The Wings welcomed Columbus into their house for a Friday night tilt hoping to prove that they could keep from giving up five goals. Fortunately, they did that. Unfortunately, they did it at the expense of being able to score any themselves. Despite holding Detroit's 34-24 shot advantage, the Jackets were able to capitalize on a couple of lapses early and then add an empty-netter to seal it late.
Scoring opened at the 12:29 mark for Columbus as they caught the Wings in the old usually-less-than-successful trap of letting them skate around their zone until they got tired and then catching them halfway through a defensive change before sneaking in a guy from off the ice to put a laser past the goaltender. Vermette's shot blew past Howard before the goalie could even think to himself "why isn't Miller doing anything?" Proving that the same thing can work more than once in a single game, the Jackets did it again in the 2nd period as they started a rush up ice following a missed opportunity to put a rebound into an open net by Jonathan Ericsson, culminating in Todd Bertuzzi being so broken up about being near a goaltender he didn't want to run that he left Jared Boll alone in front to score the Jackets' second. The third is hardly worth mentioning, as it was an empty-netter by
Bill Andrew Murray during the waning seconds of Rafalski's interest in playing defense.
This is as good a place as any to put the jump. Keep reading to get to the bullet points.I hope the Wings saved up sufficient energy from this game to have enough in the tank to take on the Predators tomorrow night in Nashville. I don't know how to break this to you, but the Preds are a better team than the Blue Jackets. I'm sorry, do you need a towel or something?
- Let's start with the goaltending: Jimmy Howard played well. He didn't play "ohmygod if it weren't for him, we would have lost this game by 8!" well, but he didn't have to. If I'm going to fault him on any goal, it's the third one. I mean, he wasn't even close to being in position for that one.
- If you asked somebody who had a very good eye for hockey, but knew absolutely nothing about the Detroit Red Wings, who do you think, between Kindl and Kronwall would you think that person would say is the rookie? Forget the debate about who sits between Kindl and Ericsson when Brad Stuart returns, I want to start talking about sitting Kronwall for a few games to make me seethe a little less.
- Henrik Zetterberg has one game in a row with at least three shots on goal. In other news, horse thoroughly beaten postmortem. Delicious autopsy reveals intense tenderizing.
- I know it's every game at this point where each of us collectively miss Pavel Datsyuk's presence on the ice, but I actually thought that for the first time since the Wings have started playing without the pair that Tomas Holmstrom was the more obvious missing piece in the lineup. Bertuzzi as the de facto net-front presence just doesn't cut it. There was no effective traffic in front of Mason and that made a painfully obvious difference. Not to say Mason didn't deserve every one of his 34 saves or to minimize his effort (God forbid), just that it could have been harder on him.
- Valtteri Filppula took five shots on goal, increasing his season total to seven. I kid, but it's frustrating to realize that his total for games played is 15 higher than Pavel Datsyuk's and Filppula just now surpassed the crafty Russian playmaker for total shots.
- Ruslan Salei spends two minutes telling John Keating about how he played and loved soccer as a kid and then Keating has the gumption to ask with a straight face about Salei's favorite sport other than hockey. Salei showed excellent poise in not suplexing the hard-hitting journalist.
- 0-for-6 on the power play is absolutely unacceptable, especially in the face of a minute-long 5-on-3 opportunity. The Jackets played an aggressive penalty kill and took away space and the Wings just couldn't find the open areas or complete the cross-ice passes crisply enough to score before Mason could react and block the shot.
Finally, I should give credit to the Blue Jackets for playing a good road game. They kept their game simple, played defense, and waited for mistakes. When they got those, they were able to capitalize on them. Hopefully the Wings will be able to pay that forward tomorrow night in Nashville. The gap in the central is currently seven points with the Wings still holding a game in hand on Nashville, but they play about 2/3rds of their remaining games at home, where the four-point swing is more than just a line-dance. Player of the game voting is below.