Hooray! No bag skate tomorrow!
Following an embarrassing loss at the hands of division rival Nashville, the Red Wings said all the right things about unacceptable effort and having to be willing to work for the puck. Talk is all well and good, but the fans demanded to see that translated to on-ice play; the Wings went to Boston to take on the division-leading Bruins who were coming off an emotional win over Montreal just two days prior and showed the league and, more importantly, their fans what kind of team they are.
Special teams was closer to special in this game, as the painfully inept Red Wings powerplay broke out of their poor streak and scored two goals on six opportunities, including one on a two-man advantage. The PK couldn't get the job done as well however, giving up Boston's lone goal on three opportunities. Still, if there had to be one downside to the game, I'm ok with it being "it wasn't 6-0". It was good to see the Wings frustrate and dominate a team as completely as they did to Boston in this game and I'm hoping to see more of the same when these teams meet again in Detroit on Sunday afternoon.
Jimmy Howard made four big saves on his way to the victory in this one and was only tested on 26 shots. He held rebounds when he could and kept the play going when he should have. He was mentally sharp in this game and fighting hard for a win. Unfortunately, he fought a little too hard on the Boston goal and I'm counting that as half-bad. His overall rating for the game is a very pleasant +3.5.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 1:10 - Detroit Goal: Todd Bertuzzi (snap shot) from Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen
As Boston comes in on a rush, Jonathan Ericsson steers Nathan Horton into the end boards, freeing the puck for Zetterberg to make a pass up the boards to Franzen. He immediately feels pressure, but puts it up the boards on his backhand to Bertuzzi. While the Boston defense adjusts to the quick outlet, Bert skates up ice in what develops into a 2-on-1 thanks to Rafalski's hustle to join the rush. Bert winds up slowly for a slap shot to give Rask something to think about before firing the slapper home for the game's first goal. Rafalski gets a half-assist for running decoy on this play and Ericsson will get a bonus half-plus for perfectly separating his man from the puck and the play to allow this rush to start. Franzen's pass out of the zone under pressure is good enough to get Mule a bonus half-plus as well.
1st Period 3:10 - Detroit Goal: Danny Cleary (snap shot) from Jiri Hudler and Niklas Kronwall
Datsyuk is stymied at the Boston Blue line and dumps it in. Cleary picks it up on the far side and pushes it to Kronwall. With pressure immediately on Kronwall at the point, he throws it back low to reset the cycle where Hudler picks it up behind the net. Hudler skates it out front and backhands a laser pass to Cleary crashing the net to jam it through the five hole. The pass by Hudler is good for a bonus half-assist while Cleary and Datsyuk will each pick up half-assists on the play as well. Cleary helps his own cause with the forechecking and getting it to Kronwall while Datsyuk makes a couple of good plays in dumping the puck in instead of trying to force something and also running a bit of a decoy as Hudler steps out from behind the net.
Penalty Adjustment (x2): Later in the period, the Wings' third line is buzzing in the Boston end as Eaves drives the net to pick up on a Helm shot. Adam McQuaid loses his positioning and is forced to hook Eaves, earning him a plus. Later, on the power play, the Bruins clear and Lidstrom has a pass knocked down by Blake Wheeler. Rafalski lets Wheeler behind him and is forced to hook the player to prevent a rush in on the Wings net. Rafalski will get a minus for this and Lidstrom a half-minus for having the pass knocked down.
1st Period 17:53 - Boston Goal (PP): David Krejci (wrist shot) from Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara
During the 55 seconds worth of power play, Boston gets it set up in the zone. Chara receives it at the point and winds up for a slap shot which he partially flubs thanks to a broken stick. The puck has still has enough steam to get down to Lucic in front of Howard where he's locked up with Lidstrom. Jimmy overplays Lucic to the side of the net and pays when the Bruins forward finds David Krejci out front to receive a backhand pass and put it in the empty net. This is a half-bad goal for Howard, as he jumps way out of position for the Lucic shot that doesn't come.
2nd Period 1:09 - Detroit Goal: Jiri Hudler (snap shot) from Henrik Zetterberg and Brian Rafalski
Datsyuk skates in 1-on-2 up the middle and manages to get the puck deep in the zone. As he's separated from it, Hudler picks it up and gets it to Lidstrom at the point. Lidstrom makes a nice move to side-step pressure by Marchand and create a lane for a d-to-d pass over to Rafalski. Raffi waits for some traffic to materialize before releasing a slap shot that deflects off Hudler's shin and toward the blue line. Z steps on for Datsyuk during the play and picks up the loose puck where he skates to the middle and fires a backhand pass to Hudler standing low in the zone at the side of the net. Hudler wastes no time firing it over Rask as he tries to square up. Datsyuk will get a half-plus for getting the puck deep into the zone while Hudler will get a half-assist for getting it to Lidstrom off the scrum. Lidstrom shaking the pressure of Marchand and threading it to Rafalski will add him to the scoring in the form of an assist for the captain.
Penalty Adjustment (x2): Kindl fights hard to get a puck almost 14 minutes into the 2nd period, but loses it high in his own zone and is forced to take a hooking penalty to atone for his giveaway. This will earn Kindl a minus. Late in the ensuing Boston power play, Ericsson and Eaves combine to bail Jimmy out as a rebound comes dangerously close to being put home. Eaves throws it up the boards past Recchi where Helm with his amazing speed gets to it first and forces Recchi to hook him on his breakaway. This play will earn pluses for Ericsson, Eaves, and Helm.
2nd Period 16:14 - Detroit Goal (PP): Henrik Zetterberg (backhand) from Tomas Holmstrom and Danny Cleary
On the Detroit PP, Zetterberg dangles in the zone to create a chance for a Holmstrom tip out front that's stopped, but bounces to Cleary for a sharp-angle shot that Rask blocks into the Corner. Cleary chases the rebound, poking it past the d-man to Homer, who quickly throws it to Z on the other side. Zetterberg gets it behind the net and brings it out front immediately. Rask gets over, but ends up a little too deep in his own net and Z finds the space to put it in on the far side for the Wings first power play goal since Canada became a country. Z will get himself an assist for starting this play off fighting for the puck and creating the chance that force Rask to the wrong side of the net.
2nd Period 16:38 - Detroit Goal: Todd Bertuzzi (wrist shot) from Pavel Datsyuk.
Ericsson and Franzen combine to clear the immediate Bruins pressure behind the net on the shift after the Zetterberg goal. Franzen gets it to Datsyuk at the half-boards and he carries up ice 2-on-2 with Bertuzzi at his side. Datsyuk dumps it in softly to Rask, who mishandles it in the face of the forecheck. Bert gets it behind the net and banks it in off Rask as he tries to get deep to prevent exactly that. Ericsson and Franzen each get a half-plus for good work in getting the puck cleared. Franzen will also get an assist for staying on the play and finding the open man.
3rd Period 13:1 - Detroit Goal (PP): Tomas Holmstrom (snap shot) from Jiri Hudler and Pavel Datsyuk
The Wings are on a 5-on-3 thanks to Brad Marchand trying to goad Eaves into a fight unsuccessfully and then Chara hooking Zetterberg on a breakaway to put the Wings up by two men. The two-man advantage gets set while the three forwards play with it down low. Hudler passes to Datsyuk, who passes immediately back to Hudler behind the net in the corner. Meanwhile, Holmstrom gets a minor push-off to make some room in front. Hudler puts the puck directly on Homer's stick and he slams it home. Eaves will get a half-plus for his patience against Marchand and Zetterberg will get a plus for drawing the Chara hook.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk: Master thief, master magician, with that wrist healing, maybe the master of other things as well... Pavel was all over the ice wreaking havoc on Boston defenders. Somehow, the scorekeeper in Boston didn't see fit to credit him with any of the three takeaways I counted.
+1 to Jiri Hudler: Huds is skating with a ton of confidence now and is making excellent decisions with the puck. His passing was incredible in this game. It's really good to see him performing this well.
+1 to Henrik Zetterberg: Another case of a forward all over the ice in a big way, Zetterberg really controlled the pace of every shift he was on the ice.
+1 to Nicklas Lidstrom, Ruslan Salei, and Jakub Kindl: These three really stood out as far as taking their men to the boards and off of puck in their own zone. I was very impressed with Salei's quiet awesomeness again.
+1 to Darren Helm: He looks like he has more fun when he hits that high gear and, needless to say, he looked like he was having a shitload of fun.
Honorable Mentions: The Jakub Kindl hook at 19:03 of the third period wasn't a hook, so Kindl doesn't get a minus. Ericsson cost himself an extra plus to go along with everybody else's because of a couple of turnovers. Rafalski still blindly throws it up the boards too often, but played pretty solidly in his own end as well.