The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/26/13 at 11:39 AM ET
While we await the Red Wings' Sunday practice (turns out that it's an "optional," per the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa: more on it soon) subsequent to the Wings' 4-1 loss to Chicago in Game 5 of the teams' second-round series, some intriguing Tweets regarding playoff scheduling and TV ratings popped up...
And that's with somewhere between a quarter and a third of Wings fans watching the CBC....
If you really, really, really want to read MLive's Brendan Savage or NHL.com's Corey Masisak discuss Jonathan Toews' strong performance (hey, I never said that Captain Pork Chop isn't an excellent player...He just happens to be an extremely talented dick), enjoy...
But I went to bed at 7 AM wondering what the Wings need to do to to finally match the Blackhawks' adjustments, and when I read this from the Vacouver Sun's Cam Cole, who discussed last night's result with Bryan Bickell...
The Hawks didn’t leave much to the imagination in revealing their game plan. The Madhouse on Madison was still echoing with Jim Cornelison’s rousing Star-Spangled Banner when the home side commenced spangling the boards with Detroit bodies.
In the first three minutes, Shaw levelled Wings’ Jakub Kindl behind the net, and the glowering Bickell rattled rookie Joakim Andersson at centre ice with a temblor that must have registered on the Richter scale, and not long after that defenceman Brent Seabrook emerged from Joel Quenneville’s doghouse to flatten Andersson’s linemate, Damien Brunner.
“I feel like it’s part of my game, get the crowd into it, to get a hit and slow them down any way possible, to hit their D on the dump-ins,” said the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Bickell, who smiled at mention of the hit on Andersson. Yeah, I got him up good, I think he hit one of those doors near the penalty box.”
The heavy work seemed to have the desired effect, and appropriately enough, it was Bickell who both started and finished the opening scoring play, taking the puck off Detroit rearguard Jonathan Ericsson at the blue-line then rifling home Patrick Kane’s rebound 14 minutes in.
But the other ingredients were well-represented, too. Quenneville put his trusty go-to scoring line of Toews between Kane and Patrick Sharp back together, and it seemed to lend life to all three.
The Blackhawks outshot Detroit 45-26 and were 2-for-2 on the power play, while the Wings were 0-for-4.
“We felt like we had control of the game, puck possession, the plays we drew on the board were working, and getting a couple of power play goals gave us a spark,” said Bickell, “and to see Jonathan get his first, it’s nice to see that smile on his face, instead of the frown. I feel like he’s got that first one now, there’s many more to come.”
Patrick Eaves has faded since playing in the Wings-Ducks series like a man possessed, and as Todd Bertuzzi simply doesn't fit in as a fourth-liner.
Given that the Blackhawks have utilized Michal Handzus to neutralize Henrik Zetterberg's faceoff dominance, given that their forward lines and defensive pairings have been successfully tweaked, and given that Bickell and Shaw provide elements that only a disciplined Justin Abdelkader, Daniel Cleary and Drew Miller can provide...
I'm no coach, but I would unleash an Air Jordin on the Hawks if I was the coach.
The Wings' penalty-killing was poor, and they readily admitted to MLive's Brendan Savage that going 1-for-3 wasn't acceptable:
"Obviously on a penalty kill when you get a chance to clear it we have to bear down and make sure it goes 200 feet," said Red Wings defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo. "We'd rather have them practice their breakout than throwing the puck around in our end. We had guys caught out there for a really long time and they just kept working it around. They got that one and the next shift, or the shift after, we put them back on the power play and with that momentum they got a quick one again. It's kind of where the game was lost for us."
Sharp's goal gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 advantage and they took a two-goal lead with 4:13 left in the period, when captain Jonathan Toews scored his first goal of the playoffs while Justin Abdelkader was in the box for cross checking Sharp. Toews scored just 12 seconds after Abdelkader's penalty and once again the Red Wings failed to get their puck out of their zone when they had a chance.
"Both times (we had a chance to clear the puck) for sure," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. "The one time you broke your stick, what are you going to do? The other one, our guy fell down and someone else tried to do his job and next you're digging it out of the back of your net. Our first penalty kill of the night we did a good job, I don't think they got a shot, so we did a good job on that one. Bottom line is the last game we scored a power-play goal and they didn't and they scored two power play goals (tonight) and we didn't and that's the difference. Back-to-back games, specialty teams."
Until Shaw's power-play goal, the Red Wings had killed 12 straight penalties dating back to Game 1, when Marian Hossa scored the first goal of the series 9:03 into the first period. They killed their final two penalties of Game 1 before killing two in Game 2, four in Game 3, three in Game 4 and their first penalty in Game 5.
"We're taking a bit too many penalties," said defenseman Jonathan Ericsson. "They're a good team. First one is a shot and tip, second one short side. Second one was short side, top self, really good shot. That hurt us."
And given that Pro Hockey Talk's Joe Yerdon noted the following...
Detroit’s 4-1 loss in Game 5 to Chicago helped send the series back to Michigan for Game 6. Red Wings forward Dan Cleary scored their lone goal last night and provided us all with the clarity we needed about this series following the game.
Cleary told reporters afterwards, as Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times shared, ”Whoever thought this was going to end in five games is crazy.”
Well that’s a bit of a stinger for any overly optimistic Wings fans/direly pessimistic ‘Hawks fans. It’s tough to imagine anyone thought Chicago would pull a full no-show in Game 5 and have the Red Wings end their rivalry celebrating at United Center.
That said, five out of six of us here at PHT did have it going just five games… With Chicago coming out on top. Detroit can make us all look like dummies by pulling things out on Monday night at home.
I thought it was important to reiterate some of the points that Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg issued to the Wings' press corps.
Cleary said the following to Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji...
"It's hard to match that when their backs are against the wall but that's something that we have to be ready to go Monday like our backs are against the wall, which I like to think that they are," Daniel Cleary said. "They played better than us. They were more desperate, worked harder. Lesson learned."
The Wings have several young players who haven't been through these kinds of games at this level. They're learning on the fly.
"We'll be fine," Cleary said. "Have to keep the room loose. Can't get frustrated, I thought we were a little undisciplined, I thought we weren't strong on our sticks. Those are all mental things. Monday's a big game, we'll stress the importance of a good start, the importance of getting it in behind their defense and being physical. We need to shoot pucks, get in front of (goaltender Corey) Crawford. Need to play a tight game."
The kids learned a lot from facing elimination themselves in the first series against Anaheim. Losing their first opportunity to eliminate a talented team like the Blackhawks should be a wake-up call to play like they're facing elimination. Or else they really will be.
"We know what we’ve got to do and we don’t want to come back here, that’s for sure," Ericsson said. "So, we’ve got a good chance at home at The Joe and we’re going to take it.
And Henrik Zetterberg may as well have made a waving motion with his hands, a la coach Mike Babcock admonishing the press for being too "up and down" after Game 1, when saying the following to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness (if you didn't see Zetterberg's profile on Hockey Night in Canada, go watch it, and Zetterberg's post-game comments in the multimedia post were indeed measured):
"It’s up to us,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “We can talk about momentum here or momentum there, it’s up to the players to decide who has the momentum going into the game. We’ve been there before, been through this, so we just have to go out and play a good game.”
“They’re a good team,” Zetterberg said. “They’re here for a reason and they showed it. We just have to play the way we want. Go back to playing like we did in the past three games. We all know that, now we just have to go back and do it.
“We don’t get too high, we don’t get too low, we just stay with it,” Zetterberg added. “We know we can play good hockey if we do all the little things right. We just have to go back to doing that. We’re confident too. I think it’s going to two confident teams playing in Game 6.”
Quoth Zetterberg's teammates:
“We’re foolish to think that they’re just going to give us that fourth game,” defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said. “We know we can be better and we are going to be better. They’re a really good team. They deserved it more than we did.”
“The good thing about hockey is you get a second chance,” defenseman Kyle Quincey said. “You get to play in two days. (We’re) looking forward to redeeming ourselves.
“They wanted it more than us, they had a little more jump,” Quincey added. “That score kind of shows how the game went. They were better than us. We didn’t match it.”
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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.