January 01, 2009
Was this the first wind-aided goal in NHL history?
After Datsyuk simply blew past Brian Campbell and Cam Barker to score the goal that put the Red Wings up for good in an eventual 6-4 win in the Winter Classic, NBC broadcasters speculated that a gust of wind may have helped the rush. Uh, we'll give the Russian credit for having the jets to make that move in any conditions, and the elements had nothing to do with the nifty backhand that beat Cristobal Huet. It was the type of play that was missing on rented ice last year at Ralph Wilson Stadium and proof you can match the spectacle of an outdoor game with the skill of hockey played at its highest level. That was it for Datsyuk on the scoreheet, but he buzzed the net all day and finished a plus-2 with a game-high seven shots.
No. 2 star: Jiri Hudler, Detroit Red Wings
While Datsyuk used speed to his advantage, it was tenacity that allowed Hudler to score twice on Wrigley Field ice. He made it 3-2 with a rebound goal early in the second period and tied the game after a couple of whacks under nearly identical circumstances a little more than 10 minutes later. Hudler later assisted on Brian Rafalski's excuse-me goal in the third. The fifth-year Czech forward now has 15 goals, matching the career-high he established in 76 games back in 2006-07.
Acquired from the Kings in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick earlier in the week, LaBarbera made his Canucks debut Thursday and stopped 31 of the 32 shots he faced in a tight 2-1 victory over Nashville. The Burnaby-born goalie withstood a 17-shot barrage in the second period and a late Predators flurry to improve to 6-8-4 on the season. They weren't exactly sorry to see Labs go in Los Angeles, but for at least a day he showed signs of providing a stable bridge to the return of Roberto Luongo.
Honorable mention: We could devote an entire column to the success that was the Winter Classic. Oh wait, we did. … Looking sharp, Mike Babcock. … Ty Conklin is now 2-1 in outdoor games. … Buffalo linemates Derek Roy and Jason Pominville started the New Year with a combined four goals and an assist in a 4-1 win in Toronto. … David Krejci made it 10 straight with a point in Boston's 4-2 win over Pittsburgh. Manny Fernandez (9-0) still hasn't lost at home. … Let's clear some trophy-case space for Dustin Jeffrey (Pens) and Sean Collins (Caps), who both scored their first NHL goals Thursday.
Dishonorable mention: "One, two, three pucks you're out" just didn't work for this viewer. … Postgame handshakes are a tradition, yes, but it's a postseason tradition. … Huet allowed more goals Thursday than in his last five starts combined. The Rafalski tally was a head-scratcher. … Chicago native Chris Chelios started for Detroit but saw only 1:57 of ice time. … That players only meeting didn't do much for the Pens, now losers of four of five. … The Preds have just nine goals in their last seven games.