The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/12/14 at 10:55 PM ET
Update: Well this changes things:
I really don't know what to say about the Red Wings' 1-0 loss againt the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. We all knew that the Ducks' massive 17-0-and-2 home record would be all but unassailable, and that even minus Ryan Getzlaf, the Wings' injuries and status as playing in back-to-back games yielded an incredibly, incredibly young and thin team trying to climb a nearly vertical-grade mountain...
But the ways in which the Wings frittered away their power plays, leaned on Henrik Zetterberg so very hard without giving him any assistance that it looked like the Hank and Petr vs. the World show, the way that Corey Perry managed to get the Wings' God-damned goat again, the team's inability or unwillingness to actually attack Jonas Hiller instead of trying to pass the puck toward a slot that had been completely shut down by the Ducks, and the way that Mikael Samuelsson so very predictably chose to chip the puck behind the Ducks' net as time wound down instead of shooting the puck anywhere near Jonas Hiller...
It's become far too predictable, far too much a year in which the first goal always wins and the Wings cannot outscore their mistakes, and far too regularly a game where people like Brendan Smith seem all but compelled to ensure that they reenact the kinds of own-goal mistakes they committed against playoff foes.
Perhaps the truth of the matter is that these Wings, minus Johan Franzen, minus Pavel Datsyuk, minus Darren Helm, minus Jonathan Ericsson, and yes, minus Stephen Weiss (this team so desperately misses a second-line center that it's almost becoming more important for the team to pursue one than it is for the team to give Niklas Kronwall some relief with an honest-to-goodness top-pair partner), are in fact "too young" to get 'er done, at least by their standards.
But the line of Todd Bertuzzi, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar was the team's best given that Gustav Nyquist is undergoing a sophomore slump and that Justin Abdelkader's still finding his post-Datsyuk's-Homer-simulator way, yielding very little help for Henrik Zetterberg, and it's incredibly frustrating to watch Smith play so very, very well alongside an increasingly frustrated Niklas Kronwall and Jakub Kindl to display absolutely impeccable offensive instincts before making the kinds of mistakes that yield uncharacteristic and sometimes game-losing gaffes by the otherwise impeccable Danny DeKeyser.
Mostly, the Wings are a team 46 games into a season where they really needed to start asserting themselves ten games ago, they're 2-and-2 on what will be a 5-game road trip that they desperately needed to finish with a 3-1-and-1 record, and after they battle with the Rangers on Thursday, they open a five-game home-stand and kick off a set of 7 games in 13 nights whose opponents include the aforementioned Rangers, then the Kings, Blues, Blackhawks, Canadiens, the Wing-killing Panthers and Flyers before the team earns a final 2-day break before hosting the Capitals on the 31st.
The Wings very, very desperately need to manage to win the majority of their 8 remaining January games to ensure that their post-Sochi break schedule is not an, "Every game is a must-win" scenario, regardless of the fact that the Best of the West and some Annoyances of the East are coming to town, and tonight...
Wasn't a step forward for a team that simply cannot afford to take any steps back.
And this team faded down the stretch, bi time, being out-shot 17-12 over the game's final 2 periods, taking 3 of its 4 penalties over the game's final 2 periods and ceding more and more territory to the Ducks on a more and more regular basis as the game wore on and everyone wore down.
The power play was awful due to the personnel as opposed to the coaching--mostly because the personnel is so damn shallow--and the team doesn't have the luxury of resting its weary head upon moral victories and should've's and could've's anymore.
The Wings have to win much more regularly, regardless of and perhaps despite of its personnel issues, and it needs to play smarter, more efficient and more effective hockey instead of stumbling along as a team whose veterans are overtaxed, whose sophomores are slumping and whose youngsters are reminding us all that being barely ready for prime time means that they're not quite up to snuff very regularly.
I hate to say this, but maybe it's time for the Wings to finally make a roster-reinforcing trade--or at least to pursue one so that by the time a roster-reinforcing move is made, it isn't already too late--and it is definitely time to permanently bolt Mikael Samuelsson's hockey pants to the bench.
The only goal against was an own-goal, Brendan Smith style:
The Wings will fly back to Detroit tonight, practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, fly to New York for Thursday's game against the Rangers and then kick off that five-game home stand on Saturday against the Kings.
Edit: My biggest problem with the Wings' game is summarized statistically: the Wings fired 22 shots ON Jonas Hiller and fired another 41 attempts wide or into Ducks' players. That's inefficiency and individual and team-wide dearths of confidence quantified.
Shots 23-22 Anaheim. Detroit out-shot Anaheim 10-6 in the 1st, but the Wings were then out-shot 10-5 in the 2nd and tied the Ducks 7-7 in the 3rd.
Special teams: Detroit's power play went 0-for-5 in 10:00 of PP time; the Ducks went 0-for-4 in 8:00 of PP time.
Goaltending: Petr Mrazek was stout and solid in stopping 22 of 23 shots; Jonas Hiller wasn't really tested in stopping most of the 22 shots he stifled.
The 3 stars were picked by the Ducks' broadcasters, so they picked Kyle Palmieri, Andrew Cogliano and Jonas Hiller.
Faceoffs 30-27 Anaheim (Detroit won 47%);
Blocked shots 21-12 Anaheim;
Missed shots 20-9 Detroit (total attempts 63-44 Anaheim, with Detroit firing 22 shots ON Hiller and 41 wide/blocked);
Hits 29-26 Anaheim;
Giveaways 10-9 Detroit;
Takeaways 6-2 Anaheim.
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