Goal Box


2017-04-11T13:47:29+00:00 April 11th, 2017|Goal Box|


Tear ducts were going to get a workout all over Joe Louis Arena regardless of what happened on the ice, but no one anticipated that the emotional floodgates would open seven minutes into the Red Wings game against New Jersey.

In this case, it would be the Detroit players who would initiate the evening’s melodrama, rather than the faithful fans assembled to bid farewell to their building.

For the first 81 games of the season, the Red Wings veteran center Riley Sheahan had been held off the score sheet. A reliable 15-goal scorer for the previous three years, fate had not bestowed itself kindly on Sheahan this season.

But Detroit management stuck with him; he’d only missed two games all year in spite of his scoring drought.

His star-crossed season could hardly be reversed in any one game so late in the year, but if there were a turn of events that could provide a lasting smile for the offseason, this was it.

Sheahan not only opened the scoring, but he closed the building with a second goal and in so doing brought the house down both literally and metaphoricaly.

For his first goal, Sheahan skated out from the end line with the puck in an arc toward the slot. Just as he got to the inside edge of the right circle, he pivoted and sent a sharp wrist shot over the shoulder of Devils goaltender Cory Schneider.

And so, just 7:09 into the game, fans and Wings alike erupted in a heartfelt cheer they could scarcely have imagined would be part of the fesitivites. The fans of Hockeytown whooped it up with broad, knowing smiles and the Red Wings players couldn’t help but smother their teammate with affection. And Sheahan himself seemed slightly overcome by the moment, frequenly moving his glove up to his face as he headed for the Wings bench.

From then on, the outcome of the game was never in doubt, as the Wings built a 3-0 lead. The score was 3-1 late in the third period and Detroit on the power play when lightning struck again.

With just two and a half minutes remaining in the life of the building which four Stanley Cup champions called home, remarkably, Sheahen scored again.

This time the hugs and cheers were more valedictory. A recognition that an epic struggle was already behind him and that, simultaneously, an epic sports arena had found just the right climactic note to go out on.

4/9/2017 vs. New Jersey


2017-03-29T15:24:20+00:00 March 29th, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Goal Box|

  • Batted Out of Air
  • Wrist Shot
  • Side of Crease
  • Rebound (End Boards)
  • Third Period

11 games into his NHL career, Tomas Nosek scored his first NHL goal with a dazzling display of net-hunger.

Already on this shift Nosek had set himself up in the slot for a deflection, which went wide of the Hurricanes net. As the puck continued to circulate in the Carolina end, the Detroit left winger made his way down closer to the goal. A subsequent shot from the middle of the ice went wide, but caromed off the end boards back toward the goal-mouth.

The carom came in the form of a puck rolling on its end that encountered a couple of speed bumps on its way back to the front of the net. Nosek trained his eye on it well, however, in spite of jockeying hard for inside position in the crease. Squeezed between a Carolina defender and goalie Cam Ward, Nosek still managed to swat the puck as it hopped on its edge at the side of the crease.

Though the goal was academic in a 4-1 Hurricanes win, Nosek and his mates enjoyed the occasion with as much enthusiasm as the moment would permit. All four of the Czech’s on-ice teammates rushed to congratulate him and he carried a somewhat suppressed smile back past the bench for the ceremonial fist bumps.

It was all, of course, just a thin ray of sunlight bursting through a dark cloud that had settled over the Detroit organization, as this was the first night in 25 years that the Red Wings were eliminated from playoff competition.

3/28/2017 vs. Carolina.
Highlight available at NHL.com.


2017-03-04T15:26:56+00:00 March 4th, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Goal Box|

  • Right Circle (Lower, Even with Dot)
  • Wrist Shot
  • One-Timer
  • Goaltender Pulled for Extra Skater
  • Final Minute
  • Third Period

Maybe this is endemic to growing up in the Nordic countries, but Henrik Zetterberg leaves little doubt that he has ice water coursing through his veins.

Earlier this season, he beat the clock against the Islanders with a tenth of a tick remaining in the first period when he chose a wrist shot over the more appropriate snap shot from his shooting position. The decision saved him the necessary fraction of time for the goal to count. And last night as he set up Red Wings teammate Tomas Tatar for a game-tying goal with two seconds left, he displayed that same interior coolant while everyone else’s head was overheating.

It looked like Detroit was doomed. The puck was in the Calgary end of the ice with the Red Wings goaltender pulled, but it was bottled up in the left corner with three Flames intent on keeping it right there with 10 seconds left.

But then it flew out directly to Zetterberg in the high slot. All alone! The master clutch artist had his stick cocked and ready for a one-timer with no one between him and the goalie! Time for a Zetterberg moment, right!

Well, we’re getting ahead of ourselves, even though the clock read 0:07. I’m not making this up!

Flames goaltender Brian Elliott proved to be Fort Knox on Zetterberg’s ferocious slap shot. An immense sigh of disappointment filled Joe Louis Arena instead of the explosive release of pent-up anticipation.

Oh ye of little faith.

Zetterberg immediately captured the rebound in the middle of the right circle, but on his backhand. Five seconds left. Zetterberg one of the greatest backhand artists ever. Will he pull it off?

No. But Tatar will.

Three seconds left. Zetterberg has circled with the puck and now is at the top of the right circle in shooting position. I repeat. Three seconds left.

Four bodies are lined up in front of Elliott in Zetterberg’s shooting lane. Watchmaker steadies his delicate hands and sees Tatar wide open, but with a sharp angle at the bottom of the circle. He puts the puck right where Tatar can one-time it and all those bodies in the way of Zetterberg are nowhere near Tatar’s shooting lane.

Tatar takes a mighty swing and beats Elliott cleanly on the short side. Tatar scores at 19:58. Pandemonium. Hearts went from throat to pit of stomach and then to a warm fuzzy place in the matter of six seconds.

We’ll never know, but we’ll always wonder: Did Zetterberg’s skip a beat?

3/3/2017 vs. Flames.
Highlight available at NHL.com.


2017-02-22T17:44:11+00:00 February 22nd, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Goal Box|

  • Left Circle (Upper, Inside Dot)
  • Wrist Shot
  • Power Play
  • Final Minute
  • First Period

A little over two weeks ago Detroit sent the Islanders down to defeat when they broke a tie with 28 seconds remaining in regulation. If you think that smarted, Henrik Zetterberg poured some fresh salt on the wound last night.

With every point crucial in the Eastern Conference playoff chase, which happens to involve every team in the conference, having goals scored on you from faceoffs coming with 3.2 seconds left in a period is bad enough. When the puck crosses the line with 0.1 showing on the clock is a recipe for team morale devastation — particularly when it’s in the same building as the previous final minute catastrophe.

Henrik Zetterberg made sure New York got to experience this unwelcome deja vu, when he beat goaltender Thomas Greiss cleanly with a hard wrist shot from the upper right circle. And the very fact that Zetterberg elected to use a wrist shot in a situation when nearly every NHL player would employ a snap shot proved decisive in the goal beating the green light.

Zetterberg’s on-ice awareness is remarkable. That much is inarguable. But could he possibly have known that positioning his stick to take a snap shot would cost him the one-tenth of a second necessary to beat the clock?

The snap shot requires a momentary separation of stick from puck and then a slight hingeing of the wrists to generate more power. This all takes about a tenth of a second more than simply whipping a wrist shot.

Fortunately for the Islanders, they won’t have to ponder whether they were done in by a closet watchmaker from northern Europe. They bounced back for a 3-1 win and made sure their final minute jitters didn’t board the flight with them back home.

2/21/2017 vs. Islanders.
Highlight available at NHL.com.


2017-02-13T16:42:27+00:00 February 10th, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Goal Box|

  • Backhand
  • Nearly Impossible Angle (Puck on or Just Inside End Line)
  • Ahead of the Pack
  • Third Period
Henrik Zetterberg is now in his 14th season in the NHL, all with the Red Wings. His game has always been well-rounded and he’s still producing at a rate offensively that, combined with his superior defensive skills, makes him a highly valuable player.

Zetterberg has a very cerebral command of the ice. He understands where areas might open for a moment or two that can be exploited for a clear look at the goal if he’s prepared to shoot once he gets there.

On this goal, however, it was his willingness to draw out  the moment which accounted for one of the most exhilarating goals of the season.

With Detroit trailing the Capitals by a goal early in the third period, Zetterberg received a pass from Anthony Mantha while cutting across the left circle and found himself all alone in front of Braden Holtby. The Washington goalie, however, was wise to Zetterberg’s crafty elusiveness and had the angles well-covered as Zetterberg closed on him.

Instead of taking a point-blank shot that Holtby generally would be equal to, Zetterberg held on to the puck and drifted and drifted and drifted until he drifted some more. After initially collecting the puck in the lower left circle, Zetterberg refused to release it on goal until he got down to the point where the end line and trapezoid line meet.

The shot wasn’t from 180 degrees to the goal, but it might have been 179. Holtby, seeing Zetterberg pass up the shot initially, butterflied to cover as much of the lower half of the crease as he could with his pads. But when the Detroit left winger kept going down to the end line, Holtby had only his glove to stop the shot if Zetterberg could command it on goal.

Zetterberg, who’s as comfortable on his backhand as anyone in the league, got lots of zip on the shot and soon the familiar countenance of Holtby with his mask resting atop his head and peering intently at the video board above was accompanied by just a tinge more incredulity than we usually see from the stoic Washington goaltender.

2/9/2017 vs. Washington.
Highlight available at NHL.com.


2017-02-13T16:42:27+00:00 February 9th, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Featured Goal Box, Goal Box|

The explosive Red Wings center Andreas Athanasiou plays his hockey in the interior of the country, so in deference to Detroit’s geography, instead of labeling this electrifying rush a “coast-to-coast” affair, let’s call it a tour of the Great Lakes.

After all, he eluded all five Penguins after picking up the puck behind his own net. By the time his journey was finished, the puck resided in a goal somewhere in the vicinity of Lake Erie.

With the Red Wings and Penguins tied early in the third period, Athanasiou gathered possession of the puck in his own end, below the goal line in the left corner. Pittsburgh’s Scott Wilson was in hot pursuit as Athanasiou rounded the net and turned up ice. Evgeni Malkin lumbered to cut him off as the Red Wing center gained speed through the neutral zone, but was dusted off by the time Athanasiou reached the red line.

Awaiting him next was a triangle of Penguins loosely guarding their own blue line. As Athanasiou carried the puck over the line, the trio converged on him. The stick of Carl Hagelin provided no more than a nuisance. Defenseman Justin Schultz, sensing he was flatfooted, tried to grasp the fleet Red Wing in full flight, but he too was shrugged off. Finally, David Warsofsky, Schultz’s partner, moved too late to disrupt Athanasiou.

All that remained was to put the puck past Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. And after all that stickhandling the puck was rolling like a dime down a sidewalk. But Athanasiou had one last trick up his sleeve. As Fleury went down a bit, the rolling puck made it easier to pop over his shoulder and under the crossbar.

The rush was brilliant, but would have never been remembered were it not for exceptional finishing touch the second-year Red Wing applied to it.

1/14/2017 vs. Pittsburgh


2017-02-13T16:42:27+00:00 January 26th, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Featured Goal Box, Goal Box|

Tommy thought he was the Bally table king. But he just handed his pinball crown to . . . Danny Dekeyser?

If you grew up on Long Island, chances are many a pinball machine broke your heart at Adventureland 110. But you probably thought you’d gotten it all out of you, until . . . last night.

With the Islanders surging and on the verge of collecting at least one point in a crucial road game against fellow wild-card rival Detroit, things went horrifyingly “tilt” for the Nassau-Suffolk faithful. It all started innocently enough.

The Red Wings did have a draw deep in the New York end. After they won the faceoff, Danny Dekeyser threw a harmless looking shot toward the Islander goal from a rough angle outside and above the circle. And that’s when the pinball mayhem began.

No sooner had the Detroit color announcer said, “If the game stays like this, it’s a huge point for New York,” than, first, the puck caromed off the toe of Islander defenseman Nick Leddy’s skate at the left faceoff dot. From there it continued wide of the net. That is until it found another boot to bounce off. That one belonged to Thomas Hickey, who was stationed in front of the Islander net — presumably to prevent harm from making its way to the goal.

But he forgot to tell his foot this. Goaltender Thomas Greiss had no chance. The puck slipped by him without his even having a chance to press the flippers. Time of goal 19:31. Final thought from Red Wing commentator: “Oh My God.” Chances are good the sentiment was pinballing all over Long Island, as well.

You’ll need to climb to the 9:45 mark of this clip to reach the peak of Heartbreak Hill.

2/3/2017 vs. Islanders


2017-02-13T16:42:28+00:00 January 17th, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Goal Box|

  • Backhand
  • One-Timer
  • Door Step
  • Second Period
Red Wings fans have borne witness to a lot of magical things from the stick of Henrik Zetterberg over the course of his magnificent career in Detroit. But on this play against the Devils, he did something — actually two things — which will leave you questioning your eyesight.

The good news is you’re fine. The bad news, of course, is that the Wizardry of Z can’t go on forever. But not to worry about his hand / eye coordination. You’ll concede it’s better than your eye / video coordination once you see what he pulled off here.

Zetterberg, deep in the New Jersey end, executed a one-timer on the backhand (unique enough — it’s the first time it’s been done in the NHL this year), but he also managed the trick as the puck was moving away from him. You read that right: his stick caught up with the puck and he was still able to exert leverage and force on the shot. Teammate and fellow Swede Gustav Nyquist flipped a soft pass toward the Devils goal, allowing Zetterberg to close in on it and then, all-in-one motion to swipe it under the arm of goaltender Cory Schneider.

Zetterberg has long been a master of the backhand shot, of course. But this goal shows that at age 36, his arsenal of tricks is ever-expanding.

1/31/2017 vs. New Jersey.
Highlight available at NHL.com.