The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/18/11 at 06:33 AM ET
I had to watch this one from my family’s Christmas party (it was lovely) with the volume off for over half the game, but I felt that the Wings’ 8-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings finished at such a lopsided score for a simple reason: around seven minutes into the second period, when the Wings would have been very happy to cruise along with a 4-1 lead, still shaking the loosey-goosey defensive play which plagued the Wings through the third period of their loss to Nashville ever-so-slowly out of their games, engaging in some self-induced stretches of stupor thanks to the caliber of their opponent and their opponent’s competition level.
Then the Kings tried to stir things up. They went after Jimmy Howard, who took a penalty at the 7:26 mark, and they kept going after Howard after the penalty-kill, and even after Jarret Stoll scored a goal by very obviously picking Niklas Kronwall off far behind the play and then utilizing said pick to beat Kronwall back to the front of the net to score a rebound goal. Kevin Westgarth and Brad Richardson tried their best to stir things up against a team that was more or less contentedly asleep of what was then a 4-2 affair.
And those bumps and jostles woke the Wings up—woke the Wings up angrily, especially when the Kings kept it up. The Wings don’t get even by fighting, however, so instead, the Wings chose to turn what was a poor start yielding a slightly embarrassing effort into nothing less than a raucous rout, and to add insult to injury, a rout led by the Red Wings’ “depth” players.
With Cory Emmerton more or less playing for his job (see: Chris Conner, Jan Musrak, Patrick Eaves) and Drew Miller and Tomas Holmstrom hoping to not rejoin the list of players who will have to be regularly rotated in and out of the lineup once the Wings’ injured forwards return (see: Emmerton, Conner, Mursak, Eaves), the Wings’ “bottom six” registered 13 of the team’s 23 points, if you consider Danny Cleary to be a third-liner, anyway, and the Wings punctuated their last home game until after Christmas by winning for the tenth straight time at the Joe.
The Kings didn’t mail their game in despite the fact that Darryl Sutter will relieve interim head coach John Stevens of his duties after the Kings wrap up their road trip—they just got their asses kicked, as Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown told LA Kings Insider’s Rich Hammond:
(on the game…)
Dustin Brown: “We got our (butts) kicked, plain and simple. We made mistakes, and that’s a good team. They’re going to do that every time if we’re going to give the puck away and not make plays in our own zone. We just got our (butts) kicked, and there’s really no excuse. it’s time for everyone in this room to wake up.’’
(on whether it takes a blowout loss to wake players up…)
Brown: “Maybe. I don’t know. We played a good game in the last couple games. We beat the worst team in the league 2-1, by the standings. They’re the worst team in the league. We come in here and, I don’t know where they are in the standings but they’re a good team. They’ve been a good team. We got our (butts) kicked. It’s time for guys to wake up. That’s pretty much it, really. Guys have to wake up and take responsibility.’’
Defenseman Rob Scuderi duly noted that the Kings’ willingness to turn the puck over yielded the Wings’ quick 3-goal start and Jonthan Quick’s pulling after all of 8 and-a-half minutes of play while speaking to Hammond, but he was also talking about the whole game given the number of times the Wings predated upon any Los Angeles lapse:
(on the game…)
Rob Scuderi: “I don’t know how many times we shot ourselves in the foot. I can think of at least three turnovers in the neutral zone that ended up in goals. Turnovers, goalie-to-D exchange. I’m not saying they didn’t do their part to earn the goals, but sometimes there are just times when you’ve just got to get the job done. That’s what cost us all those extra goals today.’’
Interim coach John Stevens offered the following thoughts to Hammond while talking about his second to last game as the Kings’ head coach:
(on the game…)
John Stevens: “Well, we got down 3-0 very quickly, which is never a good thing if you’re playing anyone, but it’s really a bad thing when you’re playing Detroit. Then I actually thought we kind of got our feet under us and got into the game, made it 3-1. Then I thought the fourth goal was critical, in terms of momentum. Then even at 4-2 in the second period, I thought we were playing. We were getting our opportunities in the offensive zone. We were spending time, but it just seemed like every time we tried to get our feet under us, we gave them another goal. I really thought their third and fourth lines tilted the scales heavily, because they were on the puck. There was work and there was sustained pressure. It tilted the scale in their favor. I really thought the bottom half of their lineup did a lot of damage tonight.’’
The Kings were “playing” when it was 4-2…But they played a little bit too hard. Thus the offensive explosion.
(on whether he knew, early, that something was wrong…)
Stevens: “We actually felt good about the team. We thought the mood was good. We had a crisp practice yesterday. We thought we were ready. But, especially early, in the first five minutes, I thought they really came at us. They had five guys moving around the offensive zone. They had control of the puck. They’ve been the best team in the league at home this year, and they showed us why, but having said that, I still felt we got our feet under us. We scored that first goal and we had a good emotional lift on the bench, and then when we got to 4-2 I felt the same way. If we could have just held ground there, and just got out of that period (at) 4-2, I think we would have maybe had some hope going into the third period. But to give up two more like that really deflated the spirits of our team, and I think it showed.’’
(on pulling Quick…)
Stevens: “He’s played an awful lot of hockey lately, and sometimes that’s a momentum change. We actually got going for a little bit after that. When you spot Detroit a three-goal lead, it’s difficult. They seem to have done that a lot lately. I’ve seen them go up 5-0 in the first period and win 5-1. They just kind of cruise on through the game, because they’ve got such a good lead and they know they’re not going to give up five goals. It was probably the worst possible scenario for us to start a game in this building.’’
Or, as one of the Wings’ unwilling alarm bell-ringers told the Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott:
“I’m surprised they didn’t get to 10, to be honest with you,” center Jarret Stoll said.He added that it shouldn’t take such an abject failure to stir players’ anger. “We should look at the standings and see where we are and realize we’re not even close to where we want to be,” he said.
Apparently that hasn’t registered. Their popgun offense meant they were done when Detroit scored its third goal, at 8:32 of the opening period, and chased goaltender Jonathan Quick. Team captain Dustin Brown, usually a quiet leader, almost quivered with rage while acknowledging the Kings had been thrashed. “And there’s really no excuse. It’s time for everyone in this room to wake up,” he said.
Interim Coach John Stevens, who’s 1-2 since replacing Terry Murray and has one game left Monday at Toronto, said he thought his team might have had a chance if it had held firm after Stoll picked up a loose puck and cut Detroit’s lead to 4-2 at 11:03 of the second period. Henrik Zetterberg’s beautiful backhander at 12:06 and Pavel Datsyuk’s dance behind the defense for a close-range goal at 19:38 quashed that optimism. Foolish optimism, really, to expect a comeback from the NHL’s lowest-scoring team, a group that has not scored five goals since Nov. 17.
“It’s gone from an acute problem to a chronic problem,” Stevens said of the stagnant offense. “We need to figure out ways to fix it. But we can’t get away from playing good defense.”
Prior to the game, Westgarth offered this assessment of his team to the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff...
“I think everybody still believes in this team,” Westgarth said. “Everybody in the room is still 100 per cent on board with this squad. That’s been very encouraging. I haven’t seen quit from anyone on this team.”
Watching from afar, ESPN Los Angeles’s Dan Arritt offered “eight keys to the game” that he described as a comedy act:
THE FACTS: Apparently, the problems aren’t just limited to the offensive end of the ice. The Kings, the lowest-scoring team in the NHL, allowed the most goals in a game in more than four years while getting held to two goals or less for the 11th straight game in the rout at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
THE STAT: The Kings actually out-shot the Red Wings, 29-27, but weren’t nearly as efficient. Detroit had five goals on its first 11 shots on net and six on its first 16.
TURNING POINT: Two minutes into the game and the Red Wings already led, 2-0, giving Kings’ fans a head start on their Saturday night plans. Kings defenseman Jack Johnson couldn’t connect on a pass to Trevor Lewis and Detroit took possession. Darren Helm took a shot that was saved by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, but the rebound came out to Drew Miller who squeezed it past the goal line for a 1-0 lead. Fifteen seconds later, Jonathan Ericsson took a shot from the point that was deflected past Quick by Cory Emmerton for the second goal of his career and a 2-0 lead.
[Jack] Johnson, who grew up in suburban Detroit and played at the University of Michigan, was a career-high minus-4, dropping him to minus-17 in 15 career games against the Red Wings.
BAD MOVE: The Kings twice cut the deficit to two goals before the third period, but each time the Red Wings answered a little more than a minute later to snuff out any momentum. They added a back-breaking goal with 22 seconds remaining in the second period to take a four-goal lead.
NOTABLE: The last time the Kings allowed eight goals in a game was Oct. 12, 2007, an 8-6 loss to visiting Boston. Bernier, a 19-year-old rookie at the time, made his third career start in the loss and allowed seven goals. He lost two days later to the Red Wings and did not return to the NHL for another 2 1/2 years ... The Kings have allowed 12 more goals than they’ve scored in first period this season.
The Wings didn’t much care, as noted by NHL.com’s recap...
“We came out with energy and got a quick goal and then another one, and that put them on their heels,” Miller said. “We just kept going from there.”
Drewiske’s second goal in two games put Los Angeles on the board at 17:15, but Emmerton’s second restored the Red Wings’ three-goal lead just 80 seconds later. He fired a one-timer past Bernier from the inside edge of the left circle for his third of the season.
“I think it’s real good for him confidence-wise,” coach Mike Babcock said of his rookie center’s big night, which also included an assist. “He’s got NHL skills. He’s got to decide if he wants to be an NHL player.”
Stoll made it 4-2 at 11:03 of the second period when he chipped in a rebound for his third goal. But goals by Zetterberg and Datsyuk gave the Wings a 6-2 lead at the second intermission. Miller and Stuart added goals in the third.
“It’s huge to get contributions from everyone. It’s good to see the third- and fourth-line guys getting on the scoresheet,” Miller said. “Tonight we responded really well and it was a big win for us at home.”
Miller also said the Wings weren’t worried about what was going on in the other locker room.
“For us, the biggest thing is that we want to take care of our game,” Miller said. “No matter who we’re playing, we’ve got to prepare and play our game. I think we did that tonight.”
Or, as Miller told the Associated Press...
“I think it’s huge to get the contribution from everyone. There’s going to be nights where our big guys aren’t scoring all the time,” Miller said. “You count on your third- and fourth-line guys to chip in and come up big for the team. It’s good to see Emmer get two goals. It’s a little kudos for the third and fourth lines.”
Niklas Kronwall added a goal and two assists, and Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Brad Stuart also scored for Detroit.Jimmy Howard made 27 saves.
“I thought we started real well and we weren’t able to maintain that kind of intensity, that kind of effort,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “But we did lots of good things, scored lots of goals. It was a tough night for them. We’re happy to get the two points.”
I’m not the biggest fan of context-free Twitter quips as fodder for recaps, but the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff only posted comments from several Wings players on his Twitter account...
#redwings [E]mmerton on hat trick thoughts: “Obviously, it kind of crosses your mind.”
More Emmerton on hat trick: “The way things have gone this year, I was lucky to have two, so I wasn’t thinking much about three.” #redwings
#redwings Stuart on 10 straight home wins: “Now we’ve got to go on the road and try to do the same thing.’‘
#redwings Zetterberg: “When we roll four lines and we let everyone play, we’re a real good team. You saw that today.”
#redwings Babcock on Emmerton: “He’s got NHL skills, he’s got to decide he’s an NHL player.”
I’m just going to nod my head in agreement with this one…
Many #NHL scouts compare Brendan Smith to Jack Johnson in terms of a wild stallion in need of taming.
And we’ll move on to the quips posted by the Wings’ account:
Miller: Tonight we responded really well and it was a big win for us at home.
Miller: It’s good to see the third and fourth line guys getting on the score sheet.
Babcock: Scored lots of goals here tonight. It was an awfully tough night for them and we’re happy to get the two points.
Babcock on Emmerton: I think it’s real good for him confidence wise. He’s got NHL skills. He’s got to decide if he wants to be an NHL player
The Wings mostly suggested that they would take this game in context of the fact that the rest of December involves four straight road games and a total of 5 of 7 (over the course of 13 nights, 3-day Christmas break included…without that it’s 7 games over 10 nights[!] on the road), and things don’t get much prettier till the Wings knock out another 4-game road trip in early January, not playing their first home game of 2012 until January 12th (so that’s 9 of the next 11 games on the road)...
So going into this particularly brutal stretch of road games, as Henrik Zetterberg told Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji, it’s especially important to have all four lines and six defensemen contributing to the cause...
“It relieves a little pressure from us, especially against a team like this when those two lines come in and really take care of business in the first,” Zetterberg said. “We have the capacity to do that every game. When we roll four lines and we let everyone play, we’re a real good team. You saw that today.”
Emmerton, playing in just his third game in the last 10, had three points, one more than he had in his previous 20 games and his first since opening night. He’s had a chance to both watch and play during the Wings’ success at home.
“We just come out flying in the first period and seem to be ready, we seem to have 3-4 goal leads out of the gate. We’ve done a real nice job of that at home, and it’s one of those things that we hope to carry with us on the road,” Emmerton said. “We haven’t been able to do that lately, or much at all this season, but it’s one of those things that we have to work on and figure out.”
After dropping a 4-3 decision Thursday at Nashville, the Wings are 7-8-0 on the road compared to 13-2-1 at home.
“We skate and start on time and play on our toes,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We’ve gotta play the same way on the road. We just gotta continue to get better on the road. We’re a little more cautious on the road and we can’t be.”
The Wings don’t have long to wait to try to get their road record heading in the right direction. They start a four-game road trip Monday in Edmonton.
“We’re going to try to play a little bit better on the road, play with a little more tempo and a little more speed, kind of like we do here at home,” Zetterberg said. “So we’ve got a chance on Monday to do that and we’ve got to make the best of it.”
And again, as the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan found, the Wings are more than happy to pile it on when they have the chance…
“For sure that’s something every team in the league wants to establish, that kind of presence at home,” said Drew Miller, who scored two goals. “The Red Wings have had it in the past here and it’s something we want to continue having (that) when teams come in here it’s a tough place to play.”
The Wings are within striking distance of the team record for consecutive home wins. The team record is 13 games, set in the 2006-07 season (Dec. 20-Feb. 21). Miller and Cory Emmerton each scored two goals for the Wings (20-10-1, 41 points). Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Brad Stuart (power play) added the other goals. Danny Cleary had three assists. Jimmy Howard (27 saves) was the beneficiary of the offensive explosion, earning his league-leading 19th win (19-7-1).
Miller and Emmerton scored in the first two minutes, then Kronwall scored his seventh of the season at 8:32, giving the Wings a 3-0 lead and sending Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (three goals on seven shots) to the bench in favor of Jonathan Bernier.
“We started real well and we weren’t able to maintain that kind of intensity or effort but we did a lot of good things,” coach Mike Babcock said. “It was a tough night for them obviously. We’re happy to get the two points.”
But I suppose that if this game has a supertext as opposed to a subtext, it’s clearly written in Cory Emmerton’s three-point night. The Wings have gone from a team that was a little worried about its depth both up front and on defense to a team that seems to be overflowing with riches (see again: the injured Chris Conner, Jan Mursak and Patrick Eaves will be vying for the 13th and 14th forwards’ spots when they return from injury, to the point that the Wings might have to send Conner down because neither Mursak, Eaves or Emmerton can or would clear waivers, and Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist are at least ready for a cup of coffee when called upon; on defense, Jakub Kindl’s been so steady that Mike Commodore can’t squeeze his way into the lineup, and Brendan Smith’s relatively ready despite still playing a little too cockily in Grand Rapids; the only thing we don’t seem to know is how Ty Conklin’s going to hold up behind Howard, and Conklin will get his chance to prove himself as the Wings more or less play a game every other night until the All-Star break)...
And Emmerton could have very well lost his job without a night like Saturday’s. After the Free Press’s Carlos Monarrez noted that the Wings have done nothing less than leave last year’s home woes spinning in a grave somewhere…
The Wings again demonstrated their invincibility at home Saturday night when they routed the reeling Los Angeles Kings, 8-2, and notched their 10th straight victory at the Joe, where they are 13-2-1.
The Wings have not lost at home since Nov. 1. They won a franchise-record 13 straight at home in 2006-07, and if they keep this up, they could tie that mark Jan. 12 against Phoenix. The 1929-30 Bruins and ‘75-76 Flyers share the NHL record of 20 straight home wins.
What has been even more impressive than the Wings’ sheer winning has been their scoring along the way. During their home winning streak they have outscored opponents, 51-14.
He captured what is very literally an ultimatum from one Mike Babcock to one Cory Emmerton:
“I think it’s real good for him confidence-wise,” Babcock said. “He’s got NHL skills. He’s got to decide he’s an NHL player. When you don’t play for a while, mentally it might get to you, you start getting close to the door. You don’t want to be close to the door. You want to be in the middle of the room hanging out. So it’s a good sign for him.”
So was the Wings’ quick start. Miller and Emmerton scored 15 seconds apart and spotted the Wings a 2-0 lead just 2 minutes into the game. Kronwall’s goal chased Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, and the rout was on.
“We came out with good energy and got that quick goal and another one right away,” Miller said. “So we put them on their heels and we just kept rolling from there.”
Emmerton agreed, as he told DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:
“We just come out flying in the first period and seem to be ready, we seem to have 3-4 goal leads out of the gate,” Emmerton said. “It’s pretty tough playing when you’re trailing by three or four goals.”
And then Emmerton dug into dissecting his performance. As Roose points out, Emmerton started the season playing as the Wings’ fourth-line center, but he spent Saturday’s game occupying Chris Conner’s spot alongside Justin Abdelkader and Tomas Holmstrom (well, sort of; Drew Miller’s slid up to Conner’s spot on the Helm-Cleary line, and Emmerton’s filling in the blank), and, well, two goals are two goals:
“It’s one of those things that you’re trying to do the little things right, and then when you’re fortunate enough to get a bounce or two it gives you that much more confidence or momentum to carry you through,” said Emmerton, who now has three goals and two assists in 21 games this season. “As much as you hate to say it, the big thing about hockey is it’s all about confidence and comfort level, and I was fortunate enough tonight to get a few.”
And though Saturday was his first multi-goal game of his NHL career, Emmerton would be lying, he said, if another possible ‘first’ didn’t enter his mind late in the game.
“I don’t know. Obviously it kind of crosses your mind,” said Emmerton, about the hat trick that eluded him. “But the way things have kind of gone this year I was just happy to have two, so I wasn’t really thinking too much about three.”
“The first couple of games that I played the wing, it was kind of an adjustment of getting used to it; I used to play it in junior, actually,” Emmerton said. “I enjoy playing it, and tonight was a nice relief. But sometimes you just get fortunate to have the opportunities and chances.”
Emmerton also just happened to get smacked in the nose after his second goal…
“It was after I took the shot when I kind of ran into the guy,” said Emmerton, who was the game’s Second Star. “It was nothing big, but sometimes it hits you right and you get a little knock there. It’s nothing bad, but it’s hockey and you’re going to get a bump here and there.”
But in a game where, as MLive’s Ansar Khan notes, the Wings piled it on and then some...
Fourteen players recorded at least one point for Detroit. Drew Miller also had two goals. Niklas Kronwall had a goal and two assists. Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Brad Stuart each scored a goal. Danny Cleary contributed three assists while Tomas Holmstrom and Darren Helm each picked up a pair of assists.
Jimmy Howard improved to 19-7-1 by stopping 27 shots.
It is the most goals the Red Wings have scored this season. The Kings hadn’t allowed more than four goals in any game.
Neither Emmerton nor Miller chose to suggest that they would stray from the kind of play that has them earning their respective spots in the lineup, on a nightly basis, via hard work:
“It’s obviously a good feeling to contribute offensively, but our goal is to play well defensively and kind of grind on the other team’s defense and wear them out so our top two lines can generate more offense and have more room out there,” Emmerton said. “But any time you can chip in offensively, it’s going to help the team along.”
Detroit did not ease up on the gas pedal after taking a 4-1 lead after the first period. Zetterberg scored on a backhand shot at 12:06 of the second period and Datsyuk redirected a pass from Johan Franzen with 22 seconds remaining to make it 6-2. The onslaught continued in the third. Miller scored at 7:34. Stuart scored on the power play at 11:18.
The Red Wings, 13-2-1 at home, play their next four games on the road, including a three-game trip to Western Canada that starts on Monday in Edmonton and wraps up beford the Christmas break.
“Every team in this league wants to establish that presence at home,” Miller said. “Definitely the Red Wings have had that in the past and it’s something you want to continue having. When teams come in here, it’s a tough place to play, we got good fans and we play hard.”
So, quite literally, as Babcock told Michigan Hockey’s Michael Caples, good feelings abound:
“It’s good,” Babcock said. “It’s good for them and their stats, and they feel good about it, and it’s important. Everyone on the team’s important. I thought [Justin Abdelkader’s] line got a big power-play goal too, I think all those things are important for us.”
After being jostled to life in the second period, the Wings played the kind of third that you want a team going on a nasty road trip to play, but going into Edmonton on Monday, the Wings’ 41 points leave them sitting only 3 behind Chicago for the Central Division lead and 4 behind the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Wild…But they’re only four points out of 8th place, too, so if the Wings want to gain some ground and/or at least gain some traction as the conference slowly but surely settles out, they need to crank up their “win or gain a point” percentage to around 70% during this 9-of-11-on-the-road stretch, and they can’t let their home record slip, either.
This is the time of year where you either go on a good run that both sets the groundwork for a long march in April and pushes you to the top of the standings, or you play .500 hockey and have to scratch and claw for the rest of the season, worrying about who’s just in front of you and just behind you as you jostle for position.
Highlights: I’d suggest watching Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond narrating NHL.com’s highlight clip:
Post-game: The Red Wings’ website posted a clip of Drew Miller, Cory Emmerton and coach Mike Babcock’s comments…
As well as a “week in review” segment:
Fox Sports Detroit posted a clip of Babcock, Miller and Emmerton’s comments, too:
Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 23-image gallery;
Fox Sports Detroit posted a 10-image gallery;
Fox Sports West posted a 7-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted a 27-image gallery;
NHL.com posted a 45-image gallery;
Statistics: Shots 29-27 Los Angeles. The Wings were out-shot 10-9 in the 1st period, 9-7 in the 2nd period and they out-shot Los Angeles 11-10 in the 3rd period.
The Wings went 1-for-3 in 4:08 of PP time; the Kings went 0-for-4 in 8:00 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 27 of 29 shots; Jonathan Quick stopped 4 of 7 shots; Jonathan Bernier stopped 15 of 20 shots.
The 3 stars, per Michigan Talk Radio’s Rich Kincaide, were Danny Cleary, Cory Emmerton and Drew Miller.
The Wings’ goals: Miller (4) from Helm (5) and Cleary (6);
Emmerton (2) from Ericsson (4) and Holmstrom (8);
Kronwall (7) from Cleary (7) and Helm (6);
Emmerton (3) from Abdelkader (5) and Holmstrom (9);
Zetterberg (8) from Hudler (14) and Kronwall (8);
Datsyuk (10) from Franzen (16) and Bertuzzi (10);
Miller (5) from Cleary (8);
Stuart (4) from Emmerton (2) and Kronwall (9), power play.
Faceoffs 30-29 Los Angeles (the Wings won 49%);
Blocked shots 18-10 Detroit;
Missed shots 13-12 Los Angeles (total attempted shots 60-49 Los Angeles);
Hits 29-16 Los Angeles;
Takeaways 6-5 Detroit.
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 7-and-9 (44%); Abdelkader went 10-and-4 (71%); Zetterberg went 3-and-8 (27%); Helm went 5-and-5 (50%); Emmerton went 2-and-0; Franzen went 0-and-2; Filppula went 1-and-1; Cleary went 1-and-1.
Shots: Lidstrom, Datsyuk and Bertuzzi had 3 shots; Cleary, Miller, Filppula, Franzen and Holmstrom had 2 shots; Abdelkader, White, Stuart, Hudler, Zetterberg, Helm, Ericsson and Kronwall had 1.
Blocked attempts: Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Helm had 2 shot attempts blocked; Cleary, Miller, Hudler and Ericsson had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed attempts: Miller missed the net 3 times; Ericsson and Franzen missed the net 2 times; Lidstrom, Cleary, Datsyuk, Helm and Bertuzzi missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Stuart and Ericsson co-led the team with 4 hots; Kindl and Helm had 2; Datsyuk, Filppula, Franzen and Holmstrom had 1.
Giveaways: Kindl, Abdelkader, Hudler, Filppula, Ericsson and Howard had giveaways;
Takeaways: Cleary, Datsyuk, White, Emmerton, Franzen and Holmstrom had takeaways.
Blocked shots: Stuart blocked 4 shots; White, Miller, Zetterberg, Filppula and Kronwall blocked 2 shots; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Helm and Holmstrom blocked 1 shot.
Penalties taken: Abdelkader, Bertuzzi, Franzen and Howard took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +25. Lidstrom, Cleary, White, Miller, Helm and Ericsson finished at +3; Kindl, Emmerton and Holmstrom finished at +2; Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Bertuzzi and Franzen finished at +1; Hudler, Filppula and Kronwall finished at -1.
Points: Emmerton scored 2 goals and added an assist for 3 points; Kronwall scored a goal and added 2 assists for 3 points; Cleary had 3 assists; Miller scored 2 goals; Helm had 2 assists; Holmstrom had 2 assists; Datsyuk, Stuart and Zetterberg scored goals; Abdelkader, Hudler, Bertuzzi, Ericsson and Franzen had assists.
Ice time: White led the team with 22:18 played; Stuart played 21:34; Lidstrom played 21:12;
Kronwall played 21:05; Datsyuk played 18:11; Ericsson played 17:10;
Filppula played 16:56; Kindl played 16:20; Bertuzzi played 15:32;
Franzen played 15:25; Zetterberg played 14:55; Helm played 14:21;
Cleary played 14:18; Hudler played 13:41; Holmstrom played 13:14;
Miller played 12:56; Abdelkader played 11:29; Emmerton played 11:23.
Part II: Red Wings notebooks: DetroitRedWings.com’s posited a list of the Wings’ likely participants in the World Junior Championships in Calgary and Edmonton:
Mattias Backman (Sweden)
Defenseman, Linkoping Jr. (SWE – JR)
DOB: October 3, 1992
Hometown: Arvidsjaur, Sweden
Drafted: Round 5, No. 146 overall in 2011
Tidbit: In the Linkoping Junior circuit, Backman has picked up 9 points (2 goals and 7 assists) in 34 games.
Tomas Jurco (Slovakia)
Forward, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
DOB: December 28, 1992
Hometown: Kosice, Slovakia
Drafted: Round 2, No. 35 overall in 2011
Tidbit: In 30 games with the Sea Dogs this season, Jurco has 21 goals (2nd highest on the team) and 24 assists for a total of 45 points (3rd highest on the team).
Petr Mrazek (Czech Republic)
Goalie, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
DOB: February 14, 1992
Hometown: Ostrava, Czech Republic
Drafted: Round 5, No. 141 overall in 2010
Tidbit: Currently in his third season with the Ottawa 67’s, Mrazek has recorded 17 wins and 7 losses in 28 games played. He has 1 shutout and a 3.06 goals against average.
Teemu Pulkkinen (Finland)
Forward, Jokerit Helsinki (SM-liiga)
DOB: January 2, 1992
Hometown: Vantaa, Finland
Drafted: Round 4, No. 111 overall in 2010
Tidbit: In the Jokerit Junior circuit, this 5’11” right winger has tallied 29 points (13 goals and 16 assists) in 39 games played. The 2012 WJHC will mark his second appearance at the tournament; in 2011, Pulkkinen accumulated 3 goals and 6 assists before Finland was knocked out by Russia in the quarterfinals and subsequently beat by Switzerland in the 5th place playoff.
Marek Tvrdon (Slovakia)
Forward, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
DOB: January 31, 1993
Hometown: Nitra, Slovakia
Drafted: Round 4, No. 115 overall in 2011
Tidbit: Currently the 19th highest scorer in the WHL, Tvrdon has acquired 14 goals and 23 assists for 37 points (2nd highest on the team) this season, his second with the Giants. Last year, he played only 12 games before a season-ending injury required surgery on his shoulder.
• “Yup,” via the Detroit Free Press’s Carlos Monarrez
The Wings improved to 13-2-1 at home. On the road, they’re 7-8-0. “We’ve been good at home, we’re playing quicker at home, we’re on our toes more,” coach Mike Babcock said.
• Babcock also offered a somewhat offbeat take on the holiday season, at least for a coach, anyway, while speaking about the Wings’ three-day Christmas break with Monarrez...
“I’m a big believer in you do what you do and you live in the moment,” he said. “When you’re here, you’re doing that full-out. And when you’re celebrating Christmas with your family, do that full-out. I don’t think you can grind hockey 24-7, seven days a week. That just wears you out, wears your team out.”
The Wings have plenty of veterans on the team and Babcock said older players tend to strike a better balance in their lives, which makes them more effective on the ice.
“To me, what veterans do is they’ve got families,” he said. “They go home, they enjoy their family and come back the next day re-energized and ready to go. But I think that’s for most guys doing well. I think the guys that are struggling are the guys that are grinding it when they’re away from the rink and they come back worn-out. So to me, Christmas is a great thing. It’s the greatest time of the year you can have, and it should be a great thing and it should energize us.”
• Babcock was not feeling as warm or fuzzy while discussing what he defines as physical play for the Red Wings with the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
“The more physical we can be, the better opportunity this team has,” Babcock said. “We can skill our way around the rink, but if we’re working and we’re gritty and we’re determined, we’re a much better team.”
And, again, physical doesn’t necessarily mean dropping the gloves and fighting. It’s grinding another team, cycling the puck, wearing them down mentally and physically. The Wings have the players to do that. And have been doing it.
“It’s not how big you are, it’s how big you play,” said Babcock, although the Wings can put some big bodies out there as well. “Some guys that weigh 180 (pounds), play 210. And you have guys that are 210 who play 150. So you have to decide who you want to be and how hard on the puck you want to be. In the end, you’re a better player if you’re strong, obviously.”
Cory Emmerton also made a particularly ironic pre-game comment regarding Chris Conner’s absence while speaking to Kulfan…
“It’s one of those things where they found a mix of players that were playing well and you’re the odd man out and you have to stay ready,” Emmerton said. “Conner came in, and he’s such a good little player, you can’t be mad at him. He’s doing his job. Unfortunately he got hurt, but any chance you get, you have to get a hold of it and run with it.”
And Kulfan offered an update regarding one of Emmerton’s competitors:
Jan Mursak (fractured ankle) will head to Grand Rapids for a conditioning stint after Christmas. Mursak has yet to play this season after fracturing his ankle Sept. 28 in an exhibition game against Chicago.
• MLive’s Ansar Khan spoke to Mursak about his status...
“I’ve been feeling really good on the ice for the last week, no pain at all,” Mursak said. “I just can’t wait to play games. Hopefully I have a good two weeks in Grand Rapids, I come back here and get a few games and play on a regular basis.”
Babcock also spoke to Khan, this time about the Wings’ power play as something more than a one-and-done entity:
“My theory is, you shoot the puck, get it back, and it goes in,” Babcock said before Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. “We’ve got good players, and we’ve had a good power play for a long time. We shoot it and get it back when we’re good, and we pass it around the outside when we’re no good.”
The Red Wings’ power play was mediocre the first 16 games (10-for-70, 14.3 percent). It has been potent the past 14 games (17-for-57, 29.8 percent).
“A lot of times, we’ve been shooting the puck and getting it back,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “When we struggled there for a bit we didn’t shoot the puck enough. Right now, we’re taking the shots, getting the rebound, or it bounces to one of our guys, but we’re staying on top of it.”
“When we’re moving better, we’re more effective than standing still and passing it to each other,” Kronwall said. “We’re moving a lot better as a group and everyone wants the puck and wants to be a shooter.”
Babcock also discussed Valtteri Filppula’s emergence as a point-per-game player:
“I’ve talked a lot to Fil over the years, and some of those conversations, he probably wasn’t very pleased with,” Babcock said. “But you kept expecting him to grow and become a dominant player, and he’s been a dominant player for us. With Pav (Datsyuk), Z (Henrik Zetterberg), Mule (Johan Franzen) and him, that’s been our top four, for sure. It gives us good balance.”
“He’s such an elite skater,” Babcock said. “He plays center or the wing and really helps us. He’s always been good defensively, but you’ve got to score. Your big people are the people that consistently have to score. The other people are going to chip in, they’re just not going to do it consistently. Fil’s given us another scorer.”
• I’ll let you weigh in as to what the Free Press’s sports staff has to suggest regarding what sports fans in Michigan might want to “do this week”:
Wings play late night
The Red Wings’ 9:30 p.m. face-off at Edmonton vs. Taylor Hall and Co. starts one of their western Canada swings—nothing but 9:30 and 10 p.m. starts as they also go to Vancouver and Calgary this week (all on FSD). Enjoy them while you can, as next year’s schedule cuts way back on those time zones.
• And I hate to say this, but Niklas Kronwall didn’t add much to the equation that he didn’t say in English while speaking to Aftonbladet’s Per Bjurman.
Part III: In the AHL and ECHL: The Grand Rapids Griffins lost the back half of their back-to-back series with the Lake Erie Monsters 3-0.
In the ECHL, Bryan Rufenach scored a goal and added an assist and Andrej Nestrasil scored a goal, but the Toledo Walleye dropped a 5-3 decision to the Trenton Titans. The Walleye’s website provides a recap.
Part IV: Also of Red Wings-related note: Wings prospect Nick Jensen registered the first hat trick by a Saint Cloud State University defenseman in twenty years on Saturday;
• Not this again. Reuters’ Steve Keating tossed off an old cliche regarding the Sedin twins, and added in the Wings’ captain for good measure:
Swedes have been derided as a “pacifists” and “chicken Swedes” by North American hockey fans since 1965, when trailblazer Ulf Sterner first played for the New York Rangers.
Like Detroit Red Wings defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom and other Swedes since, however, the Sedins have long ago proven that they can excel in the rough and tumble NHL.
Yeesh. You don’t need to tell us in Detroit. Swedish, Russian, Finnish, Czech, Slovak, Canadian, American, whatever. All that matters is how you play, and you don’t have to play like fists on skates to be “tough.”
• Speaking of a bit strange, the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader’s Tom Venesky both profiled a Penguins scrapper in the making who’s a big Darren McCarty fan in Wilkes-Barre Penguins forward Ryan Schnell and he played fantasy hockey GM with Jason Williams, who tabbed more than a few of his former teammates as go-to players:
FORWARD – Steve Yzerman (Detroit), “The way he carried himself on and off the ice. Just a good person, great leader and he led by example. The reason why he played so long in the NHL was because he worked so hard.”
DEFENSEMAN – Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit), “Easy pick. He’s so smart and makes the game so easy. You never see him panic. He does everything so well.”
GOALTENDER – Dominik Hasek (Buffalo, Detroit, Ottawa), “He’s by far the hardest goaltender I ever shot on. He would read where you’re going to shoot. In practice you could take five breakaways and if you scored one on him, he’d say go take five again. His practice habits were amazing. He hated pucks being in the net no matter what the situation. He was great in Buffalo when he was there, but when he came to Detroit he was one of the big reasons we won a Stanley Cup in 2002.”
POWER PLAY SPECIALIST – Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit), “He can walk the line, not look down at the puck and shoot it on net. You think if you’re a professional hockey player you should be able to do that, right? Try it. He’ll drag the puck across, look at the lane where he’s going to shoot and not look at the puck once and put the shot right on net. He sees everything ahead of him.”
ENFORCER – Bob Probert (Detroit, Chicago)/Joey Kocur (Detroit, N.Y. Rangers, Vancouver), “I played against Bob Probert at the very end of his career. You could just see when the wires cross he was a scary man. You didn’t want to get on the wrong side. Joey Kocur, too. Guys were OK with fighting Bob Probert because you knew it would be a long, entertaining fight. But if you fought Kocur, it’d be a quick fight and if you got hit by him it could end your career. Joey Kocur was someone guys were scared of.”
HEAD COACH – Scotty Bowman (St. Louis, Montreal, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Detroit)/Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh), “I’ve only had a few games under Dan Bylsma, but I like the way he is behind the bench. He has his team well-prepared every game. Scotty Bowman was very good at his line matching. They year Detroit played Philadelphia (1997 Stanley Cup Final) and they had the Legion of Doom line, everyone said Detroit’s going to get smoked. He put Larry Murphy and Lidstrom against the Legion of Doom. They outsmarted them. If that line would try to run Lidstrom, he’d just step around them and head into the offensive zone. He wanted a finesse guy against them. He was very smart in that aspect.”
• No frickin’ comment, the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons...
And the biggest star in the National Hockey League is… Not Sidney Crosby right now. He’s out until further notice. And who knows when further notice will be.
Not Alexander Ovechkin. Not when you can’t put him in the Top 30 scorers. Not Chris Pronger, who’s out for the season, the playoffs, and fill in the blanks.
Which means what for the NHL?
It means Jonathan Toews, Captain Serious of the Blackhawks is probably the best 200-foot player, combining offence, defence, grit and leadership. He’s followed ever so closely by Pavel Datsyuk of the Red Wings.
It also means in this time of crossover stars — be it Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Aaron Rodgers, or the ridiculous Tim Tebow — hockey has a deep group of young emerging players of consequence, but not one who can or will transcend the sport, not with Crosby’s every step now in doubt. There has always been a face of hockey, but instead right now, there is no real face, just too many injured brains.
• And if you’re interested in taking in hockey during a rare “off day” for the Wings, the Saginaw News’s Kyle Austin reports that Larry Murphy will attend the Saginaw Spirit-Windsor Spitfires game on December 28th.
Update: Here’s Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond discussing the game on Fox Sports Detroit:
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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.