Western Canada. Mountainous. Plains. Cold.
As a Canadian, there's something romantic about Alberta. The couple of times I have visited left me with a lot of wonderful memories of the sights and the people, both of whom made it a wonderful place to visit. So it's only fitting that the Wings have made some memories of their own there recently, and tonight was no exception. A late goal by Drew Miller allowed the Wings to get out of Edmonton with a valuable 3-2 win and move back into second place in the Central Division.
Dan Cleary opened the scoring when he tipped in a Jakub Kindl shot through Nikolai Khabibulin midway through the first period. The Wings were fortunate to get out of the period only down a goal, as they had to kill off a 2-man disadvantage and were outshot.
The third pair struck for the Wings in the second, but unsurprisingly it was not to their benefit. A pinch by Jonathan Ericsson and brain fart by Jakub Kindl allowed Randy Jones to get a partial breakaway, and he was able to slip the puck under Jimmy Howard to tie the game at 1. The Red Wings regained their lead when Henrik Zetterberg's seeing-eye shot got was tipped by by UFC 156 champion Jiri Hudler past Khabibulin. The corpse of Budd Lynch would make his damn presence known yet again as my new man-crush Jordan Eberle pounced on a blocked shot and scored with 0.5 seconds left to send the teams to the second intermission tied at 2.
The Wings came out in the third determined to end the game, peppering Khabibulin with shots and keeping the Oilers to 3 shots before a late power play for Edmonton. Fortunately, they were able to hold the NHL's 6th best power play shot-less, and the Wings escaped with a 3-2 win.
They're not always pretty, but 2 points are 2 points. Follow the jump for the bullets.
- So, I'd say the Jonathan Ericsson-Jakub Kindl experiment can be called a bust. The two of them were directly responsible for the Oilers' first goal, and they are a dumpsterfire (TM J.J.) every time they are on the ice. We rip a lot on Ericsson around here, but at least when he was paired with Niklas Kronwall there was a sense that if Ericsson pulled a "shitbox" he had someone to back him up. That is not the case with Kindl, so let's get things back to the way they were.
- Holy shit do I hate last minute goals. I know the replay that was aired on FSD showed the puck coming out of the zone right before the goal was scored, but allowing a blocked shot to be leaned in to by Eberle is unacceptable.
- This was a very sloppy game by the Wings. Passes weren't connecting, defensive assignments were missed, and overall the Wings were just off. So what do they do? They turn to their grinders to muck out a win, and the line of Dan Cleary, Drew Miller and Darren Helm spent a lot of time in the Oilers zone and were responsible for 2 of the Wings' 3 goals. They also accounted for 7 of the Wings 28 shots, and were generally the best line for Detroit.
- If we consider the loss to San Jose as the turning point of the Wings' season, then we need to start mentioning the turnaround that Henrik Zetterberg has effected to his season. Since being called out by Mike Babcock, Z has 16 points in his last 15 games, and is back on the plus side of the ledger defensively.
- So, Ericsson caused quite a stir in the game thread, eh? I won't rehash the entire argument, but to sum up: there are those within the Red Wing fanbase who would prefer to see anyone else besides Jonathan Ericsson in a Red Wing uniform for games against other NHL teams. So, here's your chance: convince us all that anyone else is a better fit for the Wings and will make them a better team. You think Mike Commodore is the answer? Why? Want to bring up Brendan Smith since he looked great in 2 whole games (nevermind that whole preseason where he was terrible)? I want you all to go nuts and explain why you think Ericsson should sit. However, for those saying that he played so badly tonight, here's some stats to help you out: per the NHL's official scorer at the game (and JJ can back me up with his own observations), Ericsson was credited with 2 hits (on the road), 1 giveaway and 2 blocked shots. For comparison purposes, Niklas Kronwall had 2 giveaways, as did Nicklas Lidstrom, and only Jakub Kindl had more blocked shots (3).