There has been something very odd through the first 16 games of the 2014-15 Red Wings season.
Every night the Wings have looked competitive, save for some moments here and there. They've been a team that has played hard and remained in games thanks to preventing shots and great goaltending.
What's very weird about this season is who the Red Wings have beaten, and who they have lost to. For those keeping score, the Red Wings have beaten:
They've lost to:
I don't know what to make of any of that, only to know that they're winning games that maybe we didn't expect them to earlier in the year and lost some games we thought they should have won. What that adds up to is an 8-3-5 record through the first 16 games, which equates to a 108-point pace.
Tonight the Red Wings took on the Chicago Blackhawks, a team whose record doesn't reflect their talent level. Maybe it's due to coaching, maybe it's due to a lack of cohesion due to lineup changes, maybe it's boredom with the regular season. Despite that, the Hawks remain a very good and dangerous team, and the Wings pretty much wiped the floor with them in a fairly dominating performance.
And damn did that feel good. Seriously, how great do all of you feel right now? Because I could power lift a taxi right now as if I was drunk on Cinco de Mayo weekend.
- Admit it: the first thing you thought after Luke Glendening scored (once you got past the disbelief that he actually scored a goal) was "LOL Kyle".
- Proof that make up calls exist: after a very questionable penalty for high-sticking on Jimmy Howard, Jonathan Toews gets a penalty for looking at a Red Wing stick in a weird way.
- Brendan Smith and Niklas Kronwall both had very nice, hard, legal hits on Patrick Kane and Toews, respectively. Nothing bone-shattering, but good hits that throw a forward off his game, even for a short time.
- Smith and Kyle Quincey were both very effective tonight, especially in that "bend but don't break" third period when the Wings went into more of a defensive shell and the Hawks opened things up. For some reason Jakub Kindl only played 9:13 minutes, so it was important for the 5 remaining Wings' D to have solid games, and they all played well.
- A quietly great performance from Jimmy Howard, who made a few big saves on Kane in the first period and then some timely saves in the third to preserve the lead. He wasn't called on to steal the game, but he was good when he had to be, just as he has all year. The only goal he allowed was off a great pass from Toews to Kane on the PK that he really didn't have much chance on.
- I know the Blackhawks have made a conscious attempt to emulate the Red Wings in how they play, but the whole "blindly throw the puck up the middle of the ice only to see the opponent score a goal" is going a little far.
- Glendening/Franzen/Tatar/Smith: one of these things is not like the other.
- Tomas Tatar/Riley Sheahan/Darren Helm was a lot better than I thought it would be. They led the way in possession stats 5v5 for all Wing forwards and spent the majority of their shifts in the Hawks' zone.
- Did Marian Hossa even play tonight? Because this is the first Wings-Hawks game where I didn't miss him being in a Wing jersey.
- I won't lie in saying I get a little sad seeing "4-1 Red Wings win" because of 2 years ago.
- I think this is my favorite lineup the Wings have iced so far this year.
- Overall I felt this was the old and slow Red Wings showing the young and skilled Blackhawks that they are in fact a lot younger and faster and better than possibly thought. I have no doubts the Hawks took the Wings seriously, but I can bet a good portion of the Hawks fanbase still sees the Wings as this decrepit old team that needs walkers to get around the ice. I guess those walkers had boosters on them because the Wings were skating circles around the Hawks for most of the game, especially in the second period when the score could have been 4 or 5-1 instead of only 3-1.