Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Wings 1, Flames 4

The Wings' eight-game home unbeaten streak and seven-game unbeaten streak overall ended last night with their 4-1 loss to Calgary. They were down the whole game and fell to 1-13-5-1 when playing from behind after two this season. It was only their sixth loss at the Joe this season for a team with the best home-ice record by a fair amount (28-6-4-0). Their last loss at home came on February 14 when they lost to Colorado. Manny Legace made the start for the Wings after all. First Period - Incomplete Luck The Wings didn't come out as flat as they sometimes do and had many good chances over the course of the first period, most of which were involving Henrik Zetterberg, it seemed. However, those chances appeared to come more from a sort of incomplete luck that allowed them to get the chance in the first place but not to finish it. They were repeatedly stonewalled by Miikka Kiprusoff and got nothing the whole period in terms of offense. The Flames scored off a fluke play that was a result of a collision between Henrik Zetterberg and Kirk Maltby which left the whole left wing open for Stephan Yelle to crash the net. Jordan Leopold took the puck down the right side and sent it out front, where it bounced off Yelle's skate past a helpless Manny Legace. The play was quickly reviewed and found to be legal, though Manny wasn't too happy about it. The goal was scored at 6:49 and was the extent of the Flames' offensive output for the first period. The Wings continued getting their chances but, as I said, got nothing. They outshot the Flames 10-1. That goal, by the way, did not count as a shot. Second Period - Incomplete Effort The Wings came out in the second totally flat and the weak attempts they did make were smothered by the Flames defense or the steady play of Kiprusoff. The Flames scored their second goal at 2:54 off a strange play. Steve Montador sent a lob in from the far corner of the zone through a couple crowds toward the net where it hit Manny's shoulder, the crossbar and the post before going in. Manny barely saw it and it shocked everyone in the arena. They scored again 25 seconds later when they broke in on a 2-on-2. Steve Yzerman took Chuck Kobasew into the boards as Jiri Fischer watched stupidly from in front of the net. Kobasew centered the puck to an uncovered Matthew Lombardi who stuffed it past the, again, helpless Manny. Poor defense by Fischer, in my opinion. He's been playing well recently but it seems like he's responsible for those types of plays all frequently. The Wings finally got on the board at 15:50 when Maltby scored on what seemed to be a harmless play. After some good hustling by his linemates (McCarty and Williams) and himself, he walked off the far side boards and shot the puck through McCarty's screen between an unseeing Kiprusoff and the shortside post. It was encouraging but the Flames dashed all our hopes (or most of them anyway) about three and a half minutes later when Craig Conroy scored at 19:16. Derian Hatcher lost his stick at center ice and this sprung Ville Nieminen and Conroy on a 2-on-1 with Chris Chelios defending. Cheli did his usual thing of playing the shooter, even though standard practice is to let the goalie handle the shooter and for the defenseman to take the trailer. Anyway, the Nieminen sent the puck across to Conroy who stuffed it past the, once again, helpless Manny Legace. Fun times for Wings fans. Third Period - Incomplete Comeback The third period started in an exciting fashion with Henrik Zetterberg getting one of his many glorious chances but unfortunately he was unable to find the handle on the almost-breakaway play. The Wings as a team looked noticeably better in the third but still couldn't collectively find the handle as well. They had a some scattered chances but the play was mostly limited to much ineffectual and boring skating back and forth at center ice. The really bad news of the of the night came when Derian Hatcher left with what is being said was a shoulder injury. He did not return to the ice and will apparently have tests done tomorrow to determine the extent of the injury. If it's any thing other than a minor deal, I'm going to be really upset. This injury thing got old months ago. Now it's just plain ridiculous. Overall It just wasn't the Wings night, that's for sure. The Flames wanted it more and the Wings were incapable of doing anything about it. Nothing went their way all night and they didn't seem to go out of their way to ensure that things would. They put forth a poor effort for the second game in a row but didn't come away with a win this time around like they did on Sunday. Shoot it, Hank! Henrik Zetterberg needs to shoot the puck a whole heck of a lot more often. He is hanging on to it too long and has missed out on finishing many scoring chances because he's looking to make a pass. He had numerous chances tonight but rarely shot and it's getting to be a problem. He has to shoot more often because the Wings need him to start scoring again. This Datsyuk-esque, pass-at-all-costs attitude gets old after a while, especially when it's not working all that well. The Return: Part III? Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond said Pavel Datsyuk is very close to returning. He skated hard yesterday and wanted to play last night but wasn't allowed to. He may return by the end of the week, apparently. That is truly great news. All fired up Jason Williams has played with a lot of jump since returning to the ice a week ago. I've heard it suggested that the fact that he wasn't traded at the deadline may have had an effect on his play and I think there's a good point to that. He looks like he's finally coming into his own. Stonewall Miikka Kiprusoff is a very technically sound goalie, that's for sure. He stopped everything he saw tonight and while he wasn't spectacular, he made everything look easy. He rarely lets himself get out of position and that is one of the marks of a good goaltender. He's got a bright future if he can keep this up. Big Picture The Wings are leading the League with 96 points, just one more than Tampa Bay, two more than Philadelphia and three more than Colorado. They travel to Phoenix to face the Coyotes on Thursday next. Lines Shanahan-Mowers-Holmstrom Maltby-Zetterberg-McCarty Maltby-Mowers-McCarty Devereaux-Williams-Thomas Whitney-Yzerman-Hull Shanahan-Zetterberg-Hull Whitney-Yzerman-Holmstrom Maltby-Mowers-Holmstrom Devereaux-Mowers-McCarty Maltby-Williams-McCarty Whitney-Yzerman-Thomas Hatcher-Chelios Lidstrom-Schneider Fischer-Rivers Hatcher-Rivers Hatcher-Schneider Hatcher-Fischer Lidstrom-Fischer Fischer-Chelios 4 on 4 Yzerman-Hull Whitney-Williams Shanahan-Zetterberg Zetterberg-Maltby Shanahan-Williams Whitney-Hull Hatcher-Chelios Lidstrom-Schneider Fischer-Chelios Hatcher-Fischer PP Shanahan-Yzerman-Holmstrom Thomas-Zetterberg-Hull Lidstrom-Schneider PK Zetterberg-Maltby Whitney-Yzerman Lidstrom-Chelios Hatcher-Schneider Net Manny Legace


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