The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/04/13 at 09:21 PM ET
Updated w/ video post-game chatter from Kronwall, Zetterberg and Babcock after the game at 12 AM: The Detroit Red Wings reminded us all how incredibly "young" they are, literally and figuratively, and how much trouble they've had on special teams during the course of an absolutely embarrassing 4-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night (with the, "How many games with Justin Abdelkader get for hitting Toni Lydman?" talk out-pacing, "How will the Wings readjust and rebound?" also: Hey, the Griffins won 7-0!).
This needs to be said right now: the Wings aren't out of it by any means down 2-1 to the Ducks, and you better believe that the team lost its nerve completely--giving up some silly, mite-hockey pedestrianly poor goals to the Ducks in the 3rd period--which can be corrected...
But it's gotta be fixed fast, and given the fact that the Wings blew three first-period power play chances, including a 5-on-3, while trying to cutesy the puck to back-door plays in similar manners to Damien Brunner's horrible shorthanded flurb to Ryan Getzlaf (and Howard followed that up with a wonderfully awfully-timed poke check), and the honest-to-Gord truth is what Johan Franzen noted about his play in Game 2:
North-south is the way to go, it's the way to engage the puck, it's the way to engage the Ducks. Despite their third-period fumbles on Thursday, the Red Wings were aggressive, they provided shooting and passing outlets for each other in all three zones, they kept the Ducks to the outside of defensive zone chances, had sticks and legs in passing lanes, they skated up the ice as a team and they attacked the Ducks' net, sustaining pressure as they possessed, controlled and shot the puck--and retrieved rebounds--while getting on the inside of puck battles and grinding things out while also drawing penalties and driving the Ducks to distraction.
All of that stuff?
That's what the Ducks did on Saturday and what the Wings didn't.
After the Abdelkader penalty, Nick Bonino scored quickly, and while the Wings killed the balance of the 5-minute major, once Getzlaf schooled Brunner and Howard, the wheels fell off. Etem scored thanks to a stupid play by Brian Lashoff (and Jakub Kindl...And a lack of awareness by Howard, whose best play of the night was made when he punched Corey Perry in the back of the head), lather, rinse repeat except substitute Smith for Kindl on the 4th goal against...
And the rest was a formality.
Why the Wings imploded after the Brunner giveaway, I don't know, but I do know one thing.
The Wings were awful.
They played awfully young, but as many wise people noted on Twitter, their veterans and leaders were neutralized, too.
The line will be, "We'll put this behind us" and move on. But the best thing the Wings can do is learn from this. Review it and watch some tape tomorrow and say, "This is what we did wrong...And this is how we'll fix it."
Part of that really should involve playing much more aggressively, physically and otherwise. But playing more aggressively and more Duck-like to some extent involves playing smarter, playing more efficiently, and of course executing on scoring chances instead of literally and figuratively passing and overcomplicating things while trying to score that elusive back-door-tap-in.
At even strength. On the power play. On the PK. When things go wrong. When the team faces adversity. This team has to play better, it has to engage the Ducks, physically, mentally, emotionally, competitively, it has to be better, it has to be more aggressive, it has to want it more, it has to out-work, out-hustle, out-shoot, out-score and mostly out-WANT the Ducks while playing SMARTER hockey.
But these kinds of meltdowns happen to very young teams at this time of year, and it's all about how one rebounds from them.
You learn and adapt or you die at this time of year. The Wings have to learn and adapt.
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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.