Defending the Cup: Game 42

The Result: Detroit Red Wings Dallas Stars

Credit: As poorly as the Wings played defensively, the Stars played that much better as a whole. They entered the game looking to redeem themselves for a lopsided loss Thursday night and it's safe to say they completed that mission. This was a win for team pride, to be sure.

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Top Guns: While the overall team effort was poor, individual Red Wings had solid games. Pavel Datsyuk must be a regular feature in Marty Turco's nightmares for all the times over the years Detroit's #13 has had his way with him. Last night was no exception. His play setting up the Tomas Holmstrom goal was a great personal effort, as was his shot on the Wings' fourth goal.

Datsyuk's good friend Henrik Zetterberg also had a nice night. He did not notch any points, but was strong in both ends.

HossaWatch: Marian Hossa was another player in red-and-white with a decent showing. He finished with just one point (a goal), but had a number of scoring chances and was noticeably putting forth great effort on nearly all of his shifts.

NorrisWatch: Nicklas Lidstrom is still improving after a slow start, but I propose that an interesting wrinkle has entered the discussion on his quest for another Norris Trophy: the rise of Brian Rafalski. Rafalski has had a great year so far and has become more important to the team with each passing game.

Just how important was not fully evident until he missed the bulk of the second period last night after taking a shot off his left ankle. With Rafalski out getting X-rays, the Wings gave up 23 shots in the period. On their best nights, they can hold just about anybody to that many shots in a game. Now, there were a number of reasons for that, but the absence of Rafalski and the resultant shuffling of the defensive corps was probably the biggest.

The Wizard:Chris Osgood will no doubt receive a lot of flak from message board denizens and anonymous blog commenters for allowing five goals last night, but only some of that would be deserved. It was not his best game, but he did make a number of huge saves and put his team in a position to steal a win away from the Stars. It's not his fault that they didn't take advantage of that.

On Tap: The Wings continue their road trip with a meeting with the Ducks in Anaheim on Wednesday. In order to avoid a dangerous slide over the course of this trip, they'll need to regain their heads and put on a good show at the Honda Center .

The Valedictorian of the School of Awesome: Pavel Datsyuk, as described by one of the Versus crew members last night. Visual evidence:

Defending the Cup: Game 42 originally appeared on NHL FanHouse on Tue, 13 Jan 2009 08:26:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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