21 September 2007

Wings gone Wild!

Preseason has officially begun, and the Wings started it off with a home and home of sorts against the Wild. Tuesday's game looked to have more of the rookies on offense and was still a brilliant 6-1 victory, while Thursday's game showed off the new potential defense and ended in a narrow 3-2 loss. I caught both games, one via the free Centre Ice Online trial and the other thanks to FSN's usually excellent support of Detroit sports on television last night and while much of both games was spent chatting with Wild fan Kirsten, I did get a few notes on the teams' performances:

  • Wings potential goalie Jimmy Howard, who's been being groomed to take on the top spot for...well how ever many years exactly have we been hearing "future of Red Wings goaltending" now, was a serious bright spot in both games. He played the first half of Tuesday night and the second of Thursday and looked sharper than I've seen him with the Griffins. He lost some weight in the offseason and said in an interview that it was a major help - must be. My faith in his stock will go way up if he keeps performing this way. Howard also claims his goal this year is to make the AHL All Star team - good luck, kid.
  • On the topic of goalies, Chris Osgood also looked phenomenal on Tuesday. I'm always a little nervous when he's in net, but his performance the other night, including a magnificent three part save, was enough to dispel that at least for a while. The quasi-tandem (assuming Ozzie gets several more starts than your standard backup thanks to the Wings trying to preserve Hasek's health throughout the season) of he and Hasek should be strong in net for us once again.
You're going the wrong way, boys.
  • Pavel Datsyuk lit up the scoreboard Tuesday night with a goal and two assists - and so did Johan Franzen with two and one. Henrik Zetterberg, on the other hand, was held off the score sheet Thursday night, but still looked good. Jiri Hudler was given almost twenty minutes of playing time and while he didn't put up any points either, he had a few excellent scoring opportunities and was robbed by Minnesota's Josh Harding - it's easy to tell he's getting better with his long slapshots, both with timing and placement, though it looks like he still likes going right top shelf. Igor Grigorenko is still hanging around, but the commotion around him might be coming to a close if he doesn't step up soon.
  • As for defensemen, the question of who will play up in the big leagues this year is still out there. Derek Meech needs to stay if the Wings don't want to risk losing him, but his proclaimed best buddy Kyle Quincey's making a good show as well. The kid had a strong showing during the playoffs last season, and while he looked a little shaky at the start of yesterday's game, he was going strong by the end and finished plus two. Both make the occasional rookie mistake, but neither look out of place on the roster with the veterans. The late training camp addition of Brent Sopel is proving interesting as well - he hasn't been perfect, but his name came up a lot, generally in a good sense, Tuesday night.
  • The team's already been hit with the injury bug, though nothing looks too serious so far. Tomas Kopecky (groin), Brian Rafalski (hip-flexor) and Dan Cleary (ribs, though Babcock says none are broken), who was a major offensive force last year, are all on the DTD list - get better, boys!
  • My favorite moment from both games was watching Derek Boogaard snag concurrent penalties in the first period, the second of which the announcers claimed was "5 for interference" after he launched himself at some poor Wing rookie. The resulting powerplay gave us two pp goals - the first of which was Chris Chelios unassisted.
As for the games themselves, they were both fun to watch and left me with a very optimistic feeling for the team this season. Granted, not a lot has changed, but I think the Wings did what they could to better themselves and all that's left now is to wait and see just how good a job they did. Preseason is far from over and a few questions remain, but we'll probably be seeing some answers in the next few days.

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In non Wing-related news, despite Centre Ice blacking out the Oilers/Canucks game last night, I did see the Oil take on the Leafs Tuesday - it tore horribly at my loyalties. The Oilers, who are still captainless, looked better than they have in a while, though it was painful to see so many familiar faces missing, even in the preseason where you expect as much. Their future, however, might be looking all right, too. My boy Ales Hemsky, playing on a line with Sam Gagner and Dustin Penner (half of which I would LOVE to see - bet you can guess which) scored a hat trick at the Joey Moss game, prompting the Edmonton Sun to run the most painfully pun-filled headline ever. I bet he missed getting pounced by Sykora after every goal. He also contributed a goal and an assist last night - thanks for shooting more, Ales! Meanwhile Dwayne Roloson is expected to start 50 games this season, with Mathieu Garon taking 32 - and Roli will do it in this gorgeous piece of equipment. Wow.

They haven't been left alone on the injury front either, though - and there are concerns now that my playoff hero Fernando Pisani might be worse off than anyone thought. Let's hope not.

12 comments:

Kirsten said...

Boogie probably got his ass kicked for taking those dumb penalties. Ouy.

Teka said...

Heeeeeey... Pisaaaaannni!

He's going to the same clinic my cousin did (she had Crohn's disease, which is similar) and I hear they're the "best care anywhere" (name THAT TV show, eh?)

Steph said...

Kirsten: Oh, I bet. What a way to start off the season. And he didn't even get a good fight in!

Teka: Well hey, that's good news at least. He needs to come back so I can resume making top shelf like a pizza in the oven cracks. Ah, Knob Hockey.

Kirsten said...

I know! I feel better after winning the last two games.

I still think we should be in charge of the NHL, we'd do such a better job...

CapsChick said...

Steph, I just drafted your boy Ales on my final fantasy league team and I did so in your honor. He'd better not let me down. ;)

Steph said...

Kirsten, we totally would. (Of course, I don't know how much it would actually take to get the NHL a better commissioner but...for what it's worth, we would be AWESOME.)

CC, he will! I promise! I will personally take all the blame if he does not (but before you yell at him, just remember him stuttering in Czech, it dulls the anger :P)

Kirsten said...

Nothing will calm my anger if he doesn't play well for me this season. I'll have to hand him over to you for punishment.

Good point, we could hardly be any worse than Bettman if we tried.

Steph said...

Oh I'll punish him. I'll punish him good. (Um. I totally did not just say that.)

See! That's points for us already and we haven't even DONE anything yet.

Kirsten said...

Good, I will send him to you when I feel his performance is unsatisfactory...

I know, we are SO awesome at this.

Steph said...

Don't you worry, I'll keep everything in good, working order. (I'm trying really hard not to make a scoring pun here.)

Kirsten said...

Unsatisfactory scoring is a big problem...

(resistence is futile, give in!)

Shmee said...

Good job rookies!