When Joel Quenneville used his one and only timeout at the 3:03 mark of the second period, it seemed like an odd time to burn it. The Hawks were on the verge of a 5-on-3 power play and most of the action was already taking place in the Detroit end. By taking his time-out, Quenneville allowed Detroit’s key penalty killers to catch their breath and Babcock, all of a sudden, had his whole bench at his disposal.
It was a pretty bad idea to take it when he did. Then it became an even worse idea with a minute and a half left in the game.
Patrick Kane drew a holding penalty on Niklas Kronwall after an extended board battle. With the ensuing face-off in the Wings zone and one of the Hawks most important offensive players completely exhausted, this would have been an ideal situation to use a time-out. Ah, but in the NHL, you only get one and Quenneville used his at an inopportune time.
After a scoreless first period, the Hawks struck first a minute and a half into the second period. Tomas Holmstrom coughed up the puck just inside his own blue line. Brent Seabrook found Kris Versteeg who fired a pass to a wide-open Patrick Sharp. Sharp buried into the open net and the Hawks were on the board.
Two minutes later, the Hawks received the aforementioned 5-on-3. During their kill, the Wings did an excellent job of preventing pucks from getting to goalie Chris Osgood. It seemed like every time the Hawks put a shot towards the net, it was bouncing off someone’s shin guards. This became a trend.
(All game Detroit clogged the shooting lanes preventing any would be chances of even reaching Osgood. They really did a terrific job of it.)
After the Wings were able to kill off the penalties, Duncan Keith took two lazy penalties. The Hawks killed off the first. On the second, Lady Luck was not on their side. Nicklas Lidstrom was trying to send a puck across the ice; instead, it glanced off John Madden’s skate and in between Crisotbal Huet’s legs.
Five and a half minutes later, Cam Barker couldn’t corral a puck inside in his own blue line. Kris Draper was more than happy to scoop it up and fire it over Huet’s shoulder to give the Wings their first lead.
Not to be undone by Keith, Brian Campbell took a bad penalty of his own a minute later. Thirty seconds later, the Wings had a 3-1 lead on Johan Franzen’s tap-in goal.
Half-way through the third period, Kris Versteeg cut the deficit to one when he banged home a rebound on the power play. Most of the play in the final frame was spent in Detroit’s end. Osgood, though, made huge stops on Madden, Kopecky, and Toews to name a few.
With a minute and a half left, the Hawks found themselves again with a two-man advantage. This time, though, without a chance to catch their breath and no plays diagrammed off the face-off, they never could sustain more than a couple seconds of pressure. So the Wings notched their first win of the year at the expense of the Blackhawks.
The silver lining from this early season defeat is that Detroit appears to be nowhere near as strong as they have been in the past. While the Wings did control most of the second period, the Hawks were the faster, stronger, and better team for the majority of the game.
Unfortunately, a couple defensive lapses, a botched time-out, and some key saves from Osgood were the difference.
*On the Farm*
—Shawn Lalonde notched two assists for the Belleville Bulls in their Wednesday night 3-2 overtime win over the Ottawa 67’s.
—Byron Froese was held off the scoresheet in the Everett Silvertips loss to the Portland Winterhawks 4-3.
–The Ice Hogs have back-to-back-to-back games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as they travel through Ontario to play the Hamilton Bulldogs, Lake Erie Monsters, and Toronto Marlies.
–The University of Minnesota-Duluth has their opening weekend of games this Friday and Sunday. 2009 1st Round Pick Dylan Olsen skates for the Bulldogs. He’ll be another guy we’re going to try to keep an eye on throughout this year.