The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/14/13 at 02:15 AM ET
I was more than a little pissed off after the Red Wings allowed some very bad habits to manifest themselves along the way toward surrendering a 2-0 lead and eventually losing in OT to the St. Louis Blues by a 4-3 tally, and I don't feel like backing off my assessment very much.
The Wings, playing without Todd Bertuzzi (back), Darren Helm (back), Johan Franzen (hip flexor), Mikael Samuelsson (groin), Jan Mursak (shoulder), Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), Brendan Smith (shoulder) and Jonas Gustavsson (groin), also lost the services of Brian Lashoff and Niklas Kronwall for chunks of the game due to either minor injuries or equipment trouble...
But the Red Wings, who were playing the Blues for the third time this month and the fourth time this season, could have easily taken out Jake Allen and the 0-for-February (0-5-and-1) Blues had they not stopped playing after the first period, and had they not started playing a brand of hockey that the 2013 Wings cannot afford to play.
After an 11-shot first period, the Wings registered 5 in the second period, 1 in the third and 1 in overtime. They committed 9 giveaways, they ended up firing a total of 18 shots on Jake Allen and another 33 wide or into Blues players, and after the Wings took a 2-0 lead, and even after their 0-for-4 power play gave up a shorthanded goal 15:18 into the 1st period, the team simply stopped playing like the 2013 Red Wings. From Damien "I shoot and shoot some more" Brunner to Kyle Quincey, every player who laced up skates for Detroit stopped out-working, out-hustling and out-executing the Blues, and instead, they seemed to believe that making as many cute, artistically and aesthetically-pleasing plays as possible before attempting to skate through neutral ice, shoot on Jake Allen, or even get the puck out of their own zone would yield a pretty win, and instead, the team's pass-pass-and-pass-some-more philosophy yielded turnovers galore, a lot of standing around and being mesmerized by the Blues' players defensively, and some really poor goals against, at the fault of both the team and their goaltender.
Wednesday night's game was NBC Sports' "Rivalry Night" tilt, it was ESPN's "Game of the Week," it was aired on TSN2 in Canada, and it was served up on a platter as either a St. Louis Blues redemption story or a validation of everything that the Red Wings learned over the course of the first quarter of their post-Lidstrom-identity-building season--with Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom in attendance--and for some bizarre reason, the Wings chose to give an opponent swimming in self-doubt a lifeline.
The loss was a needless and unnecessary one, and yet the Wings seemed bound and determined, perhaps from the start of Sunday's game onward, to see how thoroughly they could inflict a needless and unnecessary loss upon themselves. It just took two tries to get it right.
What pisses me off the most about the Wings' loss? Before the game, Wings coach Mike Babcock told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness and the Windsor Star's Bob Duff that he's consciously attempted to readjust the team's style of play to account for his team's personnel losses, and he felt that things were going pretty decently...
“We don’t move the puck, so it’s real simple,” Babcock said after Wednesday morning. “When you’ve got (Nicklas) Lidstrom, (Brian) Rafalski, (Brad Stuart) and (Niklas Kronwall), they go back, they turn the corner and they fire it to someone who hasn’t had to work quite as hard to be quite as close, to be in the exact position, we can’t play like that. We have to be closer and tighter and more available and better defensively and sometimes it’s not very pretty, but that’s just the way it is.”
Lidstrom retired in the offseason and Stuart was traded. Rafalski retired two seasons ago. That has made the Wings dump the puck into the opposing zone more than they would like.
“We’d like not to dump the puck at all,” Babcock said. “The bottom line is the game’s real simple, the more time you spend in your zone, the less time you spend in their zone, the more time you dump the puck because you got no speed on the rush. If you’re efficient coming out and move the puck and you do it right once, you’re coming with speed, you don’t have to dump the puck, you probably get some sort of entry, or at least you give up possession and get it right back.
“Dumping the puck is awful when you’re just dumping it in and changing,” Babcock continued. “Just dump and change, dump and change, you spend the whole game in your own zone wearing yourself out. Our focus is try not to do that and yet there’s parts of the game every night you’re in a bit of a survival mode and you do that.
And it's just unbelievably ironic that the Wings played the exact opposite of the way Babcock told Duff was working so very well during the Wings' 3-game winning streak and now what is a 4-and-3 February:
Minus the seven-time Norris Trophy winner, Detroit’s system now is about short passing plays, and tighter gaps between the forwards and defence.
“We have to be,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’ve got to be tight, tight, tight. I’ve always wanted it, but we could get away with it before.”
If there were a catchphrase for the Wings’ gameplan this season, it would be “under construction.”
“We’re just in the process of trying to figure out a way for this group to play and be successful,” Babcock said. “We’re not as pretty to watch as we once were, but that doesn’t matter anyway. You’ve got to find a way to win games.”
The method that Babcock believes is the path to success for is a simplified version of the way they’ve played for so many seasons – a puck-possession game, but one based around short, crisp passes. Call it the NHL version of the West Coast offence.
The personnel alterations also led to a change in philosophy for the Detroit coach.
“I’ve always asked them to find their game within our game,” Babcock said. “This year as a coaching staff, more so than ever, we’ve had to find a game to coach that is their game. So we had to find out what they were first, and we’re still trying to do that so we can be successful.”
Instead, on Friday, the Wings will be facing a 9-2-and-1 Ducks team that hasn't played since defeating Chicago 3-2 in a shootout on Tuesday,
And instead, what carried the day? We'll go with the short version first, per Pleiness:
St. Louis’ Alexander Steen on the Blues falling behind 2-0 to Wings.
“I think we got scared into the right direction. I think that fear made us play hockey.”
Somewhere before then, ESPN's Scott Burnside, who was "embedded with the team," noted that the Blues' coaching staff planned on crashing the Wings' net...
Shortly after 5 p.m., the players filed past the coaches' room and into the dressing room. The sound of sticks being cut and the heavy bass from a portable sound system soon filter into the coaches' room. About half an hour later, [Blues coach Gary] Agnew presented video instruction to the power play units with specific attention on how they might take advantage of the Red Wings' penalty killers. For instance, the Wings have for years challenged opposing power plays with aggressiveness and have been willing to leave an opposing forward alone in front of the net while the puck is being moved.
"We need to get pucks to the net," Agnew explained. "They're letting the goaltender take the net-front guy."
At the end, Hitch added that with Jimmy Howard, the workhorse Detroit netminder, they need to bother him and make the Detroit defenders collapse back to the net.
"Just start hacking and whacking," Hitchcock said.
The videos served their purpose as the Blues went 1-for-3 on the power play.
And after the game...
Ken Hitchcock and the rest of the St. Louis Blues' coaching staff waited patiently outside the raucous Blues dressing room for rookie netminder Jake Allen to finish his first-ever national television interview after his first NHL victory. As the netminder entered the room, his teammates gave a rousing cheer. It was a cheer shot through with relief.
The kind of relief that comes from erasing an early two-goal deficit en route to a 4-3 overtime win and limiting one of the most talented teams in the Western Conference to seven shots through the final two periods and overtime. The kind of relief that comes from arresting an ugly five-game winless streak that had the talented Blues questioning themselves. Hitchcock stooped to turn off the music to quickly congratulate his team.
"Jake, congratulations," he said.
He praised the team's selfless shot-blocking and noted the strong play of rookies Vladimir Tarasenko, who scored a power play goal to tie the game at 2-2, and Jaden Schwartz, who was the 14th overall pick in the 2010 draft.
"Take care of yourselves. We have a long [frigging] day tomorrow," the coach said. "Excellent job boys. Now turn that music back on."
The Blues are 7-5-and-1 now, despite going 0-for-February until Wednesday night, and the Wings' 7-4-and-2 record doesn't give them a lick of breathing room. The Blues delighted in telling In the Slot's Louie Korac that their first-period deficit was simply a case of a sleeping giant stirring...
"The first period is the debris left over from not having success," Hitchcock said. "Once we really started to check and play, we really played well. We did all the things that we know how to do and we're hard to play against when we play like that. Once we dialed up the checking, I thought we felt more comfortable on the ice. Our guys seemed to be two steps quicker. I knew there was going to be debris left over. We had some very emotional losses."
[N]o worries from Allen or the Blues this go around.
"I think that's what I've learned over the last three years is just to stick with it," Allen said. "... I wasn't worried. It showed. We battled back and won."
But the Blues, who have fallen behind in five of the last six games, got a huge goal when Berglund notched his team-leading sixth of the season with a shorthanded tally after T.J. Oshie beat Brunner and Justin Abdelkader before feeding Berglund for a one-timer with 4:42 left in the period. It was the goal that turned the Blues' motor on and kept it churning.
"It always helps to get that first goal overall," said Berglund, who's tied with Stewart and Tarasenko for the team lead in goals with six. "After that, we started to play well.We competed really hard. It wasn't pretty, but we competed and we got what we came for."
The Blues thrived off the big goal, coming out firing and tilting the ice in their favor. They grabbed a lead by scoring twice in 1:45 when Tarasenko and Stewart both caught Berglund with their sixth goals of the season for a 3-2 lead. Tarasenko took Stewart's saucer feed and beat a screened Howard at 7:12 on the power play, giving the Blues an 8-for-14 conversion rating against Detroit this season, and Stewart took a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beat Howard on a backhand breakaway attempt at 8:57.
"We caught them on a quick change there. We caught them on a quick-up there from Petro," Stewart said. "It was a heads-up play to send me in on a breakaway.Step in the right direction. Any time you can come into the Joe and snake two points out, it’s a great thing. We could have packed our bags after being down 2-0, but went out there and got some big blocks on the penalty kill and I think that changed the game around."
And after the Wings tied the game, it was the Blues who displayed resiliency, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeremy Rutherford noted (less than shockingly, Rutherford reports that Jake Allen will start for the Blues on Friday in Calgary):
“It was not the way you want to start it, first shot again, but after the second one, I just took a drink of water,” Allen said. “I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned over the last three years, just keep your head in the game … you’re in pro hockey. We needed this one, so I just told myself battle it out and give the guys a chance.”
The Blues ended their five-game losing streak when Alex Steen scored 52 seconds into overtime, capping a 4-3 victory, one that could be attributed to Allen staying poised and the Blues returning to the style of play that led to their success last season and in building a 6-1 start this year.
On the strength of a season-high 24 blocked shots and a penalty-killing unit that scored the game-changing goal and held Detroit without a shot on goal on two third-period power plays, the Blues improved to 7-5-1 overall and ended a string of four straight losses at Joe Louis Arena.
24 frickin' blocked shots...
“We learned a lot about ourselves today,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We learned that the harder we check, the more we score. Which was an easy sell last year and a hard sell this year, and it’s still going to be a hard sell. But our players learned that we can score four goals and check like crazy and still be effective.”
The Blues’ fourth goal, from Steen in overtime, was the difference-maker, but it was only possible because of a game-changer in the first period. On Steen’s third goal in as many games, defenseman Barret Jackman cruised down the left side of the ice and put a shot on Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.
“I was trying to pick top corner and put it in the middle of his chest,” Jackman said in self-deprecating fashion. “I was just trying to get a rebound, especially in overtime. Anytime shot on net is a potential goal.”
And this time, it was.
“Pretty much go in there and hope that something pops out, and it did,” Steen said. “I got lucky.”
The Associated Press's Larry Lage's recap serves as our pivot point between the Blues and Wings' perspectives...
"This is a real boost for our team," Hitchcock said. "This is the boost that we need to start playing like last year."
St. Louis advanced in the playoffs last year for the first time in a decade before being swept by the eventual-champion Los Angeles Kings in the second round. After sputtering early in the lockout-shortened season, Detroit had won a season-high three straight wins with a stretch of success that started with a 5-1 victory over St. Louis.
The Red Wings set themselves up to extend the streak, but blew a two-goal lead in the first period and chances to win in the third period on a pair of chances with an extra skater.
Two power plays. In the third.
"If we would have kept playing like we did in the first I don't think we would have needed a power-play goal," Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "It was probably our best first period of the whole year and then they took over completely in the second period."
St. Louis goalie Jake Allen, making his first NHL start in his second game in the league, made 15 saves. Jaroslav Halak missed his fifth straight game with a groin strain, an injury he had in a Feb. 1 loss against Detroit, and Hitchcock said he's day to day.
Hitchcock was happy with the way Allen, and his teammates, bounced back after being down 0-2.
"This is a game that could've gotten away on us," Hitchcock said.
Instead, the Wings let the Blues back into the game via a shorthanded goal--MLive's Ansar Khan says that the "shorty" was the Wings' fifth this season, which leads the league--as Wings coach Mike Babcock told Korac in his NHL.com recap:
[T]he Blues, who have fallen behind in five of the last six games, got a huge goal when Berglund notched his team-leading sixth of the season with a shorthanded tally after T.J. Oshie beat Brunner and Justin Abdelkader before feeding Berglund for a one-timer with 4:42 left in the period.
"The part for me that was tough is the penalty kill goal we give up when we're trying to score, not even off a clean play," Babcock said. "We get caught and then the line change goal ... those things, I mean, those are crazy, crazy, crazy plays."
And the Blues thrived off the big goal, coming out firing and tilting the ice in their favor. They grabbed a lead by scoring twice in 1:45 when Tarasenko and Stewart both caught Berglund with their sixth goals of the season for a 3-2 lead.
Babcock called a timeout to regroup his players.
"We had her going and we came off it big-time in the second period, stopped putting pucks in and turning them over," Babcock said. "Then we wind up getting one point instead of two points."
Were there positives in the loss? Sure. Drew Miller and Tomas Tatar's goals were signs of life from the "bottom six," as DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose noted...
Despite dropping a 4-3 shoot-out loss, Wings forwards Tomas Tatar and Drew Miller each registered their first goal of the season. For Tatar, his first-period goal was his first at the NHL level since he scored in his Wings’ debut on New Year’s Eve 2010.
“I feel way better than I did last time when I was called up two years ago,” said Tatar, who gave the Wings a 1-0 lead at 2:17 of the first period. “I’m more experienced and I’ve played way, way more games. So I felt pretty good out there. I think I skate pretty well out there. It’s just that I have to do the job that coach asks me for, and I have to do it 100 percent every game.”
Tatar has played in five games since being called up earlier in the month. He has played on the third line since being back with the NHL team, and on Wednesday, he skated with center Joakim Andersson and forward Patrick Eaves, who had been a healthy scratch lately. Playing in his first game since Feb. 2 at Columbus, Eaves made a key contribution on Tatar’s goal. Off of Andersson’s face-off win to the right of the Blues’ crease, Eaves tied up St. Louis defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, which allowed Tatar to get to the puck in the low slot.
“I beat the guy off the wall in a puck battle and got it to Tats, and he did the rest,” said Eaves, who drew an assist on the play.
From there, Tatar made a pretty backhand/forehand move before lifting the puck past Blues goalie Jake Allen, who was making his first NHL start.
Tatar and Allen have crossed paths many times in the American Hockey League. Having spent much of his playing time in Grand Rapids, Tatar has learned some of Allen’s tendencies. Allen has played most of the season for the Blues’ farm club in Peoria, where he’s posted a 2-1-0 record with one shutout against the Griffins. But Tatar's goal Wednesday was more reactionary than anything, the rookie forward said.
“I’ve played against him a couple of years down there,” he said. “But it’s not about if I know him or not. It’s just that the puck popped out pretty well for me and I did a move and it was a pretty good fake, I guess. He just bit at it.”
The Red Wings built a 2-0 lead 5 ½ minutes later when Miller and Jordin Tootoo worked a nifty give-and-go play when he dug the puck out from behind the Blues’ net. Miller than zipped a shot past the rookie netminder. Miller became the sixth Red Wings’ skater to score his first goal of the season against St. Louis.
But Miller wasn't preoccupied with his goal after the game, as he told Pleiness...
“I don’t know if we took our foot off the gas, but we got away from the way we want to play,” Drew Miller said. “They’re a team that doesn’t give up a lot of shots most nights. Their D and their forwards blocked a lot of shots that never found their way to the net.”
After getting off 11 shots on rookie goalie Jake Allen in the first period, Detroit had just seven more the rest of the way, one each in the third period and overtime.
“We kind of peppered him at first and got some goals, then we didn’t get a lot of shots after that,” Miller said. “You have to credit their D and their forwards for blocking a lot of shots.”
The Wings' seven shots--5 in the 2nd, 1 in the 3rd and 1 in OT--baffled Babcock...
“I didn’t tell ‘em not to shoot,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I think we had lots off opportunity to get the puck to the net, I think you’ve got to give them credit. When they’re playing well, they don’t give up a lot of shots. I don’t know how many shots they got, I don’t think they got a ton either. But the reality is we weren’t good enough. I thought we turned over too many pucks and we didn’t play good enough. The other thing is as a coach, I could have played more guys. And probably should have because in the end, we didn’t get the result we wanted.”
After Damien Brunner had a nice chance early in OT for the Wings, the Blues’ Barret Jackson picked up a puck along the boards and deflected a shot off Howard’s shoulder. Steen got on the rebound and banged the bouncing puck past Howard.
“The part for me that was tough is the penalty kill goal we give up when we’re trying to score, not even off a clean play and we get caught and then the line change goal, those things, I mean, those are crazy, crazy, crazy plays,” Babcock said. “It’s real simple here. We have to play with great competition level and great structure and attention to detail. We had it going and we came off it big-time in the second period, stopped putting pucks in and turning them over. Then we wind up getting one point instead of two points. It’s disappointing but it’s also the road we’re on. Until we figure out for sure how we gotta play and for how long, you’re not going to win on enough occasions.”
With the old captian watching, the new captain, who didn't have a shot, was disappointed with his team's effort:
“It was probably our best first period of the whole year and then they took over completely in the second period,” [Henrik] Zetterberg said. “It wasn’t good. They really took over totally. We stopped the forecheck, we made some dumb mistakes, we gave them the puck and we didn’t win the 50-50 battles.”
Zetterberg continued while speaking to the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
"It wasn't good," said Henrik Zetterberg of the middle 20 minutes for the Wings. "They really took over. We stopped forechecking, made some dumb mistakes. We had the puck and gave them the puck. We didn't win 50-50 battles. We just have to get back to doing the little things right."
Tatar opened the scoring for the Red Wings. The Blues appeared to gain control of the faceoff in their zone, but puck slipped away from defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.
Tatar quickly gathered the puck and faked Allen with a backhand-forehand-backhand move that the goalie bit on at 2:17. It was Tatar's first goal of the season, and first in the NHL since scoring in his NHL debut Dec. 31, 2010.
"We lost, and that's the important thing," Tatar said. "We were up, and we stopped playing, and they took advantage of it."
But Zetterberg told Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji that their 1 third-period shot wasn't for a lack of trying:
"One shot, but I think we had lots of chances," Zetterberg said. "We couldn’t score there in the third. I don’t think we realized it was one shot. I think we spent time in their end. We tried to get pucks through, but I think they blocked a lot of shots, too."
True, the Blues did block a lot of shots, a season-high 24 for the game, but the Wings have enough talent that they should be able to find a way to get a puck or six through, especially when they had two power plays in the period. After 11 shots in the first period, the Wings had seven the rest of the way.
"You don't do that to Detroit often," Blues captain David Backes said. "That's a badge of honor."
Babcock admitted that his decision to more and more heavily rely upon his top two lines backfired...
"The other thing is as a coach, I could have played more guys," Babcock said. "And probably should have because in the end, we didn't get the result we wanted."
"To me, the big thing is just if you stick with it and you're mentally solid and you're committed to your plan for a whole 60 minutes, you've got a chance to be successful," Babcock said. "If you deviate, with the group we have, we're not going to win."
The Wings did indeed attempt to shoot the puck at or near the Blues' net 51 times, though only 18 got through to Allen, and they felt that their was merit in making said attempts, as they told MLive's Ansar Khan...
“They're a team that doesn't give up a lot of shots,'' Miller said. “I thought we had some good chances still. I think we had a lot of attempted shots that never found their way to the net.''
Tatar was surprised to learn his team had just one shot in the third period.
“I didn’t even notice that,'' Tatar said. “I thought we played good. I think the third period was up and down. I don’t think they were better, it was just the way that it happened in OT; it was a bounce and it ended up in our net.”
Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg called the first period his team's best opening period of the season but said of the second period, “We stopped forechecking, we made some dumb mistakes, we gave them the puck and we didn’t win the 50-50 battles.''
He said the Blues took over completely in the second period before a fairly even third, despite St. Louis' 6-1 edge in shots.
“One shot, but I think we had lots of chances,'' Zetterberg said. “I think we spent time in their end. We tried to get pucks through.''
Even Babcock let himself ponder what could have been while speaking to the Free Press's Helene St. James...
"I thought we had some end-zone time, and I thought we got some shots," Wings coach Mike Babcock said of the power plays. "We had a lot of (shots) blocked. It's not easy to score power-play goals. We'd like to score every time on the power play ... it doesn't always happen."
As did Tomas Tatar...
"It's too bad we couldn't take it to shoot-out," Tatar said. "I think Jimmy could take it there."
But Tatar admitted the reality of the situation to St. James in her main recap:
"My goal doesn't really count. We lost," Tatar said. "We were up, 2-0, and I think we just stopped playing. They took advantage of it, and they tied it up, and they even were up, 3-2."
The Wings caught the Blues on an 0-4-1 slide, and the Blues caught the Wings without top-six winger Johan Franzen, who is day to day with a sore hip flexor. The injury, latest in a long line, didn't seem to affect the Wings early as they paced the first period.
They looked a lot worse after allowing a shorthanded goal at 15:18. Damien Brunner tried to pinch, only to get outmuscled by T.J. Oshie, who sped off with the puck, bulled through Justin Abdelkader and fed Patrik Berglund. From there, the Blues were in control.
"There was a lot of hockey after that," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "I think we still had a lot of time to get that one back, but we didn't."
It helps to put the puck on net -- Jonathan Ericsson proved that the previous game when his last-minute goal won it -- but the Wings did that only once the entire third period, in the last 2 minutes, when Abdelkader tested an untested goalie.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored during a power play at 7:12 of the second period, and a bad change and poor puck management by Brunner led to a long pass that Chris Stewart turned into a breakaway and a 3-2 lead before 9 minutes were gone in the second period.
"Give them credit. It's a 60-minute game," Babcock said. "We knew it was going to be a 60-minute game. The part for me that was tough was the penalty-kill goal we give up when we're trying to score, not even off a clean play, and we get caught. And then the line-change goal. Those things, I mean, those are crazy, crazy, crazy plays. It's real simple here. We have to play with a great competition level and great structure and attention to detail. We had her going, and we came off it big-time in the second period, and then you end up getting one point instead of two points. It's disappointing."
Disappointing, disheartening, and completely avoidable. This was the Wings' first quarter examination, and they aced the first 20% and simply scribbled, "I don't know who I am yet yet, maybe I don't care tonight, but I definitely don't know who I am yet" all over the essay portion.
Highlights: NHL.com's highlights are narrated by NBC's announcers:
It's sad that this gorgeous Datsyuk goal went to waste:
Post-game: The NHL Network also posted a "Cisco Arena Cam" interview with Anthony Stewart...
And the NHL Tonight's Mark Roe and Kevin Weekes gushed about the Blues' win:
The Windsor Star's Bob Duff posted a clip of Mike Babcock's post-game presser...
MLive's Brendan Savage posted a clip of Drew Miller speaking to the media...
The Red Wings' website posted a clip of Henrik Zetterberg speaking with the media...
And they posted Babcock's post-game presser as well:
I don't like the fact that these two gents had to watch the Wings lose:
Photos: The Detroit News posted a 25-image gallery;
The Detroit Free Press posted a 17-image gallery;
The Windsor Star posted 4(?) images from the game;
KSDK posted a 21-image gallery;
ESPN posted a 10-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted a selection of AP images from the game in its Wings gallery;
Shots 25-18 St. Louis overall. Detroit out-shot St. Louis 11-3 in the 1st, were out-shot 14-5 in the 2nd , out-shot 6-1 in the 3rd and were out-shot 2-1 in OT.
The Blues went 1-for-3 in 5:25 of PP time; the Wings went 0-for-4 in 8:00 of PP time and gave up a shorthanded goal.
Jimmy Howard stopped 21 of 25 shots; Jake Allen stopped 15 of 18.
The 3 stars, per Yahoo Sports' Nick Cotsonika, were Pavel Datsyuk (3), Anthony Stewart (2) and Alex Steen (1).
The Wings' goals: Tatar (1) from Eaves (2);
Miller (1) from Tootoo (2) and Kindl (1);
Datsyuk (6) from Filppula (5) and Ericsson (4).
Faceoffs 31-23 Detroit (Detroit won 57%);
Blocked shots 24-13 St. Louis;
Missed shots 9-8 Detroit (total attempts 51-46 Detroit, but Detroit fired 35 attempts wide or into Blues players);
Hits 33-18 St. Louis;
Giveaways 9-3 Detroit;
Takeaways 8-6 St. Louis.
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 11-and-3 (79%); Zetterberg went 8-and-7 (53%); Andersson went 7-and-6 (54%); Emmerton went 4-and-3 (57%); Filppula went 1-and-2 (33%); both Abdelkader and Cleary lost single faceoffs.
Shots: Abdelkader, Cleary, Miller, Lashoff, Filppula and Andersson had 2 shots; Kindl, Datsyuk, Tatar, Tootoo, Brunner and Kronwall had 1.
Blocked attempts: The Blues blocked 4 Quincey attempts and 4 Kronwall attempts; Kindl, Datsyuk and Ericsson had 3 attempts blocked; Tatar, Tootoo, Brunner, Emmerton, Zetterberg, Filppula and Andersson had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Cleary missed the net 3 times; Datsyuk missed the net 2 times; Kindl, Tatar, Tootoo and Kronwall missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Tootoo had 4 hits; Abdelkader, Cleary, Miller and Kronwall had 2; Kindl, Eaves, Tatar, Lashoff, Brunner and Emmerton had 1.
Giveaways: Brunner had 2 giveaways; Kindl, Datsyuk, Lashoff, Quincey, Ericsson, Andersson and Howard had 1.
Takeaways: Abdelkader and Cleary had 2 takeaways; Eaves and Zetterberg had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Miller, Lashoff and Ericsson blocked 2 shots; Kindl, Cleary, Datsyuk, Tatar, Tootoo, Zetterberg and Filppula blocked 1 shot.
Penalties taken: Kindl, White, Emmerton and Ericsson took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +1. Zetterberg and Brunner unfairly finished at -3; Abdelkader and Kronwall finished at -2; Lashoff finished at -1; Kindl, Cleary, Eaves, White, Miller, Tatar, Tootoo, Emmerton, Quincey, Filppula and Ericsson finished at +1.
Points: Datsyuk, Miller and Tatar had goals; Kindl, Eaves, Tootoo, Filppula and Ericsson had assists.
Ice time: Zetterberg led the team with 24:18 played; Kronwall played 23:56; Lashoff played 20:18;
Datsyuk played 20:08; Brunner played 20:06; Kindl played 19:06;
White played 18:44; Cleary played 18:22; Ericsson played 18:19;
Abdelkader played 18:08; Filppula played 17:35; Quincey played 17:15;
Miller played 13:22; Tatar played 12:01; Tootoo played 9:15;
Emmerton played 9:01; Eaves played 8:05; Andersson played 8:05.
Wednesday's biggest story could have been Nicklas Lidstrom's first post-retirement return to Metro Detroit, but Lidstrom chose to not place himself in the media spotlight, and the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa believes that Lidstrom's decision was the proper one:
The return of a legend can be a complicated affair, especially his first time back. Leave it to Nick Lidstrom to handle it flawlessly. It was no muss-no fuss Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena, as one of the greatest players in the history of the game and one of the greatest Red Wings of all time arrived back in town.
Low key is an understatement. This return was nearly anonymous. Until the 14-minute mark of the third period, few if any in the sold-out crowd knew Lidstrom was in the building.
The guy who won eight Norris trophies as the best defenseman in the game and who scored or assisted on more than one-in-five of the Wings' goals (21.4 percent) during his 20-year career, barely made a ripple, until his presence was announced, along with that of Tomas Holmstrom, with six minutes left to play.
They were both sitting in the owners' box, barely visible. Lidstrom waved, soberly. Holmstrom smiled his effusive smile, from ear to ear.
Having delayed his "night," due to the lockout, the shortened season and the lack of time to plan almost anything, if Lidstrom were to appear at Joe Louis Arena this season it would not be the gala night to remember. That is going to be fun, and probably a little teary-eyed and goose-bumpy. But it comes next season.
I'm not sure if I buy this, but it's a nice theory:
[H]e was not around under the stands before the game, at least not in any way the media could know. The Wings staff said all day that they had no information about his arrival, or if he would make himself available.
It was as if Lidstrom had made yet another leadership decision, even after he has stopped leading the Wings. He was not going to become the focus of attention, with an important fourth game in a tight sequence with their formidable divisional rival.
It was as if Lidstrom demonstrated in the most forceful way that the fans' longings for those days gone by should not be misconstrued for anything but fine memories, making their journey toward legend and nostalgia. Because these are the Red Wings of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Kronwall and Jimmy Howard.
I would imagine that Lidstrom will make himself available to the media sometime today, or, more likely, on Friday, but the Wings' PR staff won't make him do anything he doesn't want to do, and if he doesn't feel like talking, we won't hear a peep from him.
Red Wings notebooks: The news in the injury department is pretty bad. The Free Press's Helene St. James reports that both Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm won't return from their back issues for some time, and Johan Franzen's hip flexor issue is a perplexing one:
General manager Ken Holland said Franzen, a top-six winger, is day to day with a sore hip flexor.
The roster has been decimated by everything from back and groin injuries to sore shoulders. The hardest hit of the bunch are Bertuzzi and Darren Helm, neither of whom "is on the horizon," coach Mike Babcock said.
Bertuzzi was in so much pain after last week's game at St. Louis that he ended up in the hospital over the weekend, Holland said, adding that "Bert's back has progressively been bothering him. He's out for a while, but I don't know what awhile is."
Holland said surgery "is a last resort. No one is rushing into surgery." Surgery would mean Bertuzzi is done for the season.
Bertuzzi, 38, has a history of back problems, dating to a herniated disk in 2006 that required surgery, sidelining him as he was traded from Florida to Detroit in March 2007. He missed five games in January 2009, then with Calgary, because of back pain.
Helm, 26, doesn't have a history of back problems, and repeated tests "have ruled out everything negative," Holland said. Still, Helm has not been on the ice since the day after playing Jan. 25 against Minnesota, his only game this season. He was injured working out just before the start of training camp. He continues to see specialists in hope of figuring out how to round the corner.
"He's out indefinitely," Holland said. "Could be one week. Could be one month. I don't know."
Othwerise, and on the blueline, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan offers an update...
Defenseman Brendan Smith (shoulder) took part during the morning skate but said he's still two to three weeks from possibly playing. Smith injured his shoulder Feb. 2 in Columbus.
Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) continues to skate — he hasn't been cleared for contact — and is hopeful of returning within two weeks.
"I want to make sure this thing is 100 percent before I come back, (and) when I come back, I'm staying back," Colaiacovo said.
And the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness asked Smith about his recovery:
“There are a lot of limitations,” Smith said. “I don’t have much strength in my arm yet and I still have to work on my mobility. It’s not all there, so I don’t know what the time frame is, or anything like that, but they said it was three to four (weeks) so I’m going to stick with that.”
Smith said he still lifts daily, but has to modify his routine.
“I can’t lift anything over my head and the bench press is also dangerous for the shoulder,” Smith said. “This was my third or fourth time on the ice. I’ll continue to get out there and hopefully it’ll keep getting better and shooting better.”
Pleiness also spoke to Justin Abdelkader about the up-tick in fighting in the NHL these days...
Heading into Wednesday’s games, there had been 112 fights in 186 NHL games played. At this point last season, there had been just 86 fights, an increase of 26 percent.
Justin Abdelkader thinks the increase could be due to the shortened season.
“Every game is important,” said Abdelkader, who led the team with six fights last season. “I think maybe the start of the season fluctuated the numbers a little bit. Maybe you won’t see as much fighting as we go later into the season. But I think at the start, teams were sending messages.”
Columbus’ Jared Boll leads the NHL with seven fights in 11 games. He’s on pace for 26 fights in 48 games. Last season, Brandon Prust, who played for the New York Rangers, led the league with 20 fights in 82 games.
Jordin Tootoo leads the Wings this season with four fights in 12 games. He’s on pace for 16 fights.
As did DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:
Asked if he though the short season has caused some NHL players to have shorter wicks than usually, Abdelkader said, “Could be. Maybe that has something to do with it. Every game is important. That would be my guess as to the reason why.”...
“I think maybe the start of the season fluctuated the numbers a little bit,” said Abdelkader, who’s been in one fight this season. “Maybe you won’t see as much fighting as we go later into the season. But I think at the start, teams were sending messages.”
If you missed it, the Detroit News's Francis Donnelly confirms that the Hallmark Channel will air a Gordie Howe bio-pic (edit/update: looking at the picture of the actor who played Gordie Howe that the Free Press provided, something tells me they weren't going for perfect historical accuracy):
Mr. Hockey, meet Mr. Movie. Gordie Howe is going celluloid. His return to hockey at age 45 will be chronicled in a TV movie, "Mr. Hockey, the Gordie Howe Story."
It describes how the legendary Howe, two years retired from the Red Wings, joins sons Mark and Marty on the Houston Aeros in the World Hockey Association in 1973.
The Howe trio proceeded to win back-to-back championships.
The feel-good epic will be shown May 4 on, appropriately, the Hallmark Channel.
I'll try to get the Windsor Star's Bob Duff's recap up at some point, too (it won't hit till closer till 4 AM), but Duff, who was very active on Twitter, offered exactly one quip which wasn't already mentioned, and it's true as true can be in terms of the way the Wings should have played, and the way the Blues played instead:
That's what the Wings had to do to beat the Blues. Instead, a team that's lost playoff series to San Jose and Nashville by allowing opponents to forecheck hard, set up cycling plays down low and plain old walk toward the net by standing back and giving opponents open lanes fell into their bad habits yet again. Those habits seem to transcend personnel, too.
In the QMJHL, Phillipe Hudon registered an assist in the Victoriaville Tigres' 6-5 shootout win over Rouyn-Noranda;
In the OHL, Andreas Athanasiou registered a goal, an assist and a +4 in the Barrie Colts' 10-1 win over Ottawa;
Alan Quine registered a goal and was named the third star in the Belleville Bulls' 4-1 win over Kingston;
Ryan Sproul registered 2 assists in the Soo Greyhounds' 8-0 victory over Sarnia;
Jake Paterson gave up 5 goals on 40 shosts as his Saginaw Spirit dropped a 5-1 decision to Plymouth;
In the WHL, Richard Nedomlel didn't register a point in the Swift Current Broncos' 3-1 loss to Prince Albert;
And in the KHL, Alexei Marchenko hasn't played for CSKA Moscow since they acquired Danny Markov. CSKA defeated Donbass Donetsk 2-1 in a shootout.
Update: I figured as much, per Michigan Hockey:
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