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O Dear: Avalanche 4 - Red Wings 2

Are you a glass half-full or empty kind of person?

The end of a prolonged winning or losing streak brings out our inner optimist/pessimist. A positive person sees a loss as a bump in the road, while those of us that aren't as chipper see problems that may lead to our team never winning again. As a sports fan, reconciling our reactions to our sports teams is what makes watching the games both agonizing and exhilirating.

The Red Wings took their 7-game winning streak into Denver to take on the Avalanche, a team who used to inspire hatred and animosity but who has become so bad over the last few years that it's just become sad. After beating up on the Avs in the first 2 meetings this season, the Avs played an inspired final 2 periods and overcame an early deficit to hand the Wings their first loss in over 2 weeks, winning 4-2.

The first period started well for the Wings. Outshooting the Avs 11-7, the Wings got the period's only goal when Johan Franzen continued his domination of the Avs by converting a beautiful backhand pass from Pavel Datsyuk. Unfortunately, the Wings would come out flat in the second, and before you could say "half-empty arena" the Avs had taken a 2-1 lead.

In the third, the Wings were able to get the game back to even when Dan Cleary tipped in a Henrik Zetterberg shot past Semyon Varlamov, and the optimists in the crowd surely felt that win number 8 was coming. However, a botched pass at the end of a power play led to a shorthanded 2-on-1 the other way, and T.J. Galiardi buried a one-timer off the post and past Ty Conklin to give the Avs a lead they would never relinquish.

After the jump, bullets, an update on an injured Red Wing, and thoughts on the game.

  • It was inevitable that the winning streak would end, but the way the Wings played in the final 2 periods was reminiscent of their earlier losing streak; passes not connecting, players standing still, and a feeling that they just weren't trying. It was similar to the end of the game against the Sabres, but the Wings had a big lead in that game and coasted to a victory. Last night the Avs were determined not to get swept in the season series, a point of pride that will go in all of their season recaps when the Avs are golfing in April.
  • Real tough to pin this loss on Ty Conklin. Conk-block was getting his first start in a month, but outside of a few moments where he seemed to fight the puck (which I chalk up to rust), he looked pretty good. Maybe he just likes playing Colorado, but tonight's loss was not on him. The winning goal was a brutal turnover followed by a well-played odd-man rush. Last night's performance should convince Babcock to give Ty a few more starts, especially given the Wings' condensed schedule in December.
  • The big story out of Denver for the Wings was the injury to Valterri Filppula. He was cut by an errant skate blade on the leg and taken to a local hospital for treatment. Whether that means he had a few stitches or had to have major reconstructive surgery is anyone's guess, but he's currently listed as "day-to-day" and may miss some time. Flip has been fantastic this season, currently ranking third on the team in scoring with 21 points, and those of us who tend to think negatively probably can't help but think back to 2009-10 when he had a great start but was derailed by injury.
  • As JJ noted in the game thread, this game had "trap" written all over it, as the Wings may have been caught looking ahead (slightly) to a big meeting with the Blues tomorrow night. Since being called out by Babcock after the loss to the Sharks, the Wings had looked like a team that was a true Cup contender, so they were due for a stinker.
  • The end is nigh: Johan Franzen scored a goal and the Wings lost. For those that haven't heard (about 4 of you), the Mule had been held pointless whenever the Wings lose, but was an Art Ross contender in wins. So there's your worthless fact of the day.

It's no secret the Wings have been one of the streakiest teams in the NHL this season. In fact, they have not had a 3-game stretch where they alternated wins and losses, so it's a little natural that some people may be concerned about Tuesday's game against the Blues and whether this is the start of a new losing streak. Personally, I think the players will be reminded of how they played the last time they visited St. Louis and will not want to repeat that performance.