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Red Wings-Rangers quick take: Howard shines for injury-decimated Wings, who must produce more

Well I don't know how to summarize this one.

The Red Wings and Rangers played an absolutely elegant hockey game for the first two periods and a grit-and-grab-and-grind-fest for the third, and Jimmy Howard was absolutely sensational for an incredibly depleted team (no Alfredsson, Andersson, Datsyuk, Ericsson, Franzen, Gustavsson, Helm, Tatar, Weiss, etc. etc.)...

But the Rangers got the kind of goal you expect to decide a tale in which the Wings were out-shot 48-38, with Mats Zuccarello tapping the puck off Brian Lashoff's stick and past a goaltender who was understandably playing the pass on a 3-on-2, the Red Wings either could not or would not place butts in front of Henrik Lundqvist's field of view all night long, and as such, the Wings go 2-and-3 on their road trip and have been shut out in consecutive games.

There comes a time when it doesn't matter who's in or out of the lineup--the team has to get it done--and all this talk of structure and leadership and youth playing well is swell and all (hey, Nyquist, Jurco and DeKeyser were 3 of the 6 players out for the final minute), and the fact that Howard has gone from slippery rock to rock solid again is fantastic...

But even if you believe, as I do, that Gustav Nyquist's off-the-post shot was probably stopped by a Henrik Lundqvist who rolled onto the puck as his momentum probably rolled it back into the back of the net, and even if you're a bit baffled as to how a game in which so many hooks, holds, grabs, gropes, hacks and whacks were let go on both sides was in no small part determined because a late hand pass was called...

The Wings' precarious position in the standings and its December-struggles-turn-into-more-January-struggles record demand that a team which will play six of its next seven at the house of horrors that Joe Louis Arena has become has to squeeze more offense out of its players, even if they have to call Mickey Redmond down from the press box to get a lung and a half's worth of goal-scorer in the lineup.

This was a beautiful, beautiful game to watch, at least for the first forty minutes, but in a first-goal wins situation, in the end, the Wings were the team hanging on in the third period, hoping that the other team would make a mistake before they did, and when you lose your initiative as time ticks down, that's not good enough.

As has become all too predictable this season, both when Howard was shaky and now that he's back to his old self, #35 isn't a very good goal-scorer, so he needs some "run support" from his teammates, and he didn't get it.

I know that when your second line is Cleary, Glendening and Eaves and your third and fourth lines are Jurco, Sheahan and Bertuzzi and then Miller, Emmerton and Samuelsson, you're *#$%@& undermanned as all hell get out, but this was the Wings' 47th game, and as you round the 50-game mark, it doesn't matter whether you're holding the ship together with a Yugo engine's hamster's worth of horsepower, duct tape, Flex Seal and hope. You've got to earn points and you've got to earn them by any means necessary, regardless of both the opponent's and your own personnel, or your team's going to have to win every damn game down the stretch to make the playoffs.

Again.

I don't know how the Wings can squeeze more offensive blood from the stones in their lineup, but they've got to do so with LA back in town on Saturday, the Blues in town on Monday, the Hawks in town next Wednesday, the Habs in town next Friday and then those pesky Wing-killing Panthers in town on the 26th.

I don't know if "better" is possible given the Wings' personnel issues, but it's still necessary.

This was the game-deciding goal, and it doesn't matter that Kindl, Lashoff, Sheahan and Jurco were all on the ice when the Wings got caught on a 3-on-2 with Sheahan sort of standing around instead of taking Zuccarello--the "kids" don't have the luxury of looking like "kids" right now:

Quick stats:

Shots 48-38 Rangers overall. New York out-shot Detroit 18-15 in the 1st, 17-10 in the 2nd and the teams tied 13-13 in the 3rd.

Special teams: both teams went 0-for-2 in 4:00 of PP time.

Goaltending: Jimmy Howard stopped 47 of 48 for Detroit; Henrik Lundqvist stopped 38 of 38 for New York.

The 3 stars were picked by MSG, and they picked Jimmy Howard, Mats Zuccarello and Henrik Lundqvist.

Faceoffs 35-32 Detroit (Detroit won 52%);

Blocked shots 15-9 Detroit;

Missed shots 11-8 Detroit (total attempts 71-58 New York, with the Wings firing 38 shots on Lundqvist and 20 wide/blocked);

Hits 25-16 Detroit;

Giveaways supposedly 16-5 New York;

Takeaways 7-2 New York.

 

For the record, part 1: Darren McCarty will be doing an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit tomorrow, Friday, January 17th at 3 PM EST;

For the record, part 2: my post-concussive symptoms persist, including constant headaches and a ridiculous amount of fatigue, so my contributions are going to be restricted to game-only stuff for now. My family doctor confirmed my concussion and said that best-case scenarios have recovery times pegged at 3-6 weeks, and it's been 15 days, so....

Being as exhausted as if you've played in an NHL game after simply watching one sucks, but that's how I feel, and all I can do for now is rest and let my brain heal. I miss working and I will do my best to post when possible, but Paul's going to be lending a hand for now.

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Comments

George Malik's avatar

To me, the Wings’ glass is half. Not half full, not half empty, just half. It’s up to them, not us, to decide which one it will be.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/16/14 at 10:13 PM ET

Chet's avatar

that whole “not currently in the playoffs” thing is cause for major concern. it’s not like too many of those key pieces appear to be returning all that soon, and even when they do it’ll take a game or two to get up to speed. panic mode? not yet but soon.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 01/16/14 at 10:18 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

It’s up to the Wings to determine what will happen over the course of the final 34 games of the regular season. I’m not gonna spend an inordinate amount of time or energy freaking out about games that haven’t been played yet. I can only hope and cheer the guys on and be professionally critical as necessary.

Even when healthy I don’t have the energy to freak out about predicting the future. I don’t know if this team can get the job done. I don’t know if they know if they can get the job done. But we’re going to find out.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/16/14 at 10:20 PM ET

Alan's avatar

Only thing I can really complain about is Nyquist. I know he’s young (and I *always* preach patience with kids), but fuchs sake, stop trying to force your way in and split the D. They always collapse on you and strip you of the puck. It’s a nifty little move when you can get away with it, but you can’t get away with it all the time.

Keep grinding, fellas. We’ve gotta get these points back. We will, if we keep working hard. But to do that, you fellas have GOT to score.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 01/16/14 at 10:23 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Gus was bound to have a sophomore crisis of confidence. It’s part of the learning process. It’s downright infuriating and innervating to watch someone who was such a breath of fresh air go through what he’s going through, but he’s going to remember that he can’t do everything himself eventually.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/16/14 at 10:31 PM ET

bleep bloop's avatar

For the second game in a row, Zetterberg was not himself. That PP giveaway when he had tons of time (because the Rangers thought he would actually make a play) and attempted to make a really stupid pass to Kronwall through two Rangers players yielding a virtual two-on-one tells me his head is being affected by whatever’s affecting his body. Maybe he should take a game or two off to recover faster so he can actually help the inevitable last minute push to get into the playoffs.

I thought the first 5 minutes summed up everything bad the Red Wings have done all season.
I figured the Red Wings had no chance once the first period ended with so many shots and absurdly good scoring chances against and so few scoring chances for. They never looked like they wanted to beat the Rangers, and that pretty much cements their spot in try to stay ahead of all the non-playoff teams who can catch up with them so maybe they’ll get some help from better teams and sneak into eighth territory.

When will these forwards learn that the defensemen can’t do everything themselves and need outlets for their passes, especially when the stretch passes are on the mark (a rarity) and they still result in turnover because the forwards can’t handle the passes? When will these defensemen learn that the goaltender can’t do everything himself? When will a goaltender skate to the bench in disgust to yell at the coaches during a stop in play?

Fortunately, they can return home and turn this into a real losing streak. Too many more of these road games and they were likely to accidentally win one.

Posted by bleep bloop on 01/16/14 at 11:42 PM ET

Avatar

Tough pill to swallow, but the team is fighting, just out gunned right now.  If they were quitting, I’d be PO’d, can’t say that now though.  Tons of effort, even from the bum Cleary.

Any bets on who gets back from groinapalooza first, Helm or Weiss?

Posted by maltby18 on 01/16/14 at 11:46 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

I don’t have one single problem with the Wings in tonight’s game. Not with Nyquist. Not with Howard. Not with Smith. Not even with Cleary or Sammy. Okay, a little bit with Sammy, but that’s it.

The Wings are missing eight of their regular forwards and D. That’s eight out of the 20 skaters who should be dressing for each game. And with a whopping 40% of the “main” guys out, they took Anaheim to the wire just before the Ducks beat Vancouver 9-1. And they lost to the Rangers at MSG on a fluke tip off a defenseman’s stick.

If a depleted Wings squad played every game for the rest of the year like they did in the last two game and lost them all, I’d stand up and cheer for them. There’s no disgrace in playing your heart out and losing. It’s only sloppy, lazy play leading to losses that piss me off.

The only other thing that will piss me off is seeing guys like Glendenning and Sheahan moved or buried in GR next year in order to keep Cleary and/or Bert (God love him). Babcock said the kids are ready.  Now let’s see him and Tick Tock prove they believe it.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 01/17/14 at 12:08 AM ET

bleep bloop's avatar

I don’t have one single problem with the Wings in tonight’s game.
[snip]
It’s only sloppy, lazy play leading to losses that piss me off.

The major problem I had with the Wings was the sloppy lazy play. But I’m learning to cope with it because that’s just how this team plays.

Posted by bleep bloop on 01/17/14 at 12:51 AM ET

Chet's avatar

sheahan is a player, i feel. i wonder if he’s a red wing next year and any of andersson, emmerton, or glendening get moved. andersson and glendening have some trade value, i’d think.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 01/17/14 at 12:54 AM ET

Figaro's avatar

Can we talk about the goaltender for a minute?  No, not Howie. 
Not Monster. 
Nor Mrrrrrrrrrazek.
I’d like to talk about Christopher Osgood.  I loved Ozzie in net.  When people were on him during his playing days about letting in the occasional goal from center ice…during the play-offs… and stuff like that, I always defended him.  He was my guy.  However, a couple of years ago he made a couple of commercials for a local business and it was shown that he had…um…how should I say this?...absolutely, positively NO ability in front of a camera.  None.  It was a painful 20/30 seconds of TV.  When the Wings announced that he was going to be their new “Third Guy” for broadcasts, I became very afraid of the days ahead.  And it seems rightfully so.  He’s dryer than Murph ever was and Murph wasn’t very good at all behind the mike.  Granted, you can hear him slowign himself down and he does enunciate his words well so you can always understand what he is saying (a plus for a broadcaster), but Kimi Raikkonen could make the Color Commentating more exciting on these road games (some of you should get that reference).

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 01/17/14 at 01:03 AM ET

Figaro's avatar

I was pretty happy with the Griffwings effort tonight.  Yeah, I’m getting a little tired of this “not scoring” phase they’re going through, but, as Ken Daniels said, 6 of our Top 9 in scoring are watching the game on TV tonight (leaving Captain Hank, Kronner and Abby the only guys on skates).  And since Kronner and Abby aren’t real threats to score every night, any team can pretty much key in on Captain Hank and shut him down without worrying about the other 19 guys getting past them.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 01/17/14 at 01:08 AM ET

Gary A$$ SUCK !!'s avatar

wow!! wouldn’t that be fun!!??  Kimi Räikkönen as a Red wings announcer ??

Posted by Gary A$$ SUCK !! from Fort Myers, Florida on 01/17/14 at 02:18 AM ET

alwaysaurie's avatar

I liked this game.

Horrible result, totally outplayed most of the night, and I still enjoyed it.

Not gonna lie; it was frustrating as hell to see every chance stopped by Lundquist, aggravating seeing the Rangers of all teams putting sustained pressure on Howard, and nerve wracking seeing who needs to carry heavy minutes for the team right now, but… I had a fun night.

I’ll think about tomorrow, tomorrow.

Posted by alwaysaurie on 01/17/14 at 04:53 AM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

Didn’t see the game, but it’s gotten to the point that we are calling up players ( emerton)  to replace players (Andersson) who were in turn called up to replace another player out because of injury!

Pretty soon we will be looking to the Toledo walleyes for replacements?  sick

Posted by Down River Dan on 01/17/14 at 06:45 AM ET

topshelf14's avatar

Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Abdelkader
Franzen-Weiss-Alfredsson
Nyquist-Helm-Tatar
Bertuzzi-Andersson-Miller

Kronwall-Ericsson
Dekeyser-Smith
Quincey-Kindl

Howard

When will this happen???

Posted by topshelf14 from Detroit, MI on 01/17/14 at 06:59 AM ET

Avatar

Man,you people are tough critics, especially George.

Posted by guy on 01/17/14 at 07:37 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

The major problem I had with the Wings was the sloppy lazy play. But I’m learning to cope with it because that’s just how this team plays.
Posted by bleep bloop on 01/17/14 at 12:51 AM ET

Again I find someone who watched a completely different game than me.  In what world was the Wings effort last night lazy?  Sloppy is to be expected with all of the regulars out, but they worked their collective asses off in all 3 zones.  I had a problem with Nike and Z holding on to the puck way too long several times, but at no point would I classify their performance as lazy.

In fact, that was what frustrated me most about last night.  It feels like such a wasted effort to come out of that without any points.

Posted by Hootinani on 01/17/14 at 08:34 AM ET

Avatar

The Wings are hurt.  Effort is great, but effort cannot continually or even consistently compensate for vast differences in talent.  Demanding/expecting/praying for more production does not obviate reality.

Until the Wings get much healthier, they are going to lose more than they win.  Perhaps a lot more.  They are the equivalent of a ~35 million dollar team in a league with a 70 million dollar cap.  There’s nothing which can be done to turn that type of disadvantage around.

Hopefully they can sneak some points out of these games here and there so that when (if) they get healthy again there’s not an insurmountable gap between them and the playoffs.

Other than that, we’re pretty much watching Northwestern football.  Effort, but a field of play inherently tilted against Detroit due to talent.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/17/14 at 09:02 AM ET

DrD's avatar

Meh, this is not a Cup-contending season anyway. I don’t give a crap about the playoff streak anymore. Just get rid of as much dead wood as possible come the trade deadline and off-season and start looking to do a legitimate rebuild. Lots of nice young talent - so hopefully Kenny has gotten the memo on not signing more injury-plagued old dudes that take roster spots away from the up and comers…and missing the playoffs will only drive home the point further. Getting your ass handed to you in the first or second round is not a goal worth striving for.

Posted by DrD on 01/17/14 at 09:53 AM ET

Mandingo's avatar

For the second game in a row, Zetterberg was not himself.

Zetterberg’s not close to 100%, I think. He’s probably soldiering on because he’s the captain and because they are so injured otherwise.

Anyway, fine game last night. Fun to watch. But I’m actively rooting for this team to miss the playoffs at this point. I really think that would be the best thing for them, particularly with 10 guys going to Sochi. They need a full summer off to get healthy and regroup. And this playoff streak is becoming something of an albatross.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 01/17/14 at 09:59 AM ET

Mandingo's avatar

And to be clear, I’m not saying I’m rooting for them to lose when I watch them, I just would rather they don’t make the playoffs this year.  grin

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 01/17/14 at 10:08 AM ET

Tracy from T-Town Hockey 's avatar

I thought we played hard last night with what we had to ice.  For the first time in a long time I actually saw some shifts of us attacking the net.  It was nice to see.  Howard playing well was also a bonus.  There were definitely good things to be taken from this game going forward.  I agree we need the points, but getting them with the team we iced last night is going to be extremely difficult.  The fact that we’ve been in the last two games at all is a positive.

Posted by Tracy from T-Town Hockey on 01/17/14 at 10:50 AM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

The boys are gonna need this all hands on deck effort for the next few games. If they are going to grab any points in the next 4 games, Jimmy’s gotta be a wall and a little puck luck wouldn’t hurt.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 01/17/14 at 12:07 PM ET

Avatar

Zetterberg is learning what Abdelkader does to your production

Posted by Captain Bob on 01/17/14 at 03:00 PM ET

SuperMatt75's avatar

Fun game.  The 2 power plays were the best I’ve seen in a long time.  Alot of chances, 2nd shots, puck retrieval, movement, etc.  Shame (for us) that Lundquist was a Freakin Wall.  Otherwise I thought it was a great, fun game to watch, and the score was the only dissapointment.

Posted by SuperMatt75 from the cool side of the pillow on 01/17/14 at 04:14 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.