Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Rangers wrap-up: rebuilding-on-the-fly team lays 4 consecutive eggs

The Detroit Red Wings' schedule ahead is a busy one: they'll leave town on Tuesday to take part in what is now a once-yearly Western Canadian swing, playing the Canucks on Wednesday, October 30th, heading to Calgary on Friday, November 1st, battling the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday the 2nd, heading to Winnipeg to finally play the Jets on Monday the 4th. Then the team returnshome for a 4-game home stand and a month in which the team will play 8 of their 11 post-Western Canadian swing games at home.

Something tells me that some of the Wings' players wanted to leave for Vancouver immediately after Saturday's game given the eggs the Wings have laid over the past week. The Wings followed up their 5-2 loss to Phoenix a week ago Saturday with at least something of an improvement, opening their 3-game home stand with a 1-0 shootout loss to San Jose, but the bottom's fallen out over the past two games.

Getting whacked 6-1 by Daniel Alfredsson's former employer on Wednesday was bad; I hate to say it, but surrendering 40 shots en route to a 2-1 OT loss to the moribund Rangers--with the Wings frittering away 1-0 and 2-1 leads, and yielding the final goal with all of 12.9 seconds left in OT--may have been worse.

As such, the Wings captured two of a possible six points at home and two of a possible eight over the past four games, and the Wings that returned home having just snapped a 4-game winning streak a week ago at 6-3-and-1 are now at .500, possessing a 6-4-and-2 record.

The Wings' players and coach were particularly pissed off about losing to a team that had won 2 of 8 going into Saturday evening, and they surely must have been upset with themselves given that the Wings are now 0-for-3 with Nicklas Lidstrom in the house (the good news: Lidstrom still looks fantastic, and Fox Sports Detroit's Ken Daniels revealed that Bill Roose's "5: A Salute to Nicklas Lidstrom" will go on sale on March 6th. The bad news? Lidstrom is very, very happily retired, and Daniels revealed that #5 and 15 other family members were headed to the Bahamas for his mom's 70th birthday instead of heading out West with the Wings).

The players and coach have nothing on a fan base who was pretty sure that the team's post-Lidstrom rebuilding-on-the-fly had been completed during the Wings' playoff run last spring. Wings fans are an almost viciously angry bunch right now, and I would imagine that Pavel Datsyuk probably received more than a few "boos" for offering the following Tweet after the game:

Not so much, Pavel. Right now the bandwagon's pretty spare, and the natives are mapping out a trick-or-treat TP'ing of Ken Holland and Mike Babcock's houses.

I've got to stick to my guns here as to my assessment of the "State of the Wings." As I said after the Senators game, we've tended to forget that the Red Wings are still a team that is in fact still in transition and still in search of a post-Lidstrom identity, and I fully believe that the team's within-the-locker-room, behind-the-bench and in-the-front-office quest to truly figure out who it is--and which players are the best ones for the team to use in its quest to earn a 23rd straight playoff berth and at least a Conference Final appearance.

Those kinds of achievements sound incredibly unlikely at present, I know.

A little more to the point, especially without Jonathan Ericsson (note to Jonathan: please do not tell Norrkoping's Tidingar's Fredrik Rosander that there is a slight possibility that you may need surgery if your dislocated shoulder doesn't respond to rehab) in the lineup, the Wings' defense remains very "green": Danny DeKeyser is still an officially Calder Trophy-eligible rookie; Jakub Kindl, Brian Lashoff and Brendan Smith only have one full NHL season under their respective belts (less in Lashoff's case), and with Kyle Quincey still trying to regain the form he displayed during his seasons in Los Angeles and Colorado--and sharing Brendan Smith's, "Well, he looks fantastic when you're talking about playing steady, smart hockey on offense, but every damn game a puck ends up in his own net because he's standing around, won't clear the puck or makes some other sort of dangerous play that leads to a goal against" ways--it really is Niklas Kronwall five players engaging in something of a collective sophomore slump right now, and that's very, very inconvenient.

It would be one thing if Kronwall and the Wild Bunch were attempting to move the puck up to a group of forwards in sync with each other; it's another given that Joakim Andersson's definitely having a similar "slump," given that Tomas Tatar is sometimes brilliant and sometimes skittish, given that Daniel Cleary still looks like he's a step behind after having almost left town, and given that Stephen Weiss is having such a very, very difficult time finding his way offensively.

Add in the fact that Johan Franzen (despite a team-leading 7 shots on Saturday) and Justin Abdelkader are still finding their form, add in Drew Miller finally looking like himself for the first time on Saturday, at least offensively, Jordin Tootoo playing like a man who knows he's on the trade block and given that Daniel Alfredsson, despite his superb point production, is still undergoing defensive ups and downs...

You've got Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg carrying the mail up front, and Babcock went to the well in performing two moves that may have led to more harm than good on Saturday: he split Datsyuk and Zetterberg for the first two periods, and either Todd Bertuzzi tweaked his groin (no beat writer explained his situation) or he was simply benched from the 2:18 mark of the third period onward for having committed some sort of error on the play which led to Mats Zuccarello's game-tying goal...At the 2:18 mark of the 3rd period.

Split up the Eurotwins and bench your most consistent non-40-or-13 forward? It didn't work very well, but Babcock readily stated that the Red Wings were a team in search of an identity and "in flux" prior to the Senators game, and when you're a teaching coach whose students aren't responding, you move your two best students to the middle and the back of your class, respectively, and you tell the big kid who scares the hell out of everybody but is a responsible student to go and sit in the hallway.

Babcock was steaming mad after the game--if you scroll down, you can see him nearly storm out of his post-game presser, when 97.1 FM's Jeff Riger asked him if he could take anything positive out of the game--and I guess that's where I'll say this:

If there is any good news for this Red Wings team, it involves Jimmy Howard proving that he's more than capable to bail out a team that gives him no help and no "run support," it involves at least Quincey and Smith playing well outside of their own zone, and it involves the fact that Tomas Tatar's earned a nightly place in the Wings' lineup, all but ensuring that someone else will sit when Patrick Eaves and/or Darren Helm return (Jordin Tootoo, when he's traded? Patrick Eaves, if he's traded? Definitely Mikael Samuelsson, and can the Wings try to pawn him off to somebody if they eat most of his salary?), and there is of course the fact that four losses in a row tell the coaching and managerial staffs that shake-ups may be necessary sooner than later.

Otherwise, aside from Alfredsson denting the back of the net for a second time, Miller showing the offensive spark that allowed him to earn a contract extension just prior to the start of free agency, and aside from Jimmy Howard's sterling play, there really wasn't much to take from this game.

It was bad. The Wings were bad. They played unfocused, skittish, inconsistent and error-prone hockey, and whatever paper-thin confidence they exhibited when they had the lead evaporated in a hurry when the Rangers tied things up.

Worse, when the team found itself with at least one point in the bank, it let the Rangers dominate play and made a catastrophic set of errors which led to the game-winning goal (see: Drew Miller and Stephen Weiss getting caught up ice, Kyle Quincey pinching, Danny DeKeyser taking the "passer," yielding a breakaway for Derek Brassard and Jimmy Howard trying to squeeze his five-hole shut while Derick Brassard rifled a shot off of Howard's otherwise sterling blocker and into the back of the net).

The Rangers, on the other hand, were absolutely delighted with having captured their 3rd win of the season in the last game of a gargantuan 9-game road trip, especially with Henrik Lundqvist sidelined and Cam Talbot playing goal.

Brassard made sure to tell the New York Daily News's Pat Leonard that he was familiar with the Wings from his time in Columbus, and he made sure to insist that the Rangers "deserved" their win:

“I played a lot against Detroit in the past in my career, and I knew how good Howard was in breakaways and shootouts,” Brassard said. “So the first time, in the second period, I tried to get high on him. Then it was a great play in overtime. (Benoit Pouliot) used the second effort to push it into space there so I could skate into it. I couldn’t settle the puck on the ice, and I didn’t know how much time I had, so I tried to go five-hole, and the puck was not flat on the ice, so I think it gave me a little advantage on that.”

Brassard didn’t even know where the puck went. He thought maybe it snuck through Howard’s five-hole, where he was aiming, but it squirted under the goalie’s right arm. Brassard credited not only Pouliot’s pass but defenseman Dan Girardi’s winning a one-on-one battle in the defensive zone just prior to set up the play.

The Blueshirts’ offensive effort was by far the team’s best of the season, and Cam Talbot (32 saves) is starting to make a name for himself in net with Henrik Lundqvist sidelined.

“We had all four lines, everyone was rolling tonight,” Brassard said. “Our ‘D’ played really well, so did our goalie. It’s his second game in his career, and it’s never easy to come here in this building. He stayed really confident and played really well. We deserved that one. We’ve been working hard on the road trip. It’s not the record that we were expecting to have, but we’re going home for a while and we’re going to turn this around.”

Every Ranger but two – Dan Girardi and J.T. Miller – put at least one shot on goal.

Finally, the Rangers’ neutral-zone defense was smothering all night, forcing 17 Red Wings turnovers.

“We were patient,” Marc Staal (assist) said of the neutral zone clampdown. “They have a lot of guys that like to – like Datsyuk, Zetterberg – those guys like to turn back and make plays through the neutral zone. And I thought we were patient not to kind of just spin around in circles. We stayed with our structure and were able to bat a few down and turn it over.”

Leonard's main recap involved tire-pumping of a sort:

“Finally!” Brassard cried out as he stomped to his locker.

Detroit’s Howard (37 saves) stood on his head against the Rangers’ season-high 40 shots, but Cam Talbot (32 stops) answered again for the Rangers in his second career NHL start, following his 25-save debut Thursday in Philadelphia. He especially made poised denials of Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen on the doorstep as the Wings’ big-bodied forwards crowded his crease.

“I just try not to think about who’s there,” said Talbot, who not long ago was watching these Red Wings stars on TV. “I try to focus on the puck and not worry whether it’s Bertuzzi or (Pavel) Datsyuk or (Henrik) Zetterberg, I just try to make that save and cover the rebounds, because I know if you leave them out there, those guys are just gonna bang them in there one-by-one.”

The Rangers (3-6-0), in fact, flipped the script on Detroit (6-4-2), earning their first win in the Motor City since Jan. 30, 1999, by throwing more traffic at the crease than they had at any point this season. Their persistence resulted in rebound goals for Pouliot and Zuccarello just 4:58 apart straddling the second intermission, Pouliot’s on the power play after the Rangers had scored only one goal in the previous183 minutes and 29 seconds going back three games. Brian Boyle, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Dominic Moore all had assists.

All night, the Rangers’ neutral-zone defense forced turnovers (the Wings had 17) and dictated the action. Though Chris Kreider couldn’t finish a couple great chances, the Boston College product was everywhere and received praise from coach Alain Vigneault, as did the physical Boyle. There was a lingering sense the Rangers wouldn’t let this one get away, even when they trailed 2-1 after 40 minutes despite playing their best period of the season in the second, outshooting Detroit 13-3 in the first 15 minutes.

“I think we were so desperate for a win,” defenseman Marc Staal said. “That desperation showed – the urgency and wanting to win and get those two points.”

Newsday's Steve Zipay noted that Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was delighted with his team's win...

Entering Monday night's home opener against Montreal, the record is not what the Rangers and coach Alain Vigneault wanted it to be, but "3-and-6 is a lot better than 2-and-7," defenseman Marc Staal said. "We've got a good feeling going, and we're finally going home, but we have to try to string a few wins together."

Down 1-0 in the first period and 2-1 entering the third, the Rangers, with a season-high 40 shots, battled back twice to tie the score before Brassard ended it. Pouliot, one of the bodies who created traffic in front of Howard much of the evening, backhanded in a rebound late in the second period for the 1-1 tie.

"We showed a couple clips of Detroit doing it [creating traffic]. They've got that art down to a science, and hopefully we took a page out of their book," Vigneault said.

...

"I thought the second period [when the Rangers outshot the Wings 16-8] could've been our best period of the year," Vigneault said, "and we didn't let the power-play goal affect us."

That was when Taylor Pyatt was sent off for holding and Daniel Alfredsson's one-timer beat Talbot with 11 seconds left for a 2-1 lead. Said Vigneault, "We won the third period and overtime."

The New York Post's Brett Cyrgalis continues the narrative...

What might have turned the game around was a moment late in the second period, when the Rangers were down 1-0 after Drew Miller got the Red Wings (6-4-2) on the board early. With the Rangers the power play, forward Benoit Pouliot found a way to bang in a loose puck at the goalmouth and tie the game, 1-1.

Pouliot found a way because Brian Lashoff had tossed J.T. Miller into Howard's net..

It was Pouliot’s first goal of the season, his first point as a Ranger, and it enlivened his game. So much so that when the overtime rolled around, there was Pouliot sprawled out on the ice, diving to advance the puck to Brassard, who, after getting denied by the red-hot goalie Jimmy Howard on a breakaway earlier in the game, took a rolling puck and netted the decisive tally.

“It’s a big boost, for sure,” Pouliot said about his goal and the energy left in its wake. “It makes you feel good, makes you feel better. In your head, it feels like it’s a big push for yourself.”

Just that little bit of boost is what now allows the Rangers to go home for Monday’s game against the Canadiens at a revamped Garden with at least a modicum of momentum. Though they played an assertive game all night, notching a season-high 40 shots on net and 54 total attempts, the game teetered on falling off into another bad-luck loss.

They were down 1-0 then 2-1 after Daniel Alfredsson gave his new team the lead on a power play with just 11 seconds remaining in the second. But 2:18 into the third, Mats Zuccarello followed Pouliot by jumping off the goalless schneid and banging in a rebound to tie it, 2-2.

“It’s important not just for them, but for our team,” said Vigneault, whose squad came into the game dead last in the league with 12 goals. “We were not scoring a lot.”

If you want to read a quote-free recap, NewYorkRangers.com's Jim Cerny provides for your needs; the New York Journal News's Rick Carpiniello offers the Rangers team-posted post-game notes, and Newsday's Zipay suggests that the Rangers' win was the biggest and most important win of their season, but I'd prefer to let the players and coach tell the tale, so we'll conclude our survey of the Rangers' perspectives with the Newark Star-Ledger's Andrew Gross's recap, which notes that the Rangers won in Detroit for the first time since 1999...

“Obviously, this road trip, it’s a heavy load on the players and you can see it,” right wing J.T. Miller said. “I’m pretty proud of everything we did tonight. Coming back in our ninth game on the road is pretty special.”

Brassard, Benoit Pouliot and Mats Zuccarello all scored their first goals of the season for the Rangers (3-6-0), who got 32 saves from Cam Talbot as the 26-year-old rookie earned his first NHL victory in starting his second straight game for the injured Henrik Lundqvist.

“Everyone played hard tonight, we deserved the win,” Pouliot said. “It’s a tough beginning, but now just getting a goal might get us on the winning track.”

Pouliot’s extra effort along the boards in the neutral zone set up Brassard’s breakaway, and he beat Jimmy Howard (37 saves) under the blocker. The Red Wings (6-4-2) have been outscored 14-5 in an 0-3-1 skid.

“It’s nice to feel good about ourselves for a win going home,” defenseman Marc Staal said. “You could feel the desperation and the emotion on the bench tonight, just wanting to get that win.”

“I just thought we had that extra step,” Miller added. “To see everyone working so hard together, we just had a feeling we were going to come back the whole time. We were never down, always up and it paid off for us.”

...

[T}he Rangers let the Red Wings respond quickly as Taylor Pyatt held Tomas Tatar at 18:32 and Daniel Alfredsson got free in the slot for a power-play goal with 11.0 seconds left in the period.

“It didn’t affect us,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “I think, for our team, that’s real good.”

And his post-game blog entry:

“Getting one point is great but getting two points here is better, especially heading into the home opener and finishing off the road trip,” Talbot said. “It gives us a lot of confidence moving forward going into a building like this and beating a good team. Hopefully we can build off that going into Monday and come out flying. It’s just been an unbelievable ride I’m still kind of taking it in. I’m just trying to come in here and give the guys a chance to win every night and I know whenever Hank’s healthy he’s going to step right back in and do the same thing. I’m just trying to enjoy it while it lasts and give these guys a chance to win whenever I’m in there.:

Now, instead of returning to Madison Square Garden a 2-7-0 team, the Rangers come home at 3-6-0 and if that one-game swing doesn’t seem big on paper, it certainly did seem big in the post-game dressing room. Now, the Rangers have a chance to string some points together at home. Yes, they always seem to struggle against the Canadiens but next comes bumbling Buffalo and then the Hurricanes, again without an injured Cam Ward.

Now, maybe Alain Vigneault won’t get booed in his first home game as Rangers coach.

“That sounds a lot better,” defenseman Marc Staal said of 3-6-0. “It’s nice to feel good about ourselves for a win going home. You could feel the desperation and the emotion on the bench tonight, just wanting to get that win and we’ll take that emotion into the next game, that’s what we’ll look to do.”

The Associated Press's recap will serve as our pivot point, and it will do so by offering the opposing coaches' perspectives, starting with Vigneault and concluding with Mike Babcock...

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said his team will benefit from the early long trip.

"It's going to be good for us. It's been a challenge," he said. "We don't have the record we want but we made some strides in the right direction."

Cam Talbot stopped 32 shots while filling in for injured regular Henrik Lundqvist.

Drew Miller and Daniel Alfredsson scored for Detroit, which lost its fourth straight. Jimmy Howard made 37 saves.

"They score more than us. The bottom line is they took the game over from us in the second period," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I thought we fought to get it back in the third period, but in the second we got outskated, turned pucks over in the neutral zone, never got it behind them enough. When we get in their zone we're one-and-done too quickly."

Babcock was indeed fuming mad about the Wings' turnovers, as noted by the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan in both his recap...

"We spend too much time in our own zone, turn pucks over and here they come," coach Mike Babcock said. "There's no consistency in our play. It doesn't look like we are wearing the other team out. I look at the shots, they had 40 and we had 33. But 40 is way too many. Twenty-eight is too many. We have a long way to go in that area."

Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello tied it 2-2 at 2:18 of the third period. Zuccarello dove and swatted at a long rebound allowed by goalie Jimmy Howard into near the hashmarks, Zuccarello's first goal of the season.

Drew Miller and Daniel Alfredsson (power play) scored for the Red Wings. Alfredsson gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead at 19:49 of the second period, one-timing a pass from Pavel Datsyuk for his second goal of the season.

"We got a big power-play goal to set us up in the third," Babcock said. "We hadn't played well in the second, we all knew it, and they scored right away (in the third)."

And his notebook...

"We're getting skated and turning pucks over," coach Mike Babcock said. "If you don't get through the neutral zone, if you can't make them turn around and spend time in their zone, you're going to spend time in your own zone. If we're stubborn and turn pucks over like that, you put a lot of miles on the defense."

The tide of Saturday's game began to change in the second period, as the Rangers outshot the Red Wings 16-8 (40-34 for the game).

"They kept it really simple," forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "As soon as they got the puck in their end, it was glass out, three guys went and we got caught a few times."

The Free Press's Helene St. James also took note of Babcock's growl...

“The turnovers are absolutely killing us,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Until we decide mentally what the right way is for this group to play, we have no chance.”

...

“There’s no consistency in our play,” Babcock said. “It doesn’t look like we’re wearing the other team out. We’re going to have to sort this out. We face a little bit of adversity here and we have to dig in.”

The Wings don’t play at the Joe again for nearly two weeks, heading Monday for a trek through Western Canada, still in search of an identity.

“Having a four-game road trip is perfect for us,” Babcock said. “We’ve got to get way better defensively, way better in our own zone and way better at taking care of the puck.”

As well as the fact that Babcock gave Howard credit where credit was overdue--especially given that the Wings were outshot 16-8 in the 2nd period:

"Howie was great, gave us a chance, especially in the second period,” Babcock said.

On the winning goal, Howard said Brassard’s shot “went off my stick and just sort of rolled up my body.”

“It’s frustrating. We lost with 12 seconds left in overtime. I think once again, we didn’t really play through 60 minutes and it cost us. We’ve got to figure out a way, in here, to just go out there and compete for each other.”

St. James also posted some quotes in her "Why the Wings Lost" capsule recap...

QUOTABLE: Zetterberg, on how the Wings played: “I think the first, we played better. In the second, they kept it really simple. As soon as they got the puck in their own end, it was glass-out and three guys went. We got caught a few times in the second period. Howie played great for us, but we couldn’t find a way to score enough goals.” ... Niklas Kronwall: “In the second period, we gave them way too much room out there. We just have to be a lot better than we were tonight.”

And DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose noted that the Wings more than understood that Howard's performance should have been rewarded with a win:

“That’s what he does,” said defenseman Niklas Kronwall. “He’s very strong mentally and doesn’t let anything get to him. I’m sure he wasn’t very happy about the last game, but no one in here was happy with that last game. I don’t think we can blame anything on any particular guy; it was a team effort. We played horrible, but tonight I think he deserved more and better.”

In a 37-save performance, one of Howard’s most important stops of the night came just under five minutes in the first period. Both Red Wings defensemen got caught behind the net, and Howard came up with a big save on a shot by Chris Kreider to keep the game scoreless. Holding on to a 1-0 lead, Howard kept the Rangers off the scoreboard for most of the second period, allowing only one goal on 16 shots.

“Howie was great,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock. “He gave us a chance, especially in the second period.”

Howard’s most acrobatic save came midway through the second period, as he rejected a series of shots from Brian Boyle. Boyle’s first shot rebounded right back to the center, and as he prepared to take another, Derek Dorsett slid into the goal disrupting Howard. But the goaltender reached back over Dorsett’s body to deflect Boyle’s second shot with his blocker.

Despite the strong performance, the second star of the game couldn’t hide his frustration after the loss.

“Something has to be done about it,” Howard said. “It’s just believing in each other and not trying to do too much, let guys do their jobs. It’s frustrating. We lost with 12 seconds left in overtime. Once again we didn’t really play 60 minutes and lost.”

As the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness noted, Howard was trying to make a point about his teammates, not himself, and it's a point that Kronwall seconded:

"Something has to be done about it,” said Jimmy Howard, who made 37 saves. “We’ve got to figure out a way in here to just go out there and compete for each other. It’s going to be the guys in here that get the job done. I think it’s just believing in each other and not trying to do too much out there. Let guys do their jobs.

“It’s frustrating,” Howard continued. “We lost with (13) seconds left in overtime. Once again, we didn’t really play for 60 minutes and it cost us.”

...

"This has got nothing to do with the Rangers, it’s all about us,” Niklas Kronwall said.

Cue the wisest quote of the night, from the team's best defenseman:

“It’s very disappointing,” Kronwall said. “You play hockey to win games. Right now we’re not getting the job done. We have to get back to the basics and keep it a lot more simple out there. Sometimes the best play might be off the glass and right now we’re trying to play ourselves out of each and every situation. It’s costing us a few goals right now.”

Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji adds some scary statistics to the mix...

The Wings came into the game as one of just three teams in the Atlantic Division that has allowed more goals than they've scored. The other two were the seventh-place Florida Panthers and eighth-place Buffalo Sabres.

After Saturday, the Wings have scored 27 goals and allowed 33.

They have allowed just seven goals in the first period, 11 goals in the second and 13 in the third. They have been out-shot in the second, 138-130.

"We can’t give it away in the second period, especially in your own barn," Babcock said. "You’ve got to outplay the other team and we didn’t do that."

And Michigan Hockey's Stefan Kubus noted the coach's frustration with his team's constant shooting of itself in the skates:

"When you look at our group… there’s no consistency in our play,” Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said. “It doesn’t look like we’re wearing the other team out and, at the end of the night, I look at the shot clock and it has 40. Now we had 34, but 40 is way too many. I mean, 28 is too many.

“We got a long way to go in that area, and we’re going to have to sort this out. Obviously, we’ve faced a little bit of adversity here, and we’ve got to dig in. Having a four-game road trip is perfect for us, but we’ve got to get way better defensively, way better in our own zone and way better taking care of the puck.”

MLive's Ansar Khan (who also penned a mostly-quote-free recap) noted that the Wings felt that the game wasn't lost in overtime, but instead, in that terrible second period...

The Red Wings, after a decent first period, got outplayed in the second, which has been a theme this season. They were outshot 16-8 but fortunate to still be leading 2-1 heading into the third after Daniel Alfredsson fired in a one-timer, on a pass from Pavel Datsyuk, on the power play with 11 seconds to play. The Rangers had tied it 1-1 on Pouliot’s power-play goal at 17:20. Drew Miller opened the scoring for Detroit at 17:12 of the first period.

“I think in the second period, they got on top of us,'' Howard said. "In today’s NHL, when one team’s pressing and the other team’s on their heels it’s tough to get over that funk.’’

Mats Zuccarello tied it at 2-2 at 2:18 of the third period by swatting in a rebound from the slot.

“The bottom line is they took the game over from us in the second period,’’ Babcock said. “I thought we fought to get it back in the third period, but in the second we got (out) skated, turned pucks over in the neutral zone, never got it behind them enough. When we get in their zone we’re one-and-done too quickly.’’

And in the end, better is better, but better is not good if you can't out-score your mistakes, as Zetterberg told Khan:

"Obviously, it was better than Wednesday's game,’’ captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “As soon as they got the puck in their end, it was glass out, three guys went and we got caught a few times in the second period. Howie played great for us. In the third we found a way to get back a little bit and created more chances but couldn't find a way to score enough goals."

The Wings will take Sunday off--they may as well given that the team doesn't play again until Wednesday, when it kicks off that nasty 4-games-in-4-cities-in-6-nights slate--and I hope they have some sort of team Halloween party on Monday or Tuesday, because the gents need to find SOME sort of way to get outside of themselves and reset themselves instead of allowing their frustration to continue to build to a point that the team's wallowing in it.

Because the fans and the media are going to do a fine job of criticizing the hell out of the Wings over the next four or five days, both fairly and unfairly, and that's what happens when the Detroit Red Wings lose four games, which is still unacceptable in this town.

It should remain unacceptable in this town for the foreseeable future.

My hope is that the Wings will do what they usually do earlier in October--get on the road, have to spend time with each other, bond and sort themselves out. The team isn't just in search of an identity; I'd argue that the in-progress Wings have lost their way and lost their senses of themselves.

Maybe going on the road, spending late nights on Red Bird III, dodging the Western Canadian media gauntlet and having to represent Detroit in BC, Alberta and Manitoba will refresh the team's memory as to how they have to conduct themselves away from home...

Because they've done a shitty job of representing Detroit at home, where they've dropped four of the six games they've lost in regulation, OT or a shotoout, and after witnessing the Tigers fall in the playoffs, knowing that the Lions' progress is not necessarily going to result in a playoff spot and having the Pistons as the Pistons, sports fans in Detroit want a team to believe in, and they want it to be the Red Wings.

This team needs to get out of its way and play, as Kronwall and Howard have suggested, to reestablish its identity on and off the ice, and to continue searching for its post-Lidstrom self by working harder, working smarter and working better together, regardless of who's wearing the Winged Wheel on a given night.

The Wings' rebuild-in-progress isn't a compressed-and-shortened-season-completed affair. We're in the middle of a two-year process, and this team is going to continue searching for its post-Lidstrom identity over the balance of the 2013-2014 season, in terms of its players, its coaching staff and the roster machinations of its front office.

Sometimes the rebuild-on-the-fly is going to turn ugly, and when it does, it's up to the players and coaches to stand up and remember that they represent people who pay to see them and invest their time, energy, effort and money in following the team. We are not "owed" a better product per se, but better results are expected, and they should be.

The personnel may change, and it may have changed so dramatically over the past 2 seasons that the team is still one in the process of finding out who it really is, but the standards of excellence to which the team ascribe must not be sacrificed along the way.

 

 


Multimedia:

Highlights: The Red Wings website's highlight clip is at least narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond:

Post-game: If you wish to watch the NHL Tonight's analysis of the game, you may most certainly do so, and the same can be said for their "Arena Cam" interview with Derick Brassard;

The Rangers' website posted interviews with Cam Talbot, Derick Brassard, Marc Staal and coach Alain Vigneault, as well as a bunch of blather from MSG Network's "Hockey Night Live" crew. MSG Network's actual website's video interface is...interesting;

The Red Wings' website posted clips of Henrik Zetterberg...

Jimmy Howard...

And coach Mike Babcock speaking with the media:

The Free Press's Helene St. James posted a combined clip of Howard and Babcock, too.

Photos: The Detroit News posted a 15-image gallery;

The Detroit Free Press posted a 25-image gallery;

Newsday posted a 9-image Flash gallery;

ESPN posted a 55-image gallery;

And NHL.com and the Red Wings' website posted 45-image galleries, and the Rangers' website posted 26 images taken from the same pool of images.

Statistics: Shots 40-34 Rangers overall. Detroit was out-shot the Rangers 16-13 in the 1st, were out-shot 16-8 in the 2nd, out-shot the Rangers 10-8 in the 3rd and were out-shot 3-0 in OT.

The Wings went 1-for-4 in 7:05 of PP time; the Rangers went 1-for-3 in 4:15 of PP time.

Jimmy Howard stopped 37 of 40 shots; Cam Talbot stopped 32 of 34.

Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji picked the 3 stars, and she picked Pavel Datsyuk, Jimmy Howard and Derick Brassard.

The Wings' goals: Miller (1) from Andersson (2) and DeKeyser (2);

Alfredsson (2) from Datsyuk (7), PPG.

Faceoffs 34-32 Detroit (Detroit won 52%);

Blocked shots 7-5 New York;

Missed shots 12-9 Detroit (total attempts 54-53 Rangers; the Wings fired 34 shots on Talbot and sent 23 wide/blocked);

Hits 23-22 Detroit;

Giveaways 10-1 Detroit;

Takeaways 7-7.

Individual stats, TMR style:

Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 9-and-10 (47%); Weiss went 7-and-8 (47%); Datsyuk went 7-and-7 (50%); Franzen went 5-and-3 (63%); Andersson went 4-and-3 (57%); Miller went 1-and-1 (50%); Bertuzzi went 1-and-0 (100%).

Shots: Franzen led the Wings with 7 shots; Abdelkader, Alfredsson, Quincey, Zetterberg and Cleary had 3; Datsyuk and DeKeyser had 2; Smith, Miller, Tatar, Tootoo, Bertuzzi and Kronwall had 1.

Blocked attempts: Alfredsson had 2 attempts blocked by Rangers players; Smith, Kindl, Abdelkader, Quincey and DeKeyser had 1 attempt blocked;

Missed shots: Kindl, Abdelkader, Alfredsson, Quincey and Franzen missed the net 2 times; Datsyuk and Zetterberg missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Abdelkader led the Wings with 5 hits; Smith and Miller had 3; Tootoo, Lashoff and Quincey had 2; Tatar, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Kronwall, Cleary and Weiss had 1.

Giveaways: Smith and Datsyuk had 2 giveaways; Kindl, Datsyuk, Quincey, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Franzen had 1 giveaway.

Takeaways: Alfredsson had 2 takeaways; Datsyuk, Tatar, Lashoff, Zetterberg and Weiss had 1.

Blocked opponent shots: Quincey and Kronwall blocked 2 shots; Lashoff blocked 1.

Penalties taken: Quincey took 2 minor penalties; Smith took 1 minor penalty.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished at -4. Kindl, Lashoff, Bertuzzi and Weiss finished at -1.

Points: Alfredsson and Miller scored goals; Datsyuk, Andersson and DeKeyser had assists.

Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 27:52 played; Datsyuk played 22:14; Zetterberg played 21:42;

Franzen played 20:34; Quincey played 20:18; DeKeyser played 20:18;

Alfredsson played 20:03; Smith played 19:25; Kindl played 19:19;

Weiss played 17:46; Cleary played 17:30; Lashoff played 17:18;

Tatar played 15:11; Miller played 14:05; Abdelkader played 13:49;

Andersson played 10:31; Bertuzzi played 10:15; Tootoo played 6:34.

 

 

 

Red Wings notebooks: Again, Nicklas Lidstrom was in town, and he's now the unhappy holder of an 0-and-3 record as a post-retirement spectator. Worse, at least from a fan's point of view, he's happy in retirement, as he told the Free Press's Helene St. James..

“I miss playing and being part of it,” Lidstrom said, “but I also know it was my time to leave the game. But it’s always something I’ll miss.”

Lidstrom said he gets his hockey fix at home in Vasteras, Sweden, where he gets back on skates, “three to four times a week with the kids, as an assistant coach with my 13-year-old. That’s the level of hockey that I’m part of now.”

He said retirement “has been fun, especially spending a lot more time with my family and having a chance to be there when the kids have their activities, their hockey. It’s been treating me real well.”

During 20 seasons with the Wings, Lidstrom, 43, won four Stanley Cups, seven Norris Trophies and a Conn Smythe Trophy. His impact went beyond the ice: He was so professional, so even-tempered, so polite that he earned the nickname “the perfect human.”

“He’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever been around and one of the greatest players I’ve ever had an opportunity to witness,” coach Mike Babcock said, enumerating what he’d learned from Lidstrom: “Be humble. Do things with poise every day. Choose your attitude right every day. Do everything right, every day. That’s what he does.”

And MLive's Ansar Khan:

Lidstrom visited his former teammates Saturday morning at the Joe and will attend tonight’s game against the New York Rangers. He made a brief stop in town before a family vacation.

“Staying at Homer’s place again, in his basement,’’ Lidstrom said of ex-teammate Tomas Holmstrom. “He’s kind enough to let us stay there so it’s been working out great.’’

Again, Ken Daniels said that Lidstrom and 15 family members are heading to the Bahamas to celebrate Lidstrom's mom's 70th birthday.

Said former teammates Henrik Zetterberg: “Actually, we tried to get him for an emergency signing here, but he said he couldn’t. When he comes in, it’s like he’s still part of the team. It’s been a lot of good memories, it’s fun to have him around again.’’

Lidstrom is looking forward to playing in the Winter Classic alumni game against the Toronto Maple Leafs alumni.

“It’ll be fun to see some of the guys I haven’t seen in a long time and played with in the ’90s. I haven’t seen the roster yet, but I’m imagining a lot of the guys we won (Stanley) Cups with in the ’90s will be on the team.’’

Even at age 43, Lidstrom might be the only one for either side who could still play in the league, and at a high level. He is on the ice 3-4 times a week in Sweden, serving as an assistant coach on his 13-year-old son’s team.

“I asked him today if he was loving (retirement) and he said he misses it a bit, but not enough to work out hard enough to play,’’ coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s always great seeing him. He’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever had around and one of the greatest players I’ve ever had an opportunity to witness. You don’t replace people like that, but other guys get opportunities.’’

Amongst the Detroit News's Ted Kuflan's notes:

… Forwards Patrick Eaves and Mikael Samuelsson were healthy scratches.

… The Red Wings caught a bit of a break as the Rangers were without goalie Henrik Lundqvist (undisclosed injury), who missed a second consecutive game.

"He's proven to be one of the best goalies in the world," Zetterberg said. "He hates losing and when people score on him. He's a competitor."

… New York's last win at Joe Louis Arena before this game was Jan. 30, 1999.

DetroitRedWings.com's Andrea Nelson notes that the Wings did some very important things off the ice on Saturday...

“This is very special,” Peggy Togal said as she fought back tears Saturday night. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience, it’s so emotional.”

Togal attended Hockey Fights Cancer Night at the Joe Louis Arena as the Red Wings hosted the New York Rangers. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2005, and was a guest of Jakub Kindl at the annual cancer night. Kindl gives two tickets to every home Red Wings game to people who have been affected by cancer. The defenseman lost his mother to cancer when he was 14, so it’s an effort that is close to his heart.

“My mom had cancer, she passed away, so that’s why I figured this would be a great opportunity for me to do something like this,” Kindl said. “I have my own program here for the whole year. I got into it more and more and it obviously means a lot. Not just me but all of the other guys are involved as well. It’s a great opportunity to show the fans that it’s not just about hockey.”

The Red Wings hosted Hockey Fights Cancer Night presented by Van Andel Institute’s Purple Community Saturday as part of a month long league wide effort. The event is part of the annual Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Month in October, an initiative founded by the NHL and NHLPA in December 1998 to raise money and awareness for hockey’s most important fight.

As part of the Hockeytown’s Hockey Fights Cancer Night, the Red Wings and Van Andel Institute hosted a “Survivor Suite” with five cancer survivors and their families, Captain Henrik Zetterberg welcomed pediatric cancer patients at Children’s Hospital of Michigan along with their families in the Zetterberg Foundation Suite, and fans were asked to write a name of someone they know who has been impacted by cancer on a sign to hold up during a TV timeout.

As did DetroitRedWings.com's Sarah Danaher:

The Red Wings hosted a special Hockey Fights Cancer Night presented by Van Andel Institute – Purple CommunitySM. Five survivors and their families were welcomed to watch the game in a “Survivor Suite” where they had the opportunity to connect with other individuals and families that have been affected by cancer.

Barb Miller and son Ethan were guests of the Survivor Suite. Ethan is currently going through treatment for leukemia. His school principal, Mr. Graham, nominated Ethan for the suite.

“I think this [HFC night] is awesome. Seeing all the purple, it’s nice to see that tonight is universal and represents awareness for all cancers. Also getting the awareness out that it’s not just adults, but kids too,” said Barb.

The most enthusiastic fans of the night were the Yons. Candy, and her children Alicia and Isaac, had the privilege of watching warmups from the penalty box followed by the game from Henrik Zetterberg’s suite. Alicia, who is currently in treatment for astrocytoma, was the most enthusiastic fan of the whole night. “I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s amazing that the Red Wings make a day for children and others who have cancer,” she said.

...

In addition to hosting special guests, the Red Wings wanted to do something to get the fans more involved. A bone marrow registration drive was held in partnership with Delete Blood Cancer DKMS. DKMS is the largest bone marrow donor center in the world. With just a quick swab of each cheek, a donor can be entered into the Be The Match Registry®, the largest and most diverse bone marrow database in the world dedicated to matching donors with patients from countries far and wide in the quest to save the lives of those in need of a transplant.

Also of Red Wings-related note: I'd argue that Jimmy Howard's status as the 11th-best goalie in the Hockey News's Goalie Rankings is too low, but I'm biased:

11. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: Howard is nothing if not consistent, which is a perfect fit in Detroit. In each of the past two years, his GAA has been identical (2.13) and his SP has been a near-match (.920 in 2011-12 and .923 last season). He’s 29, but just in his fifth season, so there’s little mileage on his body. He’s in the mix for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

In the Shit You Can't Make Up department, via Paul, Don Cherry insists that Niklas Kronwall was at fault in a hit that poor, defenseless Cody McLeod couldn't avoid (see: the 3:45 mark). I'm not even linking to the damn thing because it's so dumb--he also defends John Scott;

The New York Posts Mark Vaccaro insists that the Red Wings are a "fun" team to root for, despite the fact that there is no "fun" to be had in Hockeytown at present:

6. Detroit Red Wings: Why are they fun? The city calls itself Hockeytown. That’s a damn good place to start. So is this: Gordie Howe played here.

When weren’t they fun? Believe it or not, the Wings had a dry spell from 1955-97 when they weren’t just non-title contenders, but regularly awful.

Will they always be fun? It feels like Detroit would sooner welcome a city full of Nissans on its streets than ever surrender its nickname.

If you really want to read Brad Stuart speak with the Boston Herald's Steve Conroy about his tenure as a Bruin, you may most certainly do so on your own...

I'm going to try to take things a little easier today given that the Wings played seven times in 13 nights and given that life away from the blog has been super busy. I'm kinda burnt out today.

 

Update: For the record, the New York Journal News's Rick Carpiniello reports that both the MSG and FSD broadcasts lost time to a stupid TV commercial break late in the 3rd:

Wow. Under 4:00 left in a 2-2 game, team desperate for a win or a point, and live action is lost to commercials, one of them, ironically, an Optimum ad! Holy shishkebob. Sam Rosen explained it wasn’t the fault of the televising networks; that somebody forgot to turn on the red light that notifies officials that it’s a TV timeout. So play resumed. Then, next stoppage came the TV timeout. And, only one question in Alain Vigneault’s press conference on the post-game? While they’re doing extensive Devils, Islanders, Buffalo yapping? Really?

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

w2j2's avatar

with Kyle Quincey still trying to regain the form he displayed during his seasons in Los Angeles and Colorado—and sharing Brendan Smith’s, “Well, he looks fantastic when you’re talking about playing steady, smart hockey on offense, but every damn game a puck ends up in his own net because he’s standing around, won’t clear the puck or makes some other sort of dangerous play that leads to a goal against”

Quincey is +/-  -8
Smithis +/-      -9

The Wings don’t need D-men playing offense…
They need D-men playing defense.

shut eye

Posted by w2j2 on 10/27/13 at 05:39 AM ET

Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit's avatar

Quincey is +/-  -8
Smithis +/-    -9

The Wings don’t need D-men playing offense…
They need D-men playing defense.

Posted by w2j2 on 10/27/13 at 05:39 AM ET

The Wings need D-men. And, Babcock needs to be better as well.

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!!

Posted by Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit on 10/27/13 at 07:46 AM ET

RW19's avatar

Listening to Babcock and Z after these defeats, it is pretty clear to me that the concern among the Wings is not with their defense, but rather with the disappearance of the puck possession game. They no longer have enough players that can control the tempo of a game and they have become a ‘one and done’ offensive team to quote Z. They can’t retrieve pucks in scrums, they lose most of the puck battles along the boards and they are lousy on the dump ins.

They just never have the puck in deep and this exposes the D and Howard to the pressure and bombardments we have seen since the season started.

Posted by RW19 on 10/27/13 at 08:07 AM ET

Avatar

KH can’t seem to make a trade to save his life. That Samuelson move is such an albatross. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the shrewdness of colleagues like Bowman, Shero or Wilson.

Posted by manitobaredwingfan on 10/27/13 at 09:27 AM ET

shanetx's avatar

I feel like it’s all related to the weakness on the back end.  When your defenseman are that bad the puck doesn’t come out of the defensive zone smoothly, doesn’t stay in the offensive zone smoothly, and the forwards can’t fully commit to offense when they know that a 2-on-2 headed the other way is somehow going to seem like an odd man rush by the time the opposing forwards get to Howard’s vacinity.  In today’s NHL, and especially with a team that wants to play like Detroit wants to play, offense starts with the defense. 

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 10/27/13 at 09:33 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

I am at a loss for words after last night’s game. The Wings were jaw-dropping good in the first period, and then 40 minutes of horse manure.

The problems with this team go way beyond defensive pairings, etc.

This is an organization lost at sea. Nothing less than a coaching change will make any difference.

And I say that as a Mike Babcock fan.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 10/27/13 at 10:15 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

They no longer have enough players that can control the tempo of a game and they have become a ‘one and done’ offensive team to quote Z. They can’t retrieve pucks in scrums, they lose most of the puck battles along the boards and they are lousy on the dump ins.

Or they just don’t work on it,  I thought when 40, 13, 11 were together last night they were very good at moving the puck in the offensive zone.  Actually dangerous.  I’m a fan of going to the net, but not just standing there unless you have a man advantage.  Maybe keep 40, 13, 11 together, and try 93, 90, 21 for a second line.

Posted by MoreShoot on 10/27/13 at 10:25 AM ET

Avatar

I remember a couple seasons ago (or was it last season?) George promotes the idea, many times, that it doesn’t matter who the personnel is - puck possession can be played by this team. The lineup still has a lot of players who were part of the system before. I remember seasons after 08, when they first started having trouble consistently playing that style of hockey… even as the team changed, they could still flip the switch against the better teams.

Does anyone remember saying that for a few of those seasons, when the playoffs rolled around? They flipped the switch, and played great some of those years.

I still believe the switch is there. Maybe they just can’t find it in the dark.

Or something.

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 10/27/13 at 11:20 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

I still believe the switch is there. Maybe they just can’t find it in the dark.

Or something.

Maybe the switch is coaching in San Jose.

Posted by MoreShoot on 10/27/13 at 11:25 AM ET

Avatar

The problems right now go way beyond just the defenseman.  There’s too many times when all three guys on a line seem to be playing a different system.  They don’t spend enough time in the offensive zone because they have poor puck support, they’re slow at retrieving pucks, and they get out muscled along the boards.  If they’re lucky they get one shot on goal before the puck’s headed outside the zone.

On the flip side, the same problems of puck support, puck retrieval, and play along the boards lead to the opponent very often getting multiple shots each trip into the zone.  Add in the ridiculous number of times the puck is on a Wing stick in the defensive zone and doesn’t end up out of the zone and you end up with 30 or 40+ shots against a game.

Too many players not on the same page right now.  Whatever the reason, be it the system, the coaches, or even unfamiliarity with linemates as long as that keeps up there’s going to continue to be games like the one last night.

Posted by Valek from Chicago on 10/27/13 at 12:24 PM ET

Primis's avatar

The Wings don’t need D-men playing offense…
They need D-men playing defense.

Posted by w2j2 on 10/27/13 at 05:39 AM ET

Kronwall, Quincey, Smith, and Kindl are all offensive d-men.  There really is no other way to classify them.  They all have spent their careers contributing offensively, jumping into offensive play, pinching in the offensive zone, etc.

Ericsson is a defensive d-man (which is kinda’ impressive for a converted C).  DeKeyser is either a defensive or a “two-way” d-man depending on if you think the latter is a real thing.  I personally consider him just a defensive one though with a good first pass.

That’s 4 offensive d-men, and 2 defensive.  That means at least one pairing is going to be comprised entirely of 2 offense-first guys.  That’s always going to be a problem, especially when they are inexperienced and one the two is not named “Lidstrom”.

The Wings, to be blunt, need to outright replace one of those 4 offensive d-men with a shut-down kind of defensive d-man, ideally one to pair with Kronwall but even someone for the second pairing would probably be a help.


I’m not going to comment on the rest.  At this point many of us have been saying the same things over and over again as problems for some time now.  That we’re here now still saying and seeing those same things as fans speaks for itself as to the state the team is in, and where they are heading.

Posted by Primis on 10/27/13 at 12:56 PM ET

Avatar

Samuelson and Smith for free. No return needed. Not really a trade, just need to clear space.

Posted by teldar on 10/27/13 at 08:50 PM ET

Avatar

When Helm returns they should try these lines:
Mule - Dat - Bert (skill, shot, net front)
Zetty - Weiss - Alfie (skill and lots of shooting)
Nyq - Helm - Tatar (speed and skill)
Cleary - Andy - Abby (heavy pressure line)

Posted by Anderj8 on 10/28/13 at 10:45 AM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.

Smileys

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Feed

Most Recent Blog Posts

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.