Fast start highlights Wings' season
The Red Wings kicked off there season with a win, defeating Anaheim, 4-0, with new addition and Michigan native Mike Modano scoring a goal in his debut. The next night the Wings went to Chicago and defeated the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2. By the end of October the Wings had gotten off to a hot start out of the gate going 6-2-1, led by Henrik Zetterberg who posted 12 points in that stretch. The power play was also hitting on all cylinders, connecting in eight straight games from Oct. 9-30. In the next 10 games, the Wings went 7-2-1 led by solid goaltending with Jimmy Howard posting all seven wins. Danny Cleary grabbed eight goals in those 10 games to lead the offense. The Wings did get a bit of bad news, when in the end of November, Modano suffered a freak injury when the Blue Jackets’ R.J. Umberger’s skate came up and lacerated his wrist. At the end of 20 games the Wings were in first-place of the Central Division.
Second Quarter: Games 21-40(11-6-3 span; 25-10-5 overall)
The Wings ended November hot with three straight wins and no Wing started December hotter than Pavel Datsyuk who had 15 points through 13 games. Unfortunately the star forward was lost in late December when he broke his hand in a 5-4 overtime victory against Vancouver. Chris Osgood recorded his 400th career win in a 4-3 win against Colorado. Needless to say with the Datsyuk injury, others had to pick up the slack and one player who did was Patrick Eaves. After the injury Eaves had four goals in four games, including his hat trick December 29th against the Dallas Stars. The power play was in tip top shape against Colorado, converting four times, the most goals on the power play in a game this year. The team did suffer a rarity when they were shut out at home by the Los Angeles Kings 5-0, behind an outstanding 51 save performance by Jonathan Quick. Immediately after that though, Nick Lidstrom, who has accomplished almost everything a hall of famer could, collected his first career hat trick in a 5-2 win over St. Louis. In what was a decent 20 game span, the Wings ended the month and year nicely with a 3-1 road trip. The Wings did have a minor let down when they were beaten in overtime on there annual New Years Eve game to a then surging New York Islanders squad.
Third Quarter: Games 41-60 (12-7-1 span; 37-17-6 overall)
The early part of 2011 started on the road for the Wings, who went 2-1-1 on their trip out west. This span of games saw the Wings on the road quite a bit, but that didn’t seem to hurt power forward Johan Franzen. The big Swedish forward scored five times against the Senators in Ottawa. It was the most goals scored by a Red Wings’ player since Sergei Fedorov did it Dec. 26, 1996. From Jan. 15 to Feb. 2, Franzen scored an incredible eight goals in six games. The team hit a rough patch against division rivals Columbus and Nashville, being shut out in back-to-back games, but got a shot in the arm when Datsyuk came back from injury and scored in his first game back, a 3-2 win against the New York Rangers. By the end of the month, the Wings had pulled off five straight wins in the 20 game span. Of those five games, two were a home-and-home series against fellow Original Six member Boston, a treat to players and fans. Todd Bertuzzi had four goals in those two games to give the Wings the series sweep. He also played in his 1,000th career game and fittingly scored the shoot-out winner against Minnesota on Feb. 20. At the 60 game mark, the Wings still held the Central Division lead.
Fourth Quarter: Games 61-80 (9-7-4 span; 46-24-10 overall)
The start of February and all of March was a mixed bag. The team had a mediocre record, but still held a firm grip on the Central Division. The power play was also humming scoring seven goals in six games at the start of the 20 game span and then after not scoring a power play goal in two straight games, converted in nine straight games between March 12-30. This has been a nice month of milestones. Newly acquired defenseman Ruslan Salei played in his 900th career game Feb. 22; and veteran forward Tomas Holmstrom recorded his 500th career point against Pittsburgh in a 5-4 shootout loss. Backup goalie Joey MacDonald also recorded his second shutout, blanking Columbus, on St. Patrick’s Day. His only other shutout came against the Wings when he was playing for the Islanders. All in all, the team is priming for a long playoff run after securing a playoff spot with a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on April 3.