Once again, the Detroit Red Wings rose to the challenge and beat the San Jose Sharks, 4-2, for a third straight time this season. The team rallied from a two-goal deficit with goals from forwards Dan Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg to pull even with San Jose at 2-2. A power-play tally from defenseman Derek Meech completed Detroit’s rally at 4:40 into the third period. Head coach Mike Babcock had Jonathan Ericsson as a healthy scratch last night, making room for Meech to get some playing time. Just over four minutes later, a goal from forward Patrick Eaves — his ninth of the season — cemented the Wings’ lead.
Upon defeating the team atop the Western Conference standings last night, the Red Wings moved into eighth place in the standings with 64 points, which is even with the No. 7 seed (Nashville) and two points above the ninth seed (Calgary). The loss gave San Jose’s its first in regulation since falling to the Wings on Jan. 9, having gone 8-0-2 entering last night’s game. The win does beg the question (as posed by Babcock last night), “If you can do this against the good teams, why can’t you do it every night?”
The bad news? Defenseman Niklas Kronwall left the game early with an injury. MLive.com briefly addresses the confusion over which body part Kronwall injured: his ankle and did he re-tweak his knee. The blueliner had just returned five games ago from an injury that kept him out of 30 games. Babcock says that Kronner will not play tonight in Anaheim.
The win got DRW bloggers talking about Detroit rising to the challenge: DetroitHockey.net, Nightmare on Helm Street, Snipe Snipe, Dangle Dangle, The Production Line, The Triple Deke, Unconnected Red Wings Blog, and Winging It In Motown.
Lilja to Return to Game-Action
- Defenseman Andreas Lilja was eagerly awaiting his first game in 340 days so he didn’t mind the bus trip from Grand Rapids to Rockford, Ill., where he will play tonight in his first of three games in his brief long-term injured-reserve conditioning loan with Detroit’s AHL affiliate.
- If Lilja is ready to return to the NHL after his time with the Grand Rapids Griffins, it will make for some tough decisions for the Detroit management writes The Detroit News: “The Wings would have to clear two rosters spots and roughly $1.9 million of salary to fit Lilja back in, assuming there are no other long-term injuries in the meantime, and assuming Lilja gets full medical clearance.”
- The Swede told The Grand Rapids Press that he will have to fight off some nerves heading into the game after being out for 11 months.
- In his official blog at Lilja3.com, the defenseman wrote in Swedish (translated into English here by Google translator):
“Right now I am sitting in a hotel in Rockford, preparing me for the match tomorrow, Thursday, which is an incredible relief that I finally get to be in a match! I just hope that everything will be fine & make it feel like usual! It will be very tough now, [finding my legs and adjusting to] the tempo & timing on the ice, but it will, after a while, I hope!
So now I go to sleep so that I can be at my best mood on the ice tomorrow! I can hear from me tomorrow after the game so that you can hear how it happened! So keep your fingers crossed now, so we hear!”
In Other News
- Despite playing four games over five and a half days and a cross-country flight to California, the Wings skated hard during Monday’s practice to prepare for the top-ranked San Jose Sharks.
- Forward Johan Franzen told MLive.com that he is unsure about playing in the 2010 Winter Olympics, which takes place later this month in Vancouver. Previously, the Swede had told reporters he thought he would need between five and 10 games to feel ready for that high level of play. As of right now, Franzen will get in three NHL games before the Olympic break leaving some room for questions. If Franzen did play in the Olympics, he would do so as a replacement player for an injured Swede who could no longer play in the tournament.
- The Griffins anticipate seeing a boost in play with the return of forward Justin Abdelkader, who had spent the first half of the season in Detroit due to the large number of player injuries.
- Chris at Motown Wings takes a look at what the Wings need to do point-wise in the standings to secure a playoff spot.
- Snipe Snipe, Dangle Dangle posted some interesting notes and observations about the Wings’ play in January.
- The latest episode of The Obstructed View was just released as bloggers from Babcock’s Death Stare, Motown Wings, Red Wings Guy, and Winging It In Motown talk about Brett Lebda and Derek Meech, the salary cap, Detroit’s push for the playoffs, Jason Williams, and more.