The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/01/13 at 12:35 AM ET
Hello there. I'd like to thank Paul for putting in yeoman's work keeping TMR up and running...He may have to do so for another day or two. I have been flat on my back since last Friday's fifteen or sixteen visits with my restroom, unable to sit up or eat solid food, and the last time I was this acutely ill, I had the norovirus. These symptoms and timeline of infection appear to be identical.
So that's where I've been. I will try to get back to "normal" over the next day or two but my brain is not in charge of the machine at present, and I'm gonna be honest--it's scary, because there's nothing to "push" off from. I'll do my best to get healthy, but viruses run their course and I'm just along for the ride right now.
In any case, I had feared that the Red Wings would have a let-down game after playing and having to win 4 games over the course of 6 nights in order to make the playoffs. It's why I cringed when I'd heard that the Wings would begin their first-round series against Anaheim on Tuesday and not Wednesday.
And given the incredibly meager offensive output--22 shots ON the net and 33 more attempts wide or into Ducks players for a team that had been firing 35+ shots and 60-70 pucks at or near the net over the past week--and unfocused effort displayed during the Wings' 3-1 loss to Anaheim on Tuesday...
The symptomology indicates mental fatigue and the combined effects of travel and readjusting one's sights from making the dance to winning the dance did indeed catch up with the Wings, especially against an opponent that had been preparing for playoff hockey mentally while not needing to press particularly hard to retain its Pacific Division title since...
The Wings seemed to start strongly enough, but during a 2012 season and post-season in which refereeing is spurious at best and tends to focus most specifically upon stick fouls, Jordin Tootoo took a cross-checking penalty halfway through the first period (somewhat ironic given the amounts of hooking, holding, clutching and grabbing that the Ducks engaged in), and, right off the faceoff, Nick Bonino stood in front of a Cam Fowler shot, tipped it down, and into the net it went, 1-0 Ducks 10:24 in.
The Wings slowly but surely pushed back at Hiller and the Ducks--and it should be said that, given the Wings' lack of traffic in front of Hiller and almost complete and total lack of secondary and tertiary opportunities, Hiller will be painted as the hero in this one, but it was Howard who faced more rubber (4 more shots), more traffic and more quality and sustained scoring chances, Howard was the reason the Wings were in it until that empty-netter--and in a rare instance when the Wings actually went to the front of the net, and Danny Cleary got in the way of a superb Jakub Kindl shot to tip it down, all via sustained pressure from Eaves, Cleary and Filppula...
But that was about it offensively for the Wings, and when your offense goes kaputt with 3:55 left in the 1st, you're in trouble.
Did the Wings work hard after that?
Did the Wings skate particularly well after that, provide passing outlets for each other, provide shooting options for puck-carriers when their defensemen weren't being chased out from behind the net by Ducks forecheckers, were the Wings skating up as 5 men instead of 1 or 2, and were they defending as a 5-man unit?
No, no, no, no, and also no. And however other many no's or retractions I need as I'm too sick-dumb tired to count up the clause-by-clause agreement.
The 2nd period was watching the Wings skate into the Ducks' trap, wait an extra 2 seconds to shoot or pass up a fine chance to shoot only to end up either sending the puck into a Ducks player, wide of the net or instead plain old turning it over and letting the Ducks go the other way...
And when the Wings did get pucks on Hiller, so very few of their 5 2nd period or 11 3rd period shots were aimed anywhere other than the bottom 12 inches of the net that a butterfly perfectionist simply had to let those big pads and gigantic thigh rises hit the ice and he was going to stop everything the Wings threw at him.
Late in the 2nd period, Jakub Kindl--who was better than most would think given the fact that Kindl is at times the only Wings defenseman who's unafraid to shoot the puck--took a dumb penalty by flicking it over the glass, and it bit the Wings in the 3rd, when, at the end of the PK, Teemu Selanne found time and space around the right half boards and flickered a one-timer through Danny DeKeyser's legs and over Howard's blocker. All of 1:26 into the 3rd, the Ducks were up 2-1...
And it was very hard to watch the Wings tire themselves out for the balance of the period. Yes, they out-shot Anaheim 11-10 instead of being out-shot 10-5 as they were in the 2nd, but when Gustav Nyquist throwing a Datsyukian shoulder into a Ducks player and yielding a scoring chance as a result is the highlight of the period, Justin Abdelkader's jab past Hiller (who got incredibly lucky because he was a righty and gloved a puck headed toward his butt and into the net) excluded, the Zetterbergs, Datsyuks, Franzens, Filppulas, Franzens, etc. aren't getting the job done.
The later the game went, the more it looked to me like the Wings were trying to make the puck do the work for them, and the ice is far too bad in Anaheim late in games--and the ignored hooks and holds committed by Boudreau's trap-happy team were far too frequent--for the Wings to do anything other than let their skating, shooting, puck retrieval, energy, effort, focus, desire and attention to detail push the puck into the net.
All of those details of the Wings' game slowly but surely faded into the hooks and holds and tight Duck checking, and by the time Zetterberg won a faceoff but, somehow, the puck ended up on Francois Beauchemin's stick and landed in the back of an empty net, it was pretty apparent that this series was going to get off on the wrong webbed foot.
It's a race to four, and the Wings' margin for error is slim to nil going forward, but this let-down was all but predictable, and the Wings received fine goaltending and can be much, much better in so many aspects of their game that there is no reason to panic too severely.
The Wings have put their foot in it and have faced self-made deficits all year long. This series won't be any different, and all the Wings need to do is take a page out of the Ducks' book offensively--putting some butts in front of Hiller, shooting more frequently and chasing pucks harder--and it wouldn't hurt if they team got a "hate" on for the petulant Ducks, either, but that can't be particularly hard given the kind of "leadership" their players display by cross-checking, hacking and chirping after the play.
Whether the Ducks are "gonna get it" in Game 2 is up to the Wings and is up to the Wings raising their levels of play and puck support. The Ducks are already running on all cylinders. Now the Wings need to catch up, and if they could add a healthy Todd Bertuzzi to the mix to bang some bodies and grind upon some notoriously thin-skinned temperaments, that'd be awesome.
That's what the Wings have to remember here: the Ducks are indeed a formidable foe, but during the Wings' pair of wins in the road-and-still-on-the-road series, the Ducks proved to be easy to distract, annoy and frustrate. If the Wings get back to playing even remotely like they did over the final week of the regular season, the Wings will strike back on Thursday evening.
Update: As I'm watching this, Babcock's on Fox Sports Detroit and he's stating that the Wings' puck-movement wasn't good on defense, and I agree. The team was loosey-goosey and even Babcock feels that the team displayed first-20-games nervousness instead of focus and finish.
Update #2: Highlights. I hope the Wings' website fixes things because they're currently narrated by the Ducks' announcers:
Shots 27-22 Anaheim overall. Detroit was out-shot 7-6 in the 1st, 10-5 in the 2nd and out-shot Anaheim 11-10 in the 3rd.
The Ducks' power play went 2-for-5 in 5:52 of PP time; the Wings' power play went 1-for-4 in 6:12 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced, and the Ducks' 27th shot went into an empty net; Hiller stopped 21 of 22.
The 3 stars were probably picked by the Ducks' broadcast because the "by" part is unlisted, and consists of Saku Koivu, Jonas Hiller and Teemu Selanne.
The Wings' goal: Cleary (1) from Kindl (1) and Eaves (1).
Faceoffs 29-27 Detroit (Detroit won 52%);
Blocked shots 17-15 Anaheim;
Missed shots 16-8 Detroit (total attempts 55-50 Detroit, with 33 Detroit shots fired wide or into Ducks players and only 22 heading toward/past Hiller);
Hits 35-24 Anaheim;
Giveaways an ugly 13-8 Detroit;
Takeaways 3-2 Detroit.
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 10-and-11 (48%); Andersson went 9-and-5 (64%); Filppula went 7-and-6 (54%); Emmerton went 3-and-3 (50%); Eaves and Zetterberg lost their only faceoffs.
Shots: Abdelkader led the team with 4 shots; Zetterberg had 3; Cleary, Nyquist, Quincey, Filppula and Franzen had 2; Smith, Datsyuk, Brunner, Ericsson and Kronwall had 1.
Blocked attempts: Ducks players blocked 3 Brunner attempts; Smith, Quincey, Zetterberg and Kronwall had 2 attempts blocked; Kindl, Nyquist, tootoo, Ericsson, DeKeyser and Franzen had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Zetterberg missed the net 4 times; Andersson and DeKeyser missed the net 2 times; Smith, Kindl, Cleary, Datsyuk, Brunner, Emmerton, Quincey and Franzen missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Abdelkader led the team with 6 hits; Tootoo had 5; DeKeyser had 3; Kronwall had 2; Kindl, Nyquist, Eaves, Brunner, Emmerton, Quincey, Ericsson and Franzen had 1.
Giveaways: Smith and Nyquist had 3 giveaways; Kindl and Ericsson had 2; Brunner, Zetterberg and Andersson had 1.
Takeaways: Filppula, Andersson and Franzen had takeaways.
Blocked opponent shots: Kindl blocked 4 Ducks shots; Emmerton, Quincey and DeKeyser blocked 2; Smith, Abdelkader, Tootoo, Ericsson and Kronwall blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Kindl, Tootoo, Filppula and Andersson took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: the Wings finished at a collective -6. Kindl, Cleary, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Kronwall and Franzen finished at -1.
Points: Cleary had a goal; Kindl and Eaves had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 22:01; Zetterberg played 21:20; Kindl played 21:15;
Datsyuk played 20:46; DeKeyser played 19:31; Ericsson played 18:38;
Quincey played 18:18; Smith played 17:26; Franzen played 16:56;
Abdelkader played 16:39; Andersson played 15:23; Brunner played 15:19;
Nyquist played 15:07; Cleary played 14:54; Filppula played 14:31;
Eaves played 10:36; Emmerton played 10:11; Tootoo played 6:24.
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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.