Sunday, January 18, 2004

1/18 Notes

-- The Wings' power play has been awful lately, going 0-for-5 on Friday and 1-for-23 over their previous four games, a stretch where they went 1-2-1. Their power play was the best in the league for a time near the end of November and at the start of November but is now 7th in the league (19.2) after scoring only 10 goals in the last 93 man-advantages. Head coach Dave Lewis is confident that the Wings will come out of this phase soon and once again have a power play that teams will fear. With the offensive personnel the Wings have, they'd better hope their power play improves down the stretch because they'll need it. The Wings are lucky, though, that they have not had the same problems on the penalty kill as they have had with their other special teams units. They are sixth in the league in penalty killing with 86.8 percent and have killed off 84 of 92 penalties over their previous 24 games. -- Steve Thomas, who has missed 18 games because of knee surgery, could return to the ice against the Kings on Thursday or the Coyotes on Saturday, according to Lewis. -- The Hockey News asked a player from each other NHL's 30 teams who they thought was the league's first half MVP and published their results as this week's Player Poll. The results were surprising to me, though I agree with them: Datsyuk: 7 (23%), Brodeur: 7 (23%), Kovalchuk: 6 (20%), Naslund: 3 (10%), Others: 7 (24%). The poll did not allow a participating player to pick a teammate. I think it's pretty amazing that Pavel Datsyuk has made such an impact this year that he would tie Martin Brodeur in players' minds as the MVP of the first half of the season, beating out Ilya Kovalchuck. Of the players who voted for Pavel, this quote from an anonymous Colorado player impressed me the most: "We haven't played them yet, but I guess Datsyuk of Detroit. His numbers are pretty good." You know Datsyuk's been playing well when a player from his team's biggest rival notices and acknowledges him. Marty Turco had this to say "I don't know where Detroit would be without him" and I completely agree with him. Pavel has at least been Detroit's MVP, if not the league's. THN also hands out their midseason awards in this weeks issue. Pavel was their third-place choice for league MVP and Kris Draper was their #2 player to watch in the second half. The 30 THN correspondents from each NHL city agreed with THN's placing of Pavel Datsyuk and voted Mathieu Schneider as their third choice for best defenseman of the first half. 1/18 News THN Player Poll 1/20 The Hockey News


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