Detroit continued their trip through California on the night with a 4-0 victory over the Anaheim
Ugly Jack-O-Lanterns Ducks. Valtteri Fillpula and Johan Franzen had two points each, Cleary stayed hot, and Holmstrom got off the goal-scoring schneide, but Jimmy Howard was the story, putting together a 41-shot blanking of the California Cloacae.
Special teams wasn't much of a story on the night as there were only four total power play opportunities. Anaheim went 0-for-3, while Detroit failed to score on their lone opportunity. Yes, you read that right, the usually-goonish Ducks took only one penalty. I'd like to tell you that they got away with a ton and that the refs screwed things up, forcing the Wings to overcome, but I think the game was very fairly and consistently called. Larry Murphy said it best during the telecast when he mentioned it was a factor of puck possession and that the Wings hadn't possessed the puck much. Fortunately, Murph's confusing and frightening moment of clarity later went away as he went all Ric Flair on the broadcast when they mentioned an upcoming dollar hot dog night. Bottom line: I would watch if you re-cast The Odd Couple with Ken and Murph and had Mick and Keating as the neighbors who stop by all the time to drive the plot along.
Jimmy Howard definitely earned his shutout in this game, stopping all 41 Anaheim shots for his second 4-0 victory over the Ducks this season. His rebound control started a bit shaky, but picked up well late. He was also bailed out several times by fantastic defensive play by the guys in front of him. Regardless, he made four big saves on his way to this victory. Howard's rating on the night was +4
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 1:09 - Detroit Goal: Johan Franzen (wrist shot) from Valtteri Filppula
Goals this early are always a good way to say hello to your opposition. This play starts off with good offensive zone pressure by the first line for the first shift of the game. Anaheim takes the puck as Lubomir Visnovski waits behind his own net for ten seconds while both teams change. When he comes out from behind the net, he tries to put a pass up the middle of the ice, but Franzen gets a piece of it. The puck deflects high in the Ducks' zone, but Filppula collects it before it gets out and carries to the right faceoff circle before trying to hit Franzen with a cross-ice pass. The pass doesn't connect, but the puck takes a favorable bounce off the boards to Franzen's stick, where he immediately turns and fires on net before Hiller can complete his move across the crease to get set. Franzen will pick up an extra half-plus for creating the turnover that creates his goal.
2nd Period 14:02 - Detroit Goal: Tomas Holmstrom (wrist shot) from Henrik Zetterberg (500th career point) and Pavel Datsyuk
On a long 2nd-period shift, the top line does a very good job controlling play on Anaheim, including two very solid instances of neutral zone pestering by Holmstrom. The Ducks eventually do get it in, but fail to create a scoring chance. Perry turns the puck over to Lidstrom, who immediately recognizes Datsyuk coming out of the zone and finds him for a pass that sends the Wings forwards up ice three-wide on an even-man rush. The Wings' forwards do an excellent job maneuvering to turn the 3-on-3 into three individual 1-on-1s, which allows each player on the line to highlight his talent. Datsyuk crosses over Holmstrom coming into the zone and heads for the boards. Datsyuk takes a defender with him while Holmstrom takes the other going to the front of the net. Meanwhile, Zetterberg shifts to the center of the ice in front of his man and collects the pass from Pavel in stride. Zetterberg immediately carries into the hole behind Pavel's defender and in front of Holmstrom's. While Visnovski struggles to come across ice to catch up to Zetterberg, Homer sets up office on front of Hiller with good position on Perry. Zetterberg throws a low backhand at Hiller, which he can't corral. Holmstrom, now with Perry so far out of position, he might as well be in the press box, slams the rebound home for Detroit's 2nd goal. Lidstrom's quick outlet pass is a vital part of this play developing and the captain will get an assist on this play.
2nd Period 18:26 - Detroit Goal: Danny Cleary (tip in) from Brian Rafalski
To start this play, Ericsson steps up on a Ducks player in the neutral zone, forcing a weak dump-in with no pressure that Abdelkader collects and carries up ice. He steps around one forward before dumping the puck in and racing into the zone to get to it first. Abdelkader continues his one-man wrecking crew as he takes two Anaheim defenders out of the play as they try to hit him. Miller collects and tries to feed Abby at the side of the goal for a stuff-in attempt that is stopped. The puck ends up back on Abby's stick as his momentum carries him behind the net. Abby tries a wraparound stuff attempt, but Hiller gets the pad down. In desperation, Andy Sutton picks the puck off Hiller's pad and tries to clear by bouncing it up the boards, but the puck goes straight to Rafalski, who unleashes a slap shot from just above the circle. Danny Cleary is standing out front and deflects it through Hiller's legs for this goal. Justin Abdelkader undoubtedly deserves an assist here and also will get a bonus plus. If anybody wants to really know what he brings to this team, this play should answer that question nicely, despite that he received no official points. Jonathan Ericsson will also get a half-plus for the neutral zone step-up that leads this play to develop.
3rd Period 19:29 - Detroit Goal: Valtteri Filppula (wrist shot) from Jonathan Ericsson and Johan Franzen
With time winding down on the shutout, the Ducks carry up ice is broken up by Ruslan Salei jumping up on a player at center ice, turning the puck over to Kronwall as the Ducks change. He immediately recognizes this and feeds to Filppula, who is streaking up the far wing for a breakaway opportunity that Hiller stops. Flip collects his own rebound and gets the puck to Franzen, who finds Ericcson at the far point. Big Rig recognizes Filppula on the back door and throws a wrister his way. Andy Sutton fails to stop the pass or the stick and Fillpula quickly redirects it home past Hiller. Rafalski came on for Kronwall and Ericsson came on for Salei as this play develops. Kronwall will get Rafalski's plus for helping develop the play and Salei will get a half-plus for forcing the turnover on the bad change. Kronwall also gets an assist for springing Flip on the breakaway.
I feel every defenseman on the club had an excellent night, so they're each getting some bonus credit here. Here's the breakdown:
+1 to Stuart, Kronwall, Salei, and Lidstrom: These are the guys who played flawless defense. Lidstrom, Stuart, and Kronwall each had plays that broke up what would have been sure goals by playing defensively sound hockey and getting sticks in lanes. Salei was winning board battles, keeping his marks on the outside, getting in passing lanes, and being solid enough to play more even-strength minutes than any of the other three.
+0.5 to Jonathan Ericsson and Brian Rafalski: It feels weird to feel as though I'm punishing these guys by only awarding them a plus-half, so don't think of it like that. Rafalski played the most even-strength minutes of anybody on the team and was very solid. Ericsson already got a bonus half-plus for a goal and he did get caught flat-footed in the first leading to a penalty, so this half-plus bonus rating is simply the result of the net adjustments when taking all things into consideration.
+1 to Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom, and Pavel Datsyuk: The Eurotwins had a fantastic game together again. Their contributions on the defensive end of the ice certainly helped Howard maintain his shutout. Holmstrom was flat-out robbed twice by Hiller and very well could have had a hat trick on the night. He avoided taking any dumb penalties on this evening and was able to reign his tenacity into something very useful.
+1 to Valtteri Filppula: I was most happy with the 2nd line all night and like that they produced an official +2 on the night, but I think Filppula deserves extra credit for his aggression in attacking the puck wherever it went through all three zones on the ice. His goal was a result of very hard work and it was nice to see that get rewarded.
Honorable mentions: I'd like to give the fourth line some props for performing well on the night and helping keep momentum and energy in the Wings' favor, they just didn't wow enough. Hudler's quietness in his 11 minutes of ice time was disappointing for a guy waiting for him to break out, but he really does look like he's trying out there, so he'll keep getting a bit more of a pass than perhaps he should be. He's definitely not being actively detrimental, so I wouldn't feel right giving him a minus. I expect more though.
Next game tomorrow night against the Kings. Chris Osgood will get his first start since the BeeGees were relevant. Fortunately, the team should be pretty well rested. Nobody played more than 22 minutes in this game.