The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/27/14 at 08:42 PM ET
The Red Wings did their damnedest to lose to the Montreal Canadiens, and while the game-winning goal in the Wings' 5-4 loss was both offsides by a foot and deflected...
Jimmy Howard and Niklas Kronwall (-3) will receive most of the blame for a game in which very few of their teammates not named Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan or Tomas Jurco showed up (though Daniel Alfredsson, sporting the stitched-together-glove-fingers of a broken digit on his right hand, attempted to aid the cause), where the defense was spotty at best, the Wings' power play was a mess, even when Babcock attempted to shuffle the lines to kick-start the offense, the players couldn't or wouldn't buy in...
And the Red Wings' self-defeating tendencies have yielded two losses in two must-must-win games, 3 straight losses overall and an absolutely desperate need to win both Saturday's game in Toronto and Sunday's game against Tampa, lest this team's playoff hopes turn into an, "IF we get help..." equation.
With David Legwand playing mediocre hockey as Calle Jarnkrok scored his first goal and 4th point in 4 games for Nashville, I suppose playing blame-the-GM is an easy option, too, but the players on the ice are the players on the ice, and the Helms, Millers, Anderssons, Quinceys, Bertuzzis, Smiths, Lashoffs, Kindls, Franzens and even DeKeysers and Glendenings deserve their share of the blame when this team has so terribly underperformed offensively and has become so very porous defensively.
Has Howard let in a few squeakers? Yep. Would the Wings have won a few more games had those squeakers gone in, or had Gustavsson been in the net? Not with the way the team in front of the Wings' goaltenders have played of late.
You can't let the team you're defending open a highway to the net via odd-man rushes thanks to forwards cheating, defensemen making lazy passes, multiple players chasing puck carriers down low in what is supposed to be a man-on-man defensive system and the team's defenders and forwards doing such a fantastically thorough job of blocking their goaltender's sightlines and tipping pucks past them.
You can't keep losing faceoffs as dreadfully regularly as the Wings have, you can't commit as many turnovers as the Wings have and you cannot attempt to skate the puck into the offensive zone via lateral passes on the power play and at even strength--and when you skate into the offensive zone, you can't be so consistently late in attempts to retain possession and control by winning board battles and one-on-one tangles with the hopes of retrieving pucks.
Most importantly, you can only dig so many 2-0 holes before even appearing on the ice if you expect to win games.
The Red Wings know about all the mistakes they're making--they've been talking about stemming the tide thereof all season long--but the gulf between the team's ability to verbalize its problems and to actualize change...
It's been stark, and now the team really is in severe danger of undermining its playoff push with every loss over its last 9 games, and it is going to either live or die based upon how many times it can win those 9 games.
The positives came in the form of Riley Sheahan's goal...
And Tomas Tatar's 1st and 2nd goals...
But this goal was offsides...
Franzen's goal as but abeacon of hope...
And THIS TEAM, with its current personnel's flaws, is going to have to be the team that either earns itself a 23rd straight playoff appearance, or it's going to be THIS TEAM that earns itself a trip to the golf course instead and earns the player personnel, coaching and management--who will largely remain in place as the Sheahans, Jurcos, Tatars, Nyquists and Glendenings represent the majority of this summer's non-free-agent-jettisoning changes--due criticism, and deserved questions as to what this team's players, coaches and management must do this summer to fundamentally improve its ability to win games next season and beyond.
Given Brendan Smith's status as someone who's been such a frequent contributor to the team's gaffes over the past three games and beyond, and given the fact that it is evidently clear that Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff aren't getting the job done on defense while Niklas Kronwall, Danny DeKeyser and Kyle Quincey of all people are at least trying...
The team's goaltending can improve--with Howard perhaps having one year to prove he can rebound from a Verlander Contract Extension-style setback and regain his form--there are avenues for improvement.
None of it matters right now, however, because the Wings need more out of the Smiths, Lashoffs, Kindls, David Legwands, Drew Millers, Darren Helms, Todd Bertuzzis, Johan Franzens, Danny DeKeysers, getting-no-help Jimmy Howards and broken-fingered Alfredssons to make the playoffs. The Kid Line and tonight's goat-horn-wearing Niklas Kronwall are doing all they can. Time's running out for the team to show up.
This team has worked so very, very hard to so very thoroughly *#$%@& itself over since the second period of Saturday's game against Minnesota that it's GOT to have SOME sort of ability to play 9 games halfway decently, right?
I hope so, I really do hope so.
Shots 30-29 Detroit overall. The teams were tied 9-9 in shots in the 1st, Detroit out-shot Montreal 12-9 in the 2nd and the Wings were out-shot 11-9 in the 3rd period.
Special teams: The Red Wings went 0-for-2 in 4:00 of PP time; the Canadiens went 0-for-3 in 5:31 of PP time.
Goaltending: Jimmy Howard stopped 24 of 29 shots for Detroit; Carey Price stopped 26 of 30 for Montreal.
The 3 stars were picked by Michigan Hockey's Stefan Kubus, and he picked Tomas Plekanec, Tomas Tatar and Thomas Vanek.
The Red Wings' goals: Sheahan (6) from Glendening (5) and Lashoff (4);
Tatar (17), unassisted;
Tatar (18) from Jurco (6) and Sheahan (15);
Franzen (16) from Nyquist (18) and Helm (6).
Faceoffs 38-28 Detroit (Detroit won 58%);
Blocked shots 10-10;
Missed shots 12-8 Detroit (attempts 52-47 Detroit, with the Wings firing 30 shots ON Carey Price and another 22 blocked/wide);
Hits 20-15 Detroit;
Faceoffs: Helm went 11-and-9 (53%); Legwand went 11-and-7 (61%); Sheahan went 7-and-4 (64%); Glendening went 5-and-6 (45%); Franzen went 3-and-2 (60%); both Nyquist and Andersson went 1-and-0.
Shots: Jurco led the Wings with 5 shots; Tatar had 4; Franzen had 3; Nyquist, Glendening, Helm, Bertuzzi and DeKeyser had 2 shots; Smith, Kindl, Alfredsson, Sheahan, Legwand, Andersson, Miller and Kronwall had 1 shot.
Blocked attempts: Quincey and Kronwall had 2 attempts blocked; Smith, Kindl, Sheahan, Lashoff, Jurco and DeKeyser had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Tatar missed the net 3 times; Smith, Sheahan, Legwand, Jurco, Quincey, Kronwall, DeKeyser and Franzen missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Tatar led the Wings with 4 hits; Bertuzzi had 3; Glendening, Kronwall and DeKeyser had 2; Smith, Kindl, Nyquist, Sheahan, Andersson, Jurco and Helm had 1 hit.
Giveaways: Alfredsson, Jurco, Bertuzzi and Franzen had 1 giveaway.
Takeaways: Kindl, Sheahan, Legwand, Glendening and Helm had takeaways.
Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall blocked 4 shots; Jurco blocked 3; Smith, Miller and Glendening blocked 1 shot.
Penalties taken: Smith, Legwand, Quincey and Glendening took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at -4. Alfredsson and Legwand were -3; Smith, Quincey, Kronwall and DeKeyser were -2; Nyquist, Andersson, Miller and Franzen were -1; Tatar was +2; Kindl, Sheahan, Lashoff and Jurco were +3.
Ice time: Kronwal led the team with 25:39 played; DeKeyser played 24:07; Quincey played 20:17;
Franzen played 19:35; Smith played 19:05; Nyquist played 16:52;
Sheahan plyayed 16:39; Jurco played 16;37; Tatar played 16:21;
Helm played 15:14; Glendening played 14:45; Kindl played 13:52;
Lashoff played 13:39; Alfredsson played 13:04; Legwand played 12:36;
Bertuzzi played 11:51; Miller played 11:34; Andersson played 10:39.
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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.