Well that was nice. The previous game against Philadelphia was one of those frustrating games where your team completely dominates and finds a way to lose. Tonight was a more evenly matched game, but the Wings found a way to get it done with ease and give us something to feel good about going into Thanksgiving. This win puts the Wings just 3 and 4 points behind Tampa and Montreal respectively with a game in hand over both of them.
The first period started out pretty badly - the Flyers pretty much had their way with the Wings on the forecheck early, but excellent special teams play from Detroit seemed to settle the game down a bit. The Flyers aren't a very good team anymore, but the Giroux line is still deadly, and they gave Zetterberg's line all kinds of trouble throughout this period. Eventually Datsyuk wins an offensive zone draw and Weiss beelines the net front, eventually tipping in a Darren Helm shot, which really makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Credit to Weiss - all three of his goals so far have come because he created traffic in front of the net.
Giroux scored early in the second off a DeKeyser turnover and a subtle deflection, but from there on it was all Detroit. After a fairly flat first period, Datsyuk gradually warmed up and came to life as the period progressed. A pair of goals from Jurco and Datsyuk chased Steve Mason, and Datsyuk eventually added a second goal late in the period. Weiss actually assisted on the second Datsyuk goal giving him consecutive multi-point games for the first time in literally years. Awesome for him. His 4 points in 5 periods since returning matches the 4 points he put up in 26 games last season. Glad to see him contributing at an NHL level again. Of course, the lowlight of the period was Quincey and Couturier engaging in a hug-fight. My reaction to my first time ever seeing Kyle Quincey fight went something like this.
The third period was pretty uneventful - Philadelphia carried play as that's what teams down 3 in the 3rd tend to do. They eventually got one in, Zetterberg popped in an empty netter, and everybody sang Journey. These are my favorite kind of third periods.
- Zetterberg's line got destroyed by Giroux's line in possession tonight, but it should be noted that both of those lines started most of their possessions in the Red Wings zone. Babcock used them to try to shut down Philadelphia's only good line, and it mostly worked. I'm okay with it, but I still would have liked to see a better performance out of this line.
- Yes, Stephen Weiss got some points, but he also led all Red Wings forwards in corsi-for percentage. Playing with Datsyuk and Helm against middling competition helps, but Weiss wasn't visibly dragging his linemates down like he was basically all of last season. His play passed the eye test yet again. That's an incredibly encouraging early sign.
- The Tomas Jurco effect is real. I've been beating the drum for awhile that Jurco's lack of production had more to do with his usage than performance, and his outstanding possession numbers (top 10 in the entire NHL and first on the team) were an indicator of things to come. Tonight he was put on Glendening's line, and the line that routinely puts up the worst possession numbers on the team was suddenly the highest on the team despite getting their usual tough zone starts. Jurco made smart plays all over the ice tonight, and it's nice to see him make the most of his very limited ice time.
- I love Pavel Datsyuk forever.