Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Canucks wrap-up and overnight report: Wings earn a win to build upon

The Red Wings hopped on a very late-night flight to Calgary having snapped a 4-game winless streak, earning a gutsy, hard-working 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

I don't disagree with some of the Canucks' assessments of the game. It was definitely won and lost in the trenches, and the first period at least wasn't elegantly-played, especially on what was just wretched ice at the Rogers Centre.

Something tells me that Red Wings fans who witnessed their team drastically cut down its turnovers, motor through the neutral zone efficiently and speedily and hem the Canucks in their own end via sustained possession and control of the puck might argue that board battles playing out 150-200 feet from Jimmy Howard are in fact a beautiful thing.

The Canucks let their frustrations be known while speaking with the Vancouver Sun's Brad Ziemer:

"It was a frustrating game tonight,” said centre Ryan Kesler. “I don’t think either team played their best. It was sloppy game and we just have to come with a better effort on Saturday.

...

For the second straight game, there was more Sedinery from Henrik and Daniel. The twins worked their magic off the rush on Vancouver’s only goal at 14:12 of the first period. As he crossed the blue line, Daniel fed a pass to Henrik, who instead of shooting slid a slick pass to Daniel who beat confused Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard from a sharp angle. The goal was Daniel’s sixth of the season and extended Henrik’s point streak to 10 games. Unfortunately, that was about the only highlight offensively for the Canucks, who had a four-game winning streak snapped by a Detroit team that just didn’t give them much time or space.

The Canucks only managed 20 shots on Howard, who seemed to be spilling rebounds all night. Trouble is, the Canucks were never in a position to pounce on one.

“It was sloppy game overall from both teams, I thought,” said Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin. “There was lot of play in the neutral zone, turnovers from both teams. Not a whole lot of chances.”

Canucks coach John Tortorella had this to say about Roberto Luongo's play,and the play of his team as a whole...

"Don't blame Louie,” coach John Tortorella said of Luongo. “Louie gave us a chance to get back in the game in the third period. We didn't generate enough offence. We certainly didn't sustain a forecheck. We looked lethargic. For whatever reason, we lacked energy tonight.”

And the Canucks felt that they got "too cute" on the power play, mounting little in the way of attack over the course of 3 opportunities and 4:54 of PP time:

“We have to go out there now with the mindset of just scoring goals,” Henrik said. “We can’t be thinking about setting guys up or getting the right shot. We have to get people in front and grind some pucks. Throw pucks at the net and maybe get a bounce that way. It has been too long.”

“It could have helped us tonight,” Tortorella said of the power play. “It wasn't good. Other nights it's been good. Tonight it wasn't good."

Tortorella's post-game comments were brief, as you'll see below, and his intonations reflect the fact that Luongo didn't see the game-winner, as the Vancouver Province's Jason Botchford noted:

Luongo was actually one of the best Canucks Wednesday, just not on Tomas Tatar’s 27-foot dribbler which put the Wings up 2-1 when it rolled through his five hole with 1:02 left in the second period.

It probably wasn’t the best time for a bad, McSofty goal, given the Canucks generally played tired and sloppy — and that was before they ran out of gas. They were in desperate need of goalie perfection to win their fifth straight and Luongo isn’t quite there yet. Also, Mike Babcock, Team Canada’s head coach, had one of the best seats in the building. That had to needle Luongo just a little when he got beat for the winner.

Lucky for Luongo then, the Tatar goal wasn’t all his fault. Sure, he could have battled better to pick up the puck. But there in front, screening him, was Chris Tanev, just hours after John Tortorella had lavished the young defenceman with praise.

Before the pre-game skate Wednesday, Tortorella said no player had picked up his system better. And, wouldn’t you know it, Tanev was in position to block Tatar’s shot in a 1-1 game that lacked the usual verve of Wings-Canucks. But when Tatar uncorked it, Tanev went flamingo, raising one foot. Tanev said he didn’t want the puck deflecting to a Detroit player with no one in front of Luongo.

“I was frustrated, it’s the game-winning goal and I have to do a better job of letting Lui stop that,” Tanev said.

Luongo never saw it until it went in, and let everyone know about it by flailing down the ice during the aftermath.

“I feel like that’s the way it’s been going,” Luongo said. “I feel sharp. I feel on top of my game. But there’s always something that happens in the game that puts a damper on the night.”

We'll get back to player comments in a little bit, but Vancouver's arguably Canada's biggest media hotbed west of Toronto, and as such, the...What's the word that the Toronto Star's Rosie DiManns in uses to describe columnists, a word that even I didn't know the definition of? Oh, right, the cognoscenti, a.k.a. the hockey conniseurs (a.k.a. fancy-pants experts) weighed in.

The Vancouver Province's Tony Gallgher wondered aloud whether the fact that the Canucks really did wear down over time involved Tortorella's continued insistence to ride the hell out of his star players--with Henrik Sedin playing 26:42, Ryan Kesler playing 25:20, Daniel Sedin playing 24:08 and top-pair defensemen Alex Edler playing 24:08, Kevin Bieksa 23:15 and Jason Garrison and Mike Santorelli over 22 minutes apiece:

There's an excellent chance the twins and Ryan Kesler fell into their beds and will need a forklift to get themselves out on Friday morning after the much needed day off Thursday, considering the ice time these guys are putting in given their age and west coast location quite possibly being a first in league history. And if there is one thing that is clear, coach John Tortorella isn't going to stop this act until the guys in question either get hurt or literally have their tongues dragging on the ice.

Heavens, even Mike Santorelli, who is younger and in tremendous shape, is entering into uncharted territory in logging over 22 minutes for the first time in his NHL career. Such is the forward use that only four had shots on goal and just seven hit the net for the entire team.

The coach would be able to back off a shade from this savage workload he's inflicting if he could possibly manufacture some production out of his power play, but here the fatigue of the Sedins and Kesler clearly comes into play. While they at least had a bevy of scoring chances against Washington Monday night, this was certainly not the case in the three opportunities they were afforded Wednesday. The coaching staff's ongoing obsession with keeping Dan Hamhuis on the left point instead of a potential 50-point defenceman in Alex Edler is a mystery to almost everyone watching the first unit sputter like a generator which has been dredged up from an underwater cave. The idea is to outwork the other team with the man advantage, but that approach runs counter to reality as forwards playing in the 24-26 minute range as the big three did again Wednesday just naturally begin to pace themselves as the ordeal drones on. It's only natural to look at a power play as a chance to perhaps take a small break as much as the mind might rage against the concept. But not surprisingly, there are denials all around.

“I think the only way we're going to be successful is to be outworking the other team, and when you have the extra man you can't be taking a breather,” said Ryan Kesler, who had a great chance in the last 10 seconds. “Those are the shifts where you've got to dig deep and if you are tired, you've got to find that energy to muster up something.”

There wasn't a whole lot of mustering going on in this one however.

“We've got the guys to do it, it's a matter of figuring it out,” said Daniel Sedin, when asked if it's worth giving Edler back his old job on the left point on the first unit, and knowing he was getting into controversy territory should he express his opinion.

“We were lethargic tonight, we just lacked energy for some reason,” said Tortorella, who wasn't in the mood to talk after such a weird game, but made sure to underline how well he thought Roberto Luongo played despite the one McSofty he gave up for he winner. “He made some good saves, gave us a chance to win."

The Vancouver Province's Ed Willes agreed with Gallagher's assessment:

As for the net result, the twins did produce the Canucks' only goal, scoring at the time Tortorella was putting his lines through the food processor. Datsyuk and Zetterberg were also held off the scoresheet and those two developments should have been enough for a Canucks' win.

But this was one of those nights when it didn't work for Tortorella; when the twins and Kesler, who were split up towards the end of the first period, weren't enough to spark this team.

The Canucks, and the Wings' checking had a lot to do with it, were flatter than Nebraska, producing just 20 shots on goal while failing to sustain anything in the Wings' end. The big line was a non-factor. The power play, and this is developing into another storyline for the Canucks, was even worse. There just wasn't enough from anybody, and there was nothing Tortorella could do about it.

The twins' goal, in fact, came with Tom Sestito as their linemate in the first period. It was one of Sestito's two shifts in the period and five in the game. By the third period, Tortorella had tried every conceivable combination and a few that were inconceivable, all while keeping the Sedins and Kesler in the mix. You needed the Hubble Telescope to find Zack Kassian. Brad Richardson barely needed a shower after the game. Jeremy Welsh may or may not have dressed. We're not sure.

Now, the belief is that the law of diminishing returns will kick in with the twins and Kesler and then the Canucks will have problems, big problems. There is no Plan B. There is no secondary scoring on this team. They will go as far as the Big Three take them but they can't be expected to keep up this inhuman workload.

That, at least, is the presumption and it will be analyzed within an inch of its life over the course of this season. Wednesday night, the twins and Kesler looked tired. They've been playing 22 to 24 hard minutes a game for a month and, maybe for the first time this season, it started to show.

Again, maybe that had more to do with the Wings than their ice time, but it's worth noting now just as it will be worth noting all season.

If you're looking for an other-end-of-the-spectrum grounding after Gallagher and Willes' flights of narrative fancy, the Legion of Blog's Wyatt Arndt, and the Province's Jason Botchford rather elegantly danced all over the line separating reporter and partisan supporter while offering this telling quote from Luongo in his Twitter-spiked "Van Provies" blog entry:

Luongo wasn’t happy about that game winner and  was so demonstrative after it went in, it looked like he was showing up Tanev.

I asked him the question about the game winning McSofty, and basically set it up  as a “Tanev should have blocked the shot” question. Luongo had none of it and took  responsibility. Here’s what Luongo said:

“I have to find a way to find those. It’s a pretty shitty way to lose. By the time I found it, it was too late for me to go butterfly. I have to try and pick it up quicker. I’m not sure exactly what happened. But at the end of the day, I have to try to find that puck. It’s my job to try and keep it 1-1.”

Along the, "Breaking it down" lines, Canucks.com's Derek Jory posted a game infographic, and Daniel Fung offered three points of emphasis....

ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS: The Canucks didn't manage to extend their win streak but Henrik Sedin did manage to extend his point streak. His assist on Daniel's goal made it 10 straight games with a point for the captain. It ties his personal career record for longest point streak. It was previously set from December 22, 2009 to January 11, 2010 when he had five goals and 20 points on a 10-game point streak. Henrik has three goals and 12 points on his current 10-game point streak.

DONUTS: Ryan Kesler watched his four-game goal streak come to an end on Wednesday which wasn't too surprising considering his best scoring opportunity on the night – which came in the dying seconds of the game – didn't even manage to hit the net. In fact, Kesler, who is the Canucks' leader in shots on goal this season, failed to register even a single shot. It's the first time he has gone shot-less since February 24 of last season in a game, coincidentally, against these same Red Wings.

SWEDISH INVASION: Anyone who wanted to scout Team Sweden's Olympic entry for the upcoming Winter Games in Sochi should have been at Rogers Arena on Wednesday. Between the two teams, 10 different Swedish players dressed in the contest including the two respective back-up netminders. Four of them – Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Alfredsson and Niklas Kronwall – managed to get on the scoresheet.

While the Vancouver Sun's Elliott Pap offered four "Essentials," including the following...

THE SKINNY: The Canucks were under siege for the first half of the first period but still emerged with a 1-0 lead when Henrik Sedin fed brother Daniel at the 14:12 mark. Daniel nearly made it 2-0 midway through the second but was stopped by Jimmy Howard. Ninety seconds later, Daniel Alfredsson tied it. Tomas Tatar then put the Wings ahead at 18:58 of the second when he shot through Chris Tanev’s screen, fooling Roberto Luongo, right. The Wings smothered the Canucks in the third period to break a four-game losing streak.

BY THE NUMBERS: The Canucks held their opponent without a first-period goal for only the fourth time in 15 games ... The Canucks played 15 games in the month of October for the first time in franchise history and finished at 9-5-1 ... Detroit improved to 5-1-1 when leading after two periods while the Canucks fell to 2-4-0 when trailing after two ... The Red Wings won the faceoff battle 32-25. Ryan Kesler was 3-for-12 in the circle while Mike Santorelli went 9-for-15. The Canucks’ record against Eastern Conference teams slipped to 6-3-1.

And while I won't use it as the pivot point between the Wings and Canucks' perspectives, the Vancouver Sun and Puck Daddy's Harrison Mooney offers some particularly astute observations in Pass it to Bulis' "I Watched This Game" Wings-Canucks entry:

*As much as I want to believe that Jimmy Howard was just completely fooled by Henrik’s return pass to Daniel, since it was a completely implausible pass to make, I think he was actually screened by the two red sweaters between he and Henrik, as well as Tom Sestito, who was inexplicably on the ice here. That’s right: Tom Sestito contributed to this goal. I sort of wanted him to shout “I helped!”

*Speaking of helpers, Jimmy Howard’s half-hearted wave at the puck reminded me of Mojo the helper monkey dismissing Marge after Homer gets him all fat.

...

*John Tortorella wanted that game-tying goal in the third period, and he clearly didn’t think it was going to come off the stick of a bottom-six forward. So he just didn’t play any of them in the third. The busiest bottom-six guy in that final frame: Zack Kassian, with 1:54 of ice time. When he came back to the bench after his third shift, one assumes the other forwards whispered, “Coach’s pet.”

...

*Finally, since tonight was the night before Halloween, Fin attended this game dressed as a minion. Safe to say putting together that costume was the best show of effort we saw out of a Canuck all night.

The Canadian Press's recap will serve as our pivot point instead, with the CP focusing on Tatar's game-winning goal, scored with 1:02 left in the 2nd period, as the game-defining play:

"I just tried to shoot it on net and the puck somehow ended up in," said Tatar, who has been in and out of the Detroit lineup all season. "This is a big relief."

Vancouver's best player on the night, Luongo was screened on the play by Canucks defenceman Christopher Tanev.

"I didn't see it until the last second, but I have to find a way to find those," said Luongo, who finished with 25 saves. "It's a pretty (lousy) way to lose a game on a goal like that. At the end of the day I have to try and find that puck."

The CP also noted that the Canucks mounted a huge effort to tie the game late...

Tortorella reunited [Alexandre] Burrows with the Sedin twins to start the third period. Ryan Kesler, usually Vancouver's second-line centre, had been playing on the top line since about the midway point of the Canucks' recent seven-game road trip.

Luongo kept Vancouver in it with a big pad stop on Detroit's Justin Abdelkader off a feed from Tatar on a 3-on-1 break with five minutes to go to keep his team in it.

"I thought (Luongo) played real well," said Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. "We could have had a lot more and we had good opportunities. He was solid for them tonight."

Kesler then just missed Howard's far post with shot in the dying seconds.

"I hit that shot nine out of 10 times and I just missed it," said Kesler. "It's frustrating."

NHL.com's Kevin Woodley will shift us to the Wings' perspectives from here on out, noting that the Wings believed that Vancouver's possible fatigue had little to nothing to do with the reasons why Detroit carried the day:

"When we're careless with the puck and careless with our structure we don't look very good," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "We're a team that needs to play a certain way to be successful."

They played that way against the Canucks, limiting the time spent in their own end while holding Vancouver to a season-low 20 shots.

"I've got to give the guys a lot of credit tonight," said goalie Jimmy Howard, who stopped 19 shots, including all seven he faced in the third period. "They did a great job in front of me."

Howard's heroics helped the Wings stay in the game after the Sedins opened the scoring halfway through the first period, and while it took until the 11:37 mark of the 2nd period, the Wings did rally from their 1-0 deficit:

After making a drop pass to twin brother Henrik off the rush, Daniel faded into the right corner and took the return feed unchecked before firing a sharp-angled shot into an empty net after Howard got stranded atop his crease looking for a shot from Henrik. It was Daniel's fourth goal and seventh point during a five-game point streak; Henrik has three goals and 12 points during a 10-game point streak of his own.

The Sedins almost added to those totals midway through the second period, but Howard slid hard from left to right through his crease to deny Daniel on a backdoor one-timer after a perfect cross-ice backhand pass from Henrik.

Less than two minutes later, Alfredsson tied it with his third goal since joining the Red Wings as a free agent in the summer. The 40-year-old went to the top of the crease and fired a loose puck that hit the post, deflected off the back of Luongo's leg and slid over the goal line at 11:37.

"We were playing pretty good but had nothing to show for it," Alfredsson said. "We get the first one and then a fluke play where their defenseman ended up being a screen and we get lucky. That's a huge goal for us, to go into the third with the lead and I thought we handled that really well."

Howard told the Free Press's Helene St. James that the team's effort had everything to do with a message sent by their captain after last Saturday's loss to the Rangers:

"Z said it best the other night: No panic," Jimmy Howard said after facing just 20 shots. "Take the day off Sunday, enjoy your family, and get your mind right. That's what we did."

That mindset, combined with a significant amount of hard work, effort and attention to detail yielded a marginally pleased coach...

"We had the puck a lot more," Babcock said,"and we had the puck a lot more because we executed out of our D zone fast, we didn't waste a lot of time in there, and we got through the neutral zone and in the end ended up having a lot more puck possession in the offensive zone, and that's the right way to play. We should know how to play on a nightly basis, but we haven't shown that we can. Tonight was a good step for our team. Now we have to match it. Winning is an every day thing."

The message that that sloppy puck management had to change was evident from the start in Vancouver, as the Wings ran up a 6-0 edge in shots on Roberto Luongo before any Canuck got anything on Howard.

"We spent some quality time in their end at the beginning of the game," Zetterberg said. "We played desperate today, and found a way to win. It's way too early to panic. We know how we can play. It's nice to get a 'W.' It's been a while."

St. James also offered more from Alfredsson regarding his game-tying goal:

Alfredsson's goal came after Sedin had made it 1-0 late in the first period. Alfredsson banged in Brendan Smith's rebound, unsure if the puck went in until looking at Daniel Cleary,

"Once I saw Cleary put his arms up, I felt good," Alfredsson said. "We managed the puck really good today. And we had the puck more, so that allowed us to get through the neutral zone with possession, and that usually leads to good dump-ins. We did a good job of limiting their chances."

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted that Babcock may or may not have bene joking when he stated that he couldn't look at the standings prior to the game because they were "too painful"...

“Anytime you go four games, eight possible points, and get two of them, you’re not rolling along,” Babcock said. “The rest of the league is rolling along and you’re watching. Maybe I’ll check them (standings) out tomorrow,” Babcock said.

Daniel Alfredsson and Tomas Tatar scored second-period goals, erasing a Vancouver lead, and leading the Red Wings to the win. The Red Wings limited Vancouver to 20 shots, controlled possession of the puck most of the night, and greatly limited the turnovers that had been haunting them.

Basically, the things Babcock had been preaching for several days, the Red Wings took to heart.

“We had everybody going and we took care of the puck,” Babcock said. “When we’re careless with the puck, and careless with our structure, we don’t look very good. We’re a team that needs to play a certain way to be successful, and if we do, we’ll be successful.”

And Kulfan noted that the Wings hope that they've established something of a blueprint for their trio of games to come--with the Wings playing on Friday in Calgary, Saturday in Edmonton and Monday in Winnipeg:

Opening this four-game trip with a victory was the perfect tonic for the Red Wings, especially after the careless way they had been playing.

“It means a lot,” Howard said. “Hopefully it gets us some momentum. It’s a big win for us.”

In his notebook, Kulfan noted that Tomas Tatar took his first goal, "fluky" as it might have been, and ran with it...

“Obviously, I had chances before but this is a big relief,” said Tatar, who is beginning to lay claim to a regular spot in the lineup. “I’m real happy we won the game and we’re back on track. Hopefully, we’ll continue on this trip to keep going.”

The Red Wings saw their four-game winless streak end with the victory. Tatar had two shots on net in 12 minutes, 54 seconds, on 16 shifts, and was plus-1.

“He’s a good player and he’s done a lot of good things when he’s been playing,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said of Tatar.

Wednesday’s game was the fourth consecutive game Tatar had played, after being a healthy scratch for eight of the first nine games.

“Once you get in the lineup, you do everything you can to stay in the lineup,” Tatar said. “You don’t want to get replaced again. Whatever the coach wants me to do, I’m trying to accomplish and play hard.”

And we're going to close this recap by incorporating notebook material into the mix, because Danny DeKeyser and Niklas Kronwall played a ridiculous amount of time--with DeKeyser's 26:42 finishing secont to Kronwall's astonishing 28:58.

Prior to the game, both the coach and the Wings' GM praised DeKeyser's poise and confidence while speaking with Kulfan...

Said coach Mike Babcock: “The thing stands out is he’s an elite skater with a great hockey mind. But he’s a veteran of (23 NHL) games. ... We’re putting pressure on our young guys to be good. We had to last year and we’re doing it this year.”

At 6-foot-3 and 180-pounds, DeKeyser still has room to grow. But it’s his defensive instincts and skating ability that have stood out.

“For most players, the biggest adjustment from junior (or) college to pro is the ability to check because many of those players are offensive players, and unless you can step into the NHL and continue to produce, you have to know how to check,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “(DeKeyser) is good defensively, has good attention to detail defensively and he’s 6-4 and mobile. It’s allowed him to transition from college to pro very smoothly.”

DeKeyser himself told MLive's Ansar Khan (whose quoteless recap's the only one that's up as of 5:50 AM) that he's enjoying being pushed into what might be an overwhelmingly top-line role in the absence of Jonathan Ericsson...

“I always look forward to playing against the other team’s best players because it challenges you, makes you better and it’s fun,’’ DeKeyser said. “Just keep the game as simple as possible and play defense first and the rest will take care of itself. It’s good when the coaches put you in there and have that kind of confidence in you. Now it’s just up to me to go out there and play and show them they made the right choice.’’

The key is keeping it simple. Be in the right spots. When you get the puck, get it to a forward quickly, don't turn it over.

“That’s my game,’’ DeKeyser said. “I try to play solid in the D-zone and if there’s a chance to jump up in the play and get some offense going I will. It’s always important to take care of your own zone first.’’

And his defensive partner marveled at DeKeyser's even-keeled demeanor given that he's played all of 24 games now:

“This is the first time I see it, to be able to play like that right off the hop,’’ Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “And coming in last year, it’s one thing to do it a game or two, to keep doing it over and over and over, we should be very happy he chose to come to the Detroit Red Wings organization.’’

...

One of the best compliments a defensive defenseman can receive is that he’s not noticeable on the ice. That is often the case with DeKeyser.

“I think that says it all,’’ Kronwall said. “That’s how good he’s been for us. He never really puts himself in bad spots. He keeps it simple out there and makes the right decisions. And he’s going to keep growing and become even better.’’

The Wings will take what they can get from DeKeyser, and Babcock told the Free Press's Helene St. James that one of DeKeyser's best qualities is his natural tendency to keep things "simple"--which turns out to be incredibly difficult:

"He's a real good player," coach Mike Babcock said. "He doesn't get himself in a lot of trouble. He skates real well. As a young player, the biggest thing you do is you try to do too much and you make the game complicated. He just seems to be one of those guys that doesn't do that."

...

Jonathan Ericsson usually plays with Kronwall, but Ericsson is out at least another 10 days with a shoulder injury. So why DeKeyser, who is 23 and had played 23 NHL games? Because game after game he goes unnoticed, and that's a huge compliment to a defenseman, because it means he doesn't make the sort of mistakes that leads to goals for the opponent.

"I use the word defender," general manager Ken Holland said. "That's what he was in college hockey, he was good defensively. Most players, the biggest adjustment from junior college to pro is, the ability to check. Unless you can step into the NHL and continue to produce, which many can't, you've got to know how to check. He's good defensively. He's got attention to detail defensively. Then you add in he's 6-foot-4, and he's mobile - it's allowed him to transition from college to pro very smoothly."

DeKeyser joined the Wings straight out of Western Michigan last spring, not the first player in hockey to go undrafted only to blossom. He's kept his game simple, endearing him to those who control his minutes.

"The thing that stands out to me is, he's an elite, elite skater with a great hockey mind," Babcock said. "He's good. And I like good players."

DeKeyser doesn't make many plays with the puck, and rarely pinches. That's a holdover from his collegiate days. His mantra would melt the heart of any coach. "It's always important to take care of your own zone, first," DeKeyser said.

That's a good message for DeKeyser's teammates, and they did a much, much better job of getting out of Jimmy Howard's way--ater the first goal, anyway--getting their bodies on the inside of puck battles to separate Canucks players from easy routes to the net, blocking shots and passes with their sticks and skates, supporting each other positionally, covering their opponents using the Wings man-on-man defensive system, and when they got the puck, the WIngs finally found ways to move it up ice without committing turnovers, and they did their damnedest to keep it in the Canucks' zone for as long as possible.

The Wings' effort was indeed something to build upon, and they're going to need to implement a similar game plan on Friday. The Flames out-shot Toronto 43-22 en route to a 4-2 loss on Wednesday, and they may be rebuilding, but they possess a 5-5-and-2 record, so it's...

Well, it's out of the frying pan and into the line of fire.

Last-minute edit: Aha, here's the Babcock quote, via a very, very, very late-night Reuters recap...

Detroit coach Mike Babcock was impressed with his club's effort as the Wings netted their equalizer and generated several scoring chances off moves to the net.

"When you get things driving through the middle and creating confusion at the net, good things can happen," Babcock said. "To be honest with you, I thought (Luongo) played real well. We could have had a lot more."

Babcock praised his players for getting the puck out of their zone quickly and protecting it well -- things they didn't do during their losing skid.

"I'm looking at the stats and feeling a little weak because I can't stand looking at them," he said. "I'm going to check them out tomorrow."

And this is a better quote to end upon than my at-6-AM blather:

"We had four losses in a row, and this is a big relief for us," Tatar said. "This is huge, and hopefully we will continue. Obviously, this was a big game, and it's hard to win in this building, so I'm glad we did."

Update: 6 AM Ansar Khan is more lucid than I am. That, and he's got player quotes in his recap:

“We had the puck a lot more because we executed out of the D-zone fast, we didn’t waste a lot of time in there and we got through the neutral zone, and ended up having way more puck possession in the offensive zone because of it,’’ Babcock said. “And that’s the right way to play. We believe we’ve gone through enough details that we should know how to play and be able to do it on a nightly basis, but we haven’t shown thus far we can. So tonight was a good step.’’

The Red Wings (7-4-2) ended a four-game winless skid (0-2-2) and snapped Vancouver’s four-game winning streak. Grinding one out was a good way to start a four-game Western Canada trip.

“We played desperate today and found a way to win,’’ Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We found a way to get the puck out of our end. We didn’t do that the last four games. One quick pass and we went.’’

This, this exactly. There was no two and three-passing the puck from d-to-d-to-d or d-to-d-and-given-away-to-an-opponent. This was Nick Lidstrom puck movement, one-pass-and-it's-gone to a forward moving up ice with speed, and, for that matter, a forward who managed to hold on to the damn puck between his own blueline and that "danger zone" that's 10 feet inside the opposition blueline.

Regarding Tatar's goal?

“I got nice pass from Kronner (Niklas Kronwall) and I just cut in the middle and waited for Pav (Datsyuk) and Z (Henrik Zetterberg) to get open but they drove the net,’’ Tatar said. “So I just shoot it on net and the puck end up somehow in.’’

Said Babcock: “Anytime you have people driving through the middle and creating confusion good things can happen.’’

Drive through the middle with speed, go to the net, fire pucks on net and chase after them to put home rebounds or sustain possession and control to generate secondary and tertiary scoring opportunities. That's how Red Wings hockey's supposed to work.

Babs gets the last word:

“Any time you go four games, with eight possible points, and you only get two of them, you’re not rolling along,’’ Babcock said. “The rest of the league is rolling along and you’re just watching them get further ahead. I haven’t looked at the stats in a week because I can’t stand looking at them. Maybe I’ll check them out tomorrow.’’

 

Highlights: TSN, which broadcasted the game in Canada, posted a 2:41 highlight clip which includes comments from Henrik Zetterberg, Roberto Luongo and John Tortorella, and even the Red Wings website's highlight clip is narrated by TSN:

Sportsnet also posted a 2:12 highlight clip, and the Canucks posted their highlights in YouTube format.

Post-game: If you wish to watch the NHL Tonight's breakdown of the game, or Mike Babcock speaking with TSN about Canadian Olympic team issues--or TSN's subsequent roster speculation--enjoy;

TSN's That's Hockey 2 Night lamented Chris Tanev not stopping Tomas Tatar's shot,

If you really want to watch all 13 minutes and 23 seconds of the Canucks' "post-game reactions," enjoy, but here are your the fast-forward suggestions:

1. The Canucks' website also chopped Henrik Sedin's comments out of the clip, and he speaks at 2:50;

2. Ryan Kesler appears at 4:00;

3. Roberto Luongo appears at 5:35, and Sportsnet duly noted that Lungo described the loss as a "shitty way to lose";

4. Kevin Bieksa appears at the 7-minute mark;

5. John Tortorella appears at the 11:55 mark, or at least that's when he begins speaking.

The Free Press's Helene St. James posted a clip in which Jimmy Howard, Tomas Tatar, Daniel Alfredsson and coach Mike Babcock discuss the team's win:

 

Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 19-image gallery;

The Detroit News posted an 11-image gallery;

The Vancouver Province posted a 13-image gallery;

The Vancouver Sun posted a 22-image gallery;

ESPN posted a 35-image gallery;

And NHL.com, the Canucks' website and the Red Wings' website posted 25-image galleries.

Statistics:

Shots 27-20 Detroit overall. The Wings out-shot Vancouver 12-7 in the 1st, they tied in shots 6-6 in the 2nd, and the Wings out-shot Vancouver 9-7 in the 3rd.

The Wings went 0-for-3 in 3:46 of PP time; the Canucks went 0-for-3 in 4:54.

Roberto Luongo stopped 25 of 27 shots; Jimmy Howard stopped 19 of 20.

The 3 stars were picked by TSN, and they picked Pavel Datsyuk, Roberto Luongo and Tomas Tatar.

The Wings' goals: Alfredsson (3) from Smith (1) and Quincey (2);

Tatar (1) from Kronwall (7) and DeKeyser (3).

Faceoffs 32-25 Detroit (Detroit won 56%);

Blocked shots 19-15 Vancouver;

Missed shots 12-10 Detroit (total attempts 58-45 Detroit, with Detroit firing 27 on Luongo and 31 wide/blocked);

Hits 16-11 Detroit;

Giveaways 12-3 Vancouver;

Takeaways 6-5 Vancouver.

Individual stats, TMR style:

Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 11-and-9 (56%); Weiss went 9-and-6 (60%); Andersson went 7-and-6 (54%); Glendening went 5-and-4 (56%).

Shots: Bertuzzi led the team with 5 shots; Abdelkader had 4; Datsyuk and Zetterberg had 3; Tatar and Quincey had 2; Kindl, Alfredsson, Eaves, Andersson, Glendening, Kronwall, DeKeyser and Weiss had 1.

Blocked attempts: Cleary hit Canucks players 3 times; Smith, Kindl, Abdelakder, Datsyuk, Eaves and Zetterberg had 2 attempts blocked; Andersson, Tatar, Quincey and DeKeyser had 1 attempt blocked.

Missed shots: Datsyuk missed the net 3 times; Kindl and Zetterberg missed the net 2 times; smith, Lashoff, Quincey, Bertuzzi and Kronwall missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Miller and Bertuzzi co-led the team with 3 hits; Abdelkader, ALfredsson, Andersson and Zetterberg had 2; Eaves and Tatar had 1.

Giveaways: Zetterberg, Kronwall and DeKeyser had giveaways.

Takeaways: Kindl, Alfredsson, Datsyuk, Miller and Bertuzzi had takeaways.

Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall blocked 5 shots(!); lashoff, Quincey and DeKeyser blocked 2; kindl, Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Cleary blocked 1.

Penalties taken: Smith took 2 minors; Bertuzzi and Kronwall took 1 minor penalty.

Plus-minus: the Wings finished at +5 overall. Smith finished at +2; ALfredsson, Datsyuk, Tatar, Zetterberg, Cleary and Weiss finished at +1; Kindl, Eaves, Miller and Glendening finished at -1.

Points: Tatar and Alfredsson scored goals; Smith, Quincey, Kronwall and DeKeyser had assists.

Ice time: Kronwall played 28:57; DeKeyser played 26:41; Datsyuk played 23:20;

Zetterberg played 22:50; Quincey played 18:38; Bertuzzi played 18:33;

Alfredsson played 16:59; Smith played 16:27; Andersson played 15:05;

Kindl played 14:58; Cleary played 14:17; Weiss played 13:25;

Lashoff played 12:56; Tatar played 12:54; Abdelkader played 12:02;

Miller played 9:49; Glendening played 8:15; Eaves played 7:23.

 

 

 

Red Wings notebooks: Of note from the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:

Holland said forward Johan Franzen (undisclosed) will play Friday in Calgary, and forward Darren Helm (groin) is expected to play Saturday in Edmonton.

When Helm comes off the long-term injured list, the Red Wings likely will put Jonathan Ericsson (dislocated left shoulder) on the injured list.

... Forward Patrick Eaves (sprained knee, ankle) made his debut Wednesday, with Jordin Tootoo being a healthy scratch. Eaves played 7:23 with one hit, and was minus-1.

The Free Press's Helene St. James got into the Halloween spirit, and she asked Darren Helm whether imitiating Todd Bertuzzi's tattoos and back pain may have been a bad idea, all while speaking with the Wings about Halloween costumes:

“I think it might have come back and bit me,” Helm said of his Halloween hijinks. “I think that was bad karma for what I did with my back.”

Helm is aiming to play Saturday at Edmonton. Johan Franzen, meanwhile, is joining the Wings in time for Friday’s game at Calgary, after staying behind in Detroit to nurse an injury. Helm will have to come off long-term injured reserve, but room could be opened up by putting Jonathan Ericsson on LTIR, as he’ll easily miss 10 games and 24 days dating to a shoulder injury Oct. 19 at Phoenix.

Helm hasn’t played regularly since spring 2012. He’s had all sorts of issues, including severe back pain. So maybe there was a curse — but at the time, there was just celebration for a well-done costume. Helm had a tattoo artist use fake ink — which took about a week to come off completely — to paint Helm’s arms like Bertuzzi’s.

Bertuzzi loved it: “It was priceless. I was just laughing. Helmer is my little buddy. And he did it to a T.”

The Wings won’t have their traditional Halloween party this year because they’re in western Canada through Monday. Other famous costumes have included Niklas Kronwall as Jackie Moon from “Semi-Pro,” and Pavel Datsyuk had a good one a couple of years ago.

“Pav was Alan from the ‘Hangover,’ when he has the Baby Bjorn thing,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “That was probably my favorite.”

There's a bit more to her story...

We tend to find some noteworthy stuff from the "enemy press" when the Wings travel to Western Canada, and the Vancouver Sun's Elliott Pap offers some Wings-related stuff in this morning's Canucks notebook:

New Red Wing centre Stephen Weiss spent 10 seasons with the Florida Panthers, excluding lockouts, so he has crossed paths with a number of Canucks who once played on the Panthers. Among them was Mike Santorelli, already the leading candidate to be the Canucks’ unsung hero. Weiss and Santorelli were teammates from 2010-13.

“It’s great to see how he’s doing, he’s a really good kid and a really hard worker,” said Weiss, 30. “He’s a scorer and if he gets to play with good players and plays consistently in offensive-type situations, he’ll do well. I think you guys are seeing that.”

Weiss, meanwhile, was off to a modest start with the Wings. He signed a whopper of a free-agent contract with them — five years worth $24.5 million — and admitted Wednesday he was still going through a transition period. He has two goals and is minus-4 in 13 with the win.

“In terms of being a Red Wing, it’s been fantastic but it’s been a big adjustment to a new system and playing with new guys and everything,” he said.

Weiss explained that with the Wings moving to the Eastern Conference, it helped influence his decision to sign with them. He is a Toronto native.

“I wanted to stay in the East so it certainly didn’t hurt that Detroit was changing conferences,” he said. “It was a factor, for sure. We’ve done some West Coast swings already, but once we get those out of the way, we’ll be staying in the east a lot. I think come towards the end of the season, we should have a lot more in the tank.”

Weiss looked very good on Wednesday evening. He was speedy, he helped steer a pair of Canucks defenders into Luongo's grill on the Alfredsson goal and he's starting to generate some scoring chances. I'm hoping that he breaks through in short order.

West Coast Swings + late-night flights = conflicts with early moring in Sweden, so Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom's "Bonus Swedish" interview with Niklas Kronwall was very brief:

Detroit came to Vancouver with four straight losses in its luggage. They were asked to battle a strong home team that had won four striaght games. How did it end? With a 2-1 victory for the Red Wings.

"We needed a win and finished the game in a good way. We played simple and worked hard for 60 minutes," says Niklas Kronwall to SportExpressen.se.

 

 


Also of Red Wings-related note: Oh joy, power rankings. Fox Sports and the Orange County Register's Eric Stephens offered a prior-to-the-game take on the Wings' struggles, though the team's record has been updated...

11.Red Wings [record] 7-4 -2 [down] 3 [highest/lowest] 5/11

GOOD NEWS: Franchise cornerstones Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are still point-per-game scorers.

BAD NEWS: The Red Wings earned just two points during a four-game winless stretch. They allowed the Coyotes to score five goals and the Senators to score six times during that span.

BOTTOM LINE: The Winged Wheel must take off its parking brake during its four-game road trip out West.

I'm impressed with this SI's Allan Muir's take on Jimmy Howard's play in his weekly U.S. Olympic rankings, however:

2. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: Four straight losses, sure, but the guy is being hung out to dry by a Red Wings team that hasturned into a turnover machine.  Howard looked very, very sharp while coming up on the short end against the Rangers. (Last week: 3)

Damn straight.

And finally, in the prospect department--I'm sorry I didn't add many observations to the game, but it's 6:12 as I get to the end of this wrap-up, so I'm a little bleary-eyed--I noted that Wings prospects Anthony Mantha, Zach Nastasiuk and Jake Paterson will take part in the Canadian Hockey League's Subway Super Series against a team of Russian prospects, albeit during different games, and Nastasiuk spoke with the Owen Sound Sun-Times' Bill Walker about his invite:

The Russians are coming and the Owen Sound Attack's Chris Bigras and Zach Nastasiuk are going to be there to meet them.

The two Owen Sound Attack skaters will be part of Team Ontario Hockey League when plays the touring Russian All-Stars as part of the 2013 Subway Super Series next month. And they're hoping solid performances will put them on Hockey Canada's radar for the 2014 World Junior championships.

"I'm excited for the game to see what they bring," Nastasiuk said on Wednesday prior to Owen Sound's 5-3 win over the Barrie Colts. "There's a lot of good players, not just in the OHL but in the Q (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) and the W (Western Hockey League) and we'd all love to have a chance at the World Juniors."

Both Bigras and Nastasiuk won a gold medal with Team Canada this summer at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Under-18 Hockey Championships with a 4-0 win over Finland in the Sochi, Russia. The 2014 World Junior Hockey Championships runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Malmo, Sweden.

Nastasiuk's been out of Hockey Canada's World Junior mix for a while now, but he might work his way back in.

6:16. Time for me to call it a morning. Be safe on Halloween. It's going to be raining, windy and in the 60's today in Southeastern Michigan, and the rain will keep pouring into Saturday.

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Comments

Zqto's avatar

I jusst watched the highlights, and the Canucks player who lifted his leg on the Wings second goal probably has his ear sore, still…  Tortorella probably ear rapped him all night long

Posted by Zqto on 10/31/13 at 07:02 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

If Tatar was an established pro they’d call that a ‘crafty’ goal instead of a fluky one.

Posted by MoreShoot on 10/31/13 at 07:42 AM ET

Tracy from T-Town Hockey 's avatar

Guess the coach was right “limit them to 20 shots and win 2-1”  They got exactly that.

Posted by Tracy from T-Town Hockey on 10/31/13 at 09:01 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

I was thinking last night—mostly but not entirely in gest—maybe they should convert Smith to forward.  Offensive mindedness is not his problem.

Posted by MoreShoot on 10/31/13 at 09:07 AM ET

Avatar

When Detroit plays there system and the way Babcock wants, they can beat anyone. Even without Mule, Ericsson, Helm and Nyquist. Just imagine how much better they would be with them. Love the way Tatar has been playing. Nice for him to get a goal. When Helm’s back I would love to see them play these lines:
Mule - Dat - Bert
Zetty - Weiss - Alfie
Nyq - Helm - Tats
Cleary - Andy - Abby

Posted by Anderj8 on 10/31/13 at 09:12 AM ET

SnLO's avatar

Posted by Tracy on 10/31/13 at 09:01 AM ET

Yep. beat me to it, but Babs got exactly what he wanted: a 2-1 win and surrendering 20 shots on goal

“And we don’t score any goals - at least not that I’ve seen. So let’s not give up 40 shots, let’s give up 20 shots, let’s continue to score no goals, but let’s win 2-1.  How’s that? Everyone think that sounds like a plan?” -Fiesty Babcock

Posted by SnLO from the sub great-white north on 10/31/13 at 10:03 AM ET

Avatar

maybe they should convert Smith to forward.

That’s what we need, another forward to add to the logjam…

Posted by Anderj8 on 10/31/13 at 09:12 AM ET

shut eye

Posted by Garth on 10/31/13 at 10:37 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

maybe they should convert Smith to forward.

That’s what we need, another forward to add to the logjam…

I thought of that, but, essentially, they are screwed anyway if they don’t get rid of Sammy (miraculously at full salary) or Eaves and Tootoo.  If there were able to do that it could be possible. 

Whatever they do with Smith, I think Eaves, Tootoo, and Sammy (released for almost no salary relief, right) go.  That’s the only way you get your Helm, Nyquist, Tatar line without playing the unsustainable game of IR transactions.  Right?

Posted by MoreShoot on 10/31/13 at 10:57 AM ET

Primis's avatar

Tatar’s goal was ABSOLUTELY a “fluke”.

It was an earned one though.  He’s been creating chances for both himself and others, and those kind of things happen when you’re doing that.

Also, I hope Zetterberg took note of Tatar’s shot.  Tatar put something behind it, and took it from a few steps inside the blue line.  He did NOT gain the blue line and immediately weakly wrist one with not even a defender screening.  That’‘s why that play NEVER works for Zetterberg, and why it’s a waste of time.


That was 2 points.  The Wings need more effort and finish than that though.

Posted by Primis on 10/31/13 at 10:58 AM ET

Primis's avatar

You guys are talking about converting Smith to a forward, and here I spent all night last night trying like mad to come up with a forward we can convert to defense so we don’t have to play Smith at all…

Seriously.  The defensive situation is bad enough it’s maybe worth a shot.  Maybe we have a new fun role for Bert “You don’t have to skate quite as much, AND you get to hit people more!  Would you like that?  Of course you would!”.

Posted by Primis on 10/31/13 at 11:05 AM ET

Avatar

So here’s my question for both you guys, George and J.J.; because we all know that Sammy is the elephant in the room and has literally zero (actually, negative) worth to this team because he doesn’t play and takes a roster spot, are there any realistic scenarios where we can just waive that dude? He’s literally the biggest waste of space. I know we only get 100k cap relief no matter what, but who cares? He is absolutely horrible and we could use Nyquist there or even use that spot for Eaves or Tootoo so we don’t have to just get rid of those 2 for cap reasons. They are better assets in my opinion. Thoughts?

Posted by ZandPasha11 on 10/31/13 at 12:19 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

In the absence of any relief, $100K of relief is better than nothing. 

There’s also the chance that he gets picked up and the entire problem solves itself (insanely unlikely).

The thing holding that back is that if you waive him, there’s just about zero chance of getting that nice and beneficial NTC waiver that would hopefully help the team more.  If I were Kenny I’d be shopping him and I’d already have his yes or no on the NTC waiver in my back pocket… but no way in hell would I let either of those two things be known to the public.

Still, cap space is the bigger issue than roster space and clearing only $100K is essentially nothing when it comes time to pulling guys up or playing them.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/31/13 at 12:34 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

DeKeyser said. “I try to play solid in the D-zone and if there’s a chance to jump up in the play and get some offense going I will. It’s always important to take care of your own zone first.’’

The Wings should lock Smith in a room and make him write those two sentences on a blackboard 1,000 times. Maybe, just maybe, he might get the message.

Niklas Kronwall said about DK): “...it’s one thing to do it a game or two, to keep doing it over and over and over, we should be very happy he chose to come to the Detroit Red Wings organization.’’

“Happy” doesn’t begin to describe how the team (and the rest of us) should feel about DK choosing the Wings. As far as “transactions/signings” go, it sure as hell beats the Quincey for a first-round pick deal.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 10/31/13 at 02:38 PM ET

Primis's avatar

The Wings should lock Smith in a room and make him write those two sentences on a blackboard 1,000 times. Maybe, just maybe, he might get the message.

Honestly, that doesn’t even drive me as nuts as his penchant for taking stupid penalties does.

How many times do you need to be penalized for failing to keep your stick down, Brendan?  I mean, geez…

Posted by Primis on 10/31/13 at 03:03 PM ET

Avatar

Maybe we have a new fun role for Bert

I would think the natural choice would be Miller.  Or maybe Eaves, what with Babcock’s love for right handers on the point.

Posted by Garth on 10/31/13 at 03:27 PM ET

Avatar

The thing holding that back is that if you waive him, there’s just about zero chance of getting that nice and beneficial NTC waiver that would hopefully help the team more.

They could [should (MUST)] just tell him that in a week he won’t be playing on the Wings, but if he wants a chance to continue playing in the NHL, he has to waive his NTC.  Either he waives it or he rides the bus with the Griffins.

Posted by Garth on 10/31/13 at 03:30 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I still think the problem lies more in finding somebody willing to take him than finding a team he’s willing to go to.

If he’s dumb enough to invoke his NTC, I might not even give him a ticket to the Griffins bus.  I’d throw his ass on unconditional waivers and, if he cleared, I’d shut him down.

Then his option is to walk his happy ass over to Europe and solve our problem that way or it’s to sit and collect a paycheck knowing full well that no NHL team is going to touch him with a contract after being shut down for a season because a team would rather not deal with him.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/31/13 at 03:58 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

Does Sammy have any illusions about joining the Swedish Olympic team this year? I remember him being royally pissed at being left off last time. If so, it’s certainly in his best interest to get playing regularly SOMEWHERE as soon as possible. Nevermind what it means for the rest of his career.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 10/31/13 at 04:40 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I would think the natural choice would be Miller.  Or maybe Eaves, what with Babcock’s love for right handers on the point.

Posted by Garth on 10/31/13 at 03:27 PM ET

I didn’t actually think Bertuzzi would make a good d-man.  I did think about Miller with the way he thinks the game.  You lose something at forward though by moving him.

I really HAVE wondered about Helm, if he ever plays again.  Especially if his speed never fully returns.  But I think the mindset and wiring might be all wrong there too.

I sincerely have considered Abdelkader.  Abby might be the closest they have to someone that could make that switch.

Posted by Primis on 10/31/13 at 04:46 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.