Saturday, February 25, 2012

Let's Watch the Wings and the Avalanche!

We talked the other night about the impact upon the Wings of not having Pavel Datsyuk in the lineup.  And here is that impact in black and white: Detroit (41-18-5, .685) is 12-12-5 over the past two season when Datsyuk doesn't play, including 0-2-1 this season.

The Wings, of course, look to start a new home-ice win streak here tonight, having had their NHL-record 23-gamer ended here the night before last when Vancouver scored the game-tying goal with 15.4 seconds left and their net empty for the extra attacker.  Vancouver went on to win in a shootout, 4-3. Still, Detroit is 23-0-1, .979 in their last 24 games here, and that, as Jack Nicholson said in Mars Attacks, is not too bad.

Colorado is, barely, on the outside looking in, playoff-wise--currently only two points out of 8th, the last playoff spot in the West.  Four teams are within two points of 8th place entering play tonight.  The Avalanche are coming off a 5-0 win last night in Columbus, and have points in 6 of their last 8 (5-2-1).

It's National Anthem time, the face-off is moments away...

That didn't take long.  Less than 3 minutes in, Colorado has taken a 2-0 lead!  At 1:35, Gabriel Landeskog scored with a quick release in the slot off a perfect behind-the-net feed from Steve Downey.  The goal, his 17th, gives Landeskog the NHL lead in roookie goal-scoring.  1:07 later, at 2:42, David Jones stole a Kyle Quincy pass near the line and walked in to beat Jimmy Howard high for a shorthanded goal.  It's the first shorty the Wings have allowed in this building all year long.  
14:00 left, First Period: Detroit 0, Colorado 2.

The first period ends and while I am not normally given to criticize a team which has done so much in this building this year, that was as bad a period as I can remember Detroit playing since late October or so.  Let us let it suffice to say that they were not very good. They outshot the Avs 7-6, but that was about it.  Scoring chances were down for Detroit and there is the matter of the score, often an important factor in the outcome of a hockey game.  END FIRST PERIOD: DETROIT 0, COLORADO 2.

Want to know what the buzz in the 'box is tonight?  It's all about Kyle Quincy who was quoted by some Yahoo Sports guy the other day as saying he was happy, in the words of Bob Seger, to get out of Denver baby go, after he'd been told he'd been traded to Detroit.  Said his bags had been packed and he was ready to leave even before he knew he'd been dealt.  When controversy ensued, Quincy said what he meant was that all NHL players are sitting on pins and needles with their bags packed, mentally at least, as the NHL trade deadline approaches. (It's the day after tomorrow, if you don't know.)  Me, I don't care one way or the other.  If he wanted to be traded, fine.  If he was misquoted or misunderstood, fine.  I'm  just sort of watching the game tonight, not really thinking too much about Kyle Quincy.  It looked though, just as long as we are talking about him, that he was guilty of a gruesome turnover on that shorthanded goal by Jones, but it sure looked to me like he'd been fouled on the play, tripped as he was getting rid of the puck, and it could just as easily have been a penalty on the Avs as opposed to a goal by the Avs on that play.  But, it was the former and the Wings are still down two as the second begins here.

Fun Fact(s): Colorado goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere once played for a team called the Hamburg Freezer.  He also played for Cincinnati in the American Hockey League where his coach was some guy named Mike Babcock.  It's a fact...

That rookie, Gabriel Landeskog, just scored his second of the night and his NHL rookie-leading 18th of the season to make it 3-0 Avs at 13:35 of the second.  It looked a lot like his first goal of the evening as he took a feed from behind the net a drove a shot past Howard from in close.  The difference on this play was how open he was, which was wide.  A murmur of discontentedness (not a word) sweeps through the crowd...
5:15 left, 2nd Period: DETROIT 0, COLORADO 3.

The Wings, as we mentioned, weren't very good in the first period and they weren't very good in the second either.  Detroit is down 3 after 2, and it isn't very often at all that a team can erase a 3-goal deficit with 20 minutes to play.  The fellows appear to be having an off night against a team which is fighting for its playoff life and it shows.  Each team had ten second period shots, but the Wings didn't get very many scoring chances at all from their ten.  END 2ND PERIOD: DETROIT 0, COLORADO 3.

Then again....
Valterri Filppula has set up Juri Hudler for his 19th goal of the season just :44 into the 3rd.  This brings us to cliche time and right early.  You know the one, "whoever scores the next goal in this hockey game...

Oh, well.  They just left Steve Downey all alone off to Howard's right and he slammed it into a wide-open net and it's 4-1 and it's over.  The thing is, and this is what makes hockey the best game, the place was going nuts as Detroit had chance after chance after they got that goal in the first minute of the period and it looked like the Wings would get back to within one and we'd have thrilling finish one way or another.  But now we won't.  The time of the goal was 9:13.  Mid-3rd: DETROIT 1, COLORADO 4.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Let's Watch the Red Wings and the Canucks!

Just underway here at the JLA.  A battle of division leaders tonight, and undisputed possession of first place in the overall NHL standings on the line with Vancouver in town--not to mention Detroit's League-record 23-game home ice win streak.

I hate to say it, but I think this is the night the streak ends.  The Wings are without Pavel Datsyuk (knee surgery earlier this week) and without him...well, it's like the Wings without Howe, or without Yzerman.  The impact is the same.

Datsyuk, who had bone fragments removed from his right knee, will miss two weeks.  Thank God for modern medicine.  The same procedure only  few years ago, would have been season-ending.

We are 3:13 in, and the Wings are going on the power play.

Vancouver was all over Detroit, even with Detroit a man to the good.  The best save of the power play was made by the Wings Jimmy Howard as the shorthanded Canucks got a man open in the high slot.  Howard made a couple more beauties right after the penalty expired.  Vancouver has outshot the Wings here in the first 6 minutes 5-2.

Shots are 9-3, Canucks as we approach the halfway point of the first.  Vancouver had their first power play and the Wings killed it off nicely, very nicely indeed.

Darren Helm just stole the puck inside his own line and, on a 2-1, Helm, one of the fastest skaters in the NHL went all the way down and cut out in front to score.  He sort of fanned on his shot, scooping it more than shooting it, which fooled Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo who it appeared was expecting a harder shot.  It is the 7th of the year for Helm and it comes at 11:16.  First Period: Detroit 1, Vancouver 0.

The Wings are about to go on the power play for the third time in this first period.  Incredibly, Detroit has been outshot so far 16-4.  But they continue to lead.  We are simply not accustomed to a shot board looking the way the one here in Detroit does right now, especially since the Wings have been such a dominant first period team during this home win streak of theirs.  But, as we say, here comes Detroit on the power play again.  3:02 left, First Period: Detroit 1, Vancouver 0.

Well, there you go.  The first period ends and Detroit, though outplayed as evidenced by the 17-5 edge for Vancouver in chances, has the lead on the goal by Helm.  It was and one thought it would be: a tough period of hockey between two of the best teams in the league.  Howard was his usual amazing self and if he can keep it up, the Wings will, of course, have a chance to steal this thing.  The absence of Datsyuk was evident on the power play, Detroit had three of them as we mentioned (Vancouver had one) and they failed to generate a single Class A scoring chance in any of them.  This is what happens when your best playmaker isn't on the ice. And still, the Wings lead.  Stay tuned, etc.  END OF FIRST PERIOD: DETROIT 1, VANCOUVER 0.

They ran out of Game Notes before I got here tonight (long story and no, it wasn't the weather, it hasn't started snowing yet) so I have pulled them off line.  Would you like to read them? Here you go.

We mentioned the Wings didn't generate a lot during those three power plays?  I just went and looked through the official play-by-play.  On the 3 PP's, the Wings managed a grand total of one (1) shot on goal.

As the second period begins, we note that Kyle Quincy, acquired for Detroit's #1 Draft Choice this year (2012) is wearing #27.  I was wondering who would sit with Quincy on the roster.  I figured Jakub Kindl or Mike Commodore and I was right, in a sense.  Both are healthy scratches in this game tonight.  Quincy played 7 minutes in the first and had 2 hits and 1 blocked shot.  EARLY SECOND: DETROIT 1, VANCOUVER 0.

Quincy, we should mention, is paired with Jonathan Ericsson on the defense tonight.  He, Quincy, just took his first penalty of this, his second stint with Detroit, but the Wings killed it off  13:00 left, 2nd Period: DETROIT 1, VANCOUVER 0.

Quincy has just drawn his second consecutive penalty at 6:52 of the period and the Canucks are on the PP for the 3rd time--same # of opps now as Detroit in the game.

With the teams skating 4-on-4, the Sedins strike.  Daniel slides if past Howard after a shot from the line caromed off Henrik right to him.  The goal comes at 13:34.  Under 6 to go in the 2nd Period: DETROIT 1, VANCOUVER 1.

The Wings almost took the lead in a wild flurry at the end of the period which included a blind catch by Luongo of a puck which was behind him, but which he grabbed with a backhand stab off his left buttock.  No way he saw it, but somehow he snagged it.  The Wings outshot the Canucks 15-8 in the period after being outshot 17-5 in the first.  It has been what you would have expected it to be: The top 2 teams in the Western Conference putting on a heck of a show.  END OF TWO PERIODS: DETROIT 1, VANCOUVER 1.

Kyle Quincy makes his debut memorable by giving Detroit a 2-1 lead with 13:52 left in the game.  He took a pass in he slot and beat Luongo high stick side for his 6th of the season and first as a Wing.  Assists to Justin Abdelkader and Helm at 6:08.  THIRD PERIOD: DETROIT 2, VANCOUVER 1.


Howard stops David Booth on a breakaway with 1:38 left.  Vancouver calls tie with 1:08 to go and a faceoff in the Canucks end.

At 19:44, with 15.4 seconds left, Daniel sedin scores his second of the night off a feed from behind the net by his twin Henrik.  The goal comes with the Vancouver goalie pulled for the extra attacker.  We go to overtime here in Detroit.  End Regulation: DETROIT 3, VANCOUVER 3.

Great overtime.  Cleary had the best chance for Detroit with a one-timer from 12 feet out in front and Luongo stickless, but he fired it up into the tender when a shot along the ice might have ended it.  Scramble in front of Detroit net ends with Howard finally finding and covering the puck with 1.4 seconds left.  And so, on to the shootout.  Final shots: Van 43, Det 36.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Let's Watch the Wings and the Sharks!

Everything feels wrong.  We say, "Hi again, everybody!  And we greet you from the Joe Louis Arena..." but it's the noon hour and we feel out of place.  But, here we are and here too are the Detroit Red Wings--looking once again to set a new NHL record.  No team has ever won 23 straight home games.  The 1929-30 Boston Bruins won their final 20 homes games and won their first two at home the following season to run their streak to 22 home wins in a row before losing.  Today, Detroit, in their 60th game of the season, looks to win their 23rd straight on this ice surface and again, if they do, they will have done something never before accomplished in this history of this league.

Has there ever been a better playing in a Detroit jersey than Pavel Datsyuk?  Yes, I'm asking.  And, yes, I saw Howe in person.  And Yzerman for his whole career here.  But I'll tell you something.  I don't think I've ever seen a player play a better game than Datsyuk did here Friday night in that thrilling 2-1 win over Nashville and it was pretty much how he plays every night.  I'm amazed at what he can do.  And I'm thinking, in his prime, which is where he is right now, he might be the best ever.

A late-arriving crowd for this early start and we'll be back with the opening face-off in a few moments...

The Wings were having all kind of trouble finding open ice in the attack zone, great defensive zone coverage by the Sharks in other words,  but finally, at 6:30, Henrik Zetterberg fired a backhand high into the net past Antti Niemi for his 13th of the year and a 1-0 Detroit lead.  Zetterberg looked like he was going to slide a pass back to the blue line and it was that fake on the pass that I think fooled the goalie.

I'm sitting next to Nick Polano today.  He used to coach the Red Wings and General Manage the Red Wings and he therefore used to be the guy to whom I would put my impertinent post-game questions/accusations, etc.  Good guy.  I was asking him who he thought was better in his prime, Datsyuk or Yzerman, and he's all Yzerman.  He points out that Yzerman scored 39 goals as an 18-year-old 155 pound rookie and he made an interesting point which I had not considered.  Back when Yzerman was playing, there was all kind of holding and slashing going on that wasn't being called.  You had to fight through all that stuff.  Today in the modern NHL, they call it much closer for the simple reason that the league reasons, and correctly so, that the game is better is the stars are freed up a bit to show off their skills.  Good point, Mr. Polano.  Here at the rink, the first period is over and the score is that same as it was the last time we checked in with you.  Shots favor Detroit, 8-6.  First Intermission: Detroit 1, San Jose 0.

Detroit 2, San Jose 0.  Drew Miller (12) just knocked in his own rebound at 10:40 of the second and Joey MacDonald should have gotten an assist but he didn't.  MacDonald made a kick save and a beauty and the Wings took the rebound and went down the ice and scored.  They awarded only an assist to Justin Abdelkader, but I'm telling you, MacDonald should have got one, too.  The goal came just a couple of minutes after Polano said, "If Detroit gets the next goal, it's over."  Well, the Wings have just scored the next goal...8:20 left, 2nd Period: Detroit 2, San Jose 0.

We are waiting the review of an odd San Jose goal to see if it is in fact a goal.  It is.  The puck bounced on top of the Detroit net and either Drew Miller with his glove or Abdelkader with his stick knocked it into his own net.  It's a power play goal for the Sharks, credited to Logan Coture 14:33.  Late second period: Detroit 2, San Jose 1.

Periods over and of note is the fact that the Sharks had 19 shots on goal in it.  Detroit had the same as they had in the first, 8.  The Sharks got that fluke goal, that own-goal scored by the Wings into the wrong net, while the goal by Miller stands right now as the difference in the game.  End Second Period: Detroit 2, San Jose 1.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic of San Jose just had to leave the game after being struck in the face with a puck.  I've never seen it happen this way though.  The puck hit Vlasic under his visor (the poor guy is smart enough to wear a shield and he still gets it) after it caromed off the goalpost.  The thing hits the post and still has enough  juice on it to hurt a guy.  That's how hard they shoot it here in the National League.  Early 3rd: Detroit 2, San Jose 1.

Another Shark took a puck to the face, this time in a more conventional fashion, but to the same effect.  Joe Pavelski, only a minute or two after Vlasic got his, went down to block a shot and put his head in front of it.  And if he wasn't wearing a helmet, he'd be dead.  Instead, he's back on the bench.

Detroit 3, San Jose 1.  It's Darren Helm (6) with a slot slapper off a Miller feed at 7:01 and it's a two-gaol Detroit lead again and you have to like their chances of running this thing to 23 now.

We're at 5 to play and the place is roaring because a couple of the boys have decided to have a go.  It's Abdelkader and San Jose's Ryan Clowe which is a fair fight.  And now it's over and they head for the box and the fans deliver a standing "O" because this is hockey!  Still 3-1, Detroit in other news.

Detroit 3, San Jose 2  The Wings got a little sloppy with a clear and the puck stayed in the zone and wound up in the net when Patrick Marleau got his 23rd off a rebound at 15:16.  So, this one will now go down to the wire.

Sharks pull goalie but Wings keep puck in their end and the game ends.  FINAL DETROIT 3, SAN JOSE 2.  Off to the room we go.  Thanks for playing along!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Let's Watch the Wings and the Predators!

The Red Wings, hosting the Nashville Predators, look to establish a new NHL record for consecutive wins at home tonight after setting a new league record in that category here the night before the night before last with a 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars--Detroit's NHL record-setting 21st straight home ice victory.

This is the first time these teams have met since Detroit won in Nashville 4-1 the night after Christmas.  Since that game, the Wings have gone 17-5-1 (.761).  Impressive, no?  Well, get a load of this.  Since the last time they've seen Detroit, the Predators have gone 15-4-2 (.762).

The latest on Joey MacDonald is this: he has won three straight games in net with a 1.72 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in six games since being recalled from Grand Rapids to replace Jimmy Howard.  Danny Cleary has gone on Injured Reserve and has been replaced on the Detroit roster by #21 Tomas Tatar, recalled yesterday from the AHL.  Tatar is a healthy scratch tonight. 

Pekka Rinne, starting goalie for the Preds tonight, is 9-4-3 all-time v. Detroit.  3 of the wins have been shutouts.  His lifetime goals-against v. the Wings is 2.41.

1-0, Detroit at 12:44:  Pavel Datsyuk's 43rd assist of the season might have been his prettiest.  Datsyuk carried into the zone and tried to spin near the left half-wall.  He fell down.  No problem.  While on the ice, Datsyuk managed to slide it over to Todd Bertuzzi who in turn slid it in front to Johan Franzen and he fired it past Rinne for his team-leading 23rd goal of the year.

And the period ends.  The Franzen goal is the only goal scored as Detroit outshoots Nashville 14-9.  Each team was 0-1 on the power play in what was a very evenly-played period.  I was impressed with Nashville's transition game, the had several rushes of the odd-man variety, which you don't often see against the Red Wings.  MacDonald was very good.  END OF FIRST PERIOD: DETROIT 1, NASHVILLE 0.

We've played about 8 mins of the second period and there is nothing new to report.  12:21 left, 2nd Period: Detroit 1, Nashville 0.

Joey MacDonald just stopped one with his forehead after giving the puck away, which is an outstanding example of good positioning on his part, then stopped an in-cold breakaway less than 30 seconds later by executing a wonderful lateral slide.  Great footwork.  I walked past former Wings goalie Greg Stephan, here scouting tonight for somebody and he said, "MacDonald's playing with great confidence, good for him."  Alas, only a couple of minutes later, Detroit's Jacob Kindl gave it up deep to Nashville's Jordin Tootoo and he found Nick Spaling unaccounted for by the Wings, all alone right out in front and Spaling fired it by and as the period ends, the game is tied 1-1.  Nashville had the edge in the play in the period, I thought.  Shots were pretty even, though: 8-7, Predators.  For the game, Detroit has outshot Nashville 21-17.  END OF TWO PERIODS: Detroit 1, Nashville 1.

I hope you saw that little give-and-go between Datsyuk and Zetterberg mid-way through the third.  That's about as good a play as you will ever see which does not result in a goal.  The whole shift was about as good as it gets, too, for that matter.  It ended when Holmstrom was pulled down and they didn't call it which resulted in a 2-on-1 back the other way.  Fortunately for Detroit, the "1" in this case was Lidstrom, and because it was, Nashville didn't got a shot off the odd-man.  9:00 left, 3rd: Detroit 1, Nashville 1.

This has been a fair fight, I'll give it that much.  It has been more exciting than your average 1-1 game, which is what this one is as Nashville calls time with 1:37 to play.  Overtime?  Shootout?  More likely than not, I'd say, but you never know.

Man, the Wings came soooo close on a Datsyuk to Hudler feed in the final minute.  They've come so close so often in this third period.  But no joy.  And then nothing but joy!  Datsyuk scores on a breakaway at 19:55 and it is 22 in a row at home for Detroit.We are going to Overtime!  Final Detroit 2, Nashville 1.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Let's Watch the Wings and Stars! (And Maybe See Some History)

And so we say, "Hi again, everybody!  We greet you tonight from the Press Box, high above the ice here at the Joe Louis Arena..."  Actually, we are quite pleased to be so greeting you this evening as, presumably because the Wings are going for that all-time Consecutive Home Ice Wins record, the Press Box is packed.  Sometimes   this means I get bumped, but they Hockey Gods and the Detroit Red Wings Media Relations Department (have I mentioned lately what an outstanding job they do?) have graced me with a seat.  And so, we can report!

Would you like to know who's Hot and who's not? Sure you would.  I stole got this from, as good a hockey website as you will find.  They are the ESPN of Canada, you see, and hockey is #1 there, etc.

Who's Hot
Alex Goligoski (D) 5 pts in last 3 GP
Loui Eriksson (RW/LW) 3 pts in last 2 GP
Jamie Benn (C/LW) 7 pts in last 7 GP
Michael Ryder (RW/LW) 2 pts in last 2 GP
Mike Ribeiro (C) 3 pts in last 3 GP
Steve Ott (W/C) 6 pts in last 7 GP
Brad Stuart (D) 4 pts in last 5 GP
Ian White (D) 2 pts in last 3 GP
Niklas Kronwall (D) 2 pts in last 3 GP
Henrik Zetterberg (C/LW) 8 pts in last 5 GP
Justin Abdelkader (C/W) 3 pts in last 3 GP
Johan Franzen (LW/RW) 5 pts in last 5 GP
Joey MacDonald (G) 2-0-0, 1.92, .932 in last 2 GPI  1.87 goals against average and .926 Save % in last 5 games since Howard injury.
Who's Cold
Trevor Daley (D) 0 pts in last 15 GP
Richard Bachman (G) 0-1-0, 4.50, .864 in last 2 GPI
Kari Lehtonen (G) 1-2-1, 2.70, .889 in last 4 GPI
Tomas Holmstrom (RW/LW) 0 pts in last 10 GP
Jiri Hudler (RW/LW) 0 pts in last 5 GP
Valtteri Filppula (LW/C) 1 pts in last 4 GP
Todd Bertuzzi (RW/LW) 1 pts in last 4 GP
Pavel Datsyuk (C/LW) 3 pts in last 8 GP
Ty Conklin (G) 0-0-0, 6.00, .727 in last 2 GPI

Dan Cleary is still out of action, his injury know being reported as a "knee" instead of the more general "lower body", Jimmy Howard is still out with the broken finger and Kari Lehtonen starts in goal for Dallas.  The Wings seek a season sweep of the Stars tonight, but all the games have been close.  The two games there were each 1-goal games (including a shootout) while Detroit's 5-2 win here back in November (win #4 in the current 20-game home win streak) was a tie game mid-way through the 3rd before Detroit broke it open.  They are singing the anthem.  We will be right back.

Underway and the Wings are buzzing, as usual.  No score at first commercial break at 7:01 mark of first.

1-0 Detroit on a power play goal by Henrick Zetterberg (12).  Jamie Benn was off for goaltender interference and Zeterrberg had the puck down low and his centering pass came right back to him off a Dalls defenseman's stick and since Lehtonen had reacted to the centering pass, the post was open and Zetterberg shoveled it in.  Assist (somewhat gratuitously) awarded to Daqtsyuk and Lidstrom at 7:57..

2-0 Detroit on a goal just 1:18 later as Brad Stewart (5) snapped one by from the circle to the left of Lehtonen after Darren Helm won an offensive zone faceoff oh, so cleanly.  The Wings are pouring it on.  Detroit had 3 goals by defensemen in that win here against Dallas back in November, and the blueliners are on the board tonight thanks to Stewart. I didn't get the assists on the goal, but you can look it up if you like. The time was 9:15.  8:03 left in 1st: DETROIT 2, DALLAS 0.

Helm gets the only assist on the Stewart goal and Detroit is back on power play--Adam Burish of Dallas off for roughing at 14:13.

Our thoughts on the first period: This was another one of those periods that the Wings have, well periodically, that makes it hard to realize they are playing against another NHL team.  They were dominant in all regards.  Shots were a representative 20-10, Wings and Detroit got the only goals of the first. After 1: Detroit 2, Dallas 0.

Second period just underway.  Did I mention the crowd tonight is bigger than usual?  It is.  You can tell from the number of standees.  The seats are pretty full as usual, but they are packed in a couple deep in the standing areas.  I used to stand all the time when I was a kid at Olympia and I'll tell you, if you didn't get there an hour or two before the gates opened, you'd find yourself 6th in the "standing six-deep" configuration behind the last row of the balcony at the east end.  If you were will to pay the price (a misnomer since a Standing Room seat when I was in high school was $3) and get there way before they opened the doors, not only would you not be six deep high, you'd be in the first row of standing room at center ice, right beneath the main TV camera.  Sure, you'd have to wait another hour and a half once you got insides, but what a seat spot from which to watch!  14:00 left, 2nd: Detroit 2, Dallas 0.

It's been a quick second.  No scoring and the Wings have maintained their 2-to-1 edge in shots by outshooting the Stars 10-5 in the period as we approach the last minute of play.

The period is over.  While more evenly played than the first, Detroit still had the edge in the play and outshot the Stars 11-6 in the period (31-16, game).  Joey MacDonald made a couple great saves and got a little help from the left post when the Stars hit it with just under a minute left in the period.  Detroit is 23-1-1 (.940) when leading after two...After 2 Periods: Detroit 2, Dallas 0.

The teams return to the ice.  Is history 20 mins (elapsed playing time) away???

Dallas is all over the Wings in the first 5 minutes of the third, beating Detroit to loose pucks and such, but somehow fail to manage so much as a shot on goal even with several quality scoring chances.  14:18 left 3rd: Detroit 2, Dallas 0.

We've only been at it for 20 minutes, but we are down to 5:42 left in the game.  Dallas has mounted a charge here in the 3rd period but the Wings have been holding on.  Shots are 36-18, Detroit.  The excitement mounts, you know?  5:42 left: Detroit 2, Dallas 0.

3-0! 3-0!  It's over (4:49 left)!  It's over!  They are gonna do it.  Juri Huder gets the goal at 15:11.

I have to leave you now.  It is time to head for the dressing room to see what the fellows have to say about this record 21-game home win streak.  They will probably say they haven't given it a second thought, but you have to ask.  We'll check in with you later and, as always, we thank you for following along tonight.

Final thought? Part of the determination of how impressive a record is, is how long it takes for it to be equalled or bettered.  It will be interesting to see how long this record set by the Wings here tonight lasts.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Let's Watch the Wings and the Flyers!

As we await history tonight-Wings can tie NHL record w/20th straight home win-note that Philly is 1-3-1 in last 5 and their 3-2 win here a year ago (Jan 2, 2011) was their first win in Det since Nov 4, 1988 (0-14-2).

The record Wings are trying to tie tonight was set by 1929-30 Bruins and 1975-76 Flyers. Both teams were reigning Cup champs. Both made the Final the year they won 20 straight home games and both went to the Cup Final and played Montreal.  And...both teams were swept in Final by Canadien(s).

In 1929-30 Bruins were 21-1 the year they won 20 straight at home while the 1975-76 Flyers were 36-2-2 at home the year they won their 20 straight on home ice.  Who ended Bruins 20 game home win streak in 1929-30? Nobody. Boston simply ran out of home games to play that season. (They did lose a playoff game at home though).  Who ended Philly's 20-game home ice win streak in '75-'76? Same answer, nobody.  The Flyers won their final 20 home games that season, too. (And they also lost a home game in the playoffs that season.

This game is taking me back in so many ways.  The first Wings game I ever saw in person was against the Flyers.  It was the first season there were Flyers in the National League.  It wasn't the first time Philadelphia ever played a road game in Detroit, but it was the second!

Also, it's Sunday night.  This is the first Sunday night game of the season here in Detroit, but I'll tell you, we used to do this all the time.  Sunday was a regular night for a Wings game at Olympia Stadium, and so often it would be the back end of a home-and-home against somebody you really wanted to go and see--a team like Montreal.  Or Toronto.  Or, well, you get the idea.

Dan Cleary and Mike Commodore are the Detroit scratches tonight along with G Jimmy Howard still out with the broken finger.  Cleary got hurt here in that great game Friday night against Anaheim when he was checked near the Detroit bench and the door sprang open and got caught in the door jamb.  A freakish sort of an injury which you sometime, but not very often at all, see in this sport.  Sergei Bobrovsky is the Philly tender.

The anthem is sung and we are ready to begin....

The Wings are on the power play-the first of the night for either side-when Todd Bertuzzi tips in a shot from the line, center point area, fired by Niklas Kronwall.  I didn't think Bertuzzi touched it but it is not my call and Bertuzzi gets his 13th of the season.  Moments later, as we write in fact, Nicklas Lidstrom gets the stadning "O" for playing in his 1550th game as a Red Wing, the most ever by one player with the same team.  I remember when he was just a baby.  And now they change the goal to Kronwall (12) at 7:08.  (I told you Bertuzzzi didn't touch it.)  Mid-1st: Detroit 1, Philadelphia 0.

With 3:18 left in the period Joey MacDonald, who had been sharp, really sharp, as sharp as I've seen him this year, fanned while trying to clear it from behind the net and turned it over and when that happens, since the goalie is behind the net, there is no goalie standing in front of it and the Flyers Brayden Schenn took a feed and stuffed into the gaping wide-openness.  And Joey had been doing so well...Late 1st: Detroit 1, Philadelphia 1.

We're in the first intermission now, shots even at 8 and the score tied at 1 and that's about right.  I thought it was a very entertaining period of hockey.

Back when I was a kid I'd occasionally get Wings tickets from a relative.  Really good seats.  Arena seats about ten rows off the ice between the blue and red lines.  I'd be excited about going to the game for days.  And when game day came--it often would be a Sunday just like this one--the day would last forever and ever world without end until it was time to go.  My mom would take me.  I'd always be excited just to see the pink neon lights on the side of Olympia Stadium.  You'd see them first when you were maybe 12 or 15 blocks away and it was a rush.  And finally you'd be in the building, so close you could hear the skates.  So close you could look players in the eye and think maybe they were looking back at you.  I remember the first time.  Versus Montreal when Montreal meant Jean Beliveau and when Detroit meant Gordie Howe.  So I'm old.  I got to see Beliveau play against Howe.  Man, you just don't forget stuff like that, you know?

And now I'm thinking about how I felt today.  I've got a nasty cold and I spent most of the day sleeping and I kind of dragged myself down here.  I really didn't want to come.  I think about how I approached a game like this when I was a kid and how I felt today and I can't believe it.  It used to be the most exciting thing in the world to me and today there are days like today when it feels like a job.  Normally though, it doesn't feel like work, but today it does.  Poor me, right?  I'll do my best to soldier on.

Did I mention I'm picking the Three Stars tonight?  I am, as it turns out.  That means if the Wings win and tie this all-time record they are going for, the Official Game Scoresheet will have my name on it for all time.  Of course, if they lose and don't, the same will be true.  It just won't be historic in nature.

The officials return to the ice.  The fans boo.  The second period begins...

At 5:22, Schenn again for Philly.  He banged in the rebound of a shot fired by the Flyers other Braydon, a defenseman by the name of Coburn and Philly leads 2-1.  The goal came only a minute or so after Darren Helm missed a wraparound that left you saying, "How'd he possibly miss that?"  The net was wide open but Helm, releasing a split-second too soon, slid it right along the line and it stayed out.  13:17 left, 2nd: Detroit 1, Philadelphia 2.

That didn't take long.  #13 gets #15.  That's Datsyuk with a shot so quick the phrase "quick release" is wholly inadequate.  Datsyuk's stick never got more than 2 inches off the ice as he one-time a pass home from the circles to the tender's right.  Mercy, it was sick.  It's the second PPG for Detroit tonight.  And it ties the score at 8:27.  Mid-2nd: Detroit 2, Philadelphia 2.

This is gonna be a tough battle here tonight.  Maxime Talbot--who we are pretty sure scored the Stanley Cup winning goal for Pittsburgh against Detroit here a couple of years ago--just stuffed one by MacDonald to put the Flyers ahead, again.  It was a bad break pretty much, one of the those bounces of the puck that go the wrong way.  In this case, the thing caromed over to Talbot who was open and finished from the side of the crease before MacDonald could make a move.  And before we finish the graph...Henrik Zetterberg bombs one in from the slot, a drive high into the net to tie the game 3-3.  This one is a dandy.  The Zetterberg goal (#11) comes at 18:21.  Late 2nd: Detroit 3, Philadelphia 3.

The Second Intermission is here (this is a game so exciting multiple intermissions are required that one might catch ones breath) and nasty cold or not, this is a really, really good ballgame we've got going here.  And if the Wings can score just one more goal, they will almost certainly win.  Why?  Detroit is 69-4-4 (.922) in the last 73 games in which they have scored at least four goals.  They have three after two here tonight.

Ken Kal is out of the lineup tonight with a busted voice.  I don't know why why don't throw me in there when this happens.  I'd be great.  I've done 500 games pro.  Hell, I sit here every night calling the game in my head, (a form of personal torture that just can't be helped when for so long your job was being a play-by-play man) and I'm ready to go.  Give me the ball, dammit.

It takes Detroit all of 52-seconds to get that 4th goal.  Johan Franzen (22) gets it, tipping in a tip from Lidstrom off a Zetterberg shot from the line.  I said that correctly.  It was a double tip.  Lidstrom re-directed it out in front and Franzen re-directed it home.  They Flyers, stunned, call time out.  18:38 left, 3rd: Detroit 4, Philadelphia 3.

8:31 left in the game, still 4-3 Detroit.  They always want the Three Stars with about five minutes to go which kills me because so much can happen in those last 5 minutes, especially in a one-goal game like this one.  But, for now, here goes: #3 Franzen, #2 Datsyuk, #1 Lidstrom.  If they go on to win this game and tie that record, each did so much to make it happen, and Lidstrom has to get the top pick from breaking Delvecchio's record for most games played with a single NHL team.  He'd get that #1 Star for that alone, even if he'd played an awful game tonight, but he hasn't.  Anything but.

They did it.  20 in a row at home.  Gotta head to the room!