Saturday, March 11, 2006

Wings 6, Hawks 4

The Wings did what was expected tonight, winning another game over Chicago, but they won't be happy with their lackadaisical third period performance that nearly resulted in a Blackhawk comeback. The Hawks now carry a lot more momentum into tomorrow night's game than they should, though the Wings ought to be upset enough that it shouldn't matter. The game began with the Hawks on top. They scored a strange goal just over a minute in and for a little while it seemed like it would be their night. At 1:08, Matthew Barnaby knocked the puck into the net after Martin Lapointe's shot went off the endboards and bounced back out front. It was a sudden goal on a harmless looking play and Manny didn't have much of a chance to stop it. The Wings were getting some chances but were unable to connect to finish on them. Pavel Datsyuk had a particularly nice shift around 5:00, undressing Khabibulin and the Chicago defense but sending the puck just wide as he ran out of real estate. Just after that, Franzen and Cleary went on a break but Cleary's shot was wide. Fortunately, a break about 30 seconds later had a different result. Brendan Shanahan took a pass from Kris Draper and let loose a shot from the blueline off the rush. Khabibulin made the save but kicked the rebound right to Datsyuk in the slot, handing Pavel an easy one-timer goal at 6:25. Less than two minutes later, Williams took the puck up ice on a break and got a shot off, which was stopped. His linemates joined him, though, and pressure continued, leading directly to the team's second goal seconds later. Lang's shot from Khabibulin's right was stopped but the rebound came right back to him. Instead of shooting it again, he sent a nice, slow pass to the slot, where Steve Yzerman one-timed it into the mostly empty net to give the Wings the lead at 8:08. Nice play by Lang and a great goal by The Captain. The Wings continued to get good chances but the Hawks scored next almost four minutes later. Again, it was a weird goal and came suddenly on another harmless looking play. Milan Bartovic took the puck behind the net and sent it back out front to Mikael Holmqvist, who knocked it in from the side of the net to tie the game up again. It was a bad angle stopped and probably should have been stopped by Legace. Can't say I was too happy about that one. Kris Draper and Nicklas Lidstrom got a 2-on-1 rush a minute later and it nearly resulted in a goal but Nick couldn't knock it in at the post despite his long reach. Not long after that, Zetterberg took the puck through center and into the Chicago zone with a nice individual effort but lost the puck in the high slot. Mark Mowers picked it up, however, and let loose a shot that beat Khabibulin cleanly from not too far out. Not a great goal for the Russian to give up. The Wings took the lead at 13:28. After that, the refs decided this Original Six rivalry game had gone long enough without having a penalty and they called Woolley for interference. Not long after that, the Hawks were called for interference as well and the teams went to four a side. Niklas Kronwall was called for high sticking 14 seconds later and the Hawks got a 4-on-3 power play. They ended up getting more going on the subsequent 4-on-4 period but a great lunging defensive play by Zetterberg disrupted their best chance down low. Robert Lang and Henrik Zetterberg each had big chances after individual efforts towards the end of the period but neither could convert, though Hank's shot rang off the post. The final minute of the period looked like a Detroit power play as the Wings really put the screws to Chicago but they couldn't get the puck in the net. The second period opened with fairly even play. The Wings didn't take long to extend their lead, however. At 5:28, Rene Bourque was called for tripping and at 5:33, Henrik Zetterberg scored his 32nd to put his team ahead by two. Hank won the faceoff and headed to the net as Lidstrom passed the puck across to Williams, who let loose a shot/pass to the opposite side of the net. Zetterberg tipped the puck off the post and into the net to score one of the easiest looking power play goals I've seen. As the teams headed to the halfway mark of the game, the Wings were dominant again, making it seem like they were once again on the power play. Pavel Datsyuk took the puck on a rush at 10:25 or so and made a great pass through Shanahan and the Chicago defense to a streaking Draper for the Wings' fifth goal. Khabibulin was pulled after that one and was replaced by Craig Anderson. Mark Mowers, playing again for Mikael Samuelsson, had a breakaway at 14:32 and nearly scored a highlight reel goal but he just couldn't get the backhand shot high enough to finish it. At 18:26, the Hawks got two penalties one for hooking and another for complaining about it, giving the Wings a full-length 5-on-3 power play. The Wings had a few chances on their first try but it was cleared and they regrouped. The Hawks got another penalty but it wasn't going to start until the other two expired or the Wings scored and negated one of them. The latter is what happened, as Steve Yzerman scored a goal that can only be described as inevitable. The Wings' power play was unstoppable here . They had Anderson going every which way until he finally took himself way out of position on Shanahan's shot from the corner. The puck bounced off him right to Yzerman who shot it over the prone goalie, who was helpless to do anything but watch it go in. I actually felt bad for the guy. Yzerman's second goal of the night put him three goals away from tying Mario Lemieux (690) for 8th all-time in goals scored. Yzerman's goal ended one Chicago penalty but started the latest, giving the Wings a 26 second 5-on-3 to begin the third period. The Hawks killed off the 26 seconds but had to deal with a 5-on-4 power play after that. Yzerman nearly got his third goal on a flurry around the net but it somehow stayed out and Wings fans were denied seeing The Captain score a hat trick. The Wings didn't look so hot in the third, but they were fortunate to have penalty-prone opponents. Otherwise, this game might have had a different end. As it was, it looked like the Hawks could tie it up as they scored twice in about a minute after the midway point of the period. Patrick Sharp scored a nice goal after taking the puck down the right wing, cutting across the net and sending a backhand shot past Legace at 13:37 to make it 6-3. At 14:40, the Hawks scored a shorthanded goal when Barnaby sent a nice pass to Curtis Brown, who tipped the puck into the net while Schneider tried desperately to disrupt the play. After that, the Wings woke up a bit and the pace of the game quickened. The Hawks pulled Anderson with 1:05 left and the Wings got a high sticking penalty with 38 seconds left, seeming very much like they'd rather Chicago win the game. Fortunately, Manny still wanted the win and he made the necessary saves to preserve the score. Yzerman was out there for the final shift but he wasn't able to get the puck down the ice into the net for the hat trick. The Wings outshot Chicago 46-29 to surpass their season high in shots (by one) They will face the Hawks again tomorrow night, in Chicago, at 7:00 ET.


At 3/13/2006 02:12:00 PM, Anonymous WI Wing Nut said...

Was anyone in Detroit talking about how Mike Babcock inexplicably sat Yzerman on the bench for most of the last minute when Chicago had an empty net? It made me sick. Scotty Bowman, Dave Lewis, or just about anyone else for that matter would have had Stevie on the ice to give him every chance to have that moment in front of the fans. One last hat trick for the road... *sigh*. It wasn't to be.

Anyway, this was one of those rare games that are becoming fewer more far between...where Stevie get the ice time, stands up and leads the team like he used to. It was almost like looking into the past...a treat that everytime we see it, we wonder if it is the last time we will.

At 3/13/2006 02:26:00 PM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

That seems to be a pretty common occurance, that a Wings player with two goals isn't necessarily on the ice at the end of the game. I guess it's Babcock's "team mentality" carried a bit too far. He obviously wants games to be a team effort but he has to remember the fans are watching and that they want to see their favorite players score hat tricks.

Yzerman did get a chance on the final shift but I was definitely disappointed he wasn't out there for a final push.

Babcock must have figured The Captain had had plenty of opportunities to score earlier in the game. At that stage, he must have been just trying to get the game over with, with the Hawks surging and smelling blood as the Wings nearly let them come back.

Either way, I wouldn't put it past Steve to pass the puck instead of shooting it, had he had a chance on the open net. He's been unselfish like that before and that could be why Babcock didn't put him out.

At 3/14/2006 03:37:00 PM, Anonymous Wi Wing Nut said...

I understand all that, I'm just dissapointed. I think this situation was a little more than just a chance for "a favorite player to get a hat trick". It would have been a magical moment, even if it had been an empty net goal. Plus, he would have tied the Red Wing record for hat tricks, did you know that?

Anyway, I do generally like Babcock, I think he's a winner. I think his move just came from his lack of experience in Detroit...that's all. Stevie would have never asked to be put out, or complained about not being put out, it is just something that should have happened. Oh well.

You have an outstanding blog...thanks!

At 3/14/2006 04:11:00 PM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

I think his move just came from his lack of experience in Detroit.

That's very possible.

And you're right, it was a special opportunity and one that isn't likely to come up again, especially with The Captain on his way out.

I did not know it would have tied the record. That makes it even more of a shame.

I remember when they announced Yzerman's assist at the Kings game last week. the crowd went nuts. For an assist. Imagine how loud it would have been had he gotten the hat trick.

But, as you say, oh well.

Thank you for your complement!

At 3/15/2006 10:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I posted the link to your blog on my fantasy hockey message board, so maybe you'll get more visitors!


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