St. Louis Blues shut out the Red Wings for the first time in 176 games - it could have been, should have been, wasn't Manny Legace. I watched the game in my jersey feeling very conflicted and pained to be hoping we scored on him, and wishing they'd played Sanford instead for that reason - but not like the way it happened.
Joey MacDonald looked good right away, blocking his first shot nicely and even being bold enough to venture out and play the puck (more successfully than Dom last night, might I add). It's nice to see the extra energy everyone is putting in to get the kid a win. 0-5 doesn't feel good for anyone even if you aren't necessarily at fault. Only five minutes in he'd already made some really impressive saves.
Of course he had to make so many saves beause the Blues played some really strong aggressive hockey for the first five minutes and got off a half a dozen shots while Detroit did almost nothing. Not a strong start for a game we really want to win in a blowout, but the Wings didn't look particularly slow or sloppy either. Overall a really weird period.
Datsyuk was looking nice tonight on the Wing's first good scoring opportunity, always playing the puck instead of the body. The puck went right through the opposing Blue's legs and the guy was just waiting for a hit, but Datsyuk ignored him completely, knocked the puck up to Zetterberg, and there by the grace of Manny went the Blues.
I already said it, but damn, MacDonald really did look good. Halfway through the first, the Wings were hardly doing anything past the red line - offense needs to step it up. Instead, Lebda took a penalty. Fortunately the Blues were 0-31 on the pp against us....and then 0-32.
The announcers took a break to talk about Jiri Fischer and brought up an interesting point about how Chelios' role has changed since last season, and how much the Wings would benefit from the depth he would give their D right now - and also how we've lost two D men (Konstantiov and Fischer) in not all that many years. Makes you wonder what could be different.
Stempniak and Schneider started a little bit of a scrum near the end of the period and the two of them and Holmstrom (taking Schneier's second two) all got tossed in the box, putting the Blues back on the pp again, which they once again don't capitalize on - but not for lack of trying. At the end of the first, there was still no score, but the shots on goal were disgustingly uneven - 16-3 St. Louis, one of the most lopsided we've seen all season with the Wings on the bottom end.
At this point in the evening I began insisting that if I saw the Absolut Pear vodka commercial one more time I might scream louder than I did when I said the same thing about the obnoxious Heinecken commercial during the Cup Finals last year. THREE TIMES in one commercial break. (I do, however, admit that I am intrigued and might want to try it.)
The Blues came out strong right away with a good scoring chance not even two minutes in off of a weird bounce, and MacDonald made another nice save.
Some of the most interesting play to be seen tonight at this point came from the really limited playing time of the fourth line - Hudler and Filppula got off some nice little moves back behind the net shortly into the second, trying to fix the stalemate the game had been so far, but nothing came of it.
MacDonald let in his first goal at 14:59 left in the first period when Chelios gave the puck over to Kronwall, who misplayed it and didn't clear it, allowing Guerin to knock it in off of Chelios and up over MacDonald, making it 1-0.
The fourth line gets another bunch of nice shots off right after, namely Langfeld and Filppula, but Manny stays strong. Guerin misplays the puck right to Kronwall, but he stumbles and goes down before he can pull anything off. A minute later Schneider knocks the puck right to a Blue and Joey has to make another really nice save - but he does. I like the guy.
Doug Weight and Maltby have a little bit of an attempted scrum shortly after and end up playing a game of "who can get the last hit in" which gets us a pp after Weight can't let bygones be bygones and throws a blatant hook at Malts. We did nothing with it.
Before the game tonight, Holmstrom commented, "He's so little but he's so focused," about Manny Legace. Too bad he wasn't small enough - Holmstrom went down hard and kneed Manny in the head despite trying to jump out of the way as best as possible. He took a long time getting up (and looks remarkably cute with messy hair and no helmet - I'm done I swear) but eventually ddid - and only played until the next whistle before skating over to the bench and pulling himself out of the game.
The announcers, in the meantime, go on to tell a little story about him that I will now rehash because I love Manny and it was adorable. Basically he said something about being used to old equipment, (his chest pad was 15 years old!), and while he was out with a concussion his teammates bought him new pads. He said he'd never use them because he hates change, but ended up trying them - and being four pounds lighter, ended up continuing on with them, saying he felt a lot quicker with them. Before the concussion he was 5-10-1 and since then he's been 13-5-4. The announcers made jokes about being lighter in the head now, and I am not sure they were funny.
Manny said post-game that the puck was blurry after that hit, and that his neck hurt, and he decided it was best to leave the ice because "Against these guys, if you're a second too slow, the puck will beat you. I thought it was better for the team to get me out of the net."
Anyway, Sanford who makes a nice cold-turkey stop on a good shot by Jiri Hudler (who really couldn't seem to do anything right at first tonight, causing two icings and an offsides up to this point, though finishing with some nice chances).
At the end of the period, Zetterberg and Tkachuk decide they need to fight for a few minutes. What?
Right off the bat MacDonald makes a beautiful stop on a two on one - and luckily; it would have been a game saver if the Wings could have pulled off a goal. If MacDonald weren't playing solid tonight the game would have been over in the first period. Babcock started playing blender with his lines, giving the Eurotwins crazy ice time, but also running the Filppula-Hudler-Williams line quite a bit more than I would have expected. Filppula manages to hit a second shot off the goalpost - he really wanted it tonight. And Jiri even got a faceoff.
A few short minutes later there was discussion of Brewer and a mention of the Pronger trade. I was completely, utterly confused until I realized that THAT Pronger trade wasn't the only one that's ever happened.
The rest of the period went by worriedly. Everything I ever said about Wings fans not worrying until we get to the third period scoreless sank in and I panicked for our no shutout streak. So many beautiful chances and somehow NOTHING went in.
Datsyuk had a nice breakaway, but couldn't let the puck settle down before taking a shot and Sanford makes what would have been a beautiful save if I weren't too panicky and hateful to care. Joey continued making some really amazing stops and keeping us in the game, but we just couldn't generate the offense we needed to pull it off. At around a minute left the Wings used their time out, pulled MacDonald, and just narrowly avoided the shame of an empty netter.
With 11 seconds left our last ditch hope happened with a Blues holding penalty that left us six on four, but it as too little too late.
At first I thought Zetterberg had that, in that last second of the game. My roommate thought someone had snuck into my room and slit my throat, hearing the noise I made upon realizing it didn't. My kitten, who will honestly sit and watch hockey with me, is now petrified at the sight of me within five feet of him. I am now going to go drown my sorrows in caffeine, brownies, and Ms. Pac-Man, while I dream of our 176 game shutout streak and our 68 points to take over the division. If Manny would have been on the ice for that, some bitter little part of me would have spitefully laughed at Ken Holland and not even minded the loss because if anyone deserved to be responsible for ending that streak it was Manny Legace. As it stands, I'm just upset.
PS Toronto I hate you. 5 games straight and you couldn't keep one more going for me?
The Absolut commercial has almost brainwashed me into thinking that would be a better option for drowning.
(In other brief NHL news, Sidney scored the Pens' shootout winning goal? Seriously?)