COMMENTARY | It wasn't the prettiest win, but the Detroit Red Wings snapped a four-game winless streak and beat the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 on Wednesday, October 30, to start off their Western Canada road trip.
The Red Wings, who had been outshot 128-123 in their previous four games, snapped Vancouver's four-game winning streak and limited the Canucks to just 20 shots on goal, the fewest amount of shots against since their first game of the season against the Buffalo Sabres.
Here are three observations from the Red Wings' win:
Brendan Smith took ill-advised penalties
Despite Brendan Smith's early-season struggles, I haven't given up on him yet. However, after taking two ill-advised penalties against the Canucks, he's starting to test my patience.
Smith came into the Vancouver game with a minus-9 rating and took two penalties that were completely unnecessary. One of them being a cross check when the puck was no where close to him, and the other being a high stick on a retaliation.
Fortunately for the Red Wings, they were able to kill off both penalties, and Smith was on the ice for both of his team's goals. Smith was a healthy scratch earlier this season, and if he continues to make plays that hurt his team, we could see him sitting in the press box again when Jonathan Ericsson returns from his shoulder injury.
Secondary scoring stepped up
The Red Wings have relied too much on Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg lately for any offensive production. Against the Canucks, they got the job done without either of the Euro Twins registering a point.
Detroit had six different players record a point as Daniel Alfredsson and Tomas Tatar scored the goals with Smith, Kyle Quincey, Danny DeKeyser and Niklas Kronwall getting the assists.
They weren't highlight reel goals by any means, but not every goal is going to be worthy of SportsCenter's Top 10. Alfredsson's goal was a good example of what happens when you crash the net, and Tatar's goal was lucky, but he got a partial screen from the defenseman, and the shot fooled Luongo.
It appears Alfredsson is starting to settle in as he has a goal in each of his past two games and is getting a lot of opportunities no matter what line he is on. Tatar was another player that needed to get on the scoresheet. He hadn't registered a point in his previous four games, and this goal will give him the confidence he needs to start producing on a more consistent basis.
Plus, it'll make it hard for coach Mike Babcock to keep him out of the lineup if he continues to produce.
Despite losing the past four games, Jimmy Howard has looked good for the Red Wings. He got yanked in the game against Ottawa, but earned a shutout against San Jose and stopped 37 of 40 shots against the New York Rangers.
Against Vancouver, he was in control. The one goal he gave up was his fault, however. He appeared to lose track of the puck when Henrik Sedin passed it to brother Daniel Sedin, which left a wide open net for Daniel Sedin. Other than that early miscue, Howard played very sharp and made a number of key saves to keep Vancouver from expanding their early lead and keep the Red Wings ahead late.
Howard was able to see all of the shots he faced as the Red Wings did a good job of clearing bodies in front of the net and giving their goalie a chance to make a save, something they had been struggling with during their past four games.
Howard didn't have to make a lot of saves as the Red Wings did a nice job of blocking shots. Detroit had 15, including five from Kronwall. Vancouver had the edge in blocked shots with 19.
On the other side, Roberto Luongo also looked good. The Red Wings had a number of scoring chances, and Luongo shut the door on a lot of them. The second goal he gave up was soft, but he gave his team a chance to get back into the game.
The Red Wings face the Calgary Flames on Friday as they play former Red Wings Joey MacDonald and Jiri Hudler, who leads the team in scoring with 13 points.
The Flames haven't been able to establish any sort of consistency this year, and the Red Wings need to take advantage of that. Detroit will be playing its second game in a stretch where they will play four games in six nights.
It's vitally important they get wins early in the road trip as they will most likely not have their legs underneath them at the end of the road trip.
Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who covers the Detroit Red Wings for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He also co-hosts a Red Wings Podcast called The Octopod, and is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can follow Tom on Twitter.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Detroit Red Wings
- Vancouver Canucks
- Brendan Smith
- Roberto Luongo