The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/19/13 at 11:54 AM ET
Updated 13x at 5:19 PM: It sounds like the Red Wings held a brief practice at Joe Louis Arena to begin preparing for Game 3 against Chicago tomorrow night--arriving ahead of a press corps that appears to have endured the joy that is a 40-minute flight between Chicago and Detroit turned into a three-to-four-hour odyssey thanks to traffic, O'Hare and/or Midway Airport delays and security and hauling butt back to Detroit in the middle of the night (Red Bird III > any other method of air travel), and the Wings appear to have gathered for a brief media availabilty session after said practice.
First, ESPN offered a slate of stats related to yesterday's 4-1 Wings win:
Western Conference Semifinals
Red Wings 4, Blackhawks 1 (Series tied 1-1)
* Red Wings: first win vs Blackhawks this season (had lost all 5 previous meetings, regular season & playoffs)
* Jimmy Howard (DET): 19 saves (2nd fewest in 37 career postseason games)
* Blackhawks: Most goals allowed in a game this postseason
* Blackhawks: 1st regulation home loss since March 29. 10-0-2 in previous 12 home games (regular season & playoffs)
FROM ELIAS: The Red Wings evened their series against the Blackhawks at one win each with a 4–1 victory in Game 2. Defenseman Brendan Smith scored the game-winning goal, and fellow backliners Jakub Kindl, Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall each recorded an assist for Detroit. It was the first time that the Red Wings had four different defensemen register points in the same playoff game since 2011, when Ericsson, Kronwall, Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart all got their names in the scoring summary in Game 5 Detroit’s second-round series versus San Jose. Three other teams have had four D-men with points in one game in this year’s playoffs: the Senators (Game 3 vs. Montreal), Capitals (Game 3 vs. the Rangers) and Islanders (Game 4 vs. Pittsburgh).
Red Wings vs Blackhawks This Season
1st 5 Games Saturday
W-L-OTL 0-2-3 Won
Goals 6 4
Goals against 16 1
Save pct 90.3% 95.0%
MLive's Ansar Khan offered a slate of Game 2-related quotes...
Mike Babcock on home ice: “I don't know if that makes any difference whatsoever. Let's just play. They got a real good club. They've been good all year. We got a real good club now. We haven't been good all year. We kept getting better. We're confident in our group. We think we can be in this series and we're excited about the opportunity.''
Babcock on Pavel Datsyuk: “Pavel doesn't have bad games, he has bad shifts once in a while, a bad period, but he doesn't have bad games. He just digs in.''
Jimmy Howard on Game 2: “I think this is our best game of the playoffs. What better time than to play it today? We needed to get a win here, get a split. The guys definitely responded after Game 1.''
Howard on his team's puck movement: “We didn't turn it over. That enabled us to get on the forecheck, get on top of their D. When their D can move it to their forwards with relative ease, they get their game going north-south and they're a tough team to play.''
Jonathan Ericsson on defending Jonathan Toews: “We know he's really good when he gets some space out there. We want to stay really tight on him. Our F-3 (third forward high) did a really good job on him, so our D-men could stay tight on the wingers as well.''
If you're really interested in more Hawks perspectives and/or a sympathetic ear pointing toward Jonathan Toews' comments, the Northwest Herald's Stan Musick penned both a game recap and a notebook focusing on Toews' suggestions that the refs only saw red-and-black and not red-and white;
Back on the sane side of the rink, Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji noted, the Red Wings defenseman playing in Danny DeKeyser's place--whose playoff beard makes him look like the love child of Man vs. Food's Adam Richman and a muppet--made some wise comments yesterday afternoon...
"We were more of ourselves (in Game 2)," Colaiacovo said. "We knew coming in after Game 1 that wasn’t us who played last game. They dictated the whole game. We gave them every opportunity they had. Not to take anything away from them, they’re a good team. But when we play like we can, that’s more of a style of hockey that we’re meant for playing."
The way the NHL is these days with the salary cap, there's far more parity among teams, especially among playoff teams. So now that the Wings have gotten back to the way they can play, they can't afford to let it slip. The Blackhawks are too good for that.
"It’s only 1-1," Colaiacovo said. "They’re a good road team, just as well as a home team. We’re not going to take that for granted. It’s great we’re going home with a spilt. I know the people in Detroit are going to be ready to go."
And you may take the Oakland Press's Pat Caputo's comments regarding fan and media criticism of Brendan Smith for what you will:
A lot of people are going to look at this game and comment about how it was a comeback effort for young defenseman Brendan Smith, who was roundly criticized following the series opener. It was a good effort by Smith, a unique talent, who is still finding his way in the rugged world of the NHL. He had a goal.
They will be missing the point about how the Red Wings really won this game, though, and perhaps the biggest factor as to why they have become a good and unexpected tale this postseason.
Anybody ever talk about Jonathan Ericsson? If there is anybody on the Red Wings’ squad who should understand what Smith has been through, it is Ericsson.
He was hammered regularly by fans for being a turnover machine early in his stint with the Red Wings. When general manager Ken Holland re-signed Ericsson to a three-year contract, paying him more than $3 million per season, in the summer of 2011, he was roundly criticized.
It turned out to be a bargain. Ericsson quietly had a brilliant game Saturday. He played a Nicklas Lidstrom-like 25 minutes, his plus-minus ratio was plus 2 and he had an assist. Ericsson is eligible for free agency after next season. Signing him for the long term should become a priority for the Red Wings. He’ll command a lot on the free agent market - if he gets there.
Niklas Kronwall gets similarly lost in the shuffle. He was also plus 2 Saturday and turned in iron-man minutes.
As for what's being said at Joe Louis Arena today...
#RedWings Babcock: The coaching staff's fun, the players are fun, it's been a fun year for us.— Dana Wakiji (@FSDwakiji) May 19, 2013
I happen to think that Toews is a real g-dash-d-damned annoying player as well as a real good player, but that's just me.
Wings uber-prospect Calle Jarnkrok and Team Sweden will battle Switzerland for the gold medal at the World Championships today at 2:30 PM EDT, but the game won't air in the U.S. (it will air on TSN in Canada). The U.S. is currently tied 2-2 with Finland in the bronze game.
DeKeyser's technically six weeks out, minimum, so I don't believe that the permanent screws and plate in his right thumb will "take" all of a week after he had surgery on that broken thumb, but we can...Imagine?
Well, who knew?
Update #2: This may be completely accurate. Or not:
“I think today we're enemies and we're looking forward to that 2:30 start,'' Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We'll have to get some bets in before we leave.''
It sounds like they already have.
“A really big day for Swiss hockey, obviously,'' Brunner said. “It's going to be even more fun walking in the morning and get all the money."
He would probably cash in big, considering he has seven Swedish teammates – Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen, Mikael Samuelsson, Jonas Gustavsson, and his linemates, Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson.
“That’s obviously a big game at home, and it’s a big game for the Swiss,'' Kronwall said. “They haven’t been in the final for I don’t know how many years (since 1935, when they lost to Canada). Of course, Sweden, it’s the first time in a couple of years (they lost to Finland in the final in 2011) and at home (Stockholm). It’s a big deal.''
Brunner was asked what would be bigger in Switzerland, winning the World Championships or having one of their own bring home the Stanley Cup.
"Probably for Switzerland, it's bigger to win the World Championships because not a lot of people know that much about the NHL,'' Brunner said. “They're just getting into it now. You know, we'll see how that goes today and hopefully they can succeed."
Could the country get both?
“That would be great,'' he said.
Update #3: The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan has already penned an article suggesting that the Wings have five points to emphasize if they are to take Game 3, including the following:
Moving the puck: Transitioning the puck from defensemen to the forwards wasn't a problem in Game 2. The Red Wings spent little time in their zone, and it was the Wings who were attacking and making life miserable on the Blackhawks.
"There was a feeling in here after Game 1, guys were saying that wasn't us," said defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who talked about how the "flow" was much better.
As long as the Red Wings aren't struggling attempting to get the puck out of their zone, and are instead pressing the issue in the Chicago end, the Red Wings are in good shape.
Power play must come alive: Somehow the Red Wings must get through this Chicago penalty-killing unit that has a shutout through 24 opponent power plays in the playoffs, including all seven against the Red Wings in this series.
Sure, it's possible for the Red Wings to win without scoring on the power play. But it would be a whole lot easier for them if they could convert on the power play every once in a while.
The Blackhawks do a good job of clogging shooting lanes and clearing rebounds. Getting pucks through and getting players in front of Crawford will continue to be a key factor.
Update #4: From Chicago...
Update #5: And the Stalberg story has reached text form via Comcast Sportsnet Chicago's Tracey Myers...
Viktor Stalberg is “likely” back in the lineup, and Michal Handzus and Johnny Oduya will also be in when the Chicago Blackhawks face the Detroit Red Wings in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series on Monday night.
Stalberg was out of the white jersey and into a black one at Sunday’s practice, and was again part of the third line with Andrew Shaw (who was centering) and Bryan Bickell. Dave Bolland was centering the second line, as Handzus was once again not practicing. Oduya, who played a team-high 20 ½ minutes in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon, also did not practice but coach Joel Quenneville said he’s in for tomorrow.
For Stalberg, it’s a chance to get back to his game.
“I’ll just keep playing the way I have all year. I don’t think I’m going to change too much; you just get back out there and work hard and do as much as you can,” Stalberg said. “It’s always frustrating. You want to play; you want to help out. Most of us made it here because we’re competitive people and we want to be the best. You want to be out there.”
And the Chicago Tribune's Brian Hamilton:
Quenneville liked the response from Stalberg, who played in 47 regular season games and was a plus-16 as a third-line stalwart.
"It's always tough," Quenneville said. "You're used to playing, and watching is something not used to, he's not axcustomed to sitting. I thought he handled it well. He did what had to do to keep himself ready. A couple strong skates and you put yourself in position be ready to help us."
It doesn't appear to be the only imminent change. Dave Bolland centered the second line for the Hawks in a short, crisp Sunday practice at the United Center with Michal Handzus sitting out the workout even though he was "fine," per Quenneville.
With Stalberg's likely return to the third line, it would seem the only option is to bump Bolland up to the second line with Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp while the veteran Handzus would slide out of the lineup.
Defenseman Johnny Oduya also missed Sunday's practice after logging more shifts (30) than any of the Blackhawks in Game 2. Quenneville said Oduya was "fine" as well.
And, no, after a 4-1 loss in Game 2, there is no burgeoning goaltender controversy. Corey Crawford will get the start in Game 3.
"We're fine with Corey right now," Quenneville said. "We like the way he's played. He's played very strong for us all year, he had an excellent first round and a real good start to this series."
Update #6: Here's the Free Press's Helene St. James' off-day report...
“We bounced back from Game 1 and we deserved to win Game 2,” Damien Brunner said. “I think they’re not happy about their game, probably, but it’s on us to keep on a roll and stay focused and get our fans excited. It’s definitely good to come back with a tie series. It’s easier to get into the series on the road, because you’ve got the pressure at home to win both games. Now it’s fun. I think the fans are really excited about the rivalry and that we’re in the series, now.”
The Detroit-Chicago clash is one between a team that was a work in progress all season and a team that progressed to rack up the points in its first 24 straight games, an NHL record. While the Blackhawks were running rough-shod over every opponent, the Wings were thrilled just to be treading water.
“A good month for us was one over,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We felt if we just kept hanging in there, we’d have a chance to get better. Our guys have gotten better, you have to give them a lot of credit.”
The growth in March and April, the improvement from so many of the young players populating lines and defensive pairings, has made it possible for the Wings to have success in May.
“For the first while, we weren’t good enough to play that way,” Babcock said when asked if the Wings have things figured out now. “You start believing and understanding it’s the blueprint after you have success. In order to have success, you’ve got to be good enough to do it. We’ve worked on it since Day One. We were a work in progress because we didn’t know what we were going to be like early. It took us a long time to kind of figure out. But it also took us a long while to figure out where everybody fit best, too. We had changes. We had guys that brought in that didn’t fit the way we thought they would, or were better than we thought they were, so we just kind of watched it and let it happen.”
The work in progress continues against the Blackhawks. Having gone seven games against the Ducks, the Wings don’t expect less from an opponent as skilled as Chicago.
“We know they’re a hell of a team,” Kronwall said, “and it’s going to be a long series.”
And MLive's Brendan Savage took note of Drew Miller's successful return to the Wings' lineup on Saturday:
He skated a regular shift, killed penalties and saw a little more than 12 minutes of ice time as the Red Wings beat the Blackhawks for the first time in six meetings this season.
"I got three penalty killers on the fourth line now," Babcock said. "It's important because he knows how to play all positions and he can really skate. So he gets on the forecheck. He's not a big man but he's got a great stick and knows how to play so he makes you a much better team."
Miller, who replaced Todd Bertuzzi in the lineup, didn't do anything spectacular but he did some of the little things that help win games. In addition to killing penalties, he had one shot on goal, two hits and blocked a shot.
Now, Miller and the Red Wings have knotted the series at one game apiece entering Game 3 Monday at Joe Louis Arena, where they'll host the Blackhawks again Thursday before returning to Chicago for at least one more game.
"In Game 1, we gave them an opportunity to play with a lot of speed," Miller said. "Today, we were above guys and we didn't give them a chance to get going like they like to do. We have a lot of veteran guys in this locker room that have been through it. I don't know what you say about Game 1, but it's a seven-game series and we just have to come back next game and play our game. We got a split here. It's a big win. A lot of people probably didn't think we get a win here, but earning a split and now we're going back home."
Update #7: The Chicago Tribune posted a video of Viktor Stalberg talking about returning to the Hawks' lineup...
ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers confirmed that Stalberg's back in for the Hawks...
After Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Red Wings in Chicago, which evened the series at 1-1 with Game 3 coming up in Detroit on Monday, Quenneville is thinking that Stalberg's speed could give the Blackhawks a boost.
"I think that's one of his strengths -- his quickness and his speed, be it off the rush, loosening up coverage, going wide on D, maybe getting some entries on his own," Quenneville said. "I thought he improved his play this year. When we talk about [the] decision not to play [him], we had a tough decision with [Dave Bolland] coming back in. Nice to see [Stalberg] back in there [at practice] with the option, and that [third] line playing together, which has been fairly consistent and pretty effective for most of the year. I think we can use his speed."
And if you haven't read the latest entry, there are apparently some very stupid questions to ask a Red Wings head coach, and asking him whether Jonathan Toews will transcend his frustration is one of them.
Update #7: Here's Patrick Sharp speaking to the Chicago Tribune about "flushing" Game 2, if you will...
Comcast Sportsnet Chicago's Tracey Myers suggests that the Blackhawks will "ramp up intensity" for Game 3...
"It’s something you deal with and learn about your team as you go along, how you respond to games like yesterday. You can break down a lot of things technically that could’ve been better, but it gets down to the compete level and going into the hard areas,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “But we’ve felt we’ve been a pretty good road team all year. Losing home ice, (it was) one of those days when they were much better than we were. And it certainly got our attention.”
Now the Blackhawks must adjust accordingly. The Blackhawks have had great results in Detroit, going 7-0-1 there over the past three regular seasons. This, however, isn’t the regular season.
“We’ve played in that building a lot but everything that happened in the past is in the past,” Duncan Keith said. “We’re worried about the big game tomorrow. It’s going to be tough, whether it’s in Joe Louis, the United Center, or wherever. We know it’s going to be tough.”
The Blackhawks know if they want to keep that record at Joe Louis, they need a much stronger effort in Game 3. They have to take advantage of the ice, which players said is fast and suits their game. The rest of their game will have to follow.
“We have to compete, work hard and prepare in all aspects,” Andrew Shaw said. “(Going on the road) just shows we have to stick together, compete for each other and we’ll be fine. We have to ramp up our intensity in Game 3.”
The Red Wings stole a game, and momentum, in Chicago on Saturday afternoon. The Blackhawks are going into a building that’s been very friendly to them over the years. But the challenge awaiting them is anything but cushy.
“Every series is challenging, every game is tough,” Quenneville said. “Whether it’s a big hit, big save, big goal or big (penalty kill)… it’s always going to be close and a situation, one way or another, could be a turning point. You want momentum off those situations, and you want to run with it if you get it.”
And she wonders whether it's the Wings who improved on Saturday or the Hawks who stank on Saturday:
[It] begs the question: are these Red Wings better than the Red Wings the Blackhawks faced –- and swept –- during the regular season? Yes, it was just one game that stymied the Blackhawks, who were by far the dominant group in Game 1. But the Wings impressed many with their seven-game series triumph over No. 2 Anaheim, which gave the Blackhawks last-minute fits this season.
“They had a long, hard-fought battle at the end of the season to get in, and what they did against Anaheim is unbelievable,” Andrew Shaw said. “They can score, they can play defense. They’re great in all aspects of their game and we have to be ready.”
Bryan Bickell gave Detroit its credit for the talent they have but doesn’t see a lot of differences between the Wings now to the Wings of a few months ago.
“The games we had against them were pretty close (in the regular season). The level of hockey in the playoffs changes,” he said. “They did what they needed to do to win; they got by Anaheim for a reason. But we have to bounce back yesterday like we did previously.”
The Wings are a good team, there’s no doubt. They recognized, and capitalized on, the desperate situation they were in on Saturday. They’re playing some of their best hockey at the perfect time. But the Blackhawks know how they can play, how they usually play, and know they have the depth and strength to rebound from that forgettable Game 2.
“We have a lot of respect for what they’re capable of. They beat a good Anaheim team. We know how good they can be. But we also have to be better,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You have to earn everything you get. So forget about everything we accomplished before (vs. Detroit). We have to accomplish everything on our own here.”
The Blackhawks' website happened to post Quenneville's off-day presser...
And AT SOME POINT the AP will post a solid story about the Wings, but right now, we get the bare-bones, sans-quotes version:
The Detroit Red Wings have gotten much younger than they used to be. And now, as the Chicago Blackhawks are finding out, Detroit is a much better team than it was during the lockout-delayed regular season thanks to its improved cast of inexperienced players.
Red Wings rookie Brendan Smith netted game-winning goal in Saturday's series-evening, 4-1 win at Chicago.
First-year player Damien Brunner and rookie Gustav Nyquist have also scored game-winning goals this post-season and teammate Joakim Andersson ranks among rookie scoring leaders.
Chicago is counting on a young, but experienced, player as the second-round series shifts to Detroit for Game 3 on Monday night.
Captain Jonathan Toews, a 25-year-old centre, is in an eight-game post-season scoring slump that dates to last year.
Update #9: NHL.com's Corey Masisak penned a story about the Wings' identity-building season...
Some of "the kids" were not with the Red Wings at the start of the season, and their ability to lock down a permanent place in the lineup has led in part to the improvement. Not having Darren Helm, the guy expected to be the No. 3 center, was a big blow to the team's depth, but Joakim Andersson has settled into that role and been a revelation in the postseason.
One of the guys skating next to him, Gustav Nyquist, was also playing for Grand Rapids in the American Hockey League in January, but he and a third rookie, Damien Brunner, have joined Andersson to form the team's third line. Brunner is tied for the team lead in goals with four and tied for second with seven points. Brunner and Nyquist both have overtime goals in the postseason as well.
"That Andersson line has been key for us," Babcock said. "We got worked in the 3-hole for the first two months and we couldn't handle it."
Added goalie Jimmy Howard: "That third line has been really good for us, definitely taking some pressure off our top two lines. That's what you need in the playoffs. … [Andersson] is the worker. [Nyquist] has the skill. And Brunner is a natural goal scorer."
Kronwall had to adjust to a new role with Lidstrom gone. He has accepted the responsibility of being the No. 1 defenseman and has proven apt at logging a ton of minutes and being an impact player at both ends of the ice.
Detroit's biggest problem early in the season, according to Howard, was at the defensive end of the ice and "the little details." Part of that was trying to figure out roles for everyone behind Kronwall. Jonathan Ericsson has become Kronwall's go-to partner, while a bunch of rookies have supplanted veterans for spots in the top six. Brendan Smith was always expected to be a key guy this season, but Jakub Kindl and April addition Danny DeKeyser also became mainstays.
When DeKeyser was hurt, Babcock turned to rookie Brian Lashoff first before brining Carlo Colaiacovo in for the past three contests.
"The growth of Smith and Kindl has been huge for us," Babcock said. "Ericsson has gotten much better. We seem to have people rounded into playing in spots that suit them better. I talked about when DeKeyser came, he helped us immensely. Whenever we got confidence or got playing better, we were able to maintain it when he left to a certain level -- we still don't move the puck the same, but I just think we're a better team. We weren't a good team at the start."
And the Edmonton Sun's Derek Van Diest talked to Damien Brunner about his first NHL playoff run:
"It’s an experience, the travel, playing every other day,” Brunner said. “We got used to that during the regular season, but it’s more intense and all the fans are into it, it’s a lot of fun. I knew it was going to be intense and tough and we went the full seven games right away. On the other side, it’s hard to expect something that you’ve never been in. I’m enjoying it.”
The Red Wings are happy to have Brunner around both on and off the ice. His outgoing personality has made him a favourite in the locker room.
“I don’t think he gets what’s going on,” smiled Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard. “He doesn’t understand the realm of things and what could possibly happen as the playoffs unfold. He’s in a good mood every single day. He always has a smile on his face and when he’s out there he’s competing hard and pucks are going in for him.”
Brunner has found success playing on a line with Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson. The third line has been strong for the Red Wings, particularly in their own end.
“I think we have pretty good chemistry and I really enjoy playing with those two guys, they’re great guys off the ice too,” Brunner said. “We’re having fun together and we support each other. You just try to put shifts together, get some offensive-zone time, keep the puck away from them and get some momentum.”
The development of the trio as a third line is one of the reasons for the Red Wings’ success this season. “They played great for us and the have a really responsible guy in the middle with (Andersson),” said Red Wings defenceman Niklas Kronwall. “That line has been huge for us. (Brunner) is a sniper, that’s what he’s been doing all season long for us. So we’re happy to have him. He finds a way to get those goals. He’s such an easy-going guy. He always has a smile on his face, he’s one of those guys that’s fun to be around.”
Update 10: Oh boy, goody, the Hawks like the Joe, as ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers noted:
“I like it,” Shaw said. “It’s fast ice. It’s a great environment. The fans are right on top of you. It gets me going. I know a lot of the other guys like playing there as well.”
Bolland said, “We like playing there. They have good ice. When you get good ice, you’re moving that puck easy. Skating, everything is moving faster. It’s a faster pace. We’ve always had success at Joe Louis.”
Quenneville said the game does play differently in the Red Wings’ rink.
“We’ve been in their building a lot of times, and we see what the puck is capable of doing,” Quenneville said. “That’s why the unpredictability -- the end boards, the side boards -- there’s almost a spring to that puck. It’s almost a livelier game in certain areas, and awareness of both sides of the puck is something we got to be ready for.
“Certainly buildings have faster ice or maybe smoother ice or maybe the players feel good for them, maybe there’s a quicker pace. They certainly got some ingredients in their building that are different from ours whether it’s the boards, end boards, high boards. You’ll have some unpredictable bounces out there. But the ice, there’s a lot of good buildings where the ice is good. Our ice has not been a problem. I’m not complaining about it. But they got good ice.”
Update #11: The captain on Toews, one day later, per the Edmonton Sun's Van Diest:
“He’s a good player, I don’t think it was really physical, I’m pretty sure both of us have played more physical games than we did in Game 2,” Zetterberg said. “But you can’t just focus on Toews, that line with (Brandon) Saad and (Marian) Hossa is a pretty good line and you have to play them as a five-man unit. You have to be aware where everyone is, because their D like to jump into the play too. It’s not just one player, we have to focus on everyone. We all have to win our one-on-one battles. It’s nothing different for me.”
Having earned the split in Chicago, the Red Wings are expecting a fired up Blackhawks team in Game 3 Monday, trying to win back home-ice advantage.
“I think after Game 1 we were not happy with how we were playing,” Zetterberg said. “We wanted to play better in Game 2 and now we have to find how to play two good games in a row. In the first series against Anaheim, we played a good game, a bad game, a good game. We have to find a way to really play good tomorrow and really take charge of the game.”
Update #12: ESPN Chicago's Rogers just penned an off-day notebook:
Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp doesn't believe it's fair to pin Saturday’s 4-1 loss in Game 2 all on what he and his teammates didn’t do in it. He thinks the Red Wings also deserved recognition for what they did do.
“I just think it’s a good team over there,” Sharp said after Sunday’s practice. “They don’t get the credit they deserve, probably because they were the seventh seed. It’s two playoff teams going at it. Regards to what they did [in Saturday’s win,] they played at a higher pace, they played at a higher compete level and executed better than us. If we’re going to win this series and Game 3, we’re going to have to raise our level. ... If anyone thought anyone was going to cruise through this series, they were wrong. Just look at the talent they have over there and how well they play their team game. We know it’s going to be a great series.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville thinks his team is giving the Red Wings the proper amount of respect, but wants to see them focus on improving their own game to regain the series momentum.
“I’m not worried about them,” Quenneville said. “I know we have a lot of respect for what they’re capable of. They just beat a very good Anaheim team. We know how good they can be. But we know we have to be better. If you advance in the playoffs, you have to earn everything you get here. Forget about what was accomplished before; we have to accomplish everything on our own here.”
Tougher on Detroit: The Blackhawks are planning to make the game more difficult on the Red Wings’ top players in Game 3 just like Detroit did to them in Game 2. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews expressed a frustration in how the Red Wings handled him in Game 2.
“We can’t give them any space,” Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland said. “When you give [Pavel Datsyuk, [Henrik Zetterberg, [Johan Franzen and all those guys space, they’re going to do something with it. They’re great players obviously. They’re some of the top players in the world. If you give them an advantage of not getting hit, not being around them and laying the body or doing something, they’re going to be creative. I think you’ve seen that last game with what happened.”
Update #13: The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness's off-day notebook focuses on Damien Brunner:
“I really don’t think he has a clue what’s going on,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “I don’t think he understands the realm of things, of what could possibly happen here as the playoffs unfold. He’s in a good mood every single day. He comes to the rink with a smile on his face and when he’s out there he’s doing the right things. He’s going to the net. When you’re out there and competing like he’s competing, pucks go in for you.”
Brunner also netted the Wings’ lone goal in Game 1 and would have had a second one, but Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook was able to whack his shot out of midair to keep it from crossing the goal line.
“He’s a smart player, he’s scored a lot of goals in his career, he keeps doing it,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said.
Zetterberg has known Brunner the longest in the locker room after playing with him in the Swiss National A league during the lockout.
“I saw that he was a good player,” Zetterberg said. “He’s really good offensively. He still has some to learn defensively. But when you start playing in the system, you start learning that and I think he’s been improving all year.
“He’s strong on his stick, he’s strong when he battles for the puck,” Zetterberg added. “I think he improved a lot in protecting the puck. In (Switzerland) you don’t have to protect the puck that much in the offensive end, but I think he’s become a lot better since he came here.”
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