The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/25/13 at 04:21 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings managed to hand the Anaheim Ducks their first set of home losses since January this past weekend, courtesy of a 5-1 win on Friday and a 2-1 grind-fest on Sunday night, but the Wings flew to Phoenix after Sunday's triumph to face off against the Phoenix Coyotes this evening (10 PM EDT, FSD/FS Arizona/97.1 FM), and if Sunday night's game was a task-and-a-half, Sunday's game will take two hands' worth of effort:
While the 16-11-and-5 Wings now have 37 points and are inching up the Western Conference standings, Phoenix is winless in 5 games, but hasn't played since last Thursday's 2-1 loss to Vancouver. Phoenix sits in 12th place in the West with 30 points, and with Edmonton (29 points), Calgary (28) and Colorado (26) close behind, and San Jose, Nashville and Columbus all sitting two points ahead of the Coyotes, all the legitimate media "experts" and "insiders" claimed that, should Phoenix lose tonight, their playoff hopes might be over, and with a week-and-two-days remaining until the trade deadline, they might become "sellers."
I don't buy any of that--hell, the Wings came into the weekend with 33 points, one ahead of the San Jose/Nashville/Columbus mash-up, so it's not like a winning streak can't change things around in the blink of an eye in the Parity Conference--but I do buy the concept that the Coyotes have sat and waited for the Wings for four days, and I'm guessing that they're more than a little eager to get back on the winning track by defeating their self-styled arch-rival.
I also think that it's important to state from the get-go that the Coyotes are mad as hell about what happened in their last game as goalie Mike Smith got smoked by Alex Edler (Edler was suspended for his actions), and it's incredibly important to state that NHL.com's Brian Hunter reports that the Wings and Coyotes will meet three times between tonight and April 22nd (with the "middle" game coming next Thursday, April 4th, and both of the after-tonight games taking place at the Joe).
So while Damien Brunner will return to the Wings' lineup after a one-game respite and Jonas Gustavsson's being asked to "join the party" by Mike Babcock, the Wings will be playing their third game in four nights this evening (and their fourth in six, of course), the Wings will have to summon all their mental and physical resources to get at least a point, if not two (this team needs at least six of eight possible points on its road trip to keep up with the playoff pack) tonight.
At least the Wings get two days off between tonight's game and Thursday's tilt in San Jose. The Wings deserve a day off after defeating the Ducks 2-1 on Sunday, and it's that game that we're going to discuss for the present moment, because a recap that starts with a full-on back-to-back game preview is even too weird for me to write.
Just as the Ducks engaged in a trio of blow-ups during Friday's 5-2 Wings win, with Ryan Getzlaf fighting Jonathan Ericsson, Matt Beleskey stepping in to fight Brian Lashoff in Teemu Selanne's place, and then Bobby Ryan fighting Brendan Smith, three Ducks blew up on Sunday, and they were usual suspects:
After Ryan Getzlaf took a 2-minute minor for tripping with 44 seconds left in the 3rd period, he took a 10-minute misconduct for drop-kicking his stick while chirping at the officials, ending his night.
Not surprisingly, Corey Perry smashed his stick into the boards while Getzlaf was laying into the oficials, and he was given a 10-minute misconduct.
And while all of that was going on, first Teemu Selanne approached the officials, and then Francois Beauchemin bumped one, but it was Selanne who took another 10-minute misconduct, and as he yapped and yapped, a game misconduct for being the "third whine in."
The power play disparity was 5-3 overall, Getzlaf's late-game theatrics included, but the Ducks were very, very, very angry with the officials after the game, as they told a very sympathetic AnaheimDucks.com's Adam Brady:
Anaheim’s frustration erupted with 33.5 seconds left as they were fighting for the tying goal with goalie Jonas Hiller on the bench for an extra attacker. Detroit forward Valterri Filppula appeared to fall to the ice on his own, but Ryan Getzlaf was called for a tripping penalty on the play. Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne passionately argued the call and each were given misconduct penalties for it.
I don't know if I'd use the word "passionately," but just as Brady is a Ducks fan, I'm a Wings fan...
“I’m not going to comment like I want to. It’s not my place right now," Getzlaf said. "I’m trying to stay composed. And make it perfectly clear I’m not frustrated just with the final play of the game. That’s not what this is all about. But I don’t want to take anything from the Detroit Red Wings. They played hard tonight and their goaltender played great. It’s the nature of the game. We’re going to bite our tongue and push forward right now.”
Among the many Ducks opportunities in the third was a sequence early in the third in which Emerson Etem raced down the left wing and fired a wrist shot off the near post.
"We were all over them," said Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano. "We had a couple shifts there, where they were out there for a good minute, minute and ten, it was just a matter of putting the puck in. You did so much to get chances. There were a lot of different looks we had, but it didn’t go in. You’ve got to give some credit to their D and their goalie.”
The Ducks got the goal they had been seemingly waiting an eternity for with 45.1 seconds left in the second period. On the power play following a Cleary interference call, Getzlaf skated into the right wing circle before releasing a wrist shot that dove inside the far post. That snapped a string of seven unanswered Detroit goals that went back to Friday night. Neither team found the net the rest of the way, thanks in great part to Howard in the Detroit net, as he had 33 saves on the night.
The Ducks turn right around and face another bitter rival at Honda Center tomorrow night when they take on the Sharks.
Getzlaf stressed the need to regroup for that game, saying, "That’s part of being professional. That’s the one benefit we have in the back-to-back games. We get to go right back at it tomorrow. The benefit we have is we’re heading in the right direction. We’re not going on a downward spiral. The other game we didn’t play very well. Tonight we played well, but we played just well enough to lose. Hopefully we’re on the incline and tomorrow night we can play well enough to win.”
Not unexpectedly, the Orange County Register's Eric Stephens first penned a quote-less game narrative...
Jimmy Howard made 33 saves for the second consecutive game against the Ducks and the Detroit Red Wings used two first-period goals to hang on for a 2-1 victory Sunday night at Honda Center.
The Ducks (22-5-4) have now suffered consecutive regulation losses for the first time this season. Goals by Daniel Cleary and Drew Miller were enough to stand up for the Red Wings as Howard turned in another sharp performance after defeating the Ducks, 5-1, on Friday night.
Ryan Getzlaf got the only goal for the Ducks late in the second period when he fired in his 12th of the season on the power play.
But with 33.5 seconds left in regulation and the Ducks pushing throughout the third period, Getzlaf was called for tripping Detroit's Valtteri Filppula and then snapped on referee Kevin Pollock. Getzlaf was also given a two-minute unsportsmanlike penalty and a 10-minute misconduct. His teammates also lost their composure.
Corey Perry was given a 10-minute misconduct and Teemu Selanne was ejected from the game.
And Stephens then noted that Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau was sympathetic to his charges' plights and actions:
Asked if it was tough to not say what he really felt, Getzlaf said, "Extremely. It's the nature of the game. We're going to bite our tongue and push forward right now."
"It's not understandable and it is understandable at the same time," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I can see the frustration in their voices. It was a pretty ticky-tack little call with 33 seconds to go in the game or whatever the time was. But it was a lot of pent-up emotions coming out from not just today but for a lot of games in recent memory."
The Ducks did manage to put a final scare into the Red Wings as Cam Fowler got free for a golden chance in front but his shot went right into Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard in the final seconds, marking the last of 33 saves made.
This was more about Howard, who also turned aside 33 shots in the Red Wings' 5-1 victory Friday night but this one saw him being challenged repeatedly after the Ducks got their game going in the second period.
A deflection goal by Daniel Cleary and a rebound score by Drew Miller were all that Howard needed in one-upping Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, who made 19 stops. Getzlaf got the Ducks' goal in the second with a clean snap shot.
Two losses have kept the Ducks from padding their sizable Pacific Division lead but they don't have long to move on from Sunday as San Jose comes back in Monday night for the finale of a tough five-game homestand.
"When Chicago lost one, they (then) lost two and they started to get back into the swing of things," Boudreau said. "I think it's a little bit different situation here. At the same time, as long as we don't dwell on it to the point where we're feel sorry for ourselves now, we'll be fine."
The LA Daily News's Elliott Teaford noted that the Ducks gave the Wings one helluva scare late in the game...
Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler sent one more laser at Howard, a shot from the high slot the goalie deflected as the final horn sounded. It was the last of the Ducks' 34 shots on net. They limited the Red Wings to 21 shots, and only 10 in the final two periods.
"We were all over them," Ducks winger Andrew Cogliano said. "It was just a matter of putting the puck in. You've got to give some credit to their `D' and their goalie. The first game wasn't a good one, but now this one, we feel like we're coming back to our game."
But Getzlaf's post-game behavior served as the thrust of his recap:
Ryan Getzlaf walked through the Ducks' dressing room once without talking to reporters after a 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night at the Honda Center. He walked through a second time, then a third, then a fourth before finally addressing them.
Getzlaf had so much on his mind, but he admitted he wasn't going to reveal anything. He didn't wish to be fined by the NHL for criticizing referees Gord Dwyer and Kevin Pollock. He wasn't about to tear them to shreds in an on-the-record conversation for all the world to read or hear.
Losing for the second time in as many games to the Red Wings was tough enough for the Ducks to stomach. After all, it marked their first regulation losing streak of the season. It was the manner in which they lost that angered them in the closing seconds.
You can take the Orange County Register's Mark Whicker's "spirit of the thing" recap for what you will:
"This game is a lot more palatable than the previous game," he said, referring to the Ducks' 5-1 loss Friday to these same Red Wings. "I thought the last two periods (Sunday) we were very good."
That's the positive news. The Ducks were sluggish Friday – Getzlaf said his team had "next to no emotion" – but they were solid Sunday. Just not solid enough.
They also possessed fight. Late in the first period, with the Ducks en route to surrendering seven unanswered goals to Detroit over these two games, Matt Beleskey took matters into his own hand. His right one, to be precise. The wild-haired winger balled up that hand, grabbed Jordin Tootoo's jersey with his left and the two players took turns trying to relieve one another of their senses.
It was a courageous and necessary exhibition by Beleskey, who proved equal to Tootoo, a veteran of 75 NHL fights, according to hockeyfights.com.
"I thought our guys battled really hard, did a better job responding and playing the way we want to play," Getzlaf said. "The benefit that we have is we're headed in the right direction. We're not going on a downward spiral."
The Los Angeles Times' Lance Pugmire offered a different Cogliano quote before noting that Jimmy Howard gave the Ducks no quarter on or off the ice:
"We had chances left and right, but they made some saves," Ducks center Andrew Cogliano said. "We played better tonight than we did Friday, but they got people in front of the net. We were inches away."
The Ducks (22-5-4) wanted to shed the disappointment of the 5-1 loss Friday to the Red Wings (16-11-5), but less than nine minutes into game Sunday they trailed, 2-0.
Taking 21 shots to Detroit's 10 in the final two periods, the Ducks beat Howard only once, when captain Ryan Getzlaf scored late in the second.
In the third, the Ducks swarmed Howard, but he knocked down good shots by Ben Lovejoy and Toni Lydman, gloved a point-blank effort by Getzlaf, then knocked away a shot by Cam Fowler as time expired.
"It was stick-to-it-iveness," Howard said. "Not everything's going to go your way out there. But if I stick to it, we stick to our plan, we can do it. That's a very good team. We played defense, paid attention to the details. Let's be honest, you know our history. There's some great attitudes, some great human beings on this team."
Two goalposts aided Howard's cause, but sometimes you're living right, and perhaps that's what frustrated Getzlaf, as noted in the AP's recap:
"These were two different hockey games," Getzlaf said. "The way we played in the first game, we weren't going to beat anybody. ... But tonight I thought our guys did a better job of responding and battling and playing the way we wanted to play in the last two periods."
Getzlaf received a 10-minute misconduct and 2 extra minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct after getting a tripping penalty with 34 seconds left in the game. Corey Perry simultaneously got a 10-minute misconduct and Teemu Selanne also was hit with a 10-minute misconduct, along with a game misconduct.
"I can tell the frustration in their voices because it was a pretty ticky-tack call with 34 seconds to go in the game," Boudreau said.
Cleary opened the scoring on a power play at 4:14, tipping Jakub Kindl's snap shot from the top of the right circle past Hiller, while Francois Beauchemin was off for tripping Valtteri Filppula. Cleary's seventh goal extended the Red Wings' streak of consecutive games with a power-play goal to seven, following a six-game stretch in which they were 0 for 13.
"That was a big win for us," coach Mike Babcock said. "I thought we were fantastic at the start. ... We stopped skating a little bit, but we were able to get the points."
Survival mode is sometimes necessary...
"We knew tonight was going to be a totally different game than Friday," Howard said. "It was a very different style game, but we found a way. It's a huge four points for us. We have to continue to make the push for the postseason. We have teams coming up on our heels, so we have to continue to get points. "
And, um, uh, editor? Help?
The Red Wings will return to United Center from their four-game road trip to host the Blackhawks next Sunday -- which is Gordie Howe's 85th birthday. ... Selanne played in his 1,372nd regular-season game, tying D Teppo Numminen for the most by a Finnish-born player. Numminen retired after the 2008-09 season, his 20th in the league. ... Perry has just one goal in his last 10 games against Detroit.
Getzlaf continued to grouse to NHL.com's Curtis Zupke, whose recap will serve as our pivot point between the Ducks' and Wings' perspectives:
Getzlaf needed time to cool off after he was given a game misconduct for arguing a tripping call in the blown-fuse final minute. He shouted his displeasure as he exited and held back when he met with reporters, saying: "I'm not going to comment like I want to. It's not my place right now."
Asked if it was hard to bite his tongue, Getzlaf said, "Extremely, but it's the nature of the game. And we're going to bite our tongue and push forward right now. The benefit that we have is we're headed in the right direction. We're not going in a downward spiral. The other game [Friday], we didn't play very well. Tonight, we played well, but we played just well enough to lose, so hopefully we're on the up climb and tomorrow night we can play well enough to win."
The Red Wings obviously sang a different tune, and Zupke notes the other reason why the Ducks may have been so pissed off...
The Detroit Red Wings painted this town red nearly all weekend. Their considerable Southern California fan base translated to lots of red-clad fans in the seats, and with 3:44 remaining Sunday, an octopus was thrown on the Honda Center ice.
Detroit did its part with a 2-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks to sweep the two-game set and hand Anaheim its first consecutive losses in regulation this season.
Jimmy Howard made 33 saves to anchor a white-knuckle finish and make Drew Miller's first-period goal stand as the game winner. Detroit survived a big push in the third period and won four straight on the road for the first time since Nov. 19-Dec. 2, 2011. They held the fifth-highest scoring team in the NHL to two goals in two games.
"I think a lot of people outside this locker room didn't really think that [this would happen]," said Miller, a former Duck. "Coming into Anaheim, they say they might take one out of two. But I know the mindset in here was we're going to come in here and play hard and we want to get wins every single night. The two wins now are huge and we've got to build off the positives and keep going."
Howard suggested that the Wings made his job a little less difficult by playing a cleaner, more efficient brand of road hockey...
"I think now we've settled down," Howard said. "We've had a commitment to playing great defense, keeping them out to the outside. If I leave a rebound laying around there, somebody's there to clear it out. I think we're just paying attention to the details on the road, which is paying off."
And Howard told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan that his last-second save was just a case of getting "all of the shot," if you will:
"He (Fowler) was at the right spot at the right time," Howard said. "Luckily I was able to get to the top of the crease. It's a huge four points for us. We have to continue to make the push for the postseason. We have teams coming up on our heels so we have to continue to get points."
"We need him to be good and be consistent," coach Mike Babcock said of Howard. "He hasn't been consistent all year but he's been consistent of late and that's what we need from him."
Babcock added Howard will get a rest tonight in Phoenix, with Jonas Gustavsson getting the start.
Cleary opened the scoring with a power play (Anaheim's Francois Beauchemin, tripping) goal at 4:14. After a slow start this season the goal Sunday was Cleary's seventh, providing a consistent net-front presence for the Red Wings.
The goal also continued the recent success of the Red Wings' power play. Cleary's goal gave the Red Wings a power play goal in seven consecutive games. It's the longest such streak since they scored in nine straight games in 2011 (March 12-March 30).
It was also the fifth consecutive road game the Red Wings have scored a power-play goal.
"Great goal," Babcock said of Cleary's power-play effort. "After that, we stopped shooting the puck. We had the puck all the time but we didn't shoot it. (But) it was a big win for us. We competed hard and Howie had to be good because we were on our heels too much."
Babcock reiterated that point while telling the Free Press's Helene St. James that his team got somewhere between "too cute" and plain old too worried about what would happen if they kept beating up the Ducks on the scoreboard:
"We were fantastic at the start," Babcock said. "Then we got what I would call cautious or careful. Played too much defensive. We competed hard and all that, and Howie had to be good, but we were on our heels too much."
Brian Lashoff may have put it best:
"It's a confidence builder for us," Brian Lashoff said. "Beating a team like this that's been rolling as they have, especially at home, to come in here and steal two wins is huge."
"It's a huge four points for us," Howard said. "We knew tonight was going to be a totally different game, and we found a way."
Howard finished with 33 saves, building on the strong night he had Friday, when he held the Ducks at bay early. "We need him to be good and consistent," coach Mike Babcock said. "He's been good all year, he hasn't been consistent all year. But he's been consistent here of late, and that's what we need from him. We need him to be rock solid for us every night."
Howard will get a breather tonight at Phoenix, as Babcock put the onus on Jonas Gustavsson to redeem himself after a poor performance at Calgary 12 days ago. "He's got to come to the party here," Babcock said. "He's got to play for us. He hasn't had much action because he's been hurt all the time. He gets an opportunity, you've got to make good on it."
Babcock also said Damien Brunner will be back against the Coyotes; he was scratched Sunday to give him a chance to catch his breath as he adjusts from playing in Europe to the hectic pace of the NHL. "I told him to relax and not to come to the rink," Babcock said. "I saw he got a haircut, so he looks faster."
So Babcock's more than happy to bring Brunner back into the lineup, but as that comment suggests, he's a little nervous about starting Gustavsson tonight. One could very well argue that Gustavsson's playing for his job this year and the next given the way Petr Mrazek played during his call-up, and while I usually don't suggest that sort of thing, Babcock's experiences with Ty Conklin's inconsistency and Joey MacDonald's back issues seem to have worn his patience for back-up goalies who can't just go in there and get wins particularly thin.
As St. James points out in her "notes and quotes" article, the Wings nearly lost Brian Lashoff's services as he faced an all-too-familiar Wings injury...
Lashoff OK: Lashoff needed a few stitches to his right lower chin after getting hit in the jaw by a puck. "It hit my stick and rode up my stick," he said. "It's a little sore, but it'll be fine. My first thought was I was checking for blood, I didn't know how bad it was. It's more sore than anything, it didn't open me up too bad."
Lashoff said that he took two stitches (see the video below) to mend his chin.
Reaction: "I think the more you win the more you get on your toes and understand in those situations you just keep playing," coach Mike Babcock said of how the Red Wings started well but then tailed off. "We stopped skating a little bit but were able to get the points, so it was a good win ..."
"It's huge for us to get these games under our belt and win," Lashoff said. "Howie was huge for us, and special teams were rolling."
“He gives us a chance to win every night,'' Miller said. “That's what we need out of our goaltender.''
Howard has allowed 16 goals in his past 10 starts.
“We need him to be good and consistent,'' coach Mike Babcock said. “He's been good all year, he hasn't been consistent all year. But, he's been consistent here of late. We need him to be rock-solid for us every night.''
They also need to lock him up to a long-term contract extension. The sides have made good progress and Howard should have a new deal – expected to be for at least six years and $5 million per season – before the end of the regular season, if not much sooner.
Howard called this back-to-back set, necessitated by the compressed 48-game schedule, a “huge four points.''
“We got to continue to make the push for the postseason,'' Howard said. “We got teams climbing up our heels so we got to continue to get points.''
And his third and final take on Babcock's quote would serve as a "last word"...
"I thought we were fantastic at the start and then got cautious and played too much defense,'' Babcock said. “We competed hard. Howie had to be good, but we were on our heels too much. The more you win, the more you get on your toes in those situations and keep playing. We stopped skating a little bit, but we were able to get the points, so it's a good win.''
Had Henrik Zetterberg not spoken to Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom after the game. Nordstrom suggests that the Ducks' players were "gagged" by their PR staff, which is a little Swedish sensationalism at work, but the highlights of his article are more than worth roughly translating:
Henrik Zetterberg played in his 700th NHL game last night. He could celebrate his anniversary with a 2-1 road win over the top team Anaheim. The win gave Detroit 4 points over 2 meetings with the Ducks over 3 days in Southern California.
"It's wonderful how the whole team pulled together for these two wins against an excellent team," said Zata to SportExpressen.se in the hallway outside the players' locker room afterwards.
After a penalty in the final minute, Anaheim's stars freaked out and said some choice words to the referees. It cost the team captain Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne the right to complete the game on the ice. All three were sent to the locker room with ten-minute penalties for misconduct.
"I didn't see what happened exactly when Getlzaf was given a penalty for tripping in the last minute, but I saw the sequence on video. I can understand that they were upset, there are a lot of emotions in the game for them, and they were chasing a tie and creating great pressure," says Zata.
After Friday evening's 5-1 victory, the Red Wings were back at the Honda center, and they collected two more points via a 2-1 victory.
"We ground it out pretty well, it wasn't a beautiful game at all," says Zata.
He played in his 700th game in the NHL, and was pleased to have a victory to celebrate it with.
"It makes the anniversary game more enjoyable to experience, of course."
Assistant captain Niklas Kronwall was also impressed that the team held up to the pressure Anaheim placed upon them.
"We started well and got a 2-0 lead during the first ten minutes, but then we started to play passively, and things didn't go our way for almost the rest of the game. But Anaheim's a very good team, they have lots of talent, their best players are strong and handle themselves well in close quarters."
What does goalie Jimmy Howard's game mean for you on this kind of night?
"He was fantastic once again. He played incredibly well tonight."
That he did, and now it's "Gus's" turn to play well against Phoenix.
Highlights: The Red Wings website's highlight clip is narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond:
Post-game: Fox Sports West posted a clip of Bobby Ryan and Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau discussing their team's loss...
The Ducks' website posted a clip of Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Getzlaf, Francois Beauchemin and Boudreau discussing the loss...
Fox Sports Detroit posted a clip of Wings coach Mike Babcock and forward Drew Miller discussing their team's win...
And the Red Wings' website posted clips of Brian Lashoff speaking to the media...
As well as Babcock giving his post-game presser:
Photos: The Orange County Register posted a 16-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted a 12-image gallery;
The Detroit Free Press posted a 12-image gallery;
The Macomb Daily embedded a 7-image gallery in its website's recap;
The Windsor Star posted 5 images from the game;
CBS Detroit posted a wallpaper-sized image of the Piano Man;
ESPN posted a 40-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted 14 images from the game in its Wings gallery;
Shots 34-21 Anaheim overall. Detroit was out-shot 13-11 in the 1st, 9-5 in the 2nd and 12-5 in the 3rd.
Detroit went 1-for-5 in 7:09 of PP time; Anaheim went 1-for-3 in 4:39 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 33 of 34 shots; Jonas Hiller stopped 19 of 21.
The 3 stars were named by no one, and they were Cam Fowler, Ryan Getzlaf and Jimmy Howard.
The Wings' goals: Cleary (7) from Kindl (7) and Smith (3), PPG;
Miller (4) from White (2) and Emmerton (3).
Faceoffs 32-29 Anaheim (Detroit won 48%);
Blocked shots 14-13 Detroit;
Missed shots 15-7 Anaheim (total attempts 63-41 Anaheim);
Hits 24-13 Anaheim;
Giveaways 9-8 Detroit;
Takeaways 4-3 Anaheim.
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 7-and-13 (35%); Zetterberg went 8-and-8 (50%); Andersson went 10-and-3 (77%); Emmerton went 0-and-8 (0%); Filppula went 4-and-0 (100%).
Shots: Miller led the team with 4 shots; Zetterberg and Franzen had 3; Kindl, Datsyuk and Kronwall had 2; Cleary, Nyquist, White, Lashoff and Filppula had 1.
Blocked attempts: Franzen had 3 shot attempts blocked by Ducks players; Kindl and Zetterberg had 2 attempts blocked; Smith, Miller, Lashoff, Emmerton, Filppula and Kronwall had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Zetterberg missed the net 2 times; Kindl, Datsyuk, Eaves, White and Filppula missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Eaves led the Wings with 3 hits; Abdelkader, Tootoo and Lashoff had 2; Kindl, Miller, Zetterberg and Filppula had 1.
Giveaways: Andersson and Franzen had 2 giveaways; Eaves, Tootoo, Lashoff, Zetterberg and Ericsson had 1.
Takeaways: Datsyuk, Nyquist and Emmerton had takeaways.
Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall blocked 3 shots; Smith and White blocked 2 shots; Kindl, Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Eaves, Miller, Lashoff and Zetterberg blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Tootoo took a major for fighting; Kindl, Cleary and Franzen took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +5. Kindl, Nyquist, White, Miller and Emmerton finished at +1.
Points: Miller and Cleary scored goals; Smith, Kindl, White and Emmerton had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 25:54 played; Smith played 22:25; Ericsson played 21:18;
Zetterberg played 20:29; Datsyuk played 20:14; Filppula played 18:30;
Kindl played 18:20; Franzen played 17:39; White played 17:19;
Miller played 16:36; Lashoff played 15:23; Eaves played 14:35;
Cleary played 14:11; Abdelkader played 12:36; Andersson played 11:53;
Nyquist played 10:30; Emmerton played 10:05; Tootoo played 6:37.
As for tonight's game against Phoenix (10 PM EDT, FSD/FS Arizona/97.1 FM), as stated above, the Coyotes haven't played since Thursday's Mike Smith-injuring 2-1 loss to Vancouver, and they haven't won in 5 games, with a shootout loss against Columbus on March 16th representing their lone point since they defeated Dallas on March 9th. The Coyotes recalled goalie Chad Johnson from the Portland Pirates on Saturday, and after Thursday's game, the Arizona Republic's Sarah McLellan reported that the Coyotes held a players-only meeting...
[T}he Coyotes still couldn’t overcome the scoring problems that guided them into this mess, and they lost 2-1 to the Canucks Thursday in front of 17,220 at Jobing.com Arena to push the winless streak to five games, prompting a closed-door, players-only meeting that lasted approximately 25 minutes.
“There isn’t one person on our team that isn’t so vitally important for us to be successful,” Doan said. “I don’t care what line you’re on. I don’t care what defensive pairings you are. In order for us to have any type of success, individually we have to be good and individually we have an element we can pick up in every single guy.
“Every single guy can be better at some point. The only way this works here is because as a whole we’ve been good. Individually we have to be better, and that’s all that matters. To a man, we’re accountable and it’s not working. We’re not good enough right now.”
Which they discussed at some length on Friday...
“We just needed one,” defenseman Derek Morris said. “You lose five in a row, someone’s gotta talk about it. We had a good talk and everybody voiced their opinion, and we’ll go from there.”
The beauty of the Coyotes’ style is every player usually has a role in the team’s success. But when failure settles in, the blame is also equally shared.
“When it’s not going well, there are flaws in our game and you can’t pinpoint it on one player,” coach Dave Tippett said. “Just like when we’re winning, it’s never really one player.”
That can be tough to stomach, with production levels among players constantly varying, but the Coyotes aren’t worried about a fractured group.
“Obviously guys can go point fingers and blame somebody else, but we don’t have a room like that,” Morris said. “We have a room where everybody takes responsibility, and everybody feels they’ve got to play a little better.”
That certainly was the vibe Friday when the Coyotes took to the ice for a focused 40-minute practice that was almost somber in its tone.
“I’ve been in those (meetings) as a player, and sometimes things come out of there that help the group move ahead,” Tippett said. “We have a good group. They want to do better. It’s just a matter of getting the job done rather than talking about it.”
And the Coyotes told McLellan that they still believe there's time to turn their season around:
“Hopefully history repeats itself,” defenseman Derek Morris said.
After a five-game losing streak last season during the first week of March, the Coyotes went 9-2-3 the rest of the way to nab the Pacific Division title. The season before that, the Coyotes followed up five consecutive losses from Feb. 23 to March 3 with six wins in their next seven games.
“We’ve got to have our best stretch of games, and that’s something as professionals we’ve got to be ready for,” defenseman Keith Yandle said.
What’s hurt the Coyotes during this skid — and what needs to be rectified to end this potentially damaging plight — are poor starts, playing from behind and untimely penalties. In 31 games, the Coyotes have scored first only 10 times. When they do, they’re 8-1-1. When they don’t, they’re 5-13-3.
“We haven’t scored a lot, and when you’re not scoring a lot, there’s frustration within your team — especially the guys you count on to score a little bit,” coach Dave Tippett said. “That gets built up when you’re not winning and not scoring.”
As much as they’d like their style to remain the same regardless of the scoreboard, that isn’t usually the case. And that’s why, when they’re trailing, the Coyotes don’t typically play to their strengths. The Coyotes are 1-9-2 when trailing after one period and 2-11-1 when they’re behind after the second.
“When we’re up a goal, I think that’s when we’re at our best,” Yandle said. “I think we’re more alert. We’re not chasing. We’re not trying to make a special play to get a goal to get us back in the game. We’re keeping the game ahead of us and playing hard.”
The Coyotes took Saturday off and practiced on Sunday, and they spoke to the media afterward. The Coyotes' website posted clips of Mikkel Boeddeker...
And coach Dave Tippett speaking to the media...
And the Arizona Republic's McLellan reports that the Coyotes have a rough road ahead, so they're placing paramount importance on starting strong tonight and carrying the evening:
This home game is the start of four games in six nights — the latter three in Minnesota, Nashville and San Jose — and a precursor to a road-heavy finish to the schedule.
After Monday night, the Coyotes (13-14-4) play 10 of their final 16 games away from Jobing.com Arena — not exactly encouraging, considering they have only three road victories. Only Colorado has fewer, with two, and the Coyotes rank 26th in the league with nine points on the road.
What’s especially daunting is their final four road games are at St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit and Anaheim. But, hey, maybe that’s just the challenge to ignite the underdog role that’s led to the team’s unexpected success the past three seasons.
“I think for some reason our group seems to answer better to that than anything else,” captain Shane Doan said. “Adversity and doubt seem to make this group play better, so we’re going to have to count on that.”
For those four games to even matter, the Coyotes need to grab points this week and snap their five-game losing streak. A lead, a strong first period or even a goal could quickly rebuild their tattered confidence, but what would really help the Coyotes long term is improvement on the road.
“Maybe we don’t focus on us as much,” [Rostislav] Klesla said. “We just gotta kind of initiate it. We’ve got to play our style, which frustrates the other teams. It’s not a likeable style. It’s that trap and doing every single shift every single thing the same way. That was kind of our recipe last year, and we showed it at times, but we’re just not consistent with that this year.”
That sounds like the Columbus Blue Jackets' plan. Play ugly, get the irst goal and play really ugly.
Tippett's already in playoff mode, if you will:
“You earn the right to be a playoff team,” Tippett said. “We know what’s in front of us — home or road. You’ve got to earn the right to be a playoff team. If you look at our schedule, a big part of that’s gonna have to be earning wins on the road. If we do that, we probably deserve to be a playoff team.”
Season series: This is the first of three meetings. The Red Wings took three of four from the Coyotes last season, although Phoenix won the last meeting, 3-1, at Jobing.com Arena.
Big story: Two teams trending in opposite directions will face off Monday in Phoenix. Detroit has won four of five, including two straight against the Western Conference’s hottest team in Anaheim. Phoenix, meanwhile, have lost five straight and may be without starting goaltender Mike Smith.
Red Wings [team scope]: If Detroit makes a deep postseason run this spring, count on pundits harking back to the team’s most recent stretch. After failing to coalesce during the first half of the season, the Red Wings have won four of five and appear to be hitting their stride at the right moment.
The Red Wings announced themselves to the rest of the conference over the weekend, when they played Anaheim twice in a row at the Honda Center. In the first, Justin Abdelkader scored a hat trick as the Red Wings throttled the Ducks 5-1 to snap their franchise-record home win streak.
Coyotes [team scope]: Before departing on their recent four-game road trip, the Coyotes won two straight against Dallas and Los Angeles and were looking to climb into playoff contention. Then they didn’t score a goal for three games. In all, their 0-3-1 road trip saw them outscored 10-2 in regulation.
Phoenix was back at home Thursday against Vancouver, and again struggled to score in a 2-1 loss – its fifth straight overall. To add injury to insult, the starter Smith left the game after being charged by Alexander Edler late in the second period.
Who’s hot: Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard saved 33 of 34 shots in each of the Anaheim wins. He’s 8-2-2 in his last 12 starts and has allowed three or more goals just twice over that stretch.
Injury report: Mikael Samuelsson is day-to-day for Detroit with a hand injury. Kyle Quincey (face), Todd Bertuzzi (back) and Darren Helm (back) will continue to miss time with their injuries. … Smith is day-to-day with the undisclosed injury suffered in Thursday’s game against Vancouver, and David Moss (lower body) and Zbynek Michalek (lower body) are also day-to-day.
The AP's preview adds stats to the mix:
The Red Wings will try to collect some more points against the Coyotes (13-14-4), losers in a season-high five in a row. Phoenix has been outscored 12-3 during its 0-4-1 skid and began that miserable stretch by getting shut out in three consecutive games for the first time in franchise history.
If [Mike] Smith is healthy enough to return, he would face a team that's won 26 of the last 35 matchups, including the playoffs. Detroit, though, lost 3-1 in Phoenix in the most recent of those meetings Feb. 6, 2012, and ended a string of seven straight wins over the Coyotes, counting both the regular season and a 2011 playoff sweep.
Detroit will bring a four-game road win streak into this matchup and try to send Phoenix to its longest losing streak since Jan. 27-Feb. 7, 2009. The Red Wings' only three-game win streak this season was from Feb. 7-10 and they haven't recorded five consecutive victories away from home since a six-game run Feb. 11-28, 2011.
Backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson will likely be in net for Detroit. Gustavsson's first start since March 13 would also mark his first matchup with the Coyotes. He might want to keep a close eye out for Martin Hanzal, who has six goals in his last six regular-season games against Detroit and scored twice in the most recent matchup.
Red Wings star forward Pavel Datsyuk's 55 career points against Phoenix are his most versus any opponent outside the Central Division and fourth-most against any team. Datsyuk hasn't scored in his last seven regular-season matchups with the Coyotes but has recorded eight assists.
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