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Red Wings-Predators quick take: smart hockey versus a dumb puck

The Detroit Red Wings let ‘em up off the mat, plain and simple. Absolutely dominating in terms of shots, puck possession, intensity and effort, the Red Wings were all too willing, all game long, to indulge the Nashville Predators’ cycle, and it bit Detroit to the expense of two points, losing 4-3 to Nashville in what was just a weird game.

Shea Weber’s screened shot on the Wings’ only penalty tied the game thanks to a screen and a half and his gamer…Just bounced badly against a Jimmy Howard who barely faced pucks but had to work his ass off to stop the ones he did (and the Legwand shot he didn’t), mostly because the players in front of him were getting away with shooting but not scoring on their opponent, and felt it necessary to chase around the Predators’ rambunctious forwards.

In a tale of a team playing an efficient road game tangling with what was all but a football team’s worth of motion, players trying to run over everything and everyone, the Wings weren’t out-worked or out-played, but they were out-hustled and out-bounced, and that’s more than enough to lose in this day and age—especially when the puck is not on your side.

Tomas Holmstrom and Henrik Zetterberg received fortunate bounces of their own on pucks that were boobled by Predators players and all but literally handed to Wings players, and Henrik Zetterberg scored a slick goal in between, but the Predators never gave up, even when the Wings led the game 3-1 halfway through the second period, and when the Wings chose to allow the Predators to press back…

Bad things happened, and their goalie was left out to dry almost every time he faced an infrequent shot, dealing with untouched players lurking to pounce upon the few rebounds he gave out or screens and then…Bad ice.

Losing like the Wings did, thanks to a game-tying goal with 4:24 left and then a bizarre game-winner with all of 2:46 left in the game, especially given that Predators fans’ rip-off University of Michigan cheers are only appropriate if you’re in college, drunk, or both yielded a terrible result for a pretty damn good effort, self-induced mistakes notwithstanding.

The Wings don’t have any time to feel sorry for themselves as their two-point performances from Ian White and Pavel Datsyuk (2 assists), tremendous grind from the Helm and what I’ll call the Holmstrom line given that Cory Emmerton and Justin Abdelkader were out-ground by a player who finished at -2, and sterling games by Nicklas Lidstrom and Datsyuk’s linemates in Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen, combined with the Wings’ continued dedication to sustaining their offensive attack with speed, grit and the ability to generate secondary and tertiary scoring chances, all of that stuff is good to build upon with the Kings coming into town on Saturday and then the Wings playing three games in Edmonton, Vancouver and then Calgary over the course of four pre-Christmas nights.

S*** happens, and it sucks when the Predators, as they are wont to do, kick it in your face, whether it be accidental or intentional. You can play as smartly as you want to, but the puck has no loyalty and has an IQ of zero.

Statistics:

Shots a remarkable 40-21 Detroit overall. The Wings out-shot Nashville 12-8 in the 1st period, 15-5 in the 2nd period and 13-8 in the 3rd period.

The Wings went 2 for 2 in 2:40 of PP time (on a night when there was quite a bit of clutching and grabbing), and the Predators went 1 for 1 in 22 seconds of PP time.

Pekka Rinne stopped 37 of 40 shots; Jimmy Howard stopped 17 of 21 but deserves no blame for the loss.

The 3 stars, per the Predators’ media, were Nicklas Lidstrom, Jordin Tootoo and Shea Weber.

The Wings’ goals: Holmstrom (6) from White (10) and Datsyuk (22), power play;

Zetterberg (7) from Hudler (13) and Bertuzzi (9), power play;

Lidstrom (7) from White (11) and Datsyuk (22).

Faceoffs 26-20 Detroit (the Wings won 57%);

Blocked shots 17-9 Nashville;

Missed shots 10-10 (total shot attempts 67-40 Detroit);

Hits 20-16 Nashville;

Giveaways 10-4 Nashville;

Takeaways 5-4 Nashville.

Telling statistic: Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall finished at -3, and while Tomas Holmstrom was great overall, he finished at -2.

Individual statistics:

Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 11-and-7 (61%); Zetterberg went 5-and-5 (50%); Helm went 5-and-5 (50%); Abdelkader went 2-and-3 (40%); Emmerton, Filppula and Franzen all won single faceoffs.

Shots: White led the team with 6 shots; Zetterberg had 5; Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Emmerton and Franzen had 3; Lidstrom, Cleary, Miller, Hudler, Helm, Bertuzzi and Holmstrom had 2; Filppula, Ericsson and Kronwall had 1. Only Kindl and Stuart were not credited with shots.

Blocked attempts: White had 4 attempts blocked; Cleary, Stuart and Kronwall had 2 attempts blocked; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Miller, Helm and Bertuzzi had single attempts blocked.

Missed shots: Lidstrom, Datsyuk and Filppula missed the net 2 times; Cleary, White (that’s a total of 11 attempted shots for White), Emmerton and Franzen missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Both Stuart and Helm had 3 hits; Kindl, Cleary and Hudler had 2; Abdelkader, White, Bertuzzi and Ericsson had 1.

Giveaways: Ericsson had 2 giveaways during a rather rough game for him; Bertuzzi had 1.

Takeaways: Cleary, Datsyuk, White and Helm were credited with takeaways.

Blocked shots: Kronwall blocked 2 Predators shots; Kindl, Lidstrom, Abdelkader (who is okay despite taking the one shot he blocked off his left foot), White, Stuart, Bertuzzi and Ericsson blocked 1 shot.

Penalties taken: Jimmy Howard took the Wings’ only penalty.

Plus-minus: Stuart and Kronwall finished at -3; Holmstrom finished at -2; Abdelkader, Miller, Hudler, Zetterberg, Helm, Emmerton and Filppula finished at -1; Lidstrom, White, Bertuzzi and Franzen finished at +1 and the team finished at -10.

Points: Datsyuk had 2 assists; White had 2 assists; Lidstrom, Zetterberg and Holmstrom had goals; Hudler and Bertuzzi had assists.

Ice time: White led the team with 26:33 played; Lidstrom played 24:23; Kronwall played 19:59;

Franzen played 19:58; Datsyuk played 19:45; Stuart played 18:45;

Zetterberg played 18:43; Filppula played 18:25; Bertuzzi played 18:14;

Hudler played 16:46; Ericsson played 15:17; Cleary played 15:15;

Helm played 14:03; Kindl played 14:00; Miller played 12:21;

Holmstrom played 10:20; Abdelkader played 9:43; Emmerton played 8:00.

Update: The fact that things like this happened didn’t help:

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Comments

MsRedWinger's avatar

Yeah, what hurt the most was seeing Weber get the game winner on the freakiest bounce I’ve ever seen. Jimmah was positioned to stop the shot, but that was a classic case of “shit happens.”. I have no criticism of the Wings’ effort tonight. It was a hard fought game. Very playoff-like. Their fans really do suck, though.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 12/16/11 at 01:51 AM ET

socalwingnut's avatar

Only thing I can say about that bad bounce is now I (sort of) know how the Preds fans felt about Lidstrom’s goal in the ‘08 playoffs. Same ice, same end of the rink.

Posted by socalwingnut on 12/16/11 at 02:23 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

...the Red Wings were all too willing, all game long, to indulge the Nashville Predators’ cycle

And that’s about the only thing that bothers me about the 2011-2012 Wings. They seem to get mesmerized by teams that use an aggressive cycle. As soon as it starts, they get sucked into chasing the puck and – boom – it’s in the net.

Yes, there were some bad bounces in this game. But they lost because they let Nashville play the way they wanted to play in the third period. And as much as I liked Emmerton at the start of the season, I’d let him go for half a bag of pucks if it meant we could keep Conner in the line-up. His energy is contagious – and that was sorely missed tonight.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 12/16/11 at 02:43 AM ET

DrewBehr's avatar

OlderThanChelios - Emmerton’s only in because Conner has a broken hand. If it wasn’t for that, Emmerton would be out.

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 12/16/11 at 03:28 AM ET

Avatar

Just remember, many of those Michigan cheers are really rip-off Cornell cheers.

It was a weird game, for sure, but when you credit “fortunate bounces” for the Holmstrom and Zetterberg goals, it’s a little disingenuous to blame the puck for the loss.

9 times out of 10, Detroit wins a game like that, but Pekka was pretty solid last night.

Posted by Dirk Hoag from United States on 12/16/11 at 01:10 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Rinne was very good and the Predators earned more decisive bounces than the Wings did. That’s the difference to me—the Predators’ bounces were the result of harder work.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/16/11 at 04:21 PM ET

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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.