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Red Wings-Kings quick take: Howard, Sheahan and Tatar star in a hard-fought win

The Red Wings have fallen into some predictably poor habits with Jimmy Howard entrenched as the team's starter over the past couple of games--the team's bafflingly both allowing itself to be out-shot by a significant margin and it's subterfuging its puck possession game by losing faceoff battles as well.

With Daniel Alfredsson (back spasms) joining Pavel Datsyuk (lower-body?), Johan Franzen (concussion) and Darren Helm (groin) on the "not going to play this weekend" list, and with the Wings playing a team that looks more and more like the 2004 Calgary Flames as the supposed crackdown on obstruction and interference (in Saturday night's game, goaltender interference in particular) continues to erode, you had to know that the Wings and Los Angeles Kings would battle to win or loss of the one-goal, 1-0 or 2-1 variety.

On Saturday night, Howard assuaged his sub-par performance against the Sharks with a fine x-save performance, and the Red Wings received rather desperately-needed goals from their support players in the form of Riley Sheahan's first NHL goal and a clutch game-winner that Tomas Tatar very publicly dedicated to his recently-passed father en route to a slightly surprising result--a 3-1 Red Wings win over the Kings.

Between the Wings' status as significantly undermanned and the Kings' desire to hit everything that moved and some things that did not while clutching, grabbing, hooking, holding, smashing and mashing their way toward another low-scoring win (Jeff Carter's recent scoring exploits included), the game had less than a pleasing level of aesthetic value, and the Kings' first goal was either the result of a "gritty effort" by Dustin Brown or a plain old dive that allowed Drew Doughty to blast the puck into a partially-vacated Red Wings net 14:10 into the 1st period:

The Wings responded relatively quickly, however, with Riley Sheahan jamming the rebound of Tomas Tatar's drive to the net past Jonathan Quick with 1:49 left in the 1st:

The second period had the Kings out-shooting the Wings 15-9 and the Wings out-blowing 3 power plays to Los Angeles's 2 man advantages, but it was mostly an exercise in mucking, grinding, checking and post-whistle scrums full of pushing, shoving and water bottle police-style exchanges, but the Red Wings stood firm against the Kings' attack, and Howard continued to battle his way through traffic and players who just happened to be skating a county or two removed from the industry that shoots the kind of footage involving what the Kings' forwards were trying to do to Jimmy Howard's goal pads.

With the Kings checking the snot out of Henrik Zetterberg's line and Danny DeKeyser and Niklas Kronwall gobbling up ice time on defense, coach Mike Babcock seemed to be more than willing to toss the Bertuzzi-Sheahan-Tatar, Cleary-Glendening-Eaves (or Samuelsson) and Miller-Andersson-Samuelsson (or Abdelkader) lines over the boards,

On the decisive goal, the Wings were actually able to mount an end-to-end rush in Los Angeles, and Todd Bertuzzi and Riley Sheahan plowed up ice, engaged in a give-and-go, and as Sheahan shot and Bertuzzi crashed the net, Tatar skated toward the most likely spot Jonathan Quick would rebound the puck toward, he collected the puck and blasted it into the yawning cage before pointing skyward and collecting the puck for his dad with 7:54 left in the 3rd:

Five minutes and twenty seconds later, at 17:26, the Wings managed to muck the puck up ice on one more end-to-end rush, and Luke Glendening smartly swiped the puck from Jake Muzzin (who was dumped possibily illegally by Patrick Eaves), and Glendening found Daniel Cleary all alone in the slot, fed Cleary the puck, and Cleary gave the Wings all the breathing room they'd need...

Because Jimmy Howard was fantastic over the game's final 2:34, stopping at least a third of what ended up being 20 3rd period shots against and racking up a 44-saves-on-45-shots performance en route to a huge, huge two points for the Wings.

It must be noted that Howard's performance helped the Wings weather a 3rd period penalty to Todd Bertuzzi that ended less than 2 minutes before Tatar's game-winner.

Tomorrow night, there's no doubt that the Wings won't have any reinforcements in the lineup on Sunday night, when the Wings will battle an unbeaten-at-home Anaheim Ducks team that won for the 16th time over the course of 17 games via a 5-3 decision over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday evening (Sunday's Wings-Ducks game will take place at 8 PM EST and air on FSD), and with the Wings simply trying to earn a "wild card" spot at present, the Wings face one hell of an uphill battle on Sunday, but Saturday night's effort and last weekend's win over Dallas proved that Howard and the undermanned Wings can get the job done if they stick with it for 60 minutes.

If the Wings don't continue to grind it out against a team that's as mean as the Kings and as skilled as the Sharks in those damned Ducks, they're going to have a long Sunday night, but if they display the grit and heart the Howards, Tatars, Sheahans, Zetterbergs (despite being checked like nobody's business, Zetterberg played fantastic hockey, attempting 7 shots and helping Gustav Nyquist take a team-lead-tying 4 [who knew, Jakub Kindl, who was shaky in his own zone at times, had 4 shots as well] and give the Kings all sorts of trouble) displayed while receiving superb support from the Clearys, Bertuzzis, Quinceys (yes, Quincey was pretty decent) and Lashoffs, the Wings have every opportunity to hand the Ducks their first regulation loss at home.

And yes, as Fox Sports Detroit's Ken Daniels stated, Hokejportal and Novy Cas confirm that Tomas Tatar's father, Jan, passed away on Friday. Tatar apparently confirmed the news on his Facebook page, and Daniels stated that Tatar will fly home to Dubinca, Slovakia to attend his dad's funeral after Sunday night's game, missing the Wings-Rangers game on Thursday as a result (and I think he had heart trouble).

Quick stats:

Shots 45-26 Los Angeles overall. Detroit was out-shot 10-9 in the 1st period, 15-9 in the 2nd period and 20-8 in the 3rd period.

Special teams: Detroit went 0-for-4 in 8:00 of PP time; the Kings went 1-for-4 in 6:37 of PP time.

Goaltending: Jimmy Howard stopped 44 of 45 shots against for Detroit; Jonathan Quick stopped 23 of 26 shots for Los Angeles.

The 3 stars were picked by "media" (read: Kings broadcasters), and they picked Tomas Tatar, Mike Richards and Jimmy Howard.

The Wings' goals: Sheahan (1) from Tatar (9) and Smith (9);

Tatar (10) from Sheahan (3) and Bertuzzi (5);

Cleary (4) from Glendening (3).

Faceoffs 45-20 Los Angeles (Detroit won 31%);

Blocked shots 17-7 Detroit;

Missed shots 21-11 Los Angeles (total attempts a stunning 83-44 Los Angeles);

Hits 36-19 Los Angeles;

Giveaways 14-10 Los Angeles;

Takeaways 2-0 Los Angeles.

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Comments

Avatar

Wow. There’s some fight in this team. It’s just too bad heart can only take you so far.

It’s starting to look like the lineup will never reach its full potential this year…but at least lots of players are getting a chance to shine.

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 01/12/14 at 02:46 AM ET

Alan's avatar

It’s starting to look like the lineup will never reach its full potential this year

There’s a lot of season left to play, though. If we can all get healthy, full potential can be achieved.

Don’t stop believin’.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 01/12/14 at 03:02 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

They’ve got to keep battling along. They may never be fully healthy, but they need to muck and grind their way toward a playoff spot any way they are able to.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/12/14 at 03:09 AM ET

alwaysaurie's avatar

Best of luck to Tomas Tatar and his family.

Glad he got to salute his dad during the game.

Posted by alwaysaurie on 01/12/14 at 03:14 AM ET

Avatar

Great game by Howard last night.  A big part of the reason these shot numbers are so wacky is that when Howard’s in teams are just throwing anything at him and seeing if he’ll give up the rebound or lose his positioning, based on his shaky play so far this year.

A lot of it, too, is just being outmatched on the ice.  Detroit has north of 21 million dollars worth of forwards out, still, so that’s going to happen.

Alan has the right of it, because Detroit doesn’t need to win the division or anything, they just have to get right by the end of the year, although preferably a bit before the end of the year so the team can gel at least a little before the playoffs start.

I haven’t said this for a while, but it bears repeating: Detroit’s 1-7 in the SO this year.  If they had just been decent in that stupid skills competition, not great but decent, they’d be within 3 points of Montreal for the #5, even after ferocious and constant injuries to pretty much every significant player on the team for long stretches.

Even though it’s certainly the popular opinion around these parts to rail at the team and the coach and the management as incompetent, tuned out dinosaurs… that Detroit’s even in this thing is a pretty hearty accomplishment.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/12/14 at 06:02 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Oh Tartar Sauce…  I nearly cried when I watched the clip of his goal and heard Ken Daniels say his father had just died the day before.  Good for him for being able to play, and for being able to focus enough to get that goal.  My heart goes out to him.  He’s awfully young to have lost his Dad.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 01/12/14 at 10:15 AM ET

Avatar

Whoever was counting hits was definitely an LA fan. I think the Wings had 19 hits after they went up 2-1. Every player on the ice after that , almost, was trying to make it hard on anyone who had the puck. All they need to do is remember how they played last night, tonight, instead of playing the way they played against the sharks.

Posted by teldar on 01/12/14 at 11:14 AM ET

Avatar

I don;t know how much traction this will get, but I say trade Abdelkader for whatever they can get for him and play Sheahan in his place. Sheahan seems to be stronger and a better skater with possibly more offensive upside but would fit in at about the same salary cap in a couple years.

Thoughts?

Posted by teldar on 01/12/14 at 11:32 AM ET

SYF's avatar

Tatar was glorious and he got the GWG for his father.  My condolences to his father’s passing.

It was ugly, but I think the Wings got a little riled up and toughened up for the Duhucks.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 01/12/14 at 01:50 PM ET

Avatar

A big part of the reason these shot numbers are so wacky is that when Howard’s in teams are just throwing anything at him and seeing if he’ll give up the rebound or lose his positioning, based on his shaky play so far this year.

why don’t opposing teams just taunt him with his salary figures? That argument seems to work best for you?

Detroit has north of 21 million dollars worth of forwards out, still

Wow, say this statement one more time as if no one either knows this already or hasn’t heard it before. It’s becoming your favorite. You use it nearly every other post as if you have amnesia.

I haven’t said this for a while, but it bears repeating

Oh god, don’t say it again about the cost of the Wing’s injuries…

Detroit’s 1-7 in the SO this year.

Thank you god….oh shit, not this again. Anyone not aware of this until 5am today? I suggest you get out from under that rock then.

Even though it’s certainly the popular opinion around these parts to rail at the team and the coach and the management as incompetent, tuned out dinosaurs

Granted it’s less that you “rail” on Babs and Holland then everyone else, I see to recall, just a few sentences up complaining about Howard’s lack of abilities. But I suppose that isn’t really pointing a finger at a player’s performance just like the way you have noted Tatar’s poor defensive play, repeated criticism of Quincy’s play, complete mystification as to why Lashoff plays hockey at all, pissing all over Nyquists ability, or how Weiss isn’t worth the paper his contract was signed on. No, there’s no evidence of you ever complaining about Wing’s play. Not ever. Nada.

Holy crap, what drugs are you on? I’d like to sell them to you because you alone would make me a solid fortune.

that Detroit’s even in this thing is a pretty hearty accomplishment.

The Wings must be over achievers in your mind.

Posted by howeandhowe on 01/12/14 at 03:05 PM ET

Avatar

Granted it’s less that you “rail” on Babs and Holland then everyone else, I see to recall, just a few sentences up complaining about Howard’s lack of abilities.

I don’t think you understood what I said.

No, there’s no evidence of you ever complaining about Wing’s play. Not ever. Nada.

I don’t think you understand what I’ve said.

The Wings must be over achievers in your mind.

As a team, yes.

 

 

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/12/14 at 05:37 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.