While scoring goals from the blue line is nothing new in Hockeytown, the Wings defenders are taking their production to a new level this season. Adding two goals last night, including Nicklas Kronwall’s game winner in the third, the Red Wings defense has now scored a league high 27 goals. It was Kronwall’s 4th game winner of the year, good for 3rd in the league behind countryman and teammate Johan Franzen’s 6.
This “defensive-offensive explosion” – if you will- has been driven by Swedish veterans named Nick. And while the Captain, and his 261 career goals need no introduction, what Lidstrom has been able to produce this season at age 41 is nothing short of remarkable. Both have eight goals and are tied for second in the league amongst defenseman.
Ian White has also been a key addition, adding 5 even-strengthed goals this year. Brad Stuart has added 4 of his own, including 1 of 6 shorthanded goals scored by defenseman all season. Jakub Kindl and Jonathan Ericsson round out the scoring with a goal each.
When asked in a post game interview last night Kronwall attributed the scoring to traffic to the front of the net by forwards. While last nights game winner was thanks to a screen by Jiri Hudler, the Red Wings lines are loaded with gritty players who love to play in front of the opposing goalie including: Dan Cleary, Todd Bertuzzi, and perhaps the league’s all time best in the department Tomas Holmstrom.
The Red Wings skilled forwards control the puck and make the good feed back to the point. From here, the Red Wings defenseman do as good a job of any at getting the puck to the net. From here, it is up to the grinders in front to screen the opposing goalie, deflect any oncoming pucks and put home the rebound chances. The formula has worked wonders, and has the offense clicking averaging 3.26 goals per game, good for fifth in the league.
The Red Wings hope to keep the goals coming from the back end Friday against the rival Blackhawks at 8:30pm ET.
The Red Wings and Wild just finished a hard fought game at the Joe with the Wild taking a 2-1 OT victory. The Red Wings fifth straight loss hurts especially bad after giving up a goal with a minute left in the third that tied the game.
The boo birds were out early and often as the referees assessed the Red Wings with 18 minutes in penalties, compared to 8 for the visiting Wild.
I personally had no problem with any of the minor penalties assessed during regulation, many of which were just Red Wings sticks in the wrong place. However, I believe the officials missed an obvious elbow (interference, head contact, whatever you want to call it) by Wild forward Mikko Koivu (who was the best player on the ice tonight). His high hit left Nicklas Kronwall bloodied and out of the play, and Devin Setoguchi made no mistake on a rebound five seconds later for the win.
I’m a little surprised by the lack of discussion about Koivu’s hit on the postgame show as I type this. But I think as the players and coaches see the replay they will see that this play was exactly the type of hit the NHL wants out of the league. A high hit on a defenseless and unsuspecting player resulting in an injury.
But anyways, a pretty fun game to watch. Wild goalie Josh Harding was sensational. With a pair of saves on Nick Lidstrom on a 3rd period power play and breakaway saves on both Abdelkader and Eaves. He was easily the first star in my book.
Howard was brilliant when he was needed, and helped the Wings kill off the Wild’s first seven power play attempts.
Lidstrom put the Red Wings ahead early on a power play first period goal. His deflection beat Harding and went top shelf.
The Red Wings hurt themselves with penalties, especially the calls on Bertuzzi (2) and Miller.
Gustav Nyquist played only 11 minutes in his debut, largely in part to the Red Wings 9 penalties taken. We’ll see if he gets another shot Thursday.
Wild forward Dany Heatley continued to struggle with no shots in almost 22 minutes of ice time.
Big news today from the Red Wings front office, as GM Ken Holland has inked defenseman Niklas Kronwall to a 7-year extension. The deal will keep arguably the Red Wings’ best blue liner in a Red Wings jersey until 2019. Kronwall, along with fellow Swedes Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg, signed until 2020 and 2021 respectively, will be the core of this Red Wings team for the remainder of the decade.
The move was an essential one for the team, as the 30 year old was playing in the final year of his current deal. The hard hitting Kronwall has chipped in two points this season. The contract averages out to about $4.75 million a year, and full details of the deal can be found at the link below.
Well, kind of. The Red Wings “Red Team” took on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first preseason game for both teams, which resulted in a disappointing 3-2 loss. Chris Kunitz got the Pens on the board first, scoring halfway into the first period. Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall evened the score only two minutes later after being set up by a beautiful pass from the great Pavel Datsyuk. He makes it all look so easy. Evgeni Malkin and Matt Niskanen put the bad guys up 3-1 during the 2nd, with Niskanen scoring on the power play. To me it seemed as if Malkin was on the ice for the entire game, and I haven’t decided whether that was due to his irritatingly skillful play or because the announcers were slurping him all night (get a room, gentlemen). Things started looking up for the Wings when Jiri Hudler tipped one in at the beginning of the 3rd period, but sadly, tonight’s story had no happy ending. Although it wasn’t Howard’s best game, I don’t think this is at all an indication of what the season holds for our boy, Jimmy. Even though that first goal made me shake my head (tsk-tsk), my faith remains. MacDonald played well during his one period of play and allowed no goals during the third. Also, I found it hard to judge the newbies just from tonight’s game, but Mursak and Smith were the only ones who really stood out to me. It will be interesting to see how they compare to those on the “White Team.”
Tonight’s exhibition game was only a taste (and a tease) of Red Wing hockey, but it gave us an opportunity to see who is fighting for a spot on the roster and to fall in love with Datsyuk all over again. Wearing #24 in memory of his good pal and former Wing, Ruslan Salei, simply reminds us of why he is a four-time recipient of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (given to the player who has exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability). Tomorrow the Wings take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 7:00 EST in London, Ontario, and on Friday the Wings will take on the Flyers at home at the Joe Louis Arena.