Detroit welcomed the last of the Original Six franchises they'd see this season into the Joe Louis Arena for a good old-fashioned Saturday night showdown and came away with something of a Pyrrhic victory. The 4-2 win they earned made them victors over each of the other five storied franchises, but they saw goaltender Jimmy Howard leave during the third period from an apparent shoulder injury suffered at the hands (or rather ass) of ex-Duck Joffrey Lupul. Seriously though, "Joffrey?" His parents must have been the kind of people who would take a "Q" in the final round of Wheel of Fortune. Idiots.
Despite being doubled up for chances, Detroit won the special teams battle, scoring on both of their chances while holding the Lebda-run [*snicker] Toronto power play unit off the boards in four tries. All-in-all, Detroit outshot Toronto 29-24, surrendering just four shots on goal during Toronto's man advantage time. After this, I'm just relieved to hear that this was Bill McCreary's last time ever calling a Red Wings' game at the Joe Louis Arena, especially after he allowed the second Toronto goal to stand after an obvious goaltender interference.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 5:05 - Detroit Goal (PP): Henrik Zetterberg (backhand) from Nicklas Lidstrom and Jiri Hudler
Detroit gets a power play here thanks to some good offensive zone work by Tomas Holmstrom to bring the puck to the middle of the ice and force Joey Crabb to hook him. Holmstrom will get a plus for drawing this one. The Wings' power play gives up a scoring chance from the offensive zone as Brian Rafalski tries to hit Hudler cutting through the middle and instead sees the puck blocked by Tim Brent and taken by Mike Brown up ice for a 2-on-1 against Lidstrom. Raffi does a good job getting back and forcing Brown to the outside for a weak chance that Howard kicks to the far side boards. Zetterberg recognizes that two of the Leafs' penalty killers are caught up ice and whips around to throw a cross-ice pass to a streaking Hudler. Jiri brings it into the Leafs' zone and holds the puck while his team catches up to the play and to give Toronto the opportunity to overcommit to getting back. Once this happens, he goes to Lidstrom at the top of the umbrella with tons of space. The Wings' Captain fires a slap-pass to Zetterberg's stick in the bottom of the faceoff circle which Z redirects on net. Reimer stops the initial chance, but Zetterberg picks the puck up and throws a backhander through him. Rafalski is going to pull a half-minus on this play for the turnover. It would have been a full one, but I like the hustle getting back to help limit Brown's options. Zetterberg will get a plus and an assist on this play. The plus comes for recognizing the two Leafs are caught and immediately going up ice with it. The assist is for the tip on net. Cleary also gets the screener's assist, as he helps prevent Reimer from fully seeing the return shot.
Penalty Adjustment: 15:23 into the period, on a breakout play in the Toronto zone, Mikhail Grabovski tries to poke a puck past Brad Stuart as he tries to hold the zone. Stuart sweeps at the puck while off-balance, but also takes Grabovski's feet out from under him. This is an easy call to make and Brad Stuart will get a minus.
1st Period 17:56 - Toronto Goal: Nazem Kadri (wrist shot) from Joey Crabb
After the expiration of the Stuart penalty, the Leafs get the puck away from the Wings in their own zone. Crabb and Kadri head up ice with speed, forcing Rafalski and Kindl to give up the blue line. Crabb lays a drop pass to Kadri and moves to make room for him. Just as Kadri tries to center to the late man coming, Bertuzzi comes back on the play and checks his stick. The puck rolls to the boards where Kadri picks it back up off Crabb's stick. While Crabb runs interference on Bertuzzi at the top of the faceoff circle, Kadri uses this extra room given to him to fire a seeing-eye wrister over Kindl's laid-out stick that gets through a screened Howard on the short side. Bertuzzi will have his minus cleared on this play. It's kind of a fluke how the puck moves and it's unfortunate that Crabb runs a pick on him. He's playing good defense here. Zetterberg will also have his minus cleared, as he's in good position throughout the play. Kindl and Rafalski will each pick up an extra half-minus. Kindl needs to be in better position to block this shot and Rafalski needs to do a better job of clearing Darryl Boyce from the front. As for the room that Howard allows on the short side, he's looking around a good screen by the Leafs' winger here and Boyce knocks his glove right as the shot gets released, slowing Howard's ability to stop this shot just enough. Finally, Cleary keeps his minus for being the guy to turn the puck over in the zone, which leads to this rush. I like that he fought to get to the middle here, but he needs to get either a shot or a pass off and there wasn't sufficient evidence that he was illegally prevented from doing that.
Penalty Adjustment: Early in the 2nd period, Mike Brown carries in on Kindl and dumps it in to chase it down. Brown does a good job of helping the contact along, but Jakub definitely holds the guy up. Kindl will get a minus.
2nd Period 9:17 - Detroit Goal (PP): Tomas Holmstrom (tip in) from Niklas Kronwall and Brian Rafalski
Mike Modano draws a penalty near the halfway point of the game as he intercepts a Joffrey Lupul pass and threatens to break into the Leafs zone all by himself unless Lupul hooks him, which of course he does. Modano gets a plus for drawing the penalty here. On the power play, Modano and Filppula do good work to retrieve a lost faceoff deep in the Leafs' zone. after some good cycling to move the defenders around, Mikey Mo finds Filppula with a cross-ice pass for a one-timer that Reimer just gets his pad on to kick it to the corner. Modano picks up the rebound and resets high in the zone to Kronwall, who goes to Rafalski as the Wings transition into the umbrella. Rafalski goes back to the top of the set-up where Kronner throws a wrister from the center of the point that Holmstrom gets his stick on for a tip-in around Reimer. Both Modano and Filppula will get assists here for their work deep in the zone and then on the cycle to move the penalty killers around, making room for the shot that eventually gets through.
Penalty Adjustment (x2): Two second-period penalties here that are separated by fewer than three minutes on the clock, but more than 20 real-time minutes here, as an odd glass break causes the referees to call the intermission with 2:01 left in the 2nd period. The first penalty comes as Helm tries to gain the Toronto zone and loses the puck. He tries to poke it away from an on-rushing Darryl Boyce, but gets his stick caught between the legs and brings the Leaf down. Helm will get a minus. Later in the period, 50 seconds after the expiration of the Helm penalty, Hudler goes to the box for an accidental high stick on Kessel. Ordinarily, I wouldn't blame somebody for trying to rearrange Phil Kessel's ugly mug, but this one puts the Wings shorthanded and so Hudler will get a minus.
3rd Period 6:11 - Toronto Goal: Joffrey Lupul (wrist shot) from Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf
This play starts as Helm tries to hit Draper cutting through center ice but sees his pass picked off by Phil Kessel at center ice. Kessel brings it back in through center and feeds to Phaneuf cutting in on the wing. The Leafs' captain tries to get a shot on goal, but Kronwall blocks it in the circle. From here, Draper picks it up and tries to pass behind his own net off the boards to Ericsson. A combination of a bad pass by Draper and a slow reaction by Ericsson leads this puck past Big Rig's stick and onto Phaneuf's stick on the half-boards. Phaneuf pushes it into the slot for Kessel, who gets a shot on goal as Lupul runs into Howard. Draper tries to clear Lupul here and he of the palindromic last name uses the slight contact to complete his tackle right onto Howard's shoulder. The puck bounces off the mass of hockey player in front and Lupul somehow gets his stick on it from the ice and sweeps it in for a game-tying goal that definitely should not have counted. Still, since it did, I might as well score it. First off, Helm will get a minus for the turnover. Before the goal is scored, he had changed for Zetterberg, who had very little to do with this play. Zetterberg will not get a minus. Draper will get an extra minus for the turnover while Ericsson will get an extra half-minus for not reacting quicker to receive the pass. Holmstrom is the other forward on the ice and, like Zetterberg, came on too late to affect this play. Homer will not get a minus. Finally, Kronwall keeps his minus here. I like the shot block on Phaneuf and it's a tough play to make, but he has to recognize faster that Kessel is his man. If he jumps on Kessel earlier, perhaps Frankenstein doesn't get that shot on goal.
3rd Period 6:49 - Detroit Goal: Jiri Hudler (slap shot) from Henrik Zetterberg
Less than a minute after the Lupul goal, Detroit pulls away again as the three Wings forwards, Hudler, Zetterberg, and Cleary pressure the puck in the Toronto end. Zetterberg hits Schenn deep in the zone and makes him try to force a pass up to Clarke MacArthur exiting the zone that Hudler pokes back in. Kulemin picks it up, but finds immediate pressure from Cleary and, in trying to force another pass to MacArthur throws the puck away to Zetterberg in the neutral zone. Hank fires it to Hudler moving back across the Leafs' momentum as he enters the zone. Hudler carries to the top of the faceoff circle and blasts a slap shot past Reimer's catching glove for the eventual game-winner. Cleary will get a half-assist in helping to force the turnover which leads to this goal. All three forwards, Zetterberg, Cleary, and Hudler will get bonus pluses for their forechecking work in making this play happen.
3rd Period 19:08 - Detroit Goal (EN): Todd Bertuzzi (wrist shot) from Niklas Kronwall
With Reimer pulled for the extra skater, the Leafs press to tie the game up. Luke Schenn gets the puck at the point and tries to blast it through traffic, but fails to get it past the man covering the point, Kronwall. The puck bounces off Kronwall's leg and to Bertuzzi, who is fresh off throwing two big body-checks low in his own zone. Bert skates it up ice with Ken Daniels excitedly screaming about how he's smart enough to get it over the center line before firing at the open net to ice the game. Kronwall will get an extra half-plus for the perfect shot block.
+1.5 to Nicklas Lidstrom: Lidstrom had a fantastic game all-around. Combine the great all-around play with the fact that he perfectly broke up a 3-on-1 Toronto rush and he gets more than just a simple plus.
+1 to Jonathan Ericsson: What started as semi-sarcastic jibes at the Wings' defenseman became sincere praise for the man who played more than 23 minutes and did much better than simply holding his own. Ericsson was very well-involved in this game in breaking up rushes.
-1 to Brad Stuart: Stuart didn't play poorly, but he had four giveaways and was the primary reason Nick Lidstrom even had to defend a 3-on-1 rush. Too many poor decisions with the puck in this game.
+1 to Todd Bertuzzi: In his first game back from missing the last two with back spasms, Bertuzzi looked like a rejuvenated man. He was moving very well all over the ice and doing a great job on the back check.
+1 to Brett Lebda: Brett Lebda did more to help the Red Wings win this game than he has in the last two seasons. Kudos to the former Golden-Domer.
+1 to Justin Abdelkader: Aside from delivering six hits, I liked Abdelkader fighting Boyce after a cheap shot on Rafalski. I know I've said that I hate when players have to fight after delivering good checks, but Boyce's hit wasn't a good check. Good on Abby for punching him.
Honorable Mentions: I really like the pairing of Modano and Filppula together. They work off each other so well both offensively and defensively. I didn't feel like they did anything particularly outstanding enough to earn bonus pluses for general play, but they came very close. Also, even though I gave him a plus, I'd really like to see Abdelkader make better decisions on odd-man rushes.