Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

Same Old Story: Hasek and Cleary

I'm back in Tennessee for the weekend. Just crossing into this state seems to slow my brain down. There's an all-star injustice brewing and it has nothing to do with Rory Fitzpatrick. Unless, of course, Fitzpatrick is voted in as a starting goalie...which isn't out of the realm of possibility at this point. Dominik Hasek, not even listed on Little Gary's ballot, has played as well as any goalie in the league up to this point. And, no longer is he the product of just a stingy defense. Now he's becoming the difference.

On nights the rest of the team goes through the motions, Hasek takes it up a notch.

Helene St. James/Detroit Free Press

“He seems to be getting better as we go along here,” Schneider said. “He looks great, he really does. He’s making key saves at key times. The key is for him to stay fresh. He’s here so we can ride him into the playoffs and he knows that.”

Mike Babcock said it was the best goalie performance he’d seen in Detroit the last two years.  I don’t know about all that.  Legace’s birthday shutout in Denver last February was probably a bit more spectacular.

But…what Babcock probably meant was (do I spend half my day translating for this guy or what?)...Hasek’s the best goalie we’ve seen in Detroit since ‘02.

And when your team’s leading goal scorer is Dan Cleary (14)?  Yeah, you may need Hasek at his best.

Cleary’s game winner was the talk of both rooms.

Freep

Cleary dropped to one knee and snapped the puck into the net, glove side, producing his 14th point in the past 11 games.

“Great play by Franzen,” Cleary said. “He made all of it happen. I was just in the right spot at the right time.”

Kent Youngblood/Minneapolis Star Tribune

The Wild never recovered.

“I cost us the game tonight, bottom line,” Fernandez said. “I have to be sharper. A puck comes down ... I have a forechecker coming hard. If I freeze it, I get [a penalty]. If I try hard against the boards, there’s no saying where it goes—it might go over the boards. So I tried to go backhand, and it jumped, so ...”

Bruce Brothers/St. Paul Pioneer Press

“Franzen did all the work; he took advantage of Fernandez’s turnover,” Cleary said. “It was an important goal.”

“A bad move from the goalie,” Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said after his team suffered its eighth consecutive road loss in the first game of a home-and-home series against the Red Wings. “He had to make a play.”

Back to Cleary.  He had 19:07 minutes of ice time last night, second only to Zetterberg for Wing forwards.  He has 14 points his last 11 games…and his scoring touch made us forget he’s also one of the best penalty killer (if not the best) on the team.  I didn’t see it, but according to a message boarder over at the Detroit News, TSN talked to him Monday in Columbus between periods.  During the interview he was asked to describe the difference between his life now and just two years ago when uncertainty was all he knew.  The kid practically broke down. He had to stop and compose himself. 

So last night’s game was kind of a microcosm of the season:  Hasek and Cleary. Two castoffs leading the way, with ample Swedish support from Zetterberg and Lidstrom.

Meanwhile, Bubba was idle and the Wings keep a game in hand while trailing by three points in the Central.

Other information for your Saturday digestion:

Detroit News: Hasek Tames Wild
Detroit Free Press: One Down
St. James Weblog: Hasek Tames Wild
MLive: Hasek Dominates Minnesota
St. Paul Pioneer Press: Wings Find Hold In Wild Armor
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Lone Letdown Extends Slump

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com