The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/29/13 at 12:13 AM ET
In theory, the Detroit Red Wings and their fans should be happy as clams this morning. The Wings handed the Ducks back-to-back losses, took out the Coyotes, and, aside from Johan Franzen's "lower-body injury," mostly avoided the injury bug (see: Jakub Kindl taking a knee-on-knee hit and not getting seriously hurt) during their West Coast swing. The Wings took 6 of 8 points on their West Coast trip and did a fine job of separating themselves from the playoff pack.
But the Wings' 2-0 loss against San Jose leaves the Wings' twitchy fan base feeling bummed out as the Wings head home for a pair of games against Chicago (on Sunday) and Colorado (on Monday) before heading right back out West again, mostly because the Wings were shut down by a trap-happy and clutchy-and-grabby (got away with it, too) team, playing East-West hockey against a North-South team....
And the Wings paid for it.
Against a Sharks team that was content to play Minnesota Wild-circa-2004 hockey, the Sharks saw that the Wings were making d-to-d passes and pressured the right defenseman relentlessly. It resulted in an accidental kick-in goal by Niklas Kronwall and an, "Okay, time's up on this pairing" giveaway by Brian Lashoff and bad backcheck by Brendan Smith (who, along with Valtteri Filppula, had an awful night), and this was just an incredibly frustrating game to watch, because even Pavel Datsyuk was giving up chances to shoot to make an extra pass, and it looked like the Wings were resigned to losing puck battles, losing momentum and surrendering odd-man rushes going the other way all night long.
This was a typical passive-offense game for the Wings, who fired 27 pucks ON Antti Niemi and sent another THIRTY-NINE wide or into Sharks players. Whether it was the faceoff battle, the giveaway battle (especially in their own zone), the momentum battle, the clutch-and-grab battle or the battle for quality scoring chances, the Wings played rope-a-dope hockey minus rope, and despite losing a pretty tight game, they looked like they got schooled Columbus-style.
In reality, the Wings' road trip went very, very well, and Jimmy Howard was excellent despite receiving no help whatsoever from anyone in front of him, but they didn't get any butts in front of Antti Niemi, they passed up an inordinate number of chances to shoot pucks, and had they not made the defensive errors that they did, this game still could have gone to overtime.
One team played safe, ugly hockey after playing 3 games over the course of 4 nights and 2 in 2. The other team played sloppy, mentally tired hockey after a two-day break, and despite the Wings' successful road trip overall, this game leaves a very bad taste in the mouths of a fan base that needs no help in freaking out and starting to believe the sky is falling around a team that's much steadier now than it played on Thursday night.
The Wings will be okay and will rebound. This is a sucky loss, not a playoff-hope-quasher. But it still stings and it still stinks and it's still going to leave Red Wings nation's twitchy nervous systems on edge.
Update: On Franzen:
Shots 27-24 Detroit overall. The Wings were out-shot 8-7 in the 1st, out-shot San Jose 9-8 in the 2nd and out-shot San Jose 11-8 in the 3rd.
The Wings went 0-for-1 on the game's only power play.
Jimmy Howard stopped 22 of 24 shots; Antti Niemi stopped 27 of 27;
Dan Rusanowsky picked the 3 stars, and he picked Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Joe Pavelski and Antti Niemi.
Faceoffs 31-23 San Jose (Detroit won 43%);
Blocked shots 23-16 San Jose;
Missed shots 16-12 San Jose (total attempts 66-52 Detroit);
Takeaways 9-8 San Jose.
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 10-and-10 (50%); Zetterberg went 6-and-9 (40%); Andersson went 4-and-6 (40%); Emmerton went 1-and-4 (20%); Filppula went 2-and-1 (67%); Nyquist lost his only faceoff.
Shots: Zetterberg led the team with 5 shots; Cleary had 4; Miller had 3; Abdelkader, Nyquist, Brunner and Ericsson had 2; Datsyuk, White, Tootoo, Lashoff, Kronwall, Andersson and Franzen had 1.
Blocked attempts: Brunner fired pucks into Sharks players 4 times; White, Filppula and Ericsson had 3 attempts blocked; Kronwall and Andersson had 2 shot attempts blocked; Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Nyquist, Lashoff, Emmerton and Zetterberg had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Brunner missed the net 3 times; White missed the net 2 times; Smith, Kindl, Datsyuk, Nyquist, Miller, Tootoo, Lashoff, Zetterberg, Ericsson, Kronwall and Franzen missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Miller, Tootoo and Emmerton were credited with 2 hits; Smith, Abdelkader, White, Lashoff, Brunner and Ericsson had 1.
Giveaways: Smith, Datsyuk and Kronwall had 2 giveaways; Lashoff, Brunner, Emmerton and Franzen had 1.
Takeaways: Kronwall had 2 takeaways; Smith, Cleary, Datsyuk, Miller and Franzen had takeaways.
Blocked opponent shots: Andersson blocked 4 Sharks shots; White and Kronwall blocked 3 shots; Filppula blocked 2 shots; Kindl, Nyquist, Lashoff and Emmerton blocked 1.
Penalties taken: No penalties were taken by the Wings.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective -10. Miller finished at -2; Smith, Cleary, Lashoff, Zetterberg, Filppula, Ericsson, Kronwall and Andersson finished at -1.
Points: No Wing registered a point.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 26:40 played; Ericsson played 21:32; Zetterberg played 21:23;
Filppula played 20:50; Datsyuk played 20:33; Abdelkader played 19:54;
Smith played 18:21; White played 18:04; Kindl played 17:04;
Lashoff played 16:40; Brunner played 15:52; Cleary played 14:56;
Miller played 14;32; Nyquist played 13:57; Andersson played 11:50;
Franzen played 10:20; Emmerton played 9:49; Tootoo played 9:43.
Highlights: The Wings' announcers narrate NHL.com's highlights:
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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.