Defending the Cup: Game 24

Filed under: , , The Result: The Red Wings skated to a 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks last night in Detroit. The one-goal differential is not a very good reflection of the game, as the Wings largely dominated play.

On the offensive side, they posted a season-high 47 shots and were held off from scoring more only by strong performances by both JS Giguere and Jonas Hiller, who relieved Giguere to start the third. It wasn't their best night from an offensive creativity standpoint, but it was a workman-like effort, to be sure.

On the defensive side, they held the Ducks to just 16 shots (5, 5, 6 across the periods). A serious gaffe in their own end led to the lone Ducks goal, but the night was otherwise reasonably mistake-free. Chris Osgood was hardly tested, but avoided allowing three goals for just the third time this season.

The win is encouraging for Wings fans, but is tempered by the fact that the Ducks played the night before and therefore weren't at their best. It's a good sign, but doesn't make up for their losses in earlier "test matches" with teams like San Jose and Pittsburgh.

The Coach: The game involved a noticeably better effort by a team called out by their coach earlier in the day. Mike Babcock, talking to the media after the morning skate:


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"Who's the hardest-working team in the National Hockey League? Well, in the past I've been able to say without any question, here. I don't think that's the case right now."

Babcock likes to tell it like it is, and that was no exception. The key to the team's success last season was their work ethic, which was second to none. This season, that just has not been the case. If last night's game is any indication, however, the team has gotten the message and is regaining that ethic. They looked much more driven against the Ducks than they have perhaps at any point in this season so far.
The Hot Hand: Johan Franzen continues to be one of the hottest players in the League since last March. He has 39 goals in 51 games (playoffs included) going back to March 2nd, and is certainly "living right" as FSN Detroit color commentator Mickey Redmond says. His goal last night involved getting a stick on a Nick Lidstrom shot while fighting it out in front of the net. His transformation from a late-blooming checking forward to one of the Wings' biggest scoring threats has been incredible to see.

Mr. Freeze: It seems like Dan Cleary can't buy a goal these days. He hasn't scored since October 24th, but that's not so shocking given that he missed three weeks due to an eye infection. What is shocking, however, is the number of unfinished scoring chance he has had since returning. He's always too close to the net to get the puck up, sendung the puck wide, or whiffing on it completely. The Wings need him to start putting the puck in the net, and with the chances he's getting, you have to believe a thaw is coming soon.

Hossa Watch:Marian Hossa scored his 14th of the season off a Cleary feed at 1:48 of the third period. "Mars," as some in Detroit have taken to calling him, has been held without a point just five times this season.

On Tap: The Wings face-off against Vancouver Thursday night at home. The game could see the return of Chris Chelios and Tomas Holmstrom to the lineup, though how the former will fit under the cap once he comes off the IR remains to be seen.

Defending the Cup: Game 24 originally appeared on NHL FanHouse on Tue, 02 Dec 2008 13:07:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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