Red Wings Rewind looks to recap the last 7 days in Red Wings action, both on and off the ice, as well as take a look forward to the challenges the team will face in the week ahead.
Standings: 1st in league (4 points), 2-0-0 record.
Detroit kicked off the season in style this week with 2 wins in back-to-back games on Friday & Saturday against Ottawa and Colorado, both wins coming in regulation. As usual, there were both negatives and positives to be had in each contest.
Oct. 7 VS Ottawa Senators – Final Score 5-3 – Highlights
It was the home opener at Joe Louis Arena on Friday which saw the Red Wings jump out to a five goal lead by the 3:12 mark of the 3rd period. The team looked excellent and to be firing on all cylinders until early in the third when the wheels sort of fell off. Ottawa managed to pot three goals before the game was over, making the winning Wings look not-so-invincible.
On The Offensive: While scoring prowess is not something new to Detroit, where it came from was a bit surprising. It was the Red Wings bottom two lines that carried the play for most of the game and looked to be the sharpest two units on the ice. These lines consisted of Bertuzzi, Helm, Abdelkader, Miller, Holmstrom, and Emmerton, and all but Holmstrom were +2 on the night. Rookie Cory Emmerton managed to notch his second goal in three NHL games during the second period, which was by far the Red Wings’ strongest, as it saw three of their five goals being scored. While the team’s stars weren’t shining particularly brightly during their opening game, they didn’t drop the ball either, and it was an overall sound performance from the forward group.
In Their Own End: This season the Red Wings are looking to take as much pressure off of the top unit of Nicklas Lidstrom & Ian White as possible, trying to limit the 41-year-old Lidstrom’s play and keep him at his best. While still receiving the most ice time of any player (23:28), Lidstrom’s limits were kept to a minimum because of strong play from the other two pairings. Niklas Kronwall & Brad Stuart were strong with over 20 minutes each, and perhaps most impressively, the 3rd pairing of Jakub Kindl & Jonathan Ericsson spent more than 15 minutes on the ice, each player going +3. If the Red Wings can continue to get consistent play from their defense all the way around, they’ll be in a very good position come playoff time.
Between The Pipes: Jimmy Howard started and won his first game of the year, facing 32 shots and surrendering just three goals for a respectable save percentage. His play wasn’t astonishing, but it was strong and reliable, and the goals surrendered were not a result of poor play (one deflecting over his head, another on a pretty pass play that left him all alone, and the third with a crowd of players in front).
Oct. 8 @ Colorado Avalanche – Final Score 3-0 – Highlights
While there were plenty of good excuses for why the Red Wings’ play looked lackadaisical (arriving late, no morning skate, playing at altitude, back-to-back games), the team would still like to have the first two periods of Saturday’s game back, and the score certainly could have been a lot closer.
On The Offensive: Game 2 saw Tomas Holmstrom sitting out in exchange for Patrick Eaves, as the predicted lineup rotation begins early in the season for the team. For the first two periods, play was sloppy and careless. The passing was lazy. The turnovers were horrific. It was an overall nightmare that had blood pressures rising in every living room across Michigan. The third period was a completely different story though, and the Red Wings fired on all cylinders for the last 20 minutes. In order to spark some offense, Babcock put Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk together on a line with Dan Cleary, and it worked. All three players left the game with at least a point and a +2 rating.
In Their Own End: Much like the offense, the defense struggled through the first two periods before really coming alive in the third. After two periods of sub-par play, the D really jumped up and became active in the offensive zone as well, but it wasn’t at the cost of solid defense. If their third period play could be kept consistent, the Red Wings defense would be one of the strongest in the league.
Between The Pipes: Ty Conklin got his first start of the season in game two of the season, and boy was it a dandy. The only Wing who played a consistently strong 60 minutes, Conklin made spectacular saves and bailed his team out of situation after situation created by lazy mistakes. After turning away all 29 shots he faced, Conklin was rewarded with a shutout in his first start this year.
Lesson Of The Week: The third period is important! In the opener it was almost the ‘Wings downfall, and in game two it was the reason they won. Third period play was the deciding factor this week, as it often is, and is something the Red Wings need to (and have been able to previously) master.
Star Of The Week: Ty Conklin
The Red Wings will start the week with some time off, giving them time to work on some important aspects of their game. Special teams have been a weakness so far, going 0/9 on the powerplay and 4/6 on the penalty kill. They’ll also look to improve on consistency and the way they start their games.
Thursday: The Vancouver Canucks will roll into town for their first meeting with Detroit this season on the second night of two straight nights of action. As of today (Oct. 9) the Canucks have played just once, losing in overtime to the Penguins after a very poor performance from goaltender Roberto Luongo. Don’t expect an easy win over the defending conference champions though, who have two more games before they face the ‘Wings to improve themselves.
Saturday: Detroit will travel to Minnesota for a game against the Wild, who like Vancouver have played just one game. Unlike the Canucks, the Wild won their first game, and have three more before facing Detroit on the 15th. Minnesota is a team facing a lot of questions this season and looking to prove itself, especially against conference rivals like the Red Wings. Expect a hard-fought contest.
Goals: Pavel Datsyuk/Jiri Hudler/Cory Emmerton/Nicklas Lidstrom/Todd Bertuzzi/Henrik Zetterberg/Ian White/Johan Franzen (1)
Assists: Drew Miller/Pavel Datsyuk/Dan Cleary (2)
Points: Pavel Datsyuk (3)
+/-: Jakub Kindl (5)
GAA: Ty Conklin (0)
Sv%: Ty Conklin (1.00)