The Detroit Red Wings (19-6-2) defeated the Canadiens last night, 4-1, in Montreal. It was a great hockey game to watch with the Wings owning the Canadiens in every important category. Montreal's league best power play failed to get on the board during five opportunities while the Wings scored a goal in one of their three chances last night.
Before the game, Montreal held an hour long tribute honoring the 81-years of great games in this rivalry between the two teams. I think it was a great idea by the Montreal organization and I only wish Versus had shown the ceremony instead of a brief highlight with the ceremonial puck drop. According to this Montreal press release, the team will be doing these salutes to fellow Original 6 teams this season and next (the team's 100th season).
The Red Wings are expected to be represented by legends Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio, Marcel Pronovost and Marcel Dionne. The Canadiens are expected to have icons Jean Béliveau and Dickie Moore taking part, with Jean-Guy Talbot, Stéphane Richer and Claude Lemieux.
Wings veteran defenseman Chris Chelios received two standing ovations last night. One came before the start of the game in the hour long tribute and the second was when he stepped out on the ice as the game's third star. He waved to the fans while skating around center ice and the crowd applauded him (he began his great career in Montreal).
Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau and ageless Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios also participated in the pregame ceremony.
For me, that stuff is pretty special. The league's history is so unbelievably rich. It's great when the teams embrace that history. Older fans, like me, love to remember, and younger ones have a hunger to learn. It would be nice if the league would spend as much time promoting these type of events as they do promoting things like attendance numbers.
Chelios isn't sure when he will retire, but he wanted to use that opportunity to say good bye in case he did retire before the Wings returned to Montreal.
"You never know," Chelios said. "It was just my way of saying thanks for everything; the great memories I've had here, my appreciation to the fans and all the support they've given me. Pretty tough to say good-bye. Hopefully that's not it, but ... ."
Detroit outshot Montreal, 34-16, and goaltender Dominik Hasek looked very sharp in his first start in 12 games.
"It's nice to get winning feeling back," he said. "It was something I was missing in last maybe three weeks. I was glad to play the game again and win, even though it wasn't too much work."
The game had its fair share of scrums and pushing matches with Andreas Lilja and Montreal's Begin both receiving fighting majors near the conclusion of the game. Former Wing and current Canadien Mathieu Dandenault charged Mikael Samuelsson and essentially tackled it. Knowing Samuelsson wasn't hurt, it looked pretty funny.
Pavel Datsyuk is on a roll scoring two unassisted goals last night and notching an assist on Zetterberg's goal. Datsyuk has scored in the last five games. Zetterberg scored a goal and an assist in the victory. It seems that Datsyuk is just getting going. His next goal? A hat trick.
"I wanted to score a hat trick, which would be my first," Datsyuk said. "It's still my dream."
Goaltender Hasek was impressed by his play last night and to this point in the season.
"I always like the way he plays," Dominik Hasek said. "He has unbelievable hands. He can shoot, he is strong on his skates, and he can do anything. I don't think his game has any weaknesses."
While the dominance of this team and seeing both Datsyuk and Zetterberg get the recognition they deserve is certainly rewarding, I'm most excited to see defenseman Niklas Kronwall starting to get it together. We kept hearing how he has all this great potential, but he kept getting injured and thus prevented us from ever seeing him really develop as a top four NHL defenseman. Well, I believe we are seeing the new and improved Kronner this season. He scored a slapshot goal just inside the blue line and the puck had a weird deflection before getting into the net. Even so, Kronner has two goals and seven assists in 23 games. Last year, he played in 68 games and scored just one goal and notched 21 assists. He's on pace to do better than that this season if he can stay healthy.
The Wings' next game isn't until Friday against Minnesota at home.