The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/24/12 at 08:06 AM ET
I generally believe that the less a writer thinks about writing before engaging in the task, the less he or she worries about what they actually end up saying. I must admit, however, that after watching the Detroit Red Wings’ home-ice winning streak end thanks to a 4-3 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks, I tossed, turned, stirred and tried to think about something profound to say about the concept that the opposing team at Joe Louis Arena was more serious about making history than the home team seemed to care about matching its opponent’s intensity, effort, work ethic, focus and plain old “jam”...
And it comes own to this: I understand that witnessing a 23-game winning streak come to an end is a historic moment, and that Wings fans are supposedly “spoiled” rotten to come to expect this kind of thing, but I do not feel ungrateful for saying that the Wings’ effort in terms of plain old trying to avoid a second straight sans-Pavel Datsyuk loss pissed me off to no f***ing end, and if you feel confused as to why you might be swearing and cursing this morning, I would at least say that you’re not alone, and that, if you’re a Wings fan who appreciates every minute of what the Wings give you and me, you have every right to be angry.
No, this game was not about Canucks by a point in the Western Conference standings and the Blues by 4 points in the Central Division standings—spiraling down to the middle of the pack, despite the Score’s Chris Lund’s suggestion that the Canucks somehow exposed some fundamental flaws in the Red Wings’ home game that nobody ever knew they could exploit until Thursday.
And at the same time, no, “we” Wings fans can’t really be that angry at Alex Burrows for performing the, “I break my stick like I just broke your winning streak!” shootout celebration (many thanks to RedWingsFeed for both links) after he and the Canucks successfully rallied from three one-goal deficits, held the Wings off the power play five times (and actually generated more scoring chances on their PK than the Canucks did on their own 4 power plays), peppered Jimmy Howard with 43 shots (and 17 in the first period alone) and the Red Wings’ defense with 65 shot attempts, and, perhaps minus Howard’s efforts and those of the Drew Miller-Darren Helm-Justin Abdelkader line, could have easily defeated the Wings in regulation time…
Because the Canucks came into the Joe saying that they were delighted to be the team that would end the Wings’ winning streak, they repeated those statements on multiple occasions on Thursday, and then they backed their words up against a team that seemed flattered to receive such a compliment, to the point that the Wings never really engaged in the game to the extent that the Canucks did, to the extent that the flaccid performances by the Wings’ special teams, top two lines, top two defensive pairs and the team as a whole can and should leave you wondering why the f*** a Detroit Red Wings team that looked like it’d finally figured itself out after their 3-2 win over the Sharks this past Sunday suddenly looks both very, very thin up front and, for lack of a better term…
Needing to learn re-learn some fundamentals and rededicate itself to the kind of defensively-minded, detail-oriented and consistently hard-working hockey that earned the Wings their home-ice dominance, and earned the Wings their losses against Chicago and Vancouver.
Otherwise, it sucks that the Wings managed to repeatedly shoot themselves in both skates against a team that showed Detroit and showed the Red Wings how it’s done in terms of playing the bad guy, and maybe that’s the lesson here—the Wings have been far too kind to anyone who dares compliment them, and maybe the Wings need to learn to wear the black hat a little more regularly, both at home and on the road.
Very specifically speaking, ESPN’s Craig Custance covered the game as it was ESPN’s “Game of the Week,” and I certainly wish that the Big Red Machine was sloppy enough to let the arrogance show that Vancouver made sure remained on the dry-erase board after they’d accomplished their desired task:
On a white dry-erase board in the Vancouver Canucks dressing room at Joe Louis Arena, the words were hand-written in black: “To be the best, you got to beat the best.”
For the previous 23 games, every team that entered that visitors’ dressing room failed in that charge. Not the Canucks. Their 4-3 shootout win on Thursday night ended Detroit’s record 23-game home winning streak and pulled them within one point of the Red Wings as the best team in the NHL. So is the quote right? Is Vancouver now the best?
“No. We know there’s still a lot of work ahead,” Canucks forward Alex Burrows told ESPN.com minutes after ending the game by roofing a shootout winner. “These guys have won a lot of games. They had a remarkable streak that’s unbelievable, to win that many in a row on home ice. For us to be able to end it and play against one of the top teams in the league and end their streak—we’ll take that.”
And it ended the way it had to—with the visiting team pulling out everything necessary to emerge with a win. Daniel Sedin’s goal with 16 seconds left in regulation tied the game at three, with the Canucks running a set play they have in their arsenal for when there’s an extra attacker. But there’s no drawing up the kind of vision it takes to make a pass like Henrik Sedin did from below the goal line to Daniel, setting up the game winner.
“Hankie, I don’t know how he found Danny there wide open, but he turned and gave it right on his tape,” Burrows said.
The Canucks’ game-tying goal, of course, occurred because the refs bought Sami Salo chugging his arms and legs like Larry Murphy used to on icing calls, giving Vancouver a deep zone faceoff with less than half a minute remaining and a game-tying goal with 16 seconds left in the game, but hey, Daniel Sedin told USA Today’s Kevin Allen that he knew exactly what he was doing…
The puck floated through traffic in front. “It wasn’t the hardest shot,” Daniel Sedin said. “But (Jimmy Howard) didn’t see anything.”
And the Canucks rode the line between respectful and cocky like only they can…
“It was an intense game with a playoff atmosphere,” said Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, who made 33 saves.
“This is what hockey should be all about,” said Henrik Sedin. “A lot of chances, a lot of hitting, no cheap shots, no chirping after whistles. Just good hard hockey. It was fun to be part of it.”
While speaking to the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell about the game-tying goal and their ability to rally from 3 one-goal deficits…
“We thought we deserved more than being down one with a few minutes to go,” Henrik Sedin said. “It took us 59 minutes and 45 seconds to get it, but we were patient. We didn’t cheat to create chances. We wanted to come in here and beat maybe the best team in the league.”
The Wings, who were playing without the injured Pavel Datsyuk, lost for the first time at home since Nov. 3 to Calgary. However, they were only seconds away from win No. 24 and a four-point lead over Vancouver atop the Western Conference standings. With the net empty and mayhem breaking out in the Wings’ zone, Detroit made a fatal error. Nick Lidstrom was unable to cut off Henrik Sedin’s pass from behind the net right up the slot to his brother.
“Jimmy (Howard) had no way of seeing that,” said defenceman Kyle Quincey, who had a goal and was plus-one in his debut with Detroit after being acquired from Tampa Tuesday. “He did a great job putting it exactly where he couldn’t get it. It’s tough to lose those games where you play pretty well and 15 seconds left and they bury one.”
As well as the concept that the game was going to go Vancouver’s way, one way or another:
“As the game went on, I think guys started to realize what was at stake—it was up for grabs,” said Canucks forward Daniel Sedin, who scored a pair of goals and tied the game 3-3 with just 15.4 seconds left in regulation. “First period, we outshot them pretty badly. They came back, but we kept playing and came back on them.”
That pretty much sums up the entire third period—a see-saw battle that started with a goal by newly-acquired Detroit defenseman Kyle Quincey to put the Wings up 2-1 in his first game back with the team that originally selected him in the 2003 NHL Draft. Quincey was dealt back to the Red Wings on Tuesday in a three-team deal that involved the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It’s nice to come in this building and end that streak,” Burrows said. “It’s a remarkable streak. At the same time, you want to measure yourself against the top teams in the League. For us to come in here and play well and show that we can beat them means a lot. But there’s a lot of work ahead. If we face them in the playoffs, it will start 0-0.”
“It was a great game,” Luongo said. “We knew coming in it was going to be one of those. Any time we play these guys—that’s the type of hockey it is. It was really exciting that we were able to tie it up there in the last few seconds, especially after we’d tied it up and let them score a few seconds after.”
Did it classify as special, even though it was just one of 82 regular-season games?
“Yeah, it was,” Luongo said. “The Boston one was nice, too. Those are emotional games and we’re used to those. They’re always fun to be part of.”
If all of this, “Yay, us! We rule!” stuff hasn’t stirred your partisan competitive juices, the Vancouver Province’s Gordon MacIntyre wants you to know that the refs did their best to royally screw Vancouver…
“I think the reason these teams are at the top of the standings is because they play like this almost every night,” Detroit native David Booth said. “That was a hard-fought game by both teams.”
It started out, however, like it was some gimmick drawn up by the committee that dreams up the competitions at all-star games, in this case special-team versus special special-team. he Red Wings had three first-period power plays, the Canucks one.
You could argue against all four calls, but Daniel Sedin’s goalie-interference penalty was particularly irksome given he was shoved into Jimmy Howard by Ian White.
Then Booth, while checking puck-carrier Darren Helm, managed to floor the Wing with a good shove to the chest with an open palm and got a holding penalty as a result.
“I didn’t know who was getting the penalty,” Booth said. “I thought there’d been a high stick or something, I thought one of their guys had the penalty. When the refs let us play in the third I thought it was a great game.”
Quite frankly, Dan O’Rourke and Kyle Rehman’s work had even me, never mind one Mickey Redmond, wondering what the hell constituted a penalty as we watched the refs actually call standard-issue post-lockout hockey and the, “We’re only calling stuff if there are horizontal stick fouls or a guy falls down” stuff we’ve been witnessing for the vast majority of this season for alternating 5-minute stretches all game long…
And yes, as we continue the “partisan” tack, there’s no doubt that the Canucks had a sizable number of fans in the building, as the Vancouver Sun’s Iain McIntyre notes…
An awful lot of fans at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday came to see Detroit homeboys David Booth and Ryan Kesler play for the Vancouver Canucks. It was Booth’s first game in Detroit after six years in the National Hockey League. And although he didn’t score – stopped in the shootout and a partial breakaway late in regulation time – the 27-year-old from nearby Shelby said the atmosphere and memories were worth the wait.
There were robust cheers throughout the arena when Alex Burrows’ shootout goal gave the Canucks a 4-3 win and ended the Detroit Red Wings’ record home-ice winning streak at 23 games.
“It was pretty special,” Booth said. “The most important part was winning on the road against a great team. The game lived up to expectations. I hope I get a lot more chances to play in this building.”
But McIntyre spent most of his recap noting that the Canucks placed a fifty-foot-high exclamation point on an 11-1-and-3 stretch by playing better than the Wings did in a game which definitely had a “playoff feel”:
“It was awesome,” Canuck captain Henrik Sedin said. “That team over there, they really invite you to play good hockey. There’s no cheap shots, nothing like that. You play good hockey, go up and down the ice, there’s scoring chances, hits – everything I think you want in hockey. And the atmosphere tonight, with everything that was on the line, it was fun.”
It was memorable. That’s not often said about Game 61 of an 82-game regular season.
“Game 61, usually. . . they don’t mean that much,” Daniel Sedin said. “This was a special game for us. During the game, you don’t really think about [winning streaks] and those kind of things. But when it got to a shootout, then you realize you have a chance to do it. Most importantly, we played a good road game against the top team in this league. It was a gutsy performance by a lot of players.”
“We’re an experienced group,” Canuck coach Alain Vigneault said. “Our guys, from start to finish, they give it their best. We knew going into the third, it was going to be hard for both teams. When they scored, we just kept playing. And in overtime, we just kept playing. There were momentum shifts, there were great saves, there were quality chances and we found a way to get it done in a shootout.”
Luongo stopped Jiri Hudler and Todd Bertuzzi in the shootout and Red Wing Henrik Zetterberg shot wide. Howard made saves against Canucks Alex Edler and David Booth before Burrows roofed his backhand.
Against a seriously lopsided run in play, Red Wing Darren Helm opened the scoring at 11:16 of the first period by shooting on a 2-on-1 caused by Kevin Bieksa’s turnover. The Canucks, who outshot the Wings 17-5 in the opening 20 minutes, trailed until 13:34 of the middle period when Daniel, with body position on defender Ian White, guided the puck around Howard after Edler’s point shot was deflected by Henrik to his brother. It was a pretty good game to that point. It was a breathtaking one afterwards.
“Regardless of the circumstances – the streak, whatever – we beat the top team in the league,” veteran Canuck Manny Malhotra said when asked what it all meant. “The team that’s at the top of the chart, we beat them. And we did it playing the right way. For us, it’s more of a confidence-booster knowing we can play right to end and come back against an outstanding opponent. That’s the confidence we build. Besides that, we put no emphasis on streaks and history.”
If you buy that, I’ve got some beachfront property in Florida to sell you—it’s only underwater half the time!—but the Canucks were mostly honest about their effort while speaking to the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa…
“We really wanted a shot to beat these guys, and when we finally got here we wanted to prove we could beat them on the road,” Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. “No team has been able to do that for the past 23 games, so it’s a good effort for us.”
It was a scintillating win in an inordinately hostile house. The Wings’ fans helped create a playoff atmosphere. Much can happen in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the teams may never meet after the season. But if they do, the big win that ended the Red Wings’ streak may be bigger for a better reason.
“I think it’s important that we were able to win here, that’s good for us if we ever meet them down the road,” goalie Roberto Luongo said.
“At the same time, there’s no shootout in the playoffs,” Luongo added. “It went down to the wire, so just trying to be patient in the shootout, think of the moves the guys make and not make the first move.”
Alexandre Burrows beat Jimmy Howard in the shootout, with a neat fake and a quick shot.
“Against a goalie like that, he’s pretty good at timing himself with the shooter,” Burrows said. “He makes himself big.”
Burrows said that despite the absence of the Wing’s most potent offensive weapon, Pavel Datsyuk, it was a big win.
“That’s a pretty good team over there, and they were missing one of their best playmakers, too, and they still made it tough on us,” Burrows said. “So we got to give ourselves some credit. We battled back great. It think it’s a new ballgame, in the playoffs,” he said. “But, at the same time, for us, it’s good to know we can come in this building and play a good road game. And we looked at their record, and the 23 wins, I think 10 of them were by three goals or more. So, it’s pretty scary for a team to come in here and try to win.”
We’ll utilize the Associated press’s Larry Lage’s recap to mostly shift focus from the perspectives of the Canucks to those of the Red Wings’ personnel and coach…
Detroit hadn’t lost at Joe Louis Arena since Nov. 3 against Calgary, breaking the previous single-season mark of 20 shared by the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers. The Red Wings extended the streak with three wins in shootouts - taking advantage of a way to break ties that wasn’t possible before the 2005-06 season - but their coach said that didn’t diminish the feat.
“I don’t care what era, it was just a real good run for the Red Wings that set us up in a good situation playoff-wise,” Mike Babcock said.
The NHL-leading Red Wings hold a one-point lead over Vancouver in the Western Conference. The Canucks have won a league-high 21 games on the road this season.
A sold-out crowd stood during the shootout, which started with Roberto Luongo stopping Jiri Hudler’s shot and Howard going low to smother David Booth’s attempt. Henrik Zetterberg missed the net on Detroit’s second attempt and Alexander Edler was denied on the ensuing opportunity. Todd Bertuzzi, who signed a two-year extension with the Red Wings, couldn’t put his team ahead and Burrows took advantage with a chance to end the game - and the streak.
“It was an intense game with a playoff atmosphere,” Luongo said.
Because the fact that Pavel Datsyuk didn’t play in Thursday night’s game, and is probably at least a “business week” (i.e. 5 to 7 days) from returning, definitely had an impact upon the Wings’ paper-thin offensive confidence…
“The best player in the world, any time he goes out, you’re going to miss him,” Abdelkader said. “It’s a big void.”
But that didn’t matter to coach Vingeault, who offered a Jimmy Howard-style quip about the Canucks’ chances while speaking to Fox Sports Detroit’s Dave Dye…
“We talked about it before the game quickly, that logic would say sooner or later they’re going to lose one and we might as well be the team to beat them,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock previously had avoided talking much about the record, but he took time to reflect on it after his team lost for only the fourth time in 30 games on home ice (26-2-2). It had been more than three months since the Wings lost at Joe Louis. You had to go all the way back to Nov. 3, 2011, against Calgary.
“It’s beyond impressive,” Babcock said. “I don’t care what era. It’s just a real good run for our Red Wings. We’re thrilled to have done it. It set us up to get a good situation playoff-wise. Now we’ve got to get playing again at a high level. This team is only good if we’re really skating and crisp with the puck, and we weren’t tonight.”
And I’m stopping here because Babcock is spot-on. The Red Wings were indeed, as Babcock told FSD’s Trevor Thompson, reaching for the puck on the outside of battles for said bouncy vulcanized rubber disc (the Joe’s ice only issues bounce-happy pucks all night long when the humidity’s incredibly high down by the Detroit River—and keep in mind that the ice surface is less than half a mile from a river that pumps about 3 million gallons of water past the Joe every eight minutes—and we’re getting half a foot of snow as I write this), and while the Wings’ media corps had visions of Western Conference Final match-ups dancing in their heads, too…
This was a matchup of the Western Conference’s top two teams who easily could meet up again in about three months for a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals. They split the four-game season series. Each won in a shootout on the other team’s arena. The Wings have 85 points with 20 games remaining, the Canucks 84 with 21 left. The biggest difference between the two is on the road, where Vancouver improved to 21-10-2. Detroit has a 15-16-1 road record.
“There was huge emotion,” said defenseman Kyle Quincey, who scored a goal in his first game with the Wings since being acquired in a trade two days earlier. “It was a very big game. There’s a lot on the line. Next time we play them, for sure, there will be even more.”
Babcock also honed in on the, “No Datsyuk, problem” issue:
“We have enough hands on deck to get things done,” Babcock said. “We’ve just got to skate better. We got skated into the ground in the first period. They played better longer than we did and, in the end, they won the game. They get full marks. We’ve got to skate way better than this.”
And now that we’re done with that I’m going to get more than forty-five minutes of sleep for the first time in two…I mean, now we’re going to take a sharp left turn. Or right turn, depending on your political tendencies. Which means that I get to wiggle the blog steering wheel down the middle of the street.
Anyway, yes, as the Free Press’s Mike Bruendell notes, many hopeful Wings fans’ streak-sustaining superstitions probably ended on Thursday night, and it was in this vein that the Detroit News’s Bob Wojnowski attempted to capture “the spirit of the thing”...
If some opponents were freaked out by the Joe’s aura, the Canucks weren’t one of them. They outplayed the Wings for long stretches, and it was practically target practice before Sedin tied it. Hey, history can only last so long. All three Wings — Jiri Hudler, Henrik Zetterberg, Todd Bertuzzi — were stopped in the shootout, another area Datsyuk was missed. And now, somehow, the Wings won a league-record 23 straight home games and created virtually no distance between them and the Canucks.
Both these teams are deep and skilled and excellent in net. Both look pretty but can play tough. The Wings have closed the gap, maybe even wiped it out completely, but as the streak ends, this thing is just getting started. The Canucks came in intent on snapping the craziness. They said they hoped the streak was still churning when they arrived, and then burst out as if they meant it. They piled up a 17-5 edge in shots in the first period, and yet the Wings held a 1-0 lead.
How? Howie, of course. Howard was in net at the Joe for the first time since Jan. 23 and mostly back in form. And this contest was unfolding magically, right up until the point the Canucks struck.
Abdelkader banged in a goal with 6:14 left, precisely 20 seconds after the Canucks’ Cody Hodgson had tied it. With 1:40 left, Howard made a spectacular save on a breakaway by David Booth, and No. 24 beckoned. But the Wings couldn’t clear the puck and a wide-open Sedin fired a screened shot and the Canucks were in it to win it. They came in with the best road record in the league. The Wings had the best home record, and with Monday’s trade deadline looming, this was a showcase event.
GM Ken Holland made a sizable move the other day when he dealt a first-round pick for Quincey, who mixed it up plenty in his first game back in Detroit. He collected two penalties in addition to his goal, and was on ice at the end.
The Wings needed a little intervention — divine or otherwise — to keep the streak going, and they got some from unlikely sources. The Canucks got more from likely sources, and that’s how the seemingly unbreakable gets broken.
Babcock at least seemed somewhat willing to agree with that assessment while speaking to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan...
“They played better longer than we did, and in the end they won the game,” coach Mike Babcock said. “They get full marks.”
As for the record run?
“It’s beyond impressive,” Babcock said. “I don’t care what era, it’s a good run for the Red Wings. We’re thrilled to have done it and it set us up for a good position for the playoffs. Now we have to get to playing at a high level.”
Justin Abdelkader gave the Wings (41-18-3, 85 points) a 3-2 lead at 13:46 of the third period, crashing the net for his eighth goal. But Vancouver (39-16-6, 84 points) tied it when Daniel Sedin scored his second goal of the game with 15.4 seconds left in regulation.
“They did that three weeks ago against us (in Colorado),” said defenseman Kyle Quincey, who made a positive first impression for the Wings with a goal in his first game. “An almost identical play. Both times I was in front of the net. When a guy winds up for a slap shot like that you pray it hits you. He beat both me and Jimmy (Howard, goalie). It’s tough.”
And about the first period, where the Wings were out-shot 17-5?
“We got skated into the ground in the first period,” Babcock said. “We slowly got better. Our penalty killing (killing all five Vancouver power plays) gave us a chance.”
And the Wings’ 0-for-5 performance in 7:59 of PP time (yes, the Wings were robbed of a second of power play time by their own scoreboard operators) gave the Canucks chances and chances and chances to rally from a 1-0 deficit…and, technically speaking, the only reason the 1-1 goal wasn’t a power play goal is because Drew Miller and Daniel Sedin took penalties within seconds of each other, thus yielding a favorable 4-on-4 situation for Detroit…which went into the back of the Wings’ net.
Again, Babcock wasn’t buying the no Datsyuk = excuse for crappy offense from everyone not named Helm, Miller or Abdelkader, as he told the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness…
“I don’t think so,” Babcock said when asked if they missed Datsyuk. “I don’t think we didn’t skated as good. Sometimes you win games when you fight your way through when you don’t play great. We haven’t done that. We found a way to lose by one in Chicago and then a shootout here tonight. We have to skate better.”
The Wings looked liked they had the game wrapped up after Abdelkader chopped in a puck laying next to Luongo’s skate with just over six minutes left in the third period. However with Luongo pulled, Daniel Sedin got the equalizer.
“We got ahead and we were in a good situation,” Babcock said. “At this point in the 6-on-5 you don’t mind if the puck comes outside, but it came inside on us. What I mean is it came below the goal line inside us. We had people outside the puck and that can’t happen. That’s just a freebie. In the end you can’t tempt fate like that. They played longer than we did and in the end they won the game so I give them full marks.”
“I thought we got skated into the ground in the first period. I thought we skated a lot like we did in Chicago, not very well,” Babcock said. “I thought we slowly got better. We got out shot 17-4 in the first and Howie did a good job for us just to survive the first. As the game went on we got better. They dominated in the overtime and then won in the shootout. We can skate way better than this.”
And yes, other Wings talked about the game. The Free Press’s Helene St. James took note of Justin Abdelkader’s suggestion that Jimmy Howard was indeed the reason why the Wings weren’t beaten in regulation (St. James penned a superb game narrative as well)...
“Jimmy kept us in there, he played great,” Abdelkader said. “We’ve got to come out a lot better. We were on our heels; we weren’t making plays; we were making mental errors there for the first couple of periods.”
The Wings had a couple of better chances in the second period but were thwarted by Luongo, who used his chest to block a shot by Danny Cleary and sat on the puck when Zetterberg had slipped it into the crease from the left side. The only player to score was Sedin, who scooped in a deflected shot by Alexander Edler at 13:34. Zetterberg’s chance, in the last minute, was part of the strongest stretch the Wings had had all game.
They continued that into the third period and got something to show for it when Helm fed Quincey in the slot; Quincey took a shot that Luongo blocked, sending the puck out to the right, where Abdelkader picked it up and fed it back to Quincey for the goal.
“It was a great play by Abby,” Quincey said. “I’m just so happy it finally went in.”
And Abdelkader seemed to understand that history will no longer be made, or maybe put a little more eloquently, the Wings kinda sorta fell on their faces when given serious-ass advanced warning of the fact that they were going to have their hands full, as he told MLive’s Brendan Savage (cue the parenthetical remark! He wrote a superb quote-less recap, too) when he was asked whether the Wings’ record will stand the test of time:
“I don’t think so,” said forward Justin Abdelkader, whose goal put the Red Wings ahead 3-2 with 6:14 left in regulation. “I think with the parity in this league it’s pretty remarkable, but I think we’re just going to focus on our next game at hand, and as the season ends we can reflect on it a little more. But for now we’ve just got to get ready for Colorado on Saturday.”
The third line of Abdelkader, Darren Helm and Drew Miller continued to be more than just a checking unit for the Red Wings as they combined for a pair of goals and four assists.
Helm got the Red Wings started in the first period, when he stripped Kevin Bieksa of the puck near the Detroit blue line, skated down the ice and beat Roberto Luongo with a wrist shot. That gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead after the first period, when they were outshot 17-5.
“We’re a line that likes to go straight ahead and keep it simple and hang onto pucks,” Abdelkader said. “I think we’ve got a lot of speed on our line and kind of read off of one another and I think each game we’ve felt more comfortable playing together and trying to feel where each other are on the ice. Like I said, we’re a line that likes to go straight ahead and cycle and grind and get our chances that way.”
They were excellent, as was Quincey…
Defenseman Kyle Quincey, playing his first game with the Red Wings since being acquired in a three-team trade Tuesday, put the Red Wings back in front 2-1 at 6:08 of the third.
“It was a huge game with both teams coming in knowing how big it was and that emotion was to be expected,” said Quincey, who is in his second stint with the Red Wings. “Those games are fun to play in and I’ll bet you that we have a few more of those coming down the stretch.”
I suppose we should end on a relatively positive note, via DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose, as he spotlighted the contributions of the line that at least kept “history” from going the way of the dodo for a few periods…
Helm’s line, with Drew Miller and Abdelkader shined all night, contributing to all three of the Wings’ goals, including Abdelkader’s go-ahead goal at 13:46 of the third period.
“(Helm) shot the puck and I blocked it with my stomach,” Abdelkader said. “I got it down to my feet and I couldn’t really get my stick around to it so I went to kick it to him and he made a good shot there and the puck was loose in the crease so I put it in.”
Another key contributor was defenseman Kyle Quincey who was playing in his first game back with the Wings since he was placed on waivers prior to the 2008-09 season. Quincey, who was re-acquired in a three-way trade this week with Colorado and Tampa Bay, scored in his return, giving the Wings a 2-1 lead early in the third. Quincey jumped into the slot, took a pass off the half wall and fired a shot while being checked. His shot was harmlessly deflected into the corner by Luongo, and retrieved by Abdelkader, who feed Quincey again in the slot. But Quincey wasn’t denied a second time, blasting a shot into the back of the net at 6:08.
It was Quincey’s second goal as a Red Wing and sixth of the season, tying a single-season best, which he set two years ago with the Avs. The goal also marked his first with Detroit when he got his first NHL tally in the 2006-07 season-finale, wristing a shot through traffic in a 7-2 win over Chicago and goalie Patrick Lalime.
“It was huge,” said Quincey, sporting a fresh shiner under his left eye. “I’ve been kind of snake-bitten for the last two or three weeks, especially against these guys, so to get a goal and help the team that’s what I’m trying to do and it was huge.”
But it’s also worth noting that the Wings understood that the Canucks didn’t exactly have any wrinkles in their game plan, nor their approach to the game, that any of their previous home opponents were bringing to the table…
“You know, we’ve felt the intensity with every team that we’ve played in here, especially as of late here,” Wings forward Justin Abdelkader said. “They’ve all wanted to knock us off.”
And that’s the most disappointing part of the Wings’ loss. They were warned, repeatedly and publicly, and they didn’t heed their opponents’ words.
Highlights: Sportsnet posted a 2:58 highlight clip;
ESPN posted a 1:23 highlight clip/breakdown via Barry Melrose;
TSN posted a 2-minute highlight clip;
If you want to watch eight minutes of Canucks website highlights, go ahead, because it’s gushy stuff;
And the Red Wings’ website posted Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond-narrated clips of the shootout…
As well as a full slate of game highlights…
Via RedWingsFeed, NHL Tonight‘s Kevin Weekes and Mike Johnson talked about the game a bit;
And from the Wings’ website, here are the comments of Wings coach Mike Babcock…
Forward Justin Abdelkader…
And defenseman Kyle Quincey:
Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 27-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted a 23-image gallery;
Fox Sports Detroit posted a 5-image gallery;
The Vancouver Sun posted a 17-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted an 11-image gallery;
Daylife.com’s Red Wings gallery includes 5 Reuters images from the game;
NHL.com posted a 24-image gallery;
The Canucks’ website posted a 25-image gallery;
And the Red Wings’ website posted a 24-image gallery.
Statistics: Shots 43-36 Vancouver overall. The Nucks out-shot the Wings 17-5 in the 1st period, were out-shot 15-8 in the 2nd period and out-shot Detroit 13-12 in the 3rd period and 5-4 in OT.
Detroit went 0-for-5 in 7:59 of PP time, including 53 seconds of 4-on-3 time and 6 seconds of 5-on-3 time, and Vancouver went 0-for-4 in 6:06 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 40 of 43 shots; Roberto Luongo stopped 34 of 36.
The 3 Stars, per Nicholas J. Cotsonika, were Jimmy Howard, Daniel Sedin and Darren Helm.
The Wings’ goals: Helm (7), unassisted;
Quincey (6) from Abdelkader (12) and Helm (14);
Abdelkader (7) from Helm (15) and Miller (11).
Faceoffs 36-31 Vancouver (Detroit won 46%);
Blocked shots 9-9;
Missed shots 13-7 Vancouver (total attempts 65-51 Vancouver);
Hits 25-11 Detroit;
Giveaways 8-5 Detroit;
Takeaways 11-10 Detroit.
Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 11-and-10 (52%); Filppula went 4-and-11 (27%); Helm went 6-and-7 (46%); Emmerton went 5-and-3 (63%); Abdelkader went 3-and-2 (60%); Franzen went 2-and-1 (67%); both Cleary and Hudler lost their only faceoffs.
Shots: Cleary and Bertuzzi co-led the team with 5 shots apiece; Lidstrom and Quincey had 4; Miller and Holmstrom had 3; White, Hudler and Zetterberg had 2; Helm, Ericsson, Kronwall and Franzen had 1.
Blocked attempts: Helm had 2 shot attempts blocked; Lidstrom, White, Hudler, Quincey, Zetterberg, Kronwall and Holmstrom had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Helm missed the net 2 times; White, Stuart, Bertuzzi, Ericsson and Holmstrom missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Kronwall led the Wings with 5 hits; Abdelkader, Stuart and Quincey had 3; Lidstrom, White, Bertuzzi and Ericsson had 2; Hudler, Mursak and Holmstrom—who may have been the Wings’ best forward not on the Grind Line, The Next Generation—had 1;
Giveaways: Stuart, Hudler and Filppula had 2 giveaways; Zetterberg and Howard had 1.
Takeaways: Hudlerh ad 3 takeaways; Miller and Helm ahd 2; Lidstrom, White, Zetterberg and Franzen had 1.
Blocked shots: Quincey blocked 2 Vancouver shots; Cleary, White, Miller, Mursak, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Ericsson blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Quincey took 2 minor penalties; Abdelkader and Lidstrom took 1 apiece.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +1. Franzen finished at an ugly -3; Zetterberg finished at -2; Lidstrom, Cleary, Stuart, Filppula and Kronwall finished at -1; Quincey and Emmerton finished at +1; Miller, Helm and Ericsson finished at +2; Abdelkader finished at +3.
Points: Helm had a goal and 2 assists for 3 points; Abdelkader had a goal and an assist; Quincey had a goal; Miller had an assist.
Ice time: Lidstrom led the team with 23:42 played; Kronwall played 23:07; Zetterberg played 22:24;
Stuart played 22:02; Quincey played 21:32; White played 20:06;
Filppula played 20:04; Ericsson played 19:38; Franzen played 19:35;
Bertuzzi played 17:55; Helm played 17:01; Miller played 16:41;
Cleary played 16:34; Hudler played 15:30; Abdelkader played 14:43;
Holmstrom played 10:20; Emmerton played 5:23; Mursak played 5:06.
Part II: Red Wings notebooks: Let’s deal with the bad news first: Patrick Eaves spoke to the press on Thursday afternoon, and as the Free Press’s Helene St. James noted, it’s pretty safe to assume that we won’t see #17 skating with his teammates in meaningful games until next fall as his post-concussive headaches persist on a permanent basis:
“I’m doing a little better,” he said. “I can skate by myself, but it’s nothing serious. I think it’s more therapeutic. It hasn’t been fun, but I’ve been with my family and my daughter, so I’m trying to make the best of it.”
There is no timetable on when he can practice, much less play again.
“Symptoms come and go,” he said. “It’s a slow process. I’d love to come back, but we’ll see what happens. I have good days and bad days.”
The Wings always encourage long-term injured players to come to Joe Louis Arena if for no other reason than to reinforce how much the player is still a part of the team. Eaves’ occasional visits reinforce the reasoning.
“Relatively to where he was, he’s doing fantastic,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Now, relatively to where he was before he blocked the shot, he’s not doing very good. In saying that, he comes in on a regular basis, he’s been out shooting the puck around a little bit. Patty is going through something that is not very pleasant, but he’s going in the right direction, and that’s positive for us.”
“Yeah, for sure, no time to relax,” Datsyuk said, when asked if he’d begin working out off the ice since having the surgical procedure. “No free tickets to Florida. I need to work out.”
Datsyuk was having a great season before it was interrupted by a twinge in his knee that didn’t feel right after Detroit’s last home game—a 3-2 victory against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday that pushed the Red Wings’ NHL-record home winning streak to 23 games. He’s amassed 59 points in 59 games (16 goals and 43 assists) and was again near the top of the League in takeaways. Something happened in the San Jose game, however, that caused Datsyuk to mention how his knee felt to Red Wings athletic trainer Piet Van Zant. An MRI was performed, which showed a loose fragment of cartilage that needed to be cleaned up.
“I felt something in my leg, needed to check it,” Datsyuk told reporters on Thursday. “I felt it after San Jose game. Maybe it was bothering me a little bit [before], but not like what happened in San Jose game.”
When does the jovial superstar hope to get back into some skates and go for a spin?
“Tomorrow,” Datsyuk deadpanned.
Really … that soon?
“No,” Datsyuk said. “Maybe not. We’ll see.”
Ken Holland offered a little more deadpan update on Datsyuk to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:
“Maybe it was bothering me a little bit (before), but not like what happened in San Jose game,” said Datsyuk, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery at the Detroit Medical Center on Tuesday. “I felt something in my leg, needed to check it.”
Despite a slow start, Datsyuk is having a Hart Trophy-like season, collecting 14 goals and 48 points in his last 42 games. One of, if not the best, two-way forwards in the NHL, Datsyuk is second in the league with 81 takeaways.
The surgery was necessary as doctors cleaned up some loose cartilage in his right knee. It’s expected that Datsyuk will miss at least two weeks, bit no more than three weeks.
“The doctor said after being in there it was something that needed to be done,” general manager Ken Holland said. “Our concern was Pav complained (Monday) and I don’t know if he complained much before. With two months to go before the playoffs start – fortunately we’ve had a good run – we’ve got some points banked away. The timing couldn’t have been better.”
• And for the sake of not repeating too much, Hedger, Roose and Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner all spoke to Kyle Quincey about returning to Detroit, but I’d prefer to allow MLive’s Ansar Khan to offer Quincey’s take on why he’s a better player now than he was when the Red Wings were forced to waive him—which was fine and dandy by Quincey back in 2008…
“Last time I was here I didn’t have any confidence,’’ Quincey said. “I was just a young guy trying to squeak under the radar. Getting the opportunity and getting the confidence and knowing I can be a good player in the NHL, play good minutes, it’s huge. I’m just so excited to come back to this team.’‘
“If you ask a lot of guys that aren’t playing, they’d probably ask to get waived,’’ Quincey said. “That’s the great system we have. It’s a rule that helped my career. Who knows, I could still be in Grand Rapids. I’m very fortunate L.A. took a chance on me. Just went from there. I told Kenny (general manager Holland) back then, thanks for the opportunity.’‘
He added, “I was fortunate to be here for the Stanley Cup run (as a reserve in 2008), watching these guys and learning from guys like Cheli (Chris Chelios) and Schneids (Mathieu Schneider, who left after 2006-07) and Nick (Lidstrom) and Kronner (Niklas Kronwall),’’ Quincey said.
Now he is relishing the opportunity to once again play in this system.
“This system is by far the best I’ve ever played in,’’ Quincey said. “Absolute nightmare playing against these guys, so I’m glad I’m on the other side of the puck.’‘
The Red Wings want their defensemen to make a good first pass to start their attack.
“A lot of other teams try to get you to rim the puck along the glass, and I know these guys don’t like that,’’ Quincey said. “I’m all for that. I don’t like giving the puck up either.’‘
Both Mike Babcock and Ken Holland explained why the Wings were willing to give up a first-round pick for the sake of reacquiring a #3/4 defenseman while speaking with the Free Press’s Helene St. James…
“He’s a good player,” coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s going to be a big addition to our team. We’re going to be able to play everyone lots of minutes and not have to worry about matchups as much, which is real important. He’s good defensively, he’s strong, and he’s good offensively.”
The Wings see Quincey, who last played for Detroit on Feb. 26, 2008, as someone who’ll play opposite Jonathan Ericsson and bring the grit that has been absent from the third defensive pairing.
“We’ll figure things out over time, but him and Ericsson will give us a real good pair,” Babcock said. “He’s a good player. He gives us depth.”
The Wings have eight defensemen. General manager Ken Holland said that could change, but he likes the idea of being deep on defense, especially with the playoffs approaching.
The Wings gave up their June first-round draft pick to get Quincey, but they pick low and see Quincey as someone who can help them with this year’s Cup run and who serves as insurance given the likelihood Brad Stuart won’t re-sign. Quincey is a restricted free agent, so “worst-case scenario, we agree to a one-year deal and he becomes free in ‘13,” Holland said. “This guy can play in (the) NHL for 10 years. He plays a style of hockey we like.”
And Holland went a step further in speaking to the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff as to why the Red Wings believe that there’s no retread that can’t give the Belle Tire of Hockey a few more miles when utilized judiciously, Quincey and Todd Bertuzzi—who Duff says was re-signed for an annual cap hit of $2.075 million, not $2.25 million:
“Familiarity probably never hurts,” Holland said. “We obviously liked them.”
Holland, who has served with the organization since the mid-1980s as a player, scout, assistant GM and in his current position, makes no apologies for going back to the homegrown talent well on several occasions. Nor should he.
Dallas Drake came back in 2007 and helped Detroit win a Stanley Cup as a grinding winger. Both goalies on that 2007-08 Cup-winning club – Chris Osgood and Dominik Hasek - were Red Wing returnees. Hasek actually served three tours in Motown. Leamington’s Darren McCarty also rebooted in Detroit that season and helped along the way to the Cup, much in the same fashion that Joe Kocur did upon his Red Wings revival in 1996. Though he was assistant GM at the time, Holland was also involved in the Kocur decision.
“We’re interested in Quincey for a whole lot of reasons,” Holland said. “He’s 26 years of age. He’s a six-foot-two defenceman. He’s a restricted free agent, so we’ve got control over him going into next season. If there were other 26-year-old defencemen with 200-plus NHL games that were available, we’d probably have been interested in them, too.”
Quincey is among three current Wings who’ve gone and come back to Detroit. Jiri Hudler returned last season after a one-year stint in the Kontinental League. Bertuzzi was a trade-deadline acquisition from Florida in 2006-07. Holland wanted to keep him on a one-year deal, but Bertuzzi opted for a two-year pact from Anaheim.
Jason Williams, Igor Larionov, Todd Gill, Doug Brown and Kevin Miller are others who’ve multi-tasked in the Winged Wheel under Holland.
“In all the cases, you know the player from the past,” Holland said. “You liked them. Most of them worked out pretty good.”
Part III: Also of Red Wings-related note: I guess we have to go there, part 1, per the New York Times’ Jeff Z. Klein’s recap of the Wings-Nucks game:
The Red Wings’ streak of 23 straight home victories, now ended, carries an asterisk. Three of the wins came in shootouts, a tie-breaking procedure that did not exist when the Bruins won 22 straight at home in 1929-30 and ’30-31, or when the Flyers won 20 straight at home in 1975-76. If there were no shootout today, the Wings’ home winning streak would have ended at 12, with what would have been a 2-2 tie against Phoenix on Jan. 12.
• I guess we have to go there, part 2, per the Philadelphia Daily News’s Frank Seravalli:
Technically, the Detroit Red Wings rewrote the record book on Feb. 14 by notching their 21st straight home win at Joe Louis Arena, erasing the 1975-76 Flyers’ modern-day record of 20 at the Spectrum. Detroit’s streak ended at 23 wins last night against Vancouver.
We’d like to think Detroit’s run will be marked with an asterisk since three of those wins came via the shootout and one was in overtime, two methods not available to the Flyers. Overtime started in 1983. The shootout was added in 2005. All 20 of the Flyers’ wins were in regulation. That says something.
• I guess we have to go there, part 3: If you want an exhaustive analysis of the Red Wings and Canucks’ respective remaining schedules as they might apply to a race to earn 1st place in the Western Conference, the Vancouver Province’s Ed Willes provides one, and I emphasize “exhaustive”;
• I guess we have to go there, part 4: Because it turns out that Wings fans and their beat writers aren’t the only ones to say it, per the Vancouver Province’s Gor
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