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Red Wings-Sabres quick take: opportunistic Wings snag 2 points on Turd Jersey night

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?

No matter. Get this--the Wings have won 2 of their past 3 games--and the team will have an "off day" on Monday, visit Children's Hospital on Tuesday and hopefully will have Datsyuk and Bertuzzi back in the lineup for Wednesday's barometer game against the Bruins (and Friday's game in Long Island and Sunday's game in Ottawa).

The past three games set the table for some statement-makers, and here's hoping that the Wings understand as much and play opportunistic hockey from here on out.

Statistics:

Shots 34-22 Detroit. Detroit out-shot Buffalo 14-6 in the 1st, they were out-shot 9-8 in the 2nd, and Detroit out-shot Buffalo 12-7 in the 3rd period.

Special teams: the Wings went 1-for-3 in 4:30 of PP time; the Sabres went 0-for-2 in 4:00 of PP time.

Goaltending: Jonas Gustavsson stopped 21 of 22 shots, including a penalty shot; Ryan Miller stopped 31 of 33; the Sabres' empty net did not fare well, surrendering a goal on the only shot it faced.

The 3 stars were picked by the Sabres' broadcasters, and they picked Henrik Zetterberg, Darren Helm and Ryan Miller.

The Red Wings' goals: Helm (5) from Alfredsson (12) and Abdelkader (6);

Franzen (6) From Zetterberg (18) and Kronwall (13), PPG;

Alfredsson (4) from Franzen (7), ENG.

Faceoffs 31-30 Buffalo (Detroit won 49%);

Blocked shots 19-11 Buffalo;

Missed shots 12-10 Buffalo (total attempts 63-45 Detroit);

Giveaways 9-5 Buffalo;

Takeaways 12-7 Buffalo.

Individual stats:

Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 10-and-7 (59%); Andersson went 7-and-7 (50%); Helm went 8-and-6 (57%); Weiss went 3-and-9 (25)%; Tatar went 2-and-1 (67%); Johan Franzen lost his only faceoff.

Shots: Joakim Andersson led the Wings with 5 shots; Kronwall and Franzen had 4; Alfredsson, Tatar, Samuelsson, Helm and Ericsson had 3; Quincey and Zetterberg had 2; Abdelkader and Nyquist had 1.

Blocked attempts: Kindl fired 4 shots into Sabres players; Franzen had 3 attempts blocked; Tatar, Lashoff, Quincey and Zetterberg had 2 attempts blocked; Abdelkader, Helm, Ericsson and Kronwall had 1 attempt blocked.

Missed shots: Quincey and Zetterberg missed the net 2 times; Abdelkader, Alfredsson, Miller, Samuelsson, Ericsson and Franzen missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Alfredsson, Quincey and Cleary had 2 hits; Andersson, Miller, Samuelsson, Helm, Kronwall and Weiss had 1.

Giveaways: Kindl, Alfredsson, Miller, Samuelsson and Gustavsson had giveaways.

Takeaways: Nyquist and Tatar had 2 takeaways; Samuelsson, Zetterberg and Kronwall had 1.

Blocked opponent shots: Lashoff blocked 3 Sabres shots; Smith and Quincey blocked 2 shots; Abdelkader, Helm, Weiss and Franzen blocked 1 shot.

Penalties taken: Quincey and Weiss took minor penalties.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished at +5. Smith,, Alfredsson, Quincey, Zetterberg and Franzen finished at +1.

Points: Both Alfredsson and Franzen scored a goal and added an assist for 2 points apiece; Helm had a goal; Abdelkader, Zetterberg and Kronwall had assists.

Ice time: Kronwall played 26:09; Ericsson played 24:09; Quincey played 19:45;

Abdelkader played 19:36; Smith played 18:54; Zetterberg played 17:59;

Alfredsson played 17:20; Miller played 16:18; Andersson played 16:12;

Helm played 16:02; Franzen played 15:49; Nyquist played 14:00;

Kindl played 13:36; Lashoff played 13:28; Tatar played 13:21;

Samuelsson played 11:18; Weiss played 11:09; Cleary played 11:04.

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Comments

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Hard to say much about that game.

We need more wins. The fanbase is kind of dispirited right now. Which I understand, despite my efforts to be positive and fight the overly dramatic comments here.

A few more wins in the coming days and we’ll all feel better. I just hope the Wings realize the way to do that is to stick with the better puck possession in the offensive zone, and to wake the hell up and move the puck intelligently out of their own zone.

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 11/24/13 at 09:16 PM ET

alwaysaurie's avatar

Great game, and loved see a little jump from Abdelkader.

This is his 4th game in a row where he’s looked great, showing off what he learned from Z and Dats line on other lines.

He’s making every line he plays on better.

Posted by alwaysaurie on 11/24/13 at 09:28 PM ET

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I hope Datsyuk is OK (why the heck won’t that elbow to the jaw play get reviewed?), and I hope Big Bert will be back in the lineup against Boston. I think George is right that they need to play Big Gus in goal more - Howard has not been right since he was out with that hand injury.

Posted by griffinsfan on 11/24/13 at 09:32 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The play was reviewed and the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported that the league determined that, “No supplementary discipline was needed.”

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 11/24/13 at 09:37 PM ET

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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,

Gustavsson faces approximately 31.7 shots per 60 minutes.
Howard faces approximately 29.6 shots per 60 minutes.

Howard has played around 70% of Detroit’s total minutes in goal this year, has only played on consecutive nights once (the second and third games of the season), and has alternated starts with Gustavsson the past 5 games.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/24/13 at 09:44 PM ET

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Couldn’t agree more with Monster getting more work in net.

Hoping for Dats getting back quick.  Have a feeling Bert isn’t going to be rushed and might just wind up helping the cap space with some LTIR time.

Posted by maltby18 on 11/24/13 at 09:48 PM ET

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From the ‘Patience and Perspective’ department:

Detroit had around 20 million dollars in cap space either playing on the fourth line or not playing at all and dominated an admittedly poor team on the road at the ass end of a back to back.

Detroit gets Datsyuk back a little rested, gets Weiss off the schneid, and starts getting Gustavvian goaltending from Howard and they’ll be in great shape.  We’re not talking about anything crazy unlikely here.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/24/13 at 09:50 PM ET

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A regulation victory was much needed. Z is awesome. Nyquist is a player that is evolving into a top 6 forward that will provide us with energy for years to come. Unfortunately, our bottom 6 weren’t really noticeable at all. Still having trouble with them, because beating Buffalo 3-1 is one thing; beating Chicago or Boston in a seven-game series is another thing. Still much work to do and hopefully Pav is OK, but at least (HOPEFULLY) this is the beginning of good things to come.

Posted by ZandPasha11 on 11/24/13 at 09:58 PM ET

voline's avatar

Straight up: Jimmy Howard of Syracuse, New York for Ryan Miller of East Lansing, Michigan.

With Miller’s salary it’d have to wait until after the season, though.

Posted by voline on 11/24/13 at 10:11 PM ET

Joe Z.'s avatar

I’m grateful for Helm finding the scoring touch. the thing that was missing from his game the last years. if he continues to improve his once great puck controlling skill, i highly doubt Weiss will be a top 6 player for long…

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 11/24/13 at 10:12 PM ET

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Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/24/13 at 08:44 PM ET

Arrrr. I’m going into fetal position. Why!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We’re not talking about anything crazy unlikely here.

“Yes. It is all as you have foreseen, my master.”

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 11/24/13 at 11:16 PM ET

bleep bloop's avatar

the thing that was missing from his game the last years.

The thing that was missing from Helm’s game the last years has been Helm.

Here I was thinking that the two dead weights who stick out the most were actually doing something useful—Quincey has surprisingly not been bad for a number of games now and Samuelsson has actually been skating and got an assist one game—then Samuelsson practically gives the puck away twice in a row in the defensive zone (the first was really just a horrible pass and the second was not credited as a giveaway either), resulting in Weiss’s penalty. That was also his last shift—I think he injured his right leg on the play—but it was Cleary’s last shift also, so maybe Babcock was just fed up with their complete ineffectiveness. (Weiss played another 2 seconds after that.)

Smith still sucks.

Alfredsson was on the ice for all four goals.

Posted by bleep bloop on 11/24/13 at 11:44 PM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

I actually didn’t dislike Buffalo’s new jerseys. They look better than Quincey.

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 11/25/13 at 12:26 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I agree with everything HiHD said.

I think that means that I have to retire and go write in the woods or something. Well, it’s been fun wink raspberry

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 11/25/13 at 12:26 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

He wasn’t bad, which disturbs me.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 11/25/13 at 12:35 AM ET

calquake's avatar

He wasn’t bad, which disturbs me.

No he wasn’t but what I want out of him is consistency, not greatness, not taking chances, just playing defensive hockey and being invisible enough to not be on the ice for way too many goals.

Posted by calquake on 11/25/13 at 12:41 AM ET

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Yea..scratch cleary and sammy. They’re so useless. Quincey is who I want off the team.  Hes bad. In fact against Ottawa he was the one with the 4 minute careless high stick which ultimately lead to our loss. Wish we could bundle him with buckets and the other guy for a solid defensive defenseman.

Posted by Pasha1277 on 11/25/13 at 01:02 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

The Monster looked amazing playing against the Sabres - a team who’s biggest offensive weapon is Ville Leino.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 11/25/13 at 01:05 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

The Monster looked amazing playing against the Sabres - a team who’s biggest offensive weapon is Ville Leino.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 11/25/13 at 12:05 AM ET

The Monster didn’t look too bad playing against Washington and Colorado, either.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 11/25/13 at 01:49 AM ET

bleep bloop's avatar

I don’t care if he only plays against teams with no offense as long as he keeps getting wins. When was the last time the Red Wings allowed 1 or fewer goals against any opponent? 22 days prior.

Posted by bleep bloop on 11/25/13 at 01:54 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

We have a competent back-up goalie! And there was much rejoicing!

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 11/25/13 at 02:18 AM ET

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Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 11/25/13 at 12:05 AM ET

Good sarcasm, but has he looked bad in any of his starts?

Posted by Garth on 11/25/13 at 09:50 AM ET

TKShreve's avatar

Really liking what I’m seeing out of a few of our guys right now.

Abdelkader, Helm, Alfredsson, Gus, Gustavson, Tatar (why was he on the 4th line?), Z, Z, Z, Pavel (of course) annnnnd throw in the Mule for an Honorable Mention.

This core is holding the team together momentarily. There exists a large amount of dead weight and without these aforementioned playmakers, our team would be excruciating to watch.

We should have beaten the Sabres with ease. Franzens goal was a total fluke and that game was much closer than the score dictates. I tend to score a game by legitimate to awesome goals, and exclude the ugly, accidental goals. However, missing Datsyuk rights the ship on that thought altogether.

Posted by TKShreve from East Uptown on 11/25/13 at 12:37 PM ET

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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.