Well, I think it’s safe to say that we all feel a little bit better now that the Wings have a victory to their credit. I’m really not used to stressing about hockey this early in the season. Unfortunately, as happy as I am, I can’t say the game did a whole lot to ease my mind. For reasons that continue to baffle me, the Wings simply can’t be bothered to play for the entire duration of a hockey game.
I missed the first four minutes, but I’m going to go ahead and assume that it looked a lot like the rest of the game. I was really glad that I rushed home from class (no joke, I set a world record for fastest uphill bike ride with flat tires in the rain.) so that I could watch Chicago carry the play for the majority of the period. The Wings were outshot and outhustled and I was starting to get a little bit cranky. To the surprise of nobody, the Blackhawks scored first to take the lead early in the second period.
Shortly after that, the Wings were whistled for a lengthy 5-on-3 penalty kill. At that point, I was strongly considering switching over to watch The Office. I’m glad I stayed, though. The PK ended up being very good, and I’ll admit that I found myself a little bit shocked when they finally returned to even strength only down a goal. The Wings got a powerplay almost immediately after that, and I started to wonder if it might have been a turning point.
It took a little longer, but eventually the Wings evened it up on a fluky powerplay goal by Nick Lidstrom. A few minutes later, Kris Draper buried an absolute snipe to make it 2-1 despite the fact that the team had been outshot and outplayed for the majority of the game. It really seemed like an inverse of the way the vast majority of Wings losses play out. Usually they’re the ones playing games with the puck and peppering the opposing goalie with shots only to give up a heartbreaker or two.
A minute and a half after that, Johan Franzen finished the Wings’ scoring by tapping in Pavel Datsyuk’s shot as it trickled toward the goal line. This secretly made me happy because Franzen is on my fantasy team. Despite the fact that the Hawks made a game of it as they once again took over in the third period, that goal stood up as the game winner.
The penalty kill gave up another goal in the third period, but I’m not too terribly broken up about it. Ericsson could barely skate because he’d taken another shot off of his ankle and Brad Stuart had lost his stick. It turns out that it’s hard to kill penalties when you don’t have any defensemen. After the game, Babcock said that Ericsson was fine, but that really isn’t going to stop me from worrying.
A couple of positive things from the game:
--Both Todd Bertuzzi and Jason Williams made great defensive plays that took away very good scoring chances. I know. I was as shocked as you are.
--Ozzie looked good out there. He made some really good saves in the third period, and really kept the team in the game. This makes me happy because now we can spend the next 48 hours talking about something other than goaltending. He got a little help from the fact that the Blackhawks had apparently been taking shooting lessons from Mikael Samuelsson during the off-season. I lost count of how many shots they fired wide on good scoring chances.
--Kronwall and Stuart were both fantastic tonight. The seemed to struggle a little bit in Sweden, and I was glad to see them get it together tonight. Stuart had several good hits (one on Hossa handmaiden Tomas Kopecky, who stunningly managed to last a whole game without being injured).
--I was surprised to see Brad May in the lineup, until it was posited that he was supposed to be this year’s Dallas Drake. I can kind of understand that, although it makes me wonder why they bothered signing Patrick Eaves. I missed his fight because I was passing out cable box components to my roommate, but I kind of think I’m going to like him (even though I have a hard time trusting a man with a soul patch).
So now we have Saturday and a visit from Alex Ovechkin to look forward to. I’m kind of excited, especially since the team announced that the student rush deal was coming back this season.