Monthly Archives: April 2011

Draper, Modano out for Game 1

Wings coach Mike Babcock told reporters after the morning skate in San Jose that Kris Draper and Mike Modano will be the two healthy forwards scratched for Game 1 tonight.

He also said he would start the game with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the same line.

“We’ll see what happens,” Babcock told mlive.com’s Ansar Khan. “Just like who’s playing good and who’s not playing good. We start with a plan and that plan’s usually good until the first or second shift and then you’re ready to adjust. Whoever is playing the best gets on the ice. If it’s working good you keep them together, if it’s not working good, keep them apart.”

Live chat from Game 1

Live Red Wings chat from Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series with San Jose.

Go to macombdaily.com Friday to log in. Chat will start at 9:45 p.m.

Zetterberg and Datsyuk reunited

Wings coach Mike Babcock would not say after practice Thursday what two healthy forwards were going to sit out Game 1, or what his lines were going to look like.

However, Henrik Zetterberg was reunited with Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom.

“I decided they’re practicing together (Thursday),” Babcock said. “They’re going to warm up together (tonight).

“I’m not going to tell you (who’s sitting),” Babcock added. “I think the decision for this kind of stuff is way harder in the regular season because in the regular season it’s more individual. Right now it doesn’t matter what your name is. It’s not about me, them. It’s just about playing. So whatever helps us win that’s who we’re going to play.”

3 reasons why Wings advance; 3 reasons why Wings won’t advance

It’s one down and three more rounds to go for the third-seeded Detroit Red Wings in their quest for a 12th Stanley Cup.

Round 2 starts tonight in the city where their season ended last season: San Jose.

The Sharks took out the Wings in five games last year.

Here are three reasons why the Wings will advance to the next round and three reasons they won’t.

Three reasons why Wings move on

1. Pavel Datsyuk: Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle said this about Datsyuk after Game 2 of their opening round series: “The guy’s disgusting. He’s fun to watch, but not fun to play against.”

Datsyuk was the Wings’ best player in Round 1. He had two goals and four assists in four games.

And with all their forwards back healthy, Datsyuk could have an even bigger impact in this round.

2. Still that Franzen factor: Johan Franzen had two goals and an assist in the three games he played against Phoenix. That gives him 62 points in 54 games during the past four springs. He has 37 goals and 35 assists in 78 career playoff games.

3. A well rested team: That equals a fully healthy team.

The Wings will have Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen in the lineup to begin the series. Zetterberg, who led the team in scoring during the regular season, missed the entire first round with a sprained left knee. Franzen missed Game 4 of the series with Phoenix with a hurt left ankle.

When these teams met last year, Detroit had one day off before opening the next round in San Jose.

Three reasons why Wings don’t move on

1. Penalty woes: The Wings’ penalty kill struggled mightily against a Coyotes team that struggled all season with the man advantage. After killing off all six of Phoenix’s power plays in Game 1, the Coyotes scored six times on their next 12 chances.

And Detroit can’t give up any 5-on-3 opportunities. Phoenix had three minutes and 21 seconds of two-man advantage time.

2. Unfinished business: Prior to this year, San Jose has averaged close to 50 wins during the regular season over the last six seasons. But come playoff time, the Sharks have yet to find the right formula to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.

In the last six seasons, San Jose has lost in the conference finals twice, semifinals three times and quarterfinals once.

And their top players aren’t getting any younger.

3. A well rested team: When the Wings open the next round they will have had eight days off between games. That’s their longest playoff break since 1999, when they had nine days between games following their first-round sweep of Anaheim. They lost to Colorado in the next round, winning the first two games before losing four in a row.

PREDICTION: Wings win in 6.

Round 2 predictions

A breakdown of each second-round NHL playoff series and predictions:

Western Conference

Vancouver Canucks (1) vs. Nashville Predators (5)

Neither of the Vezina Trophy-nominated netminders were all that impressive in Round 1.

Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo didn’t even start Game 6 after being lit up for 16 goals from Games 2-5. He did recover and gave up one in the finale.

Nashville’s Pekka Rinne allowed 19 goals in six games and had an abysmal .876 save percentage.

The Predators are in the second round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

The Canucks’ seven-game series with Chicago may have taken a lot out of them.

Pick: Nashville in 7.

San Jose Sharks (2) vs. Detroit Red Wings (3)

On no rest from Round 1, Detroit fell to San Jose in five games a year ago. All four of the Wings’ losses were by one goal.

This year, Detroit is well rested after a sweep of Phoenix.

The Sharks struggled to do away with Los Angeles in the first round, with three of their wins coming in overtime.

If the Wings can stay out of the penalty box, it’s their series to take.

Pick: Detroit in 6.

Eastern Conference

Washington Capitals (1) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (5)

Washington seemed to have learned from its previous lengthy playoff series by disposing of the New York Rangers in five games. The Capitals have played in four straight seven-game series, going 1-3.

Dwayne Roloson was stellar for Tampa Bay in the opening round as the Lightning came back from a 3-1 deficit, shutting Pittsburgh out in Game 7.

Tampa Bay’s power play has scored eight goals, while Washington has allowed just one power play goal.

Pick: Washington in 5.

Philadelphia Flyers (2) vs. Boston Bruins (3)

The Flyers made history in last year’s postseason meeting between these two teams, becoming just the third team to come back from a 3-0 deficit to advance. Philadelphia also trailed 3-0 in Game 7.

Philadelphia seems to have settled on a starting goalie, Brian Boucher, after three of them got starts on Round 1.

Vezina Trophy nominee Tim Thomas of the Bruins will be tested and tested often.

Pick: Philadelphia in 7.

Zetterberg not a finalist for Hart Trophy

DETROIT — The NHL announced the three finalists for the Hart Trophy, which is given to the player most valuable to his team and Henrik Zetterberg did not make the final cut.

The three finalists are Anaheim’s Corey Perry, Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis.

Here are the Top 5 players I voted for:

1. Corey Perry
2. Daniel Sedin
3. Henrik Zetterberg
4. Martin St. Louis
5. Tim Thomas

Here is the press release from the league.

Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks

Perry won the Maurice Richard Trophy as NHL goal-scoring leader with a late surge of 19 goals in his final 16 games that raised his season total to 50 and helped launch the Ducks from 11th place in the Western Conference to a season-ending fourth. The first-time Hart Trophy finalist shared the League lead in game-winning goals with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (11), tied for fifth place in power-play goals (14), shared fifth in shorthanded tallies (four) and led all players with 21 third-period goals. Twenty-five of his goals tied the score or put the Ducks ahead.

Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

Sedin is in quest of an unprecedented family ‘double’ — becoming half of the first brother tandem to win NHL MVP honors in consecutive years after twin Henrik received the award last season. Daniel already has won silverware that Henrik claimed in 2009-10, the Art Ross Trophy, by tallying a League-leading and career-high 104 points (41 goals, 63 assists) to help the Canucks post the NHL’s best regular-season record (54-19-9). Daniel sparked the League’s top-ranked power play by tallying an NHL-best 18 goals and 42 points with the extra man. He also tied for second place among NHL forwards in plus-minus (+30).

Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning

St. Louis is a Hart Trophy finalist for the first time since he captured the award in 2004. The 35-year-old wing surged late in the season, tallying points in each of his last nine games and in 15 of his final 17 to finish second in League scoring with 99 points (31 goals, 68 assists). He tied a franchise record for assists in a season and posted the second-highest point total in his 12-year NHL career, helping the Lightning make a 23-point improvement over 2009-10, post the second-best record in franchise history (46-25-11) and earn a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007.

History

The Hart Memorial Trophy was presented by the National Hockey League in 1960 after the original Hart Trophy was retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The original Hart Trophy was donated to the NHL in 1924 by Dr. David A. Hart, father of Cecil Hart, former manager-coach of the Montreal Canadiens.

Wings schedule released

DETROIT — According to tsn.ca, here is the schedule for Detroit’s Western Conference semifinal series with San Jose:

Game 1: Friday at San Jose, 10 p.m.

Game 2: Sunday at San Jose, 3 p.m.

Game 3: Wednesday, May 4 at Detroit, 8 p.m.

Game 4: Friday, May 6 at Detroit, 7 p.m.

x-Game 5: Sunday, May 8 at San Jose, 8 p.m.

x-Game 6: Tuesday, May 10 at Detroit, TBD

x-Game 7: Thursday, May 12 at San Jose, TBD

Babcock thinks Wings are better than last year

DETROIT – Wings coach Mike Babcock liked the team that fell to San Jose in five games in last year’s Western Conference semifinals.

This year’s team hasn’t changed much, from a year ago but Babcock likes them better.

“I like our team better,” Babcock said Wednesday after practice at Joe Louis Arena. “We’re a better team. We’re deeper and we play harder.

“Not that we didn’t push it going into the playoffs last year,” Babcock continued. “We had this unbelievable run, but I just think the growth in our team has been substantial. Even though we didn’t like our team a lot at times this winter, I still think the individual growth of our players is significant.”

This year’s team eliminated the Phoenix Coyotes convincingly in four games.

Last year’s squad needed seven games to dispose of the Coyotes. That lengthy series forced the Wings to open the next round in San Jose just a day after advancing.

Detroit fell to San Jose last year in five games. All four of the Sharks’ wins were by one goal. The Wings’ lone win, which came in Game 4, was a 7-1 blowout.

“We’re a better team than we were last year,” Wings forward Danny Cleary said. “We’re looking for a little redemption. We all know the feeling we had when we lost. We want to keep going here. We’ve got a good team. We believe we got a real good chance.”

Detroit added just two new players this offseason – forward Mike Modano and defenseman Ruslan Salei.

“To me, (Darren) Helm and (Justin) Abdelkader are significant factors on our team,” Babcock said. “The way they play has helped Patty Eaves become a better player, (Drew) Miller become a better player. To me we’re deeper that way.

“I also think (Todd) Bertuzzi, as good a playoff as he had for us last year, is playing better than a year ago,” Babcock continued. “To have people spread out over three to four lines makes us deeper.”

Detroit isn’t making excuses, but the quick turnaround to start the series with San Jose didn’t help the Wings last year.

“You can say it’s not, we’re professionals, and should’ve been able to handle it,” Wings defenseman Brad Stuart said. “But at the end of the day it did drain us a little bit I thought we battled as hard as we could, but by the end of the series we were pretty drained.

“A lot of that had to do with going seven games (against Phoenix) and not getting any rest in between,” Stuart continued. “It’s going to be a big difference this year.”

The Wings eliminated Phoenix last Wednesday, which gave them eight straight days between games. It’s their longest break since 1999, when they had nine days between games following their first-round sweep of Anaheim. They lost to Colorado in the next round, winning the first two games before losing four in a row.

“It was pretty tough going in after one day off,” Wings forward Darren Helm said. “Maybe we didn’t have quite as much juice as we needed. We’re not using that as an excuse. This year we got four wins and got some rest so hopefully that will be a difference.”

“There’s always a fine line in how much rest we want,” Babcock said. “We’ve all been antsy, we watched a lot of hockey. When you’re not playing all you do is watch. It’s been fun that way, in saying that we needed the time to get our guys healthy. You might have a little rust early. We take that over getting beat up over the last while.”

This year’s series opens Friday in San Jose with Game 2 taking place Sunday. Games 3 and 4 are in Detroit Wednesday and Friday.

“We’re rested,” Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. “It’s a confident group in this dressing room. We can pull some inspiration from last year, them ending our season in the second round. We’re going to have to go out there and just play simple Friday night, not try to get ahead of ourselves.”

This will be the fifth time Detroit and San Jose have met in the postseason. The teams have split the other four series.

“(Redemption is) on the back of everybody’s mind that was there,” Cleary said. “No one feels good about getting knocked out, no matter what round it is. We go back-to-back Cup finals and then lose in the second round in a series that, they played better for sure. but there was a lot of one-goal games, a lot of missed opportunities. It’s a good opportunity for us to prove ourselves again. They’re a good team. It’s going to be a good series.”

San Jose won the season series with the Wings, 3-1, outscoring Detroit 15-11. The Sharks have won seven of the last nine meetings between the teams.

“I don’t think you need any extra motivation,” Wings forward Johan Franzen said. “Just winning a series is motivation enough. We played them a lot the last few years. It’s always a good battle, fun games.”

Franzen good to go

DETROIT — Johan Franzen took part in a full practice Wednesday and ruled himself ready to play in Game 1 Friday in San Jose.

“It’s going to take him a little bit to get up to pace but I think by the time he’s done practicing (today) he’ll be ready to go,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

Datsyuk named a Selke finalist

DETROIT — Once again, Pavel Datsyuk has been named a finalist a for the Frank Selke Trophy, which is awarded “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.”

Datsyuk has won it the last three seasons.

“No surprise there,” said Kris Draper, who won the award after the 2003-04 season. “We definitely know in this dressing room what a dominate two-way hockey player he is. It’s amazing what he does on both ends of the rink. To us and to me he’s the most complete hockey player in the NHL.”

Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews are the other finalists.

Datsyuk could become the first player to win the award for four consecutive seasons since Bob Gainey of the Montreal Canadiens won it the first four seasons it was presented, from 1978 through 1981.

Datsyuk ranked 11th in the League in takeaways with 71 despite being limited to 56 games due to injury.

Datsyuk tied for second on the Red Wings in plus-minus with a +11 rating and was the club’s top face-off man, posting a 54.6-percent winning percentage. It was his seventh consecutive season posting a face-off winning percent of over 53.

“We all see it everyday and appreciate it,” defenseman Brad Stuart said. “For him to get the recognition is great, he deserves it.
And for him to get it even after missing a few games is every more remarkable.

“He’s just a special player, Stuart continued. “When you have your forwards that can make defensive plays, stripping pucks away from guys that just helps us on defense. Pav is one of the if not the best in the league.”