Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

How Many Points For A Moral Victory?

The west coast trifecta is complete, thankfully. The Wings have now lost three in a row, and covered all the bases. A butt-kicking, an embarrassing loss to a hugely inferior team and, finally, outplaying a better team only to fall just short. Now that we have those out of the way, Wing fans can concentrate on looking forward to Tuesday...which we'll get to in a moment. Deep Digger captain Ansar Khan(!) guaranteed us Pavel Datsyuk would sit this one out, obviously a result of his nasty habit of taking Mike Babcock at his word. Nope. Datsyuk was in there and looking as good as I've seen him all year. Press box bound? Now here's where it gets interesting. Jason Williams. If there's anyone identified on this team as a project of Babcock's, it's Williams. Yet, upon the return of Delma Huddle--rather than scratch Hudler or Langfeld--Babcock decided it was statement time.

Khan(!)/MLive

Babcock sent a strong message to forward Jason Williams by making him a healthy scratch for the first time this season. “He’s got to play better, he’s got to play harder and get more involved,’’ Babcock said. “Sometimes you need a kick in the butt, and he just got one.’‘

Dominik Hasek had won the previous eight games immediately following losses.  Anaheim was coming off 4 straight losses, the last a blowout at the hands of OUR NEW RIVAL Columbus.  And John Keating uncovered a nugget in his pre-game chat with Babs.

Keating: You recently scouted Anaheim yourself?
Babcock: Yes I did
Keating: That’s really neat
Babcock: Thank you

Hasek owned the first.  How many acrobatic saves did you see?  That’s right. Not many.  He was exceptional, but in a standard way.  Know what I mean?  Rarely out of position, challenging Selanne, stoning MacDonald, glove save on Kunitz seconds after Bryzgalov robbed Datsyuk.  It’s January 8th or something. Is it the 8th?  Halfway through the season and he’s completely healthy.  Physically, anyway.

Mentally?  He’s still insane, and Danny Markov’s not helping matters.  Another night in LA and another Markov goal. He’s on fire and we should all be happy.  We didn’t bring him here to put the puck in the net, but by god that’s what he’s doing.  Oh. What?  My bad.

Helene St. James/Freep

For the second straight game, a shot went in off Danny Markov’s stick; this time, it was Travis Moen who converted. “I don’t know what to do,” Markov said. “I put my stick, or I take it away. It’s kind of frustration.”

Yeah. Icky.  Kinda funny in a nauseating way.  Hasek’s first period included 16 saves.  He was brilliant.  Then, the first shot he faced in the second looked soft until you saw the replay and realized it was another Oliver Stone magic puck.  I’d be curious to see just how many of the goals against Hasek have been deflections this year.  I tried to find it through Google but this didn’t work: “hasek+deflections+anger+west coast disaster+blocks of cheddar cheese+thank god we didn’t sign Belfour” but all it brought up were links to Rosie O’Donnell porn sites and that scared me.

Datsyuk, as I said, looked fantastic last night.  He and Zetterberg were flying and even when we were down by two I was convinced they’d pop one.  For whatever reason, they had much more room in the Duck zone than they’d been allowed all year.  If not for Bryzgalov, Datsyuk had at least two goals on his stick, not to mention an easy one for Hank. Bryzgalov stole that one too.

Samuelsson finally beat him off a wide slap shot from Lebda that bounced off the end boards and onto his stick.

Tied but not for long.  Danny Markov held the puck.  Waiting, waiting, waiting for his forwards to change lines.  Standing behind Hasek, concentrating very hard on not scoring again on his own goaltender…watching the bench.  Finally, in a flash of golden sunshine, hair flowing, harps at full volume…the Enigma skates toward center ice, grinning for the cameras.  Markov, sensing the Hollywood-like drama of the moment, fakes a shot at Hasek then moves up ice, and slides the puck to R. Lang…

...who passed it to Selanne, who gave it to some guy named Melin.  Melin with a wrister and Lebda’s in perfect position for a textbook goal.  A brilliant tip-in past Hasek.

Mike Babcock Consolidated Quote of the Day

“Dom’s got to stop that.  He’s got to stop them all, but especially that.  When your own men are shooting at you, you have to stop the pucks.  If you just stop the pucks your own men shoot at you then you’ve won half the battle because it’s a mental game and a game you have to play well.  I wasn’t here but Stevie told me, yeah we used to talk, that they would fire pucks at Dom’s head in ‘03 and he’d stop some of them so he needs to stop these too. I’ll talk to Nick, coach/captain confab, and tell him to tell the boys to start firing forehead shots if they’re gonna shoot on Dom during the games.  Emilio Sheen was at the game tonite. Flying V.”

2-1 Duckies, but not for long. Just over 8 left in the second when Getzlaf blasted one from the right wing.  To Hasek’s credit, that’s the only goal he discussed in the post mortem.

Khan(!)/MLive

“I had good look at it, I sort of misplayed the puck,’’ Hasek said. “It’s one of those goals you want to take back. If I see that shot 10 more times, I make 10 more saves. It was a good shot, but still a shot I should have saved.’‘

Bryzgalov owned us most of the night.  Lebda on a breakaway (off a brilliant sixty foot pass from Lidstrom) actually made some nifty moves before being denied on the backhand.

But he couldn’t stop Homer, who’s heating up (5 goals his last 8 games).  After getting drilled repeatedly, butchered, during the Wings 5th power play Holmstrom found himself on his feet and the puck on the way off a point shot from Lidstrom.  Off his skate and in for his 9th.

3-2 with an entire third to play and I was convinced either Zetterberg or Datsyuk were going to tie it, but no joy.  The final nail was Datsyuk’s second seemingly open net with 1:25 left, another brilliant Bryzgalov save followed soon after by an empty netter and sadness.

Overall, except for that nasty little scoreboard thingy, not too bad.  Moral victories suck and suck hard, and are generally for whining losers.  But this one I’ll take. Two deflections, brilliant goaltending from Hasek, speed and a little violence from the forwards….all that playing 55 minutes with only five dmen.  Yes, we lost another as Mathieu Schneider left with a “lower body injury” that was later classified as a knee sprain.

Babcock told the DD’s afterward that it “doesn’t appear serious.”  The Diggers bought it and wrote it, so we should assume he’ll be out until the playoffs.

Now…on to Denver and the little Dique.  I’m assuming the Dive PR machine will go into full spin cycle and try to drum up the hate amongst the bandwagoners who even remember there’s a hockey team in the state of Colorado.  After three straight losses, but a solid effort against the league’s toughest (yet depleted) defense?  I’ll go out on a limb and predict a good, old fashioned Pepsi Center beatdown, just below the Bourque jersey that most of the fans think belongs to a forward for the Nuggets.

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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