Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Blackhawks quick take: progress made, but the Wings lack killer instinct

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?

"No."

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.

Statistics:

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...

Jimmy Howard...

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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Comments

Bugsy's avatar

I guess the positive side otherwise is that Detroit almost pulled a win out, and this makes 9 straight games the Wings-Hawks was a one goal deficit in the final score. This is the trade-off of going East.

If the Wings are getting too predictable in deking in the shootout (I don’t have those stats), just shoot more (Datsyuk’s 0 for 3 this year, I believe).

Posted by Bugsy on 03/03/13 at 04:48 PM ET

Wings_in_NYC's avatar

I have no idea what Babs sees in that second line. Cleary and Abs are weighing Dats down. At least give #13 Tatar for cryin’ out loud. Too bad about Big E’s penalty that lead to the tying goal. He played a solid game up to that point. Kenny….a change has to be on the horizon.

Posted by Wings_in_NYC on 03/03/13 at 04:49 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

Tatar/Andersson benched for most of the 3rd, their ice time for the game was the lowest or near the bottom. Babs says players earn their Ice Time. Total BS. The people who follow the Wings for a living and don’t ask the tough questions should be embarrassed !

He would get eaten alive in Toronto, Montreal, New York (Rangers), etc. 

He gets a Free Ride in Detroit but should be accountable!  Same old Rhetoric after most games.

That 2nd Line Combo can’t be defended with any Hockey Logic, IMO.

3 goals in Regulation in the last 3 games tells all.

Defence has improved and Goaltending has been strong.

Nyquist has earned some time with the Wings, by time I mean extended time not just 1 game.  Working well for Tatar/Andersson.

Well we will see how the next 10 games go, playoffs on the line!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 03/03/13 at 05:15 PM ET

pucksnut's avatar

lets not forget the hawks played three games in 4 days and the wings hadnt played since thursday so if you think the wings play the hawks tough then lets give each team ample rest

Posted by pucksnut on 03/03/13 at 05:16 PM ET

Avatar

I’m trying very hard not to overreact to something, because on the surface he had a good game.

Is Howard a clutch goalie?  I mean, clutch-clutch.  As in, at the biggest moment does he show up?  He had a great game for 58 minutes and then… poof.  In goes the goal.  It wasn’t even a ‘bad’ goal.  Honestly, it would have been a great save.  He looked a little sluggish coming across, I would have liked to seemore push there, but still.  And then he gives up the SO loser.  Again, not a ‘bad’ goal.  It’s a SO.  He just about put himself in his own net before Kane even shot, but still.

In the biggest moments I never have gotten the feeling that Howard is going to elevate his game and really shut the door.  I feel like with Howard that what happens in the first 58 minutes or the first 82 games or even the first 4 games in the series doesn’t matter because when it comes down to when it has to get done… he just can’t quite get it over the finish line.

It’s possible I’m being unfair.  Detroit has had, after all, some absolutely spectacular money goalies over the years.  Vernon, Hasek, Osgood the second time around (and even the first, to be honest).  It wouldn’t be fair to compare Kronwall to Lidstrom either.

It’s just that we’re at the point where Detroit is going to have to make a significant commitment to Howard, or to moving on… and I get a little bit of a ‘Manny Legace’ vibe from him.  Not so much as the loopy, fragile, Stepford Wife interview way, but in the ‘he’ll be there through thick and thin, just not quite as much when it’s thin’ sort of way.

He doesn’t ‘choke’, exactly.  But it sure seems like the vision gets really dark around the edges.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 03/03/13 at 05:41 PM ET

Avatar

Thought they showed to much respect for Chicago in the first, woke up in the second and early third, and then gripped their sticks to tight at the end.  Howard kept them in the game.  Franzen sucked with slow skating, and bad decisions.  Abby is a black hole for Pavs line, wish we could graft Cleary’s head onto his body.

Posted by akwingsfan on 03/03/13 at 05:46 PM ET

calquake's avatar

the previously-valiant Howard stopped and stared at Patrick Kane’s feet as he deked, made a full stop (is that illegal?)

Unless they changed the rule, no.  I thought the very same thing at the time George.

This game was wonderful but frustrating, innervating and, in the end, incredibly disappointing.

Yes, yes and yes.

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?

“No.”

Again, as someone said during the LB, Why would you want to put a plow on Secretariat (Datsyuk)?  Abby will never be a scoring second line winger and Clearys’ heart is in it but he is not the player he was a few years ago.

Posted by calquake on 03/03/13 at 05:55 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by HockeyinHD on 03/03/13 at 04:41 PM E

The fact that you can watch that game and come out of it somehow blaming Howard really says it all.

Posted by Garth on 03/03/13 at 06:00 PM ET

calquake's avatar

lets not forget the hawks played three games in 4 days and the wings hadnt played since thursday so if you think the wings play the hawks tough then lets give each team ample rest

Posted by pucksnut on 03/03/13 at 04:16 PM ET

Let’s not forget the Wings are crippled by injuries.  I pray the Wings draw the Hawks in the first round, if they are healthy.  Helm, Bertuzzi, Filpulla and Samuelson make the current line-up a much better and deeper team.  Bring it on.

Posted by calquake on 03/03/13 at 06:01 PM ET

Bugsy's avatar

Pucknut, give credit to Chicago for the streak, but as I noted, the last 9 games between the two have been either 1 goal games or went past regulation. The Wings are giving up fewer goals, and even with their struggles this season, took Chicago to OT on the road last game. A younger team will hopefully learn to gain some confidence more as the season goes on, and take the play to their opponents, but until the injured come back. playing low-scoring grinding games I think should be the expectation to win.

H in HD, Jimmy Howard I’m not sure what to think on, but he’s no Legace. To me, I think he has carried the team at times this year, it’s consistency that could get better and the fact that he’s not loud or dramatic that maybe we underestimate him. I’ll throw out the question to George from a week or so ago again, now that he’s well: what do YOU think about Howard this season overall, George?

Posted by Bugsy on 03/03/13 at 06:07 PM ET

SK77's avatar

The fact that you can watch that game and come out of it somehow blaming Howard really says it all.

Posted by Garth on 03/03/13 at 05:00 PM ET

Posted by SK77 on 03/03/13 at 06:18 PM ET

scotts0's avatar

For being decimated, this team played a great game. But there’s some things that I’ve been saying to my friends for quite some time….

Cleary is complete dead weight out there. There is nothing I would like to see more than to see Cleary traded/waived/sent down to GR/anything. He is taking a roster spot away from someone in GR who actually PLAYS. Second…

Filppula, yeah I know he didn’t play, but he’s a joke just like Cleary. How many years have we been listening to Kenny and Babs say this “This is the year we feel like Filppula is gonna break out and become a star.” How many times has he actually “broken out”? None. He’s useless…a sharp breeze can blow him off the puck. Another guy taking a roster spot away from someone who actually wants to play.

Franzen is an enigma. People should start calling him the Riddler because he’s impossible to figure out. He doesn’t like to do ANY WORK out there, and the only time he does something is when another player hands him a golden opportunity. But if he has to work for it himself, don’t hold your breath because it ain’t happening.

Tatar is solid. I’d like to see him with Zatta and Brunner. Cleary and Abs playing with Datsyuk is just making it easier for Dats to go back to Russia when his contract is up. Eaves would be better with Dats than either of them, and the fact that Babcock won’t even think about Tatar and Andersson with Dats is ridiculous. Those kids are second liners playing on a 3rd/4th line and Abby and Cleary are 3rd/4th liners playing on a 2nd line with a wizard.

I’m not even really annoyed with this loss overall. Just the little things are mind boggling.

And yeah, George. Patrick Kane is a dick.

Posted by scotts0 from New York on 03/03/13 at 06:45 PM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

The Wings played a good game. Hawks have more talent right now and I don’t give two shits what anyone says, give me Hossa over Franzen any day. That being said two dumb penalties trumped talent. It is what it is

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 03/03/13 at 06:48 PM ET

RW19's avatar

George not to denigrate your opinion, but this comment is a head scratcher: “and during the PK’s, Smith looked like a rookie, Kindl didn’t look good at all”

Smith and Kindl, looked pretty good on the PK’s. They looked good all game. They were physical. Along with Lashoff, they had better games than Ericsson, Kronwall and Quincey.

This game came down to 2 things. First, two veteran defenseman, #52 and #55 had brain farts with 3 minutes to play in a 1-0 contest. Inexcusable. Second, Babcock was not on top of his game today. For example:

1. Franzen was down right awful and should have been taken off the first line after about 3 turnovers in period 1. Never happened. Brunner was far more physical than the 220 pound Franzen. The NBC crew commented on Franzen’s terrible play and how Babs was ripping him on the bench - but Babcock never really addressed the situation by demoting him to another line. Coaching fail.

Or how about the multiple times that Quenneville managed to get the Kane line or the Toews line out there against Emmertyon’s line. ON OUR HOME ICE. Really not impressive.

Posted by RW19 on 03/03/13 at 06:57 PM ET

Avatar

The fact that you can watch that game and come out of it somehow blaming Howard really says it all.

Okay.  It’s pretty clear you can’t really react to anything I say without being completely irrational.  For the next few weeks be aware I can’t see your posts and we’ll see if that helps you get a little less egregious with your hyper-emotional disconnect.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 03/03/13 at 07:09 PM ET

bleep bloop's avatar

Within the first 8 minutes of the second period, the shot advantage for the Hawks went from 8-3 to 16-5 or somesuch. Then the Wings woke up and decided to play better offensively, but still failed to actually generate many scoring chances without whiffing on the puck or passing, for the next 30 minutes. It’s not just that they lack killer instinct, they haven’t done anything but defend the last 3 games.

After scoring 8. And they’ve been doing it for seasons.

Posted by bleep bloop on 03/03/13 at 07:39 PM ET

SK77's avatar

Okay.  It’s pretty clear you can’t really react to anything I say without being completely irrational.  For the next few weeks be aware I can’t see your posts and we’ll see if that helps you get a little less egregious with your hyper-emotional disconnect.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 03/03/13 at 06:09 PM ET

In that case, I’ll cover for Garth then. If you watched that entire game and all you came away with was a multi-paragraph reaction in which your only commentary was to question Howard (?!?!!) – while at the same time pegging Vernon & Osgood (regardless of tour of duty) as “clutch-clutch” (!!??!!!?!!!) – then you’re completely mental.

The only thing Howard didn’t do today was pull a Pavel and skate the puck from end to end through four defenders before sliding it through Crawford for the game winner.

Posted by SK77 on 03/03/13 at 07:43 PM ET

calquake's avatar

Cleary and Abs playing with Datsyuk is just making it easier for Dats to go back to Russia when his contract is up.

Just seeing that in print scares the living crap outta me.  If the Wings don’t find or trade for a scoring winger for next season as well as pick up a top 4 D-man by trade odds are Pavel will go home.  What’s the point in sticking around if things stay the same?

Posted by calquake on 03/03/13 at 07:53 PM ET

Avatar

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?

“No.”

Stubborn son-of-a-bitch.

In a game where Detroit couldn’t generate d*ck in terms of scoring chances for long stretches, Tatar scores the only goal while logging EIGHT MINUTES of ice time. I thought that both he and Andersson more than held their own and certainly weren’t outplayed by the likes of Cleary and Abby (although I actually thought both of those players were better than most people seem to). Maybe for his effort Tatar has “earned” a chance to play some meaningful minutes in the future…ya know, like 10-11 minutes.

I sure hope that they don’t intend to send Lashoff back down once Cola is healthy (yeah right).

Posted by godblender on 03/03/13 at 08:18 PM ET

Sneetch's avatar

If Babs never thought of putting Tatar and/or Andersson on Dats’ line, maybe he needs to be shown the door? Is he high when he’s watching Cleary and Abby out there? Dats has to be frustrated with those two goofballs. No way either one of them is top 2 line material. Give someone else a chance.

Posted by Sneetch on 03/03/13 at 09:13 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

even with Justin Abdelkader and Danny Cleary playing alongside Pavel Datsyuk

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?

“No.”


This is just ridiculous.  Pavel had no points this week, and Babs doesn’t see the need to give him some wingers with a clue how to score?  Brunner, Zetterberg, and Mule are the 3 Wings most likey to fire shots on net and score goals, and they’re all on the same line.  This makes no sense at all.  Brunner and Mule should not be on the same line if it means Cleary and Abby are both skating with Pavel, it’s just moronic.  You have a truely elite playmake playing with grinders, while you have both sniping wingers on another line.  And why Tatar doesn’t even get a sniff of playing on the Datsyuk line makes no effing sense at all.  The lines right now should be:

Franzen-Datsyuk-Tatar
Cleary-Zetterberg-Brunner
Abdelkader-Andersson-Eaves
Miller-Emmerton-Tootoo

Cleary can play on one of the top lines IF he’s the puck retriever/net front guy.  He can’t be the sniper.  But no matter what lines you want, Datsyuk needs at least 1 player on his line that is a threat to score to give the other team someone to think about.  With the current line, no one is scared of Abby or Cleary scoing, so they just focus on Pavel.  Pretty simple.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 03/03/13 at 09:47 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Want to hit two points.  1) whoever mentioned ice-time and matchups.  I noticed that too, and it happened on the road to us as well in LA and cost the game.  I know Babs has always stated he doesn’t pay attention to match-ups, that he likes to roll 4 lines.  Alright, but if Tatar (only goal of the game) and Andersson are playing 8 minutes a night, then you aren’t rolling 4 lines, so you need to pay attention to matchups.  What gives?

b) Whoever mentioned playing Pavel with Cleary and Abs and Babs NEVER EVEN THINKING about putting our most consistent point producers the past week or two on a line with him?  You don’t think think might entice Pavel to go home after his contracts up?  No major changes to give Detroit an edge.  As good as the team has been defensively we’ve NEVER addressed our lack of production after Rafalski n Hossa left.  I know Franzen was supposed to be more than a 28 goal scorer.  But why would Pav burn himself out playing here for a “reload” (playing your young scorers 8 mins a night isn’t a reload, it’s a plug)  when he could go back to his homeland and compete for the KHL title every year the rest of his career?  Worst part is Pavel has made his homesickness known, his want for countrymen on the team known and we’ve done dick to help him, least of all get him legit talent to play with.

And how fuching great did Smith look today?  He and E52 are hands down my two fav on the back end.  His face first block shot?!  Guy is a GAMER.  Aside from E’s miss banking the puck off the glass, he was very solid as well, won a lot of physical battles and positioning battles.  Did GREAT, until the end.

And George, if you think getting Sammy Bert Flip will really help offense I think if you’re crazy.  1 goal today, 2 goals in SJ, 1 goal in LA.  Z, Pav, Brunner, Franzen all in.  I think it’s a case of more production out of our Abby Cleary Pav line than injured players.  And before you say they’re filling in, we have players projected for that slot playing in the slots of others who weren’t projected for that slot. Sooo…..

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/03/13 at 09:51 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

John I think those line-ups are spot on.  That seems more logical, watching every game and all, than what we have now and there’s plenty of familiarity on those lines to still keep producing.

Just don’t get the mindset in Detroit right now.  Put in Winners, plain and simple.  If you’re putting the puck in net, ice time.  Too easy.  Not, score a couple points a couple weeks ago and get promoted to play with the best center in the world and never lose youre spot.  Regardless if you’re not producing anymore.

As many good strides as the team is making, I feel like there’s a stale atmosphere in Hockeytown.  They know the problems, but do nothing to fix them.  It’s bizarre.  Even fixes that don’t require acquisitions, ones that are in house, we don’t use.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/03/13 at 09:56 PM ET

cigar_nurse's avatar

With the current line, no one is scared of Abby or Cleary scoing, so they just focus on Pavel.  Pretty simple.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 03/03/13 at 08:47 PM

Long time no hear from John W. Hows school goin?
I have said this for weeks. The beer league I play in we do this all the time. The d-man focuses on the best player and knows covering the weaker linemates is a waste of resources. I also know when you have to carry the play into the opponents zone and everyone starts covering you because your linemates can’t keep up with you or keep flubbing the passes gets very annoying . I really feel for Pavs and hope those inspirational books keep his spirits up.

Posted by cigar_nurse from Greenville South Cakalakee on 03/03/13 at 10:28 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

You can’t blame Howie for this loss. I’m not sure what that fellow is drinking…

Speaking of drinking, the impression that I got from Franzen today is that he must have been hung-over.  He didn’t skate (he barely even glided out there), he didn’t play the puck with any sort of authority and the shots of him on the bench he looked out of it and his eyes were sorta glazed over.  The fact that he did pick up a little bit in the 3rd and created a couple of scoring chances shows that he just had the opportunity to sweat out all the booze left in his system over the first couple of periods.  Maybe he was sick today and it wasn’t reported, maybe he had a personal problem that kept him up all night, maybe he just got to the part of the book where Ned Stark dies right before the game started, but to me, he looked hung-over and it really hurt the team.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 03/04/13 at 01:50 AM ET

Avatar

If you watched that entire game and all you came away with was a multi-paragraph reaction in which your only commentary was to question Howard

You don’t understand.  I’m not ‘blaming’ Howard for the loss.  My point is whether Howard is a guy who steps up big at the most crucial moments, or is not.

If you can’t separate that question from other issues, that’s your problem.  I can’t help you.

Howard had a strong game yesterday.  The other goalie was better, and it’s been my impression over his years in Detroit that in the biggest moments in the biggest games the other goalie is better than Howard most of the time.

That doesn’t mean Howard sucks, or that he deserves most of the blame for every loss, or any of that.  Those are the conclusions the people who can’t read and can’t think leap to because it’s easier to say inaccurate stuff they can then heroically rail against than it is to demonstrate any ability to discuss nuance with a degree of maturity beyond elementary school.

And George, if you think getting Sammy Bert Flip will really help offense I think if you’re crazy

Wait, what?  Getting back 3 20+ goal scorers won’t help an offense that is struggling to score goals?  Those guys would essentially replace both Cleary and Abdelkader as top 6 forwards, and if you don’t think that’s a substantial improvement… oof.  Miller and Emmerton played 15+ yesterday, and if you don’t think having those three back would limit their time to the net benefit of the Wings… oof.

It’s not just who replaces whom.  That’s a part of it, but it’s also the cascade effect injuries have on the roster.  Guys from depth lines get moved up, then guys on depth lines who didn’t play much have to play much more.  If and when Detroit gets Bert, Fil and Sammy back while none of those guys are individually very impactful their collective return will have a much greater effect on the efficiency of the roster because ti gets guys out of ill-fitting roles and gets inferior players off the ice more often.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 03/04/13 at 09:52 AM ET

Avatar

If you can’t separate that question from other issues, that’s your problem.

It’s true, that HockeyinHD’s point was discernible in the post, but also when someone writes something they must bear equal responsibility in the misinterpretation of their intended meaning. In short both parties are responsible and HockeyinHD is not at all off the hook even though s/he feels entitled to say s/he is.

I have a point of view on this subject because I also play the goalie position on my team. My take on Howard is that he is a very good goalie. He is not a shut down goalie though. If you notice his stats are not exceedingly high in the shut out category but his goals against average and save percentage are (competitively) pretty low. Kind of reminds me of a guy name Osgood. Howard keeps his team in the game but will rarely be solely responsible for wining games single-handily. It should be expected that Howard will give up at least one goal per game. When Wing’s games come down to the wire I begin to worry because I expect they will get scored on. But as we all know, getting scored on is not entirely the blame of just one person.

In the game in question, I did not watch it live but I have seen the replays, it seems to be that the Blackhawks were on the power play. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but the Redwings almost always give up a power play goal during a game. That night they hadn’t up to that point, so the law of averages were not on their side. Anyone who plays competitive sports knows you are freaking tired by the last two minutes of the game and not as sharp. Howard did not make the save but also it looks like a clearing pass was not made and a player was out of position due to trying to stop the previous shot (which wasn’t a bad thing to do). The odd man was found with a good pass and a high percentage shot was put into the net. That particular goal, I do not see responsibility sitting as squarely on Howard’s shoulders as HockeyinHD is arguing. I do see how HockeyinHD would become frustrated at this and want to make the points s/he did. I do not agree with them. But, hey what do I know…oh yeah, that’s the position I play.

Playing goalie is probably the most difficult position to play in Hockey. When your team is not scoring letting in a goal is a terrible feeling. Letting in one more after the first does not sting as much but the third and forth you begin to really feel like a failure. The worst I’ve done (that I can remember) is let in nine! After the forth one goes in (mind you, off the cross bar and then off the back of your head and into the goal) it becomes comical. Each goal after just seems to be equally as ridiculous. By the end of the game you can’t believe that all those shots got through and that you weren’t able make at least 1/2 your saves. Hence, Louongo’s (sp - I don’t care - he plays for Vancouver the worst hockey team to watch in the league) response after the whipping he took from Detroit was disbelief and disregard. As should be the mentality of great goalie. If you don’t pass it off as just random weirdness then you are in no mental state to get back in the goal to help your team in the next game.

In my option, Howard’s resolve is amazing! Since he can pretty much expect (though I bet he doesn’t believe it) to be scored on every game he continually finds the confidence to put up such good numbers that at even one point last year we were all calling him the savior of the season (how many shutouts did he have…). I don’t think many goalies have that same trust and belief in themselves. I expect to see at least once in Howard’s career that he will be seriously considered for the Viezna (sp) trophy.

We all know the Wings do not buy great goalies. What did we pay for Hasek (and Vernon - although I wouldn’t put him in the great category)...For what the wings are paying Howard he is a good value; he’s probably worth more. He may even be payed more than the wings have ever paid a goalie in recent years….maybe ever. I see a lot of good reasoning in that.

Posted by howeandhowe on 03/05/13 at 01:00 PM ET

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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.