The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/15/12 at 06:51 AM ET
Gustav Nyquist might be the luckiest person who left the Red Wings’ locker room after Detroit dropped a wretched 4-0 decision to the Anaheim Ducks. Nyquist’s Red Wings teammates will have to sit and stew in their own juices during a much-needed off-day as the team chose to remain in LA after both Wednesday night’s defeat and Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Kings.
They’ll fly to San Jose this afternoon and try to pick up the pieces after essentially losing all hope of winning the Central Division against the Blues, who sit 8 points ahead of Detroit in the Central Division and western Conference standings, and placing their home-ice advantage over their probable first-round opponent in the Nashville Predators, who sit only 2 points behind the Wings, thanks to a 2-and-5 record in March and a perfectly hideous 3-8-and-1 record since the team set their home-ice winning record against the Sharks way back on February 19th.
Why is Nyquist lucky? MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that the Wings sent Nyquist back to the Grand Rapids Griffins, who’ve won 2 straight games and will welcome their leading scorer back for a hard playoff push.
The Wings? As I said in the quick take, their 3-game losing streak, 2-and-5 record of late and 3-8-and-1 stretch over the past week outstrip the team’s 0-5-and-1 stretch in late October and early November as the low point of the Wings’ season, and with Pavel Datsyuk only “probable” to return from knee surgery on Saturday, Nicklas Lidstrom frustrated as he’s battling through the ups and downs of working his way back from a bone bruise in his left ankle that may keep him sidelined from anywhere from a few days to another week or more (bone bruises don’t really have “timelines” for healing—they heal when they heal, and while Lidstrom told Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy that he’s had repeated x-rays to make sure that it’s not broken, and that he’s having a broken bone’s worth of treatment with a bone growth stimulator, he can only test out his skate when the Wings return home and hope that it doesn’t hurt as much) and Jonathan Ericsson (broken wrist) and Jakub Kindl (strained oblique muscle) out for undetermined periods of time…
As Jimmy Howard illustrated on Tuesday and Todd Bertuzzi proved on Wednesday, not even the mighty Datsyuk will be coming back without his share of rust and mistakes made, so it’s not as if the Wings have any sorts of reinforcements who will return to the lineup with guns blazing.
A one-line, one-defensive-pair team will have to do its best to salvage an 0-for-30 power play over their past 7 games, a defensive game that’s poor and an offensive game that’s just as flimsy as the team’s see-through shopping bag’s worth of collective and individual confidence, all going into a game against a Sharks team whose desperation the Wings probably can’t match on Saturday night. After that, the Wings’ schedule gets busy, starting with a home game against Washington next Monday, a road game against the Rangers on Wednesday, a home tilt against Peter Karmanos’s Hurricanes next Saturday and a pair of games against the spoilier-minded Blue Jackets before wrapping up the month against—guess who?—the Predators.
Shifting focus back to tonight’s game, how badly were the Wings’ asses kicked by the Ducks, you might ask? I’ll let the Orange County Register’s Jeff Miller tell you:
This marked the first time the Ducks ever have shut out Detroit at home. The 4-goal margin also was the largest win over the Red Wings in club history. The previous record was three goals, set three times.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James also took note of the following:
Wings haven’t been shut out on road since Oct. 29 at Minnesota.
As AnaheimDucks.com’s Adam Brady notes, the Ducks rode the momentum of three second-period goals en route to their win, and, well…History was made:
Jonas Hiller saved all 23 Detroit shots to earn the Ducks’ second-ever shutout over the Red Wings (the other coming May 30, 1997) and the first at home.
“We played a good hockey team there. Guys played well and buried their chances tonight,” said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. “We did a lot of good things. It wasn’t just the offense. We played well in our own zone and clogged up the neutral zone against a good puck-possession team. That changes everything against that group.”
The Red Wings, coming off a 5-2 loss last night in LA, were without mainstays Pavel Datsyuk (recovering from February knee surgery) and Nicklas Lidstrom (deep ankle bruise), not to mention defensemen Jonathan Ericsson (wrist) and Jakub Kindl (upper body). The Ducks were also missing defenseman Luca Sbisa, who was out for a second straight game with back spasms.
Following a scoreless first, the Ducks exploded for three goals in the second to vault to a 3-0 lead. Teemu Selanne led things off 8:52 into the period, as Cam Fowler sent the puck from the right wing wall into goalie Joey MacDonald, and Selanne whacked the puck with his stick enough to get it to flutter over MacDonald’s shoulder. The goal gave Selanne 1,400 points and came just a game after he passed countryman and friend Jari Kurri on the NHL’s all-time scoring list. Kurri happened to be in attendance at tonight’s game.
Almost seven minutes after Selanne scored his 660th career goal, [Kyle] Palmieri scored his third (second of the season). He stripped the puck from unsuspecting defenseman Brendan Smith and went right to the net, backhanding it top shelf.
“(Most impressive) was his ability to get open,” said coach Bruce Boudreau of Palmieri. “Earlier before he scored, Getzlaf set him up on a couple of real nice chances. He didn’t capitalize on those. He showed those quick hands when he stripped the puck from Smith. It was a great play.”
With a little more than a minute left in the period, Getzlaf took the puck away from Justin Abdelkader, and seconds later backhanded the puck on net. With Palmieri hovering over him, MacDonald sticked the puck out to Bobby Ryan, who banged it home.
Palmieri struck again early in the third, just barely staying onside as he flagged down a Getzlaf pass, then crashing the net before backhanding the puck past MacDonald.
The Ducks went ga-ga about Palmieri’s performance, as the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman noted…
Without the injured Perry and his 34 goals, the Ducks needed someone to step forward to connect with Getzlaf and Ryan, and it was the 21-year-old Palmieri, who has spent a lot of time flying back and forth between Syracuse and Anaheim. He admitted that it has been tough on him this season.
“It was an awesome night for me,” said Palmieri, who stripped the puck from Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith to score unassisted, at 15:49 of the second period for his first goal of the game, making it 2-0.
Said Selanne: “A guy like Kyle, he has to play on the first two lines. There is a reason why he is in the league, why he got drafted. It’s not to be on the third line or the fourth line.”
And the warm fuzzies continue in the Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens’ recap:
Palmieri, the leading goal scorer in the AHL with 32 at the time of his latest recall on Monday, needed no help on his first goal. Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith got a little careless with the puck as he skated back toward the Wings’ net, and Palmieri took it from him, putting a backhand shot past goalie Joey MacDonald.
Palmieri got the final goal when he blew down the right side and went to his backhand again after getting a pass from Getzlaf. Getzlaf said he thought Palmieri’s breakout game was the kind a young player needs to know he can succeed at the highest level.
“I know when I was young, you have one of those games and it feels good,” Getzlaf said. “You feel good about yourself and learn to duplicate it. That’s what I hope Palmy is going to do.”
Teemu Selanne scored his 660th career goal to spark a three-goal second while getting his 1,400th career point. Bobby Ryan also scored and Jonas Hiller stopped 23 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
“All we can do is win as many games as possible,” said Hiller, who posted his fourth shutout of the season in his 30th consecutive start. “You have to take care of it on our end, and hope that’s going to be enough.”
The Ducks’ recent 2-5-1 slump reduced their playoff chances to a sliver, leaving them nine points out of eighth place in the West even after this win. They’re still among the NHL’s best teams in 2012 (20-9-5) after their awful start to the season.
The Red Wings didn’t share the Ducks’ enthusiasm, for obvious reasons:
Joey MacDonald stopped 20 shots for the Red Wings, whose slump hasn’t knocked them out of fourth place in the Western Conference. Still, Detroit is seven points behind St. Louis in the Central Division standings with just 11 games to go. The Red Wings traveled to the West Coast with a chance to sweep their season series with both Southern California clubs, but instead will limp to the Bay Area with two losses by a combined 9-2.
“We made it way too easy on them,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We put ourselves in trouble. We kept making mistakes, and they had way too much time.”
The Red Wings again played without stars Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk, and goalie Jimmy Howard rested one night after looking shaky in a 5-2 loss at Los Angeles in his return from a one-week absence with a groin injury. Veteran forward Todd Bertuzzi returned to Detroit’s lineup after missing four games with a lower-body injury.
Detroit’s power play also went 0 for 3, extending its scoreless streak to 0 for 28 since Feb. 28.
“We didn’t have enough guys working hard enough, with enough good structure,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “You’ve got to give Hiller credit. He made three unbelievable saves tonight, or the game could have been tighter and gone differently. The reality is we are not playing hard enough or with good enough structure, and therefore we don’t seem very skilled.”
Or, as NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke put things in a recap which will serve as our pivot point to focusing primarily upon the Red Wings’ perspectives…
Detroit’s power play moved the puck well but couldn’t penetrate Hiller. The Wings went went 0 for 3 to extend their drought to 0 for 27 over seven games. The Red Wings also got away from their puck-possession game. Anaheim was credited with six takeaways to Detroit’s one.
The Ducks were also credited with something like—and I kept track of this—19 of their 28 hits, so take that stat with some salt.
“They’ve got some talented forwards – they’re going to create some damage if you’re not playing the way you should,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Tonight, I thought we shot ourselves in the foot. We keep making mistakes and they got way too much down in our zone. We have to regroup here and look forward to Saturday (at San Jose). Hopefully tomorrow we’ll take the day off and just think about something completely different … right now we’re not playing as team, and we’re making it too easy on the other team.”
Bobby Ryan made it a three-goal game at 18:55 when he one-timed a shot from the right side to finish off nice work by Getzlaf, Palmieri and Lubomir Visnovsky to create a rush.
Detroit was outshot 13-6 in the second. Its best chances were thwarted by Hiller during its second power play as Hiller stopped Kronwall, Valtteri Filppula and Johan Franzen.
“You’ve got to give Hiller credit,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “He made three unbelievable saves tonight or the game could have been tighter and gone differently. The reality is we are not playing hard enough or with good enough structure and therefore we don’t seem very skilled. We have to look in the mirror and get it fixed. We go through adversity every year and we are getting our fair share right now.”
Babcock cut to the chase while speaking to the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa:
“I hope the people in Michigan are asleep,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said at the start of his postgame news conference.
Babcock said the Wings are not rising above the adversity that has plagued them for a few weeks. They played again Wednesday without both Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk, as they have since Feb. 25. The Wings are 3-7-1 in the last 11 after six consecutive wins a month ago
“I thought we had a good start and did lots of good things,” Babcock said. “We got the puck to (Ducks goaltender Jonas) Hiller’s feet. And then in the second we turned pucks over and we weren’t good enough. We didn’t have enough guys working hard and working enough good structure, and too many turnovers and digging it out of our net.”
One of those turnovers involved Brendan Smith getting his jock strap stolen and hung on the shot clock 15:49 into the 2nd period:
With the puck deep in the Wings’ zone, rookie defenseman Brendan Smith mishandled it and lost it in his skates. Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri was right there. Palmieri simply took it on his stick, made two strides and fired it by MacDonald for his second goal in 12 games this season.
“It was tough,” Smith said. “I felt the puck was bouncing on me all night, but it was bouncing for everyone else, too. So, I just lost the puck and it ended up in the back of the net.”
When a question was put to Zetterberg about the condition of the ice, with the preface that it is the same for both teams, he simply paused and said, “It’s the same for both teams.”
The ice was indeed terrible—it always is in Anaheim—but that doesn’t excuse the Wings’ carelessness with the puck, as the Free Press’s Helene St. James noted:
Carelessness with the puck cost the Wings, as they once again showed they can’t outscore their mistakes.
“I thought we matched them in the first, and then they were getting pucks deep and we had a few turnovers,” Joey MacDonald said after making 20 saves. “It seemed like every turnover ended up in the back of our net.”
The Wings, reeling the longer they go without captain Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk, were coming off a 5-2 loss Tuesday at Los Angeles. They looked determined to amend for that when the game began, using Todd Bertuzzi’s return from a groin injury - which led to Gustav Nyquist being told to go back to the minors - to forge a second scoring line. The Wings had good chances on Jonas Hiller, and Tomas Holmstrom had an especially strong chance during a late power play.
“They’ve got some talented forwards, they’re going to create some damage if you’re not playing the way you should,” Niklas Kronwall said. “I thought we shot ourselves in the foot. We keep making mistakes, and they got way too much time in our zone.”
This quote actually kinda scares me:
“I think, overall, today we did a better game than we did in L.A.,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “We did a few good things, but we can’t get the puck in the net. I think that’s where, if we would have been able to get a goal or two in the first half, it would have been a different game. They capitalized on their chances, and we got nothing.”
Babcock agreed while speaking to St. James about the team’s inability to sustain possession and control of the puck in the offensive zone:
Mike Babcock on how the Wings played, “We haven’t given up many shots, but in saying that, we’re not getting enough. We’re not spending enough time in the O zone. If you turn the puck over coming through the neutral zone, you spend your shift in your own zone and you just work. It’s way more fun to play in the O zone.”
Or you spend the night chasing opposing teams’ players back into your own zone, especially if your forwards and defensemen are “cheating” toward offense.
Joey MacDonald on what the Wings have to do,” We’ve got to bear down. We’re making mistakes and they’re capitalizing on them. Second period, we stopped skating and we were making it hard on ourselves in the defensive zone. We tried to make that extra play, and it wasn’t working.”
Ding ding ding!
DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose even believes, well, I’ll let him tell you:
Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks just may have represented rock-bottom for the Wings, who have dropped the first two games of their current three-game road trip through California and are now mired in a 3-7-1 funk. Detroit concludes its West Coast trip in San Jose on Saturday.
“The reality right now is that as a group we’re not working hard enough, we’re not playing with good enough structure, and therefore we don’t look very skilled,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We have to have a look in the mirror and get it fixed. You go through adversity every year and we’re getting our share right now.”
The Wings did threaten the Ducks before Palmieri’s first goal…
Only down 1-0, the Wings best chance came on a power play when Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall combined on a bang-bang play, but the Wings’ defenseman fired a shot right into Hiller’s midsection.
“I thought I had a pretty good chance when Hank gave it to me through the crease,” Kronwall said. “But other than that we didn’t have a whole lot going on. We have to go back to the basics, get the puck up to the top and shoot the puck. All those cute plays, they’re just not there. We just have to go back to basics.”
Detroit’s power play also went 0 for 3, extending its scoreless streak to 0 for 28 since Feb. 28. But a Brendan Smith mistake quickly gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead when Palmieri picked the rookie’s pocket and shoveled a backhander past MacDonald.
“I don’t know. It was tough. I felt like the puck was bouncing on me all night,” Smith said. “But I still gotta make a play. It’s bouncing on everybody else, too. I lost the puck and it ended up in the back of my net. So it’s tough.”
Detroit, 3-7-1 in its past 11 games, was shut out for only the second time this season, and has scored only 11 goals in its past six games (1-5-0). Nobody is using the absence of stars Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom as an excuse. They believe they are deep enough and talented enough to do better than this.
“We’re not going anywhere the way we’re playing right now,’’ defenseman Nicklas Kronwall said. “At the same time, we feel like we got a good group in here, just have to stay positive and keep believing in ourselves. When we play the way we want, we’re a heck of a hockey team. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’re not going anywhere that way.’‘
The Red Wings have lost three in a row in regulation for the first time since they dropped four consecutive games in regulation and went winless in six (0-5-1) from Oct. 22-Nov. 3. They are 16-20-1 on the road and wrap up a three-game swing through California Saturday in San Jose.
“We have to have a look in the mirror and get it fixed,’’ Babcock said. “You go through adversity every year and we’re getting our share right now.’‘
For the record, Niklas Kronwall said the same things to Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom, in Swedish, that he did in English, except that he also told Nordstrom that he was particularly pissed off about not being able to bury a pass from Henrik Zetterberg past Jonas Hiller, saying that he needed to score there. So the person he expects the most from is himself.
Highlights: If you must watch highlights, at least go with the Red Wings’ website’s version, which involves Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy narrating the carnage.
The Orange County Register posted a clip of Kyle Palmieri speaking about his goals;
And Fox Sports Detroit posted a clip of Wings coach Mike Babcock, goalie Joey MacDonald and defenseman Niklas Kronwall speaking about the game:
The Detroit Free Press posted a 20-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted a 10-image gallery;
Fox Sports Detroit posted a 7-image gallery;
CBS Detroit posted one wallpaper-sized image of Henrik Zetterberg battling with Teemu Selanne off a faceoff scrum. Great action shot.
Yahoo sports posted a 32-image gallery;
NHL.com posted a 44-image gallery;
The Ducks’ website posted a 44-image gallery;
And the Red Wings’ website posted a 43-image gallery.
Shots 24-23 Anaheim. The Wings out-shot Anaheim 9-6 in the 1st period, were out-shot 12-6 in the 2nd and out-shot Anaheim 8-6 in the 3rd period.
The Wings’ power play went 0-for-3 in 6:00 of PP time; The Ducks went 0-for-2 in 4:00 of PP time.
Joey MacDonald stopped 20 of 24 shots he faced; Jonas Hiller stopped 23 of 23.
The 3 stars were Selanne, Hiller and Palmieri.
Faceoffs 24-22 Detroit (Detroit won 52%);
Blocked shots 17-12 Anaheim;
Missed shots 17-14 Anaheim (total attempts 53-53);
Hits 28-26 Anaheim;
Takeaways 6-1 Anaheim.
Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 8-and-7 (53%); Franzen went 5-and-7 (42%); Helm went 5-and-5 (50%); Emmerton went 4-and-2 (67%); Abdelkader went 1-and-1 (50%); Cleary won his only faceoff.
Shots: Zetterberg led the team with 8 shots; Abdelkader had 4; Holmstrom had 3; Kronwall had 2; Cleary, Miller, Stuart, Quincey, Filppula and Franzen had 1.
Blocked attempts: White fired 4 shots into Sharks players; Kronwall fired 4 shots into Sharks players; Hudler and Zetterberg had 2 attempts blocked; Smith, Abdelkader, Bertuzzi, Filppula and Franzen had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Zetterberg missed the net 3 times; Mursak and Helm missed the net 2 times; White, Miller, Stuart, Quincey, Janik, Bertuzzi and Filppula missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Abdelkader, Stuart and Bertuzzi had 3 hits; Miller, Quincey, Franzen and Holmstrom had 2; Smith, Cleary, White, Hudler, Janik, Mursak, Helm, Emmerton and Kronwall had 1.
Giveaways: Bertuzzi had 3 giveaways; Miller had 2; Stuart, Zetterberg and Helm had 1.
Takeaways: Brendan Smith was credited with the Wings’ only takeaway.
Blocked opponent shots: Emmerton and Kronwall blocked 3 shots; Stuart, Quincey and Franzen blocked 2.
Penalties taken: Janik and Bertuzzi took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective -20. Cleary, White, Quincey, Janik and Franzen finished at -2; Smith, Miller, Stuart, Hudler, Mursak, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Emmerton, Filppula and Holmstrom finished at -1; only Abdelkader, Helm and Kronwall were even.
Points: No Red Wing registered a point.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 25:06 played; Stuart played 22:43; White played 21:09;
Quincey played 20:56; Filppula played 20:05; Zetterberg played 19:35;
Franzen played 16:19; Bertuzzi played 15:27; Smith played 15:24;
Hudler played 15:15; Helm played 15:11; Miller played 15:05;
Cleary played 14:50; Janik played 14:15; Abdelkader played 14:02;
Holmstrom played 12:28; Emmerton played 9:49; Mursak played 8:23.
Part II: Red Wings notebooks: If you missed the various stories about Nicklas Lidstrom’s setback in recovering from that damn bone bruise on his left ankle, Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji took note of his difficulties during what was an extremely truncated morning skate…
“It was more sore today when I skated, I was out there for just a few minutes and it was more sore,” Lidstrom said. “I don’t think it’s good when you’re more sore, so they want me to be more cautious about it.”
Lidstrom has had the ankle X-rayed more than once and doctors have said it is not broken, merely a really bad bone bruise.
“It is discouraging, disappointing that I haven’t started feeling better,” Lidstrom said. “It’s going up on two weeks now. It’s frustrating, too, when you want to be out there playing and you can’t.
Although the injury is still considered day-to-day, there is some discussion about taking a whole week off without skating to allow the ankle to heal. For now, Lidstrom won’t skate Thursday and will take it day by day before deciding whether to skate. Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau was surprised that Lidstrom had not had an extended injury like this before in his 20-year NHL career.
“I’m reading today that it’s the most he’s missed in his career,” Boudreau said. “That’s quite an amazing accomplishment. I worry more about the fact they lost last night and good teams very rarely put two bad games together in a row. So I expect them to do a lot better, with or without him.”
And Lidstrom gave the Free Press’s Helene St. James the absolute truth about his injury in stating the following:
Lidstrom did the least on-ice activity he has done all week during the morning skate at Honda Center, forced off by pain that has throbbed in his right ankle since he suffered a deep bone bruise when he was hit by a puck Feb. 25.
“I was more sore—that’s why I was out there for just a few minutes,” he said. “I don’t think it’s good when you’re more sore. So they want me to be more cautious about it.”
Lidstrom said he won’t try to skate today, and there’s talk he might not skate again for a few days. Multiple X-rays have revealed no fracture, but after nearly three weeks, swelling and soreness continue to sideline Lidstrom for what is the longest stretch of his 20-season career.
“It’s just one of those freak accidents that I haven’t really dealt with in the past,” Lidstrom said. “I think that’s the frustrating part. I wish we could put a timetable on it, but we can’t.”
They can’t, regardless of what I noted former Wings trainer John Wharton had to say on Twitter in the quick take—there is no timeline other than the bone’s timeline, and bone bruises heal as predictably as, well, Wharton pointed out, concussions.They take the time they take.
The Wings won’t skate today anyway—they’re getting a mandatory day off—and just as Niklas Kronwall told Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom the same story about the game, Lidstrom told Nordstrom that it’s entirely possible that he could return Monday against Washington or Wednesday against the Rangers, but he doesn’t really know because, as he told Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy, he’s got to be able to push off, turn and get his conditioning back, which means that next Wednesday is probably his earliest return date:
Nordstrom: When might you be able to return to play your position?
Lidstrom: We have a home game against Washington on Monday, but I don’t know if I’ll be ready until then. I have to get at least one real practice in my body before I return to play in a game. The next change after that is on Wednesday, when we play the New York Rangers in New York.
Nordstrom: When will you know more about what’s going on?
Lidstrom: I’ll have a chat with the trainers and physical therapists on Thursday, and then we’ll see what we can come up with.
Part IV: Also of Red Wings-related note: Not surprisingly, USA Today’s 12-person panel have dropped the Wings from third to sixth in their power rankings, and Nicklas Lidstrom and Jimmy Howard have both fallen to 4th among best defenseman’s and best goaltender’s rankings, respectively;
• DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose took note of the fact that a #40 Red Wings jersey fares prominently, relatively speaking, in the HBO movie “Game Change”;
Part V: Truncated player assessments: Speaking of which, I have to get up at 10 and ferry the parent to an appointment so far away from the home office in South Lyon that the trip’s a hundred miles in total, so I’m gonna keep the subjective assessments of the players’ performances brief…
And note right now that you should not expect much from me on Thursday as I got to bed around 7 on Wednesday, will probably hit the pillow after 6 today, and have been popping up at 11 or 12 to do game-day stuff. With the Wings taking practice off today, I’m gonna try to lay low and I hope you are OK with that.
So with stats taken with a grain of salt, and reminding you that I’m just another Wings fan here, here we go, with Outstanding, Satisfactory or Needs Improvement serving as “grades”:
#2 Brendan Smith: Needs improvement. Smith played 15:24, had a blocked attempt, a hit and a takeaway, but his night will be defined by the play that left him at -1, when Nick Palmieri swiped the puck from between his legs, deked through Smith and then undressed MacDonald with equal ease. He’s gonna have some rough patches due to the steep learning curve that comes with playing in the NHL, and this was one of those games for him.
#8 Justin Abdelkader: Satisfactory. The HEMI line was ineffective, but Abdelkader was its best part. He registered 4 shots and 3 hits, went 1-and-1 in the faceoff circle and played 14:02, including a surprising 24 seconds of PP time. He’s one of the few Wings players who’s still bulldozing his way to the net and firing shots on a regular basis—he’s actually had two very strong games in a row—but his grit, grind, spit and vinegar haven’t been rewarded. Yet.
#11 Danny Cleary: Needs improvement. If Cleary took two steps forward in LA, he took three back in Anaheim. He played 14:50, had a shot, a hit, a won faceoff and an earned -2 in 14:50 of ice time, getting blown by on the Ryan and second Palmieri goals. He didn’t look solid at all, and while the Wings are committed to playing him as long as he’s able, this was not a good night for him.
#18 Ian White: Needs improvement. White played 21:09, had 5 attempts that didn’t hit the net, a hit and, like Cleary, earned his -2, failing to tie up Teemu Selanne on the Ducks’ 1-0 goal and not doing much of anything on the second Palmieri goal. A few games ago, he looked like he was all the player that the Wings had hoped he’d be alongside Lidstrom and more even without his regular partner, and over the past two nights, he’s looked like a player who’s tiring, whose mobility is empowering him to make particularly poor decisions with the puck, in terms of pinching and in terms of not trying hard enough to bear down in 50/50 battle situations because he thinks he can skate back and bail himself out, and while his ability to go to the backhand against right-handers helps, he’s getting spun around too easily.
#20 Drew Miller: Satisfactory. Miller had another strong game, going -1 with a shot, 2 hits and 2 giveaways in 15:05 of ice time. He did make some mistakes, but I’d argue that those giveaways were made in the offensive zone. He plays north-south hockey like few others on the roster and he’s still hard as nails in terms of moving the puck up ice and through the neutral zone when defensemen try to stand him up.
#23 Brad Stuart: Satisfactory. Stuart played 22:43, had a shot, 3 hits, a giveaway and 2 blocked shots, and while he got beat a few times too many along the right wing half boards or in scrums for the puck below the goal line for my liking, he’s doing his best. There’s something to be said for the fact that Stuart was playing some pretty dreadful hockey a few weeks ago, and that he’s rebounded while most of his teammates are struggling. -1 like almost everybody else on the team.
#26 Jiri Hudler: Satisfactory. Got caught standing around too much, played 15:15, had only a hit to his credit and just wasn’t as active in terms of being the give-and-go guy for Zetterberg and Filppula to work with, but he showed up and did his best to work through traffic and lots and lots and lots of uncalled picks.
#27 Kyle Quincey: Needs Improvement. Quincey got schooled by Palmieri on his second goal, he was nowhere to be found on Selanne’s goal and he’s generally contributed to Ian White’s struggles. I know that Quincey is still re-learning the system, but he’s also not doing himself any favors by committing the same, “I’ve got wheels, so I’m gonna be okay” mistakes. He played 20:56, had a shot, 3 more attempts, 2 hits, 2 blocked shots, finished at -2 and earned that rating. He’s got to bear down and play simpler, smarter hockey. No more showboating.
#37 Doug Janik: Satisfactory. Played the fewest minutes of any defenseman at 14:13, also finished at -2 but did not have anything to do with the first Palmieri goal or the fact that Bobby Ryan snuck in from the point while he was tying up Palmieri in front. He could have played a with a little more edge but otherwise, he’s doing his job. He had a missed attempt and a hit as well.
#39 Jan Mursak: Satisfactory. Played 8:23, had 2 missed shots, a hit, did get snookered by Getzlaf on the first Palmieri goal, but he’s grinding it out, skating hard, mucking things up and trying his best to use his speed to get the puck out of trouble and generate some sort of pressure on the forecheck.
#40 Henrik Zetterberg: Outstanding. Played 19:35, had 8 shots, a total of 13 attempts, a giveaway, went 8-and-7 in the faceoff circle and played like a beast on a petting zoo’s worth of teammates. He worked his ass off and generated offense all night long, and he wasn’t too shabby in his own zone, either. Zetterberg continues to play balls-out hockey, and I can’t wait till Pavel gets back and feeling like himself, because the Wings are gonna have two of the best forwards in the game skating in full flight.
#43 Darren Helm: Needs improvement. Finished even, played 15:11, had a hit, a giveaway, went 5-and-5 in the dot and…I hate to say this, but he had a mediocre at best game. Yes, he continued to work, work and also work, but he just wasn’t effective at doing his job. This was the first time in a few weeks I’ve seen Helm get pushed around, stripped of the puck and generally neutralized in terms of attempting to use his speed to grind on opposing defensemen or even move the puck up ice. He didn’t commit any glaring mistakes, but man, he was invisible, and you never read anyone saying that about Helm.
#44 Todd Bertuzzi: Needs improvement. He looked rusty as hell, got blown by on the second Palmieri goal, fumbled pucks, earned his 3 giveaways, took a doofy penalty, and while he had 3 hits and 2 shot attempts in 15:27, he just didn’t look like he had his legs under him or his stick in even one of his hands at times. Bert’s supposed to bring size, strength and intimidation to the table and he possessed none of those factors on Wednesday. The Wings need him to return to nuclear deterrent form fast.
#48 Cory Emmerton: Satisfactory. Only played 9:49, went 4-and-2 in the faceoff circle, blocked 3 shots, had a hit, finished at -1 but wasn’t at fault on the goal scored while he was on the ice and by golly, the little runt’s earning his way onto the playoff roster by carrying the puck with courage and showing enthusiasm every night.
#51 Valtteri Filppula: Satisfactory. Fil played 20:05, had a shot and 2 more attempts, and while he skated miles and worked very well with Zetterberg to generate offense…He wasn’t effective. He gets bonus points for remaining undeterred by the ridiculous amount of obstruction and interference that’s more or less designed to slow a player like Filppula down, and for not showing too much of his fanboy self on a night when he played against Selanne and Koivu and in front of Jari Kurri.
#55 Niklas Kronwall: Outstanding. Kronwall played 25:06, was one of three players on the team to finish “even,” had 2 shots, 4 more attempts, a hit and 3 blocked shots. He continues to lead the defense and lead the team from the blueline just as much as Zetterberg is leading the team up front, and I find his after-game accountability to be admirable. What a player he’s grown into…and how lucky we Wings fans are to have him.
#93 Johan Franzen: Satisfactory. I know I’m in the minority here, but to quote Mike Babcock, “I thought he was fine.” Played 16:19, was not at fault on either of the goals he was on the ice for, actually did OK in the faceoff dot, going 5-and-7, had a shot, a blocked attempt, 2 hits and actually blocked 2 Ducks shots on a night when his linemates more or less didn’t show up. He played very hard, very engaged, and while yes, the pucks were bouncing off his stick like golf balls, he ground it out and kept doing his best to give the Wings some sort of second line presence.
#96 Tomas Holmstrom: Finished at -1 in a very limited 12:28 of ice time, but had 3 shots and 2 hits and more or less adored playing on bad ice and being hooked, grabbed, punched and shoved while trying desperately to piss off Jonas Hiller and kick-start the power play along with Zetterberg and Kronwall. He had the Wings’ best chance to score by far in the third period, and he is…Effective. All the damn time.
#35 Joey MacDonald: Needs improvement. I’m honestly not very happy with Joey Mac’s play of late, though I will readily admit that he’s getting no help whatsoever. MacDonald simply isn’t a very big goaltender, he doesn’t play at the top of his crease enough, and with those short thigh rises on his leg pads (hey, I believe in short thigh rises for mobility’s sake myself), his five hole can become a liability, and it has been a liability lately. He didn’t squeeze his legs together fast enough on the Selanne goal, he got deked out of his jock just like Smith did on the first Palmieri goal, was nearly as deep in his crease on the second Palmieri goal and kicked out a strange rebound as Palmieri pulled a drive-by goalie-dumping that wasn’t called on the Ryan goal. If he had managed to get another foot out on even one of those goals, he would have given himself and his teammates more of a chance, but on a night that he needed to be a difference-maker, he backed in like everybody else.
As I prepare for what I hope will be 3.5 hours of sleep...The title? Roughly translated, “You [all] really screwed yourselves over!” Which is what the Wings did in terms of their chances of winning the Central over the past 36 hours.
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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.