The Boston Bruins (16-4-4) won their ninth straight home game in a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings (15-4-4). It was the first time Boston has won nine straight at home in over 25 years. The Wings are still the best team in the NHL on the road with a 10-2-2 record. After a strong outing Friday night at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Wings just didn't have the energy needed to beat a hot team that is using them as a measuring stick for their own team.
While Ty Conklin got the start in net for the Wings, he was relieved by Chris Osgood 27:59 into the game. Conklin had allowed three goals on nine shots. Ozzie allowed one goal on ten shots. Detroit outshot Boston, 30-19, but as Michael Caples pointed out, Tomas Holmstrom's absence may have hurt the Wings tonight as Bostons' goalie was able to see most of those Detroit shots.
The Wings peppered Boston goaltender Manny Fernandez with 30 shots Saturday night, and the problem was that he saw the majority of them. With Holmstrom out in front of the net, he’s screening the goalie, he’s distracting the defense, and he’s fighting in the corners to get his linemates the puck. Dan Cleary did a nice job playing in Holmstrom’s spot with Pavel Datsyuk and Marian Hossa, but he just doesn’t have the size to be as effective in front of the net.
Jiri Hudler scored Detroit's only goal of the game late in the second period on the power play when he tried to pass into the crease. The puck then went off Marc Savard's skate and into the net.
While the Wings have lost for the third time in four games, their recent travel schedule has not been kind and "fair" to the Wings when it comes time to play games against these big opponents. Let's take a quick look back. When Detroit traveled to San Jose, they had played Anaheim the previous night in a game that went to overtime. Not only that, but the game against the Sharks was their third game in four days and the other game against the Kings had gone into a shootout. On Wednesday, they faced off against the Montreal Canadiens after getting back to Detroit from Vancouver less than 24 hours later (after a eight day road trip). Tonight, they played against the Bruins who are now tied atop the Eastern Conference with the NY Rangers after going 11-1-1 in November. The puck dropped less than 24 hours after the start of their game against Columbus at home. While you would still like to see the team win these games and in tonight's case, make it a little more competitive, I can't get too worried because these big games have come as the second game in a back-to-back series or after a long, tiring road trip.
I must admit that I am bummed that tonight's game was the only time these two teams will play each other this season because as head coach Mike Babcock notes below, the Bruins are an exciting team to watch and it's great to see the Wings play against another Original Six team.
"Every night we play in the league, when you read the clips before, it's a 'measuring game.' It's a 'measuring-stick game,' " said Detroit's Mike Babcock. "This is our 23d measuring-stick game for the other team. Every night is for us. It's going to be fun for us."
"I think," Babcock continued, "when I watch all the teams in the league right now, the two teams that seem to be the most excited and all playing together are Boston and San Jose. Those are the two teams for me."
A good point that has been brought up by TV and radio personalities alike is that because of the Wings crazy schedule, they really haven't had a chance to practice. While it may not seem like practice is critical when you have a team full of future Hall of Famers and professionals, it really is. By not being able to have practice, the players can't work on the little things that have been troubling the team's performance and you just kind of stick with the status quo. The Wings play their next four games at home and nine of their 13 games in December at the Joe so that should give the players time to practice and take a break from the crazy traveling on the road.
Christy's Red Wing Player of the Game: Jiri Hudler
He apparently only registered three shots in the game, but two were strong scoring chances and the third resulted in Detroit's only goal. Only Henrik Zetterberg had more shots that Huds in the effort.
|2008 - Jiri Hudler||23||9||11||20||-1||2||4||0||2||0||51||17.6|
In other totally unrelated news, my Michigan Wolverines defeated No. 1 Minnesota Golden Gophers 6-3 in Minnesota on Friday in the College Hockey Showcase. After a rough weekend against Miami last week, this was certainly a big win for the Maize and Blue.