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Red Wings-Blues quick take: statement made

The Detroit Red Wings dug a 2-0 deficit for themselves for the 3rd time over the past 4 games, and after Stephane Auger yielded what had seemed to be yet another case of an unearned break by finding a way to not give a goaltender a quick whistle in a game where the Blues had hacked, whacked, hooked, held, cross-checked, grabbed and groped their way to a no less unearned and seemingly unassailable lead (in a game which they eventually won 3-2)...

Mickey Redmond tends to say that games with the kind of playoff flavor that the Wings have aren’t places for nervous people. As I am biochemically inclined to be nervous, I popped half an anti-anxiety medication and prepared for what the game appeared to be as they were out-shot, out-worked, out-hustled, out-checked and quite possibly out-talented over the first 33 minutes and 8 seconds thereof: yet another case of a Wings team that’s more talented than just about any other simply not working hard enough or playing efficiently enough to earn the kinds of breaks the Wings did against the Predators.

In fact, I was thinking of this very recap at that time, wondering how the Wings had, “Lost their mojo” since wiping the floor with the Los Angeles Kings a week ago, and wondering how the Wings could possibly climb out of yet another 2-0 hole when it was Detroit that was getting penalized and Detroit that was getting out-shot by a silly margin against a team that looked to be stating its case for earned dominance over the Wings like a cowboy roping a calf instead of an agitated bull.

But the Wings woke up. And they started playing like themselves, slowly but surely clawing back ground against the Blues by refusing to quit when they were punched and pounded into the boards, finally taking control of the puck, firing shots on Brian Elliott instead of near him or into Blues players, they cranked up their speed game from Nashville levels to Ken Hitchcock-coached team speed, and after what seemed like an inordinate number of power plays against…

The Wings found life thanks to a Datsyuk dump-in which Lidstrom retrieved, sent to Ian White, and somehow, the puck found its way back to Lidstrom, who ripped the shot through Elliott with all of 1:52 left in the 2nd period, giving Detroit life and pride to play for going into the third period despite the fact that, without Jimmy Howard’s goaltending, the Wings would have been down way more than 2 goals, especially given that the Blues out-shot Detroit 28-19 over the game’s first two periods.

Howard’s “ear save” while pulling a stand-up goalie’s windmill was a great example of how hard Howard had to work to bail out his teammates over the first two periods:

As the third period started, the Wings came out flying, and while they continued to skate into players instead of through them, continued to try to over-pass and set each other up for pretty goals instead of simply shooting the puck on Elliott and grabbing the rebound, and continued to surrender the puck and then cede territory all too easily to a Blues team that was very content to grind the Wings down in their own zone…

The Wings rallied in a big way, finally started pushing and shoving right back, and when the Blues did eventually start making mistakes to a team that had to not only out-talent the Blues, but also out-hustle, out-work, out-grind and out-heart them…Pavel Datsyuk scored a gorgeous tip-in goal after Todd Bertuzzi (who was the “biggest” Wing not named Datsyuk on the ice, and I’m looking with a nasty glare at you, Jonathan Ericsson, for playing soft) gained and kept territory at the Blues’ blueline, and just 56 seconds later, Niklas Kronwall ripped a heavy, hard shot through the traffic that seemed so glaringly absent without Tomas Holmstrom, in the form of one Jiri Hudler.

 

 

The Wings somehow, inexplicably, had overcome themselves, the Blues, the referees, the bouncing puck, you name the adversity they both faced and forced upon themselves, and suddenly the Detroit Red Wings that were no longer content to paddle in the middle of the pack and trail teams in the Central Division standings had appeared.

The Wings had to hold on to some extent, especially after Datsyuk bumped Barret Jackman (who threw a temper tantrum) and the Blues managed to kill off a power play which the Wings could have used to salt the game away, St. Louis roared to life over the game’s final three minutes, but the Wings blocked shots, blocked passes, did the kinds of things that the Blues had done all game long to force the Wings to the outside in the literal and figurative side-of-the-puck-battle sense, and the Wings held on.

Held onto a win that may or may not have been well-deserved, but was deservedly earned.

Wings coach Mike Babcock described his team’s win as “taking a step” tonight, and that’s exactly what it was. A step and a statement that this team in transition can and will step up, if only reluctantly, in a game of playoff-caliber intensity, playoff-caliber physicality and playoff-caliber refereeing against a bigger, stronger and nastier team, and if the Wings choose to continue showing up like they did over the second half of the game, their heart, grit, courage and concentration serve as a platform upon which the Wings’ talent can and should prevail.

The Wings didn’t play an elite game tonight, but by eking out a 1-point lead over the Blues and now a 3-point deficit on the Central Division-leading Blackhawks, all during a game which was televised across the U.S. and Canada, the Wings made a statement to the rest of the NHL, saying: “We may be a team in transition, but we are still elite when we feel like playing, and don’t you forget it. We’re coming on now, so watch out.”

Here come the Red Wings. And it’s about time that the Wings figured themselves out, realized that they’re a fantastically talented team from the net on out, and that if they choose to add some hard work to the mix, there are few teams, if any, that can stop the Wings—that aren’t named the Detroit Red Wings, anyway.

This was a very fitting 64th birthday present for Mickey Redmond, a 32nd birthday present for Joe Louis Arena and a very necessary late Christmas present from the Wings to us “nervous people.” The Klonopin’s on me tonight.


Statistics:

Shots 32-31 Detroit. The Wings were out-shot 10-7 in the 1st period and 18-12 in the 2nd period, but out-shot the Blues 13-3 in the 3rd period.

The Blues went 2 for 4 in 6:09 of PP time, including 15 seconds of a 4-on-3 power play; the Wings went 1 for 4 in 7:00 of PP time, mostly earned via 3 Blues penalties in the 3rd period.

Jimmy Howard stopped 29 of 31 shots; Brian Elliott stopped 29 of 32.

The 3 stars, per FSD’s Dana Wakiji, were Nicklas Lidstrom, Kevin Shattenkirk and Pavel Datsyuk.

The Wings’ goals: Lidstrom (8) from Datsyuk (26) and White (13), power play;

Datsyuk (12) from White (14) and Bertuzzi (12);

Kronwall (8) from Filppula (17).

Faceoffs 33-28 St. Louis (the Wings won 46%);

Blocked shots 18-15 Detroit;

Missed shots 15-8 Detroit (total attempts 62-56 Detroit);

Hits 34-23 Detroit (and that’s a hometown stat);

Giveaways 10-4 Detroit, with Howard committing 4 of those 10 turnovers;

Takeaways 4-4.

Individual stats:

Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 12-and-9 (57%); Zetterberg went 8-and-8 (50%); Helm went 5-and-8 (38%); Filppula went 0-and-3; Abdelkader went 3-and-3 (50%); Emmerton and Franzen lost the only faceoffs they took.

Shots: Helm and Kronwall led the team with 4 shots apiece; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, White, Zetterberg and Franzen had 3; Cleary and Hudler had 2; Abdelkader, Miller, Stuart, Emmerton and Ericsson had 1.

Blocked attempts: Lidstrom, Filppula, Ericsson and Franzen had 2 attempts blocked by Blues players; Abdelkader, Cleary, Datsyuk, White, Miller, Stuart and Helm had single attempts blocked.

Missed shots: Lidstrom, Cleary, White, Commodore and Franzen missed the net 2 times; Datsyuk, Hudler, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Ericsson missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Bertuzzi led the Wings with 6 hits; Cleary had 5; Miller, Commodore, Stuart, Helm and Franzen had 3; Abdelkader and Datsyuk had 2; Lidstrom, Hudler, Zetterberg and Andersson had 1.

Giveaways: Howard had 4 giveaways; Lidstrom and Zetterberg had 2; Cleary and Ericsson had 1.

Takeaways: Datsyuk, Emmerton, Filppula and Kronwall had takeaways.

Blocked shots: White blocked 5 Blues shots; Abdelkader blocked 3; Commodore and Kronwall blocked 2; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Miller, Stuart, Hudler and Filppula blocked 1.

Penalties taken: Zetterberg took 2 minor penalties; Lidstrom, Cleary, Helm and Franzen took single minors.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +10. Lidstrom, Datsyuk, White, Stuart, Hudler, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Filppula, Kronwall and Franzen finished at +1.

Points: Datsyuk had a goal and an assist for 2 points; White had 2 assists; Lidstrom and Kronwall had goals; Bertuzzi and Filppula had assists.

Ice time: White led the team with 25:48 played; Lidstrom played 25:41; Kronwall played 22:21;

Zetterberg played 21:24; Filppula played 20:43; Stuart played 20:16;

Datsyuk played 19:41; Hudler played 17:24; Cleary played 17:08;

Franzen played 16:38; Bertuzzi played 15:18; Ericsson played 13:06;

Miller played 12:45; Helm played 11:54; Commodore played 11:23;

Abdelkader played 10:13; Emmerton played 5:13; Andersson played 5:10.

In his debut, Joakim Andersson played 5:10 over the course of 8 shifts. He was credited with one hit.

 

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Comments

MsRedWinger's avatar

The Wings somehow, inexplicably, had overcome themselves, the Blues, the referees, the bouncing puck, you name the adversity they both faced and forced upon themselves, and suddenly the Detroit Red Wings that were no longer content to paddle in the middle of the pack and trail teams in the Central Division standings had appeared.

Isn’t that the truth?  Howard was unbelievable.  And when Pavel gets mad…  I keep thinking about how he suckered Shea Weber into a hit (when we played Nashville before Christmas) after Weber had hit Pav a couple of times.  And tonight, after taking all that cross-checking in the ribs with no help from the officials, Pav just took matters into his own hands.  Crushing hit on Jackman, followed by tying goal.  What an incredible deflection - even Homer had to be impressed with that one.

But the whole team (well, except “big body” Ericsson who still hasn’t figured out how he’s supposed to use it, especially in a game like tonight’s) really just gutted this one out and I was so proud of them.  And tonight, when Z and Pav threw themselves down onto the ice in the last minute to block shots - well, “our best players were our best players.” 

What a game and a great birthday present for Mickey, who clearly loved every minute.  It really was a statement game for our beloved Wings.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 12/28/11 at 12:51 AM ET

Avatar

I understand why you reached for the Klonopin (that’s not mild stuff), but there’s always that thought in the back of the mind (even though they didn’t pull it off vs. Calgary) that the Wings are never out of it. It would be better to not have to worry about comeback after comeback, but that’s the price of admission of following the Wings, it seems.

Oh, and the Versus people had a serious man-crush on Datsyuk tonight (not that they didn’t give Vezina love to Howard), and not that Datsyuk doesn’t deserve it, but Milbury, Keenan, Bill Patrick (MVP talk),....

Posted by Bugsy on 12/28/11 at 12:55 AM ET

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Oh, and tonight they invoked the Hasek name on Versus multiple times tonight when talking about Howard. Just to think of how many people didn’t believe he could be a top goaltender a few years ago (and I admit I wondered a bit). Confidence certainly helps. In Kenny We Trust. He’s not perfect, but would you trade Holland for any other GM’s track record? Okay, I’m rambling in giddiness over a big win despite not playing 60 minutes. 2 more wins, and the Wings can certainly gain some edge mentally (the top 6 in the West look really strong, so any edge is worth it). G’night!

Posted by Bugsy on 12/28/11 at 01:03 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

I bet Murph and Mick are doing keg stands in the Olympia Room right now, while Mule is bitch-slapping Doc for calling him “moose”, and Milbury is looking for a tween to punch out.

All in a night’s work in Hockeytown, bitches.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 12/28/11 at 01:13 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I was about to yell at a few friends who I’ve watched games with online for…erm, 13 years…So I took half a milligram.

I’ve been on Klonopin for about the same period of time, and I’ve never had any dependency issues. It’s a moderate dose given my level of anxiety—which is stratospheric (my levels start at what most people would consider a “9” or “10” as a one or two)—but having to take one during a game is very rare.

I’m one of those people who has accepted that I’m more functional with medication than without, and I’ve always been treated by extremely conservative and hands-on physicians and psychiatrists, so I’m not over-medicated by any means…And as my family history isn’t good on either side in terms of anxiety and depression, I’ve grown up around people who were responsibly treated and were responsible with their medication, so it’s just par for the course.

And I almost feel bad for defending Ericsson, seriously, because the guy stank on ice tonight. At least Commodore’s been excellent :/

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/28/11 at 01:18 AM ET

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I decided to take one more peek before bed. Sorry I drew another medical explanation out of you George. I’ve known a couple people on Klonopin, 1 was definitely dependent on it, the other two probably weren’t. If you’re better off on the medicine, and you’re not dependent, that’s good, and I wish I hadn’t said something about the reference. It’s good that you have things under control well enough regardless to be back in the swing of things, regardless George. Medications are like anything else in life: everyone has different risks and benefits, and you make your best decision and go forward. I’m really glad you’re doing better, I was a bit concerned last fall. Sorry, again ,and have a good new year.

Posted by Bugsy on 12/28/11 at 01:51 AM ET

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I kept glancing at the box score and the Red Wings were outhitting all night and blocking more shots until the third. It definitely didn’t look like it.

I think basically the Red Wings did everything you should not do if you want to win in the second period and Howard still managed to keep them in it: way too many shots against, too many odd-man rushes. But at least they started winning faceoffs (iirc, based on my math, it was 14-8 in the first, 10-10 in the second, and 9-10 in the third—speaking of which, I think Backes got his absurd 18-7 number by not taking faceoffs with his stick so much as pushing his opponent away from the puck).

Maybe it goes without saying with Auger, but the officiating left something to be desired.

That second goal really annoyed me, not so much because it looked like Howard froze it, but because everyone just stood around while the Blues scored an easy one that they could have easily prevented. What happened to playing until the whistle?

Posted by bleep bloop on 12/28/11 at 01:59 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

I mentioned this after the game over at A2Y, but it bears repeating—Datsyuk’s game tonight (especially in the 3rd periof) was truly the stuff of legends.  We all saw Jackman laying those repeated cross checks to the ribs early in the 3rd, and I’m sure we all groaned about the lack of a penalty call on that play.  But Pavel did exactly what Gordie woulda done—took the guy’s number and lit him up first chance he got.  Was the elbow a little high?  Maybe it was.  But after all the crap we’ve seen from Jackman over the years, I’m more than okay with it.  Long overdue in my book.

I know technically a Gordie Howe hat trick is a goal, an assist and a fight, but I think a goal, an assist and a hellishly teeth-rattling pay-back hit is in many ways much more Gordie-esque.

Having said all that (and with all due respect to Pavel and Lidstrom), the Wings’ MVP this season continues to be James Howard.  Elite goaltender?  I think that question has been answered.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 12/28/11 at 02:22 AM ET

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Datsyuk - best forward in the game. Period.

Howard’s playing fantastic.

If E52 could improve his passing and play as the physical large-bodied defenseman he should be, he’d be a solid 3rd pair D. Seems like we’ve waited too long for that to happen.

With the limited ice time of Andersson, I was pretty impressed. I thought he fore-checked well. A large forward who will hopefully be utilized in the future.

Posted by Jesters Dead on 12/28/11 at 02:54 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

And I almost feel bad for defending Ericsson, seriously, because the guy stank on ice tonight. At least Commodore’s been excellent :/

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/27/11 at 11:18 PM ET

Yeah, he was awful.  I can admit that.

How Stephane Auger has a job in the NHL still baffles me. He’s absolutely horrible at reffing.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/28/11 at 10:19 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.