I only caught the first period of the Wings' 4-1 win over the Blues last night. I was reasonably impressed with what I saw, though it's obvious they aren't quite firing on all cylinders yet.
Still, it's a marked improvement over their February play, that's for sure.
I have to say something about the phantom Pavel Datsyuk call that led to the Blues' late first period power play. What the heck was that? I'd like to think that the official who called the penalty knows the difference between a trip and a player falling on his own. Apparently not.
In the end, it doesn't matter. However, my confidence in the officiating is waning. What with the missed call in the Sharks game Friday night, the play that was not stopped in Buffalo Sunday and various phantom calls; how are we expected to trust in the referees? It's not as though it's just a problem in Wings games either. Just ask the Philadelphia Flyers. I hate to complain about the officiating, but to me this is a League-wide quality issue, not a Wings fan-specific gripe.
—I've been trying to cut Andreas Lilja some slack lately. I figure there's a reason he remains in the lineup, despite his more visible blunders. With that change in mindset, I've been able to appreciate big No. 3 more.
On the Blues' goal, however, I thought his attempt to knock the puck down was a little on the boneheaded side. It turned out to be a perfect redirect. I thought the conventional wisdom was that defense men leave the puck alone if they can't outright block it. With Stempniak right there, I can understand what Andreas was trying to do, but it just didn't turn out so well.
—It wasn't Brett Lebda that Mike Babcock sat in favor of Jonathan Ericsson last night. It was Derek Meech. I admit it, I was surprised.
Meech apparently hit a high point against Edmonton last week, but his play since was still quite good, I thought. I assume Babcock was just demonstrating to Meech that his spot on the roster is not a given. Hopefully it won't backfire, somewhat like we saw with Quincey.
—Giving Ericsson another game paid off, if only because of a little drop pass that kicked off the cycle leading to Pavel Datsyuk's first goal. If Nick Lidstrom does return Sunday, however, last night was probably Ericsson's last game in the Winged Wheel this season as he'll be returned to Grand Rapids.
—Since I missed the second and third periods, I didn't see the hit on Tomas Kopecky or the aftermath. It didn't make the cut on the highlight reel and neither did the Rafalski throw down or Downey's coming off the bench. Too bad. Iwo CPO says he'll have video later.
I'm glad to read that Kopecky's okay. He looked good in the first period and I assume played a strong game in the second and third, as well.
—I don't know what he looked like in the second and third, obviously, but you get the feeling that Jiri Hudler is finally going to break out of this horrendous slump. I thought he looked strong in the first.
—Where was Manny Legace's head on Brian Rafalski's goal? It just blew by him.
—The Dallas Stars lost at home to the Coyotes last night. That's two home losses in a row for the second-ranked team in the Conference. Much ballyhooed trade deadline acquisition Brad Richards has zero points in both games since posting five in his debut with the Stars. That's called being brought back to earth.
The Wings' two consecutive wins have put them 7 points ahead of Dallas and they retain two games in hand.