November 5, 2011

Detroit Redwings V Anaheim Ducks Game Review

Everyone by now should know the problems the Wings have been having finding the net over recent games with them only finding the twine 6 times in the last 6 games. 

The Ducks had lost their last 4 games (2 in OT) and were averaging just over 2 goals a game going into this whilst only conceding just over 2.5.

A tight game expected? You would think so!

Detroit had a decent first 5 minutes that led to a few good half chances and it was the Redwings who got the powerplay chance as well as the Ducks took a soft offensive zone hooking penalty.

It wasn’t a brilliant powerplay for Detroit but as in the last game they scored just as it finished, this time Kronwall fired a shot in from just inside the blue line. He fired the puck low to the bottom right of Hiller.
Detroit went straight on the powerplay straight after the goal but gave up a great chance to Gordon who found himself free infront of the net but hit the outside of the post. Detroit put the pressure on for the remainder on the powerplay but Hiller stood firm as the Redwings fired the puck from all angles at the net. Detroit at this point were outshooting the Ducks 16 – 1 with 11 minutes gone.

Detroit’s early period energy faded in the 2nd half and although they allowed the Ducks to get some puck on the net themselves they rarely looked threatened, even when killing off an Anaheim 2 minute powerplay. The period finished 1-0 with the Wings outshooting the Ducks 17-7.

Fillpula and Holmstrom both had great scoring chances in the first 1.30 of the 2nd period but Hiller stood firm making 2 good saves close in. Detroit had come out of the blocks though and Zetterberg did make it 2-0 after good play from Lidstrom and Franzen on the boards.

Less than a minute later it was 3-0 as Lidstrom fired in a shot from the top of the circle. Hiller complained at the goal as Brunstrom’s stick got caught up in the netminder’s blocker as the shot went past him.
It was a blistering start to the 2nd period from Detroit but 2 poor penalties allowed the Ducks the chance to get back into the game. Anaheim didn’t take advantage of this though, barely creating a noteworthy chance as the game came to the midpoint.

The Redwings got a break with just over 12 minutes gone as Sbisa hit a shot from the blueline past Howard but Perry was adjudged to have had incidental contact with the netminder so the goal was scrubbed off.
Detroit continued to pressure Hiller’s net as he pulled off good saves from Holmstrom and then Cleary had a clear cut break towards the net but sent his shot high and wide.

Franzen then sent Fillpula clear on Hiller but he stood tall and Fowler made a half challenge to put the forward off as he tried to finish the play off.

Detroit  finished off the period strong as they led the Ducks 35 – 13 in shots and 3-0 on the scoreboard. Anaheim would need something special in the 3rd to try and get back into this one.

The 3rd period started with Selanne getting a 2+10 penalty on which Lidstrom fired a puck high into the net with Holmstrom screening Hiller. Selanne continued to argue after the goal went in and got a game misconduct penalty and left the penalty box and went straight down the tunnel.

With around 5 minutes gone Macenauer got a great chance on Howard who made a good low pad save as Anaheim tried to get back into the game.

Detroit still continued to create chances and get shots on goal as the game headed into the last 10 minutes. Anaheim looked like a team coming off a 2 week road trip and were really struggling to get anything going.

Franzen made it 5-0 just after the 10 minute mark of the period as a poor play from the Ducks saw the puck come to Ian White skating in from between the circles and as he went to the net and was blocked out, Franzen followed the play and stuck the puck into the net.

Hiller was pulled just after the goal to be replaced by Ellis.

That killed the game as both teams played out the remainder of the game without any outstanding or clear cut chances as Howard completed his 2nd shut out of the season.

This time Detroit played well for the full 60 minutes, not just part of a period. They didn’t take stupid penalties and put plenty of puck on net which saw them get the 5 goals they deserved.

At the other end of the ice Anaheim really struggled to get anything going offensively and that showed with them being outshot 50 – 22. They didn’t create any sustained pressure on the Detroit net at any point and really did look like a team that would be happy to get a few days rest before a home stint.

The Ducks are a much better team than they showed tonight and hopefully that they will turn things around again and get themselves back into winning ways.

- Adam Yates

Rangers sign blueliner Stralman

The New York Rangers strengthened their blueline by signing 25-year-old Anton Stralman to a contract on Saturday. The Swedish born star has played two years each with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jacks in his NHL career.

Thus far the defenseman has tallied 74 points and 97 penalty minutes in 212 games.  While with the Blue Jackets, Stralman established career-highs in different categories recoding six goals, 28 assists, 34 points and 73 games played.

A seventh-round draft pick of the Maple Leafs in 2005, the blueliner stands at 5-11, weighing in at 195 pounds and should bring a physical game to the Blueshirts.

Stacy Podelski

Craig Smith - A Star is Born in Nashville

Every year when the Nashville Predators have been eliminated from the playoffs the general consensus is that the Predators need to pick up more scoring.  Defensively the Predators have been a solid team over the past years but have lacked in the scoring department.  Last year they added Kostitsyn and Fisher with the intention to add more scoring, which happened, however it wasn’t enough.  With one key line looked too to score the majority of the Nashville points, the Canucks were able to focus on that line and limit the chances. 

This offseason Predators fans seemed dismayed at the team’s lack of enthusiasm in attracting that last missing goal scorer.  Little did they know that Nashville had what they needed waiting in the wings at the University of Wisconsin.  Craig Smith was what the team was waiting for to be exact.  Smith celebrated his coming out party during the World Championships last summer, but this performance was pushed off as kind of flukey due to the lack of big names in the tournament.  Then when Smith lit up goaltenders during training camp, preseason and rookie games people played it off because he wasn’t playing with established NHL players.  Well now that the regular season is 12 games in, Smith has shown that neither of those showings was a fluke, and he’s ready to help the team make a push, and make his own push for the Calder Trophy.  Smith so far is not only getting time in all situations for the Predators, but he is ranked 2nd in points among all rookies with 10, only one point behind Nugent-Hopkins of Edmonton, and Buffalo’s Luke Adam. 

Smith’s consistent performance so far this season has given Predators fans something to look forward to for the rest of this season and for years to come.  The maturity and on-ice presence he has shown playing with players like SK74, Hornqvist and even Mike Fisher.  Predators fans and NHL fans alike have an interesting Calder trophy battle to look forward to this season as Smith will continue to produce and eventually start to be mentioned in the same sentence as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gabriel Landeskog when it comes to top rookies. 

- Isaac Berky

November 4, 2011

Kris Letang, He's a Kick in the Glass

Every team in the NHL should have that one defender that you can rely on in all situations. The Pittsburgh Penguins drafted one such defenseman in the 2005 entry draft.

Kris is a Canadian born player, raised in Montreal, Quebec. He played in the Junior Quebec league, in QMJHL and the World Junior games, winning back to back gold medals for Canada. He also won quite a few awards in Juniors, best defenseman, best defensive defenseman and the best personality, all in 2007.

Letang was drafted in the 3rd round 62nd overall, this was the same draft that the penguins won the lottery and took Sidney Crosby 1st overall. Being a rare right handed defenseman was just what the Penguins needed to finish their rebuild and help the new core of players.

Letang played his first game in 2006-2007 leagues and only played 7 games before being sent back to juniors and then the AHL. Pittsburgh was a bit patient with Kris before giving him a full season, this was to let him mature and blossom into the all around defenseman he is today. Yet they did recall him when needed and when he just made a mockery of the AHL with his play.

Over time the Penguins gradually moved him up the line up and was given more and more responsibilities…especially with Ryan Whitney being traded and Gonchar leaving, this made way for Letang to be the blue line quarterback. In his 2nd full season he helped lead the way for Pittsburgh to win the Stanley Cup.

This young defender can play 33 minutes a night and look like he can play another 33… on average he can play upwards of 25 minutes a night, depending on his opponents. This iron man can play in all situations, literally, and the Penguins do use him every where; from playing shut down to being the break out player for an offensive spark on 5 on 5, he is the Pens quarterback for the power play and their shorthanded unit first line. Lets not forget he can even score in the shoot out and is usually part of the first 3 to shoot for Pittsburgh.

Letang is one of those players that can make his forwards better, and playing half the year without Malkin and Crosby, we were able to see what kind of defenseman he has become, by helping lead his team into the second round Now with Malkin back and Crosby returning this season there is so much potential for this 24 year old to have a huge offensive year. My prediction for Kris and his long locks: 60 points and staying over +10 all year.

Kris Letang is a big part of the Penguins Core of Malkin, Crosby, Staal, and Marc Andre Fleury, and all being 26 years old or younger, the fans will have team to cheer every night for a long time!

Justin Stefani

Islanders’ failure to Launch leads to six game losing streak

The New York Islanders 3-5-2) reached a six game losing streak in their 3-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets (5-6-1) in Thursday night hockey action. The Isles are suffering from a failure to launch, as they are not getting the expected results 10 games into the season.

“It’s obviously a frustrating loss for us in our own building,” said Travis Hamonic, who tried to provide a spark to the team at the 19:42 mark dropping gloves and exchanging blows with Jets forward Evander Kane. “We threw a lot of pucks on net, Pavelec played really well, but at the end of the day we have to find a way to win that game.”

The Jets franchise, that once resided in Atlanta, has 20 wins over the Islanders, and 12 of them coming on Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum ice.  New York outshot the Jets by a final of 34-25, could not overcome a goal by Kane at the 4:21 mark.

Winnipeg added two goals in the third period of play when Jonny Oduya tallied his first goal of the season at the 16:04 mark. Alex Burmistrov added an empty-net goal at the 17:44 mark to add the capper to the game.

“It’s hard to break down a game like that, when you play well enough to win,” said defenseman Steve Staios. “We have to be mature enough that is there is one goal, or if they get two goals, we can’t get down, get rattled; we have to find our resilience as well.

In the cage for the Isles keeper Rick DiPietro made 23 saves, while the New York power play went 0-for-3 on the power play.

“It was a disappointing game, I know we worked hard and did a good job,” said DiPietro of the game. “We’ve got some positives to build on, but obviously the results aren’t there yet.”

Expect for some changes to be made to the Islanders lines after suffering this latest loss.  Things for the Islanders do not get any easier as they play host to the Washington Capitals on Saturday.  The game is scheduled to air on the MSG Plus network, and the face-off is slated for 7:00 p.m.

“We gave guys the opportunity to see what they can do,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “Now, the minutes don’t mean anything. We need to win some games.”

Stacy Podelski

Gabby days for Rangers in 2-1 shootout victory over Ducks

Marian Gaborik assisted on the first goal of the game when Jeff Woywitka, recorded his first goal in a Blueshirts uniform. Keeper Henrik Lundqvist blanked the Ducks’ for the rest of the game making several key spots in the final 10 minutes of regulation.

The Blueshirts earned the shootout victory, when Gabby fooled Ducks keeper with a head fake, shimmy combo.  The forward has been playing a strong game for the Blueshirts as of late, and if he continues to skate like this will continue to lead the Rangers to big victories.

Up next for New York is a home game against Original Six rival the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. The game is scheduled to air on the MSG network, with the face-off slated for 7:00 p.m.

Stacy Podelski

November 3, 2011

Detroit Redwings V Calgary Flames (Game Recap)

Detroit were trying to snap a horrible run that had seen them lose the last 5 games in a row against one of the Western Conference teams currently sat below them in the standings.

Jiri Hudler was back in the lineup in place of Patrick Eaves whilst Mike Commodore started his first game for Detroit after being out injured for the start of the season.

The first 5 minutes was fast and furious without either team creating a notable scoring chance as the whistle blew only once within that time span.

Detroit started with Datsyuk and Zetterberg on different lines to try and create some offense that had been missing for the last 5 games.

Niklas Kronwall had a great chance 7 minutes in but Kipprosuf stood firm as the puck found the defenceman in between the circles but he couldn’t finish off a nice move. A 2 minute powerplay chance followed for the Redwings but they couldn’t create anything clear cut on that chance either and the game was still tied halfway through the 1st.

Calgary had a 2 minute powerplay themselves which was killed off easily by Detroit but they took the lead through Lee Stempniak as he swept the puck past Howard near post after a wide shot from the blue line.
That was the only goal of the 1st as Detroit outshot Calgary 7-5. Calgary were dominant  in the faceoff circle though, winning  12 draws to 4. If Detroit were looking for some sort of scoring inspiration it certainly didn’t come in the opening stanza.

An early penalty on Hudler in the 2nd gave Calgary their 2nd powerplay chance and 2nd goal of the game as Iginla rocketed a one timer past Howard.

Detroit still needed to get some offence going and were given the chance with just over 6 minutes gone in the 2nd as Scott Hannan sat in the box after he shoved Hudler into the boards pretty clumsily. Hudler was cut badly but the call was only a 2 minutes for holding.

That 2 minutes was enough for Detroit to make it 2-1 though as a nice play from Ian White set up Kronwall to slap a shot towards the net which hit Dan Cleary in the chest and bounced in over the line.

Detroit found their step a bit more for the rest of the 2nd period but couldn’t tie the game up as a late call on Kronwall would mean Calgary headed into the 3rd on the powerplay.

Detroit managed to kill that early Calgary penalty off and some great play after saw Abdelkader / Helm / Hudler line really put the pressure on the Flames without putting the puck in the net.

As the Redwings started to get that ascendancy and looked like getting back the Flames hit a killer goal. A poor defensive play lead to another quick pass over to Iginla who hit his 2nd one timer of the game. Only the 15th shot on Howard and a 3rd Calgary goal. Nothing the netminder could do though as the Flames captain blew the puck past him.

Detroit really couldn’t get their step back after that goal as the Flames were happy just to wear the Redwings and the clock down. There was no attacking intention coming from the Calgary bench and who could blame them with a 2 goal lead against a Redwing team that were struggling to get anything going.

With just over 2 minutes left Darren Helm picked up a 2 minute tripping penalty in the offensive end. Detroit still pulled Howard to try and even the numbers on the ice up but Olli Jokinen got an emty netter to condemn Detroit to their 6th loss in a row.

6 goals in 6 games. No step. No jump. Silly penalties. A regular theme with the Redwings right now. For all the players that were big time scorers last season, none of them have shown anything so far this. Even the goal scored was a lucky deflection off the body of Cleary.

Calgary were poor too. They beat an even poorer Redwings team however – even though the 4-1 score line might slightly flatter them.

- Adam Yates