The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/31/14 at 11:39 PM ET
The heart attack Wings nearly gave it away but earned the extra point in what is all but the beginning of a set of five near-must-win games on Friday night, rallying from a 1-0 deficit, going 0-for-5 on the power play, surrendering a tying goal with seven seconds left...
And taking a crapton of shootout shooters to take out a fantastic Michal Neuvirth and the Washington Capitals by a 4-3 tally, with Neuvirth stopping 42 of 45 shots in regulation and OT, but one fewer than Jimmy Howard in the shootout.
The Red Wings will practice at the Joe tomorrow--presumably--and head to Washington to tangle with the Caps on an NBCSN Superbowl pre-game-game at 12:30 PM on Sunday, and with the Wings having barely sank their hooks into one of the "wild card" spots, it will be absolutely essential for the Wings to come out of the Verizon Center with a point ahead of the final pre-Olympic home game against Vancouver on Monday (the Wings also head to Florida on Thursday the 6th and Tampa on Saturday the 8th).
I just got home to watch the start of this one after adventures in rental car swapping, and frustratingly watched the Wings blw a trio of first-period power plays and in fact go down 1-0 via Jason Chimera's power play marker 15:24 in, all while the Wings fired 22 shots on Michal Neuvirth but couldn't or wouldn't dent him. The Wings' power play, especially sans Bertuzzi and Cleary, involves very little screening of the goaltender and a whole lot of stationary passes to stationary players on the perimeter. As such, it's quite inefficient, and it's pretty evidently a matter of confidence as much as it is a matter of systems play.
The Wings did manage to tie the game early in the second, when Michal Neuvirth exited the net to stop Drew Miller on a breakaway and was not able to return as Patrick Eaves and Luke Glendening helped Miller score at 2:09...
And when Danny DeKeyser managed to blast an elegant slapper through traffic off a Riley Sheahan slapper (and just, just off Jason Chimera's shin pad) with 1:39 left in the 2nd, you thought the Wings might be able to pull off a regulation win...
And even after Casey Wellman tied things up 8:09 into the 3rd, Gustav Nyquist scored a gorgeous little slapper through a fine Abdelkader screen with 9:45 left...
But the young Wings couldn't hold on, and Alex Ovechkin tied things up with only 7 seconds remaining in regulation...
And OT solved nothing, necessitating a seven-round shootout in which Patrick Eaves' goal was decisive and Jimmy Howard's save on Jay Beagle was decisive.
You may take the following for what you will:
All I know is that tonight, the Wings earned the extra point they needed to earn, and given the "kids'" struggles to stand on their own without Bertuzzi, Cleary and Zetterberg as Babcock gives Sheahan and Jurco one final long audition before the Wings hopefully get healthier after the Olympic break, they, Jakub Kindl (who seems to understand that the fire lit under his ass involves him being an endangered species if he doesn't bring it every night) and the returning Jimmy Howard were all very strong--or at least strong enough to right the ship a bit as Zetterberg returned and nobody settled down...
Yet. Here's hoping that the rest of the pre-Olympic break games aren't as heart-attack-inducing, though I doubt they will be anything less than Wings-fan-freakout territory until sometime around 10 PM next Saturday night.
This is a start. Now the Wings have to finish strongly.
Statistics, quick version (and this was Mike Babcock's 400th regular season win):
Shots 45-29 Detroit overall. Detroit out-shot Washington 22-5 in the 1st, 9-8 in the 2nd, the Wings were out-shot 14-10 in the 3rd and they out-shot Washington 4-2 in OT.
Special teams: the Red Wings went 0-for-5 in 10:00 of PP time; the Capitals went 1-for-2 in only 3:06 of PP time.
Goaltending: Jimmy Howard stopped 26 of 29 shots for Detroit; Michal Neuvirth stopped 42 of 45 shots for Washington.
The 3 stars were picked by Michigan Talk Radio's Rich Kincaide, and he picked Riley Sheahan, Danny DeKeyser and Gustav Nyquist. He's always weird about 3 stars so no Neuvirth is no surprise.
The Red Wings' goals: Miller (6) from Glendening (4) and Eaves (3);
DeKeyser (3) from Sheahan (6);
Nyquist (10), unassisted.
Faceoffs 30-29 Washington (Detroit won 49%);
Blocked shots 16-14 Washington;
Missed shots 20-11 Detroit (Detroit fired 45 shots on Neuvirth and another 26 wide/blocked for a total of 71 attempts; Washington had 29 on Howard and another 25 blocked for 54 attempts);
Hits 24-17 Washington;
Giveaways 8-4 Washington;
Takeaways 8-7 Washington.
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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.