A dark cloud hung over the Pepsi Center in Denver on Thursday night, despite the Wings’ 4-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Detroit alternate captain and top defenseman Niklas Kronwall was injured by a disgusting hit-to-the-head-and-from-behind by Avalanche forward Cody McLeod less than three minutes into the game. Kronwall had his back turned playing the puck in the blocker-side corner of his own zone, and McLeod came in at full speed and threw HIS ENTIRE BODY into Kronwall’s head. Look up the hit on Youtube or something – it was bad. Worse than Maxim Lapierre‘s hit on Dan Boyle just a week or so back. McLeod received a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct for the hit, but it’s nowhere near enough punishment for the concussion Kronner suffered as a result. If McLeod’s suspension isn’t at least 10 games, I’ll be leading a swarm of angry letters and e-mails to every league executive possible. Given Brendan Shanahan‘s fear of appearing to favor his former team, this seems like a legitimate possibility – remember when Weber smashed Zetterberg’s head into the glass a couple playoffs ago? Ugh. F*** dirty hits. F*** dirty players.
McLeod’s hit set the scene for what was a hard-fought physical game, and no doubt reignited the rivalry between the Avs and the Wings. Hard hits flew left and right, and tensions ran high all game – even relative lightweight Drew Miller fought grizzled tough guy Cory Sarich…he lost, which was to be expected, but he still held his own. The energy provided by that fight was a necessity for the Wings as well; despite jumping to an early 2-0 lead off goals from Franzen (powerplay) and the one and only Pavel Datsyuk, the speed and youth of the Avs caught up to the old(er) Detroit team later in the game. A shorthanded defensive breakdown (and blunder by all around dumbass Kyle Quincey) allowed Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson to walk in uncontested and fire a puck over Gustavsson to halve Detroit’s lead just a few minutes into the second. Later in the period, a fluky weak shot by Gabriel Landeskog went through Gustavsson’s legs (but seriously – don’t blame him. He kept the team in the game through all three periods)…and all of a sudden the game was tied.
Detroit’s play continuing into the third left SO MUCH to be desired, but somehow they managed to come out on top. The game-winning goal was scored by none other than Johan “I Outshoot Ovechkin When I Decide To Give A Damn” Franzen, also on the powerplay. Well, I *guess* you could call it a powerplay…honestly the team looked like the Keystone Cops out there (especially Alfredsson…yay we definitely need another inconsistent Swede on the team), until Justin Abdelkader pulled a whole “Everyone chill the f*** out…I got this.” He managed to get the puck out of the Detroit zone when NOBODY ELSE COULD ON THE *POWERPLAY*, and got it back on the ensuing breakout, finishing off his one-man display by sending a beautiful cross-ice pass over to the Mule, who roofed an easy shot at an open net.
Colorado continued to play strong through to the end of the third, but couldn’t stop Detroit’s…uhh, offensive onslaught? Detroit was NOT playing good hockey in the third, despite what Fox Sports Detroit says…but they still managed to score. Again. Alfredsson made up for his horrible showing on the previous power play with an amazing show of patience during a 2 on 1 – he waited around 5 or 6 (!) seconds before feeding Datsyuk in the slot, who shot and got his own rebound for his second of the game.
Thankfully, that was the end of it. If it wasn’t for the AMAZING play of Jonas Gustavsson – he had the best performance of any Detroit goaltender I’ve seen in a couple of years – Colorado would have scored with the empty net. But the Monster held the up the score, and the Wings prevailed in what was their most poorly played win this season.
- I was born in 1994, so I grew up loving/hating the rivalry between Detroit and Colorado. It’s been dead for awhile, but as soon as Patrick Roy is back, a hit in the same ilk as Claude Lemieux‘s on Kris Draper is seen, and the rivalry starts again. Call me paranoid, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Roy told his players to injure someone. He really is that crazy. Well, we beat his team into the ground anyway, so…
- DeKeyser makes some outstanding defensive plays. He’ll win a Norris before his career ends…it’s hard to believe he’s only 23. Right out of college. I’m in college. He makes me feel so unaccomplished.
- Gustavsson is playing out of his mind. I think the days of the Monster Headcase are over…this is a bold prediction, but we could see him challenge Howard for the starter’s job as soon as this season.
- Datsyuk and Zetterberg are on a tear…one of em will get a Hart nomination.
- First overall draft pick Nathan Mackinnon was pretty much invisible tonight…makes sense, because every Wings defenseman not named Kyle Quincey played a great game and managed to shut down all of the Avs most prolific scorers.
- I. Hate. Kyle. Quincey.
- My friend KiAnna made a great point about suspensions after the hit on Kronwall. If a player gets injured from a dirty hit, why not have the offender miss the same amount of time the injured player does? I’ll bet illegal hits would curb drastically if offenders had the potential to miss a concussion’s worth of play.
Thanks for reading guys. #prayordowhateveryoudoforKronwall