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The Malik Report

Red Wings-Predators quick take: awakening from the customary February slumber?

The Detroit Red Wings almost always get into late-February slumps, but in a 48-game season, the Wings' 0-3-and-2 slump had the team more than simply "taking on water."

Here's hoping that tonight's game is the start of the customary late February/early March surge, because the Wings vaciliated from rope-a-dope-and-rely-on-Jimmy Howard hockey to playing absolutely dominant puck possession hockey (and back, regrettably) during a 4-0 win over the Nashville Predators.

Howard was wonderful at the start and at the end, and in the middle, the Red Wings, led by significant ice time from the Eaves-Andersson-Tatar line the Miller-Emmerton-Tootoo line and a superb new defensive pair in Lashoff-White, managed to fight themselves for a while (out-shot 12-9 in the 1st and 2nd periods) and eventually out-battle a Nashville Predators team slightly tired by tomorrow night's opponent, the Vancouver Canucks. [edit/update: and Wings coach Mike Babcock decided to reward Howard with a night off, with Jonas Gustavsson starting tomorrow vs. Vancouver]

It wasn't pretty all the time, and it wasn't easy, because there were times that Kent Huskins and Jakub Kindl looked like they were trying to convince Ken Holland to make a move before March--if not ask Larry Murphy to suit up for a shift or two--and the Predators skated circles around the Wings at times during a turnover-happy first period, but Drew Miller scored a scrappy goal 5:11 in, 2:58 into the 2nd, Tomas Tatar took a bouncing puck and chipped it over Pekka Rinne as Joakim Andersson and two Predators defensemen pushed Pekka Rinne out of the way, and the Wings were off to the races.

The Wings didn't play particularly consistently until the last half of the second and first half of the third, and that was all of a 20-out-of-60-minutes span, but Niklas Kronwall managed to chip a knuckleball in 15:33 into the 2nd and Danny Cleary's power play goal (after taking a shot off the noggin) with 8:42 left in the game sealed the deal.

Valtteri Filppula, Henrik Zetterberg and Damien Brunner remain ill with a case of "passitoffitis," all passing instead of shooting, and sometimes Justin Abdelkader and Danny Cleary look like the top-six partners that Pavel Datsyuk needs, and sometimes they don't, but the Wings' 2nd and 3rd defensive pairs and 3rd and 4th lines helped the team push themselves past Nashville and hopefully set them up for a good effort against Vancouver...

And, quite frankly, as FSD's Darren Eliot suggested, the power of self-confidence could be absolutely key going into tomorrow afternoon's game. Mickey Redmond said that the Wings won't hold a morning skate due to the 5 PM start tomorrow (FSD/Sportsnet West), but the Canucks will, and they're a powerhouse and a half. Again, here's hoping that tonight's Howard-powered rebound will allow whoever starts tomorrow to backstop the Wings to the kind of weekend slate that could genuinely give the Wings some momentum going into the last week of what is always a perilous month.

Statistics:

Shots 33-27 Nasvhille overall. Nashville out-shot Detroit 12-9 in the 1st and 2nd periods, and the teams were tied with 9 shots apiece in the 3rd.

The Predators went 0-for-2 in 4:00 of PP time; the Wings went 1-for-2 in 2:37 of PP time.

Jimmy Howard stopped 33 shots; Pekka Rinne stopped 23 of 27.

The 3 stars were picked by Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji, and they were Drew Miller (3), Niklas Kronwall (2) and Jimmy Howard (1).

The Wings' goals: Miller (2) from Kronwall (10) and Eaves (3);

Tatar (3) from Andersson (2);

Kronwall (2) from Datsyuk (11) and Abdelkader (2);

Cleary (3) from Kronwall (11) and Datsyuk (12), PPG.

Faceoffs 24-24;

Blocked shots 12-8 Detroit;

Missed shots 12-7 Nashville (total attempts 57-42 Nashville);

Hits 17-15 Detroit;

Giveaways 7-6 Nashville;

Takeaways 6-4 Nashville.

Update: MLive's Ansar Khan, the Tennessean's Josh Cooper, the Free Press's Helene St. James, the Associated Press and the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa penned recaps.

Update #2: From the Wings, here's a nice clip of one of Howard's blocker saves:

Update #3: The NHL Network spoke to Danny Cleary after the game...

And the Red Wings' website posted clips of Jimmy Howard...

Drew Miller...

And coach Mike Babcock speaking to the media:

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Comments

RorSchach's avatar

Thanks G - Money.

Posted by RorSchach from Datsberg on 02/23/13 at 10:52 PM ET

calquake's avatar

here’s hoping that tonight’s Howard-powered rebound will allow whoever starts tomorrow to backstop the Wings to the kind of weekend slate that could genuinely give the Wings some momentum going into the last week of what is always a perilous month.

I would like to see that.  It will help to improve everyone’s attitude around here.  The Wings will have to play better than they did tonight and Gusto will have to help “steal” two points from the Nucks.

Posted by calquake on 02/24/13 at 01:04 AM ET

Bugsy's avatar

Wings lose, comments come in. Wings win, can hear crickets. Go figure,...

Posted by Bugsy on 02/24/13 at 02:59 AM ET

Avatar

Well everything is totally different now.

Isn’t it?

Posted by HockeyinHD on 02/24/13 at 06:27 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Nope. Other than certain individuals who thrive on negativity being a little less vocal than usual because the sky is no longer falling on the blanket fort that is being a Wings fan these days.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/24/13 at 06:35 AM ET

Avatar

Other than certain individuals who thrive on negativity being a little less vocal than usual because the sky is no longer falling on the blanket fort that is being a Wings fan these days.

I don’t see Wings fans as being too negative, for the most part.  There are always the strains of Holland or Babcock or System or insert-name-of-player-here bashers who will take whatever opportunity presents itself to stroke that particular fetish.

By and large the malady that hits Wings fans hardest is temporal dislocation.  They exist in 2013 but their minds are still in 2002.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 02/24/13 at 09:54 AM ET

Avatar

  I think part of it is Quincey isn’t out there being terrible, turning over the puck and typing over himself allowing breakaways. The rest of the team definitely played better.
  11-13-8 line is definitely not a top 2 line. Definitely a third line. There’s may be some grit there, but how bad is that line without it being magical #13 pivoting? Definitely third line at best. 
  Fil still won’t shoot and is not making use of the space created for him. It seems any opponent gets closer to him and there’s nothing to do but pass anymore. I used to say he was second best puck handler after Dats, but he won’t do anything with it.
  So there are definitely still issues there despite this game having been a win. Biggest difference imo? Howard stopped a lot of crap he had been letting in and rinne didn’t.

Posted by teldar on 02/24/13 at 10:20 AM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

I think part of it is that it’s been 2 in 3 nights and last night was Saturday night.

Good things to talk about that game but the Preds didn’t exactly bring it either.  Nothing to get excited about except for doing what they SHOULD be doing.  They didn’t have to do it as well last night to get the W and Jimmy earned himself a shutout though there were some really good block shots in there too I’ll give’em that.

Despite Kronners goal, he’s still killing me with his flailing play.  He needs to settle down.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 02/24/13 at 04:01 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.