Remember this feeling?
The one that you felt after a Red Wing victory? Pride, joy, relief that it wasn't a nail-biter or an "undeserved" win?
I remember it, and feel it right now. The Wings played easily their best game since before the trade deadline, taking advantage of a very undisciplined Penguins team that was missing one of their best players to earn a 5-1 victory.
The Wings played their best first period in a long time. It began 3 minutes in when Riley Sheahan tipped a Marek Zidlicky point shot to give the Red Wings an early lead. That looked to settle them down a little, although the Penguins had some good chances. However, the Wings kept the pressure on and it paid off when Teemu Pulkkinen blasted a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury. The period got a little chippy because the Penguins are the Penguins. Patric Hornqvist got a head shot in on Henrik Zetterberg with no call. Steve Downie bowled over a ref to get involved in a scrum, and Chris Kunitz jumped in the middle of a one-on-one between Justin Abdelkader and Paul Martin. Hilariously, Kunitz shot the puck at the ref after the period was over, giving the Wings even more power play time.
When the second started, the Wings took advantage of Kunitz being a big baby. Zidlicky roofed a slap shot past Fleury to give the Wings their biggest lead without scoring an empty net goal since January. The Wings didn't stop, getting a 4-goal lead. Gustav Nyquist fed a gorgeous pass to Henrik Zetterberg, who made no mistake in either scoring or getting me pregnant with that play. The Pens continued to implode, first getting a goal correctly called back but for the wrong reason. Then Kris Letang was kicked out of the game for saying something not nice to the referee. The Wings got into penalty trouble late in the period, but the much-maligned Wings' PK unit and Petr Mrazek held strong.
The third period started with the Penguins trying to get back in the game with a flurry of activity, but Pulkkinen was the one who scored when his stick broke, but the puck bounced in off a Pens defender and in. Steve Downie did dumb things. The Penguins scored a meaningless late goal that didn't matter to anyone except fantasy hockey players. Nothing of note happened after that and the Wings won a game handily for the first time in over a month.
- Is it time to think about re-signing Zidlicky? The Wings only gave up a 3rd round draft pick in 2016 (pending 15 conditions that could be met) to acquire him, but the Wings have an offensive force on the back-end for the first time since the last former Devil who wore 28 for the Wings. There's a logjam at defense already, but I'd almost consider bringing him back for 1 year if others could be moved.
- The Wings have been very bad in the first period lately, but today was a different team. Getting 2 goals was nice, but more importantly they did well controlling play. That carried over into the second while they built a huge lead, at which point the Wings let off the gas and score effects took over.
- I'm happy to see the 4th line reunited if for no other reason because it means all the possession black holes are in one spot.
- When the Penguins inevitably flame out in the first round again because of the lack of discipline, we'll all point to this game and laugh and laugh and laugh.
- Seriously, the Penguins are a bunch of shitbags and deserve to lose every game.
- Brendan Smith has been playing fantastic hockey, and today was no different. He was engaged physically, made some really smart plays, and didn't get goaded into garbage with Steve Downie. I wonder if playing with a vet like Zidlicky has calmed him down and allowed him to play a simpler game. Whatever the reason, it's working.
- Be happy for Kyle, who attended this game in person and is probably having a lot of angry looks directed his way.
- I'm saying it now: the Wings are very close to having a goaltending controversy on their team. Petr Mrazek was outstanding today despite being very frenetic in the crease. I am quickly coming to the conclusion that he needs to play as long as he remains hot. With a back-to-back against Florida and Tampa Bay, I'd almost go with Jimmy Howard against the Panthers and Mrazek against the Lightning.