The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/27/13 at 09:07 PM ET
When I was sick as sick could be, early, often and repeatedly on Friday, I cannot deny that there was more than one period of time that I thought, "If the Red Wings lose on Saturday, then I'll really feel like I got kicked in the gut." And that was saying something given what my gut was doing to me.
But the Detroit managed to make the playoffs for the 22nd straight season thanks to an incredibly determined effort by the Wings' best players during a week in which the team needed to win 4 of 4 games--and did just that, defeating Dallas 3-0 to punctuate a fantastic final week of the regular season and set up a first-round match-up with the Anaheim Ducks.
After an incredibly frustrating, disappointing and innervating season for Wings fans, their team is just starting to find itself and its identity, and on Saturday night, from the moment Henrik Zetterberg put the puck off Brenden Dillon's skate and past Richard Bachman, there was very little doubt that the Wings would be playoff bound.
The 1st period involved playing intense, focused hockey for the team playing in front of a home crowd and intense, focused football for the team playing on home ice, and the Wings gave up a significant chunk of scoring chances--and over half of the 17 shots they would surrender during the game--but Jimmy Howard was up to the task, and with 1:43 left in the 1st, Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader were grinding the puck out down low, Zetterberg took the puck out of a scrum and behind the net, circled and attempted to pass the puck to Abdelkader...And it went of Brenden Dillon's skate and past Richard Bachman instead.
The second period was tighter in terms of shots and tighter because the referees discovered that they had whistles and perhaps a quota's worth of penalties to call, and both teams killed the pair of PK's they were assessed--including a double-minor to Ryan Garbutt for high-sticking Gustav Nyquist (who's okay) under his visor--but Brendan Smith had something of a brain fart after Vernon Fiddler either accidentally or didn't accidentally hit Kyle Quincey in the head (Quincey ducked down while battling another player), and Smith took 2 roughing minors to Fiddler's 1, putting the Wings on the penalty-kill to start the 3rd.
Instead of surrendering a goal, the Wings scored one when Pavel Datsyuk stole the puck from a cheating-forward Stars defense and sent Henrik Zetterberg past Ray Whitney, in alone on a breakaway, and Zetterberg found no trouble in ensuring that the Wings would win by a multi-goal margin:
A few minutes later, the Zetterberg line was up to its cycling-down-low tricks again, and when Jonathan Ericsson made what can be a terrifying decision in pinching, it paid off in the right direction:
The Wings only really looked human when Garbutt went to the box for slashing Jordin Tootoo (who didn't play another shift) and they too-cutesyed the puck far too often, resulting in a shorthanded breakaway which Howard expertly steered away:
And when the Stars tried to goon it up late, they were undone by a simple numbers game, taking a too-many men penalty, so the Wings were able to finish the game with a power play. It was the power play that was the only part of the Wings' game that looked like early-season Wings hockey, and it went 0-for-4 in 7:39 of ice time, but the Wings just didn't need to rely on it.
Howard finished the game with a 17-save shutout, Zetterberg had a goal and 2 assists, Datsyuk had 2 assists and the gents ended the season with 49 points for the man who said, "One player really inspire Red Wings last month, it our fans" and 48 for the first-year captain.
Now the team will fly home for the evening, likely head to Anaheim on Sunday evening, and if all rumors hold true, the Wings will start their series against the Ducks on Tuesday night.
Update: Via RedWingsFeed, the NHL produced a "Because it's the Cup" video for the Wings...
Who won't be joined by the Blue Jackets as Minnesota defeated Colorado, eliminating Columbus. I'm stunned that the Blue Jackets didn't make it.
Shots 37-17 Detroit overall. The Wings out-shot Dallas 18-9 in the 1st, 8-4 in the 2nd and 11-4 in the 3rd.
The Wings went 0-for-4 in 7:39 of PP time; Dallas went 0-for-3 in 4:00 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 17 of the 17 shots he faced; Richard Bachman stopped 34 of 37.
The 3 stars were picked by the AP's John Tranchina, and he picked Jimmy Howard (3), Pavel Datsyuk (2) and Henrik Zetterberg (1).
The Wings' goals: Zetterberg (10) from Abdelkader (3) and Datsyuk (32);
Zetterberg (11) from Datsyuk (33), short-handed;
Ericsson (3) from Datsyuk (34) and Zetterberg (37).
Faceoffs 27-26 Detroit (Detroit won 51%);
Blocked shots 18-15 Detroit;
Missed shots 22-11 Detroit (total attempts 74-46 Detroit, with Detroit firing 37 shots on Bachman and another 37 wide or into Stars players);
Hits 30-14 Dallas;
Giveaways 13-6 Dallas;
Takeaways 6-2 Dallas.
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 8-and-8 (50%); Filppula went 7-and-6 (54%); Emmerton went 8-and-4 (67%); Andersson went 2-and-6 (25%); Franzen went 1-and-2 (33%); Zetterberg went 1-and-0 (100%).
Shots: Zetterberg led the team with 7 shots; Eaves and Franzen had 4; Abdelkader, Nyquist, Emmerton and DeKeyser had 3; Cleary and Brunner had 2; Smith, Kindl, Ericsson and Kronwall had 1.
Blocked attempts: Quincey hit Stars players 4 times; Smith, Kindl and Franzen had 2 attempts blocked; Datsyuk, Nyquist, Brunner, Zetterberg and Filppula had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Abdelkader missed the net 4 times; Brunner missed the net 3 times; Tootoo, Zetterberg, Filppula, Ericsson and Franzen missed the net 2 times; Kindl, Nyquist, Emmerton, Quincey and Kronwall missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Ericsson led the team with 3 hits; Tootoo, Quincey and DeKeyser had 2; Abdelkader, Cleary, Datsyuk, Eaves and Andersson had 1.
Giveaways: Zetterberg had 2 giveaways; Kidl, Quincey, Ericsson and Andersson had 1.
Takeaways: Brunner and Andersson had takeaways.
Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall blocked 4 shots; Quincey, Filppula and Ericsson blocked 2; Smith, Kindl, Abdelkader, Cleary, Datsyuk, Eaves, Brunner and Emmerton blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Smith took 3 minors; Kronwall took 1 minor penalty.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +14. Quincey and DeKeyser finished at +1; Abdelkader, Ericsson and Kronwall finished at +2; Datsyuk and Zetterberg finished at +3.
Points: Datsyuk had 3 assists; Zetterberg had 2 goals and 1 assist for 3 points; Ericsson had a goal; Abdelkader had an assist.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 23:25 played; Kindl played 21:53; Quincey played 20:09;
Franzen played 19:53; Filppula played 19:40; Ericsson played 19:24;
DeKeyser played 19:15; Datsyuk played 19:07; Zetterberg played 17:29;
Cleary played 16:52; Smith played 15:41; Andersson played 13:48;
Abdelkader played 13:30; Eaves played 12:02; Brunner played 11:43;
Nyquist played 11:41; Emmerton played 10:56; Tootoo played 7:32.
Update again: Here's a slate of game highlights:
Update #3: Via RedWingsFeed, the NHL Network posited a preview of the Wings-Ducks series...
And Jimmy Howard spoke to the NHL Network after the game, too:
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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.