The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/16/14 at 10:52 PM ET
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.
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:
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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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.