The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/11/11 at 10:33 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings played nearly letter-perfect hockey in their 7-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets…Save the whole getting scored on on the first shift thing. For a team that was supposed to be exhausted after a late flight into Detroit, it took the Jets all of 35 seconds to score against Pavel Datsyuk’s line and the Lidstrom-White pairing, with a little help from a Bryan Little whiffleball that squeaked through Jimmy Howard’s legs, and the game was on.
Or so the Jets thought, as Kyle Wellwood told the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff:
“Obviously we wanted to have a great start, and we ended up getting the first goal, so we were pretty excited about ourselves,” Wellwood said. “They really turned up their game, and we weren’t able to play at their level.”
After that, as WinnipegJets.com’s Eric Postma notes, the Wings’ ruffled feathers (trust me, by next year at this time, we’ll all have run out of Wings-Jets flight and dogfight metaphors, so indulge me for a moment) shook the frost off and thrust a goal-scoring explosion down upon the Jets:
The Jets started the scoring, showing off some great passing through the neutral zone. Dustin Byfuglien, Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler executed the tic-tac-toe and finally fed Bryan Little who streaked into the Red Wings zone and backhanded the puck past Jimmy Howard. The goal came only 35 seconds into the game and gave the Jets an early 1-0 lead.
Detroit tied the game in the first period when Johan Franzen flipped the puck in front of the net to Todd Bertuzzi who fired the puck past Ondrej Pavelec. The Red Wing’s first goal came at 6:47 into the first.
Henrik Zetterberg grabbed the lead for the Red Wings with just over five minutes remaining in the opening period. A drop pass by Valtteri Filppula allowed Zetterberg to step into his shot and wire it past Ondrej Pavelec.
Jiri Hudler scored twice for the Red Wings, the only player with two goals. In total 14 Detroit players were on the score sheet, with six players registering two points each. It was a big second period that proved to be the difference in the game. The Jets came out flat in the middle frame, allowing four goals.
Special teams didn’t make any impact on the scoreboard, as all goals scored came at even strength. The Jets went to the man advantage twice, but were unable to convert, while the Red Wings went 0-for-3 on the powerplay.
Jiri Hudler scored his second goal of the night just over one minute into the third period. After turnover in the Jets zone, Hudler found the puck on his stick and fired home his second of the night 1:12 into the final period. The Hudler goal was enough to make Jets head coach Claude Noel make a change in net, pulling Ondrej Pavelec in favour of Chris Mason.
That’s the “just the facts” version of events. In some Winnipeg-like weather, with Joe Louis Arena’s ice slightly goopy as Joe Louis Arena, all of maybe seven hundred feet north of the Detroit River, tried to cope with a 12-degree temperature hugging the dewpoint, the Wings chose to turn on the afterburners, and, as Bryan Little told the Winnipeg Sun’s Kirk Penton, a Jets team that had beaten both the unbeatable Bruins and then the more vulnerable Hurricanes got schooled by Motown’s finest:
“We learned what it’s like to play against one of the best teams in the league tonight, and so far they’ve given us the best game,” Little said. “They’ve been the toughest team we played. They’re smart with the puck, and they hang on to it, and they make the easy plays. We can learn a lot from just watching them.”
Finally, the mistakes that were not there during Winnipeg’s four-game winning streak that preceded Saturday’s blowout loss reared their ugly heads. On Detroit’s second goal, the Jets got caught on a terrible line change. In addition, it was a shot Ondrej Pavelec should have stopped. On Detroit’s seventh goal early in the third, defenceman Dustin Byfuglien served up a free pizza — as Noel likes to call them — when his no-look pass attempt from his own corner ended up on the stick of Jiri Hudler, who passed it to Henrik Zetterberg, who then passed it back to Hudler, who notched his second of the game. That was the end of Pavelec’s night, who got the hook in favour of Chris Mason.
And on Detroit’s third and fifth goals, their scorers jumped off the bench and creeped into the offensive zone unnoticed. Hudler and Valteri Filppula were the benefactors of superb passes and made no mistakes burying the pucks in the top right-hand corner.
No wonder [Jets coach Claude] Noel had a look on his face at the start of the third period that resembled a combination of frustration, anger and indigestion.
“There’s no excuses,” Noel said. “You can sit and paint this thing up as travel and all that stuff, but our job is to find ways to win games. That’s our job.”
Noel wasn’t planning to watch the game a second time in advance of their home game on Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. He watched a bit of film between periods on Saturday night, and he didn’t like it.
“It was awful,” he said. “And what it was was the mental breakdowns. And sometimes that’s directly related to certain things, but that’s the disappointing part, is the mental breakdowns.”
Noel continued while speaking to the Winnipeg Free Press’s Tim Campbell:
“I don’t know if I need to see it twice — I’ve seen it,” Noel said after the shellacking abruptly halted the Jets’ four-game winning streak. “I’ll sit on the plane and try to decide where we go next, how we’ll deal with this. You want to do the right thing. I’m not sure how I’ll make that assessment. I’ve seen some it between periods. It was awful. What it was was the mental breakdowns. And sometimes that’s directly related to certain things. That’s the disappointing part, the mental breakdowns. We were defending well up to this point.”
A commitment to defending is one of the main reasons the Jets have climbed above the .500 mark, now at 13-12-4. It was a limited category for the Jets against the 18-9-1 Wings, who have now won nine in a row at home.
“Even the first period we were OK,” Noel lamented. “I didn’t like the way we weren’t protecting inside the dots but we still got out of it 2-1.
Saturday, matters didn’t appear that dire after the first period, though Detroit’s go-ahead goal late in the period was a disaster of a combination — a terrible line change matched up with a Henrik Zetterberg shot that went right underneath Pavelec
Defenders were poor at picking up Detroit threats around Pavelec and the Wings, with their heady attack, scored a pair of second-period goals when changing players skated right into the play and had clear, in-alone plays at Pavelec while his teammates just weren’t looking. Jiri Hudler had the first of those goals at 4:03, when the only one who took notice of him was teammate Johan Franzen. Forty seconds later little Chris Conner got credit for a pass that went off defenceman Randy Jones’ skate and that was that.
“I think the biggest thing was they made it 3-1, the wind certainly came out of our sails,” Noel said. “You could certainly feel the emotional level, for me, really left us quickly. When they made it 4-1 (40 seconds later), it was clear we didn’t have a lot there in the game. It was unfortunate, because you try to figure out ways to get this thing back on your side and we were empty. That was a concern.”
“It’s a 60-minute game,” he said. “What triggers do you have when things are close? Are you still there? The third goal was a disappointment, then boom, they turned around and scored the fourth goal in 40 seconds. That defined the game for me.”
Ondrej Pavelec talked to Campbell about more or less getting picked apart by the Wings’ offensive machine…
“We played against a great hockey team,” Pavelec said after his record dropped to 10-10-4 on the season. “They don’t need a lot of scoring chances to score a goal. They were all over the place. And in our zone, they did whatever they wanted. We looked tired. We played a tough game last night and we got here at 4 o’clock. It’s not an excuse, but it’s fact. We have to forget about this and look forward. We have a lot of games coming and we’ve got to be ready for the next one.”
As Todd Bertuzzi told FSD’s Trevor Thompson after the first period, given the Wings’ travel schedule, Detroit had little sympathy for the Jets, and it showed:
It could be argued that Pavelec was very suspect on Detroit’s second goal, one that put the home team ahead to stay late in the first period. To that point, the Jets weren’t being rag-dolled and it was still 1-1, but when the fourth line chipped the puck to the neutral zone and got off quickly after being denied a change on a previous icing call, they all went at once and that left the Wings a big hole on the far side of the ice, one which Henrik Zetterberg exploited.
Zetterberg’s shot went right under Pavelec’s left pad, not a great spot, but as captain Andrew Ladd said, the entire play was something of a disaster and, “To give Zetterberg a slapshot, a one-timer, from the top of the circle, that’s a pretty dangerous thing.”
Pavelec also said that Detroit’s second period was too much for the visitors, including a pair of goals that saw skaters come directly off the bench and undetected to the slot to score.
“The point is, (on the first one) they had a two-on-one, and (Pavel) Datsyuk missed the net,” Pavelec said. “And three seconds later, they had another one. They move very well in the offensive zone. That’s a pretty good team to handle. We didn’t deserve to win. They were way better the whole game. Now we’re going home and we have to be ready for the next one.”
If you’re wondering why Noel left Pavelec in for seven goals, here’s his rationale for doing so, as noted by the Winnipeg Sun’s Kirk Penton...
“Pavs battled to try and get things going,” Noel said. “They had some great shots in key areas. We didn’t really help him a lot. He battled hard. At the start of the third I thought OK, that’s enough. He’s done his part to try to keep this thing above ground, and there was no sense in continuing down that road.”
And while some Jets chose to simply shake their heads at the shellacking…
“If anything, it puts us back to reality,” winger Chris Thorburn said. “We were flying high there for a bit. We were playing some great hockey. To come in and use this as a measuring stick against a top-notch team in the league, it shows that we have some work to do, and it just shows we have to be prepared night in and night out.”
Bryan Little proved himself to be very wise in understanding why the Wings managed to out-class a team still playing Eastern Conference hockey:
“Overall we worked hard. I just think we didn’t work very smart,” Little said. “They were patient, and it seemed like we were chasing them around for half the game.”
Noel, meanwhile, said his squad simply didn’t execute its game plan.
“The problem was we gave them the middle of the ice in the first period way too much,” he said. “We allowed them to play east and west as much as they wanted to, from the D zone through the neutral zone. We didn’t defend very well. We were puck watching in our D zone. We thought we were a magnet, leaving open sides wide open, and they just capitalized. We didn’t play well, what can you say? It was poor.”
Little definitely agreed with his coach while speaking to NHL.com’s Brian Hedger:
“Getting a goal first shift, you couldn’t ask for a better start but it was all downhill from there,” Little said. “We learned what it’s like to play against one of the best teams in the League. So far, they’ve given us the best game, I think. They’ve been the toughest team we’ve played.”
What made the Wings so tough, aside from some tired legs for the Jets?
“Puck possession is a big thing,” Little said. “Our faceoffs weren’t great and it just seemed like they were hanging onto the puck a lot longer. We got caught watching them too much. We had a bit too much respect for them. It just felt like we were on the penalty kill for half the game.”
Ditto, said Pavelec, whose iteration of his previous comment provided the same illustration of evolution that the Wings’ willingness to hold onto the puck and try again when the first “look” doesn’t work out revealed itself on the ice:
“It seemed like everybody in the offensive zone (for Detroit) was open,” said Pavelec, who was finally pulled after Hudler scored his second to make it 7-1 at 1:12 of the third. “They move very well in the zone. They handle the puck really well. Sometimes they had scoring chances and would handle the puck, make a pass and get better scoring chances. They’re pretty smart players and if you play against those teams you have to play your best. We didn’t and we didn’t deserve to win. It’s very simple.”
The Wings, on the other hand, simply felt that it was necessary to make hay with home sunshine available:
“The first 30 seconds was a tough start, but then we took it over and played pretty good hockey,” said Wings forward Jiri Hudler, who scored a pair of goals and has now scored in three straight games. “We got on our horse. We knew they played (Friday night) and they got here really, really late … actually this morning almost. We just kept talking about how we had to keep putting pressure on their defense) and be really physical.”
Detroit (18-9-1) won for the 12th time in 15 home games and dropped the Jets’ road record to 4-8-4—including 0-3-0 against the Central Division. The Wings, who are just 6-7-0 on the road themselves, showed in the last two games how tough they can be when they’re dominating puck possession – which they’ve done in bulk amounts the past two games.
The Winnipeg Sun’s Kirk Penton summarized the game thusly...
No team in the league finds it easy to play on back-to-back nights – the Boston Bruins proved that this week when they came to Winnipeg – but the Jets were embarrassingly bad.
Jets coach Claude Noel said this week adversity was just around the corner for his team if they let their guard down. That adversity came in the form of a team wearing red and white, which showed the Jets how hard it is to compete with the elite teams night in and night out.
It was the first time since opening night that the Jets were completely outclassed by an opponent and there has to be some understanding, given the travel SNAFU that caused them to get into their Detroit hotel at 4:30 a.m. on game day, but it was not an encouraging result in any way.
While pointing out some subtler trends…
The Jets were the second best team for 59 minutes Saturday night and played like a frustrated team after falling behind, taking silly penalties and making lazy plays that made it easy on the Red Wings. A big knock on the Atlanta Thrashers last year was that they quit when they got down and that habit crept back in Saturday night
Far too many of the Jets mailed it in Saturday night and D Dustin Byfuglien looked like one of the biggest offenders. But he also looked like he was hurting after a fall in the first period, and you have to at least give him credit for toughing it out and finishing the game.
The Jets never figured out how to deal with the late Red Wings’ player coming on the rush. Detroit made it look easy on several occasions
One could argue that Byfuglien and Evander Kane in particular were a little too enthusiastic physically, and that doing so burned a team all too willing to abandon its positions and/or defensive “lane” coverage to go after the supposedly smaller, slower, older and vulnerable Wings, but that’s a story for next year, when big Buff becomes a regular annoyance again…
And as Winnipeg Free Press’s Tim Campbell noted that the Wings did indeed plan on pouncing on the Jets’ fatigue...
Detroit had this game 5-1 by the halfway mark, making much of the rest of the night garbage time. The reality is that Winnipeg played at home on Friday night and got into their Detroit hotel beds about 4 a.m. ET. Wings coach Mike Babcock cited that as an opportunity for his team before the game. Noel didn’t like it after the game and refused the excuse, but it was reality.
The Associated Press’s recap allows us to shift perspective to the Wings’ side of the story by confirming as much (and given the fact that the Wings play six games over the course of ten nights, starting on Tuesday in Pittsburgh—and five of them are on the road—you can’t blame him):
“It was a tough turnaround for them,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “We knew if we could play with some energy that we’d eventually wear them out and in the end, we got lots of opportunity.”
Valtteri Filppula, Todd Bertuzzi and Henrik Zetterberg each had a goal and an assist, and Chris Conner, Drew Miller also scored for the Red Wings. Johan Franzen and Pavel Datsyuk each had two assists, and Jimmy Howard made 29 saves.
“They were quick there on that first shift. They go behind us and caught us off guard,” Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said.” Once we got the tempo up we were able to get some goals on them. You could tell they were playing the second game of a back-to-back.”
Bertuzzi tied it at the 6:47 mark with his third goal. He put in a one-timer from Pavelec’s left.
“We kept staying on them and did the right things,” Bertuzzi said.
The Wings did get a little lucky in one aspect:
Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall took a puck to the face off the stick of Andrew Ladd in the middle of the second period. Kronwall had a bloody mouth and he went to the locker room. He was back on the bench before the end of the period after getting six stitches, three on the bridge of his nose and three in the mouth area.
Kronwall was smiling, no less, and given how well he and Steinbach, Manitoba’s Ian White (more on that later) have stepped into the void created by Brian Rafalski’s departure, the Wings dodged a bit of a bullet in not losing Kronwall for any length of time—and while it may not have helped him given that the puck rode up Kronwall’s own stick and hit in him the mouth, the fact that Kronwall wears his visor so ridiculously tilted upward that it doesn’t even start protecting him until eyebrow level when his head up doesn’t help, either…
But even when the Wings inevitably slowed slightly in the 3rd period and allowed the Jets to fire 12 shots on Jimmy Howard, they were all single, one-and-done scoring opportunities that Howard either gobbled up or his defense all but invariably corralled and fired out of trouble.
The start most certainly wasn’t pretty, as Babcock told the Free Press’s George Sipple...
“We got three or four guys caught in the neutral zone,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said of Winnipeg’s goal. “They made a play. Howie obviously didn’t like that goal he gave up, so he shut the door from then on.”
As one might expect from a Red Wings team that had Kris Draper, Rafalski and Chris Osgood on the bench, or this year, a team where Kronwall, Johan Franzen and even Valtteri Filppula, Jimmy Howard and Jiri Hudler are beginning to chirp up on a more regular basis than Tomas Holmstrom did while miked up by Fox Sports Detroit (something tells me that most of the audio they got from Homer was either unintelligible or swearing), Hudler told the Grand Rapids Press’s Josh Arnold that the Wings simply shrugged off the Little goal, settled down and got back to work:
“I thought we recovered pretty good,” said center Jiri Hudler, who scored twice in the victory. “We know they played last night and we just talked about how we were going to put pressure on their D.”
Hudler, who has now scored six goals this season, said he’s having fun these days. He’s healthy, playing on a talented line with Zetterberg and Filppula and has found his scoring touch. But confidence has never been an issue.
“If you’re going to play in this league, you have to have confidence,” he said. “You’ve got to feel good about yourself to get out there and do things right.”
Just as the Jets looked forward, so did coach Babcock, eying a team whose play on Saturday should serve as something of a road blueprint
Detroit continues to roll at home, moving to 12-2-1 at Joe Louis this season. Babcock said he can’t explain why his team is different on familiar ice, but has liked what he sees. Now, he needs to see it carry over to how his team plays outside Detroit, where the Red Wings are 6-7.
“We play with energy, we forecheck and we get on top of people,” Babcock said. “We have to do the same on the road. But we think we have a good hockey club and we think we’re a team that’s getting better. If you keep getting better, you have a chance.”
Babcock liked what he saw from Hudler, Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg (2 goals, 1 goal and 1 assist, and 1 goal and 1 assist, respectively), as he told the Free Press’s George Sipple:
“I think he’s playing real well,” Babcock said of Hudler. “I think him, Z and Fil were dominant line here tonight. They seem to have a dimension of skill and ability to hold on to the puck. They’re all playing well, and they’re all skating better, too.”
Pavel Datsyuk, back after missing the third period Thursday with a lower-body injury, had two assists, as did Johan Franzen. Datsyuk may have had the play of the night, firing a backhand pass from the right boards across to Filppula, who scored his 10th goal of the season at 9:31 of the second to give the Wings a 5-1 cushion.
“Not a lot of guys make those passes,” Filppula said. “But he definitely can. It was a really nice pass.”
Datsyuk said Filppula was yelling for him to pass the puck.
“Me? No,” Filppula said. “No. If he sees you, he sees you. If not, then it’s probably some other good play.”
Chris Conner scored his first goal as a Wing at 4:43 of the second, 40 seconds after Hudler scored his first goal. Drew Miller scored the Wings’ fourth goal of the second to take a 6-1 lead at 12:41. Fourteen Wings chipped in at least one point.
“You do good things, good things will happen to you,” Babcock said of having so many players contribute offensively. “Keep doing the little things right, commit to the details, and it will all work out.”
Perhaps the only post-game spat involved Filppula and Datsyuk’s different stories as to who yelled at whom, as noted by the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa...
After the game, Datsyuk said that he easily located Filppula because “I saw Fil and he yelled at me like he had an empty net.
“When Fil yells, it is better to pass at him than not to pass,” Datsyuk said, with a smile and a shrug.
Shaking his head at Datsyuk’s ability, Filppula laughed and said he did not call for the puck.
“Me?” he said, in disbelief. “No. If he sees you, he sees you and you have to be ready. That’s an unbelievable pass. Not a lot of guys can make that pass, but he’s definitely one.”
Otherwise, the Wings’ mutual admiration society prevailed, as noted by DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose...
Filppula’s 10th goal of the season came in a similar fashion as Hudler’s first. As Pavel Datsyuk drove the right wing along the half wall drawing the Jets’ defense with him, the Wings’ center whistled a hard backhand pass to Filppula in the slot. And Filppula made no mistake, firing a one-timer high on Pavelec that gave the Wings a 5-1 lead.
“It’s like he has eyes in the back of him,” Filppula said of Datsyuk’s play. “For sure, he can make real nice plays and he had a really good sense of where everybody is so that’s one of his best things.”
It was a dominating performance by the Wings, who had 14 different skaters with points, including six guys – Datsyuk, Hudler, Zetterberg, Filppula, Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi – with two-points each. And that’s coming off of Thursday’s 5-2 win against Phoenix where 10 different skaters had points.
The Wings capped the scoring with the lone third-period goal when Hudler made another pretty play. This time he intercepted a pass by Dustin Byfuglein, which was intended for Kyle Wellwood deep in the Jets’ zone. Hudler stepped in front of the pass and swiftly sent it to Zetterberg in the slot, and passed it quickly back to Hudler, who buried his second goal of the game.
“He’s a great player and he’s been playing real well,” said Filppula, referring to Hudler. “Hank in the middle played really well, gave him a real nice pass today for a goal as well. But it’s good. It’s fun to play with those guys.”
And the Wings received a fine contribution from Westland native and mini-mite Chris Conner, too, as noted by the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa:
In the second period, 40 seconds after the Wings had made it a 3-1 game, and thanks to his linemates, Danny Cleary and Darren Helm, Conner found himself on the right wing, deep in the Jets zone, with the puck on his stick. His shot bounced off the shaft of Mark Flood’s stick and continued traveling toward the net. But, before it got there, it hit the skate blade of the other Jets defenseman, Randy Jones, and skittered by a hapless Ondrej Pavelec into the goal.
It was Conner’s first goal as a Red Wing, after tallying seven in 60 games for Pittsburgh last season and starting this one in Grand Rapids.
“It felt good,” Conner said. “Obviously, it wasn’t the prettiest one. But, you know what? It counts. Helmer made a great play coming out of the zone and Clears made a good play coming to me in the zone, and good things happen when you try to get it on net,” he said, smiling the mostly toothless smile of a resolute small man, in a tough game.
Cleary may not be playing at 100%, literally or figuratively, but his grinding and work ethic remain strong, and, as a whole, the Wings finished at an astonishing collective +29 while receiving point contributions from 14 of their 18 skaters.
I’ll let the captain and “the magic man” take things home, per Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji:
Not too many Red Wings were left off the scoresheet Saturday. Only Jakub Kindl, Justin Abdelkader, Jonathan Ericsson and Tomas Holmstrom did not register a point.
“It’s important to get scoring from a lot of guys, to have that depth so you’re not relying on those top two lines to have to do it all the time,” captain Nick Lidstrom said. “We’ve got a lot of players chipping in and not relying on Hank or Pav to do it all for us. It’s great for the team confidence.”
Of course, not everyone is thinking about the team’s success at home.
“I’m thinking about holiday. You’re talking about win,” Datsyuk said. “Sooner or later it’s going to be holiday time and snow coming. I miss snow.”
Highlights: TSN posted a 1:30 highlight clip;
The CBC posted a 1:11 highlight clip;
And NHL.com’s highlight clip is narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond:
Post-game: The CBC posted a spotlight clip regarding one Pavel Datsyuk, who has a thing for no-look passes:
Fox Sports Detroit posted clips of Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond’s takes on the game…
As well as Jiri Hudler and Drew Miller’s post-game comments:
And the Red Wings’ website posted coach Mike Babcock’s post-game presser:
Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 9-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted a 22-image gallery;
NHL.com posted a 23-image gallery;
Shots 30-29 Winnipeg overall. The Wings out-shot the Jets 12-9 in the 1st, out-shot the Jets 13-9 in the 2nd and were out-shot 12-4 in the 3rd.
The Wings went 0 for 3 in 4:17 of PP time; the Jets went 0 for 2 in 2:17 of PP time.
Howard stopped 29 of 30 shots; Pavelec stopped 19 of 26 and Mason stopped 3.
The 3 stars, per the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff, were Johan Franzen, Jiri Hudler and Valtteri Filppula.
The Wings’ goals: Bertuzzi (3) from Franzen (14) and Lidstrom (14);
Zetterberg (6) from Filppula (15) and Kronwall (6);
Hudler (5) from Franzen (15) and Datsyuk (19);
Conner (1) from Cleary (5) and Helm (3);
Filppula (10) from Datsyuk (20) and White (9);
Miller (3) from Stuart (2) and Bertuzzi (7);
Hudler (6) from Zetterberg (13).
Faceoffs 34-21 Detroit (Wings won 62%);
Blocked shots 12-12;
Missed shots 16-5 Detroit (total attempts 56-47 Detroit);
hits 29-20 Winnipeg;
Giveaways 13-4 Detroit;
Takeaways 7-4 Detroit.
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 10-and-6 (63%); Zetterberg went 9-and-5 (64%); Abdelkader went 8-and-4 (67%); Helm went 7-and-3 (70%); Filppula went 0-and-2; Franzen went 0-and-1.
Shots: Lidstrom led the Wings with 4 shots; Cleary, Hudler, Helm and Franzen had 3 shots; White, Miller, Zetterberg, Filppula and Kronwall had 2; Stuart, Conner and Bertuzzi had 1.
Blocked attempts: White fired 3 shots into Jets players; Helm and Franzen had 2 shot attempts blocked; Cleary, Stuart, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Kronwall had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Filppula missed the net 3 times; White and Hudler missed the net 2 times; Kindl, Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Helm, Bertuzzi, Kronwall, Franzen and Holmstrom missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Kindl led the team with 4 hits; Abdelkader had 3; Stuart, Bertuzzi and Kronwall had 2; Lidstrom, Cleary, Miller, Conner, Helm, Ericsson and Franzen had 1.
Giveaways: White and Howard had 3 giveaways; Cleary had 2; Kindl, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Kronwall and Holmstrom had 1.
Takeaways: Kindl had 2 takeaways; White, Hudler, Filppula, Ericsson and Kronwall had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Miller blocked 3 Jets shots; Franzen blocked 2; Kindl, Abdelkader, Stuart, Hudler, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Kronwall blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Bertuzzi and Ericsson took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a stunning collective +29. Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Hudler, Filppula and Ericsson finished at +3; White, Stuart, Zetterberg and Kronwall had 2; Cleary, Miller, Conner, Helm, Bertuzzi and Franzen finished at +1; only Kindl, Abdelkader and Holmstrom finished even.
Points: Hudler had 2 goals; Datsyuk, Kronwall and Franzen had 2 assists; Zetterberg had a goal and an assist, as did Filppula and Bertuzzi; Conner and Miller scored goals; Lidstrom, Cleary, White, Stuart, Helm and Kronwall had assists.
Ice time: Lidstrom led the team with 22:01 played; White played 20:32; Ericsson played 20:05;
Stuart played 19:12; Kronwall played 18:42; Kindl played 18:19;
Zetterberg played 17:45; Filppula played 17:30; Datsyuk played 16:00;
Franzen played 15:54; Hudler played 15:32; Cleary played 15:00;
Holmstrom played 14:14; Helm played 14:03; Bertuzzi played 13:55;
Conner played 13:16; Miller played 12:22; Abdelkader played 11:38.
Part II: Red Wings notebooks: As the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa points out, more than a few Jets fans made it down to the Joe to take in the game, and they’ll have to get used to a steady diet of Red Wings visits next season:
“The NHL did us the favor of letting the Atlanta Thrashers move,” said Howard St. Onge, who traveled from Saskatchewan, the adjoining province to Manitoba, beginning Friday morning to take in the first game between the new Winnipeg Jets and the Red Wings. “But they really put the hooks to us, we all think, this week.”
The big complaint from the Jets’ fans is that the realignment approved by the NHL Board of Governors Monday puts Winnipeg in a conference without any other Canadian teams. Under the new scheme, the Jets would play the other Canadian franchises only twice per year, which is not the best of circumstances for a small-market team that looks for any advantage to be gained from the NHL schedule on attendance and revenue numbers.
“I think we’re already looking at the Red Wings and Chicago as the big rivals,” said Stan Hopkins, who drove in from Saskatchewan Thursday in search of tickets. Detroit and Chicago are from the Original Six, so that helps,” Hopkins said. “We really wanted to play in the same division as Calgary and Edmonton, and we thought that was going to happen for sure, just based on geography.
“But I think the Red Wings are probably going to be the really big deal, for us, you know, Jets fans, as the seasons go by, if this conference setup stays the same,” he said. You know, your guys are a great, great team, with so much success over the years. And, goodness, you know, you’re practically in Canada, right across the river, here.
North of it, technically. Anyway, several Wings are quite happy about the fact that they’ll be able to play at or near home in front of friends and family, too, as they told the Winnipeg Free Press’s Tim Campbell...
“It’ll be exciting to go back home and play,” Helm, the speedy St. Andrews product, said Saturday morning at Joe Louis Arena. “I haven’t done that in four, five years. I’m excited about that, if it all gets approved, and I’ll be able to go back home and play in front of family three times a year. I won’t have to make mom, dad, grandpa, brothers travel quite as far. I know my one brother hasn’t seen me play yet because he’s yet to get a passport. That’ll be one less thing he has to worry about. To be able to watch an NHL game at home in front of a Jets and Detroit crowd, that excites everybody.”
The Wings’ other Manitoba native, Ian White, is from Steinbach, about as far southeast of Winnipeg as I am northwest of the Joe here in South Lyon (except that there are no real suburbs outside Winnipeg—it’s prairie and small towns). White’s quite happy to see Winnipeg have an NHL team again…
“I’ve been able to catch a couple of games and obviously the city is ecstatic about their return, as they should be,” White said. It’s a special time. It’s great to see the support they have and they’ve been getting and I’m sure it’s going to continue long into the future. It was a good day for the NHL and a better day for Winnipeg.”
And he’s equally happy to be a Wing. Coach Babcock offered this assessment of White’s ability to blend in very specifically because he’s a wee bit different than his left-shooting peers…
“We’ve talked a lot about Whitey this year in that he’s not big, he’s not fast, he’s not this (or that), he’s just a hockey player and he competes,” Babcock said. “He goes back, gets pucks. I really believe that if you can have every lefty with a righty, you’re way ahead. We don’t have the opportunity here but he’s helped us in that area for sure. And he gives us a guy who can play on the power play. He’s been excellent.”
White, for his part, is thrilled to finally seem settled after having played for three teams last season.
“It’s a pretty special opportunity to get a chance to play with the Wings,” White said. “The history here and the championships they’ve won and the culture we have here, it’s a great locker-room and organization.”
And White also spoke to the Winnipeg Sun’s Kirk Penton about finding a home after bouncing from the Leafs to the Flames, Hurricanes and Sharks, and now the Wings, over the course of a little over a year:
“Tumultuous would be the word I use,” White said. “That’s probably the toughest part of our business, getting traded like that, let alone twice in one year. It was extremely difficult on my wife and my family and me as well. You never really think you’re getting traded, let alone twice in one year. It was definitely a tough year, but if all that didn’t happen I probably wouldn’t end up being here, so it all worked out good.”
Going into Saturday night’s game against the Jets White was second among NHL defencemen with a plus-15 rating, while Lidstrom was plus-9. White said it’s “pretty phenomenal” to be paired with a seven-time Norris Trophy winner like Lidstrom.
“He’s one of the best all time,” White said. “Coming into camp I wasn’t sure who I was going to play with, and playing with him since day one has just made the game so much easier. He’s such a smart player and such a great guy, it’s been quite a pleasure.”
Wings head coach Mike Babcock has been pleased with White’s contributions to the team. The former Eastman Select is the team’s only right-handed shooting defenceman who plays regularly, and he is a regular on Detroit’s dangerous power play.
“Whitey’s been great for us. He’s been a real good fit,” Babcock said. “He’s not big, he’s not fast, he’s not this, he’s not that. He’s just a hockey player who just competes.”
That’s Babcock’s favorite type of player.
• Prior to the game, WRIF’s Meltdown pulled into the Joe as the final stop of a literal bus tour aimed to encourage Red Wings fans in Metro Detroit to vote Jimmy Howard into the All-Star game as a write-in candidate. Meltdown spoke with DetroitRedWings.com’s Zack Crawford about his campaign…
“The gist of the whole thing in a nutshell is that the first time I looked at the All-Star voting I’m like, ‘Why isn’t Jimmy Howard on there?’ and it kind of struck me as bizarre that there were 18 goalies and he wasn’t one of them,” Meltdown said, explaining the reason behind his campaign, which wrapped up Saturday night at Hockeytown Café in downtown Detroit.
For Meltdown Mike, who emcees a weekday show from 3-7 p.m. EST, it’s self-explanatory why Howard should be on the ballot — a great playoff stint at the end of last season and a league-leading start to this season make him an obvious candidate for the All-Star Game.
But when the NHL announced the 127 players on the ballot in November, Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Kronwall, Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg were the only Red Wings accounted for. As soon as Meltdown saw that Howard wasn’t on the list, he knew he wanted to do something about it. So, with Howard’s approval – and with the help of the eye-catching RV – Meltdown and WRIF have been touring southeast Michigan, “pushing the fact that this is Hockeytown” and trying to get as many people to vote for Howard as possible.
“I didn’t know what kind of response we were going to get and the response has been really good,” Meltdown said. “Most of the people that we’ve been meeting on this tour have been really supportive of it. Jimmy deserves at least if nothing else to get on the ballot.”
Over 10,000 people have already voted through the WRIF Web site.
For Meltdown, a serious fan, who plays hockey a few nights a week and doesn’t miss a single Wings’ game, the campaign for Howard isn’t anything personal — it’s simply about getting some recognition for Howard’s consistency.
Howard met Meltdown after Saturday night’s game, and he told the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness that he’s receiving some serious support from his friends and family back in Upstate New York as well:
“It would a tremendous opportunity and I’m sure it’ll be a lot of fun,” Howard said. “Just to be in the talks alone about possibly being an All Star is nice considering the road I’ve taken.”
This year’s game is in Ottawa, which is less than an hour away from Howard’s hometown of Ogdensburg, New York.
“My buddies at home are voting,” Howard laughed. “They’ve got their whole 30 (votes) or whatever they’re allowed in. They’re all excited because it’s 40 minutes from home. They all want me there. All my buddies are fired up about it.”
Chris Osgood was the last Wings goalie to be named to the All-Star Game in 2008.
“He basically said you’re getting thrown to the wolves out there,” Howard recalled. “It’s all about scoring.”
Howard then changed gears and spoke to Pleiness about the reasons why he’s chosen to occasionally whack and/or punch anyone who’s going to try to run him into next week:
“With the new rules you can’t hold up guys and guys are going hard to the net,” Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. “I don’t feel it’s up (the amount of goalies being hit). Obviously, you see the two (Ryan) Miller incidents and that brings a lot of attention to those type of incidents.”
In St. Louis earlier this week St. Louis’ David Perron collided with Howard, which prompted the Wings netminder to start throwing punches.
“Like I said after the game I’m not going to take anything from anyone,” Howard said. “I don’t care who it is. I’m going to take care of myself and protect myself. It’s your area,” Howard added. “It’s one part of the ice that’s yours. You want to take care of it. I feel very strongly you can’t let guys come in and have free reign.”
TV analyst and former goalie Kevin Weeks feels something needs to be done to put an end to what’s the latest trend.
“I think it’s good in a way that it happened to Ryan if you know what I mean,” Weeks said prior to announcing the Wings game against the Winnipeg Jets. “He’s USA’s goalie. It has brought a lot more awareness. He’s a very intelligent guy and takes part in a lot of committees in the league. He’s brought of focus on it. It’s almost like Sid, the awareness he’s brought to the concussion issue and the way he’s dealing with it.”
• As the Wings prepare to head on the road for the vast majority of the rest of December (5 of the Wings’ next 6 games are on the road and 7 of December’s remaining 10 games are road affairs), the Grand Rapids Press’s Jeff Arnold spoke to coach Babcock about the Wings’ middling road record:
Detroit is a league best 11-2-1 at Joe Louis Arena and has won eight consecutive games at home. The record is in stark contrast to last season when the Red Wings won five more games on the road than they did at home. Home play has kept Detroit near the top of the Central Division standings, having struggled (6-7) in its 13 road games this season.
“If you’re not getting it on the road, you better be getting it at home or you need to find somewhere else to play,” Babcock said. “We’ve been good at home and haven’t been as good on the road. What the answer to that question is, I don’t know.”
Howard, who has suffered four of his six losses on the road, maintains he can tell his teammates play differently in front of him at home.
“Last year, I don’t know what the case was at home, maybe we were trying to be too fancy,” he said. “We’ve simplified things at home here of late.”
Add in Ty Conklin’s pair of losses and you get 8 of the Wings’ 9 regulation defeats. Ouch!
• The Detroit Free Press’s George Sipple pulled off a rare coup in speaking to assistant coach Jeff Blashill about the grind of the NHL schedule as opposed to that of his previous position as Western Michigan University’s coach:
The Wings play six of their next seven games on the road, starting Tuesday at Pittsburgh. They will play eight games in 15 days and 10 games in 19 days before the end of the year. Meanwhile, Western Michigan finished a home-and-home series with Bowling Green on Saturday and won’t play again until Dec. 29 at St. Cloud State.
“The schedule certainly is one where you’re moving constantly,” Blashill said Saturday morning at Joe Louis Arena. “You’re playing every other night. I think we’ve played as many games (already) as we would (in) a regular season in college, so it’s different week to week for sure. In college, a lot of your week is spent in practice preparing for games. Here, once we got into the meat of our schedule, it’s constant turnover and games and looking ahead to the next one. It certainly goes by quickly, and it’s a hectic schedule. You have to make sure you stay prepared and are on top of things. It’s been a learning experience, for sure, for me from that aspect.”
And he offers a bit from Tomas Holmstrom as well:
All five of Tomas Holmstrom’s goals this season have been on the power play. He has four goals over his past nine games. “You think you’re going to score every time, every shift you’re out there for sure,” Holmstrom said.
Part III: In the AHL and ECHL… the Grand Rapids Griffins out-shot the Rockford IceHogs 43-32 and rallied from a 2-1 deficit on a last-minute goal by Joakim Andersson but lost 3-2 in a shootout.
The Griffins’ website’s recap notes that Grand Rapids dropped their second straight shootout decision (the Griffins’ website also posted a Flickr photo gallery from the game), and the IceHogs’ website, the Grand Rapids Press and the Rockford Register Star’s Reed Schreck posted recaps. The Griffins have to play one more game against the Chicago Wolves on Sunday…
Part IV: Also of Red Wings-related note: In the “notes and miscellany” department, from the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa:
With his sixth goal and 13th assist, Henrik Zetterberg moved by Petr Klima, formerly of the Red Wings, and Jim Pappin for 316th on the all-time NHL scoring list, with 538 points.
• The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff filed a host of notes in a blog entry prior to puck drop:
Injured Detroit forward Jan Mursak (broken ankle) has resumed practicing with the team and expects to be assigned shortly to Grand Rapids (AHL) on a conditioning stint..Detroit centre Henrik Zetterberg has 5-9-14 totals in his last 12 Saturday games . . . Wings defenceman Ian White leads all NHLers in home-ice plus-minus with a plus-13 rating . . . Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard leads the NHL with 16 wins . . . With his next point, Detroit centre Pavel Datsyuk will tie former New York Ranger Walt Tkaczuk (678) for 223rd in NHL all-time scoring . . . Detroit winger Tomas Holmstrom is one point behind Mike Rogers (519) for 378th in NHL career scoring . . . Zetterberg is one point behind Jim Pappin and Petr Klima (573) for 316th in NL career scoring.
• The Detroit Free Press’s Steve Schrader mentioned the Wings in his News Quiz, he encourages fans to watch the Wings-Penguins game on Tuesday, he mentioned a pretty cool Wings fan in his Fandemonium photo, and then, well, there’s this “Souvenir of the Week,” a kiddie-sized sleeping bag;
• The Wings didn’t make much of an impact in terms of Sunday rumor columns, but the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson is trying to trade Ales Hemsky for the Oilers, so he proffered the following:
The Red Wings, with $5.6 million in cap room, would probably like to add another offensive top-six or top-nine player at the deadline. It’s no secret Detroit GM Ken Holland has long been an Ales Hemsky fan. He stuck a dagger in their hearts in the first round of the 2006 playoffs in Game 6 in Edmonton. The Oilers winger, who is an an unrestricted free-agent July 1, would cost the Oilers about $1 million in cap hit if they wanted him at the deadline. The Red Wings would also like an extra, veteran defenceman in the late Ruslan Salei mould.
They’ve already got one. His name’s Mike Commodore.
Bonus Swedish: Henrik Zetterberg spoke to Aftonbladet’s Per Bjurman after the game, and here’s a rough translation of their conversation, in which Zetterberg discussed his 2-point game and offensive surge of late alongside Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler:
“It’s still going well on the line with me, Filppula and Hudler,” explains “Zata” when we reach him after the game. “We get on well together and create a lot [of offense]. And of course it’s great that we get paid for it, too.”
The Swedish star’s goal came from a slap shot from the slot—something you don’t see too often.
“No, I [locked and loaded] there. But I’d been working out a little bit extra in the gym on Friday night, too,” he says with a happy laugh.
There’s not much to say about the game. The Red Wings were superior and finally flattened Winnipeg by a bandy score—7-1.
“We had a really good first period again, and when you do that things are easier. But it’s also nice that we kept playing and never let them get back into the game,” says “Zata.”
Even Johan Franzen had two assists, and Niklas Kronwall had one. The latter also took a puck in the mouth in the second period, was taken into the locker room for some stitches, and was back on the bench a few minutes later.
“He took a puck on the nose the last game, too, so he
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