The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/23/14 at 09:25 AM ET
This morning, a few more stories related to the Red Wings' 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins popped up on the radar screen.
Some of them, like CSNNE's spotlighting of Tony Amonte's commentary, NESN's Mike Cole's praise for Jordan Caron and discussion of the Bruins' "room for improvement," CBS Boston's interview with Bruins play-by-play man Dave Goucher or Matt Kalman's Caron profile aren't exactly required reading, but the National Post's Michael Traikos' recap continues the whole, "The Bruins might be rolling over the Wings" narrative (if not "the only thing going splat was Detroit and the octopus near Tuuka Rask" one):
A year ago, it took a seven-game scare against Toronto for Boston to wake from a first-round slumber and steamroll to the Stanley Cup final. This year, the Bruins awoke following a 1-0 loss in Game 1.
Since then, they have looked every bit as the team to beat from the Eastern Conference. It does not matter that David Krejci is still without a goal or that Bergeron’s only goals came with Detroit’s net empty. Boston is playing as tight a defensive game as Team Canada did at the Olympics.
After three games, the Bruins have allowed only two goals. Rask, who has gone 86 minutes and 40 seconds without allowing a goal, has a .976 save percentage.
“It’s really good team defence,” said Rask. “I don’t think we’ve given them that many scoring chances. Today, they had four shots for a long time in the game. They had the power plays and a couple of shots and got the momentum there, but we were good at limiting their scoring chances.”
The Bruins were good at limiting the chances because the Red Wings looked like they were playing in their first playoff game at home. For some of them — the team had four rookies in the lineup and a handful of others who are playing in the post-season for the first time — it was to be expected.
Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said the team was “off-kilter” and “looked like kids tonight” as passes bounced off skates and pucks were intercepted. Boston deserved some credit for that.
Brad Marchand drew a tripping call on Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith after skating into a leg-on-leg hit to his left leg.
When falling to the ground, Marchand clutched his right leg, forcing Michael Felger to believe the winger was faking.
That action rubbed Felger the wrong way.
"Brad, if you're going to be a weasel," said Felger, "If you're going to be a cheater, if you're going to act like a Montreal Canadien. You got to get your knees straight."
He then went on to explain why he disliked the play so much.
Because, well, it speaks to the way that the Bruins' media's framing last night's win--as the precursor to an inevitable Bruins-Habs second-round series:
"If the Bruins advance here, Montreal is waiting on the other side." said Felger, "When we get into that series, I want to have the moral high-ground. I want to call the team that dives, and fakes it and plays that greasy game.
"If the Bruins are going to do it as much as the Canadiens, forget that. We're just as bad as they are" said Felger, "What Lucic did the other night, what Marchand did tonight, I'm not on board with that. Pure garbage."
Surprisingly enough, the Boston Globe's later-breaking stories involved Wings takes on last night's game, from Nancy Marrapese-Burrell's notebook...
“I thought our kids looked like kids tonight for sure,’’ said Babcock. “It was almost like the energy in the building, the excitement or whatever, we didn’t handle that very good. We fumbled the puck around. I didn’t think we got going at all until 32 minutes into the game.’’
Babcock said he should’ve done a better job putting his finger on the pulse of his team.
“I’m a veteran coach, I’ve been around a long time,’’ he said. “Maybe I should’ve known we’d be like that at home. I know I was excited to start on the road. I thought it’d be good for a young team to start on the road and you wouldn’t get all wound up. I had no idea that we’d start like we did tonight.’’
The Red Wings’ veterans aren’t contributing enough to make things happen offensively, either.
“Let’s be honest, [the Bruins] did a good job,’’ said Babcock. “They tracked hard, they pushed us outside. I thought we had better entries on our power play and it looked like opportunities, but even then, I thought we were out on the outside on the power play, too. We had a guy at the net but you need more than a guy at the net. You need a guy in the middle and two guys coming in on the sides and I didn’t think we had that.’’
Which pointed out that Gustav Nyquist's struggling to find the back of the net...
Gustav Nyquist, the former University of Maine standout, had 48 points (28 goals) in 57 games during the regular season. He, like many of his teammates, hasn’t been able to find much room to maneuver and has no points in the first two playoff contests.
“It’s not even scoring, you’ve got to compete, you’ve got to get playing,’’ said Babcock. “Any time you’ve been through it, and now suddenly instead of being the guy no one has even heard of, like last year in the playoffs, you’re a guy they’ve heard of and space is probably a little hard to come by and you’ve got to find your game. [Nyquist] always seems to find his game.’’
To this from Marrapese-Burrell (you might not be so keen on reading about Dougie Hamilton and Caron's scoring exploits) as well:
“If we keep turning the puck over like we did, it’s tough to generate any speed whatsoever,’’ said [Niklas] Kronwall. “We have to take care of the puck. That’s when we gain speed. That’s basically the biggest thing.’’
And a better start will be crucial in Game 4 Thursday night.
“[In the first period of Game 3], we were all over the place, everywhere and nowhere,’’ said Kronwall. “I didn’t think that we didn’t skate necessarily, we were just skating all over the place and not being very structured. I have to be better in those areas. I’m a big believer in if you do it right, then other guys will follow.’’
So, on Wednesday, it’s back to the drawing board. Kronwall said the team has to put the loss behind them.
“If we sit around and feel sorry for ourselves, we’re not going to go anywhere,’’ said Kronwall. “We have to flush this one out, analyze what we can do better, which is a lot of things, and just get back to work.’’
This article from Boston.com's Eric Wilbur sums up Boston's take on the state of a series Boston leads by one game...
[If] there’s one thing you and I both know about where this series is headed, it’s this:
Barring any catastrophic injury to one of their core players, the Bruins will eventually be moving along to face the Montreal Canadiens, who finished off their sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday, in the next round of the 2014 NHL Playoffs. Let’s just chalk up Friday’s haphazard 1-0 loss to Detroit in the opener to both teams having not played in five days. Both teams looked sluggish from the get-go, the Bruins perhaps moreso with the infliction of Influenza 2014 wreaking havoc in the bowels (no pun intended) of TD Garden. Since then, this Bruins-Red Wings showdown has proven to be more about intimidation, shutdown defense, and spreading scoring depth to levels no prognosticator saw coming. Justin Florek and, um…Jordan Caron, anyone?
Since the end of Game 1, the Bruins have gone on to outscore the Red Wings, 7-1, including Tuesday night’s 3-0 shutout, which featured an opening period during which Detroit managed a mere quartet of shots on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. The Bruins goalie is now 2-1 this postseason, with a .976 save percentage, stopping 80 of 82 Detroit shots, with a 0.67 GAA. Tuesday was his first shutout of the postseason. It very well could have easily been his third.
There’s always Game 4, but might as well forget it.
It very well could be all over. That was evident in a game in which the home team was booed off the octopi-free ice.
“You can’t blame anybody for not being happy with how we played,” said Niklas Kronwall, who took responsibility for the Wings’ Keystone Kops line change. “We’re not happy ourselves with how we started the game. They have an expectation for us. And we have an expectation for ourselves. They deserved better . They definitely deserved better from me.”
Maybe they’ll get it Thursday night. Detroit fans should also just expect it to be the final game of the season in Motown.
The Red Wings certainly know that Tuesday's performance makes their uphill climb a steep one, as they told MLive's Brendan Savage...
"I thought we were ready to go in here," said goaltender Jimmy Howard. "You get the sense that like everyone was focused. It just didn't happen for us. I can't really put any blame on anyone. That's not the start we wanted. We have to get a lot more pressure on Tuukka (Rask, Boston's goalie). We have to find a way to generate through the middle of the ice. Right now, they're doing a great job of controlling the middle."
"We made some uncharacteristic mistakes there in the first and it gave them some life," said defenseman Danny DeKeyser. "They put home a couple goals right away there that took some life out of our sails right away there. We just have to be better. I thought we got better as the game went on. We still need to generate more quality chances and get to the net."
Gustav Nyquist thought the early offensive problems were the result of the Bruins negating the Red Wings' speed and quickness, which was supposed to be an advantage entering the series but hasn't been much of a factor since Detroit's 1-0 victory in Game 1.
"Again, we just gotta find a way to find that speed," Nyquist said. "They obviously do a good job out there. They did a good job staying above us, not letting us get a lot of speed. That's something we have to change for Thursday and we'll work on some things in practice tomorrow and believe in ourselves. We know in here that we can play with this team, just gotta go out and do it."
But as Nyquist suggested, the Wings don't believe that they're a death row inmates a few steps from a bear-shaped electric chair just yet. Again, the Wings told CBS Detroit's Ashley Dunkak that they're readily aware of the fact that their power play's doing jack and shit...
Detroit has now scored just two goals in three games against Boston this series – one in Game 1, one in Game 2 and zero in Game 3. After missing on three power play chances Tuesday night, the Red Wings are now 0-for-9 in the series.
“They trapped hard, they pushed us outside,” Babcock said. “I thought we had better entries on our power play and, it looked like, opportunities, but even then, I thought we were out on the outside on the power play too. We had a guy at the net, but you need more than a guy at the net. You need a guy in the middle or you need two guys coming in on the side. I didn’t think we had that.”
And while Babcock was borderline furious with the Wings' effort...
Babcock, who did not speak to the team after the game, said Tuesday’s loss disappointed him more than when the Red Wings lost 4-1 in Game 2 in Boston. What upset him most was that Detroit played below its ability.
“I don’t think there’s ever anything wrong with losing when you maximized your group and did everything you could – that’s why that’s disappointing for me,” Babcock said. “We’ve been a way better team than that. That’s unacceptable. And that’s not taking anything away from the Bruins.”
The Wings will approach their next steps as a team:
"I thought we were ready to go in here,” Howard said. “You could sense that like everyone was focused, and [it] just didn’t happen for us. I can’t really put any blame on anyone.”
While moving on from such a sound beating will not be easy, veteran Niklas Kronwall said letting go of the loss is a must, easy or not.
“We have no option,” Kronwall said. “If we sit around and feel sorry for ourselves, we’re not going to go anywhere, so flush this one out, analyze what we can do better, which is a lot of things, and just get back to work.”
Via RedWingsFeed, WXYZ posted Brad Galli's post-game report so late that it was early...
And the emphasis may be on "it's early" yet.
At least the Wings hope so, and I hope so. Fox 2's Jennifer Hammond also filed a post-game report...
If you missed 'em, here are the Wings website's official player-and-coach post-game comment videos:
Here's Riley Sheahan...
And coach Mike Babcock:
I'm at least grateful that Babs' bottom line was, "We need more from everybody," because that's the truth.
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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.