Last year's Stanley Cup champions, Detroit Red Wings, enter this game at Staples Center against the home, Los Angeles Kings, leading the NHL in scoring, and having the best power play percentage. The Wings have been alternating their netminders this season, between Chris Osgood and Ty Conklin; both have 15 wins this season, and Conklin gets the start against the Kings. On the other end, Kings recently got rid of Jason LaBarbera to make way for Jon Quick, who comes into the game 4-4-0 on the season. Wings have had a killer season at 30-7-6, and there is little doubt that they will make their 18th consecutive playoff appearance - a record that will likely never be beaten by any other professional team.
Even though the Kings have only won 4 of their last 13, at 17-19-6, there is still a sellout crowd at Staples Center, with an overwhelming majority of Detroit fans. Early in the game, and throughout the entire way, the few Kings fans in attendance try to fight off the regular "Go Wings go" chants from the Detroit fans. Not much for the Kings fans to cheer about, aside from several close scoring chances all coming up short. Wings Kirk Maltby scores first at 12:20 into the game, and it is all downhill for the Kings from there. Henrik Zetterberg dishes a brilliant one-timer through the legs of Kings' defensemen Sean O'Donnell to find a wide open Johan Franzen for an easy goal right in front of Quick. Not sure if the pass would be considered luck or skill, but when you play such an offensive-minded game like the Wings, good things are bound to come your way.
The Wings win the game 4-0, with another two goals in the second period almost replicating what was seen in the first. For their third goal, Jiri Hudler fakes the shot from the center of the left face-off circle, and hits Mikael Samuelsson for the easy finish. A few minutes later, Tomas Kopecky finds a diving Kris Draper from behind the net. If Quick stopped any of the four goals, it would have been seriously impressive, but I can't say any were his fault. The Kings just did not put any pressure on the Wings when they were behind their own net, or when they were in and around Quick's crease. Where the Kings lack in skill, they normally make up for in intensity and physicality, but that was not the case this game.
The Wings were winning the loose-puck battles, and even though the Kings were slightly more physical, it was sloppy - they'd lunge to pick up the hit, which typically would mean they were out-of-position. It seemed like aside from a couple scoring chances from Patrick O'Sullivan and Dustin Brown, they Kings could not get anything going on offense. Derek Armstrong and Matt Greene were leading the way in physical play for the Kings. In general, it is pretty amazing watching Detroit play, with the mind-blowing skill from the stick of Pavel Datsyuk, and watching future Hall of Fame'r Chris Chelios playing in his 25th season (he's turning 44 this year). One thing that stood out to me was a cheap shot from Kopecky in the third; during the most major scuffle of the game, Kopecky took a cheap shot at Armstrong with a punch to the face with his glove on. Punching someone with your glove on is some pretty pussy shit, especially when he's not expecting it. Here is the last half of said scuffle:
Even though the talk of this season has been the play from the San Jose Sharks, the Red Wings are only one game behind them, and are looking as good as ever; it's still early, but putting your money on the Wings repeating would be a pretty sound wager.