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Three Questions: Wings-Wild

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
What was the big line-up change Saturday night?

The Red Wings had a fresh face defending their goal Saturday night – Jimmy Howard.  The top goaltender for the Wings’ AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, Howard was called up to the NHL roster when it was announced that Chris Osgood would be unavailable for the next ten days.  Ty Conklin played last night, so to give him a rest, coach Mike Babcock tapped Howard to get between the posts in Minnesota.  The Detroit management wanted to get a look at their second round draft pick from 2003, but should give him another look before he gets sent back down.  The final score didn’t do Howard justice; he fell victim to bad breaks.  First, he had to try to stop former all-star Owen Nolan in prime scoring positions, then a few turnovers left him facing difficult shots throughout the contest.  Combine that with a Wild squad playing in front of their energetic home crowd while the Wings were operating on no rest, and it was a bad situation for the young netminder.  Howard did make 24 shots in his ninth career game, however, and he showed good rebound control and stickwork on dump-ins throughout the contest.  He should see more time before he gets sent back to Grand Rapids.

How did Tomas Kopecky celebrate?

It’s not often that a hockey player gets to celebrate something big by scoring a goal the next day.  Forward Tomas Kopecky and his wife Maria were celebrating the birth of his second child today, and to top it off, he scored his third goal of the season for new son Tobias.  Three minutes into the second period, Kopecky charged to the net as Ville Leino flew down the boards.  Leino tried to make a pass out in front, and Kopecky fought through a crowd to get his stick on the puck and fire it past goaltender Niklas Backstrom.  Kopecky’s stick might have had a little magic in it; his new labeling on the top of his stick read ‘JT’ along with his number, in honor of his sons Jakub, and newly-born Tobias.

What went wrong?

You’re not going to win a lot of hockey games if you can’t convert on the power play, and even the game’s best team on the man advantage are going to have games where the puck doesn’t go in.  The Red Wings went scoreless on five man-advantage opportunities Saturday as they battled against the NHL’s best penalty-killing team.  Credit goes to goaltender Backstrom, who turned away 35 Detroit shots throughout the contest.  The Wings may have been battling travel fatigue after playing a home game last night, but they will have time to rest before they square off against San Jose on Wednesday at home.

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