Looks like the scoring slump may be over.
After suffering their longest losing streak since 2008, the Wings have buckled down in their last 2 games against rivals. A game after pumping 5 goals past Jonas Hiller and the Ducks, the Wings continued their torrid scoring pace by ripping home 5 against the visiting Colorado Avalanche, including a hat trick by Johan Franzen.
The Red Wings opened the scoring midway through the first period. Nicklas Lidstrom pounced on a loose puck in the slot and blasted a slap shot behind Semyon Varlamov to give the Wings a 1-0 lead. The teams traded power play chances with no success, and the Wings held their lead after the first period.
The second period opened with the Avalanche taking a penalty early, and Jiri Hudler made a magnificent pass to Valtteri Filppula, whose shot was apparently tipped by Johan Franzen for a power play goal and a very important 2-0 lead. The Wings increased their lead a few minutes later, once again on the power play. Niklas Kronwall's shot-pass was directed in by Franzen, and the Mule took the team lead with his 7th goal of the season and the Wings had a 3-0 lead.
However, the Avs came in to the game with the NHL's best road PP, and they capitalized on their second chance when Gabriel Landeskog kept digging at Jimmy Howard's pads and poked the puck home, cutting the Wings' lead. The Wings were on their heels for the rest of the period as the Avs got some momentum from their goal, but the Wings held on to take a 3-1 lead into the third period.
In the third period, the Wings pushed the play early with the Avs countering, but Dan Cleary put a rebound past Jean-Sebastien Giguere to restore the 3-goal lead. However, a late holding penalty by Pavel Datsyuk allowed the Avs' power play to get another shot at the Wings, and they made them pay when Milan Hejduk stuffed a rebound under Howard. Despite a little push by the Avs late, the Wings held on and Franzen literally lifted the puck into the empty net for the hat trick and giving everyone in Detroit free curly fries tomorrow.
- The second line of Henrik Zetterberg, Valtteri Filppula and Franzen was the best set of forwards on the ice all night. They were on the ice for 4 of the 5 Wings' goals. Filppula in particular was all over the place, setting up chances and presumably scoring the Wings' second goal before it was credited to Franzen. Zetterberg was actually the invisible man on that line, except for that kick-ass handle-bar mustache he's rocking for Movember. However, against the NHL's best faceoff team, Z went 7-12 overall, good for 58% and a key reason why that line was constantly in possession of the puck.
- Speaking of Franzen, it's clear he's on one of his "good streaks" with the hat trick tonight, but more importantly is that he's shooting the puck, which is always a sign that he's playing with confidence. 5 more tonight gives him 11 in his last 2 games after having none in his 2 games prior to that. As the Wings' biggest goal-scoring threat, shooting the puck is mandatory. I'm just glad he's playing well enough to make him viable trade bait for later this season.
- In contrast to the second line's dominance, the first line was off all night. A hearty congrats to Dan Cleary on his 100th goal as a Red Wing, proving for the umpteenth time that the Wings knew what they were doing when they gave him a chance after the lockout. But there's something going on with Buckets that is preventing him from being effective. Perhaps there's a rib injury that was speculated on during the game thread, or maybe he's got whatever is ailing some of the Wings, but he seemed to be a step behind all night. However, he led the team with 7 SOG tonight, so he was doing something out there. Datsyuk also looked like he was battling the puck, a rare sight for the Wings' most dominant player. I'll chalk this up to a tough game, because as the third period wore on that line got better.
- The on-ice rivalry may be pretty much dead between these teams, but there's always something a little more satisfying about beating the Avs. However, that smug sense of self-satisfaction will last until I hit "publish" on this post because then it's focusing on the Oilers, and tonight was simply one regular season game against a conference opponent.
- Seriously, can we just pencil Lidstrom's name in as a finalist for the Norris?
- One negative from tonight? The penalties, specifically the first one by Shitbox. I mean, I should have expected that after getting undressed he'd take a stupid penalty, but after killing it off he came back on the ice and promptly gave the puck away that led to a quality chance for the Avs. Ericsson is like that one shitty kid on your houseleague team that has to get ice time because his parents paid the registration fees.
- Matt Duchene sure does like that spin-o-rama move, eh?
The Wings are now 2-1-1 on their current homestand, and they welcome the Northwest Division-leading Edmonton Oilers on Friday before taking on the NHL's best team in the Dallas Stars and their collection of inferior talent the following night. If the past 2 games are any indication, the Wings have figured out what their issues were, and have turned things back around. Maybe all it took was to not have Todd Bertuzzi play.....