The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/03/14 at 11:26 PM ET
The Red Wings rather desperately, desperately needed to get back to playoff-point-race-point-earning form after Sunday's incredibly disappointing 6-5 shootout loss against Washington.
The Wings did so on Monday, earning a 2-0 win, perhaps thanks to a similarly-injury-plagued Canucks team that played incredibly tentatively as John Tortorella returned to the bench and perhaps despite of utterly fantastic goaltending from Eddie Lack, who really played amazingly well and frustrated the hell out of Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist.
Thankfully, the Red Wings were that much better, and between Jimmy Howard's penalty-shot save after coming in for a "dizzy" Jonas Gustavsson, Justin Abdelkader's two goals actually scored by Justin Abdelkader's stick, one 1:08 into the 2nd and one into an empty net, thanks to some fantastic special teams play (power plays were 5-2 Vancouver) and thanks to another remarkable effort by the Jurco-Sheahan-Tatar line (Tatar will get a talking-to by his senior teammates about that accidental knee on Ryan Kesler), the Wings defeated the Canucks 2-0, and have taken 5 out of a possible 6 points over their past three games.
The fact that the Wings killed a pair of 3rd period penalties en route to holding Vancouver to all of 3 shots in the 3rd stood out (let's just say that Brendan Smith might have a hard time getting back into the lineup), as did Howard's cool, calm play despite the light workload in the 3rd--though he did have to stop 13 2nd period shots...
And between Abdelkader picking up the slack when Zetterberg and Nyquist were unable to dent the back of the Canucks' net, especially on the 5 on 3, the superb PK work by Miller and Glendening and the fact that the Jurco-Glendening-Tatar line looks so absolutely dominant at times, things look really, really good for a team that played 3 in 4 nights and has 2 more games before the Olympic break.
The Wings will take Tuesday off and get back to work on Wednesday, and they'll face something of a new nemesis in the Florida Panthers on Thursday and a team they're chasing in the playoff race in the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
We can hope that Pavel Datsyuk will skate in one of those games--though I have no doubt in my mind that he's going to Russia to play in the Olympics either way--and I certainly hope that Jonas Gustavsson is okay.
The game wasn't pretty at points (caffeine for paint-dry-watching, please?), but this team is finding its form, and as I said on Twitter, I watched Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan play the kind of hockey that they're playing against grown-up NHL'ers this past fall in Traverse City, and it's remarkable that they've accelerated their development in such short order.
If the Wings get relatively healthy, they have to know whether Stephen Weiss is a "fit," Pavel Datsyuk and a Johan Franzen who was playing some of the best all-round hockey of his career when he went out of the lineup will make the Wings better, and I can't imagine that Todd Bertuzzi or Daniel Cleary are going anywhere, but when the playoffs begin and the 23-man roster limit and salary cap disappear, I really do wonder whether we'll see Jurco and Sheahan up here again and playing in Bertuzzi and Cleary's respective steads--unless the latter "grab their chunk of cheese" again.
Sheahan, Tatar, Glendening and probably Jurco are all but assured of being on next year's team, though, and in the interim, they've been key components of a Red Wings team that seems determined to go into the Olympic break on the in-the-playoffs side of the "wild card" race.
Here's Abdelkader's goal, 1:08 into the 2nd...
Here's Jimmy Howard's penalty shot save on David Booth at 4:41 of the 2nd...
And here's Abdelkader's empty-netter:
Here's Eddie Lack robbing poor Darren Helm twice, too:
Keep it going, Wings, your fans want to see you in the playoff mix when you return to the Joe for some not-so-nondescript game against Colorado on March 6th.
Update: Good news regarding Gustavsson:
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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.