The Malik Report
Red Wings-Bruins Game 4 wrap-up and overnight report: the next generation’s learning painful lessons
by George Malik on 04/25/14 at 04:06 AM ET
The Boston Bruins flew back to Massachusetts after their 3-2 OT win over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 3, likely assuming--like their self-sanctimonious media corps, the rest of the hockey world, and, regrettably, Wings fans who fear that they've witnessed the last Fox Sports Detroit broadcast of the 2012-2013 season, the last home game at Joe Louis Arena in its next-to-last season and the last Wings game of the year--that the Bruins will have an easy time of mopping up the Wings in NBC's Saturday matinee before moving on to battle Montreal in the second round.
Do I agree with their assessment?
I'm not sure whether I do or whether I don't. I know that the Red Wings will practice at noon today at the Joe, that the team will fly to Boston after having said all the right things about rallying from a 3-games-to-1 deficit one shift at a time, and regardless of who starts in the net, I know that Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall will do the best to lead their team.
But the feet move the legs and the legs move the body. That's what I was going to call this recap--the feet move the legs--and the Red Wings' foot soldiers, the ones who've powered the team to the point that Todd Bertuzzi, despite a near-heroic return of his own, was probably doing more to teach Tomas Jurco where to stand when Jurco replaces Bertuzzi in next year's lineup instead of prolonging his Wings career for more than single numbers of games...
They've gone silent, they've gone soft, and they've made terrible mistakes, the kind of necessary learning mistakes that will make them better next season. But they're also making the kind of mistakes that make the hopes of the Wings returning to Joe Louis Arena to play a game on Monday instead of cleaning their lockers out on Sunday slim hopes.
Again, I know that the "easy" story to latch onto is Johan Franzen's complete absence from any meaningful sort of contribution to the lineup, to the point that even I'm starting to think that the Wings might want to revisit "amnestying" him or trading him to a team that has the kind of puck-moving defenseman the Wings have needed to play behind Kronwall--Brendan Smith and Danny DeKeyser's fine progression over the past season and ten days included--like an Ehrhoff or Edler.
I also think that it's an "easy" story to wonder where David Legwand's 51-point-season prowess went, how Drew Miller, Justin Abdelkader (bless him for going to the front of the net and staying there) and, to some extent, Luke Glendening and Darren Helm fit on a team so very desperate for offense going forward...
And after tonight, we can all question whether Jonas Gustavsson's won a return engagement at Petr Mrazek's one-more-season-in-the-AHL expense, or whether Kyle Quincey has in fact improven to the point that he's redeemed himself. We can all see how badly the team misses Daniel Alfredsson, too, to the point that I think some of us might want to take a collection to fly to Gothenburg this summer and "recruit" him for a second season in Detroit.
But nothing illustrated the utterly painful struggles of both some of the aforementioned players and the possibly-exiting Brian Lashoff and Jakub Kindl and the remaining Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar's future tenures with the team...
Than Kindl and Lashoff giving up as Dougie Hamilton dumped the puck in, the board-bounce landed behind the net, and Carl Soderberg flicked the puck out front to Milan Lucic, who had Gustav Nyquist literally standing a foot away, watching Lucic tie the game 1:15 into the 3rd period.
The feet move the legs and the legs move the body. We know that the knees are wonky--Franzen and Legwand, if you will--and that the hips upon which the body pivots are laboring in Datsyuk, Zetterberg and a Niklas Kronwall who must be playing on will right now given how heavily the team's relied on their number-who-the-hell-cares defenseman and alternate captain.
God knows this team has missed Jonathan Ericsson more than I ever thought was humanly possible of the steady, strong defenseman so many Wings fans once called "shitbox."
The Bruins have been smart, though. Their four-line, six-defenseman strong team has gone after the feet, gone after the feet and gone after the feet.
Sometimes literally, especially given the shocking way that the linesmen allowed Brad Marchandto repeatedly cross-check and chase after Zetterberg, and allowed Shawn Thornton to skate into scrums and invite Smith or Abdelkader to fight, only to turn them down at the last second, as if he'd paid the kind of admission that Zdeno Chara did to humiliate Smith in Game 2.
But figuratively, the way that the Bruins have bore down upon Sheahan and Glendening in the faceoff circle so as to make their presence a near-guaranteed loss, to check Tatar and Nyquist so hard that Tatar's 8-shot status may have belied the fact that he and Kindl seem to be taking shots from some sort of minimum safe radius away from Tuuka Rask's net these days.
The fact that "the kids" have been checked so hard as to negate them has taken away the Wings' ability to jump through the neutral zone with speed, as Daniel Alfredsson told us all would be so essential against Boston, and with Kindl and Lashoff playing so poorly and DeKeyser exhibiting surprisingly regular hiccups, the foundation of the Wings' transistion game's become a defensive liablity, forechecked into near-nonexistance.
Without the kids moving the legs, the strong calves and thighs--Smith, Helm, Glendening, Miller and Abdelkader--can't get the work of forechecking and mucking and grinding done, not over the long haul, anyway, because the feet are wonky and the knees are shot.
The worst part of all of Thursday night's devastating collapse, however, was watching the Wings ride the crowd's energy and Zetterberg's return to a 2-0 lead...Only to, as the Hockey News's Ken Campbell suggests, "run out of gas" and then wilt under the pressure of a team that possesses more playoff savvy than what turns out to be a team whose spring is green, green and full of learning.
The NHL does not hold an Everyone Gets a Trophy Banquet at the end of the season, so it’s unlikely the Red Wings will be rewarded for everything they’ve endured in 2013-14, a season that looks as though it will come to an end in Game 5 of their first-round series Saturday afternoon at the TD Garden in Boston. (Then again, this team is like Jason in the Friday the 13th movies. Just when you think they’re finally dead, they stagger up with that hockey mask on to wreak more havoc on their opponents.)
Actually, Game 4 of the series, won 3-2 by Boston in overtime, was a microcosm of the series. Detroit started well then flagged and was worn down and ultimately outclassed by a bigger, better, younger and much healthier team. For this, the Red Wings have no reason to hang their heads in shame. There’s considerable reason to doubt whether the Red Wings at their best and healthiest would have been able to handle this Bruins team in a best-of-seven series. But as they’re currently constituted, they shouldn’t, and don’t, stand a chance.
The Bruins' media told us after the Wings won Game 1, and I'm sure that they'll start talking about the Canadiens in earnest today, but in this case, I guess I'm a "stagger up with that hockey mask" character supporter.
For once, I'm a believer in Zombie Wings, though I know my belief may be highly unlikely to produce playoff-winning fruit.
What does Campbell think the problem is for a team that's battled through so many injuries, so much learning and through so many self-inflicted wounds?
But unlike the regular season when their stars simply could not answer the call, the play of the stars has not been the problem for the Red Wings. One reason why they’ve failed to produce is the young players who carried them to the playoffs – Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar – have been unable to replicate their accomplishments in the post-season. And that’s hardly a surprise. There is a long list of young players who were completely unprepared for the rise in the level of competition that comes with the playoffs. Dougie Hamilton, who banked a shot off Jarome Iginla on the game-winning goal, experienced that very thing last season during Boston’s run to the Stanley Cup final and he’s obviously now a better player at both ends of the ice for having experienced it. Hamilton has emerged as an impact player at both ends of the ice.
In theory, next year at this time, after the Wings' management has made some adjustments under a rising salary cap and some more youngsters have "stolen jobs" (I wouldn't be surprised if, should Saturday be the Wings' last game, that the management chooses to bring in a veteran defenseman on a one-year deal so as to not clog up the works with Ryan Sproul, Xavier Ouellet, Mattias Backman and Alexei Marchenko on the way, and if we are to believe RedWingsCentral, Anthony Mantha closer to NHL duty than any of us would believe), the Wings will look more like Hamiltons than Nyquists.
But on Thursday, the Red Wings' playoff nemeses, old and new, got the last laugh. Jarome Iginla's game-winning goal was a rare triple deflection--the puck went off of Luke Glendening's stick, Iginla, and then Danny Dekeyser's skate, all via a lost faceoff by Glendening, and as such, Iginla gushed about his teammates' play and his decisive goal to BostonBruins.com's Caryn Switaj:
Krejci battled with Niklas Kronwall along the boards. Iginla joined in, battling with Drew Miller, came up with the puck, and sent a touch pass to Lucic posted up in the left circle. Lucic pushed the puck into Krejci's sphere, and the centerman found Hamilton cross-ice at the right point.
The defenseman bought a second, and fired a low shot that bounced, connected with Iginla's stick, hit Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser's leg, and found the back of the net.
Hamilton jumped into Lucic's arms, after the forward untangled himself from the battle with DeKeyser in front. Iginla's arms flew up. The rest of the Bruins all jumped off the bench and into a huddle.
The Black & Gold were flying back to Boston with a 3-1 series lead. Happy travels.
"I thought we had a little bit of zone time there, some plays, some rotations, some corner battles," said Iginla. "I think Krech made a nice pass over to Dougie, and I was just going to the net. Pretty fortunate goal, fortunate bounce. An ugly one, but that seems to be how a lot of those are in OT."
Iginla continued while speaking to CSNNE's Joe Haggerty (you may enjoy Haggerty's "thoughts" and narrative recap on your own), praising his teammates' savvy in rallying from a 2-0 deficit slowly but surely...
Iginla and linemates David Krejci and Milan Lucic were definitely held in check by the newly formed Pavel Datsyuk/Henrik Zetterberg Line in the first couple of periods, but simply got stronger as things moved along. When the game was over Iginla had three shots on net, seven generated shot attempts, five registered hits and a weary, satisfied smile on his face after valiant playoff victory.
“Guys have been through it before in here, and there was some great leadership with guys stepping up, and saying to remain calm just working for that first goal before they get No. 3. We were able to do that and fight our way back into it,” said Iginla. “It always feels awesome to be on the winning side of an OT game. It was a pretty fortunate goal and a fortunate bounce, but that seems to be how a lot of those are in OT. But it felt great as a team because this was a tough game. From the third period on we started getting better, and got more consistent chances. It was nice to get that last bounce.”
And Iginla told the Boston Herald's Matt Kalman that it's the Bruins who've learned their lesson from last year's falling into a lull after leading Toronto 3-0 in the first round, only to require a full seven games to advance:
Now that he and his linemates got a goal together (Lucic had one set up by Iginla with Gregory Campbell at center in Game 2), the Bruins’ top line might be ready to roll over Detroit and close out this series.
“I think so, and I hope so. It felt good. It was a tough start. . . . But, you know, as a line it felt good to be able to kind of keep working through it,” Iginla said. “And then I thought as a third (period), I thought Looch really started taking over. Him and Krech, they were flying, making some plays. I was trying, you know, go to the net and try to feed off of them. Yeah, it’s something to build on.”
Just as shittily, Marchand, who may be a wonderfully talented player, but is a horrible excuse for a person, felt vindicated after missing an open net earlier in the period, as he told CSNNE's Haggerty (and ESPN's Joe McDonald, who penned a recap as well)...
“I think I gave [Iginla] a huge kiss there,” said a smirking Marchand. “It was great to have him score that goal. I’ll definitely be able to sleep good tonight, and I’m very happy that we won.”
The first botched open net arrived in the first period on a sweet backdoor feed from Kevan Miller, and was attributable to Marchand trying to flick the puck into the vacant net space. Instead the B’s right winger flicked it right on through the crease without getting it into the net, and left Boston down by a 2-0 score after the opening 20 minutes of action.
It happened again for Marchand in the third period after Milan Lucic had tied things up, and this time it was Torey Krug that fed the B’s right wing a perfect dish by the far post. Marchand tried to really hammer the puck into the open net, and once again flipped the puck through the crease without catching any part of the net.
That left Marchand shaking his head in disbelief, and concerned he couldn’t pounce on easy scoring chances for his team.
“I was definitely frustrated, especially after the second one more than the first one. But you can’t do anything about it, so you don’t want to dwell on it too much,” said Marchand. ‘You want to stick with it, stay positive and worry about getting that next one. That’s all I can really do now is try to bear down, and then next time I get a wide open net, ‘Hit it!’
“I definitely wanted to bury it hard on the second one. The first one I just tried to flick it and missed, so I really wanted to bury that second one. But maybe my shot is a little too hard, and I need to take a little bit off.”
If you believe Marchand at his word--and I don't--he's supposedly going to stop looking for Wings to beat on until they actually fight back, as he told the Boston Herald's Steve Conroy...
“I think I’m at my best when I’m just playing hard and gritty,” said Marchand. “I think I’m going to try to stay out of scrums the rest of the series and just think about playing. I think I might be focusing a little too much on other stuff and that’s why I’m missing opportunities. I’d rather help my team out on the scoresheet than other ways.”
And WEEI's DJ Bean:
Asked about Abdelkader’s extracurricular work following the Bruins’ Game 4 overtime win, Marchand didn’t seem overly impressed.
“He’s really the only guy they have on their team that’s like that that plays a physical game,” Marchand said of Abdelkader. “I think he’s trying to play that role a bit and help the team a bit, but by no means am I ever trying to be like him.”
What. A. Cock.
"We were in this position last year, same thing, winning in overtime in Game 4 in Toronto,” Milan Lucic said Thursday after the B’s 3-2 overtime win over the Red Wings. “We all know what happened after that, so we’re not taking anything for granted here. We all know how hard it is to close out a series and we all know how desperate they’re going to be headed into Saturday.”
“We can talk about it all we want, but it’s going to show in our play,” Lucic said. “We’ve learned a lot of hard lessons in the past, like Toronto, and fortunately we were able to get out of that and move on, and last year we had Chicago down, 2-1, and we probably didn’t play our best Game 4 and lost that in overtime and weren’t able to recover after that. You don’t want to do anything to give the other team life in a series.”
For the rest of the Bruins, the comeback was, "Elementary, Dear Watson" material, or nearly so, as the Boston Globe's Amalie Benjamin noted...
“I thought after the first period we kind of settled down and started playing our game again,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “In the first period they came out with a lot of emotion and energy, and we kind of got running around a little bit.”
And I'm surprised that no Wings fan's latched on to the way in which Tuuka Rask is as dismissive of his opponents as he is of their perimeter shots, again, per Benjamin...
With roughly 1:30 gone in the extra session, the fate of the game and complexion of the series rested on the stick of Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader, who found himself on a breakaway. Abdelkader deked to his backhand and tried to slip the puck underneath Rask’s legs, but Rask didn’t allow that to happen, directing the puck harmlessly to the side as his teammates came to help out.
“After that, we kind of took over,” Rask said.
NHL.com's Matt Kalman...
"They were a lot more physical and really crashed the net a lot," Rask said. "They had a lot of screens and shots I didn't even see. So it was the best of them, I think."
"Not really," Rask said after he was asked if he was getting nervous. "It's just a mental challenge. We have good looks but then we don't score and you know they're going to get their shots at some point. So I just tried to stay calm and focus on my job and give us a chance to get that goal."
Bruins forward Jarome Iginla finally gave Rask some relief when he scored on a triple deflection at 13:32 of overtime. All of Rask and the Bruins' resilience paid off, negating the Red Wings' best performance of the series.
"I let in two goals. They got that one screen goal. It was one of their guys and two of our guys screening," Rask said. "But you just have to battle. I thought we did a pretty good job at the end."
And the Boston Herald's Stephen Conroy (if you want to read more praise for Rask, CBS Boston's Michael Hurley and Boston.com's Bill Speros provide for your needs; the Boston Herald's Stephen Harris also profiled Kevan Miller; NESN's Mike Cole penned a recap, too):
“We weathered the storm in the first period,” Rask said. “They had a step on us early in the game, but I think we got better as the game went on and got rewarded.”...
“We just wanted to get back to our game,” said Hamilton. “In the first period, we let them take it to us a little bit and they had kind of the start that you’d expect them to have. Tuukka had to make some huge saves and then I guess we just relaxed and played our game.”
Hamilton felt a little prescient...
“We talked about it in intermission — just get pucks on net,” said Hamilton. “We’ve seen overtime goals with bad bounces and stuff like, and that’s what happened.”
And Bruins coach Claude Julien basically told Bruins Daily's Tim Rosenthal that all Boston needed to do is play "its game" to win....
“In the first period, they came out with a lot of emotion and energy and we kind of got caught running around a little bit,” said head coach Claude Julien, who coached his 100th career playoff game Thursday night. “Our guys kept battling through it. I thought the second period got a little bit better there after they took a 2-0 lead. I thought we settled down a little bit, started to play our game and started putting the puck in areas where we excel.”
As the Detroit News's Terry Foster also noted:
“You know we’ve got some big guys that can hang onto the puck,” he said. “We weren’t managing the puck well and they kept on going back and forth and that certainly goes in their favor. We like to play more of a territorial game, get in the offensive zone and manager the puck and spend a little bit more time there.”
The Bruins did not play their game but certainly their main down fall was down opportunities. Marchand said he wants to change that and plans on changing his game a bit. He wants to focus more on hockey and not get into as many scrums.
“That may have led to some distractions and caused me to miss some opportunities,” he said.
Julien always believed in his team but admitted “ at that point you wonder if you are snake bitten. Our guys battled through it. I thought we settled down, got into our game and started to excel,”
[sarcasm] Aww, I'm touched. Really, sympathetic tears [/sarcasm]
Iginla insisted that the Bruins will be ready on Saturday while speaking with the National Post's Michael Traikos...
“We’ll load up and we’ll be ready,” said Iginla, who wore the old-school hockey jacket given to the Bruins’ player of the game. “We want to close it out. We’re not taking anything for granted. It’s always that last game, historically, that’s the toughest.”
The Toronto Sun's Rob Longley, who wrote the Wings off a week ago, found that Dougie Hamilton's a post-game-trash-talker...
“I don’t know if they were out of energy or got a little discouraged that they couldn’t score on Tuukka,” said Boston defenceman Dougie Hamilton, whose point shot earned him an assist on the game winner. For us, we just stayed focussed. We’ve got some good leaders on our team and just kept talking and remain positive. It was just a matter of sticking with it and doing the things we do best.”
And David Krejci went for the direct approach while speaking with USA Today's Kevin Allen...
"I thought we were the better team in overtime," Krejci said.
Before telling WEEI's DJ Bean that he's just doing his thing, having fun shutting down the Wings' stars...
“If we win and I have no points, it happens just like it happened today,” Krejci said. “It doesn't matter. I'm just glad we won tonight. In a playoff, you need different guys to step up at different times. I thought our line played pretty well today, especially in the second half of the game and overtime. It's nice to see that we can do it as well against guys like Dastyuk and Zetterberg. It was good to see and now we have a chance to finish it off at home.”
Tim Wharnsby is literally following this series as a lead-up to his coverage of the Montreal Canadiens' playoff run for the CBC, and he issued the following take:
No doubt the Canadiens were watching this one, and if there was a lesson to be learned, it was the Bruins are patient and stick to their disciplined ways. They have four solid lines, three pairs of defencemen who can contribute offensively, and one of the best netminders in the business in Tuukka Rask. Boston also enjoyed another solid evening in the face-off circle by winning 32 of 59 draws.
Rask, meanwhile, now has an impressive save percentage of .966 after four playoff outings this spring. He held his teammates in the game for the opening 20 minutes because Detroit was the dominant team in the early going.
The Red Wings received an emotional lift from the return of captain Henrik Zetterberg, who due to back surgery had not played since helping Sweden to a 4-2 victory over the Czech Republic on the opening night of the men's Olympic hockey tournament in Sochi.
New fathers Kronwall, whose wife gave birth to the couple's first child, Douglas, and Datsyuk, whose wife gave birth to their second child, a daughter Vasilisa, set each other up for a goal apiece to give Detroit a 2-0 lead before the game was 25 minutes old.
Then, the Bruins began their comeback.
Ending it with a shrug of the shoulders? That depends on how you interpret their comments to the Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno...
The Bruins erased a two-goal deficit in Game 4 to win 3-2 in overtime Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena and set up a chance to eliminate the Red Wings on Saturday. When they were behind and struggling, Rask didn't expect a switch to flip.
"It definitely didn't look like it at times," Rask said. "It was a bit ugly at times, but then we got our stuff together and got going. It's just one of those things that we have a lot of character in this room that once we get going, we can come (back) from a deficit. But it just has to happen."
Or the ones they made to NHL.com's Dan Rosen:
"It was a bit ugly at times, but then we got our stuff together and got going," said Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who made 35 saves. "It's just one of those things that we have a lot of character in this room, that once we get going, we can come [back] from a deficit. But it just has to happen."
"They definitely took the game to us in the first, but I thought we came back in the second, we had some good chances in the third, big goal by [Lucic] and then I thought we had so many chances in overtime," Bruins center David Krejci said. "We were on the puck. We had so many chances and I thought we were a better team in overtime."
For the record, Milan Lucic wants Wings fans to know that he was inspired by their boos, too, per the Boston Herald's Stephen Harris:
“I’d be lying if I said no,” he said. “Any athlete would be lying if they said it doesn’t. It was good to get that (goal). It ended up being a really big goal. That’s the beauty of sports: the fans really get into it. That’s what makes it fun, especially in a playoff atmosphere. You can’t let it get the best of you. You want to get out there and create that satisfaction for yourself (by) coming up with a big play.”
We'll shift our perspectives from those of the Bruins to those of the Red Wings via the AP's Larry Lage, who found one player taking a defiant tone:
"It's not over yet," said Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser, who appeared to be the last person to touch the puck on the game-winning goal. "We've just got to keep playing hard."
As ESPN's Craig Custance suggested, with two new dads in their lineup and a captain making a miraculous comeback, the Wings seemed to just run out of "magic":
"Give them credit, they're a really, really good team," said Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall. "I thought in the first two periods we did a lot of good things, kept going after it, kept throwing pucks in there, got some goals. In the third, for whatever reason we came off our game a bit, started chasing a bit. Give them credit, they're a good team."
For the Red Wings, there were so many storylines that set this one up to potentially be one to remember. Zetterberg was back in the lineup for the first time since aggravating his back at the Winter Olympics.
His presence in the lineup energized a Joe Louis Arena crowd and his team clearly fed off the return of their captain. They came out flying in the first, with 15 shots to Boston's five. Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk made passes that indicated their years of developing chemistry together had quickly returned.
In all, Zetterberg played 19:34 in this game, with each second a bit of a diminishing return for someone still working back into game shape.
To expect that initial jump to last was expecting too much.
"We knew that would probably be the case," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I thought that line had a good jump early. I thought our power play was really dangerous. As the game went on, I didn't think they were dangerous anymore. To me, I didn't know if we had a lot of good players, especially our young players."
No, they weren't very good.
They played in front of a stunning starter in Jonas Gustavsson, as the Free Press's George Sipple noted...
Coach Mike Babcock already had filled out the starting lineup sheet with Jimmy Howard in goal.
“It was last second, and he just couldn’t go,” Babcock said of Howard, who had the flu.
Gustavsson had no chance on the winning goal, credited to forward Jarome Iginla. Dougie Hamilton’s shot went off the stick of Wings forward Luke Glendening, through traffic, then in off the left leg of Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser.
“I think it was going on the left side, so I pushed a little bit, leaned to the left side,” Gustavsson said. “Then it touched something and changed directions to my right side and hit a leg or something. I couldn’t really see and it went in. That’s a playoff goal. You put pucks to the net and try to get rebounds, deflections and screen goalies, and hopefully we can get that goal next game.”
And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan found that Gustavsson was in fact "ready to go" (Kulfan, unlike USA Today's Kevin Allen, named 2 of his 3 stars as Wings stars. USA Today's Allen picked the stars for the building, and they were announced as Bergeron, Datsyuk and Rask):
"You always try to be ready and you have to prepare like you’re playing,” said Gustavsson, who stopped 37 shots and nearly helped the Red Wings to victory....
“Especially in the playoffs, that’s (preparing to play) not hard to do,” Gustavsson said. “I was preparing like any other playoff game even before I got (the word).”
Kronwall raved about his goaltender...
“Monster (Gustavsson’s nickname) was awesome,” Red WIngs defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “He came up huge for us. He gave us a chance to win. It’s one of those games obviously you feel bad when you lose for him.”
And Babcock praised his goaltender in speaking to Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji, but the coach also made a hard stop afterward:
"The goalie gave us a chance to hang around in the third and overtime when the game was tilted," Babcock said. "We weren’t able to do anything with it."
One major problem the Wings had was face-offs. The Bruins won 54 percent of those, many of them key ones in the Wings' zone.
"The faceoff circle killed us," Babcock said. "They ate us alive there. Our kids, (Riley) Sheahan and Glennie (Luke Glendening), they get eaten up in that area a little bit. They end up with the puck a lot and we end up playing D zone coverage the most."
While Gustavsson was happy with his effort...
"I feel like there’s always a little nerves when you go out there, especially big games but I like that feeling," Gustavsson said. "That’s a feeling that you’re prepared, you’re ready. If you don’t feel that you’re not in the zone and you try to make something positive out of a feeling like that. So I got excited going out there, hear the fans in this building. It was a lot of fun and a big experience for me."
And Kronwall defiant...
"We're going into Boston to win one game," Kronwall said. "That's gotta be our mindset. Clean up the areas that we have to clean up and just go for it. We've got nothing to lose."
Babcock's comments were somber in tone, as the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness noted:
“I thought [Boston] got better as the game went on,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we had a real good push at the start, but they stuck with it and as the game went on we had more holes in us defensively. We hang around, hang around and then in the third and overtime when the game was tilted.”...
Babcock said he knew Zetterberg’s return would give the team a boost.
“We knew that would probably be the case,” Babcock said. “That line had good jump early. I thought out power play was really dangerous early. I don’t think as the game went on we were as dangerous anymore. To me I didn’t know if we had a lot of good players, especially out of our young guys, when I go through and look at them, I’m not like he had a great game, he had a great game at all. They were dressed.”
The Wings were delighted with Zetterberg's return and the substance thereof, as Fox Sports Detroit's Wakiji noted...
Zetterberg played 29 shifts for 19:34. He had one shot, two missed shots, two hits, one giveaway, one face-off loss (when Pavel Datsyuk was tossed out of the circle) and finished plus-1.
"He's been out for two months and I still thought he was one of our best players," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "It says a lot about him as a player and as a person."
"He's our captain, our leader and obviously a really good player so it was exciting," Jonas Gustavsson said. "I pretty much stepped on the ice the same time, I was just behind him so it was kind of fun to go out and hear the crowd like that and he deserves it. The crowd was unreal (Thursday night) and I'm happy to have him back."
Zetterberg made his presence felt early when he sent a long pass from the Wings' zone to Datsyuk at the Bruins' blue line. Datsyuk just missed the net.
"I thought he was awesome," Kronwall said. "He gives us an element that of course we don't have without him. He's our captain, he's our leader for a reason. I thought he was great out there."
But Zetterberg himself admitted that he experienced some tough sledding, as he told the Detroit News's John Niyo...
“I felt good in the first, and halfway through the second,” said Zetterberg, who’d missed the last 27 games after undergoing back surgery in February. “And then I started to have really short shifts.”
And the Wings started to have problems, as the Bruins regained their composure. They were dominant in the faceoff circle all night, and they controlled the rest of the rink in the third period and overtime.
“But that’s the way it is,” Zetterberg continued, speaking about his own stamina, though he might as well have been talking about his team’s as well. “I had this first game, and hopefully it’ll just get better and better."
And after the game, Zetterberg's assessment of the state of his team was blunt:
“It’s steep,” Zetterberg said, when asked to survey the mountain his team now faces. “But we know it’s tough to close out a series. We’ve been in that spot before. You’ve just got to go and win a game and bring it back here.”
While Kronwall talked about the game, he took a moment to speak about what was much more important to DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...
“Obviously it was a big day for me, for me and my girl,” Kronwall said. “It's something I'll never forget, for sure. Rushed out of here (Thursday morning), got there just in time to be there. Just holding your son for the first time, it's a pretty special feeling.”
Kronwall’s goal at 11:00 was his first in the playoffs since his second-period goal helped Detroit to a 4-3 victory in Game 5 of the 2011 Western Conference semifinals at San Jose.
Datsyuk, who welcomed new daughter Vasilisa into the world Thursday, scored his second goal of the playoffs on a pretty play by Kronwall that gave the Red Wings their first two-goal lead of the series at 4:27 of the second period.
But Douglas Kronwall's dad and Vasillia Datsyuk's all-but-blood-related uncle got right back to work talking about their team's tasks at hand while speaking with MLive's Ansar Khan (who also penned a quote-free recap and took note of Zetterberg's return)...
“Obviously, it was tough to lose the game,” Zetterberg said. “I think it was a step forward though from the last two games. It’s a good team that we’re playing. We knew it was going to be tight. Not surprising that the game went to overtime and it’s a one-shot game there in the end. Unfortunately, they got it.”
"I think the first two periods we did a lot of good things, kept going after them, kept throwing pucks in there, got some O-zone time,” Kronwall said. “In the third for whatever reason we came off our game a little bit. We started chasing a little bit. Give them credit, they’re a good team. We have to do a better job of just staying structured in those areas in those times of the game.”
With Michigan Hockey's Stefan Kubus (who also penned a game breakdown) reminding us that a Michigander helped Joe Louis Arena's fans go home unhappy (and I don't give a *#$%@& if someone on another team is from Michigan--they're on the wrong team, and when you fight against a brother, he is no longer your brother):
Boston responded on Krug’s marker near the halfway point of the second stanza. Similar to the Kronwall tally, Patrice Bergeron won the draw back to Krug at the right point, and the Livonia native ripped a slap shot home to cut the Red Wings lead in half.
“It’s pretty cool,” Krug said of scoring his first goal in Detroit. “I don’t think I ever scored in my college days here. My first goal at The Joe in the playoffs? No better time to get our team going.”
Krug said the back-to-back wins at Joe Louis Arena were huge for his team, and that they hope there won’t be any more trips to Detroit in their near future.
“It’s huge for us. We don’t want to come back here. We want to give ourselves a chance to win at home, and we play well at home, and it’s a fun environment in our building when we have a chance to close things out."
If I must play up that utterly annoying angle and "storyline" (Jason Bacashihua is from Garden City, where I grew up. Many of the Wings' foes were born in Detroit, my birthplace. There are all sorts of assholes on other teams who are from the Mitten State), one of Krug's college-day foes would admit that the Bruins did one thing right while speaking with the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
“Good things happen when you throw the puck onto the net and unfortunately we were on the other side of that (Thursday),” DeKeyser said. “They made a good play and got the puck on net, it hit a couple of guys, and it went in. That’s playoff hockey.”
Where do the Wings go from here in terms of "playoff hockey?" Is it one more game, and then witnessing the healthy players head to Belarus to take part in the World Championships in May? How can the Wings bring this back to the Joe for A GAME on Monday instead of cleaning out their lockers on Monday?
Good question. Zetterberg may or may not improve, but having him back is huge, as NHL.com's Dan Rosen noted...
"He's been out for two months and I still thought he was one of our best players," Kronwall said. "That says a lot about him as a player and as a person."
Zetterberg was harder on himself.
"I played a lot better before," he said.
In Swedish, Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom spoke with Carl Soderberg, not Captain Hank, and while Aftonbladet's Per Bjurman was the first to report that Douglas Kronwall came into the world at 11:31 AM on Friday, Aftonbladet penned a quote-other-sources recap (kinda like this thing here), so there are no foreign-language hints from the Wings' Swedes.
Instead, the Free Press's Helene St. James offers this from Kronwall and Babcock...
“Given them credit, they’re a really, really good team,” Kronwall said. “But at the same time, we didn’t take care of business. We’ve got to keep it a little more simple in some areas. We’ve got to make sure the puck goes out every time, puck goes in, every time. That way it’s a lot easier.”
Gustavsson wasn’t inserted as the starter until after warm-ups, when Jimmy Howard was deemed unable to serve as more than backup after coming down with flu. Babcock left the door open to Gustavsson getting another start in Game 5, saying “we’ll decide on that.”
The Oakland Press's Pat Caputo's predicting that we'll all witness the final game of the 2013-2014 season on Saturday...
The Red Wings were here before. They were heavy underdogs in the opening round last season vs. Anaheim. They won Game 4 in overtime, and went onto win the series in seven games.
Not this time. Boston is much better than Anaheim last year. They might be the best team in the NHL.
Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena was more proof why.
The Detroit News's Bob Wojnowski agrees...
The Wings were desperate for help, from the old to the young. They were trying to patch things together against the NHL’s top team, but then familiar leaks sprung. Torey Krug scored on a power-play slapper to make it 2-1, and the push was on.
Naturally, it twisted back around to the original villain, and when Lucic scored to make it 2-2, it was tilting dangerously. Once it starts tilting, the Wings have struggled to recover, and it’ll take more than warm notable returns to recover from this.
As does the Free Press's Jeff Seidel...
At one point in overtime, it looked as if Gustavsson were stuck in a blender. The puck was out in front of him, and the Bruins kept stabbing and whacking at that puck. But he held strong.
(so did Kyle Quincey at one point, and if he'd provided some offense as well as played as well as he has defensively over the past two months, I'd suggest that the Wings should bring him back instead of either pulling a sign-and-trade or making room for the Almquists, Marchenkos, Sprouls and Ouellets, one of whom--the last name--should replace Kindl or Lashoff on Saturday)
He was strong until 6:28 was left in overtime, and the puck came tumbling through the air and bounced off Danny DeKeyser’s leg and went into the net. The game was over. And so, it seems, is the season.
The Wings have been proving people wrong for months now, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario where they can come back from this.
What about the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa, who actually watches the Red Wings play on a regular basis, and tends to accentuate the positive?
Remember when Jarome Iginla played for the Flames and could not score for about a decade in Joe Louis Arena?
Well, all Iginla needed to do was stand there Thursday, and the winning goal — a huge one for the Bruins — bounced first off Luke Glendening’s stick, hit Iginla’s stick on the way toward the net, then hit Danny DeKeyser’s leg and went behind Gustavsson.
“The Monster” had less of a chance than the home guard in eastern Ukraine.
It was the third and mortally final unanswered goal of the game for the President’s Cup winners.
I'm writing this in "the middle of the night," and the Bruins' press corps is filed a lot of articles after their print deadlines due to the 8 PM start, so there's going to be a cavalcade of rubbing-it-in in the early-morning hours, with more arrogance and the like from the smarmiest media corps this side of Chicago. But I'm encouraging you to take a measured response for one reason:
The Wings have been beaten and battered, from the feet on up, to the point that the Big Red Machine's moving parts no longer seem to work. But the Beasts of the East have left the feet intact, and you never know when they'll start kicking.
As they say in Boston, even if it is with a dash of Michigan fatalism, "Why Not Us, Indeed?"
Highlights: Even the Wings' website has the NBCSN dodos narrating the affair:
CSNNE posted post-game coments from Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla, Brad Marchand, Claude Julien, a narrated highlight clip and "game story," a clip of Babcock's presser and of course some loveliness from Joe Haggerty, and the Boston Globe's Kevin Dupont and Boson.com's Zuri Berry weighed in;
Bruins Daily posted a 3:31 post-game report;
And the Wings posted the best-quality videos of comments from Kronwall...
And coach Mike Babcock's post-game presser:
Photos: The Detroit News posted a 42-image gallery;
MLive posted a 30-image gallery;
The Detroit Free Press posted a 42-image gallery;
Boston.com posted a 54-image gallery;
The Boston Globe posted a 16-image gallery;
The Boston Herald posted a 10-image gallery;
For whatever reason, the Ottawa Sun posted a 20-image gallery;
ESPN posted a 78-image gallery;
Shots 40-37 Boston overall. Detroit out-shot Boston 15-5 in the 1st period, they were out-shot 12-7 in the 2nd, the Wings out-shot Boston 12-11 in the 3rd and the Wings were out-shot 12-3 in OT.
Special teams: Detroit went 1-for-4 in 4:17 of PP time; Boston went 1-for-2 in 2:11.
Goaltending: Jonas Gustavsson stopped 37 of 40 for Detroit; Tuuka Rask stopped 35 of 37 for Boston.
The 3 stars were picked by USA Today's Kevin Allen, and he picked Patrice Bergeron, Pavel Datsyuk and Jarome Iginla.
The Red Wings' goals: Kronwall (1) from Datsyuk (1), PPG;
Datsyuk (2) from Kronwall (1) and Abdelkader (1).
Faceoffs 32-27 Boston (Detroit won 46%);
Blocked shots 26-13 Detroit;
Missed shots 13-11 Detroit;
Total attempts 77-63 Boston: the Bruins had 40 shots on net and 37 wide/blocked; the Wings had 37 shots on net and 26 wide/blocked.
Hits 54-40 Detroit;
Giveaways 8-1 Detroit;
Takeaways 3-0 Detroit.
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 11-and-7 (61%); Sheahan went 7-and-9 (44%); Helm went 8-and-5 (62%); Glendening went 1-and-8 (11%); Legwand went 0-and-2; Zetterberg went 0-and-1.
Shots: Tatar led the team with 8 shots; Datsyuk had 5; Smith, Kindl, Abdelkader, Quincey, Helm and Kronwall had 3; Franzen had 2; Nyquist, Legwand, Zetterberg and Glendening had 1.
Blocked attempts: Franzen hit Bruins players 3 times; Quincey and Kronwall had 2 attempts blocked; Smith, Kindl, Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Lashoff and DeKeyser had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Glendening missed the net 3 times; Zetterberg, Helm, Kronwall and Franzen missed the net 2 times; Smith and Nyquist missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Abdelkader led the Wings with 8 hits; Miller, Helm and Bertuzzi had 6; Smith had 4; Datsyuk, Quincey and Glendening had 3; Kindl, Tatar, Zetterberg, DeKeyser and Franzen had 2; Nyquist and Kronwall had 1.
Giveaways: 1 apiece for Smith, Kindl, Datsyuk, Miller, Tatar, Quincey, Zetterberg and DeKeyser.
Takeaways: Miller had 2 takeaways; Datsyuk had 1 takeaway.
Blocked opponent shots: DeKeyser blocked 9 shots; Kronwall blocked 7 shots; Smith, Kindl, Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Nyquist, Lashoff and Quincey blocked 1 shot.
Penalties taken: Smith, Abdelkader and Bertuzzi took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at -5. Smith, Abdelkader, Datsyuk and Zetterberg finished at +1; Kindl, Nyquist, Legwand, Miller, Lashoff, Glendening, Helm, DeKeyser and Franzen finished at -1.
Points: Kronwall and Datsyuk had 1 goal and 1 assist apiece for 2 points; Abdelkader had an assist.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 29:33 played; DeKeyser played 26:56; Quincey played 26:03;
Smith played 25:03; Datsyuk played 22:27; Kindl played 21:13;
Franzen played 20:45; Helm played 20:19; Zetterberg played 19:34;
Miller played 19:27; Abdelkader played 18:32; Glendening played 18:02;
Nyquist played 17:14; Legwand played 16:35; Sheahan played 16:27;
Lashoff played 16:01; Tatar played 14:41; Bertuzzi played 12:50.
Red Wings notes and also of Red Wings-related note, super short version:
1. Todd Bertuzzi told the Free Press's Helene St. James that he's doing his best to remain a pro while supporting his team, and he gave a wonderful interview to Fox Sports Detroit in the first period, as captured by We All Bleed Red. If this is the end of his tenure with the Wings, he's going out as a gentleman;
2. Again, baby names. Niklas and Katnika Kronwall have a son named Douglas,born on at 11:31 AM on Friday, per the Boston Globe's Nancy Marrapese-Burrell; Pavel and Maria Datsyuk have a daughter named Vasilisa, born on Wednesday, according to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness;
4. The Wings will practice at 12 PM today and then fly to Boston immediately thereafter, so the blowhards, experts, sports talk radio types and occasionally insightful types will spend more of today weighing in than they will addressing player or coach comments.
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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.