Posted on: February 17, 2012 10:27 pm
By: Adam Gretz
It's starting to feel like the Detroit Red Wings are never going to lose another home game.
The Nashville Predators certainly gave them a fight on Friday night, but Detroit managed to find a way to extend its NHL record home winning streak to an incredible 22 games with a 2-1 win, and it couldn't have happened with a more beautiful play. And that's really the only way to describe it. Just beautiful.
With just 5.8 seconds to play in the third period of a tie game, Pavel Datsyuk, always one of the most exciting players in the NHL, completed one of the prettiest plays you'll see in the NHL this season finishing a series of no-look passes from Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom to beat Pekka Rinne for the game-winning goal.
That is simply great players at their very best, and let's not overlook that the defenseman Datsyuk completely turned around at the end was none other than Ryan Suter, one of the best defenseman in the NHL.
The win pushes Detroit to an NHL best 40-17-2 record, including 25-2-1 mark at Joe Louis Arena. The Wings will look to extend the streak again on Sunday afternoon against the San Jose Sharks.
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Posted on: November 18, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 5:09 pm
Let's call this the Ilya Bryzgalov tour of fun.
It started with Bryz facing his former team on Thursday night, the Phoenix Coyotes. His old pals still in the Phoenix red? Let's just say not all of them had flattering comments to make about their former netminder.
There was Derek Morris (no, not THAT Derek Morris) talking about how Bryzgalov gives up soft goals. He even went so far as to say he's glad Bryzgalov is gone and Mike Smith is in. Adrian Aucoin wasn't the most complimentary either.
In the end Bryzgalov got the last laugh with a 2-1 win. Afterward he was only complimentary of his ex-squad.
"It's my former team and not an easy team to beat," he said.
That was Step I, reunion with the team he used to play for. Step II is visiting the city he could have played for, but never would have on Saturday afternoon.
You remember earlier this year, before the Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets, don't you? Most of the speculation was that the Coyotes, not the Thrashers would become the Jets. So Bryzgalov was asked for his thoughts on the matter and considering he's usually always candid, the response he gave didn't exactly sit well with the 'Peggers.
Here is what he said in April.
Think the people in Winnipeg forgot about that? Of course not. After all, there is no excitement except the hock ...
Bryzgalov remembers it too, and he did back off a bit on Friday.
"I didn't mean it and I didn't want to offend anybody," Bryzgalov said (from Ted Wyman at the Winnipeg Sun). "I'm pretty sure it's good people, beautiful people live in Winnipeg. I'm pretty sure it's passionate fans. I didn't mean it to be honest. That's it."
Since returning to the NHL this season, the Jets fans have enjoyed once again the art of goalie taunting. No doubt they will serenade the goalie with "Illlll-yaaaa" chants all game long, but they could have just a little more juice in store. A popular Jets fan forum has taken to posting sign ideas for fans at the game. I'm envisioning a WWE event or ESPN College Gameday site with signs all over in the crowd. Make it happen Winnipeg.
Of course, with all of the anticipation in Winnipeg for the chance to boo and jeer Bryzgalov, it will probably be Sergei Bobrovsky that starts.
As far as the game on the ice is concerned, the Jets are playing better hockey these days and have been getting the habit of knocking off some of the traditionally stronger East teams at home. They come into the game against the Flyers -- the top team in the East at the moment -- having won the last two home games, both against teams in the playoffs last year (Capitals and Lightning). They also knocked off the Penguins at home early in the season.
When you add in the absence of Jaromir Jagr for the game and it won't be a walk in the park (get it?) for Bryzgalov and the Flyers.
Back on track
It was only a couple of weeks ago that the Canadiens were in disarray. They were off to their worst start in more than 60 years. Assistant coach Perry Pearn was fired. Jacques Martin seemed to be only a couple of losses away from meeting the same fate.
Since an October 24 loss to the Florida Panthers and the subsequent dismissal of Pearn, the Canadiens have very quietly rebounded. I mean, when have you known the Habs to do anything quietly? They have posted a 7-3-1 record since that game and have climbed within three points of the division-leading Sabres.
The natural connection to make is to see the team has done well since firing Pearn, so that must have something to do with it. While I don't want to completely dismiss the idea -- there could be some credence to the belief that it was a "wakeup call" for the Habs players -- it probably is more coincidental than anything. Montreal just happened to have a rough patch at the beginning of the season.
This is where I caution you not to get too high with the highs and too low with the lows. The Canadiens have evened themselves out and are at .500 (if we treat OT losses as ties). Of course, that doesn't mean Martin's seat isn't still hot, it's just not scalding at the moment. He's been passed by Scott Arniel and Paul Maurice in the hot seat rankings.
We will get a better idea of which team more closely resembles the truth: the one that started the season or the one that is 7-3-1 of late. That's because they will go up against arguably the hottest team in hockey on Saturday night. What the Rangers been up to lately? Oh, they're just on a seven-game win streak.
Roller coast of tough love
Speaking of highs and lows, check out the Detroit Red Wings. Talk about a roller coaster of emotion.
The Wings came out of the gate winning their first five games. They followed that up with six straight losses before rebounding with four consecutive wins. Now they have lost two in a row. Pretty amazing for a team to be 17 games in without anything but a streak.
Overall, they have lost five in a row on the road.
"It's tough, nothing that we want to do," said Henrik Zetterberg of the road losing streak. "We have another chance Saturday [in Los Angeles] to turn it around."
That will come on Saturday afternoon against an on-the-up Kings team, 4-1-0 in their last five.
"Do we want to be a good team or not?" coach Mike Babcock said about what will be the subject matter of a team meeting (Detroit News). "Life doesn't just go on good for you. You make a decision it's going to go good for you. You decide for yourself you're going to be successful. You decide for yourself that you're going to make a difference and have a good career. No one just gives you stuff.
"The other teams are trying to. We have to make some decisions."
Ovie debate continues
Alex Ovechkin is drawing a lot of heat these days, and unfortunately for him it isn't over goal celebrations.
At first glance, his numbers don't seem bad (seven goals and seven assists in 17 games) but this is Ovie we're talking about here. Obviously a lot is expected of him.
Right now he is struggling. And, maybe as a result, the Capitals are struggling. Are the two connected? Somewhat. Obviously No. 8 is a big part of the Caps. They especially need more than one goal in a five-game span, such as his current stretch.
So what better place than Toronto for Ovechkin and Washington get find their confidence again? Since James Reimer went down, the goaltending in Toronto has returned to its pre-Reimer state: atrocious. Moreover, Ovechkin has always put up good numbers at the Leafs' place, scoring 23 goals in 23 games there.
It would help ease some of the increasing hysteria in "the nation's hockey capital" if he and the Caps could bust out the scoring stick again in a Hockey Night in Canada showcase.
How much more for Maurice?
That's becoming a popular question in NHL circles right now. Is Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice one or two more losses away from being fired?
Something's gotta give right now in Carolina. The 'Canes have lost six of seven and their star player, Eric Staal, is still struggling to make much of an impression. This was supposed to be a year of progression, not the other way around. After just barely missing the playoffs last spring, the hopes were that the 'Canes would again contend for the postseason as presently constructed.
It would probably go a long way toward calming the panic that is setting in not only among the fans, but GM Jim Rutherford as well, if they handle the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night. As you'll recall, Rutherford has fired Maurice before, he could certainly do it again.
We're going streaking
As the great Lou Brown said in Major League: "Gentlemen, we won yesterday. If we win today, that's two in a row. If we win tomorrow, that's what they call a winning streak. It has happened before."
So with that obvious definition in mind, here's a look at the winning streaks in play.
Flyers: As mentioned above, they play in Winnipeg on Saturday and they enter having won three in a row.
Rangers: Also covered, they have won seven games in a row and take that streak into Saturday's tilt against the Habs.
Ottawa Senators: Yes, the Sens have found themselves on another run, winning three in a row. Their lone weekend game comes on Sunday night in Vancouver.
St. Louis Blues: That's right, that Ken Hitchcock move is working out pretty well. The head to Minnesota having won three consecutive.
Kings: Lastly (boy there are a lot of streaks right now) the aforementioned Kings also take a three-game run into their Saturday game against the Red Wings.
Among the losing steaks, we'll just list the top (or bottom) and that's the Oilers, losers of four in a row.
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: Adrian Aucoin, Alex Ovechkin, Boston Bruins, Brian Stubits, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Derek Morris, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Eric Staal, Henrik Zetterberg, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jacques Martin, James Reimer, Los Angeles Kings, Mike Babcock, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Paul Maurice, Perry Pearn, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, Weekend Preview, Winnipeg Jets
Posted on: November 4, 2011 1:39 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 3:22 pm
It's amazing how quickly things can go from being so hot to being so cold. I mean 72 days for a marriage? That's a quick flameout.
Oh, and there are also those Red Wings from Detroit. Just two weeks ago, the NHL eyes were locked on a battle of the unbeatens; 5-0 Detroit at 6-0 Washington. Fast-forward to Friday and the Red wings have picked up one single point since, sitting now at 5-5-1.
In this six-game losing streak it hasn't been what we figured would be the team's Achilles' heel -- defense - that has let them down. I mean it could be much better -- it could ALWAYS bet better -- but it's sufficed, even if Jimmy Howard has slumped a little, too.
Instead, it's been the offense, the unit that carried the team a season ago. During the six-game losing streak, the Wings are averaging exactly one goal per game. Once they scored two, once they were shutout, the other four games they scored once. That means Detroit has the second-fewest goals in the NHL -- incidentally still six clear of the last-place Islanders, who have scored just 18 goals in 10 games.
At that kind of scoring clip, the Red Wings were lucky to even pick up one point.
We can chalk some of that up to bad luck, though. Detroit is carrying a shooting percentage of 6.2 percent right now. As Jesse Spector of the Sporting News points out for comparison's sake, the Devils were at 7.3 percent last season for the worst in the league.
Statisticians will tell you shooting percentage is more a byproduct of luck than anything else. The Wings are too talented to shoot at that low of a level for the season. These things do even out. If you believe they will continue to shoot that low of a percentage this season, I have some beach-front property in Nebraska to sell you. Real cheap, too.
Maybe Ken Holland crossed a black cat's path sometime just before Halloween or something. Seven games of bad luck, perhaps?
If the streak stretches to seven, it will have to come at the expense of the similarly struggling Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night. The Ducks themselves enter on a nasty little losing streak, having lost four in a row, the last two in overtime.
As they say, something's gotta give.
The opposite of the Red Wings and their six-game losing streak? Try the Edmonton Oilers and their six-game WINNING streak. (Boy, the NHL standings look awfully wacky right now ... can it last?) The last time the Oilers won six in a row? You have to go back to 2002.
They will have a chance to run that streak to seven on Saturday when they visit the Coyotes.
It's a homecoming of sorts for Nikolai Khabibulin, who is back to being the Bulin Wall. He spent a couple weeks in jail back in Arizona for a DUI offense. Who knows what kind of impact that might have had on Khabibulin, but he's been spectacular.
He was deservedly named one of the NHL's three Stars for the month of October. He has been maybe the biggest surprise of the season from an individual standpoint. He is still averaging less than a goal per game (0.98) in GAA and has a spectacular .963 save percentage.
Just like Detroit's shooting percentage, you don't need a genius to tell you that's not going to last. Still, for a guy that people felt was going to be as useful as an empty Twinkie wrapper, this qualifies as outstanding.
He will have a chance to keep his stats low for another night, though. Considering the Oilers and Coyotes are two of the lowest-scoring teams in the league, a 2-1 battle or so is probably in store. Of course, now that we mention it, the game will more likely be a 7-5 breakout.
Speaking of bad shooting percentages ...
Remember that start the Colorado Avalanche had? The one where they were 5-1-0 and the early talk of the NHL? Yes, life on the road was nice.
Well home has not provided very friendly confines. At all.
The Avs are 1-4-1 at home while still 6-1-0 on the road. Since you are clever readers, I'm sure you know where this is going ...
Colorado is at home for the weekend capper on Sunday evening when it hosts the Calgary Flames. The key to getting on the right track at home? Again, we return to the that luck theme.
In their home games, the Avalanche have a 3.8 -- 3.8!!! -- shooting percentage. Either they continue to shoot directly into the opposing goalie's chest, or things just aren't going their way.
More starting trends
One more shooting percentage trend and then that's it, we promise.
Here are two reasons not to go all in on the Toronto Maple Leafs quite yet. First, their shooting percentage is unusually high at 12.9 percent as a team. Secondly, Toronto is actually being outshot by an average of five shots per game. They are in first place in the Northeast.
On the other hand, the Bruins are plus-five in shots per game and they are in last place in the Northeast.
The means exist for a reason. Teams usually regress toward the mean over the course of a season. Of course, in the meantime these trends are still being bucked.
Now the table is set for their showdown on Saturday in Toronto. By the way, Phil Kessel is still on pace for that monster season with 10 goals and 11 assists through 13 games.
Very quietly there is the rumblings of a goaltending controversy in Buffalo. Like we said, very quietly.
Backup Jhonas Enroth has been very solid in his backup work of Ryan Miller, including the relief appearance earlier this week against the Flyers. In that game, Enroth held the Flyers scoreless for the majority of the game after Miller was pulled early in the first period with three quick goals.
It comes as little shock then that Lindy Ruff is going to start Enroth on Friday night with the Calgary Flames in town. Ruff is electing to start the hot goalie and likely trying to flip Buffalo's fortunes at home.
Like the Avs, the Sabres aren't finding home so nice in the early going. They are 2-4-0 at the First Niagara Center or whatever they call the arena these days.
The champs are here!
That would be baseball's champions, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Friday night in St. Louis will be a chance for the Blues to honor their winning neighbors.
Chris Carpenter, the Cards' ace pitcher, practiced with the team this week. In case you missed it, it was brought up countless times during the playoffs that Carpenter played hockey growing up.
Also, now ex-Cardinals manager (retirement) Tony La Russa will drop the ceremonial puck before the Blues face the Canucks. The Blues would love it if some of that winning magic can rub off on them as the Blues enter having dropped their last two games and are a quiet 5-6-0.
Photo: US Presswire
Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Brian Stubits, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Henrik Zetterberg, Jhonas Enroth, Jimmy Howard, Ken Holland, Lindy Ruff, Nikolai Khabibulin, Phil Kessel, Phoenix Coyotes, Ryan Miller, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Weekend Preview
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:31 am
Edited on: October 31, 2011 10:33 am
By: Adam Gretz
There has been a lot of talk for a couple of weeks now that the Detroit Red Wings and defenseman Niklas Kronwall were involved in contract talks, and on Monday the team announced, via Twitter, that the two sides have come to an agreement on a seven-year contract extension.
According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, the contract has an average annual salary of $4.75 million.
The 31-year-old Kronwall is currently in his eighth year with the Red Wings after being a first-round selection by the team in 2000. He's scored 35 goals and recorded 148 assists in 394 games, and is perhaps best known for his physical style of play and crushing open-ice hits. Had a new contract not been worked out prior to July 1, he would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency and would have no doubt been one of the top players on the market. This new deal makes him the focal point of the Red Wings defense going forward (well, he will be when Nicklas Lidstrom retires).
With Kronwall secured through the 2018-19 season the Red Wings now have Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Jonathan Ericsson signed together for at least the next three years.
Posted on: April 7, 2011 3:31 pm
Edited on: April 7, 2011 3:34 pm
The Detroit Red Wings will be without Henrik Zetterberg for the final two games of the regular season and his status for the first round of the playoffs is in question.
Zetterberg was forced out of Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the first period after a collision with Bryan Allen. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Zetterberg sustained a lower body injury, the Detroit Free Press reports.
“I expect him to be day to day,” Babcock told the newspaper. “He’s not playing the next two games, and he’s day-to-day after that.”
Babcock added that Zetterberg had an MRI Thursday, but did not go into detail. Zetterberg, who was wearing a knee brace when he spoke to reporters while his team practiced in St. Louis, said the result of the MRI “was better than I thought.”
Zetterberg is tops on the Red Wings in points (80) and third in goals (24). He had played in each of the first 80 games for the Red Wings this season.
-- A.J. Perez