It’s going to be a slow week or so now that the Red Wings finally have clinched their 20th consecutive playoff berth, and 98th division title in 100 years or whatever it is.
With 2nd spot in the conference out of their control – if not their reach – and no playoff opponent yet emerging from the scrum at the bottom of the table, all that’s left to do is fret over Mike Babcock’s line-juggling, and hope he’s telling the truth when he says Nick Kronwall’s shoulder injury is minor.
In the absence of facts, this boo-boo really worries me. A big component of Kronwall’s effectiveness is his prowess as an open-ice hitter.
The leaguewide crackdown on blindside attacks have made him a more stay-at-home player of late. But if it becomes obvious Nick’s physically unable to make people pay for skating with their heads down, expect teams to run that much wilder through the neutral zone this spring.
Is there a trap in our future? Hmmmmm.
I Love Hank, but he Ain’t the Hart of the Red Wings
For his part, Ken Holland took a little time out of the dead period to stump for Zetterberg and Lidstrom’s trophy candidacies:
“Henrik showed his value to our team when (Pavel) Datsyuk went down,” Holland said in a teleconference earlier this week. “That’s really when (Zetterberg) vaulted — from the middle of December until early February. He put our team on his back for six to eight weeks.”
Lidstrom’s been the Norris frontrunner from the start, and both logic and sentiment are working in his favor. The fact he’s minus-1 works against him, but that’s a function of the Wings style of play this year as much as anything.
Nick doesn’t shock and awe one the way the younger Norris candidates do (never did, duh), but I’d like to see where Weber or Yandle has ever controlled an opposing team like Nick did in scoring his 4-on-4 goal versus Minnesota on Sunday. Watch: Why do shooting lanes get smaller for lesser players, but for Lidstrom they bloom like a rose? Because he’s a hockey Jedi, that’s why.
As for Zetterberg, he deserves all the praise he gets for helping keep the Red Wings afloat during the injury plague. But let’s be frank: Hank isn’t even the MVP of his own team. . The man has his own center of gravity on the ice; his mere presence makes the game easier for his team mates.
More tangibly, the Red Wings are 34-13-6 with him in the lineup, 12-10-4 with out him. Stay healthy, Pasha.
Riley Sheahan, Detroit’s first selection in the 2010 Entry Draft leads Notre Dame into an NCAA Frozen Four matchup vs. Minnesota Duluth Thursday at 5 p.m. Eastern time. The game will be televised nationally in the US on ESPN2 and streamed on ESPN3.com.
The 19-year-old sophomore has rounded into form nicely after a horrid start, and he was the best player on the ice during last weekend’s regional final defeat of host New Hampshire.
Michigan plays North Dakota in the second semifinal.
And here, from the uniformly excellent Winging it in Motown is possibly the nerdiest blog post in the history of history. Not casting Scotty Bowman as the bridgekeeper was a tiny oversight, but that doesn’t diminsh the awesomeness of this a bit.