Well that was a good response to a less-than-stellar performance against the Blackhawks last night, wasn't it?
Detroit ended 2011 and Division Hate week by winning 3-0 over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night in the Joe Louis Arena. The traditional New Year's Eve game saw two teams that played the same number and type of games throughout the week meet to finish off the hostilities they started on Tuesday. The start was a bit tentative for Detroit, but a goal by Johan Franzen 7:28 into the second period where he walked around Barret Jackman to embarrass Brian Elliot turned out to be all Detroit needed.
Fortunately, they also added two more for the sake of our sanity. Keeping up with their habit of scoring in bunches, the 2nd Detroit goal came just 77 seconds after the first on a snap shot by Justin Abdelkader (who was the recipient of a head-shot from Ian Cole in the first, but was able to return and turn a steal from Drew Miller into a goal). Detroit struck again in the 2nd, this time in Budd Lynch territory. Jiri Hudler took a pass from Valtteri Filppula behind the net at 19:07 of the 2nd frame and converted it past Elliott to complete all the scoring for the night.
Bullets after the jump.
- Tonight's Zero Shots on Goal Club Members: Gustav Nyquist, Todd Bertuzzi, Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Kronwall, and Joakim Andersson. Of all of them, Bertuzzi is the only person with a minus Corsi rating on the night. In fact, I'm not even entirely sure why I bring this up when I do recaps. None of these guys sucked.
- He's being played too much, to be sure, but Jimmy Howard is absolutely incredible. It was very nice to see him actually get a shutout this time, as this was the 2nd time this week he's deserved one. If not for an absolutely stellar save on Matt D'Agostini in the first, the entire flavor of the game might have changed to something a bit more... dare I say, bitter? This game was a big "Shut the Fuck Up" to the boobs who don't watch the games and just want to say that Howard is playing as a product of the system in front of him. This is a game where the system in front of him got a chance to work because he kept them in the game when they weren't.
- The hit by Ian Cole on Justin Abdelkader had a chance to be one of those fantastic highlight-reel kind of checks where a defender catches a forward crossing his blue line and destroys him for it. Unfortunately, it felt like Cole went out of his way to make sure he hit Abdelkader in the head with it. The refs gave him two, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Ian Cole get one of the first calls of the new year from Brendan Shanahan.
- With another game played and another 11:43 shared ice time to get comfortable, the Ericsson/Commodore pairing continued to improve. It looks like these two have really developed a sense of each other on the ice and as a result, they're both being given more opportunities to actually utilize their size in the defensive zone. I mentioned it earlier, but Commodore's play over the last week could be spelling some real flexibility for Detroit.
- If you want to know the entire difference between what the Red Wings were doing wrong in the first and what they were doing right in the second, just watch where the forecheckers are going when they're trying to regain possession. Detroit's forecheck doesn't work well when they're attacking the puck, it works well when a forward takes the body and frees up the puck for his teammates to come in and continue the stifle.
- For all the talk of whether the rivalry is back (yeah, it is), and whether the Blues own Detroit, we got a really nice present in the form of the first win by more than one goal by either team so far in the season series. Each team has won two home games and zero road games, but Detroit's goal differential in those games is now +2. Also, Brian Elliott's stats differential home-vs-road against the Wings is incredible. At the Scottrade, Elliott's save percentage is 0.941. At the Joe Louis Arena, it's .0.905.
Wide-open choices for PoTG - vote for your favorite below or write somebody in the comments. Thanks folks, and have a great new year!
Great win probability chart tonight. Nice to see it stay on that side of the line for most of the way.