Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wings 2, Preds 3 (SO)

Update (7:25 PM): Miss-spelled names corrected. My bad. Update (11:00 PM): For those people who are just looking for a replay of Pavel Datsyuk's shootout goal on Tomas Vokoun (and who aren't interested in reading the summary I slaved over), click here (.mpg). Update (11:09 PM): For a view on the game from a Nashville fan's perspective, check out this comment from former Predators' Den blogger Jason Kirk. Update (11:28 PM): LetsGoWings Forums has a thread here with links to downloadable clips from the shootout last night, if you're interested. The Wings were the second team to crack 100 points last night but they still lost, 3-2 in a shootout at home. Regulation wasn't the most exciting hockey ever but overtime and the shootout were pretty thrilling, though disappointing in the end. Manny Legace started and was very strong in regulation and OT. He was dismantled in the shootout, though, when the Preds realized he could be beaten high glove hand (Manny's usually quick glove deserted him, apparently), after being stoned on low shots in on their first attempts. Still, I don't blame Manny for this one. His counterpart, Tomas Vokoun, was very confident all night and made most saves look easy. So it was good to see him embarrassed on a couple of the Wings' shootout goals but more on that later. The Wings looked good at the start, with some scoring chances early on. Vokoun was solid, however, and the Predators regained some ground after the first few minutes. They had a lot of pressure on one early shift and had a sure goal lined up but Chris Chelios dove to the ice with his stick stretched out to poke the puck away from Paul Kariya just in time, bailing out Legace, who was out of position on the play. The Predators opened the scoring at 5:57 after the Predators gained the zone and set up like a power play. Marek Zidlicky lined up a shot from the point, having been allowed plenty of space by the Wings forwards, and let it go. It was deflected out front by Scott Hartnell (the punk!) who was being covered by Andreas Lilja (you call that coverage, Andreas?), changing direction pretty drastically. Manny didn't have much of a chance, really. Just over a couple minutes later, the Predators went to the box for hooking (a late call but a good one) and the Wings got their first power play. They carried it in and Nick Lidstrom ended up taking a shot that was stopped by Vokoun. The rebound was juicy enough to excite Tomas Holmstrom, however, and he was mugged by Brendan Witt, drawing a cross-checking penalty. So, the Wings got a minute and a half of 5-on-3 to work with. After it was cleared on their first attempt, they brought it back in and Nick got off another shot, causing a flurry around the net. Holmstrom was pushed and fell on Vokoun and the puck squirted out to his right, where Robert Lang was waiting. He easily put it in the net to tie the game at 1, with the two-man advantage at 9:34. Remember, they were still on the power play, despite having scored a goal. Their first attempt at carrying it back into the zone was too cute and it was cleared. Then, Henrik Zetterberg took the puck in along the left wing, with Brendan Shanahan streaking on on the right side. Hank centered the puck to the goal mouth and Shanny was their before the Predator defense could do a thing about it. He tipped in the puck and fell into the post afterwards but it was a goal and it came less than 30 seconds after their first. It was another power play goal (it alleviates some of the pain from a 1-for-11 showing Sunday night) and it gave the Wings a 2-1 lead. After the Wings' second goal, the Predators were fueled by Steve Sullivan ("Look at the little water bug, Sullivan, huh?" - FSN announcer Ken Daniels). They had a strong shift or two around the 12 minute mark and soon were rewarded with a lengthy power play stretch. At 13:14, Mathieu Schneider started a Red Wings parade to the penalty box that they were fortunate to have survived. The Wings hadn't even been on the PK 30 seconds when Kirk Maltby was called for goaltender interference. A BS call if you ask me, Vokoun clearly stuck his knee out as Maltby skated through the top of the crease (where he shouldn't have been anyway but that's beside the point!). So, the Preds got about a minute and a half of 5-on-3. They made good use of it, scoring at 14:51. Paul Kariya, in the right corner, sent the puck through the crease to Steve Sullivan, who one-timed it past Legace to tie the game at 2. Chris Chelios, who had been great killing off the penalty, missed intercepting the pass and was incensed, breaking his stick on the cross bar and bumping Sullivan as he skated away. He also threw down the handle of his stick and by some fluke bounce, it came up and hit the ref in the face. He had to be given a penalty, unsportsmanlike conduct, but it could have come at a better time. The Preds had momentum on their side but the Wings had Manny Legace on theirs. He was great, most notably stoning Paul Kariya on the doorstep at 15:11. Henrik Zetterberg completed the parade to the box with a hooking penalty but it didn't begin until the 18 seconds remaining on Maltby's penalty expired. And when they did, Maltby couldn't leave the box until there was a whistle. There wasn't a whistle for another 3 minutes but the Wings were solid defensively and they killed off the penalties. Late in the period, Pavel, with a nice no-look drop pass at center, sprung Shanahan on a break. He came in on Vokoun with speed but sent the puck wide, with everyone in the Joe standing up in anticipation. (Later we'd all have deja vu.) Shots in the period were pretty even, 10-8 Wings. I noted at the beginning of the second that the Wings were making some nice, crisp passes that kept catching the Preds off-guard. That was nice to see. Tomas Holmstrom had a nice chance after receiving such a pass, getting a nice break into the zone but shooting the puck from too far out to be very dangerous. The Wings were "on" in the second period, with a number of good chances accompanying solid shifts from all four lines. Steve Yzerman, playing with Robert Lang, had a great scoring opportunity out front but was tied up just enough to send the puck wide. He was frustrated as he left the ice but he made up for it later. Pavel Datsyuk was slick with the puck all night but he had a hard time finishing his plays, with the Predators constantly blocking his passes or stealing it at the end of one of his moves. He'll probably be more successful in the coming games. Shanahan, the beneficiary of a nice pass from Draper, had a glorious scoring opportunity at 6:22 but he sent the puck wide. Not long after that, Franzen had what seemed to be a sure goal but Vokoun robbed him at the goal mouth. While the Wings were being aggressive on offense, they were patient on defense, calmly absorbing Nashville's offense forays and keeping the game in that end at a comfortably slow pace. Manny wasn't tested a ton in the second but he was awake and made saves when needed. The Wings' lone power play of the period wasn't too wonderful, with scattered pressure and an inability to settle it down in the zone. After the power play was over, the Predators nearly scored but the Wings took it the other way and had a good chance themselves. The pace quickened a bit after that, as the teams began up-and-down hockey. The goalies were great in this stretch. Paul Kariya was dangerous but didn't score and bodies kept flying as things got a little more physical, with both teams skating hard. At 15:36, Nick Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk entered the Nashville zone on a fast break. Pavel tipped Nick's pass at the net but was robbed by Vokoun for a great save. I like the Holmstrom-Zetterberg-Mowers line. It has good energy, especially with Mowers, still in for Samuelsson, skating his rear off every shift. With Hank's creativity, Mowers' work ethic and Homer's ability to absorb punishment, that line is a scoring risk for the opposition every time they have the puck in the offensive zone. They had a great shift with two minutes left or so. The Wings generated some pressure in the final minute of the period, with Kronwall carrying the puck in only to be stood up. Draper ended up with it, though, and rang a shot off the post. Because there was a delayed penalty call on the Preds, the Wings had six skaters out there, making the pressure even stronger. The play didn't end until the period did, giving the Wings a full two minutes of power play at the start of the third. Shots were 18-8 Wings in the second. The power play didn't last long though. Nick Lidstrom took a penalty on a Nashville shorthanded chance and the teams went to four aside for 1:33. It wasn't too eventful and the Wings killed off the subsequent short penalty without too much trouble. At this point, I noticed that Nik Kronwall must have liked Bobby Orr when he was a kid because he really likes to carry the puck into the zone and go as far as the slot with it, by himself. I think he may be our most mobile defenseman with the puck. He certainly seems to jump up in the play a lot and end up deep in the zone while his defense partner covers the whole blue line. I like it. Jordin Tootoo nailed Nick Lidstrom in the corner three minutes into the period, causing many of us to lose our last meal. It looked like Nick was hit at a bit of an awkward angle but he seemed to be okay, though I'm sure he'll be especially sore today. At 4:45-ish, Marek Zidlicky lost sight of the puck in his feet and the Wings picked up, beginning a nice long pressure shift. It culminated in a point-blank shot from Draper that was somehow stopped by Vokoun, who makes everything look easy in a very disconcerting way. Henrik Zetterberg was hit hard along the right wing boards around 6:37, another stomach turning point, but fortunately he seemed to be okay. At 7:20, Woolley went off for holding and the Preds had a great chance to pull ahead in the game. They almost did. Eight seconds into the power play, Mike Sillinger missed a wide open net and 26 seconds later, his shot went off the post. Manny was great otherwise and stopped the three shots that made it on net, including a tip in by Hartnell (the punk!). At 10:56, Pavel Datsyuk took the puck in on a nice personal effort and had a great scoring chance after burning the defense around the edge off the right wing. Vokoun made the save look easy though and completely negated any excitement on the play. Shanny repaid the Predators somewhat for their hits on Nick and Hank at 12:17 when he nailed Ryan Suter in the Nashville zone. Scott Hartnell (the punk!) had a great chance on a breakaway around 14:48 but a great defensive play by Schneider negated it when he got his stick on the puck from behind. Hartnell turned slightly to regain possession and Schneider had his arm around him so the ref called Schneider for it and Hartnell got a penalty shot. Fortunately, Hartnell (the punk!) shot the puck wide and a crisis was averted. As the period wound down, both teams were extremely close to scoring. It was a goalie's game in the final minutes and it could easily have gone either way if one of the goalies had screwed up. Neither team could score and so regulation ended in a 2-2 tie. Shots in the third were 15-8 Predators. Overtime was pretty exciting and I was too busy watching it to write down notes about what happened really. I remember Shanahan had a great chance and that the Predators nearly scored on a flurry around the net but Pavel Datsyuk (?!) kneeled in the net to block a shot while Legace was down and out. It came right down to the wire, with the Wings getting the last shot before the shootout. Babcock went with his usual lineup for the shootout. Marek Zidlicky shot first. His try went wide of the net to Manny's right. Pavel was next. He decided it was time to use the "Turco move" again and he was right. Vokoun was completely faked out and Datsyuk had a wide open net to shoot at. The puck went in just inside the top left corner and bounced out so fast it seemed like he hadn't scored. Great goal. Here's a replay of it (.mpg - via. Kukla's Korner). Paul Kariya was next for Nashville. He deked right to left across the net and beat Manny with a nice shot. A goal scorer's goal. No big deal, Manny. Jason Williams, the Wings' Mr. Shootout, was next in line. He deked Vokoun out of his pants and beat him 5-hole. A contrast with Pavel's goal, which had Vokoun going one way, Jason's had Vokoun going every way he could making it easy to score between his legs. Steve Sullivan was next for the Preds. He just shot straight up and beat Manny in the top corner. Hank shot next for Detroit. He tried a backhand shot but was stopped by Vokoun. After that, we entered the sudden death round. Kimmo Timonen shot first for Nashville. He deked but was stoned by Legace's right pad. Then, Babcock sent out Tomas Holmstrom. Not my choice or most anyone's in the Detroit hockey community around the globe but it was Mike Babcock's for whatever reason. And it was about the lamest shootout attempt I've seen. Homer skated in and let loose a weak shot that was easy turned aside by Vokoun, who probably laughed as he did so. Mike Sillinger was next up for Nashville and his straight-up shot beat Manny high glove-side. Next up for Detroit was Steve Yzerman. I'll let IwoCPO do the description:
Steve Yzerman skated to center and winning meant nothing. An extra point wasn’t even a consideration.

The only thing going through the mind of every Wing fan anywhere was this, “I do NOT want to see Steve Yzerman fail”

Deals with the devil were made on the spot, “just let Yzerman score…if we lose, I can handle it. K? I’ll take the loss, but not this way. Deal? Great, thanks.”

He did. The Captain scored low on Vokoun’s right side…and the deal was done. The devil was due.

I'd say that pretty much sums it up. Martin Erat scored after that, beating Legace glove side like Sillinger. Brendan Shanahan was up next for Detroit: He came in on Vokoun with speed but sent the puck wide, with everyone in the Joe standing up in anticipation. And the Wings lost again in a shootout. Such a wonderful feeling. Ugh. I don't want to face Tomas Vokoun in the playoffs. The good thing is that the Wings played well and that they did it after returning from a Western road trip. That's encouraging, though the loss still sucks. I hereby name Scott Hartnell the new Hockeytown Public Enemy #1. Hartnell follows in the ignoble tradition of Claude Lemieux, Patrick Roy and others that make Red Wings fan blood boil at the mere sight of them. If you need to ask why I dislike Hartnell, you've never seen him play. Next up, we have the Sharks, tomorrow night at 7:30 ET in Detroit. That'll be a tough one. Abel to Yzerman's summary


At 3/22/2006 05:29:00 PM, Blogger JasonSpaceman said...

Just so you guys know - this is the only place I read anything when the Preds play the Wings.

Last night's game was one of the most exciting I've seen in a long time. If the playoffs are anywhere near this good I'll be a very happy camper. I've got several points I want to touch on here so I'll just do quick bursts.

Shootout performance last night notwithstanding, I have to say just how impressed I've been with Manny Legace every time I've seen him this year (including once at the GEC in Nashville). It's great to see a guy that many knocked in the past as not being starter material do well in this league.

Also on the Detroit side, your team is just a machine. Absolutely incredible in almost every facet of the game. The thing that sticks out to me the most is just how precise they are with their passing and how well they forecheck. If I were an opposing goalie, the thought of facing Pavel Datsyuk alone would give me nightmares. Put him with 19 other skilled players? Ugh - let's not even think about that.

There's only one downside in the package for Detroit fans: being continually tested against the best team in the league, year after year, has made the Predators a hungry team that's getting notceably better every season. There's nothing like playing against the best to help you become the best. Any stumble on your team's part is going to lead to seeing Nashville become the perennial division champion.

About the goaltender interference call: Yeah, Vokoun tripped him, and I cracked up when he did it. But when you said, "A BS call if you ask me, Vokoun clearly stuck his knee out as Maltby skated through the top of the crease (where he shouldn't have been anyway but that's beside the point!)" - the fact that Maltby shouldn't have been in the crease in the first place was the point.

A few notes on some of the Predators' players' names: it's Jordin Tootoo, not Jordan, and it's Kimmo Timonen, not Kimo Timonenn.

"The punk!" Man, I cracked up every time I read this. I think it's great when I read a fan of my favorite team's biggest rival hating Scott Hartnell. I love watching that kid play. He's tenacious, he's strong, he's quicker than most people give him credit fo being, he's skilled, and he's got enough of a mean streak to rile the opposition. He and Scottie Upshall are the future star forwards of this franchise, and knowing that he's a huge thorn in the side for those in Detroit can only bring a smile to my face. ;-)

Good luck to you as your team tries to hold Nashville off to claim #1 - I'm going to enjoy following this race as I'm on the road.

At 3/22/2006 11:28:00 PM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

Hey Jason, thanks for the comment (and the complement).

You talk about being impressed with Legace but it's no different on the other end. We're just as impressed with Vokoun. It's scary how he's bounced back after that bad stretch last month. I don't like the idea of facing him in the playoffs.

You saw the Wings' "A" game, for the most part, last night. But, like any team, they have their "C" and "D" game. It's just more random than most. We're hoping it doesn't come out in the playoffs. That would be most inconvenient.

You're exactly right about the cause for the Preds' rise. Hopefully we'll have a lot of years of fierce competion. I'd hate to see either team fall off. I hardly think about the Blues any more.

Well, Kirk wasn't that much in the crease! He certainly wouldn't have had any contact with Vokoun if Vokoun hadn't stuck his leg out! That call could have gone either way. Vokoun needs to learn to keep his temper under wraps because that call may go to him next time he does something like that and as good as he is, compromising his team like that won't be appreciated.

Sorry about the name miss-spellings. I really do know how to spell them, I was just writing that in a hurry. Really!

I don't mind Hartnell being a thorn in our side so much as his penchant for running into our goalies. Every rivarly needs players to hate and he's just another on the list. Just stay away from the goalies, Scott.

What, you haven't given up hope for the Division lead? It'd take a pretty big slide for the Wings to fall out of it now, Jason. Both teams have a fairly light schedule remaining, except the two they have against each other. I think you'll have to resign yourself to playing #5 (enjoy it, the Wings'll be facing a team that fought down the stretch for it's spot and a team that will have momentum and adrenalin on its side - not fun).

Your blog is missed, man!

At 3/23/2006 01:28:00 PM, Anonymous WI Wing Nut said...


I attended the Nashville game with my brother as I was visiting MI at the time. We called at 11am. There was no standing room left, but by some miracle we got two seats together (the only two available). Row 20 in the Preds end right in front of the luxury box. We got to see the Wings attacking twice.

Despite the loss, I have been telling everyone that this is the best game I have ever seen at the Joe including playoffs (I attended games 2 and 5 of the Vancouver series in '02). Regulation was up-tempo with lots of hitting. Much of the third period was a little more methodical and calculated as both teams played chess and tried not to make a mistake, but it opened up in the final minutes as you could tell Nashville wanted to to for 2 point and leave the Red Wings empty. The goaltending at both ends was superb (except for the shootout, and even then there were several perfect shots), but the highlight of the night was Stevie...

As a lifelong Stevie fan that moment when we all knew the Wings needed a goal to stay alive but nobody knew who the next shooter would be...and then the Captain skated out to center ice (almost like Jesus Christ coming to save us), was incredible. You could just imagine the Predators on the bench going "oh man, he's not going to miss this". That's made it even more incredible because you just KNEW he wasn't going to miss. He couldn't miss. It wasn't allowed. He HAD to make it. I believe my exact words after he scored were, "no WAY did I just get to see that in person!".

What a night. Too bad Shanny couldn't put it away, and that Babcock apparently can't read jersey names (Lang/Holmstom...easy to confuse).


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