Monday, December 29, 2003

Blackhawks Stymie Wings Yet Again

In a truly lackadaisical performance by the Wings and an inspired effort by the Chicago Blackhawks, the Wings fell 3-0. Legace was the unfortunate one to get the start, with his team pretty much leaving him out to dry for 60 minutes. Through two periods of play, the show-up-when-they-feel-like it Wings had only 10 shots. But at least the Wings acknowledged their inconsistency against some of the worst teams in the NHL: *Shanahan: "I don't know why they give us a hard time. I just know that tonight we didn't play well at all. We were stupid. That's one of the dumbest . . . We made poor decisions. Our commitment to work and battle was maybe the lowest it's been in any game this year. There have been lots of games we've lost this year where I've felt that we worked hard and battled hard, but I didn't think it was there tonight. Physically, mentally, both aspects of the game, we just really took this one off." *Lewis: "We got outworked, I thought. They had a good game plan. They stuck to it. I thought they skated better than we skated. . . . They have a game plan that's effective. They take our centers away. We didn't establish enough forecheck to create turnovers, and that was, I think, the difference in the game besides their special teams." *Lidstrom: "After two periods, we only had 10 shots. It's tough to score goals when you only have 10 shots after two periods. . . . It seemed like they had the jump out there. They were going at us pretty good." The Wings shot breakdown was five in the first and second periods, and ten in the third, outshot 27-20. It was the second time in four decisions that the Wings were shutout. And for a team rich in powerplay technicians who should be getting a powerplay goal each game, the Wings have not gotten one in on the powerplay in the past five games. Versus the Hawks, the Wings were 0-6. The Wings need to capitalize on these man-advantages, and not just use them as time to kill when the opposition is unlikely to score. In the first period, Legace allowed a bad angle goal from Nathan Dempsey with four minutes on the clock. It was a stinker, but, in the end, it didn't really matter because the Wings generated absolutely no offense to support their goalie. One positive I got was the physical play of Jiri Fischer, which was best represented by a crushing open-ice check on Steve Sullivan. I won't comment on whether it was clean, but I think Sullivan might've gotten some elbow. In the second period, Tuomo Ruutu snuck in a rebound past Legace with two minutes left. Nothing much else happened, except I switched the channel a couple times and watched the Red Wings accomplish nothing. With all these bad performaces against weak teams, I almost look forward to games against Vancouver, St Louis, Colorado, and other upper echelon teams, because the Wings usually are inspired to perform and enjoy the more-open and fast-paced play. In the third period, the Hawks scored on a 45 foot slapshot from Deron Quint with five minutes left in the game. I was disappointed to see Lidstrom allow Sullivan blow by him for a breakaway, but, thankfully, Legace stopped it. Nick needs to play like his $10 million dollar contract: like a superstar. Lately, he has been just good. I expect greatness from him though. There were quite a few weird stantion bounces out there, but none led to Hawks' goals. Another notable is that Brett Hull has a 10 game goal drought now, which is his longest as a Wing. In news not directly related to the Wings, but that could potentially affect our division standing, St Louis goaltender Chris Osgood bruised his knee Monday in their win over Columbus. It happened three minutes into the game, when Ozzie fell after being struck in the leg from a shot by teammate Bryce Salvador. I don't wish injury on anyone, especially our beloved ex-Wing who hasn't been talking trash about the Wings like others have (Fedorov comes to mind first), but I wouldn't mind his absence hurting the Blues in the standings. New Years Eve we get to watch the high-flying Atlanta Thrashers at the Joe: a 7:00 start. We also get to see Mickey Redmond and the Fox Sports Net crew all dressed up for the gala event. I know they'll show up in suite and tie, ready for action; let's just hope that the Wings decide to show up too and get some goals against a chugging offense in Atlanta. In the past four games, the Wings have just four goals, a paltry number to their league-leading 126 goals-for in 39 games played (an average of 3.23 goals per game).


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