Some thoughts on the first game of the Red Wings series against the Desert Dogs.
1. Pav’s English is still terrible – and he can still take over a game with his skill
You’d figure after spending so much time around the articulate Swedes on this team he might pick a thing or two up. He’s been playing on a line with at least one of them since like, 2004. Lidstrom sounds like he grew up in the mid-west. Homer is a bit more noticeable, as is Zetterberg, but at least I know what they are saying.
I swear in his post-game interview on Versus he made a comment, took a deep breath and said “Like, wow…” Maybe he does in on purpose, to avoid the media or something. But it does make for some laughs.
He also makes me kind of giggle when he does ridiculous things with the puck, like he did last night during the second period. The thing where as he was passing the net on the right hand side, slid the puck and his stick between his legs and lifted it towards where there would have been space had the goaltender been cheating off the post? All with a back checker harassing him?
I try that in practice, sometimes. Against wooden goalies. With the coaches eleven year old son doing the back checking.
Honestly, I feel like that was the most dominant version of Pav we have seen in an awfully long time. Registering 8 shots, and really taking the team on his back during the second period when they seemed to be needing an offensive jolt. His wrap around to tie the game was shifty, tricky, smart, quick, and all things Datsyuk. It felt like he was making something happen every shift, and it was a joy to behold. I hope he keeps it up once Zetterberg comes back.
2. Bertuzzi should fight more often
So it wasn’t exactly a toe to toe death match against a particularly feared fighter. And it looked more like a 12 second clip of a UFC fight instead of an NHL fight, what with Todd throwing Rusty to the ground and then striking him once or twice before the refs stepped in.
But what a great move by a veteran that understands playoff hockey. The crowd was out of it as the second period opened as they returned to their seats with their dinners and beer. His team down by one goal, he saw the opportunity to get everyone back into the game. And he took it. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who quickly noticed it was #44 dropping the gloves, arched their eyebrow as if to say “…really?” And then said out loud “…Todd?”
The Joe was rambunctious again after the short tilt. The players on the Wings responded after the fight, and started to come alive.
3. Howard can come up with a big, gave saving flash from time to time too, thankyouverymuch
The huge lunge across the goal mouth to prevent the Coyotes from going up 2-o was massive. How massive? Massively massive. If he doesn’t make this save, we could be having the same conversations about the Wings as we are about the Sharks. Squandered home ice advantage, yadda yadda. But there he was. I think I was more excited about that kick save than I was when Pav finally got the Wings on the board.
There were several other saves that were big ones, but I felt like that save in particular to start the second (I see a theme here… what on earth did Babcock say?) really gave everyone a huge sigh of relief. You could almost see Jim’s swagger quotient increase as he skated away from the crease after the play.
4. Brian Rafalski turns over more biscuits than your local KFC
He cashed in on a big goal on the power play, in his defense (or lack thereof). His outlet passes are ok, and he is obviously a power play specialist. But this guy seems to become more and more of a liability in his own zone as time goes on. I want to reserve judgment for now so I am not going to write too much more on it. But another game or two like that and I may have myself a little grilling session.
Rafalski – you’re on watch.
5. The Red Wings are going to be fine, just fine
I was worried coming into the game. Detroit just wasn’t playing well, and the Coyotes are scrappy and out for revenge. This was, to me, a bit of a recipe for disaster. The Wings again showed that they know when to turn it on, and why they should never be slept on. For the first time in a while I feel like the Wings aren’t getting much attention as post-season threats. Which I think is fine, and doesn’t bother anyone on this squad.
I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. Come back after game two for more thoughts. Have another observation or something you’d like to add? Feel free to comment. Thanks for reading, and enjoy game two.