The Detroit Red Wings boarded Red Bird III last night after beating the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 at the Honda Center. The win garners Detroit 4 points out of a possible 8 on their recent road trip. 4 points is respectable, although I think the Wings would have been a little more satisfied with 5 or maybe 6. A better performance against St. Louis on Tuesday could have given them that extra point or two, but that’s life.
Detroit struck first with a highlight reel goal by Henrik Zetterberg early in the first period. A couple other beauties by Johan Franzen and Brad Stuart gave the Wings a comfortable 3-0 midway through the second. The Ducks appeared slow and lethargic up to that point, worried this would be another 5-goal-50-shot drubbing. However, Saku Koivu breathed life into the Ducks with a goal of his own and Detroit found itself struggling to keep up with the new Anaheim exhuberance. By the end of the second, Detroit had seen its three-goal margin slip away to one.
The third period was some of the tightest action I’ve seen yet. The Wings got a little careless late in the third and drew a couple lousy penalties to give the Ducks ample chances to tie things up. Jimmy Howard had other plans, though and played a fantastic game in net. Were it not for Howard, this game could have easily seen at least 5 goals by the Ducks. And for one of the very few times this season, the Wings were outshot 34-30.
In back-to-back starts, I was expecting Ty Conklin to start against the Ducks. It’s been a while since he started and he’s been looking for a chance to prove to his team that he’s a better goalie than his last few decisions suggest. A couple contests with Eastern Conference teams (Lightning, Sabres, and Jets) are in the schedule in the next few weeks so we can expect Conklin will be dusting off his pads soon enough.
I still am not impressed with the play of Jonathan Ericsson, particularly since his new contract extension. Ericsson is a big body who can play and shoot the puck well, but lately, his problem is he just can’t stay out of the penalty box. At least once per game, he gets sent out for a hooking or interference call. Understandably, that will take some time, however since Ian White’s injury, he’s been set up with Lidstrom in the top defensive pairing, and his on-ice time has increased significantly. This was his chance to step up, but still I’m seeing more of the same. More ice time has simply meant more penalties.
Yet, after all that, the Red Wings still came away with a victory, but the game was a whole lot closer than the 4-2 final suggests. Close enough to trim a few hairs from those Movember mustaches. They do get to come home and rest up a bit before the return of the Calgary Flames to Joe Louis Arena on Thanksgiving Eve. I think we can all expect a better performance by the Wings than their first tally against the Flames, now that the Wings have stepped up their confidence and their top scorers are beginning to light the lamp again.
Oh, and by the way, is it just me, or is it a bit more than perfect timing that Sydney Crosby’s first game back is at home against the lowly Islanders on U.S. and Canadian National Television? Are we absolutely sure he couldn’t play Thursday against the hard-shooting Tampa Bay Lightning in St. Pete?