While the Wings have often underacheived against the league's worst thusfar, tonight was not the case. The Wings outmuscled the Canes and ex-Wing Aaron Ward in a 4-1 victory in Raleigh. Curtis Joseph got the start.
In the first period, Pavel Datsyuk opened the scoring on a wrist shot from the right circle and beat Kevin Weekes on the bad angle goal. It is his 21st of the season. Hull and Chelios got the assists. 1-0 Wings. Then, on the powerplay, Lidstrom got in on the scoring with a point shot on Weekes, redirected by Yzerman for the goal. Schneider got the second assist on the Stevie Y goal. 2-0 Wings. This caused the Canes' new coach Peter Laviolette, in his eighth game, to pull Weekes and give Jamie Storr the nod, trying to change momentum and still stinging from the bad Datsyuk goal.
In the second period, Kris Draper showed an impressive individual effort on the penalty kill, breaking up a pass and breaking in shorthanded on Storr. Drapes looked like a breakaway specialist the way he moved the puck from backhand to forehand quickly and made a sharp deik on Storr before burying it for the 15th of the season, tying his career best for a season. The goal was unassisted. 3-0 Wings. But the Canes finally got in on the scoring too, shorthanded with 50 seconds left in the second, on a breakaway goal from Kevyn Adams, courtesy of the sloppy play of Schneider.
In the third period, Kris Draper got a great goal with just under four minutes left in the game. He was in on Storr and got in a battle with him and a Canes defensemen. Shanny fed it to Lidstrom, who got the puck to the net, and Drapes, with one hand on his stick, whacked the puck in the net as he was being made into a Red Wing sandwich courtesy of Storr and the Canes' defenseman. From the angle the camera provided, all I could see was a pair of feet and a stick with one hand on it scoring the goal, with the rest of the body under the Canes defenseman and Storr, still in the scrum. I assumed it was Holmstrom, but it was Drapes, really proving to be a gutsy guy. Straight out of the school of Tomas Holmstrom.
Curtis Joseph really played well tonight, at times standing on his head to keep the Wings in the lead. He also got lucky though, with the Canes hitting the posts at least 4 times, two of them clearly beating Cujo. But I know goaltenders will always argue that it reflects their play to cause the shooters to be hitting the posts instead of the netting.
Carolina outshout the Wings 30-22 on the game, most notably 14-6 in the third. But that deficit can be accounted for, I believe. The Wings committed two late penalties and the Canes pulled Storr, so they were on a 6-on-3 for at least a minute. They got shots but pathetically failed to convert. The Canes are last in the NHL on the powerplay, and it was evident why, as they had few shots in their 7 powerplays and gave up a 2-on-1 and breakaway (Draper goal) to the Wings in the process.
I was not very impressed with Schneider tonight. He goofed to allow the Kevyn Adams' goal that broke Cujo's shutout and was shorthanded. Then, in the third, he was a complete moron by bumping a Canes player, who was breaking in on the net, right into Cujo. Our goaltender flew into the back of the net and was down for 15 seconds before shaking it off. The way Cujo was hit looked worse in real time, but I was still worried he was injured the way his head snapped back.
It seemed like Boyd Devereaux had a "check me" sign on his back instead of a #21, getting belted a dozen or so times. Of all players to take such a beating, don't ask me why it's a guy with such a history of serious concussions. A guy like Holmstrom misses that stuff when he's out with an injury, but a guy like Boyd is pretty much one concussion away from retirement, and I don't think that's an understatement.
Hull was successful in lengthening his goal-less streak to 12 games, after scoring seven straight. It is the longest streak not only of his stay in Detroit, but of his top-three scorer NHL career. I don't want to be too hard on him, but it's no coincidence that the powerplay was 0 for 20-something during a chunk of his drought. He is our big cannon on the powerplay, and he needs to be ready for passes, because Datsyuk has put them on his stick more than a few times lately.
Brendan Shanahan looked like he was auditioning for a spot on WWF tonight as he brawled with Bob Boughner, who got Shanny really heated for some reason. Wait, "brawled" is too passive, it was more like Shanahan repeatedly slammed Boughner's back into the low boards by the Wings bench. It was excrutiating to watch. It was the madest I've seen Shanny this season, maybe ever. He got 12 minutes of penalties on the play: 2 for slashing Boughner and a 10-minute match. Bougner got the same exact calls. Earlier in the game, Shanny was called for a holding-the-stick, and got the 2 for that as well as 2 for unsportsmanlike conduct as he argued with the refs. So Shanny wasn't in too great of a mood. Maybe he didn't get his sleep last night: some Canes fan blaring music or something outside his hotel window. Lesson learned: don't piss off Brendan. He really played with reckless abandon tonight.
Yzerman is six points shy of 1700 with tonight's goal. Pretty insane numbers.
Raleigh Sports Arena often sounded like Joe Lewis Arena, with "let's go Red Wings" chants totally overpowering the Canes fans. I'd like to see Karmanos' face then, as he has strong ties to Detroit with his ownership of software comany Compuware and intense entrepreneurial/hockey ownership rivalry with Little Caesar Pizza's Mike Illitch. The microcosm of their relationship:
*Karmanos: "I will have as many conversations with Mr. Ilitch as I had with the owner of Toronto, the owner of Montreal and the owner of New Jersey, which is zero."
The second half of a back-to-back is Saturday at 7:30, as the Wings host their dear friend Sergei Fedorov and his Anaheim Mighty Ducks for the second time this season. I can already hear the booes...