The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/07/14 at 11:36 PM ET
The Detroit Red Wings are a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in the Azeri rebel ham sandwich that Jimmy Howard may or may not have eaten during the Olympics.
In simpler and plainer English, I don't think that we're going to figure this team out, at least not until it does or does not make the playoffs, because the night after the Wings punted away a point in their 4-3 OT loss to Colorado, the Wings played similarly messy hockey, their goaltending was even shakier than it was against the Avs, the kids continued to make mistakes, the defense was doofy in terms of allowing the Devils to walk in and score...
And yet the Wings managed to just lay waste to Corey Schneider's goals-against average, rallying from a blown 3-2 deficit 11:44 into the second with five straight goals--including a trio scored 3 minutes and 14 seconds--en route to a 7-4 win whose lustre wasn't dimmed by Smith and Kindl letting Adam Henrique to walk in and make the score look closer than it was with 1:18 remaining.
In terms of offense, the Red Wings' Mule Leg line was absolutely fantastic--Johan Franzen had 2 goals and 2 assists, Gustav Nyquist had a goal and 3 assists, and David Legwand had a goal and two assists, he knows how to get the hell out of the Swedes' way and let them deke and dangle, and he goes to the front of the net, where he scored his first goal as a Wing this evening.
Just as importantly, of the Wings' 33 shots, Nyquist (8), Franzen (6) and Legwand (3) had HALF of them, and that's just bloody amazing.
Obviously, the Wings' "Kid Line" gave up a shorthanded goal, Jakub Kindl looked like he wanted Mike Babcock to play Brian Lashoff instead, there is no chemistry whatsoever between Daniel Alfredsson and Luke Glendening and Joakim Andersson's 15-and-1 faceof performance merits perhaps an Alfredsson-and-Abdelkader-sparking reunion...
But hell, just before the third period, coach Mike Babcock insisted that he was thrilled with the way the team was playing, and if he can embrace a team that's taking a "hockey calculus" game plan and is instead using crayons and their hands to paint it on the ice, maybe we can, too.
The Wings took a long time to get going, looking like a team that was indeed tired from having played until 11:30 the previous evening, but Brendan Smith opened the scoring with a fine point shot fed from Franzen and screened by Nyquist and Glendening at the 13:43 mark..
Five-and-a-half minutes into the second period, Franzen continued to kick like a Mule, tipping a Gustav Nyquist shot (via drop pass from David Legwand and breakout from Niklas Kronwall and Danny DeKeyser), giving the Wings a 2-0 lead...
And while Tomas Tatar's awful giveaway, Kindl's passive defense and a less-than-stellar Gustavsson gave the Devils a leg up 9:23 into the 2nd...
The Devils tied the game 57 seconds later, via Jaromir Jagr simply walking through a poor turnover, Lule Glendening, Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson, and picking the top shelf...
And the Devils took the lead when Jonas Gustavsson stopped a shot but Kyle Quincey let Adam Henrique put the rebound behind Jonas Gustavsson at 11:44...
The Wings rallied in quite a hurry, with Johan Franzen scoring a power play marker via assists from Bertuzzi and Nyquist with 6:13 left in the 2nd--and one of several wonderful breakouts by Kronwall and either DeKeyser or Ericsson on the blueline...
Ericsson to Legwand to Nyquist = 4-3 Detroit with 4:55 left...
And of all people, Kyle Quincey scored the eventual game-winner, with 2:59 left in the 2nd, via a great rush by DeKeyser and a slick drop pass from Riley Sheahan:
The Wings more or less salted things away in the 3rd, when David Legwand let Franzen and Nyquist deke and dangle, went to the net and roofed the rebound of a Franzen shot over Corey Schneider at 4:48...
Drew Miller "made it seven" with 11:08 left, via Bertuzzi and Andersson (will post as soon as NHL.com does).
And the Henrique goal just didn't matter.
The Wings are now within spitting distance (2 points) of the Tampa Bay Lightning thanks to earning the Wings' 70th and 71st points--Tampa has 73--and the in-a-real-playoff-spot Maple Leafs have 74 points. The Blue Jackets (69 points), Capitals (68) and Devils (67) are still breathing down the Wings' necks, but they're getting their shit together, slowly but surely, despite incessant mistakes.
According to Babcock via Fox Sports Detroit, the Wings will get Saturday off after having played 3 games in 4 nights and having gone 1-1-and-1 during that stretch. This team needs to start earning 2 points on a much more regular basis going forward, but today was a hopeful win by a ridiculously undermanned and sometimes still scatterbrained team.
Babcock's gonna accentuate the positive, so I guess we need to take his heed.
Also: If Nicklas Lidstrom was in attendance, this would've been the first game he's witnessed in which the Wings carried the day while not playing in a game.
Shots: 33-25 Detroit overall. Detroit out-shot New Jersey 11-6 in the 1st period, Detroit out-shot New Jersey 13-10 in the 2nd period and the teams tied 9-9 in the 3rd.
Special teams: Detroit went 1-for-3 in 4:15 of PP time; New Jersey went 0-for-3 in 5:45 of PP time but scored a shorthanded goal.
Goaltending: Jonas Gustavsson stopped 21 of 25 shots for the Red Wings; Corey Schneider stopped 26 of 33 shots for New Jersey.
The stars were picked by Michigan Hockey's Stefan Kubus, and he picked Gustav Nyquist, Johan Franzen and David Legwand.
The Red Wings' goals: Smith (3) from Franzen (18) and Nyquist (14);
Franzen (14) from Nyquist (15) and Legwand (31);
Franzen (15) from Bertuzzi (6) and Nyquist (16), PPG;
Nyquist (16) from Legwand (32) and Ericsson (10);
Quincey (4) from Sheahan (10) and DeKeyser (13);
Legwand (11) from Franzen (19);
Miller (7) from Bertuzzi (7) and Andersson (8).
Faceoffs 44-23 Detroit (Detroit won 66%);
Blocked shots 14-6 Detroit;
Missed shots 8-5 Detroit (attempts 47-44 Detroit, with the Wings firing 33 on Schneider and 14 wide/blocked);
Hits 20-15 Detroit;
Takeaways 7-2 Detroit.
Faceoffs: Andersson went 15-and-1 (94%); Glendening went 5-and-10 (33%); Legwand went 10-and-4 (71%); Sheahan went 9-and-5 (64%); Franzen went 3-and-2 (60%); Abdelkader and Miller won their only faceoffs; Alfredsson lost his only faceoff.
Shots: Nyquist led the Wings with 8 shots; Franzen had 6; Abdelkader and Legwand had 3; Smith, Alfredsson, Andersson, Jurco and Bertuzzi had 2; Miller, Quincey and Glendening had 1.
Blocked attempts: Tatar hit Devils players 2 times; Abdelkader, Nyquist, Kronwall and Franzen had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Nyquist missed the net 2 times and had 10 total attempts; Smith, Abdelkader, Alfredsson, Miller, Bertuzzi and Ericsson missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Miller led the Wings with 4 hits; Alfredsson and Kronwall had 3; Abdelkader, Jurco and Ericsson had 2; Kindl, Nyquist, Andersson and Bertuzzi had 1 hit.
Giveaways: Gustavsson had 2 giveaways; Andersson, Miller and Tatar had 1.
Takeaways: Franzen had 2 takeaways; Smith, Nyquist, Jurco, Quincey and Glendening had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall blocked 4 shots; Quincey blocked 3; Sheahan blocked 2; Abdelkader, Alfredsson, Legwand, Glendening and Bertuzzi blocked 1 shot.
Penalty minutes: Legwand, Bertuzzi and Ericsson took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at +10. Nyquist and Franzen finished at +4; Legwand and Kronwall finished at +2; Smith, Quincey, Ericsson and DeKeyser finished at +1; Kindl, Abdelkader, Sheahan, Miller, Tatar and Jurco actually finished at -1.
Points: Franzen had 2 goals and 2 assists for 4 points; Nyquist had 1 goal and 3 assists for 4 points; Legwand had 1 goal and 2 assists for 3 points; Bertuzzi had 2 assists; Smith, Miller and Quincey had goals; Sheahan, Andersson, Ericsson and DeKeyser had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 21:53 played; Quincey played 19:34; DeKeyser played 19:03;
Smith played 18:51; Ericsson played 18:28; Kindl played 18:27;
Miller played 16:58; Alfredsson played 15:47; Glendening played 15:26;
Franzen played 14:52; Legwand played 14:49; Jurco played 14:35;
Sheahan played 14:30; Nyquist played 14:28; Bertuzzi played 14:24;
Abdelkader played 14:24; Tatar played 14:04; Andersson played 13:27.
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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.