After that steaming pile of s…erious loss the Red Wings put down on Sunday against the Blackhawks, they needed to storm in Monday and make an example of the last place Avalanche. They needed to show the league that no matter how many Jay Bouwmeesters, Jarome Iginlas, and Robyn Regehrs get moved to strong teams, they are still a force to be reckoned with, and can carry good play through the rest of the season and the playoffs.
Did they do that tonight? No. That would be impossible. But it was a good start.
The game started off at a nice pace with some solid, neutral-zone centric back-and-forth hockey. Both teams were playing well, and everyone was doing their jobs. Jordin Tootoo laid a nice couple of hits in the early minutes of the tilt (including a monster on former teammate Greg Zanon), and Detroit eventually built on that competitive drive to score in the last five minutes of the period, courtesy of Justin Abdelkader knocking a puck out of the air and into the Avalanche net. He’s one goal away from matching his career high, and I think he may very well be a top six forward. Maybe. I’d like to see more in the assist column before I decide for sure, but hey, my recent NHL 13 season saw Damien Brunner scoring 33 goals with only 7 helpers, so I guess Abdelkader can have the benefit of video game logic for the remainder of the season.
The second period played host to some more fantastic hockey, this time courtesy only of your hometown Wings. Detroit drove possession all period, and continued to make up for their atrocious powerplay early in the season by scoring on the man-advantage. Johan Franzen fed a nice pass to Dan Cleary who was wide open in the crease, and tapped the puck in to double his team’s lead. It originally looked as though Damien Brunner may have gotten the goal, as he took a whack at Franzen’s pass that just skirted over the puck. His time would come just over three minutes later, however, as he was on the receiving end of a beautiful, maybe even Datsyukian, play from Gustav Nyquist and one-timed a shot past Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov to make the score 3-0 and chase Varlamov from the net. It was Brunner’s 11th goal of the season and his first in fifteen games.
Sadly, Detroit lost some intensity after Brunner’s goal, and it was only the amazing play of Jimmy Howard that kept the score 3-0 going into the third period. Eventually, however, Colorado was able to take advantage of Detroit’s lackluster defense on a powerplay – Jamie McGinn knocked a loose rebound past Jimmy Howard 5:52 into the period to make it 3-1. You would think Detroit would take this as a wake-up call, but they continued to play passive offensively and porous defensively, causing a goal by Matt Duchene off an awful Brendan Smith turnover to half the Wings’ lead. Again, the fantastic play of Howard – namely an amazing glove save with only 7 seconds left – was the only thing preventing the Wings from returning to the days of turning leads into losses.
This win puts Detroit five points ahead of 9th place St. Louis, although that could change with the Blues’ recent acquisitions. Altogether I think the Wings’ playoff aspirations look pretty good, especially with their schedule over the next couple of weeks.
– Nyquist needs to play like this every night. He keeps showing glimpses of his potential – if he reaches his ceiling, he’ll be a good 1st line winger capable of 70-80 points per season and solid defensively. Sound familiar?
– Jay Bouwmeester for a low 1st round pick and two prospects. Jay Feaster is one of the most incompetent GMs in recent history. Wow. Maybe we can pry Sven Baertschi or Mark Giordano from him for Filppula or White.
– Speaking of White, it wouldn’t be out of the question to get a 1st round pick for him. A contending team with better forwards than defensemen (Montreal and Ottawa come to mind) could really use a guy like him. Or him and Filppula could be put together for a guy like Keith Yandle. Actually, I like that idea a lot. White, Filppula, and a 2nd round pick for Keith Yandle. Or add another first for Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Next Lidstrom right there.
– Getting Helm back will be huge. HUGE. Put him in the mix and the Wings are suddenly elite again. I miss that guy a lot.
As always, thanks for reading! Follow me on twitter: @dzkefalas. I’m annoying and I tweet a lot, but I’m funny sometimes, promise.