The Malik Report
by George Malik on 11/24/13 at 07:53 PM ET
It wasn't pretty, but no DeKeyser, no Bertuzzi, no Datsyuk and a pair of games starting within 22 hours of each other against a team that clearly tried to emulate the Nashville Predators in terms of both their, "Party in the front, something something in the back" 3rd jerseys and their attempts to lull Detroit to sleep defensively all added up to one ugly puppy...
But the Red Wings rallied from yet another 1-0 first period deficit this time around, they received a penalty shot save from a very, very solid Jonas Gustavsson, and the Wings managed to grind out an ugly road win while wrapping up a slate of 4 games played over the course of 6 nights, defeating Buffalo 3-1.
Given the Wings' moribund performance against the Senators on Saturday, and especially given the sudden absence of Alfredsson, the Wings needed their "secondary scorers" to step up, and they did so in a big way.
The beginning wasn't pretty. Seven-and-a-half minutes into the first, Darren Helm whiffed on an attempt to clear the zone, and the Wings' top defensive pair and "third line" simply stood and watched as Drew Stafford slid the puck to Cody Hodgson, who stuffed the puck past Gustavsson at 7:47...
But all of 30 seconds into the second period, the Wings' "third line" of Justin Abdelkader, Daniel Alfredsson (returning from a groin injury and wearing an "A") and Helm struck back, thanks to a nice muck-and-grind steal from Abdelkader, a no-look pass out front and a goal-against-assuaging goal from Helm:
The Wings kept grinding it out, and after Gustavsson stifled Steve Ott on a penalty shot at 9:39 of the 2nd...
The Wings kept on getting more, more and more engaged instead of less, less and less engaged as the Sabres played "prevent defense," and in the 3rd period, they gassed their first PP opportunity with Christian Ehrhoff in the box 6:30 in, trying to get far too cute...
But they made their second nad final power play count. After what seemed like an endless amount of Zetterberg-to-Kronwall-to-Franzen "umbrella power play" passes, Franzen finally whipped a shot on Miller, and it "found a hole," as they say, with 9:17 remaining (point 700 for Zetterberg in game 739 to boot):
Again, it wasn't pretty, but the Wings stuck with it as the Sabres snagged something of an "interesting" power play with 4:47 left in the 3rd, with Weiss going for tripping, and when the Sabres pulled Ryan Miller, Franzen absolutely boofed on an empty-netter--but for once, the Mule stuck with the puck and got it to Alfredsson, who earned his 2nd point of the night:
Aesthetically speaking, the game was as attractive as the Sabres' Gord-awful 3rd jerseys, but the Wings' lines meshed well without Datsyuk--Tomas Tatar provided tons of speed for Andersson and Miller,Helm was superb with Alfredsson and Abdelkader, the Swedish Trio of Nyquist and Zetterberg allow Franzen to lurk in the weeds like a sniper and sneaky scorer instead of a power forward, and Weiss looked very good to Samuelsson's meh and Cleary's urgh. On defense, Brian Lashoff laid on a goal while playing with Jakub Kindl, Kronwall and Ericsson were wonderful and KYLE QUINCEY IS NOW MINUS THIRTEEN INSTEAD OF MINUS FOURTEEN YAY!
Now Babcock needs to tell his skaters to play in front of Howard like they do in front of 5-0-and-1 Gustavsson--and he needs to stop playing Howard on a 70-game pace, because the Wings have an honest-to-goodness back-up who should play 30 games this season.
Going 1-for-3 in 4:30 of PP time and cutting off 2 Sabres power plays, out-shooting them 34-22 and keeping the giveaways down to 5 are all good stats, as are the Wings' 11 blocked Sabres shots and their 34 shots and 29 more attempts on Miller.
For the record, I looked at this picture and thought one thing: "Not enough ice to obstruct the hideousness." And given that the front of the Sabres' 3rds are so awfully yellow, why the hell are the numbers you-can-only-see-it-in-the-dark flat Reebok gray? To protect joggers at sunset?
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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.