The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/28/13 at 11:41 AM ET
Updated 4x at 12:55 PM: Amongst the Red Wings-Blackhawks Game 6 tailings that didn't make the recap, multimedia post or overnight-ish report: here's a lovely tidbit regarding the NHL's version of fair scheduling...
And, "I has a sad":
As Paul noted, the controvery surrounding the penalty shot awarded to Michal Frolik on a classic 2013 season, "We don't call the rugby scrum stuff, but get your stick anywhere near a player's hands, that's a penalty!" call.
The Score's Justin Bourne wasn't thrilled with the call, though he liked the goal...
Refs are notoriously stingy when it comes to calling penalty shots. If they’d call them more, we’d see more partial breakaways matter, because defenders wouldn’t want to risk giving opponent’s time to set and think on a clean breakaway. It would be great for the game, and for the fans’ enjoyment of it. But nooooo, instead refs are afraid to make the call, so we rarely see them. There was a play in last night’s game where I thought Patrick Sharp deserved a penalty shot. He would have been in alone had he not been mauled from behind.
BUT. Ohhhhhh, but. The call on Carlo Colaiacovo to give Michael Frolik a penalty shot with ten minutes to go in an elimination game was garbage, and I say that as someone who is decidedly pro-call-more-penalty-shots.
You’re allowed to hit your opponent’s stick when he shoots – that’s defense – and you’re even allowed to get in on his hands if you’re not overtly violent. How else do you defend? You take away the opposing shooter’s stick. And EVEN IF you want to be an uber-Hawks fan and complain about your guy getting a stick on the hands (which I don’t think he got much of, if any), how Downy soft was that flick? I’m well aware of the position of their bodies (Colaiacovo behind chasing), I’m well aware of the definition of the rules, but I’m also well aware of the fact that there’s an expectation that players be able to withstand some level of resistance. Even in basketball where a touch is a foul, you know you’re going to get some uncalled contact going to the rim.
I can’t be won over here. That’s a weak penalty shot call at a pivotal point in the game.
I was saying something pretty closet o, "Ohhhhhh, but" after the call was made, but it involved four-letter words.
Bourne also penned something of a game summary...
And over at Puck Daddy, I know that you'll all be shocked and appalled to find out that Greg Wyshynski suggests that such a call was in fact a "welcome" "shock to the system," heralding better, more consistent officiating in April, May and June, and a rejection of the "let 'em play" non-calls that...
Well, O'Halloran (was fine with the Hossa-net-bump-off goal) and Rooney (called the penalty shot) allowed to occur for the vast majority of the game:
Here’s why the penalty shot call was the least bit controversial: We’ve been conditioned not to expect them to look like this. Penalty shots are such game-changers, they’re usually reserved for dramatic hooks from behind that result in flopping skaters desperately trying to get a shot away, like an NBA player hurling up a three when he knows he’s been hacked beyond the arc.
A two-hander on the gloves in this situation is rarely called as a penalty shot – it’s a 2-minute minor for slashing at best, despite meeting every condition for it necessitating a free shot at the goalie.
Which brings us to the real problem here: The Frolik call was such a jarring shock to the system because we witnessed an NHL referee sacking up and making the correct call on a play like this … in an elimination playoff game.
How many counterarguments have you heard regarding this play, or any controversial penalty, that go something like this:
“You just don’t make that call in a Game 6 (or Game 7) in the playoffs.”
So what do we want out of officiating? To call a two-hander on the gloves from a defender trailing the play as a penalty shot, or to have the refs continue to back-pocket that as a nuclear option? And what do we want out of playoff officiating? To leave the bold calls for the regular season and swallow the whistle for four rounds?
The Frolik penalty shot was a lot of things – controversial, clutch, not Jimmy Howard’s finest moment. But mostly it was refreshing to see.
My criticism isn't necessarily with the penalty shot call--I thought it was poor, but I am a biased Red Wings fan masquerading as a semi-objective blogger--it's with the high sticks, hooks, holds, slashes, grabs, cross-checks, literal tackling behind and during play, the blatant grab-and-pinl-to-the-boards picks that prevented players from pursuing loose pucks, and the at-and-after-the-whistle punches, hacks, whacks and pile-ups that any and all officials have allowed to happen throughout the playoffs on both the Wings' side of things, the Hawks' side of things and in every Goddang other playoff series.
This year's playoff officiating has not been "brave" or "shockingly" good. It's been terrible given the high "standard" set during the beginning of the 2013 season--a standard that up and vanished like a fart in the wind--and predictably incredibly inconsistent from shift-to-shift, never mind period to period or game to game.
If we're going to praise the refs as brave as opposed to filling a quota or calling whatever the NHL's chosen to insist they call, and then let the rest of the stuff that's supposed to be fearlessly deemed illegal regardless of the month of the year or whether it's the regular season or the playoffs, then let's see even a remote semblance of *#$%@& consistency instead of chicken-shit, "Let 'em play" crap being let go and one or two calls being made to remind us that the officials are still there, calling horizontal stick fouls and little else.
In news that didn't get posted until even I went to sleep at 5-something, the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Potash posted a very-very-very-late-night blog entry about Corey Crawford's ability to bounce back from the Joakim Andersson knucklepuck (note to goalies in long-shot situations: just keep your damn catch glove open until the puck hits its palm or tee. In fact, keep the dan thing open and accept a rebound)...
Crawford is understandably sensitive about the whole soft-goal thing. He allowed two of them that paved the way for the Blackhawks' playoff demise in the first round against the Phoenix Coyotes in 2012. And Andersson's would have haunted him for a long time had Crawford and the Hawks not recovered for a 4-3 victory at Joe Louis Arena.
''I just lost it. I lost it. It's a brutal one, obviously,'' Crawford said. ''But I was able to rebound after that.''
Indeed he did. Whether or not Crawford was on tilt after that goal, the Joe Louis Arena crowd was energized and the Red Wings smelled blood. They put five shots on the Hawks' goal in the next 71 seconds, forcing Crawford to make a pair of huge saves to prevent things from getting worse.
''Oh yeah. It's a huge momentum shift,'' Crawford said of the onslaught after Andersson's goal. ''Any time something like that happens, obviously the crowd got going and the team feeds off their crowd. Whatever. It happened. You just get past it and move on.''
And Potash penned an after-the-after-the-game blog entry that's more of a recap than anything else, suggesting that the Hawks "came through like a champ" in "dire circumstances":
Was this the 2013 Blackhawks' defining moment?
''Yeah, if we pass this round, for sure,'' Hawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said after the Hawks rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the third period to beat the Red Wings 4-3 in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals. But [Game 7 is] going to be the toughest game to win. [The Wings are] really good defensively. It's tough to get a lot of goals at 'em. We just have to try to create a lot of chances and just maybe power plays can get a couple of goals again and hopefully we can end up going to the third round.''
After a lot of uncertainty and adversity, parallels to the Hawks 2010 championship season kicked into high gear Monday night, when the Hawks eschewed an easier path to forcing Game 7 against the Red Wings and instead decided to do things the hard way.
As was the case in 2010, the Hawks waited until the story of their demise was being written before responding. Michal Handzus scored to tie the game in the first minute of the third period. Bryan Bickell scored off a loose puck in the crease to give the Hawks the lead. And Michael Frolik turned a steal into a breakaway and then a penalty shot, converting in nifty fashion to complete a three-goal barrage in the first 10 minutes of the period for a 4-2 lead that, after some trepidation, held up to send the series back to the United Center for Game 7 on Wednesday.
''We got a huge win. But we're not celebrating too much,'' Hjalmarsson said. ''We know what Detroit did against Anaheim. They won Game 7 [on the road]. So we have a lot of respect for them. We're going to come out and try to give our best performance of the playoffs.''
Typically, the Hawks needed the most dire situation of the playoffs to respond.
''We just realized it was a do-or-die situation,'' said Jonathan Toews, who assisted on Bickell's goal when he dug out a puck from the boards and fired it on net. ''We weren't playing our best hockey and we were very conscious of that and it was the toughest game of the series, especially when they went up 2-1. They were flying and got the crowd going. But credit to our guys for not getting fazed by that. A huge third period.''
And, via RedWingsFeed, the Hawks' press thinks that this is hilarious:
Michal Handzus tied it at the 51-second mark, flipping a shot over Jimmy Howard's right shoulder. The Red Wings couldn't get the puck out of their zone. Valtteri Filppula couldn't get it away from Niklas Hjalmarsson along the boards. Brendan Smith made the mistake of skating toward Hjalmarsson, leaving Handzus wide open in front of the net to receive the pass.
Bryan Bickell then gave his team the lead for good at 5:48. He was stationed in front of the net when he banged in the rebound of a shot by Jonathan Toews. Smith couldn't cover Bickell. His defense partner, Kyle Quincey, had broken his stick during the play, enabling Toews to get the puck.
Also on that play, Johan Franzen made the mistake of bringing the puck back into his zone when the Blackhawks were off-sides.
This series has been a learning experience for the rookie Smith.
“Overall, I thought he made a lot of good plays,'' defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “There were some mistakes as well. But, that’s just part of the process. Smitty will be just fine. He’ll regroup like the rest of us. We win as a team, we lose as a team.''
Said Howard: “We had it, we were in a great position, up 2-1 at home and let it slip away. We got a young team. We can all learn from this. Use this as a teaching tool and move onto Game 7.''
The Red Wings are in danger of squandering a 3-1 series lead for only the third time in franchise history (1942 Stanley Cup finals vs. Toronto, 1991 first round vs. St. Louis). It's disappointing, Babcock said, because they played much better than they did in Saturday's 4-1 loss in Game 5.
“I thought we dictated a lot of the play,'' Babcock said. “I thought we were pretty good actually. We missed the net on a number of opportunities.''
Heading back to the out-of-towners (do I need to tell you that the Free Pres's sports staff found that the out-of-towners and Hawks press are gushy about the Hawks' revival?), via RedWingsFeed again, Guyism's World of Isaac posted a .GIF that the Sporting News's Sean Gentile spotlighted because it was the call against Pavel Datsyuk that Babcock--who was muted regarding his criticism of the officials' other calls--and it was a predictably clean Datsyukian bump (which is apparently tripping when Detroit is trailing by 2 goals with 5:37 left in the 3rd period):
The Globe and Mail's Alan Maki weighed in on the Wings-Hawks game from afar after covering Games 3 and 4...
This is not good for the Detroit Red Wings. Their 3-1 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks has dried up and blown away. They have to play a Game 7 in Chicago and now, after a lengthy down spell, ‘Hawks’ captain Jonathan Toews is in the thick of the action, fully engaged and putting up points.
That wasn’t the case through the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and there was more ineffectiveness through the first four games against Detroit. But with his team on the brink of elimination, Toews has summoned up his best efforts, scoring his first playoff goal in Game 5 then drawing two assists in Monday’s 4-3 decision in Detroit.
What that’s done for the ‘Hawks is lift their faith and performance level. It was Toews who took the puck to the net allowing Marian Hossa to score and give Chicago a 1-0 lead. And it was Toews again, this time on a slick feed to Bryan Bickell, who helped spark the ‘Hawks’ three-goal, third-period outburst.
“We were down a goal and it was do or die, the season might be over,” Toews said of his team’s response. “We have a special group and we don’t want to pass that up. This is a great opportunity this year. We had to give it everything and we did it in the third.”
The ‘Hawks have been a curious bunch this postseason; they’ve never completely been in sync. When Patrick Sharp played well, Toews didn’t produce offensively. With Toews coming on, Patrick Kane finds himself in a three-game goalless stretch.
In their last two games, though, the ‘Hawks have been piecing more of themselves together. Coach Joel Quenneville has reunited his top two defenceman, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith, and the pairing has been dominant. But when the struggling Toews finally scored in Game 5, it sent a jolt of confidence through the entire team. Suddenly, everyone was back to believing.
“I don’t care who you are, when you see (the puck) go in, you feel like you can do it again,” said Toews, “and that’s a feeling not only within myself, but with the team right now.
The ‘Hawks are feeling are good again, and there’s still more for their offence to give. They were the best team in the NHL during the regular season and will be again in Wednesday’s Game 7 against Detroit. Captain Toews is back and in charge of that.
Babcock insisted to the Detroit press that he would make no personnel changes going into Game 7, at least in terms of scratching some players and dressing others, but he's got to find ways to reignite Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Abdelkader and Franzen's offensive abilities, he needs more from Filppula and Cleary, he can't allow Nyquist and Brunner (or any other Wings player) to skate into 3 or 4 Blackhawks alone, he can't let the Wings be pinned along the side boards near the goal line in situations where giveaways result, and the team needs stronger puck-clearing, transition passes and especially shots and puck-retrieval-keep-ins in the offensive zone from defensemen not named Kronwall, Ericsson or Kindl.
Finally, in the statistical vein, from ESPN:
Western Conference Semifinals
Blackhawks 4, Red Wings 3 (Series tied, 3-3)
The Blackhawks forced a Game 7 with a 4-3 win over the Red Wings in Detroit. Michael Frolik provided the game winner with his penalty-shot goal in the 3rd period. According to Elias, Frolik became the first player to score two penalty-shot goals in Stanley Cup play. His other came during the 2011 playoffs against Vancouver. Game 7 will be played Wednesday at 8 ET. On Tuesday, the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings host the Sharks in Game 7 of their conference semifinal series. If recent history repeats itself, we’ll have a new champion this year. The last 4 instances of a defending Cup champion playing in a Game 7 have seen them lose that game.
* Bryan Bickell (CHI): go-ahead goal (5) at 5:48 of 3rd period (2nd straight game with goal)
* Michael Frolik (CHI): penalty shot goal (3) in 3rd period (1st penalty shot awarded in 2013 playoffs)
* Blackhawks: scored 8 goals over last 2 games (both wins) (had 2 goals in previous 3 games); trying to win a best-of-7 series after trailing 3-1 for 1st time in franchise history (0-11 all-time)
* Game 7 is Wednesday in Chicago at 8 ET
* Game 7 records: DET 14-9 (most Game 7 wins in NHL history); CHI 6-4 (last Game 7 win: 1995 CQF vs Maple Leafs)
FROM ELIAS: Michael Frolik’s penalty-shot goal midway through the third period proved to be the game-winning goal for the Blackhawks in their 4–3 victory at Detroit which tied their series against the Red Wings at three wins each. It was the first penalty-shot goal in the NHL playoffs since Frolik himself scored in Game 6 of Chicago’s first-round series against Vancouver in 2011. With his goal on Monday night, Frolik became the first player to score two penalty-shot goals in Stanley Cup play. Frolik’s goal in Game 6 against the Red Wings was also the first penalty-shot goal that was a game-winner for a team facing elimination in a series.
FROM ELIAS: In Stanley Cup Playoff history, teams that have had a chance to close out a series in Game 6 at home but have failed to do so are 20-31 in the ensuing Game 7 on the road.
The Red Wings have 14 Game 7 wins, the most in NHL history.
And not so ugh:
Hard stats follow.
Update #4: The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan offers 7 reasons why Wings fans can "have hope," including the following:
1. They've done this before
If you remember, the Red Wings trailed 3-2 in the first-round series to Anaheim.
After winning Game 6 in overtime at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings traveled to Anaheim and won Game 7, rather impressively, 3-2. So they know what it takes to win on the road in a Game 7.
2. Zetterberg and Datsyuk:In the final two games against Anaheim, with the season on the line, Zetterberg had five points, including three goals. He had a goal and assist in Game 7. Datsyuk had six shots on net Game 7, after earning three points in a Game 6 overtime win.
These two players tend to play their best when games matter the absolute most.
3. Filppula and Franzen can't be silent forever: Johan Franzen has a goal and two assists in this series, and Valtteri Filppula one goal and one assist.
The two players who seem to frustrate Red Wings fans the most have one more opportunity in this series to break through and make a statement. The two were particularly silent in Game 6. They'll likely have to break through and make some sort of impact if the Red Wings are to have a chance,
7. Lots of pressure still on the Blackhawks: No doubt there's pressure on the Red Wings, who have lost a 3-1 series lead.
But Chicago still has a lot on its shoulders. They earned the Presidents' Trophy for the best regular season record, and are the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
Few people really felt they would have to play a Game 7 against the Red Wings. To lose this game, and ultimately the series, would make for a long, disappointing summer in Chicago.
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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.