The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/10/14 at 01:09 AM ET
I've been sidelined for the past week and may miss a bit more time as going through the spin cycle at 45 miles an hour (on my way to the Winter Classic, no less) has left me with a concussion. As such, I really didn't need to watch Thursday night/Friday morning's 4-1 Red Wings loss to the San Jose Sharks to be left with a pounding headache...But I watched anyway.
I'm just baffled as to how the Wings could've not known that they were walking into the trap they so brazenly trapised into after four full days off. You would think they had to have known that no Datsyuk, no Franzen (concussion buddies forever!), no Helm and no Ericsson meant that the team had much less margin for error than usual.
You would think that they had to have known that adding in a little rust would mean getting off to a strong start (no dice) and staying out of the penalty box (phantom calls and dives or no phantom calls or dives).
You would think that everyone from Jimmy Howard on out would know that the Sharks would work the cycle down low and try to pick the corners of the net, and you would most certainly think that the Wings of all teams would know that Joe Pavelski loves nothing more than playing teams wearing red.
Somewhere between practicing in Phoenix (I think that Datsyuk has either a sore left knee or a hip flexor injury, for the record) and flying to San Jose, maybe the Wings' younger players didn't get the message, because Jakub Kindl got walked around like he was a pylon on the Desjardins 2-1 goal and Tomas Tatar should've been checking Pavelski instead of playing goal on the 3-1 marker...
And sometime between the morning skate and the drop of the puck, the Wings' top line and top defensive pair must have forgotten how closely they would've been checked, because Henrik Zetterberg and Daniel Alfredsson were on for three goals against, Gustav Nyquist was a -2 and Niklas Kronwall was spared a -3 because the third goal he couldn't defend against was a power play marker.
From the drop of the puck--where the Wings were just dreadful in the faceoff circle--onward, the undermanned Wings were out-worked, out-hustled, out-skilled, out-willed, out-wiled (hey, the Sharks got away with some dives and a ton of hooking, holding, clutching and grabbing, but that's what smart teams do), and more or less dismantled by a team that's predictably dominated against the Wings at home in predictable fashion...
To the point that the third-period crap between Quincey and Kennedy was predictable, Toddd Bertuzzi getting punched in the face repeatedly by Wingels and Vlasic and having to go to the box for being cheap-shotted, or Daniel Cleary proving that the Wings' goat had been got by dirtily elbowing Hannan, all of that crap was just as expected as Tatar's pair of stumbles suffered thanks to a sticky blueline.
No Red Wing played well on Thursday night. The veterans, Alfredsson especially, looked like their timing was off; the key performers like Zetterberg, Kronwall and Howard worked hard but made telling, game-deciding mistakes; the support players and youngsters were either cheating toward offense and got caught on the wrong side of the puck, or they plain old didn't work nearly hard enough or smart enough to give the Wings the momentum they so desperately needed to generate when down a goal, or two or three.
And as encouraging as it is to see Drew Miller co-lead the team in shots and the now-visor-wearing Bertuzzi display physical panache from start to finish, there's just no excuse for the Wings to have all but stomped their foot on a bear trap, upset with themselves because they didn't cut off their own damn leg on the first try.
Things aren't going to get any easier against Darryl Sutter's trap-trap-and-trap-some-more-happy Kings on Saturday or those dastardly and cheap-ass Ducks on Sunday, and the Wings don't have the luxury of continuing to skid on the ice spinning their wheels given how tight the standings are--self-depreciating puns intended--or given how banged up this team remains as it attempts to regain its footing through fourteen remaining pre-Olympic games.
My absence may not be understandable if you haven't had a severe concussion, but I'm working on at least mild-to-moderate #3 here, and I didn't know what the road had in for me last Wednesday.
The hockey team I'm trying to rest and heal to follow doesn't have the same kind of ability to excuse itself from successfully out-competing its most familiar foes due to unforeseen circumstances. You could see Thursday's loss coming a mile away, but that doesn't make it any less unacceptable.
I hope to see you on Saturday and much more regularly by next week. It has sucked more than the Wings did tonight to not be able to follow hockey and to talk with all of you, supporters, detractors, beloved trolls and lingering lurkers alike, and I miss all of you--and doing this--very much. I've just been sleeping and trying to not have to try this hard to write. My Pacifica got banged up pretty badly and so did I, but at least nobody else got hurt, and I'm incredibly grateful to Paul and Monica for filling in and for your continued support. I sure as *#$%@& hope we get to watch a more solid Red Wings product together on Saturday and Sunday.
Thursday's effort and result were all too predictable, and if this team hopes to make the playoffs, it's got to stop sticking to its mistake-prone, inefficient and underachieving script...
And minus Helm and Datsyuk, the team looks absolutely desperate for speed up the middle, even with Glendening in the lineup. I'd argue that the team needs to tap Riley Sheahan on the shoulder or finally see what Landon Ferraro can do for them.
Shots 26-25 San Jose overall. Detroit out-shot San Jose 12-9 in the 1st, were out-shot 14-8 in the 2nd and out-shot San Jose 5-3 in the 3rd period.
Special teams: Detroit went 0-for-5 in 8:00 of PP time; the Sharks went 1-for-4 in 6:31 of PP time.
Goaltending: Jimmy Howard stopped 19 of 23 shots for Detroit, and Petr Mrazek stopped 3 of 3 for Detroit; Antti Niemi stopped 24 of 25 for San Jose.
The 3 stars were picked by Sharks radio broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky, and he picked Andrew Desjardins, Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.
The Wings' goal: Tatar (9) from Glendening (2) and Smith (8).
Faceoffs 31-21 San Jose (Detroit won 40%);
Blocked shots 18-14 San Jose;
Missed shots 19-11 San Jose (total attempts 59-54 San Jose, with the Wings firing 25 shots ON the net and 29 wide or blocked);
Giveaways 12-9 San Jose;
Takeaways 14-6 San Jose.
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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.