Monday, November 29, 2010

Wings wresting control of Central

Detroit sweeps home-and-home with Columbus
The Blue Jackets had a chance to make a statement in the NHL. That statement ended up being, "Well, maybe we're not there yet."

Behind 27 saves by Jimmy Howard, Detroit doubled up Columbus, 4-2, taking two of two from the second-place team in the Central Division over the weekend. Four different Red Wings scored: Niklas Kronwall, Darren Helm, Valtteri Filppula and Dan Cleary, the latter into an empty net to seal the win. Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen each notched two assists.

Derrick Brassard and R.J. Umberger scored for Columbus. Steve Mason stopped 40 shots.

Surging Thrashers add Boston to the kill list
Another quality team, another notch on Atlanta's bed post.

The Thrashers had their way with Boston, scoring three times in the first period and Ondrej Pavelec was nigh unstoppable yet again in Atlanta's 4-1 victory. Dustin Byfuglien had four points and Pavelec finished with 40 saves.

Evander Kane, Byfuglien and Jim Slater scored in a span of 6:10 in the first period to seize early control of the game. Atlanta's attack all but ceased after that, being out-shot 31-14 in the final two periods, but except for Blake Wheeler's goal that made the score 3-1, Pavelec didn't allow anything through.

Niclas Bergfors scored a power play goal late in the second period to restore the three-goal advantage. Atlanta has won five straight games.

Varlamov saves Caps
Cam Ward earned No. 1 Star honors but it was Semyon Varlamov who made the highlight save of the night.

Actually, I didn't watch the game so maybe Ward had a better one; it was football day.

Varlamov made a huge save on Ian White in overtime and Washington took down Carolina for the third time in three meetings, 3-2 in a shootout. After a nifty passing play by the Hurricanes set up a 2-on-1 down low that Sergei Samsonov turned into a 2-on-0, Varlamov stoned White who was all alone from point-blank range.

Alex Ovechkin scored the only shootout goal and Varlamov stoned Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu. Jeff Skinner also failed for the Hurricanes, but he pulled a Kovalchuk and lost the puck before getting off a shot.

Varlamov finished with 26 saves. Ward had 38. Eric Staal had two points for Carolina, including the game-tying goal with three seconds left.

Monday's games
Pittsburgh (15-8-2) at Rangers (14-10-1), 7 p.m. ET - When last these teams played, the Penguins couldn't solve Henrik Lundqvist until the final three minutes, then they choked and found a way to lose in overtime. That's the only blemish for the Penguins over their last nine games; they won the other eight, including six straight.

Sidney Crosby is on a 12-game points streak and leads the league with 40 points. Pittsburgh has the top-ranked penalty killing unit.

New York has won two straight, getting excellent goaltending from Lundqvist.

Dallas (13-8-1) at Carolina (10-10-3), 7:30 p.m., Versus - I think Kari Lehtonen has at least a slight case of schizophrenia; he has a 2.15 GAA in his 11 wins but 3.38 in eight losses. That kind of sums up Dallas' season; the Stars are either pretty good or pretty bad. I really don't know at this point. But a three game winning streak has them in first place.

I think the Hurricanes are proving themselves to be average. They're capable of strong performances - like shutting out Boston, because you know, that's hard to do with that popgun offense pouring in seven goals against such quality opponents as the Islanders, Oilers and Senators but then they'll have a real bad game.

Mainly my biggest question from this game is: Really, Versus? This is the one you picked to show? Two non-playoff teams from a year ago? I guess it gets other teams on. Just make sure you show the Hurricanes' cheerleaders if when Carolina scores. Those girls are some of the finest in the business. Rawr.

Edmonton (6-12-4) at Ottawa (11-12-1), 7:30 p.m., RDS - How bad is the Eastern Conference? The Senators earn less than a point per game but they'd be just three points out of a playoff spot.

How good is the Western Conference? The Oilers earn less than a point per game but they'd be just, um, well let's just say more than three points out of a playoff spot. (Try 11.)

Minnesota (11-9-2) at Calgary (9-12-2), 9 p.m. - Friday's win aside, is anyone playing uglier hockey these days than Minnesota? Even the Islanders, Maple Leafs and Oilers aren't giving up six goals a game. Niklas Backstrom ruined many a fantasy team last week. And I'm just talking about the 493 that I have.

With the Flames having only two wins in their last nine games, this one doesn't have the makings of what we'd consider quality hockey. In Calgary's defense, this is just its fourth home game of November. The Flames had a four-game road trip broken up by two straight home games then packed their bags for another five road games.

Los Angeles (13-9-0) at Anaheim (11-11-3), 10 p.m. - How badly are the Kings struggling these days? Well, you remember when they were leading the West? They're in ninth now. LA can't score.

The Ducks ain't much better. Both teams have lost six of their last seven, and only two of those 12 losses came in overtime or a shootout, both by Anaheim. The Ducks won their last game to end that six-game slide. Prior to that, they had won six in a row. Yet another schizophrenic team.

Pittsburgh 3, New York 2
Dallas 4, Carolina 2
Ottawa 3, Edmonton 1
Calgary 4, Minnesota 3
Los Angeles 5, Anaheim 3

No comments: