Um, does November really have to end? The Wings ended one of their best months in recent memory with a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks. The Wings had control of this one for most of the game, although the Sharks did not go down without a fight.
The Red Wings opened the scoring on the power play when Dan Cleary finished off a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing sequence. Pavel Dastyuk did what he does best for the Wings' second goal when he outworked 3 Shark defenders and avoided a pokecheck by Antero Niittymaki to make it 2-0. Joe Thornton banked in a pass off of Dany Heatley's skate late in the first on the power play to cut the lead in half, and the Wings entered the second enjoying a slight lead. Henrik Zetterberg saw the San Francisco Giant scouts in the crowd, so he showed off his bunting skills when he batted a puck in out of mid-air past Niittymaki. Benn Ferriero put home a rebound to again cut the Wings' lead to 1 goal, but the Wings turned the tables on an opponent by actually scoring a last minute goal, this one a nice tip-in by Patrick Eaves. The Wings got that ever-important 3-goal lead when Datsyuk had yet another highlight move, this one a pass to Zetterberg who potted his second goal and fourth point of the night. Ryan Clowe scored a meaningless goal late in the third period to make it a little interesting, but the outcome was really not in doubt.
Hop in your Bentley and get chauffeured past the jump where we will delicately analyze this one.This was one of the Wings' best efforts of the season, and despite San Jose keeping the score close, it always seemed like the Wings were in control of the game.
Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are without question the best and classiest 1-2 combination in the NHL. Better than Crosby-Malkin; better than Thornton-Heatley; better than Ovechkin-Backstrom. Regardless of the score, if there's a minute left in the game, I want the Eurotwins out there before I would even consider putting anyone else on the ice. When they get going and move the puck the way they did tonight, beautiful music is played in the background, birds sing and the sun shines, even on a cold November day. Zetterberg had 4 points, Datsyuk had 3, and both ended up with 5 PTIBs (Panties Twisted Into Bunches). I won't lie: seeing them move the puck the way they did tonight makes me physically aroused. Yea; I said it.
- The Wings seemed to be on their heels early, but I realized that was because they were a little sluggish from their caviar and champagne on the flight into San Jose. The initial power play (and subsequent goal by Dan Cleary) really seemed to settle the team down, but I thought the Wings were a little lucky to get out of the first up 2-1. However, as the game went on, they got stronger and stronger.
- The Wings had a problem early containing Joe Thornton, as he was able to use his size to get some quality scoring chances. I wondered what was going on, then looked up and saw that the calendar said "November 30", not "May 30". Maybe his problem is that he grows his playoff beard too early? Hard to say.
- Holy crap did the second line look good tonight; they looked "we just got our good top hats back from the hat cleaners and we're ready to go out on the town" good. I know that Valtteri Filppula was the only one on that line to show up on the scoresheet, but every time they were on the ice, they controlled the puck and had some real quality chances. I still feel like Johan Franzen is playing too much on the fringes, and there's just something missing from his game, but Flip looks possessed out there right now, and Bertuzzi had a really nice game.
- To piggy back on that thought, the fourth line also had a really great game, particularly Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves. It seems like they have been paying attention in etiquette class, because they were very generous with the puck among each other and were constantly racing ahead of the Shark defenders, presumably to open the bench door for them. They got the fourth goal, which was deserved based on their play all night. If those guys are that good night in and night out, and this is coupled with the strong play of the top two lines, the Wings are unbeatable.
- The defense had an okay game, but I counted a number of errors that could have proved disastrous on another night. Each defenseman had at least one giveaway, although none of them turned into goals. It wasn't the greatest game for the corps, but it was good enough for the Wings to win. I did think it was classy of the defense to not injure any of the Shark players given the rash of injuries they have been dealing with lately.
- Despite the three goals against, Jimmy Howard had a solid game. I can't really fault him on any of the goals: one was a fluke bounce off of Heatley's skate (as an aside, I was writing a note and heard the announcer say "Heatley speeding down the ice" and choked on my nachos), and the other two were off rebounds where the Wing player lost positioning on the Shark goal scorer. He made a couple of decent saves early that kept the score tied while the Wings got their legs under them, but none of his saves were really spectacular.
- Henrik Zetterberg is your player of the game. He was the first star and NHL Network's Performer of the Night. That's good enough for me.
I'd be remiss if I did not comment on what went on today between the WIIM and FTF communities. I'm not sure if anyone from FTF is going to read this, nor do I really care. I understand that JJ's post riled up a lot of people over there, and things got pretty heated during discussions of this. However, we are all fans and we are all passionate about our teams. We also ride the emotional roller coaster that is the regular season, and right now for us Wing fans, we're cresting the top of the big hill and ready to go for a wild ride. I think that if you watched the game tonight and saw what the Wings did with the puck, the way they held it away from the Sharks for 3-4 minutes at a time and controlled just about every aspect of the game, you have to admit that the Wings are one of, if not the biggest favourite for the Stanley Cup in the Western Conference right now. I agree 100% with JJ in that as it stands right now, not one team in the West scares me in a seven game series against the Wings; each of the "contenders" has one part of their team that the Wings have a significant advantage over. Does that mean the Wings are going to the win the Cup? Hell no. But why should anyone on this site, be it myself, JJ, Casey or any of the commenters, ever have to apologize for believing that the Wings can and will win the Stanley Cup? If we're proven wrong, then you can certainly throw these posts back in our faces.
I will say this: if a Wing fan ventures on to anyone else's site, I hope that they conduct themselves with dignity and class, and they represent Red Wing Nation well. However, I hope that the hosts treat these commenters with respect, because that's what makes this community so great: the opportunity for fans of all teams to discuss this game that we love so much. I'll admit there were some comments by Wing fans that were uncalled for, but don't think for a second that Shark fans conducted themselves with a complete sense of decorum. If you read this post and you've got a problem with it, leave me a comment here and I'll gladly respond. I sincerely hope that some of the "fans" over there don't get too hurt when they fall off that high horse of theirs. And that's the last I'll say about any of that.
Stay classy, San Jose; I know we will.