Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Capitals wrap-up and Wings-Islanders set-up: Can’t afford no cheap thrills

It can't be this *#$%@& complicated.

I would really love to be more eloquent or offer a better, "Let's rally the troops, it's gonna be okay" message this morning, but the Red Wings' fifth loss in five games (though the Wings are 1-and-4) and seventh straight home loss have me as frustrated as anyone else with the Red Wings' inability or unwillingness to close out opponents.

And at the 20-game mark, 9-5-and-6 plain old isn't good enough, regardless of the team's personnel changes, injuries or its status as a "young team" by Detroit standards.

So the Red Wings took a short hop on Red Bird III to prepare for Saturday night's game against the Islanders (7 PM, FSD/MSG Plus/97.1 FM) with Jonas Gustavsson slated to start and Luke Glendening slated to join the team in case Daniel Alfredsson can't play after tweaking his groin in warm-ups...

Having blown a 3rd-period lead en route to another shootout loss at home, this time a 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals. Aftonbladet's suggesting that the Wings look like the Dead Wings again, Nicklas Backstrom's talking about scoring a shootout winner in speaking with Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom, and the Russian press is duly noting that Alex Ovechkin's Capitals held Pavel Datsyuk's line scoreless--and -2 on the night--and their headlines are civil and downright delicate in their criticism compared to that of a fan base that's all but in revolt.

A team can't play its way out of the playoffs in November, but it can certainly make its December, January, February, March and April schedules much more taxing by blowing four straight home games, and the Wings will need to turn their ship around in a hurry as their status as playing 3 straight home games and a total of 4 of November's remaining 7 at Joe Louis Arena should serve as rally-making fodder before a wild December schedule.

This team should be playing much better, but it seems as if its confidence fails and flails at the slightest amount of adversity. When Alex Ovechkin tucked the 3-2 goal between Niklas Kronwall's legs and over an overworked, under-supported and visibly mentally tired Jimmy Howard, the Wings folded almost as badly as they struggled to steady themselves during the first five-or-so minutes after finding that Alfredsson couldn't go (Mike Babcock stated that team trainer Piet Van Zant pulled Alfredsson out of the lineup when he felt soreness in his groin during the warm-up, yielding a 11-skater set of forwards and 24-minute nights for Datsyuk and Zetterberg)...

And after killing a penalty in overtime, the staggering lack of confidence displayed by Datsyuk, Franzen and Bertuzzi in the shootout was telling.

This team can't seem to score that extra half-goal or keep a half-goal out--I know that sounds weird, but that's my gut feeling as to how loose the tolerances are between the Wings' mental lapses and their absolute necessity of sticking to that personnel-transcending structure--and it was just frustrating as can be to watch Tomas Tatar and Johan Franzen display as much chemistry as they did, but Franzen and Kyle Quincey chasing Brooks Laich on the game's first goal; it seemed that the Capitals' entire game plan involved shutting down Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Bertuzzi, and quite frankly, it worked well for Washington; and in the comments below, you'll find that the Capitals readily admitted that they knew Jimmy Howard was going to come out to challenge their shooters, and they knew rebounds would be there.

It's hard to argue with them given that Howard's status as a goalie playing "at the top of the paint" has become quite the bump-and-grind with his own defensemen as Howard edges out another three feet in anticipation of defensive breakdowns, and his defensemen inevitably back right into him, as Brian Lashoff did on the game-tying goal, yielding "no chance" goals but insistence from fans that Howard's not doing enough when the truth of the matter is that his teammates' mistakes more than make up for the weird rebound Howard gave to Laich or his bite-on-the-deke status when Nicklas Backstrom scored the shootout winner.

I just don't see a team that's bound for "Dead Wings" status or doomed to a non-playoff year. I see a team that is, as Mike Babcock put it, "fragile" mentally; I see a team whose lack of confidence and building levels of frustration yield mental mistakes and players trying to force plays or do each other's jobs; I simply see a team that's not quite getting it done despite the talent, will, determination and brains to get things done, and I agree with Capitals coach Adam Oates, who suggested that the game is fickle, and that "the same team that won a zillion in a row a little while ago" is "a very good hockey team" that's "going to be fine."

I'm just *#$%@& tired of watching the Wings burn away their margin for standings error while they work out the kinks my gut told me were coming over the course of another identity-building season all at the same damn time.

And if you missed it, Capgeek summarized the mathematical realities of the "Free Nyquist" movement:

This isn't a bad team. This isn't an old or slow team. Right now, it's a frustrated team, a fragile team and a team making stupid, game-and-point-costing mistakes because it's forgotten that it can actually calm the *#$%@& down and play Red Wings hockey.

The Capitals' coverage is...Weird. In Washington DC, the Capitals swim admist a sea of coverage, but away from DC, their website decides that video and Tweets are fine substitutes for actual writing, and pre-game notes from CSN Washington give way to a hastily-posted AP recap and more video.

Fear not, however, because the Washington Post's Katie Carerra posited a fine recap recounting the Capitals' rally from a 2-goal, 3rd-period deficit...

The Capitals extended Detroit’s winless streak at home to seven, dating from Oct. 15, while continuing their own recent run of success. Washington improved to 6-1-1 in its past eight games.

“It’s a good sign that we battled back and good thing that we showed that character that we can come back,” [Nicklas] Backstrom said. “You don’t want to stop playing after two periods even if you’re behind two goals. That’s something we talked about. We kept working, and we put pucks on net. Eventually we’re going to score, and that’s what we did.”

Washington had a key power-play opportunity at the start of the third but despite quality chances, including Backstrom in front and a whiff by Ovechkin, the Caps couldn’t convert. While the man advantage dried up — the Capitals went 0 for 4 in Detroit and are 0 for 11 in the past three games — the visitors found a renewed energy at even strength when Coach Adam Oates switched up the forward lines.

Oates decided before the period began that he would move Marcus Johansson up to his familiar spot as left wing on the top unit and slide Martin Erat to the second. The hunch paid off. On the first shift after Johansson joined the first line, he set up Ovechkin’s goal that ignited the rally. The speedy forward eluded Pavel Datsyuk, carried the puck below the goal line and found Ovechkin low in the zone for a shot that knuckled its way over the shoulder of Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard (30 saves) to make it 3-2 with 3 minutes 19 seconds gone in the third.

“I was just looking for a spark as always. I actually thought Ovi was looking a little flat,” Oates said. “Teams have been taking him away on the PP, so I just tried to generate something. We got lucky with it, and the puck had eyes on his goal.”

...

[The] deficit didn’t deter Washington as it entered the third ready to make a push for the second time this week. While mounting these late-game rallies isn’t an ideal situation, being able to pull it off may bring the Capitals a boost.

“You need to do that in order to gain confidence as a team and gain consistency. If you do it a couple times where you come back, then in the future you believe in yourselves a little bit more,” Holtby said. “It’s definitely a credit to our guys in being confident in our guys and [to] keep pushing.”

She noted that Michael Latta's first career goal involved some pre-scouting of Howard (and Brian Lashoff being a doof)...

“I just thought, ‘Get in front of the goalie’. He comes out and charges the puck a lot so, when Wardo put it back to the D I just thought get to the net and hope,” Latta said. “It bounced right on my stick. I’ll take a lot of those.”

Latta recorded his first career NHL goal with 8 minutes 6 seconds gone in the third period at Joe Louis Arena Friday night to tie the game as Washington went on to capture a 4-3 shootout win against the Red Wings. Making it even better was that Latta’s parents were in the crowd, having made the three-hour trip from St. Clements, Ontario.

“It was definitely nice to get it when it mattered so much, not a 7-0 game,” Latta, 22, said. “It was nice that my parents and some friends were down. It was great, it felt really nice to get it win and keep going.”

And Friday night's game's status as an NHL Network game meant that they sent Brian Hedger (the Twitter block, Mr. Hedger. Why? What did I do? I'm not poor, sad troll Meeko_Ciaz) to town, so he offered more Capitals context:

"A lot of good things had to happen, but from the start of the game I thought the guys were really engaged in the game," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "They got [two goals] late in the first, but we had a good period. The second half of the game we only gave up one chance [against us] 5-on-5, so we did a lot of good things in the game."

Following a switch in lines early in the third, Ovechkin brought Washington within 3-2 at 3:19 by chipping a short feed from Marcus Johansson over goalie Jimmy Howard's shoulder and under the crossbar. Latta scored his first NHL goal off a rebound at 11:54 to tie it.

Each team got a power play in overtime, but neither could end it there. Backstrom finally did in the third round of the shootout, beating Howard through the pads after Washington goalie Braden Holtby made saves against Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi.

It was the second time this week the Capitals came back in the third period to win; they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in OT Tuesday at Verizon Center.

"It's big," said Holtby, who made 34 saves, including all eight in the third and four in OT. "You need to do that in order to gain confidence as a team and gain consistency. If you do it a couple times, where you come back, then in the future you believe in yourselves a little bit more. It's a credit to our guys for being confident in each other and [continuing to push]."

...

"It's a huge win," Ovechkin said. "Everybody knows what they have over there, how good they are. When they get a 3-1 lead, it just makes us [work] harder. It's a good sign for us. We [played] against a pretty good team, huge-skill team, and it's a pretty good test for us. We set the tone right away in the third with a couple of good chances and we just kept going."

As it turns out, WashingtonCapitals.com's Mike Vogel penned a recap that didn't post until 4:20 AM, so here's a little more from the Capitals' locker room:

“They’re a skilled team,” says Holtby of the Wings. “They’d be a team you’d have to play a few times before you could really figure out a good plan against them. Next game, we’ll probably have a better idea. They have a great chemistry, too, their whole team. Credit to us that we stuck with it through the whole game and kept battling the whole time. They got some pretty good scoring chances and we had some big plays from our [defenseman] and some sticks and it got us the win.”

Both teams were unable to notch the game-winner on overtime power play opportunities. Backstrom scored the only goal of the skills session to make winners of Washington.

“It’s a good win for us,” says Carlson. “We’ve got a tough stretch [coming up] and it’s nice to have one of these character wins. Obviously [the Wings] were coming hard at us and they had a few [power play] goals. It’s not easy to be on the road and battle back from a few goals [down] and I think it shows a lot of character out of our team.”

The AP's recap will serve as our pivot point between the Wings and Capitals' perspectives...

[The] Capitals rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Red Wings 4-3 on Friday night. It was Detroit's seventh consecutive home loss and its 11th straight overtime loss at Joe Louis Arena.

"Very surprising. It just goes to show you how fickle the game is," said Washington coach Adam Oates, who began his Hall of Fame playing career with Detroit in the mid-1980s. "The same team could win a zillion in a row."

...

Johan Franzen had two goals and an assist, and Danny DeKeyser had a goal and an assist for Detroit. Jakub Kindl had two assists, and Jimmy Howard made 34 saves.

"Same thing, same outcome, but we can't get frustrated, can't get discouraged," Howard said. "Somehow, some way keep a positive mind frame in here and just continue to keep going out there and working because we're doing a lot of good things. It's tough to take over a game for a full 60 minutes. There's going to be waves and ups and downs. Mistakes happen; we're just going to have to find a way to overcome them."

AND NOW, PREPARE FOR SOME MOTHAF***IN REPETITION. BECAUSE THE WINGS WERE GRUMPY AND TOOK A TRIP TO CLICHE LAND.

In Henrik Zetterberg's case, he readily admitted that he had nothing new to add to the discussion, as noted by the Macomb Daily's Frank Costello...

“It’s hard,” Zetterberg said of the team’s recent woes. “Again, we thought we did a lot of good things. But, it feels like I’m standing here repeating myself from the last game. I don’t know, there’s nothing else we can do.”

...

Detroit threw 37 shots at Washington goalie Braden Holtby during regulation time, and tested him during an overtime power play, but couldn’t beat him once in the shootout. Nicklas Backstrom scored the only goal of the shootout, when he beat Howard between the legs. Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk and Franzen all were turned aside.

If there is a silver lining for the Red Wings, it is the schedule. The team travels to face the New York Islanders tonight. The change of scenery might be exactly what the team needs.

“It’s nice that we don’t have to wait long for our next game,” Zetterberg explained.

And DetroitRedWings.com's Andrea Nelson, who pointed out that the Wings' power play no longer sucks, which is good:

"Well, I think when they scored we took over again after,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “It wasn’t that we were bad after they scored. I think in the first when they got the first power play we had a little stretch there – five or six minutes – when we didn’t play. But after that we played good. We just have to keep doing that and doing goof things. It’s nice that Mule scored today. That line did a lot of good things, and just got to keep on trucking here.”

...

After both teams failed to score in extra minutes, Nicklas Backstrom scored the lone shootout goal to give the Capitals a 4-3 victory. The loss extended Detroit’s winless streak at home to seven games, their first skid of that magnitude in 24 years. It was also the Red Wings’ 11th straight overtime loss at home.

“Same thing, same outcome but we can’t get frustrated, can’t get discouraged,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “Somehow, some way keep a positive mind frame in here and just continue to keep going out there and working because we’re doing a lot of good things. It’s tough to take over a game for a full 60 minutes. There’s going to be waves and ups and downs. Mistakes happen, we’re just going to have to find a way to overcome them.’’

Despite the loss, Detroit’s power play continued to be successful, converting on two of its four advantages against the No. 1 penalty kill in the league. They are now 4-for-8 in the last two games.

“I thought (assistant coach) Bill Peters has done a real good job with our scheme and our guys got some timely saves,” Babcock said. “The specialty teams coming in, you look at the rankings and say they could have an advantage coming in. We actually won that battle and lost the five on five battle.”

Babcock didn't feel that the Wings suffered from Alfredsson's absence as the support players did their jobs--with Drew Miller leading the Wings in shots with six and Justin Abdelkader and Daniel Cleary registering 4 hits apiece--as he told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...

Tatar was a late replacement for Daniel Alfredsson. Alfredsson was a late scratch because of a tender groin. The Red Wings dressed 17 skaters, one less than the limit. Alfredsson took the pregame skate but had tightness in his groin.

“I had no idea what was going on there,” Babcock said. “There was tightness in the groin. Obviously you’d like to have enough players but it worked out good anyway. Our rotation was good.”

And Babcock felt that the Wings definitely flinched when Ovechkin scored:

The Red Wings seemed to be in control, leading 3-1 and having killed a Capitals power play to start the third period. But Washington’s Alex Ovechkin scored his 15th goal at 3:19, cutting the lead to 3-2, and the Red Wings appeared to tighten.

“It’s probably expected when you haven’t won (in some time),” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “In saying that, it was a good hockey game and we controlled lots of the play. Our special teams were fantastic. In the end, I’d like to have gotten one more (goal), obviously.”

The Wings were very happy to have finally gotten some scoring from their "secondary scorers" in Johan Franzen (2 goals and an assist), Darren Helm (1 assist) and Tomas Tatar (1 assist), as well as defensemen not named Niklas Kronwall thanks to Danny DeKeyser (a goal and an assist), Jakub Kindl (2 assists), as the Free Press's Helene St. James noted...

Johan Franzen had two goals and an assist against the Caps, but neither he, Pavel Datsyuk nor Todd Bertuzzi could dent Braden Holtby in the shoot-out. Nicklas Backstrom was the only one to get one by Howard after regulation ended. The Wings were unable to build on a 3-1 lead they took into the third period.

“We got two out of the Mule,” coach Mike Babcock said. “That’s good secondary scoring. Normally when we’ve gotten any secondary scoring, we’ve been able to win. Our power play was good, but we need to find a way to get one more to win the game. When they make it 3-2, you want to get the fourth one. Or you can’t give up the third one.”

The third goal was a weird one, with Michael Latta converting on a rebound that had flown free after Howard lost track of the puck. Alex Ovechkin netted his 15th goal of the season a minute after the Wings held the Caps and their second-best power play at bay for the third time. For all the good they did, the result was another paltry point.

“We’re letting in goals we shouldn’t let in,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “We’re not scoring on the chances we’re creating. Their second and third goal, we’re right there. It’s hard. Again, we’re doing a lot of good things. But I feel like I’m standing here repeating myself from last game. I don’t know. Nothing else we can do. We’ve just got to keep trying to play for 60 minutes, and we should win this game. We played good enough. Howie was good enough in net.”

And we'll cue up more of the same from St. James' "Why the Wings Lost":

Zetterberg, on how the game went: “When they score, we took over again after. So it wasn’t that we were bad after they scored. I think in the first, when they got their first power play, we had a little stretch there where we didn’t play. But after that, we played good. We just have to keep doing that.” ... Howard said: “They capitalized on their chances in the third period.”

The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa duly noted that Jonathan Ericsson's return from a shoulder injury was good news, and while Ericsson only played 20:20, he had 2 shots, 2 hits, a giveaway (the Wings had 10 giveaways, which is bad) and he blocked a Capitals shot. Ericsson's return yielded much more stability for the blueline overall, and it was Ericsson sounding the least frustrated while speaking to Krupa after the game:

“I think we’ve been on the right track, and I think we’ve been playing pretty well,” Ericsson said. “We just haven’t gotten the point that we wanted.”

The Red Wings are faltering. But they believe they are doing much right, and it is a matter of time. Their confidence is battered, clearly. But looking back and seeing that big No. 52 solid on the blue line is no small boost.

If their depth holds, and with Ericsson in the lineup, things should begin to turn.

“I think we’re fine, as a whole,” he said. “We’re giving up a few too many good scoring chances that we don’t have to — easy fixing. But, other than that, I think we are creating a lot. We just don’t get the number of pucks in that we want.”

Danny DeKeyser's rolling along, too, as DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose noted. It must have stank to score your first goal at the Joe in a losing effort, but Niklas Kronwall needs some help in terms of providing offense from the blueline, and DeKeyser's providing it while shaking off whatever sophomore jitters he displayed earlier this year:

“DeKeyser is helping the whole group,” Babcock said. “He’s got real good hockey sense, elite skater and real good defender. Whoever he plays with plays better. Real good players do that to their partner and linemates. That’s something that he’s come here and grabbed. It wasn’t very long ago we didn’t even know whether to put him in the lineup, give him a gratis game before we shut down for the year. Now he’s rolling along, he’s in our top three.”

DeKeyser now has eight points on the season, just three shy of Niklas Kronwall for the top scoring Wings’ defenseman. DeKeyser, who was signed as an undrafted free agent last season, has seven points in the last nine games.

“I thought I played well in some parts and obviously there are some parts of the game that I wish I could’ve replayed,” said DeKeyser, who logged 3:20 of power-play ice time against the Capitals. “But that’s how it goes sometimes and you know you just move on and get ready for tomorrow.”

The Red Wings, who have lost seven straight games on home ice left immediately after Friday’s game for Long Island where they will play the Islanders Saturday night.

DeKeyser’s second-period goal, his first at The Joe, gave the Red Wings a two-goal cushion, 3-1, over the Capitals. He also assisted on Johan Franzen’s first-period power-play goal that tied the score at 1-1.

“It was just a power play and Mule had the puck on the far wall, he was kind of walking down and I was on the far right,” DeKeyser said. “I just kind of tried to find a seam for him to give me the puck and he made a great pass, it was right in the wheelhouse and I just had to shoot it.”

Jimmy Howard wasn't as pleased with his effort, and he told Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner that the Wings simply must play much better at home, from the goal on out:

“We can’t get frustrated, we can’t get discouraged,” Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. “We have to somehow, some way keep a positive mind frame in here and keep going out there and work. We’re doing a lot of great things out there, but it’s tough to take over a hockey game for a full 60 minutes. There’s going to be waves and ups and downs. Mistakes happen. We’re just going to have to find a way to overcome them.’’

When Howard was asked if the Wings have hit a mental block at home, his answer was "maybe" and then added:

“This should be a relaxing building to play in. It’s been so good to us in the past that we shouldn’t be tentative playing in our own building.  I’m sure once we win one at home, all this is going to be behind us and we’ll be better at home.’’

The non-Howard numbers are scary...

For whatever reasons, home ice hasn’t been kind to the Wings in general, but overtime has been downright brutal. Detroit has now gone 11 home games without a win in OT.

But Zetterberg kept preaching a steady hand on the rudder, and he didn't suggest that his goalie was anything less than superb while speaking with MLive's Ansar Khan (who also penned a quote-free recap):

“Well, obviously we’re letting in goals that we shouldn’t let in and we’re not scoring on the chances that we’re creating,’’ Zetterberg said. “Again, we think we’re doing a lot of good things, but I feel like I’m standing here and repeating myself. I don’t know, there’s nothing else we can do. We have to keep trying to play for 60 minutes and we should win this game. We played good enough and (goaltender Jimmy Howard) was good enough.’’

...

"I would say that’s probably expected when you haven’t won,’’ Babcock said. “In saying that I thought it was a good game, we controlled lots of the play. Our specialty teams were fantastic. I thought Howie gave us a chance in the shootout and we didn’t score.’’

In the end, it really is a game of chances, and the Wings didn't execute when they needed to keep the puck out of their net...

Danny DeKeyser made it 3-1 on the power play with 18 seconds remaining in the second period. But the Red Wings faltered in the third, a period in which they have been outscored 21-14.

“You got to continue to keep playing,’’ Howard said. “I thought we did that, it’s just that they capitalized on a couple chances in the third.’’

And Zetterberg could only offer a, "We can get back at 'er tomorrow" to Michigan Hockey's Stefan Kubus:

Zetterberg said getting right back on the ice tomorrow night to take on the Islanders is a nice remedy for the painful loss.

“Yeah, obviously it’s tough right now to think about the game tomorrow, but it’s nice that we don’t have to wait that long for the next game,” Zetterberg said. “Going to the Island tomorrow, it’s been tough the last few times we’ve been there, so we have to be on our toes and play a good game.”

Multimedia:

Highlights: NHL Network game = even the Red Wings website's highlight clip is narrated by Comcast Sportsnet Washington's yahoos:

CSN Washington also posted a slate of highlights, and if you want to watch the NHL Network's analysis of the game, or their "Arena Cam" interview with Michael Latta, you may most certainly do so on your own.

Post-game: The Capitals' website posted a 1:35 clip of Latta's post-game comments, as well as those of Braden Holtby, John Carlson, Alex Ovechkin and coach Adam Oates' comments, and Comcast Sportsnet Washington posted clips of Ovechkin and Capitals Oates' post-game comments;

And the Red Wings' website posted clips of Danny DeKeyser...

Jimmy Howard...

Henrik Zetterberg...

And coach Mike Babcock speaking to the media:

And the Free Press's Helene St. James posted a composite clip of Zetterberg, Howard and Babcock's comments.

Photos: The Detroit News posted an 11-image gallery;

The Detroit Free Press's Julian H. Gonzalez posted a 19-image gallery;

ESPN posted a 29-image gallery;

NHL.com and the Red Wings' website posted 23-image galleries, and the Capitals' "Monumental Network" website posted a 9-image gallery.

Statistics:

Shots 37-33 Detroit overall. Detroit out-shot Washington 12-11 in the 1st and 13-8 in the 2nd, was out-shot 11-8 in the 3rd and out-shot Washington 4-3 in OT.

The Red Wings went 2-for-5 in 8:45 of PP time; the Capitals went 0-for-4 in 7:14.

Jimmy Howard stopped 30 of 33 shots; Braden Holtby stopped 34 of 37.

The 3 stars were picked by NHL.com's Brian Hedger, and he picked Johan Franzen, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Because he's a dick.

The Red Wings' goals: Franzen (3) from Kindl (6) and DeKeyser (6), PPG;

Franzen (4) from Tatar (2) and Helm (1);

DeKeyser (2) from Franzen (5) and Kindl (7), PPG.

Faceoffs 32-30 Detroit (Detroit won 52%);

Blocked shots 11-7 Washington;

Missed shots 13-7 Detroit (so the Wings had 61 shot attempts to Washington's 47, but the Wings fired 24 shots wide/blocked);

Hits 27-24 Washington;

Giveaways 10-5 Detroit;

Takeaways 11-8 Detroit.

Individual stats:

Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 11-and-14 (44%); Helm went 10-and-7 (59%); Andersson went 4-and-7 (36%); Abdelkader went 4-and-2 (67%); Franzen went 3-and-0 (100%).

Shots: Miller led the Wings with 6 shots; Tatar, Quincey, Zetterberg, Helm, DeKeyser and Franzen had 3; Kindl, Abdelkader, Kronwall and Cleary had 2; Datsyuk, Samuelsson and Bertuzzi had 1.

Blocked attempts: Zetterberg fired 4 shots into Capitals players; Datsyuk fired 2 into Caps players; Kindl, Miller, Tatar, Bertuzzi and DeKeyser had 1 attempt blocked.

Missed shots: Kindl missed the net 3 times; Bertuzzi, Kronwall and DeKeyser missed the net 2 times; Datsyuk, Miller, Samuelsson and Zetterberg missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Abdelkader and Cleary co-led the team with 4 hits; Bertuzzi had 3; Kindl, Miller, Helm, Ericsson and Franzen had 2; Datsyuk, Quincey and Kronwall had 1.

Giveaways: Kindl and Quincey had 2 giveaways; Datsyuk, Tatar, Samuelsson, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Ericsson had 1.

Takeaways: Miller had 2 takeaways; Kindl, Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Samuelsson, Zetterberg, Helm, Kronwall, DeKeyser and Franzen had 1.

Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall blocked 2 shots; Kindl, Lashoff, Helm, Bertuzzi and Ericsson blocked 1 shot.

Penalties taken: Kronwall took 2 minors; Lashoff and DeKeyser took 1 penalty.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished at -10. Datsyuk Quincey, Zetterberg and Bertuzzi were -2; Abdelkader, Ericsson, Kronwall and DeKeyser were -1; Kindl and Tatar were +1.

Points: Franzen had 2 goals and an assist for 3 points; DeKeyser had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Kindl had 2 assists; Tatar and Helm had 1 assist.

Ice time: DeKeyser led the Wings with 26:35 played; Kronwall played 24:41; Datsyuk played 24:37;

Zetterberg played 24:23; Quincey played 22:14; Ericsson played 20:20;

Kindl played 19:17; Franzen played 18:37; Bertuzzi played 18:28;

Helm played 17:51; Tatar played 15:59; Miller played 14:17;

Abdelkader played 14:14; Cleary played 13:59; Lashoff played 12:54;

Andersson played 12:23; Samuelsson played 11:01.

 

 

 

Red Wings-Islanders set-up: This should be easy for the Wings. But nothing comes easily.

The 7-10-and-3 Islanders have lost 5 of their past 6 games, including a 3-2 loss to LA on Thursday, in which the Islanders gave up 3 third-period goals. The Islanders' probable starter for tonight's game, Kevin Poulin, shrugged off the collapse while speaking with the New York Post's Brett Cyrgalis...

“A hockey game is 60 minutes, not 40 minutes, not 20 minutes,” said Poulin, whose Islanders team went into the third up 2-0. “We just had to play the third, and I think they won the battle. Maybe too many mistakes as well.”

So, Poulin, as the 23-year-old netminder making his third consecutive start, now with a grand total of 34 career NHL games, attempting to usurp the No. 1 goalie position from incumbent Evgeni Nabokov, would you have wanted any of those goals back? Say, the first one, 5:34 into the third period, when Kings defenseman Slava Voynov took a slap shot from practically on top of the goal line extended, 5 feet away, and it beat you inside the near post?

“Just a lucky goal,” Poulin said. “Slap shot from there, just snuck in. It bounced a little bit off the post, and just in.”

Now the real kicker.

“It’s a nice goal,” Poulin said. “He’s 5 feet away with a slap shot. It’s going to happen.”

Since Day One, coach Jack Capuano has embraced Poulin’s attitude, saying before the game, “He has a little bit of swagger and attitude about him, and I think you have to have that when you’re the last line of defense.”

The Islanders are probably going to sit very-short-time Wing Evgeni Nabokov for the 4th straight game, which he told Cyrgalis is no biggie, but Cygralis reported that Thomas Vanek is probably going to play tonight, probably alongside John Tavares, andNewYorkIslanders.com's Cory Wright states that Tavares has played in 227 consecutive games.

And in positive-versus-negative news, WFAN's Daniel Friedman says that Islanders fans should be patient with Poulin, but Newsday's Arthur Staple says that the Islanders' record of late isn't good enough given the team's personnel or the expectations the team faces:

As the losses have piled up for the Islanders, now at seven in the last 10 games (3-7-0), they seem to blur together with indiscretions of the past, from a time when the Islanders were a team of much lower expectations than they are now.

Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Kings, a game the Islanders led 2-0 after two mostly solid periods, was one such defeat. The players took it hard after giving up the winning goal with 1:33 left; the coach chose to look at what his team did well enough to grab that lead rather than excoriate his players.

"We didn't change anything in the third period," Jack Capuano said of Thursday's loss, the third time in seven games (4-2-1) the Isles have been defeated when leading after two periods. Those three losses equal the Isles' total for all of the 48-game 2012-13 season when leading after two (16-2-1), highlighting that the current team is finding ways to give away points as they did when John Tavares first arrived on Long Island in 2009.

The Red Wings come to the Coliseum Saturday night for the first of two visits in a two-week span. Detroit was in the Western Conference the past three decades so this will mark the most Coliseum games for them since the 1991-92 season.

The Isles would love to lean on a different bit of recent history on Saturday: They haven't lost in regulation (5-0-1) to the Wings, home or away, since the 2004-05 lockout ended.

Thomas Vanek (upper body) practiced again on Friday and should be ready to return on Saturday. Tavares played through a bruised right hip on Thursday, when he had an assist but no shots on goal for the first time in 69 games. He also skated on Friday and will surely play on Saturday as well.

The Islanders posted their forward lines from Friday's practice on Twitter...

NHL.com's At the Rink blog had the Isles dressing the following defensemen on Thursday...

Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey - Matt Donovan

Aaron Ness - Matt Carkner

And NewYorkIslanders.com's Cory Wright penned a game preview...

Red Wings player to watch: Zetterberg leads the Red Wings in goals (10), points (21) plus-minus (12) and is one of the most well-rounded, two-way players in the game. The Wings captain has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his last seven games.

Islanders Storylines
• Clipping Wings: The Islanders are 5-0-1 in their last six games against the Red Wings and haven’t lost in regulation to the Wings since Black Friday, 2003.
• Conference Foes: It’s been 676 days since the Islanders played the Red Wings, but they will play each other twice in two weeks at the Coliseum.
• Hits and Blocks: Matt Martin and Andrew MacDonald lead the NHL in the hits and blocked shots. Martin, the reigning hits leader, has 91 bodychecks this season while MacDonald has 75 blocked shots.

As did NHL.com's John Kreiser...

Big story: Each team has dropped seven of its past 10 games, though the Red Wings have gotten single points in five of those losses by getting past regulation. Detroit is probably glad to hit the road; the Red Wings have lost seven in a row at home, including a 4-3 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals on Friday when they blew a two-goal lead in the third period. The Islanders are coming off a blown third-period lead of their own; they saw a 2-0 advantage turn into a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

Red Wings[team scope]: The most optimistic note for Detroit was that it scored three goals against Washington without getting any from its top line. Johan Franzen scored twice, matching his production through Detroit's first 19 games, and set up defenseman Danny DeKeyser's goal late in the second period.

...

Islanders [team scope]: Home hasn't been much more friendly to New York than it has for Detroit. The loss to the Kings on Thursday marked the third time this season the Islanders have lost after leading by two goals. All three have come at home; in two of them, the Islanders took a 2-0 lead into the third period.

"That's two points we are going to be kicking ourselves about," captain John Tavares said. "Again, we played pretty well until the third period, but every part of our game let us down. … We need more complete games, and we have to be better as a team."

Who's hot: Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg didn't hit the score sheet Friday but has seven points in his past five games. … Tavares has a goal and five assists during a four-game points streak.

Injury report: The Red Wings played with 17 skaters Friday when forward Daniel Alfredsson was a late scratch with a groin injury suffered in warm-ups. Center Stephen Weiss (groin) and defenseman Brendan Smith (shoulder) are close to returning. … The Islanders hope first-line left wing Thomas Vanek (upper body) will be able to play; he left after the first shift last Saturday at the Columbus Blue Jackets and hasn't played since. Defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) and Brian Strait (upper body) are on injured reserve.

And the AP/Stats LLC's preview offers...stats:

The Red Wings went 8-1-0 with one tie against the Islanders from 2000-07, but the teams have switched places lately. New York is 5-0-1 in the last six meetings, winning four in a row by a combined 17-4 score. Detroit's last regulation win in the series came Nov. 28, 2003.

Islanders captain John Tavares had a goal and two assists in the most recent matchup, a 5-1 victory Jan. 10, 2012, on Long Island. Tavares has notched at least one point in 17 of 20 games this season, tallying four goals and six assists in his last eight.

...

Kevin Poulin has started three straight and four of five games for New York, going 1-3-0 with a 2.27 goals-against average. He could get the nod again with Evgeni Nabokov posting a dismal .868 save percentage in his past seven games.

Not to be outdone, Detroit (9-5-6) also failed to protect a two-goal lead in the third period in its last game, as Washington rallied for a 4-3 shootout victory Friday. Johan Franzen had two goals and an assist for the Red Wings, who have dropped five straight (0-1-4) but have at least one point in eight of nine (3-1-5).

...

Franzen's two-goal game was a good sign with Detroit desperate for secondary scoring behind Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Those two have combined for 19 of the team's 50 goals, while linemate Todd Bertuzzi has five.

Howard, who has compiled a 3.03 GAA during the five-game skid, could get a night off Saturday if coach Mike Babcock opts to give Jonas Gustavsson his first start since Oct. 17. Gustavsson is 2-1-1 with a 1.72 GAA in four appearances against the Islanders - all coming with Toronto - while Howard is 0-2-1 with a 3.55 GAA.

 

 

 

Red Wings notebooks and also of Red Wings-related note: Okay, I'm going to shake things up and go with the short-form stuff first:

1. SI posted a list of the 50 biggest/best/most influential fights. You might imagine that several Red Wings bouts made their list;

2. According to Puck Daddy, the Wings' Beer Cost is the 15th-highest or the 15th-lowest in the league, depending on how you feel about the glass of beer being half-empty, half-full or really expensive.

3. The Tampa Bay Lightning's website offers 3 reasons why Valtteri Filppula is "An Asset to the Bolts." "Red Wings fans praying for the inevitable tail-off after an impressive start" is not among them.

4. For whatever reason, the NHL re-posted videos of Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf talking about playing in the Winter Classic, David Clarkson talking about playing in the Winter Classic, and Jimmy Howard discussing the Wings-Leafs rivalry and playing outdoors. The videos total about 90 seconds in total viewing time.

5. The Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger states the obvious in suggesting that "secondary scoring is a concern" for the Wings in his weekly power rankings.

6. Longer-form. NHL.com's Brian Hedger asked Babcock about the lack of secondary scoring and why he hasn't split up Datsyuk and Zetterberg, and here's what the Babcock said:

"I know the guys. I talk to them personally," Babcock said of why he doesn't split up Zetterberg and Datsyuk. "I think it helps them and I think they’ve been good. I like what’s going on with that group. So we've got to find someone else to share some of the scoring workload."

The question is, who? Injuries and ineffectiveness have made it tough for Babcock to settle on consistent lines for each game. Detroit just got back power forward Johan Franzen (two goals, four assists) after a four-game absence but is without second-line center Stephen Weiss, who has two goals and one assist in 17 games.

Weiss has missed the past two games with a groin injury and isn't expected back until next week. Fellow offseason free-agent pickup Daniel Alfredsson hasn't scored a goal since Oct. 30 and has three points in that span. The result has been a hodgepodge of underperforming veterans and rookies in and out of the lineup.

Babcock has jumbled all but his top line multiple times, each time with little sustained success. Even center Darren Helm, who missed all but one game last season with a back injury and just returned from other ailments Nov. 2, was given a chance on the second line. With left wing Tomas Tatar joining the lineup Friday, it likely moves Franzen back to the middle on the second line and Helm to the third line.

"Helmer’s the best third-line center in the League," Babcock said. "We can play him in the second hole. He’s going to be fine but he’s the best third-line center in the League. So if you want to win every night he’s the three."

Who are the rest?

"You want to play [the same lines] together every day, but you also want to get on a roll, so you can't," Babcock said. "It's like the chicken or the egg. Which comes first?"

A couple of recent salary-cutting maneuvers might help solidify things up front, at least a little. Veterans Jordin Tootoo and Patrick Eaves cleared waivers in the past two days and reported to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League, giving Babcock fewer options to toy with up front.

"My job is to evaluate the people and put them in and out [of the lineup]," Babcock said. "Now we have less forwards so that should help guys be in more constant spots. When a guy gets injured you have to make a change, whether you want to or not, because he's not there to play. That leads to change."

7. In the interim, Stephen Weiss told MLive's Ansar Khan that his time on the sidelines with a groin injury might not be the worst thing in the world given his scoring struggles:

“I’ll just try to continue to do more every day,’’ Weiss said. “Once that’s not a problem, get some practices in and hopefully play. It feels real good today, felt good yesterday and I know it’s just a matter of ramping it up and making sure (the issue) is all gone and go forward.’’

Weiss was slated to miss his third game Friday against Washington. Considering how much of a struggle the season has been thus far – he has two goals and one assist in 17 games – there is a bright spot to watching some games.

“When you get some time off it gives you a chance to regroup mentally and physically and hopefully come back even better,’’ Weiss said. “It gives you some time to clear your head a bit. That’s tough to do when you’re playing every other night. But at the same time you don’t want to miss any time.’’

8. The Free Press's Helene St. James took note of the steppin-forward play of Danny DeKeyser:

“He’s just got good hockey sense,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Elite skater and real good defender. Whoever he plays with, plays better. Real good players do that to their partners and linemates. It’s something he’s come here and just grabbed. It wasn’t very long ago we didn’t even know whether to put him in the lineup. ... Now he’s rolled along, he’s in our top three.”

DeKeyser, 23, joined the Wings last spring, a week after finishing at Western Michigan. He just passed 30 NHL games. To have played against the likes of Steven Stamkos and the Sedin brothers is pretty heady.

“It made me better,” DeKeyser said. “Playing against top-line players on other teams gave me a challenge. I’m a lot more comfortable in here. Last year, I was really new. I’m still new, but I’m a lot more comfortable in the room.”

9. The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan spoke with Weiss and offered the following notes:

Forward Patrick Eaves cleared waivers and was reassigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins. Eaves, 29, sprained his knee and ankle toward the end of the exhibition season and didn’t play until Oct. 30. He played in only three games this season, with no points, and a minus-2 rating.

The Red Wings will get $925,000 of salary cap relief with Eaves in Grand Rapids, same as with forward Jordin Tootoo, who was waived last week and reassigned Thursday to Grand Rapids.

The Red Wings needed to waive the two forwards, as defenseman Jonathan Ericsson came off the longterm injured list Friday to play Washington.

....

Forward Daniel Alfredsson was a late scratch for Friday’s game with a “tender groin,” general manager Ken Holland said. The Red Wings went with a lineup with 17 skaters and two goalies against Washington, one under the limit.

10. The Windsor Star's Bob Duff noted that Alex Ovechkin and Pavel Datsyuk will be giving Babcock fits as teammates on Team Russia in Sochi:

“His ability to shoot the puck makes you so nervous,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who as coach of Canada in Sochi, will need to be nervous about what both Ovechkin and Datsyuk can do.

...

A magician with the puck on his stick, Datsyuk can make space for himself when seemingly there is no space to be found. He and Ovechkin were teammates with Dynamo Moscow during the 2004-05 NHL lockout and formed a bond.

“We’re friends,” Ovechkin said. “I played with him when I was young in Dynamo and with the national team, so we know each other well.”

Like Datsyuk, who works in a dangerous tandem with Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg, Ovechkin’s skills are supported by an equally-talented sweet Swede in centre Nicklas Backstrom. It’s no coincidence that Ovechkin has 15 goals, while Backstrom owns 16 assists.

“He’s a really good disher,” Zetterberg said of Backstrom, descthat could be returned his way.

Datsyuk paid Ovechkin the ultimate praise, insisting that facing him was “like (trying to stop) another team. He finds good spots, he has good shot, he follows rebound, he plays hard every time,” Datsyuk said. “This makes him one of the best.”

11. And DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose spoke with Slava Fetisov about taking part in the Winter Classic Alumni Showdown:

"I played 22 years and [was] one of the most successful hockey players and I’m a Russian senator right now and I am always going to remember for the 4 ½ seasons in Detroit for one reason, we played for the Hockeytown,” said Fetisov in an exclusive phone interview with DetroitRedWings.com. “So I remember people who love the game, who understand the game, who appreciate the players and were patient enough to wait for 40-plus years to give them the Stanley Cup in Detroit. I’ll never forget the moment when we sweep Philadelphia in the four games. I was the happiest man and I was always remember Stevie Yzerman when he got the Cup and passed to me it was a great right to carry in the Joe Louis and I will never forget this night. It was a memorable part of my life.”

Fetisov was the fourth piece of a Russian hockey revolution in Detroit. He arrived late in the 1994-95 season and helped the Red Wings reach the Stanley Cup finals where they lost in four straight games to the New Jersey Devils.

The following year, the Red Wings acquired veteran center Igor Larionov, rounding out the Russian Five along with younger stars Sergei Fedorov, Vladimir Konstantinov and Viacheslav Kozlov, who grew up under the Soviet hockey umbrella.

...

["]I got some good and bad memories about Detroit and especially ones when we got in the car accident,” Fetisov said. “I never forget this and I appreciate how the people of Detroit supported me, how they supported Vladimir and Sergei Mnatsakanov. I never forget the people of Detroit how they build up the tents and spend a few days around the hospital just to support Vladimir, Sergei and myself and pray for us. This stuff you never forget and there will be enough appreciation. I tried to express in the press how much I appreciate and how much I respect the good people in Detroit.”

While he sees Larionov on occasion, Fetisov said he still maintains a long-distance friendship with the other Russian Wings, and he’s looking forward to their reunion in December.

“I spoke to Igor last week, he was in Moscow,” Fetisov said. “But I have relationship with others, the same relationship as any hockey player in the world. I got nothing against anybody and everybody got respect for me and I respect everybody who plays this game.”

12. See you in a couple of hours. This is the Wings' 4th slate of back-to-back games, and there are 10 left.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

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Howard looks lost this year half the time. He looks like he doesn’t know where the puck is most of the time so he comes out if his crease to find it and either has to make s spectacular save out get lucky. Quincey was Quincey, which is not good. Del Kaiser was impressive, as usual.
    Tatar was the best player on the ice who didn’t score. Maybe even including players who did score. He was disruptive and motivated. This tells me the Wings need to bring up Nyquist, even if they have to waive Samuelson to get the roster spot and put someone who is higher dollar on the ir for a few weeks.

Posted by teldar on 11/16/13 at 09:47 AM ET

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I did not grow up in Michigan, so I asked my fiancé if we should be worried about the Wings. He is a life-long Wings fan and says they always start slow and get better as the season moves along. I have definitely found it frustrating to watch the Wings, and I’ve watched every game this year. It does seem like they have had trouble rolling with all the injuries and personnel changes.

At least in Grand Rapids, we can watch the fantastic Griffins. They are really an exciting team to watch. I think that Tatar has really had some brilliant moments, and seeing him and Franzen seem to really enjoy playing together was really cool. I hope they are able to stay on the same line (and no more Tatar scratches).

Posted by griffinsfan on 11/16/13 at 09:50 AM ET

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Quincey being Quincey is a problem. He breaks up an odd man rush with a nice play but on the same shift completely loses his man which allowed Washing to tie the score at 3.  Wings need help on def. badly… Quincey, Smith and Lashoff are not good.  George, you’re right about Wings shootout attempts - even Pav’s go at it was weak, though not nearly as bad as Franzen (curious choice since he’s never been much of a breakaway finisher) and Bertuzzi (spare me that slow as molases spin-o-rama garbage).  Eaves and Gus in the AHL with Sammy and Cleary up is a joke… ever see an NHL player with a weaker wrist shot than Cleary?!

Posted by Uncle Rico on 11/16/13 at 10:12 AM ET

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an overworked, under-supported and visibly mentally tired Jimmy Howard,

And the excuse-making continues.  At this point the only real question in George’s updates is how soon he starts spinning furiously after another mediocre effort from Jimmy Howard.

Howard had a bleeping two goal lead to start the third period and couldn’t get it done.  Period.  He makes 5.3 million bucks a year against the cap and faced a whole whopping 11 third period shots.  It’s not like he was besieged.  A two goal lead against 11 shots and he couldn’t make the saves.

George has a bit of a quandary.  For as much as he thinks the team has to constantly protect Howard against having to make tough saves, I have to wonder why he was ever in favor of giving Howard a 5.3 mil a year contract.

To forestall the inevitable, Howard is not “the” problem.  He is, however A problem and most certainly not deserving of descriptors like ‘valiant’ or ‘heroic’.  If Howard was making 2-3 mil a year I’d have no problem with how he’s played so far… but he’s not making that.  He’s making twice as much.  Incumbent with that level of compensation is a higher level of performance than what he’s done so far.

Simple as that.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/16/13 at 10:20 AM ET

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Gotta say I agree HiHD. Howard isn’t the only problem, but that loss was his fault last night. The first goal was terrible. I don’t remember the third, I think, but if I’m remembering right, the second was Quincey. Or vice versa.

Posted by teldar on 11/16/13 at 10:58 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

11 third period shots.

You dont think allowing 11 shots, several high quality, is too much for a defense to give up in a 3rd period with a 2 goal lead?

I do

Simple as that

Posted by Hootinani on 11/16/13 at 11:50 AM ET

topshelf14's avatar

Well without a doubt Howard needs to be better especially because he is being paid as a top tier goalie. I wonder what happened with Holland’s former thoughts on high paid goalies. Pay less for goalies and spend more on defensemen.

Posted by topshelf14 from Detroit, MI on 11/16/13 at 12:15 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

With current roster, #RedWings will bank cap space as season progresses. Could add ~$2M on deadline day or Nyquist’s $950K in mid-January.

I was questioning the Wings bringing Glendenning up insted of Jurco until I read that. Jurco’s cap hit is $200k more, so maybe every per-game-played dollar counts when it comes to “banking” cap space. If Jurco’s missing a callup get Gus back one day sooner in January, I’m good with that.

Having said that, man, Jurco really seemed to “turn the corner” last spring. Now someone just needs to “knee-cap” Cleary so Holland doesn’t give him Jurco’s roster spot next year. smile

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 11/16/13 at 12:42 PM ET

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Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/16/13 at 09:20 AM ET

Uhm, what did Sammy do to contribute to last nights win. If you look solely at his stats, like you do with Jimmy, then he was more useless to the team than Jimmy. At $3 million he was more of an expense to last nights game than Howard - statistically speaking, of course. I bet at less cost to the team Nyquist could
Have contributed as much.

I think the real issue here isn’t that George is unfairly supporting Howard in you eyes, its that instead of making an argument built around Jimmy’s play you choose to demean George for supporting Howard’s play. And l, frankly, its pretty lame.

We all get that you don’t like Jimmy’s contract but his play has been quite good over the past few years as I have pointed out in previous posts. That play warranted the contract he was given. The alternative, that you have suggested, was to use a broken goalie - Monster - and a goalie with a partial season in the AHL - a league which you yourself have pointed out as a huge step below the NHL. If nyquist isn’t ready for the jump then for sure Peter isn’t ready. So what was Kenny to do with Jimmy? Pay him for the trajectory his career seems to be on or let him go and stick with an unproven goalie and an often injured goalie? You have made a claim for some mythical 1st line D-man FA that did not exist over the summer and making a trade for another who would never be available for a trade - at least one that would mean more 1st round picks sent away and more decent prospects lost. Your argument is tiresome and is like listening to that scratchy Twisted Sister album your parents loved as kids that actually has no relevant place in society - sorry olderthanchelios.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 11/16/13 at 02:05 PM ET

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Jimmy Howard, even strength save percentage by season as starter

2010: .925
2011: .916
2012: .929
2013: .937

2014 (thus far): .909, which is good for 51st out of the 71 goalies who’ve seen ice time this season. Oh, and the guy in 50th place has him beat by 5 points (Tim Thomas, .914).

Yes, the defense in front of him has not been especially good and suffers from too many breakdowns. Yes, he’s been hung out to dry a lot.

But even playing behind a mediocre defense, a goaltender of Jimmy’s caliber should be stopping more pucks. Just because Kyle Quincey or Jakub Kindl or Brian Lashoff or Johan Franzen or whoever /also/ screwed up on the play doesn’t mean Howard was helpless and blameless.

If Howard overplays an angle or bites on a head fake or goes down too early or reacts too slowly, and as a result allows a goal, then he has to take some of the responsibility. It doesn’t matter if the shot only came from where and when it did because Quincey blew the coverage. If it’s a makeable save then it’s Howard’s job to make it, regardless of what the team is doing in front of him.

You can’t keep giving the goaltender a free pass just because he wasn’t the /only/ person to make a mistake on the play. If your defense never breaks down and your skaters never make mistakes, even the crappiest goalie in the league can look an all-star. But defenses do break down, and good goalies are expected to be able to bail out their team a certain percentage of the time when that happens. Howard has not been good enough.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 11/16/13 at 02:10 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I was not in favor of the team’s contract with Howard, neither in its length or its cap hit, but I’m pretty *#$%@& lost as to why you’ve chosen to focus in on my believe that Howard is something other than an overpaid sieve, HiHD.

Of course supporting a losing goalie’s going to be unpopular. I’m aware of that, and I’m not sporting some sort of fanboy boner for specific players here. I’m trying to offer my honest assessments, and we happen to disagree. But I of course forget that I’m not allowed to have an opinion on my own blog lest the self-styled Master of the Comments Section feel his sensibilities aren’t catered to.

This is long overdue: your self-righteousness was old a couple years ago. Boo *#$%@& hoo that not everyone sees the game “In HD” like you do. Lo, let us prostrate ourselves before your wisdom. Every comment you make involves some sort of attempt to state that I’m an idiot and/or the other commenters are idiots.

You’re a well-spoken troll, but that’s still all you are.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 11/16/13 at 02:14 PM ET

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OTC, I agree. Jurco will be interesting to keep track of. Being more available to keep tabs on while in the AHL than the Juniors it is easier to understand what the Wings saw in him. He seems to be motivated to be better each season. That kind if stuff can not be taught. He, alone, makes me want to watch GR play more than watching the wings. Sadly, I live too far away to take in any of their games and can only occasionally find their games online.

Next offseason will be interesting with he and Mantha making a strong play for Wings roster spots. I will predict that the wing’s roster will be much younger next season than this season wink.If people now are barking loudly about Nyquist not wearing the winged wheel next season will be crazy with Jurco and Mantha in GR and Sammy and Cleary having newly minted one year contracts.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 11/16/13 at 02:17 PM ET

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For the record, I do think Howard is a good (not elite, but good) NHL starting goalie and I do think his numbers will drift toward his career average as the season continues.

But I don’t think it’s accurate to say he’s just the same old heroic Jimmy playing as well as he ever did, and all the blame is on the crappy defense. The defense has been crappy, but Howard is not playing up to his usual standard either.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 11/16/13 at 02:19 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I don’t think that Howard’s been up to his standards or anybody else’s over the past half-dozen games. I just happen to believe that the Wings have been doing a fine job of getting in their goaltenders’ (plural) sightlines and have made more than their share of catastrophic mistakes of late. There are a dozen-plus pictures of Quincey diving or poking or otherwise chasing players skating in on breakaways behind him this season, to the point that the poke-back-stare-and-see-someone-score has become his signature move.

Should Howard be stopping another shot a game? Yes. But the Wings should be scoring another goal during most of their losses, too.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 11/16/13 at 02:20 PM ET

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I’m a fan of judging players, goaltenders especially, as close to “in a vacuum” as possible. I’d like to think that, even if the Red Wings’ were doing a great job limiting shots against, pounding home 3-4 goals per game, and winning consistently, I would be just as unhappy with Howard posting a .909 ES save percentage as I am unhappy with him posting a .909 this season, when barely anybody on the team can seem to get their shit together.

It’s incorrect to focus all the blame on Howard, since the entire team is underperforming and it’s not all his fault. But Howard /has/ been bad, and we ought to expect more from him, regardless of whether or not his teammates are playing any better.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 11/16/13 at 02:31 PM ET

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Sven, I suggest you take a look at Winging It In Motown’s corscie (sp?) review of each game. They do a pretty good job of breaking down scores and penalties. Most of the time they find several faults on goals scored against - including poor goalie play. Most often though its
Defensive responsibility that breaks down first.

As a goalie, I understand what a poor defense can do to a players mental state. Every goal against is taken personally even if it was impossible to make the save. Each one, erodes confidence even in the greatest of net minders. Only a few have to ego to change that personal deflation into something positive. Once I have up seven goals in one game. The third and the difference maker in the game I blocked into the cross bar and rebounded back off my head into the goal. It’s the third goal against that is usually the back breaker for a goalie. In this case even bad luck off a great save couldn’t keep my confidence from falling.

Because I play the position I choose not to criticize Howard for his play. What he experiences no other positional player can understand because the goalies play is directly linked between winning and loosing. I don’t expect people who don’t play in goal to understand but I do explain the mentality of a goalie so that people can sympathize. It’s not an easy position to play and the pressures are vastly different than any other position.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 11/16/13 at 02:36 PM ET

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George, spot on! Well said.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 11/16/13 at 02:38 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I guess my question would be—without attempting to defend any particular player—“define bad.” Because, outside of Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Alfredsson (most of the time), Bertuzzi (ditto) and Kronwall, how many players have lived up to expectations? And what separates “decent,” “good but not good enough,” “under-performing” or “average” from “bad?”

Because if we’re going with straight “good” or “bad” assessments, we’re going to end up with three to five “goods” and another 19 or 20 “bads.”

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 11/16/13 at 02:44 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I made a comment in the game-day thread that ought to be made here as well: Howard’s mistakes have increased over the past couple of games, I won’t deny that for a second, and I’d also suggest that he’s been playing mentally burnt-out hockey of late. It’s been time for Howard to take a seat for three games now.

If the Wings don’t play better in front of Gustavsson, it’s not going to matter who’s “fresh” versus who’s “fried.”

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 11/16/13 at 02:51 PM ET

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I also played goal. Granted I did not play organized ice hockey (family couldn’t afford it) but I did play goalkeeper back in my days of organized soccer. Not the same, but I imagine the pressure experience is similar.

I know that confidence can wax and wane, but I also don’t totally buy your argument here. If it were generally true that goaltender performance declines behind bad defensive teams due to confidence loss, there might be a case. But as it turns out, save percentage is only very weakly correlated with skater performance (having a good Corsi team does not predict anything about the quality of goaltending you get), and there are plenty of examples of great goalies who put up lights-out individual stats despite being under assault every night (Luongo or Vokoun in Florida for example). I think confidence is a factor, but at the NHL level probably a lot less than most people would generally believe.

Regarding assessments of “good” or “bad”:

A smack-middle-of-the-road average NHL goaltender would be projected to stop pucks at an overall rate of about .912 or .913, and an average starter would be a few points higher than that. The team in front of the goaltender can move that mark a few points one way or another depending on how many penalties they take, what kind of defensive coverage they provide, etc.

So in an overall NHL context, perhaps we could say Howard has been average, maybe a little below average. If the team plays well in front of him, he’ll probably win. If the team plays badly in front of him, he’ll probably lose.

But Jimmy Howard should be held to a higher standard than league average, because he is 29 years old, makes $5 million and has been a .920+ save percentage goalie 3 out of the last 4 years. He is a good goalie who is not playing nearly as well as he should be playing.

I am not, repeat, not saying Howard is crap and the Wings should get rid of him, or that he is torpedoing the team. By league standards he has been okay. But by his own standards he has been well below the mark. Again, he is not alone in that on this team and I do expect him to improve, but I also don’t think we ought to be cutting him any slack just because he’s got company in the “not living up to expectations” bus.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 11/16/13 at 03:10 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

You can’t keep giving the goaltender a free pass just because he wasn’t the /only/ person to make a mistake on the play. If your defense never breaks down and your skaters never make mistakes, even the crappiest goalie in the league can look an all-star. But defenses do break down, and good goalies are expected to be able to bail out their team a certain percentage of the time when that happens. Howard has not been good enough.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids

That, and everything else in your string of posts is absolutely spot on, Sven. Must be people from GR are just smarter than others.  cheese

If people now are barking loudly about Nyquist not wearing the winged wheel next season will be crazy with Jurco and Mantha in GR and Sammy and Cleary having newly minted one year contracts.

Posted by howeandhowe

Not even Holland would be dumb enough to sign Sammy to a new contract, H&H. But Cleary? Hell, he’ll probably get five years at $3M per year. We all might as well start barking about that one right now.  cool grin

This is long overdue: your self-righteousness was old a couple years ago. Boo *#$%@& hoo that not everyone sees the game “In HD” like you do. Lo, let us prostrate ourselves before your wisdom. Every comment you make involves some sort of attempt to state that I’m an idiot and/or the other commenters are idiots.

You’re a well-spoken troll, but that’s still all you are.

Posted by George Malik

Personally, I think you’re 100% correct in your assessment of HD, George. But aren’t you the one who asked everyone to “tone it down” a bit and get away from personal attacks? Just sayin’...

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 11/16/13 at 03:25 PM ET

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Here’s an interesting thought (or not). I think moving out the blue line has been bad for the wings. There is very soft coverage on the points and everyone just collapses down in front of the goaltender. Wings have done an above average job of screening their own goalie this year.

Posted by brians neck on 11/16/13 at 04:58 PM ET

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I’d also suggest that he’s been playing mentally burnt-out hockey

I definitely agree, which is why I don’t understand how Babcock isn’t playing Gustavsson more regularly.  I understand why he rode Howard last year, but Gustavsson played well while Howard was hurt (at least one of his three straight wins was because of his play) so it doesn’t make sense to jot play him more regularly.  He should be playing every fourth game and one of every back-to-back.  And hell, if the Wings win tonight why not give him the start next game?

Why not give Howard a couple mental health days?  Let him watch the game as a spectator so he can either let the guys know what they can do to make his and Gustavssons’ jobs easier or so that he can see how he needs to adjust his game.

Posted by Garth on 11/16/13 at 06:30 PM ET

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I also don’t think Howard is the only one who is gassed.  Watching Datsyuk’s shootout attempt last night, he didn’t look like he had anything left in the tank.  Part of that was the fact that they only had 11forwards, but part of it is that the top line is really being leaned on by Babcock because of some of the awful bottom six guys they have like Cleary and Sammy.

This probably doesn’t node well for tonight, being the second of a back-to-back and the third game in fourth night…

Posted by Garth on 11/16/13 at 06:40 PM ET

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You dont think allowing 11 shots, several high quality, is too much for a defense to give up in a 3rd period with a 2 goal lead?

No, not really.  Happens all the time.  Teams very often play a passive game when they have a 2 goal lead, or even a one goal lead, into the 3rd period of games.

Unfortunately, George seems to have slipped a gear a bit lately here, so I should take a moment to address it.

I was not in favor of the team’s contract with Howard, neither in its length or its cap hit, but I’m pretty *#$%@& lost as to why you’ve chosen to focus in on my believe that Howard is something other than an overpaid sieve, HiHD.

You’re starting off on a rather shaky premise, George.  You are both minimizing your praise of Howard while exaggerating my criticisms of him in an attempt to make your faux-righteous indignation look like it has something resembling a basis in reality.

You have called Howard ‘valiant’ and ‘heroic’ among many other superlatives to date in this season, George.  I think Howard is playing like a 2-3 million dollar goalie and not like a 5.3 million dollar goalie.

That’s the actual basis from which you should build your criticisms of me, George, not your hackneyed misrepresentation… if, of course, an honest criticism is what you’re trying to do instead of cheap internet theatrics brought on by a fit of pique.

Of course supporting a losing goalie’s going to be unpopular.

But that’s not really what you’re doing though.  You’re aware of that, right?  What you’re actually doing is blaming the losses everywhere but on Howard.  In your eyes Howard isn’t a losing goaltender, he’s merely playing behind a losing team.  Totally not his fault.

That’s biased, and it ends up with you having to take some fairly bodacious stances in order to make your ‘support’ of Howard stick.

Heck, I support Howard, in that I’d rather him play well than not, just like every other Wings player.  The difference between you and I is that I don’t allow my ‘support’ for a particular player to override my ability to look at his play objectively.  IMO you do as it applies to Howard.

But I of course forget that I’m not allowed to have an opinion on my own blog lest the self-styled Master of the Comments Section feel his sensibilities aren’t catered to.

Who said you weren’t allowed to have an opinion, anyway?  That appears to be quite an overreaction on your part.  Of course you can be as pro-Howard or anti- this guy or pro- that guy you want… I’m surprised you’d ever think that sort of thing was even in question.  Likewise, when someone else disagrees with you they are able to make the case as to why.  Seems like a fair deal to me.

What you appear to want is the ability to have an opinion that is unchallenged, or at least unchallenged competently, which is not a fair deal.  To the degree that I read the entirety of your posts I don’t disagree with you across the board.  At this time I feel your position on Howard is rather out to lunch.

This is long overdue: your self-righteousness was old a couple years ago. Boo *#$%@& hoo that not everyone sees the game “In HD” like you do. Lo, let us prostrate ourselves before your wisdom. Every comment you make involves some sort of attempt to state that I’m an idiot and/or the other commenters are idiots.

Bah.  I state and support my opinion.  I don’t wallow in self-pity when people disagree with me.  I don’t tie myself in knots trying to read intent and derive insult from posts.  I don’t waste time making absurdly ineffective personal insults to assuage agita generated from feelings of disappointment derived elsewhere. 

On the small, small chance this actually matters, I came up with the ‘HD’ moniker back before hockey games were consistently being carried in high definition on the Center Ice package, as a bit of casually meaningless internet rebuke towards the league for dragging their feet on a fairly obvious bit of technological implementation… but like some other things it looks like you’re just trying to spin up some other nefarious subtext for what I do.  Alas.

You’re a well-spoken troll, but that’s still all you are.

Oh, please.  That’s terribly lazy.

The thing that, I suspect, has sent you a bit around the bend here is that you’re starting to realize I was way ahead of the curve on the two larger issues I’ve disagreed with your positions on lately, namely the manner, nature and context of the roster moves and the play of Jimmy Howard.  Given the level of investment you have in your opinion, I understand why seeing it start to melt a bit under the harsh light of reality can result in anger.

It’s a blog, George.  A blog about a sport.  It certainly shouldn’t be something that generates such malevolence.  Being challenged or wrong isn’t a big deal.  I’ve been challenged or wrong before and I’ll be wrong again.  The key to serenity is being able to accept that sort of stuff without feeling like having someone question your position or actually be right about it strikes a blow at your identity.

 

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/16/13 at 07:29 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I don’t tie myself in knots trying to read intent and derive insult from posts.

Yes you do. 

I don’t waste time making absurdly ineffective personal insults to assuage agita generated from feelings of disappointment derived elsewhere.

True on a technicality. If you cut off that sentence after the word “insults”, that describes you very well.

Oh, please.  That’s terribly lazy.

It’s true though.

Although I’ll say you’ve been better lately.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 11/16/13 at 07:41 PM ET

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HockeyinHD - long time reader of this blog from London, England. If it’s worth anything just wanted to say spot on with the comments, couldn’t agree more. Well done for speaking out and highlighting a number of points which needed to be said!

Posted by zatta40 on 11/16/13 at 08:05 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/16/13 at 06:29 PM ET

I’ve been a regular critic of HD. I even described him recently as a passive-aggressive personality – and that may very well be true.

But I have to “man up” here and admit that he posted just about the most cogent response I’ve ever seen here at KK. And, while I hate to admt it, I think he’s right on each and every point he made.

So, that leaves us at a point where we have HD who is quite often a passively vitriolic poster who appears to have no other purpose in posting than to piss off a certain group of people. And we have a hard-working blogger in George who’s quite often hyper-sensitive to anyone questioning his opinion.

Maybe each needs to take a step back and try to either understand or accept the opinions of the other. Based on the posts in this thread, that’s what I intend to do. Personally, I’m going to “un-block” HD and I’m going to try to be more accepting of George’s, let’s call them, “eccentricities.”

Hopefully, flushing all of this “bad karma” out of our collective systems will result in a complete turnaround for the Wings. smile

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 11/17/13 at 01:49 AM 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.