The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/21/13 at 03:29 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings' 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of their second round series was somewhere between a Gustav Nyquist-style master stroke and a Muhammad Ali "rope-a-dope," including its share of controversy and enough post-game chatter to merit its own multimedia post. In terms of the wrap-up thereof, I cannot help but start at what many believe was the crux of the game in Andrew Shaw's presence in Jimmy Howard's crease negating what would have been a game-tying 2-2 goal.
The Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc took note of that sticky wicket from the Hawks' perspectives...
That Andrew Shaw lingered in the blue paint of the Red Wings' crease, no one would argue. What everyone in the Blackhawks' locker room would argue vehemently: Shaw didn't impede the Red Wings' Jimmy Howard in any way, which is the bar for goaltender interference, and therefore the tying goal in what became a 3-1 Game 3 loss should not have been wiped out.
"Most of the time, they're going to let that one go, especially when you get pushed in there and he doesn't even touch the goalie," Hawks winger Viktor Stalberg said. "If he trips the goalie or makes contact or anything, I think that's an easier call. But that's a tough one, no doubt about it."
It wasn't so tough in the view of Hawks coach Joel Quenneville, who saw his team rally with a Patrick Kane goal to cut a two-goal lead in half and then apparently get a Stalberg shot to deflect off a scrum and into the net to knot it up.
Not long after the wave-off from officials, though, the Red Wings struck again against a deflated Hawks crew.
As did USA Today's Kevin Allen...
Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville believes the referee Brad Watson got it wrong when he disallowed a goal in the third period of a 3-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. The referee, standing with a good sight line, said Andrew Shaw was in the crease, therefore was interfering with Jimmy Howard's ability to make the save on the shot by Viktor Stalberg that would have tied the game.
"I disagree with the call," Quenneville said. When asked why, he said: "He didn't touch the goalie."
Asked whether that disallowed goal changed the game's momentum, Quenneville said; "Certainly did. We were 2-2. We had two and had the momentum and had everything going. We had some offensive zone time. Obviously, coming back (from) 2-0 that quickly, you're in a great spot."
And ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers:
According to the NHL’s official rules book, interference of the goaltender should be called if “an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defeat his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside his goal crease.”
The Blackhawks believed Shaw hadn’t broken those rules.
“I wasn’t down there, so I don’t know exactly what happened,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “I find it hard to believe from what I saw [that] our player restricted the goaltender from making the save. The puck came from the same side, and he was against his post, so I don’t understand that one. I guess we’ll see the replay. Either way, when you have a goal called back, it’s a frustrating thing.”
Stalberg had a better perspective on the play and also thought Shaw hadn’t interfered with the play.
“When I shot it, I saw like [Shaw] was getting pushed into towards the net, [puck] goes through them,” Stalberg said. “It’s one of those things that sometimes they make the call, sometimes they don’t. Unfortunately, today was one of those times that they did. It was a tough, tough bounce for us not to get that one and then go back to score on the next shift, I think.”
Powers did offer a "rapid reaction" to the rest of the game, too...
How it happened: The Red Wings shifted the game’s momentum during a 31-second span in the second period. First, the Red Wings’ Gustav Nyquist raced to a loose puck near the blue line, pushed the puck to his left beyond the reach of Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook and then waited out diving attempts by Seabrook and Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford before shooting from the left circle and into the net at 7:49. Before the buzz from the crowd had ceased, the Red Wings were at it again. Off a turnover by Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival in his defensive zone, Red Wings forward Cory Emmerton quickly got the puck to Patrick Eaves. Eaves put back-to-back shots on Crawford, and Drew Miller eventually finished off the job with a Detroit goal at 8:20. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane pulled his team within a goal when he scored at 4:35 of the third period, but the Red Wings answered with a goal by Pavel Datsyuk at 6:46. The Red Wings killed off all four of the Blackhawks’ power plays. Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard made 39 saves.
And ESPN's Craig Custance begins survey of the Hawks' perspectives regarding the rest of the game by suggesting that the Hawks are facing adversity for the first time of the 2013 season:
“[It] almost takes something like this, maybe someone to slap you in the face, so to speak, to really understand what adversity is and how tough it can be,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said after the loss.
Because until now, there hadn’t been much this season. The Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild in five games during their warmup for the second round. They were the first team to clinch a playoff berth, finalizing a postseason invitation on April 7. The Red Wings, by comparison, needed every last regular season game to get in, clinching 20 days later.
Viktor Stalberg was asked about the biggest thing the Blackhawks had to overcome during a regular season in which they cruised to a league-best 77 points, and he pointed out that many of the Blackhawks’ wins were close games.
It doesn’t compare to what Chicago faces now. Saturday and Monday were two consecutive playoff losses against a Detroit team that many thought was playing with house money. One that upset the Anaheim Ducks in the first round but wasn’t expected to pose this big a challenge, this quickly, to Chicago. Not with its inexperience up front and a defense that didn’t match the mobility and depth of Chicago’s.
Game 3 was the litmus test as to whether or not the Red Wings truly would make this a series. Winning one game in Chicago against a team that might have momentarily let its guard down after a convincing series-opening win is one thing. To come back and repeat that effort when the Blackhawks were ready for it is another thing entirely. This threat from Detroit to end Chicago’s season much earlier than anyone expected is very real. The Red Wings removed any doubt that they’re capable of doing it on Monday.
“We probably had one of our better games of the playoffs tonight, even though we lost,” Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. “I think we’re going to take some confidence away from this game. I know it’s a tougher situation down 2-1, but we just got to go in with the right mentality the next game.”
Custance points out that the Hawks were down 2-1 to the Nashville Predators in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, and all turned out well for the Hawks that time.
With two days off to head back to Chicago, recuperate and allow the series to re-set before Thursday's Game 4, the Hawks told ESPN Chicago's Powers that they'd be fine, because they did out-shoot the Wings..
“I think we did exactly what we wanted to do,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “We were scratching, clawing. We were tough to play against tonight. Like I said, when it came down to it, [we] just didn't score enough goals to win the game. We'll come back even harder the next one.”
Toews and his teammates certainly created plenty of chances. Toews took a game-high seven shots on goal, and five other Blackhawks had three or more shots on goal. Toews has zero goals in eight playoff games this season.
"If he keeps playing like that, it'll find a way to get in,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Toews.
All together, the Blackhawks had 40 shots on goal, 20 more than they had in Game 2.
The Blackhawks were clicking offensively -- at least from a puck possession standpoint -- early in the second period. Beginning with a Red Wings penalty at 0:54 of the second period, the Blackhawks kept the puck in their offensive zone for about three minutes. The Red Wings blocked five shots and Jimmy Howard made two saves during that span, and the Blackhawks came away without a goal.
“That could have been a turning point if they would have scored on that power play and extended end-zone shift,” Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves said. “But with [Howard] back there and if we could keep them to the outside and knock any rebounds away, he’s going to do a good job for us.”
And Jonathan Toews told the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc that the loss may very well wake the Blackhawks' juggernaut up:
"It takes something like this to slap you in the face … (and) to really understand what adversity is and how tough the playoffs can be," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "A lot of guys in this room have been in tough positions before in the playoffs and that's never stopped us. We know this is a long series and we're going to be fighting until the end."
The teams took turns controlling play as each utilized its speed at different junctures. The Hawks fired 40 shots at Howard and the Wings sent 30 at Corey Crawford.
"That was probably the fastest playoff game I've ever been a part of," Howard said. "I expect it just to get faster Thursday night. They're going to step it up, (so) we need to come even harder."
In the third, the Hawks came out flying and cut the deficit to on Kane's goal. After Niklas Hjalmarsson drilled Johan Franzen into the boards, Duncan Keith scooped up the puck and flipped it into the Wings' zone. Kane took possession and beat Howard through the pads. A game-changing moment came not long after as the Hawks believed they had tied it on a score by Viktor Stalberg, but officials immediately waved off the goal, ruling Andrew Shaw was in the crease and interfering with Howard.
"I think that's the first time that I've seen 'in the crease' called since about 2000," Crawford said.
And while they lamented their close-but-no-cigar chances while speaking with Comcast Sportsnet Chicago's Tracey Myers...
“We had a couple good shifts with some mixed-up lines there but we felt like we were pushing them back and close to getting one past (Jimmy Howard). But we couldn’t find a way to pass him in the beginning,” said Stalberg, who played his first game of this series after being benched the previous two games. “Then there’s a face-off win and we just don’t win the puck on it. We have to be ready and get hungry with those loose pucks on faceoffs. It’s going to be a big part of the rest of the series.”...
“We had more predictability in our game and we didn’t get slowed down,” Quenneville said. “We have to be better than we were today, but we were certainly better today.”
And Duncan Keith bristled at the concept that the team hasn't faced adversity well while speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus:
“Just because we haven’t faced a whole lot of adversity this year doesn’t mean we’ve never faced it in our lives before,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “Let’s face it: Winning in the playoffs isn’t easy. It’s not always going to go your way.”
And it’s not going the Hawks’ way at all right now. Despite out-shooting the Red Wings 40-30, despite dominating play for much of the game, despite creating plenty of good scoring opportunities, the Hawks came up short again against the aggressive, speedy, pesky Wings.
The turning point was a disallowed Viktor Stalberg goal that would have tied the game at 2-2 early in the third period — Andrew Shaw was in the crease, and despite the fact that he didn’t appear to make any real contact with Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard, the goal was waved off without an interference penalty being called — but the Hawks had plenty of other opportunities to take this one, too.
“We just couldn’t find a way to get that bounce; we got a lot of looks,” said Stalberg, who had a very strong game after a two-game benching. “We’ve just got to regroup, get ready for Thursday. We still have that feeling in this locker room that we’re going to win this series. It’s first to four, and we’ve got three to win. Simple as that.”
As Lazerus noted, Viktor Stalberg gave the Hawks a serious infusion of speed on the second line, and the Sun-Times' Mark Potash pointed out that it was Stalberg whose goal would have tied the game 2-2...
Individually, Jonathan Toews' frustration was incredibly evident. He...let's put it bluntly. He whacked the *#$%@& out of the puck when it was loose, when Howard covered it, and when it wasn't loose, he hacked and whacked every Wings player he could find, getting especially ornery when either he was chirping or a referee was nearby.
He was a petulant baby, like Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry. Which is par for the course for the "leaders" of the teams the Wings tend to encounter in the playoffs. But Toews, who possesses 3 assists over the course of seven games, told Comcast Sportsnet Chicago's Myers that he'd be fine...
“I always (feel the pressure to score); maybe a little added pressure in this situation. It’s one of those things I have to keep working, keep trying to find ways to score,” he said. “Eventually it’s going to come. Right now, I’m not letting it build up too much in my mind. Sometimes you start squeezing the stick and the rest of your game goes downhill. I’m not letting that happen. But sooner or later, something’s got to give. Hopefully I’ll find a way to contribute in a big way soon.”
Regarding Game 2, coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t going to single out Toews.
“Johnny was like a lot of our guys last game: we all need to be better,” he said. “We have to be more predictable in our game and better in certain areas, not just Johnny. Everybody has to collectively chip in.”
The Blackhawks’ top line overall hasn’t been chipping in like it did during the regular season. Marian Hossa’s the exception, as he has four goals and three assists in seven games. But the spotlight is obviously going to be on any Blackhawks star who’s struggling. Toews was especially frustrated after Game 2, when Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg played stifling defense on him.
That night, Toews felt there were some high hits in that game that should’ve been penalized. On Monday he said, “it is what it is, it’s over. Things like that won’t frustrate me; you have to work through that and, maybe dish it back once in a while.”
And the Hawks' defensemen told the Chicago Tribune's David Haugh that they'd shake off the Nyquist goal, focus on that sky-hook pass to Patrick Kane, and improve Thursday:
"He made a good play," Seabrook said of Gustav Nyquist's one-on-one moves that got the hosts on the board first at Joe Louis Arena. "I thought the puck was bouncing, I thought he'd stay on the wall and I could ride him out. But he made a nice play, a nice deke. Nice play."
So things got better and worse Monday, really, with two poor sequences from the blue-line crew spotlighted instead of the defensemen essentially creating the Hawks' lone score and, overall, believing they played a solid game throughout.
When an outlet pass sailed over Nick Leddy's head and Seabrook guessed slightly wrong on Nyquist's approach, it turned into a goal. When Michal Rozsival failed to complete an outlet pass from his own zone, it precipitated a sequence that saw the Red Wings' Drew Miller crash the crease for the game's second goal.
A group that saw its top two pairs combine for a minus-8 rating in Game 2 wasn't as flummoxed this time around. It just wasn't let off the hook when it was.
"This is a game of mistakes," Rozsival said. "The more chances you give them, the more mistakes you make, the better chance they have to score. They have a good skill group and you want to take their time and space away and try to keep their gap tight. That's what we're trying to do. Obviously there will be a time or parts of the game where you're not going to be perfect all the time."
The Chicago Sun-Times' Rick Morrisey believes that the Hawks will persevere...Mostly...
After the Game 2 loss, Toews said the Hawks needed to match the Red Wings’ aggressiveness going forward. But why couldn’t they have done it during that game when it became apparent the refs were allowing Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg to treat Toews like a bag of potatoes? Where were the in-game adjustments by coaches and players? It was as if awareness were on some sort of weird tape delay.
What a strange, fascinating series this has turned out to be, and it’s only three games old.
The decision to bench Viktor Stalberg for Games 1 and 2 likely won’t decide this series, but it is reminder that, contrary to popular opinion, not everything that coach Joel Quenne-
ville touches turns to gold. That’s the nice way of putting it. The not-so-nice-way comes in question form: Has he lost his mind? It seemed like a very strange time to play coach and mess with success. The third line of Stalberg, Shaw and Bryan Bickell was one of the reasons the Hawks were so consistently good this season. How many teams could match that third line? Stalberg returned for Game 3.
Five minutes into the first period Monday night, all of that was forgotten. The Red Wings were hitting, and the Hawks were answering in kind — or unkind. But it wasn’t enough.
“We know there’s going to be a lot of adversity … some tough moments in the playoffs,’’ Toews said. “We’ve just got to rise to the occasion.’’
The National Post's Sean Fitz-Gerald duly notes that the Hawks carried play for much of the night, out-puck-possessing the Wings (and he also relays the lovely story of a fan who sprayed Wings fans with beer when Kane scored)...
The Red Wings established the tactic of aggravating Chicago’s biggest stars during their convincing win in Game 2. And that continued on Monday, with Toews in particular the focus of every finished check on Detroit’s checklist.
And still, the Blackhawks pressed. Toews had six shots through the first two periods, the game leader, but none found their way through the slush to Howard. Toews does not have a goal in eight playoff games this spring.
When Toews was covered, Patrick Kane broke through, menacing with the puck all over the offensive zone. Nothing broke through. Nothing ventured was gained.
“Detroit doesn’t surprise anybody anymore,” Blackhawks defenceman Brent Seabrook said. “They know how to win. They’ve been there before. They’ve won a lot of games, and they’ve won a lot of big games.”
And USA Today's Kevin Allen offered some superb dueling quotes...
"I feel like we can play with these guys," said Detroit role player Patrick Eaves, who assisted on Miller's goal. "We know they're a great team and we have to respect that, respect their skill. But we've been getting better."
After struggling in five-on-five situations in the playoffs over the first eight games, the Red Wings have outscored Chicago 7-2 at full strength over the past two games.
"We probably had one of our better game of the playoffs tonight, even though we lost," said Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith. "I think we're going to take some confidence away."
"I think this series is a long way from over," Toews said. "And they know it, too."
With this, we'll pause for a moment. If you want to read TSN's Scott Cullen offer a statistical analysis of the game, TSN's Jamie McLennan's ranked the goalies, the Hockey News's Ryan Kennedy offered a succinct take, the Sporting News's RJ Kraft offered a 3-point take, Yahoo Sports' Sean Leahy weighed in, as did the CBC, the Toronto Sun's Rob Longey tossed off a thorough notebook and quite the quote from Toews...
Toews on the rash of scrums that ended the game, signalling the intensity that awaits. “I wouldn’t say it boiled over. I think we did exactly what we wanted to do. We were tough to play against tonight and we scratched and we clawed.”
And SI's Allan Muir's superb analysis of the game ends with perhaps a more accurate assessment of the scrums...
Garbage move by Quenneville to throw Shaw and Bickell out there at the end of the game. There was still a chance for Chicago to cut into Detroit’s lead and he goes with guys who are frothing at the mouth. Bickell, who’d been running around for most of the third, was called for cross-checking Cleary repeatedly at 19:00, effectively ending any chance the Hawks had of mounting a comeback. Shaw then hopped over the boards and earned a misconduct 47 seconds later for general hooliganism. If there was a message being sent there, it wasn’t that the Hawks would battle to the end. It’s that the Red Wings are completely in their heads.
But the AP's Larry Lage will offer one final Blackhawks quote...
He doesn't have a goal in nine playoff games, dating to last year. He matched Patrick Kane with a team-high 23 goals in the 48-game, lockout-shortened season. Toews did have a game-high seven shots in Game 3, but Jimmy Howard and his backchecking, shot-blocking teammates wouldn't let him end his drought.
"I'm not going to let it get the best of me," Toews said. "I know I'm doing good things. I'm very confident that it's going to come."
And with that, we're going to shift focus to the Red Wings (if you want to read the Detroit News's Matt Charboneau's Hawks notebook, his chat with Mr. Toews, or the Free Press's George Sipple's chat with Mr. Toews, enjoy), starting with the Globe and Mail's David Shoalts, who noted that the Red Wings might suggest that the game turned during an incredibly long shift for Drew Miller and, eventually, Patrick Eaves:
Howard said it was nice to see Miller get [his] goal because he played a big role in killing that penalty to Smith “where we were all dying.”
“[Miller] blocked about five shots on that penalty kill,” Howard said. “He’s such a key player for us. He does his job so well, getting the puck out along the boards, blocking shots on the [penalty kill] and he got rewarded with that goal tonight. It just shows how hard work pays off.”
That shift? It was 3:15 in duration for Miller, and slightly shorter for Eaves, Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall, as NHL.com's Corey Masisak noted...
The Chicago Blackhawks put on a passing clinic at the end of a power play early in the second period, but it ended without many quality shots on net. They kept the puck in the Detroit Red Wings' zone even after the penalty expired, and the pivotal moment of Game 3 of this Western Conference Semifinals series arrived.
Somehow, the Red Wings survived despite having four players on the ice for more than two minutes and two for more than three. Shortly after the marathon shift, the momentum shifted and Detroit rode it to a 3-1 victory and a 2-1 series lead.
"I was very aware and so were my lungs, and my legs were very aware," Detroit forward Patrick Eaves said. "That could have been a turning point if they would have scored on that power play and extended end-zone shift. But with [Jimmy Howard] back there, if we could keep them to the outside and knock any rebounds away, he's going to do a good job for us."
Eaves was on the ice for two minutes and 15 seconds during that shift, which is about three times longer than an ideal one. His shift was short compared to a few of his teammates. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall was on the ice for 2:46. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson and forward Drew Miller checked in at 3:15.
"More than three minutes? That must be some kind of record," Ericsson said. "Actually, I was kind of standing still in front of the net for a little while. I had the chance to get some big breaths. I wasn't as tired after three minutes as I was after like two, I think.
It happens, as Miller told Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples...
“I’d like to forget that one, that was a long one,” Miller said. “You get stuck on the penalty kill like that, it’s tough to get off. You just try to stay tight and I think guys, everyone was blocking shots and trying to get the puck out. Jimmy made some big saves there, so I think the key to that is just trying to survive that, get through it, and get off the ice as fast as you can.”
Who wisely points out--and it should be said now--that the Blackhawks' shenanigans did jack and shit to ruffle the Wings' feathers:
“Yeah, I think as the game went on, definitely you could see some of the frustration coming out,” Ericsson said. “After whistles they were maybe paying too much attention to us, or doing things after whistles, but that’s a good indication for us. If we can get them frustrated, we want to do that all day then.”
Instead, Eaves spoke with respect for the Hawks in NHL.com's Masisak's main recap, which brings us to another "turning point"...
"I thought we had close games with them all year, they just came out on top," said Detroit forward Patrick Eaves, who assisted on the game-winning goal. "I feel like we can play with these guys. We know they're a great team and we have to respect that, respect their skill. But we've been getting better. As long as we keep getting better on a nightly basis I think that's all we can worry about."
Nyquist opened the scoring at 7:49 of the second period. After a faceoff in the Red Wings' end, Damien Brunner chipped the puck over Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy and Nyquist tracked it down near the Blackhawks' blue line. He cut to the middle of the ice and past defenseman Brent Seabrook before waiting out goalie Corey Crawford for one of the best goals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs to this point.
It was Nyquist's second goal of the postseason -- his first was an overtime winner in the opening round against the Anaheim Ducks. Brunner has four goals and eight points, second on the team in scoring to captain Henrik Zetterberg.
"Aw, that is a great goal," said Joakim Andersson, the third member of Detroit's "Kid Line." "Brunner just made sure that he gets the puck out. With Nyquist's speed, I've seen that a lot in the American [Hockey] League. He can make his guy [miss], and the goalie -- I think the goalie was a little surprised that was so fast coming in there."
Which the Edmonton Sun's Derek Van Diest discussed in detail--both the goal, the "Kid Line," and the fact that the Nyquist-Andersson-Brunner line and the Miller-Emmerton-Eaves line were in fact the offensive difference-makers for Detroit:
“That’s big, it’s big for each line to win their battles,” said Nyquist. “But our third and our fourth line, we wanted to bring some energy for our team and grind them down low, win some battles and get momentum for our top lines, maybe get a face off in their end or something so our top lines can get out there.”
The third line did more than just earn some face-offs. Along with Nyquist and Damien Brunner, the unit dominated the Blackhawks’ third line and ate up their third defensive pairing.
Nyquist opened the scoring in the second period, out-racing the Blackhawks defence to a puck flipped down the ice by Brunner before out-waiting and rounding goaltender Jimmy Howard for his second of the post-season.
Just 31 seconds later, the Red Wings’ fourth line struck as Drew Miller poked in a puck sitting on the goal line, on a play that started with a turnover deep in the Blackhawks zone.
“I think in the playoffs, you have to have contributions from everyone,” said Miller. “Gus and myself and our lines, that’s big to get a goal. It gives the big boys, not a break, but some breathing room.”
So as the Hawks steamed and boiled on what was first sloppy and eventually fast ice at Joe Louis Arena--on a 90-degree day--the Wings' depth carried the day, as the Windsor Star's Bob Duff noted...
“When you can roll four lines out there, it helps even up the ice time and keep your top two lines fresh,” Howard said.
The third unit of Joakim Andersson between Nyquist and Brunner continued to build on their playoff legacy after Nyquist and Brunner both delivered overtime winners in the opening round against Anaheim.
“That line has been huge for us,” Detroit defenceman Niklas Kronwall said.
Meanwhile, fourth liner Drew Miller worked a 3:15 shift in the second period as part of a penalty kill, and still found enough leftover energy to pot what proved to be the game-winner, all while playing with a broken right hand.
“That’s definitely taking some pressure off our top two lines,” Howard said. “In the playoffs, that’s what you need. You need scoring from everyone.”
And while Howard doesn't believe that the Hawks' emotions will get the best of them, as he told MLive's Ansar Khan...
“It's playoffs, both teams want to win badly,'' Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “You're seeing all the emotions come to the forefront. It's going to be another battle Thursday night.''
Detroit didn't just take it, it dished out its share of hits, too, once again playing close attention to Blackhawks captain and best player Jonathan Toews.
“Every night we have certain guys who play their role and try to get out there and play the body and create the energy,'' forward Drew Miller said. “That’s kind of how we play. We want to hit and it’s playoff time so we want to try to ramp that up.''
And oh yeah, Howard? He was balls-out awesome (Khan penned a quote-less recap as well):
Howard, who made 39 saves, said his team's hard work is paying off.
“We’re trying not to give them any freebies,'' Howard said. “They’re a team that lives off the transition and we’ve got to get above them. Guys are taking bodies, blocking shots, playing with a lot of heart.''
Both teams skated well. The tempo was high.
“That was probably the fastest playoff game I've ever been a part of,'' Howard said. “I expect it just to get faster Thursday night. They're going to step it up. We need to come even harder. We're going to have to continue to play a great team game.''
And how did the Wings react to Niklas Hjalmarsson's hit on Johan Franzen, and the Patrick Kane goal that resulted? Did they protest?
Nope. Babcock had this to say to the Free Press's Helene St. James...
“It should’ve been a 2-minute penalty,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said, “but this is the way I look at it, those refs are trying and it’s fast. When I go in there and watch the replay, I go, ‘That’s a penalty.’ They don’t get to watch a replay.”
Zetterberg praised his goalie...
“He played really well for us,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “He made some great saves for us.”
And the Wings, who won't practice on Tuesday, simply seemed to move on...
After losing the opener, 4-1, the Wings have outscored Chicago 7-2 the last two games. Monday’s might not have been as perfectly executed as Game 2, but as Jonathan Ericsson summed it up, the Wings “are pleased.”
As DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose noted:
“Listen, there’s no easy formula to win hockey games,” said defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who had a plus-2 rating Monday. “That’s still a really good team over there and the series is not over. It’s only two games. We’re playing more like ourselves. Game 1, nobody recognized that team out there. Take nothing away from them, they’re still a great team. We expected a better effort from them tonight and we needed to elevate our game one more step. We’re playing really well right now and when we play like that we’re a really tough team to play with. That’s all we worry about. We worry about the way we play.”
Until Patrick Kane scored in the third to cut the Red Wings’ lead in half, Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard had blanked the Blackhawks for 90 ½ minutes straight. The Red Wings scored six unanswered goals in 3 ½ periods.
“A lot of people were picking us to get swept by them, it sort of put a chip on our shoulders that everyone's writing us off again here in the second round,” said Howard, who has stopped 48 of 50 shots in the two wins. “It's a little bit different playing the underdog role around here. I don't think people are quite used to it. I think that's why our fans are enjoying it so much.”
So there is a "chip" on the Wings' shoulder, but it ain't a big one.
Quoth the coach to the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
"Let's be honest, we haven't done anything yet," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "As the year has gone one we've gotten better. You have to play good enough and long enough to get some confidence."
"Our third and fourth lines were good," Babcock said. "We were better than them in the second (period). In the third period, we were trying to protect so much."
Red Wings penalty killers killed all four Blackhawks power plays, and have killed all 11 Chicago opportunities during this series.
"The key for us is working as a unit," Miller said. "We can't give them any room."
Gustav Nyquist did describe the play leading up to his goal to Kulfan...
"Brunny got it out, great job by him lifting it out," Nyquist said."I was kind of crossing over and pushing the pace and I tried to make a move on their defense. I faked a shot and tried to get Crawford down a little bit and get around him. Fortunately it went in."
But the Wings insisted to Kulfan that one game is in fact just one game...
"It doesn't change anything," Red Wings defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said. "It takes four games to win a series. By no means is this series over. It puts us in a good position and there's two days off before the next game. But we have to come out with our best effort."
And in fact, Nyquist told Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji that the Wings are the ones under pressure to not subterfuge their own efforts...
"If we start losing small battles, they're going to take it to us like they did in Game 1," Nyquist said. "They skated us hard and we weren't ready for them. We've shown up for Game 2 and 3, and that's how we're going to have to play. They're a great team and it's going to be tight throughout the whole series. We'll be ready again next game."
And Howard praised the Hawks...
"They were the best team in the NHL for a reason," Howard said. "We’re just going out there, sticking to our game plan, getting pucks to the net and getting on their D and trying not to give up too much on the transition. They’re a team the lives off the transition. Saying we’re better than (Chicago) is a stretch. It’s just hard work that’s paying off. Guys are paying the price to block the shots. We’re playing with a lot of heart."
While Babcock pointed out that any game in which the Wings give up 40 shots is not their best effort:
"I didn't think we played the full 60 as much as we had the other night because we got careful at the end instead of just going after them like we did in their building," Babcock said.
The Free Press's Mitch Albom duly noted that the Wings are embracing their underdog's role...
The Wings, the No. 7 seed, now have won four of their last five playoff games and have scored seven even-strength goals in two victories against the top-seeded Blackhawks. How is this happening? Here’s the way captain Henrik Zetterberg explained it:
“I think we’ve been learning as the year’s been going on. The last two weeks of the season we found a way to play well, that created some confidence in this locker room. … The first series we’ve been through a lot … hopefully we can still do better. As I say, we’re learning as we go.”
“It’s a little bit different, you know, playing the underdog role around here,” Howard said. “I don’t think people are quite used to it. I think that’s why our fans are enjoying it so much.”
They’re also enjoying the little things: the chippiness the Wings showed, winning the hits battle Monday (28-22) and the smarts battle (five penalties to Chicago’s seven). They’re also enjoying the good breaks any team needs to win in the playoffs (Chicago hit at least three posts Monday, and had a would-be tying goal waved off for goalie interference, a call coach Joel Quenneville said, “I disagree with.”)
And as the Detroit News's Bob Wojnowski suggests, the Wings are also enjoying playing the aggressor's role:
"We've got guys whose job is to hit and provide energy," Miller said. "That's kind of how we play. We want to hit, and it's playoff time, so we ramp it up."
If Detroit can't quite match Chicago's skill, it's determined to match everything else. That means Howard standing tough, holding off the swarming with spectacular steadiness, if that makes sense. That means agitating stars Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa into utter frustration, watching the Blackhawks like hawks. The Blackhawks got their chances — 40-30 in shots — but if they've evolved into what the Red Wings once were, there's a downside to it.
The Blackhawks like to get cute, over-passing at times. The Red Wings used to do that a bit, but now catch their breath and pounce. It also helps to get some good fortune, as the Blackhawks hit posts and crossbars, and Andrew Shaw's apparent tying goal was waved off because he was in the crease.
Ire is rising, as it always does in the playoffs, and the Red Wings felt burned by a no-call, when Johan Franzen was slammed into the boards by Niklas Hjalmarsson. That directly led to a goal by Kane that made it 2-1. Barely two minutes later, Datsyuk answered and calm was restored, somewhat.
"We haven't really done anything yet," Zetterberg said. "It's gonna get more physical each game, but we can't be too aggressive. If you're gonna go to hit the guy, you better be sure you hit him, because they're very good at jumping into the play. We just have to stay composed."
Keep on keepin' on? That's the plan, as they told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
Datsyuk rebuilt the Wings’ lead to two, with another patented laser wrist shot placed over Crawford’s right shoulder. Franzen slowed after gaining the zone and fed the pass to Datsyuk, who was joining the rush.
“Great shot,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “We’ve seen it before. I don’t know if it hit Mule or not before it went in. It was just a great play. We’ve seen it before.
“We’ve been here before, we know what to do,” Zetterberg added. “We know we haven’t really done anything yet. We did our job today and it’s going to be more physical for every game here. We’re just going to keep staying at it.”
“We know we can’t sit back and that’s what we talked about before the third period,” said defenseman Jonathan Ericsson after the Wings’ 3-1 win Monday night at Joe Louis Arena. “Previous third periods we were a little bit too cautious. We felt like we had a tied game instead of coming in up so we’re going for the next one.”
“We don’t want to get too high or two low that’s what Nicklas Lidstrom always used to say,” Ericsson added. “That’s what we can’t do. We just have to stay the course.”
And as has become something of a tradition, the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa's philosophical yarn will deliver the final, exclamatory point:
The Red Wings had a good start in that they refused to get run out of the building, despite a Blackhawks team that was significantly more effective than in Game 2.
"I think we played the right way and we had a good start," Chicago coach Joe Quenneville said. "I thought we had more play in their end. We didn't get slowed down in certain areas."
But between Howard and desperate defensive play by the Red Wings, they held the fort.
"It's just one of those things, they're a good team and they're going to carry the play at times," Babcock said. "I didn't think we played the full 60 minutes. I thought in the first period they had 15 shots. But I didn't think their team got anything done around the net.
That was the most striking point for me: the Red Wings are famous for dekeing and dangling and passing up shots to look for a prettier option, a more elegant and aesthetically-pleasing way to back-door-pass their way to goals. It's the demon that runs around in their basement, their artistic Achilles' heel, and it still haunts them and us today.
But on Monday night, the Wings didn't chase the Blackhawks around as they cycled and circled and Patrick Kane passed and passed and passed and passed over those oodles of early Chicago power plays.
They stood. They waited. And when the Hawks finally engaged, they got their sticks and skates in passing lanes, they blocked shots, they cleared Jimmy Howard's field of view and they out-worked, out-hustled and sometimes plain old dove and flailed to get to the rebound before the Hawks could.
The Wings are both out-Winging and out-Hawking the Hawks, and regardless of whether they can defeat Chicago two more times over the course of the next four games, that's absolutely *#$%@& amazing.
Shots 40-30 Chicago overall. Detroit was out-shot 15-9 in the 1st, out-shot Chicago 14-8 in the 2nd and were out-shot 17-7 in the 3rd.
The Wings went 0-for-5 in 9:00 of PP time; the Hawks went 0-for-4 in 8:00 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 39 of 40 shots; Corey Crawford stopped 27 of 30.
The 3 stars were picked by the Windsor Star's Bob Duff, and they were Niklas Hjalmarsson, Drew Miller and Jimmy Howard.
The Wings' goals: Nyquist (2) from Brunner (4) and Andersson (4);
Miller (1) from Eaves (2) and Emmerton (1);
Datsyuk (3) from Franzen (1) and Smith (2).
Faceoffs 37-29 Detroit (Detroit won 56%);
Blocked shots 15-12 Detroit;
Missed shots 11-6 Chicago (total attempts 66-48 Chicago, with the Wings firing 30 shots on Crawford and 18 into Hawks players, and the Hawks sending 40 on Howard and 26 wide/blocked);
Hits 28-22 Detroit;
Giveaways 9-5 Detroit;
Takeaways 6-3 Chicago.
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 16-and-12 (57%); Zetterberg went 9-and-7 (56%); Andersson went 6-and-5 (55%); Emmerton went 4-and-2 (67%); Filppula went 1-and-1 (50%); Brunner and Abdelkader lost their only faceoffs; Eaves won his only faceoff.
Shots: Abdelkader and Zetterberg co-led the Wings with 5 shots; Datsyuk and Nyquist had 3; Kindl, Eaves, Brunner and Franzen had 2; Smith, Cleary, Miller, Quincey, Kronwall and Andersson had 1.
Blocked attempts: Kindl fired 4 shots into Hawks players; Eaves had 2 attempts blocked; Abdelkader, Nyquist, Miller, Zetterberg, Kronwall and Andersson had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Kindl, Abdelkader, Miller, Brunner, Zetterberg and Kronwall missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Abdelkader led the Wings with 6 hits; Miller and Franzen had 3; Cleary, Emmerton, Colaiacovo, Filppula and Kronwall had 2; Smith, Kindl, Nyquist, Eaves, Brunner and Zetterberg had 1.
Giveaways: Ericsson had 3 giveaways; Kronwall had 2; Smith, Kindl, Miller and Filppula had 1.
Takeaways: Nyquist had 2 takeaways.
Blocked opponent shots: Miller blocked 4 shots; Kindl and Kronwall blocked 2; Smith, Abdelkader, Eaves, Emmerton, Quincey, Colaiacovo and Zetterberg blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Smith took 2 minor penalties; Abdelkader, Quincey and Andersson took 1.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +10. Filppula finished at -1; Abdelkader, Nyquist, Eaves, Miller, Brunner, Emmerton and Franzen were +1; Kindl and Colaiacovo were +2.
Points: Datsyuk, Nyquist and Miller scored goals; Smith, Eaves, Brunner, Emmerton, Andersson and Franzen had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 26:06 played; Ericsson played 23:37; Datsyuk played 21:14;
Zetterberg played 19:42; Filppula played 19:39; Smith played 18:42;
Franzen played 18:33; Quincey played 18:14; Colaiacovo played 17:12;
Cleary played 16:53; Kindl played 16:51; Abdelkader played 16:25;
Miller played 12:36; Nyquist played 11:05; Andersson played 10:06;
Brunner played 9:15; Eaves played 8:20; Emmerton played 7:30.
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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.