Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Returneth, the NHL has

Healthy Holmstrom helps Detroit to victory
For those with DirecTV, the NHL season doesn't return until March 2. Those with Versus, the season resumed Monday with one game. And they saw a potentially scary sight of a seemingly fully healthy Detroit team.

Tomas Holmstrom, who missed the Olympics with an injury, registered three points, his Swedish replacement Johan Franzen scored, and the Red Wings edged Colorado, 3-2, for a crucial victory on the road.

There was some symmetry for Canada coach Mike Babcock, who saw his team jump out to a 2-0 lead, controlling play, only to see the opponent - this time the Avalanche - equalize the score and level the field.

This time though, it was Nicklas Lidstrom's first road goal of the season - seriously - on the power play with 9:03 remaining in regulation that snapped a 2-2 tie. After Holmstrom and Franzen put Detroit ahead 2-0, the Red Wings appeared to make it 3-0 on Franzen's second power play marker of the game. However, Holmstrom was whistled for contact with goalie Craig Anderson and the goal was waived off.

Colorado found life after that, and goals by T.J. Galiardi and Chris Stewart tied the game before the second period ended. Stewart also had an assist for a two-point night.

Lidstrom scored one of the easier goals of his career after Pavel Datsyuk - who had two assists - deked and juked and mesmerized everyone on Colorado, then dished off to Lidstrom, who had a fairly easy shot after Anderson followed Datsyuk out of his cage.

If you're like me, you were hoping either Brian Rafalski or Paul Stastny would've scored an overtime goal.

Jimmy Howard made 22 saves for the victory, which raises a question. Why is no one talking about Howard for the Calder Trophy? Or are they and I'm just oblivious to it? (Which is possible.) I know Tyler Myers is having an outstanding season, and Matt Duchene is making a surge, but Howard is sixth in the league in goals against average and fifth in save percentage. He's also the main reason why Detroit sits in the eighth playoff spot. Without him, the Red Wings are probably a couple places lower in the standings. He should at least be one of the three finalists at this point.

Stat of the night
4 in 7 - In just seven games, Franzen has four goals. He has goals in three straight.

Quote of the night
"That's the best lineup we've dressed all year. Wouldn't you love to draw us in the first round?"
Babcock. And no, Mike, I wouldn't want to play you in the first round.

Notable games
Tuesday, March 2 (12 games)
-Montreal (29-28-6) at Boston (27-22-11), 7 p.m. ET. The Bruins are seventh, the Habs eighth in the East, it's Original Six, it's a division rivalry.

-Buffalo (33-18-9) at Pittsburgh (36-22-4), 7:30. Ryan Miller is not expected to start, preventing a Sidney Crosby vs. Miller rematch, but it should still be a good game. Plus Miller sitting is probably a good thing for the Sabres, as Miller has been downright mortal against the Penguins (eight goals in two games) while backup Patrick Lalime has been a wall.

-New Jersey (37-21-3) at San Jose (40-13-9), 10:30, Versus. Did the four Canadian Olympian Sharks learn any tricks to use against Martin Brodeur?

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