The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/03/13 at 04:33 PM ET
Updated with highlights and post-game videos at 4:20 PM, and here's a revised intro: I do know what to say about this one: the Wings went 0-3-and-2, demolished the Canucks, then went 1-and-1 (via a shootout win) on their road trip, and lost via a shootout today. That makes the Wings 2-4-and-3 over their past 9 games, and 10-8-and-4--or "10 and 10"--overall. I would strongly argue that the Wings' thoroughly mediocre record of late has a bit to do with injuries, a bit to do with special teams woes continuing, a bit with this whole, "The Wings are trying to find their post-Lidstrom identity while having a real youth movement shoved down the team's throat" narrative, and largely rests upon the fact that this team's lack of a killer instinct is a fatal flaw.
The Wings have sat on many 1 and 2-goal leads over the past 9 games, and have surrendered a ridiculous number of points because of that tendency. When the Wings play consistently and win consistently, they press, press, press and press some more, relentlessly utilizing their puck possession game to take the puck into the opponent's offensive zone and keep it there, grinding it out down low and playing defense 200 feet from their net, all while sniffing around for goals.
There's no doubt that this Wings team is missing a top-four offensive defenseman which the team may or may not add at the trade deadline, and there's no doubt that the team misses the offense that Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson and even the injured Darren Helm and confidence-lacking Valtteri Filppula could provide them with, but this Wings roster--even with Justin Abdelkader and Danny Cleary playing alongside Pavel Datsyuk--can get the job done offensively, and, for whatever reason, it hasn't been willing to put the pedal to the medal to ensure that it has a margin for inevitable defensive errors. That's why the Wings have lost so very regularly of late.
And now, back to your regularly-scheduled quick take:
Sigh. I don't really know what to say about the Red Wings' 2-1 shootout loss to Chicago.
The Detroit Red Wings had an absolutely awful start against the still-unbeaten (stupid shootout losses not counting as real losses) Chicago Blackhawks, being out-shot 9-3 in the first period, but the Wings rallied in big ways in the second and third periods, out-shooting the Hawks 15-12 and 13-9, respectively after Jimmy Howard's wonderful second period saves woke the team (and Johan Franzen) up...
And Tomas Tatar scored a wonderful, wonderful goal off a slick pass from Jokaim Andersson and a smart steal from Patrick Eaves, set up by an equally fantastic shift from the Miller-Emmerton-Tootoo line.
But the Wings' downright doofily inept power play received a golden opportunity to gain a 2-goal lead when, as Mike Emrick might say, the Hawks took a penalty "87 seconds" after Tatar's goal. For some reason, Tom Renney and Mike Babcock still have four forwards playing on the "first unit," but each and every one of them wants Niklas Kronwall to shoot, and that yielded so many one-and-done chances that the Wings' momentum evaporated, superb second-unit work from Tatar, Johan Franzen, Danny Cleary, and Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith included...
And the Wings got penalty-happy late in the third, committing two delay-of-game penalties (we'll ignore the fact that there were craploads of clutching and grabbing on both sides not called by Mike Hasenfratz and Wes McCauley), and during the PK's, Smith looked like a rookie, Kindl didn't look good at all and Kyle Quincey's decision to try to take a slap shot instead of clearing an in-the-slot rebound yielded a game-tying goal with "122 seconds" (2:02) left in the game, ensuring that the Hawks' "unbeaten" streak would continue.
In OT, the Wings looked as tentative as they were aggressive for the last 8 minutes of the 2nd and first 15 minutes of the 3rd, passing up chances to shoot and trying to get too cute, and as such, they headed to a shootout.
And perhaps predictably, given this team-in-progress's seemingly baffling lack of a killer instinct, they got burned. Pavel Datsyuk, Damien Brunner and Henrik Zetterberg all tried to deke and dangle Corey Crawford instead of shooting, and while Jimmy Howard made a superb stop on Jonathan Toews, the previously-valiant Howard stopped and stared at Patrick Kane's feet as he deked, made a full stop (is that illegal?) and kick-faked, all while leaning toward a blocker side shot that was incredibly obvious by the puck's position.
Kane shot the puck past Howard's previously-impeccable blocker, and that was that. 19 wins and a 24-game "unbeaten" streak for Chicago, and an incredible second and third-period effort and two possible points surrendered because this Wings team, for all its progress made over the course of its first 22 games, has yet to develop the kind of killer instinct that prevents so many teams from lurking in the weeds and tying things up late.
You can look back to the game against Los Angeles for one of many examples of so many points wasted by a team that's done more than just blow 2-goal leads--and perhaps that's what's most frustrating about this "national stage" match-up.
The Red Wings played awful in the first, looking downright intimidated, the goaltender, all six defensemen and all four forward lines (even Datsyuk's, for as great as Abdelkader and Cleary have played, a Filppula on Datsyuk's wing would've made a world of difference, and the fact that Johan Franzen was rushed back was more than evidenced by the fact that it took him two-and-a-half games to get his legs back under him) displayed the kind of poise, jam, grit, effort, attention to detail and even moxie and poise that this team has slowly but surely developed as part of its post-Nicklas Lidstrom identity.
Regrettably, this team's confidence remains tracing-paper thin, and as soon as the Hawks tied things up, a loss of some form seemed almost inevitable, and the Wings squeezed their sticks far too hard (oh, yeah, by the way, Pierre McGuire's most notable phrases regarding the game involved "hard" and "deep") during OT and the shootout, and that was that.
The 2013 Wings have made a remarkable amount of progress, and they're still in the playoff mix. But they're [edited] 2-1-and-1 over their past four games [/edited], all after going 0-3-and-2, and as such, this team essentially remains a couple games below .500, and a game into a 2-week stretch of playing 8 games over the course of 14 nights, the Wings face a crap-ton of pressure to do more than tread water going forward.
To do so, the team will have to finally decide to score goals and kick like nobody's business when their opponents are vulnerable until waiting until the opposition exposes this team's still-fatal inability to finish off their foes.
This game was wonderful but frustrating, innervating and, in the end, incredibly disappointing.
As I'm writing this, Wings coach Mike Babcock suggested that the team didn't have enough depth up front in his post-game presser, and how did Babcock answer 97.1 FM's Mike Stone's question about moving Tatar and Andersson up to the Datsyuk line? Has he ever thought about it?
With Helm and Bertuzzi out for at least three to four weeks after they feel better, Samuelsson out for two or three more weeks and Filppula's shoulder becoming quite an issue, the Wings need to find some depth fast, and it's not coming from Grand Rapids. It's got to come from the players on the roster, and while Franzen is finding his form, I'm not sure where else Babcock can look.
Sigh. Big sigh. And a motherf***ing, "God-damned sonofabitch!" to losing YET ANOTHER game to those damn Hawks.
Shots 33-33 overall. The Wings were out-shot 9-3 in the 1st, out-shot Chicago 15-12 in the 2nd and 13-9 in the 3rd, and were out-shot 3-2 in OT.
The Blackhawks went 1-for-5 in 6:23 of PP time, including 37 seconds of a 5 on 3; the Wings went 0-for-2 in 4:00 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 32 of 33 shots, as did Corey Crawford.
USA Today's Kevin Allen picked the 3 stars, and he went with Patrick Kane (3), Jimmy Howard (2) and Corey Crawford (1).
The Wings' goal: Tatar (4) from Andersson (3) and Eaves (4).
Faceoffs 28-27 Detroit (Detroit won 51%);
Blocked shots 16-12 Detroit;
Missed shots 16-8 Chicago (so Chicago had 65 shot attempts, and the Wings had 53, but 20 frickin' attempts went wide of the net or into Hawks players);
Hits a liberal 23-8 Detroit;
Giveaways 8-4 Detroit;
Takeaways 7-2 Detroit.
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 12-and-12 (50%); Zetterberg went 7-and-11 (39%); Emmerton went 6-and-1 (86%); Eaves went 2-and-0 (100%); Andersson went 0-and-2; Abdelkader went 1-and-1 (50%).
Shots: Johan Franzen led the team with 6 shots; Abdelkader had 4; Kindl and Kronwall had 3; Cleary, Tatar, Lashoff and Zetterberg had 2; Smith, Miller, Tootoo, Brunner, Emmerton and Quincey had 1.
Blocked attempts: Kronwall fired 3 shots into Blackhawks players; Tootoo had 2 attempts blocked; Smith, Kindl, Datsyuk, Tatar, Brunner, Zetterberg and Ericsson had 1 shot blocked.
Missed shots: Franzen missed the net 2 times; Cleary, Datsyuk, Miller, Emmerton, Zetterberg and Ericsson missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Kindl led the team with 6 hits; Miller and Lashoff had 3; Eaves, Brunner and Franzen had 2; Abdelkader, Cleary, Datsyuk, Ericsson and Kronwall had 1.
Giveaways: Kindl had an ugly 3 giveaways; Quincey had 2; Smith, Andersson and Franzen had 1.
Takeaways: Datsyuk and Zetterberg had 2 takeaways; Cleary, Brunner and Ericsson had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Lashoff blocked 5 Blackhawks shots; Quincey blocked 3; Smith, Datsyuk and Ericsson blocked 2; Brunner and Kronwall blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Smith, Abdelkader, Ericsson and Kronwall took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +5. Eaves, Tatar, Ericsson, Kronwall and Andersson finished at +1.
Points: Tatar had a goal; Eaves and Andersson had assists.
Ice time: Zetterberg led the team with 24:07 played; Quincey played 22:24; Kronwall played 22:05;
Ericsson played 21:55; Franzen played 21:13; Lashoff played 21:05;
Smith played 20:41; Kindl played 20:27; Datsyuk played 19:27;
Brunner played 19:26; Miller played 15:54; Cleary played 15:52;
Emmerton played 15:44; Abdelkader played 13:12; Tootoo played 11:37;
Eaves played 10:18; Andersson played 9:55; Tatar played 8:15.
Update: The Free Press, Detroit News, MLive, the Associated Press, the Wings' website, Puck Daddy's Patrick Kane fan, I mean Harrison Mooney, Comcast Sportsnet Chicago and ESPN Chicago all offer recaps, and Pro Hockey Talk's James O'Brien tossed off some discussion points:
The Detroit Red Wings pushed the Chicago Blackhawks – and their two impressive streaks – to the limit on Sunday, but Chicago managed a 2-1 shootout win.
They increased their NHL record point streak to start a season at 22 games and tied the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens with their 28th game with at least one point (extending back to the end of last season) in the process. Let’s get to the talking points:
- Patrick Kane scored the game-tying goal and shootout winner. Where does he rank among the NHL’s elite?
- Some might be upset that a delay of game penalty opened the door for Kane to score on the power play. Does that over-the-glass automatic minor need to go or is it a necessary evil?
- When’s the last time you saw a better 2-1 game? Many said it and it’s true: Sunday presented a real “playoff atmosphere.”
- Marian Hossa hit regular season game 1,000. How many do you expect him to finish with?
- Can Chicago catch the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers at 35 consecutive games with at least one point? Which opponents represent the biggest threats?
- Speaking of threats, should the ‘Hawks cross their fingers that they don’t draw Detroit in the playoffs? The Red Wings clearly gave them a challenge.
I think that Patrick Kane's a dick, but that's just me.
Update #3: The NHL's been terrible in terms of uploading highlights of late, but the Wings' website posted clips of Henrik Zetterberg...
And coach Mike Babcock discussing the game:
Never mind, the NHL did post a highlight clip on their own website:
Also: Sportsline's Brian Stubits launched into quite a lament about the possible loss of the Wings-Hawks rivalry due to realignment.
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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.