The Wings did what they needed to do tonight and notched a solid, if rather dry, win over St. Louis at JLA. Manny Legace made the start for the team and looked sharp on the rare occasions in which he was called upon to make a save. He only needed to stop the puck 15 times to earn his third shutout of the season. His two others came October 15th over Phoenix
and October 22nd over Columbus
. It was probably a good thing that Manny didn't have to stand on his head in his first came back from injury.
Steve Yzerman looked okay in his return. He didn't stand out but he seemed to fit in pretty well. He looked healthy. He had a nice chance in the second period, about midway through, when a lane opened up in front of the net. He took a shot but the save was made and he did not score. Honestly, I did not notice him much other than that and the crowd didn't really give him any special attention, for whatever reason.
The first period was probably the most exciting to watch, with the Wings getting a fair number of chances and the crowd still pumped for the game. The Wings scored on the power play at 9:42 when Pavel Datsyuk took a shot from the right circle that was deflected by the St. Louis defenseman out front. Initially, the goal was given to Tomas Holmstrom but they changed it later in the game. The Wings looked pretty good at this point and did not start the game out as slowly as they have recently.
Brendan Shanahan went off for high sticking at 18:05, a call that had many fans booing as though there were some doubt. Well, there wasn't any doubt since Shanahan drew blood and got an extra two minutes. Fortunately for Shanny, Chelios and Draper hooked up 15 seconds later to give the Wings a two goal lead. Chelios took the puck in on a rush along the left wing and sent the puck across the net to Draper who redirected it into the net for the score.
The second period wasn't so exciting. There were no penalties this period, a first this season, and all the Blues seemed capable of doing was dumping the puck into the Detroit zone. The Wings had a couple of good chances, Yzerman's being one of them and a shot by Franzen off a rush with Draper being another. Probably the highlight of the period was Mo Cheese's dance down by the zamboni entrance during a TV break. Always entertaining, though we just missed getting a picture since my sister was changing rolls of film at the time.
The crowd, though still pretty vocal at the exciting points, settled down a bit and the arena started to sound like a big restaurant, with running conversations constituting the bulk of the crowd noise. There was a near goal toward the end of the period that interrupted everyone's conversations but the eruption as aborted when the puck did not go into the net.
At 18:58 or so, some wiseguy behind us asked, "Budd how much time is left?" Budd Lynch answered, "Last minute of play in the second period," like he always does at 19:00. It was a good defensive period for the Wings and an okay one offensively.
Henrik Zetterberg opened the third period with a bang when he scored at 1:45 to put the Wings ahead by three. He had dished the puck to his linemate, Mikael Samuelsson, who took a shot that was stopped by Sanford. Hank skated across the net and stole the puck, then put it in the open net. After Budd Lynch announced the goal, they played "I'm Henry VIII I am" over the PA system.
Around 8:45, the "Fire Millen!" chant went up in our end of the arena (behind Sanford). A couple minutes later, this was replaced by a loud "Lets Go Red Wings!"
At 12:54, Brendan Shanahan ended up all alone with the puck in the slot. Everyone in the Joe took a deep breath in preparation for wild celebration but Shanahan shot the puck wide. We barely had time to express our disappointment when a flurry around the net immediately followed and Shanahan ended up backhanding in. The red light went on and we fans got started to celebrate. Then we noticed there was a scrum and some of the brighter ones noticed the goal horn hadn't sounded yet. We cheered on the scrum but also wondered what the heck had happened to the goal. Someone behind me informed his friends that the play had been whistled down when Sanford seemingly had possession of the puck. This was confirmed a few seconds later when Budd Lynch informed us of the same. Needless to say, we fans were not happy and we let the officials know it. I say Shanahan should have scored to begin with, on the initial chance, but that's just me.
Late in the game, Robert Lang of all people got into a scrum and got two for roughing, as did Barrett Jackman. Both of them left the game, though there were over two minutes left.
The arena was getting fairly empty, as the fat cats in the lower bowl decided the beat the everyman rush by making their own traffic jam.
Johan Franzen was rocked along the boards in the final goings of the game by Jamal Mayers (I think) as he carried the puck into the zone. The crowd loved that one, though I'm sure Johan wasn't too happy. (Correction
: apparently, it was Eric Brewer who hit Franzen, who was injured on the play but didn't know it until the next day)
The Wings made it exciting at the end as they continued to keep the pressure on the Blues in the final minutes. Then, the horn sounded and the crowd cheered as they filed out of the arena.
A couple thoughts:
Usually, the linesmen do a good job of making calls at the blueline but there were two instances where I thought they made the wrong call and it hurt the Wings by whistling the play dead when it should have continued. I know they were a lot closer to the puck than I was but I would swear the Wings kept it in on those two occasions and the rest of the fans at the Joe would agree with me.
Now that the fluff game against the Blues is over, the Wings can turn their attention to Nashville, where they'll be heading tonight for the game tomorrow. It's the biggest game of the season so far and whatever they have done so far this year won't mean much if they can't at least put up a good performance there. A win would be very good but even more important, I think, is that they show up to play and bring their "A" game with them.
Hopefully, nothing like what happened last time
these teams met will take place tomorrow night. It's hard to believe the Wings have played the Preds this season, if only for 12:30. In case you forgot, the home game the Wings lost when Jiri Fischer's collapse resulted in the cancellation of the November 21st game was rescheduled for January 23rd
. The Predators will start the game leading 1-0.
My sister got a lot of pictures tonight. We'll see how they turned out when we get them developed. I'm hoping to do that tomorrow and have them up by Saturday
*compiled by Brian.
Update (06. Jan 06): About half of the pictures have been uploaded. They are linked to in the top right corner of the page.