March was easily the Wings toughest Month, compiling a 5-5-4 record in their 14 games. It ended in embarrassing fashion, with a 10-3 blowout loss to the Blues on home ice. However, it wasn’t all bad, and some players really stood out and shined this month, and here is where we honor them!
There was no less than four Red Wings tied for the third most “3 star selections” this month, with two selections apiece.
That group includes starting goaltender Jimmy Howard, checking line center Darren Helm and the playmaking Valtteri Filppula.
However, they all lost out on the tie-breaker to Henrik Zetterberg, as both of his selections were first star votes.
3. Henrik Zetterberg 6G, 2A, 1 GWG, 4 PPG
Zetterberg put up 8 points in the Wings 14 games this month, which is a little off pace for him, but he is still in a tie for 7th in the NHL in points.
He picked up his first of two stars with a two goal performance in a win over Washington, and ended the month on a three game goal scoring streak.
He went the first 6 games of the month without registering a point, putting up all 8 of his points in the month’s final 8 contests.
He will likely lead the Wings in points by a wide margin at the end of the season, as the next closest player (Nick Lidstrom) is 16 back.
The first and second stars were also in need of a tie-breaker. Finishing the month with three third star selections, as well as one second star, was Justin Abdelkader, and he takes home second star honors.
2. Justin Abdelkader 1G, 2A, +1, 35 Hits
Despite not lighting up the scoreboard the way some of his teammates did, Abdelkader was the Wings most consistent and effective forward for the month of March. He was constantly getting under his opponent’s skin, baiting them into penalties and getting them off of their game.
He managed to do so without taking a minor penalty in the entire month. In fact, going back to February, Abdelkader has a streak of 19 straight games without putting his team shorthanded. His one penalty in March was a fighting major against Toronto’s Darryl Boyce.
I think this past month has been some of the best hockey of Abdelkader’s NHL career, and he has really established himself in his role on the Red Wings.
The player he tied with is a bit of a surprising candidate for first star of the month, seeing as he wasn’t even on the Red Wings 23 man roster in October. Joey MacDonald has certainly made the most of his opportunity with Chris Osgood on the shelf, except for maybe last night against the Blues. Your first star for March is Joey MacDonald.
1. Joey MacDonald 2-2-2, 1 SO
MacDonald’s 2-2-2 line may not look pretty, but let’s examine it a little closer, shall we?
One SO loss came in replacement of Jimmy Howard, who had surrendered 4 goals to the Penguins. MacDonald shut the door down on Pittsburgh, and the only goal he allowed the rest of the way was in the shootout.
His other OTL came against the Chicago Blackhawks, where the Wings sleepwalked through the first and allowed the Hawks an early 2-1 lead. Again, he slammed the door shut for the final two periods, but with the Wings shorthanded in overtime he couldn’t stop Marian Hossa’s game winning shot.
His first regulation loss, a 3-1 defeat by the Sharks on March 3rd, was a game where the Wings were completely dominated and MacDonald held them in for the majority of the game.
His final regulation loss, the 10-3 blowout by St. Louis, in which he surrendered 7 goals…well that was inexcusable. Neither he, McCollum, nor the team came to play that night.
But as for his two wins, one was a 37 save blanking of Columbus, and the other was a 14 minute relief appearance for the injured Jimmy Howard in which he again allowed no goals.
In fact, MacDonald had a streak of just over 110 straight minutes of shutout hockey (from the Columbus game, through the Pittsburgh and Toronto relief appearances) that was broken by the Blackhawks on March 28th.
MacDonald’s play backing up Howard this season has definitely earned him a new contract next year, in my opinion at least.
What do you think of this month’s stars? Did I leave someone out who should have been nominated? Do you agree with the selections? Let me know in the comment section