After two games against non-Central Division foes, I think I'm finally ready to watch hockey again. Okay, in all seriousness I missed the Preds and Jackets games because of work, but even so, when I turned on my TV this Tuesday and was met with the requisite shot of Kipper and his perpetual stoic yet quirky facial expressions, I just about yelped in joy. And uh, sorry HG, but it had nothing to do with the Flames specifically.
Thankfully, with a new, slightly-improved schedule having been approved, we will hopefully never have to sit through another month of "rivalry building" (Really? You think so? Because all it made me want was to never see those teams again.) inter-divisional play. And look, bore us less and we start winning again!
I'm quite a few days late on Tuesday's 5-3 win against the Flames, so I'll defer to Christy's recap at Winging it in Motown and just add a few highlights:
- At the start of the game someone mentioned something about a player being "hemmed in down low". The speed at which my head jerked up to the TV screen was disgusting. Don't you judge me.
- Jiri Hudler spent the whole game harassing Dion Phaneuf. This was hilarious to watch, as Phaneuf has 6 inches and 40 pounds on him, and it was remnant of watching someone try to shoo an annoying gnat buzzing around their head. Eventually Phaneuf took the bait and delivered a (clean but massive and probably much more than necessary for someone of that size) open-ice hit. Andreas Lilja answered the call, defended his teammate, and downed Phaneuf in record time - he's really starting to become a player you can appreciate more.
- The goal scoring all game long was a joy to watch - almost every goal was something special. Pavel Datsyuk, who looks like he's really starting to get hot, scored a beauty just under the crossbar and then later slipped by three Flames to put in what was probably his prettiest of the season - I'm starting to think the "Houdini" nickname might catch on. He also got an assist, ending him up with a three point game. Hudler and Valtteri Filppula combined to score another beauty later on with a move that left me thinking they've been taking notes from the Datsyuk/Zetterberg team.
- Kris Draper took an awkward hit that resulted in him leaving the game. The official word is a sprained knee, and that he'll be out 2-4 weeks, but the announcers also said he drove himself to the DMC - I'm not sure what that says, really.
- The game against the Flames was one of pretty goals - this one was of gorgeous passes that set up pretty goals. Chris Chelios started it off with a beautiful one to who scored to put the Wings on the board first. I know I've been a fan of the kid from the beginning, but the plays he's making and the numbers he's putting up in the still limited ice time he's getting are really starting to say something about him. Jiri HudlerAndreas Lilja, continuing his case to win me over, set up Tomas Kopecky later on with a pass that Daniels and Redmond continued to talk about for remainder of the game. It was great to see Kopy's goal, as well - his first of the season with a gorgeous shoulder-fake that Marc Denis completely bought into.
- Unfortunately the game also brought about the end of Henrik Zetterberg's home point streak, which topped out at 27 games. The real unfortunate thing is that he nearly had an absolutely highlight-reel worthy goal off of another set of gorgeous passes, but he just barely clanged it off the post. Considering his record right now, I doubt he's too worried.
- Aaron Downey once again looked good - not only is he tough, but he's intelligent. I was happy to see him avoid fighting Andre Roy despite the other's goading him all night long. The Wings were dominating and didn't need to give the Lightning any sort of momentum, and Downey knew it.
The next game will be this Saturday against Tracy and the Phoenix Coyotes. I'll be missing it for the first Bronco Hockey game of the year that I don't have to work, and I'm sad to be missing new 'Yote Bryzgalov's antics, but I'm sure our resident Coyotes HLoGger will update me...right?
(And how about Hemsky with a cute little empty netter against the Jackets the other day? Yay!)