Red Wings Rewind: Week 2 Edition

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 (8 points, 4-0-0 record)

Detroit came into the week undefeated, and they exited it in the same manner, locking up another 2 wins on their way to their first 4-0 start since 1996-97 (a year which saw them go on to win it all).

Oct. 13 VS Vancouver Canucks – Final Score 2-0

Jimmy Howard Red Wings
Jimmy Howard pitched his first shutout of the season in his 2nd game. (Icon SMI)

Detroit’s 3rd opponent of the year was their toughest yet, but that didn’t slow them. After exiting week 1 on the high note of a Ty Conklin shutout, they began week 2 with another shutout courtesy of  starter Jimmy Howard.

It’s no secret the ‘Wings were facing a tired Vancouver team (having played the night before) that is notorious for slow starts, but nonetheless they played a very talented team. Offensively, Detroit once again seemed to fall victim to a 1 period game.

During the start of the 1st period both teams were guilty of playing too timidly. Hesitation ruled every move on the ice, neither squad wanting to be burned at the hands of what they knew was a very capable opponent. It wasn’t until precisely 7 minutes into the period that the reverence period ended and the real game began. Justin Abdelkader engaged in fisticuffs with infamous pest Maxim Lapierre, and surprisingly enough got the best of the more experienced forward. Though the fight didn’t immediately ignite a fire in either team as perhaps intended, it did give their games a spark. The rest of the period saw a more normal paced game, each team evenly matched. As the period wound down one could foresee the game heading into overtime after 2 more periods of a stalemate. However, that would not be the case.

The Red Wings came out firing every puck they laid stick on in period 2, and a seemingly stunned Vancouver team fell flat. Midway through the period the constant barrage of pucks finally cracked Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider, and once again Justin Abdelkader was the one making waves, this time assisted by Bertuzzi and Kronwall. Just 2:18 later Valtteri Filppula put another one in the back of the net, and that’s all the ‘Wings would need the rest of the way. As Detroit headed into intermission, they knew the game wasn’t over yet.

The 3rd saw Vancouver taking control of the play as they desperately tried to score. There was no beating Jimmy Howard though, who made save after save including one highlight-reel-worthy gem on Daniel Sedin (as if the Sedin’s weren’t already frustrated with him after 2 goal-robbing saves he made last season). The Detroit defense held its ground and played smartly under the pressure of one of the leagues best offensive squads, and it payed off. Howard made 19 saves and extended the ‘Wings shutout streak to 2 games, but it wasn’t all positives.

Once again Detroit seemed to play a primarily one period game. Though they were significantly better in the other 2 than previous, there was still a noticeable performance change between periods. This play appeared to cost them their shutout streak, and nearly did, if it weren’t for time expiring on the period. If the team could elevate their game to the level they can in a period for an entire 60 minutes, there’s no question in my mind they’d be heading deep into the post season. They aren’t there yet. Another worrying aspect? Detroit went 0/8 on the powerplay, continuing to be scoreless with the man advantage.

Oct. 15 VS Minnesota Wild – Final Score 3-2 (OT)

Valtteri Filppula Red Wings
Valtteri Filppula assisted on both of Detroit's regulation goals against the Wild. (Icon SMI)

On Saturday Detroit headed into Minnesota to face a now Dany Heatley touting Minnesota Wild team in what would turn out to be a very peculiar outing.

Through the 1st period the Red Wings looked sluggish and exasperated. They were being beaten in every puck race, overrun in both zones, and their undefeated streak looked as if it were approaching a close. With just a few seconds remaining in the period the Wild made them pay for their poor play and went up 1-0. They’d follow this tally up quickly.

Just 16 seconds into period 2 the Wild made it 2-0, and the Red Wings looked to be on the ropes. They weren’t ready to be put down just yet though, and began to come alive. Detroit dominated play completely the rest of the way, and were finally rewarded for their efforts with less than a minute to go in the period, as Ian White fired his 2nd of the season to the back of the net.

3:46 into the 3rd Jiri Hudler deflected the tying goal into the net, and the Red Wings domination continued. Minnesota’s supposedly more offensively potent line-up looked like the same team we’ve seen for years, heavily out shot and without the puck most of the period. Wild goalie Josh Harding stood tall though, and overtime was necessary to settle this one.

Detroit got a break near the end of the 5 minute overtime period, Matt Cullen being sent to the box for tripping, and finally cashed in on the powerplay. Johan Franzen sacrificed his face for the benefit of the team, and potted their first goal with the man advantage this season.

The score of this game shouldn’t have been as close as it was. Detroit heavily out-shot the Wild 41-14, but needed overtime to cap off a comeback win. The Red Wings certainly had more than their fair share of chances, but just couldn’t seem to find the back of the net. Even Pavel Datsyuk, who’s beaten Josh Harding 1-on-1 before, missed the net on a fantastic breakaway opportunity. On the other end of the ice Jimmy Howard surrendered 2 goals on the first 9 shots, but it was hard to fault him for either with the poor play present in front of him. It was good to see the ‘Wings finally get a powerplay goal, even if it was on a 4-on-3 man advantage in overtime. 1/19 (5.3%) isn’t a statistic that can last all season if the team expects to go anywhere, and finally tallying 1  may be the kick they need to start being more productive when given the opportunity.

Star Of The Week: Valtteri Filppula notched 2 assists and one beautiful goal this week, along with sound play in both zones, earning him Star Of The Week status. The Red Wings are looking for him to have a big year, and so far he hasn’t let them down.

Statistical Leaders:

Goals: Jiri Hudler/Johan Franzen/Ian White (2)

Assists: Jiri Hudler/Johan Franzen/Pavel Datsyuk/Valtteri Filppula/Danny Cleary/Drew Miller/Jakub Kindl (2)

Points: Jiri Hudler/Johan Franzzen (4)

+/-: Jakub Kindl (6)

GAA: Ty Conklin (0.00)

Sv%: Ty Conklin (1.00)

GP: Jimmy Howard (3)

W: Jimmy Howard (3)

Looking Forward:

Detroit has a long break for the 2nd straight week, not facing any action until Friday and is active again on Saturday making the weekend a busy one.

Friday 10/21: The Columbus Blue Jackets roll into town with the potential for 2 streaks to end. The currently winless Blue Jackets have just 1 more game before taking on the undefeated ‘Wings, in what would look to be an easy win for Detroit. There’s no such thing in hockey though, and Columbus goaltender Steve Mason seems to always be on his best game when facing Detroit. The always potent Rick Nash now has the company of former Flyer Jeff Carter on the top line, making them just as dangerous as ever. It’s a central division rivalry, and though both teams are on opposite ends of the statistics sheet, it should be a good contest as always.

Saturday 10/22: Washington, the only other team currently undefeated, is Detroit’s opponent on Saturday as the ‘Wings head into D.C. for their 3rd away game of the season. Washington has 2 games before playing Detroit, including one against the powerful Philadelphia Flyers, but unbeaten streak or not, the ‘Caps are always a tough match. The likes of Ovechkin, Semin, and Backstrom are sure to keep the Red Wings’ defense busy all night long. Expect plenty of goals on this outing, Washington having the 3rd most goals for in the league, but also a goal differential of just 4.