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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Detroit Earns the Sweep

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In a rare home and home with the Boston Bruins this weekend, the Detroit Red Wings took home all four points, thanks in large part to the four goals scored by #44.

Red Wings 4 Bruins 2

The Wings had been having the importance of starting strong preached to them for the last few days after a miserable couple of weeks that saw them playing from behind more often than not.

They were booed off the ice following a 4-1 loss to Nashville.

Coach Babcock, and captains Nick Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg and Kris Draper said that the way that they had been playing was unacceptable.

I wrote a piece on Friday afternoon stressing how crucial these two games against the Bruins were. The Wings responded to all criticism in a big, big way. They thumped the Bruins 6-1 in Boston on Friday night, and then today they didn’t crack after falling behind 1-0 early in the game.

Rookie Brad Marchand let the Wings back in when he coughed the puck up deep in his own end to Todd Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi, who might have the second best hands on the team, behind Datsyuk, had all day to decide on a move. He ultimately settled on a nice backhand deke, and shelfed it over Tim Thomas.

The Bruins would regain the lead late in the period, when with Kris Draper off for interference, the Bruins capitalized on a 2 on 2 rush against Jonathan Ericsson and Ruslan Salei. Ericsson’s man beat him to the outside and slid a pass through Salei to Marchand, who swatted it home. He had atoned for his earlier mistake, but the lead for Boston would be short-lived.

About four minutes into the second period, Pavel Datsyuk had a Brian Rafalski slap shot rebound right onto his stick. With Thomas down and out, Datsyuk had the entire 6’x4′ to shoot at.

The Wings third line then teamed up for a really pretty goal. Darren Helm got the puck to Patrick Eaves, who then slid a beautiful pass through the Boston D, right to a streaking Kris Draper. Draper went high blocker side for his 6th goal of the season, despite missing the first two and a half months of the season.

The third line was very strong tonight, especially in the second and third periods. They were giving the Bruins defense fits with their forechecking, and very nearly had a goal apiece, if not for the strong play of Thomas.

Niklas Kronwall, who I thought had a strong game against the Bruins on Friday, played well again this afternoon. He also laid down one of his few Search and Destroy type of hits this season, knocking the Bruins Jordan Caron for a loop. It was the same hit we’ve grown to love from Missle 55. Forward exiting the zone with his head down. Kronwall vacates his spot at the left point. Shoulder into the upper chest. Man down. Beautiful.

Todd Bertuzzi closed out the scoring with his second of the game, and fourth in the past two. Henrik Zetterberg made a great chip out of his defensive zone that was picked up in full stride by Franzen. He swooped in on goal and backed Thomas into his crease, then laid a pass through Dennis Seidenberg to Bertuzzi.

Bertuzzi and Zetterberg each had appeared to suffer knee injuries earlier in the game, but appeared to be fine afterwards. Bertuzzi took a Lidstrom bomb off the top of the knee, and Zetterberg was shoved to the ice by Chara, and did the splits and caught his leg under him.

Jimmy Howard had a very strong game, shutting the door for the last 47+ minutes of the game. He made 10 saves in the third, many of them on quality chances.

The Off Wing View’s Three Stars

3. Brian Rafalski +3, 1A, 21:55 TOI – Rafalski isn’t the kind of guy who is going to earn his way onto this list through his defensive play. Except today, I guess. He made two excellent plays to break up scoring chances in the third period, and was a +3 to boot.

2. Jimmy Howard 23 saves – He didn’t have to make a ton of stops, but he made some really difficult ones late to preserve the win.

1. Todd Bertuzzi 2G, +2 – Four goals from Todd in the past two games. He is so much better all around when things are going well offensively for him, so hopefully this keeps up.

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