The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/15/13 at 02:42 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings' 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators broke a 2-game "winless" (read: shootout losing) streak and at least temporarily placed the Wings back into 8th place in the Western Conference. The Wings now have 20-15-and-7 Wings now have 47 points, two more than Dallas (Dallas still has a game in hand and 19 regulation-or-OT wins to the Wings' 18 ROWs) and Columbus (14 ROWs), and four more than Phoenix (15 ROWs). The Wings are also tied with the Minnesota Wild in terms of points, but as the Wild have played 41 games to the Wings' 42, they hold that tiebreaker (though they are tied in ROWs with 18)...
And, somewhat surprisingly, the Wings have now only given up 1 more goal than they've scored, in no small part because the Wings were able to regain a significant amount of confidence in their ability to actually play hockey after essentially losing three straight games (see 1-0 vs. St Louis a week ago, then 3-2 shootout losses to San Jose and Chicago) and dropping 4 of their previous 5 games (the Wings are still 2-1-and-2 over the past 5 and 3-2-and-2 for April) by beating up on an incredibly injury-depleted Nashville Predators team.
Even with six regulars out of the lineup, the Predators out-shot Detroit 13-9 in the 1st period, held Detroit off the scoresheet for 26:23 of play, and even after the Wings took the lead in almost every conceivable category, the Wings ended up nursing a 1-goal lead until the last 2:59 of Sunday night's game.
To say the Wings didn't put on a clinic is an understatement. The game was downright ugly by any team's standards, never mind Red Wings standards, for incredibly long stretches of time, and one could very well argue that Danny DeKeyser's bank-shot assist to Henrik Zetterberg was something of a "lucky bounce," especially given that it really did take until about halfway through the third period before the Red Wings were actually skating up the ice, getting "on the inside" of bodies and puck battles, actually getting the puck through traffic and chasing it down to retrieve rebounds, and generally making Pekka Rinne's night difficult instead of constantly surrendering pucks via turnovers and letting the Predators cycle down low in the Wings' end and plow pucks and bodies into Jimmy Howard.
But hell, at this point of the season, Johan Franzen's registering points and goals, Jimmy Howard's stopping breakaways, and the Wings' 4th and 6th-highest performers in terms of ice time (behind only Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Pavel Datsyuk) were Jakub Kindl and Danny DeKeyser (with Henrik Zetterberg squeezed in the middle).
These are strange times for the Red Wings and their fans, and they're strange for the team that was handing Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart and Tomas Holmstrom's Wings their asses a year ago.
I think that most of us assumed that the now-13th-place Predators would be making a playoff push right now, not wondering how the loss of Ryan Suter and mid-season injuries knocked them back out of the mix, and given that Sunday night's game was probably (barring any Phoenix shenanigans) the Nashville's last chance to defeat Detroit at home while playing their beloved and love-to-hated Central Division rival, the Predators took Sunday night's loss hard.
The Nashville Examiner's Jim Diamond reports that the Predators felt they'd failed both their fans and their goaltender, even though most of the 31 shots Pekka Rinne faced were more like Grade-C-Minus quality scoring chances than Grade-A quality ones:
“We’ve let him down all year,” team captain Shea Weber said. “We’ve let Mase down. It is not their fault by any means. They battle for us every night. They make huge saves and we’ve got to do a better job for those guys.”
In a second period dominated by the visitors from Detroit, Rinne nearly single-handedly kept the Predators in the game. His best sequence came during a four saves in the span of ten seconds flurry just under five minutes into the middle frame. Joakim Andersson started the play with a slap shot from the left side that Rinne denied. Gustav Nyquist jumped on the rebound and had two prime chances that Rinne was somehow able to kick away with an extended left leg pad. Another denial of another Andersson slap shot concluded the frenzy to keep the game scoreless.
“Today, I thought the second period he was outstanding,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. “They were consciously trying to, which they always do, trying to get a lot of traffic on him, pucks from all angles, they were trying to back door him and all that. I thought he was outstanding. I wish we could have got a goal for him.”
Less than two minutes later, Detroit got the only goal they would need when Henrik Zetterberg was in the right place at the right time to field the rebound of Danny DeKeyser’s shot from the right side. That shot missed wide right but bounced off of the end boards and onto Zetterberg’s tape on the left side, where he had an easy tap-in for his ninth of the season.
The Predators had some prime chances to even the score up after falling behind, but it was not meant to be. Late in the second with the Red Wings on a power play, Kevin Klein blocked a shot by Detroit’s Damien Brunner. Klein then sent Matt Halischuk in on a breakaway into the Detroit zone. Halischuk tried to get Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard to open the pads, but Howard was equal to the task in shutting down the five-hole.
“We had three or four A-plus chances that we don’t score on there,” David Legwand said. “Peks is a workhorse. He’s one of the best in the world back there. Anytime you don’t win a hockey game, you feel like you are letting him down and we feel for him. It’s not like we are not trying to score goals, but they are just not finding the back of the net right now.”
Things are tough all over for Nashville now, as the Nashville City Paper's David Boclair suggests...
Nashville’s losing streak reached six games Sunday with a 3-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings before a sellout crowd. It was the ninth time this season the Predators failed to score a goal, the third time during the streak and the fourth in the last nine contests.
“We have to try and find a way to score goals,” captain Shea Weber said. “It’s the same thing we have been [saying] in the last however many games. We just have to find a way to do it.”
The embodiment of the current struggles came with 13:34 remaining when Bobby Butler was awarded a penalty shot. With an opportunity to tie the game, the 25-year-old forward faked, moved the puck to his forehand … and whiffed on the shot. The puck slid harmlessly to the right of Detroit’s net and another chance to score went unrealized.
Matt Halischuk failed to convert on a shorthanded breakaway in the second period, and two first-period power plays yielded some quality chances but did nothing to change the scoreboard. The Predators outshot the Red Wings 13-9 in the opening 20 minutes but failed to keep pace after that and ended up with 10 fewer (32-22) for the game.
“It’s scoring on those chance and making good on those chances,” center David Legwand said. “Obviously, a team like Detroit isn’t going to give you many of them. We had three or four A-plus chances – we don’t score on them – and a couple power plays that we didn’t find the back of the net. That kind of cost us.”
There was a time when the Red Wings, who will play in the Eastern Conference next season under an approved plan for realignment, routinely exploited an edge in skill over the Predators. Nashville won just six times in the first five seasons of the rivalry (27 games) but over time closed the gap considerably.
In the previous four seasons the Predators were 13-8-3 against the Red Wings in the regular season and eliminated Detroit in the opening round of last year’s playoffs. The Red Wings currently have the upper hand this season, though, with two victories – both shutouts – in three games, with one to go, April 25 at Detroit.
Therein lies the rub, to some extent: the Wings won this round, but if the Predators take the Wings out on Thursday, April 25th, they can still play the spoiler's role.
On Sunday night, Rinne lamented his team's effort to the Predatorial's Kristopher Martel--and his comments sound like those coming out of the Wings goaltender's mouth lately...
“The effort is there but the results are embarrassing. There is not much you can say, we keep talking and talking here in the locker room but we have to go out there on the ice and do something and win games,” said Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne. “Obviously, you have to be realistic too. The other teams they are right there battling for their playoff spots, and we are out of it. They have a lot more desperation. It is not like we are not playing well. We played really well. We just can’t get goals and it is hard to win.”
The most disappointing part of these dismal last six losses is that the goaltending for the Predators has played fairly well to be able to pull out wins. When you’re averaging one goal a game in the six losses, though, “fairly well” goaltending is going to have to be “perfect” goaltending to notch a mark in the win column, and sometimes not even that will be enough. Nashville has two 1-0 losses during this streak, one to Chicago and one to St. Louis. I think, though, both Barry Trotz and Shea Weber summed it up best when asked about the goaltending and the lack of offense during the streak:
“We’ve let [Rinne and Mason] down all year. It’s not their fault. They battle for us every night. We have to do a better job for those guys,” said Weber.
Added Trotz, “I just wish we could have gotten a goal for [Rinne].”
Trotz told Cellblock 303's Jeremy K. Grover that his team had every chance to win...
“In the second period, he was outstanding,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said. “I just wish we could have gotten a goal for him.”
Rinne was so good that it took a lucky bounce to finally beat him. In the middle frame, DeKeyser fired a shot from the point that missed the net on the short side but came off the end-boards at such an angle that it found Henrik Zetterberg‘s stick on the opposite side. With Rinne still positioned for the original shot, the Wings captain one-timed it into the empty net for a 1-0 lead.
It looked like the Preds were poised to tie the game early in the third when Bobby Butler was hauled down on a partial breakaway. A penalty shot was awarded but, on the attempt, the puck rolled off of Butler’s stick.
It was just a perfect parallel to how Nashville’s 2013 campaign has gone. Just when you think they’re going to wake up, score, seize momentum or mount a comeback, something goes horribly wrong. It’s just been that way all season and they’ll be picking high in this summer’s draft as a result.
Johan Franzen and Justin Abdelkader would add insurance markers in the final three minutes to seal the game and give Nashville it’s sixth loss in a row.
“We had enough chances to get a point tonight,” Trotz said. “We just couldn’t find the back of the net and we had a couple of puck management situations where they capitalized.”
And Trotz continued that narrative while speaking to the Tennessean's Josh Cooper:
“We had some good chances,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “We had a couple of breakaways, a penalty shot. We had a couple of real good looks on the power play.”
Instead, the Predators were shut out for the third time in five games and for the ninth time this season, the most in the NHL.
“There’s no magic wand I can wave over someone and go, ‘You’re going to score today.’ There’s no such thing,” Trotz said. “You have to put pucks there, you have to go to the net, you have to execute plays and find the back of the net.”
For the Predators, their bright spot involved the debut of the top prospect the Washington Capitals inexplicably gave them in exchange for Martin Erat, one Filip Forsberg (who spoke to Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom and Aftonbladet's Per Bjurman after the game, because the Leksands IF forward is a BIG DEAL over there), as Cooper noted (and Cooper posted an additional slate of "post-game quotes" and some "Predators ponderings," too)...
The highly touted Forsberg made his NHL debut Sunday in a 3-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. He had his good moments, but it was tough to expect a lot from the 18-year-old Forsberg, who had flown from Sweden to Nashville on Saturday and had just one practice with the team. He played 18:37, fired two shots on goal and finished with a minus-two rating.
Among his highlights: He set up fellow rookie Taylor Beck on a power play for a scoring chance and showed a strong wrist shot in the first period on Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard.
“In the first period, he made a couple of real good plays on the power play, real poised,” coach Barry Trotz said. “I like his intelligence. I like his … he sees the ice, he’s not rattled,”
Trotz said Forsberg had an issue with “puck management” on Henrik Zetterberg’s second-period goal, but overall the coach said Forsberg played “OK.”
I still don't understand how the 11th overall pick in the 2012 draft becomes trade fodder, but hey, the Predators luck out that way, and that's one of the reasons the Wings won't miss playing Nashville six times a season.
But there's some irony in the following given that the Predators and Oilers' respective press corps were absolutely certain that Danny DeKeyser was headed their way:
DeKeyser gets a point: Red Wings rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser picked up his first NHL point with an assist on Zetterberg’s goal. DeKeyser signed with the Wings on March 30 as a college free agent. The Predators had tried to sign DeKeyser, too.
“It was something that was really exciting for me,” DeKeyser said of his assist. “It’s always nice when you get your first NHL point. It’s something you kind of dream of as a kid.”
As the AP's Teresa M. Walker suggests, the Predators' fate is still tied to the Wings' to some extent--as a spoiler...
Predators coach Barry Trotz said the players are getting real valuable experience and showing team officials what they can and can't do.
"It's not probably a great answer for the fans from that standpoint," Trotz said. "But it's reality. We can't do anything about all the veterans and all our top players, especially up front, that are hurt. We don't have any excuses for it. We just got to try to play through it and get a win. We have to spoils somebody's party here."
The Predators started Filip Forsberg, the 18-year-old forward they got from Washington at the trade deadline in exchange for veteran Martin Erat. He arrived Saturday from Sweden and was the sixth rookie in the lineup Sunday night for a team with three forwards already heading toward season-ending surgeries with Patric Hornqvist, Brandon Yip and Mike Fisher also scratched for injuries. He skated on a line with David Legwand and Taylor Beck, filling in for Hornqvist, and got to play against Zetterberg.
"He is one of the best Swedish players ever in the NHL," Forsberg said.
But the Red Wings were the ones who carried the day, and even their goaltender agreed that the game's first goal changed everything:
Rookie Danny DeKeyser, who chose Detroit over teams including Nashville, took a shot that hit off the back boards and around to Zetterberg for the easy tap-in goal at 6:23 for a 1-0 lead. That was Zetterberg's first goal in 11 games.
"Peks is a world-class goaltender and you know when he gets the lead he seems even harder," Howard said. "It was imperative, and I think a weight lifted off our shoulders when we got the first one."
Howard did indeed star in the win, and as we shift from the Predators to Red Wings' perspectives via NHL.com's John Manasso's recap, Manasso notes quite the sidebar-turned-backbone story:
After Howard had done poorly in Thursday's shootout, so he talked to consultant/goalie coach Chris Osgood about his positioning. Then Howard was so-so at best in Friday's shootout, so he talked to both Osgood and goalie coach Jim Bedard about his positioning again. Cue the save on the Halsichuk breakaway and a spotless 22-save shutout:
"To be honest, breakaways and shootouts and all that stuff hasn't been really fun for me this year," said Howard, who is 1-4 in the shootout with a .563 save percentage in that segment, ranking him 31st among 48 goalies in the League this season. "And talking with Jim Bedard and (Osgood) the other night, it's just about doing the same things that I used to but, staying a little bit more patient. It seems to be paying off a little bit."
The win moved Detroit, which has made 21 straight postseason appearances, back into eighth place in the West with 47 points, two more than the Dallas Stars. Dallas holds two games in hand on Detroit, which has six games remaining.
That counseling from Bedard and Osgood paid off when Howard stopped Matt Halischuk on a shorthanded breakaway with 3:33 left in the second period to keep Detroit up 1-0. Halischuk tried a wrist shot between Howard's legs, but Howard closed off the hole.
One of the best saves that Howard made was one he did not have to make. Nashville's Bobby Butler was awarded a penalty shot when Jakub Kindl tripped him from behind. But the puck slipped off Butler's stick as he approached the goal on his attempt and he never got off a shot.
"He lost control," Howard said of the penalty shot. "As the game goes on, the ice here isn't the best -- you know, around the League -- so it was just a tough one for him."
Howard "was real good," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "With the exception of the penalty shot, I thought we did good things."
Howard's been doing his best to play like he had a chip on his shoulder for the past couple of weeks, and he struck a defiant tone after the game, too, as the Free Press's Helene St. James noted:
"We have been saying the last couple days we control our own destiny," Jimmy Howard said after making 22 saves and earning his third shutout of the season. "It's upon us in the dressing room here to get the job done. I think a lot of people would be happy to see us miss the playoffs, so we've got to go out there and play with the same sense of urgency when we get to Calgary."
Six games remain in the regular season: at Calgary, Vancouver and Dallas, bookended around home games against the Coyotes, Kings and Predators.
Henrik Zetterberg scored for the first time in 11 games, and newcomer Danny DeKeyser earned his first NHL point by assisting on that goal. Pavel Datsyuk had two assists to reach 759 career points and move into sixth place overall in team history.
The Wings talked at least somewhat realistically about their performance, with Kronwall telling St. James that the Wings' game is a work in progress...
"I thought at times we played pretty well," Niklas Kronwall said. "I thought we did a good job of keeping them to the outside, and Howie, again, came up with huge saves for us. Our forwards did a tremendous job staying strong on the puck down deep in their zone and made it hard for them to get out of their zone with speed. I thought overall, we grinded it out pretty good."
As Kronwall told St. James, the difference between Thursday and Friday's games and Sunday's affair involved backing up their words with deeds:
Reaction: "It wasn't that, but I thought we did a pretty good job overall, doing the things that we've been talking about," Niklas Kronwall said. "We're in a tight race for a playoff spot, and every two points is huge." ... "With the exception of the penalty shot, I thought we did good things," coach Mike Babcock said. "We had two penalty kills early that the guys were really good on. We gave ourselves a chance to win the game."
Or, as Kronwall told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
"Obviously it's huge, the first goal against a team like this," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "They had a young lineup and as soon as they got some air under their wings they just go. They worked real hard. But we grinded it out. Not that fancy, but we did a real good job overall of doing the things we've been talking about."
Coach Babcock told Kulfan that the Wings didn't do anything particularly elegantly, but that's not the point right now:
"This morning we weren't in the playoff picture, now we're in it, and Minny is right there with us," coach Mike Babcock said. "St. Louis is only a point ahead of us. There's a lot of us in that mud puddle trying to find a way to swim."
The Red Wings have 47 points (20-15-7), while Dallas and Columbus both have 45 and Phoenix 43.
The Red Wings actually have the same amount of points as Minnesota, but the Wild have played one less game and reside as the seventh seed.
And yes, Dallas (against Chicago), Columbus (vs. Colorado), Phoenix (vs. San Jose) and Minnesota (vs. Calgary) all play on Monday night.
Anyway, Babcock was pleased with the result as well as the effort...
"From my perspective, we've been playing pretty well of late and leaving the rink not as happy when you're losing in a shootout," Babcock said. "Howie was real good, we did some good things. We had some good penalty kills early and gave ourselves a chance. These were big points for us."
As he told MLive's Ansar Khan both before the game...
“You should know it's a fairly urgent situation for us, but I think it's been like that all year,'' Babcock said before the game. “We've been in the grinder since the start. We've been in and out of the playoffs all year. When you woke up this morning you're not in them, it doesn't make you feel good.''
Jimmy Howard made 22 saves for his third shutout of the season, the 14th of his career. Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Justin Abdelkader (empty net) scored for Detroit.
The Red Wings snapped a three-game winless streak (0-1-2) against a team that was tied for last in the NHL in goals per game (2.29) and is all but out of postseason contention. The Predators have lost six in a row and are 1-7-2 in their past 10 games.
“There's no panic but guys definitely know there's a sense of urgency around here,'' Howard said prior to the game.
“There's lots of us in that mud puddle trying to find a way to swim,'' Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
Babcock broke down the final nine games into three-game segments, hoping to secure four points in each segment. His team met that goal in the first segment. Now, with six games remaining, Babcock figures eight more points will get them into the playoffs for the 22nd consecutive season. This was a huge two points against a struggling team that played many rookies due to injuries and ranks last in the NHL in goals per game.
Despite his team's three-game winless streak (0-2-1), Babcock said they've played well since the 4-2 loss at Phoenix on April 4.
“I thought Howie was really good,'' Babcock said. “Pekka Rinne (29 saves) was real solid for them, gave them a chance, and in the end we were able to get it done.''
The bonus was DeKeyser's bank-shot assist on Zetterberg's 10-game-goal-slump-busting goal...
“Kindl came across and make a good play to keep the puck in,'' DeKeyser said. “He came onto my half of the ice, so I switched with him and then the puck kicked out to Pav (Datsyuk), and of course he made a good play to me and I just fired. There were some bodies in front. It happened to go wide, and Z being in the right spot had an open net to tap it in. It's nice when you get your first NHL point, something you kind of dream of as a kid.''
He didn't get the puck, saying “I'm saving that for the first goal.''
As the Free Press's Helene St. James also noted:
Ten days after he began his NHL career, DeKeyser collected his first point when he got the puck from Pavel Datsyuk and fired a shot that ricocheted off the end boards and onto Henrik Zetterberg's stick for the game-winning goal.
"It was something that's really exciting for me," DeKeyser said. "It's always nice when you get your first NHL point, something you dream of as a kid."
Why repeat that statement?
Because for as long as DeKeyser's been alive, the Wings have made the playoffs, and when he was eight, the Nashville Predators were founded (the 1998-99 season). We've seen the rivalry rise and fall, ebb and flow over the past fifteen years, and I don't think it'd be right if the teams' Central Division dance ended with anything less than the Wings earning the upper hand...
But that kind of achievement will be up to them and not us. The Wings flew back to Detroit and will get a full day off, practice on Tuesday and then board Red Bird III for their games against Calgary on Wednesday and Vancouver on Saturday, and by the time they come home to tangle with Phoenix a week from today...
They'll probably still be in the mud puddle, but whether they're swimming near the surface or are being stepped upon remains to be seen.
I don't get the last word in this, however, because Henrik Zetterberg spoke to Aftonbladet's Per Bjurman after the game, and here's a rough translation of what he had to say:
"It was really great, we only managed to earn a point in our previous games, so these two were really needed," said Henrik Zetterberg when we spoke to him after the game.
He continues: "We played well, especially defensively, but I think we also did so against San Jose and Chicago. The difference is that we finally took advantage of our chances today. We've had problems with scoring goals."
One of the goals was scored by Johan Franzen--and Zetterberg scored, too, when young defensive sensation Danny DeKeyser chipped the puck off the back boards.
"I don't know if he did it consciously, he just said that he didn't have a lane to shoot on the net, but the puck was perfect for me, I just had to put it in the empty net, and that seems to be what you need to do to score these days," chuckles "Zata."
The Red Wings hope and believe--as they're in 8th place with 47 points, 2 more than Dallas in 9th, but also having played one more game--that they've returned to the right side of the cutoff line.
"It's an extremely rough stretch and it's going to be hard all the way, we basically play playoff games these days, but I think we have the team that can achieve it," he says.
Highlights: The Red Wings website's highlight clip is narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond:
NBC Sports posted a 1:56 highlight clip as well.
Post-game: The Predators' website posted clips of Barry Trotz's post-game presser;
The Tennessean's Josh Cooper posted a post-game clip of comments from Filip Forsberg and Shea Weber speaking to the media;
Jimmy Howard spoke to the NHL Network after the game...
Fox Sports Detroit posted clips of Henrik Zetterberg and coach Mike Babcock speaking to the media after the game:
Via RedWingsFeed, Fox Sports also posted the entirety of Trevor Thompson's interview with Zetterberg:
Photos: The Tennessean posted a 20-image gallery;
The Detroit Free Press posted a 24-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted a 22-image gallery;
The Windsor Star posted, uh, 3 images from the game;
MLive posted a 14-image gallery;
ESPN posted a 61-image gallery(!);
Yahoo Sports posted 41 images from the game in its Wings gallery;
Shots 32-22 overall. Detroit was out-shot 13-9 in the 1st but out-shot Nashville 16-4 in the 2nd and 7-5 in the 3rd.
Both teams went 0-for-2 in 4:00 of PP time. The refs let a ridiculous amount of penalties go on both sides.
Jimmy Howard stopped 22 of 22 shots; Rinne stopped 29 of 31, and the Wings' 32nd shot hit an empty net.
The "Nashville Media" picked the 3 stars, and they were Pekka Rinne, Henrik Zetterberg and Jimmy Howard.
The Wings' goals: Zetterberg (9) from DeKeyser (1) and Datsyuk (27);
Franzen (9) from Filppula (8) and Cleary (4);
Abdelkader (9) from Zetterberg (29) and Datsyuk (28).
Faceoffs 27-26 (Detroit won 51%);
Blocked shots 22-11 Nashville;
Missed shots 16-8 Detroit (total attempts 70-41 Detroit, with Detroit firing 32 on the net and 40 wide or into Predators players);
Hits 24-16 Nashville;
Giveaways 13-8 Nashville;
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 10-and-10 (50%); Filppula went 9-and-7 (56%); Andersson went 5-and-3 (63%); Emmerton went 3-and-4 (43%); Nyquist and Zetterberg lost their only faceoffs.
Shots: Zetterberg led the team with 7 shots; Franzen had 5; Nyquist had 4; Abdelkader had 3; Kindl, Datsyuk and Colaiacovo had 2; Miller, Tootoo, Brunner and Filppula had 1.
Blocked attempts: Colaiacovo fired 5 shots into Predators players; Kindl, Abdelkader, Nyquist, Brunner and Kronwall had 2 attempts blocked; Smith, Cleary, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Ericsson, DeKeyser and Franzen had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Brunner missed the net 3 times; Kindl missed the net 2 times; Smith, Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Nyquist, Tootoo, Emmerton, Filppula, Ericsson, Kronwall, Andersson and DeKeyser missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Colaiacovo led the team with 4 hits; Emmerton had 3; Kronwall had 2; Smith, Abdelkader, Cleary, Tootoo, Brunner, Ericsson and DeKeyser had 1.
Giveaways: Cleary and Zetterberg had 2 giveaways; Smith, Kindl, Filppula and Howard had 1.
Takeaways: Kindl, Cleary, Nyquist, Brunner, Zetterberg, Filppula, Ericsson, Andersson, DeKeyser and Franzen had takeaways.
Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall blocked 3 Predators shots; Franzen blocked 2; Kindl, Datsyuk, Nyquist, Emmerton, Colaiacovo and DeKeyser had 1.
Penalties taken: Colaiacovo and Franzen took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +15. Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Ericsson and Kronwall finished at +2; Kindl, Cleary, Filppula, DeKeyser and Franzen finished at +1.
Points: Datsyuk had 2 assists; Zetterberg had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Abdelkader and Franzen scored goals; Cleary, Filppula and DeKeyser had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 25:00 played; Ericsson played 22:18; Datsyuk played 19:58;
Kindl played 19:12; Zetterberg played 18:56; DeKeyser played 18:44;
Colaiacovo played 17:42; Franzen played 17:01; Abdelkader played 16:43;
Filppula played 16:42; Cleary played 15:54; Smith played 15:42;
Miller played 14:30; Nyquist played 13:02; Andersson played 12:58;
Brunner played 11:33; Emmerton played 10:52; Tootoo played 9:29.
In the prospect department: In my backyard, the Plymouth Whalers' 5-3 win over the Owen Sound Attack set up the OHL's Western and Eastern Conference Finals. Plymouth will battle the London Knights in the Western final, starting on Friday, April 19th, and that's when Andreas Athanasiou's Barrie Colts and Alan Quine's Belleville Bulls will face off in the Eastern final;
In the QMJHL, Xavier Ouellet and the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada will face off against the Baie-Comeau Drakkar on Friday the 19th, and the Q's other semifinal will involve Martin Frk's Halifax Mooseheads and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, but the schedule has yet to be determined;
In the USHL, Mike McKee's Lincoln Stars will begin their playoff push via a first-round series against the Sioux Falls Stampede starting on Tuesday the 16th;
In the BCHL, James De Haas and the Penticton Vees trail the Surrey Eagles 2-0 in the BCHL final, and their series will resume tonight in Penticton, British Columbia;
In the ECHL, Willie Coetzee, Trevor Parkes, Andrej Nestrasil, Jordan Pearce and the Toledo Walleye have rallied from a 3-0 deficit against the Cincinnati Cyclones, and their first-round series will resume with a huge Game 6 taking place at Toledo's Huntington Center on Tuesday the 16th;
In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins have clinched a playoff spot, and they'll conclude their regular season with a home game against the Peoria Rivermen on Friday the 19th and road games against the Lake Erie Monsters on Saturday the 20th and the Chicago Wolves on Sunday the 21st;
And there's more than a little irony that the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation both forbade Calle Jarnkrok from playing in an NHL game and demanded that the Red Wings return Jarnkrok from his 9-game AHL stint by yesterday (Sunday, April 14th), because the World Championships don't start until May 3rd, with a few "friendly" games slated as warm-ups to take place at the end of April--as in around the time the Wings play Dallas on the 27th.
Strange that the team happily let Filip Forsberg head to Nashville, and that Boston's Carl Soderberg was released from his World Championship obligation when he refused to report, but Jarnkrok was too important to endanger.
Red Wings notebooks and also of Red Wings-related note: Because Danny DeKeyser is playing so very well, and because the Wings were scratching three healthy defensemen every night, they've made a difficult but necessary decision, especially given that all of Carlo Colaiacovo, Kyle Quincey and Ian White will be given opportunities to prove they merit further employment by the team.
On Sunday, the Wings stated that they'd be sending Brian Lashoff to the Grand Rapids Griffins for the remainder of their season--even though they don't play until Friday--and the Wings burned their 4 discretionary AHL call-ups on deadline day, the Wings won't be able to recall Lashoff unless there's a "roster emergency" (i.e. they don't think they'll be able to dress 6 defensemen) or until the Griffins' playoff run ends, but the team and Lashoff agree that actually playing somewhere and leading the Griffins will best serve his development, even though the demotion is something of a setback for someone who earned a one-way contract for the 2013-2014 season due to his stellar play during February and March.
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan took note of the move...
"We're going to send Lash down not because he hasn't been good; he's been excellent," coach Mike Babcock said. "I just don't want a young kid not playing."
Lashoff, 22, has one goal and four assists in 31 games, and was playing well defensively until a recent slump left him with a minus-10 rating. Lashoff understood the decision to go back to the minor leagues.
"Right now with the amount of guys we have, it's better for me to play games than sitting and watching," Lashoff said. "It'll be good to go down there. After the lockout (ended) they kept playing well and it'll be fun to go down there and go into the playoffs. I have an itch to play. I've played almost 70 games already (including with Grand Rapids during the lockout) and not playing right now is a little odd for me. It'll be good to get some games."
As well as Kyle Quincey's healthy scratching after two successive goals were scored via pucks that got lost in the feet of a defenseman wearing a full cage--but I'm going to suggest that you read that on your own, because Babcock's comments about another unrestricted free agent-to-be in Valtteri Filppula, made before Sunday's game, were particularly intriguing:
Forward Valtteri Filppula has one point (a goal) in the last 12 games. Babcock said Filppula is playing too much on the perimeter.
"Get in the inside," said Babcock, of how to get out of a slump. "When you're not scoring, and you think you're a scorer, get on the inside and one of the defensemen will shoot it off your foot and you'll get scoring. You have to get on the inside to score."
Of Filppula specifically, Babcock said, "We could use some offense."
Filppula has 2 points over the past 13 now, but given that his agent's supposedly asking for a salary in the $4.5-5 million range, Filppula's falling far short of expectations.
Before the game, Babcock had this to say to MLive's Ansar Khan about the Wings' scoring woes:
Detroit is tied for 19th in the NHL in goals per game (2.46).
“Everyone says to me about scoring,'' coach Mike Babcock said. “To me, the league's real simple. You look at the Guide and Record Book and look at what a guy does, and every once in a while he has a big year. But, really, he does the same thing year after year after year. We score like we should, that's what we got. We understand that. So, if you know you're challenged to score, what do you do? You don't try to outscore your mistakes, you don't make as many mistakes. You be good defensively, you be hard on the other team.''
Babcock wants his team to “play heavier as a group'' by controlling the puck in the offensive zone longer.
“You don't have to be 245 pounds to be heavy on the puck,'' Babcock said. “(Henrik) Zetterberg's as heavy (on the puck) as anybody in the league is and he's 195 pounds, so it's about attitude and puck protection skills and playing down low in the offensive zone.''
Zetterberg is among several Red Wings struggling to score. He has gone 10 games without a goal (six assists) and has only three goals in his past 32 games since recording a hat trick Feb. 1 vs. St. Louis.
His former linemate, Damien Brunner, has one goal in his past 18 games after scoring 10 in his first 19 games. Valtteri Filppula has one goal and two points in his past 13 games.
As for the defenseman who's playing in Lashoff, Quincey and White's place, the Free Press's Helene St. James found that Babcock's extremely satisfied with Danny DeKeyser's play thus far:
"He's a defensive defenseman who has great range," coach Mike Babcock said. "We like that he goes back and gets the puck, and he doesn't make a ton of mistakes. He's come from college hockey to be a regular lineup. We've got nine D, and he's finding a way to play. Good for him, but better for us. If you're a fan of the Red Wings, you look like you might have a player there for a long time."
The Wings plan to pare their defensemen down to eight today, by sending Brian Lashoff back to the Griffins so he can be a go-to guy in their lineup. "He's been excellent," Babcock said. "I just don't want a young D not playing. So we'll have eight D, and there's competition. If you play good, you get to play. And if you don't, then there's a rotation. The idea in pro sports is, you get in, you grab your chunk of the cheese, and you never let it go, for 15 straight years."
It's a notable accomplishment for DeKeyser, 22, to be in over more experienced players like, in Sunday's case, Kyle Quincey and Ian White. DeKeyser joined the Wings at the end of March, straight out of Western Michigan, but he has kept making an argument for himself to be in the lineup.
"He's a great skater, and he's smart out there," goalie Jimmy Howard said. "The one thing that has impressed a lot of us is that he's not getting nervous and just coughing it up out there. He's under the bright lights of the NHL now and holding his own."
St. James notes that Todd Bertuzzi's hoping to return from what has become a pinched nerve in his right leg on Wednesday or Friday, but with backs and the nerves that come down from them, one never knows. Darren Helm's still skating in Detroit, too, but I don't think he'll be brought out West.
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned an article about the Wings' road ahead in terms of their games against Calgary and Vancouver:
This week, the Wings would benefit from scoring more like they have against the Canucks than they have against the Flames. Detroit has scored 13 goals against Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo, but only netted three goals against Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff this season.
“We score like we should, that's what we got,” Babcock said. “We understand that, we're big boys, we're pros, so if you know you're challenged to score, what do you do? You don't try to outscore your mistakes, you don't make as many mistakes. You be good defensively, you be hard on the other team. That's what you have to do.”
With that, here’s a look ahead to this week in Hockeytown:
WEDNESDAY – at CALGARY (16-21-4): While they’re not mathematically eliminated from the postseason, the Flames have all but been extinguished. The losers of six of their last 10 games, Calgary has played the role of spoiler, beating Phoenix in overtime on Friday and all but dashing the Oilers’ playoff chances with a 4-1 at Edmonton Saturday. … Since an 8-2 shellacking at home to the hands of the Oilers, backup goalie Joey MacDonald has bounced back rather well, earning three straight victories, including back-to-back wins over the weekend against Phoenix and at Edmonton. Since the blowout, the former Red Wings’ backup has been remarkable, allowing just four goals on 90 shots. … The 4-1 win Saturday may have knocked the Oilers from the Western Conference playoff race. … The Flames also got a look into their future on Saturday when a pair of rookies – Sven Baertschi (first-round pick, 2011) and Max Reinhart (third-round pick, 2010) – netted their first goals of the season. Reinhart’s third-period goal was the first of his career.
SATURDAY – at VANCOUVER (23-12-6): The Canucks have posted 17 wins this season when scoring the first goal of the game and are tied for fifth in the NHL for most wins collected when scoring first. When leading after the first period, Vancouver has recorded 13 wins, which also ranks them fifth in the league. Daniel Sedin has helped the Canucks with an early lead, netting the lead-off goal four times, including Feb. 24 at Detroit. However that game didn’t go so well for the Canucks, who were defeated 8-3 by the Red Wings. The Canucks made history when Alex Burrows scored six-seconds into their March 16 game against Detroit. But the Red Wings recovered as Henrik Zetterberg broke out of his 11-game goal-scoring slump by scoring twice and leading Detroit to a 5-2 win.
Also of Red Wings-related note: USA Today's Kevin Allen posited five "surprises" during the stretch run, and he included the Wings' offensive struggles in his list...
5. Red Wings can't find fourth gear: Detroit's streak of 21 trips to the postseason is in danger, primarily because the team struggles to score goals.
Over the last 10 games before Sunday, with their playoff life on the line, the Red Wings averaged 1.7 goals a game in regulation.
It's not what you would expect from a franchise that has been among the league's more dynamic offensive teams for years.
And even the Wall Street Journal's Michael Salfino expressed bewilderment at the fact that the Wings' playoff streak is in jeopardy:
For the first time since 1990, octopi in Detroit may remain safe in their tanks come playoff time. The Red Wings' 21-year streak of reaching the postseason, one of the longest in American major-professional sports history, is in jeopardy.
Perhaps Detroit fans—who traditionally hurl octopi on the ice during the playoffs for good luck—ought to start a little earlier. The Wings entered action on Sunday in ninth place in the Western Conference, one spot out of the eight-team playoff picture.
Detroit's playoff streak is sixth-best among all major sports, but just fifth in NHL history, according to Stats LLC. This is because it used to be much easier to make the NHL postseason: In many years, at least two thirds of teams qualified, versus 16 of 30 today.
NBA playoff invites were even easier to come by for much of the 22-season run by the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers franchise, when as many as seven of eight teams qualified.
Other teams with streaks of comparable length or longer haven't been nearly as successful as Detroit in converting the ample opportunities into titles. The Blackhawks didn't win the Stanley Cup during their 28-year playoff run. Neither did the Blues in their 25-year streak. The NBA's Trail Blazers also failed to win it all during their 21-season playoff streak. The Red Wings' 21-year-streak, conversely, has produced four titles.
It's possible the Red Wings won't know their postseason destiny until their season finale at the Stars.
I have no problem with octopus-throwing, but don't do it in Detroit--thanks to Chairman Mao and the NHL, the cash-strapped Detroit police can now slap you with a $500 fine and a misdemeanor charge for disorderly conduct, so if you get nailed by the cops, you WILL have to pay the fine, you will probably have to pay a hundred bucks to bail yourself out, and you WILL have to show up in court with a lawyer if you don't want a criminal record for throwing an octopus.
And finally, in a different kind of arbitrary vein, TSN's Scott Cullen got a jump on the Monday-Tuesday crowd of power rankings-makers with a Sunday night slate, and here's his take on the Wings' difficulties of late:
This Week 16 Last Week 16 Detroit Red Wings 20-15-7
The Wings have two regulation wins in the last nine, but they're resilient enough to not give up their playoff spot quietly, with the 3-0 win over Nashville Sunday putting them back into eighth in the West.
The Wings are taking the day off, and after covering three games in four nights, I'm going to lay very low today.
West Coast games in Western Canada involve a huge media presence, which means very late nights and very early mornings for me on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and the Wings play 5 games in 8 nights between Saturday's tilt in Vancouver and the season-closer in Dallas, so I need to catch up on rest while I can.
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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.