It’s time to digest some turkey and then digest some hockey analysis. The first of two posts that preview Friday’s Red Wings – Bruins game, comes to us from Jeff, and as an added bonus, he calculates the Wings – Glee factor. LGRW!
“Mike Babcock laid it on the line with the Detroit Red Wings in the middle of their West Coast road trip last week. After losing to St Louis on November 15 2-1 and then falling 5-2 to San Jose two days later, Babcock had clearly had enough.
“We’re at the point now where we have to decide what kind of team we want to be,” he said. “You can’t let this snowball on you. You have to win on the road and you have to win at home.”
That sparked a much-needed turn around and the Red Wings beat Los Angeles (4-1) on the 19th and Anaheim (4-2) on the 20th. Now the Red Wings grab the national spotlight on Friday in the Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown, which pits them against the defending Stanley Cup Champions in Boston.
The game airs live at 1pm ET on NBC. Headed into this game of original six powerhouses, Boston is 13-7 and Detroit is 12-7.
Both team are coming off wins on Wednesday, Detroit against Calgary and Boston against Buffalo.
In the past eight games, Detroit is 6-2. Such a better spot than they were in at the time of my last post. Despite the couple of losses on the road, the team has performed, and they responded to Babcock’s call and have put some great stuff on the ice since the disappointing St. Louis and San Jose games. Some highlights in the eight games:
- Franzen picked up a hat trick against Colorado.
- Howard shutout Edmonton, which was a huge blow to Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin who has been having a pretty amazing season.
- Datsyuk ended a 12-game scoreless streak with two goals against L.A. In the same game Abdelkader picked up his first goal in 15 games.
- The most interesting stat I’ve seen over the season so far is that if Franzen doesn’t register a point, the Wings don’t win. That’s true right down to Wednesday’s Calgary game. Franzen got an assist on a second period goal and sure enough the Wings went on to win.
Detroit knows it still needs work though. They freely admit they’ve got issues on the power play as well as problems with letting leads slip away. After the Edmonton shutout, Niklas Kronwall noted, “We’re still not taking advantage of power plays. We had a chance to break the game open earlier than we did.”
Among comments Brad Stuart made after the Anaheim win, where he had two goals, was this: “It was a big win, but I think we would have drawn it up a little differently,” Stuart said. “We got off to a good start and kind of let them back in it, but Howard was big for us and made some big saves.”
To win on Friday, the Red Wings are going to have to bring their goal scoring prowess and make sure to give Boston no chances. The Bruins will capitalize on every mistake because they are going to want the home win against this team. Most of all, the Red Wings have got to get their power play under control. Few things are more difficult to watch for the fans than power play that goes to waste.
It feels like this will be a fairly close game, perfect for a prime airing on NBC. With the roll the Red Wings are currently on, and so far they’ve been getting stronger since Babcock’s strong words, I think this goes to the Red Wings and they’ll win by two.
NHL Celebrates Thanksgiving
The float will carry NHL Hall of Fame players Cam Neely (who played most of his career with Boston, from 1986-96) and Larry Murphy (who played his last fives seasons, ending in 2001, with Detroit). Cee Lo Green will provide the music on the float as kids will skate on some synthetic ice and a 25-foot tall turkey plays goalie.
I’m a parade participant as an escort to the Ronald McDonald balloon (Ronald wears skates, which gives it the smallest of hockey connections). Nothing would make me happier than to find this float directly in front of me. I’ve got no idea as I write this if that will happen or not, but a boy can dream, right?
Vote for Your All Stars… and Write In Howard!
The Red Wings have medium representation on the All-Star ballot. You’ve got Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg for the forwards and Niklas Kronwall and Nicklas Lidstrom for defense. The glaring omission here? Jimmy Howard didn’t make it in the goalie category.
The good peeps over at Winging it Over Motown are leading a write-in campaign for Howard and I wholeheartedly encourage Puck Buddys readers to join in. Here’s the case as laid out by WIOM: “Of the 18 nominees listed on the ballot, Jimmy Howard has a better GAA than 17 of them, a better SV% than 13 of them, and has as many shutouts as anyone in the league. Yet he wasn’t deemed good enough by the NHL to make their ballot for fans to vote him in as the starter. Even if we can’t get him in as a starter, hopefully he receives enough votes to make the NHL take notice that they snubbed the wrong guy. Let your voice be heard. Vote for Jimmah. Because being the best should mean getting to play with the best.” Cast your NHL All-Star ballots at vote.nhl.com.
The Glee Factor?
To wrap up this post, I’ll throw out something I’ve noticed this over the last few Tuesdays that the Red Wings have played. There seems to be a correlation between Glee episodes and Red Wings games. Here’s the evidence with this season’s games that played on Tuesday:
October 25: Red Wings lose 4-1 against Columbus. There’s no Glee at all on this Tuesday night. The World Series messed up Fox’s scheduling and they had to run X Factor instead.
November 1: Glee is back from the World Series hiatus with one of it’s worst episodes ever (“Pot of Gold”). The red wings lose 2-1 in overtime to Minnesota.
November 8: Fantastic episode (“The First Time”) that features all kinds of good stuff, and a number of songs from West Side Story. Red Wings beat Colorado 5-2.
November 15: A mediocre episode (“Mash Off”) and the Wings have a mediocre game that results in a 5-2 loss to St. Louis. This game had Babcock saying this afterwards: ““They did to us what we do to lots of teams. They outchanged us, they caught us in a half-ice game, outplayed us.”
Three games isn’t quite enough to create any sound theories, but we’ll see what happens on the upcoming Tuesday games: December 6 versus St. Louis and December 13 against the Penguins.
You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @hockeyguynyc