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Wings Take the Off Wing View in Win

Red Wings 6 Bruins 1

There are times as a writer where it is tough for me to pick the three stars of the game. Some of the time, it is because the Wings got thoroughly dismantled and no one deserves a star. Then there are games like tonight’s…

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Tonight, I’m having a hard time only picking three players who stood out. Nearly every player in a red and white sweater played beautifully tonight, and they all contributed to the 6-1 whipping of their Original 6 rivals.

The Wings must be avid readers of my blog (I mean, why wouldn’t they be?), because earlier today I wrote about how important these next two games against Boston were in the bigger picture of turning around their season-long habit of slow starts. If they could take it to a big, physical Boston team who is leading the Northeast division, that would be a huge stepping stone for them to go on a roll.

So far, mission accomplished.

Todd Bertuzzi opened the scoring just 1:10 into the game when he fired a slap shot past Tuukka Rask.

The Wings weren’t done there though, as line 1B teamed up for another one just 2 minutes later. Jiri Hudler fed a nifty backhand pass to the front of the net, right onto Danny Cleary’s stick. The Newfie netted his first goal since breaking his foot on December 26th, and just like that the Wings were off to their best start in what felt like years. In fact, they had scored on their first two shots and had the Boston faithful booing starting goalie Rask.

The Wings continued to take it to the Bruins for the rest of the period, but went into the locker room with only a 2-1 lead. Zdeno Chara’s power play point shot wiffed, but Howard had tracked across the net as if it had been caught flush. Milan Lucic corralled the loose puck and swept it out front to David Krejci, who had an empty net staring him in the face.

Despite only having a one goal lead, it was a phenomenal start for the Wings, and a sign of things to come.

The Wings bettered their pace from the first period, by scoring just 1:09 into the second. After a Brian Rafalski point shot careened off of Jiri Hudler’s leg, Zetterberg picked it up and made a great pass to Hudler, who had taken up residence at the side of the Bruin’s net. He buried it, restoring the two goal lead.

Zetterberg notched his third point of the game, when some strong board play by Tomas Holmstrom and Danny Cleary led to Zetterberg finding himself all alone beside the Bruins net. He wasted no time slipping a backhand by Rask.

The rout was officially on when just 24 seconds later, Rask bobbled a puck off to the side of his own net. Todd Bertuzzi roared in on him and banked the puck off of Rask and in from behind the net.

Rask was allowed to finish the period by head coach Claude Julien, but Tim Thomas came on for some relief work to start the third. He surrendered one goal, to Tomas Holmstrom on a 5 on 3. Holmstrom was in his usual position in front of the net, and received a perfect pass from Jiri Hudler. Holmstrom’s goal meant all three Red Wings who recently returned from injury have scored. Nice boost for the rest of the guys.

The Bruins tried to engage the Wings in some fisticuffs a couple times, but were never able to find a willing dance partner. Shawn Thornton wanted to tangle with Justin Abdelkader, and rookie Brad Marchand went as far as to drop his gloves and grab onto Patrick Eaves. Eaves, however, gave him one of the most condescending looks I’ve ever seen as if to say “Really, kid?” and allowed Marchand to take the only minor penalty handed out on the play.

Look for Boston to come out hitting on Sunday to try to erase some of the bad memories from tonight’s game. They’ll also be looking to return to some of their usually tight defensive play, after surrendering 12 goals in the last two games.

There was one scary moment in the game, when Ruslan Salei had a puck deflect off of his stick and up into his face. He went to the dressing room with Wings trainer Piet Van Zant, but returned shortly after to finish the game, no worse for the wear.

One thing that I really liked to see at that point was, as soon as Salei went off the ice with the injury, coach Babcock immediately went to Jakub Kindl with some words of wisdom, obviously expecting some increased minutes throughout the remainder of the game for the young Czech defender.

There were two plays in the game tonight where the Red Wings broadcasting crew of Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy were convinced there should be a penalty shot, and both times their requests were denied.

Hey, Rob the referee here. If you would do me the courtesy of backing up your DVRs or personal memory banks to the plays in question (one on Darren Helm, the other on Zetterberg), you’ll see that both were able to get off a scoring chance, thereby nullifying a penalty shot.

There are 5 criteria to a penalty shot being called, and all 5 must be met. They are: being fouled from behind, the foul occurring on a clear-cut breakaway (no one between the puck carrier and net), the foul must happen in the attacking half of the ice (over center ice), the foul must take away a scoring chance, and finally at the time of the foul taking place the player being fouled must have possession and control of the puck.

The Off Wing View’s Three Stars

3. Jiri Hudler 1G, 2A, +2 – How great has he been since Datsyuk’s return? He is playing a completely different style of game, going to the tough areas, playing physically. It’s great to see. In the three games since joining Datsyuk’s line, he has 5 points and is a +3.

2. Todd Bertuzzi 2G, +2 – The Unabomber almost got the Wings their FOURTH set of curly fries this season.

1. Henrik Zetterberg 1G, 2A, +2 – Zetterberg was in playoff mode tonight. He continues to prove why he is one of the best players in the league. His 60 points in 55 games is good for 7th in the NHL

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