Welcome back, Wings fans!
After a very long summer of Blackhawks, Star Free Agents, Dan Cleary, Five Million Dollars A Season For Valtteri Filppula, and a conspicuous Lack Of Darren Helm, everyone was happy to be back on the ice for a regular season game against our new divisional rivals, the Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo hadn’t won in Detroit since ’94, and the Wings kept it that way with a strong, confident 2-1 victory for the first game of the season.
Detroit came out of the gate firing all cylinders and controlled the play from the start. All four lines looked fast and strong and had great chemistry, which is a breath of relief for those of us who were worried about the Weiss/Alfredsson additions. Weiss looked strong offensively and also on the penalty kill, as he was a key part of fending off an early 5-on-3 opportunity for Buffalo with Ericsson and Zetterberg in the box. Detroit in general was impenetrable on the kill all night long – the Sabres went a pathetic zero for with the man advantage all night long. Their defense wasn’t exactly ready to make up for this deficiency, and the Wings exploited them early with two goals in a span of thirty-six seconds during the first period. Mikael Samuelsson struck first with a beautiful deflection off a Cory Emmerton wrist shot, followed shortly by Pavel Datsyuk, who took advantage of a bad turnover by Buffalo rookie Rasmus Ristolainen and fired a backhand past Ryan Miller to increase Detroit’s lead to 2.
Barely any even strength hockey was played in the second period as teams traded powerplays with neither able to capitalize; despite a second five on three to end the period, Buffalo couldn’t manage to get on the scoreboard. Cory Emmerton…tried his best on a penalty shot but learned that Ryan Miller doesn’t have a hole in his pelvis. The third started with Detroit easily killing off another penalty. Detroit continued to control the pace for most of the game, until a bad pass by Howard allowed the puck to bounce to Zemgus Girgensons in the slot, essentially handing him his first goal in his first NHL game. Buffalo seemed revived by this and started pressing near the end of the period, but a bad tripping penalty by Henrik Tallinder allowed the Wings to take possession back and forced the Sabres to pull their goalie with a minute remaining. Detroit’s amazing team defense squashed that uprising as it had all night, and they walked home with a win on the first night of the season and painted a picture of good things to come.
-Danny DeKeyser looks fantastic. I feel bad saying this, but watching him gives me the same sense of calm watching Lidstrom did. I might be crushing a little, guys. But Lidstrom’s been gone for so long…it’s time to move on. Right? Right.
– Andersson looks much more mobile than he did last year. He was never slow, but he finally has the acceleration that separates a good skater fron a great one. I wish his linemates were Nyquist and Tatar instead of Bertuzzi and Cleary, but I guess we need veteran leadership, or something.
– By the way, Bertuzzi and Cleary are not adequate power-play wingers. NYQUIST AND TATAR ARE. Ugh.
– Kindl is finally a legitimate top four defenseman. As is Dekeyser. Smith looks a lot more comfortable than he used to as well. Between these guys, Sproul, Oullet, and Almqvist, our future in the blue is set for years.
– Howard’s got the Vezina.
[Ed. Note] A little bonus for you; Datsyuk’s goal in .gif form.