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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)

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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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jimmy Howard: You’re My All-Star

Hey Brian Elliott–don’t let the door hit you in the vag on your way out.

The Red Wings head back to Detroit with only one W from their 3 game road trip after losing 3-2 to the St Louis Blues.

1st Period Highlights:

  • SOG 10-8
  • Drew Miller went to the box for a high-stick…that wasn’t even his stick.
  • Brad Stuart showed us once again that he makes a GREAT backup goalie

2nd Period Highlights:

  • SOG 9-13
  • Jimmy Howard got his 4th career assist and the Mule put the Wings on the board with a PPG (7:42, also assisted by Hudler…)
  • Alex Steen tied it up 4 seconds after Jakub Kindl went to the box (9:20)

3rd Period Highlights:

  • SOG 10-5
  • Kronwall went to the box 0:11 into the period, allowing Backes and his Blues a chance to get ahead 2-1 (0:45)
  • Not even 2 minutes later, Patrik Berglund made it 3-1 (2:38)
  • Jiri Hudler got one in late in the period (18:40, assists to Cleary and Kronwall) when Howard went to the bench to give the Wings an extra skater

First Star of the night: Jimmy Howard—for being a badass. An assist and a scuffle? VOTE FOR JIMMY!

Crazy last couple minutes… But like a shitty massage, there was no happy ending. The Wings return to the Joe to face the Phoenix Coyotes Thursday at 7:30.

*stats from detroitredwings.com

Fresh Faces: Ty Conklin

This edition of Fresh Faces will look at free agent signee Ty Conklin, who is back for his second stint with the Red Wings. The 35 year old veteran will battle Joey MacDonald for the job of backing up starting goaltender Jimmy Howard.

Conklin was born in Arizona but raised in Alaska. He is the only goaltender from Alaska to ever play in the NHL. Upon completion of his career at the University of New Hampshire, Conklin was signed as an undrafted rookie by the Edmonton Oilers. He spent four years in between the NHL and various minor league teams, recording his then best season with Edmonton in 2003-04 with 17 wins.

Conklin was thrust into duty during the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals following an injury to starter Dwayne Roloson. The Oilers went on to blow a three goal lead, and Conklin committed a critical error on the game winning goal with just 30 seconds left. He would sit the remainder of the series, which the Oilers lost in seven games.

Following another unproductive season between two different organizations, many began to wonder if Conklin would ever recover from the 2006 disaster. The Pittsburgh Penguins signed him to a minor league deal in July of 2007. Following an injury to starter Marc-Andre Fleury, Conklin was recalled to the NHL.

It was here when Conklin resurrected his NHL career, winning nine straight starts including the Winter Classic that season. He would finish with a 18-8-5 record and a franchise record .923 save percentage that season. Upon Fleury’s return from injury, Conklin was commended for his leadership in the locker room, and considered a big factor in the Penguins deep playoff run that season. They would eventually lose to his next team, the Detroit Red Wings, in a six game Stanley Cup Final.

Conklin would split time with starter Chris Osgood in the 2008-09 season, recording a career high 25 wins. He was again credited for being a great teammate in the locker room. Conklin is often regarded around the league as a normal guy, which is rare for men of his position.

After serving two years in a backup role in St. Louis, Conklin is excited to be back in Detroit. Considering the injuries to the goaltenders of Motown last season, the team is happy to have depth at the position.

One interesting thing about Ty is the number of premiere games he has appeared in, especially given his history as a backup or minor league goaltender. Conklin has started in more outdoor games than any player: The 2003 Heritage Class (Edmonton) and the 2008 & 2009 Winter Classics (Pittsburgh and Detroit). He also played in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals and 2009 NHL Premiere in Stockholm Sweden (St. Louis).