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It's Not Worth Winning If You Can't Win Big: Red Wings 5 - Ducks 4

Recognize that? That's a quote from the Anaheim Ducks' namesake movie. Now, the Wings didn't win big tonight, and you know what: I don't care. I'm as competitive as the next guy, but to me, winning is winning. The Red Wings came out flying, and scored a goal on a power play midway through the first period. Unfortunately, that old bugaboo The Last Minute Goal showed up, as the Wings got caught out of position in their own end. The second period started out slow for both teams, and then the Ducks potted 2 goals in 34 seconds, again off of bad plays by the Wings. After the second goal, the Wings seemed to wake up, and they were able to tie the game on a gorgeous tip-in by Tomas Holmstrom. The Wings started the third with some gusto, but Jimmy Howard gave up a soft goal to Teemu Selanne, and I can't have been the only person thinking that it was going to be one of those nights. However, Henrik Zetterberg did his best Homer-impression with a long-range tip in, and just as it seemed the game was headed to overtime, Pavel Datsyuk went top corner with the game winner in a move that may or may not have been at least partially called by yours truly.

The recap above was just the decoy. Join me after the jump where I look over the bloody carcass of my latest Duck prize.

This was by far the best overall effort I have seen from the Wings tonight (keep in mind I missed the first 3 games). Let's get to the bullet points. 
  • When the game started, they showed a clip of Todd Bertuzzi staring at the camera....."smiling" I guess (if someone can get a screencap of this, I'll heart you for a long time). The only way I can describe how I felt as I looked into Bert's eyes is this: it felt like my soul was being tortured by an unseen force, and I had visions in my head of evil, horrible things. Then I was able to break eye contact and suddenly felt a lot better.
  • It figures that after a game in which Jimmy Howard stands on his head and we praise the living crap out of him, he comes up with just an "okay" game tonight. Thanks for making us all look bad, Jimmy. Now, let me be clear that I am not saying anything negative about him. He had a tough game, especially on the goal by Selanne. Given how he's been so far this season, I'm willing to give him a break on tonight's game, but only because they won. I will say that he seemed to be fighting the puck a little more than usual tonight, and there were a couple of times where he seemed to completely lose sight of the puck. He also didn't really have many "big saves" as JJ calls them. But, they won on a night when their goaltender didn't bring his A-game, and that's fine: sometimes he will bail them out, and sometimes the team will rescue him. That's why it's a team game. Still, a part of me can't help but think that if this were Chris Osg......nevermind, I'm not going there.
  • The Flying Circus put the rest of the league on notice that any rust that may have been there at the beginning of the season is gone, and they are ready to assume their rightful place as the most dangerous line in hockey. Good God were they amazing tonight. My nipples are hard just thinking about how awesome they were tonight. There was not a single shift where I had a negative thought about anyone on that line. They skated circles around the Ducks, they had chances besides the 4 goals they created, and they neutralized the Ducks' top line of Perry/Getzlaf/Beleskey. Henrik Zetterberg broke out in a big way with 2 goals and 2 assists, Tomas Holmstrom is officially off the schneide with the aforementioned tip-in, and Datsyuk continued his mastery over the Ducks with the GWG. I weep for the Wings' opponents.
  • Speaking of the Ducks top line: did they even show up tonight? Ryan Getzlaf had 1 assist, and that's it for them on the scoresheet. Besides trying to decapitate Johan Franzen with a big elbow, Beleskey's name wasn't even mentioned. And resident douche-bitch Corey Perry was a complete no-show. Now, he did take a questionable penalty that led to the Wings' first goal, but other than that, I did not notice Perry at all. That's a good thing. Usually I'm yelling a ton of profanities at him for being the asshole that he is, but I love the fact that he was invisible tonight. Maybe he was afraid of having his ass beat down again by Datsyuk. Maybe he forgot to take his dickhead pills. Whatever the reason, I was not nearly as angry as I normally am watching a Wings-Ducks game.
  • Hey, Andreas Lilja: still think that keeping your agent was a good idea? It's a lot different playing against the Wings than for them, eh? Still, when I heard about how he was dumped by the Sharks mid-flight from here to Europe, I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for what he's been through this off-season.
  • The refs didn't call a penalty after the first period tonight. In a Ducks game. The Ducks, according to the referees, did not commit an act that was against NHL rules for an entire 2 periods. I know, I know: I'm scared, too.
  • The third line was good tonight. I know the stats won't show it, but this was their best game together as a unit. Dan Cleary looked like the Buckets of a few years ago, flying all over the ice and making things happen. Jiri Hudler actually had some jump tonight, got off a few shots, and looked like he was really trying to get things going. Even Modano looked pretty good tonight, except he needs to shoot the puck a lot more. The second line was good, too, but again they weren't great. Still, Franzen scored again with an assist for Bertuzzi, so Todd's still on his pace. However, with Hank's 4 points, the Tuzz no longer leads the team in scoring, and to me, it just feels like the universe is now in a little bit more alignment.
  • We've been harping on some things the Wings need to do better for the last 2 weeks, and tonight they responded. Start better? Check. Be better on the power play? Check (1 for 3, and looked dangerous for the most part). Don't give up an early goal? Check. But, once again they gave up a last minute goal, and for the love of all things holy, does it seem like every time they get a little out of position in their own zone the puck ends up in the back of the net? Just once I'd like to see them run around a little and screw up their coverages but not be typing out swear words because it resulted in an opposition goal. However, the upside is that overall, the team defense was better tonight, and Niklas Kronwall in particular had a strong game, including Kronwalling Teemu Selanne with a nice hit in the first period that left Teemu looking like he had 1 too many at the Hockeytown Cafe. 
  • Explain to me how Curtis McElhinney ended up as the third start in a game in which he gave up 5 goals and had a save percentage of .878. Nicklas Lidstrom had 3 assists, was +2, and looked like he's back to his Perfect self. Even Bobby Ryan had a goal and an assist and was one of the more dangerous Ducks on the night. I know McElhinney looked pretty good, but I just don't think you can give up that many goals and be a "star".
  • The intermissions brought about a lot of interesting talk from the game thread participants. If you weren't a part of it, go back and read through some of the comments if you have time: I'll guarantee that you'll get to certain parts and think "yep, this must have been the intermission".

Hey, remember when the Wings had that 4 day layoff after their game last Saturday, and how much we hated it? Well, get ready to experience deja vu all over again. The Wings don't play again until Thursday when the Phoenix Coyotes come to town. I'm hoping that the fact there will be more than 6,700 people in the building will throw the Coyotes off their game and the Wings will be able to keep up this torrid pace. We'll see you on Thursday for the game.