Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

Red Wings-Bruins wrap-up: conditional win

Updated at 7-something in the morning with bunches of stuff: The Detroit Red Wings’ stirred from a mid-winter’s stupor to defeat the Boston Bruins by a 6-1 tally on Friday night, then high-tailed it back to Detroit for a Sunday matinee, and while the Wings look to have finally snapped their post-All-Star Break funk, Red Wings GM Ken Holland told ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun that games like Friday’s must be the start of a trend, or he won’t hesitate to shake things up:

My colleague Darren Dreger at TSN had an interesting tidbit in his daily roundup Friday, reporting that the Detroit Red Wings might be active on the trade front in order to shake up a slumping squad.  I reached out to Wings GM Ken Holland on that.

“We haven’t played very well defensively the last month, and I’m going to watch the next two weeks to decide if I’m going to try to do something,” Holland told ESPN.com. “We’re getting players back the next week, so let’s see where we are as we get close to the trade deadline.”

So Friday’s win was a good start for the Wings, but that’s all it was.

I have to start this recap with a caveat: The Boston Bruins literally have eleven media outlets following them, so if I miss something…I’ve never, in my entire career as a hockey blogger, had to peruse eleven sources’ worth of recaps, notebooks and multimedia, and I can’t promise that this effort’s going to be particularly pretty, nor might it be a particularly easy-to-digest narrative. In this case I really am making it up as I go along because more media outlets follow the Bruins than the frickin’ Maple Leafs, and that’s staggering.

Comcast Sportsnet Northeast’s Danny Picard provides a solid game narrative, so we might as well dive in by discussing what was a very bad night for Tuukka Rask, who gave up five goals on 19 shots:

[T]he Red Wings scored on their first two shots of the night, as Todd Bertuzzi beat Rask with a slap shot from the right circle, just 1:10 into the game, and Dan Cleary put a puck through Rask’s five-hole two minutes later, both shots that Rask probably wishes he could have back.

David Krejci scored his first goal since Dec. 27, with 2:07 left in the first period, finishing a nice pass out front by Milan Lucic while on the power play. The goal cut Detroit’s lead to 2-1, but the Red Wings answered with three goals on seven shots in the second period, a period in which the Bruins were held scoreless on 11 shots.

Those goals came from Jiri Hudler (top shelf!) and Henrik Zetterberg (on the power play!)...

Detroit’s first two goals of the second weren’t necessarily Rask’s fault, but the Red Wings’ fifth of the night certainly was.  With 3:22 left in the period, Rask stepped out of the crease and attempted to swing a puck behind his own net. He whiffed on the shot, and Bertuzzi picked up the loose puck behind the net and banked a shot off Rask and in for the 5-1 lead.

Thomas allowed a Tomas Holmstrom power-play goal with 6:09 left in the third, adding insult to injury.

The Red Wings actually went 2-for-6 on the power play, scoring their first power play goals in…Three games. 

NESN’s Jesse Connolly, the Boston Globe’s Barbra Matson and NESN‘s Douglas Flynn all weigh in via live blogs or opinion pieces, and the Patriot-Ledger’s Mike Loftus adds a sans-quotes recap…

ESPN Boston’s James Murphy offered these quick quips...

Prime letdown game—Yes, the Bruins were playing an elite team in the Red Wings, but after the brawl-filled, high-scoring win over archrival Montreal on Wednesday night, Friday night’s game had solid letdown potential. And that’s just what happened for the Black and Gold. The Red Wings are probably the best puck-possession team in the NHL and they had the Bruins scrambling from the opening faceoff, taking a 1-0 lead 1:10 into the game. Just as they were after beating Dallas on Feb. 3 in a fight-filled 4-1 win and then losing 2-0 to San Jose two days later, the Bruins were flat Friday. Against a team like Detroit, that means you’re in for a long night, as it turned out to be for the Bruins.
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Can’t win against the West, can’t win the Cup—If the Bruins truly have Stanley Cup aspirations this season, they will need to figure out how to beat Western Conference teams more. After Friday’s loss to Detroit, the Bruins have lost three of their past four games against Western Conference teams and are now 3-6-2 against the West. Boston thrives on a tight defensive system that tries to use physicality and fore checking to create turnovers and offense, but if the Bruins can’t hang with the speed that most Western teams possess—or in the case of a team like Detroit, the puck-possession—they will be doomed if they make the finals.

And if anything, the Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy offered the best assessment as to how the Wings chose to deal with the big, bad Bruins on a night when The Fighter’s real-life protagonist, Mickey Ward, dropped the puck:

With the his team’s fate already sealed, Brad Marchand tried to stir something up by dropping the gloves with Detroit’s Patrick Eaves in the third period. Like everything else for the B’s last night, it didn’t work. Eaves kept his on, and Marchand took two minutes for roughing.

I don’t know what to say about his theory, as stated to the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa (note that the Boston Globe plays up Bruins, Massachusetts and Northeastern U.S. ties the way the Windsor Star talks up anyone who ever grew up or knew someone or played somewhere in/from/at between Joe Louis Arena and Kitchener):

Patrick Eaves, the briefest of Bruins (acquired in a package on July 24, 2009, for Aaron Ward, then promptly bought out), has staked his claim on Detroit’s energy line alongside Kris Draper and Darren Helm. The former Boston College star also has contributed offensively, popping in 13 goals. Last night, Eaves skated 21 shifts for 12:13 of ice time.

Late in the third, Brad Marchand dropped his gloves and tried to convince Eaves to fight. But with Detroit up, 5-1, Eaves had little reason to let the fists fly. “I know he fights once in a while,’’ Marchand said of targeting the ex-Eagle

B’s grinder/fighter Shawn Thornton also tried to engage Justin Abdelkader in fisticuffs, but Abdelkader demurred and managed to to skate away laughing.

Paradoxically, the Bruins both admitted that they did suffer from an emotional and mental letdown on Friday, and yet they insisted that they’d take it to the Wings and then some on Sunday.

ESPN Boston’s James Murphy notes that the Bruins essentially suggested that they slipped themselves a Mickey, no pun intended:

“We said it before the game that it was a good measuring stick, and you can’t even tell if it was our team playing tonight,” a dejected Patrice Bergeron said after the game. “They played their game and we weren’t even close to playing half of what we can play. Yes, they played well, but we beat ourselves, as well, and we were watching the whole game. We need to play our game; we need to be hard on the forecheck. It’s been our game, it’s been the way we create chances and it’s been the result of a lot of goals. We didn’t do that, obviously, and they want to bring us back and spread us out and create chances with that. We were sitting back too much.”

Veteran Mark Recchi concurred and is hoping that the embarrassment of being routed and booed off the ice by their own fans will be an instant reminder that nothing comes easy in the NHL, especially against a Stanley Cup contender such as Detroit.

“I mean, they’re a great team, but we weren’t ready at all,” the veteran winger said. “For whatever reason, we weren’t sharp from the get-go and that hurt us. We know they’re gifted and control the puck, and they did. We didn’t match it. We’ll have to be a lot better on Sunday.  It was a good eye-opener for us. We haven’t had one of these in a while, so let’s hope that’s it for a long time again.”

Murphy suggests that the Bruins have set themselves up for a redemption game, and they certainly seem to agree with that assessment:

“Yeah it’ll be interesting; interesting to see how we respond,” said Tim Thomas, who replaced a struggling Tuukka Rask after Rask allowed five goals on 19 shots in two periods of play. “We’ve always responded well in the past to these types of challenges. I’d imagine Sunday, we’re looking to get a modicum of respect back—from the Red Wings, too. Probably the way we played tonight, they don’t have too high of an opinion of our game, either.”
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“You don’t like to sit around too much,” Recchi said. “Sunday at 12:30, we have to be ready and be a lot different team. Show them what the Boston Bruins are really made of and make a good game of it.”

Cue WEEI’s DJ Bean and Bruins coach Claude Julien:

“We weren’t skating tonight. We were second on the puck. Even when they had the puck, I just felt they had lots of time to make plays,” Julien said, adding, “it just seemed that nothing was going to go our way.”

The game left Julien looking to see what type of effort the B’s can give against the Red Wings Sunday in Detroit. The Bruins have won four of their last six games, but it’s games against top teams like the Red Wings (second place in the Western Conference) that will show whether the Bruins can hang with the best the league has to offer.

“We’re a much better team than we showed,” Julien said. “We have another shot and we can see where we stand with teams like Detroit.”

When it comes to tailoring their approach, captain Zdeno Chara says the difference on Sunday will have to be sticking to their game-plan, something that went out the window in the first 1:10 of the game on Todd Bertuzzi‘s first goal of the night.

“I think overall our game has to be better [Sunday],” Chara said. “Everything about it. We were losing battles, we didn’t skate with them, pretty much everything. We were just flat all around.”

David Krejci groused to the Boston Globe’s Barbara Mason:

“You could say that they embarrassed us in our building,’’ said center David Krejci, who broke a 20-game goal drought at 17:53 of the first period, a power-play score that cut the Wings’ lead to 2-1. From behind the net, Milan Lucic fed the puck to Krejci, who connected on a one-timer from the slot.
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“They just outplayed us,’’ said Krejci. “They were just playing another level of hockey and we just couldn’t keep up with them.’’
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“You can’t be physical if you can’t get there,’’ Julien said tersely, “and we couldn’t get there.’’
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“The score didn’t matter,’’ Krejci said. “They just outplayed us.  “Maybe [we had] too much respect, I don’t know. We just didn’t play our game. Our game plan was to put the puck in deep, and they have a good ‘D’, so play the body on them and play in their zone. But we didn’t forecheck well, we didn’t do the right things.’’

And Krejci continued, as the Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy noted:

“They just outplayed us. They were just playing another level of hockey and we just couldn’t keep up with them,” said David Krejci, who scored the lone B’s goal. “But we played bad. It’s just not that they played good and outplayed us. We believe that if we play our game like we played the last couple of weeks, it would have been different. They’re a great team, but they’re people just like us.”
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“We were watching,” said Patrice Bergeron, who with linemates Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand had an uncharacteristic minus-3. “We know they’re a puck-possession team but it still doesn’t matter. If you put pressure on them, they can’t play the game that they want to play. So we were watching for too long, especially in the first 15 minutes of the first period. We said before the game that it was a good measuring stick for us, but you couldn’t even tell that it was our team playing.”
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“We were second on the puck, and even when they had the puck, I just felt that they had lots of times to make plays. We were very slow reacting,” said Julien. “I don’t know if the emotional games that we’ve played lately caught up to us, but we just came out flat, it just seemed that nothing was going to go our way, even when we had some scoring chances. . . . Obviously they were the better team, but we’re a much better team than what we showed.”

Mark Recchi agreed, as he told the Boston Herald’s Stephen Harris:

“We know they’re gifted,” said B’s forward Mark Recchi. “They control the puck really well. They did that, and we weren’t ready to match it. This was a good eye-opener for us. We haven’t had one of these for a while. Let’s hope that’s it for a long time.  When you don’t have your legs, and you’ve got a team like that that has the puck-control, possession players, and D-men who move the puck well, it makes you look flatfooted and (like you’re) standing around.”

The good news is the Bruins get a second chance tomorrow at Joe Louis Arena.

“We’ve got to go to their building and try to redeem ourselves,” said Recchi. “(Tomorrow) at 12:30, we’ve got to be ready. We’ve got to be a lot different team and show them what the Boston Bruins are really made of.”

Did the Bruins go on?  Of course they did, as Comcast Sportsnet Northeast’s Joe Haggerty noted:

“They played their game, but we weren’t even close to half of what we could play,” said Bergeron. “Yes, they played well but we beat ourselves as well. Like I said, we were watching the whole game.”

Several Bruins players have in the past admitted that the best approach to counteracting Boston’s size, strength and toughness is to simply “let them sleep” and “not do anything to stir them up” and that’s exactly what the least controversial team in the NHL did with a no fight, no frills dissection of the Bruins.  For the B’s to taste success in Detroit they quite simply need to wake up, hit a few people, separate a few players from pucks and make things a lot more uncomfortable for big hockey names like Zetterberg, Lidstrom and Holmstrom that tore them apart on their own home ice.

“It’ll be interesting. Interesting to see how we respond,” said Tim Thomas. “We’ve always responded well in the past to these types of challenges. I’d imagine Sunday we’re looking to get a modicum of respect back, from the Red Wings, too.  Probably the way we played tonight, they don’t have too high of an opinion of our game either.”

Zdeno Chara told SouthCoast Today’s Mick Colageo that his team needs to shrug off the loss...

“They played really well and we didn’t execute our game plan, so it was one of those nights that we didn’t perform and executed well the things we talked about,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.
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Boston’s homestand ended 2-2, a deflating reality in light of two memorable victories. Last week, the Bruins followed up on an emotional 6-3 win over Dallas with a ho-hum 2-0 loss to San Jose. This scenario — Wednesday’s bloody 8-6 beatdown of Montreal followed by Friday’s no-show — was just an exaggeration.

“Well, yeah, it is something where we’re looking for more consistency and following up after big wins and emotional games like we had,” said Chara. “I don’t know. It’s just one of those nights when we didn’t have it.”
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“Overall, our game has to be better, everything about it,” said Chara. “We just were losing battles, we didn’t skate with them. Pretty much everything, we were just flat all-around.”

And Brad Marchand told the New England Hockey Journal’s Jesse Connolly that the Bruins laid the foundation for a solid Sunday effort during the third period—a period in which they were out-shot 15-8:

“Maybe we just expect it to come to us pretty easy especially after a game like (Montreal) and maybe we focused on last game a little too much,” winger Brad Marchand said. “I think we worked pretty hard especially in the second and the third we did some good things in the third there and we just have to build on it for next game.”
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“Yeah we have almost two in a row so it’s going to be tough,” said Marchand. “We just need to make sure that we bounce back and just forget about this game and be ready for the next one.”

Andrew Ference agreed, as he told WEEI’s DJ Bean, suggesting that as the Bruins got burned…

“It definitely takes a lot of concentration and preparation to kind of walk away from [Wednesday’s game], just like a bad loss,” Andrew Ference said. “You do almost the exact same thing where you have to just kind of leave it behind you and clear your mind and prepare for the next one. So obviously it looks like we didn’t do a good enough job of that, so especially against a good team it’s going to look really bad.”

But, as he and Marchand told NESN’s Douglas Flynn, revenge must surely be at hand:

“You definitely want to see them right away,” forward Brad Marchand said. “You want to get your revenge as quick as possible. You don’t have to wait a month or two or whatnot. We get them next game and we’re going to be fine.”
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“I’m very much looking forward to that,” Krejci said of Sunday’s rematch. “You can say that they embarrassed us in our building, and the fans let us know it. But we knew it. So I’m excited [for Sunday]. I’m not saying we’re going to go there and embarrass them, but we are going to go out there and play our game. Like I said, they’re a good team, but they’re just people like us and if we play our game and don’t respect them too much, then we can play good hockey and get the two points.”
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“They’re definitely a very difficult team to play against, even when your game is on,” Ference said. “If anybody is going to exploit hesitation, it’s going to be them. They have a tremendous amount of skill to take advantage of a couple extra feet of ice.”

“They have a lot of skill, so we have to make sure we get a lot of pucks in deep and really hound them in their end,” Marchand said. “It seemed like if we played in their end they got to running around a bit. There was a little bit of an opening there, so we have to take advantage of that.  We have guys just as fast as them,” Marchand added. “We can deal with their speed. We’ve done it before. We just have to play a little more physical on them.”

So which team lost, and which team’s going to supposedly get the snot kicked out of it on national TV on Sunday?  I can’t answer the latter question, but as for the former, the only player to admit culpability—and I know it’s just one game, but the Bruins seem to have so much swagger that they may very well have skated off the ice telling the Red Wings to prepare to get their arses kicked and teeth knocked out after the B’s suffered from nothing more than nicked-up pride—it was Tuukka Rask, who had this to say about Todd Bertuzzi’s bank-shot goal to Comcast Sportsnet Northeast’s Joe Haggerty:

“That something that should never happen, when you think about it as a goalie,” said Rask on allowing two goals on the first two shots he faced. “We didn’t play our best, that’s for sure.”

Bertuzzi gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead, just 1:10 into the game, when he came down the right wing, and beat Rask with a slapper off the right post and in. Dan Cleary added another, two minutes later, when he beat Rask through the five-hole on a shot that could have been saved.  But it was Bertuzzi’s first one that Rask deemed inexcusable.

“It was a good shot, but still, if it goes short side like that, you’ve got to have it,” said Rask. “And a couple other ones too, but you can’t do anything about it anymore, right?”

He also can’t do anything about Bertuzzi’s second one, which ended his night.

“I thought I deserved to get pulled,” said Rask. “I didn’t play at my level today.”

Rask reiterated his play-by-play to the Boston Herald’s Rich Thompson...

“I thought we had a couple of chances there in the first period right from the hop but then they come on and their first two shots are goals,” said Rask, who fell to 5-11-1 on the season.  “That should never happen when you think about it as a goalie. We didn’t play our best today that’s for sure, and they just kept it going. The next game is coming pretty quick so you can’t think about what happened, but you have to recognize the mistakes you made and move on.”

The Red Wings hit Rask for two more goals in the span of 24 seconds in the second period and went into the locker room up 5-1.  Rask was both indirectly and directly responsible for giving the Red Wings a four-goal lead. First, he failed to protect the near post before Zetterberg backhanded home his 17th of the season at 16:14.  The Red Wings scored again while Rask was attempting a routine play. Center Pavel Datsyuk dumped the puck toward the net, and Rask tried to steer it into the corner. The puck was intercepted by Bertuzzi behind the cage as Rask scrambled to get back in front. Bertuzzi banked the puck off the back of Rask’s leg and into the net at 16:38.

“(Zetterberg’s goal) was short side,” Rask said. “It was a good shot but still it was short side and you have to have it. On (the next goal) I pretty much missed the puck. I didn’t want (Bertuzzi) to get the goal from behind the net. He just shot it off my skate and in.”

And Tim Thomas, who theoretically will start on Sunday (Claude Julien told WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and NESN’s Douglas Flynn that he hadn’t made his mind up about Sunday’s starter, nor would he reveal whether former Plymouth Whaler Tyler Seguin would play), tried to take some of the heat off his netminding partner in speaking to ESPN’s Joe MacDonald:

“He’s been the victim of a lot of bad breaks and a lot of curveballs,” Thomas said. “He’s kept a good attitude and kept positive all the way through. I shouldn’t have to say it, but everybody in here knows he’s a great goalie. He won the last game he played, and this wasn’t a fair picture.”
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“It wasn’t Tuukka’s fault tonight. It was a whole team effort there.”

So the Bruins went away from the game suggesting, as Mark Recchi did to the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa, that Friday night’s result might have been regrettably necessary...

“They’re a good team, but for whatever reason, we weren’t ready at all,’’ said Recchi. “We weren’t sharp from the get-go, and that hurt us. We know they’re gifted and they control the puck, and they did. We weren’t ready to match it. We’ll have to be a lot better on Sunday. It’s a good eye-opener for us. We haven’t had one of these for a while, so let’s hope that’s it for a long time.’’

But again, it was only necessary, if we believe the Bruins, to set up a real “statement game” on Sunday…

“We don’t like to sit around too much,’’ said Recchi. “Sunday at 12:30, we’ve got to be ready. We’ve got to be a lot different team, show them what the Boston Bruins are really made of, and make a good game of it.’’

As Recchi also told the Worchester Telegram’s Bud Barth:

“I don’t doubt that we’ll bounce back and be a much better team,” Recchi added.

Well shucks, the Nashua Telegraph’s Tom King says it’s bound to happen:

Perhaps Boston will rebound Sunday after all. This is their fourth and final home-and-home series and they went 2-2 in the first games but are 3-0 in the rematches.

So what did the Red Wings have to say about Friday’s win?  Nicklas Lidstrom told the Associated Press that the Wings finally showed up, plain and simple:

“We played with a lot more sense of urgency,” Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “You could tell from the puck drop that we wanted to score. I think it showed that we were going after pucks and getting pucks at the net.”
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“We think we’ve got a good hockey team,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said, “but we weren’t playing like a good hockey team.”

In the loss to Nashville, Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard left after allowing four goals on Nashville’s first 16 shots. The Red Wings avoided their third shutout in four games when Ruslan Salei scored with 3:58 left in the second period. But they were booed off the ice by their home fans after that game.

“It was a bit of an eye-opener for us,” Howard said. “That’s not the way we want to perform for our fans. They deserve better.”

They do on Sunday, that’s for sure, but the Wings weren’t thinking about Sunday, and the team’s resident thinker (seriously, ironically enough), who registered his 700th point Friday, stated the obvious:

“I think everyone just needed to go out and play and stop thinking,” [Todd] Bertuzzi said. “I think when we’re at our best we’re relaxed, we’re calm and we’re just letting the play happen.”

Jimmy Howard was very solid and a bit more conservative in his movements while making 25 saves on Friday, and he told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan that the Wings simply had to get the job done:

“It was very important,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “We haven’t been playing Red Wings hockey for a while now. We realize that.”

Coach Mike Babcock said before the game, “You go through (lulls) every year. When you get it, you don’t love getting it, but when you’re through with it, you like it. You have to get through it. We haven’t played hard or good enough, and when we do play good, it’s (only) for a short period of time.”  You can’t continue to play like we’ve been playing, with the energy we’ve been playing.”

That energy returned against the Bruins.

“We’ve talked about it enough and we had to go out and do it, start playing like we know how,” said Todd Bertuzzi, who opened the scoring 1:10 in, and finished with two goals. “We know how critical these points are. It seems everyone in the West is winning, so these points are crucial.”

Again, Lidstrom agreed, as he told Kulfan: Again, the Bruins insisted that they’ll take it to the Wings on Sunday…
“They’re a great team but we weren’t ready at all,” Bruins forward Mark Recchi said. “For whatever reason we weren’t sharp from the get-go and that hurt us. We know they’re gifted and control the puck, and they did. We didn’t match it.” “They did (dictate the game),” Recchi said. “They dictated it and now we have to go to their building and dictate it.” >
But for the Wings, the present tense mattered, as Lidstrom told MLive’s Ansar Khan:
“There was a lot of pride involved,” Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “The team really wanted to respond. It showed from the start of the game. We played with a lot more desperation and played the way we can, and kept it up for most of the game.  You could tell when the puck dropped we wanted to score and we were going after pucks, getting pucks at the net, and guys were getting rewarded.” Jimmy Howard, who was pulled in that loss to the Predators, made 25 saves for his NHL-leading 27th win. “We hadn’t been playing Red Wing hockey for a while,” Howard said. “Sometimes you care so much you dig in a little too hard. We all needed to take a step back, relax a little bit. We had a great practice (Thursday), another great pregame skate this morning, so guys felt really good going into tonight.” ... “We talked about it enough, we had to go out and start playing like we know how,” Bertuzzi said. “We know how crucial these points are. It seems like everyone in the West is winning right now and we were playing a very tough Boston team and we were ready.”
Both Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler registered 3-point games (1 goal, 2 assists), the Wings scored 2 power play goals and even Nicklas Lidstrom finally got headed back toward positive territory in the +/- category by registering a +3 (really, the only place the Bruins beat the Wings was in the faceoff dot because Danny Cleary went 0-for-7 substituting for Pavel Datsyuk), and Babcock gave due praise to the game’s protagonists…
“Z’s group was real strong, I thought Pav’s group was strong — Pav’s starting to get his game back and him and Huds seem to have some chemistry,” Babcock said. “I thought Draper, (Darren) Helm and (Patrick) Eaves played real well, did everything right the whole game, and Abby’s (Justin Abdelkader’s) group had a good night, too.”
The Detroit Free Press’s Helene St. James made special mention of Babcock and Lidstrom’s comments in her recap because she reported that the Wings had a team meeting, coaches and players included, on Friday morning, giving Babcock’s commentary that much more weight:
“What I’ve done here with this group over the years is, normally I’ll let them solve their own problems, and you let them take control and they normally do it all,” Babcock said. “This is one of the times, the first time in a long time, that we actually have talked about stuff like we did here the other day. I thought they really responded, which is important for us. We think we’ve got a good hockey team, but we weren’t playing like a good hockey team. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, if you don’t work, you got no chance to be successful.” The Wings went over the Bruins’ tendencies in the meeting, but the underlying message was to look in the mirror. “We can’t let this happen,” Babcock said. “And it was to the point enough talking had been done. And so today they played, which was great to see, and you’ve got to give them full marks.”
Howard agreed…
“We hadn’t been playing Red Wing hockey for a while now, and we realized that,” Jimmy Howard said after his 25 saves earned him an NHL-best 27th victory. “Sometimes you care so much, and then you dig in a little bit too hard. I think we all needed to take a step back, relax a little bit. We had a good team meeting. Sometimes you just need to switch it up a little bit.”
And Todd Bertuzzi’s pre-game comments to St. James seem prescient given the result:
While discussing the Wings’ recent woes after the morning skate, Bertuzzi likened what the Wings should do to a football team, saying: “You see a team down and all of a sudden, they go to a no-huddle offense, and they seem to run the field without a problem. We’ve got to start playing like that.”
After the game, Bertuzzi said this:
“I think everyone just needed to go out and play and stop thinking,” Bertuzzi said. “I think when we’re at our best, we’re relaxed, we’re calm, and we’re just letting the play happen instead of overthinking it and trying to do too many jobs out there.”
Bertuzzi also shrugged off his 700th point…
“It just means I’ve been around for a little bit and I was fortunate to play on some pretty good teams on some pretty good lines and players,” Bertuzzi said of his milestone. He’s on track to play in his 1,000th game Feb. 20 at Minnesota.
And I guess the theme regarding the Wings’ comments is the same as it was for the Bruins’ players—lather, rinse, and repeat positive statements:
Jimmy Howard said: “We need our best guys to be our best guys every single night, and tonight that was the case.”
St. James also offered a huge block of game-related comments worth separating and noting (she gives Darren Helm credit for his 6-shot performance and superb PK work, too):
Coach Mike Babcock, on the first two goals: “Mule made an unbelievable play when (Zdeno) Chara pinched for the first goal that sent Bert home on a 2-on-1, and then a great play by Hudler to absorb (Adam) McQuaid’s check and slide east-west on the rim of the bottom by (Niklas) Kronwall and then back out to Cleary. You’re going to score, I don’t care if it’s your first shot or your last shot.” Babcock, on Sunday’s rematch, “They’re going to be a lot tougher on us in our building.” Nicklas Lidstrom, on the Wings setting the pace: “I think it was very important early on in the game, whether it was forechecking or hanging onto the puck in the offensive zone, things that we talked about ... that we have to do a lot better job at. By doing that, we set the tone in the game early on. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time in our own zone, and we were aggressive pushing them to the outside.” Howard, on the key to the game: “A lot of it is done from just being in good position, having good structure. We started on time, which was nice to see, and it was just a great all-around game by all of the guys.”
After the game (see the FSD post-game clip below), Jiri Hudler and Babcock stated that the Wings had a strong “F3,” and it took me a minute to realize that they were suggesting that the Wings’ forwards came back to help the defense play as a 5-man unit instead of chasing after the puck carrier.  I tend to describe the Wings’ defensive posture, when it’s at its best, like the rotating arms of a starfish, but F3’s more succinct. Given the Bruins’ talk, perhaps it’s fitting to leave the last word to Babcock, who said this to Kulfan about intimidation...
“I don’t know who they’re going to brawl on our team,” he said. “To me, you’re only intimidated if you let the other team intimidate you.”
But this quip from SouthCoast Today’s Mick Colangelo takes the cake:
Nicklas Lidstrom … on if he would ever consider playing in the KHL in Russia: “No, I’m good. I’d rather stay here.” [Rink Rap: Such an off-topic question may seem entirely inappropriate postgame—the above is from a quote sheet (I was not in the Detroit room)—but cut the reporter a little slack, it may be they thought the game was the morning skate ... drum roll please ...]
No. He’ll play at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday, and as Babcock suggested to Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating (okay, the link’s here), the Red Wings can’t simply follow up a big win with another loss and continue forth playing .500 hockey.  If the Wings want to earn the right to play without interference from above, they have to get on a real roll, as Babcock suggested, the kind of 5-to-7-game unbeaten streak that backs off the Predators and Stars in the standings, backs up the words the Wings have stated over the past few weeks and backs up Friday night’s effort with the kind of substance a team needs to display to prove that the dog days are over and that even when facing distractions like the impending Dad’s Trip and facing Steve Yzerman in Tampa Bay late next week, the Wings can stand tall—never mind the national spotlight or the Bruins’ promises of bruises on Sunday—the Wings are ready to engage in reaffirming their status as an elite team by stopping thinking so damn hard and just going out… And playing like the Red Wings again. Multimedia: Highlights: Comcast Sportsnet Northeast posted a 2:43 highlight clip:
NESN posted a 5-minute highlight clip which includes post-game comments from Zdeno Chara, Claude Julien and announcers Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley:
NHL.com’s highlight clip is narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond:
Post-game: Comcast SportsNet Northeast posted a 1:18 clip of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Andrew Ference and Tuukka Rask’s comments:
Their panel discussed Rask’s play, and CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty weighed in as well; NESN illustrates the biggest hit of the night—a collision between Zach Hamill and Brad Marchand:
The Bruins’ website’s post-game clips include Claude Julien’s post-game presser…
And interviews with Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Mark Recchi; Fox Sports Detroit posted a 2:14 clip of a finally happy Jiri Hudler and Mike Babcock discussing the game; Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy discussed the win as sort of hitting the re-set button and the necessity for the team to keep it up; And this is a gem: FSD posted the entire Hall of Fame episode of Wingspan online.  The 23-minute clip includes interviews with Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and his family, Alex Delvecchio and Steve Yzerman; The Wings’ YouTube channel posted a clip from the Wings fans’ gathering in Boston... And I don’t know what to say about this:
Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted an 8-image gallery; The Boston Herald posted a 13-image gallery; Yahoo Sports posted an 18-image gallery; NHL.com posted a 35-image gallery; The Red Wings’ website posted a 32-image gallery and embedded an image in its website’s recap; And the Bruins’ website posted a 20-image gallery and embedded an image in its website’s recap. Statistics: Shots 34-26 Detroit overall, breaking down as 12-7 Detroit in the 1st period, 11-7 Boston in the 2nd period and 15-8 Detroit in the 3rd period. The Wings went 1-for-6 in 8:05 of pp time (including 1-for-1 in 42 seconds of 5 on 3 time); the B’s went 1-for-3 in 2:31. Our goals: Bertuzzi (9) from Franzen (16) and Zetterberg (42); Cleary (17) from Hudler (16) and Kronwall (17); Hudler (6) from Zetterberg (43) and Rafalski (31), PP; Bertuzzi (10) from Datsyuk (29); Holmstrom (12) from Hudler (17) and Rafalski (32). Howard stopped 25 of 26; Thomas stopped 14 of 15; Rask stopped 14 of 19. The 3 stars, picked by “The Sports Hub,” were Bertuzzi, Zetterberg and Datsyuk. Faceoffs 36-28 Bruins (44% won by Detroit); Blocked shots 13-12 Detroit; Missed shots 11-7 Detroit (total attempted shots 57-46 Detroit); Hits 24-9 Boston; Giveaways 8-4 Boston; Takeaways 3-2 Detroit. Individual stats: Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 9-and-9 (50%); Helm went 9-and-8 (53%); Abdelkader went 6-and-5 (55%); Cleary went 0-for-7; Franzen went 2-and-2 (50%); Datsyuk went 1-and-2 (33%); Draper lost two faceoffs; Miller went 1-and-1 (50%). Shots: Helm led the team with 6 shots; Cleary and Zetterberg had 4; Abdelkader and Bertuzzi had 3; Lidstrom, RHudler and Ericsson had 2; Kindl, Datsyuk, Salei, Rafalski, Draper, Kronwall, Franzen and Holmstrom had 1. Blocked attempts: Rafalski hit Bruins players 2 times; Kindl, Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Cleary, Datsyuk, Miller, Draper, Helm, Ericsson and Kronwall had single shot attempts blocked. Missed shots: Cleary missed the net 3 times; Kronwall missed the net 2 times; Kindl, Lidstrom, Eaves, Hudler, Zetterberg and Helm missed the net once. Hits: Both Cleary and Helm registered 2 hits; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Draper and Homlstrom had 1. Giveaways: Salei, Zetterberg, Helm and Franzen had single giveaways. Takeaways: Abdelkader, Franzen and Holmstrom had takeaways. Blocked opponent shots: Both Salei and Rafalski blocked 3 Bruins shots; Miller blocked 2; Kindl, Eaves, Draper, Ericsson and Kronwall blocked single shots. Penalties taken: Kindl took two penalties; Rafalski took one. Plus-minus: Lidstrom finished at +3; Cleary, Datsyuk, Hudler, Rafalski, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Ericsson and Franzen finished at +2; Kronwall finished at +1; everybody else was even, so the team finished at a collective +20. Points: Both Hudler and Zetterberg had a goal and two assists for 3 points; Cleary and Holmstrom had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Bertuzzi scored 2 goals; Rafalski had 2 assists; Datsyuk, Kronwall and Franzen registered assists. Ice time: Ericsson led the team with 23:09 played; Rafalski played 21:26; Salei played 19:24; Lidstrom played 18:54; Kronwall played 18:40; Kindl played 18:33; Zetterberg played 17;39; Datsyuk played 16:54; Bertuzzi played 16:54; Franzen played 16:40; Cleary played 16:17; Hudler played 15:23; Helm played 13:10; Abdelkader played 12:56; Miller played 12:41; Holmstrom played 12:35; Eaves played 12:13; Draper played 12:06. Wings notes: • Bruins defenseman, Ann Arbor native and University of Michigan alum Steve Kampfer spoke to several Bruins columnists, including the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa, about the fact that he’s a big Nicklas Lidstrom fan:
“I grew up 40 minutes away from there,’’ said Kampfer. “So I always watched them. Bobby Probert was there. [Brendan] Shanahan, [Steve] Yzerman. Back in their heyday, that was the best thing about Detroit. We played at the Joe when I was a kid, so it was always awesome walking out after practice and seeing them leaving the rink.’’ Last night, Kampfer’s first game against the Wings as a pro, gave the rookie his first opportunity to go up against Lidstrom, 18 years his elder. When Kampfer watched the Wings on TV or in person, he’d often zero in on No. 5, the elegant and efficient future Hall of Famer. Kampfer is more in the Brian Rafalski mold as a right-shot, puck-moving defenseman. But there are few young D-men who don’t look to Lidstrom — the blue-line benchmark for positioning, awareness, and hockey sense — as a model of how to perform. “He just makes the game look easy,’’ Kampfer said. “He’s so calm out there with the puck. Every time he touches it, he knows what he’s going to do. He’s always thinking one step ahead of the game. That’s what you want to do as a defenseman.’’
Kampfer continued, as Comcast Sportsnet Northeast’s Joe Haggerty noted:
“It’s fun to play your childhood idol, but you want to play him hard and hopefully someday be better than he is,” said Kampfer prior to Friday night’s defeat. “You come to play your game, you’re coming to play your team’s game and when you do that you’re helping the team. That’s what we’re trying to do tonight, and hopefully we can shut these guys down. “They’re a great team, great players with a lot of Stanley Cups, so it’s going to be a game where we’re going to have to try to make them play our style of hockey.” The Michigan University grad played in “The Joe” countless times over the years as a youth player and as a member of the Wolverines in some pretty epic CCHA battles, and is looking forward to playing in front of more than 50 friends and relatives in Detroit on Sunday afternoon. Kampfer said he’s already got 30 confirmed for the game, and he’s making arrangements for another 20 on Saturday’s “off day.”
Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy said that Kampfer’s going to watch the University of Michigan play Western Michigan in Ann Arbor at 7:30 PM (on FSD) Kampfer finished the night at -1, having played 16:41 and registering a shot, a hit and 3 blocked shots.
“It’s definitely an exciting couple of days. You’ve got to look forward to tonight. It’s going to be fun, but we’ve got to play our game and play strong,” said Kampfer, who snapped a seven game scoreless stretch with an assist in Boston’s 8-6 win over the Canadiens. “I grew up with [Steve] Yzerman, [Sergei] Federov, [Brendan] Shanahan… you know. The Russian Five days with Lidstrom, Chelios, Konstantinov. All of those guys. I grew up watching and idolizing them, so this is going to be a lot of fun.”
• Lidstrom’s response was typical, as noted by the Patriot Ledger’s Mike Loftus...
“Well, that makes me feel old, first of all,” said Lidstrom, who turns 41 on April 28, “but it’s also flattering to hear players looked up to you when they were growing up, and liked the way you were playing.”
And while Tim Thomas is technically from Howell, MI, he grew up in Flint, so the next Michigan connection says that he didn’t necessarily grow up idolizing Detroit goaltenders during the “Dead Wings” era:
“Steve Penney and Rick Knickle,” Thomas said. “I grew up in Flint, and actually followed the Generals pretty closely.” Penney and Knickle tended goal for the International Hockey League’s Generals in the early 1980s
MLive’s Ansar Khan also spoke to the 36-year-old about his influences and persistence (Khan says that Kampfer, by the way, knows the Joe’s grumpy genius, building manager and ice guru Al Sobotka):
“The perseverance has always been a part of me,” Thomas said Friday, before the Bruins hosted the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden. “And as far as some of the accomplishments that I’ve been getting, they’re not done, you got to keep going. That’s the way this game works. If you do reach some high point, you got to find another one to shoot for or else you start going backwards.  I’m afraid I’d get satisfied if I look at what I’ve accomplished. I don’t want to sit and think about it too much. I want to keep trying to accomplish as much as I can.” ... “I’m living the American dream,” Thomas, 36, said. “If you want something bad enough and you devote your energy and you work hard at it, you get success. If anything, my life’s just the American ideal.”
• Khan also reveals this tidbit about the Red Wings’ resident crease contortionist:
Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood made the trip to Boston and continues to skate in a warmup suit after practice. He hopes to put on his equipment next week to gauge his progress following surgery for a sports hernia on Jan. 11.
And the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan confirms the news while adding a note about Ruslan Salei’s first goal as a Wing:
Chris Osgood (sports hernia) made the trip but didn’t go on the ice. He was hoping to get in some work, but decided against it. “Now I’m hoping for next week,” Osgood said. … Ruslan Salei ‘s goal Wednesday was his first with the Red Wings, and someone put the puck in his stall. “I was the last guy on the team to score,” he said. “It was nice to finally get one.”
• The NHLPA’s website posted a feature story on Niklas Kronwall, and it’s a superb article.  Kronwall reveals that, to some extent, he’s playing for his favorite team:
“In my mind, I was hoping to play for an Original Six team,” said Kronwall, who continued to play for Djurgårdens IF until he came to North America in 2003. “All the tradition and the history made it very appealing to want to be on one of those teams.” Playing for Detroit, a team that has been a perennial Stanley Cup contender for years, also had another benefit. “When I was in Sweden, I always admired the way Nicklas Lidtsrom played the game,” offered Kronwall, of the future Hall of Fame defenceman and fellow Swede. “I love the way he is able to make the game so simple. I would watch him play and always just shake my head at how he made everything look so easy.”
This comment, regarding the beginning of his tenure with the Wings, is perhaps the most revealing:
“I never felt homesick at any point,” said the defenceman, who during the 2004–05 NHL lockout, Kronwall played a complete season for the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Red Wings’ top affiliate in the American Hockey League, where awarded the Eddie Shore Award as the top defenceman in the AHL. “I felt at ease right from the start. From the ownership, to the players, to the people selling hot dogs, to every person in the organization, it was first-class. I felt very lucky to be part of the Red Wings.”
• In the promotional department, “Degree Men’s” Facebook page states that Jimmy Howard will be hosting a “shootout” in which “dads” who stop pucks will earn $100 for youth hockey programs, with Howard hosting the event at Clark Park later this month; • Per the Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink
 

Comments

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

The Red Wings can’t simply follow up a big win with another loss and continue forth playing .500 hockey.

If the Wings want to earn the right to play without interference from above, they have to get on a real roll, . .

Fantastic work, George.

Sundays game will be most telling. 

Bert is right, I think, they were playing “too tight”

If DET falls behind Sunday, it’ll be interesting to see how they respond to some adversity.

Great game by them last night, all around.  Much,much better defensively.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 02/12/11 at 10:14 AM ET

WingsFanInBeanLand's avatar

Red and White was everywhere last night.  A few LGRW chants were started.  A great time was had by all.

Posted by WingsFanInBeanLand from where free agents no longer dare. on 02/12/11 at 10:27 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

“The score didn’t matter,’’ Krejci said. “They just outplayed us.  “Maybe [we had] too much respect, I don’t know. We just didn’t play our game. Our game plan was to put the puck in deep, and they have a good ‘D’, so play the body on them and play in their zone. But we didn’t forecheck well, we didn’t do the right things.’’

Wow, nice to hear the other team saying this kind of stuff, instead of our guys, for a change!

Great effort last night, but the Bruins will be ready for revenge tomorrow.  So our boys had better be ready to do it again!

WingsFanInBeanLand - NHL Network had the Detroit feed, which was great, and I saw a lot of Wings jerseys in the crowd - even better! 

LET’S GO RED WINGS !!!!!

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 02/12/11 at 11:23 AM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

NHL on the Fly highlights, from NESN - - at the end - Jack Edwards:  “Its the stinker of the season for BOS.”

I would hope that DET played a part in that.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 02/12/11 at 11:23 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

“I think everyone just needed to go out and play and stop thinking,” [Todd] Bertuzzi said.

Yeah, just what I said yesterday!  wink

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 02/12/11 at 11:26 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

Gosh dang, or, in rural Michigan, Geezo, that’s a lot of information.  After basking in the glow of a misleading lopsided score, a couple of things at the end caught my eye.

Helm led the team in shots?

Babs expertly managed TOI with a big lead in preparation for Sunday noon’s rematch, with Kindl getting as much ice time as Lidstrom.

Kampfer, a Wolverine, grew up a Wings fan, and in his first shift against Detroit in his pro career he watches first hand Bertuzzi rip one to the back of the net.  He did what he was supposed to, prevent the crossing pass on the 2 on 1.

(Detroit Free Press)
Red Wings Todd Bertuzzi reacts after his goal during the first period of the Wings’ 6-1 win Friday in Boston. Bruins defenseman Steve Kampfer looks on.

Posted by RWBill on 02/12/11 at 01:02 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

Tell ya what, it sure was nice to be on the giving end of an Akbar game for once.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 02/12/11 at 01:03 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Awesome day-after compilation, George.  Thanks.

I was at the Wranglers game last night and had half-expected the Wings game to be something like 3-2 when they posted the NHL scores at the intermissions.  Imagine my stunned expression when they posted the final score as 6-1 Wings over the Bruins.  Awesome.

That’s in the past now.  No complacency on Sunday, Wings.

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 02/12/11 at 09:29 PM ET

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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