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Quick take: Red Wings defeat Capitals despite gaffes, thanks to Datsyuk and Abdelkader

The Red Wings got jobbed on a goaltender interference call early, they were legitimately awarded a no-goal after Troy Brouwer bumped Jimmy Howard at the end (via @MyRegularFace), and in the middle...

Things were complicated. The Wings out-skated and out-played the Capitals by a wide margin in the 1st despite being out-shot 8-3 in the 1st, the Wings were just dreadful in the 2nd, surrendering a pair of PP-and-all-but-on-the-PP goals because their line changes were Chinese Fire Drills, and in the 3rd, when Mike Babcock decided to place Justin Abdelkader, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the same line--after a superb amount of work from one Jimmy Howard in the bail-out-your-team category--Pavel Datsyuk proved to be a far better judge of talent than we knew in aiding Abdelkader in the game-tying gaol, assisting on the game-winning goal and then scoring the salt-away marker.

Detroit took a 4-2 decision despite the fact that few Wings fans thought that the team had a chance to do more than steal a point after Troy Brouwer caught everyone but Howard staring at the puck with 58 seconds left in the 2nd...

And resiliency is not something we're used to from this team, especially given that Nyquist, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and as it turns out, Abdelkader are the only consistent scorers up front (Helm has been good as well, boo on his dive, BTW) as Riley and the Slovak and the other Slovak struggle to find their form...

And the Wings' defense has been iffy at times--especially Quincey and Kindl on most nights, but on this night, Danny Frickin' Steady Eddie DeKeyser--and between the Wings' lazy free-hand grabs and horizontal stick fouls (all they're calling these days), the Wings gave the Capitals six power plays, but killed five of 'em...

AND SCORED ON THE POWER PLAY! Well, okay, it was Datsyuk's goal with all of 54 seconds left in the game.

Still. This isn't the Red Wings team we're used to, Brendan Smith's helmet Kronwalling Jason Chimera before Kronwall Kronwalled Chimera included, and yet a Wings team that was out-shot and out-chanced in the 1st but held in it by Howard and at least encouraging to watch speed-wise, and a Wings team that was just orange pylon-bad defensively and everywhere else in the 2nd turned the jets on in the 3rd, and it was fun to watch and fun to see.

This team has its warts, this team feels so very young and so very fragile in terms of its confidence, poise, secondary scoring, secondary defense its special teams and the consistency of its goaltending, but it's 7-2-and-2 heading into Friday's home affair against the Kings.

The spotted frog has many spots, but it's still playing better than it did a year ago at this time with a healthy everybody (okay, except for Weiss, and boy, tonight's news stank), and between Franzen being out and the ups and downs every sophomore and/or junior player on the roster (forward and defense) not named Nyquist are having, I will *#$%@& take this kind of October and run with it.

I hope the Wings take it too, and skate into at least a point against the Kings on Friday.

The schedule is already getting a little nasty in that the Wings have started a 5-games-in-8-nights stretch and will play 7 in the next 13...So bank these *#$%@& points away and keep 'er going, Wings.

It doesn't matter if you're *#$%@& inconsistent.

And it doesn't matter if Babcock spent his post-game comments with McGuire discussing the right-handed unicorn defensemen, in a not-so-subtle hint-dropping appearance. Tomas Holmstrom knew how to retrieve pucks on the PP despite his lack of skating speed, and with the "diamond formation" PP, the Wings' FORWARDS have to be the puck-retrievers.

Anyway, here are the goals:

 

Nyquist at 8:56 of 2nd, from Abdelkader and Quincey, 1-0 DET:

Kuznetsov on a breakaway from Ward and Holtby at 13:19 of the 2nd, Wings caught on change, PPG, 1-1:

Brouwer at 19:02 of the 2nd, even strength but Wings had just killed off Abdelkader PK, Brouwer on ice on a change, Wings were caught staring, Brouwer from Carlson and Burakovsky:

Abdelkader via Datsyuk's forechecking (no assist) and slot-sneakage-innage at 4:04 of the 3rd, unassisted on the scoresheet, 2-2:

Abdelkader via a wonderful neutral ice turnover forced by Zetterberg, pass to Datsyuk, and a glorious drop pass from Datsyuk yielding top shelf goal, 3-2 Detroit at 10:34 of the 3rd:

And Pavel Datsyuk makin' magic via Smith and Zetterberg at 19:06 of the 3rd, PPG, 4-2 Wings:

If Babcock wants his unicorn, call up Jensen or Marchenko. And get your team skating for 60 minutes, coach, because when it skates, from Kyle Quincey to Darren Helm, it is fast, it is intense, it is smartly-positioned, and when it executes, it is dangerous to the other team instead of itself.

Which is different. And good. If they can stop learning to defeat themselves, which has become far too common and was far too inevitable after 2 periods, well...Maybe this team isn't in fact a shell of what it used to be.

Which would also be pretty spiffy.

Hell, Mike Milbury made a great point in noting that the Wings' backchecking was wonderful in the 3rd, and he's right--when the team bears down, the Wings' positional defense has improved by leaps and bounds under Tony Granato. It knows when to attack the point, when to stay back, how to rotate to yield positional support and when to let the goalie do the work and make sure that he sees the damn puck.

At its best, this team is better than last year's team, on the up-and-up and maybe even a team that can clamp down on an actual Atlantic Division playoff spot instead of a "wild card" one. At its worst, it's mediocre, if not maddening.

Two thirds of the way to a team that can clamp down on an Atlantic Division spot and hold on would be wonderful.

 

Update: 1. It sure as *#$%@& felt good that the Wings ended up delivering a command performance as the only game in the NHL prior to the Oilers-Preds affair, didn't it?

Statistics:

Shots 27-22 Washington overall. Washington out-shot Detroit 8-3 in the 1st period, 11-10 in the 2nd period and was out-shot by Detroit 9-8 in the 3rd period.

Special teams: Detroit went 1-for-4 in 4:12 of PP time; Washington went 1-for-6 in 8:06 of PP time.

Goaltending: Jimmy Howard stopped 25 of 27 shots for Detroit; Braden Holtby stopped 18 of 22 shots for Washington.

The 3 stars were picked by NBCSN, I believe, and they picked Mike Green, Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader.

The Wings' goals: Nyquist (5) from Abdelkader (3) and Quincey (1) at 8:56 of the 1st;

Abdelkader (4) unassisted at 4:04 of the 3rd;

Abdelkader (5) from Datsyuk (3) and Abdelkader (8) at 10:34 of the 3rd;

Datsyuk (2) from Zetterberg (9) and Smith (1) at 19:06 of the 3rd, PPG.

Faceoffs 20-20 (even);

Blocked shots 15-10 Detroit;

Missed shots 16-10 Washington, or total shot attempts 58-42 Washington, with Detroit firing 22 on Holtby and another 20 wide/blocked;

Hits 28-20 Washington;

Giveaways 10-3 Washington;

Takeaways 8-6 Washington, or total possession changes 16-11 Detroit.

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Comments

Avatar

I missed the first period, but it was still plenty of drama for me in the next two. Man, whether it’s the refs, the other team, or themselves, there have been some hard games early already, whether they ended in a win or a loss.

I wish there was a way to summarize what I think the team’s biggest hurdle is, because it all feels kind of similar, but I can’t really…it’s partly puck support in both zones, it’s their ability to get up the ice, and it’s their decision making in the offensive zone.

So often, I feel like I see one Wing trapped on the boards by two opposing players, while the other 4 Wings stand to the side and wait to see if he wins the battle. The D can often make simplistic, unhelpful plays that move the puck the easiest way out of our zone, or the forwards take off and leave the D with no good options. We never seem to be in the middle of the ice.

Just lots of systemic things that all sort of depend on what you decide to do with the puck, I think. Sure, the middle of the ice might be clogged up, but if a rebound ends up in there, get there.

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 10/29/14 at 10:33 PM ET

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Wings are 7-2-2?  I sure hope so 2 games from now smile

Posted by neffernin on 10/29/14 at 10:38 PM ET

DocF's avatar

The thing that has been proven to me at this point in the season is that Tony Granato can coach.  The defense has just plain looked good most of the time this year. 

That first goal, the one that was disallowed, should be grounds for suspending that whole officiating crew.  If they were that dangerously unobservant, they should be in the press box watching and learning. 

The majority of the time, Kindl was playing safe hockey.  His name was not called often and that is good as it usually means he is having a good game.

The thing the Red Wings need now is a much better plan for the power play.  What they have been trying may working in minor junior, but is sure does not work at the NHL level.

Overall, I was happy.  I was never in absolute panic or despair.  The team is looking better all the time.

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 10/29/14 at 10:47 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

Nice to see the resiliency after chasing the puck around the first half of the game and getting burned on that awful no-goal call.

I know everyone’s hated baldy between the benches thought Helm embellished that trip, but I have trouble calling anyone for a dive when they’re up and after the play again that fast after it happened. He wasn’t flopping around waiting for a call or looking for the refs. I suppose you can argue it shouldn’t have been called, but when a guy is focused and fighting that hard to bust through I just can’t accuse him of diving.

If there’s something to work on after this game, the kid line has got to be more dangerous more often. They’re getting a couple of good looks a game, but lately not much is sustained.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 10/29/14 at 10:53 PM ET

alwaysaurie's avatar

Any word on why Miller missed about 5’min in the 3rd period(Tatar took his place on the Glendening-Andersson line)?

It obviously wasn’t serious because he took shifts later in the period(including the minute or so of the game)

Something equipment-related… or did he get hit?

Posted by alwaysaurie on 10/29/14 at 11:08 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

The reality is they can’t go flat out 60 minutes every night, but when they can they are a tough out, and could be even harder if the scoring can click more than the top 4-5 forwards.

That PP goal by Washington was set up by a brilliant blue-red-blue line pass by the goalie to outrun the Wings opposite end line change.  He had nearly done the same thing just before that.  Great ice awareness of where the opponents were at the time.

Posted by RWBill on 10/29/14 at 11:09 PM ET

alwaysaurie's avatar

that should read as,

(including the LAST minute or so of the game)

Posted by alwaysaurie on 10/29/14 at 11:12 PM ET

Avatar

I don’t really get the “unicorn” thing.

I think there’s zero unicorns and several dozen right-handed defensemen.  I think about 29 teams have them.

Posted by captaineclectic on 10/29/14 at 11:18 PM ET

alwaysaurie's avatar

LH/RH D-pairs often get mentioned as being useful on the PP(which it is), but it’s also very helpful to have a lefty-righty pair when you’re taking face-offs in your own end.

It’s real hard to get the puck out of the zone on your backhand and if you take another stride to get it to your forehand the backcheck is all over you.

Posted by alwaysaurie on 10/29/14 at 11:43 PM ET

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In what alternate universe is abby top 10 in scoring?

Posted by neffernin on 10/29/14 at 11:52 PM ET

jhpcarrier97's avatar

Wings played an awesome tough game tonight, don’t call them soft anymore.  Abby is blossoming, he likes playing with Dats and Zets, he needs to be more cautious with his stick.  The kids are learning, every game, to be NHL regulars.  Glennie had an awesome game, really lighting up the opposing players.  I agree with the poster above, that whole official crew tonight should either be fired, suspended, or sent down to the minors.  Why are so many goals being disallowed??  Another one also in Edmonton tonight that was botched up.

Posted by jhpcarrier97 on 10/29/14 at 11:56 PM ET

Avatar

* Granted there are ~30 players tied for 8th in goals, but still, couple of great shots.

Posted by neffernin on 10/30/14 at 12:01 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

Abdelkader, league leader in game winning goals, lolol.

Posted by RWBill on 10/30/14 at 12:18 AM ET

WingsFanInBeanLand's avatar

It’s extremely rare that you see called off goals in the replays on nhl.com.  Even more rare when they are against the Wings.

The folks who put together the highlight videos must be calling out the officials for that BS call because it’s not only included in the vid, but they actually have the replay where DC points out the blatant mistake.

Hell hath frozen over my bitches.

Posted by WingsFanInBeanLand from where free agents no longer dare. on 10/30/14 at 07:51 AM ET

Slumpy's avatar

Abdelkader may prove me wrong and score 20+ this season! Very impressed with his shooting tonight and effort always Charlie Hustle-like.
Smith showing the kiddies it’s better to give than to receive when Chimera got rude reply on his attempted hit.  Mickey Redmond must of loved that..I know I did and I especially liked it when Smith knocked the stick out of Wilson’s goon mitts lol. That young defenseman should play like that every game.
Howie was solid, Pav was takeaway great stop thief guy, playmaker and scorer as usual and Gus knows how to score when given any time.

Posted by Slumpy from Under My Wheels on 10/30/14 at 08:08 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

He had nearly done the same thing just before that.  Great ice awareness of where the opponents were at the time.

That’s what bugs me most about that goal. Holtby tried the EXACT SAME thing earlier on that very power play and the only thing which prevented the goal was Joel Ward missing the feed as he streaked to the front of the net. About a minute later they get the same chance and bury it.

System-wise, I think defending that takes the forechecking “funneling” forward (Helm in this case) cheating over to that side instead of being in the middle of the ice, and I think it takes the very back defenseman (Ericsson) playing farther back and being prepared to play that pass like a 2-on-1.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/30/14 at 08:15 AM ET

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Once babs changed up the lines mid-game (except for the exceptional fourth line—who knew that Glendening would turn out to be a fine 4th line center?) they dominated. Tats is still struggling with confidence, which you could see when he missed the open net far side from the slot in the third. Kid’s just gotta relax and make simple plays.

I like this (healthy) team, especially when Mule is back, and, down the line, if Mantha is who we think he is, we will be deep. I would love to get Oullet up, though. It’s fine if Kindl is invisible (which means he is having a good game), but I’d rather see someone that can make plays i.e. more than just flip it high to center ice.

Posted by boylioncat on 10/30/14 at 10:09 AM ET

Avatar

Assuming Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Abdelkader remain together on a line after Franzen returns, and assuming the 4th line stays together, I would like to see these combinations experimented with:

Franzen-Helm-Nyquist
Tatar-Sheahan-Jurco
(scratching Nestrasil)

Franzen-Sheahan-Tatar
Nyquist-Helm-Nestrasil/Jurco

Tatar-Franzen-Jurco
Nyquist-Helm-Sheahan

Posted by captaineclectic on 10/30/14 at 10:30 AM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Tats is still struggling with confidence,

  I think all three kids are, sophomore slumps, or did they overachieve being fueled on adrenaline. 

Anyone else concerned with Sheehan?  Not that he’s playing bad, but he’s not as effective as he can be, not as poised and big as he was last year.  He needs to take a page out of Glendenings book at start being a bit more abrasive IMO, and also hold onto the puck down low.  Weiss hurt himself again, but at some point there will be a push to get him some time at the center position, unfortunately the size of his contract doesn’t allow the wings to pull anchor and leave him at shore. Sheehan could find himself battling for ice time.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Window Seat on the Captain's Ship on 10/30/14 at 10:34 AM ET

Avatar

Posted by MurrayChadwick on

Yep.  That’s why I’d like to see things switched up a little, like by trying Sheahan with Franzen or on the wing.

Posted by captaineclectic on 10/30/14 at 10:42 AM ET

Figaro's avatar

Can’t complain too much about 2 points.

I will bring up that on the Datsyuk overturned goal, the only two people that supported the call were Kerry Frasier and Keven Weekes on the NHL Network (of course).  So while Keven Weekes did agree that the Glendenning call was a “rough one” the NHL Network highlight show chose not to show the reverse angle replay that shows Glenny about 5 feet away from Holtby but the one that was as close to “ref angle” as possible.  I think that’s as close to showing an NHL mistake as they’re going to get.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 10/30/14 at 11:45 AM ET

duhduhduh's avatar

Can’t complain too much about 2 points.

I’m actually a bit concerned.  The Wings game right now looks less like intentional, good structure, and more just free form good hustle: the kind of hockey that is hard to replicate.  And I’m afraid that, for whatever reason, Babcock has instilled such a ‘safe’ no risk mindset to his defense that they could never become the puck movers he wants and we need (or that if we obtained/promoted one that Babcock wouldn’t instill the same dread in him).  The best way to be fast is to pass the puck efficiently, something the Wings do poorly right now with some exception.

Posted by duhduhduh on 10/30/14 at 12:47 PM ET

Jaromir Blogger's avatar

Abdelkader is reminding me more and more of Darren McCarty in his prime.

Posted by Jaromir Blogger on 10/30/14 at 01:56 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

The best way to be fast is to pass the puck efficiently, something the Wings do poorly right now with some exception.

Posted by MoreShoot on 10/30/14 at 12:47 PM ET

Unsure what games your watching, and the quotes you hear, but he’s getting the most out of what he has. Did you listen to what he said about teh Caps? They picked up guys that can move the puck quickly, makes them better. That is the idea, some cars are faster than others.

Abdelkader is reminding me more and more of Darren McCarty in his prime.

Posted by Jaromir Blogger on 10/30/14 at 01:56 PM ET

Don’t see that either. McCarty was a big tough guy, who worked off the wall, and could shoot the puck, aside from the SC Winner, he didn’t have much puck handling ability, and never had a lot of footspeed.  Ablekater is actually a decent puckhandler, not a dangler, but can carry the puck up the ice well, he’s also pretty fast for his size, and he’s developing a playmaking touch, at least as it relates to getting pucks to 13 and 40. He’s beginning to shoot better, but not at the level McCarty did.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Window Seat on the Captain's Ship on 10/30/14 at 03:53 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.