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What Lies Ahead: Part 2

The Wings clinched a playoff spot last night with a 7-2 blowout against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the next 6 games will be just as important. The Wings will face the Nashville Predators at the Joe on Friday, which may be the determinant of who gets home ice in the first round of the playoffs.  The Red Wings are just one point ahead of the Predators and are battling for the #4 spot in the Western Conference.  Unless the Blues have a major collapse or Chicago really steps their game up, it’s likely that the Preds will be the first round matchup for the Wings.  The Red Wings have won 3 of their 5 meetings with the Predators this season, 2 of those at home, 1 in Nashville. Here’s a look at the first 5 games:

11/26 Nashville 1 @ Detroit 4

The Red Wings took down the Preds for the 9th game of the 23 game home win streak.  Valtteri Filppula had two goals and an assist, Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and an assist, Danny Cleary scored a goal, Jiri Hudler had two assists, and Todd Bertuzzi, Jakub Kindl and Darren Helm each had one assist. Jimmy Howard had a .947sv% and stopped 18 of the 19 shots on goal.

12/15 Detroit 3 @ Nashville 4

This loss really pissed me off. Shea Weber’s two goals in the last 5 minutes (the GWG with just 1:36 left in the 3rd) gave Nashville the 2 points over Detroit.

12/26 Detroit 4 @ Nashville 1

Valtteri Filppula scored 2 goals, and Pavel Datsyuk and Danny Cleary each scored one to give the Red Wings the win over the Preds in their 3rd meeting of the season.  Howard stopped 31 of 32 shots, but his opportunity for a shutout was ruined with just 2:12 remaining in the 3rd.

2/17 Nashville 1 @ Detroit 2

This was one of my favorite wins of the season — the one and only Pavel Datsyuk gave the Red Wings their 22nd consecutive home win with just 5 seconds left in the game.  Captain Nick Lidstrom hit Zetterberg with a no look pass off the boards, who sent it up to the magician, who then blew past Ryan Suter…and the rest is history.  I can only imagine what Pekka Rinne was thinking. Most likely it was “Oh (insert 4 letter word here).” Datsyuk also had an amazing assist…while he was lying down on the ice.

3/10 Detroit 2 @ Nashville 3

This was the first of the Red Wings 6 game losing streak this month.  Although it was a loss, Datsyuk found a way to make Detroit fans proud.  After Shea Weber blocked and knocked Datsyuk a few times as he attempted to make his way to the net, Datsyuk got back at him…twice as good. The video makes me giggle every time I watch it.

 

The next couple weeks are going to be tough, but if anyone can push hard and prove their excellence, it’s the Detroit Red Wings. It’s time to smash Smashville.

(stats from detroitredwings.com)

What Lies Ahead

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

Minnesota Wild
3/2/12 @ Detroit
(1-1-1)
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.

Chicago Blackhawks
3/4/12 @ Detroit
4/7/12 @ Detroit
(2-2-0)
Detroit has only hosted the Blackhawks once this season and won 3-2 in overtime

LA Kings
3/9/12 @ Detroit
3/13/12 @ LA
(2-0-0)
The Wings have beat the Kings both at home (8-2) and in Los Angeles (4-1) this season

Nashville Predators
3/10/12 @ Nashville
3/30/12 @ Detroit
(3-1-0)
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.

Anaheim Ducks
3/14/12 @ Anaheim
(3-0-0)
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
(1-2-0)
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
(3-1-0)
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
(3-2-0)
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

Washington Capitals
3/19/12 @ Detroit
(0-1-0)
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.

Carolina Hurricanes
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.

Florida Panthers
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.

Philadelphia Flyers
3/6/12 @ Philadelphia
(1-0-0)
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Blue Jackets No Longer Winless

I thought the 7-1 loss Saturday night would cause the Wings to wake up and smell the hummus but apparently there are still some kinks that need to be worked out.  Of course the Blue Jackets were “hungry for a win” — who wouldn’t be after an 8 game losing streak? But the Wings should have been hungry too.  Not just because we got dominated by the Caps a few nights ago, but because we’re the Red Wings and we’re always hungry.  We started off sloppy tonight, allowing a goal by RJ Umberger just 0:21 into the first period. Sometimes things clean up after a reality check like that, so it was a relief when Helm tied the score 4 1/2 minutes later.  Things really started to look up when 22-year-old Allen York came in to replace Steve Mason due to shoulder pain.  The sunshine didn’t stay out for long — Mason returned after only 2:33. To darken things up just a little more, the Wings were called for too many men on the ice, allowing Ryan Johansen his first NHL goal on the power play.

The second period was frustrating. There was some diddle-daddling and a couple of penalties and then 20-year-old rookie John Moore scored his first NHL goal at 14:16. Conklin made a few good saves this period, but none of Detroit’s 15 shots on goal made it in.

The third was just as frustrating as the first two. Babs switch up the lines a bit but it didn’t seem to help. Conklin made some impressive saves but the Jackets put up a fourth goal with 0:54 left in the game — a short-handed empty netter.

(Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

Take-away points:

  • Helm scored his 1st goal of the season and ended up +1
  • Conklin was 28-31, he is now 75-85 for the season
  • Hudler was an invisible man — but sometimes it’s better that way
  • It would have been a little more bearable if there was any action whatsoever. I wanted/needed someone to drop the gloves. There was a VERY minimal scuffle (it consisted of one shove and some shit talking) involving Zetterberg and it’s not like that was going anywhere
Hopefully the Wings will get out of this slump in time to beat our archnemesis, the San Jose Sharks. The puck drops at the Joe at 7:30.

Later BJs… It’s time for some real competition.

Last night the Wings continued their winning streak and are still undefeated in the 2011-12 season.

1st Period Highlights:

  • Johan Franzen scored 2 power play goals, both assisted by Valtteri Filppula — Mike Babcock has been working to improve the PP and this demonstrates good progress. Wings are 4 for 6 on the PP in the last 2 games
  • Blue Jackets’ Brassard made it 2-1 with a few minutes left in the period

2nd Period Highlights:

  • Datsyuk finally got it in after a few attempts by other players at the end of the period (Holmer and Zetterberg with the assists)
  • Jonathan Ericsson kicked some BJ ass — it’s about fricken time. Can’t believe they let a fight go on for an entire minute…they break them up so quickly these days!

3rd Period Highlights:

  • BJ’s Johnson (heheh) scored a PPG at 1:42
  • Lidstrom with a PPG (assists went to Fil and Holmer)
  • Fil earned his 4th point of the night (wowzer) — an empty netter with 1:27 left in the game. He had originally given the puck to Franzen so he could get a hat trick but ended up being the one to put it in. What a sweetheart.

Preview of tonight’s game vs. the undefeated Washington Capitals:

Let’s Go Wings!!!

Fresh Faces: Mike Commodore

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.

Mike Commodore is an easy player to spot

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.