Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Maple Leafs wrap-up and overnight report: a Slovak-and-Sheahan-powered shootout win!

While attending my family's Christmas party, I saw enough of the Red Wings' rally from a 3-1 deficit and rally from a 4-3 deficit to tell you that the Wings earned the right to fly back to the ice bowl that is Southeastern Michigan having defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 in a shootout, earning their first shootout win in 12 tries (and taking a 3-point lead over the Leafs in the jam-packed Atlantic Division).

Coming home to watch the second period revealed the incessant five-man "fly-bys" of pucks dumped into the Wings' defensive zone and retrieved by the opposition, the mediocre-at-best neutral zone play, the team's strange willingness to both "cheat" away from their own defensive zone's corners and into the offensive zone's corners instead of waiting another ten feet before committing to pucks not yet having arrived at their destinations--i.e. quite a bit of impatience, from both the Sheahans, Jurcos, returning DeKeysers and the overloaded Kronwalls and Datsyuks, as well as Jonas Gustavsson's sometimes fantastic and sometimes inconsistent goaltending (turns out that even the Monster needs a mental break, preferrably as soon as possible, as in Monday against the Isles).

The big picture made sense, and the fact that the Wings' win was preceded by a sometimes equally sloppy 3-2 win over Calgary on Thursday seemed to fit the circumstances.

As someone who grew up in the heyday of the Wings-Leafs "Norris Division" rivalry, having sat seven rows behind the Wings' bench when Nikolai Borschevsky tipped that Bob Rouse shot past Tim Cheveldae in Game 7 of the Norris Division Semifinal in 1993, and being a proud Red Wings fan who happens both play a blogger on the internet and openly admit that I despise the Leafs more than I do the Avalanche or Blackhawks, I was thrilled to see the Wings win.

As I said this morning, I didn't give a shit about the "Winter Classic preview" or the "compelling 24/7 storyline coming!" angles painted by the welcome foils to every blogger in the generally objective media (we tend to complement each other), and was kind of pissed off by them.

To me, this game was going to be more of a, "Who the *#$%@& are these guys that we haven't played since 2012?" game and a likely messy "getting-to-know-you" affair and/or experiment as opposed to a scripted piece of on-ice majesty in the making, and given that the now-17-12-and-9 Red Wings and 18-16-and-4 Leafs are rapidly approaching the halfway points of their respective seasons (Game 42 for both teams just happens to be that whole outdoor game thingy), I was glad to hear that both teams mostly wanted to earn two points going into tonight's tilt.

But Winter Classic or no Winter Classic, one cannot escape the Mos Eisley of hockey jornalism, nor a Hockey Night in Canada game, without Drama(!), and "The Story" after the game did not involve the fact that the Leafs rallied from a 3-1 deficit to hold a 4-3 lead heading into the game's final six minutes, nor that a Leafs team that's mostly lost games the Wings have managed to muddle points out of muddled a point out of Detroit.

Oh no, instead, The Story involves the fact that Leafs goalie James Reimer was pulled (pulled!) from the game without much pomp or circumstance by one Randy Carlyle, and that Carlyle and Reimer had an angry exchange (angry!) of glances (grr) when the second period began.

Tell me The Story, the Toronto Sun's Rob Longley...

For most NHL goaltenders, there isn’t a leash long enough. For Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle on Saturday night, James Reimer’s ended at three goals.

Reimer got the hook after the first period in Saturday’s 5-4 shootout loss against the Detroit Red Wings after letting in three goals on 12 shots.

“I don’t know if I really want to get into that,” Reimer said when asked about Carlyle’s hook. “It’s the last thing I wanted ... but that’s Randy’s decision and I respect what he decides. I may not like it, but that’s irrelevant. Obviously, Randy had other thoughts and he’s the coach. He’s the one who makes those decisions, I just try to stop pucks.”

TSN's Jonas Siegel...

Randy Carlyle sensed something amiss with his starting goaltender on the very first shot of the game, one that he says bounced in and out of Reimer's glove.

“I thought the rebounds were bouncing away from him,” added Carlyle.

And though the first goal was a strike of brilliance from Pavel Datsyuk – opposite Toronto's fourth line no less – he felt the final two markers were stoppable. The first, a wraparound from Joakim Andersson, was one Reimer admittedly wanted back. The second saw Tomas Jurco camped all alone in front of the net – Jake Gardiner falling down in the corner – able to tuck a backhand through the Leafs netminder.

“When a goaltender is in the zone, pucks usually don't go through him,” said Carlyle, “and their third goal went through him.”

Two minutes still remained in the period when Jurco's goal made it 3-1 for the Red Wings, but it was at that moment that Carlyle decided to start Jonathan Bernier in the second frame. He told Bernier as much as the team exited the ice after a disappointing opening frame.

“When you do that you do that based upon not specifically the individual that's getting pulled,” Carlyle explained, “you do it for your team, that somehow you can get a spark for your team and I thought Bernier came in and did that for us.”

And remind me that The Story Is In Fact A Big Story, the CBC's Mike Brophy...

Finally, a storyline

The first episode of HBO's 24/7 was boring. No enticing storylines. That changed Saturday night when Reimer glared at his coach, Randy Carlyle, shooting him visual daggers after being pulled at the end of the first period.

"I was not happy," Reimer said. "I don't think there is a goalie in the league who is happy when he gets pulled. Obviously Randy had other thoughts and he's the coach and he's the one who makes the decisions. I just try to stop pucks."

For his part, Carlyle didn't mince words in suggesting he did not feel Reimer played particularly well.

"I thought the very first shot he took went in his glove and out of his glove," Carlyle said. "I thought the rebounds were bouncing away from him and when a goaltender is in the zone pucks don't usually go through them. Their third goal went through him. I felt the wrap-around goal was a stoppable goal."

When pressed about his feelings about being pulled, Reimer relented a bit.

"I don't know if I really want to get into that," he said. "Obviously I didn't want to get pulled; I wanted to hang in there. That's Randy's decision and I respect what he decides. I may not like it, but that's irrelevant."

And Sportsnet's Chris Johnston:

It was one of those times where a picture really was worth a thousand words. In this case it was a moving picture and the subject was Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer, who was clearly upset about getting yanked from Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

The eagle-eyed producers of “Hockey Night in Canada” spotted the sour gaze Reimer seemed to direct at coach Randy Carlyle before the second period and anyone who watched the broadcast saw it replayed on a couple occasions.

Viewed in isolation, it’s the sort of thing that might make Reimer look fed up. At the very least, it appeared to hint at conflict. But when Reimer stood in front of a handful of reporters after what became a 5-4 shootout loss to Detroit there was no further evidence to support either hypothesis.

In fact, the only small trace of any possible tension came when Reimer was asked if Carlyle’s leash has been too short for him this season and he diplomatically replied: “I don’t know if I really want to get into that.”

“Obviously, I didn’t want to get pulled,” he added. “You know, that’s the last thing I wanted, I wanted to hang in there. But that’s Randy’s decision and I respect what he decides. I may not like it, but that’s irrelevant. He’s the one who makes those decisions.”

It was the fourth time Reimer was lifted from a game this season and, if nothing else, Carlyle could claim that it had the desired result on his team. The Leafs managed to roar back from a 3-1 deficit after the opening 20 minutes and even found themselves with a 4-3 lead that they were unable to nurse home despite some strong play from Jonathan Bernier in relief of Reimer.

When you peeled away all of the emotions from a night that produced a playoff-type atmosphere at Air Canada Centre, the game was a small step backwards for a Leafs team that is desperately looking to find some positive momentum. A win over a division rival, even one nursing as many key injuries as Detroit, would have been huge with just one game left to play before the Christmas break.

Well wait a minute, we've got a story that leads into...The whole, "The actual story authored by those who played the game?" narrative? Okay, this is something this sleep-deprived blogger can work with.

Mostly because Jonathan Bernier is the "other guy" the Wings might face in the Winter Classic, and, as the Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno notes, Benrier was pretty damn good--and Carlyle's decision almost worked out for his team:

Bernier was coming back from a lower-body injury suffered Monday in a collision with Pittsburgh forward Jayson Megna that cost him a potential start Thursday against the Coyotes. He reported feeling OK physically in his first action since then.

"Obviously the shootout and going in the game (off the bench) like this is not the best for after an injury, but it was fine," Bernier said.

Bernier stopped 25 of the 26 shots he faced in the second and third periods and then overtime. The only goal he gave up was to Tomas Tatar in the third period, but Bernier emphasized the positives of erasing a two-goal deficit.

"Coming back after (3-1), it's pretty impressive," he said. "I think it's a big point for us. Obviously coming back against a good team like this, it should be a huge confidence (boost)."

The truth of the matter is that, "story" or not, both the Wings and the Leafs are teams trying to figure out who they are more than they're trying to dissect their opponents' tendencies, and that was the real "story," as the National Post's Eric Koreen suggested:

“To have a rivalry, what you do is you meet in the playoffs, you have two really good teams, you have a hard series and you build up some animosity for one another,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock before the two teams met for the first time in nearly two calendar years. “That hasn’t been possible.”

Perhaps that will change in time. In the teams’ first matchup this year, the Red Wings took out the Maple Leafs 5-4 in a shootout. That long-time Ottawa villain Daniel Alfredsson scored in the shoot-out helped make things a little meatier. Like old times, Alfredsson was booed every time he touched the puck on Saturday night, if not with the same ferocity as when he captained the Senators.

Of course, the teams are also playing in the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich., on New Year’s Day, and are the subjects of the 24/7 series on HBO leading up to the event. (Although, Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported both teams have denied HBO access at various points in the lead-up to the game.) And, if the teams do eventually meet in the playoffs, then a rivalry could blossom again. This could turn into something worth remembering.

Right now, though, the Leafs and Wings are just two rather average hockey teams.

“I see a lot of similarities in where we’re at and where they are,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. “We’ve got inconsistency, and it started with injuries. It’s not the personnel, I’m sure, on their white board that they had in the summer months. They hadn’t envisioned their lineup to be what it is today. Us, likewise. Ours has been a little different. We’ve had quite a few suspensions that has taken people away from us.”

...

David Clarkson and Tomas Tatar traded goals in the third period, when the game finally evened out. A frenetic overtime, then, possibly served as the start of something real.

“I think this rivalry is growing and growing, and it’s going to continue to grow,” Clarkson said. “I think this game had [some edge] tonight, once we started to play.”

“A rivalry is something that develops when you have competitive teams and you play a number of times against one another,” Carlyle added. “Obviously there’s a long history between Toronto and Detroit.”

On Saturday night, for the Leafs, anyway, it was more of the same in the results department, as the Toronto Sun's Rob Longley noted...

“The way the game developed, we were fortunate to get a point,” was Carlyle’s apt synopsis of another frustrating night of watching key defensive breakdowns lead to a defeat.

A three-pack of first-period goals from the Wings — none of which were HBO worthy — left the coach muttering and shaking his head behind the Leafs bench. And on the way to the dressing room for the first intermission, he tapped Bernier on the shoulder to replace beleaguered starter James Reimer.

Though Reimer was clearly peeved with the call, the Leafs did respond to the move, ultimately turning a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead when David Clarkson banged in his third of the season from a goalmouth scramble at 8:32 of the third period. But yet another breakdown — this time from Phil Kessel’s inability to clear the zone — set Tomas Tatar in alone on Bernier and when he connected, yet another Leafs game was off to overtime.

“We’ve got to be ready from the drop of the puck, be ready to play the way we know we can, the way we did in the second and third,” Clarkson said. “We battled back and we showed that we’re a team that’s not going to give up.”

And the Leafs continued while speaking with the Globe and Mail's David Shoalts:

“We didn’t start the way we wanted,” Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul, who finished with a goal and an assist, said. “[The Red Wings] got some goals we’d like to have back. We didn’t get any offence going in the first period but we fought back in the second.”

The Leafs did managed to take a 1-0 lead in the first period and then tied the score 3-3 with two goals in closing out the second period.

Peter Holland set up the first Leaf goal with some tenacious fore-checking behind the Detroit net. That saw the puck get to the slot and then to defenceman Cody Franson at the point for his second goal of the season.

The trouble was, the Leafs went back to standing around in their own end again, watching the Wings take the puck to the net. And this time Reimer was not able to perform any heroics to keep them in the game.

...

The Leafs managed to regain control of the game at the midway mark of the second period, although for a while it looked as their former teammate Jonas Gustavsson was unbeatable. He came into the game with a 9-3-2 record and .920 save percentage, mostly in relief of No. 1 goaltender Jimmy Howard, who is one of many injured Red Wings.

Shortly after Leaf captain Dion Phaneuf scored at 11:45 on a one-timer off a beautiful feed from Lupul, Gustavsson made what some immediately nominated as the save of the year. Phaneuf wired a shot from the point at the open net with Gustavsson seemingly down and out. But he managed to dive back toward the right side of the net, throw out his stick and stop the shot.

Phaneuf called it “the best save ever made on me, that’s for sure. I started to put my arms up.”

I have to say, even as a stand-up goalie, this is how they teach you to use your stick when your ass is in trouble. It rarely works out this way, regardless of your style of play:


The Toronto Sun's Ian Shantz noted that the Leafs' "positive" came in the fact that their top scorers got off the schneid...

Coming into the Winter Classic preview, centre Nazem Kadri and wingers Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk — all so strong in flashes this season — had combined for a modest four points in Toronto’s previous five contests.

Van Riemsdyk and Kessel picked up assists on Joffrey Lupul’s power-play goal in the second period, but JVR fanned in the shootout and the line was not nearly as dominant as it needs to be.

“We dug ourselves a hole and it takes a toll when you’re trying to dig out of a two-goal hole like that,” Lupul said of his team’s 3-1 deficit after 20 minutes. “If we take one thing (from this), it’s probably to get off to a better start.”

While a top-line role at centre is perhaps putting Kadri over his head at this stage in his young career — a move made necessary by Tyler Bozak’s injury woes — the inconsistent point production from the Leafs’ best players is starting to become as worrisome as everything else on the growing list of problems with this team, which continues to take one step forward and another five or so back.

All three players had their chances last night — Kessel sailing one just wide in the opening minutes — but when your top line is not finishing, there are clearly problems.

“You’re pleased when you win,” said forward David Clarkson a secondary-role bright spot lately, who potted an equalizer goal in the third period. “(But) it’s not an individual effort.”

But results were results, and after the Toronto Star's Mark Zwolinski issued "penthouse and doghouse" ratings, the Star's Rosie Dimanno got into the "Spirit of the Thing" while criticizing Carlyle for moves made not involving pulling his goalie:

You know, Carlyle made an error on the night too, having his fourth line out there when Mike Babcock sent Datsyuk over the boards with his fourth line, which makes it instantly not a fourth line anymore. Datsyuk ended up scoring, and it was 1-1. Carlyle did not adjust for the gerrymandered fourth line and that’s a coaching mistake, though he didn’t see it that way.

“Datsyuk was the only player that came out with the fourth line. I was matching the lines and that was the play. We had opportunities to defend, even though the goal was scored. But Pavel’s a special player.”

Precisely.

Which brings us ’round to where we came in on this column, with Clarkson — who’s truly in danger of becoming the reincarnation of Larry Murphy with a disgruntled fan base — finally triggering wild cheering instead of jeering, putting the Leafs up after a couple of bangs at the puck amidst a pile in the crease. It was his 100th NHL goal, third as a Leaf and first in a dozen games. To no avail, since no Leaf could score in the shootout while the Wings were two-for-two against Bernier.

Yet Clarkson stood there at his locker afterwards, pretending all has been fine, just fine, no displeasure sensed from a Leaf Nation that is clearly thinking it got sold a bill of goods on this guy, with his two suspensions so far and wheels spinning.

“I haven’t not felt (the love) in the time I’ve been here,” he insisted. “So I don’t know what you mean by the question.”

Duh.

Carlyle, at least, was more forthright.

“The way the game developed, I think we’re fortunate to get a point.”

That was the theme of the Canadian Press's Whyno's recap:

"We'll take the point," captain Dion Phaneuf said. "Coming back, I feel that was a big step for our team to come back against a team that doesn't really give up a whole lot. We did a lot of really good things tonight."

The good things for the Leafs (18-16-4) came in the second and third periods when they got goals from Phaneuf and Joffrey Lupul to tie the score and then one from the much-maligned David Clarkson to take the lead. That was a complete reversal from the first period, when they squandered the opening goal from defenceman Cody Franson and gave up three goals in 9 minutes 11 seconds to Pavel Datsyuk, Joakim Andersson and Tomas Jurco.

"We score the first goal and then we basically stood around for the rest of the period and watched them do their thing," Carlyle said. "They out-competed us badly in the first period."

For the Leafs, that was the bottom line: poor start equals predictably disappointing finish:

"I didn't think we were ready and we came out a little bit sloppy," said Clarkson, whose go-ahead goal was just his third of the season. "When you allow a team with that much skill and talent to get ahead of you, it's hard to battle back, but I think we showed something tonight by battling back. We've got to be ready from the drop of the puck, be ready to play the way we know we can, the way we did in the second and third."

The Leafs' play for the final 40 minutes of regulation represented the biggest positive of the night, which was a chance for the teams to feel each other out before meeting in the Winter Classic Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

That game is too far from now for either Toronto or Detroit to focus on. The Leafs' concern was about their good and bad effort that led to this shootout loss.

"It takes a toll on you trying to dig out of a two-goal hole like that," said Lupul, who had a goal and an assist. "If we take one thing from the game, it's probably get off to a little better start."

David Clarkson will get the "last Leaf word" via NHL.com's Joe Yerdon's recap--and while I didn't like his goal, it was legal (also: Clarkson told the Toronto Sun's Dave Hilson that he was both a Leaf fan and a Brendan Shanahan fan growing up)...

"I think this rivalry's growing and growing. It's going to continue to grow," Maple Leafs forward David Clarkson said. "It's going to be there and they're a team that's close by. Any time you have an organization or a team that's close, you always have that playoff-type feeling. I thought that game had it tonight once we started playing the way we knew we could."

Clarkson gave the Maple Leafs a 4-3 lead at 8:32 of the third period when he put a loose puck in the crease past Gustavsson. The scramble at the front of the net happened when Jay McClement's shot bounced off the goalie and stayed in front of the net. Clarkson pushed the puck underneath Gustavsson for his third goal of the season and 100th in his career.

"I was just reaching to get behind the [defenseman]," Clarkson said. "I think [Nikolai Kulemin] fanned on it in the slot, and I was coming in all excited and I fanned on it. So it was just one of those ones that started hopping and went in."

And we'll let the Wings' Superb Slovaks and Swedes take it from here:

Detroit's Tomas Tatar tied the game 4-4 with 6:16 remaining when he put a rebound of a Niklas Kronwall shot past Bernier. Tatar beat defenseman John-Michael Liles to the loose puck in front to score his seventh goal of the season.

"I was in a corner and I kind of saw the puck came up and it wasn't a 100-percent puck so I just kind of tried to go to the net," Tatar said. "[Tomas Jurco] threw it there and I was in by myself so I had lots of time."

Jonas Gustavsson wasn't great all the time, but he dug the result...

"It was great," Gustavsson said. "It was a long time ago for our team and it felt really good to get that win in the shootout. Especially for myself too because I don't think I had my best game tonight so it was fun. At least we were able to step up there and get the win."

And the Red Wings' coach--who eventually iced a full-on Griffins line of Tomas Jurco (1 goal and 1 assist), Riley Sheahan (1 assist) and Luke Glendening (a stunning 17:30 played with 2 shots, 4 hits and a 7-and-8 faceoff record)--was delighted to see a lineup without seven regulars produce:

"Through all these injuries we've created depth in our organization which is critical to have and it gives you confidence to use them," Babcock said. "I didn't know we could use Riley Sheahan against anybody and now I do. Those are things you've got to see for yourself."

The AP's recap focuses a little more on the Wings' exorcising of a shootout demon...

Daniel Alfredsson scored the winner in the tiebreaker, and Detroit escaped Toronto with a 5-4 victory over the Maple Leafs on Saturday night in a Winter Classic preview. The Red Wings had lost 11 straight shootouts, six this season.

"It was a mental block for us," Alfredsson said. "To win this one, hopefully we can put that behind us and start winning a few. Winning in overtime last game and now winning in a shootout tonight lessens the grip on the stick next time around."

Detroit coach Mike Babcock wasn't too hung up on his team's struggles in shootouts. But he was quite pleased to have a two-game winning streak after his club dropped six straight.

"I think we're a pretty even-keeled group," Babcock said. "We just keep on keeping on. We're going to be fine here in the end. We've got to get players back, and then we'll start playing with some speed and confidence and tempo and everything."

The Red Wings were playing without injured captain Henrik Zetterberg (back), goalie Jimmy Howard (knee), center Stephen Weiss (sports hernia), and forwards Gustav Nyquist (groin), Johan Franzen (concussion) and Justin Abdelkader (concussion). They got defenseman Danny DeKeyser back after he missed 15 games with a shoulder injury.

The Wings actually discussed their win with Free Press's Helene St. James while offering a little bit of uncharacteristic swagger, at least from the Swedes (St. James also penned a, "Why the Wings Won" capsule recap)...

"I think we were better than them, so we should maybe have won the game even quicker," former Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson said after making 19 saves. "But it doesn't always matter how it looks so long as it's two points."

The teams meet again Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium in the Winter Classic. Saturday marked the first time the Wings were in Toronto in nearly two years, and the first time they were there with Alfredsson, dearly despised by Leafs fans after 17 seasons as a Senator. He was booed so much that when he set up Joakim Andersson's goal, fans didn't even seem to notice Andersson had scored.

"It fires you up a little bit, there's no question," Alfredsson said. "It's a big win for us. We're in desperate need of points."

And Babcock offered quite the quip about a usually quiet assistant coach's bold Alfredsson shootout prediction...

"It was good," coach Mike Babcock said. "My assistant coach, Bill Peters, said to me, 'watch this, he's going to go bar down and then ride his stick. Watch this.' But he didn't ride his stick."

While the Slovaks were the Slovaks:

Andersson made it 2-1, and then Tomas Jurco got the puck while all alone in front of the slot, pulled up and went to his backhand for a 3-1 end to the first period. Riley Sheahan picked up his first two NHL points with assists to Datsyuk and Jurco.

"I went to the net and Riley pass it to me and nobody was around me," Jurco said. "I had lots of time to do that move. I spun and luckily it went in."

...

Tatar came through with six minutes to go, stealthily staying deep in Toronto's zone, which allowed him to have plenty of room to score.

"I saw the puck came up and it wasn't 100% puck for them, so I just try to go to the net," Tatar said. "Jurky throw it there and I was by myself so I had lots of time. We had the game in our hand and they come back, so we're really happy to win."

MLive's Ansar Khan took note of some significant figures in his quote-free recap...

Daniel Alfredsson and Pavel Datsyuk scored on Detroit’s only two shootout attempts. The Red Wings snapped an 11-game losing streak in shootouts that dated back to last season. They were 0-6 in shootouts this season.

The Red Wings (17-12-9) have won consecutive games for the first time since winning four in a row from Nov. 24-Dec. 1.

It was the first of four meetings between these long-time Original Six franchises who are rekindling their rivalry in the Eastern Conference as Atlantic Division foes, competing for a playoff spot. It also was a prelude to the Jan. 1 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium.

Jonas Gustavsson, playing against his former club for the first time, allowed four goals on 23 shots through regulation and overtime and raised his record to 10-3-2.

The Red Wings are 11-3-3 on the road, where they’ve gained points in eight consecutive games (5-0-3). This was the teams’ first meeting since Jan. 7, 2012.

Datsyuk, Joakim Andersson, Tomas Jurco and Tatar scored for the Red Wings in regulation. Riley Sheahan recorded a pair of assists, his first NHL points. Jurco also had an assist.

Tatar scored his seventh goal of the season at 13:44 of the third period to tie it at 4-4.

And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan took note of Babcock and Alfredsson's observations:

“It was good to win, I’m probably not as hung up on the shootout as everyone else, but I like the points,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Our kids were real good. They’re obviously going to be real good players.”

Along with Tatar, Jurco had a goal and assist and Riley Sheahan had two assists, while Luke Glendening had four hits in almost 17 minutes of ice time.

“They’re big, fast and they know how to play,” Babcock said. “We’re fortunate to have a farm team with bunch of kids who are ready to come (up).”

Toronto forward David Clarkson broke a 3-3 tie midway in the third period. Clarkson was credited with the goal, but it appeared Gustavsson steered the puck into his own net getting pushed by his own teammates during a scramble in front of the net.

Datsyuk and Joakim Andersson added the other Red Wings goals.

“It’s a big win for us; we’re in desperate need of points,” Alfredsson said. “Getting the extra one is a good feeling.”

I don't think that the Jurco-Sheahan-Glendening line is going to be on the team next year--Sheahan's out of waiver options, but Glendening's likely his heir apparent as the, "Young kids' captain," and Jurco will have to play his way onto the team like Nyquist did last year--but Babcock's right in suggesting that, all of a sudden, the Wings look like they've got craptons of depth up front, and he's not alone:

Jurco capped the first period explosion with his second NHL goal at 18:08. Alone in front of Reimer, Jurco patiently put a backhand shot through Reimer to put the Red Wings ahead 3-1 after one period.

“Their job is to bring some energy and enthusiasm and they’ve done that,” said Alfredsson of the Grand Rapids rookies.

Multimedia:

Highlights: I did find FSD-narrated highlights on NHL.com:

I hate shootouts, but I liked this one's result:

The Leafs' website posted a six-minute slate of highlights, and it's very Leaf-friendly;

The CBC posted a 2:56 highlight clip;

Sportsnet posted a 3:15 highlight clip;

TSN posted a 3:51 highlight clip which includes a bit of Leafs goalie James Reimer growling about being yanked and Leafs coach Randy Carlyle defending his move;

Post-game: As this was an NHL Network affair, the NHL Network posted a 3:24 post-game analysis clip;

During the game, the CBC got all gushy about David Clarkson scoring his 100th goal, and they posted a profile of Jonathan Ericsson;

Sportsnet posted an amusing clip of Red Wings coach Mike Babcock's post-game CBC scrum and some of Carlyle's post-game presser and a bit from Alfredsson...

But I don't feel like embedding Sportsnet's Chris Johnston discuss Reimer's reaction to being pulled for two minutes;

The Maple Leafs' website posted post-game comments from David Clarkson, Jonathan Bernier, Dion Phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul and Carlyle speaking with the media;

The Free Press's Helene St. James posted a clip of Babs' presser...

 

 

And Fox Sports Detroit posted Daniel Alfredsson's post-game interview with Trevor Thompson:

Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 24-image gallery;

The Detroit News posted a 15-image gallery;

The Toronto Sun embedded a 12-image gallery in Rob Longley's recap;

The Windsor Star posted...3 big images...from the game;

ESPN posted a 45-image gallery;

And NHL.com, the Maple Leafs' website and the Red Wings' website posted 45-image galleries.

Statistics:

Shots 38-23 Detroit overall. Detroit out-shot Toronto 12-7 in the 1st, out-shot Toronto 9-8 in the 2nd, out-shot Toronto 14-7 in the 3rd and out-shot Toronto 3-1 in OT.

Special teams: The Red Wings went 0-for-1 in 2:00 of PP time; the Maple Leafs went 1-for-4 in 7:18 of PP time.

Goaltending: Jonas Gustavsson stopped 19 of 23 shots for Detroit; James Reimer stopped 9 of 12 and Jonathan Bernier stopped 25 of 26 for Toronto.

The three stars were picked by--according to the game sheet, someone named, "19508," and whoever that is (Hockey Night in Canada) picked Jonathan Bernier, David Clarkson and Pavel Datsyuk.

The Wings' goals: Datsyuk (14) from Sheahan (1) and DeKeyser (8);

Andersson (6) from Alfredsson (19) and Smith (6);

Jurco (2) from Sheahan (2) and Tootoo (1);

Tatar (7) from Jurco (1) and Kronwall (21).

Faceoffs 31-27 Detroit (Detroit won 53%);

Blocked shots 15-8 Toronto;

Missed shots 25-12 Detroit (total attempts 78-43 Detroit, with Detroit firing 38 shots ON the Leafs' goalies and 40 wide or blocked);

Hits 52-30 Toronto(?);

Giveaways 20-13 Toronto(?);

Takeaways 4-4 (some stats are more equal than others in Toronto!).

Individual stats:

Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 11-and-11 (50%); Glendening went 7-and-8 (47%); Andersson went 6-and-2 (75%); Sheahan went 4-and-4 (50%); Cleary went 2-and-0 (100%); Alfredsson lost his only faceoff; Eaves lost his only faceoff; Miller won his only faceoff.

Shots: Datsyuk and Eaves co-led the team with 5 shots apiece; Tatar and Ericsson had 4; Alfredsson and Jurco had 3; Smith, Andersson, Tootoo, Glendening, DeKeyser and Cleary had 2; Quincey and Bertuzzi had 1.

Blocked attempts: Quincey and DeKeyser fired 3 shots into Leaf players; Smith, Alfredsson, Sheahan, Andersson, Tatar, Lashoff, Jurco, Glendening and Ericsson had 1 attempt blocked.

Missed shots: Eaves, Jurco and Glendening missed the net 3 times; Alfredsson, Miller, Lashoff, DeKeyser and Cleary missed the net 2 times; Smith, Sheahan, Andersson, Tatar, Quincey and Kronwall missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Tootoo, Glendening, Ericsson and Cleary had 4 hits; Datsyuk had 3; Eaves and Jurco had 2; Andersson, Miller, Tatar, Lashoff, Bertuzzi, Kronwall and DeKeyser had 1.

Giveaways: Smith and Gustavsson had 3 giveaways; Quincey had 2; Datsyuk, Eaves, Andersson, Kronwall and DeKeyser had 1.

Takeaways: Alfredsson, Datsyuk Quincey and Glendening had a takeaway.

Blocked opponent shots: Quincey and Ericsson blocked 2 shots; Lashoff, Kronwall, DeKeyser and Cleary blocked 1.

Penalty minutes: Smith, Miller, Lashoff and Quincey took minor penalties.

Plus-minus: the Wings finished at +5. Bertuzzi and Cleary finished at -2; Datsyuk, Eaves and Glendening finished at -1; Alfredsson, Andersson, Miller, Tatar, Tootoo, Ericsson and Kronwall finished at +1; Jurco finished at +2; Sheahan finished at +3.

Points: Jurco had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Sheahan had 2 assists; Datsyuk, Andersson and Tatar had goals; Smith, Alfredsson, Tootoo, Kronwall and DeKeyser had assists.

Ice time: Ericsson led the team with 27:08 played; Kronwall played 26:30; Datsyuk played 23:19;

Quincey played 22:54; Miller played 20:19; Smith played 19:41;

Tatar played 17:53; DeKeyser played 17:42; Alfredsson played 17:31;

Glendening played 17:30; Bertuzzi played 16:37; Lashoff played 14:42;

Andersson played 14:42; Eaves played 14:31; Jurco played 12:49;

Cleary played 12:30; Sheahan played 10:46; Tootoo played 5:38.

 

 


Red Wings notebooks and also of Red Wings-related note: On Saturday, the team revealed that Dr. William Meyers, the Philadelphia-based groin specialist who's fixed up Chris Osgood, Kris Draper and probably half a dozen other Wings over the course of the last decade, confirmed that Stephen Weiss has a sports hernia (one of those injuries that is scary because you never know how bad or extensive the tears are until you go in), and MLive's Ansar Khan reported the following 5 minutes before 7 PM:

General manager Ken Holland said Weiss has opted to undergo surgery for a sports hernia. The date for the procedure hasn't been set, but Holland said Weiss should return just after the Olympic break (Feb. 9-25).

Weiss saw a specialist, Dr. William Meyers, in Philadelphia on Friday. He diagnosed the issue that apparently had been bothering the veteran center for some time. He missed six games last month with what he thought was a groin strain.

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan confirmed...

General manager Ken Holland said going this route, Weiss could be ready to return to the lineup after the three-week Olympic break in February.

“You can wait and they can do some things and help it along, or you can have the surgery now,” Holland said. “The good news is there’s a three-week Olympic break and he’d probably be ready to go after (the break).”

While noting that Jimmy Howard may or may not be slightly pushing his recovery timeline to at least sit on the bench during the Winter Classic...

“I really don’t want to miss that,” Howard said. “It’s been a year and a half of waiting for it. I really don’t want to miss it but at the same time I’m going to be smart about it and if it doesn’t feel right, I’m not going to force the issue.”

Still, Howard said “we’re ahead of schedule. The plan is to get a couple of practices in and back up on the 28th. I don’t think that’s out of the possibility, barring any setbacks.”

And noting that the Wings had three "Leaf Fans" in the lineup in Brendan Smith...

“This is pretty cool, especially being close to Christmas and everyone is home from college to watch,” Smith said. “It’s quite an experience It’s exciting to play the Leafs in the regular season with everything is on the line.”

And Riley Sheahan, who had a helluva game:

Sheahan, a recent call-up from Grand Rapids, had two assists and was a team-best plus-3 in his first regular season game at Air Canada Centre.

“It was unbelievable,” said Sheahan, who had about 10 family and friends in attendance. “I had family and close friends in the crowd and I know a lot of close friends were watching on ‘Hockey Night in Canada.’ It was good.”

The Free Press's Helene St. James took note of the Leaf fan contingent as well, and she pointed out that Detroit and Toronto's proximity mean that the Michiganders can invite their family to games if they can snag tickets:

[Danny] DeKeyser's parents had planned to drive up from metro Detroit until inclement weather put a kibosh on that. There was no such issue for area native Brendan Smith, who had quite a few ticket requests as he made his regular-season debut in Toronto.

"It's fun to play them in the regular season when everything is on the line," Smith said. "It's pretty cool being close to Christmas, too, with having everybody home from college or wherever to watch. It's quite an experience."

Growing up in nearby Kitchener, Ontario, Kyle Quincey said playing in Toronto never gets old. "Every night you keep dreaming about the Leafs, Leafs, Leafs. And it doesn't matter if it's 50 years later, when you get a chance to play them, you still have that feeling."

St. James also noted that Weiss's status = no cap issues for the Wings in an article penned for USA Today:

Weiss is on long-term injured reserve, giving the Wings $4.5 million in salary cap relief.

I just hope this surgery fixes what ails him. I don't like the fact that he tried to "play through" the injury as it got worse, but I guess that was the Panthers trainers' way, and I can only suggest that stubbornness is not always a virtue while "playing through" another virus on antibiotics. :/

And while we're talking about the Winter Classic lead-up, the Windsor Star's Rebecca Wright reminds us that "South Detroit" has split allegiances:

With this year’s NHL Winter Classic just over a week away, Detroit’s skyline was the perfect backdrop for hundreds of local Leafs and Red Wings fans as they kicked things off early along Riverside Drive Friday and Saturday to celebrate the local rivalry.

The second annual Windsor Classic, a two-day street hockey event, attracted about 230 locals to participate, said event organizer Trevor Whaling.

“The Winter Classic is happening right across the border, so obviously right now this rivalry is at an all-time high,” said Whaling.

Presented by Investors Group, the event is a fundraiser, with all proceeds benefiting the Downtown Mission, said Whaling.

He said each participant paid a $10 entry fee and were encouraged to give even more by allotting ballots for grand prizes for every $10 given. Last year $14,000 was raised and even before the two-day event was completed Saturday, Whaling said they had already raised more this year.

“Last year, we did this almost as a replacement for the Winter Classic, and then it was so successful, we decided to do it again,” said Whaling.

Players as young as five and as old as 70 participated in the five-by-five games that took place on Riverside Drive between Ouellette Avenue and Ferry Street. Opposing participants were decked out in either blue or red – representing either the Leafs or the Red Wings – as they pounded the pavement and played street hockey between raindrops Saturday.

“There isn’t any type of weather that can hold us back,” said Whaling.

And he's a Leafs fan...

 

Update: Cue when I start wondering whether the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch has "league sources" who really know what they're talking about or whether he makes things up after reading wistful blog posts...

The Wings have been quietly trying to bring in a top-end defenceman. Let’s face it, they haven’t had one since Nicklas Lidstrom retired and the club is going through its share of struggles. A guy the Wings may have sniffed around is Canucks’ Alex Edler, but he’s in the second year of a long-term deal and isn’t going anywhere.

 

Update #2: MLive's Ansar Khan's with-quotes recap hit at 6 AM:

They snapped an 11-game losing streak in shootouts dating back to last season. They were 0-6 in shootouts this season.

“It’s huge,” Alfredsson said. “It becomes a mental thing. Winning in overtime last game (3-2 vs. Calgary) and winning in a shootout I think lessens the grip on the stick the next time around.”

After James van Riemsdyk shot wide on Toronto’s first shootout attempt and Alfredsson scored, Jonas Gustavsson came up with a big poke-check on Mason Raymond. That set the stage for Datsyuk, who surprisingly was 0-for-5 in shootouts coming into the game.

“It was a long time (coming) for our team,” Gustavsson said. “It felt really good to get that win in the shootout, especially for me; I don’t think I had my best game tonight. It was fun to at least be able to step up there and get the win.”

The Red Wings’ problem in the shootout is simple: They weren’t scoring enough (2-for-21 coming into the game) or making enough saves (11-for-19 coming into the game).

“I know it was just a matter of time it was going to come because we got so many skill guys,” Gustavsson said. “Maybe now we’re going to score on all of them.”

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

DocF's avatar

A couple of things:  Am I the only one who is very glad the Wings did not land David Clarkson for an insane contract?  He is really a third line player and not as good overall as Detroit’s third line guys.  He also is a diver and a whiner. 

A quality defenseman is going to hard to get by trade unless Detroit will give up way more than they should.  There are guys out there who are available, but they are at best #4 guys.  And because of the shortage of really good blueliners, these middle tier players are going to cost a whole lot, like a young regular and a first round draft choice.

Calling Gustavsson inconsistent is giving him the benefit of the doubt.  His play has gotten more shaky of late and I doubt it will improve.  He is just too slow afoot to ever be the first goalie for any team.  The futuer is Mrazek and Paterson, IMHO.  This is the opportunity, presuming Howard gets it together, to trade him for a whole bunch and rely on the kids for a couple of years before they mature to the level I anticipate.

It is a very good thing that the Red Wings are developing a reliable pool of forwards.  With at least three, and probably four, leaving after this year, the openings are available for some of these guys to become cheddar consumers in a big way.  It also would not surprise me on bit to see some of the other mostly regulars be traded.  The only forwards who are 100% assured of having a job next year are Zetterberg and Datsuyk.

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 12/22/13 at 10:05 AM ET

Avatar

I forgot what it’s like to hate the Leafs but it came back to me last night. Felt good.
That was a very satisfying game. The Wings are in terrific shape at forward. Jurco is really going to be an exciting player. Bert was nasty. Pav was magnificent. You can’t expect to win too many games with that defense, though, but we all know that and have to accept it. All KH would have to do is get one more defenceman and he could still save this season, otherwise the axis of ineptitude of Quincey-Smith and their constant breakdowns will sink the team. But the teams has a lot of promise otherwise and will be fun to watch.
Perhaps its too hard to make a trade with everyone squeezed under the cap but they certainly have things to offer, starting with Quincey, who will be a top four defenceman somewhere—a non-playoff team—for $4 m a season but not in the Wings style of play; and prospects Almquist and Ferraro and even McCollum. Almquist and Ferraro are out of waiver options next year, so why not ship them somewhere to a non-contending team where they can get a call up this year and where they might still turn into players?
We all know KH was hoping Smith and Quincey would take the next step this year but they’re regressed. I think Smith’s expiry date is over. He has already been been nurtured along to an incredible extent, relative to professional sports.

 

Posted by manitobaredwingfan on 12/22/13 at 11:12 AM ET

SK77's avatar

I think Smith’s expiry date is over. He has already been been nurtured along to an incredible extent, relative to professional sports.

Posted by manitobaredwingfan on 12/22/13 at 10:12 AM ET

Last night was Smith’s 76th NHL regular season game … a few more and he’ll have had a whole season at the pro level. Definitely nowhere close to expiry date.

It’s too bad there’s not a more consistent defenseman around to pair Smith with so he could actually learn something and be bailed out when he makes mistakes. Brad Stuart immediately comes to mind. Instead he gets thrown over the boards with Quincey and it quickly degrades into the Keystone Kops.

Posted by SK77 on 12/22/13 at 01:49 PM ET

calquake's avatar

Instead he gets thrown over the boards with Quincey and it quickly degrades into the Keystone Kops.

Posted by some kid on 12/22/13 at 12:49 PM ET

Now now, let’s not insult the Keystone Kops.

Posted by calquake on 12/22/13 at 02:06 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

I’m one of the staunchest Smith detractors around, but even I’ll admit that he’s been an improved player since returning from injury.  He still has defensive breakdowns, but his offensive instincts seem to have kicked in, and he’s getting pucks in from the point, which is something this team desperately needs on the PP if they are going to insist on running everything from the blueline.  He’s also timing his pinches better, so he’s not getting caught in no mans land.

As far as Q, there is no help for him, and there never was.  Holland has had a bug up his but ever since he let him go, and it gave him blinders to the fact that he was so terrible in his own end, even a team desperate for defense like the Avs didn’t want him around.  The only time he thrives is as a PP specialist, and the Wings just don’t have room for one dimensional players.

Posted by Hootinani on 12/22/13 at 02:16 PM ET

Chip4Pips's avatar

I wonder what Florida is asking for Kulikov? I’m sure it would take more than Kindl and Ferraro in a package, but he would fit nicely on our second pair. No way is Kenny getting Edler from Vancouver.

Posted by Chip4Pips on 12/22/13 at 03:31 PM ET

Alan's avatar

Very comprehensive. As always, thanks for these post game posts!

I’m still not happy that we gave up the lead and had to force OT, but it shows character that we didn’t back down after giving up that fourth goal. The team, despite being down so many core players, has found it’s confidence… and a little bit of swagger. That was good to see.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 12/22/13 at 04:11 PM ET

Gary A$$ SUCK !!'s avatar

Calling Gustavsson inconsistent is giving him the benefit of the doubt.  His play has gotten more shaky of late and I doubt it will improve.  He is just too slow afoot to ever be the first goalie for any team.

Posted by DocF from Reidsville, NC on 12/22/13 at 09:05 AM ET

Are you engaged/ or secretly married with Howard??? your hate for Gustavsson is ridiculous..I know!,you don’t want him to have any success,..but you are just getting annoying to read. I also know that Gustavsson might not be the best goalie..but he’s getting it done.. I say trade Howard for a real nr 1goaile.

Posted by Gary A$$ SUCK !! from Fort Myers, Florida on 12/22/13 at 05:50 PM ET

SK77's avatar

Posted by Gary Bettman SUCK from Fort Myers, Florida on 12/22/13 at 04:50 PM ET

Gustavsson kicks out bigger rebounds than the end boards at the Joe. In a seven game series his ass would be toast once the other team figured out the angles. hmmm

Posted by SK77 on 12/22/13 at 06:00 PM ET

Gary A$$ SUCK !!'s avatar

Gustavsson kicks out bigger rebounds than the end boards at the Joe. In a seven game series his ass would be toast once the other team figured out the angles.

Posted by some kid on 12/22/13 at 05:00 PM ET

I know he makes some bad rebounds.. The reason why I get so angry is just because the same people constantly complain over the same thing. And it’s very much obviously that that same peoples don’t want him to succeed..Period..But for some reason Gustavsson find some ways to win hockey games?.and in the end.isn’t that what really matters???

Let’s o Red wings !!!

Posted by Gary A$$ SUCK !! from Fort Myers, Florida on 12/22/13 at 10:58 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.