The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/26/13 at 05:15 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings played a poor game in losing Game 5 of their second-round series to the Chicago Blackhawks by a 4-1 tally, and, as noted in the multimedia post, the Wings and their coach made no excuses for what was unacceptable play.
The Wings have gotten worse in games 4 and 5 while the Blackhawks have gotten better, having registered 73 shots on Jimmy Howard, including 45 on Saturday; the Hawks were 2-for-3 on the power play, the Wings haven't answered Chicago's lineup changes both up front and on defense, and the Hawks' physical play, regardless of whether it is "clean" or dirty, has backed the Wings off the puck against a team that thrives on puck possession hockey, it's completely disrupted the Wings' transition game and forecheck, and it's given the Hawks the "time and space" to deke, dangle, cycle and score on the otherwise heroic Howard.
As I said in the multimedia post, the Wings go into Game 6 needing to play a smarter, more poised game against a nut that is cracked, but has yet to shatter, and the Wings' captain, the Wings' coach and their players must answer Chicago's desperation and determination stride-for-stride on Monday (Game 6 starts at 8 PM and will air on NBCSN and the CBC, with Fox Sports Detroit airing a post-game show), lest this series boil down to a winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday.
Chicago is the Windy City for a reason, and while the Hawks are down 3-2, Chicago's players insisted that they have "all the momentum" going into Game 6, and if we are to believe ESPN Chicago's Melissa Isaacson, the series has already been decided by one Jonathan Toews' performance:
Jonathan Toews did not win the game for the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night. But it felt like he might have turned the series.
His second-period goal off Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard's mask was the Hawks' third goal in a 4-1 Game 5 victory to keep the Western Conference semifinals and their season alive heading into Game 6 in Detroit Monday night.
"It's just nice to see one go in," Toews said of the power-play goal, which he wristed off Howard's facemask and into the upper right corner of the net at 15:47 of the second, his first goal since April 21, 2012, in Phoenix, a scoreless playoff streak of 10 games. "You work so hard for so many games -- not only for yourself, but your linemates, the guys out there with you -- and it builds your confidence. I don't care who you are, when you see it go in, you feel like you can do it again, and that's a feeling not only within myself, but with the team right now."
Hawks fans had not even glimpsed their team lacking in confidence this season until it lost Games 2, 3 and 4 to the Wings, Chicago's first three-game losing streak of the year. Suddenly, they looked not at all like the team that had played so brilliantly, but a team as vulnerable as a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-seven series would suggest.
And while winning Game 5 and reclaiming its power play does not guarantee a new Hawks team will have an easy time of it in Detroit Monday night, this is a group that takes its cue from its captain. And its captain was looking and feeling like a new man late Saturday night.
The Hawks were happy for their captain, as Bryan Bickell told the Chicago Sun-Times' Adam L. Jahns...
‘‘It’s nice to see that smile on his face,’’ Bickell said after the Blackhawks defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 in Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinal series Saturday.
And, like that, Bickell made Toews smile again. ‘‘Captain Serious’’ even chuckled.
‘‘It’s good for him,’’ Bickell said. ‘‘I feel that once he got that first one, there’s many more to come.’’
If that happens, the Red Wings might be in trouble.
And Hawks coach Joel Quenneville told Comcast Sportsnet Chicago's Nina Falcone:
"I thought Tazer, if you look at his last few games, I still thought he played a lot of great shifts and did a lot of good things the last few games with nothing to show for it, as he had probably this whole playoffs," Quenneville said. "A lot of times they measure the top guys on their production and obviously it was nice to get that one, but that line was dangerous and effective in a lot of ways. Going forward, I'm sure patience and comfort level in those areas and play recognition will probably be a little bit more comfortable for him."
Patrick Sharp was reunited with Toews and Patrick Kane on the Blackhawks' top line Saturday evening. Despite the criticism Toews had been facing, Sharp continued to see the same hard-working captain.
"He's been playing the same way the whole playoffs," Sharp said. "There's been a lot of talk about his offensive production, but I had a chance to play with him today and he works hard in all the right areas. He does the right things and we've all been there. I know how it feels to score that first one and it was a big goal for us nonetheless."
But if we are to believe the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus, the Hawks have nothing less than thrown off their frustrations with a "cathartic" victory...
Bryan Bickell furiously pumped both fists before Patrick Kane leapt into his arms, Yogi Berra style. Andrew Shaw screamed, then raised his arms. Jonathan Toews crouched and fired off a windmill fist-pump before jumping on Marian Hossa. Meanwhile, some 22,000 nail-biting fans at the United Center finally exhaled — their long-held breath coming out as a deafening, rattling roar.
Yes, this one felt like it was a long time coming. The Blackhawks staved off elimination for another two days, at least, with a cathartic 4-1 victory over the Red Wings on Saturday night — sending this Western Conference semifinal back to Detroit for Monday night’s Game 6, emphatically taking back momentum in the series and justifying all that confident talk that the floodgates were bound to open sooner or later.
“It just goes to show, if you get excited and you have that positive feeling in your locker room and on the bench, hey, anything can happen,” said Toews, who scored his first goal of the playoffs. “So we’ve got that feeling again, and that’s all we need.”
If we are to believe what the Hawks told the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc, the Wings cannot beat a Stanley Cup champion's desperation on the way to an "epic comeback":
"We knew that our backs are against the wall," Toews said. "When you're down three games to one, you have to push back, you have to do something and we did. Every single guy answered the call. It's fun to play that way when everyone is chipping in and playing for each other. There's not much we can't do when we play like that. We'll carry it into the next one."
Toews ended his personal frustrations with his first goal of the playoffs and along with Andrew Shaw's two scores, one from Bryan Bickell and strong goaltending from Corey Crawford, the Hawks remain alive and kicking.
"We didn't want a great season like this to end like this," Shaw said. "We came out hard in the first and just took off with it."
The Hawks will look to ride the momentum when they take the ice for Game 6 in a hostile environment.
"We have to come out with the same intensity and same desperation and just keep doing what we did this game," Shaw said. "I think we should be good."
As the Chicago Daily Herald's Mike Spellman noted that the Hawks feel that they're a cohesive group right now...
"It's fun to play that way when everyone's chipping in and everyone is playing for each other," Toews said.
There's no doubt that the Hawks' power play keyed their win--it went 2 for 3, as the Chicago Daily Herald's Tim Sassone noted...
Shaw scored the go-ahead goal at 13:08 when he tipped in a Duncan Keith shot from near the blue line. The Hawks had control of the puck for more than a minute after Toews won a faceoff.
Toews scored himself on another power play at 15:47 after Justin Abdelkader cross-checked Patrick Kane. Toews roofed a shot over Jimmy Howard from the short side for his first goal of the playoffs in his 10th game. Toews leapt into the arms of Marian Hossa after finally scoring.
After Dan Cleary tied it at 9:37 of the second period on a rebound, the Hawks' power play went to work and decided the game on goals by Shaw and Toews.
"He (Shaw) made a nice tip there in front of the net," Keith said. "It's the screen that we need and the shot. It's not rocket science. It's moving the puck around and taking what they give you. We did that tonight."
And the Hawks told the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Potash that getting back to basics--including screening Jimmy Howard--helped them break through:
‘‘That’s what we need,’’ Keith said. ‘‘[Shaw] made a nice tip there. But more than that he’s in front of the net. It’s the screen that we need. It’s not rocket science. it’s keeping it simple, moving the puck and taking what they give you. We did that tonight. I don’t know why we haven’t been able to do that before.’’
Shaw’s goal broke a streak of 13 scoreless power-play opportunities — a spate of futility that was worse than the numbers indicated.
Shaw’s goal sparked a resurgence by the Hawks’ power play. When the Red Wings’ Justin Abdelkader was called for cross-checking Patrick Kane with 4:25 left in the second period, it took the Hawks just 12 seconds to score. Jonathan Toews won a faceoff, then took a pass from Marian Hossa and flipped a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle off Howard’s left shoulder for a 3-1 lead.
‘‘When you score, you get a little confidence boost,’’ Seabrook said.’
The Hawks also caught a break on Shaw’s goal when Pavel Datsyuk lost his stick.
‘‘Datsyuk breaking his stick definitely helped out,’’ Seabrook said. ‘‘It’s hard to pass around him.’’
Shaw's "disciplined" performance earned accolades from the Chicago Daily Herald's Spellman...
"Michal Handzus sat down and had a nice talk with me the other day," Shaw said. "He told me, 'You have to control your emotions. There are good times and bad times to keep your hands down and eat a punch instead of giving one.' I'm not going to jinx myself here, but I've been walking that line pretty good here."
That he has, and in the biggest game of his young career, the 21-year-old came through big-time scoring a pair of goals, including 1 on the power play where he was in front of goaltender Jimmy Howard and redirected a shot past him to propel the Hawks to a crucial 4-1 victory over Detroit in Game 5 at the United Center.
"He was all over the place," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said shaking his head. "He's not the biggest guy out there but there's nothing he can't do — in his own mind at least. He definitely showed it tonight and that's good for him. He's scoring those ugly goals just by going to the net. He's not going to be denied ... that's something every guy in this room could take away from his play."
ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers...
Being on the right side Saturday gave Shaw the chance to contribute offensively. On his first goal, Shaw was standing in front of the net on a power play and deflected a shot by teammate Duncan Keith past Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard. It was the Blackhawks’ first power-play goal since the first period of Game 1.
“Howard’s a great goalie,” Shaw said. “When he sees puck, he’s going to stop it. We just tried to create as much havoc as we could in front of the net. It worked to our advantage. We finally got the power play going. If felt great there.”
Shaw added a second goal when he came from behind the net and knocked in the rebound off teammate Viktor Stalberg's shot to put the Blackhawks ahead 4-1 in the third period. It was Shaw’s third goal of the playoffs.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was pleased with Shaw’s all-around effort in Game 5.
“He plays with that energy you appreciate, and he’s a competitive kid,” Quenneville said. “He finds that line. He’s smart in a lot of ways. You love that tenacity and willingness to travel in front of the net and hang around. He’s got a quick stick. He’s got some offensive skills, and he’s got good instincts on both sides of the puck.”
The Chicago Tribune's Hamilton...
"We needed more of a presence in front of the net," Shaw said. "(Jimmy Howard's) a great goaltender. He likes to come out and challenge pucks. You keep him in the blue and there's a lot more to shoot at and opportunities for rebounds."
Through various personnel tweaks and approaches, the Hawks were having trouble scoring and the power play was more hindrance than help since a Marian Hossa goal in Game 1. It was 12 straight power plays and 12 straight breakdowns, including a galling failure to muster even a single shot on the two sessions before the Game 5 breakthroughs.
"Our work has paid off," Shaw said.
Shaw absorbed all kinds of punishment from Wings’ defenders Niklas Kronwall (6-0, 190 pounds) and Jonathan Ericsson (6-4, 221) as he parked in front of the crease, but somehow he managed to hold his ground and redirect the crucial power-play goal to break a tie score.
A second after Shaw scored, Kronwall slashed him and Ericsson knocked him down. Perfect. Imagine how angry those two big Wings were one period later as Shaw swooped behind the net and stuffed the puck past Howard for his second goal of the game and his third of the playoffs.
“My play gets under people’s skin,” Shaw said. “Finishing every check. Giving them little whacks here and there. Going to the net. Not everyone likes that.”
The Chicago Tribune's Kuc and Hamilton noted that the Hawks shuffled their defensive pairs, getting strong games from the reunited Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith...
The Hawks reshuffled the defensive pairs for Game 5. Duncan Keith was reunited with longtime partner Brent Seabrook while Niklas Hjalmarsson was with Johnny Oduya. Michael Rozsival and Nick Leddy rounded out the couplings, but Hjalmarsson said before the game that the new arrangements were worth only a shrug.
"It doesn't really matter who we end up playing with," he said. "I know the guy next to me is going to have a great effort. It's a matter of focusing on yourself and focusing on your own game instead of thinking about what everyone else is doing out there."
Overall, the Hawks insisted that they've taken momentum from the Wings, and will keep it going on Monday, as they told Comcast Sportsnet Chicago's Tracey Myers...
“We had nothing to lose,” said Bryan Bickell, who had three hits, including a big one on Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall in the third period. “Tonight there was no tomorrow and we came out and had a plan what we wanted to do. And we executed it.”
The Blackhawks’ work, however, isn’t done. Detroit still holds a 3-2 series lead and will have the Joe Louis faithful behind them. The Blackhawks exorcised a few scoring demons on Saturday, be it as a group or individually. They need to work just as hard, if not more so, to force another game at the United Center.
“We have to go back and win a game,” Quenneville said of Game 6 in Detroit. “Today we got the momentum back. Let’s go in there and keep it.”
The Chicago Daily Herald's Barry Rozner, who rubbed things in...
In the elevator ride to the basement from the UC press box late Saturday night, several Detroit executives could hear the Blackhawks' radio broadcast loud and clear from the speakers in the tiny box.
And after Troy Murray yelled excitedly into his microphone, "I gotta feeling we're gonna be back here Wednesday," Red Wings exec Chris Chelios muttered, "Me, too."
That would mean a Game 7 back here in Chicago — and that's all the Hawks can ask for right now.
"We played awesome," said goaltender Corey Crawford, who continued his strong play Saturday. "We kept the same game as the last two, but we said we needed to create a break or a bounce to go our way. You can't just think that because you're working hard that it's gonna go your way. You have to make it go your way. That was what we talked about in here."
Well, the Hawks made their own breaks and got their own bounces and all kinds of good happened. The Hawks rolled and now they know a Game 6 win in Detroit on Monday forces a Game 7 back in Chicago on Wednesday. That's how quickly a series can change, how fast momentum can shift. But you're only as good as your next shift, and the Hawks are guaranteed nothing more right now than 60 more minutes of hockey.
"We have to have the same mindset," said Keith. "We have to have a good start and go from there, capitalize on chances and keep working hard."
“Everyone is at a high right now,” Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw, who scored twice in Saturday’s win, said. “We kind of have to control that and focus on Game 6 here.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville understood what’s still ahead for his team.
“We still got to go back to Detroit,” Quenneville said. “We got to win a game. I thought today we got the momentum back on our side. Let’s go in there and keep it.”
“You got to commend the guys,” Quenneville said. “I thought their attitude [Friday] was tremendous. They could have been walking around here thinking like it was an awful spot, but they had the right approach. It was very positive.”
In the "bluster and spirit of the thing" department, the Chicago Sun-Times' Rick Morrisey nearly got verklempt gushing about the Hawks' performance...
‘We knew we needed a good first period, and I think we did,’’ Bickell said. ‘‘Momentum in this game goes a long way, and I think we have it right now.’’
The Hawks are alive after a 4-1 victory against the Red Wings. How alive is in the eye of the beholder and in the team name on his or her NHL-licensed sweater. The Red Wings still lead the series 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Monday in Detroit. That’s fact. But they might be the ones on their heels now. Suddenly, the Hawks look a little more like the No. 1 seed they were when they entered the playoffs. That might be a matter of nuance, but it doesn’t make it any less real.
They look confident. Gone are the empty looks and blank stares.
There were so many feel-good things for the Hawks to build on from the victory. The Hawks scored two power-play goals after looking pathetic with the man advantage in Game 4. And when captain Jonathan Toews, who had been scoreless in nine playoff games, beat goalie Jimmy Howard on a power play in the second period, it was official confirmation that something special was in progress.
The Chicago Tribune's David Haugh went all Evil Drew Sharp-y, comparing the Hawks to Chicago's other sports teams while insisting that "anything is possible" now for a city that I will not deny is the biggest, baddest, most obnoxious, loud, rude and insecure underdog with a mean, spiteful sense of an inferiority I've ever had the pleasure of visiting (we're paranoid in Detroit, but we're not a mean bunch)...
Even the struggling power play worked — and changed the game. It was 1-1 at the 13:08 mark of the second period when Shaw tipped Keith's shot past Wings goalie Jimmy Howard to regain the lead and a swagger.
"Bicksy (Bickell) always says it's luck, but I have pretty good hand-eye coordination," said Shaw, who scored twice.
Good things happen when the Hawks camp out in front of the goalie, establish position and obstruct Howard's view. It's called net presence and the ploy put the Hawks squarely back in this series.
Less than three minutes after Shaw's goal, Toews broke through. Anything seemed possible again. Suddenly, anything is, even for a team from Chicago.
And the Chicago Tribune's Steve Rosenbloom was, well, surprisingly understated for Steve Rosenbloom:
A sign of the Hawks’ commitment was their third period. Instead of falling back to try to protect a two-goal lead, they continued to buzz the Wings with a 17-4 shot advantage.
Shaw would score again in the third, and it became a night of redemption for two Hawks centers who had lost their composure in the two games in Detroit.
It was a night of redemption for the Hawks, period. This was the kind of game we’ve been waiting for since the opener. This was the Hawks dominating and making it count. This was the Hawks team that must show up in Detroit on Monday night.
Instead, it's CBS Chicago's Adam Hoge that takes the pompous cake:
An ugly win may have accomplished the short term goal of getting back to Detroit Monday, but the Blackhawks did much more than that Saturday night. They snatched back the momentum and reestablished themselves as the better team in this series.
“We gotta go back to Detroit and win a game,” head coach Joel Quenneville said. “We got the momentum back on our side so let’s go in there and keep it.”
The hardest part of the potential comeback comes Monday, but the Blackhawks now have an opponent that might be looking over its shoulder with a little more nervousness. One down. Two to go.
We're going to rely on the "out-of-towners" to slowly transition our perspectives from those of the Blackhawks to those of the Red Wings. Sportsline's Adam Gretz praised Toews' performance, TSN's Jamie McLennan stated that Howard was valiant in defeat, the Hockey News's Matt Larkin suggested that the Wings "ate" the Hawks' physical play, Yahoo Sports' Sean Leahy suggested that the Hawks have awakened and named Shaw and Toews his first and third stars of the night, SI's Allan Muir duly noted that Quenneville out-coached Babcock and stated the following...
Outside of another strong performance from Howard, who stopped 41 of 45 shots on the night and kept Detroit closer than it had any right to be, there wasn’t much positive to take out of this game for the visitors. They said all the right things heading into the contest, but the Wings never really gave themselves a chance to win this one. They allowed Chicago to dictate the tone and pace from the start and never found a way to match their intensity and desperation.
It wasn’t just a slow start the killed them. It was their inability to make adjustments and kick up their effort with the game on the line. Consider that the Wings entered the third period on the tail end of a power play with a chance to cut the lead to 3-2 and failed to register a shot. In fact, with a chance to finish off the Hawks on the line, they managed a total of four shots in the third. Four.
After all that talk, they squandered their best opportunity to put down the Stanley Cup favorites. And now the Red Wings head back to Joe Louis Arena to face a team that knows exactly what it takes to beat them. You can expect that home cookin’ might help a bit — Babcock will be able to get the defensive matchups he wants and the Wings should do better in the faceoff circle than Game 5′s 51/49 split. But the key to victory is simple: they have to match Chicago’s desperation every step of the way.
In Swedish, Niklas Kronwall assured Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom that he's okay, and Henrik Zetterberg readily admitted that the Hawks were simply the better team on Saturday night, and Niklas Hjalmarsson told Aftonbladet's Per Bjurman that "the machine has started" and that the Hawks won't be denied...
And in English, the Edmonton Sun's Derek Van Diest focused on the Hawks' power play...
“Good things come from shooting the puck, there’s rebounds and loose pucks,” said Shaw, who scored on a tip in front. “We had all guys converging to the net and we just kept picking them up and kept hemming them in there. We were able to tire them out and we were rewarded. Scoring that power play goal was huge. I think we needed that and we had the momentum going into the next one and we buried that one, too.”
In the third, Shaw collected his second goal by taking a rebound off the boards behind the net and beating Howard on a wrap-around. The Blackhawks kept up the pressure, out-shooting the Red Wings 45-26 in the contest.
“We felt like we had control of the game most of the game,” said Bickell. “The plays that we drew on the board were working and to get a couple of power play goals was the spark that we needed. It feels good, now we need to move on to the next game.”
As did ESPN's Craig Custance--as part of a very lengthy article...
Jimmy Howard made a save on a Seabroook shot, kicking the puck out near Datsyuk, when the Blackhawks got their first break. In a rare misstep by the Red Wings star, Datsyuk whiffed on a backhanded clearing attempt.
The second break was quite literally a break. Datsyuk broke his stick, leaving the Red Wings with essentially 3½ players trying to kill the penalty. For a split moment, Emmerton thought about giving Datsyuk his own stick but opted not to.
The Red Wings penalty kill has been so effective against Chicago because of its aggressive play. But a missed clearing attempted and a broken stick wiped out that advantage. The aggressiveness was gone.
Now, the Blackhawks focused on working the puck on the side of the ice where Datsyuk tried to defend without a stick. Seabrook was set up for shots by Keith. He had a slap shot from 54 feet and another from 42.
"He’s at a disadvantage. You can pass through him," Seabrook said of the stickless Datsyuk. "Datsyuk has such a great stick and is such a great player defensively. It’s hard to pass around him. He’s one of those guys who does a great job of taking away lanes."
But not when he’s missing a stick. The Blackhawks attacked with desperation, winning battles for puck retrieval, and, at one point with 45 seconds left on the power play, Hossa made a great play at the blue line to keep in a clearing attempt from Ericsson.
By the time Andrew Shaw deflected a shot from Keith past Howard for what turned out to be the game-winning goal, the Wings PK was gassed and the Blackhawks power play struggles were over.
Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika penned a long recap which ends at the beginning (he heard strains of Eminem's "Lose Yourself" coming out of the Wings' locker room prior to the game)...
It should be a hell of a Game 6. Both teams can come in confident.
The Wings lost Game 1, 4-1, too. They roared back with a 4-1 victory in Game 2, then won the next two at Joe Louis Arena. They know they can respond. They know they can win at home. They know they need only one victory in two tries to make the Western Conference final in a season in which many wondered whether they would make the playoffs.
The Blackhawks suddenly feel like themselves again. Remember, this is a team that came back from a 3-0 deficit in the first round against the Vancouver Canucks two years ago. They lost, but not until overtime of Game 7. This is a team that trailed in two series on its way to the Cup three years ago.
“We know how to win, we’ve just got to go out there and do it,” said defenseman Brent Seabrook. “We played like it was the last game of our season. We’ve got two more like that. We’ve got to focus on Monday night. Get ready to rock and roll.”
Or play some Eminem.
And USA Today's Kevin Allen talked about the presence or absence of momentum heading into Game 6:
"We played like it was the last game of our season," said Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook. "We got two more like that. We've got to focus on ... Monday night. Get ready to rock and roll. We've got to play with that desperation and that intensity."
"We're foolish to think that they're just going to give us that fourth game," said Detroit defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo. "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."
Said Cleary; "Whoever thought this was going to end in five games is crazy."
What happens in Game 6?
"The team that wins the most battles and is the most determined and lets the other team have the least amount of space has been successful," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. " I don't think that's going to change one bit."
The AP's recap will give us the final words from the Hawks' perspectives...
With the sellout crowd chanting "Ho-ward! Ho-ward!" in an attempt to shake him, the standout goalie made 41 saves in another solid performance. But the Blackhawks created enough quality chances that he simply couldn't stop all of them.
"Good things come from shooting the puck," Shaw said. "There's rebounds, there's loose pucks, and we had all guys converging to the net and we just kept picking them up and hemming them in there and tired them out and we were rewarded."
Bryan Bickell scored the first goal of the game and Corey Crawford had 25 stops for Chicago, which managed only two goals during its first three-game losing streak of the season.
And NHL.com's Corey Masisak leads us into the Wings' room for good:
Just as the Blackhawks had been able to keep the puck in the zone at the blue line a couple of times before Shaw's goal, Keith made a great play to stop a clearing attempt after his point shot. He sent the puck to Hossa, who faked a shot and slipped the puck to Toews near the goal line to the left of Jimmy Howard. Toews put a shot off Howard and under the crossbar to give the Blackhawks a 3-1 lead.
"I thought at that point the game was over," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "They had the puck the rest of the night and we didn't do anything. We weren't good enough tonight at all as far as our plan or what we have to do to be successful. There was too much space and [the Blackhawks] were freewheeling it around and having fun. It just goes to show you how hard it is to win and you've got to compete and do things right if you want to be successful."
"There a team over there that's not going to roll over on you and let us have it," Detroit defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said. "They came out with more of a determined effort in the first period, and it seemed that we weren't sharp with our passes, with our breakouts. We were giving them every opportunity, losing puck battles. I think in the second period we played more of our game, then we got into penalty trouble and their power play got two quick ones there. In the third period we tried to open it up a little bit, but we just got into more of a back-and-forth game -- something that we don't want to get ourselves into with a team like this."
The Red Wings were equally blunt about their efforts or the complete and total lack thereof while speaking with DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose (though Roose notes that one of Andrew Shaw's drawn penalties resulted from a ridiculous dive)...
Simply put, “We weren’t good enough at all tonight,” Wings coach Mike Babcock declared in his post-game news conference. “I thought we were tentative at the start. We should be comfortable. Let’s get out there and play and I don’t think we did that. I don’t think we were on our toes today at all. I thought we were on our heels for most of it except for the first 10 minutes of the second I thought we got playing a little bit.”...
Despite the Wings’ inefficiencies, the score was tied as the teams entered the last half of the second period, but that’s when the Blackhawks took advantage of two Detroit penalties.
“I think in the second period we played more of our game, then we got into penalty trouble, and their power play got two quick ones there,” defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said. “In the third period we tried to open it up a little bit, but we just got into more of a back and forth game, something that we don’t want to get ourselves into with a team like this.”
“We got going pretty good in the second period and then we took the penalties,” Babcock said. “On their first power play they got nothing in the first and then Pavel (Datsyuk) lost his stick on the second one and we never got the puck out of the zone and they score on that one. They had another power play and we had a guy fall down and had another guy try to do his job instead of just being a little poised. At that point the game was over. They had the puck the rest of the night and we didn’t do anything.”Chicago registered 19 more shots on goal in the game than the Red Wings, who were out-shot, 17-4, in the third period. The series now returns to Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena for Game 6, which is set for Monday at 8 p.m. EDT.
“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.”
The Wings had to give the Hawks credit for their efforts, as the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted...
"They played a hell of a game, from every facet of the game," goalie Jimmy Howard said. "They were better than us tonight."
During the morning skate Saturday the majority of the discussion was about weathering the expected storm the Blackhawks were sure to be unleashing early in the game. And Chicago did have momentum early, finally scoring a goal on Bryan Bickell's putback at 14:08 of the first period.
But the Red Wings gradually regained control, tied it in the second period on Daniel Cleary's goal, but took a pair of costly penalties which led to Chicago power-play goals.
"When you don't get it (the puck) out, it's going to hurt you," defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. "We got tired and they were working on us and shot the puck and got pucks back, too. They were a little more hungry than we were."
"We knew it, we knew we were going to have to weather the storm early against them (and) I thought we did that," Howard said. "We got it going there, but they just kept coming and coming and we had a couple bad penalties and they were able to capitalize on them."
So much so that Kulfan noted it twice, pointed out that, before the game, the Wings tossed off the, "We'll match their desperation" cliches, and after the game, Kuflan pointed out that it was desperation that the Hawks stated was largely responsible their victory:
"We don't want to come back here at all," defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. "We know what we have to do and we get another chance at The Joe."
"We're foolish to think that they're just going to give us that fourth game," Wings 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."
"We weren't good enough tonight at all, as far as our plan we have to play to be successful," coach Mike Babcock said. "There was too much space and they just were just having fun. Just goes to show you how hard it is to win."
The Free Press's Helene St. James also noted that the Wings' veterans had insisted that they would keep their young players "loose" and poised (they were neither) prior to the game, but after the game, St. James noted that penalties doomed the Wings, including some incredibly undisciplined ones from Justin Abdelkader...
"We got going pretty good in the second period, then we took the penalties," coach Mike Babcock said. "On their first power play, they got nothing and then Pavel lost his stick on the second one and we never got the puck out of our zone. Then they got another power play and we had a guy fall down and another guy try to do his job instead of just being a little poised. At that point, the game was over. They had the puck the rest of the night, and we didn't do anything."
Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp called Shaw's power play marker, "Huge for us. He was taking a beating in front of the net, probably got knocked down four or five times and still had energy to celebrate after he scored, so that was a big shift for him and other four guys out there and we kind of responded afterwards."
Those power play goals gave Chicago a two-goal lead. Not impossible to overcome, given there was the entire third period left in the game. But the Wings did not respond; they got four shots in the entire third period.
And as a result, the Wings offered the following to St. James regarding the game as a whole:
"They played a hell of a game,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “In every facet of the game, they were better than us. We knew it. We knew we were going to have to weather the storm early against them, and I thought we did that, and we got going. But they just kept coming and coming, and as the game got going, we took a couple of bad penalties and they capitalized on it.”
Captain Henrik Zetterberg said the Blackhawks “were better than us. That’s a fact.”
“We were tentative at the start,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t know if that’s the situation of the opportunity to close out or whatever. To me, we should be comfortable. We were ahead, let’s get out there and play; I didn’t think we did that. I didn’t think we were on our toes at all. We were on our heels for most of it, except the first 10 minutes of the second.”
“They were more desperate, worked harder. Lesson learned,'' Detroit's Daniel Cleary said. “We weren't hard enough on the puck, weren't hard enough on their defense. We didn't play like we've been playing."
“They were more determined and more desperate than us and it showed on the ice,'' Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. “We got to be a little bit quicker and a little bit harder. They were winning more battles than us than in previous games.''
In "the spirit of the thing" vein, the Free Press's Mitch Albom duly noted that Jonathan Toews made good on his promise to, "Smile and shove it" in the Wings' faces..
Did they merely lose a game to a team they can beat again at home — or did they awaken a giant that hasn’t been seen since the last period of Game 1, when the Wings were too exhausted to keep pace and the Hawks scored three unanswered goals.
“I didn’t think we were very good to start with,” Wings coach Mike Babcock told NBC during the game. “I thought we were tentative. I said to the guys, ‘We’re up, 3-1. Why wouldn’t we play and get on our toes and go after them?’ When you play tentative, they look fast, they look like they’re all over you.”
Yep. That’s pretty much how it looked. The Hawks revamped their lines, loading Toews with Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, creating what was deemed a “super line.” (How about “The Avengers”?
What everyone wonders, and what will no doubt be debated for the next 36 hours, can be summed up by this headline “Are The Real Blackhawks Back?” You will hear all about the Presidents’ Trophy. You will hear about how the Red Wings missed their chance. You will hear about how this new line combination could be the key for Chicago.
And none of it will matter if Detroit wins. And nobody will know that until Monday night.
We do know this. History shows it is very hard to win three straight to capture a series. That’s bad for Chicago. History also shows that when you have a team down, 3-1, you want to bury them. Giving a favorite team life is a perilous habit.
The Oakland Press's Pat Caputo suggested that the Wings were going to get a reality check from Chicago sooner or later, and they received a rather violent reality "check" on Saturday night...
- The series was going too well for the Red Wings. The Blackhawks are just too talented, and have too much of a recent championship pedigree, to merely surrender.
- Such adversity is inevitable. It is the essence of playoff hockey. Overcoming such obstacles in four series, in a sport as demanding physically and mentally as hockey at its highest level, is what makes the Stanley Cup one of the most coveted and cherished prizes in sports.
- Even though the Red Wings are just a game away from clinching the series going into Game 6, the pressure has shifted onto their shoulders.
The ever-thorough Detroit News's Gregg Krupa noted that all of the Wings' dangerous tendencies reared their ugly heads at the same time...
They did not quite mail this one in, as they did in Game 1 in Chicago when they had no energy at all after beating the Ducks in seven games. But they left undone almost all of the chores on their to-do list.
Instead of being in front of the Blackhawks and slowing them down through the neutral zone, they skated behind or alongside them into their own zone.
They were rarely hard on the Blackhawks' defensemen, forechecking.
They were never hard on Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford with their drive to the net and bodies crashing and banging out front.
Possessing the puck far less than in the previous three games, the Red Wings were left to chase Chicago around, stuggling - or merely hoping — to get it back.
They were outshot 17-4 in the third period, which they entered needing a goal to make it a one-goal game.
Until the past six weeks, inconsistency marked much of the Red Wings' season, game-to-game and even period-to-period, especially with their young, injury-riddled lineup.
And Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner plain old suggested that the Wings "need to get their groove back."
Perhaps, Detroit’s inexperienced players were too caught up in the enormity of the situation. Far too often, the Wings' youngsters looked tentative and a bit intimidated against the swarming Blackhawks, which is somewhat understandable.
However, Justin Abdelkader’s two bad penalties in the second period were a lethal reminder of how thin the line is between aggressive hockey and cement-head hockey, and in essence, turned the game in Chicago’s favor. Abdelkader has been a difference-maker during these playoffs. He’s been a pest and has set up residence in the oppositions’ collective heads, but he must control his emotions and remain on the ice, not in the penalty box.
Now it’s up to the players in each room. As cliché as it sounds, it really does come down to which team wants it more.
Certainly, the Wings know that the Blackhawks' skill level gives them a clear advantage, but Detroit's full 60-minute effort has been affective in frustrating Chicago. Whichever team imposes their will ultimately will be the victor.
There's a big "but" here, however, and it's not Tomas Holmstrom's big ass. Detroit News's Bob Wojnowski suggested that while Saturday's result may have been all but inevitable, but he also noted that the Wings remain insistent that they're going to learn from their mistakes...
In Game 6 Monday night at Joe Louis Arena, the Wings had better be ready for more — more skating, more hitting, more discipline. You could argue Game 6 essentially is the Wings' Game 7, because no way do they want to return to the United Center for a real Game 7. Jonathan Toews and the Blackhawks woke up and the Wings picked the wrong time to grab a quick nap. They sat back as if waiting for Howard to save them, but not on this night, not with bad penalties (calm down, Justin Abdelkader) and little forechecking.
"They played a helluva game in every facet, they were better than us," said Howard, who played well but faced 45 shots. "We knew they were gonna play hard and they did. They just kept coming and coming, and we took a couple bad penalties and they were able to capitalize. It's on us going back home to play our game, slow them down, not let them fly through the neutral zone like they did. It's in our building, we better be fired up to play."
"We gift-wrapped a couple goals," said Daniel Cleary, who scored the Wings' lone goal. "We gotta be more disciplined. Look, they played better than us, played harder, played more determined. It's hard to match that when their backs are against the wall. We have to be ready to go Monday night as if our backs are against the wall, which I like to think they are."
So can they respond as the Blackhawks responded? My guess is yes, but we need to see it in a hurry.
"As a young team, we just have to tell them to play loose, not tentative or scared," Cleary said. "You can't be afraid of success. You gotta go out and take it. The Blackhawks flat-out just wanted to win more than us, and we have to have the same mentality."
NHL.com's Brian Hedger took note of the Wings' somewhat defiant attitude...
"They're a good team," Cleary said. "Whoever thought this was going to end in five games is crazy. Maybe they thought Chicago [would win in five], but it's a series. It's ready to go Monday, it's a big game."
It's also a game the Red Wings feel confident they can win.
"It's up to us," Detroit captain 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."
As did the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
“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.”
“I’m not frustrated at all,” Cleary said. “We came in, we said let it go. You gotta forget about a game like that. We just didn’t play well. We weren’t hard enough on the puck, weren’t hard enough on their defense, we didn’t play like we’ve been playing.”
“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.”
And Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji will take us out with words that I hope the Wings will back up on Monday night:
"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."
Shots 45-26 Chicago overall. Chicago out-shot Detroit 12-11 in the 1st, 16-11 in the 2nd and 17-4 in the 3rd.
Detroit went 0-for-4 in 6:27 of PP time; Chicago went 2-for-3 in 3:41 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 41 of 45 shots; Corey Crawford stopped 25 of 26.
The 3 stars were picked by the "Chicago Media," and they picked Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews and Andrew Shaw.
The Wings' goal: Cleary (4) from Zetterberg (8).
Faceoffs 31-30 Detroit (Detroit won 51%);
Blocked shots 11-8 Detroit;
Missed shots 10-6 Chicago (total attempts 66-40 Chicago);
Hits 25-22 Detroit;
Giveaways 7-5 Chicago;
Takeaways 7-3 Chicago.
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 10-and-10 (50%); Andersson went 7-and-6 (54%); Zetterberg went 5-and-7 (42%); Emmerton went 5-and-5 (50%); Filppula went 2-and-2 (50%); Eaves and Franzen won their only faceoffs.
Shots: Brunner and Zetterberg led the Wings with 4 shots apiece; Kindl and Nyquist had 3; Smith, Datsyuk and Andersson had 2; Cleary, Emmerton, Kronwall and Franzen had 1
Blocked attempts: Kindl and Eaves had 2 attempts blocked; Smith, Nyquist, Brunner and Quincey had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Datsyuk and Kronwall missed the net 2 times; Kindl and Quincey missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Abdelkader led the team with 5 hits; Emmerton and Kronwall had 3; Smith, Brunner, Zetterberg and Franzen had 2; Kindl, Eaves, Colaiacovo and Filppula had 1.
Giveaways: Colaiacovo had 2 giveaways; Smith, Eaves and Zetterberg had 1.
Takeaways: Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Kronwall had 1 takeaway.
Blocked opponent shots: Ericsson and Kronwall blocked 3 shots; Kindl blocked 2; Datsyuk, Brunner and Emmerton blocked 1 shot.
Penalties taken: Abdelkader took 2 minor penalties; Kindl, Miller and Colaiacovo took 1 minor penalty.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective -6. Filppula finished at -2; Eaves, Miller, Quincey and Ericsson finished at -1.
Points: Cleary had a goal; Zetterberg had an assist.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 23:16 played; Ericsson played 22:16; Datsyuk played 20:40;
Smith played 20:09; Quincey played 19:47; Abdelkader played 18:18;
Franzen played 17:32; Kindl played 16:51; Zetterberg played 16:41;
Cleary played 15:34; Colaiacovo played 13:59; Brunner played 13:41;
Eaves played 11:53; Andersson played 11:42; Nyquist played 10:33.
Red Wings notebooks and also of Red Wings-related note, briefly mentioned due to space constraints:
As the Pittsburgh press is the Pittsburgh press, MLB.com's Tom Singer wondered what Brandon Inge, who now plays for the Pittsburgh Pirates, might do if the Wings and Penguins meet in the Stanley Cup Final;
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose found that the Wings are grateful for the ever-strengthening play of their "bottom four" defensemen;
And finally, from the New York Post's Larry Brooks:
The Winged Wheel is hockey’s equivalent of the Pinstripes. You put on the uniform and you become a better player for 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.