The Wings completed their season sweep of LA last night, winning 7-3 in a game that I thought was much closer than the score indicated.
My Dad and I sat up high behind Manny Legace for two periods and got a pretty good view of everything. Except during the "migration times" at the beginning and end of each period as everyone tries to beat the lines by leaving early, thereby creating the very lines they are trying to beat, all the while obstructing the view of fans who are just trying to watch the game!!! Anyway.
The Wings came out with energy but I felt they were pretty sloppy early on. Their first power play was particularly bad, with passes blown at the blue line and winding up at the other end of the rink. The Kings looked a bit more crisp, I thought. My Dad made the comment after the first was over that the puck spent entirely too much time in our end, around Legace.
The highlight of the first for me was the LA 5-on-3 power play. Chris Chelios was amazing. He kept the puck pinned in the corner by fighting for it and then blocked a shot before taking possession and clearing it, all by himself. Needless to say, the crowd at the Joe loudly voiced their appreciation as the puck headed down the ice.
Between the first and second, they had two U12 girls teams on the ice for a mock shootout. Usually, there are much younger kids doing the intermission show and their shootouts are funny to watch because kids don't have many moves at 7 or 8. These girls were different. They were much smoother with the puck and I remember being impressed with the dekes of a couple of them.
The second opened with a bang. Lang's goal at 1:29 was impressive and got everyone excited. The Kings responded a little over a minute later and the atmosphere deflated a little, though.
I think it's safe to say everyone in the Joe saw a goal coming when Pavel Datsyuk attempted a cross-crease pass while on the power play at 6:48. Unfortunately, I can't remember who was waiting for a sure goal on the other end because Pavel's pass deflected off an LA skate and snuck into the net just inside the post.
It was a fluky goal for Pavel, who seemed to be a step away from scoring a highlight reel goal all night. He threw a couple moves that had the Joe gasping but wasn't able to finish, much to everyone's disappointment. I remember yelling "How did he do that?!" once when he spun out of a crowd of Kings with the puck on his stick in a manner that seemed completely superhuman. He's dangerous right now and I expect a big game from him sometime soon.
Anyway, the Kings evened things up again within two minutes after Datsyuk's goal.
Henrik Zetterberg put the Wings ahead at 13:04 with an unassisted power play goal, his 30th of the year and the Joe was rocking again. That was nothing compared to the excitement he generated 52 seconds later, when he sent a backhand shot from the slot into the net, much like Datsyuk did a few years ago. The crowd went wild as we scrutinized the big screen to see how the heck
he had done it. Thankfully, the good people at the Joe showed the replay plenty of times and we were able to visually verify Hank's brilliance many times. We were really hoping for a hat trick and I know Zetterberg was as well. He was calling for the puck on his remaining shifts but wasn't able to convert again, despite a few chances.
The Kings put themselves within one at 9:52 of the third period but the Wings laughed at the pitiful comeback attempt and put up three more goals, putting victory out of LA's reach. When Budd Lynch announced that Steve Yzerman had assisted on Jason Williams' goal, the crowd went particularly wild, as a salute to The Captain.
The Kings, in a vain attempt at overcoming a two-goal deficit late in the game, pulled their goalie with a minute and a half remaining. Tomas Holmstrom missed his first attempt at the empty net, sending the puck off the endboards, but he didn't fail the second time, making it 6-3 at 18:55.
The game was over then but the refs decided to hand the Wings a 5-on-3 power play with 27 seconds left and the Wings couldn't turn down such a good opportunity to score, could they? Nick Lidstrom made it 7-3 with 7 seconds left, much to the disgust of the Kings fan sitting a few rows in front of us.
Now a word on Robert Lang. He obviously had a good night offensively, with a goal and an assist. He was involved in a few good offensive chances as well and even had a noticeable hit. Still, I didn't come away from the game impressed by him. Maybe it was less frequent, but I still saw him slacking off some shifts and it's hard for me to warm to the guy when he won't stretch out to get the puck on a less-than-perfect pass or move his legs when he has the puck or just plain crash the net more often than not. Sure, he was better and if he plays like that more often, the Wings won't have trouble winning but he could be even more dominant. The Wings have already dealt with one hot/cold player, they don't need another. We need you hot, Robert. If not during the regular season, then in the playoffs. Please?
Well, I've been to four games this season and they've won all four. Notice a trend? I do. Now, if the Wings would just give me tickets to sixteen playoff games....
Abel to Yzerman game report