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Red Wings Game recap...12/17

By: Channing Cummins

On Thursday night the Red Wings provided their fans with nothing new. The Wings gained two more points and lost one more player due to injury. While the Wings provided a strong 3-0 win against the talented Lightning they also lost their star forward Henrik Zetterberg.

With 1:43 remaining in the first period Zetterberg collided with Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund. This collision resulted in a left shoulder separation which will keep Z out for a minimum of two weeks. Greeaaattt...like this is something the team can afford. On Thursday, Zetterberg became the eigth Red Wing to remove himself from the roster due to injury. I couldn't name a better time for Datsyuk to step it up other than
NOW. Once again the team is forced to fill another void in the lineup and find a way to win. Can we all start buying into the "curse" yet?

Lets not get too down ourselves because there were some bright spots that are worth mentioning. The most obvious would have to be the play of goalie Jimmy Howard, who was nothing short of great. Stopping all 30 Lightning shots he proved to be the deciding factor in last nights game.
If Howard can keep it up he'll provide something that the Wings are in desperate need of...great goaltending. This could be a sign of things to come and should be something that all fans get excited about. Although Osgood seems to still be the starting goalie in Detroit, Howard has made it an interesting debate. In fact, Howard has given up a mere six goals in the last five games and has a save percentage of .958. Definitely something the fans can't frown upon, let alone not notice. His strong goaltending has allowed the Wings to remain in games and not force the team to score a lot of goals. Now whether you're an Osgood fan or a Howard fan the main concern has to be whether or not the goaltending can remain strong. It's hard to buy into Howard because of his inexperience, but maybe even harder considering Osgood is on the decline. Once again, something we'll have to keep an eye on.

Another bright spot in last nights game is the production of a couple key players. Brian Rafalski had a good night providing two assists and playing over 21 minutes of hockey. Todd Bertuzzi kept his streak going with another crucial goal. Bertuzzi's production as of late shouldn't be ignored and his play will be key if the Wings want to continue to win. I know Bertuzzi has left a bad taste is some of the fans mouths, but it might be time to forgive him for his previous struggles with the team. There's no question he's been one of our best players in the last week or two. Eaves and Miller provided the Wings with their other two goals, which should give fans a sense of comfort. The two forwards have each provided two goals in the last three games and are providing much needed effort.

The concern over shots continued for me after Thursday's game. The Wings were outshot every single period and only managed to put 22 shots on goal. Should this be a topic of concern for the team? I know the only thing that matters is a "W" at the end of the game, but this is somewhat unusaul for the Wings. Maybe it's because I've grown accustomed to the dominance the Wings usually have in the shot department. It's possible that the team is trying to create better scoring opportunities, rather than solely focusing on putting the puck on net. I do know that the more shots you give up results in more pressure you put on your goalies. That's a road no team wants to go down.

Lets take a second to give credit to our coaching. Babcock has done an incredible job moving forward with a band aid for a team and doesn't seem to mind the situation he's in. I'm sure he doesn't want to be put in this situation but he has found away to get production out of our younger guys. If the team can continue to win and move up in the standings, Babcock may put himself in the conversation for coach of the year...i'm just saying. He also deserves a congratulations after picking up his 300th career win on Thursday night.

Lastly, I'm left to wonder where Ville Leino has been this year. Could you tell me how many points he has had through his 31 games? Six. Three goals and three assists. Call me crazy but I was expecting way more production out of him, given the situation. I'm sure he is fully aware of the situation he's in and I wouldn't be surprised to see him get out of his slump. He'll continue to receive full support from the fans and without a doubt is more than capable of becoming a factor.

The Wings will march into Dallas on Saturday to try and keep their current four game winning streak alive. The faceoff will be at 3:00 p.m and should prove to be another battle.


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