Three Questions: Wings-Avalanche
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' 35th game
Detroit’s offensive firepower was on full display Saturday night, as a 3-0 deficit was erased in only four minutes. The Red Wings fell into penalty trouble in the first period, allowing the Avalanche to build up an early lead. Then, in the second period, everything changed. On the Wings’ first power play of the contest (which came three minutes into the second period), multiple shots clanked off the posts of the Colorado goal. Then, ten minutes later, the Wings got another man-advantage opportunity, and they made it count. Pavel Datsyuk scored his 14th goal of the season by firing his own rebound past a confused goaltender in Peter Budaj, who was looking for the puck on the other side of the ice. Only 1:22 later, the Wings were back on the power play, and this time it was Tomas Holmstrom, recording his 11th goal of the year on a great backhanded tip from a Mikael Samuelsson slapshot. To cap off the second period flurry, Johan Franzen buried his 15th goal, firing home a pass from Brian Rafalski from just below the circle. The Red Wings showed the resiliency and determination that made them Stanley Cup champions last spring in an impressive comeback against a lead that seemed insurmountable. They didn’t come away with the victory, but coming away with a point is never a bad thing.
What happened without the captain?
With captain Nicklas Lidstrom being day-to-day with an ankle injury suffered in Nashville, coach Mike Babcock was forced to alter his defensive pairings for tonight’s game. Chris Chelios, who is still recovering from a broken leg suffered in the preseason, dressed for the first time in six games, and partnered with Brett Lebda. Andreas Lilja moved up to play alongside Brian Rafalski, and Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall remained together.
Kronwall led the defensive corps in ice time, skating for 29:25, and Brian Rafalski came in second with 27:39. Lebda saw some power play time, manning the points with Rafalski throughout the contest. Babcock and his staff monitored Chelios’ time on the ice, limiting him to 9:15.
What other changes did Babcock make?
After shuffling up the ‘D’ pairings, Babcock did the same to the forward lines, rearranging the first three lines. The trio of Datsyuk, Franzen, and Holmstrom started the game. They were followed by a line of Henrik Zetterberg between Dan Cleary and Marian Hossa. Samuelsson, Jiri Hudler and Valtteri Filppula completed the third unit, and Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Tomas Kopecky rounded out the Wings’ offense. Holmstrom lead the way on the scoresheet, tallying a goal and two assists, while Zetterberg (22:08) and Hossa (20:59) saw the most ice time.