Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings Predators Game 4 quick take: self-destruction made easy

At this point, it appears that the Detroit Red Wings may very well play the last game of the 2010-2011 season Friday night in Nashville. The Red Wings out-shot Nashville 41-17 and had every opportunity to score on this year’s version of Dwayne Roloson, circa 2006, in one Pekka Rinne…

And instead of bearing down on their chances in the Predators’ zone, three catastrophic defensive mistakes doomed Detroit, which dropped a 3-1 decision to the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night.

Is there a lack of leadership in the Wings’ room or behind the bench? Nope. Does this team still miss Kris Draper, Chris Osgood and Brian Rafalski? Yep. But why, George, you may ask, why has this team consistently self-destructed by allowing opposing teams’ defensemen to sneak into the slot and score series and season-killing goals for three straight seasons?

I don’t know. But I think that the London Free Press’s Morris DallaCosta had the right idea in writing an article prior to the game which suggested that even if Nicklas Lidstrom returns, the Red Wings need to consider making some significant changes to a transition year lineup that was supposed to sink or swim—and, from mid-February on, has sank like the Titanic, forgetting how to score while forgetting how to play defense.

I don’t know what to say. I genuinely love this team and care for its members, on the ice and off, as if they were an extended family. I went to a funeral today, a funeral of someone who was my physician for ten years, and on May 6th, it will mark 20 years since my dad died, suddenly and without warning, when I was 14…and whenever the Red Wings’ season ends, I go into a genuine grieving process. This is my team, this is my sport and my passion, and because of my health issues, to some extent, it’s ironic that following them is the one thing that I can actually do on a semi-consistent basis…

And I will continue to do so no matter what happens on Friday. I care too deeply for this team to abandon them, and, very frankly, I care too deeply about them to give up believing that they can rally in this series despite Pekka Rinne’s would-be dominance and despite the fact that the Wings’ confidence remains as paper-thin and pliable as it was during the team’s six-game losing streak in November and during February and March.

I think this team lost its identity somewhere along the way, lost its jam, its poise, confidence and swagger, and I think this team has ran into an organization that was hellbent upon building itself to defeat their self-made archrival this spring…

But at the same time, I think that while the Red Wings have worked very hard during a year in which the absences of Paul MacLean, Brad McCrimmon, the aforementioned Draper, Osgood and Rafalski, and, quite frankly, the leadership of Mike Modano and Ruslan Salei, all in an attempt to force-feed its youngsters starring roles…and it’s clear that that particular experiment has failed.

I suppose it goes without saying that it’s also painfully obvious that Johan Franzen (back), Nicklas Lidstrom (ankle), Pavel Datsyuk (knee) and Danny Cleary (knee) aren’t at 100%, and given his ice time, it looked like Tomas Holmstrom’s hurt, too…

And do a Red Wings team that can’t seem to establish a forecheck direly and desperately miss the presences of Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves?

Hockey Jeebus, yes, but those injuries are partial explanations for the Wings’ struggles and not blanket excuses which absolve the team from responsibility for their actions—or inaction.

It’s hard to believe that the Wings will come back from a 3-1 deficit and pull a miraculous seven game-forcing comeback again this spring because I think they don’t have the horses and I think they don’t have the swagger necessary to defeat a team that’s getting both earned and unearned breaks—if you think that the goal that Howard gave up that was waved off was scary, so was David Legwand putting his hand on the puck in the crease during the second period, so that evened out…

And this team, for whatever reason, needs a jolt in the personnel department, in my opinion, as well as some ridiculously remedial lessons in shutting down their slot from passes to unaccompanied players sneaking in from the point or otherwise. They could start by watching game tape from tonight’s affair, where far too many of the Red Wings’ 41 shots on the net and 33 attempts fired wide of the net or into Predators players were single, unobstructed shots, perimeter shots or shots where Predators players “boxed out” Detroit’s players so very well that they couldn’t—or wouldn’t—find position on the inside to snag rebounds and generate secondary or tertiary scoring opportunities.

Should we believe in the highly improbable?

Sure, why not.

Should we continue to have faith in the Wings’ ability to rally, especially given tonight’s effort, puck luck and self-inflicted wounds aside?

Sure, why not.

But it certainly feels like we are not going to witness any more games at Joe Louis Arena until September, and that we’ll be witnessing the last hockey game of the season on Friday, and there is no reason to hide our doubts while remaining faithful to a team that hasn’t necessarily earned the benefits thereof.

In terms of the game’s narrative...

The Red Wings dominated faceoffs and played puck possession hockey to a tee in the first period, out-shooting Nashville 11-7 in the 1st while winning the faceoff battle 15-12.

In the second period, the Wings were even more dominant, possessing a total of a 31-21 faceoff advantage and out-shooting Nashville by a remarkable 17-3 margin.

But the Red Wings did not manage to dent Rinne, in no small part due to the fact that their four power plays over the game’s first 40 minutes were over-reliant on either point shots or attempts to force passes through seams in the Predators’ defense that weren’t there.

Instead, David Legwand’s grab and hold of the puck that went undetected in the 2nd period included, the Wings went into the 3rd period tied 0-0, and the Predators were nothing less than furious after this goal didn’t count:

And on the bump-up shift, it all went to sh*t. David Legwand won a faceoff against Todd Bertuzzi (Justin Abdelkader had been waved out) in the Wings’ zone, at the left dot, the Predators worked the cycle as Gabriel Bourque wrapped it around the back boards and Legwand headed back to the center point as the Predators activated their defenders to grind down Abdelkader, Bertuzzi and Drew Miller, Abdelkader was tied up by 2 Predators players along the side boards and as the Predators swept the puck around from the left goal line to right goal line, Alex Radulov took the puck and started skating toward the Wings’ net from the right-hand side, for some baffling reason, Abdelkader, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart all skated toward Radulov, and when Todd Bertuzzi tried to block Radulov’s centering pass to an open Bourque, the puck trickled right onto Bourque’s stick and he blasted a high hard shot over Jimmy Howard, who had no chance on the play.

1:55 into the 3rd period, the Wings were down 1-0.

 

The Red Wings soon received a power play thanks to a too-many men call against Nashville, and they gave their fans hope in short order.

Henrik Zetterberg won a faceoff at the Predators’ right faceoff dot, although he was tied up and the Predators attempted to clear the puck, Niklas Kronwall held it in, Kronwall and Kyle Quincey played catch, Jiri Hudler then gave and went with Quincey from the left wing half boards back and back, Quincey and Zetterberg made a similar exchange and Quincey and Kronwall played catch twice—while Hudler hustled to the front of the net—and Kronwall blasted a slap shot which Hudler tipped past Rinne.

3:14 into the 3rd period, the game was tied. The goal was reviewed because it went in and out off the back bar, but it counted.

 

And then?

Then the bottom fell out. Jimmy Howard played a dump-in to Jonathan Ericsson, he fired it into the Predators’ zone, Pekka Rinne played it out to center, and as the Nyquist-Emmerton-Holmstrom line changed, Kyle Quincey gave the puck to Nicklas Lidstrom, his dump-in was taken by Francis Bouillon and sent to Brandon Yip, but Lidstrom stole the puck and head-manned it to Henrik Zetterberg, who got in deep and tried to cycle with Valtteri Filppula, who put the puck off the side of the net, and after Jiri Hudler’s backhand shot went wide, Filppula retrieved it, battled Mike Fisher, tossed it to Zetterberg down low, and Jiri Hudler’s backhander went off the post…

Zetterberg was all but tackled by Mike Fisher, and as Martin Erat flew up the middle of the ice, for some reason, Nicklas Lidstrom, Ian White and I believe Valtteri Filppula all chased Erat as he stopped at the left wing half boards and pivoted toward the net, and wouldn’t you know it…Kevin Klein slid into the slot, Jimmy Howard stumbled while seeing Erat deke and Kevin Klein had an empty net to dump the puck into.

6:25 into the 3rd, with 11:35 left, the Wings were down 2-1.

 

The Red Wings then blew a power play given to them when Andrei Kostitsyn attempted to seek revenge upon Niklas Kronwall for a hard but clean hit on Sergei Kostitsyn taken at 7:15, the Wings blew another power play when Matt Halischuk was called for interference at 13:41—that’s with 11:45 left and 6:19 left, respectively—and as the clock ran down and the Wings’ rushes became more desperate, the Predators had an easier and easier time stifling the Wings’ transition game, establishing their forecheck to hem the Wings in their own zone and block passes throughout the offensive zone, and after the Wings unsuccessfully called a timeout and pulled their goalie with a minute and a half left, wouldn’t you know it?

Henrik Zetterberg accidentally high-sticked Shea Weber at 19:04, or with 56 seconds left. Off the ensuing faceoff, which Valtteri Filppula won to Brad Stuart, Stuart couldn’t clear it, Erat and the Predators started to cycle in the Wings’ zone to the left of the net, and when Kyle Quincey pulled it out of the pile and gave it to Danny Cleary, Cleary tried to carry the puck up the ice just to the left of Jimmy Howard, almost bumping Howard as he skated up along the border of the crease, and David Legwand rather elegantly poked the puck off Cleary’s stick and allowed it to hit the back of the net as Howard could not get out to block a shot he didn’t see coming.

At 19:21, with 49 seconds left, the game was over.

 

So the Red Wings played a fantastic hockey game but couldn’t or wouldn’t beat Rinne because of the kind of detail plays that a team with more confidence would bury, as well as poor puck luck, and then it self-destructed.

I hope and will pray to the hockey gods that this team can find itself again, but I have to admit that my faith in them is marred by my belief that the team lost its identity when they encountered a spate of injuries to their leaders in Datsyuk and Lidstrom in late February, and I believe that a team that had to telegraph its trade deadline 1st rounder to bring in Brad Stuart’s successor simply can’t or won’t stack up against a team that added a Kostitsyn and Gaustad legally and Radulov by dubious but rule-abiding means.

The Wings can’t seem to match the Predators’ depth, speed, and especially their scoring, never mind their defensive play. I do not believe, however, that Pekka Rinne is nearly as invincible as the Predators’ defense and the Red Wings have made him out to be, and while he is an elite, elite netminder, he can be beaten.

It’s too bad that, for whatever reason, the Wings can’t. Or won’t. Because I don’t want to have to start my Nicklas Lidstrom/Tomas Holmstrom retirement watch on Saturday, hear the Wings’ comments about the off-season and read inevitable trickle-off of Wings articles over the course of next week, and then hope for Lidstrom’s return and a Lady Byng at the Awards, an Entry Draft haul and of course an attempt to attend the Wings’ development camp in July before knowing that I might not see this team skate again to, health abiding, September in Traverse City.

Please, Wings, give us a reason to believe, and give us some bonus hockey, because Red Wings nation still believes in you. We’re just kinda confused as to why you don’t seem to believe in yourselves…

And as Darren Eliot’s suggesting on FSD right now, man, the Brian Rafalski-less Wings can’t seem to get through the neutral zone with speed, and I’m starting to wonder, as I am a recovering pessimist, whether the Wings’ Cup hopes for the 2010-2011 season ended when #28 retired early and Ehrhoff and Wisniewski went elsewhere.

If the Wings do lose, by goodness, do they need another elite puck-mover, Lidstrom returning included, and do they ever need another goal-scorer. But for now they need faith in themselves and the self-belief to execute on Friday…And we need to have some faith in ‘em, too.

Statistics:

Shots 41-17 Detroit. Detroit out-shot Nashville 11-7 in the 1st period, 17-3 in the 2nd period and 13-7 in the 3rd period.

The Wings’ power play went 1 for 7 in 9:52 of PP time; the Predators’ power play went 1 for 3 in 1:39 of PP time (the PP times were low because of several 4-on-4’s due to intermeshing penalties).

Pekka Rinne stopped 40 of 41 shots; Jimmy Howard stopped 14 of 17.

The 3 stars, per the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness, were Kyle Quincey, Kevin Klein and Pekka Rinne.

The Wings’ goal: Jiri Hudler (1) from Niklas Kronwall (2) and Kyle Quincey (2), PPG.

Faceoffs 45-33 Detroit (Detroit won 58%);

Blocked shots 16-8 Nashville;

Missed shots 17-4 Detroit (that’s a total of 74 shot attempts for Detroit and 29 for Nashville);

Hits 28-20 Detroit;

Giveaways 10-6 Detroit;

Takeaways 6-6.

Individual stats:

Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 20-and-8 (71%); Zetterberg went 11-and-8 (58%); Abdelkader went 7-and-6 (54%); Filppula went 6-and-4 (60%); Emmerton went 0-and-5 (0%); Bertuzzi won his only faceoff; Cleary and Miller lost their only faceoffs.

Shots: Lidstrom led the team with 6 shots; Zetterberg had 5; Abdelkader, Datsyuk and Quincey had 4; Cleary, Bertuzzi and Filppula had 3; Franzen and Holmstrom had 2; Miller, Stuart, Hudler, Emmerton and Kronwall had 1.

Blocked attempts: Lidstrom and Kronwall fired 4 shots into Predators players; White and Bertuzzi had 2 attempts blocked; Miller, Hudler, Quincey and Filppula had 1 attempt blocked.

Missed shots: Quincey and Zetterberg missed the net 3 times; White, Hudler, Kronwall, Franzen and Holmstrom missed the net 2 times; Datsyuk missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Cleary led the team with 6 hits; Abdelkader had 3; White, Quincey, Ericsson, Kronwall, Franzen and Holmstrom had 2; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Nyquist, Stuart, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Emmerton had 1.

Giveaways: Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Ericsson had 2 giveaways; Lidstrom, White, Hudler and Filppula had 1 giveaway.

Takeaways: Zetterberg had 2 takeaways; Lidstrom, Cleary, White, Hudler and Filppula had 1 takeaway.

Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall blocked 3 shots; Lidstrom, Nyquist, White, Miller and Quincey blocked 1 shot.

Penalties taken: Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Bertuzzi took minor penalties.

Plus-minus: The Red Wings finished at a collective -10. Lidstrom, Abdelkader, White, Miller, Stuart, Hudler, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Filppula and Kronwall finished at -1.

Points: Hudler had a goal; Quincey and Kronwall had assists.

Ice time: Lidstrom led the team with 25:47 played; Zetterberg played 23:42; Datsyuk played 21:47;

White played 21:35; Filppula played 20:19; Hudler played 20:10;

Quincey played 19:53; Kronwall played 19:42; Franzen played 18:33;

Ericsson played 17:14; Stuart played 15:49; Cleary played 15:05;

Bertuzzi played 12:11; Abdelkader played 11:58; Miller played 11:04;

Holmstrom played 10:40; Nyquist played 6:06; Emmerton played 4:50.

Update: The highlights are narrated by NBC Sports’ Dave Strader…

 

Here’s Mike Babcock’s post-game presser as well:

 

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Avatar

Having tuned into other teams this playoff season, I can’t really sum it up better than the Wings just don’t want it bad enough. This team continually shows up late, doesn’t issue any kind of sustained, subtle, legal aggression towards its opponents, and always look like a team without any semblance of urgency. This team used to come out charging and hitting the living crap out of teams once the postseason started and dictated the tone of the game, but now, they’re barely sleepwalking through these games.

Goodness, this team needs more players with some heart.

Posted by Freamon on 04/18/12 at 12:26 AM ET

Chet's avatar

complacency. i said it weeks ago.

the defensive lapses and downright bad goaltending in this game were inexcusable. they can’t happen in september, in december, in early march, and definitely NOT in april. that 2-1 goal was like some kind of keystone cops punch line. it was amateur hour. it was the bushiest of bush league. the fact that one of the guys involved in it was lidstrom makes it even more unreal.

the lack of any sort of competitive fire is also alarming, but we’ve been seeing that since 2010. this team does need personnel changes. no question. they simply don’t hate losing enough.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 04/18/12 at 12:35 AM ET

Avatar

The second NSH goal was the worst defensive breakdown by the DRW team since forever. 18, 5 and 26 followed Erat and left 2 (two!) Bubbas alone in front of a gaping open net inexplicably abandoned by Jimmy who decided to join in the fun of rushing after Erat into the corner.

Posted by Alex on 04/18/12 at 12:51 AM ET

Avatar

Posted by Alex on 04/17/12 at 11:51 PM ET

That was honestly one of the most astonishing plays I’ve ever seen.  You might see a mindless play like that in a game between teams of 6-year old players…

Posted by Garth on 04/18/12 at 12:54 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

I think this team lost its identity somewhere along the way, lost its jam, its poise, confidence and swagger, and I think this team has ran into an organization that was hellbent upon building itself to defeat their self-made archrival this spring…

100% agree, but…

I think that while the Red Wings have worked very hard during a year in which the absences of Paul MacLean, Brad McCrimmon, the aforementioned Draper, Osgood and Rafalski, and, quite frankly, the leadership of Mike Modano and Ruslan Salei, all in an attempt to force-feed its youngsters starring roles…and it’s clear that that particular experiment has failed.

...in your next paragraph, I 100% disagree. The “leadership” of Modano and Rusty? Seriously, George? And which “youngsters” did they attempt to “force-feed”? Other than Emmerton, the only youngsters on the team this year were Mursak, Smith and Nyquist – with 25, 14 and 18 games respectively. And I don’t think any of them were ever within sniffing distance of “starring roles.”

And this team, for whatever reason, needs a jolt in the personnel department…

And now I’m back to completely agreeing with you. They’ll get a “forced” jolt when Stuart leaves (for a close-to-home West Coast team) and Nick and Homer finally decide they’ve had enough. After that, I hope Happy finds a home somewhere else. He’s stepped up his game considerably this year – but he can’t grow another 6” and gain 50 lbs before next season. So, thanks for everything, little guy, I hope the hookers are friendly whereever you end up.

As for replacements, well, Suter definitely isn’t the guy to replace Nick. He’s been nearly invisible in this series. Besides, all of the departing Wings need to be replaced by guys who are over 6’ and in excess of 210 lbs. Personally, I’d trade any prospect not named Smith or Nyquist for players of that caliber.

And if Ken Holland can sucker some dumb GM into trading a bag of (used) pucks for Franzen, I hope he takes it and then sends the guy a case of fine whiskey as a thank you. I never want to see that lazy-ass POS in a Red Wings uniform again.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 04/18/12 at 01:02 AM ET

Avatar

I hope that they can look back on their brief period of dominance mid-season and see what they were doing right. I’m not going to be crushed if they lose this series, but disappointed. The skill is there, but they sorta remind me of the Atlanta Braves in baseball now, always good enough to get close, but not quite top level. I just hope that if this team can’t pull it together, that they spend the money not used during the trade deadline to reload (maybe the salary cap/parity finally caught up to them?).

Posted by Bugsy on 04/18/12 at 01:06 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

that 2-1 goal was like some kind of keystone cops punch line. it was amateur hour. it was the bushiest of bush league.

...and…

The second NSH goal was the worst defensive breakdown by the DRW team since forever.

...and

That was honestly one of the most astonishing plays I’ve ever seen.  You might see a mindless play like that in a game between teams of 6-year old players…

Put all three of those statements together and you still can’t fully express the disgust I have for that complete lack of focus by a so-called professional hockey team. It’s completely symptomatic of what’s wrong with this year’s Wings – too much energy expended in all of the wrong places.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 04/18/12 at 01:10 AM ET

calquake's avatar

So the Red Wings played a fantastic hockey game

The Red Wings finished at a collective -10.

Those two things cannot exist in the same game.

Posted by calquake on 04/18/12 at 01:11 AM ET

Avatar

We’re just kinda confused as to why you don’t seem to believe in yourselves…

This. They stopped believing in themselves after the trade deadline came and went. They suddenly realized that they were not good enough and it showed in all games ever since.
Their record in the last 20 games of the season (games 63-82) was, you guessed it, the worst in the entire league. And that right after setting a new NHL record for home wins. I have never witnessed a freefall so sudden and spectacular from best to worst, ever, in professional sports.

Posted by Alex on 04/18/12 at 01:11 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

Zetterberg on Franzen: He’s been angry the last few games, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes out and scores two, three goals tonight.

LMAO.  I think Franzen owes Z a couple rounds.

And if Ken Holland can sucker some dumb GM into trading a bag of (used) pucks for Franzen, I hope he takes it and then sends the guy a case of fine whiskey as a thank you. I never want to see that lazy-ass POS in a Red Wings uniform again.

Posted by OlderThanChelios on 04/18/12 at 12:02 AM ET

Yep.  Franzen has stunk of overratedness his whole career.  Sure it’s easy to say now, but something about his playoff magic (from three years at this point), felt like it might not be real.  I hope Kenny can sells the snake oil while it before it sours completely.  This team can wait on the likes of Filppula for what he is paid, not so sure about Franzen.

Something has to give with the Holland/Babcock push and pull match.  These guys don’t look like they are on the same page.  Holland won’t put the kind of guys on the ice Babcock wants, and Babcock seems to answer with letting the team roll in its own shit.  I sure hope they sort it out this summer.

———-

But for what’s really important: Take care George.  The great thing about sports is the escape and the worst is when your team doesn’t come through.  But know there are always 19 or more of us pulling for you.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 04/18/12 at 01:17 AM ET

awould's avatar

Babcock needs instruct Franzen to take the puck hard to the net the first five times he has it. It will get him banged up enough to maybe give a shit the rest of the game.

Posted by awould on 04/18/12 at 01:23 AM ET

Avatar

Chet and Freamon, I couldn’t sum it up any better myself.  Was at the game tonight, and despite the shot totals which lead you to believe that the Wings dominated the game—the compete level of this team is just unacceptable in my opinion.  With the exception of just a few guys, it doesn’t look to me like this team even cares whether or not they make it through the first round.

Posted by Yags from Detroit on 04/18/12 at 01:33 AM ET

Avatar

Something has to give with the Holland/Babcock push and pull match.  These guys don’t look like they are on the same page.  Holland won’t put the kind of guys on the ice Babcock wants, and Babcock seems to answer with letting the team roll in its own shit.  I sure hope they sort it out this summer.

Posted by bezukov from Nasburgum delenda est. on 04/18/12 at 12:17 AM ET

Perfectly said. That must perfectly explain it. It must be his tug of war with KH, and the RW team is the victim. I kept wondering why Babcock used to smirk and chuckle when RWings were on the ropes in games. Why does he almost look morose and never go mad publicly behind the bench or in the post-game press-conference like Laviolette, Berube or Tortorella. Look how Flyers rallied behind their coach and assistant coach who openly called out Pens and their “stars”.

Posted by Alex on 04/18/12 at 01:38 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I care about my audience, too, bekuzov. I thought about what I’d do if I couldn’t do this today, and I didn’t have an answer for that.

In the end, sure, I’d follow the team nearly as closely as I do now, but the reason I started following them this closely to begin with was because I was part of a hockey forum where people wanted to know more about the Wings, and facilitating that connection with the team…

It was why I spent countless hours doing this when it wasn’t a job, and it’s become even more important to me now that this is my job. It wouldn’t be something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life if I didn’t find it fulfilling, and that fulfillment comes from knowing that even though we’re talking about following a kid’s game played by professional athletes and a money-making industry, and that this isn’t exactly rocket science, nor saving the world, what I do seems to give people a sense of community, a sense of belonging, enjoyment when things go well and what is at least shared suffering when things go wrong.

In other words, I do this for you guys and gals as much, if not more, than I do it for me. That won’t change regardless of what happens on Friday, and the dedication to Paul and my audience…That’s the kind of shit that helps get me through the darkest times. I know I’ve got people who care and people to whom I can be useful despite my health issues. That’s really, really important.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 04/18/12 at 01:46 AM ET

Rondo's avatar

Babcock needs instruct Franzen to take the puck hard to the net the first five times he has it. It will get him banged up enough to maybe give a shit the rest of the game.

Posted by awould on 04/18/12 at 12:23 AM ET

That’s the problem. Everyone is always making suggestions about what it’s going to take to motivate this guy. “Maybe if he gets mad he’ll play better! Maybe a bump down to the 3rd/4th line will give him a wake-up call!”... and no dice.

The problem is that he doesn’t have the motivation to play with heart because it just doesn’t naturally exist inside of him like it does other players and that just sucks because it’s not something anybody else can change. That includes Babcock or anyone else for that matter. It’s just a lost cause at this point it seems. I’ve always been a supporter of his when he has his little slumps and I’m always trying to defend him but I just can’t do it any more.

Posted by Rondo on 04/18/12 at 02:07 AM ET

NIVO's avatar

i love the mule dammit, but i dont think he could score right now unless the goal was shaped like a grocery bag.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 04/18/12 at 02:27 AM ET

cowboycoffee's avatar

thanks, George

Posted by cowboycoffee from San Francisco, CA on 04/18/12 at 02:49 AM ET

Alzy's avatar

Thank you for all you do George, it is greatly appreciated.

Three plays I think sum up this series: The chance that Datsyuk had with about 4 minutes left I think. Cleary had just taken a shot, Datsyuk got the rebound and swung behind the net. He threw it out front, it bounced off the Pred D-man’s skate, between Rinne’s legs, but instead of bouncing backwards towards the goal, it bounced frontwards in front of Rinne. Absolutely no puck luck at all.

After all game of the Wings just getting no bounces at all, David Legwand just takes a swipe at the puck as Cleary comes out from behind the net with the puck, and it goes straight into the net.

And the third? With about 9 minutes left I believe, Homer gets a long cross ice diagonal pass from Kronwall and steps over the blueline. He has Nyquist just joining him at full flight, charging the net. Homer stops at the bottom of the right faceoff circle, and with Nyquist maybe only 7 feet from him, uncorks a slap shot that Rinne promptly kicks back out straight into the left side of the high slot. But the problem is, Nyquist hasn’t reached the front of the net yet, and as a result the puck ends up just bouncing right out of the zone. Had Homer waited for just 1, maybe 1.5 seconds then fired, Nyquist would’ve been johnny on the spot. Yes he was battling with the Pred D-man, but still, Nyquist could win the battle and put the rebound home. It could hit one of them and bounce back into the net. My point is, this team, even though they talk ad nauseum about getting people to the front of the net, they don’t give the play enough time to develop. When they need to wait that extra second to allow their teammates to get there, they don’t. When they have teammates in front with a shooter in the slot, the shooter passes off. It’s just infuriating to watch.

How many times tonight did a charging forward just throw a fluttering piece of crap from 40 feet out, which Rinne promptly caught and held for a faceoff? This happens WAY too much, and it’s basically like turning the puck over. Yes I know the mantra “it’s never a bad idea to shoot” but Rinne is not the type of goalie who will let a flutter-ball in. I think it’s relatively simple to beat Rinne: you have to either a)do some east-west passing and get him moving laterally,  b) fire low, hard shots at him, and have people in front to capitalize on the rebounds, or c) used layered screening so the puck changes direction on him, although because he’s so big I don’t think this will be too effective outside of the PP.Option B is the one that I think would work best, but they have to be willing to work for it. And well, up to this point in the series, they just don’t seem to want to work as hard as the Pred D-men.

I felt like I was stabbed in the gut tonight when Hank took that penalty.The Wings have deserved a way better fate than they’ve received thus far, but for the first time, I feel like the end is near. I of course will never stop rooting for this team, but they officially have me wondering if they have “it” this season. I thought they were done last year after game 3 against SJ though, so I hope just like then my gut is wrong, and they once again win three straight. They can do it, but they have to outwork Nashville for it. who wants it more? right now, sadly, I think the Preds do.

Posted by Alzy from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada on 04/18/12 at 03:47 AM ET

Avatar

The NHL has begun a shift in style as far as I can see. Whereas in the past 8 seasons or so a team like Detroit flourished BECAUSE OF a roster built almost entirely around skill and finesse, today’s game is such that a team like Detroit flounders BECAUSE they ice a team built entirely around skill and finesse. This is particularly evident in the playoffs. Now I know, the playoffs have always been a different animal altogether. But take a good look at the games going on these days and the way they’re played/called. Obstruction, slashes, cross-checks all over the place, more fighting than we’ve seen in a long time. The younger players in/entering the league today seem to remind me more of guys like Shanahan, Tocchet, Neely, Ludwig, (Claude) Lemieux, Pronger, Stevens and Konstantinov rather than guys like Spezza, Heatley, Sharp, Elias, Kaberle, St. Louis, Boyle, Gonchar etc. All of these guys were good hockey players. They all could skate, stick handle, pass and shoot…very productive. The difference is that the first group of guys would punch your grandma in the tits if they thought that it may help their team win a game.

Today’s player seems to be more in the mold of a throwback but with all of the physical attributes of a modern athlete. They’re bigger, stronger and faster….and meaner. This isn’t a bad thing. I enjoy this style and grew up watching that kind of hockey. But if you’re a Red Wing fan, not so much. Detroit isn’t equipped to play today’s kind of game as efficiently as other teams. Mike Babcock knows it. He’s alluded to it in his gentle “swipes” at Kenny. Things like, “we don’t have the personnel for that kind of thing” and “we have to go with the players we have” aren’t just some going-through-the-motion kind of soundbites for media types. He’s a throw back, too. He likes guys like Shea Weber, Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan. Why? What is it about these guys that’s so likable? I mean they’re just overly aggressive, testosterone driven thugs, right? Bullshit. these guys can play any style they need to, and that includes the rough stuff which hockey has always been about. I never bought into the whole “the Red Wings are soft and weak” argument. That’s because the game was such that a team like that could really excel with the kinds of players they had. Holland did a tremendous job at putting together a roster that was built for a particular style of play. And before the “the Wings are soft and weak” arguments crept in, that team was built to suceed. Only that team DID have the “personnel for that kind of thing” as well as the skill.

Maybe I’m completely off here. Maybe watching Wings’ hockey for all of these years has me genuinely oblivious to what’s really going on around the rest of the league. But as far as I’m concerned this organization has come to a crossroads. Will Ken Holland continue to try and work around this idea that the NHL brass has for what the league should be? Or will he recognize that despite Bettman’s best efforts there is a shift in philosophy going on among players, coaches and indeed GM’s alike as to what kind of hockey they’re going to play? The clock is ticking on Holland and our beloved team. Babcock and Holland do seem to have developed a fundamental difference of opinion on what it takes to get it done…and I don’t mean a 50 win regular season and a President’s trophy. I mean the real prize, the greatest trophy of them all. That’s all we care about here. Anything less is failure. Do you let Babcock go, or do you adjust your roster (as other teams have) to better match your rivals and the rest of the league in general? You can’t have it both ways. Lidstrom may be out the door soon enough, for fu*ks sake. What say you, Kenny? Do you have the balls to make the difficult decisions that lay ahead? For the sake of the greatest sports franchise of all time, I hope so.

Posted by godblender on 04/18/12 at 04:05 AM ET

Avatar

Here’s the problem with Franzen: he’s Alexander Mogilny.  He should be on short, one- or two-year contracts.  The worst thing that could’ve happened is him getting rewarded for his potential with a lifetime contract.  He has nothing to play for.  Why pretend to give a damn when you know you’re getting $5M+ for the next several years?  He never again has to perform for a contract.

Here’s hoping the new CBA has one of those one-time buyout clauses like the last one so the Wings can replace Franzen with a warm body who gives a shit about playing hockey.

Posted by Garth on 04/18/12 at 08:42 AM ET

Avatar

  So the Red Wings played a fantastic hockey game

  The Red Wings finished at a collective -10.

Those two things cannot exist in the same game.

No kidding.

Sorry, George, but you completely contradicted yourself in this post. Maybe it’s the sign of an Optimist, but you seem more like you are grasping for something to hold on to rather than admitting the obvious. A large part of the problem IS the coach.

You name off all the problems this team has, say it’s not the coach, then say you don’t know what it is. Well, if you don’t know, then the coach is certainly one place to begin looking.

Still love your work though. smile

Posted by Red Winger from work on 04/18/12 at 09:39 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

In other words, I do this for you guys and gals as much, if not more, than I do it for me. That won’t change regardless of what happens on Friday, and the dedication to Paul and my audience…That’s the kind of shit that helps get me through the darkest times. I know I’ve got people who care and people to whom I can be useful despite my health issues. That’s really, really important.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 04/18/12 at 12:46 AM ET

I appreciate what you do for us.  I don’t check any other hockey sites.  TMR is the best!

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 04/18/12 at 10:47 AM ET

Avatar

Posted by godblender on 04/18/12 at 03:05 AM ET

RW desperately need a more balanced roster - some playmakers along with some pure scores, gritty sandpaper guys, big physical bodies. Now we have loads of the former and a dearth of the latter.
Only GM can solve this. Coach cannot.

Posted by Alex on 04/18/12 at 12:07 PM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

I think it boils down to this, in the minds of Holland and Babcock.

they’re used to the Red Wings leading the league.  and I don’t mean in points.  I mean in talent, style, and system.  however, the rest of the league caught up.  the rest of the league now knows how to beat the Wings/Penguins style of high flying superstar amazing play goal scoring prowess. 

can Ken Holland and Mike Babcock, in the off season, get their heads around the idea that THEY now need to adjust, because they’ve fallen behind in the league-wide shift?

it’s no longer “everyone else adjusting to the Wings” it’s the Wings who need to change.  is Holland too stubborn?  is he too arrogant to realize the Wings are no longer the hallmark of the league - style-wise?

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 04/18/12 at 12:11 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.

Smileys

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Feed

Most Recent Blog Posts

About The Malik Report

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.