Three Questions: Wings-Canucks
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' 25th game
It took Derek Meech 50 career games, but he sure did make his first goal in the NHL count. Three minutes into the third period, Meech grabbed Kirk Maltby’s backhand pass at the top of the right circle. He cut to the net, but had nowhere to go with the puck. Instead of shooting, Meech made a quick deke, pulled the puck back in, and cut around the back of the net. The move froze Vancouver goaltender Cory Schneider, and Meech beat him to the other side of the cage. With a quick flick of the wrists, Meech’s shot hit the back of the net, giving the Wings a 4-3 lead. It was a great goal, and well deserved – Meech deserves a great deal of recognition for stepping up and playing forward for a Detroit team hampered by injures.
But Meech did more than just acquire a goal for the trophy case – he jumpstarted the Wings’ offense, which exploded soon after. Fifty seconds after Meech’s goal, captain Nicklas Lidstrom took a cross-ice feed from a falling Marian Hossa, and slowly walked in on Schneider until he found a hole short-side. Then, less than two minutes later, Dan Cleary scored his second of the night, roofing a rebound off a slapshot from Lidstrom.
It was quite the explosion on the scoreboard, and Meech deserves most of the credit.
What was the play of the night?
I have to go with Jiri Hudler’s second goal of the contest – it was a thing of beauty. Hudler took the feed from defenseman Andreas Lilja, and really turned on the jets. He broke away from both Vancouver defenseman, beating both of them to the net. And, with both of them harassing him with their sticks, Hudler managed to control the puck, then roof top shelf on Schneider’s left shoulder. The 24-year-old was being hooked so aggressively that he had drawn a penalty, yet it wasn’t enough to stop him, as he fought his way through for his second goal of the night, and 11th on the season.
Who got his nose dirty?
He works hard every night, and he is not afraid of the physical part of the game, but I was surprised by how aggressive Pavel Datsyuk was tonight, in regards to face washes and not-so-nice discussions. He got into it early in the first period with defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who apparently didn’t like how Datsyuk cut past the Vancouver goal and let him know by giving him a whack. Datsyuk exchanged pleasantries with him, as did Marian Hossa. Soon after, Datsyuk threw an impressive check on Lawrence Nycholat. For the rest of the game, he was mixing it up, throwing around the body and doing a bit of chirping. It’s always nice to see (and fun to watch) a team’s superstars play the physical side of the game, and Datsyuk proved Thursday night that he won’t ever shy away from the rough stuff.