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Return Of The Nick: Red Wings 5 - Hurricanes 4

You magnificent grey-haired bastard.
You magnificent grey-haired bastard.

When you have been unable to watch a game all week for some reason, seeing the highlights and the final scores doesn't really clue you in to how a team is playing.

Case in point: I was on vacation all week and didn't see any of the last 3 games, all Wing losses. Watching the highlights showed me how the goals were scored, but I didn't have any idea on how the Wings were actually playing. All I knew is that they were losing games left and right, falling further down the Western Conference standings.

So tonight I returned to reality, and got to take in a whole game for the first time in over a week. It marked the return of Nicklas Lidstrom, and coupled with Pavel Datsyuk being back in the lineup, the Wings were healthier than they have been in weeks. So of course they got scored on 17 seconds into the game, and with just over 4 minutes left in the second period, the Hurricanes were up 4-1 after two PPG in 17 seconds.

I imagine a lot of people turned the game off at that point, which would have been stupid and careless, because the Wings were playing very good hockey, and the 4th Carolina goal seemed to make them all say that enough was enough. 4 goals later, the Wings' 6 game losing streak was over and the Wings had a dominating performance that resulted in a 5-4 Red Wings win.

I haven't seen a lot of Wings hockey lately, but what I saw tonight made me smile. Bullets after the jump.

  • The return of Lidstrom was the main story heading into the game, and while it was nice to have him back, I think it was his presence in the lineup more than anything he actually did that gave the Wings a boost. I think the return of each injured player is going to pump up the team just a little more each time.
  • I love seeing Datsyuk back. He made a pass back to Stuart in the first that was boner-inducing, and his puck pursuit on the PP was sorely missed.
  • The first period was a good one for the Wings. They gave up a tough goal early on, but they responded in a positive way by generating a lot of pressure and putting pucks on Cam Ward. They finished the period down a goal but outshooting the Canes 16-10, and if that happened during a winning streak the confidence level entering the second would be much higher.
  • Unfortunately, the Wings have discovered that it's much more fan-friendly to give up goals early because it gives us time to calm down from the rage that boils over every time we have to watch them screw up so close to the beginning of the period instead of the end of the period like normal.
  • That makes 7 consecutive seasons of at least 20 goals for Henrik Zetterberg, who in a bit of karma bounced one in off Bryan Allen's skate for the Wings' first goal. Zetterberg was in playoff mode tonight, willing the team to victory along with Valtteri Filppula. That line combined for 8 points and spent most of their time in the Carolina zone.
  • I guess all of Jeff Skinner's figure skating training wasn't enough to teach him to power through slight stick contact instead of falling down so easily.
  • Gustav Nyquist is going to be a stud when he ends up with a full time job next year. One thing that impresses me about him is his hockey sense and instincts. Combine that with his growing set of skills and increased confidence and I predict he becomes a consistent 20-goal guy.
The Wings are finally back in the win column, and reinforcements are on the way. Their next 2 games are against the lowly Blue Jackets, and there's no reason they can't pull off 4 points to solidify their position in 4th and maintain their shot at the division. Any opponent who doesn't fear a healthy Wing team in the playoffs is delusional.