Friday, December 20, 2013

Wings Healing, Winter Classic Preview Tomorrow

It was refreshing to see Detroit pull out a win yesterday, especially in Overtime.  The Wings were on a nasty skid that needed stopped and they did just that against Calgary.  The question is: Can they turn that momentum into more wins?

The Red Wings will get a chance to do just that when they travel to Toronto to face the Leafs in a precursor match before the Winter Classic on New Year's Day, and they got some great news that will definitely help on the defensive side.  Danny DeKeyser, Detroit's star rookie defenseman has been cleared to play.  Having Kaiser back on the blueline will greatly reassure me, as I've been preaching about how suspect our D is this year.  I still think a 2nd or 3rd defenseman would be the best thing Detroit could shop for come trade deadline day, but DeKeyser being back in the mix makes things much more tolerable.

It was also very nice, I might add, to see Alfie step up in Hank's absence and pull the team together with a very captain-ish effort.  Datsyuk also seemed to be back to form after seeming off ever since returning from his concussion.  hopefully this is a sign of many good things to come.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wings Drop Back-to-Back Games to Bottom-Feeding Florida

The questions keep piling up, but still no one seems to have any answers.

After getting back to the win column in a gritty victory over New Jersey, Detroit has dropped two straight to one of the worst teams in the NHL, the Florida Panthers.  The Red Wings lost 2-1 in their barn, then suffered a 3-2 shootout loss in Florida's rink last night.  The most recent game gives Detroit a staggering 10 consecutive losses in the skills competition dating back to last year, 5 of those losses coming this season.

Everyone addressing the media (players, Babcock, etc.) all seem content in saying they have no answer for not only why the Wings are losing so many shootouts, but also why the Wings are losing in general.  Babs seems hesitant to come right out and say what is obvious to the fans: The team is giving up before the game has finished.  Take last night for example, up 2-0 after 40 minutes and what to the Wings do?  Frolick around with the puck and stop communicating, which leads to the signature errant passes and sloppy plays that lead to turnovers and scoring chances for the other squad.  Florida was more than happy to increase their pressure and battle back which--to their credit--they did very well.  The Panthers never gave up on the game and managed a tie before regulation's end.  The Wings, however, looked like they had lost the game once they gave up Florida's first goal, and then found a way to make their delusion a reality.

It simply amazes me how the level of confidence on this team is so low that they are literally willing themselves into losses.  Some people have drawn parallels to the February of 2008, when the Wings had to overcome great adversity before winning their most recent Stanley Cup.  I feel there is a difference, though--this year's injuries are nothing compared to that February 5 years ago, and yet we are still crumbling.

For now the Wings are afloat, sitting 3rd in the Atlantic division, but teams are hot on their heels ready to pounce and the upcoming schedule is not pretty: 2 games VS Tampa, and a game against Pittsburgh and Anaheim.  How important will the 3 points we squandered to Florida be should we get destroyed over the next 4 games, and where will be when the dust settles?  Of course that is a worst-case scenario, but with how this team has performed this year, one kind of has to prepare for it just in case.

As was the original plan Monster will be in net on Thursday and hopefully we get another body back, be it Helm, DeKeyser or Zetterberg, because we badly need them all.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Wings Grind Out a Win in Jersey

It weren't pretty, that's for sure.

Detroit needed to get the game against Philly behind them badly, while also figuring out a way to stay mentally strong through an entire game.  It seems their answer to that particular problem was to play just above sea level on an ocean called Mediocrity and somehow it worked.  Neither the Red Wings or the New Jersey Devils really seemed to be firing on all cylinders.  Obviously with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Darren Helm on the shelf, things were going to be tough, but the Devils didn't make life much more difficult for us than we did for them.

The Wings trailed first in last night's game but were able to claw their way back to a 1-1 tie before opening things up very late in the game.  Johan Franzen got the 2-1 lead on the end of a great passing play by Tatar and Nyquist.  New Jersey really got up in arms, though, when their goaltender Cory Schneider was called for playing the puck outside the trapezoid.  Personally, after looking at the replay angles, I do agree the call was a bit close, but when Tomas Tatar scored immediately off the ensuing face-off to make it 3-1 Red Wings, I stopped thinking about it.

One thing that's bothering me is the continuing lack of discipline that is leading to stupid, stupid penalties.  Detroit took 3 of the first 4 penalties in the game, the first of which was Brendan Smith.  When I saw the play, I swore he was going to take a boarding call and put us down a man for 5 minutes.  Just a reckless play that didn't need to happen and thankfully did not result in an injury.

Jonas Gustavsson improved to 8-0-1 on the season and didn't need to do much work to get there.  He did, however, make an amazing save on Adam Henrique.  The puck went behind Monster in mid-air, and he somehow twisted himself around and spun his glove hand around backwards and shoveled the puck away from the goal line.

The Wings get right back to it tonight when they host the Florida Panthers.  This will be Stephen Weiss's return to his old team, and from the way he's played this year, I'd like to offer that he stay with them after the game.  Maybe playing his old mates will finally light the fire under his ass, but I highly doubt it.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Line is Drawn: How Will Red Wings Cope with Loss of Hank?

We have rarely found ourselves in this position.  We've lost each a number of times, but scarcely have we missed both at the same time.

That's right: The Euro Twins are both on the shelf.

In the midst of the growing concern of when superstar Pavel Datsyuk will return from concussion symptoms after Jared Cowen's dirty hit (yes it was dirty, stop making excuses), Captain Henrik Zetterberg is now out for at least two weeks with a herniated disc.  The Wings had been playing their hardest and best hockey all year in Datsyuk's absence, but the question now is whether or not the team and continue that trend with their leader (and leading scorer, to boot) out of the lineup as well.

Contributions from Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and many others have kept the ship afloat with #13 not playing.  Not least of the surprises has been the rebirth of Darren Helm, who is bringing new meaning to his nickname, 'Danger'.  6 points in his last 6 games, 5 of which have been goals.  Helmer has been on fire since being promoted to the 2nd line center position, and it is my hope that we see him keep improving with the added responsibility of knowing that the dynamic duo is not going to be around to provide any offense for the foreseeable future.

The ones who really need to step up, though?  Look no further than the bottom of the barrel at forward.  Detroit must have the most overpaid and under-performing 4th line in the league, even at a glance.  Almost $10 Million tied up in the ass-crack of our forward lines, and what do we have to show for it? 4 goals. 5 assists.  That's it...9 points.  Most expensive damned points on this team, to be sure.  These three: Samuelsson, Cleary and Weiss need to start earning their keep or one or more of them will not be around much longer.  Even a stubborn Ken Holland won't be able to keep weight that blatantly dead on a team that may find itself fighting for the playoffs if the offense suddenly dries up again.

We'll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow against the Flyers.  The line has been drawn, time to separate the men from the boys on this team and who can crank it to another level.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Detroit Downs Sens in Alfie's Return to Ottawa

The man who was, and arguably still is, the face of the Ottawa Senators franchise returned for the first time as a visiting player.  Daniel Alfredsson, 17 years a Senator and 13 years an Ottawa captain, made his debut in the nation's capital as a Detroit Red Wing last night.  His new team made sure to do him justice for leaving his old home.

The Wings got out to a 2-0 lead in the 2nd period and never let go of that lead for the rest of the game, which culminated in Alfredsson scoring on an empty net to drive home the dagger in a 4-2 victory over the Sens.  Drew Miller scored a pair and Johan Franzen also contributed by opening the scoring for Detroit in the win.  Jonas Gustavsson made 30 saves for the win, which puts him remarkably at 7-0-1 on the season.

This was a statement game for Detroit.  We had to win this game.  Ottawa is not a good team and even if they were, they have not been playing like it of late.  Weak teams or good teams playing weakly need to be taken advantage of.  Those are your write-off points, the games you should almost be mailing in for the W.  Teams that don't win those games are the ones hovering in the middle of the pack or worse, fighting (and praying) for a playoff spot come April.  The Sens had taken advantage of us when we weren't playing well and got 4 points out of us.  Now that the tables have turned, it was good to see Detroit return the favor and take some of those points back.

I'm still concerned mostly with our defensive core.  Even when Danny DeKeyser does return, the elephants in the room have got to be Kyle Quincey and--to a lesser extent since returning from injury--Brendan Smith.  Smith has improved his game a lot...the bar, however, had been set fairly low in that regard.  Quincey has just consistently been terrible, with the odd happy accident of him managing to properly block a shot or pass.  I'd seriously like for KH to consider getting a dependable 3rd or 4th D-man if at all possible.  I'm not assuming it's totally possible, I'm just saying I think we still need the help on the back end.  For now though, we work with what we have.

The Wings are off till Wednesday when they face the Flyers.  Still no word yet of whether Pavel Datsyuk is feeling up to returning. I remain vigilant in my wishing for him to come back.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wings Lay Beating on Bruins in 6-1 Rout

Where was this all year??

The Wings welcomed in the Boston Bruins last night, but once the puck was dropped, they were anything but welcoming.  With 10 different players on the scoresheet, Detroit dominated play for long stretches of the match and absolutely embarrassed the Bruins, driving the score all the way to 6-0 before Boston got their only goal in the dying minutes of the game.  Justin Abdelkader, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Gustav Nyquist and Drew Miller scored the Red Wings' half-dozen, while Jonas Gustavsson made 16 saves in the contest before Jarome Iginla finally got one past him at 17:35 of the 3rd.

So much went right in this 6-1 win that it's hard to criticize anything in the Wings' play yesterday.  Passing was better, guys were obviously communicating more, there was more push through the middle of the ice, guys were driving the net, rebounds and corner pucks were fought for, the team worked together defensively to shut down the short, the Wings finally played 60 minutes--or pretty close-- of Red Wings style hockey, and were rewarded.

Playing without Pavel Datsyuk up front and Danny DeKeyser on the blueline didn't stop Detroit from putting on a clinic, with Boston as the very unwilling patient.  The team seems to have woken up somewhat after losing two very important regulars on the roster.  If the boys can sustain anything close to this level of play until Dats and Kaiser return, imagine the jump they'll have once those two get back!

Next up is the New York Islanders, and a chance at a winning streak for the first time in a month.  We'll see then how much of this momentum carries over.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dirty Deeds: Wings Lose, Ottawa Commits to Win at All Costs

Well I've found a new team to hate.

After a disgraceful display by the Ottawa Senators last night, which was highlighted by an elbow delivered directly to Pavel Datsyuk's jaw, the Red Wings lost 4-2 in what was easily the ugliest game of the season so far.  Datsyuk is being evaluated with concussion-like symptoms and will not be in the lineup later today when Detroit plays in Buffalo.

DIVE! DIVE! ...Oh, see I thought that's what
you say when ANYONE falls down, as
Sens fans were quick to demonstrate.
George Malik of Kukla's Corner said it best on Twitter last night, when he mentioned that the refs had lost total control of the game.  It was true, and what little control the refs did have was inconsistent at best.  There's no way anyone out there last night could know for sure what would get called and what wouldn't.

And for the record, for any Sens fans reading this: Take a slash to the back of your knee on your lead foot, let's see if you 'dive' or not.  Stop deluding yourselves to think that what your pathetic excuse for hockey players did on the ice last night was anything close to legal or clean.  And people talk shit about US wearing tinfoil hats and being homers...right.  At least the Sens can get jobs as lumberjacks in a few years if there's another lockout.

I suppose if there was a team to play without Datsyuk, it would be Buffalo.  I expect to see better work ethic for the Wings defensively though, because as suspect as they've been this year, Datsyuk's defensive capabilities will be sorely missed.

And by the way, make sure not to tell any Sens fans about our faking Datsyuk's injury, because we obviously do that all the time and don't want to be found out. Definitely.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Nyquist Earns His Spot After Leading Wings to Win

Right now, the happiest guy in Hockeytown must be Gustav Nyquist because Hockeytown is now his home--for good.  After scoring a pair of goals in the Wings' 4-3 win over Carolina yesterday, it was announced by the Red Wings today that Nyquist will be in the lineup tomorrow against Ottawa.

Effectively what this means, for those who don't know, is that Nyquist will be playing his final waiver-exempt game on Saturday.  Detroit will no longer be able to send Gustav back to Grand Rapids without sending him through waivers, where he would immediately get poached by another team.

And if Nyquist is the happiest guy in Hockeytown because of this, the most frustrated would likely be
Wings GM Ken Holland.  As much as Ken assuredly enjoyed the outcome of the match last night, the fact that Nyquist played such a huge role in the victory eliminated pretty much any chance of him sending Nyquist back down with that final waiver-exempt game in hand and not having the fanbase outright lynch him.  After all the excuses and poor mis-managing that kept Gus off the roster, there was no way Holland could deny him after such a flashy season debut.

This of course leads to the next inevitable question: If Nyquist stays, who goes?  Jordin Tootoo and Patrick Eaves have both already been sent to Grand Rapids, but there's still too much cap tied up in contracts when our injuries heal to keep everyone in the big league.  The two that stick out to me are Kyle Quincey on Defense, and Mikael Samuelsson in the Forwards department.  Quincey won't be going anywhere due to Danny DeKeyser's shoulder injury, and Holland won't want to let go of Sammy completely, as that would be an admittance that he made a bone-headed signing when he picked him up to begin with.

Regardless of the name, however, I do feel that the cut HAS to be one of the older role-player type guys (many of you have been screaming Cleary for the last minute, I know) and not our youth.  There isn't a single young forward on this team that doesn't bring something to the table, and to throw that away now would be ridiculous.  Their potential hasn't fully been shown yet, but a guy like Cleary or Samuelsson who has played for years and is still mediocre at best isn't going to surprise you much anymore.

I'm not calling for an Edmonton-esque youth movement, but we have the pieces of a great team, and it's time to cut the dead weight and move on.  If it were you and you could erase one player from the lineup completely, who would you pick? Please feel free to click the comments link at the bottom of the post and tell us who your Wings whipping boy is.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wings Fall Prey to Themselves, Hand Nashville the Win

Well, we sort of got what we wanted: The OT/Shootout streak is over.

Best part of last night. Bet Cheli was glad he got
off the ice for the rest of it...
What is there to say, really? Detroit played a very mentally weak game last night against a Nashville team riding a young goalie and turned what should have at least been a close game into a write-off.  Shea Weber's knuckle-puck was the game-winner, but the Red Wings didn't make winning all that difficult, showing all the same problems they've had over the course of this season: bad or errant passing, terrible reading of the play in all 3 zones, and still not enough quality shots on net to test netminders.

On top of losing in regulation, Detroit also lost young defenseman Danny DeKeyser to a separated shoulder, which will likely have him sidelined for the next couple weeks.  It couldn't have been Quincey, could it? The hockey gods are fickle.  On the upside, Brendan Smith returned and...wasn't terrible! He admitted to keying in on watching Nik Kronwall during his stint in the press box, and it seems like he's starting to finally identify and correct some of the flaws he was harboring in his game.  He picked a good time to do so, because we need him playing well while Kaiser is in the shelf.

I do feel the question needs to seriously be asked, though: At what point does this become an issue not of the roster, but of the people in charge of that roster?  I'm starting to feel more and more each game like Mike Babcock is just preaching the same crap he always does just because he likes to hear it, and not because it's actually making a difference in the locker room between periods.  We've watched the Wings do everything exactly the same over this winless skid like they're expecting something to change. Nothing will change unless they do, the mindset, the game plans, SOMETHING internally needs to change.  We've never taken it easy on weak teams in the past so, with the tables turned, Detroit cannot expect any better treatment during their struggles.

The Red Wings return to action on Thursday against a similarly struggling Carolina team whom we have already beaten once this year.  If we can't get our shit together for this game, it may just be time to dig out that panic button.

Maybe don't press it just yet, but certainly keep it close.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Winged Wheels Fall Off Again, Washington Edges Detroit in SO

Life was good in Hockeytown last night in the Red Wings' match against the Washington Capitals.

Then the 3rd period happened, and proved that shit really does roll downhill.

Detroit came into what should have been the final frame of a 3-1 hockey game on the right side of the scoreboard.  They had found a way to silence the mighty Alexander Ovechkin and just had to keep things under wraps and cruise to the W.  Instead, an admittedly skillful goal by Ovechkin began the counter-attack, and Washington never slowed down, forcing us later into a 3-3 tie and into Overtime.  As if in response to the Wings' struggles, they found themselves scrambling in an Overtime PK situation which they somehow managed to survive until the Caps took a call of their own. After a short demo of Ken Holland's vision of 3 on 3 OT, the Wings got their greatest chance to close out the game with their own powerplay in extra time.

Once again, the Red Wings found a way to squander their opportunity when it mattered most.  OT would solve nothing, and back to the dreaded shootout we went.  The first two rounds were stalemates, Jimmah standing firm for his 2 saves, but Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen both looked uninspired in their attempts and Capitals goalie Braden Holtby made short work of both forwards.  Todd Bertuzzi went next and obviously learned nothing from watching Holtby, as he tried to pull a spin-o-rama way too close to the net of a guy who had a really active stick, and a quick poke-check had us on the brink.  Nicklas Backstrom was the 3rd shooter for Washington, and he won the battle of wills with Howard, slipping the puck by and in.  For a closer look at the game, check out the boxscore here.

Now Jimmah has had some rough times over the last few games, and I won't defend him for everything that's happened, but I'll tell you one thing: for all the bitching I'm hearing on Twitter and elsewhere about Howard in the shootouts, chew on this--we shouldn't even be GOING to OT or a shootout.  Many of the last few games could have and SHOULD HAVE been won in regulation.  The Red Wings as a whole are not committing to 60 minutes of serious, balls-to-the-wall hockey.  Why did we really lose last night against the Caps? Simple, they played for 60+ minutes, not mailing the rest of the game in when they came into the 3rd down 2 goals, but we were content to believe that they would.  The Wings got lazy, and the Capitals...well, capitalized.  Hockey is a game like any other: if you stop playing the game, you can't expect to win.

Yes, there were positives, I'm not saying that there weren't, but does that not warrant playing a full game and not slacking off so that you can better savour and appreciate those accomplishments with a win rather than scrambling to right a suddenly sinking ship!?  Points are great and all, but OT and SO games are going to hurt us like hell come season's end when tiebreakers start getting tabulated. Regulation points take precedence, and even if we win some of these games going into extra time, it may end up being meaningless.  The real objective is to beat your opponent within 60 minutes, and the Red Wings need to get their act together and start playing to do just that.  The coaching staff need to lead by example and prepare these guys to do just that.  Ken Holland needs to fix his own mistakes with the cap and roster issues we're now suffering under so that we can put forth the best possible team to do JUST THAT.  Hockeytown is starting to take on a very 'Ce la vie' attitude, and I'm not buying into it.  The Red Wings are a better team than the product we are seeing on the ice, and they need to start proving it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Datsyuk vs Ovechkin : Russian the Offence

Ovechkin visits Hockeytown, Red Wings are ready to get the winning streak down

With Alexander Ovechkin and his high-flying offense, averaging 3 goals a game, knock down the Wings? Will a high-powered power-play from the Capitals, clicking at 25.6%, over-power the 7th leading penalty kill from the Red Wings? Will we see the Braden Holtby that let in 3 goals on 14 shots against Calgary or the one that played amazing in the last couple of games? Will Kyle Quincey finally be a + player in a game, a feat he’s only done twice this year?

These questions and many more will be answered tonight at the Joe-Louis Arena at 7:30 ET.

The Capitols are 6-3-1 in their last ten games, while the Red Wings are 3-2-5. The starting goaltenders are Holtby for the Capitals and Howard for the Red Wings.

Projected Lineup for the Washington Capitals:
Martin Erat
Nicklas Backstrom
Alex Ovechkin
Brooks Laich
Marcus Johansson
Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera
Mikael Grabovski
Joel Ward
Aaron Volpatti
Michael Latta
Tom Wilson

Nate Schmidt
Mike Green
Karl Alzner
John Carlson
Alexander Urbom
Steve Oleksy

Projected Lineup for the Detroit Red Wings:
Henrik Zetterberg
Pavel Datsyuk
Todd Bertuzzi
Tomas Tatar
Johan Franzen
Daniel Alfredsson
Daniel Cleary
Joakim Andersson
Justin Abdelkader
Drew Miller
Darren Helm
Mikael Samuelsson

Niklas Kronwall
Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey
Danny DeKeyser
Brian Lashoff
Jakub Kindl

Game notes – Red Wings
  • ·     Patrick Eaves cleared waivers today and has been sent to Grand Rapids;
  •     Tomas Tatar returns to the line-up, so does Jonathan Ericsson after being on the LTIR;
  • ·  Jimmy Howard will try to win his sixth game: he is 5-5-5 after 15 games with 2.67 GAA and a .910 SV%.

Game notes – Capitals
  • ·        The Capitals have recalled defenseman Tyson Strachan from Hershey. If he playes, he’ll be the 10th defenseman to do so for Washington this year.
  • ·         Jason Chimera has 2 assists in 3 games after being signed to a two-year contract extension on November 8th.
  • ·         Alexander Ovechkin has 6 points in his last 5 games.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Where will Wings Find Inspiration?

Detroit will be hosting Washington tomorrow in an attempt to avoid losing their 7th consecutive home game, Patrick Eaves has gone on waivers, and Tomas Tatar is getting sat for Dan Cleary.

What the hell kinda bizarro world did I wake up to today?

The Red Wings are having a hard old time in many regards recently.  Guys outside the top line aren't scoring, the defense is incredibly suspect, and on top of all that, the cap crunch is killing Detroit's options for who to plug into the lineup to try and stir up some chemistry.

I'll admit it's hard as a loyal fan of a team to watch that team struggle, but what makes this particular situation harder to swallow is the fact that, by all rights, this team is better than what they've shown so far this season.  Weiss has been a complete bust, with a pitiful 3 points in 17 games.  This was the guy meant to replace Valtteri Filppula, and realistically WOULD have.  Daniel Alfredsson was a surprise acquisition this offseason and has been what I would deem decent. No one expected the Alfie from 10 years ago, the fanbase knows he's getting up in age, but  at least he's putting points up with 3 goals and 11 assists.

When you look at the Red Wings' depth chart, then look at their current standings and point production, it simply doesn't add up.  Something needs to change.

This is mostly a venting session for me.  I also need to apologize to the loyal followers of The Geek for what has been a lackluster start to the season for us here, too.  I promise you will see this rectified and just want to let you all know that I and the other writers here at TDG appreciate you all and look forward to sharing our passion for Red Wings hockey with all of you.

The old saying does state that "It's gotta get worse before it gets better".  Things will turn themselves around.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Wings Waddle out of Winnipeg after 4-2 Loss

Let the record show that I am about as uninspired to write this post as the Wings were to play hockey tonight.  For anyone who doesn't know, that's pretty damned uninspired.

Detroit came into Winnipeg looking to close out their Western Canada roadtrip with a 4-game sweep.  Obviously they only brought enough fuel for 3 games, because the Jets were allowed to do whatever they pleased for almost the full 60 minutes.  Jimmy Howard had to make an embarrassing 43 saves just to keep his team in the game, which should have earned him one of tonight's 3 stars, as he was effectively thrown to the wolves by his teammates.

Defense was non-existent, so much so that the good things that happened offensively for the Wings were greatly overshadowed.  Constant turnovers, breakaway chances, and odd-man rushes against were what fueled the Jets offensive this evening, and they made every attempt to cash in all of them.  The Red Wings were too busy playing against their own fatigue and sloppiness to muster much resistance.

Henrik Zetterberg managed to open the Detroit scoring, netting his 8th goal of the season, while young defender Danny DeKeyser got his 1st NHL career goal on a bullet from the point while short-handed.  Detroit won an offensive zone faceoff while down a man, and when the puck got back to Kaiser, he drilled it past Jets goalie Al Montoya.

Those were pretty much the only Red Wings highlights, besides a couple above-average chance that were kept out of the net and the AMAZING show Howard put on to try and keep Detroit alive.  Thankfully the Wings now take the next 2 days off and should come back fresh and ready to start a new winning streak as they play host to the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

Till then, see you next time right here at TDG!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Can Wings Maintain Consistency Against Flames?

The Wings have finally snapped what amounted to a 4-game winless streak by handing a 2-1 defeat to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night.  They did so by finally getting back to playing their system: strong, relentless pressure to seize and control the puck throughout the game, limiting chances against and maximizing chances for.  Now that they've done so, the question is whether or not they will maintain that style of play this evening as the Red Wings invade Calgary for a date with the Flames.

Detroit's match against Calgary is another instance where the result should be clear. On paper, it is: Calgary is hovering near the bottom of their division, while a win tonight would put the Wings just 2 points back of East-leading Toronto (Excuse me a moment, I need to recover from having just wrote that).  Without that requisite work ethic and signature style of play running at full speed though, the task will be made all the more difficult.  Calgary also now has 2 players who know the Red Wings' system very well in goalie Joey MacDonald and forward Jiri Hudler.  I've always noticed a trend of teams having our number somewhat after acquiring our old faces (San Jose over the last few years, anyone...?)

As long as Detroit sticks to the plan Mike Babcock has laid out for this team and commit 100% for a full 60 minutes, the chances of victory are high, and that's good because the Wings cannot afford to slip too far from the top early in a very new and unfamiliar setting in the Eastern Conference.

Enjoy the game, Wingnuts!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Depleted Detroit D Earns Valuable Point VS Sharks

I'll admit it: I came into this game with low expectations.  I mean, come on, our top defensive pair had Kyle Quincey on it.

With Niklas Kronwall still out (playing it safe after a mild concussion), and Jonathan Ericsson returning to his wife's side as she delivered a baby girl last night, the Red Wings found themselves with a notably younger D-Corps than they would have liked against the sizzling San Jose Sharks on Monday evening.  Averaging over 4 goals and over 40 shots a game, it seemed like the match-up from hell for a Wings team that has been lax with the puck and giving up nearly as many shots on average per game.

The first period began, and things seemed to play out as you'd expect: We were hanging on but getting out-chanced, but 20 minutes came and went, and the game was still scoreless.  Then came the second period...and then the third, and all throughout, San Jose kept pressing, waiting for the big defensive gaffe that would give them a great chance to take the lead.

But it never came.

This young and still-developing group of defensemen, including prospect Xavier Ouellette who was making his NHL debut, held the line and did not relent in the face of one of the highest-powered offenses in the league--and while the defense kept things steady in our zone, the Detroit offense went to work applying pressure in San Jose's zone.  We didn't get as many chances as the Sharks, but we kept it close and soon we saw regulation time end, still with no score.

Overtime would come and go, with still no deciding goal.  The defense having done its job, it was up to a chosen three and Jimmy Howard to get it done in the shootout.  Datsyuk made the move to beat Antti Niemi, but fired his shot just wide.  Alfredsson's attempt was gobbled up easily by the Sharks netminder, which came from pretty much straight on.  Directly after Alfie's shot, Logan Couture beat Howard to give the Sharks the advantage and match point unless we converted in the 3rd round.  Todd Bertuzzi, however, got Niemi down and out the best.  Pump-faking a slapshot, then making a quick deke from backhand to forehand and trying to outwait Niemi, Todd stared at a gaping top half of the San Jose goal.  Bertuzzi got a little lift on his shot, but Niemi, showing an admittedly remarkable feat of athleticism, managed to kick his right pad up from on his stomach and just got his toe on the puck, kicking it away for the save and the win.

The effort was good, the determination was good, and the discipline was...well, pretty good. I won't say it was great because we again saw a penalty parade that started half a minute into the game, and gave San Jose way too many PP chances.  Our PK was perfect, sure, but we shouldn't be taking that risk.  All in all, a valuable point moving forward is better than nothing, as Detroit is currently in sole possession of 2nd in the East at 13 points, behind only Pittsburgh with 14.

The Red Wings will play next on Wednesday, and Daniel Alfredsson faces his old team for the first time, when Detroit takes on the Ottawa Senators at the JLA.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

And the Academy Award Goes to...

To be perfectly honest, I had a day that sort of forewarned me to not get too excited about the game today.  It was one of those days where everything just  Sure enough, that carried directly into my viewing of this evening's match between the Detroit Red Wings and the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Wings made all the right moves to begin the game, coming out to an early 2-0 lead with goals from Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi.  The game looked like what you would expect: the rested Wings were taking advantage of a weary Phoenix team that went to a shootout the night before.  It was all going swimmingly.

Then: Mike Smith.

I'm still having trouble with this part, so I apologize if I'm forced to get brutally honest and some virgin ears suffer for it, but damned if I can figure out just how the hell things went the way they did.  To summarize, Datsyuk let fly a wrister toward the Coyotes net, which Mike Smith turned away with his arm...and then keeled over like he'd been poached through the chest with a goddamned harpoon (UPDATE: Upon closer examination, it looks like the puck didn't even make contact with Smith's body, it went off his stick, making this whole thing even more ridiculous...).  The refs did NOT blow the whistle, nor did they show any intent to, yet when Brian Lashoff fired the loose puck into a gaping Phoenix net, the ruling was no goal.  In the end, it was ruled that, because the goalie was "injured", the goal did not count......yet, after only a couple minutes, Mike Smith miraculously came back from the dead and kept playing.

HMM...doesn't sound like he was injured, now does it? So if he wasn't INJURED, and the ruling was no goal due to INJURY, the goal should count.  But oh no, that simply cannot be! As such, the game continued, but the atmosphere completely shifted.  The biggest problem with how the Mike Smith incident was handled wasn't so much the goal being disallowed as much as it was the boost of morale it gave the Coyotes, who would have otherwise been deflated by what would've been a crippling goal.

Instead, we got to witness the wheels come right off the big red machine on all 4 corners.  5 unanswered goals lifted the Coyotes over the Wings for a 5-2 victory, the biggest insult coming by way of the great actor Smith himself, who managed to launch the puck down into the empty Detroit net with 0.1 second left in the game.

As a follower on Twitter said: Not bad...for a dead guy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wings Post 'Monstrous' Win over Bluejackets

Although the score may not have been imposing, the Monster between the Detroit pipes certainly was.  Jonas Gustafsson played a remarkable game this evening as the Red Wings defeated the Columbus Bluejackets 2-1.  Jonas faced 37 shots on goal and turned away all but one, while Daniel Alfredsson finally found the twine for his first goal as a Detroit Red Wing.  Todd Bertuzzi rounded out the scoring to give the Wings the lead once again after Columbus had tied the game at 1 apiece.

Overall, a pretty good effort from the entire team, though I am still very concerned about our constant parade to the penalty box.  The refs can only be blamed so often before one has to stop and really consider the possibility that Detroit is being lax on discipline with regards to not making infractions.  Thankfully, of the 3 PP chances we gave the BJ's, they only converted one.

Next on the docket is a date with the Avs, and a chance to humiliate Patrick Roy once again now that he is a coach out in Colorado.  I eagerly look forward to the opportunity.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wings Powerplay Erupts in Blowout Win over Flyers

It was coming.  Everyone knew it, especially the Detroit Red Wings: It was only a matter of time.

Detroit saw its PP units finally get rewarded for some very good work last night as the Red Wings netted their first 3 goals of the game on the man-advantage, snapping a torturous 0-10 drought, to carry them to a 5-2 victory over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers.  Todd Bertuzzi got things going with the opening tally and the Wings really never looked back, with the Flyers never able to pull even with Detroit for the rest of the contest.

Niklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk got the next 2 goals for the Red Wings, followed by a pair from captain Henrik Zetterberg.  Hank's first goal was the only even-strength tally for the Wings, while the finishing blow was lobbed lightly into an empty Philly net after goalie Ray Emery had gone off for the extra skater.  Flyers goals from Erik Gustafsson and Tye McGinn kept the score somewhat close, but Detroit would not be denied on the night their powerplay found life.

Overall, Detroit did a much better job of playing a hard, assertive, and FULL 60 minutes of hockey, making it very difficult for Philadelphia to generate any consistent offensive threat.  There was one small gap of time where, after the Flyers scored their second goal, the Wings seemed to devolve down to a stuttering mess, similar to how they looked in the previous two games: started turning pucks over, chasing guys instead of playing their position, and generally looking like they had completely forgotten what to do out on the ice.  Thankfully, Detroit recovered their composure and locked the game down from that point forward.

The lineup changes and line shuffles by coach Mike Babcock seemed to pay some dividends, with his use of rookie Luke Glendenning in the 4th line center position, and switching in Brian Lashoff for the reeling and deservedly scratched Brendan Smith.  Justin Abdelkader saw himself on the 2nd line while Daniel Alfredsson was demoted to the 3rd line, making way for Todd Bertuzzi to play with Datsyuk and Zetterberg on the top line.  All parties seemed to benefit from these changes, except of course for Johan Franzen, who seems to still refuse to fully engage in the play.  I vividly recall a moment in the game where he and Stephen Weiss were coming through the neutral zone. Weiss dumped the puck in on Franzen's side and Mule responds by...peeling off back into the neutral zone.  Perhaps I just missed the memo where Mule is now allowed to opt out of forechecking when he feels like it.

My frustration with Franzen is enough for a novel, let alone it's own article here.  I won't get fully into it now, but this man has become something BEYOND streaky: he's flighty.  Mule only seems interested when he wants to be, and that doesn't seem to happen very damned often nowaday.  The Law of Averages suggests that while the sum of one's attempts at any action should, on average, come out around 50/50 if there are only two possible outcomes; however, it ALSO suggests that each individual attempt still only has that 50/50 chance of success.  So every time Mule gets the puck, the two outcomes are that he either makes a play that results in a goal--be it his own shot or a pass resulting in an assist--or he doesn't.

We're 5 games in, Franzen has 2 assists.  He has 13 shots...only 13, over 5 games.  Henrik Zetterberg has 27 shots, literally more than double, also having buried 4 of those shots in the net.  Yes, Franzen doesn't make Zetterberg money, but with the effort he puts in, he's lucky he makes ANY money.

Alright, enough, time to close this out before it DOES become a Mule article.  Overall, a much improved game from Detroit last night, who rest up today for a rematch against Boston on Monday.  Up here in Canada, this is going to be my Thanksgiving day game, so I'm expecting good things from the Wings.

Until then, stay cool Hockeytown!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Red Wings So Far

Photo Credit : The Bleacher Report

I thought going into this season that the Red Wings would be assured of being a powerhouse team, with the additions of Alfredsson and Weiss, Datsyuk and Zetterberg playing together and the defence being a year wiser and more experienced, they could do no harm. With four games into the 2013-14 season, I must admit that much like going on weekend long drinking binge, I have to take a step back and reconsider. Let’s take a look at what has gone right and wrong so far, and then what to do with those Stanley Cup aspirations that I had in the pre-season.

What has gone right for the Red Wings?
  • The Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Abdelkader line has been as expected producing with 7 points in 4 games. They can do no wrong: Datsyuk dangling, Abdelkader pulling the piano and Zetterberg out-working everyone on the boards. I know I should be used to it, but the Datsyuk dangles are a thing of beauty.
  • The Kronwall-Ericsson has been a rock-steady pairing, with a +4 and +2 plus-minus, respectively and chipping in offensively too.
  • As a whole, the team has only taken 34 PIM and has been stellar on the PK (81.5%).
  • And it should be noted that Samuelsson has a 100% shot percentage after recording one goal on one shot. (I had to look that stat up and it was, in fact true )

Now for the things that have gone wrong for the Red Wings.
  • The Red Wings’ second line that was touted as one of the best second lines in the NHL has been somewhat cold, with only one goal between them (the Weiss OT winner in Carolina) and 3 assists. They have been slow out of the gate, but I for one am not worried. The timing should get better as times moves along and as Alfie’s hair gets longer, it’s a known fact.
  • Keith Yandle owns the Red Wings and this little guy doesn’t like it. Credit goes to SBnation for that one. Yandle has 16 points in 32 career games against the Red Wings.
  • The powerplay has been abysmal, with a gross 0% efficiency with the man advantage. But it has been looking better with Alfredsson on the point than it was with Samuelsson (although he has a 100% shooting percentage now…)
  • Babcock has been playing Cleary and Bertuzzi on the 3rd line and it hasn’t been working. The Red Wings should be making some moves soon though, with Gustavsson and Tootoo being activated off the IR and Emmerton andMrazek being sent down to Grand Rapids.
  • It also sounds like they will be bringing up someone from Grand Rapids to play the 4th line C position. Why is this a bad thing? Well, for one, it means that Helm isn’t close to returning and that Emmerton can’t adequately hold down the 4th C position.
  • The Quincey-Smith has been awful to say the least. Their blunders have cost the team alot of goals and they have a shiny -4 (Smith) and -5 (Quincey) to show for it. If they don't pick up, look for either of them to be traded or at the least, to ride the pine in favour of Ouellet or Almqvist.

Now for what to expect from the Red Wings in the coming Canadian long-weekend. They are going to be in tough with Philadelphia in town on Saturday, although the Red Wings, in 124 career regular season games, have only been shut out 3 times by the Broad Street Bullies. The Bruins have already beaten the Red Wings last Saturday by a score of 4 to 1. This time, Mike Babcock’s crew should be better rested and should be able to put up a better fight.

Here’s hoping the Red Wings lay a beat down on the Flyers and Bruins!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Oh Captain, Our Captain. An Ugly 3-2 Win in Overtime

There are games in the National Hockey League that grab you by the throat and toss you around for almost every second of 60 minutes. There are games in the National Hockey League that put you to sleep throughout. And there are games in the National Hockey League where, really, the end justifies the means. Tonight against Carolina was the third scenario. For the Wings fanbase, there are three things that legitimately need to be discussed concerning tonight’s game, and only three. No more, no less.

                We start with one, the first goal. Perhaps the ugliest goal Yours, Truly has seen since…well…Yours, Truly has squashed down a lot of bad memories of bad goals. It was bad. It looked like a goal that would be scored at the end of practice when everyone is messing around and getting the pucks put away. No one, and I do mean no one, in a Winged Wheel was really where they ought to have been. Jimmy poked when he should have stayed, Kyle Quincey just Kyle Quincey-ed. And after a run of good play for the Wings that just wouldn’t work, it was a double blow. A goal like that should be a once-in-a-season embarrassment. As such, it’s best to get it out of the way early. The team moved on, we can move on.

                In between the Things to Discuss, Carolina scored again and then we made it a one goal game. In Between the Things to discuss, we played like trash and Carolina, despite playing only slightly less trashy, continued to look like the eventual winner. But we aren’t going to discuss that.

                We are going to discuss the captain (not The Captain, chill). Zetterberg wanted this game. He wanted it more than most regular season games I saw last season, and that was incredibly encouraging. That’s not to say he was bad last season, not by any means. But I often felt he was out-worked and out-paced by Pavel, and I firmly believe a captain should out-work everyone. This season, though, Z is a hungry man. Thus far Henrik Zetterberg has 14 shots on goal, in two games. THAT is what we need to see out of our captain: Leading from the front, showing his guys exactly what needs to be done to conquer the East in year one.

                So what better way to lead from the front than scoring the game-tying goal with 17 seconds left, during one of those frantic scrambles where so often we just come oh so close but never quite close the deal. Z made damn sure we closed the deal this time. He showed us what grit, with a little bit of finesse, can do for a team that refuses to quit. And, from a technical standpoint, he was in the exact right place to do what needed to be done (something that plagued the Wings all game. But we aren’t discussing that.) He took us from a write-up about a really ugly loss to:

                Stephen Weiss’ overtime goal , his first in a Wings’ sweater. Another illustration of what being in the right place at the right time will do, he cleaned up some trash and gave the Wings a really undeserved win. What a way to open one’s scoring account for the year, and what an exciting end to what had been, for so long, a dreary game. And that’s it. That’s all I’m going to discuss from the game.

                Why? Why am I stopping there? Why am I not addressing all of the major, major issues the Wings had most of the game? It was a dreadful, ugly game. There is a lot more to discuss, sure. Many of the exact same issues from last year were still woefully on display tonight.  I could write them all in list form, all the things we’re so sick of we could puke, all the things that are so identifiable but are never fixed. I won’t discuss them tonight, though. I won’t because sometimes, a team needs to win ugly. If a team can’t win ugly, they won’t win it all, it’s as simple as that.

So, while it’s early in the season and we can still use that as an excuse, I’m going to continue to give the Wings the benefit of the doubt. If Zetterberg keeps playing like he wants it, it may rub off. If Smith finally gets it through his head what he needs to do, he may turn it around. It’s so early, we really can’t know about anything. Except that Kyle Quincey will continue to be awful, we’ll always know that. But for now, I’m going to bask in the happiness this game gave us. It was horribly, horribly ugly. But ugly is so much more beautiful and enjoyable when it’s worth two points. 2-0 and I’m not looking back, I’m looking ahead to Boston.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wings Bully Buffalo, Claim Win in Home Opener

In what could only be called a lop-sided affair, the Detroit Red Wings did exactly what coach Mike Babcock asks for always: Start on time.  Mikael Samuelsson and Pavel Datsyuk scored :36 apart in the 1st period and never looked back as the Red Wings defeated the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in their first match of the season.

Detroit dominated the puck for the majority of the game, which says as much about the Sabres as it does the Red Wings, considering the Wings were booked for seven penalties before the end of 40 minutes, including two 5 on 3 chances for Buffalo.  Detroit kept their composure through it all, the PK units working splendidly and were perfect while a man (or men!) down.

Samuelsson opened Detroit's scoring with a wicked redirect off of a Cory Emmerton shot, beating Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller up high.  Not long after, the magic man weaved his skills yet again as Pavel Datsyuk gobbled up a loose puck and wound a ridiculous backhander past Miller to extend the lead to 2-0 just before the 13 minute mark of the game.

The Red Wings locked things down fairly well for the remainder of the match, until a miscue by Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard ended up in front of his gaping net. Playing the puck behind the cage, his attempt to rim the puck around the boards was blocked and flew out front.  Despite his best efforts, Jimmah wasn't able to get to the shot from Zemgus Girgensons, and the lead was cut in half with about 7 minutes left to play.

The Wings managed to hold the line despite some obvious scrambling after the Buffalo goal, and even as Ryan Miller left his net in the late stages of the 3rd, Detroit persevered and held off the Sabres for their 1st Eastern Conference win.

I'll quickly go over what stuck out to me as I wrap things up for the night:

The Alfie-Weiss line is going to be scary - I'm not talking some of the time, I'm talking ALL the time.  No production on opening night, fine...but WOW did they ever pressure Buffalo all night long! Alfredsson came to Detroit hungry, and does it ever show as he let total howitzers go every chance he got.  Weiss was hard on the puck as well, getting a number of quality chances.  If they can mange to motivate Johan Franzen, their vegetable of a line-mate, they will be a fearsome line to try and defend against.

This defensive corp is legit - When the Wings needed to lock things down, they did so.  A much younger group of defensemen than most of the Hockeytown faithful are used to have shown that they learned much from last year's shortened season.  What makes them seriously deadly, however, is how well they seem to be reading the play and pressing the attack.  Datsyuk's goal should show an assist from Jonny Ericsson, as him bull-dozing into the offensive zone set up the whole play.  Multiple times all night the Detroit defenders made similar plays driving deep into the zone when it was prudent to do so and help stimulate more offense.

Just because you're good doesn't mean you can be sloppy - A few of the calls I had reservations about, but Detroit could have very easily ended this game with far fewer penalties.  This was an issue at times last year, and it CANNOT persist this season. It's great that Alfie and Weiss helped out on the PK, but that is NOT why we brought them here.  We need to stay out of the box and keep generating pressure and generating goals.

We're only one game in, but things certainly look promising.  We'll see if the Wings can keep things rolling on Friday when Detroit heads to Carolina for a date with the Hurricanes.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Light the Torches, Cleary Re-Signs with Wings

This should be interesting.

I've decided that this latest bit of Wings news is just the thing to bring me out of my offseason hibernation, because wow, there's gonna be some wicked division in Red Wings Nation over this one...

Dan Cleary, who was reported to be as good as signed with the Philadelphia Flyers, has signed a 1-year, $1.75 million deal to remain with Detroit.

Wings management had made it CLEAR (I'm so funny) that they didn't want to see the 34 year old veteran head elsewhere, but couldn't meet the terms that Dan was asking for. The issue of cash and space, however, now becomes significantly larger.

Cleary's signing was unforeseen at this juncture, so fitting the Red Wings under both the roster limit AND the salary cap is going to be at the very least tricky and very likely also painful.

The number of solutions Detroit has at its disposal are not large, and many fans cringe at the thought of implementing many of them, from moving Gustav Nyquist and Danny DeKeyser down to Grand Rapids, to waiving or trading journeymen like Patrick Eaves or Jordin Tootoo.  I know I personally don't like either of those options, but the Wings have put themselves in this position. It's now up to Detroit to try and find the lesser of all evils to make this roster and this salary budget work.

And it's left to the fanbase to go to all-out war between those who agree with the added cap and roster strain of bringing Cleary back, and those who don't.

Feel free to turn the comment section below this article into a battleground, as I'm curious to hear people's thoughts on this sudden and surprising news.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Where do the Red Wings stand?

Alfredsson joins his Swedish
 teamate Zetterberg in Detroit

After signing Weiss and stealing Alfredsson from the Sens, most Red Wings fans are ecstatic with the prospect of next year's team. But what do they have to do before dropping the puck?

As they stand right now, the Red Wings have 2.3M left in cap space and they have to sign pending RFAs Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith and Joakim Andersson, so they have to make space to sign everyone.

The Winged Wheel's forwards, as they stand now, they have 14 forwards signed, plus 2 pending, making for 16 forwards. Here's what it looks like :

Abdelkader - Datsyuk - Zetterberg
Franzen - Weiss - Alfredsson
Nyquist - Helm - Tatar
Tootoo - Andersson - Miller

Extra : Eaves / Bertuzzi / Emmerton
LTIR : Samuelsson

Ericsson - Kronwall
Dekeyser - Smith
Kindl - Quincey


This team is in a bind. Because of ''injuries'', Samuelsson can't be bought out; he's not going to play a lot and look for him to fill Ian White's role last year as the scapegoat who won't play unless a lot of injuries take a toll on this team. Also, look for Tootoo to get increased minutes. In the big bad East, goons like Parros, Thornton and to a lesser extent, Neil and Prust will always challenge stars and Tootoo, although he isn't a heavyweight fighter, will at least bring some energy and spunk and is willing to fight.

I do believe that the next year's Wings have a lot more going for them than last year's edition. First, the rookie will have more experience. Nyquist, Tatar, Smith and Andersson will all have bigger role entrusted in them, playing a solid 3rd line and being trusted, for Smith anyways, with bigger PP minutes. Second, next year's team will be more balanced, with Datsyuk and Zetterberg on the first line, plus Weiss, Franzen and Alfredsson completing the scoring, something Cleary (15pts in 48 games) and Filppula couldn't quite do last year. (Although, there is a rumor that Cleary is going to get re-signed.) Cleary is passed his expire date because of his knees and he is taking up a roster space that could go to a younger player, like Tatar or Nyquist. Holland has to let go of his loyalty to old players and let Cleary go to Dallas or even Anaheim.

Now, for what needs to be done.
Look for Emmerton to be sent down to Grand Rapids or waived. He was a serviceable 4th line C, but with the return of Helm, Andersson is going to be the 4th line C, plus Sheahan or Ferraro can be our first call-up.

Also, there has been a rumor of Edler being shopped and Detroit's interested. With the departure of Raymond and possibly the oft-injured Booth, Vancouver needs secondary scoring. A package of Tatar and Quincey, plus draft picks to even out, I think Edler could come to the Red Wings and it would help open up roster spots.

And here's a blockbuster that could help : Tatar / Nyquist + Quincey + 1st '14 for Zach Bogosian. He's young (22 years old) and would fit great with Kindl or even Kronwall, plus it would open up a roster spot.

I know it's clichéd, but it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings and the Red Wings are far from being done this summer.

Wings Make Waves On Day 1 of Free Agency

Hockeytown fans have woken up to a very different-feeling team.

With only a pair of moves and a pair of departures, the Red Wings have, in almost all eyes, become a much more legitimate playoff threat compared to last year.  They lost Valtteri Filppula who sought richer soil in which to plant his roots, which the under-achieving forward found in Tampa Bay.  The Wings also effectively lost Swiss forward Damien Brunner, who snubbed the Red Wings' 2 and 3-year offers, also looking for those greener pastures.  No deal has been signed for Brunner, but the writing is basically on the wall that he will land elsewhere.

What the Red Wings gained, however, far exceeded what they lost.

Detroit was targeting Florida forward Stephen Weiss from the very start as a potential replacement for Filppula should the team not be able to retain him.  Detroit sealed that deal and inked Weiss to a 5-year contract just under what Flip would have commanded.  At $24.5 Million over 5 years, the Wings get a better 2-way player and a somewhat more consistent scoring threat out of Weiss than what they had with Filppula.

The second acquisition for the Red Wings yesterday was much more of a surprise: Detroit, with promises of greater chances to win his first Stanley Cup, managed to lure away Daniel Alfredsson from the Ottawa Senators on a 1-year, bonus-laden $5.5 Million deal.  The former face of the Ottawa franchise and formerly the longest serving active NHL captain had told his former team on a call that he would not be rejoining them next season, which was as much a shock to them as it was the rest of the hockey world, but the Red Wings gladly welcome his leadership and skills into the locker room.

With RFAs left to sign and little cap space left still available, we may not see much more movement from Detroit this offseason, but what we HAVE seen has at least been very interesting and exciting to watch unfold.  Who knows? Maybe Kenny Holland has one more trick up his sleeve before next season...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

2013 NHL Draft and the Red Wings

In a year where we saw Tatar and Nyquist blossom, it has become apparent that we have to grow our team from the inside. Before the boom of the internet, all you had were sporadic NHL scout reports, notes on a napkin or ''I heard that...''. Now, thanks to Twitter and other social media, text messaging and email on your smartphone, the information on prospects is available faster.

How is this year’s Red Wing draft looking to shape up?

The Red Wings are looking to draft some forwards, as per Joe McDonnell, the team’s head scout. “We'd really like to get a forward, unless there's a defenseman that's too good to pass up,'' he said. “If we feel there's two players (at different positions) that are even we'll lean toward the forward. … If we can add a little size up front, it would be beneficial.''

So here’s the top-3 draft-eligible players the Red Wings should look at from the 18th pick overall.

Alexander Wennberg – Center – Djurgarden (SWE)


This relatively big center (6’1’’, 190lbs) has all the tools to be a playmaking center. ‘’Wennberg is an offensive forward with smooth hands and terrific puck-handling ability. He has great vision and patience with the puck on his stick.’’ (source) He’s more of a finesse player though, he might not be exactly what the Red Wing’s brass is looking for, but he’s been playing with men the past two seasons and has excelled, amassing 32 points in 47 games with Djurgarden. Plus he’s Swedish, a known commidity for the Red Wings.

Ryan Hartman – Right Winger – Plymouth Whalers

Pictured here on left (Tumblr)

He’s the type of player every coach would like to have on his team. Strong, versatil and a deceptive goal-scorer, Hartman was a part of the World Junior squad that won the Gold for Team USA. The 6’ 185lbs player from Illinois would be just what the Red Wings’ ordered, playing a Ryan Callahan / David Backes type of game, a player that’s no fun to play against. Had 60 points in 56 games in injury-shortened season, so he can rile up players and add points in the meantime.

Bo Horvat – Center – London Knights


The best faceoff man available at this year’s draft is Horvat. In the mold of Mike Richards, he excels at every aspect of the game, as much defensively (+29 this year) as offensively (61 points in 67 games, including 33 goals). In addition to his size, the 6’, 205lbs center from Rodney, Ontario is agressive in his forecheck and is always finishing his checks, something that Babcock would like more of his players.

Blogger’s pick : Nikita Zadorov – Defense – London Knights


Even though the brass says they won’t pick a defenseman, if this guy shows up, they should pick him. The 6’5’’ bruising defenseman is just what the doctor ordered for the Red Wings. He has a game similar to Dion Phaneuf, a booming shot from the point and would make a great pairing with Ryan Sproul or Brendan Smith, in the long run. TSN scout Craig Button said that ‘‘he has good awareness with the puck and has a heavy shot that can make it very difficult for goaltenders to corral it.’’

This draft is exciting, not only because it is said to be a very deep draft, but also Detroit gets to pick higher than it has in the last 22 years, picking Marty Lapointe in 1991 with the 10th pick overall, the same year that they took Osgood, Knuble and Jamie Pushor - yeah, that long ago!