Sunday, February 24, 2013

Determined Detroit Pounds Predators

Last night's showing was a welcome sight, and hopefully a portent of things to come.

The Red Wings were desperate to get back into the win column as they played host to division foe Nashville, to whom they lost in overtime just 4 days previous.  The Wings did not disappoint the Joe Louis Arena crowd, exploding for 4 goals and blanking the Predators 4-0.  Jimmy Howard posted his 12 career shutout, making 33 saves in the contest, while Drew Miller, Tomas Tatar, Niklas Kronwall and Danny Cleary provided the offense for Detroit.

Miller's goal, a gritty hunt-the-rebound type play, is something the Red Wings need more of, with so many chances in previous games becoming one-and-done's.  Similarly, Tatar's goal was due to great awareness and perseverance around the net, as the puck came out to the side amidst a scrum in front of Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.  Tatar was right there to grab the puck and fling it into the top of the net for the 2-0 tally.  Nik Kronwall got on the scoresheet next with a bomb that reminded us--only slightly, of course--of that other Nick who wore the Winged Wheel not so long ago.  Finally, Cleary's goal came off  deflection in front of Rinne.  Sound familiar?  This is what the Wings are looking for from Cleary, as well as injured Johan Franzen.  Detroit needs players to create a net-front presence similar to that of the retired Tomas Holmstrom.  Obviously Cleary and Franzen are no Homer, but one does what one must, and Cleary's effort is much appreciated.

Nashville got plenty of chances, despite the goose-egg on the scoreboard, just Jimmy Howard was up to the task.  Coach Mike Babcock came out nd said that for Detroit to win, they would need better goaltending.  Howard was quick to answer the call, making some spectacular saves as his teammates slowly built up their lead.  One thing that was noticeably different in Jimmy's game last night is that he was much more composed in the crease, with a lot less flopping and flailing as Howard is sometimes prone to doing.  Usually when Howard is set in the crease the way he was last night, it's a good night for the Red Wings.

So now that Detroit has finally snapped their winless streak, it's time to build on last night's solid performance.  The Wings will wrap up their 3-game homestand this evening against the Vancouver Canucks, a team they meet for the first time today.

Will the streak-breaking Canucks who tormented us last year strike again, or will Detroit stand tall at home and bring home another win?