The Malik Report
by George Malik on 11/16/13 at 10:08 PM ET
Well, yesterday evening it was all about how Howard was so subpar, and tonight I'm sure it's going to be all about Babcock and Holland...
But the Red Wings' 6-5 SO loss to the New York Islanders, despite mostly superb and in spite of sometimes shaky goaltending from Jonas Gustavsson, serves as the Wings' sixth straight game going "winless," it's the second night in a row that Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Bertuzzi were "minuses" (-1 instead of -2 tonight), it's the second night in a row where the Wings didn't score the game's first goal, and then took and surrendered 2 one-goal leads, it's a goal where the Wings' special teams were...actually, they were frickin' superb...And the Wings SOMEHOW tied the game despite being out-shot FIFTEEN TO FOUR in the 3rd period and SIX TO ONE in OT...
What's going on here? Aside from a devastating inability to win shootouts?
Well *#$%@&, despite the fact that the Wings earned a point, isn't there enough blame to go around?
You get out-shot 15-1 in the 3rd period, you get out-shot 6-1 in OT thanks to a penalty on Ericsson...
If you win, it's salvation away from home, and if you lose, there isn't a player on the damn ice, a member of the coaching staff on the bench or an executive in the press box who's exempt from blame here. I mean, hell, this was a game where the blame could've gone all the way up to Red Bird III's pilot, who's going to be battling significant buffeting by winds that are howling at surface level in Southeastern Michigan.
It really does come down to the Wings learning the hard way that a) the "geographical cure" had nothing to do with their struggles and b) it's about structure, as the team's been saying.
If the Wings play passive and back in, back in, back in against rushes and stick their butts in their goalie's faces, they're eminently beatable.
If they possess the puck, skate through the neutral zone with speed and without turnovers, and when they skate up and down the ice as 5-man units, with strong support of the puck-chaser and/or puck-carrier like the arms of a starfish, keeping that damn structure in place, all while putting shots on the net and chasing their rebounds down, they can play competent, if not winning, if not sometimes dominant hockey.
You saw how dominant they were during some stretches, and how awful they were during others tonight, especially in the 3rd period and OT, when the Wings were out-shot by a 21-5 margin...And traded goals because their goalie was great when Niklas Kronwall's butt wasn't scoring on him, and because their PK is in fact very good.
The shootout, again, was the case of the goalie biting on one deke and the shooters being stoned, just like last night, and that was the game.
Last year, this team had a Valtteri Filppula who was shakier than Stephen Weiss has been, a Damien Brunner that wasn't nearly as consistent as Daniel Alfredsson and Gustav Nyquist--who was no point-per-game player--instead of Darren Helm, and they made the playoffs.
Six straight losses. "Loser points" in five of 'em. Enough to not make this an unmitigated disaster, but pretty close to horrific.
Could they use Nyquist up?
Could they use a shake-up trade?
Could they maybe put Howard or Gustavsson out for the shootout?
But this looks like the wailing and gnashing of a team in puberty right now, a team that has more than enough talent, will, heart, determination and smarts to win, and a team that is making just enough mistakes to lose on a nightly basis, both in terms of individual and team errors.
Everyone is in the doghouse. But over the last two games at least, everyone has been showing signs of life and signs of growth, and it's not yet time to declare these Wings "Dead Things."
Does this shit have to end RIGHT BOOKING NOW, because you can't "miss the playoffs" in November, but you can most certainly blow your margin for error for the remainder of the schedule?
But I don't believe that it's the personnel, I don't believe that it's the goaltending, I don't believe it's special teams, I don't believe that it's the coaching and I don't believe that it's the management that's to blame per se.
All of them are at fault to some extent. Everybody has to get better, finding some bloody cap space included.
But humiliating loss became a shootout one and dominant win became a shootout loss the night before.
Growing pains are a pain in the ass to watch. Wings fans deserve better than this--much better.
But this was game #21 of 82. And this team's basic roster has gone fourteen games into the playoffs before.
It's more than time for the Wings to get their shit together. They've got three more home games this week--Tuesday against Nashville, Thursday against Carolina, and Saturday against Ottawa--they play a Sunday game in Buffalo, host the Bruins on Thanksgiving Eve, play the Isles on Black Friday, and then the schedule gets really nasty and cluttered with cameras behind the scenes in December.
Over the next six games, this team should be able to turn the God-damned ship around. It's just time to do it, for the goalies, coaches, players and management to be that much better at their jobs and to ensure that the team has a competitive edge every time it steps on the ice, even if it's only very slight because of parity, the cap, etc. etc., whatever other excuse they or we want to cite for the team not being able to call up everybody or trade for everybody or whatever.
Build off the learning-experience losses. Get your shit together, take Sunday off, practice on Monday, and find some motivation to take out the Preds, beat Peter Karmanos' Hurricanes the night after all of the Wings head to Compuware for the Matt Sorisho benefit on Wednesday the 20th, give Alfredsson some measure of comfort by beating those Sens, put a dent in the resurgent Sabres and win the barometer game against Boston.
Get "better enough" to close the damn deal. Work on the details. Play like a team. Coach and manage better. Stop another shot a game if you're a goalie.
It can be done. It's time to be worried, yes, but it's not time for them to panic.
We've been doing all the panicking necessary for the Wings' players, coaches and management since the team last won two weeks ago.
Update: From DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:
Shots: 41-23 Islanders overall. The Wings were out-shot 9-7 in the 1st, tied 11-11 in the 2nd, were out-shot 15-4 in the 3rd and 6-1 in OT.
Special teams: The Red Wings went 1-for-1 in 34 seconds of PP time and killed 5 of 6 Islanders power plays, with the Isles receiving 10:20 of PP time.
Goaltending: Jonas Gustavsson stopped 37 of 41 shots; Evgeni Nabokov stopped the only shot he faced; Kevin Poulin stopped 19 of 22.
The 3 stars: The Islanders' media picked Brock Nelson, Darren Helm and John Tavares.
The Wings' goals: Helm (2) from Ericsson (3) and Kronwall (11);
Datsyuk (10) from Samuelsson (1) and Zetterberg (12), PPG;
Franzen (5) from Helm 92) and Tatar (3);
Datsyuk (11) from DeKeyser (7) and Zetterberg (13), goal scored 6-on-5.
Faceoffs 29-28 Detroit (Detroit won 51%);
Blocked shots 20-9 Detroit;
Missed shots 9-8 Detroit (total attempts 69-41 Islanders, with the Wings firing 23 shots on goal and 18 wide/blocked);
Hits 32-28 Detroit;
Faceoffs: Helm went 17-and-8 (68%); Datsyuk went 8-and-11 (42%); Glendening went 2-and-5 (29%); Andersson went 1-and-3 (25%); Zetterberg went 1-and-1 (50%).
Shots: Datsyuk and Franzen co-led the Wings with 3 shots apiece; Abdelkader, Zetterberg, Helm, Bertuzzi and Cleary had 2; Andersson, Miller, Tatar, Lashoff, Quincey, Samuelsson and Glendening had 1.
Blocked attempts: Helm fired 3 shots into Islanders players; Abdelkader had 2 attempts blocked; Tatar, Quincey, Bertuzzi and DeKeyser had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Ericsson missed the net 4 times; Andersson, Helm, Bertuzzi, Kronwall and DeKeyser missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Quincey led the Wings with 6 hits; Lashoff had 5; Helm, Ericsson and Kronwall had 3; Kindl Abdelkader, Tatar and Bertuzzi had 2; Datsyuk and Miller had 1.
Giveaways: Kindl and Bertuzzi had 2 giveaways; Abdelkader, Miller, Quincey, Samuelsson, Zetterberg, Helm and Kronwall had 1 giveaway.
Takeaways: Quincey had 4 takeaways; Datsyuk had 3; Miller, Tatar, Zetterberg, Helm, Kronwall, DeKeyser, Cleary and Franzen had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Ericsson blocked 4 shots; Cleary blocked 3; Datsyuk, Miller and Kronwall blocked 2; Kindl, Quincey, Samuelsson, Zetterberg, Glendening, Helm and Franzen blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Bertuzzi took 2 minors; Franzen took a double minor; Helm and Ericsson took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: the Wings finished at a collective +1. Kindl, Datsyuk, Lashoff, Zetterberg and Bertuzzi were -1; Tatar, Helm, Kronwall and DeKeyser were +1; Franzen was +2.
Points: Datsyuk had 2 goals; Helm had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Franzen scored a goal; Samuelsson, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Ericsson, Kronwall and DeKeyser had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 28:02 played; DeKeyser played 25:40; Ericsson played 24:46;
Quincey played 23:47; Datsyuk played 20:40; Zetterberg played 19:51;
Helm played 18:21; Miller played 16:16; Franzen played 15:57;
Bertuzzi played 15:24; Cleary played 14:17; Lashoff played 14:07;
Tatar played 13:43; Kindl played 13:20; Glendening played 12:54;
Andersson played 12:16; Abdelkader played 11:13; Samuelsson played 9:32.
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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.