Friday, February 06, 2004

Wings 3, Avs 2 (OT)

The Wings stole one last night, beating the Avs 3-2 in overtime off a power-play goal from Brett Hull and pulling within one point of Colorado for the league lead. They didn't come out as strong as they should have and gave up two goals in the first two minutes before coming back to tie it up going into the third period. Curtis Joseph made the start for the Wings and started solidly, at least on the first shot. On the next two, however, he wasn't so hot. He gave up a weak backhander on Teemu Selanne from the top of the circles and 18 seconds later, lost his gamble with Alex Tanguay when the Avs' #18 streaked down the left side, faked Curtis out of the net and shot the puck into the far corner. After that, Joseph played solidly, though a disturbing number of pucks got by him only to hit the post. The Avs, in all honesty, could have put the game away many times but the goalie's best friends kept bailing CuJo out. When he did stop the puck, it was many times in spectacular fashion since the Avs had many offensive chances throughout the whole night. The Wings' side of the game was marked by turnovers and empty passes. They were not in sync much of the night and most of the stars were ineffective on offense. The Avs always seemed to be on the brink of scoring while the Wings always seemed far away from even getting a solid scoring chance. I missed Ray Whitney's goal (his 200th career goal) but Mathieu Dandenault's was a rare successful personal effort that paid off. Probably a goal that Aebischer should have stopped but I'm not complaining. Brett Hull's game winner was a perfectly shot laser that went straight into the top corner. Textbook Hull, one-timer and everything (except the down on one knee part, I guess). The Wings' defense spent a lot of time scrabbling around the ice, trying to keep up with the bigger, faster, stronger Avs. Chris Chelios had an amazing game and looked at least 10 years younger. It reminded me of his play two years ago during the Wings' Cup-run year. It's too bad he can't keep that up every night anymore because it was good to see. Jiri Fischer looks to be getting over being the cluck-head klutz he's been for most of this season and had a very solid game last night, in my opinion. He played a physical game and showed some emotion too a couple times when he almost broke out in a fight. Keep it up, Jiri. Be the player you were two years ago. Speaking of defense, I wish the Wings' D-men could be more like Colorado's. They have more offensive defensemen than most but the Avs' defensemen really impressed me with the way they jump up in the play, especially Rob Blake. I think their idea of having Blake in front of the net on a power play is great and it would give the Wings an alternative to Tomas Holmstrom for that situation. I'd like to see Lewis get away from what seems to be more of a conventional strategy with the defensemen and adopt much more of what Granato has done with his defense. What the Wings do now is better than nothing, I guess, but it could be a lot better. Overall, I'd say the Avs outplayed the Wings fairly handily. They had the Wings on their heels for much of the game and probably had the game stolen from them by the refs. As a Wings fan, I'm not complaining but as a fan of the Game, I am. The officials called the game pretty well for the first two periods, though there were some of the usual questionable calls (most notably those on Tomas Holmstrom). However, the third period was a completely different story. Both teams got away with murder the entire 20 minutes until the last couple seconds. For example, Derek Morris wasn't called for roughing when he decked Kirk Maltby near the net well after the whistle had gone. Near the very end of the game, Brendan Shanahan (who didn't have a bad game, by the way) was not called for holding/interference when he tackled Joe Sakic along the boards and held him there. Almost immediately after this, the Avs' Steve Konowalchuck was called for high-sticking Kris Draper. He got a four minute double minor for this even though the replays showed nothing so serious. Draper seemed to be fine and I couldn't see any blood anyway on him. Since there was still about 1.5 seconds left on the clock, there was another faceoff. Steve Yzerman came in off the bench and arrived in his spot just before the puck was dropped. As soon as it was, Adam Foote brought his stick up full-force and hit The Captain in the mouth. He immediately tried to cradle Yzerman to the ice. I personally don't believe Foote did it on purpose but that he was trying to tie up Yzerman's stick and just missed completely. He's a rough player but not the type to do something that vicious. Still, a penalty was well-warranted and I thought for a minute that the refs wouldn't give him one. They did, however, and the Wings began overtime with a 5-on-3 overtime (not a 4-on-2 as you might expect because that just isn't done). Brett Hull scored his goal less than a minute later and the Wings got their first win of what will hopefully be at least four/eight (depending on whether the Wings face Colorado in the playoffs or not) for this year. It's just too bad the Wings had to win like that because they honestly probably did not deserve it. The refs really handed it to them, not because of the Foote penalty but because of the non-call on Shanahan which led to the Konowalchuck penalty which lead to the last high stick. The Wings should have had to kill off a two-minute penalty in overtime but the refs blew. As a Wings fan, I'm grateful but the hockey fan in me is a little disgusted. Officiating is by far one of the biggest obstacles the League has to credibility in the US. I really think the refs should be available to the media after games, as they were before Bettman came around. Then, maybe, they'd have some kind of accountability. The Captain, by the way, lost one tooth on the spot and has three more loose. Trainer Piet Van Zant needed eight (I've also heard it was ten) stitches to patch him up. The League will probably review the Foote incident and, while I don't think it was intentional, if there is any justice in this league, he will be suspended at least a couple games and be fined as well. That said, I personally hope it's no more than two games because if it is, he won't be able to play in next Saturday's game in Detroit. I'm very disappointed in the Wings "enforcers" for doing nothing about the high sticking of their captain. I understand them doing nothing while the game was on the line but you'd think they could have at least had a slight altercation after the game. If Adam Foote gets through the game next Saturday without being confronted, I'll be ashamed to call myself a Wings fan. For at least a couple minutes. The Wings will have to play a much better game next week if they want to win again because the Avs will be firing on all cylinders, for sure. The Wings now trail Colorado by just one point with 72. They lead Nashville by 12 for the lead in the Central Division and are tied with Vancouver for second place in the Conference. I think it's safe to say the Conference playoff race will go right down to the wire, for all teams concerned. Next up: San Jose, Wednesday, 7:30 EST Freep | News | ESPN | Box Score | Photos | Highlight Reel (56k, WinMedia) Lines- Maltby-Draper-Yzerman-Maltby-Yzerman-Draper Whitney-Datsyuk-Hull Shanahan-Zetterberg-Holmstrom Dandenault-Mowers-McCarty Maltby-Draper-McCarty Fischer-Chelios Lidstrom-Schneider Rivers-Woolley PP- Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Hull Shanahan-Yzerman-Holmstrom Maltby-Draper-McCarty Whitney-Lidstrom Woolley-Schneider PK- Draper-Maltby Shanahan-Yzerman Whitney-Datsyuk Zetterberg-Datsyuk Lidstrom-Chelios Fischer-Schneider Lidstrom-Schneider Fischer-Chelios OT- 5 on 3PP- Whitney-Datsyuk-Shanahan Hull-Lidstrom Net- Curtis Joseph


Post a Comment

Bookmark this post On the Wings

Search this site

<< Home

[Powered by Blogger]