The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/20/12 at 11:33 PM ET
Updated 3x at 11:27 PM: The Detroit Red Wings lost 2-1 to the Nashville Predators, and have been eliminated from the playoffs in the first round for the first time since 2006. I’ll post a quick take soon, but share your thoughts in the comments, please.
Update #3: Tomas Holmstrom to FSD’s John Keating, asking whether he’s decide what he’ll do: “You’ve got to be kidding me?” He’s not sure. And for those of you who want to know, Red Bird III will return to Metro Airport at 1:11 AM.
Update #2: Via the Wings, amongst coach Babcock’s comments to Fox Sports Detroit:
Babcock: “I thought their goaltender was outstanding. I thought their depth up front was better than our depth up front.”
Babcock: “I didn’t think we had enough up front and I think it showed up front.”
Babcock: “When you lose 4-1 in a series, you can talk about them all being close games, but that’s not close. It’s not close.”
Babcock: “I thought this was our worst game in the series.”
Babcock: “I thought we played lots of good hockey in this series, but I didn’t think we played very well today.”
Babcock: “I just thought we didn’t have enough depth up front ... I just thought (pause) .. We weren’t good enough.”
Kronwall: ‘It’s an empty feeling. It’s disappointing.’
The handshake line. http://twitpic.com/9c7fnw
Zetterberg said that he told Shea Weber ‘well played, good luck and see you next year’ in the handshake line.
Zetterberg: ‘It is tough. We played a tough opponent and they played well.’
Update: Well, I guess we knew that was going to happen. In a series where the Detroit Red Wings have beaten themselves just as much as they’ve lost to a Predators team which was able to reinforce itself at the trade deadline and steal home ice from a team that lost its identity down the stretch, the Red Wings’ defensive mistakes did them in again, and as such, 4/20 represents quite the break…The last game the Red Wings will play until they assemble for training camp in September.
Just as the Wings underwent some significant changes in 2006, and even if Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom return, it’s obvious that the team needs changes, though it must be said that Detroit was perhaps out-competed and made all of those awful defensive mistakes—which could not have been bailed out by goal-scoring with Pavel Datsyuk, Danny Cleary, and perhaps even Johan Franzen hobbled by injuries—because the Predators’ wingers were a force all series long, out-skating, out-checking and out-working counterparts who did not provide winger support in the form of outlets for defensemen who had no one to pass to but Predators players, no transition game for a defense still missing Brian Rafalski an April after he retired, and forcing the Wings’ puck-carrying forwards to endlessly pass back to the point because the point men were the only one either open or not being tied up by the Predators’ defense.
Friday night, yes indeed, there were some punches to the gut in addition to all the heartbreak we feel by Pekka Rinne drawing a penalty for diving and then taking Tomas Holmstrom out, the good dozen seconds that trickled off the clock throughout the game thanks to a partisan stats crew, the non-calls on interference, Weber hacking Datsyuk’s stick out of his hands, the boos for Holmstrom, the boos for Lidstrom (???), the, “You suck” chants from a fan base that has slain its self-made arch-rival dragon…And watching Jimmy Howard and Henrik Zetterberg going out on their shields, absolutely dominating play and receiving little to no assistance, even when Babcock mixed up his lines over and over again…
My heart’s broken as a Wings fan and I really don’t have anything to say that’s positive. I’m a 34-year-old man with a goatee that goes down to my sternum, a bald head and a nasty glare (unintentionally so), and I’m not ashamed to say that at some point over the next few days, especially as someone who cares about the team he’s followed for 20 years like family, and someone who’s never been anything more or less than a fan…I’m sure my allergies will act up and my eyes will water.
To think of not seeing the Wings play again until mid-September? After your team wins the Stanley Cup, man, you feel like no hockey for June and July is too long. This…This is unacceptable, and four months of no Wings hockey (fear not, TMR will be very busy all summer long) means that changes have to come, even if they’re only in the form of a few significant tweaks…
But this hurts. This hurts like getting repeatedly punched in the heart. And it should for the players, coaches and management, too.
In terms of the game’s narrative...What can I say? The Red Wings met a Predators team bound and determined to close the series out, and were out-shot, lost badly in the faceoff department and were the ones flailing madly at loose pucks they couldn’t or wouldn’t get to in the offensive zone, vainly chasing Predators players skating up ice and getting beaten in the trenches and along the boards in their own zone.
The first Predators goal was an own-goal extraordinaire: despite some fantastic saves by Jimmy Howard throughout the first period, off a nothing play and a simple dump-in by Ryan Ellis, David Legwand chased the puck down into the Wings’ zone and behind the net, he attempted to out-battle Kyle Quincey and Jonathan Ericsson just to the left of Jimmy Howard, and thanks to Kyle Quincey poking the puck toward Ericsson instead of eating it, Legwand was able to steal the puck, pass it out front, and none of the Wings’ forwards on the ice—and Justin Abdelkader, Drew Miller and Todd Bertuzzi, who aren’t exactly defensive slouches—made any attempt to prevent Alexander Radulov from charging into the slot and ripping a shot over Jimmy Howard’s blocker.
With 3:50 left in the 1st, the Wings were down 1-0.
Detroit could not convert on a power play thanks to one of only two penalties called on a clutchy-grabby Predators team (Mike Fisher’s penalty at 31 seconds negated a doofy penalty given to Danny Cleary only 15 seconds in), not capitalizing on Brandon Yip’s goaltender interference penalty called at 18:26 of the 1st, and the Wings emerged out-shot 10-8.
In the second period, Henrik Zetterberg tried to take the team on his back, but it took 13 minutes and 45 seconds—and an earned luck break—for the Wings to break through. Henrik Zetterberg won a rare faceoff (the Wings went 19-and-29, or 40%, in the faceoff circle) against Paul Gaustad in the Predators’ zone, and Valtteri Filppula pulled the puck out of the pile. Jiri Hudler tried to hel, too, as Gaustad and Roman Josi piled in, and Craig Smith cleared the puck, tryingto hit Brandon Yip. In the neutral zone, Brad Stuart took the puck, gave it to Niklas Kronwall, and he handed the puck to Zetterberg, who skated up and in on a 3-on-3 with Filppula and Hudler.
Zetterberg skated toward the right side, peeled off as he deked around Kevin Klein, sent the puck to the slot, and with Roman Josi holding him up, Filppula managed to tap the puck off Josi’s skate, and Jiri Hudler beat Martin Erat to the puck and one-handed it behind Rinne.
With 6:15 left in the 2nd, the Wings were tied, and for the rest of the period, they played dominant hockey, to the point that as the second period expired, it felt like the Wings would in fact prevail.
All of that changed on the first shift of the third period. Zetterberg won the opening draw agianst David Legwand, Brad Stuart skated up to the Predators’ blueline to help Jiri Hudler, who kicked at it at the line, and instead, Hudler lost the battle for the puck at the offensive blueline, Stuart stumbled as he knew he’d been caught cheating toward offense, Radulov poked the puck to Gabriel Bourque, he roared up ice against Niklas Kronwall, and as Filppula roared back to help Kronwall defend both Bourque and Radulov, Bourque fired a shot and was stopped, and…
Filppula forgot that he was supposed to take away defensive zone territory instead of a single player, and for some reason, David Legwand escaped Henrik Zetterberg and fired the rebound through Filppula, Bourque and eventually Jimmy Howard, who barely saw the shot.
13 seconds in, the Wings were down 2-1, and that’s how the game would end.
The Wings battled back as best they could, out-shooting Nashville 8-7 as Babcock tried to stir things up by shifting Bertuzzi, Franzen, Nyquist, Cleary and Holmstrom off their usual wing positions, and attempting to double-shift Lidstrom, but the clock wound down, Rinne and Weber got away with obvious infractions, and the game ended with a handshake line:
Over the next few days, we’ll learn exactly who was hurt in addition to Datsyuk, Cleary and Lidstrom, what Jiri Hudler and Brad Stuart want to do, and maybe what the coaches and management are thinking going forward, and then we might be able to cheer on some Wings players at the World Championships…
But then it’s waiting for Lidstrom to decide whether he wants to continue playing, waiting to hear the same from Holmstrom, hoping that Lidstrom is named a Lady Byng Trohpy finalist and taking in the Awards and Draft before crossing our fingers that Holland will, despite some serious-ass CBA uncertainty, make some necessary changes via free agency.
This sucks, doesn’t it?
Shots 25-22 Nashville. Detroit was out-shot 10-8 in the 1st period and 8-6 in the 2nd period, but they out-shot Nashville 8-7 in the 3rd period.
Detroit went 0 for 2 in 2:16 of PP time; Nashville went 0 for 3 in 4:16 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 23 of 25 shots; Pekka Rinne stopped 21 of 22.
The 3 stars, per the Nashville media, were Pekka Rinne, Alex Radulov and David Legwand.
The Wings’ goal: Hudler (2) from Filppula (2) and Zetterberg (1).
Faceoffs 29-19 Nashville (Detroit won 40%);
Blocked shots 17-12 Detroit;
Missed shots 14-10 Detroit (total attempts 52-48 Nashville, with Detroit firing 22 shots on Rinne and 26 wide or into Predators players);
Hits 32-22 Nashville;
Giveaways a hideous 11-8 Detroit;
Takeaways an equally poor 12-4 Nashville.
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 7-and-11 (39%); Zetterberg went 4-and-8 (33%); Abdelkader went 5-and-4 (56%); Emmerton went 2-and-3 (40%); Filppula went 1-and-1 (50%); Franzen and Cleary lost their only faceoffs.
Shots: White and Franzen led the team with 3 shots; Miller, Quincey, Zetterberg, Filppula and Kronwall had 2; Lidstrom, Cleary, Datsyuk, Hudler, Bertuzzi and Ericsson had 1.
Blocked attempts: Abdelkader, White, Filppula and Ericsson had 2 attempts blocked by Predators players; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Stuart and Bertuzzi had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Zetterberg missed the net 3 times; Lidstrom, Cleary and Nyquist missed the net 2 times; Abdelkader, White, Stuart, Hudler and Bertuzzi missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Abdelkader and Quincey led the team with 3 hits apiece; Datsyuk, Stuart, Bertuzzi and Franzen had 2; Lidstrom, Cleary, Nyquist, Miller, Hudler, Zetterberg, Emmerton and Ericsson had 1.
Giveaways: Franzen had 3 giveaways; Stuart and Howard had 2; Hudler, Quincey, Filppula and Holmstrom had 1.
Takeaways: Kronwall had 2 takeaways; Lidstrom and White had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Quincey blocked 4 shots; Stuart blocked 3; Lidstrom, Emmerton and Franzen blocked 2; Abdelkader, Cleary, Miller and Filppula blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Cleary, Ericsson and Holmstrom were penalized.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at -5. Abdelkader, Miller, Quincey, Bertuzzi and Ericsson finished at -1.
Points: Hudler had a goal; Zetterberg and Filppula had assists.
Ice time: Lidstrom led the team with 22:25 played; Kronwall played 21:53; Zetterberg played 21:47;
White played 20:45; Stuart played 20:33; Filppula played 18:58;
Datsyuk played 18:30; Ericsson played 17:49; Cleary played 17:10;
Hudler played 16:52; Quincey played 16:34; Franzen played 13:45;
Bertuzzi played 12:49; Nyquist played 12:48; Abdelkader played 12:41;
Miller played 11;16; Holmstrom played 10:28; Emmerton played 8:10.
Here’s a full slate of game highlights:
Update #4: Lidstrom didn’t have a thing to say to the CBC as to whether he’ll retire:
Update #5: This is just painful to watch:
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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.