Jiri Hudler’s season, at least in terms of goal scoring, got off to an incredibly slow start. The Red Wings center scored just two goals in October and November, the lowest of his career.
The calendar turned to December, and something changed. Hudler recorded 14 goals in December and January, capped off with his go-ahead (and eventual game winner) goal against the Flames Tuesday night in Calgary. The last two months has put Hudler into 5th on the Wings in total points, and is second in goals behind only Johan Franzen. The 28-year-old Czech is on pace for a 27-goal season, which would be a career high. The Wings rebounded well after the 7-2 whipping they received from Montreal in the last game before the All-Star break.
Hudler’s game winner gave the Red Wings a lead they would never relinquish. Drew Miller beat Flames’ goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff in the third period to put the game away. Jimmy Howard, just another routine day at the office, stopped 28 of the 29 Calgary shots. Cory Emmerton scored the first goal for the Wings, who brought their point total to 69, three points clear of anybody else in the Western Conference.
The game was delayed due to a touching tribute to former Red Wings coach and Flame player Brad McCrimmon, who was tragically killed in the plane crash in Russia that also took the life of Red Wing Ruslan Salei. Instead of a moment of silence, there was a moment of applause, “Because that is what Brad would have wanted.” His family was on hand for the very touching, and emotional ceremony.
Wednesday is a travel day for the Wings, as they head to Vancouver to take on the Canucks.