Sunday, November 30, 2003

Wings win in Defensive Battle

In what was a tight defensive battle against the Central Division leading St Louis Blues, the Wings dug down deep and found the heart to win 2-1 at the Savvis Center. And an unlikely player turned out to be the ultimate hero of the night. With Legace playing on top of his game, it was pretty certain that the game would go to overtime if the Wings didn't score. And then we saw Boyd Devereaux score the game winner with little more than two minutes left in regulation. For a guy that plays really hard every night, but never seems to get his due, it was a great site to see Boyd with the glory of a game winner that put the Wings past the Blues in the Central Division. The goal marked his 100th NHL point, on the same night that Chris Chelios became the 11th defenseman to get 900 points. With his history of serious concussion problems, I'm sure many doubters are surprised he's got this far. On the play, Mathieu Dandenault made a quick centering pass to Boyd, who was left alone in front of the net. On the Wings' other goal, Brett Hull scored on a funky snap-shot from way back near the blue line. On the play, Chelios took a shot that was blocked by Dallas Drake, and Hull took the puck with his back to the goal, and turned around, whipping the puck towards the net in a low-percentage scoring opportunity. But the traffic in front of the net, as well as Ozzie's disbelief that anyone would take such a wild shot, led to the goal. It was a playoff-type goal, just throwing the puck at the net and creating traffic in front. Petr Cajanek scored for the Blues on what was one of the Wings' few defensive lapses of the game. On the play, which came off the faceoff to the right of Legace, the Wings players moved towards the blue line and let Cajanek sneak in towards Legace. So when the Blues gained the puck, they made a quick pass towards the net, and that was all she wrote. Hopefully the Wings crack down on these defensive lapses in the future, because, in a defensive showdown, that could be the difference between winning and losing. So the Wings now have 8 wins in 11 games, and have three wins in a row. And that's with many of our top players injured, including Hasek, Holmstrom, Zetterberg, Whitney, McCarty, and Hatcher. With half those guys on the roster, I believe the Wings could be a formidable force now that they seem to be on the same page, playing sound defense and beginning to find consistent offense. The Wings have 15 goals in the past three games, and have only allowed 2. But the next three games probably won't be a continuation of those numbers, as we have Anaheim and St Louis in back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday, and Toronto on Saturday. I look for the Wings to start shutting teams down defensively, in the style of Saturday's game versus St Louis.


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