The Detroit Red Wings emerged from their chalk outlines to lay a beating on an embattled Edmonton Oilers team, beating them by a score of 6-2. Mike Babcock decided to play mad scientist with the lines, putting Jiri Hudler on the second line with Valtteri Filppula and Johan Franzen and bumping Todd Bertuzzi "down" to the third line with Mike Modano and Dan Cleary. Filppula opened the scoring off a nice pass from behind the net by Hudler, and exactly 6 minutes later, Tomas Holmstrom did what he does best by tipping a puck to himself and then depositing the rebound in the net. Dan Cleary scored the first of his two 4 minutes later after a shot from the top of the circle.
The Wings came out flying in the second period, getting a nice goal from Cleary after Todd Bertuzzi "went the other way" to get him the puck, and Johan Franzen finally was to score goal #100 when he batted in a rebound in front of the net. The Oilers were able to get one early in the third when Dustin Penner put a puck past Jimmy Howard, but the Wings got it back late in the third when Holmstrom went to the net and collected his second of the night. Theo Peckham popped in an inconsequential goal late in game which was only noteworthy in that it was his first NHL goal, which is always kind of cool. Follow me after the jump for the analysis.
This was a great game from a Wings perspective from start to finish. I've got no negative comments tonight.
- Once again, a huge "Thank You" to anyone and everyone who has served in any branch of the armed forces, both in the US and Canada. Your sacrifices are what makes it possible for me to sit here on my couch and blog about the hockey team that I love. I thought the players giving their thoughts during the different timeouts was a great touch by the Wings.
- All 3 lines scored goals in the first period, and all of them looked good. But as the game kept going, the new third line of Mike Modano, Todd Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary got better and better. Cleary has had a fire lit under him and has been one of their best players for the last 3-4 games. Modano is quickly acclimating himself to the Wings and their system, and he is getting better with each game. And Bertuzzi's "switching of the hands" to get the pass to Cleary for goal number two was a thing of beauty. I really think Mike Babcock is on to something with that line.
- The second line was also good, but most importantly, Johan Franzen finally has goal number 100 and maybe now he'll get going. It was such a good goal for him to get, too: ugly, off a rebound, collecting the garbage. One thing we've been saying about him around here is that he's not going to the dirty areas to score the kind of goals that he should be scoring: tonight he did that. Maybe he's just tired from playing all through October; maybe he switched beard trimmers and he had some razor burn that was irritating him to the point of distraction. Either way, here's hoping that the weight of trying to get to goal 100 is off his shoulders and he can just play the way he has in the past.
- In the same vein, Jiri Hudler had a nice game. His pass to Filppula for the first goal was indicative of the skill that he brings to the team, and he had a similar great pass earlier in that period that almost led to a Franzen goal. Let's be clear: Hudler needs to be on a skill line. He's not good enough defensively to play on a third line, and he's not gritty enough to be on a fourth line. Fortunately, the Wings have a problem in that they have too many skill players and not enough spots on the top 2 lines. But if Hudler keeps this up, he might just play his way on to one of those lines.
- The first line was good but not great tonight. I didn't see a lot out of Datsyuk and Zetterberg, but that's actually good: they can not be relied on to carry this team every single night. Homer obviously reads WIM, because we've said some things about him that might be construed as criticism. He had a jump in his step early and went to the front of the net with reckless abandon. His hand-eye coordination skills once again shone through on his first goal as he tipped the puck on net and then picked up a rebound.
- You know what's awesome? The Oilers have lost 10 out of their last 12 games, and in those 12 games, they have only given up less than 3 goals three times. The awesome part? Two of those games (the only two they have won since the second game of the season) were against the Blackhawks. In Chicago. Both times. Hee hee.
- I'd love to make fun of the Oilers. Really I would. But I just feel so sorry for them. They've got an extremely young team, and they are going to struggle mightily over the course of the entire season. Plus, I really like Jordan Eberle, and I'd love to see him rise up and win Rookie of the Year.
- The Wings went 1 for 1 on the PP, but the only real negative on the night was Mike Modano and that sorry excuse for a penalty shot. Come on Mike: you're up 4-0 against one of the worst teams in the NHL: let's get a little triple deke action. You were in the Mighty Ducks; you let me down.
- Games like this always make me lose my focus, and I start to think about what's going on in the rest of the NHL. Then after checking the scores from the rest of the league, I realize that I just don't care. The Wings are awesome, and it just does not matter what the rest of the league does right now, because I think the Wings are playing well.
We've got a short turnaround before the Avs come to town on Saturday. It was pointed out to me in the game thread that the Avs are 7-2 against the Wings in the last 9 games, but obviously the speaker conveniently forgot about the 4 game beatdown in 2008 when the Wings absolutely obliterated the Avs on their way to Cup number 11. Oh, and to Bobby over at the Edmonton Sun: I think it's safe to say that we as Wing fans got the last laugh tonight. I hope you read each and every letter and email that was sent your way and realize the error in judgment you made. I also hope that you had a good time covering the game among all the Detroit journalists and you had to explain to all of them what you meant with your ill-advised opening. And now we are done with you.
*H/t to WIM reader Dubie for the headline idea.