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Red Wings-Canadiens quick take: Wings dig in as they rediscover the way they need to play

There's been a significant amount of chatter--well, let's be honest, there's been a significant amount of passionate and sometimes downright viciously vindictive debate--about what the Red Wings need to do roster-wise when Andersson, Datsyuk, Franzen and Howard return to the lineup.

Wings fans haven't been talking very much about the team's effort not just since the Winter Classic, but especially during and after the team's clutch and more than slightly lucky win over a very physical and very nasty Los Angeles Kings team this past weekend.

While the Wings most definitely laid an egg and a half against the Blues, and they needed an eight-round shootout to dispatch the Blackhawks, following all of that up with a gigantic 4-1 win kicking off four games of an Atlantic Division rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens seemed to hammer home a point: regardless of the names on the backs of the jerseys, this Red Wings team is starting to play like itself again.

What do I mean by that? Speedy puck movement out of trouble and through the neutral zone by the Wings' puck-lugging defensemen, firing the puck to forwards skating through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone with speed.

Pursuing the puck when both in possession thereof and pursuing it when opponents attempt to break out of their own zone, either sustaining possession and control of the puck or generating turnovers and predatory opportunities.

Skating up and down the ice as a 5-man unit with strong winger support and little "gap" between the forwards and defense.

Forwards not "cheating" toward offense but instead maintaining proper position to help out their defensemen when the Wings are forechecked and surrender the puck to the opposition.

Forwards and defensemen rotating to support each other like the arms of a starfish as they cover man-on-man in the defensive zone.

Extremely strong efforts to clear their own goaltender's sightlines and to obstruct the sightlines of their opponents, with strong, simple and efficient netminding in the Wings' zone.

And, as evidenced during tonight's game, some necessary aggression, physicality and even nastiness when engaged upon by the opponent, displaying the kind of intensity that must supplement work ethic and attention to detail when one's playoff life is being fought for with little room for error.

This Red Wings team--regardless of who's playing for it and who's sitting (and it was good to see Alfredsson come back and rip shots on net and slick passes to his opponents; here's hoping Todd Bertuzzi's good and angry after being sat healthy)--is starting to assemble all of the elements necessary to play successful Wings hockey on a regular and sustained basis, and when you stir the veteran moxie, youthful enthusiasm and a crapton of execution in terms of scoring chances...

The Wings have won 3 of their past 4 games, they are both creeping up into the Wild Card mix and into the immediate vicinity of the Maple Leafs and Canadiens, and they're playing like a team that's finally found itself--espeially at home--and that's fantastic.

The Wings' first goal was a power-play marker that you'd expect from Henrik Zetterberg, but given the Wings' struggles on the power play, I don't think anybody figured that Zetterberg would be able to blast a screened shot through Daniel Cleary's screen via an Alfredsson assist at 12:27 because the Wings were spending too much time forcing set plays on the PP. Until tonight:

The Wings held the 1-goal lead for almost another entire period, until Riley Sheahan just absolutely rocketed an unassisted marker past Carey Price...

And after Brendan Gallagher responded very quickly for the Candiens, getting into Gustavsson's grill and essentially allowing Gustavsson and the Wings to bumble the rolling puck into their own net a minute and 8 seconds later...

The Wings parlayed a strong even-strength shift into a fantastic goal from Niklas Kronwall, who was the recipient of superb cycling by Gustav Nyquist, Zetterberg and a net-screening Justin Abdelkader, as well as a pass from his defensive partner, Jonathan Ericsson.

Kronwall's goal at 16:29 gave the Wings a 2-goal lead that they wouldn't surrender again...

And while the Wings gave up more shots than they took and some scary chances against a Canadiens team that was downright dirty and nasty all night long (see: Alexei Emelin being himself, Douglas Murrya getting away with delay of game on power plays, Travis Moen and Luke Glendening having quite the battle--and good on Glendening for embracing a pest's role), and scary in terms of the team's ability to sideline Henrik Zetterberg for the last of the 1st period and a scary intermission with a, "We don't know what happened but he came back" injury...

Gustavsson was strong--and scary, as usual--his defense was better, and Gustav Nyquist salted the game away with all of 1:19 left in the 3rd, with the Wings catching the Canadiens on a line change and converting on a 3-on-1:

What did the Wings do tonight? They bested Carey Price, they drove PK Subban to distraction and they took the physical and mental initiative and took control of the vast majority of the game after having to scratch and claw their way to their previous pair of home wins..

Now they're in a position where taking the Panthers out on Sunday (5 PM start) could both end the home stand on a high note and give a team with some "traction" some tungsten carbide spikes to line the Winged Wheel's tire tread as the team attempts to dig in and climb back into the, "More than scrambling for a playoff spot going into games 81 and 82" mix.

What do they do when the vets come back? We know the answer already, and none of us like it, but the answer is pretty simple: because trades are buck-for-buck at present and most everyone is capped out, Mikael Samuelsson may sit, but Daniel Cleary will continue to play, Todd Bertuzzi will get back into the lineup, Cory Emmerton will probably be waived (maybe Patrick Eaves, too, which would suck) and Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening will have to go back to Grand Rapids and hope their AHL swan songs involve leading their team to a second straight Calder Cup Championship.

We do know that those players will be back if the Griffins are knocked out of the playoffs or the injury bug continues to linger, and we know that some of the veterans who the coach and management want to keep around for a possible and hopefully probable playoff run won't be playing here next year because Sheahan, Jurco and Glendening have been far too good to be Griffins next October.

In the interim, this team is finding itself and finding its pre-HBO 24/7 form, and it desperately needs to keep up its efforts as it truly digs in and prepares to engage its opponents with all the healthy animosity, aggression, spit, piss and vinegar with which it met the Canadiens.

It's gonna be mean, nasty and hopefully a winning run from here on out because this team is finally building upon the puck possession-meets-Babcockian "Greasy" Hockey foundation that transcends personnel.

Update: The "kids" seem to get that showing some attitude ain't a bad thing...

Via RedWingsFeed, there's this probably playing in the AHL next season...

And sure, Hank, we believe you:

Update #2:

Statistics:

Shots
31-26 Montreal overall. The Wings were out-shot 13-8 in the 1st, the Wings out-shot Montreal 13-9 in the 2nd, and the Wings were out-shot 9-5 in the 3rd.

Special teams: The Red Wings went 1-for-6 in 9:21 of PP time, going 1-for-1 in 1:02 of 5 on 3 time; the Canadiens went 1-for-4 in 4:42 of PP time.

Goaltending: Jonas Gustavsson stopped 30 of 31 for the Red Wings; Carey Price stopped 22 of 26 for the Canadiens.

The 3 stars were picked by Michigan Hockey's Stefan Kubus, and he picked Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Jonas Gustavsson.

The Wings' goals: Zetterberg (16) from Alfredsson (20) and Kronwall (25), PPG;

Sheahan (2), unassisted;

Kronwall (6) from Nyquist (8) and Ericsson (8);

Nyquist (8) from Zetterberg (28) and Abdelkader (14).

Faceoffs 43-25 Detroit (Detroit won 63%);

Blocked shots 10-9 Detroit;

Missed shots 13-10 Detroit (attempts 51-48 Montreal, with the Wings firing 26 shots on Price and 22 wide/blocked);

Hits 23-23;

Giveaways 7-5 Detroit;

Takeaways 8-3 Detroit.

Individual stats:

Faceoffs: Zetterberg was a stunning 18-and-4 (82%); Glendening was 8-and-8 (50%); Sheahan was 7-and-8 (47%); Helm was 9-and-5 (64%); Eaves won his only faceoff.

Shots: Abdelkader, Alfredsson and Tatar co-led the Wings with 3 shots; Smith, Zetterberg, Helm and Ericsson had 2; Nyquist, Sheahan, Eaves, Miller, Lashoff, Jurco, Glendening, Helm and Cleary had 1.

Blocked attempts: Zetterberg had 2 attempts blocked by Canadiens players; Smith, Alfredsson, Sheahan, Eaves, Quincey, Ericsson and Kronwall had 1 attempt blocked.

Missed shots: Nyquist missed the net 4 times; Abdelkader and Eaves fired 2 attempts wide; Alfredsson, Sheahan, Lashoff, DeKeyser and Cleary fired 1 attempt wide.

Hits: Miller and Glendening co-led the Wings with 3 hits; Abdelkader, Lashoff, Jurco, Zetterberg and DeKeyser had 2; Smith, ,Nyquist, Eaves, Tatar, Quincey, Helm and Cleary had 1 hit.

Giveaways: DeKeyser had 2 giveaways; Smith, Alfredsson, Lashoff, Jurco and Ericsson had 1 giveaway.

Takeaways: Abdelkader, Alfredsson, Nyquist, Sheahan, Eaves, Miller, Zetterberg and Helm had 1 takeaway.

Blocked opponent shots: DeKeyser blocked 4 shots; Smith blocked 2; Nyquist, Miller, Quincey and Helm blocked 1 shot.

Penalties taken: Smith, Abdelkader, Quincey, Zetterberg and DeKeyser took minor penalties.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished at +15 collectively. Abdelkader, Nyquist and Zetterberg were +2; Smith, Sheahan, Tatar, Lashoff, Jurco, Quincey, Ericsson, Kronwall and DeKeyser were +1.

Points: Nyquist, Zetterberg and Kronwall had a goal and an assist for 2 points apiece; Sheahan had a goal; Abdelkader, Alfredsson and Ericsson had assists.

Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 23:09 played; DeKeyser played 21:35; Quincey played 20:05;

Zetterberg still managed to play 19:07; Nyquist played 18:41; Miller played 18:02;

Glendening played 17:47; Ericsson played 17:42; Smith played 16:54;

Alfredsson played 16:27; Eaves played 16:21; Cleary played 15:21;

Lashoff played 12:54; Sheahan played 12:47; Abdelkader played 12:05;

Tatar played 11:31; Helm played 11:13; Jurco played 10:03.

Update #3: Yep:

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Avatar

1st, What a great game.

Now here is the question.  Babcock has said because of injuries his team has had to find a different way to play and win.  If the guys who are out comeback, and given what we all know will happen when that happens(I.E. all the youth gets sent down) does this team revert back to a different way of playing, and if so will that cause a problem with readjusting to a different style of play?

This team has been winning on grit and perseverance and against the odds, does that continue or do we go back to the Pav and Z show and hope that Cleary(who has at least improved his d-zone play) and the Smith and Ice Cream Truck don’t drag us back down.

I hope that the reinforcements are a positive thing and that the team keeps rolling on, but a strong part of me hopes that we make some moves or trades and keep some of the good(Shehan and Glendening) in the line up.  Wishful thinking as i stated above but i will wish for it none the less…also i will wish for winning lotto numbers because i think i have a better shot at those.

Posted by Brostyn on 01/24/14 at 11:57 PM ET

calquake's avatar

Wings fans haven’t been talking very much about the team’s effort not just since the Winter Classic, but especially during and after the team’s clutch and more than slightly lucky win over a very physical and very nasty Los Angeles Kings team this past weekend.

I’ll be honest George, because of the never-ending negativity of some posters, I’m only posting occaisionally and mostly in the Live Blog.  Criticism is one thing, beating an incessant drum is quite another.

Posted by calquake on 01/25/14 at 12:06 AM ET

Alan's avatar

I’m very happy with the win. This was the most complete game I’ve seen from them since November.

I’m hopeful that the kids stay, and the dead weight get benched. Yeah, Bertuzzi, Cleary, etc may bring something to the ice with ‘em, but as it stands now, the kids are doing a much better job of things. Glendening is very good at being a pest, and Sheahan is paying off nicely. Jurco had a few sniffs tonight, but he’s coming along nicely. Once he figures out what he can and can’t do at the NHL level, he’ll be putting ‘em home without a problem.

We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re moving in the right direction. If we keep this up, good things will happen.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 01/25/14 at 12:10 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Cap-wise and roster wise, especially given the utter lack of movement, there is no way that the vets will get benched when everyone’s back—save Samuelsson. I don’t necessarily like it myself, but Sheahan, Jurco and Glendening are going to have their swan songs in Grand Rapids.

As for the criticism, Calquake, I’m not sure I’d call it that. It seems like self-flagellation instead. I got on Jeff Moss’s shit list for being positive tonight and I just don’t understand why the concept of being a sports fan who isn’t completely happy with *every* personnel decision the team makes must be a state of righteous fury, never mind indignation, with wailing and gnashing of teeth for all the things that went wrong even during and after a game like tonight’s.

I don’t get that. We’re never going to be in complete agreement with the player personnel or coaching decisions our favorite teams make. Ever, even when they win championships. We’re not going to be thrilled with some player personnel choices.

I’m fine with criticizing those or raising issues with them, because we’re *not supposed to agree with our team or each other on everything*—it’d be a dreadful world if we were “in perfect harmony”—but the anger, the vindictiveness and personal attacks, the out-and-out-bullying and yelling over each other instead of debating or even arguing like people who are allowed to disagree and respect each other’s points of view (never mind the self-sanctimonious nature of our “experts”; I’m more than willing to admit that I get it wrong sometimes, and have no problem with it, but some of our commenters believe they’re infallible), I don’t understand any of it.

Why do you want to be a sports fan if every moment of doing so just makes you furious at your team, furious at yourself and furious at everyone else?

Sounds like a drag and a half.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/25/14 at 12:24 AM ET

Rumbear's avatar

Criticism is one thing, beating an incessant drum is quite another.

Gotta agree with Cal…wait, did I say that out loud?  Did I just agree with Cal? tongue wink

Posted by Rumbear from Top O the Hasek, for the 23rd postseason.... on 01/25/14 at 12:34 AM ET

Alan's avatar

Cap-wise and roster wise, especially given the utter lack of movement, there is no way that the vets will get benched when everyone’s back—save Samuelsson. I don’t necessarily like it myself, but Sheahan, Jurco and Glendening are going to have their swan songs in Grand Rapids

Cap-wise, I agree. Roster-wise, I disagree. The kids have proven to be better, and I’d like to think Bertuzzi sat tonight because a kid took his spot. Sammy has sat much of the season because he has all the talent of roadkill, and has only really been played when there’s no one else/no time to call anyone up.

Having said all that, I’m betting you’re right. The kids will end up back in GR for their own march to the playoffs.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 01/25/14 at 12:36 AM ET

Avatar

Weird…I quit watching because I just felt like something bad was going to happen, a little more than halfway through the game.

Shortly after Sheahan scored, and maybe after that it was better, but I felt like I was seeing the same old thing.

When breaking 30 shots on goal becomes a regular thing again…I’ll start to feel better.

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 01/25/14 at 12:38 AM ET

calquake's avatar

Why do you want to be a sports fan if every moment of doing so just makes you furious at your team, furious at yourself and furious at everyone else?

Not just furious but absolutely miserable aboot it.  I’ve learned from some intelligent posters on this forum… others?... not so much.  It’s not their viewpoint that I object to, it’s their attitude.  Go be miserable elsewhere.  I’ve heard some wonderful things aboot HF Boards and the Freep. wink

Posted by calquake on 01/25/14 at 12:39 AM ET

WingedRider's avatar

but Sheahan, Jurco and Glendening are going to have their swan songs in Grand Rapids.

 

That is sadly likely true but they are a better team with them than Bert, Cleary, Sammy. If the Wings keep winning KH will have to make a tough decision(s).

Jurco probably.  Sheahan and Glendening are in Babs like books.

What happens if KH sends them all down and they start losing?

I guess KH will take a beating by the fans. Breaking up a winning combination is tough to do.  For now add Pavel sit/waive Cleary.

Risky decisions coming up for KH.  I guess we will see if what he does keeps the Wings in a Playoff spot and more.

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 01/25/14 at 12:39 AM ET

calquake's avatar

Gotta agree with Cal…wait, did I say that out loud?  Did I just agree with Cal? tongue wink

Posted by Rumbear from Top O the Hasek, did somebody order a bandwagon? on 01/24/14 at 11:34 PM ET

Be honest… you’ve been drinking and in the hot tub again haven’t you? cheese

Posted by calquake on 01/25/14 at 12:42 AM ET

Alan's avatar

Go be miserable elsewhere.  I’ve heard some wonderful things aboot HF Boards and the Freep.

HFB is a circus. I don’t know how the Wings board mods hold themselves back from blanket banning everyone. There’s a reason my presence there is scarce these days, and it’s not ‘cause the Thrashers no longer play.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 01/25/14 at 12:59 AM ET

alwaysaurie's avatar

Red Wings LW Gustav Nyquist 3 G, 3 A in past 4 GP; C Henrik Zetterberg 2 G, 6 A in past 4 GP

How long ago was the change made to add Abdelkader to their line?

4 games ago?

I thought so.

Posted by alwaysaurie on 01/25/14 at 01:02 AM ET

calquake's avatar

  Red Wings LW Gustav Nyquist 3 G, 3 A in past 4 GP; C Henrik Zetterberg 2 G, 6 A in past 4 GP

How long ago was the change made to add Abdelkader to their line?

4 games ago?

I thought so.

Posted by alwaysaurie on 01/25/14 at 12:02 AM ET

Some people watch hockey and others watch h-o-c-k-e-y.  There is a difference. smile

Posted by calquake on 01/25/14 at 01:07 AM ET

Gary A$$ SUCK !!'s avatar

I think the Red wings had a great game tonight, and I just love those guys Glendening and Sheahan.

Three stars of the game The Swedish Ice Mafia !!!
Go Red Wings Go.

Posted by Gary A$$ SUCK !! from Fort Myers, Florida on 01/25/14 at 01:10 AM ET

calquake's avatar

The Swedish Ice Mafia !!!

Don’t know how it works now but that is Glossary material right there.  As Jean Luc would say, “Make it happen”.

Posted by calquake on 01/25/14 at 01:18 AM ET

Figaro's avatar

I’m more than willing to admit that I get it wrong sometimes, and have no problem with it, but some of our commenters believe they’re infallible

Well, I do own a Pope costume…

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 01/25/14 at 01:53 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

And I own a Friar Tuck costume raspberry

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/25/14 at 01:54 AM ET

Figaro's avatar

On top of what has been said above, we’ve played in some really entertaining hockey games over the last few weeks. 

I’m also glad that Miller didn’t get too hurt on that hit in the first period. I thought for sure he was done for the night.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 01/25/14 at 01:55 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Emelin made mincemeat of Johan Franzen’s nose at the 2012 World Championships. I’m not surprised by his play at all. He’s a dirty, dirty player.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/25/14 at 02:01 AM ET

Avatar

Thanks George

It’s hard to be measured describing the game in the detail you are, not only seeing the forest but the trees.

In my judgement, the kids are fitting right in the way they should.

The d,which takes longer to stabilize, is doing the right stuff more often.

I’m really enjoying the product that is shown, looking better each game out.

Keep up the great work.  Thanks

Posted by bobbo on 01/25/14 at 09:43 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

I haven’t seen this team play this hard for a full 60 since the last few games before the playoffs last season.  Regardless of the outcome, if they keep this effort up the rest of the season, they deserve a standing O for getting through this mess, playoffs or no.

Posted by Hootinani on 01/25/14 at 12:09 PM ET

Tracy from T-Town Hockey 's avatar

This is the way we need to play.  Regardless of who is in the lineup.  We are no longer the team that can out skill our opponents.  We must play with skill and tenacity.  I wonder if the kids are more willing to listen to Babcock on that point or if he decided we need to play that way because of the personell.  Either way, I hope it continues when (if) we are healthy.  It was a fun game to watch.  Everyone selling out, no one mailing it in.  Ge Red Wings!

Posted by Tracy from T-Town Hockey on 01/25/14 at 12:20 PM ET

SYF's avatar

The Swedish Ice Mafia !!!

Don’t know how it works now but that is Glossary material right there.  As Jean Luc would say, “Make it happen”.

Posted by calquake on 01/25/14 at 12:18 AM ET

Aye.  It should be permanent.

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 01/25/14 at 02:04 PM ET

Avatar

I think the last two games really solidifies the fact that Ericsson is a top 2 D-man in Detroit.  Skillwise maybe he isn’t a high-end top 2, but he’s high-end enough when compared to the rest of the D roster.

Posted by neffernin on 01/25/14 at 02:33 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.