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Red Wings-Penguins quick take: embarrassing

The Red Wings faced a struggling Pittsburgh Penguins a little early on New Year's Eve, hoping to get the jump on the struggling Penguins and snap a 2-game losing streak.

The Red Wings didn't jump on anything, especially after taking a 2-0 lead on the Penguins, and in all honesty, the Wings embarrassed themselves when they stopped engaging the Penguins and spent the rest of the game watching the Penguins score 5 times...

Including a baffling goal by Patric Hornqvist where he shoved Mrazek into the net, but the Wings coach's challenge wasn't successful because the "call on the ice" was a goal. It didn't make any sense, but neither did the Wings' absolutely inept performance thereafter.

Detroit just collapsed for the vast majority of the 2nd and 3rd periods, trying to eke out a 2-2 tie, and some terrible defensive breakdowns a little under halfway through the third--combined by some less-than-perfect goaltending by Mrazek--yielded a sudden 2-goal deficit and a lack of confidence so stark that the game was over as soon as Malkin found the back of the net at 8:22.

The Wings have lost 3 straight, and SOMEthing has to change in a damn hurry, because Detroit's road trip begins with an afternoon matinee in Buffalo on Saturday and a Monday tilt against a team that's won 2 straight over the Wings in New Jersey. Whatever Blashill can do to shake up the team, he's got to do now.

The 1st period began with Crosby's line facing the Zetterberg line, and the Penguins caused a little chaos in the Wings' end before Chris Kunitz got a shot in on Mrazek off a wraparound attempt.

The Wings looked to be a step slow early on, while the Penguins displayed flow and puck control, and the Penguins accumulated a 3-1 shot lead over the game's first two minutes, and the Penguins continued to threaten, though Larkin and the Datsyuk line gained some isolated chances....

Danny DeKeyser whiffed on an open net off a glorious feed from Datsyuk, and that got the crowd buzzing:

Nosek, by far, was the best defensive forwards on the team early on;

And Justin Abdelkader managed to open the scoring thanks toa  GLORIOUS skate-in-and-wraparound play by Dylan Larkin, who roared into the Pens' zone, blazed around the back of the net and chipped the puck out front. The puck went off Kevin Porter's stick and right to Abdelkader, who shoveled the puck into the net before Zatkoff could cover the blocker side.

Abdelkader made it 1-0 from Larkin and Kronwall @ 6:47.

Pittsburgh continued to threaten offensively, but the Abdelkader goal gave the Wings the impetus to start playing puck possession hockey as a defensive tactic, and that is when the Red Wings are at their best defensively.

Kronwall made a lovely little block on Phil Kessel to stifle #81;

Marchenko got a solid chance on Zatkoff on a feed from Glendening;

Glendening then took a slashing penalty at 10:15, taking Letang (roughing) with him, and the teams played 4 on 4 for a bit.

Kessel made a slick play to get around DeKeyser and got a solid scoring chance in on Mrazek, who scrambled to make the save;

Larkin negated an icing call and then came back into the Wings' zone to negate Kunitz and Crosby;

Some 12 minutes into the game, Detroit was out-shooting Pittsburgh 8-7 and beginning to dominate puck possession--and as the 4-on-4 ended, Nyquist carried the puck in, Tatar kicked the puck back to Brendan Smith, Smith slid the puck to Alexey Marchenko, and as Marchenko shot the puck, the rebound came to a pinching Smith, who slithered into traffic and chipped the puck past Matt Zatkoff while Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar jammed the front of the net.

Smith made it 2-0 from Marchenko and Nyquist @ 12:15.

The Wings then worked their asses off to attempt to both sustain puck possession and to try to negate the Penguins' rushes, but it took a good six minutes of trading chances, including a few good ones by Kessel and some net-front jabs by Perron--occasionally forcing Mrazek to move the puck himself--before the Wings truly took control of the period.

With about 2 minutes left in the period, the Wings began to back the Penguins off as soon as Detroit approached the puck, and it was really the first time since the Nashville game that Detroit was intimidating its opponent, if only ever-so-slightly, via puck possession.

Mostly, it was "tennis hockey" for the vast majority of the 1st period, and the Wings spent the period earning their "sea legs" again.

Statistically, after 1 period...Pittsburgh was actually out-shooting Detroit 11-10.

Neither team had any man advantage time;

Detroit out-attempted Pittsburgh 15-14;

Detroit was out-hit 13-5;

Detroit had 2 giveaways to Pittsburgh's 3 and 1 takeaway to Pittsburgh's 2. Possession changes were 4-4;

Detroit blocked 2 shots to Pittsburgh's 5;

Detroit was going 8-and-6 (57%) in the faceoff circle, with Datsyuk's 2-and-0 leading the team.


Smith, Sheahan and Marchenko led the Wings with 2 shots apiece;

Abdelkader, Nyquist, Tatar, Ericsson and Larkin had blocked attempts;

Larkin led the Wings with 2 hits; Abdelkader, Richards and Tatar had 1;

Abdelkader and Jurco had giveaways; DeKeyser had a takeaway;

Marchenko and Kronwall blocked 1 shot;

The Wings were +10;

And Ericsson led the team with 7:16 played; DeKeyser played 7:06, Green 6:48, Abdelkader 6:36, Kronwall 6:35.

FSD had the scoring chances at 6-4 Detroit.

The 2nd period began with Zetterberg's line opposite Crosby again, and the Wings iced the puck immediately, lost the draw and took a penalty as Danny DeKeyser went for hooking at 15 seconds.

Glendening, Helm, Kronwall and Ericsson battled a Crosby-Kessel-Hornqvist line, and the Penguins won the draw, worked it around the post, and Mrazek kicked the puck into his own net under heavy interference from Patric Hornqvist.

The Wings challenged the goal--for goaltender interference--and the referees looked at it, but decided to keep the call on the ice--goal.

The goal was called Hornqvist's from Malkin and Letang @ 45 seconds of the 2nd period.

Detroit had to wrest control of the game back from Pittsburgh, or at least it had to try.

David Perron didn't mind bumping a hard scoring chance off of Mrazek's left pad;

Datsyuk re-set the table by shooting on Zatkoff as the Wings drew a penalty, and the Wings headed to the PP at 2:35 as Letang went for slashing (though Mickey Redmond felt that it was a spurious call).

Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Nyquist, Abdelkader and Kronwall began the PP, and they did a great job of passing the puck around the perimeter;

Larkin, Sheahan, Tatar, Green and Richards ground it out down low, got a blocked chance by Richards, a shot by Green, and that was it.

Pittsburgh emerged from the penalty box pretty chippy and pretty chirp-y, and they backed Detroit right into their own zone, and Detroit traded some chances with Pittsburgh, but it wasn't pretty.

Detroit headed to the PP at 8:28, with Letang going to the box for cross-checking--his 3rd penalty of the night, this time for hacking Tatar--and...

The Datsyuk-Zetterberg unit did a very good job of attempting to work the passing play into the net, but Zatkoff was strong;

The Sheahan-Larkin-Tatar unit got exactly one shot off.

Shortly thereafter, Danny DeKeyser took his 2nd penalty of the night, going for interference at 11:14.

Glendening and Helm worked with Marchenko and Kronwall, and you could see the goal coming.

Malkin sent the puck to Letang, Letang walked in, Hornqvist skated in front of Mrazek, and Mrazek committed, allowing Letang to make the game 2-2.

Letang made it 2-2 @ 11:44 from Malkin and Hornqvist.

Detroit was out-shooting Pittsburgh 19-16 some 12-and-a-half minutes into the period, but Patric Hornqvist was chasing Dylan Larkin around the ice, trying to bait him into a penalty.

As the line blender went into effect--with Helm, Richards and Sheahan together--Hornqvist got an amazing chance off that Mrazek made two amazing saves upon, and Hornqvist shoveled Mrazek's pad into the net, whining like a child when the referee waved the goal off.

Datsayuk and Zetterberg were paired together with Larkin, but they surrendered a fine opportunity to Crosby and another on-the-net opportunity as well.

Abdelkader smoked Letang in the neutral zone, Letang cross-checked Abdelkader, and in the Wings' end, Mrazek stopped three shots as the Penguins' flourish yielded a shot advantage of 22-21 some 15 minutes into the period.

It became a 2nd period that Detroit had to survive.

That wasn't made easier when Larkin hopped onto the ice and touched the puck to give Detroit a too-many men call at 18:15. Richards served the penalty,

Pittsburgh got to work against Sheahan and Nosek with Ericsson and DeKeyser, and Nosek cleared the puck and skated up ice to fire a shot wide of the net;

Helm, Glendening, Smith and Kronwall took to the ice against Malkin, Crosby and Kessel, and they stifled the unit;

The Kunitz-Perron unit finished the PP, and Mrazek made a key save after the Pens roofed the puck off the crossbar.

Glendening and Perron sat but the teams continued 5-on-4, and Pittsburgh ended the 2nd chipping shot attempts at or near Mrazek until the final whistle, as the Swedes say, with the Wings narrowly, narrowly escaping the 2nd tied.

This play is going to generate a lot of discussion, too:

Statistically, after 2 periods...Detroit was out-shot 17-13 in the 2nd and 28-23 on the night;

Detroit had gone 0-for-2 in 4:00 of PP time; Pittsburgh was 2-for-3 in 2:44, with 17 seconds of PP time remaining to start the 3rd.

Pittsburgh was out-attempting Detroit 40-35;

Detroit was being out-hit 17-12;

Detroit had 6 giveaways to Pittsburgh's 3 and 4 takeaways to Pittsburgh's 4, so the possession changes were 10-7 Pittsburgh;

Detroit blocked 6 shots to Pittsburgh's 9;

And the faceoffs were 15-and-23 (39%), with Glendening's 5-and-5 (50%) pacing the team.


Marchenko had 3 shots, leading the team; Smith, Sheahan, Tatar, Helm, DeKeyser and Larkin had 2;

Abdelkader led the Wings with 4 hits; Helm and Larkin had 2;

Abdelkader had 2 giveaways; Richards, Green, Jurco and DeKeyser had 1;

Nyquist, Zetterberg, DeKeyser and Nosek had takeaways;

Ericsson and DeKeyser had blocked 2 shots, Marchenko and Kronwall 1.

The Wings were still +10 because the Penguins scored 2 power play goals;

Kronwall led the Wings with 14:40 played; Ericsson played 14:06; DeKeyser 13:45; Green 13:42; Datsyuk 12:38.

The 3rd period began with the Wings on the PK, but Pittsburgh put itself offsides and then backed into their own zone, so that ended things.

Of course after Patric Hornqvist tripped Justin Abdelkader, Hornqvist tripped over Abdelkader's stick, and that had the Penguins furious at the refs, but Hornqvist only pisses people off when he breathes.

Abdelkader isn't far behind, which is good from a Wings fan perspective.

After Riley Sheahan put the puck off the goalpost just under 2 minutes into the period, Kronwall nearly scored on Petr Mrazek while attempting to rim the puck around the back boards;

Crosby came in on a 2-on-1 with Perron, but DeKeyser expertly blocked the pass;

Phil Kessel hacked at Brendan Smith at 5:13 and went to the penalty box, petulant as usual, for the two-hander.

The Zetterberg unit got a little cute but did have their attempts blocked due to said blocks...

And after Jeff Zatkoff got rammed into by Tomas Tatar--via Olli Maata shoving Tatar--the goaltender spent a good chunk of the PK complaining about a sore neck, but he was miraculously fine after a little break.

The Datsyuk-and-Zetterberg unit got picked off, and that was it for the power play.

Pittsburgh pushed back eight minutes into the 3rd, and they scored the go-ahead goal: Crosby took a pass from Perron, and while falling, he deked around Jonathan Ericsson and chipped the puck over Petr Mrazek, making it 3-2.

Crosby made it 3-2 @ 8:44 from Perron.

WORSE, 34 seconds later, Phil Kessel skated in, and he passed the puck to Evgeni Malkin, who beat Mrazek low blocker to make it 4-2.

Malkin made it 4-2 @ 9:08 from Kessel and Dumoulin.

In front of a stunned crowd, the Wings tried to rally, and Mrazek made a HUGE save on Eric Fehr to keep it...4-2.

The Wings were back on both heels from then on, and it was utterly embarrassing at points.

Detroit tried, and I want to emphasize this as a good thing, tried to generate some effing offense, and by the hockey gods, Datsyuk and Zetterberg tried to take the team on their backs again, but the seats were beginning to empty of folks planning on reveling somewhere else...

And with 5:44 left in the 3rd, there wasn't much hope left.

Given the Penguins' record, you might expect that they were salivating like Pavlovian dogs over the opportunity to keep the Wings down, and you'd be right. The Penguins roared up ice and sustained possession and control in Detroit's end, while the Wings desperately rushed up ice and got off isolated scoring chances or single-shot opportunities.

Single shot, single shot, single shot, single shot, Detroit pulls Mrazek with 4:07 left, with Ken and Mickey telling stories, and Datsyuk and Zetterberg ground things out down low with the best of 'em.

Chris Kunitz and Justin Abdelkader went off for "roughing" with 3:27 left in regulation, though it was the kind of roughing that required some stitches for Abdelkader, and Tomas Nosek taking the penalty...

So, Detroit kept Mrazek out and went 5-on-4 minus their best net-front man (think of that what you will).

Datsyuk, Nyquist, Zetterberg, Kronwall and Helm played the "PP," but the Penguins blocked the Wings' opportunities early, Datsyuk and Zetterberg threaded needles a little too heavily with wider-open targets available, and with Tatar, Larkin, Sheahan, Green and Richards on the ice, the Wings got single, relatively un-screened opportunities.

Of course, Kris Letang got the empty-net goal at 18:20 to make it 5-2.


Letang made it 5-2 @ 18:20 from Bonino.


Detroit was out-shot 37-35. Detroit was out-shot 11-10 in the 1st period and 17-13 in the 2nd period, but Detroit out-shot Pittsburgh 12-9 in the 3rd period.

Special teams: Detroit went 0-for-3 in 6:00 of PP time; Pittsburgh went 2-for-3 in 3:01.

Goaltending: Petr Mrazek stopped 32 of 36 for Detroit, and the Penguins' 5th goal was scored into an empty net; Jeff Zatkoff stopped 33 of 35 for Pittsburgh.

The Red Wings' goals: Abdelkader (12) from Larkin (12) and Kronwall (14) @ 6:47 of the 1st, 1-0 Detroit;

Smith (3) from Marchenko (4) and Tatar (13) @ 12:15 of the 1st, 2-0 Detroit.

The 3 stars were picked by the "attending media," and they picked Abdelkader, Hornqvist and Malkin.

Shot attempts 56-51. Detroit fired 35 shots on Zatkoff and 21 wide/blocked.

Individual statistics:

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


WingedRider's avatar

Didn’t watch the game.  From your blog I can’t see where Mrazek was even below average?

Right now the Wings or some of them are not only Road kill but forget how to play while watching the crowd drink their beer!

Slipping away, IMO

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 12/31/15 at 09:14 PM ET


So unless the team can count on Larkin having the puck following him around every game (at 19) they have absolutely no second chances. This team’s defense is bad and im being kind.

Posted by brians neck on 12/31/15 at 09:22 PM ET

Alan's avatar

Played down to the competition. Again.

Hell of a way to end 2015. Hope the boys get their crap together in 2016.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 12/31/15 at 09:25 PM ET

calquake's avatar

Yeah… they stunk.

Posted by calquake from a.k.a. Uniquake, workin' on my manifesto on 12/31/15 at 09:28 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

It was a family tradition for years for us to make the trip to Detroit for the NYE game. I’m so glad we stayed home this year. And it makes me sad to say that.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 12/31/15 at 09:36 PM ET

DocF's avatar

Good God!  I am so pleased that dear wife and I went out to eat a good steak rather than staying home to catch this game.  I have noticed of late that Darren Helm has become an absolute sieve.  Of course, he is not alone in this regard.

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 12/31/15 at 10:01 PM ET

Mistercristo's avatar

TRADE JIMMY HOWARD!!!  Wait, he wasn’t in goal?  I don’t understand.

At least Larkin got a point and wasn’t a minus player tonight confused Little blessings, I guess

Goodbye and good riddance, 2015.

Posted by Mistercristo from Cameron Frye's garage, circa 1987 on 12/31/15 at 10:04 PM ET

Chet's avatar

all year long, it’s been HOW they’re losing that’s been so frustrating. this was the worst yet.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/31/15 at 10:48 PM ET

BIGFOOT88's avatar

the facade (that Wings are better this season than last) that existed is slowly melting away….
Try to compare the Wings to a team like the Kings or Caps or Stars (or Habs even) ....and you just can’t do it.  Pretty stark contrast. Very discouraging.

Let’s see where they go from here…

Posted by BIGFOOT88 on 12/31/15 at 10:58 PM ET

duhduhduh's avatar

where they go from here…

Posted by BIGFOOT88 on 12/31/15 at 10:58 PM ET

just as soon as they trade Smith, Kindl, Ericsson ... oh just forget that thought.

Posted by duhduhduh on 12/31/15 at 11:03 PM ET

Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit's avatar

This is a place where I never venture, mainly because I do not care to engage in a dust up with Wing’s Fans. But never under estimate. I have watched and for the most part refrain from negatory comments. Simply put, this sucks.BAD! Every one continue on. I’ve had enough.

Lets Go Red Wings?????

Posted by Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit on 12/31/15 at 11:18 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Danny DeKeyser whiffed on an open net off a glorious feed from Datsyuk…

And that, folks, was just the beginning of this clusterf#ck.

Hornquist has two feet deep inside the crease, then he puts his butt in Mrazek’s face, restrians his stick, and ultimately gets credit for a goal. In contrast, a few years ago, Homer got a goalie interference penalty because ust his butt was hanging over the edge of the crease.

Jurco goes down and Blash compensates by moving Helm down to the 4th line and moving, wait for it, Glendenning up to the 2nd line – while Nosek skates around creating chances every time he’s on the ice.

I could go on and on and on with the nonsense that was displayed in this game by both the refs and the Wings. But the bottom line, and I hate to say this, is Blashill has let this group of players get away from him. They’re unstructured, undisciplined and under-motivated.

He’s making bad decisions. They’re making bad decisions. And the result is a team that looks clueless most of the time that they’re on the ice. If I was Mrazek, I’d ask for a trade immediately.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 12/31/15 at 11:55 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

Played down to the competition. Again.

I was at that disaster of a game tonight. The Red Wings are beginning to look like a non playoff team if they continue to play .500 or under at home. If the first Pengoon goal would have been the same situation for the Red Wings, it would have been ruled a no goal. The Pengoons and Slackhawks can do no wrong. angry

Posted by bigfrog on 01/01/16 at 12:13 AM ET

calquake's avatar

In contrast, a few years ago, Homer got a goalie interference penalty because ust his butt was hanging over the edge of the crease.

Ain’t reality a b*tch.

while Nosek skates around creating chances every time he’s on the ice.

As I stated during the LB, I sure hope his efforts do not go unrewarded.

Posted by calquake from a.k.a. Uniquake, workin' on my manifesto on 01/01/16 at 12:16 AM ET


Played down to the competition. Again.

uhhhh no. they did not ‘play down’ to crosby, malkin, kessel, letang…lol


Posted by brians neck on 01/01/16 at 01:09 AM ET


The Pens goal was not baffling. He barely touched him.  I get the wings bias in this site, but the medication fueled outbursts need to stop. We all love our Wings.  Remember when there was supposed to be a new KK site?

Posted by wingsrul91 on 01/01/16 at 01:14 AM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.