Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Slightly belated Red Wings-Flames wrap-up: two little, two late

Updated 3x at 11:45 AM with Wings ticket and Danny Dekeyser news...First and foremost, an apology: this recap’s quite late because my internet conked out last night from about the start of the 3rd period onward: For the second night in a row, the Detroit Red Wings didn’t show up at the start of a challenging road game. For the second night in a row, the Detroit Red Wings surrendered a 2-goal lead, and then surrendered a 3rd goal after a controversial call didn’t go their way. For the second night in a row, the Detroit Red Wings’ special teams were awful. For the second night in a row, the Red Wings mounted a furious third period comeback against a determined opponent, but the Wings’ stars, support players and leaders simply couldn’t complete their rally because they’d left their goaltender to the wolves by “cheating” toward offense early, exposing the kinds of flaws and fragile collective confidence that had Wings fans worried as all hell get out in November…

And as such, the Wings flew home to Detroit slowly sinking in the Western Conference standings thanks to a 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday and a 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames (clicky for the “Quick Take”), going 1-for-3 on their two-game road trip and dropping 2 games below .500 on the road.

Despite the absence of player quotes, the Calgary Herald’s George Johnson captured the “spirit of the thing” most astutely:

Any edge you take and run with. Any weakness, however temporary, is to be exploited to the fullest. No compunction. No apologies.

The surging Detroit Red Wings had been embroiled in a nasty, chippy, compelling, playoff-style Pier-6er at GM Place the night before against the equally-ambitious Vancouver Canucks. And the effort expended, the toll exacted, hung on them heavily, like a shroud, for 44 official minutes Thursday.A step slow. A beat behind. The usual artfulness sadly lacking. That famous geometric interplay disjointed. Flagging in spirit and dull in mind. How very un-Wing-like.

But lord-a-mighty, once they stirred to life . . . From what seemed to be a foregone conclusion, the Calgary Flames were forced to hang on grimly, survive a savage, relentless onslaught, to once again gingerly tiptoe north of the NHL equator, the .500 mark. A 3-2 victory sends them off to the Canadian West Coast tonight for a last pre-Christmas meat grinder at least in a positive frame of mind.

For displaying such dogged determination, they do deserve props. The Wings, a showy 12-4 over their latest 16 starts, have been rounding into top form over the past month. And once aroused from their lethargy Thursday, that indisputable class shone through. So these are two found points for a team desperately in need of them
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The Flames seized on Detroit’s sluggishness, and the presence of backup Ty Conklin between the pipes, to establish an apparently-insurmountable three-goal lead by the second intermission. They struck first at 18:10 of the opening third, Olli Jokinen’s shot nicking off the shaft of Niklas Kronwall’s cue, dropping down from fastball to change-up speed, and off Conklin’s left pad. Curtis Glencross lifted the rebound into the roof of the net.

Kronwall, involved in a senses-sapping hit on the Canucks’ Ryan Kesler 24 hours earlier, chalked up another unwitting victim. Stepping up near the blueline, he absolutely plowed an inattentive Tim Jackman, sending the Flame to the deck and his stick flying. Ironically, Kronwall’s appetite for destruction had sent the Flames off on a 2-on-1, Brendan Morrison saucering a lovely pass for Blake Comeau to finish only 1:30 in the second period.

White banking a pass off Pavel Datsyuk’s left skate, set the locals away on yet other odd-man situation. On this occasion, though, Glencross ignored the pass and hammered the puck past Conklin.

Or, in one sentence:

Why the Flames Won: Because it took the Wings, embroiled in a knock-down, drag-out playoff style game in Vancouver the night before and using their backup goalie, 44 minutes to stir to life.

We’ll go with one more ditty from the Flames’ website’s recap and CalgaryFlames.com’s Torie Peterson before heading into the Flames’ locker room, taking a gander at this “takeaway” from the game…

Detroit’s Second Wind: The Red Wings played the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night but their legs certainly didn’t seem tired in the third period. They scored two goals in the stanza and Henrik Zetterberg nearly evened it up in the last few minutes of the game with a shot off the post.

Flames forward Curtis Glencross told the Calgary Sun’s Steve MacFarlane that the Flames deserved their win...mostly…

“We got away with it,” said Flames winger Curtis Glencross, who scored twice, including the winner. “Detroit’s a team, with that skill, they can always come back. Three goals for them isn’t much. We said that (after) the second period and we got off our guard a little bit.”

The end result was a 3-2 Flames win at the Saddledome — a place they don’t play again until Jan. 7, more than two weeks from now, thanks to a seven-game road swing courtesy of the world junior hockey championship taking over the Dome.

Looking like a team that already gobbled down their holiday turkey and all the trimmings, the Red Wings were a shell of their usual selves over the first 40 minutes. Niklas Kronwall uncharacteristically gave up proper positioning to go for a big body check, which led to a two-on-one rush finished off by Blake Comeau for a 2-0 Flames lead early in the second period. Ty Conklin couldn’t track a toy train set, never mind follow the puck.

The Wings’ best chance to score through the first 45 minutes was nullified by a goalie interference penalty as Tomas Holmstrom repeatedly hammered Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester into Miikka Kiprusoff, who had no shot at stopping Pavel Datsyuk’s sharp-angled effort. Other follies included Johan Franzen missing a wide open net with less than a minute left. And even Datsyuk was prone to turnovers. Greedily, the Flames took full advantage, and deserve full marks for it.

“We were on our heels a little bit more than we’d like to during the third period. But you know what? At the end of the night, it’s a win,” said head coach Brent Sutter. “We played hard. We competed and played hard. We did a lot of things really well in the first two periods. To be up 3-0 after two, you’ve done a lot of things well.”

There’s no doubting that. There’s also no question they were feeling a little heat in the third period as every fan in the building was screeching while the Red Wings poured on the pressure after goals from Jiri Hudler and Ian White brought them to within a goal of forcing overtime.

“It doesn’t matter what the score is, they’re always still in the game,” said defenceman Chris Butler. “We hung on, I guess that’s the most important thing.”

That’s the theory, as Jay Bouwmeester told the Calgary Herald’s Scott Cruickshank:

“We played pretty well the first two periods, the way we wanted to,” said Jay Bouwmeester, minutes after the Flames received holiday wishes from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his posse in the dressing room. “With a team that’s played the night before (in Vancouver), if you can get in their end, cycle them, get on their defence, tire them out — all that good stuff — it makes it easier on yourself. In the third period . . . we probably sat back too much.”

Added Chris Butler: “You look at how dangerous and how skilled they are when they’re controlling the puck. Tremendously skilled team and always tough to play against.”

What’s the key to surviving when the Wings smell blood?

“Just simplify things,” said Butler. “Just make sure, no matter what, you’ve always got somebody’s stick and you’re close to somebody and you’re taking away passing lanes. At times when you do get lost, you work from the middle of the ice and out, force things to the outside.”
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“You don’t want to hang on, you want to do the things that you were doing,” said Bouwmeester. “You want to get pucks deep, don’t turn it over, play in their end. I mean, that’s the easiest thing. They’re going to send guys, they’re down, they’re going to try to get chances.”
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“We did a good job on the forecheck, we did a good job of maintaining possession in the offensive zone, of trying to take away their time and space,” said Butler. “That’s a team that loves puck possession, that doesn’t like dumping the puck. It felt like, at times, we forced them to dump the puck, which I don’t think is their strong suit.”

The Canadian Press’s recap allows us to shift focus from the Flames’ comments to those of the Wings’ personnel...

“We got off our guard a little bit,” said Glencross, who has scored in three straight games. “We just had to keep going and play the way we did the first two periods (and) we would’ve been better off. We got through it and got the two points.”

Hudler broke Kiprusoff’s shutout bid at 4:55 of the final period when he cut to the slot through traffic and backhanded a shot past the Calgary goalie.

The Red Wings continued to pour on the pressure and were rewarded when White’s point shot deflected off the stick of Calgary forward Tom Kostopoulos and past Kiprusoff with 4:12 remaining.

With less than two minutes left in the game, Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg rang a shot off the post. Detroit coach Mike Babcock pulled Conklin from the net in favor of an extra attacker in the final minute, but the Flames hung on for the win.  Detroit lost for the second straight night, following a 4-2 defeat at Vancouver on Wednesday night.

“You play back-to-back on the road in the NHL all the time,” Babcock said. “You’ve got to dig in and find a way to win. We didn’t make the hard decision to do that.”

Babcock was thoroughly unhappy with his team’s performance, as he told NHL.com’s Aaron Vickers:

“I thought even at the end we had lots of opportunities, but the hockey gods look after the team that plays the longest and they deserved to win not us,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “The decision to play didn’t happen until the third period, and we have to be disappointed with our effort, for sure.”

The Flames turned a 1-0 lead into a three-goal advantage by coming out fast in the middle period.  Jackman took a hit from Niklas Kronwall at his own blue line to get the puck to a streaking Brendan Morrison, who came in 2-on-1 with Blake Comeau. Morrison fired a pass over the stick of Brad Stuart to Comeau, who buried it past Red Wings goaltender Ty Conklin at 1:30 to give Calgary a 2-0 lead. The assist was the 400th of Morrison’s career.

“I was pretty happy to see Blake finish that and Morrison make that pass there after I got rocked pretty good there by Kronwall,” Jackman said.
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“(Kronwall) obviously thought he had enough people in front of him,” Babcock said. “He’s usually real good with those things. It ended up in our net, so it’s obviously not the right decision.”

Curtis Glencross made it 3-0 at 5:47, beating Conklin to the far side from near the right faceoff dot on another 2-on-1, this one with each team down a man.

“It’s one of those shots, you can ask any goalie, if you put it low blocker just over the pad from most angles it was a tough one,” Glencross said. “There was lots of traffic too so I didn’t want to come short side and have it go the other way. I was lucky enough to go in.”
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“I think we gave up more odd-man rushes in the first two periods than we have in a month,” [Babcock] said.

Babcock practically growled about his team’s performance while speaking to the Free Press’s Helene St. James...

“I don’t know if it’s our worst of the year,” coach Mike Babcock said, “but it’s close. I didn’t think we skated very good on the whole trip. I didn’t expect us to skate good the first 10 minutes, but I thought we’d dig in and really play and play hard. We didn’t do that. The decision to play didn’t happen until the third period. We’ve got to be disappointed with our effort for sure.”

Conklin hasn’t won a game since his first start of the season, back on Oct. 8, but he didn’t have much effort in front of him this night until the third period, which saw Jiri Hudler and Ian White score. Curtis Glencross bookended goals around Blake Comeau to give Calgary a 3-0 lead after 26 minutes.

“We gave then a couple of 2-on-1s and some chances that they scored on, and you can’t do that against a team that’s playing real well defensively and has great goaltending back there,” Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “It’s hard to come back against a team like that.”

Coming off a 4-2 loss the previous night at Vancouver, the Wings played down to the Flames’ level in the first period rather than push the pace. Fifteen minutes in, the only Wing with a shot on Miikka Kiprusoff was Pavel Datsyuk, who avoided face-offs until the third period because of soreness from a slash in the Vancouver game, but Babcock said it wasn’t serious.
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The Wings—who had all of five shots the first period—dropped into a 2-0 hole 90 seconds into the second period. Niklas Kronwall, who one night earlier laid a huge hit on Ryan Kesler, unwisely chose to lag behind to nail Tim Jackman, leading to Blake Comeau scoring off a rush.

“We looked at it quite closely a number of times,” Babcock said. “I don’t know if someone came off their bench, but we didn’t see anyone in front of us. So he probably didn’t gather the information like there was someone behind him. He obviously thought he had enough people in front of him. He’s usually really good with those things. It ended up in our net, so obviously not the right decision.”

And Lidstrom agreed with his coach’s assessment while speaking to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan...

“We started competing a lot more in the third period,” Nicklas Lidstrom said. “The first two periods, they were skating a lot better than we were and beating us to lot of pucks. We battled back to give us a chance at the end.”
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Ty Conklin got the start in net for the Wings and made 24 saves, giving Jimmy Howard a rare night off. Conklin couldn’t salvage a bad 40 minutes by the Wings.

“It wasn’t the start we wanted,” Conklin said.
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The Wings were 0-for-2 on the power play, completing a Canadian trip in which they went scoreless on eight attempts with the man advantage.

“If you can get one power play goal it can get you back in the game,” Lidstrom said. “That’s when you have to get your power play going in a game like this.”

Who noted that the Wings had no complaints whatsoever—nor should they have—about Ty Conklin’s very solid performance, perhaps his best in his second go-round with the Wings:

“Conks deserved an opportunity, he did a good enough job,” Babcock said. “We didn’t give him any support. We gave up as many odd man rushes in two periods as we’ve given up in a month.”

Conklin’s previous start and appearance was a Dec. 4 loss in Colorado.

“I’ve just been trying to stay sharp in practice,” said Conklin, who shut out Colorado on Oct. 8 in his season debut for his only victory. “Aside from one game I’ve felt pretty good. When you don’t get in there often you want to get take advantage of your opportunities.”

Conklin is used to the backup role and knows how to handle it and accept it. It’s one of the reasons the Wings signed Conklin last summer after Chris Osgood retired.

“It’s always difficult, but it’s something that’s been my role for most of my career,” Conklin said. “Certainly it’s been long breaks this season, but that’s just the way it is. immy has been playing so well. It’ll be nice to get in there.”

Babcock refused to bite on the theory that a team can excuse itself for playing shaky hockey on the back half of back to backs—or when they’re playing their third game in four nights, their fourth in sixth, fifth in eight and seventh over the course of nine days, and all of those statements apply to the Wings in this instance—as he told MLive’s Ansar Khan:

“I don’t buy any of that,” Babcock said. “You play back-to-back on the road in the NHL all the time. You got to dig in and find a way to win. On this trip we looked like a team that doesn’t skate well and yet (we) know we skate real well. We weren’t very quick. I thought they looked great coming out of their zone until the third period, then we dug in and made the game close.”

Glencross scored a power-play goal at 16:10 of the first period and made it 3-0 at 5:47 of the second. In between, Blake Comeau scored at 1:30 of the second. Johan Franzen had an apparent power-play goal disallowed at 4:32 of the second when Tomas Holmstrom was penalized for goaltender interference.

Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom acknowledged that playing three road games in four nights takes its toll, but said his team didn’t play smart early on, when players should have taken shorter shifts.

“Especially playing back-to-backs, playing a team that’s sitting there waiting for you, that’s where you have to play a little smarter, play better defensively and take care of your own end first,” Lidstrom said. “The first two (periods) they were skating a lot better than us. They were beating us to pucks, they were coming down on three-on-twos, two-on-ones, too much open space for them in neutral zone.”

Said forward Drew Miller: “It was a tough one (after playing Wednesday), but it’s not an excuse for how we started and continued to play in the second period.”

Or, put a little more bluntly…

“In the end, we had lots of opportunities, but the hockey gods look after the team that plays the longest,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They deserved to win, not us.”

Yup.


Multimedia:

Highlights: TSN posted a 2:05 highlight clip;

Good luck getting Sportsnet’s highlight clip to work if you’re not in Canada;

And the Wings’ website’s highlight clip is narrated by Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy:

Post-game: TSN posted 1-on-1 interviews with Curtis Glencross and Brendan Morrison;

The Flames’ website posted clips of comments from the Flames’ locker room…

 

As well as the Wings’ locker room, Mike Babcock’s comments included…

 

And here’s coach Brent Sutter’s post-game presser:

 

The Calgary Sun embedded a post-game comment clip in its website’s recap (you can watch the stand-alone clip here);

Fox Sports Detroit posted a clip of Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy’s takes on the game…

 

<a href='http://www.foxsportsdetroit.com/pages/video?videoid=3439e7da-94d5-4947-ae8e-7a4078058f1f&amp;src=v5:embed::' target='_new' title='Recap: Red Wings fall to Flames 3-2'>Video: Recap: Red Wings fall to Flames 3-2</a>

As well as post-game comments from coach Mike Babcock, Nicklas Lidstrom and Jimmy Howard:

 

<a href='http://www.foxsportsdetroit.com/pages/video?videoid=0a6d2643-756a-4b43-ace3-d84952eb667e&amp;src=v5:embed::' target='_new' title='Red Wings react to loss'>Video: Red Wings react to loss</a>

Photos: The Calgary Sun embedded a 23-image gallery in its website’s recap;

The Calgary Herald posted an 8-image gallery;

The Detroit Free Press posted a 16-image gallery;

Fox Sports Detroit posted a 6-image gallery;

Yahoo Sports posted a 23-image gallery, and Daylife.com’s Wings gallery has a dozen more Reuters pictures;

NHL.com posted a 38-image gallery;

The Flames’ website posted a 31-image gallery;

And the Red Wings’ website posted a 20-image gallery and embedded an image in its website’s recap.


Statistics:

Shots 31-27 Detroit: the Wings were out-shot 9-5 in the 1st period and 13-11 in the 2nd period, but out-shot Calgary 15-5 in the 3rd period.

The Wings went 0 for 2 in 2:34 of PP time; the Flames went 1 for 3 in 3:03 of PP time.

Ty Conklin stopped 24 of 27 shots; Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 29 of 31.

The 3 stars, per Sportsnet’s Mike Roger, were Tim Jackman, Pavel Datsyuk and Curtis Glencross.

The Wings’ goals: Hudler (8) from Ericsson (5);

White (5) from Datsyuk (25).

Faceoffs 28-18 Detroit (the Wings won 61%);

Blocked shots 18-11 Calgary;

Missed shots 9-7 Calgary (total attempts 56-47 Detroit);

Hits 16-8 Calgary;

Giveaways 14-3 Calgary;

Takeaways 12-5 Calgary, so methinks that their stats crew goes ape over the giveaway/takeaway stats.

Individual Stats:

Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 9-and-4 (69%); Helm went 6-and-5 (55%); Datsyuk went 5-and-3 (63%); Franzen went 3-and-4 (43%); Abdelkader went 4-and-2 (67%); Filppula won the only faceoff he took.

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

Blocked attempts: Franzen hit Flames players 3 times; Lidstrom, White, Stuart, Helm and Bertuzzi had 2 shot attempts blocked; Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Commodore, Ericsson and Kronwall had single attempts blocked.

Missed shots: Stuart missed the net 2 times; Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Helm, Kronwall and Franzen missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Stuart and Emmerton had 2 hits; Hudler, Zetterberg, Filppula and Kronwall had 1.

Giveaways: Hudler, Zetterberg and Holmstrom had giveaways;

Takeaways: Datsyuk had 3 takeaways; Hudler and Filppula had 1.

Blocked opponent shots: Lidstrom and Commodore blocked 2 shots; Abdelkader, White, Stuart, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Emmerton and Kronwall blocked 1 shot.

Penalties taken: Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Holmstrom were tagged for minor penalties.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +1. Cleary finished at -2; Stuart, Helm and Kronwall finished at -1; Commodore, Zetterberg, Filppula, Ericsson, Franzen and Holmstrom finished at +1.

Points: White and Hudler scored goals; Datsyuk and Ericsson had assists.

Ice time: White led the team with 24:56 played; Lidstrom played 24:28; Stuart played 20:54;

Kronwall played 20:42; Zetterberg played 18:50; Datsyuk played 18:01;

Franzen played 17:44; Bertuzzi played 17:26; Hudler played 15:28;

Filppula played 15:08; Cleary played 15:07; Helm played 14:35;

Ericsson played 14:29; Holmstrom played 14:06; Commodore played 13:17;

Miller played 11:34; Abdelkader played 10:00; Emmerton played 9:51.

 

Part II: Red Wings notebooks: As noted in St. James recap, and as posted on Twitter by MLive’s Ansar Khan, Pavel Datsyuk got whacked in Vancouver…

Babcock said Datsyuk didn’t take faceoffs early because hand was sore from a slash last night. But he’s fine and took more draws in third.

• If you didn’t check out the Wings-Flames game-day update post, you probably missed Ryan Kesler gloating over the Canucks’ win and GM Mike Gillis insisting that Kesler did the only thing a player should do after getting rocked—challenge the player who wronged them to a fight. The Wings disagree with that theory, as the team’s goaltenders told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:

“It didn’t look dirty to me,” Conklin said. “It looked like a good hit. (Kesler) got caught with his head down.”

Howard, too, felt there was no problem with the Kronwall hit. Howard said too often nowadays, teammates will rush to the defense of a knocked down teammate, or the player who gets knocked down will want to drop his gloves and fight after getting hit.

“Every single time there’s a big hit thrown, there doesn’t have to be gloves dropped,” Howard said. “Kronner is a true professional every single day. He works hard on the ice and he goes out and does his job.”

Kulfan also noted that Mike Commodore acquitted himself very well while substituting for Jakub Kindl…

Commodore hadn’t played since Nov. 15 in St. Louis, and it was only his fourth game this season. He played 13 minutes, 17 seconds, was plus-1, and had two blocked shots.

“He was great,” Babcock said. “He’s been a real good teammate. He just played a simple game and played well. Good for him.”

And given that the Wings had the unfortunate luck of working with Marc Joanette and Tom Kowal for the second night in a row, this isn’t exactly surprising:

The Wings went over 70 minutes between penalties before Henrik Zetterberg was whistled for hooking at 12:04 in the first period.

• Commodore spoke to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose about his return:

“It’s my first plus in a long time,” said Commodore, who also blocked two shots. “I can’t even remember the last time I was on the ice for a goal-for. As bad as that sounds, I can’t remember, but it’s been a year, for sure. But as little as that thing is, it was nice to be on the ice for a plus. Honestly, it’s about the little things for me. Any little thing that can go my way, any little positive thing helps.”

To say that the last few months have been frustrating would be an understatement. Commodore signed a one-year free agency deal with the Wings in the offseason, and he was expected to battle Jakub Kindl for a spot on the Wings’ third defensive pairing. But Commodore suffered a sprained knee in preseason and quickly he fell out of the leading for the final defensive roster spot. Since then, Commodore has tried to avoid going stir-crazy by being a good teammate and staying prepared to play as needed.

“It hasn’t been easy,” he said. “I’ve run every set of stairs in the Western Conference, it seems like in the arenas. But a game is a game and until you’ve played some games and put some games together I can run up and down to the top of those stairs until the cows come home, I’m still going to feel gassed.”
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“It’s definitely a game of mistakes, but for the way things are going for me right now, I can’t afford to make any glaring ones,” Commodore said. “Obviously, when I go out to play, I go out to play. I’m not out there thinking ‘I can’t make mistakes’. I don’t think you can play any sport like that, and you certainly can’t play hockey like that, so I went out there and tried to make the most of what I got, of the shifts that I got, and we’ll see what happens.”
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“There were some things that I could have done better, but all things considered it’s been, I don’t know, five or six weeks since I played, and I’ve played four games in the calendar year of 2011, I can’t be too hard on myself. I did all right. Defensively, there were a few times where I was caught in spots where I wasn’t sure, and at this level if you’re not sure for a second or two they’re making a play, so other than that I felt as the game moved on, I moved the puck better.”

Commodore stated the obvious about the Wings’ loss…

“It was a slow start. I mean, we needed to come out a little harder,” Commodore said. “Three in four nights of travel is tough, but regardless, we would have liked to come out a little harder and played a little better. We have to be happy with the way we played in the third, we were all over them there. They were leading in shots for the whole game and then we took over in the third period and we were probably a half an inch from tying that game up.”

And he talked about, well, talking down Flames forward Tim Jackman, too:

“It was nothing awful. (Jackman) wasn’t doing anything wrong other than running around a little bit,” Commodore said. “He’s a physical player and I know that I need to be physical every once in a while and I don’t mind doing that. I just asked him if he was interested (in fighting) and it just didn’t happen. And that’s fine because I had enough on my plate, to be honest, I probably would have lasted about four-seconds and been exhausted.”

• The other topic of the day involved Jimmy Howard getting “ran over” in Vancouver, and while Howard wasn’t quite as furious about what happened—and again, the NHL actually suggested that Alex Edler’s goal should not have counted because Jannik Hansen did plow into Howard on purpose, and it’s scary when the NHL agrees with the Wings on any topic involving traffic in the crease—he suggested to the Free Press’s Helene St. James that there’s something to be said for not returning to the days where Eric Lindros would score 10 goals a season by simply pushing goaltenders into the net and/or running them into the net:

“You want to be able to do your job, first and foremost,” Howard said Thursday. “Nobody was asking for a penalty to be called. I got no problem with guys going to the net hard and trying to make plays; it’s part of the game. But I also want to be able to do my job out there.”

Howard said he thought incidental contact should have been called, whistling the play dead. Seeing goalies upended has become a familiar scenario this season. Buffalo’s Ryan Miller, brother of Detroit forward Drew Miller, got hammered by Boston’s Milan Lucic last month and run into by Nashville’s Jordin Tootoo this month. The Islanders’ Al Montoya was nailed by Winnipeg’s Evander Kane earlier this week.

“I’ve rarely seen anything that’s warranted real punishment, but I mean, the guys are a lot stronger, a lot bigger and a lot faster,” Howard said. “But, I’m a tough guy, I got no problem with guys going to the net, trying to create scoring opportunities.”

Howard went after Hansen and chased after Blues forward David Perron earlier this month during similar circumstances. Perron did have Wings defenseman Brad Stuart leaning into him, and Hansen lost his balance.

Howard acknowledged such things happen, that at least in his cases it hasn’t been malicious intent, but Wednesday’s hit burned all the more as it gave the Canucks a goal.

“Sometimes you see the calls, and then you see something like last night,” Howard said. “It’s purely a judgment call out there.”

Howard reiterated his points to MLive’s Ansar Khan:

“As a goalie, you want to be able to do your job, make saves for your team,” Howard said. “Sometimes, to make the save, you have to put yourself in a vulnerable position, and the last thing you want to do is ring your head off of one of the posts. But, I’m a tough guy and I have no problem with guys going toward the net and trying to create scoring opportunities.”

Asked if teams are trying to rattle him because of his strong start this season, Howard said, “Oh, yeah, probably, most definitely. But that stuff really isn’t going to take me off my game.”

Said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock: “A goalie’s allowed to be upset when he gets run.”
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Howard actually felt bad for roughing it up with St. Louis’ David Perron on Dec. 6 after the Blues forward was pushed into him by Brad Stuart. Perron has had concussion problems.

“I realized who it was and what he’s gone through, so I stopped,” Howard said. “I didn’t want to be the cause of him having further symptoms by acting like that.”

 

Part III: Also of Red Wings-related note: As noted by The Score’s Chris Lund (via RedWingsFeed on Twitter), an octopus somehow found its way to a Wings fan in Calgary:

I’m not sure whether Lund ( via Pro Hockey Talk’s Joe Yerdon) is a fan of “Kronwalling,” however:

• I’ll let you read The Score’s Rob Pizzo’s Wings wishes for Christmas on your own;

• As previously mentioned, Kirk Maltby will kick off the Nautical Mile Pond Hockey tournament in St. Clair Shores, MI in late January, and the St. Clair Shores Patch’s Edward Cardenas has the details thereof;

• The CBC’s Jordan Shifman suggests that fantasy hockey players might want to pick up a certain Wing who wears #11:

Danny Cleary has been playing some excellent hockey in Detroit just in time for the holidays. Cleary has 10 of his 17 points in the month of December, including five points in his last three games, and he’s just 16 per cent owned in Yahoo! leagues.

• Red Wings director of pro scouting Mark Howe is very busy at the present moment promoting the Flyers and the Winter Classic, but he stopped by NHL Live’s studios in New York yesterday, and you can watch his 8-minute conversation with EJ Hradek here:

• And finally, as the Wings will have from today till Christmas off, and won’t hit the ice again until their morning skate in Nashville on December 26th, I’m gonna take things a little slowly starting when I post this recap. It’s been a great first month back from my depressive episode and I hope that, this time around, anyway, I’m gonna be here for the long haul, but I’m honestly very physically and mentally exhausted, especially given the workload of late. I need to catch up on some sleep and plain old normal person things like watching silly YouTube videos, playing The Sims 3, sleeping and being a good son who drives his mom to and from work because she has the unfortunate luck of having to work on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

I’d like to thank each and every one of you for being patient (or not patient) with me during my absence, and thank you so much for coming back and reading TMR again. I’m very grateful to and for all of you—you’re the reason that I do this job, and I hope my efforts to serve as a sort of Meijer of Red Wings news make following the team easier and, hopefully, allow you to feel a little more part of a community of fellow Wings fans, myself included.

Update: I don’t have an ESPN Insider membership, but Craig Custance reports that the Wings are still trying to sign Western Michigan University defenseman Danny Dekeyser:

He grew up a Detroit Red Wings fan. He attended their summer camp and played hockey with the son of Detroit’s assistant general manager. There are a lot of reasons the Red Wings are considered the front-runner to sign Danny DeKeyser, but until it’s official, all 29 other teams will keep trying.

Every year there’s a hot unsigned college free agent and this year DeKeyser leads the list. He’s a sophomore defenseman at Western Michigan University and developing nicely under the tutelage of former NHL coach Andy Murray.

He’s also not committing to Detroit just yet even though many consider it a foregone conclusion.

Update: Via a sugar plum fairy, here’s a little more:

He’s 6-foot-3, a strong skater and makes a good first pass. Chris Chelios, who is working in the Red Wings front office has seen him twice and appreciated his steady presence, even though nothing particularly jumped off the ice about his play.

“Sometimes it’s good when you don’t make the highlights,” Chelios says.

Jim Nill, one of the best talent evaluators in the game, has been watching DeKeyser grow and develop for years. Nill is the assistant GM in Detroit and his son Trevor played with DeKeyser before playing against him as a forward with the Michigan State Spartans. Nill credits how the DeKeyser family has brought their son along at the right pace, playing in the BCHL, USHL and now in his second season in the CCHA.

“I know the family well and made it clear to them we’re one of the teams that is interested, like the rest,” Nill says. “I don’t want to get the personal side involved. Whatever decision they make, we respect that. They’re going to make the right decisions. The family is a great family.”

DeKeyser recently got an on-air mention by TSN’s Bob McKenzie which got his phone buzzing. Having played a year in Canada, he still has a lot of friends there and most let him know they saw him on television there.
...
“It’s only his second year of college hockey. He may even decide to stay another year,” Nill says. “He can turn pro or he can decide to go back and be a junior in college hockey under a great coach in Andy Murray. Which ever decision they make is not going to be wrong.”

Here’s what I know: to some extent, we’re dealing with the Fabian Brunnstrom phenomenon as Dekeyser can be had for nothing more than the price of an entry-level contract and the promise of immediate playing time at the NHL level.

Is he a big, physical and heady defenseman who is very mobile and can play with pretty much anybody? You bet. But he’s also a Brad Stuart in the making, not a Brendan Smith or Niklas Kronwall. He is the classic utility defenseman in the Bob Rouse mold, someone who can play top pair minutes and take on top pair responsibilities, but is better suited to playing a #3/4 role and serving as an extremely steady shot-blocker, pass-deflector and effective as opposed to particularly nasty hitter who can serve as a glue guy and a leader in the making.

He is not the next big thing, nor is he marginal—he’s very very good, but not great, but as we’ve learned over the course of this CBA, teams tend to do somersaults to sign forwards who don’t belong in the top six but don’t belong on the third line, either (see: Fabian Brunnstrom), defensemen who are good second-pair guys and goalies who are almost good enough to start games (see: Jonas “The Monster” Gustafsson).

Update #2: I can’t disagree with this bit of fa ra ra from Yahoo Sports’ Sam McCaig:

Detroit Red Wings: As long as jolly ol’ Saint Nick is on the blue line, the Wings have everything they need.


Update #3: From the Wings:

RED WINGS, TICKETMASTER GO ‘FEE FREE FOR THE HOLIDAYS’

…Online Charges Waived on Purchases December 26-31 For All Regular Season Home Games January Through April …

Detroit, MI – The Detroit Red Wings and Ticketmaster are closing out the year with a six-day special on 2012 tickets, as fans can buy tickets online without service charges for all Red Wings regular season home games from January through April.

The deal starts December 26th at 10 a.m. and runs through the remainder of the calendar year, ending on December 31st at 11:59 p.m. This is the second time this season that the Red Wings and Ticketmaster have teamed up to eliminate service fees, after online charges were waived during the ‘Black Friday’ promotion in late November.

This online-only offer is valid while supplies last and there is a purchase limit of four tickets per game. Fans interested in ordering can visit DetroitRedWings.com or Ticketmaster.com.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

MsRedWinger's avatar

“In the end, we had lots of opportunities, but the hockey gods look after the team that plays the longest,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They deserved to win, not us.”

When I read this quote I said to myself:  Yep.  That sums up the last two games perfectly.

I’d like to thank each and every one of you for being patient (or not patient) with me during my absence, and thank you so much for coming back and reading TMR again. I’m very grateful to and for all of you—you’re the reason that I do this job, and I hope my efforts to serve as a sort of Meijer of Red Wings news make following the team easier and, hopefully, allow you to feel a little more part of a community of fellow Wings fans, myself included.

George, you’re the best, so well worth waiting for no matter how long the absence.  Just make a New Year’s Resolution to take care of your health as best you can and know that your readers will be happy and grateful to read whatever you can reasonably put out without killing yourself, OK?

Happy Holidays to you and everyone at A2Y and KK.

cool smile

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 12/23/11 at 03:45 PM ET

YzermanZetterberg's avatar

Posted by MsRedWinger from somewhere in the Cosmic Dust on 12/23/11 at 12:45 PM ET

What she said.

Best wishes for a joyous holiday season and new year to all (yeah, even the @!%$ Penguins, Sharks, Hawks and Blues fans)!

Posted by YzermanZetterberg on 12/23/11 at 04:24 PM ET

Avatar

Merry Christmas, George, and thanks for TMR—a gift for sure.

Posted by BobTheZee on 12/23/11 at 04:41 PM ET

HockeyFanOhio's avatar

Yea, when I watched this game I was thinking “Second verse, same as the first”.  Kind of disappointing. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday to everyone.

Posted by HockeyFanOhio from Central Ohio on 12/23/11 at 06:50 PM ET

Avatar

Thanks for all of your wonderful blogs George!  Enjoy your break.  Happy holidays!

Posted by PieceOfMind from Muskegon, currently residing in Sabres Territory on 12/23/11 at 10:42 PM ET

cigar_nurse's avatar

We are always pulling for you George.Please give yourself a bit of a holiday break. I think that you need to back down to 1 or 2 threads a game to conserve some energy. Also, ignore the trolls and don’t take any of their garbage personally .  Thanks again for all you do and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy , healthy, and prosperous New Year.

Posted by cigar_nurse from Greenville South Cakalakee on 12/24/11 at 03:04 AM 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.