The answer to the headline question? Tears, specifically those of the Avalanche fans.
The Red Wings faced off against their long-time rival the Colorado Avalanche for the second time this year, but the Wings were able to get take advantage of a tired Avs team and win by the score of 3-1. The Wings opened the scoring on a gorgeous wrist shot by Todd Bertuzzi on the power play midway through the first period. The Wings controlled play throughout the first, but took a penalty late in the frame that carried over to the second. The Wings were able to kill it off, and just as it expired Nicklas Lidstrom found Jiri Hudler on a breakaway. Hudler missed his first shot, but banked the rebound in off Peter Budaj from behind the net a la Brendan Shanahan to give the Wings a two goal lead. Dan Cleary kept up his scorching pace with a goal about 5 minutes later, and the Wings pretty much put it on cruise control after that. Colorado scored a 5-on-3 power play goal fairly early in the third, but they were unable to get any more pucks past Jimmy Howard. This was a good game for the Wings where they controlled the majority of the play, and the Wings improved to 3-0 on their current homestand. Follow me after the jump for the bullet points.
The Wings have only lost 4 games all season, and tonight's win avenged their only post-regulation loss of the year.
- I should have known this was going to be a good night when I turned the game on. I was unable to catch the game live, so I set the DVR. There was only one problem: there were 2 feeds for the game, and my TV guide doesn't tell me which feed is the Wings and which is the Avs. I took a shot and guessed, and I was greeted with Ken and Mick. All was right with the world.
- Speaking of Ken and Mick, they made sure to point out that the Avs have a boatload of injuries they are dealing with, including their starting goalie in Craig Anderson and 3 of their top 6 defensemen. You know what my response to that is? Suck it up, buttercups. No one felt bad for the Wings last year when they had their own private wing of the hospital taken up by their players, and I'm not about to sympathize with anybody else just because they are going through the same thing. If your organization has any depth, they will be able to weather this little rough patch and remain in contention.
- The Wings came out with jump and they were the better team for the best two periods as they built up their three-goal lead. However, the Avs kind of took over for the first half of the third period and put the Wings on their heels a little. I understand that the Avs played with more desperation, but I was looking for a better response from the Wings. But that's just me nitpicking.
- I wonder what the reaction of his teammates was when Todd Bertuzzi said he was going to do more "sniping" this season. My guess is it involved keeping their families away from any areas that contain a bell tower whenever they weren't sure where Todd was.
- I jest, but Bertuzzi looks freaking awesome out there. He was in on two goals, and it was nice to see his hard work pay off on the scoresheet where he's been relatively quiet. That he did it against the Avs only makes it even sweeter. He and Cleary have something very special going on that third line, and it's becoming very clear that Jiri Hudler just wasn't a good fit on that line. The Wings with 3 scoring lines should be the biggest nightmare for every other team in the NHL.
- Speaking of Happy, that reaction to his first goal of the season said it all. His struggles this year have been well-documented, but since being made a healthy scratch, he's come back to the lineup and worked hard. The constant changing of linemates won't help him, but it seems like he's a good fit on the second line. His goal was exactly what he needed it to be: due to staying with the puck and a lucky bounce.
- There was a shift midway through the second where the Circus held on to the puck for at least a minute and buzzed around the Avs' net, ultimately drawing a penalty. Considering they did not get a goal, that line was all over the Avs and had numerous good chances. After that particular shift, I literally applauded.
- Johan Franzen has some bad mojo right now. He absolutely beat Budaj on his breakaway, but lost his balance and fell off the puck. The Mule needs to start hanging around Cleary and figure out what Buckets is doing, because it's working.
- You know, some may say that the rivalry between the Avs and Wings is dying. But I will always hold a special place in my bowels for them. Every time I see that ugly-ass jersey on Adam Foote's ugly-ass face, I just want to punch something. Seriously, are the Colorado Avalanche the ugliest franchise of all time? Ian Laperriere, Adam Foote, and Mike Ricci: ladies, help me out here.
- You know who's game I'm digging lately? Jonathan Ericsson. He is looking better and better. He broke up the 2-on-1 with great positioning, he threw his body around, and he made some really nice first passes. I know we were all nervous when the defensive pairings were mixed up, but Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart have formed a great team, Ruslan Salei and Niklas Kronwall are tough to play against, and Brian Rafalski and E seem to have some good chemistry. I say they keep these pairings the way they are, because
- This should scare the bejeebus out of the rest of the NHL: Mike Babcock says that his Detroit Red Wings haven't played their best game yet. That's the lead sentence from NHL.com's recap of the game. Uncle Mike likes what's happening, but thinks the Wings can be better. Every other coach in the league just crapped their pants a little. I thought they played a pretty complete game overall, but I just wish they would have kept up the intensity early in the third period.
I've put the poll below for Player of the Game. I went back through the game thread and saw the 4 nominees, and while I selfishly want Jimmy Howard to get it (he was my pick before the game), my vote post-game goes to Avalanche-killer Todd Bertuzzi (ohhhh, sorry Avs fans - still a little upset about that? After seeing people cheering Claude's hit on Draper in some places, I say turnabout is fair play). It's always a great night whenver the Wings beat the Avs, because I get to see all the Avs fans furrow their brows and shake their fists at those "mean old Red Wings with their Stanley Cup rings and constant winning even though our franchise couldn't do anything after the lockout because our management team was not nearly as smart and we did not have good enough prospects coming up so we had to tank for a couple of years to get high draft picks but we're still not as good as them." Their anger fuels me. Speaking of bitter fans, load up on the Kleenex: the Wings are off until Wednesday when they take on the suddenly vulnerable Blues. It's a chance to take a nice lead in the division all while pissing off a fanbase that loathes us more than anything else in the world; it should be a great time.