Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Penguins wrap-up and overnight report: Wings back into the playoffs, lose Wild Card ground

Quite frankly, the headline says it all for Team Runs With Scissors:

Well, ditto...

But if I may be a typical Wings fan, in all honesty, the way in which the Red Wings surrendered a 4-3 shootout decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins pissed me off, internet issues excluded, because the Wings truly did "back in" over the past few nights.

*#$%@&, I'd argue that the last good game the Wings played occurred a week ago against Boston, and because Columbus defeated Dallas 3-0, the Wings would be playing Boston in the 1st round thanks to those damn tiebreakers, and as such, the Wild Card standings look like this:

There are too few games for the Wings to catch up to the Blue Jackets' regulation wins or ROWs--so Columbus will, technically speaking, finish with a better record than the Detroit Red Wings this season, even if the Wings win out on points.

So yes, Yay, Red Wings have earned their 23rd straight playoff appearance and tickets are on sale. Yay, injury-decimated team getting healthier, yay earning 5 of 8 points over the course of four games in 6 nights and 3 points in 2 night after a not-so-surprisingly difficult 3-2 win over Buffalo Tuesday evening.

But not so yay, Jonas Gustavsson looking as shaky as his defense did in front of him at times. Not so yay, the Wings going 20-and-35 (36%) on faceoffs and continuing to not be able to win faceoffs on the road. Not so yay, power play tries to pass the puck into the net while opponents' power plays are potent as all hell get out, not so yay, defensemen making terrible mistakes (whether they be Lashoff or Kronwall), not so yay, players standing around and watching opposing teams' speedy forwards (James Neal) deke and dangle their way toward highlight-reel goals...

Not so yay, blowing 1-0 and 2-1 leads, having to rally for one *#$%@& point with 15 seconds left in regulation and then Alfredsson, Datsyuk and Jurco all getting cute in the shootout after the team kept deferring shots for the sake of making pretty passes to the tune of 37 shots on goal and 27 more attempts that were blocked or wide--and not so yay, the team proving Mike Babcock's statement about succumbing to "Cute-itis" after Datsyuk's return so very, very true from Gustav Nyquist to Jakub "Frickin I Post A Point Regularly Enough That You Don't Send Me Into Space" Kindl.

Not so yay, losing against Sidney *#$%@& Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on a stupid-ass "Rivalry Night" game in which Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire discussed the league-wide-known "Detroit Brush" and claimed that Riley Sheahan "fell" on Marc-Andre Fleury on the Kindl goal...

And DEFINITELY not so yay, that shootout turning into the Marc-Andre Fleury Is Good And Jonas Gustavsson's Awkward Show.

So I'm happy that the Wings were happy...

But after the Wings flew home--most likely for a rare "off day" given that the team's hosting Carolina for Fan Appreciation Night on Friday and heads to St. Louis for Sunday's finale, two games that will wrap up a 4-in-6 slate--they're going to come to the rink looking at the Blue Jackets' 5-1-and-1 record heading into a game against the Ben Bishop-less Bolts on Friday and the pesky Panthers on Saturday, and they'll realize that they really have to win out on points if they are to avoid getting the snot beaten out of them by the Bruins in the 1st round.

I'm all for the Red Wings being happy about having made the playoffs and having extended the streak.

I am not, however, for the Wings being content with their 2-and-2 record via two struggle-against-themselves wins against Buffalo, a controversial loss to Montreal and Wednesday's even messier result. I am also not in favor of the Red Wings being satisfied with simply having made the playoffs, because all doing so accomplishes involves pushing the locker room clean-out day back 7-10 days.

Upholding a very high standard of excellence is something worth cheering, but it's not necessarily worth celebrating when it's a very pretty but also quite non-functional feather in one's cap. Does it separate the Wings from the Maple Leafs, the Canucks, the Capitals or the other dysfunctional teams in the league, like the one Daniel Alfredsson didn't think had a very good chance of winning the Stanley Cup?

Yeah, but it's about that silver trophy, and while this team may not be the best-equipped Wings team to pursue said Cup, if you were watching NBCs episode of "NHL Rivals" (guest starring Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika), you may have begun to remember that 2008 and 2009 are no longer in our "Objects Are Closer Than They May Appear" mirrors.

Making the playoffs is a feather in the Wings' cap, the kind of feather that brings the Alfredssons, DeKeysers and Glendenings to the team and the kind of "bare minimum standard" that has people like Pavel Datsyuk signing contract extensions, but it means very little if the Wings don't *#$%@& with the odds-makers and experts' picks.

Next week, 'tis the season for *#$%@& with the expectations of "those in the know," and while I will readily grant you that between the odds Kris Letang had to overcome to be a pain in the Wings' collective ass on Wednesday and what transpired in the suburbs outside the Steel City, none of this is really important at all.

But following millionaires who get paid to play a kids' game still helps some of us get by, and if we're to ask the Red Wings to indulge our fancy, the longer and more involved the playoff dalliance, the more fun it gets to be, the more nerve-wracking it gets to be, and the more we feel like we're part of something much bigger than ourselves.

So this is swell and all, but the Wings have some work to do, and they've got two more games in which they're playing for multiple "somethings" in having a say in their 1st round opponent, finishing higher than Columbus, and playing the way they need to play to win whoever they'll start battling next Wednesday or Thursday.

Because the Wings don't usually get talked up by these correspondents, I'll allow Yahoo Sports' Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski to deliver an "out of town" take on the significance of the streak...

This was a team that had Coach Mike Babcock staring at a white board in his office for most of the season, trying to figure out which kid was going to replace which injured veteran on any given night.

This was a team that fought its way into a postseason spot and maintained it without having Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg on the ice for the whole of March.

This was a team that, even without the injuries, had a sizable collection of recent Grand Rapids graduates filling out the roster.

This was this year the historic streak was supposed to die. And it didn’t. (Luckily, Brock Lesnar’s not in the Eastern Conference.)

There probably aren’t enough accolades you can throw at Babcock for the job he did coaching this team through adversity this season. I believe it’s enough to earn him his first Jack Adams, after years of inexplicable snubs, but there’s no denying the Patrick Roy movement, especially with the Colorado Avalanche closing in on first in the conference.

Babcock will just have to settle for having maintained the Red Wings’ legacy of excellence for another season, and whatever this team might still achieve in the postseason.

And the Sporting News's Sean Gentile attended the game and spoke with the Wings about the process by which the Wings extended their playoff streak afterward:

Mike Babcock has coached the last nine versions of the Red Wings. He picked up a Stanley Cup along the way and knows that, while every team has guys that get hurt, he's had to deal with something special this season. Babcock called it "injuries to too many of the wrong people," and the wrong people were his two best players.

"When we lost Pav and Z for so much of the year, I look at it, those guys are gonna play like 40 games (total). That's a chunk of games, boy, to have without your two best guys," Babcock said.

Without them for that chunk — and Datsyuk has since returned — Nyquist has forced his way to periphery of the Hart Trophy discussion with a bonkers hot streak that's as unsustainable as it is amazingly fun to witness. Tatar's next goal will be his 20th. Babcock trusted Sheahan enough to put him out there for a late-game face-off against Sidney Crosby. He won it, then was rewarded with a fluky, game-tying bounce. They've earned jobs and will keep jobs, as Babcock pointed out on a couple occasions. When he was asked if the young dudes saved Detroit's season, he didn't hesitate.

"Oh, for sure. No question. We couldn't have done it without them," Babcock said. "Once again, they came here, but they took jobs. They're not going anywhere. They're real good players that keep getting better, and they're going to be part of us for a real long time."

Daniel Alfredsson, in his first season with the Red Wings but 18th overall, gives them credit, too. Like Babcock, he praised Detroit's development system, the 'exceptional' work of Niklas Kronwall, — like Alfredsson, far from a kid — and goaltenders Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson. He also, though, gave credit Babcock and the staff. If they were too hesitant to turn the reigns over to Nyquist and Co. before the injuries (and signing Dan Cleary is Example A of that being the case) they got over it at the right time.

"It's just, 'You can do this.' I think that gave them confidence," Alfredsson said. "They definitely made the most of it. I think (Babcock) gave them a chance, and they repaid him with solid play."

For the Penguins, obviously, the "warm fuzzy" surrounded Kris Letang's return from a stroke(!), as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dejean Kovacevic noted...

[H]e reported no problems at all following the 4-3 shootout victory over the Red Wings. He logged a fairly normal 22:30 of ice, had a couple hiccups in the Penguins' end but also made a trademark rush up ice to set up Jussi Jokinen's go-ahead goal in the third period. Stops, pivots, acceleration, the whole deal.

“I felt fine,” Letang said afterward. “The only issues were my timing, like I expected, but that will come. Overall, it was OK.”

He seemed much more moved by the affection he was shown by the 18,620 on hand, many of whom brought welcome-back signs and banners.

“It's one thing we always say about Pittsburgh, how great the fans are,” he said. “The ovation, it was pretty great. I really appreciate it. All through this, the fans were very understanding with me taking my time. It was …”

He paused for a moment.

“It was pretty emotional.”

And NHL.com's Wes Crosby continued the narrative:

He showcased his characteristic speed 9:17 into the third period by carrying the puck through the neutral zone and past Red Wings forward Luke Glendening before wristing a shot on goalie Jonas Gustavsson. Letang's shot forced a rebound that set up a go-ahead goal by forward Jussi Jokinen.

"At one point in the game, I looked at him and the guy didn't have a drop of sweat on him," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said of Letang. "There were a couple times, I think it was in the overtime, 4-on-4, you saw him backing up with the puck and he just kind of ran out of room with his execution and just kind of getting forechecked in the corner. It wasn't a play you would normally see from Kris.

"But to me, he's been out a long time, he's been out a couple months, and he looked pretty darn good out there."

Pittsburgh announced its starting lineup out of order in order to have Letang's name called last. The Consol Energy Center crowd gave him a standing ovation.

"If there's something we always say about Pittsburgh, it's how great the fans are. The ovation, it was great. I appreciate it," Letang said. "They were really behind me through that injury, understanding me taking my time and it was fun to see. It was a pretty emotional night."

The Penguins' website posted infographic photos about the game and the team's 100th win at the Consol Energy Center, and Sam Kassan focused on Letang's play in his recap...

Letang picked up his assist in the third period when he carried the puck up ice and made a move around Red Wings’ Luke Glendening. He snapped off a shot on goaltender Jonas Gustovasson. The puck squeaked through the pads and lay idle on the ice until Jussi Jokinen swooped in to score.

“I had a pressure guy, I faked it and had a lot of room (up ice),” Letang said. “I was just trying to shoot it and get a rebound.”

For Letang the game was the end of a long journey in his recovery. He took blood thinners for the first six weeks after the stroke and had been participating in full-contact practice for the past three-plus weeks, hoping to get a chance to play again.

And the crowd cheered him every stride of the way, whether it was his appearance at warmups, the announcement of his name in the starting lineup, his assist and a final round of applause of appreciation as he came out as the game’s No. 1 star.

“We always talk about Pittsburgh and how great the fans are,” Letang said. “The ovation was great. They were behind me through the injury and understanding me taking my time. I’m not going to look behind me. I’m going to look forward. I’m trying to make strides. Now I need to get the timing back and get into my role.”

But we'll shift our focus toward the rest of the game via PittsburghPenguins.com's Michelle Crechiolo, who discussed the shootout, James Neal's 2-goal performance, and this:

The Pens had a tough call go against them in the second, when Detroit took a 2-1 lead with 5:38 left in the period.

The Wings had an extended shift in the offensive zone and had the Pens pinned in their own end for what felt like an eternity. What made it feel even longer was the fact that defenseman Paul Martin's stick broke, meaning the Wings basically had a man-advantage. They eventually circled the puck back to Jakub Kindl at the point. And as he wound up and took a shot, Riley Sheahan fell into Fleury in the crease and knocked him over, impeding him from making the stop.

It appeared to be goalie interference, but the ref at the side of the net called it a good goal. That meant the play was not reviewable, per NHL rules. In order for it to be reviewable, that ref would've had to call goalie interference right away.

Fleury and defenseman Brooks Orpik were livid, but there was nothing they could do.

“The referee said (Orpik) hit him into me,” Fleury explained.

So there was some actual rancor involved between the two teams, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi reports that the Penguins were in fact in full message-sending and/or playoff scouting mode:

“It's fresh in our minds,” Glass said, noting the “dangle” skills of Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk. “I like seeing a team just before the playoffs.”

Bylsma would like to see the Penguins prove as opportunistic on the power player. Neal's goals, Nos. 25 and 26, were on advantages and erased 1-0 and 2-1 deficits.

The Penguins also would like to see more of what returning defenseman Kris Letang showed near the midpoint of the final period when he raced up ice near the right boards to set up a scoring chance. His shot was not controlled by Red Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson, and Jokinen pushed into the net a puck that provided the Penguins their only lead at 3-2.

“For him to step in and look pretty good, make good decisions with the puck, keep things simple and to look so good skating, he was really good,” Scuderi said of Letang, who had been out 10 weeks because of a stroke. “He looked like himself. He didn't miss a beat.”

After Sheahan's late goal and an overtime period, Jokinen and Fleury dominated the shootout. Even Jokinen could not really describe his crazy score, which benefitted from an attempted poke-check by Gustavsson. The backhanded poke hit off Gustavsson for an own-goal.

...

Fleury, who finished with 34 saves, was perfect in the shootout – including a snow-angle stop on Red Wings winger Daniel Alfredsson. Still, Fleury conceded the Penguins cannot surrender 64 attempted shots, as they did in this victory.

“We got better as the game went on,” Fleury said. “We'll be better if we see them again, too.”

The Penguins were certainly happy with their shootout performance, as they told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dave Molinari...

[W]hile the sideshow that is a shootout has more than a few critics, it does produce an occasional memorable snapshot. Or, in this case, two of them. The first came in Round 1 of the shootout, when Detroit’s Daniel Alfredsson moved in on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and seemed likely to score, only to have Fleury flop onto his back while extending his left arm to prevent the puck from reaching the goal line.

“It’s the first time in a game I’ve made that save,” Fleury said.

Yeah, him and just about every other human this side of Dominik Hasek.

Two rounds later, Jussi Jokinen of the Penguins scored the shootout-deciding goal in a most unusual way: He lost control of the puck, only to have it hit the stick of goalie Jonas Gustavsson and flutter into the net.

“I haven’t seen that before,” said Jokinen, who has scored a shootout-deciding goal in consecutive games after failing to convert on his first six shootout attempts this season.

“I guess I’ve been a little bit unlucky this year for the shootout,” he said. “I’ve hit a couple of posts, and goalies have made good saves. So maybe I was a little bit due for good luck.”

And Molinari also tossed off some stats of note (while the Post-Gazette's Seth Rorabaugh rocked the game blog in Empty Netters):

*** The Penguins won the season series from Detroit, 2-0-1.

*** Center Sidney Crosby, left winger Chris Kunitz and defensemen Brooks Orpik and Olli Maatta, all of whom sat out the Penguins’ 3-2 shootout victory at Colorado Sunday, were back in uniform. The list of players unavailable because of injuries dropped to five forwards – Evgeni Malkin Chris Conner, Joe Vitale, Marcel Goc and Pascal Dupuis.

...

*** Gustavsson, on Jokinen’s shootout goal: ““It was bad ice or something so he lost the puck. It started rolling for him so I was just going to pretty much touch it because it was the shootout. It took a funny bounce and kind of lobbed over me. If I would play it the same way over 100 times again, I don’t think it would take that angle. I guess it was a lucky break for them.”

*** The Penguins are 7-0-1 the last eight times they’ve scored two or more goals against the Red Wings/

*** Jokinen, on a possible first-round matchup with Detroit: “I think both teams are pretty familiar with each other. There are still some of the same players from when these guys played in the finals {in 2008 and 2009]. They played in the Western Conference a long time, but this year we played three times against them. They have a few of those young guys who are playing really well. They’re a good team. They are in your face all the time. They play that man to man. They are very aggressive all over the ice.”

*** The Penguins are 6-3-1 in their past 10 regular-season games against Detroit.

The Beaver County Times' Andrew Chiappazzi certainly got into the spirit of the potential playoff match-up thing...

Not much has changed in the last four years. Those 13 games featured 10 contests decided by two goals or less, and the last two regular season games between these two sides have now been decided in either overtime or a shootout. They play opportunistic games, and when the mistakes are few, every goal becomes a premium opportunity.

In many ways, the organizations mirror each other. They are powerhouses who spend to the cap and slowly introduce younger players to fill gaps. The Penguins added a few new wrinkles to their system this year, but the overall concepts are still the same as they were four and five years ago. Like the Red Wings, the Penguins prefer a puck possession system on the attack and lots of clean looks for the goaltender on defense. Detroit’s system is tried and true, as well as a little more refined and older than the Penguins’ system. Dan Bylsma pointed to how the new players on the Wings’ roster have integrated into the system as an example of its effectiveness.

“This year is a great example of that with the young players coming into their lineup, some by necessity with the injuries they’ve had to their team,” Bylsma said. “You see players like (Gustav) Nyquist and (Tomas) Tatar step up and integrate into that system and style of play and do it almost seamlessly and be big factors for their team.”

Thanks to the systems and the talent, Wednesday’s game was a bit of a flashback to those Stanley Cup Finals. Detroit dominated puck possession and benefitted from two fluky goals that somehow hopped past Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins took advantage of Detroit penalties with two power play goals and a few lucky bounces of their own against Jonas Gustavsson.

Given the history between the two teams, it’d be hard not to anticipate much of the same elements playing a large part in the outcome. And given how the prior meetings went, it’d be hard not to expect a fair amount of dramatic finishes as well.

As did the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Cook:

The Penguins, finally, are getting healthy at the right time, but they still need Malkin, who has missed nine games with a foot injury. If he can be ready for the start of the playoffs next week, the team will have a top two lines of Chris Kunitz-Crosby-Bennett and Jokinen-Malkin-Neal. Those lines can carry a third line of Tanner Glass-Brandon Sutter-Lee Stempniak and a fourth line of Craig Adams and whatever two forwards Bylsma wants to use a long way.

The Penguins were heavy favorites to win the Stanley Cup a year ago and came up short, getting swept by the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference final. That pressure won't be a factor this time. The Bruins are considered a much better team. So are St. Louis and Chicago in the West.

But I like the Penguins' chances if Malkin gets healthy and the others stay healthy. Fleury has been terrific all season and was again Wednesday night, especially in the shootout. His teammates felt like they let him down when he was benched last season in the first-round series against the New York Islanders. They will rally around him in these playoffs. I'll be surprised if he doesn't play great.

Boston is the best team in the East and will be difficult to beat. But Crosby and a healthy Malkin are two advantages that the Penguins have over the Bruins. In that Boston sweep a year ago, neither scored a point. It's going to be fun to watch what happens this time if the two get another shot at the Bruins.

Much work has to be done before then, though.

At least two playoff rounds, the first perhaps against those same Red Wings.

NHL.com's Wes Crosby allows the Penguins' players and coach to toss off their own playoff posturing--and they were more than willing to do so...

"I think there's no easy team that will make the playoffs," Fleury said. "They play hard, they have some skills. It would be a fun one."

...

Neal tied the game 2-2 by snapping a shot off of pass from Matt Niskanen through a screen by forward Chris Kunitz with 3:18 left in the second period. The goal was Neal's 26th of the season, 11th on the power play.

"I don't think we were going to analyze the score of the game and project forward if it is a possible playoff matchup," Bylsma said. "We wanted to do certain things in areas of the game and maybe have that be a statement. I think we did that with the power play for sure. It was our power play in the second period that got us back in the game."

...

Detroit was credited with the first seven shots, but Pittsburgh forward Brandon Sutter nearly gave the Penguins the lead about 6:00 into the game. Sutter went on a breakaway after skating by a Red Wings defenseman near the boards and got Gustavsson to commit to a fake before attempting a backhand that went off the left post.

The Penguins were outshot 37-24, and Jokinen said they will not be able to have that kind of performance if they expect to advance in the postseason.

"They're a really hard team to play against," Jokinen said. "I think we need to play better. Obviously, [Fleury] is there and it doesn't matter who we're going to play. There are going to be phases in the games where we need our goalie to make saves, but we need to play better than we did tonight."

As the AP's recap also noted--and we'll allow the AP's recap to transition our perspectives from those of the Penguins to those of the Wings' players and coach:

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had 34 saves through overtime and stopped all three attempts in the shootout, including a spinning acrobatic glove save on Daniel Alfredsson to preserve the win.

"Players on the bench called it a (Dominik) Hasek-type save the way he put his glove out," Bylsma said. "I'm not sure I've seen a more acrobatic save from (Fleury)."

...

With the scored tied 2-2, Letang -- who missed 26 games -- set up the go-ahead goal with 10:43 remaining in the third, his shot squeezing through Gustavsson before Jokinen found the loose puck to put Pittsburgh in front. It was Jokinen's 19th goal of the season.

"I had a lot of fun," Letang said. "It wasn't perfect for me, but I was just happy to be on the ice. Obviously it's something I missed a lot."

Sheahan forced overtime and put the Red Wings in the playoffs when he scored his seventh of the year with 1:15 left in regulation.

"It was a pretty good feeling to get that point and give us a chance in the playoffs," Sheahan said.

The Red Wings were indeed thrilled with having made the playoffs, and I suppose it isn't surprising that Daniel Alfredsson was particularly jubilant, as the Free Press's Helene St. James (who also posited a capsule recap) noted:

“It’s awesome,” Daniel Alfredsson said. “We worked extremely hard to get to this point. It feels great. We played well enough to win today, and it would have been even better, but clinching a playoff spot is huge. This group has overcome a lot of adversity, and that makes it even more fun. I think we’ll try to finish off strong here, and try to go into the playoffs feeling good.”

How can they not? The guys who scored in this crucial game — sure the Wings had two more chances to earn one more point, but better to get it out of the way — were some of the youngest on the team: 21-year-old Tomas Jurco, 22-year-old Riley Sheahan, and third-pair defenseman Jakub Kindl. Were it not for Jurco, Sheahan, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist, the Wings would not have overcome Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg being injured half of the season.

“We’ve had a tough go,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Everyone gets injuries, it’s just, you can’t get injuries to too many of the wrong people, and when we lost Pav and Z for so much of the year — the rest of these guys have stepped up. Our team is way better than it was at the start of the year because we’ve got so many kids and they’ve won jobs and they’re going to keep their jobs.”

Sheahan’s goal with 1:15 left in regulation is going to stick with him for life: Taking a face-off against superstar Sidney Crosby and then sliding out and sending a pass from Niklas Kronwall hopping past Marc-Andre Fleury, who had Jurco, Tatar and Brendan Smith threatening near the crease.

“It was definitely pretty exciting,” Sheahan said. “We had good chaos in front, so I wasn’t even sure it was me who scored. I saw Smitty go low so I went to go cover for his point, and then Kronner gave me a great pass and I just tried to get it on net.”

Post-game: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dave Molinari posted a boatload of audio, but the Babcock MP3 link is a dead one!

The NHL Network spoke with James Neal and allowed Kevin Weekes to break down the goals;

The Penguins' website posted coach Dan Bylsma's post-game presser and comments from Kris Letang, Marc-Andre Fleury and Neal;

And the Free Press's Helene St. James posted a clip of comments from Riley Sheahan, Daniel Alfredsson and coach Babcock:

Via RedWingsFeed, the Wings didn't post their clips until after Red Bird III landed at Metro Airport, but they did post comments from Sheahan...

Jonas Gustavsson...

And Babcock:

Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 28-image gallery;

The Detroit News posted a 14-image gallery;

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review posted an 18-image gallery;

ESPN posted a 58-image gallery;

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

Statistics:

Shots 37-24 Detroit overall. Detroit out-shot Pittsburgh 13-4 in the 1st period, 9-6 in the 2nd period and 12-10 in the 3rd period, but Detroit was out-shot 4-3 in OT.

Special teams: Detroit went 0-for-2 in 4:00 of PP time; Pittsburgh went 2-for-4 in 4:40 of PP time.

Goaltending: Jonas Gustavsson stopped 21 of 24 shots for Detroit; Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 34 of 37 for Pittsburgh.

The "Consol Energy Center Media" picked the 3 stars, and they picked Riley Sheahan, James Neal and Kris Letang.

The Red Wings' goals: Jurco (8) from Alfredsson (31) and Helm (8);

Kindl (2) from Tatar (18) and Nyquist (20);

Sheahan (7) from Kronwall (41).

Faceoffs 35-20 Pittsburgh (Detroit won only 36%);

Blocked shots 17-15 Pittsburgh;

Missed shots 11-10 Pittsburgh (attempts 64-50 Detroit; Detroit had 37 shots on the net and 27 wide/blocked);

Hits 30-24 Pittsburgh;

Giveaways 7-5 Pittsburgh;

Takeaways 4-1 Detroit.

Individual stats:

Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 8-and-12 (40%); Sheahan went 3-and-10 (23%); Glendening went 2-and-7 (22%); Helm went 6-and-3 (67%); Legwand went 1-and-3 (25%).

Shots: Tatar and Franzen co-led the Wings with 4 shots; Kindl, Alfredsson, Lashoff, Helm and DeKeyser had 3 shots; Smith, Datsyuk, Nyquist and Sheahan had 2 shots; Abdelkader, Legwand, Miller, Jurco, Quincey and Kronwall had 1 shot. Only Glendening did not have a shot hit Fleury.

Blocked attempts: Datsyuk and Kronwall hit Penguins players 3 times; Tatar had 2 attempts blocked; Smith, Sheahan, Legwand, Miller, Jurco, Glendening, Helm, DeKeyser and Franzen had 1 attempt blocked.

Missed shots: Tatar, Helm and Kronwall missed the net 2 times; Smith, Kindl, Datsyuk and Nyquist missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Helm led the Wings with 4 hits; Jurco had 3 hits; Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Nyquist, Lashoff, Quincey and Glendening had 2 hits; Alfredsson, Sheahan, Legwand, Tatar and Franzen had 1 hit.

Giveaways: Sheahan, Legwand, Lashoff, Helm and Franzen had giveaways.

Takeaways: Tatar, Jurco, DeKeyser and Franzen had takeaways.

Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall led the Wings with 6 blocked shots; DeKeyser blocked 3 shots; Smith, Alfredsson, Tatar, Quincey, Glendening and Helm blocked 1 shot.

Minor penalties: Legwand, Lashoff, Quincey and Glendening took minor penalties.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished at +10 overall. Legwand, Miller and Glendening finished at -1; Kindl, Alfredsson, Nyquist, Lashoff, Quincey, Helm and DeKeyser finished at +1; Sheahan, Tatar and Jurco finished at +2.

Points: Kindl, Sheahan and Jurco had goals; Alfredsson, Nyquist, Tatar, Helm and Kronwall had assists.

Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 27:50 played; Smith played 26:14; Quincey played 23:35;

DeKeyser played 22:27; Datsyuk played 21:15; Franzen played 19:48;

Miller played 17:02; Glendening played 16:45; Abdelkader played 16:01;

Tatar played 15:26; Sheahan played 15:02; Nyquist played 14:44;

Kindl played 14:02; Legwand played 14:02; Helm played 13:51;

Jurco played 13:06; Lashoff played 12:47; Alfredsson played 11:23.

 

 

 

Red Wings notebooks: For what it's worth, Babcock delivered quite the pre-game zinger to the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:

This spring, because of realignment, the Red Wings are in the Eastern Conference and could be returning to Pittsburgh as early as next week for the first round of the playoffs. But rivalry?

Coach Mike Babcock doesn’t see it. Babcock feels the Red Wings haven’t done their part in maintaining the rivalry.

“Rivalries are made in the playoffs,” said Babcock after Wednesday’s morning skate. “The reason we haven’t had a rivalry with them in the last (few years) is we haven’t been good enough. You need two teams to have a rivalry; you can’t have it with one. They’ve been good and we haven’t been good enough.”

The Red Wings’ best chance seemed to be last season when they led Chicago 3-1 in the second round. But the Blackhawks won the last three games of the series, including Game 7 in overtime. The Penguins lost in the Eastern Conference finals to Boston.

“If we want to have playoff rivalries, we need to go deeper in the playoffs and have better teams,” Babcock said. “We’re trying to rebuild this thing on the fly. We have a lot of kids who are making a difference and ideally we’ll be back to being a good team.”

Also:

Darren Helm scored a goal, won all 10 faceoffs he had Tuesday in Buffalo (he has won 17 in a row), and his line centering Tomas Jurco and Daniel Alfredsson was generally the Red Wings’ best. Having a healthy Helm playing well has been a big reason the Red Wings have been on a roll.

“He’s been huge for many years with his speed and work ethic and the workload he can carry,” forward Johan Franzen said. “We are dependent on that. There’s not many players like him.”

In prospect news, part 1: Ben Marshall and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers will battle the University of North Dakota tonight at the Frozen Four in Philadelphia (8:30 PM EDT on ESPN2), hoping to advance to play the winner of Union vs. Boston College (at 5 PM EDT on ESPN2), and SI's Michael Blinn previewed both games:

In prospect news, part 2: Take these quips from DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose for what you will:

AHL STARS: Grand Rapids Griffins right wing Teemu Pulkkinen and defenseman Ryan Sproul have been named to this season’s American Hockey League All-Rookie Team.

Pulkkinen, 22, leads the Griffins with 30 goals, nine power-play goals and 55 points in 67 games, and ranks among the team’s leaders with 25 assists and a plus-18 rating. Among AHL rookies, Pulkkinen ranks third in scoring, first in goals and first in plus/minus, and he’s tied for fourth among all league scorers.

The 21-year-old Sproul has produced 31 points in 70 games this season, placing second among Griffins’ defensemen and tying for eighth overall on the team in scoring. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound blue-liner has 21 assists and two game-winning goals. His 10 goals and 31 points are both tied for second among all AHL rookie defensemen. He’s also been a solidify presence for the Griffins’ defensive corps that ranks second in the league allowing just 2.43 goals per game.

THE NEXT WAVE: Fans are excited to learn more about the young players who will be part of the Red Wings’ next wave of NHL talent. Players like Pulkkinen and Sproul are still a season or two from finding permanent spots at the NHL level.

The same is likely true for Val-d'Or right wing Anthony Mantha, the only player in the CHL to score 50 or more goals the last two seasons.

Manta, who was the Red Wings’ first-round draft pick last June, has 11 points in seven QMJHL playoff games this spring. Val-d’Or has a 2-1 lead in its best-of-seven quarterfinals series with Drummondville. Mantha leads the series with four goals. He scored two goals each in Game 1 and Game 3. Game 4 of the series is tonight in Drummondville.

Mantha was held off the scoresheet as Val-d'Or lost 3-2 to Drummondville...

In prospect news, part 3: NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale caught this comment that a certain coach made about the team's prospects in a much longer article listing 5 reasons why the Wings have prolonged their playoff streak:

Babcock reached a personal milestone with his 414th victory Tuesday in a win against the Buffalo Sabres, passing Jack Adams for the most in franchise history. Babcock has gotten the most from all of his players, including the ones called up from the AHL. He's a firm believer in not making any excuses and just rolling with what's available to him.

"We've had a ton of injuries, but I'm tired of talking about that, to be honest with you," Babcock said. "The reality is no one seems to get better. We seem to have them, and they're key guys, but I've always said each year you find players when you get opportunities like this. It's good because they're ready to take people's jobs."

Speaking of Babcock, the Hockey News's Jason Kay believes that the Wings' coach has out-done Patrick Roy--barely--in terms of having earned a Jack Adams Award vote, but broadcasters make that pick, not writers:

In Babcock, we have one of the most successful bench bosses of any generation. He actually surpassed in franchise wins yesterday the man for whom the trophy is named, the legendary Red Wings coach and GM. And Babcock accomplished the feat in 164 fewer games.

Depending on your perspective, it’s either a farce or symptomatic of voting tendencies that Babcock has never been officially anointed the league’s best coach. For most of his tenure in Detroit, he guided teams that were expertly crafted, buttressed by Nicklas Lidstrom, supported by casts that featured Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Dominik Hasek and even, briefly, Steve Yzerman. He won, but he had the requisite talent.

Babcock’s best chance at the Jack Adams, prior to this season, may have been in 2002-03, before he even got to Detroit, when he guided an Anaheim team that had missed the playoffs the prior year to within one victory of the Stanley Cup. Members of the NHL Broadcasters Association gave it to Minnesota’s Jacques Lemaire instead. Lemaire had performed a similar resuscitation to a Wild club that was off the radar screen entering the campaign.

And that’s the typical template for the coach-of-the-year recipient: do something unexpected, unpredicted. Be a surprise. Babcock has accomplished that the unorthodox way in 2013-14, masterfully steadying a Detroit ship that took more direct hits to its roster than any playoff-bound team should endure. For having his club in position to vie for the Cup again after losing cornerstones Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk for long stretches, along with key veterans Stephen Weiss, Darren Helm, Just Abdelkader, Daniel Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi, Babcock will earn significant attention from voters.

In the alumni department, the Toronto Maple Leafs are a cluster of *#$%@&, but it's cool to hear that a former Wings prospect will be earning his first NHL start as a result, as noted by the National Post's Michael Traikos:

The final two games of the season might be meaningless for the Toronto Maple Leafs. But for journeyman goaltender Drew MacIntyre, who is looking to make his first career NHL start, it would be anything but.

“It doesn’t matter when or where it is,” said MacIntyre, who is hoping to be in net for Thursday night’s game against the Florida Panthers. “You want to get that chance to start.”

The Leafs were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in Tuesday night’s 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Head coach Randy Carlyle has not announced who will start on Thursday but indicated after the game that there would be lineup changes.

“We’ll see,” MacIntyre said. “I’d very much appreciate it. I hope it happens.”

A fourth-round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings, the 30-year-old MacIntyre has played for nine different minor-league teams over a 10-year career. He had a two-game stint in the KHL, before getting injured. He has played five games for the Vancouver Canucks, Buffalo Sabres and the Leafs, but they were all what he termed “mop-up duty.”

“I’ve had lots of practice with being patient, but I’ve definitely been wanting that,” said MacIntyre, who is a free agent after the season. “I’m in a situation where I think I can help the team. That’s always the knock on me, that I don’t have NHL experience. So I hope I can get it so that I can say in the summertime when I’m looking for a job.”

And finally, in the real estate department, you may believe what you will regarding the following from the Detroit Free Press's John Gallagher...

Just over half of the estimated 5,500 construction jobs being created by the Detroit Red Wings’ new arena project will go to Detroit residents under a plan approved Wednesday by Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority.

The DDA approved a recommendation from Olympia Development, the private entity of the Ilitch family that owns the Red Wings, to hire a joint-venture construction management team of three contractors: Barton Malow, Hunt Construction Group and White Construction.

Various members of the team have had extensive experience in sports and entertainment construction, including work on Ford Field, Comerica Park, the expansion of the University of Michigan football stadium and others.

The arena is to open in October 2016.

Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration is working with the nonprofit workforce development agency Detroit Employment Solutions Corp. to develop training programs to get Detroit residents ready to take construction jobs on the project. For more information on possible jobs, visit the agency’s website at http://www.descmiworks.com

.

“We expect to make this a high priority,” said Tom Lewand Sr., Duggan’s top aide for jobs and the economy, who chaired the DDA meeting.

MLive's David Muller...

According to Olympia, construction of the 650,000-square-foot arena in Detroit will create about 5,500 jobs. It’s part of a larger, $650 million project that encompasses a 45-block area between Midtown and downtown, where the company said it is developing an entertainment district with mixed-use developments.

Olympia is the development firm owned by Mike and Marian Ilitch, the founders of Little Caesars Pizza and proprietors of Ilitch holdings, which also owns the Detroit Tigers, Motor City Casino, the Fox Theatre and the City Theatre.

The 18,000-seat arena project was revealed in greater detail last June at a DDA meeting, as the city body staffed by the non-profit, quasi-government Detroit Economic Growth Corporation needed to expand its district because Olympia seeks DDA money to help finance the project.

The entire project will create about 8,300 jobs and have about a $1.8 billion economic impact, according to Olympia. Some economists have disputed its stated economic impact.

As the proposed development made its way through City Council, several council members said they would sign off on it so long as Detroiters would reap employment from it. As part of a concession management agreement Olympia made with the DDA, which approved it in December, at least 51 percent of construction jobs for the new arena must be filled by Detroit residents.

Olympia said in a release that this will equate to more than $100 million paid to Detroit workers. City Council has approved property transfers and other measures allowing the project to move forward, despite concern for the use of public money.

And the Detroit News's

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Avatar

Thank you, George, again for the complete coverage

Posted by bobbo on 04/10/14 at 07:54 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Other than Monster not showing up until the 3rd and OT, and scoring on himself in the SO, I thought the Wings played a pretty good game last night.  They got a little over passy at times, but the effort was there all night.  WIth the blueline they have, no game is going to be pretty.  You can’t give Kindl/Lashoff regular shifts and not have errors pop up in the dzone.

But everyone did a helluva job on the PK right before the 3-3 goal.  Anywho, I thought it was their most complete game in awhile.

Posted by Hootinani on 04/10/14 at 08:28 AM ET

Avatar

Franzen is so frustrating to watch.

Posted by George0211 on 04/10/14 at 08:43 AM ET

Mandingo's avatar

Granted, I fell asleep after the second period, but I thought the Wings were really good up to that point. They were skating hard and dominating the Pens 5 on 5. Sure the PK looked bad, but that’s a pretty deadly power play they have.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 04/10/14 at 08:52 AM ET

Avatar

What’s Franzen’s goalless streak up to now?

Two things: First, this team drives me crazy. I am to the point where I can hardly watch the games anymore. I can’t handle the swings.

Second, and although I hate to say this because the loss of the 7 spot absolutely fries me, I learned in 2004 to be careful what I wish for. There’s a narrative going around that it is way better to play Shittsburgh and avoid Boston, la la la…

I remember in 2004 watching Calgary play Vancouver and at the time, Vancouver scared me and frankly, I couldn’t stand them. So I was cheering for Calgary to win. Turned out, that wasn’t really the team the Wings wanted to face. 2004 could’ve been a big year for the Wings - if they’d played Vancouver and then San Jose and the Tampa, I think there’s a good probability of another Cup.

Anyways, moral of the story: be careful what you wish for. Maybe it’s better to just get in and deal with the opponent in front of us, rather than try to hand pick the best perceived match up.

Just a thought. Although this team still drives me crazy and losing last night really pissed me off.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 04/10/14 at 09:13 AM ET

Avatar

One other thing: I think Johnny Gustavsson is playing his way out of a contract next year. He was good in the beginning of the season. The numbers in 2014 have to be awful, comparatively.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 04/10/14 at 09:14 AM ET

Avatar

But everyone did a helluva job on the PK right before the 3-3 goal.

I…  Didn’t Pittsburgh score in the first few seconds of two straight PPs?

Posted by Garth on 04/10/14 at 09:17 AM ET

Avatar

Frustrating things in the game for sure, but not a huge dissapointment.

They have things to work on but I am going to trust that Babs can get some of them ready for the start of the playoffs.

-Find a way for Franzen to get on a hot streak. Someone punch him in the face or something.

-Get Datsyuk’s as ready as he can be. He is still working into form. We need as much from him as we can get.

-Howard needs to be great. The D is what it is so Howard will have to be the team MVP and steal a few games.

-Do something about that PP. Anything. Can Lidstrom come back and just play on the PP?

-Keep the kids focused. I think this will be fine. Some had a taste last year and in the Calder Cup run. But everyone needs keep doing what they are doing.

Bruins or Pens, I look forward to the playoffs.

Posted by lancer on 04/10/14 at 09:21 AM ET

Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit's avatar

Bruins or Pens, I look forward to the playoffs.

Posted by lancer on 04/10/14 at 09:21 AM ET

Whatever it took, we made the Playoffs! Indeed!

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!!

Posted by Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit on 04/10/14 at 09:35 AM ET

TreKronor's avatar

Jonas Gustavsson looking as shaky as his defense did in front of him at times.

I happen to disagree - I thought he was pretty good, especially for a guy playing his fourth game in over a month. 

The saves in the shootout were good as well - except for the crazy bounce on the only goal.  I’m happy with him as a backup.

Posted by TreKronor on 04/10/14 at 09:38 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

Backing into the playoffs?  I think most of you guys are out to sea.  This isn’t the Steve Yzerman era Wings. 

The Wings were falling out of the hunt, and they went 9-4-2 in their last 15 to secure a playoff berth.  That’s pretty damn remarkable for a team that would have dropped the decisions against Buffalo, Boston, and Toronto earlier in the year.  And if you told you me that they were going to force Pittsburgh to OT twice and win once in those last 15 I would have been skeptical. 

Last night the Wings weathered the Pens storm rather well considering the shape they’re in.  And for everyone getting down on Gustavsson for the shootout, get real.  Shit happens, and that was one of the weirdest *#$%@& things I’ve ever seen.  It was dumb luck.  All Alfredsson had to do was elevate that shot and Jokinen’s would have been a wash.  And what about Datsyuk?  It’s like he has forgotten how to score on the shootout this year.

So how about we complain about the lack of run support for these goalies for a change?  Really, I can’t say much besides good job this season to both of them.  No it wasn’t perfect, but it could have been a lot worse with the team in front of them. 

I’m happy as hell with the Wings right now.  I didn’t think 23 was gonna happen honestly, let alone a chance at advancing into the second round.  We can still finish fourth in the conference too.  And I really don’t mind the Pen’s getting the edge in the skill competition last night either.  Whatever lulls them into a first round exit makes me happy.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 04/10/14 at 10:05 AM ET

SYF's avatar

Because the Wings don’t usually get talked up by these correspondents, I’ll allow Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski to deliver an “out of town” take on the significance of the streak…

Wait.  Wysh wrote that?  I think I’ve seen everything.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 04/10/14 at 12:55 PM ET

calquake's avatar

The Beaver County Times

I’ll admit I giggled a little bit.

Posted by calquake on 04/10/14 at 03:15 PM ET

SYF's avatar

The Beaver County Times

I’ll admit I giggled a little bit.

Posted by calquake on 04/10/14 at 03:15 PM ET

 

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 04/10/14 at 03:32 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Backing into the playoffs?  I think most of you guys are out to sea. 
Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 04/10/14 at 10:05 AM ET

It says the Wings are back in the playoffs not backing in. Calm down.

Posted by MurrayChadwick on 04/10/14 at 04:56 PM ET

bleep bloop's avatar

Last night the Wings weathered the Pens storm rather well

In the game that I saw, it wasn’t the Wings weathering the Penguins storm so much as the Penguins weathering the Wings storm. The Red Wings could have easily scored 2 more goals in regulation, or in overtime, if it weren’t for players missing their open net chances. For several games in a row they have scored at least 3 goals but seemed content with the game tied 2-2 in the third and they barely touched the puck the first 15 minutes—after the Penguins barely touched the puck the first 40 minutes of the game (I wonder if the power plays count, since they did barely touch the puck before it was in the Red Wings net).

So I don’t see it as a game where the Red Wings were lucky to steal a point, but a game where the Red Wings sat back and surrendered a point unnecessarily.

Posted by bleep bloop on 04/10/14 at 05:06 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Backing into the playoffs?  I think most of you guys are out to sea. 
Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 04/10/14 at 10:05 AM ET

It says the Wings are back in the playoffs not backing in. Calm down.

Posted by MurrayChadwick on 04/10/14 at 04:56 PM ET

Nope.  It actually doesnt say dude.  Calmer than you are.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 04/11/14 at 03:24 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Nope.  It actually doesnt say dude.  Calmer than you are.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 04/11/14 at 03:24 PM ET

doesn’t say that*

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 04/11/14 at 03:25 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.

Smileys

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Feed

Most Recent Blog Posts

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.