Now that's more like it.
The Red Wings' two additions to the lineup were better than the Wild's, leading Detroit to a 5-3 victory over visiting Minnesota. Todd Bertuzzi led the way with 2 goals while Pavel Datsyuk emerged from his funk with a goal and two assists.
We all questioned Mike Babcock's new lines, wondering why he wouldn't reunite Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula, but for not the first time we were shown why we're not the coach and he is as the line of Datsyuk, Bert and Filppula was better than anything the Wild could throw at the Wings.
- Remember that whole deal with Ryan Suter's cow and tracking his plane when we thought Ken Holland was wooing Suter? Turns out the Joe crowd was just reminding Suter of where he spent his summer.
- According to Mickey Redmond, Zach Parise prefers to have his last name pronounced "Paris-e" rather than "Paris-a" like his father, and I can only imagine that it took Zach approximately 3 years to make that decision after consulting with every member of his family.
- I had this whole joke where I was going to pretend to mention something about the Wings' PP and then post a picture of a cat because it's the internet and cat pictures are everywhere, but then they went and scored 2 goals and I was too happy so here's a picture of a dog, which is better than a cat in every way:
- Damien Brunner is amazing. Speed, a great shot, sick hands. However, it was nice of him to allow someone else to score goals for a change.
- For the second straight game, Jimmy Howard played extremely well. The first few games saw him look slow going post to post and recovering on rebounds. I don't really fault him on any goal, especially the first where Parise buried a cross-ice pass while the Wings were down 2 men and the third off Zetterberg's ass. Watching this team through the first 4 games, it's obvious that consistency is going to be an issue, so Howard is going to be relied on more than any Wing goalie of the past lots of years to be good and keep the team in games. Tonight he did that early while the Wings were getting their legs.
- Was Todd Bertuzzi really that important to this team? I've never hidden the fact that I didn't understand how he got another 2-year contract, but tonight on a line with Datsyuk and Filppula he was all over the ice and creating offense. I will happily eat a pile of crow if Bert turns out to be one of the better offensive players on this team.
- Speaking of catalysts, how important was Darren Helm tonight? Yes, the PK gave up another goal, but overall that unit looked solid against a very good Minnesota PP, only allowing 1 goal in 8 attempts. Late in the third with the Wings holding a 2-goal lead, he and Jordin Tootoo played a masterful shift, hemming the Wild in their own zone and throwing their bodies around with reckless abandon, or what Tootoo calls "a normal Friday night".
- I'd be remiss if I didn't point out what a good job the defense as a whole did tonight, including one Mr. Kyle Quincey. The Wings as a team were credited with 24 blocked shots, a good stat considering the Wild spent nearly an entire period on the power play overall. Kent Huskins led the way with 7, and Brian Lashoff (who deserves a longer look by the Wings even when everyone is healthy) had 2 to go with his 3 hits. Quincey? 4 blocked shots and a +2. If TimeOnIce were up I'd find his Corsi, which I think would have been good tonight, but alas, sometimes things don't go your way.
Was tonight the return of Red Wing hockey and now we have nothing to worry about? I'm still going with the "it's early and we're not sure what this team is" argument, but there's no question tonight's effort was the best so far. It doesn't get any easier as the Wings are coming to my neck of the woods Sunday night for a date with the scorching-hot Chicago Blackhawks. Enjoy this feeling of happiness after a Wing game; goodness knows it's been a long time since we've felt this way.