Friday, January 27, 2006

Red Wings end losing streak – Canucks don’t.

Red Wings 2 Canucks 1 – 26-Jan-06

Two teams coming off consecutive loses faced off in ‘the Joe’ on Thursday night. The Red Wings showed why they are top of the table in the west. Detroit has a veteran team that played the Canucks for the middle of the pack team that they are. While Vancouver took an early lead the Wings make the most of their power play chances at opportune times and secured the available two points with a 2 – 1 win. The superior PP/PK of a first place team was painfully obvious throughout the night. The Nucks were better than their previous two outings. As coach Crawford mused after the game, the effort put in would have likely resulted in wins against struggling teams in the previous two games. This version of the Canucks, even back in ‘03-04 season, is able to play to their opponent’s level. Unfortunately, far too often this means they play down to lesser squads. It is more common to see them lose 4 – 0 to St Louis than blow out the Islanders 8 – 1.

The affair was a good game to watch with some emotion and strong effort by both teams. The Wings were fortunate to benefit from a weak call by Koharski for a phantom hook by Josh Green with B Mo already in the box. The Nucks were down two men for 1:15 and the Wings made full use of the time, scoring with 4 seconds left in the Morrison minor. Late in the third the breaks went Detroit’s way again when a goal was called off for reasons still not completely certain. I suspect it was one of those the ref lost sight of the puck things. This time, Lego must have been checking for babes in section 36C because he wasn’t looking in the Wings net where the biscuit lay.

Kesler played a good game and had 5 of the teams 15 hits. He, Burrows and Ruutu seemed to be in the face of the Wings and particularly Chris Chelios all night. Burrows came away with a bloody beak for his efforts. Kesler, who is growing with the season, needs to improve his face off wins.

The West Coast Express started the night well. I even made a first period note of Naslund and Bertuzzi checking deep in the defensive zone. My game notes also include Bert taking a big shot from the left face off circle with neither Naslund nor Morrison driving the net. At one point the trio looked like keystone cops with the puck deep in their own zone. It was a case of a very unfamiliar event for them. By the middle of the second period the WCE had gone back to sleep and not much more was heard from the Nassy/Bert camp. Although to be fair Bert was in the middle of the mix when Lego called off our goal late in the third with Auld on the bench.

Auld played a better game taking much more care in control of his rebounds. He was good for 33 saves on 35 shots and good enough to be the game’s second star. At the other end Legace had a quiet night facing only 15 Nucks shots. Seven of those were from the defence with three from Ohlund on a single fruitless power play. When four forward lines, 0 for 4 on the power play, can only muster 8 shots on the night chances are you are not going to win.

On deck is the Avalanche in another of those crucial 4 point divisional games. This game could be quite pivotal and could mean the difference between keeping pace with Colorado for second, within reach of Calgary in first or being in a down the stretch street fight with Edmonton for the final playoff spot in the west. The game will be on Hockey Night in Canada Saturday evening.



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