Turns out it takes more than four days off to forget how to play hockey; good news, because the Wings will do it again after playing the Ducks on Saturday. The Wings took on a Flames team that has struggled to score goals and held them to 2. Even better, they played a stingy Calgary defense and put up 4. The Wings' struggling powerplay put up a 1-for-5 against a good penalty kill, not bad at all. I was impressed with the level of movement exhibited by both units. Their numbers weren't much better, but they're getting there.
Lots of good jump by the team tonight in what could have turned out to be an ugly trap game. Once again, Jarome Iginla was rendered quiet by a Detroit defense that has done well to stymie him over the last couple seasons. All in all, a good effort. Let's take a look at the CSSI Adjustments:
Jimmy Howard played another excellent game, picking up where he left off in Phoenix last Saturday. Neither of the two goals that got by him were weak goals and he made four big saves on the night. He really bailed out his defense a couple times. His rating was +4.
Scoring and plus/minus after the break.The Goals
1st Period 15:24 - Calgary Goal: Mikael Backlund (snap shot) from Curtis Glencross and Cory Sarich
The play starts in the neutral zone, where Cleary tries a dump in that's intercepted at the half-boards. The Flames wheel the puck to Sarich who moves back through center ice with speed before dumping a puck weakly in on Howard, who deflects it to the corner (like he should). Sarich picks up his own rebound, takes it behind the red line and dishes over to Glencross, who finds Backlund sneaking between coverages for a put-home from the slot. Kindl, Modano, Salei, and Cleary all blew their coverages on this play, but Hudler did not. He made the right play pinching Sarich at the blue line to force the dump in. Hudler does not get a minus.
1st Period 17:29 - Detroit Goal: Henrik Zetterberg (snap shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom
With Calgary cycling the puck in the Detroit end, the Wings defenders in good position keep them to the outside. Alex Tanguay tries to pass the puck across the ice near the Detroit blue line where Pavel Datsyuk picks it off and starts the rush the other way. Datsyuk carries to center and passes to Holmstrom on the far boards when Tanguay steps up on him. Holmstrom dishes back to Datsyuk who carries low in what's now a 2-on-1 rush with Zetterberg, who has kept up with the play the whole way. Ian White tries to block the pass across to no avail and Datsyuk finds Zetterberg for the easy put away. Datsyuk earns an extra half-plus for his defensive play starting the rush up ice.
1st Period 18:10 - Calgary Goal: Mikael Backlund (backhand) from Brendan Morrison and Curtis Glencross
Again, Cleary fails to get a puck deep past the Calgary defense and the turnover brings the puck the other way. Glencross gets the puck at center and dumps it into the zone while being pressured by Kronwall. Morrison gets on Hudler trying to clear, who tries to dump it up ice, but hits Kronwall coming back into the zone. Glencross and Backlund pressure Kronwall and relieve him of the puck. Morrison receives the puck and circles to the half-boards while Glencross goes in front to screen and Backlund steps into the slot. Morrison releases a slap shot that is blocked by Kronwall in the faceoff circle. The puck ends up behind Kronwall, where Backlund picks it up and scoops a quick backhander past Jimmy Howard. Janik receives only a half-minus for being the only Wings defender consistently in position. He's not completely absolved because he doesn't stop the shot from getting through, but he was outmanned low because of the sloppy play by the backchecking forwards.
2nd Period 3:51 - Detroit Goal (PP): Nicklas Lidstrom (slap shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg
The Red Wings start this play with a man advantage because of great hustle by Drew Miller in drawing a penalty while forechecking aggressively. The power play starts off disjointed, as the Flames clear the zone three times. Eventually, Modano makes a good, but slightly terrifying stick-handling move in his own zone and finds Holmstrom for the outlet pass up the ice. Homer rings the puck around the boards and head to his office. Zetterberg picks up the puck and moves it further up ice to Lidstrom, who gives to Datsyuk with a penalty killer pressuring. Pavel Datsyuk works a bit of his dangle magic to turn the Calgary defender into Trevor Thompson before dishing off to Nicklas Lidstrom who releases a slap shot from the point that finds its way past a screening Holmstrom and through Kiprusoff. Holmstrom picks up an assist for the screen and for the smart dump-around. Datsyuk's blue line puck magic earns him another half-plus. Miller's work drawing the penalty earns him a plus.
3rd Period 7:55 - Detroit Goal: Johan Franzen (tip-in) from Todd Bertuzzi and Valtteri Filppula
Filppula does some excellent work at the Calgary blue line to keep the puck in the offensive zone by tying up Olli Jokinen, allowing Franzen to swoop in and grab the puck. Mule passes to Bertuzzi going to the net, but he doesn't have enough space to make a move. The puck rebounds off Kiprusoff to the trapezoid behind the net. Franzen, following up on the play, picks the puck up behind the net and throws it at Kiprusoff's head (because that's how the Mule rolls). The puck sits on Kiprusoff's shoulder like an ugly rubber parrot before falling off and ending up in the net. Filppula's defensive work on Jokinen earns him a half-plus.
3rd Period 16:43 - Detroit Goal: Todd Bertuzzi (snap shot) unassisted
Bertuzzi challenges Cory Sarich at the Detroit blue line and blocks his dump-in. Hitting a gear nobody knew he had, Bert races up ice with the puck with Zetterberg acting as decoy on the 2-on-1 to keep Kiprusoff honest. Kipper cheats off his post and Bertuzzi finds the short-side room above the glove for the put-away goal late in the third. This play is all Bert and he gets a half-plus for doing basically the same thing Filppula and Datsyuk got half-pluses for earlier.
+1 to Brad Stuart: The big blueliner was throwing his body around like it mattered and really working hard to help his team clear pucks. This is the game I want to see Stuart playing more of.
+1 to Drew Miller: This energy liner drew two penalties and made some brilliant plays. Give a guy credit for doing exactly what he's sent out to do? Not exactly. Give a guy credit for doing exactly what he's sent out to do exceptionally.
+0.5 to Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves: Miller wasn't alone out there and these two also played very well. These two led all forwards in PK time and I thought the Wings' penalty killing was a big part of their victory.
-1 to Dan Cleary: Both Calgary goals came directly off turnovers where Cleary failed to get the puck deep in the zone on a dump-in. He has to do a better job.
Saturday, Detroit faces the Ducks. Hopefully the Wings can build off their momentum and keep the good feelings going. Besides that, I freakin' hate the Ducks.