The Malik Report
Red Wings-Predators wrap-up: was this a belief-builder or just another case of not gettin’ ‘er done?
by George Malik on 02/20/13 at 04:44 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings may very well look back on Tuesday night's 4-3 overtime loss to Nashville, a game which they trailed 2-0, started without Mikael Samuelsson (broken hand?), finished without Jimmy Howard (Blurry vision? Concussion?) and nearly finished without Niklas Kronwal (hit from behind) and Cory Emmerton (blocked a shot with his face), and almost lost 3-2 until Pavel Datsyuk decided that the team was going to earn a point, and that was that...
And say that the team's fourth "loss" in a row (the Wings are 0-2-and-2 since having defeated the Los Angeles Kings on February 10th) was in fact a game that taught the Wings how to believe in themselves again, how to play with poise, jam, moxie, effort, attention to detail and the plain old kind of puck possesison play that's supposed to be the reason this team can transcend its personnel issues and continue to at least make the playoffs on a year-by-year basis.
I didn't like it. To me, rallying from a 2-0 deficit (and laughable penalty disparity) to tie the game at 2-2, surrender another go-ahead goal 1:21 after your team's tied it, and then to not build off of Datsyuk's beating-six-players effort, and instead, give up a bizarre overtime goal that was, depending on your point of view, either a case of two Wings defenders checking each other or Andrei Kostitsyn delivering moer than "subtle" interference...
That kind of loss leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth, and the fact that the Wings flew back to Metro Detroit to play three games in four nights (against Columbus on Thursday, Nashville again on Saturday and then Vancouver on Sunday) at the Joe having gone 0-for-2 while Nicklas Lidstrom was watching and 0-for-2 on their Fathers' Trip is bad enough.
Losing to Nashville in a similar fashion to the team's playoff series is worse. And this was a 2012 playoffs-style loss, penalty disparity included.
For the Predators, however, Shea Weber's status as having registered two points and scoring the game-winning goal meant that the $110-million player has finally woken from an offensive slumber, as the Predators' player and coach told the Tennessean's Josh Cooper:
After sitting on one assist for 13 games, Weber now has three goals and three assists in his past four games. The Predators (8-4-5) are 2-1-1 in that span.
“I think with the bigger guys it just takes a little longer to get going, getting your feet, getting your wind, getting up ice,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “It’s everything. He’s got his game going, and he has been a big contributor.”
In the extra session, Weber joined forward Colin Wilson on a rush into the Detroit zone. Wilson fired a shot that missed the net, but Weber picked up the carom off the backboards and hammered it in. Weber also assisted on Craig Smith’s first-period goal.
“There wasn’t much of an angle. The defenseman’s stick was there,” Weber said of his winning shot. “Honestly, I just tried to chip it by his stick and get it towards the net, and it luckily slid in.”
In the offseason, Weber signed a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers that the Predators matched. And longtime defensive partner Ryan Suter bolted for Minnesota via unrestricted free agency. By putting up points, Weber is putting some of those issues to rest and putting the focus back on hockey.
“Things haven’t been going in, but he has always been solid back there playing his game, being physical, and definitely a good leader,” Predators defenseman Kevin Klein said.
Weber’s score was vital for Nashville, which shook off a controversial loss the previous day as well as some bad third-period bounces and highlight-reel goals against them.
“I look at it as a real character win,” Trotz said.
The Predators told the Nashville City Paper's David Boiclair that Weber's clutch contributions, and those of Weber's fellow blueliners, allowed them to make amends for surrendering a 2-0 lead...
The Predators scored twice in the opening 11 minutes – defensemen Weber and Scott Hannan had assists on the first and second, respectively – and never trailed. Playing their second game in as many days, though, they got on their heels a little bit in third period when they were outshot 11-4.
It was 10:52 in when Klein registered Nashville’s first shot of the final period, but the Red Wings didn’t convert until 40 seconds later. That’s when former Predator Jordin Tootoo sent a centering pass from the right wing that went off Klein’s left skate and tied it 2-2.
“It’s just one of those things – bounces happen,” Klein said. “It wasn’t the first time something’s gone off my skate into the net. It was just one of those bad bounces. Guys showed great heart coming back and it was nice Shea got that one … at the end.”
Defenseman Roman Josi put Nashville back in front with his first goal of the season, unassisted, 1:21 later when his shot went off the stick of Detroit defenseman Joakim Andersson, but it was tied again 3-3 after 33 seconds, when Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk beat four defenders and got the puck past goalie Pekka Rinne.
“There was three goals in the first 51 minutes,” Trotz said. “And then there was three goals in two minutes.”
It was not even a minute into overtime, though, that Weber ended things and extended his long-awaited coring surge. The Nashville captain and two-time Norris Trophy finalist had just one assist in his first 13 games and did not score until last Saturday against Anaheim. Now he has recorded six points (three goals, three assists) in the last six games and climbed into a tie for third among the team’s leading scorers.
“I just think with the bigger guys it takes a little longer to get going – getting your hands, getting your feet, getting your wind and getting up ice,” Trotz said. “… Every night he’s playing against the top people in the world, a lot of minutes. He’s got his game going. He’s been a big contributor.”
As the Nashville Examiners Jim Diamond notes, the fact that Pavel Datsyuk went and scored a goal in which he beat every Predators skater and Pekka Rinne to tie the game at 3 (see the video below)--after keying the Wings' comeback, threw a wrench into things...
With Nashville already up 2-0 and on a power play, Datsyuk forced a Jonathon Blum turnover behind Rinne’s net. Datsyuk found Daniel Cleary in the slot, where he fired one by Rinne to halve the Nashville lead.
“He’s probably the best player,” Rinne said. “The way he works and he always plays up and down the ice. He is always dangerous. Even shorthanded, he is dangerous. Like tonight, the first goal, he stole the puck and made the play to Cleary and Cleary scored.”
Later in the game, just over 30 seconds after the Predators regained the lead on Roman Josi’s first goal of the season, Datsyuk stickhandled through three Predators before tucking the puck underneath Rinne to once again tie the game.
“He is so strong on the puck,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. “If you see him off the ice, he doesn’t look that big or that strong, but man is he strong on the puck. He’s incredibly strong for his size.”
That was the final goal of regulation. Less than a minute into overtime, Shea Weber collected Colin Wilson’s rebound off of the end boards to beat Detroit goaltender Jonas Gustavsson for the game-winner.
Unlike a year ago, Datsyuk did not cost the Predators any points in the standings. He did earn one for his team, but Nashville came out on top in this one despite the fact that Datsyuk had a goal and an assist in 21:03 of ice time. He had a team-high seven shots on goal and won 15 of 24 faceoffs.
“He was really dangerous tonight,” Rinne said. “When you are not playing, he is fun to watch, but when you are playing, he is a big challenge. Tonight he brought his a-game, but luckily, we got the win.”
“He’s a joy as a coach to watch on film,” Trotz said. “He is not a joy when you are playing against him. He’s phenomenal.”
And Jordin Tootoo's return to the team that employed him for eight years made things a little...awkward...especially given that he scored a goal against a team that feted him with a video tribute, as the Tennessean's Cooper noted:
“I’ve played here for eight years, and to do something like that is pretty special. I’d like to thank the organization for that,” Tootoo said. “When you start your career here, you grow as a person, and to do something like that is pretty nice.
Tootoo had arguably his best game of the year with a goal, five shots on net and four hits in 11:38 of ice time. His score, his first of the season, came with 8:27 left in the third period when he banked a shot off Predators defenseman Kevin Klein and past goaltender Pekka Rinne.
“You want to get pucks to the net, and the more you do, the more bounces you get,” Tootoo said. “It was just a lucky bounce we got.”
Said Predators coach Barry Trotz: “He got his first goal of the year. He’s playing a regular Jordin Tootoo game.”
The Predators had a rough night in the faceoff department (the Wings won 31 draws and lost 21), too, and that had something to do with Paul Gaustad's mysterious "upper body" injury...
The Predators missed forward Paul Gaustad in a big way on Tuesday. Nashville won just 40 percent of its draws. Gaustad had won at a 62.6 percent rate this season.
“We lost every big draw tonight,” Trotz said. “Especially when you get hemmed in your end a little bit you want to start with the puck, and we weren’t starting with the puck tonight at all. That’s really taxing.”
Fox Sports Tennessee's John Manasso, penning a recap for NHL.com, took note of both Weber's exploits and the Wings' take on the game...
The 6-foot-4, 234-pound defenseman scored 44 seconds into overtime, collecting a rebound off Colin Wilson's shot that went wide off the backboards and beating Jonas Gustavsson before he could recover. Gustavsson stopped 16 of 18 shots. Weber, a runner-up for the Norris Trophy each of the last two seasons, called the goal lucky, but earlier he rang a slap shot off the post that got behind Gustavsson, so maybe things evened out for him.
"Maybe," he said. "I don't know. Trotzy always says, 'The Hockey Gods,' so maybe that's what it was."
Including the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Nashville entered Tuesday with six non-shootout wins over Detroit in its previous seven meetings. Both teams came in needing a victory: Detroit had not won its previous three, giving up 11 goals in the process, and Nashville had not won in its past two, though both teams had earned an overtime or shootout loss apiece. Overall, Nashville has gone 7-2-2 in its last 11 and moved to 21 points, four up on the Red Wings.
"Obviously, it's a rival of ours and every game we play against them is tight and it goes right to the end," Weber said. "Tonight was no short of that. We just can't afford to give up leads late like that. We just have to lock it down and get the win without going to overtime."
The Predators ended up with a 6-to-2 advantage over the Wings in terms of power plays awarded--the night after Matt Duchene's offsides goal cost Nashville a game--with the Predators receiving four first-period power plays and four man advantages between their first and final penalties, and that helped their cause, as did Jimmy Howard's, um, possible concussion?
Only 8:38 into the period, Detroit changed goalies, as it was later announced that Howard (five saves on seven shots) suffered an upper-body injury. After the game, Detroit coach Mike Babcock revealed that Howard had been hit by a puck in practice and had blurry vision.
"He got hit in practice, I guess, and I didn't know about that so he wasn't seeing good or something like that," Babcock said. "I was like you, just watching the game, and then someone told me so we made the switch."
Pavel Datsyuk wasn't thrilled with the first-period penalties...
"It's a little bit put us slow down and make it easy for them," Datsyuk said of all of the first-period penalties. "I know they played yesterday (a 6-5 loss at Colorado). It makes it a breather for them and now they score two and it makes it easier to play. Yeah, we have a tough start. Miss two goals and too much (penalty kill)."
But then he motioned with his arms in a slightly upwards manner.
"We go back, back, back," he said, "step by step."
But the Associated Press's recap notes that Weber believed that more than the Hockey Gods were on his side...
Less than a minute into overtime, Colin Wilson's shot from the left side went wide and bounced off the end boards. Weber came down the right side, collected the rebound and beat a diving Jonas Gustavsson, who replaced injured goalie Jimmy Howard midway through the first period.
"Lucky," Weber said. "I was just thankful for whoever installed that kick plate behind the net because that sure kicked out hard. I was just lucky to get a stick on it and find a way to slide it in."
Gustavsson, recalled from the minors on Monday, stopped 16 of 18 shots.
"I feel like the guy who took the shot, he had some time and space," Gustavsson said. "I just tried to be aggressive. I guess he missed the net and the puck bounced their way, and they were able to get it into the net. I guess that's the way hockey is - lucky bounces. I guess they had it at the end of the game."
And we'll allow the AP's recap to serve as our pivot point between the Predators and Red Wings' perspectives (if you want to read the Nashville City Paper's David Boiclair lament Weber's Norris Trophy chances given his slow start, or the Tennessean's David Climer praise Pekka Rinne, knock yourself out) Wings coach Mike Babcock was a bit miffed by his team's continued lack of results...
"I thought we battled hard, and I thought we had lots of good players," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. In the end, we didn't have enough and didn't get it done. In this league, we don't get many moral victories."
Nashville regained the lead at 12:54 [of the third period] on Josi's first goal of the season, but Datsyuk tied it again at 3 just 36 seconds later.
"They had a big push in the third period," said Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, who made 26 saves. "We have to manage the game better even though they were pushing hard."
"I thought we did a lot of good things,'' Babcock said. “Lots of opportunities. (Goalie) Pekka Rinne was real strong. I thought we battled hard. We had lots of good players, and in the end we didn’t have enough of those. In this league, you don’t get many moral victories. I thought our guys competed hard. … All in all, we had some real competitive players and we had a couple of guys who didn’t show.”
I'll give you a hint: Justin Abdelkader was promoted to the Datsyuk line at one point, and even though Cory Emmerton missed time after taking a puck to the face, he played 12:28, but the Wings' regular "least ice time" players, Patrick Eaves, Jordin Tootoo and the aforementioned Abdelkader and Emmerton, got more minutes than usual, while Tomas Tatar played 9:27, Joakim Andersson played 7:12, Damien Brunner, who's generally played 18-20 minutes, played 15:07, and Jakub Kindl's 11:45 played meant that Jonathan Ericsson had a 27-minute night, Niklas Kronwall had a 23-minute night and even Brian Lashoff eclipsed the 20-minute mark.
The Red Wings (7-6-3) are winless in four games (0-2-2) as injuries continue to mount. Forward Mikael Samuelsson, who returned the previous game after a month-long groin injury, might have suffered a broken left hand after being hit by a shot during the morning skate. He will have X-rays on Wednesday.
Goalie Jimmy Howard left at 11:22 of the first period, feeling the effects of a previous injury. His team trailed 2-0. Howard will be re-evaluated on Wednesday.
“He got hit in practice, and I didn’t know about that,'' Babcock said. “He wasn’t seeing good, or something like that. I was watching the game and someone told me. We made the switch and tried to buy some time for Gus to get ready.”
I thought it was particularly interesting that the refs were so very observant regarding everything the Wings did that they benched Danny Cleary at the start of a power play because they felt that he took too long to replace a broken stick. It was that kind of night for the Wings and the refs, and while Zetterberg agreed that Datsyuk's goal was jaw-dropping...
“He controlled the puck unbelievably,'' Zetterberg said. “That goal will be the highlight goal for years. We had a few other chances, too. It's fun to see when he's playing like that.''
The coach wasn't necessarily thrilled with what is probably going to be a day off for the Wings' players, who have to ferry their fathers and mentors to Metro Airport as the "Fathers' Trip" has ended (with the Wings going 0-1-and-1, and 0-2-and-2 since Nicklas Lidstrom came to town), given that he felt that several players took Tuesday night off (again, hint hint):
“I thought we could have executed better right off the hop,'' Babcock said. “In saying that, we did a lot of real good things, and I’m sure not disappointed in our effort at all. I thought we had a couple of guys who weren’t prepared to play, and that doesn’t make you happy.”
Zetterberg and his coach offered slightly different takes to the Free Press's Helene St. James...
"I thought our guys competed hard, our penalty kill was good," coach Mike Babcock said.
"First period, we were in the box a lot, I think we did a decent job on the PK, though, but it was tough to get any flow going," Henrik Zetterberg said. "Then the second we came out and play a little bit better, and we played even better in the third."
The Free Press's St. James noted that Jordin Tootoo was indeed quite moved by the Predators' video tribute, although he was received with more boos than Tootoo whistles from the Bridgestone Arena's...Let's say overenthusiastic crowd (I am NOT a fan of their chants. I think they belong at college hockey games)...
"It's very humbling," he said. "I couldn't thank them enough for all their support over the years. I played here for eight years, so for them to do something like that is pretty special."
Tootoo made it 2-2 midway through the third period when his intended pass went in off Kevin Klein's skate. "You are not going to score pretty goals in this league nowadays," Tootoo said. "It's all about grinding down low, getting to those second or third chances, and getting bounces."
His former coach noted how well Tootoo played. "I thought Toots had good energy," Barry Trotz said. "He got his first goal of the season. I thought he had a good game. I'm happy for Toots. He's playing his regular Jordin Tootoo game."
Tootoo's own coach, Mike Babcock, echoed those thoughts, saying, "I thought he played great. He liked being here. They treated him well and he grew as a man here. He has got a lot of fond memories in Nashville and I hope by the time he's done in Detroit, he'll have a lot of fond memories of Detroit."
But Tootoo told DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose that his goal didn't mean much in the greater scheme of things:
"You can score all you want but at the end of the night, if you don't win it doesn't matter,” said Tootoo, who last scored on Dec. 28, 2011.
At first, the sold-out crowd didn’t know if they should cheer or jeer their former favorite son, as a mix of both rang through the building as Tootoo hopped over the boards to take his first shift just 91-seconds into the opening period.
“Obviously, it's very humbling,” said Tootoo, who finished with five shots on goal and four hits, both season-highs for him. “I couldn't thank them enough for all their support over the years.”
But moments later, the home crowd showed their true respect for the man who holds the franchise’s all-time record for penalty minutes. It was during a first-period TV timeout, that the Predators’ organization played a video tribute to Tootoo, which was greeted by a thunderous standing ovation. The clips showed Tootoo in action both on the ice and in the Nashville community, where he had become a very popular figure in middle Tennessee.
“I had no clue they were going to do that,” Tootoo said. “A couple of guys on the bench told me to look up and there it was. When you start your career here, you grow as a person, for them to do something like that is pretty nice.”
Tootoo showed his appreciation for the fans by scoring his first goal in 57 NHL games. Streaking down the right wing, Tootoo took a cross-ice pass from Henrik Zetterberg, and tried to return the favor to the Red Wings’ captain, but Predators defenseman Kevin Klein – in an attempt to block the pass – accidentally re-directed the puck with his right leg and past goalie Pekka Renne at 11:33 of the third period. The goal tied the game at 2-2, and also set off a three-minute fury that featured goals by Nashville’s Roman Josi and Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk.
“Tonight we battled back hard but just couldn't finish,” he said. “We got to win games.”
The Wings were impressed as impressed could be with Datsyuk's goal, as the Free Press's St. James noted...
Babcock called Datsyuk "great. He was really good. Give him credit, he dug in."
As dazzling as Datsyuk was, the Wings still only have just two points their last four games.
"It would have been really nice if we had gotten that second one," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "But we take with us more positive stuff this time than we did the last game. Pavel was really good. He controlled the puck unbelievable. That goal is going to be a highlight goal for years."
But I agree with St. James' assessment that Babcock's s*** list extended to more than Tatar, Andersson, Kindl and Brunner:
Babcock liked most guys' effort, saying that, "all in all, we had some real competitive players, and then we had a couple guys that didn't show."
He didn't name names, but Valtteri Filppula didn't do much, and Jakub Kindl went to the penalty box three times. "I think that speaks for itself," Babcock said.
I'm going to say this as nicely as I can, because I really like the guy and hope that the Wings hang onto him: lingering knee injury or no lingering knee injury, Valtteri Filppula is playing his way right out of town, especially given that a) he's in a contract year, b) that Damien Brunner's shown so much offensive potential, that c) he's competing with unrestricted free agents-to-be Brunner and Cleary in a year where the salary cap will go down, d) that Joakim Andersson may not provide as much offense, but is both NHL-ready and ready to play as a strong two-way center with size and strength, e) that Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist are both NHL-ready, too, yielding a crunch for roster spots next season, especially with Brunner, Cleary, Filppula and Drew Miller all unrestricted free agents-to-be up front, and again, with the cap going down.
Oh, and did I forget F, F for Filppula, and F for he's kinda failing to generate any offense at the time when the Wings need secondary scoring the most? Yes, f) the Wings could parlay Filppula into part of a package for a top-pair defenseman, and the Wings rather desperately need a #1/2 guy.
I also believe that when Carlo Colaiacovo (possibly before the Wings' end-of-February road trip) and Brendan Smith (during or after the road trip) come back, the Wings will send Brian Lashoff down and waive Kent Huskins, who will probably clear waivers, but if Kindl didn't have the offensive potential and youth that make him certain to be picked up, I think Babcock would tell Kindl to pack his bags for Grand Rapids today.
Craig Smith used Kindl's second penalty to tap in Wilson's pass, and Gabriel Bourque put the Wings in a 2-0 hole at 10:41 when he deflected Scott Hannan's shot. Cleary stopped the surge with a huge goal at 15:01 when he solved Rinne from the slot while the Wings were shorthanded, cutting Nashville's lead to 2-1.
The Wings had a way better second period, pressuring Rinne steadily especially in the first half. They got into penalty trouble again late in the period, forced to kill off four minutes of Predators' man-advantage situations.
After so much work done by the penalty killing units, the power play finally got another sniff of ice in the third period, but couldn't get anything by Rinne. Tootoo got a little help from Kevin Klein when Tootoo's shot was kicked into Nashville's net by Klein, but that was offset a minute later when Roman Josi's shot went in off Joakim Andersson.
As Tootoo told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan, the bottom line is that Datsyuk's goal was gorgeous, and his wasn't far behind, off-a-skate or not off-a-skate, but results matter, and there is only one way to read 7-6-and-3 as the Wings prepare for a slate of three games in four nights (including an always-tougher-than-expected game against Columbus on Thursday, a Saturday tilt against a Nashville Predators team that will have warmed up the Wings' Sunday opponent, the powerhouse Vancouver Canucks, when the Canucks visit Nashville on Friday, all before heading out West to play LA and San Jose on the 27th and 28th)--7-and-10, three games below .500, and 3 games below .500 approximately 35.4% into the 48-game season, which is unacceptable any way you slice it:
"You can score all you want but at the end of the night if you don't win, it doesn't matter," said Tootoo, who was cheered during a video montage in the first period. "We battled back hard but couldn't finish. We have to win games."
Daniel Cleary (shorthanded) scored the other goal for the Red Wings.
Craig Smith (power play) and Gabriel Bourque scored for the Predators, who've played a league-leading nine games past regulation time.
Some Red Wings definitely struggled. Defenseman Jakub Kindl had three first-period penalties, putting the Wings in a bad spot to open the game.
"That speaks for itself," Babcock said of the three penalties.
Check out the video of Babcock's presser below, Because Babcock surveyed the Wings' press corps and then glared at each and every one of them before moving on.
Forward Valtteri Filppula continued his slump, as well. Filppula didn't have a point and now has one point (an assist) in the last six games. He had one shot on net Tuesday in 17 minutes, 59 seconds, with one giveaway.
"It's important every game, not just tonight," Zetterberg said of having all 20 players going with the Red Wings hampered with injuries. "We need everyone and it's things like that'll decide wins or losses and we were on the wrong side tonight."
As Babcock said, Tuesday night's game was a moral victory, but moral victories and 0-2-and-2 over the last 4 (and 4-4-and-2 for February) means one thing: the Wings sit in 9th place in the Western Conference with 17 points, one ahead of the 10th-place Oilers and 3 ahead of the 12th-place Kings.
That's just not acceptable, regardless of who's injured and who's not.
Highlights: Here's Datsyuk's goal...
And the Red Wings website's highlights are narrated by...Fox Sports Tennessee?
Fox Sports Tennessee posted a clip of of Shea Weber, Barry Trotz and Roman Josi discussing the game;
Fox Sports Detroit posted a combined clip of comments from Jordin Tootoo, Jonas Gustavsson and coach Mike Babcock...
And the Red Wings' website posted clips of Henrik Zetterberg...
And coach Mike Babcock:
Photos: The Tennessean posted a 17-image gallery;
The Detroit Free Press posted a 24-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted a 24-image gallery;
The Windsor Star posted, uh, 5 images from the game;
ESPN posted a 63-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports' Wings gallery includes 15 images from the game;
Shots 29-25 Detroit overall. Detroit out-shot Nashville 11-8 in the 1st, were out-shot 12-7 in the 2nd, out-shot Nashville 11-4 in the 3rd and were out-shot 1-0 in OT.
The Predators went 1-for-6 in 10:46 of PP time; the Wings went 0-for-2 in 4:00 of PP time.
Rinne stopped 26 of 29 shots; Howard stopped 16 of 18; Gustavsson stopped 21 of 25.
The 3 stars were picked by the Nashville media, and they were Gabriel Bourque (3), Pavel Datsyuk (2) and Shea Weber (1).
The Wings' goals: Cleary (2) from Datsyuk (10), shorthanded;
Tootoo (4) from Zetterberg (16) and Kindl (3);
Datsyuk (8) from Cleary (1) and Gustavsson (1).
Faceoffs 31-21 Detroit (Detroit won 60%);
Blocked shots 15-9 Nashville;
Missed shots 17-13 Detroit (total attempts 61-47 Detroit, Detroit fired 29 on Rinne and 32 wide or into Preds players);
Hits 14-11 Detroit;
Giveaways 10-8 Nashville;
Takeaways 9-2 Nashville.
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 15-and-9 (63%); Zetterberg went 8-and-5 (62%); Emmerton went 5-and-5 (50%); Filppula went 2-and-1 (67%); Andersson went 1-and-1 (50%);
Shots: Datsyuk led the team with 7 shots; Tootoo and Brunner had 5; Cleary and Eaves 2; Abdelkader, White, Miller, Lashoff, Emmerton, Zetterberg, Filppula and Kronwall had 1.
Blocked attempts: Brunner also hit Predators players 5 times; Filppula and Kronwall had 2 attempts blocked; Cleary, White, Tootoo, Emmerton, Quincey and Zetterberg had single attempts blocked.
Missed shots: Zetterberg missed the net 4 times; Abdelkader missed the net 3 times; Datsyuk missed the net 2 times; Abdelkader, Eaves, White, Miller, Brunner, Quincey, Ericsson and Kronwall missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Tootoo led the team with 4 hits; Abdelkader and Zetterberg had 2 hits; Datsyuk, Eaves, Miller, Brunner, Emmerton and Kronwall had 1 hit.
Giveaways: White had 2 giveaways; Datsyuk, Miller, Tootoo, Filppula, Kronwall and Howard had 1.
Takeaways: Datsyuk and Ericsson had takeaways.
Blocked shots: Emmerton blocked 2 shots; Kindl, White, Miller, Lashoff, Zetterberg, Kronwall and Andersson blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Kindl took 3 minors; Brunner, Filppula and Gustavsson took 1.
Plus-minus: The team finished at a collective zero. Eaves, Tatar, Ericsson and Andersson finished at -2; White and Brunner finished at -1; Abdelkader, Miller, Tootoo and Quincey finished at +1; Kindl, Cleary and Datsyuk finished at +2.
Points: Both Cleary and Datsyuk had a goal and an assist, finishing with 2 points; Tootoo scored a goal; Kindl, Zetterberg and Gustavsson had assists.
Ice time: Ericsson played 27:03; Kronwall played 23:12; Datsyuk played 21:03;
Cleary played 20:57; Zetterberg played 20:06; Lashoff played 20:03;
White played 19:11; Quincey played 18:11; Filppula played 17:59;
Brunner played 15:07; Miller played 14:17; Emmerton played 12:18;
Kindl played 11:45; Tootoo played 11:38; Eaves played 11:27;
Abdelkader played 11:14; Tatar played 9:27; Andersson played 7:12.
Red Wings notebooks: DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose provides an update on the statuses of Jimmy Howard and Mikael Samuelsson:
With 8:38 left in the first period at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night, starting goalie Jimmy Howard skated over to the Red Wings’ team bench and walked down the runway to the team’s dressing room. He did not return to the game. Preliminary information on Howard’s injury, which team officials called “an upper body injury”, is sketchy. Following the Wings’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Predators, coach Mike Babcock said that Howard will have tests on his undisclosed injury on Wednesday.
“He got hit in practice I guess, and I didn’t know about that,” Babcock said. “He wasn’t seeing good, or something like that. I was watching the game and someone told me. We made the switch and tried to buy some time for Gus to get ready and put him in.”
Howard allowed two goals on seven shots to the Predators before making way to backup Jonas Gustavsson, who was making his first relief stint since the season opener in St. Louis. Gustavsson, who had been out of the lineup for nearly a month with a sore groin, surrendered two goals, including Shea Weber’s game-winner in overtime.
“When you get into a game like that you just find a way to be mentally ready,” said Gustavsson, who made 16 saves. “You’ve just got to be there and support the guys when you’re not playing, and then when something happens try to be ready. That’s how I approached this game. It wasn’t tough for me, because it wasn’t my first game; I was with the guys since the first game of the year.”
Forward Mikael Samuelsson also sat out the game against the Predators after he was struck in the left hand during Tuesday’s morning stake at Bridgestone Arena. Like Gustavsson, Samuelsson too has battled a bad groin all season. On Tuesday, he was expecting to play in his second game back after missing the previous 12, but he was hit in the hand by an Ian White slap shot in the morning.
“I don’t know if it’s serious or not serious,” Babcock said, of Samuelsson’s hand. “We’d like to have him play. We were excited to have him back. But there’s nothing you can do about that. Injuries are part of the game, you have to find a way to win games.”
Samuelsson, who will have an X-ray taken on Wednesday, said his swollen hand was sore.
“Yeah, it is, if I move it,” he said. “But I don't move it, so it's not painful.”
Ditto for the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Howard experienced blurry vision, general manager Ken Holland said, after getting hit during practice. "I didn't know about that," Mike Babcock said. "He wasn't seeing good or something like that. He'll get tested tomorrow, we'll find out more."
None of Howard's teammates seemed aware of what happened, either.
"It happened really quick," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "We didn't really know why. I'm not sure really what happened."
Mikael Samuelsson missed the game with a sore hand after getting hit by Ian White's shot during the morning skate. Samuelsson had only just returned from a groin injury.
Half the team has been injured and the season is only a month old. Johan Franzen missed his fourth game because of a hip flexor but he said he should be ready to play Thursday. Defenseman Brendan Smith, who hurt a shoulder Feb. 2, is aiming for next week. Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, also sidelined by a shoulder injury, has also been skating and is nearing a return.
The worst of the bunch remain the two forwards who are dealing with back pain. Darren Helm is skulking around with the team but not practicing, while Todd Bertuzzi is in such bad shape he's basically on bed-rest.
"You can't let it get to you," Zetterberg said. "Injuries are part of the game. Unfortunately, we have a lot. We've just got to battle through it."
"You just have to find a way to be mentally ready," Gustavsson said. "You can't just sit there and be tired. You've just got to be there to support the guys and when something happens, you have to try to be ready. That's how I approached this game. It wasn't tough for me because it was my first game since the first game of the year. I was excited even though I didn't start the game. I tried to bring that to the game."
MLive's Ansar Khan posted separate entries about Samuelsson...
Detroit Red Wings forward Mikael Samuelsson is out for tonight's game against the Nashville Predators after being hit in the left hand with a shot by Ian White during the morning skate.
Samuelsson will be re-evaluated Wednesday. General manager Ken Holland said he is "day-to-day.''
Samuelsson returned to the lineup on Sunday, after missing 12 games with a pulled groin. The club planned on using him at the right point on the first power-play unit tonight.
Patrick Eaves replaced Samuelsson in the lineup.
Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard left Tuesday's game with an upper-body injury and will not return, the club said.
Howard left the game at 11:22 of the first period, during a TV break, with Nashville ahead 2-0.
Jonas Gustvasson, who just returned from a pulled groin, replaced him. Gustavsson had been out since Jan. 21 before returning on Sunday, getting a 2-1 win for the Grand Rapids Griffins in a conditioning stint.
Howard has started 14-of-16 games. He was 6-5-2, with a 2.97 goals-against average and .900 save percentage coming into the game.
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan incorporated the news into his recap:
Babcock said Howard was hit during practice and it affected him during the game.
"He wasn't seeing good, or something like that," said Babcock, who added he was surprised to see Howard skating off. "We made the switch and tried to buy a little time for (Gustavsson) to get in."
Howard allowed the goals to Smith and Bourque, but was lifted for Gustavsson during a break in the period shortly after the Bourque goal.
Babcock said Howard will have further tests today in Detroit — as will forward Mikael Samuelsson, who was hit on the left hand during the morning skate by an Ian White slapshot. Samuelsson had just returned to the lineup Sunday after battling groin problems since the opening week of the season.
Samuelsson was hit on the left hand by an Ian White slap shot during a power play drill. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Samuelsson will have tests on the hand today back in Detroit.
"A little bit (concerned), yes," Samuelsson said. "It swelled up. It is (hurting) when I move, so I don't move it."
Khan eventually penned a late-night update on Howard and Samuelsson, and he also spoke to Jonas Gustavsson about coming in cold given that he's just recovered from a groin injury:
Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard will see the team doctor on Wednesday, after leaving the game at 11:22 of the first period with an unspecified upper-body injury. Babcock said Howard dinged up in practice and had trouble seeing the puck.
Backup Jonas Gustavsson said it wasn't tough for him coming in cold, even thought he had played just one game (Sunday in a conditioning sting for Grand Rapids) in the past four weeks due to a pulled groin.
“Now that I’m back playing, I can’t think about the groin,'' Gustavsson said. “If I’m going to think about stuff like that it’s going to be tough. You just have to trust that it’s gone now and focus on stopping the puck. So when I got out there I just tried to do a little quick warm-up and even a few minutes into the game maybe when there was a whistle I tried to move around like I always do in a game. I just tried to find ways to stay warm.”
In the "news not involving injuries" department, which is scarece these days, Tomas Tatar was supposed to provide a net-front presence on the power play. That didn't happen as often as he would've liked. Tatar played 9:27 overall and 1:50 on power plays, and he was supposed to reprise Tomas Holmstrom's role, as the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted...
"I'm not the biggest guy, like Mule (6-foot-3, 218 pounds), so I have to be way quicker than the other defensemen," said Tatar, who is 5-10 and 185 pounds. "I have to outplay him with my quickness. I have to retrieve pucks from the corner and hold the puck around the net."
Tatar was spending his fourth season in Grand Rapids before being recalled.
"I'm getting lots of chances this year," said Tatar, who was not called up last season. "I'm trying to prove I belong."
Tatar has four points in seven games.
"He generates offense," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "He's not shy. Can he keep doing what he's doing? I don't know. But he sure has so far."
And the Free Press's Helene St. James pointed out that Tatar's attempting to earn a full-time job with the Wings:
"He generates offense," coach Mike Babcock said. "He's quick, he's on the puck, he's not shy. He's got three points the last five games. When I go and watch the opposition, I always circle the guys that have got three points or more the last five games as a significant player. So that must mean if he's doing it for us, he must be a significant player. I don't know how long it's going to last, but as long as it lasts, we'll keep riding it. Maybe he's one of those guys who just decides he wants to be a Red Wing and he's going to take someone's job."
Tatar has gained such a foothold Babcock has kept using Tatar even when more experienced NHLers have been available. Tatar also has worked his way onto the power play as a tryout in the net-front presence, because what he doesn't have in size he amends for with quick feet and a nose for the puck.
"I'm not the biggest guy, so I got to be way quicker than the other Ds," Tatar said. "I got to help the team to retrieve the puck from the corners and we've got to hold the puck around the net and try to shoot it and then if there is opportunity for rebound, I have to try to be first guy there."
Tatar admitted he was frustrated last season, when he didn't get into a single game with the Wings despite being a top producer for the Griffins. When numerous injuries led to a trip to Detroit earlier this month, Tatar said, "I didn't know what to expect. But right now, I kind of know what's my role and I just have to play good."
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose offers a plain old change of pace:
Lane Lambert was among a group of hockey heavyweights drafted by the Red Wings in 1983. Twenty-one picks before him, Detroit selected some scrawny kid from Cranbrook, British Columbia, who went on to do some pretty great things at the NHL level.
“It was exciting for sure,” said Lambert, now in his second season as an assistant coach with the Predators. “It was eye-opening a little bit, but they brought me along slowly in the first 25 games or so. I sat out a few times, but I was brought along with the thought that I was young and would evolve from there.”
Lambert’s career started as if he were fired from a cannon. He produced 20 goals and 15 assists in 73 games as a rookie before injuries took a toll. His playing days end in 1989 in Quebec.
Besides the 18-year-old Steve Yzerman, who was the fourth-overall draft pick that summer, the 19-year-old Lambert was the youngest player on the Red Wings’ roster in 1983-84.
“You had to realize that when the games started you were lined up across from guys that you had been watching for years and years,” Lambert said.
However, Lambert and his young teammates – which also included 19-year-old Murray Craven and 20-year-old Claude Loiselle – did something special things that season, becoming the first time in the Ilitch-owned era to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs. It was just the second time in 14 years that Detroit had played beyond the regular-season.
With the Wings, Lambert played in two postseasons with one victory in seven playoff games as Detroit was served opening round series losses to St. Louis in 1984 and Chicago a year later. Despite the early exits, the group had paved the way for the franchises future success, which still lives as the current squad is trying to reach the postseason for the 22nd consecutive season.
“Certainly the culture and the mindset around the hockey team with Jimmy Devellano coming in changed and that’s when the team’s upswing really started,” Lambert said. “It was the start of it all and that year was a big step for us to be involved in the playoffs. Unfortunately, the game that eliminated us was on an overtime winning goal, but we did make some strides there and some of those lessons that we learned then certainly benefited our team as the future went on.”
For 21 seasons and counting.
In the prospect department: In the KHL, Alexei Marchenko and CSKA kick off their Gargarin Cup playoff run today against HC Lev Prague;
In the QMJHL, Xavier Ouellet didn't register a point in the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada's 4-2 loss to Quebec;
And Phillipe Hudon didn't register a point in the Victoriaville Tigres' 5-0 win over Gatineau.
This Week 17 Last Week 7 Detroit Red Wings:: Winless in three and dealing with injuries throughout the lineup, the Red Wings could use some serious special teams improvement, ranking 25th on the power play (13.9%) and 24th in penalty killing (75.4%).
Key Injuries: RW Mikael Samuelsson (groin), LW Johan Franzen (hip), RW Todd Bertuzzi (back).
As did Sports Illustrated's Adrian Dater, who suggested that, last week, anyway, "Anything is possible" for the Wings:
16. Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 9
After a nice little run the previous week, the Wings again looked like what most observers think they are: just another team. Jimmy Howard hasn't been good enough in goal, on average, and the defense, beyond Niklas Kronwall, is mostly a grab bag of average guys. Detroit has also been beset by injuries -- to be expected of one of the league's older teams, I guess -- and looks like it's going going to be in a fight to make the playoffs.
Again, yes, the Wings have core players in their 30's, but the vast majority of the team in the 26-to-28-year-old range, so the talk of the Wings being "old" is simply incorrect.
That being said, if the Wings made a trade for a 30-something defenseman at this point, I wouldn't complain. I know that Islanders GM Garth Snow insists that he's going to try to re-sign Lubomir Visnovsky and Mark Streit, but either unrestricted free agent-to-be would be a welcome addition.
I don't anticipate that any Western or Eastern conference teams will make within-conference trades unless absolutely necessary (and adding Jay Bouwmeester just ain't gonna happen as it makes neither cap sense nor, "The Wings would have to trade a really good defenseman to Calgary" sense).
So I'd look at guys like Visnovsky, Streit, the slow-footed but solid Robin Regehr or speedy Jordan Leopold from Buffalo, Sergei Gonchar if the Senators tank and choose to move bodies, or maybe Marek Zidlicky from New Jersey or Roman Hamrlik from Washington if either team chooses to move bodies (and yes, this is where Capgeek's free agent finder helps quite a bit).
Update: the job never ends. Also of Wings-related note via my email inbox, the Vancouver Province's Steve Ewen reports that signed Wings prospect Marek Tvrdon may end up playing in the WHL for one more season if Vancouver Giants coach Scott Bonner gets his way:
Tvrdon, the rangy Slovak left winger, has had two of his three campaigns with Vancouver cut drastically short by injury, including playing just 18 games this season due to a blood clot in his shoulder. He’s currently at home in Nitra, Slovakia.
As a 20-year-old next year, he’ll be eligible to return to Vancouver and be one of the Giants’ three over-agers, but he’ll also be in line to play minor pro, and he’s inked a contract with the Detroit Red Wings, who picked him in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL entry draft.
Signed over-agers generally skip their final season of junior eligibility, but Detroit, as much as any team, is known for its patience with its prospects. And, since Tvrdon will have played only 90 of a possible 216 league games with Vancouver by the end of the current campaign, Bonner’s hoping that Detroit will think he will have more to learn in junior and want him back in Vancouver for 2013-14. He has produced when he’s played, mind you. Tvrdon, who’s shown a knack to hold onto the puck for that extra beat to create a scoring chance, has put up 45 goals and 107 points in league play with the Giants.
“We would really like Marek back,” Bonner said of the 6-foot-2, 217-pound left-handed shot.“He’s a big horse that’s probably good for 30-40 goals and he knows our system.”
Tvrdon has a three-year, entry-level contract from the Red Wings waiting to get started. According to http://www.capgeek.com it wi,ll pay him a salary of $617,500 (with a possible $307,500 in performance bonuses) if he makes the big club, and $65,000 if he plays in the AHL. It’s a far cry from the few hundred dollars a month he would get from the Giants for room and board while staying with a Tsawwassen-area family, so it’s a safe bet that Tvrdon would try his hand at pro.
Back to Capgeek! The Red Wings will pay Tvrdon a $92,500 signing bonus regardless of whether he plays for the organization or not.
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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.