The Red Wings only have 18 games (10 at home, 8 on the road) left to play in the regular season and the race for a playoff spot in the West is tight. The Wings will be without Pavel Datsyuk for a few more weeks, without Jonathan Ericsson for about a month, Nick Lidstrom and Kyle Quincey are both day-to-day, and of course, there is no word on the return of Patrick Eaves. The last 18 games are going to be crucial — let’s break them down:
Western Conference Matchups
3/2/12 @ Detroit
The Wild got the W when they visited Detroit in November. I remember how pissed off I was when Devin Setoguchi scored that ridiculous goal in overtime after the refs failed to make a call for a dirty hit on Kronwall.
3/4/12 @ Detroit
4/7/12 @ Detroit
Detroit has only hosted the Blackhawks once this season and won 3-2 in overtime
3/9/12 @ Detroit
3/13/12 @ LA
The Wings have beat the Kings both at home (8-2) and in Los Angeles (4-1) this season
3/10/12 @ Nashville
3/30/12 @ Detroit
The Red Wings have won both of their games against the Preds at home and also one in Nashville. The 4-3 loss in Nashville was a brutal one, and you can thank Shea Weber for that. He scored 2 goals in the last 5 minutes of the 3rd period.
3/14/12 @ Anaheim
The matchup in Detroit last month was a real nail biter. Todd Bertuzzi won it in the shootout with a shot that had everyone on the edge of their seats.
San Jose Sharks
3/17/12 @ San Jose
Last time the Wings visited San Jose they lost 5-2, even though they outshot the Sharks 42-28 (BARF)
Columbus Blue Jackets
3/26/12 @ Detroit
3/28/12 @ Columbus
The Wings and Jackets will play each other in back to back games, one per city. The Red Wings have won both of their games against the Blue Jackets at home and one of the two games played in Columbus. The Wings suffered a 4-1 loss to Columbus back in October right after they got crushed by the Caps—nothing like being kicked when you’re down. The Red Wings won their most recent meeting with the Blue Jackets by a score of 5-2
St. Louis Blues
4/4/12 @ St. Louis
The Red Wings have won all 3 games vs. the Blues at home this season, but have lost both games they have played in St. Louis. This is gonna be a big one.
Eastern Conference Matchups
3/19/12 @ Detroit
No technique I have learned as a therapist has helped me forget the 7-1 loss the Wings suffered in Washington back in October, after opening the season with a 5-game winning streak. Mike Green had a 4 point game (2G, 2A) and Mathieu Perreault scored 2 goals in his team-low 10:20 of ice time. This will be Detroit’s first game home after a 4-game road trip but I have faith that the Wings will show them who’s boss — and payback’s a bitch.
New York Rangers
3/21/12 @ New York
This will be the first and only meeting between the Red Wings and the Rangers this year. The Red Wings took the win (3-2) when the two teams matched up last season in Detroit.
3/24/12 @ Detroit
This will be the first and only meeting of the two teams this season. The Canes shut out the Wings 3-0 during their only meeting last year.
4/1/12 @ Detroit
This will be the first and only meeting between Detroit and Florida during the 2011-2012 regular season. Last year the Red Wings beat the Panthers 4-3
New Jersey Devils
4/5/12 @ Detroit
This will be the first and only time the Red Wings play New Jersey this season. The two teams met twice last season—once in Detroit, once in New Jersey—with Detroit earning both wins.
3/6/12 @ Philadelphia
The Flyers lost 4-3 when they visited Detroit February 12th, giving the Red Wings their record-tying 20th straight victory at home.
LET’S GO WINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Today’s edition will focus on another free agent defensemen who signed this summer, Mike Commodore. The 31 year old Alberta native is looking to resurrect his NHL career by joining one of the deepest and most talented defensive units in the league. While much remains to be settled in the preseason, Commodore is projected to compete with the young and talented Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith for the sixth and final spot in the defensive rotation. His signing, a one year, $1 million contract, provides the team with some added depth and playoff experience on the back end, while still leaving salary cap cushion for a late season move if necessary.
After being drafted by the New Jersey Devils (42nd overall, 1999), Commodore spent time between the American and National Hockey Leagues with a few organizations. Despite playing effectively in 20 playoff games for Calgary in their 2004 playoff run, Commodore was dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes before the 2005-06 season. Commodore had arguably his best season, playing in 72 games with a +12 and leading the team in penalty minutes. Commodore was again steady in a long playoff run, and became a fan favorite on the way to the Carolina’s first Stanley Cup.
In 2008, Commodore was traded again, this time to the Ottawa Senators in a deal that involved future Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves. Following that season, he signed with Columbus, and was a big part in helping the team reach their first playoff series (a 4 game sweep at the hands of the Red Wings).
Following two years of injuries and setbacks, Commodore was optioned back to the AHL last season. He’s hoping to again assume an everyday role with a NHL club. Given the injuries that have plagued the Red Wings defensemen over the past two seasons, the deal makes a lot of sense.
One interesting storyline associated with this signing was Commodore’s bad history with Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. When Commodore was a young prospect in Anaheim, Coach Babcock had issues with his conditioning. Commodore was never given a shot to play for the Mighty Ducks, and spoke very candidly about his displeasure for his former coach in an interview two years ago. While both parties have dismissed the incident, it will be interesting to see how the outspoken defensemen will react if he does not find himself consistently in the lineup.
Commodore, who boasts 645 career penalty minutes in 454 NHL games, should add a physical element to the Wings defense. He is not afraid to drop the gloves, standing at 6’4″ and 230lbs and seems to fit Ken Holland’s vision of creating a physical defensive unit for opposing forwards. Despite weeks of internet speculation on the possibility of Commodore wearing the number 64, a reference that makes video game fanatics nation wide type “lolz”, the defensemen will skate with the #22 jersey this season.
We’ll be back soon with another edition of Fresh Faces! Check out our past article on newcomer Ian White.
We’ll take a one-by-one look at some of the new additions in the locker room this season. Both free agents and young prospects with a chance of making the team will be profiled.
Our first edition will look at the biggest free agent signed by the Wings this offseason, Ian White of Steinbach, Manitoba. White has drawn some obvious comparisons to recently retired Brian Rafalski. The two do have a lot in common. Both undersized, generously listed at 5’10”. Both players overcoming adversity to make the league (White drafted 191st overall in 2002, Rafalski undrafted played four seasons in Europe before getting his shot in New Jersey.)
But the similarities end there. While White did get a shot on the power play last season in San Jose following an upper body injury to defensemen Dan Boyle, he lacks the vision and touch Rafalski perfected in his years quarterbacking the Devils and Red Wings man advantage. Rafalski preferred to use his stick and position to regain possession, where White looks to separate forward and puck with his body, which at times leads to odd man rushes.
But White will bring the Red Wings blue line some added grit. Although undersized, White will be an unwelcome site for forwards interested in screening Jimmy Howard. He plays with an edge, and can usually do so without taking an unnecessary penalty. He is only 27 years old, and many believe his best hockey is still ahead of him.
White played with the Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes and San Jose Sharks last season. He was San Jose’s best defenseman in Game 2 of last years Conference Semifinal victory over the Red Wings. Before that, he spent multiple seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He had his best year in 2009-10, splitting time between Toronto and Calgary, as he recorded 13 goals and 25 assists.
There is a good deal of optimism surrounding White’s signing. “We’ve seen him a lot in the San Jose series,” general manager Ken Holland said. “He can play on the power play, he’s a competitor. He’s a guy that thinks the game. He’s got the skills.”
We’ll back back with the next Fresh Face this week, stay tuned!