The Detroit Red Wings (6-3-0) looked like they had strung together five straight victories over a span of eight days as they led the Phoenix Coyotes 2-0 after the first period. But in a blink of an eye the winning streak was snapped. Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith summarized the game up perfectly as he launched a full-rink buzz-beater into Detroit’s empty net sealing the Red Wings defeat; Yeah that just happened.
The Red Wings were slowly starting to look like Stanley Cup contenders before the Coyotes put them back into their place. A winning streak can do that to a good team, but now it’s back to being on the cusp of greatness.
Having a 7-2-0 record looks a lot better than a 6-3-0 record. While it may only be a one game shift within an 82-game season, being over the .500 mark by 5 games instead of 3 this early into the season looks huge. But, Hockeytown fans don’t be bitter; this was still a great week of Red Wings hockey. It just so happened to end on a rather sour note.
Let’s take a look back at the week that was, it’s plus/minus report.
+ Solid Replacement from Gustavsson
A bruised hand caused Jimmy Howard to miss the first three games this week. No problem, the Wings called in their back-up goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to face the Boston Bruins (3-1-0), Columbus Blue Jackets (2-2-0), and Colorado Avalanche (6-0-0). The 28 year old Swede went 3-0. He gave up 5 goals on 107 shots, a save percentage of .953%. Good enough to earn him the first star of the game against the Bruins and Blue Jackets. That’s certainly taking advantage of the opportunities handed to you.
+ Sizzling Hank
Henrik Zetterberg is on fire, there is no other way to put it. He is now at 11 points through the first 9 games of the season after picking up another assist in Saturday’s game at Phoenix. But his success can’t be mentioned alone, I have to bring up his side-kick…
+ Skillful #13 Helping Light the Fire
Pavel Datsyuk is the lieutenant reporting to his captain (Zetterberg). Pavel, as much as I have praised Henrik, also has 11 points to start the season. As of Sunday morning, they are tied for 3rd in the NHL with the most points. And as a duo they rank 2nd in the NHL with 22 points, only trailing the San Jose pair of Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau by a point.
Datsyuk and Zetterberg have combined for three, out of the six, game-winning goals this season. Not only are they scoring often, but they are scoring clutch goals; Zetterberg’s GWG in the 2-1 victory over Columbus for example.
Yet, offense is only half of the story. Datsyuk is a magician at stealing the puck, he has three Frank J. Selke Trophies (best defensive forward in NHL) to prove it. He is possibly the best thief the NHL ever had. The result of his takeaways usually leads to fast-break going the other way, like in basketball.
Datsyuk steals the puck and makes a quick outlet pass to Zetterberg skating up the wing. Henrik winds-up and takes a hard slap-shot at the net, the lamp is lit; two more points for the Red Wings’ super duo.
– Dazed and Concussed Niklas Kronwall
The Avalanche-Red Wings rivalry took another step forward Thursday night. One hit unleashed all the memories that were slowly fading away. Niklas Kronwall laid motionless face-down on the ice after Cody McLeod slammed him into the board from behind. Both of their nights were finished; 2 minutes and 13 seconds into the game. Kronwall left on a stretcher with a concussion while McLeod was given a game misconduct.
The good news is it was only a mild concussion and the hard hitting defenseman is listed as day-to-day. His return to the line-up is expected by the end of the week, which is very pleasing considering I thought he would be out a lot longer as I watched the hit happen live.
+/- Rating = +2
After an even rating for two straight weeks to open the season, the Red Wings are finally starting to move up on my scale. You can’t argue with a 3-1-0 record in which the back-up goalie was in the net during the three wins.
Now it’s time to take a look ahead. It’s this week’s preview and predictions segment:
October 21: Vs. San Jose Sharks
7:30 PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit
Standings: (7-0-1) 1st Pacific Division, 1st Western Conference
Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Apr. 11, 2013 at Detroit/Red Wings 2 – Sharks 3 in a shootout
San Jose is an offensive juggernaut. They have 39 goals through their first 8 games, by far the most in the NHL. Not your “average Joes,” Pavelski and Thorton, have a total of 19 assists; most in the NHL as a pair. If they are dishing them out somebody needs to be scoring them. Introducing rookie sensation Tomas Hertl, 19 year old center from the Czech Republic with 7 goals and 3 assists. Hertl became the youngest player ever in NHL history to score 4 goals in one game as San Jose routed the New York Rangers, 9-2. The Sharks also still have their usually point producers in Patrick Marleau (7 goals, 4 assists) and Logan Courture (4 goals, 7 assists).
Prediction: Call me crazy but I’m going to take my Red Wings. The Wings play well in high scoring games, I predict this will be one. Red Wings 4 – Sharks 3
October 23: Vs. Ottawa Senators
7:30 PM EST on TSN (or FSD)
Standings: (3-3-2) 6th Atlantic Division, 10th Eastern Conference
Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Oct. 7, 2011 at Detroit/Red Wings 5 – Senators 3
It’s been a while since the Red Wings have faced the Senators, opening day of the 2011-12 season to be exact. Luckily for Daniel Alfredsson he gets to meet his former team at the friendly confines of Joe Louis Arena.
The Senators started the season on a six game road trip, they finished with 2-2-2 record; right in the middle of the pack. Their team statistics look average as well: 17th in goals per game (2.6), 21st in goals against per game (2.9), 23rd power play (12.5%), and 10th power play kill (84.1%). They are the classic example of an average team that the Red Wings usually struggle to beat (like the Phoenix Coyotes). And it’s these types of games that usually determine what seed the Red Wings will get in the playoffs.
Prediction: I expect a little extra motivation from the team as they welcome Ottawa to town. Daniel Alfredsson will rally the troops to prevent a letdown. Red Wings 3 – Senators 2 in OT
October 26: Vs. New York Rangers
7:00 PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit
Standings: (2-5-0) 6th Metropolitan Division, 13th Eastern Conference
Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Mar. 21, 2012 at New York/Rangers 2 – Red Wings 1 OT
If the Senators were in the middle of the road, the New York Rangers are drifting onto the shoulder. Well, after this game they will finally be off the road as the Rangers had to start this season with 9 straight road games.
Road game number eight, against the Philadelphia Flyers, will be a telling sign of which Ranger’s team will be coming Detroit. Their only two victories have come against the Los Angeles Kings and the Washington Capitals, two of the best teams in the NHL. Yet, a majority of their five loses have been blowouts to average teams (Phoenix Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues, and New Jersey Devils). Somebody should let them know that it’s too early to start becoming the “spoiler team” 7 games into the season.
Prediction: The Rangers come to Detroit and spoil a perfect three game home stand. Red Wings 2 – Rangers 4
After a 3-1-0 record last week, I’m feeling like the Wings will have another good week ahead (2-1-0). If the Detroit Red Wings are truly a Stanley Cup contender, which I really want to say they are, they will have to prove me right and have a great home stand this week.