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Spectacular goal earns Franzen top billing

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Franzen goes airborne Thursday night to score goal No. 32 of the season. Watch Franzen's Goal
DETROIT – Friday afternoon, the Red Wings’ locker room was still abuzz over Johan Franzen’s amazing third-period goal on Thursday night.

“That was just an unbelievable play,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “Especially when he got tripped, and after he got tripped he still planted one foot to get his balance to get the shot off. Just his strength and speed -- and coordination, too -- was amazing to see him score a goal like that.”

So spectacular was the goal that ESPN took notice, giving the play top billing in the daily tribute to the plays of the day on "SportsCenter".
“Look at this move by Johan Franzen,” said ESPN’s anchor Linda Cohen during Thursday’s SportsCenter. “The guy is falling down and he scores. The athletic ability needed to do something like this blows away, you know, dunking.”

With the Wings trialing by two goals in the third period, Franzen took a two-line pass from Niklas Kronwall at the St. Louis blueline. As Franzen made his move toward the Blues’ net he was tripped by defenseman Mike Weaver.

“I just reacted to what happened,” Franzen said. “I made the move and I came in with good speed, so the D had to take a chance. I showed him that I was going in on the right side and I pulled the puck back and tried to go on the left side, but then he stuck his leg out. Before I knew it, I was airborne.”

Even while in the air, Franzen never lost sight of the puck and was able to produce enough energy to unleash a shot that found its way behind the legs of goalie Chris Mason.

“You usually keep focused on the puck even when you’re falling down,” Franzen said. “If you’re down on your knees, you’re still pretty much able to make a play. But I got a good shot away and the puck was laying perfect for me, so I could use the momentum from falling and put that into my shot.”

A play like the one Franzen made Thursday would usually be reserved for the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Marian Hossa.

But many of the Wings weren’t surprised by the athleticism showed by Franzen.

“For his size, he’s got one of the best pair of hands even for a guy that big,” defenseman Brad Stuart said. “He’s got a quick shot, he skates well and can make moves like the one you saw last night. That’s not the first time that he’s made a great move like that”.

Still, pro athletes aren’t immune to be amazed at what their peers can accomplish.

“I was on the bench and just saw him make his move, cut inside and go flying in the air,” Stuart said. “I couldn’t really tell if it had gone in until the crowd cheered.

“To see a move like that; not many guys can do that. Then you see Pav make moves every game that not many guys are going to be able to make. And then sometimes as a fan they might not even notice some of the things. But as players we know how hard some of the things Pav does.”

“Just a spectacular goal,” Lidstrom said.

TOP GOALS: Besides Franzen's gem on Thursday, the Red Wings have scored several amazing goals this season. Here are just five of the top performers. Watch all five nominees and then vote!

Franzen vs. St. Louis (April 2)
Hossa vs. Atlanta (Oct. 24)
Datsyuk at Chicago (Oct. 25)
Datsyuk at Minnesota (Jan. 3)
Hudler at Calgary (March 23) 

TEAM DEFENSE: The Wings held a players-only meeting in the locker room prior to practice Friday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.

The idea, Lidstrom said, was to right the ship after the team dropped their third straight home decision Thursday night.

"It's a bit of frustrations," Lidstrom said. "And we know what we're doing wrong. We haven't fixed it yet and it's not a major thing to fix, either. You would think it's fairly simple, but that's why we worked a lot of defensive zone coverage and defensive zone play out there today."

The Wings have allowed 230 goals this season -- a 25 percent increase over last season's stingy 184 goals-allowed.

"We talked about what we have to do to win games," Lidstrom said. "This is not good enough to win, the way we're playing now. ... We have a chance to do something good here."

WINGS NOTEBOOK: Forward Tomas Kopecky will not be available for Sunday's home game against the Minnesota Wild. Kopecky suffered a shoulder injury late in the third period of Thursday's game. Coach Mike Babcock said that Derek Meech will be moved to a forward line, and that defenseman Chris Chelios will be inserted into the line-up.

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