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Three Questions: Wings-Oilers

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
How hard is it to fill Tomas Holmstrom’s big shoes (or skates)?

Tomas Kopecky had quite the game Thursday night, filling the spot of the big guy in front of the opposition’s net on the powerplay.  Tomas Holmstrom was a late scratch due to back spasms, so coach Mike Babcock tapped Kopecky as his replacement for the night.  The young forward saw time with superstars Pavel Datsyuk and Marian Hossa, and he wasted no time making his mark.  For the second goal of the game, Kopecky was parked right out in front of the Edmonton net, and was originally credited with the goal.  It was later given to Datsyuk, who took the initial shot, but the shot would have never made it to the back of the net without the screen from Kopecky.  So he lost one goal, but it didn’t really matter, because two minutes after the Datsyuk tally, he scored again.  This one was unmistakably Kopecky’s, due to his terrific (and Holmstrom-like) waist-high tip.

Kopecky was the star of the FSN first-intermission interview with John Keating, where he discussed his new powerplay role.  “It was great,” Kopecky said.  “Too bad Homer couldn’t go, but I learned from the best.”  He did learn from the best, and he sure did look like Holmstrom Thursday night.

Who was the Red Wings star of the game?

I’m going with Jiri Hudler, who scored the Wings’ first and fourth goal.  Hudler skated for 12:51 and fired four shots on goal, while finishing plus-one.  But his second goal of the game was what made him stand out.  With the Red Wings on a powerplay, Derek Meech fired a slapshot from the point.  The shot missed the net, but hit the glass and bounced back out in front of the Edmonton goal.  Hudler waited at the right post, and as the puck came down, he swatted it into the net, in an impressive display of his hand-eye coordination skills.

What won the game for the Red Wings?

The Red Wings won the special teams battle against the Oilers, especially late in the game.  Detroit went 3-5 on 4:40 worth of powerplay time.  Edmonton, on the other hand, went 1-6 on the man advantage, and most importantly, failed to convert in the final minutes.  The Wings defensive corps, led by goaltender Chris Osgood, showed their grit and determination by keeping the Oilers off the score sheet with Valtteri Filppula serving a four-minute penalty for high-sticking.  Teams win games by facing down adversity late in games, and the Wings did just that to hold on for the 4-3 win.

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