A win is a win.
Truly, at this time of year, with the way this team has played, it just doesn't matter whether two points are earned through domination or from holding on for dear life against the worst team in the NHL. When you're in a playoff race, every single point counts, even the ugly ones.
After turning in one of their worst performances of the year last night in Phoenix, the Wings had to put on their big boy pants and head to Denver. What we saw was almost a repeat performance: a solid first period followed by 40 minutes of butt-clenching horror as the Wings could not put the Avs away.
Thankfully for us, the Avs are the Avs and the Red Wings have Pavel Datsyuk. Despite not having a very good third period, he and Henrik Zetterberg dominated the overtime, and Datsyuk's second goal of the night was the game winner as the Red Wings escaped with a 3-2 victory and swept the season series against the Avalanche.
It wasn't pretty, it wasn't a "deserved" win, but it was a game that they had to win and they did. How they did it doesn't matter, and nothing any of you say can bring me down right now.
- There's been a lot of angst thrown Mike Babcock's way for being too stubborn with his lineup. Tonight he decided to give us all a giant middle finger by playing 4 new forward lines and 2 new defense pairs. The only pairing that remained constant was Kronwall-Ericsson, and with the game now being over, I declare the changes to be good-but-not-perfect. Reuniting the Eurotwins was brilliant and gave them a boost in offensive pressure, especially in the first period and OT when they weren't gassed. With Dats-Z back together, I don't mind Justin Abdelkader on that line as much as I used to.
- The new second line? Love it, at least for one game. Johan Franzen looked like he actually wanted to be there, playing his best game since returning from injury. His playing center was a nice change and he did quite well, setting up Datsyuk's first goal and going 8-for-13 in the faceoff circle. Gustav Nyquist looked incredible with some decent linemates, showing that he actually does belong on the top-6.
- Remember when the Wings' PP couldn't score on the road? Good times.
- There's some kind of poetic justice (not really the term I'm looking for but it's late) about J.S. Giguere being one of the Wings' biggest nemeses of the last 10 years, and it was his inability to stop a dump-in and then locate the puck in the crease that allowed the Wings to earn the extra point and keep them in a playoff spot. That he did so playing for the Wings' biggest rival of the last 15 years makes it even sweeter.
- Good debut for Danny DeKeyser. Overall he saw 16:36 of ice time, most of them sheltered minutes against the Avs third line (fourth line? I'm honestly not sure). He got a little bit of a look on the PK, was credited with 2 giveaways and 3 takeaways, but was a -9 Corsi on the night. However, he didn't see any ice time with either the first or second forward lines, and the 4th line was dumpster fire all night so he's more a victim of his linemates than driving bad play himself. Overall I thought he acquitted himself quite well but definitely has some learning to do. I guess I'd call his immediate impact minimal.
- Maybe we were all wrong with the idea that Nyquist should be playing with Datsyuk. Maybe he just needed to be the star of his own line all along.
- Kyle Quincey-Jakub Kindl needs to be a thing that never happens again, like bell bottom jeans or tie-dye shirts or Keanu Reeves.
- It wasn't pretty, but the Wings are back in 7th before Sunday's game against the Blues. If I had told you that that game had playoff implications at the beginning of the year, would any of you had said it would be to stay out of 8th?
- If you don't follow Anthrax Jones on Twitter, you should, because he's one of 2 Avs fans that I actually enjoy talking to on a regular basis (Jibblescribbits being the other). He pointed out that tonight is the last time the Red Wings and Avs wil play each other as conference rivals, and it got all of us talking about our favourite memories from the rivalry. Besides the obvious ones, mine is Fedorov's goal in Game 6 of the '97 WCF because that put the Wings up 2-0 and was the exact moment I knew they were going to win a Cup. They hadn't even won that game, but I was convinced that nothing was going to stand in their way and they were finally going to climb the mountain. So, in honour of tonight's game, go ahead and share your favourite Wings-Avs memories.