The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/07/12 at 12:28 AM ET
I know that the Detroit Red Wings dropped a 3-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers because of the usual reasons that have haunted them over their past half-dozen or so games—puckhandling errors by their goaltender, a power play that went 0-for-4 again, plain old fluke bounces and an inability to rally after surrendering a multiple-goal deficit…
But for f***‘s ake, I’m a Red Wings fan, and while I’m not gonna get into trying to defend Niklas Kronwall’s hit on Jakub Voracek (Review? Definitely. Fine? Maybe. Suspension? Don’t think so), an incredibly depleted Red WIngs team did their director of pro scouting proud by displaying grit, jam and resolve in attempting to rally from a 3-1 deficit—and nearly accomplishing their task despite the absences of Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Todd Bertuzzi, Jimmy Howard, Jakub Kindl and Jonathan Ericsson.
There were so many good things that happened in this game—the injury to Voracek being the obvious exception—from a Wings fan’s perspective. Johan Franzen woke from his mid-winter slumber in a big way, registering 7 shots, a goal and a fantastic performance in terms of his energy and intensity; the Filppula-Zetterberg-Hudler line remains nothing less than superbly dominant, and, perhaps somewhat ironically, Darren Helm and Franzen are feeding off of each other in terms of offensive confidence, enabling Helm to put a scare into opponents with his dekes, dangles and determined efforts to charge through his opponents; while Brendan Smith got caught flat-footed a few times, he continued to play excellent; Doug Janik acquitted himself well, Kyle Quincey looks like he belongs, Brad Stuart rebounded from a poor performance on Sunday, Niklas Kronwall was excellent, Ian White was great, mistakes included, you can say the same for Joey MacDonald, that mish-mash line of Abdelkader, Holmstrom and Cleary was grittier than synthetic diamond-encrusted sandpaper and Cory Emmerton’s starting to carry his linemates in the ever-dangerous Jan Mursak and call-up Chris Conner.
I’m frustrated as hell with the result. Because the Wings don’t play again until Friday, and because the Blues won tonight, the Wings will probably be 4 points behind St. Louis, six behind Vancouver and maybe only 4 points ahead of the Predators going into those back-to-backs against LA at the Joe Friday and Nashville in a rink they can’t win in very regularly on Saturday…
But the Wings will also probably have at least two of Bertuzzi, Howard and Lidstrom back for those games, if not Kindl as well, and Datsyuk should be back sometime next week.
Minus Bertuzzi’s size and strength and Datsyuk’s ability to battle through all of those 6’2”-plus forwards and defensemen the Flyers possessed, minus Lidstrom’s puckhandling and perhaps minus the confidence which Howard’s presence gives the team, the Wings were out-muscled, out-shoved, out-clutched-and-grabbed (yeah, the Wings got away with more than a few of their own, but I’m amazed at the level of football tackles, wrestling and obstruction that are let go in an NHL where the crackdown has fallen flat and Eastern Conference rules make the West look like a no-checking league) and plain old out-powered by the Flyers…
And yes, the Wings made some utterly stupid mistakes which may have cost the the game, that I cannot deny…
But Detroit out-shot Philly 21-6 in the 3rd and 37-14 in the 2nd and 3rd periods, they received outstanding performances from the vast majority of their players, and the Talbot goal was just bizarre—a bad bounce of bad bounces.
I’ve gotta take off the objective blogger hat and wear the one with the old Detroit Cougars “D” on it and applaud a team that’s on a two-game losing streak and has lost 5 of their last 7 games—which is completely unacceptable—and applaud them for a helluvan effort in Philly.
In terms of the game’s narrative, obviously, the Wings started flat-footed, registering only 2 shots, and they didn’t register a shot for a somewhat silly 15-or-so minutes between their 2nd shot and the 2nd period, but the second one was a beauty.
Off a fantastic transition play from White and Quincey, Jiri Hudler chugged up the gut, gave the puck to Valtteri Filppula, who was going up ice with both Hudler and a smartly-pinching Kyle Quincey on the left side, and as Filppula deked and dangled at the very top of the faceoff circle, Henrik Zetterberg skated off the bench, gave Filppula a holler, received Filppula’s drop pass and roofed a backhander over Bryzgalov. 4 minutes in, the Wings had the lead.
Ten minutes later, Johan Franzen, Justin Abdelkader couldn’t get the puck in deep, and as the Wings made a line change, Brendan Smith tried to give the puck to Jan Mursak as he came onto the ice, and instead, Maxime Talbot swiped the puck at center, dumped it in, and as it slid past Doug Janik, Joey MacDonald thought he’d set it up for Janik on a tee…But instead, he left the puck behind the net as Janik nearly pulled a groin trying to get to the puck, and instead, Jakub Voracek stole the puck, wrapped around the net and put the puck off MacDonald’s right leg as he tried to regain his situational awareness. 13:10 in, it was 1-1.
Then things got worse, much worse, as the Red Wings set up in deep on the cycle, and with Stuart and Kronwall manning the points and Hudler, Filppula and Zetterberg trying to move the puck around, and instead, Braydon Coburn fluttered a clearing pass over Kronwall, and a Flyers team that was trying to send its players on breakaways all period long found Claude Giroux roaring up ice. He blew past Kronwall, roared in on MacDonald and roofed a deke-dangle backhand over MacDonald. With 1:49 left in the 1st, the Flyers went up 2-1.
A little under eight minutes into the second, the Kronwall hit happened, and when the Flyers took a pair of doofy penalties as Zack Rinaldo tried to fight anyone who would listen at 8:01, and at 13:46, Scott Hartnell attempted to do the same damn thing, and instead of scoring on those power plays, and just after Valtteri Filppula and Jaromir Jagr collided in a hit which would send Jagr off and out of the game, the Wings got caught flat-footed at the blueline again. Kronwall made a dumb pass to Ian White at the line as Kronwall was stick-checked (the Wings should have dumped the puck in deep), White coughed the puck up Giroux, and after MacDondald stopped Giroux but dumped out a juicy breakaway rebound, Maxime Talbot fired the puck into an open net with 5:50 left in the 2nd.
The Wings obviously kicked the afterburners in after that, and while it took ‘em a while to start generating traffic, off another doofy penalty, this time by Hartnell for literally tugging MacDonald down by the back of his jersey, the Wings held the puck in on the power play, generated chances, cycled it around the back boards, and as Hartnell came out of the penalty box, the Wings’ dump-in was played poorly by Ilya Bryzgalov, Kyle Quincey held it in, slid it to Brendan Smith, and with Tomas Holmstrom in front, Smith passed the puck to Johan Franzen, who blazed toward the net and roofed the puck over Bryzgalov.
The Wings couldn’t close the deal between Franzen’s goal at the 8:47 mark of the 3rd and the end of the game, but by Gord, they tried, and while the Wings’ mistakes and inept power play doomed them, I cannot give them enough credit for trying and working their asses off in the second and especially third periods.
Update: Here are the game’s highlights from the Wings’ website:
Shots 39-23 Red Wings. The Wings were out-shot 9-2 in the 1st period, but out-shot Philadelphia 16-8 in the 2nd period and out-shot them 21-6 in the 3rd.
The Wings’ power play went 0-for-4 in 8:00 of PP time and gave up a shorthanded goal; the Flyers’ PP went 0-for-2 in 4:00 of PP time.
Joey MacDonald stopped 20 of the 23 shots he faced; Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 37 of the 39 shots he faced.
The 3 stars, per the Philadelphia Daily News’s Frank Seravalli, were Maxime Talbot, Claude Giroux and Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Wings’ goals: Zetterberg (16) from Filppula (33) and Hudler (20);
Franzen (25) from Smith (3) and Quincey (19).
Faceoffs 36-19 Detroit (Detroit won 65%);
Blocked shots 24-10 Philadelphia;
Missed shots 15-14 Detroit (total attempts 78-47 Detroit);
Hits 25-20 Philadelphia;
Giveaways 11-7 Philadelphia;
Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 14-and-10 (58%); Helm went 10-and-4 (71%); Abdelkader went 6-and-3 (67%); Emmerton went 3-and-1 (75%); Filppula went 2-and-0 (100%); Franzen went 1-and-1 (50%).
Shots: Franzen led the Wings with 7 shots; Zetterberg had 4; Hudler, Emmerton and Kronwall had 3; Cleary, Miller, Quincey, Mursak, Conner, Helm, Filppula and Holmstrom had 2; Smith, Abdelkader and Stuart had 1.
Blocked attempts: The Flyers blocked 4 shot attempts by Ian White; Kronwall, Franzen and Quincey had 3 attempts blocked; Stuart and Zetterberg had 2 attempts blocked; Smith, Cleary, Hudler, Janik, Conner, Helm and Franzen had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Abdelkader missed the net 4 times; Franzen missed the net 3 times; Quincey and Kronwall missed the net 2 times; Stuart, Janik, Zetterberg and Helm missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Abdelkader and Stuart had 4 hits; Franzen had 3; Conner and Kronwall had 2; White, Stuart, Janik, Helm and Holmstrom had 1.
Giveaways: Helm had 2 giveaways; Smith, Stuart, Hudler, Kronwall and MacDonald had 1.
Takeaways: Franzen had 2 takeaways; Abdelkader, Miller and Helm had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Smith and Quincey blocked 2 shots; Cleary, White, Stuart, Janik, Emmerton and Kronwall blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Helm and Kronwall were tagged with minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective -5. Abdelkader, Miller, Stuart, Janik, Mursak, Emmerton and Filppula were -1; Hudler and Franzen were +1; Quincey was +2.
Points: Franzen and Zetterberg scored goals; Hudler, Quincey and Filppula had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 24:43 played; White played 22:49; Quincey played 21:34;
Stuart played 20:56; Filppula played 20:32; Zetterberg played 19:50;
Franzen played 18:24; Hudler played 17:50; Smith played 16:18;
Cleary played 16:03; Miller played 15:31; Holmstrom played 15:15;
Helm played 14:51; Janik played 13:51; Abdelkader played 12:51;
Emmerton played 9:11; Mursak played 8:30; Conner played 8:23.
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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.