Through the first two days of the new year, we were on pace to have zero days with Detroit Red Wings hockey. Thankfully, on this third day of the new year, the Vancouver Canucks welcomed the winged wheel to Rogers Arena, and 2015 had its first dose of Red Wings hockey. Let's keep this short and sweet and get you all to bed, eh?
Detroit managed some good zone time and pressure in the Canucks' end, but Vancouver had the better scoring chances, both in quality and quantity. The Red Wings were getting good zone entries to start and putting up a tenacious forecheck, but it wasn't leading to many quality scoring chances. Bad decisions with the puck and away from the puck gave Vancouver opportunities, but Jimmy Howard kept the game scoreless.
Detroit apparently decided to take a nap in the first intermission, because they certainly didn't start the second period on time. A penalty to start led to perennial trade target Alexander Edler blasting a bomb from the point past Howard on the power play for a 1-0 Vancouver lead.
The amazing thing about the second period was that it was a terrible call that turned it around for Detroit. Johan Franzen got called for a trip, but the referee probably only noticed it because Zack Kassian gave an 8.5 out of 10 performance with the flop. Detroit dominated the ensuing 4-on-4, generating chances and threatening to tie the game. They couldn't get the equalizer, so the third period started still 1-0 in Vancouver's favor.
A quick penalty to Vancouver gave Detroit a power play which almost tied the game. Grade A chances and zone time in the Canucks' end couldn't solve Ryan Miller though, even as the Canucks' took a second penalty that gave the Red Wings a very short 5-on-3.
Despite chances to tie the game, Radim Vrbata gave Vancouver a 2-0 lead on the power play. Skating into a sleepy zone in the corner, he got the puck and skated to the middle, fired, and Drew Miller knocked the puck away from his own goalie back to Vrbata, who depostied the rebound behind Howard.
Mike Babcock pulled Howard with over three minutes to play. The puck came out to Danny DeKeyser who made a great play to keep the puck in, fed Gustav Nyquist along the wall, and found Tomas Tatar for a one-timer to bring the Red Wings within one. Henrik Sedin ruined the comeback attempt with a empty-net, 3-1 goal, and another one shorthanded, 4-1, and that's your final.
- Hey, did you know that some brothers were playing in this game? Of course you knew, because everyone knows Vancouver has the Sedin twins.
- Drew Miller certainly deserved time with higher lines because he looked like a legitimate offensive threat tonight. He couldn't put a puck past his brother, but it certainly wasn't for lack of trying.
- Xavier Ouellet predictably had a good game. He made up for some snafus on Brendan Smith's part, although Smith negated one of those by taking a penalty when Ouellet already had the play taken care of heading back into the Red Wings' zone to prevent a breakaway.
- Ouellet was the only defenseman to have a good game. Jonathan Ericsson had a masterful giveaway in the first where the Vancouver player just had to skate two feet to his left and shoot. Danny DeKeyser had a great shift to keep an even greater fourth line shift alive in the offensive zone in the first period as well, but was shall we say "not good" otherwise. Ouellet's performance was punctuated by playing time late in the third period when the Red Wings were down and absolutely needing a goal.
- I've said a few times in my recaps that it wasn't the goalies' fault the Red Wings lost, especially if the skaters put zero goals up. Where Howard plays great, the other goalie somehow plays better or just has a better night. I can't wait for the next time Detroit can win a game against a goalie having a good night, or just plain score some goals and make the other team pull the goalie.
Not a good start to this road trip or the new year. Time to regroup because there's still more games on this road trip, including a next stop in Edmonton on Tuesday.