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Red Wings-Ducks quick take: injuries are an explanation but not an excuse

Update: Wings coach Mike Babcock told the media that Pavel Datsyuk has a shoulder bruise in his post-game press conference: The Detroit Red Wings' 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks did indeed involve some broken Wings sticks and a gaggle of broken Wings in Pavel Datsyuk (shoulder? wrist?), Todd Bertuzzi (back), Johan Franzen (hip flexor), Darren Helm (back), Mikael Samuelsson (groin), Jan Mursak (shoulder), Brendan Smith (shoulder), Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) and Grand Rapids-bound Jonas Gustavsson (groin)...

But, in the words of Mickey Redmond, "The bottom line is that you've got to play with what you've got and try to survive."

True words for hockey, life and probably some other activities, and with the Red Wings having dropped both of their games in front of Nicklas Lidstrom, and having split their 4-game home stand thanks to all of one good game's worth of play against Edmonton, rope-a-dope hockey against Los Angeles and then losses to St. Louis and now Anaheim--with the latter two losses yielding a turnover-prone Wings team bitten by poor line changes, poor decisions on set plays, and efforts in which the team fired more pucks into opposing players or wide of the net than they did at the opposing goalie...

Injuries can only explain the poor decision-making, the lack of confidence with which the Wings have played and their plain old inefficient, self-defeating style of play against teams whose check-and-trap styles can be defeated by playing smarter than one's opponent.

Now the Wings, who received fine performances from Drew Miller, Cory Emmerton, Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson, but have watched Valtteri Filppula, Danny Cleary, Henrik Zetterberg and Damien Brunner especially get far too "cute," have seen the terrible chemistry between Ian White and Jonathan Ericsson yield turnovers galore, Niklas Kronwall perhaps valiantly trying too hard and Kyle Quincey of all people playing strong hockey...Head on the road to play in Minnesota on Sunday and Nashville on Tuesday rather desperately needing points to keep up in the Western Conference playoff race.

The Wings' progress over the first half of February has more or less been erased by the past three games' worth of poor performances, and now a team that knows that Bertuzzi and Helm are out for a month or more, that Franzen, Colaiacovo and Smith are two weeks out, and that Datsyuk is out for an indeterminate period of time...Has to scramble and claw and plain old get its head on straight again.

This team, as injury-decimated as it may be, this team, as incredibly young (FSD stated that the team's employing six rookies at present, which is second only to Dallas' 7) as it may be, and this team, as hard as it is struggling in the self-confidence department, must, must, must play better. It cannot give up successive goals to a team that capitalized on stupid play and a goaltender left to his devices thanks to a turnover machine setting up below center ice, a power play that is just horrific and Jordin Tootoo doing dumb things while trying to fight instead of play hockey.

There are explanations for why the last three games' worth of play have happened. There are no excuses for the Wings' performances, collectively or individually, from the awful line changes on down to the special teams down to Brunner looking to make one too many passes in front of a visiting mom and dad.

Get your asses in gear, Wings. It's up to who's in the lineup. Make due with what you have.


Shots 37-28 Anaheim overall. Anaheim out-shot Detroit 14-6 in the 1st, were out-shot 16-14 in the 2nd, but the Ducks regained the shot lead in the 3rd, out-shooting Detroit 9-6.

The Wings went 1-for-4 in 6:45 of PP time; the Ducks went 0-for-3 in 4:59 of PP time.

Viktor Fasth stopped 26 of 28 shots;

Jimmy Howard stopped 32 of 36, and the Ducks' 37th shot went into an empty net.

The 3 stars, per Michigan Talk Radio's Rich Kincaide, were Tomas Tatar, Teemu Selanne and Bobby Ryan.

The Wings' goals: Andersson (1) from Kindl (2) and Tatar (2);

Tatar (2) from Brunner (4) and Andersson (1), PPG.

Faceoffs 30-22 Detroit (Detroit won 58%);

Blocked shots 14-12 Detroit;

Missed shots an ugly 19-8 Detroit (total attempts 59-59);

Hits 18-14 Detroit;

Giveaways 9-3 Detroit;

Takeaways 4-4.

At least Andersson's first goal was gorgeous:


Here are the game highlights:

Update #3 or 4: TSN, the Orange County Register's Eric Stephens, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan and MLive's Ansar Khan provide recaps...

The Windsor Star's Bob Duff posted a video of Henrik Zetterberg speaking to the media after the game...


And We All Bleed Red posted a clip of Tomas Holmstrom and Nicklas Lidstrom watching the game:

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42jeff's avatar

shoulder bruise in his post-game press conference

oh yes that absolutely not blindside hit in the last game…

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 02/15/13 at 11:25 PM ET

Chet's avatar

they had no business ever being in this game, much less up 2-1 before the inevitable meltdown. another ugly one.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 02/15/13 at 11:31 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I was told that it was the Doughty hit by a little birdie.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/15/13 at 11:43 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

Kids and Jimmy mostly gave the Wings a chance. D as usual coughed up the puck BUT this time it was the Vet D Men.

Babs sits Gus and Fil for most of the 3rd while Cleary is -3. Fil is under achieving but Gus/Tatar/Andersson played well.

Just a loyal fan, Babs/KH should be concerned about a playoff spot.  Not going to happen with the current group and schedule.  Some of injured coming back will help but not enough in my opinion.

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 02/15/13 at 11:54 PM ET

Bugsy's avatar

As George posted yesterday,

“We’ve got to help everybody,” Babcock said. “That’s what a team is. A team is helping everybody be the best they can be within the constraints of the team.”

“We’re just in the process of trying to figure out a way for this group to play and be successful, We’re not as pretty to watch as we once were, but that doesn’t matter anyway. You got to find a way to win games.’‘

When your defense isn’t able to make those quick, accurate stretch passes like it did before, tighter spacing between defensemen and forwards is needed, allowing for shorter passes.

“That’s got to be a focus,’’ Babcock said. “We got to help everybody. I always ask them to find their game within our game. This year as a coaching staff, more so than ever, we’ve had to find a game to coach that is their game. So we had to find out what they were first, and we’re still trying to do that so we can be successful.’‘

They would prefer to maintain their puck-possession style and not dump and chase.

Embrace what you are and do the best with what you’ve been given, Babcock said.

“Our best way to live is to live a little bit scared to death and just keep on grinding and competing,’’ Babcock said. “And if we do that we’re going to have a chance to hang in there.’‘

The fact that Mike Babcock has to keep saying this implies the Wings still aren’t fully grasping this concept. In danger of giving too little credit to the opponents like Anaheim and the injuries, the neutral zone play is my focus (I know we could argue special teams, etc. as what’s more important), and the turnovers made me cringe. I don’t know when the team will consistently aim to play a cleaner game (especially through the neutral zone), but at least it was fun watching the confidence and teamwork of the young “overripe” GR players. The most frustrating thing (and why I’m not giving up hope) is that we KNOW they can play better than this on a consistent basis. I don’t think I’ll have nails to bite by the end of the season, though.

One improv stat; Use takeaways minus giveaways as a quick stat to measure efficient play. It’s not a perfect stat (they won the stat in the first game, but got shellacked by the Blues), but the Wings have come out ahead in that stat only 3 times: the 1st 2 games, and the Edmonton game. They tied or lost that stat in the other 11 games.  I’ll go out on a limb and say that’s a trend.

Posted by Bugsy on 02/16/13 at 12:44 AM ET


oh yes that absolutely not blindside hit in the last game…

Exactly.  Because he was hit in the SHOULDER.

Posted by Garth on 02/16/13 at 01:28 AM ET

w2j2's avatar

There is nothing White could do about breaking his stick which gave the Ducks a goal.
However, his no-look pass toward the Wing’s bench went right to a Duck for another give-away goal.
Kronwall also caused a goal when he made a hard, short pass into Filpulla’s skates, which then bounced to a Duck.

This was not Ericsson, Lashoff, Quincy or Kindl.
This was our most experienced Defensemen.
What the heck is going on?  Too much pressure on these guys?

Posted by w2j2 on 02/16/13 at 02:45 AM ET

Slumpy's avatar

Ian White is lost without Lids it appears.
Hey Ian White! You will never score 32 goals in a season in the NHL like you did for Swift Current of the WHL. Buy a bunch of trusty all wood sticks that will never break on you, you fool. He makes 2.875M per season and will be UFA this summer. Ian White is making a strong case to not being resigned by Holland.

Kronwall 0 shots against Ducks. Watch a Bruins game and you will see their defenseman gain the blueline a let rip a huge slapshot while their forwards crash the net for the rebound. Just a idea for a change instead of watching Wings defenseman shot while standing still getting their shots blocked 99% of the time.

Get your players to play more creative. Babcock.

Holland get our team some more players with grit.

When Emmerton and Andersson our the teams best players you know our team sucks.

Most teams in our conference to big to skilled for our team to handle. Holland has done a bad job as GM last several years.

Maybe time for Nill to take over.

Kindl a bust lets face the obvious. He’s a human marshmallow. Ouellet should of been called up. D depth right now is pathetic.

Filppula have any interest in earning his paycheck? He sucked in that Ducks game. Shoot a few shots on net in games instead of high maintenance girlfriend kid.




Posted by Slumpy from Under My Wheels on 02/16/13 at 04:13 AM ET

Joe Z.'s avatar

I thought it was a good game, except for the three brainfarts that caused the goals against # 2,3 and 4. nyquist, tatar and andersson looked great together, tatar had his best game in my opinion. cleary and abdelkader are the main reasons first and second line don’t produce, they are not used to the speed which filp, z or even brunner play. they can’t read plays and are looking quite lost out there, always skating away from the puck..

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 02/16/13 at 08:29 AM ET

Figaro's avatar

You can’t fault White for his turnover. His stick failed him and the puck drifted softly to the ducks.  He made a valiant effort to defend the front of the net, but a player is mostly naked without a stick.

I know that Holland has said he won’t make a trade for a while, as he wants to see what our team looks like when healthy.  It is getting pretty obvious that this full-strength Wings team simply won’t exist for at least another month and if he really wants to hold out for that, the season might be lost.  I think he needs to consider making a move soon to give us a chance to make it to the time we can be “full-strength”. It doesn’t do us any good to be at full power and battling for 10th.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 02/16/13 at 02:00 PM 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.