Blog Entry

Weekend Wrap: No hating on Wings now

Posted on: February 19, 2012 4:38 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 8:48 pm
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The weekend saw Detroit's home streak go from 21 in a row to 23. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

I took a lot of heat for suggesting last week that the Red Wings' home win streak, as impressive as it is, might be deserving of a little side not in the history books thanks to the shootout.

But even I'll concede now you can forget that. I said if the Wings continued to push out the streak it becomes a non-issue and you are just left in too much awe of what Detroit has done. They've done exactly that.

After failing in their last five regular-season games against the San Jose Sharks, the Wings instead finished off a six-game homestand with another win, a hard-fought 3-2 victory at the Joe. For those counting at home, and I'm sure that's most all of you, that's 23 consecutive home wins, three more than the previous record.

It all underscores a bigger point. Sure, the NHL record is great and all, but that's nothing more than a nice stat to go in the history books. Otherwise it means nothing. However it will mean something if the Red Wings earn the Presidents' Trophy, or at least the top seed in the Western Conference.

You look hard to find holes on this team. At one point you might have said it was the backup goaltending, then Jimmy Howard got hurt, Joey MacDonald was called up and he has proven he is capable of replacing Ty Conklin. More than capable, in fact.

Before the season the hole was glaring on the defense. That's why they brought in some players to help in that regard, although none seemed to be all that significant at the time, at least to me. Oops.

While one of those additions, Mike Commodore, has been sparingly used, you can't say the same for Ian White. Despite pretty solid career numbers, I wasn't too crazy about a guy who played on three different teams last season (Calgary, Carolina and San Jose). Apparently that was a silly worry.

He has been as solid a plug into their blueline group as anybody out there. He chews up more than 23 minutes per game, he contributes some offensively and is on pace to smash his career best plus/minus mark (currently he is plus-29). I know, I know, plus/minus doesn't mean much, but you'd rather have a player who is that far above zero than below it, wouldn't you?

Moreover, they have scoring depth. Who'd a thunk that Drew Miller -- no longer just the brother of Sabres goalie Ryan Miller -- would be on his way to 15 or so goals? He is one of the 10 Red Wings players who are in double digits in goals this season. That means there is little reprieve at any point in a game against the Wings.

More from the weekend
Recaps
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More Eye on Hockey

Obviously you're a good team when you win 23 in a row at home. Clearly no slouch is going to get that done. But the biggest thing about this home streak for me is that it will contribute to them playing a lot more at home. Ironic, I know. But what really matters will be the home games beyond the guaranteed 41.

Philly's problem

This week the Flyers made not one but two trades to get help on the defensive corps. While the help was definitely needed, not a lot is going to get better if the goaltending duo doesn't improve.

A sight that has become all too familiar this season, Ilya Bryzgalov was yanked mid-game after Matt Cooke scored the all-too rare 3-on-5 goal. Sergei Bobrovsky came in and din't perform any better. Eventually it ended in a 6-4 loss for the Flyers to the intrastate rival Penguins.

But evidenced by the downpour of boos from the Wells Fargo Center faithful, this has been a season-long issue for Philadelphia. Heck, it's been a lot longer than this season, but it was supposed to be resolved when they brought in Bryzgalov.

His save percentage has been floating around .900 all season. Right now it's sitting square on that mark, the lowest of his career. His goals against average is up to 2.79. His only worse season was in 2008-09 when he gave up 2.98 per game with the Coyotes.

Needless to say this isn't what the Flyers invested so much into him for. You have to think that with the success the team has had despite the goaltending woes, if either one of the goalies could get it going and start playing up to an acceptable level at minimum, they could make some serious noise in the playoffs.

You just wonder if that's possible at this point, if it's in either goalie with the current situation, from the defense in front of them to the coaching. It's a conversation that continues to linger around the Flyers.

Just check out what the Flyers had to say, including Bryzgalov after Saturday's loss.

Hockey Day in America

So among all the American players playing on Sunday, who'd a thunk that Paul Gaustad would be the first to score on Sunday's Hockey Day in America?

Assuming you don't count Canadian-born Jason Pominville even though he does play for the American natonal team as a dual-citizen, it was his Sabres teammate that scored the first goal by an American. He barely beat Drew Miller in Detroit for that honor.

It was part of a rare breakout for the Sabres. It's been a big struggle for them this season in Buffalo, but they brought out the scoring sticks and pounded the Penguins 6-2. In the grand scheme of things it doesn't do much for Buffalo who is too far out of the playoff picture, but it was perhaps a nice audition for Gaustad in this month of the trade deadline.

He's not going to be as sought after as a lot of the other players, but some team seeking grit and toughness with a side of skill, Gaustad could fit somewhere. Just go back and watch his work on Evgeni Malkin on Sunday to get a sense of that.

Unlucky break of the weekend

Speaking of Hockey Day in America, one of the other big games of the day was the St. Louis Blues visiting the Chicago Blackhawks. It was also a big matchup in the Central Division as well.

As is the case with every Blues game, it was a low-scoring affair that turned with one bad break. This one going against the Blues.

The game-winning goal for the Blackhawks technically went to Dave Bolland, but if they could, it should have gone to the Blues' David Backes, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The centering pass shot off of Backes and he couldn't stop the puck from going in the net in time. The 'Hawks eventually potted an empty-netter for their third straight win after the nine-game skid.

Vancouver love

This year's NHLPA players poll voted the Vancouver Canucks as the league's most overrated team. Don't think I'd agree at all in calling them overrated. They were one game from winning the Cup last season and as we all know, only one team can win the Cup each season. I mean the Canucks have won the games to put them in the positions they've been in each postseason, it's not like it's a fabrication, they earned those points.

In fact, I'd say that this team doesn't get enough credit, at least in the States. They seem to be in the news a bit, but not often for their play. Yet all they do is win as DJ Khaled so eloquently said. This is the team that could take away from that Red Wings home-ice advantage in the West this postseason.

That's because they extended their points streak to 12 games after beating down the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-2 on Saturday in Vancouver. They are 9-0-3 in that time. They became the second team behind the Wings to reach the 80-point plateau.

Perhaps that overrated label has come from the fact that we expect this now. It might also explain why they are winning so quietly. Or maybe it has been the large amount of overtime and shootout wins, especially lately. But no matter the reason, people should probably pay attention.

Just can't Capitalize

Every time you think the Washington Capitals are going to get it going after a big and impressive win, they fall flat. It happened again this weekend.

They took two points from the division-leading Panthers on Friday night in a dominating effort, outshooting Florida by a wide margin. So how'd they follow that up? By looking like the Caps we've seen for the most of Dale Hunter's tenure ... being outshot and outchanced for the majority of the game and losing a low-scoring affair to the Lightning 2-1.

It seems every step they take forward they take one step back. It's why the Panthers are still sitting in first place in the Southeast with just 65 points. That's the seventh most in the Eastern Conference yet best in the division.

At some point if the Caps are going to make the playoffs they need to start stringing together a couple of these wins in a row instead of missing these chances.

Quote of the weekend

“I haven’t been on a vacation for 15 days,” Boudreau said. ”This is ridiculous. The East has no idea how lucky they are. And I think every team in the West should start with 10 points before the season starts.

“Eight games and 15 days. And I’m sure Pittsburgh goes through it, too. But when you have a four-game road trip in seven days, you’re coming home exhausted. We’re at seven days right now and this is just the halfway point in our trip.

“For a guy that’s played in the East or coach in the East as well, I don’t know how they do it,” he said. ”I really don’t. It’s quite a testament to every team in the West’s character for not griping as much as I’m doing right now about it.

“You don’t even know what hotel room you’re getting into. You forget the hotel rooms and everything during the course of the day on this trip. It’s pretty Wild. But it is what it is. You can’t use it as an excuse and you’ve got to keep going.”

-- Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on the travelling for his Anaheim team. It was technically said on Thursday, but hey, it's worth pointing out, particularly as the Ducks went from New Jersey on Thursday to Carolina on Friday and Florida on Sunday evening.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

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Comments
lingkind
Since: Feb 20, 2012
Posted on: February 20, 2012 11:06 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Nov 24, 2009
Posted on: February 20, 2012 10:35 am
 

Weekend Wrap: No hating on Wings now

The Red Wings have not lost at home since...


The Lions were 6-2....

Before the November elections....

Michigan lost to Iowa being their last loss for the year...


Since I went to a home gameCry


LOL..My pops came back for that one too...I went two a ton of the games on this streak. Its been awesome.




Since: Apr 4, 2008
Posted on: February 20, 2012 10:28 am
 

Weekend Wrap: No hating on Wings now

Nobody in any sport can argue that the wings in the last 20 or so years have the best run franchise in all of sports. The cup will be back in Hockeytown!



Since: Jun 7, 2010
Posted on: February 20, 2012 9:54 am
 

Weekend Wrap: No hating on Wings now

Yes, Detroit always gets it done but did you have to have Todd "sucker punch" Bertuzzi on the front headline page?



Since: Oct 21, 2006
Posted on: February 20, 2012 8:47 am
 

Weekend Wrap: No hating on Wings now

BSG40, Agreed most Americans are a bit like that in regards to hockey. I'm one that will turn off football to watch the Leafs play the Oilers though. I disagree that the NHL makes any overt changes to anything against the Wings or any other team for the most part. I will say that there have been some questionable calls in a couple of Cup finals in the past involving southern teams. Things that seem to be a push for that US popularity into non traditional markets. Dallas v Buffalo and Calgary v Tampa both had calls in those series that were highly questionable and helped lead to the southern team winning a game on their road to the cup.

I want to see good hockey that is called even on both ends of the ice. I like good clean hits and will give props even when that hit is put on a Wings player. 23 in a row is an awesome feat in any era, even with the OT and SO now in play. It also helps make up for the fact that Detroit has not exactly been world beaters on the road this season. It will be nice to get Jimmy back in the net in Chicago and I do think that MacDonald's play is the main reason they have let Howard continue to rest. Had there been issues, or the streak broken, he would have already started. Stating Howard in Chicago also means that if he does have lingering problems, it doesn't affect the streak at all. He can have some rust and maybe drop a game and the streak is still alive.



Since: Dec 3, 2006
Posted on: February 20, 2012 2:55 am
 

Weekend Wrap: No hating on Wings now

@ Teres Minor,

quite possibly one of the most ridiculous posts I've ever read. Who in the current NHL was even around in the days of Ted Lindsay? Also, scheduling changes affect all teams involved, and injuries happen to all teams...was Detroit the only team with injured players going into the playoffs? Didn't the Wings win the cup in 2008 and make the finals in 2009? Certainly doesn't sound like the league has anything against Detroit.

A successful Detroit team (or any US team) is good for the NHL as it creates greater interest in the United States...which is something Bettman has painfully been trying to accomplish for years. As a Canadian, I'll watch hockey regardless. However, Americans don't want to see Toronto/Vancouver, Montreal/Calgary, Ottawa/Edmonton...they want to see Detroit/Philly, New York/San Jose, etc...

 



Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: February 20, 2012 1:01 am
 

No hating on Wings now except in NHL office

I still haven't forgotten how the NHL accelerated their playoff schedule a few years ago to prevent the Wings from getting over some crucial injuries.  The NHL calls games one way in the season, and another in the playoffs.  Usually, the Wings get crucial calls against them at crucial times in the playoffs, couresy of the NHL.  For that matter, the salary cap was created specifically to keep Wings' owner Mike Ilitch from keeping his team together.  

The Wings are the best team in the league, but the league will make sure that something happens to them in the playoffs.  They always do.  The NHL office has held a grudge against the Wings since Ted Lindsay made them angry with his style of play in the 1950's.  When Lindsay came out of retirement to play in the 1960's, the commissioner was quoted as calling it "a black day for hockey."  The Wings have had to "pay double" for anything positive that has happened to them since.   

Let's see the games called the same way in the playoffs that they are now, and let's see the league stick to their schedule this time instead of changing it on the fly to give one team a disadvantage. 



Since: Dec 3, 2006
Posted on: February 19, 2012 10:42 pm
 

Weekend Wrap: No hating on Wings now

Win streak or no win streak, Detroit has been the real deal for what seems like decades...and doesn't it feel like Lidstrom has been in the league since the NHL was created?

With regards to Vancouver, the team is definitely good but there's something about them that always unsettles me. They'd also better hope they can avoid Chicago in the playoffs because Dave Bolland somehow manages to give the Sedins problems.



Since: Aug 2, 2011
Posted on: February 19, 2012 9:38 pm
 

Weekend Wrap: No hating on Wings now

Either the Redwings or Canucks are most likely to be the Western conference representatives in the Stanley Cup. Redwings are unbeatable a home, and the Canucks ARE the real deal, not the overrated team people believe they are.

The Caps seem to flatter to deceive in the last few years but this year have deceived the majority of all hockey fans. I feel that it is more to do with the management and coaching rather than the players as on paper the Caps have probably the strongest core of players in the East.

Unfortunately, as strong as Flyers are, they need strong goalies than they have at present. Lucky we kept Hillier, when, myself included belived he should traded earlier in the season.



Since: Sep 2, 2006
Posted on: February 19, 2012 9:37 pm
 

Weekend Wrap: No hating on Wings now

The Red Wings have not lost at home since...


The Lions were 6-2....

Before the November elections....

Michigan lost to Iowa being their last loss for the year...


Since I went to a home gameCry


      
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