comment below and we'll get a huge discussion going on it, I'd be cool with that!

The game starts at 7:30PM EST, and I'm off today and tomorrow thanks to the Friday holiday, so I should be around for the whole game on Twitter (aren't you just gushing with happiness now?). Kidding aside, this is a game the Wings can't mess around in, they've already played their April Fools prank early against the Oil and scared the shit out of us all. Till the game tonight, Wingnuts!! Let's Go Red Wings!!!