Detroit’s 2-1 victory Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena was electric from the start, featuring two hungry teams with something to prove in both the hometown victors and the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets.
Having capped off a three-game win streak tonight, Detroit that they are among the elite contenders in the league. Datsyuk and Zetterberg proved (once again) that they are two of the best two-way forwards in the recent memory of the league, and Daniel Alfredsson proved that he has more than enough left in the tank to contribute at a high level (sidenote: I bet he puts up more points than Bobby Ryan this year). Kronwall continues to prove that he’s a bona fide number one (possibly top-10) defenseman in the NHL, and Jonas Gustavsson proved that he can be relied upon more often than once or twice a season. More importantly, the rest of the team proved that they are more than mere complementary pieces to a star-studded roster, as they provided a wonderful team effort to back up the scoring from the top line.
Columbus, on the other hand, proved that they still have a ways to go before they can be considered a legitimate contender even in their new conference, and that one strong stretch of play at the end of a season isn’t enough to carry a team over to the next one. Granted, Detroit was killing them all game, but the Blue Jackets looked listless and defeated by the time the first goal was scored. A last second push near the last quarter of the 3rd period seemed promising, but it wasn’t enough to make up for a game’s worth of lost puck battles, missed assignments, and being made to look like pylons by a Russian with a light-bulb head.
That all rings great in my ears though, because I love a good win.
From the first puck drop you could tell both teams came ready to play and win. Detroit did *not* look like a team that barely won a hard-fought battle against the effing Bruins yesterday, as they were flying from the start. Even Franzen -gasp- was BACKCHECKING and PLAYING THE BODY. His effort was very representative of his teams, as it took only 5:05 for them to get on the board off a WICKED slapshot from Daniel Alfredsson. The play was set up between Alfie, Hank and Pavel at the end of a powerplay, and featured a myriad of great passes, including the set up pass by Datsyuk from a scrum in front of the net straight to Alfredsson’s stick. Sigh…I love good hockey.
Aside from a string of Columbus chances about halfway through the first caused by a messy Detroit line change (which Gustavsson turned aside quite nicely), the game was pretty much all Detroit until a great individual effort by Columbus forward Cam Atkinson tied the game 7:38 into the second. It was a pretty bad play for everyone in red on the ice, as Atkinson essentially drove though every single player, but one person who HAS to do better in that situation is Dan Dekeyser. Especially once you consider the size difference between the two, Dekeyser should have KNOCKED ATKINSON’S ASS OFF THE PUCK. Yeah, yeah, rookie mistakes, whatever, but it pisses me off more since it was one of the few blemishes on an otherwise amazing game. Thankfully Detroit responded less than four minutes later on a powerplay; a confusing scrum in front involving a literally butt-hurt Bertuzzi and what felt like 26 shots on net (really it was just two) resulted in a knucklepuck from Zetterberg bouncing in off the aforementioned butt-hurt Bertuzzi. It was a dirty, grimy, nasty goal…my favorite kind.
The score held up from then on out, thanks in part to some INCREDIBLE saves from Gustavsson. This is the goalie I thought we were getting when we signed him a couple of offseasons ago, not the awful, translucent excuse for a netminder we saw last season. Between him, Howie, and Mrazek, our depth between the pipes is amazing this year – and that’s a strength we haven’t had since the Osgood-Hasek tandem in 2008. You know what happened that year? WE WON THE EFFING STANLEY CUP. I’m not saying it means anything…but I’m definitely saying it means EVERYTHING.
Til next time guys.
Get at me.