Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

I Watched The Bachelor Instead Of The Wings Game

No. That's a lie. But my wife did. And the fact that I'm even bringing this up underscores just how seriously I took this most recent five-game skid. Minutes before faceoff she broke the news. The Bachelor would take precedence. All of a sudden, it hit me. She hadn't watched any of the previous five games. She was the reason. My wife was the cause of significant Wing fan sorrow. I told her if the Wings lost to Dallas....well, I'd have to let the world know of her disloyalty. She said, "Ok. You go ahead and tell the six people who read your blog that I'm the reason Detroit can't score on the power play." Ouch.

I shouldn’t have worried, really. I should have known that there was no way the Wings’ losing streak would hit six with Marty Turco in the other net.  Like Eddie Belfour years before him, Turco’s got a bit of a mental thing going on against us.  Not to the extent we expect him to turn criminally insane at the first glimpse of Tomas Holmstrom’s butt near the crease, but a little imbalanced for sure.

At first glance, it appeared Turco’s presence might not matter.  Going in, Dallas boasted the 4th ranked penalty kill, and had just come off a game against LA in which they scored 4 times on the power play.  On the other side of that happy coin?  The Wings came in ranked 30th and 27th.  Just how incredibly bad is the Wing power play right now?

This bad:  last year Detroit was held without a PP goal 19 times over the entire regular season.  Already this season?  Eleven.

Turnovers.  Turnovers everywhere.  Datsyuk, Schneider, Chelios.  Our zone, theirs, the neutral zone.  The Wings spent much of the first giving the puck to Dallas.  Lehtonen hit a pipe, Hasek with a couple good saves.  Offensively, the trend continued.  Ten shots for the Wings.  Only one within twenty feet of the crease, and a new wrinkle:  all ten shots from the right side of the ice.  Just when you thought they couldn’t get any more creative.

You could see something to start the second, though.  Not just an effective shift, but an aggressive few minutes.  The Filpulla line controlling play, followed by actual cycling from Datyuk’s line, then Zetterberg feeding Samuelsson in the slot.  Nothing to show for any of it, but an unusual offensive spark.

And then Mathieu Schneider gave the puck away.  Hasek, for one night at least…the old Hasek, made the initial save on Ribeiro.  Schneider wasn’t done though.  Hasek stumbled over him getting back into position and Antti Miettenen beat him up high.

At this point, my wife was crying in the other room.  Concerned that she may have switched to the Wing game and required counseling, I checked on her.  Nope.  Apparently, a touching moment on The Bachelor. Ahhh, quality television.

Interesting series of events:  Hudler with a frigging blast off the post.  Turco shaking his head, trying to clear the evil voices.  Markov slips, slides and takes out Hasek.  I actually thought it was Kronwall and felt the seven brownies I polished off in the first coming up quickly.  There was no doubt in my mind that Hasek and Kronwall were hurt.  Nope.  It was Markov and everyone’s A-OK. Smiles, laughter, puppy joy.  Williams on the power play, a slap shot that beats Turco, then dribbles slowly through the crease.  Close.  Versus!! announcer Joe Beninati mentions that Mike Babcock believes adversity now will help the team later.  Ok.  Here’s some.

Niklas Hagman and Jason Williams converge along the boards.  Hagman, because it’s the normal play now, opts for a knee-on-knee approach to the situation and down goes Williams.  And down stays Williams.  Naturally, no penalty.  Sorry Torres haters, but this play was dirtier than the hit three weeks ago.  Hagman, despite his best efforts, didn’t make direct contact with Williams’ knee, and it appears to be a charley horse.  But the intent was there.

MLive/Khan(!)

“I’d like to see it again, but at first look it looked like (Hagman) was coming at him and then he kind of stuck his right leg out further than he had to,’’ Wings center Kris Draper said. “We were just talking about a lack of respect for players and here we go. Knee-on-knee, that certainly didn’t have to happen.’‘

Ahh, but Kris it did.  It happened.  Franzen happened.  Williams happened twice.  It happens every night.  Wing forwards blasted with no visible reaction from their teammates.  It’s not even a story anymore. It’s become a certainty.  Which Wing will get run?  It’s frigging Keno. Place your bets.  Gather the whole family and draw numbers. An office pool in your living room. 

Three minutes into the third and the Wings are on the PK.  Controlling play in the Dallas zone, Lidstrom fires one off the end boards.  There’s Draper. Turco gets over too late and his personal nightmare has another chapter.  Draper’s 4th of the year, 3 of which have been shorthanded, squirts through and we’re tied.

Ft. Worth Star Telegram


“I don’t carry that baggage with me on the ice,” Turco said.

 

Ok.

Tied at 1 and Stu Barnes drills one, point blank, but Hasek’s there.  Frankly, he was there all night.  His best game of the year.  He only needed to make 20 saves—now a league rule, 20 shots/game against the Wings—but several were difficult, and all in the third were big.

Versus!!!‘s Billy Jaffe is out of breath.  He’s tracked down Steve Yzerman.  The Captain, in full-on company mode, says the Wings have played well the last five games.  Jaffe asks him what his responsibilities are as VP for VP Matters.  Yzerman says he’s not sure but he’ll text Jaffe when he finds out.

Cleary goes off for holding with 7:30 left.  A crap call, but better than the Wings being on the PP so I smile and eat another brownie. 

Quick thought:  Hank Zetterberg better not get hurt.  We can lose Franzen. We can lose Williams. We could lose Lang, Homer (again) and Datsyuk. But I’ll tell you this, if Zetterberg goes down we’re in trouble. 

He’s got it at the blue line and decides to turn up the mental heat on Marty.  Zetterberg takes a little tour of the Dallas zone.  The voices come back inside Turco’s head as Hank speeds behind him.  The volume increases as he flies up the boards.  The psychiatric team at Henry Ford is on standby as Zetterberg finds Schneider.  Turco thinks he sees a giant turtle eating cotton candy as Schneider unloads. Gloveside, 2-1 Wings, another shorty and Dave Tippett is upset.

Dallas Morning News

“That’s something we brought right on ourselves,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “We played a good hockey game, we had a lot of guys compete really hard, but when your best players are on the power play and they give up two short-handed goals in the third period, that just ...”

And here’s the answer to your question.  The Wings have 7 shorthanded goals this season, and, ummm, 12 power play goals. 


And because we like bottom lines, here are a few:


* Williams.  Man, that could have been much worse.  But, it appears a deep charley horse is the extent of it, pending further exams today.

MLive/Khan(!)

“It wasn’t an intentional thing, he just got his knee on Williams’ thigh, ‘’ Babcock said. “He’s in a lot of pain right now. How quickly he recovers, I don’t know.’‘

*  Offensively, I think they looked better.  While the Wings didn’t score even strength, and certainly not on the power play, the chances were better in the second and third periods than we’ve seen recently.

*  Hasek.  As I said, I think this was his best game this year.  You might even say, get ready, that he stole this one. 

*  Datsyuk watch.  3 shots, 4 turnovers.  But dominating in the faceoff circle.  As the Versus!!!!!!! guys said more than once, he’s leading the league this month in that category and sits fifth overall.  He’s also playing well defensively.  And, apparently, he’s come up with a solution to his offensive woes.


Detroit Free Press/Helene St. James

What ails him? Numerous things. For one, he doesn’t have a proven finisher on his wing like he did last season in Brendan Shanahan (who has a league-high 17 goals with the Rangers). Second, the forwards are asked to help out a lot more defensively this season. Third, Datsyuk is convinced opponents have him figured out: They expect him to pass, not throw the puck on net.

“Now I start shoot it, maybe something change,” Datsyuk said. “Now if I change my mind and try shoot it, he (the opponent) has to decide what I do. I need (to) shoot more.”

Datsyuk’s been figured out.  After four years of making NHL defensemen look foolish, they’ve finally come to the conclusion that if you play a step off him in the offensive zone, half his game is taken away.  He’s being left open in the far slots because he’s not scoring on his one-timer.  He gets frustrated later in games and tries to force things.  And he’s being drilled everywhere on the ice when he doesn’t have the puck, or just after he lets it go. 

If, as he says, he shoots a bit more, the defense may tighten up a bit to take that shot away, giving Datsyuk the opportunities he relishes, to deke and move around them. 

He has zero power play goals.  That, in itself, is amazing; and a huge contributor to the league’s worst PP. 


Detroit News: Late Surge Lifts Wings
Detroit Free Press: Wings End Five-Game Slide
Detroit Free Press: MacDonald Can Prove Self As Osgood Heals
Detroit Free Press: Datsyuk Plans To Shoot More
MLive: Wings Snap Losing Streak; Lose Williams
Fort Worth Star Telegram: Stars Powerless In Loss To Detroit
Dallas Morning News: Stars Come Up Short

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com