The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/22/13 at 09:20 PM ET
You know the math and the, "Wings need to win out" blather, but I'm not sure if you or I are particularly familiar with the Red Wings team that won a first-game-home-from-the-West-Coast game for the first time in five tries, defeating Phoenix 4-0 and really manhandling the Coyotes while extinguishing their playoff hopes in every category save shots.
The Wings came out strong--with Johan Franzen deftly tipping a Damien Brunner shot on the power play, all of 2:37 in--and, despite the Coyotes' near-ridiculous 12-4 shot advantage and the Wings' baffling 9 giveaways during the first period, Jimmy Howard played like a wall, the Wings killed off two penalties, and Damien Brunner scored a power play goal of his own via a slick diagonal pass from Henrik Zetterberg to essentially close out the first period.
In the 2nd period, the Wings kept the pedal to the metal, not only out-shooting Phoenix 12-10, but also answering the Coyotes' repeated physical challenges by giving Phoenix no penny, never mind nickel, dime or quarter, annoying the hell out of Shane Doan, Derek Morris (who got away with more than a few punches to Justin Abdelkader's head) and at least half a dozen ornery Coyotes, and all while doing something the Wings haven't been able to accomplish in ages in providing puck support and outlets for their puck-carriers in all three zones by skating hard and rotating into position to back each other up instead of leaving their puck carriers all alone while cheating toward offense, which had resulted in so many giveaways, pinned-to-the-boards scenarios in the offensive zone and awful scoring chances surrendered that it got silly over the past dozen-plus games.
The Wings out-detailed as well as out-worked out-hustled and out-ground the Coyotes, and by the time Valtteri Filppula(!) scored the Wings' 3rd power play goal late in the 2nd period, via Henrik Zetterberg's 3rd PP assist and Niklas Kronwall's 2nd PP assist, the game's outcome wasn't in doubt.
The only question was whether the Wings would let Phoenix off the mat in the 3rd period.
They didn't. Sure, Phoenix challenged Detroit and crashed Jimmy Howard with regularity in the 3rd period, out-shooting Detroit 12-7 and playing like their playoff lives were on the line (they were, and for once, the Wings were "doing the spoiling"), but the Wings' defense stood firm, as did Howard, and when Shane Doan exploded and decided to "wrassle" Justin Abdelkader down, then cock his fist for a haymaker after the referees had restrained him, Doan ended up taking a double minor to Abdelkader's single minor (hey, it wasn't much of a fight).
While the Wings got a little sloppy during the third period, they did continue to skate up ice with purpose, poise and the willingness to "get on the inside" of physical battles for the puck, even if it meant paying a physical price to do so, and in all honesty, they ended up exploiting Mike Smith's desire to keep the game going via puckhandling to burn off clock and, in a pleasant surprise, to help "eat the puck" down low in the Coyotes' end so that the Wings could pull an old-school move in playing defense nearly 200 feet from their own net.
Johan Franzen's empty-net goal would've been Pavel Datsyuk's had Datsyuk not felt so very charitable in attempting to give it to Justin Abdelkader, but the Wings were gonna put that puck in the net, one way or another, and they did.
From start to finish, hiccups and high number of shots against included, the Wings played like a team that finally understood that controlling its future involved backing up its words with actions, for perhaps the first time in a month or more, and while the Wings have three more hard games to go--against LA on Wednesday (NBCSN only), Nashville on Thursday and in Dallas on Saturday--this time, the Wings look like they plan on gettin' shit done instead of simply telling us what they need to do and then shaking their heads when their actions aren't enough.
Urgency. Intensity. Effort. Attention to detail. Grit, grind, grime, muck, and of course poise, clutch scoring, superb goaltending and excellent special teams play. All of those aspects were missing from the Wings' game since the middle of March, and they've reappeared when absolutely necessary.
Here's hoping the Wings keep it up.
Update: Oh, did I mention Danny DeKeyser both backchecking and tipping a sure Shane Doan goal over the net and then being rewarded with late-game time on the power play? That was pretty damn cool, too.
Shots 34-23 Phoenix overall. Detroit was out-shot 12-4 in the 1st period, out-shot Phoenix 12-10 in the 2nd and were out-shot 12-7 in the 3rd.
The Wings went 3-for-5 in 6:34 of PP time; the Coyotes went 0-for-4 in 8:00 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 34 of 34 shots; Mike Smith stopped 19 of 22; the Wings' last goal was an empty-netter.
The 3 stars were picked by the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan, and he picked Jimmy Howard, Henrik Zetterberg and Damien Brunner, in ascending order.
Faceoffs 28-27 Phoenix (Detroit won 49%);
Blocked shots 11-9 Detroit;
Missed shots 16-10 Detroit (total attempts 55-48 Phoenix, with the Wings firing 23 shots on the Coyotes' net and another 25 wide or into Coyotes players);
Hits 31-21 Phoenix;
Giveaways 15-2 Detroit--12 occurred in the 1st period;
Takeaways 4-3 Detroit.
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 9-and-8 (53%); Filppula went 8-and-8 (50%); Andersson went 7-and-6 (54%); Emmerton went 1-and-4 (20%); Franzen went 2-and-1 (67%); Zetterberg lost his only faceoff
Shots: Franzen led the Wings with 4 shots; Abdelkader, Zetterberg and Filppula had 3; Nyquist, Brunner and Andersson had 2; Datsyuk and Eaves had 1.
Blocked attempts: Filppula and Kronwall hit Coyotes players 2 times; Abdelkader, Cleary, Brunner, Emmerton and Franzen had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Abdelkader missed the net 3 times; Datsyuk, Brunner and Andersson missed the net 2 times; Smith, Cleary, Nyquist, Eaves, Quincey, Filppula and Franzen missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Abdelkader led the team with 6 hits; Datsyuk and Quincey had 3; Cleary and Zetterberg had 2; Smith, Tootoo, Filppula, Ericsson and Andersson had 1.
Giveaways: Franzen had 3 giveaways; Filppula and Smith had 2; Cleary, Datsyuk, Nyquist, eaves, Brunner, Zetterberg, Ericsson and DeKeyser had 1.
Takeaways: Kindl, Abdelkader, Datsyuk and Nyquist had takeaways.
Blocked opponent shots: Kindl, Ericsson, Kronwall, DeKeyser and Franzen blocked 2 shots; Cleary blocked 1.
Penalty minutes: Smith and Cleary took 2 minor penalties; Abdelkader took 1 minor penalty.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +5. Cleary, Datsyuk, Ericsson, Kronwall and Franzen finished at +1.
Points: Zetterberg had 3 assists; Franzen had 2 goals; Kronwall had 2 assists; Brunner had a goal and an assist; Filppula scored a goal; Ericsson had an assist.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 23:22 played; Quincey played 20:25; Ericsson played 20:09;
Datsyuk played 20:07; Zetterberg played 19:25; Franzen played 19:05;
DeKeyser played 18:33; Filppula played 17:49; Smith played 17:21;
Kindl played 17:13; Andersson played 16:15; Cleary played 15:58;
Abdelkader played 15:48; Brunner played 14:15; Nyquist played 13:03;
Emmerton played 9:07; Eaves played 8:54; Tootoo played 5:11.
Update: Early highlights come with NBC narration...
And yes, Ken Daniels stated that Tomas Holmstrom's going to scout for the Wings in the North America and Sweden, and will become a player agent. FOR SURE!
Update #2: Via RedWingsFeed, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff posted Jimmy Howard's post-game comments:
Update #3: Here's Zetterberg from Duff:
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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.