The first game after the All-Star break is like rekindling an old romance; there's some awkwardness in the beginning as you become familiar with each other, and as time passes, you remember what it was that made your relationship great.
The Wings came on strong like a guy who just got out of prison, but after being told to cool it by the Flames, in the end Calgary gave it up and the Wings got what they wanted, which was 2 valuable road points. It wasn't the most stylish game, but sometimes you have to take what you can get.
Tonight was about the depth of the Red Wings. On a night when the top 2 lines just weren't generating any offense, it was the role guys that stepped it up and carried the Wings to the win. First it was Cory Emmerton finishing off a nice, simple play by popping in a rebound. Then it was Justin Abdelkader blocking a shot that clearly hurt, but being able to still clear the puck out of the zone. It was Drew Miller scoring an insurance goal late in the third after a nice pass from Dan Cleary.
When the playoffs begin and the games get intense, these are the kind of guys that the Wings are going to have count on to win some games. Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom and Jimmy Howard can't carry the Wings every night. Depth wins Cups, and tonight, the Wings got some championship play from their bottom 6.
Bullets and other thoughts after the jump.
- First, a massive amount of respect to the Flames for their tribute to Brad McCrimmon. These types of ceremonies are always tough to pull off with the right amount of solemnity while not being cliched, and the Flames nailed it. The "moment of applause" was a wonderful twist on a traditional moment, and was done well. RIP Brad.
- I am officially on the Mike Commodore bandwagon. I like Jakub Kindl, and think he's got a future in this league. But right now, Commie gives the Wings an edge that Kindl doesn't, and he's a much more stable presence on the blueline. I wasn't a huge fan of his fight, but he did answer the bell with one of the Flames neanderthals and stood up for himself when he needed to.
- Penalty kill gives up another goal. Sun rises in the morning.
- Good gravy were the wingers on the first line terrible tonight. Todd Bertuzzi took 2 dumb penalties, and Franzen was simply non-existent. However, last year Mule scored 5 goals in his first game after the All-Star Game and then went as dry as a Tim Tebow kegger. Here's hoping that trend reverses.
- Soak it in for a day, because it might not last long: the Wings are once again .500 on the road (14-14-0).
- I'll say it: Henrik Zetterberg had a decent game tonight. There's going to be a lot of scrutiny on him in the second half. As we talked about during podcast, he brings more to the game than just points. He wants to score as much as anyone, but I'll take a Zetterberg that makes Filppula and Hudler better while still playing responsible defense over the alternative.
- Speaking of Filppula, a hearty congratulations on trying a career-high in points in only his 50th game. You've got 32 more games, Flip; whatcha gonna do?
- Player of the Game for the Wings tonight is going to be Jimmy Howard. He wasn't spectactular, but the one goal that was scored on him wasn't a bad goal, and he kept the team in it while they sleepwalked through the second period. For those keeping score, the only team that has more wins than Howard's 31 are the Bruins, who have 32.