The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/28/13 at 09:56 PM ET
People say that I make far too big a deal of preseason games, and I won't deny that fact while admitting that I'm disappointed in the Red Wings' effort in a 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Both teams' rosters were miles away from the players who skated in Friday night's 5-2 Wings win, but the players who played the most indecisively and were most guilty of mailing it in weren't Jarnkrok, Pulkkinen, the goal-scorer Callahan or Sproul, Ouellet, Sheahan, Jurco, or even Hoggan or Paetsch, who all gave their all, just like Mrazek (who was near-heroic) and Coreau (who had no chance on the goal that beat him).
Mikael Samuelsson, Cory Emmerton and, surprisingly, Drew Miller, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith and Brian Lashoff mailed it in, just trying to "get through" the season, and sans NHL leadership, the "kids" looked indecisive while STILL out-working, out-hustling, out-detailing, out-competing and out-"hearting" the people whose jobs they're after.
Petr Mrazek faced 18 shots over the first two periods and really and honestly had no chance on either goal against. Josh Leivo received assists from both the referees--given that Nathan Paetsch won the "race" to the faceoff circle and touched the puck on an icing call waved off at the last moment--and a poor line change as the Leafs worked the puck around to the point with Emmerton and Samuelsson caught on the ice for a long shift as Tomas Jurco hopped over the boards, and Leivo tipped a point shot past Mrazek as a result, giving Toronto a 1-0 lead with 5:41 left in the 2nd:
A little under three minutes later, Xavier Ouellet got called for holding on a night when most of the grabs and gropes were let go, and right off the faceoff, John-Michael Liles sent a screened shot through everybody--and Emmerton lost the draw...
And after Mrazek was relieved by Jared Coreau, halfway through the third period, the Wings' coverage went kerplunk, Mikael Samuelsson and Cory Emmerton both dove--the opposite ways--to block shots, Brendan Smith stood in Coreau's way, and the game was placed out of reach by Leivo with 10:12 left in the affair:
The Wings' kids did make a push in the third period. Ouellet was solid all game long, Ryan Sproul found his legs, and while each and every turning-North American-pro Griffin over-passed and over-wound-up before shooting, Teemu Pulkkinen was excellent, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco were still a little gassed from training camp but were solid, Calle Jarnkrok found his superb defensive and fleet-footed form as the game went on, Mitchell Callahan had a "Doug Brown" game on a night that he needed to play effective defensive hockey, Jeff Hoggan was excellent up front and Nathan Paetsch, despite being on the ice for 2 goals against, was solid and no-frills-no-worries strong, and the two players who played like their jobs were in danger were Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist, who was the Wings' best player by a large margin.
With 4 minutes remaining, after Leivo fired the puck wide on a doofy breakaway caused by Lashoff and Kindl over-passing, Mitchell Callahan stole the puck from John-Michael Liles and made a slick, gorgeous deke-and-dangle goal...
And while the Wings pulled their goalie late, they were unable to shrink the deficit.
The younger players really did slowly but surely find their legs, and while Pulkkinen got hit pretty regularly, he bounced off the hits like the Honey Badger he is, Ouellet was generally smooth as could be, Sproul found his slapper, Jarnkrok had a really strong third, and lest I forget him, while Luke Glendening had a quiet game offensively, he also looked like someone who is very, very close to stealing someone's job.
That wasn't the case for Emmerton, Samuelsson, Smith, Kindl, Lashoff and, again, surprisingly, Miller, and as a result, the youngsters didn't have anybody to model for them save Hoggan, Paetsch and their goalies.
If the veterans had done so, the Wiffins sure played the Babcock-Blashill defensive system to a tee save their catastrophic breakdowns, and I think that the youngsters would've been able to at least make it close.
So the preseason ends with a pair of AHL-heavy teams grinding it out, with the refs letting oodles of interference go and with the Wings splitting their series with Toronto mostly because the guys who were supposed to carry the mail didn't and the kids who were supposed to step up didn't shake off the, "HOLY SHIT WE'RE PLAYING TORONTO IN TORONTO" jitters until the game was out of reach.
The preseason ended up ending weirdly. The Wings smacked the hell out of the Bruins in their first game, they split their series against Pittsburgh and they hammered Toronto on Friday, but they lost 3 of 4 at home and finished the preseason with an ugly 3-and-5 record.
The Wings will likely place 3 players on the LTIR on Sunday, they'll take the day off, and starting on Monday, they'll prepare for the home opener against Buffalo next Wednesday as the start of 3 games in 4 nights, heading to Carolina on Friday the 4th and Boston on Saturday the 5th.
Time to get your shit in gear, Wings.
Update: Here's NHL.com's slate of highlights:
Shots 27-25 Toronto. The Wings out-shot Toronto 10-8 in the 1st, the teams tied 10-10 in the 2nd and Detroit was out-shot 9-5 in the 3rd.
The Wings went 0-for-1 in 2:00 of PP time; the Leafs went 1-for-2 in 2:04 of PP time.
Petr Mrazek stopped 16 of 18; Jared Coreau stopped 8 of 9; James Reimer stopped 24 of 25.
The 3 stars were picked by the media in attendance, and they picked Andrew MacWilliam, James Reimer and Josh Leivo.
The Wings' goal: Callahan (1) from Jurco (1) and Kindl (1).
Faceoffs 34-26 Toronto (Detroit won 43%);
Blocked shots 16-15 Detroit;
Missed shots 16-14 Detroit (total attempts 57-56 Toronto, with the Wings firing 25 shots ON Reimer and 31 blocked or wide);
Hits 36-33 Toronto;
Giveaways a baffling 24-18 Toronto;
Takeaways 10-9 Detroit.
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Glendening went 9-and-9 (50%); both Emmerton and Jarnkrok went 6-and-8 (43%); Sheahan went 5-and-7 (42%); Miller and Tatar lost their only faceoffs.
Shots: Pulkkinen led the Wings with 4 shots; nyquist, Emmerton and Glendening had 3; Jurco, Sproul and Callahan had 2; Kindl, Miller, Tatar, Paetsch, Ouellet and Jarnkrok had 1.
Blocked attempts: Sproul fired 4 shot attempts into Leaf players; lashoff and Pulkkinen had 2 attempts blocked; Sheahan, Tatar, Emmerton, Callahan, Ouellet, Jarnkrok and Hoggan had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Nyquist missed the net 3 times; Kindl and Sproul missed the net 2 times; Smith, Sheahan, Lashoff, Paetsch, Glendening, Pulkkinen, Ouellet, Jarnkrok and Hoggan missed the net 1 time.
HIts: Callahan led the Wings with 5 hits; Lashoff had 4; Smith, Jurco and Samuelsson had 3; Kindl, Miller, Paetsch, Emmerton and Glendening had 2; Pulkkinen and Hoggan had 1.
Giveaways: Nyquist had 3 giveaways; Smith, Kindl, Lashoff, Sproul, Pulkkinen and Mrazek had 2 giveaways; Sheahan, Emmerton and Ouellet had 1 giveaway.
Takeaways: Smith, Paetsch and Callahan had 2 takeaways; Nyquist, Tatar, Samuelsson and Glendening had 1 takeaway.
Blocked opponent shots: Smith, Kindl, Paetsch and Pulkkinen blocked 2 shots; Nyquist, Sheahan, Lashoff, Paetsch, Samuelsson and Jarnkrok blocked 1 shot.
Penalty minutes: Kindl and Ouellet took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective -5. Emmerton and Samuelsson finished at -2; Smith, Miller, Jurco and Ouellet finished at -1; Sheahan and Callahan finished at +1.
Points: Callahan scored a goal and Jurco and Kindl had assists.
Ice time: Ouellet led the team with 23:08 played; Smith played 22:42; Kindl played 20:27;
Sproul played 20:26; Tatar played 18:37; Nyquist played 18:18;
Glendening played 17:01; Paetsch played 16:44; Emmerton played 16:41;
Sheahan played 16:17; Lashoff played 16:07; Samuelsson played 15:41;
Miller played 14:27; Pulkkinen played 13:51; Jurco played 13:49;
Jarnkrok played 12:37; Hoggan played 12:08; Callahan played 10:25.
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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.