We are about six minutes away from the opening face here at the Joe where the Wings tonight host the LA Kings. Detroit again will be without their best player, Pavel Datsyuk (they have won twice, 2-4-1, in the 7 games he's been out), their best defenseman, Niklas Lidstrom and their #1 goalie Jimmy Howard. For good measure, also out tonight are: defensemen Jakub Kindl and Jonathan Ericsson and forwards Justin Abdelkader and Todd Bertuzzi. That's the kind of list that could easily do in most teams. The Wings with 89 points lead the Kings (74) by fifteen points in the Western Conference standings, but the Kings are what is know in the industry as a desperate team. LA is in 9th place in the West, one point out of the playoffs, and are part of the logjam which as we enter action on this Friday night sees 5 teams separated by 4 points. That's the difference between being in 7th place and 11th.
As far as the injuries are concerned, we've only just today learned today how badly Lidstrom was hurt as it was reported that it was only yesterday that he was able to get a skate on his injured foot and skate at practice. Datsyuk was back on the ice Monday--13 days after having a knee scoped, and it is hoped that he (and Lisdstrom, too for that matter) will be back in the lineup when the Wings head to the coast next week. The status of the other injured players is unknown as the league has for some time now maintained a tight-lipped policy when it comes to this sort of thing, but as soon as we know something, you will too!
At 7:29, Jeff Carter (18) scored off a goalmouth scramble with the Kings on the power play. A shot hit the crossbar and Joey MacDonald reacted for a split second as if he thought the puck had gone in the net. By the time he realized that it had in fact not, it was too late and Carter slid the puck under him. Detroit is 12-12-1 (.500) when allowing the first goal this season, Los Angeles is 24-4-6 (.794) when scoring first. FIRST PERIOD: DETROIT 0, LOS ANGELES 1.
Henrik Zetterberg (17) ties it at 14:40. Good quick passing got him the puck at the top of the right circle and his one-timer hit the back of the net before LA goalie Jonathan Quick could move from one post to the other. Valtteri Fippula and somebody else (I missed the name what with all the noise in the building) got the assists. The goal came on Detroit's second shot of the game, LA leading in Shots on Goal right now 8-2. FIRST PERIOD: DETROIT 1, LA 1.
The second assist on the Zetterberg goal went to Juri Hudler, for those of you scoring at home.
Ooops. MacDonald gives up a weak one. A little wrister from the near right boards sort of knuckled over the blocker and into the net and the Kings lead again at 17:41. FIRST PERIOD: DETROIT 1, LA 2.
The Kings lead after one, 2-1 and the big story is that Detroit was held to 3 shots on goal, the fewest they've had in a period since they got two way back on Tuesday night in the first period in Philadelphia. The Kings had 9 shots in the first and it was the 9th, the shot that MacDonald muffed, that has cost them in this one. Detroit is 7-12-1 (.375) when trailing after the first, LA is 14-1-2 (.882) when leading after one. END FIRST PERIOD: DETROIT 1, LOS ANGELES 2.
We are past the mid-point of the second period (9:39 remaining) and the Wings still do not have a shot on goal in the period, and have only 3 in the game. What they seem to be demonstrating tonight is that the Grand Rapids Griffins cannot beat the Los Angeles Kings, but we shall see. SECOND PERIOD: DETROIT 1, LOS ANGELES 2.
Though shorthanded by injury, the Detroit Red Wings still have Filppula and Zetterberg wearing their sweaters tonight and it's a good thing. Zetterberg has just scored his second of the night and 18th of the season to tie the game after Filppula, making a 360-degree spin at the top of the left circle to avoid the defense, set him up in close. Zetterberg's backhand sneaked between Quick's right arm and his body (goalies HATE when that happens) and this contest is even. The goal came at 15:37. SECOND PERIOD: DETROIT 2, LOS ANGELES 2.
The Wings wound up getting 5 shots in the second half of the period--including the goal by Zetterberg--and so they are hanging in there down there, tied at two after two in spite of being outshot 16-8 after two. Of the 20 players dressing for Detroit in this game, 5 have been called up from Grand Rapids in the past week or so and those 5 players have a grand total of 18 NHL games between them. Yet the Wings are tied here, so that's pretty good. It shows Detroit has some depth in the organization. And, as I say, they also have Filppula and Zetterberg.
I am not sure when Jimmy Howard, the starting goalie for Detroit, will be back. He started last Sunday in that 2-1 loss to the Blackhawks here and did not come out for the start of the second period. I didn't see him get hurt but as a goalie myself, I sort of kind of figured he'd pulled a groin. It's an occupational hazard. You butterfly; you hit the ice and spread those pads as far as you can, and your groin at some point lets you know that you are engaging in an unnatural activity. I think that every season I've played for the last 12 at least at some point I wind up with a sore groin and inevitably it doesn't go away until a month or so after tthe season ends. Well, it turns out that Howard has a groin pull. He's day to day. They get better treatment up here in the National League than I do in the beer league, but I'll bet Howard feels that sore groin the rest of the way. If he doesn't go and really tear it, he'll hurt but he'll play. They added an assist to Kronwall on the goal by Zetterberg which tied this game late in the second period. SECOND INTERMISSION: DETROIT 2, LOS ANGELES 2.
We are still tied here just about mid-way through the 3rd. I'm going to head downstairs now because (did I mention I' playing tonight with a slight groin pull?) it's going to take me a little longer than usual to get to the dressing rooms. I will update you later when I get the chance. THIRD PERIOD: DETROIT 2, LOS ANGELES 2.
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