The Detroit Red Wings came off a 4 day layoff, and apparently they decided that another hour wasn't going to hurt them. Unfortunately for all of us, they were dead wrong. The Phoenix Coyotes took advantage of a sluggish Red Wing team in the first period to build up a 3-0 lead, and hung on for dear life over the next 40 minutes to win 4-2. The Wings were unable to overcome the poor start, although they really turned it on in the second and third periods. Tonight's game was proof that not giving a full 60 minute effort will not result in good things, and although the Wings came close, they were unable to get that tying goal late in the third.
The scoring opened when Jakub Kindl was completely turned around by Radim Vrbata at the Coyotes blueline, and Vrbata made Chris Osgood look a little silly with a nice deke. The Yotes capitalized on a power play unit when Keith Yandle found himself alone below the faceoff circle and ripped a shot top corner over Osgood's shoulder. The killer was the third goal, a wrist shot from well beyond the faceoff circle by Lauri Korpikoski that Ozzie whiffed on. The Wings got 1 back in the second when Johan Franzen did his best Tomas Holmstrom impression and tipped one down between Ilya Bryzgalov's legs. In the third, Tomas Holmstrom deposited a rebound after several great Pavel Datsyuk chances. Unfortunately, Niklas Kronwall decided to play hot potato with the puck and ultimately Korpikoski scored an empty netter for his second goal. Join me after the jump for the bullet points.
Not a whole lot to talk about, so let's get down to it.
- Apparently I have masochistic tendencies, because I decided to watch the Phoenix feed tonight. I'm not sure why other than the fact that I hate myself more than I originally thought. At the beginning, they interviewed Shane Doan, and I fully expected him to bite the head off of a live octopus and then spit it at the camera.
- The Phoenix announcers also said that they were excited for a game against their "rivals" in the Wings. I love the fact that every team in the Western Conference considers the Wings some sort of "rival" or "enemy", while the Wings are so far above them that they think of the other teams as "minor speed bumps on the way to the Stanley Cup".
- I liked the Red Wings' tactic of trying to throw the Coyotes off by having more than 6700 people in the stands. Unfortunately, it didn't faze them as much as I would have wanted.
- Pavel Datsyuk is a freaking magician with the puck. I've been watching him for 8 years, and he still does things every night that makes my jaw hit the ground and jump out of my seat. I'm surprised that no one has tried to beat him down outside the arena based on how silly he makes them look. I think the only thing I have never seen him do is score a goal after skating the length of the ice backwards with his eyes closed, and yet I believe that if he wanted to do that, he'd score.
- Tomas Holmstrom. I'm not sure how well this is going to be received, but I'm just getting less and less impressed with Homer. He's not a good skater, he doesn't have great hands, and he took a really stupid penalty tonight when the Wings were trying to push for the tying goal. I like what he does on the power play, and as you saw on his goal, he's still great around the net. I wish there was a way for him to just stay in front of the opponent's net and count on the other 4 guys to get the puck to him. I want to see more from him on a consistent basis.
- The members of the third line obviously do not read the papers in Detroit, because I saw nothing from them that indicated what Mike Babcock said got through to them. All three of them were non-factors tonight, and I have nothing positive to say about them other than the fact that Hudler and Cleary were not minus tonight. The second line was also a non-factor, and to be honest, I only noticed Bertuzzi on the ice when I suddenly felt cold and frightened.
- I like the fact that I don't immediately assume the fetal position whenever the Wings take a penalty, because I actually have a little faith they are going to kill it off. Yes, I know they gave up a power play goal tonight; that makes 3 all season, out of 29 chances. That's freaking awesome. On the flip side, the power play scored again, but did anyone else think it looked that good? I sure didn't. The second unit is useless, yet because it was Franzen who scored the goal, it looks good on the stat sheet. But changes must be made. For the 1000th time, get well, Brian Rafalski.
- The Phoenix announcers talked about how the team finally got back to the "suffocating" defense they need to play to be successful, and mentioned the "layers" the Wings needed to get through. I wasn't sure whether they were talking about hockey or a smelly onion, but either way, my eyes started to water.
- The fourth line was great tonight. I know that we don't spend a ton of time on them, but they brought energy and jump on every shift they were out there. I wish to whoever is in charge of stuff that they had decided to infuse them with a little more offensive talent, because they deserved a goal tonight.
- Phoenix is having a promotion on Halloween where people who go to the game can dress up. I've heard that they are expecting 10,000 people to show up with the same costume: seats.
- Chris Osgood. You knew this was coming. After all the bickering and fighting that went on, I can not say that Osgood had a good game. There are those who are going to point to his save percentage and say it was high (it was). There are those who will look at how he played in the second and third period and note that he didn't give up a goal (good for him). But he absolutely crapped the bed in the first period, most notably on the third goal. The first goal? Ok, I can handle that; it was a nice move by Vrbata. Sure he was flopping around like Hasek on an acid trip, but I fault Kindl just as much as Ozzie on that one: the breakaway should not have happened in the first place. The second goal? Eh, not a great play by Ozzie, as I feel he over-committed and went down too early. But the entire PK unit was on the opposite side of the ice, and Yandle ripped a very nice shot top corner. I can admit that there are a lot of goalies out there who would not have made that save. But for the love of all things holy, Osgood has got to make that save on the third goal, and that was a huge factor in this game tonight. It was a fairly routine wrist shot from beyond the faceoff dot, and he was not screened. There is absolutely no excuse for that goal going in, and this is the kind of thing that the naysayers have been talking about. I love Osgood for what he has done for this team in the past, and I feel that he still has a little left in the tank. But when your team is down 2-0 at home after a long layoff and they get a PP, you can not give up a goal like that. Ever. It was bad enough the goal went in; for it to be a shorthanded tally makes it even worse. That is another game where he gave up 3 goals, and if this is going to be a trend, then I'm going to join the chorus of people who will say that he belongs on the bench. I can't defend his play tonight, even if he did bounce back in the second and third; to that I say: "too little, too late". We've always prided Osgood on his ability to make the big save when the team needed it, and yet again he failed to do that tonight. This loss is on him as much as anyone else on the team.
As the wise Baroque pointed out in the game thread, this is only the second regulation loss for the Wings this season, and they are on pace for 113 points. Tonight's game can be summarized like this: piss-poor start doomed them. Thank goodness this should be the last time they have a 4 day layoff for quite some time, and we can get back to fairly regular games. It's a bummer to lose, but at least there was life in the team, unlike against the Stars. Everyone needs to tear the sleeves off their flannel shirts, knock out a couple of teeth and get your trucker hat ready: the Predators are coming to town on Saturday, and we want to make them feel right at home.