The hockey gods work in mysterious ways. The Detroit Red Wings (21-17-10) snapped a 7 period scoreless streak and then turned around to get one of the luckiest/unfair goals the NHL has ever seen.
The shutout loss to the New York Rangers and the shootout win over Los Angeles Kings made for an interesting condensed week of Red Wings’ hockey. Here is my plus/minus report to breakdown the good and the bad from those two heavily contested games.
+ The Lucky Bounce
Without a doubt we have to start here. The goal that wasn’t really a goal but had to be called a goal is going to go down as one of the most bizarre moments in the NHL this season.
I get why the LA Kings fans are upset. The puck clearly hit the netting and came back into play. By rule that’s not a goal. However, also by rule, the officials had to blow the play dead when they realized the puck had gone out of play, which they didn’t because no one knew where the puck went.
I was in attendance and had no clue where the puck went until it hit Jonathan Quick on the back. If I couldn’t see it from nearly the top row at the Joe Louis Arena then there is no way the referees saw where the deflection went down at ice level.
The officials still have the responsibility to blow the play dead when they lose sight of the puck, but with 30 seconds left in the game it’s understandable why they didn’t. Referees are reluctant to ruin a scoring chance because they couldn’t locate the puck.
So, they put their faith in one of the other officials making the call for them. As it turned out no one knew where it went so nobody took the initiative to make that call. In the few seconds of confusion that followed the puck had magically found the back of the net.
It’s an unbelievable lucky bounce that the Red Wings desperately needed (especially lucky when it never should have counted).
For the first time in a long time it actually felt like the Wings were playing with emotion and not just going through the motions. Jimmy Howard’s 2nd period retaliation against the Kings helped them flip the switch.
Even though the instigation got Howard a 2 minute minor penalty it was well worth it. It was the shot in the arm the Wings and their fans desperately needed.
Staying on the topic of Jimmy Howard –
+ Howard Getting Hot
The Hockeytown faithful that stuck with Jimmy Howard said it was only matter of time before he got his act together; looks like that time is finally here. He has only 4 goals given up on 125 shots in his last 3 games. That comes out to be a save percentage of .968. His career save percentage is .918.
Not only has Howard looked sharp and made timely saves, he has beat his Olympic teammate Jonathan Quick twice in the process. While it shouldn’t change the assumption that Quick will be Team USA’s starting goaltender, it certainly does raises Howard’s stock quite a bit.
– Get in the Net
It could have easily been another miserable week. The offense went silent for 8 periods and it took a fluky goal to beat the Kings. Clearly this is a minus that needs to be addressed.
+/- Rating = +2
The most entertaining game of the season bumps the rating up to a +2 even though the Wings got shutout by Henrik Lundqvist earlier in the week.
Finally, the game previews for a packed 4-game home stand with my predictions.
January 20: Vs. St. Louis Blues
7:30PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit
Standings: (32-10-5) 2nd Central Division, 3rd Western Conference
Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Apr. 7, 2013 at Detroit/Red Wings 0 – Blues 1
Prediction: The Wings carry over the momentum from the Kings victory to shock one of the best in the West. Red Wings 2 – Blues 1.
January 22: Vs. Chicago Blackhawks
8:00PM EST on NBC Sports
Standings: (31-8-11) 1st Central Division, 2nd Western Conference
Last Meeting against the Red Wings: May 29, 2013 at Chicago/Blackhawks 2 – Red Wings 1 in OT
Prediction: The 1st game against each other since the Blackhawks knocked the Wings out of the 2013 playoffs. Chicago is the better team. However, emotions will be running high. So, I’m picking the Wings because they are dangerous when they are playing with a chip on their shoulder. Red Wings 2 – Blackhawks 1.
January 24: Vs. Montreal Canadians
7:30PM EST on NHL Network (or FSD)
Standings: (27-17-5) 3rd Atlantic Division, 4th Eastern Conference
Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Jan. 25, 2012 at Montreal/Canadians 7 – Red Wings 2
Prediction: The proverbial “let-down game.” Red Wings 1 – Canadians 3.
January 26: Vs. Florida Panthers
5:00PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit Plus
Standings: (18-23-7) 7th Atlantic Division, 15th Eastern Conference
Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Dec. 28, 2013 at Florida/Panthers 3 – Red Wings 4
Prediction: Then the bounce back game. Red Wings 4 – Panthers 2.
Eight points are up for grabs and I suspect the Wings need at least half of them to keep pace in the Eastern Conference. So, the obvious question heading into this week is:
How far can the Red Wings carry the momentum that was gained from the comeback win over the Kings?
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