The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/14/12 at 05:37 PM ET
To some extent, the Wings played the same damn frustrating game they’ve been playing since the middle of December—if they don’t give up a 2-goal lead in a “depressive” start, they come out with an equally “manic” first-period flourish which never seems to result in the number of goals necessary to do anything less than find themselves scrambling in the 3rd period after all but giving the game away.
That was certainly the case on Saturday, as the Wings out-shot Chicago 21-4 in the 1st period, but were out-shot 23-22 the rest of the way—a 9-to-zero overtime shot advantage included.
Don’t get me wrong, the Wings started out fantastically well, peppering Corey Crawford and scoring a power play goal on the cycle, with a Nicklas Lidstrom pinch forcing the Hawks to allow Ian White and Pavel Datsyuk to continue cycling the puck; White then ripped a shot on net and Tomas Holmstrom did what he did best, tipping the puck in past Crawford.
A little under four minutes later, as the Wings’ barrage on Crawford continued, Todd Bertuzzi (who provided the necessary grit necessary to battle a Hawks team that did play choppy hockey and did, I guess we’ll say “was rewarded” for it—don’t get me wrong, so were the Wings—as both teams were rewarded for hooks, holds, hacks, whacks, blatant picks, too-many men calls [both ways, Eddie Olczyk], etc. thanks to the fact that the crackdown’s gone lax) scored a quick change to spell Tomas Holmstrom, Pavel Datsyuk swiped a Hawks centering pass and up roared Bertuzzi, ripping a backhand shot high over Crawford.
By the end of the 1st period, however, you could kind of get the feeling that the Hawks were going to come on in the 2nd, and that the Wings would have to be ready for them, especially as Jimmy Howard had to make some pretty remarkable saves in between Wings goals.
Perhaps not surprisingly given this season, the Hawks slowly but surely started to take the Wings’ lightning-fast transition game away from Detroit, gobbling up time, space and loose pucks while starting to generate scoring chances off one-on-one battles lost by Detroit, turnovers and the start of a forecheck which seemed to back the Wings off.
The Wings out-shot Chicago 8-7 in the 2nd period, but the rink slowly tilted toward the Hawks, and the Andrew SHaw goal? Well, first the boards giveth, and then they taketh away, so Howard was able to atone for a first-period goof but couldn’t stop the second period puck-handling adventure—because Niklas Kronwall stood there and watched Stuart and Howard find themselves flat-footed as Nick Leddy stole the puck and chipped it to an uncovered Shaw. Howard can move the puck pretty well, but when he goes behind his net, man, he looks like he’s wearing #39, not #35.
And those Hawks just dominated play in the 3rd period. It wasn’t just their 16-5 shot advantage, their four-minute power play due to a Drew Miller high stick (admirably killed off by Detroit to the point that the PK may have steadied the Wings’ ship) or their numerous close calls in which the Wings would simply stand and stare as the Hawks wound and wrangled the puck through the Wings’ zone as if the Andrew Brunettes of the world had channeled Pavel Datsyuk. Howard’s fantastic saves and some help by Justin Abdelkader, among others, allowed the Wings to survive for most of the period…
But an earned bounce gave the Hawks a frustrating point. After calling a timeout, the Hawks pulled their goalie, and after Jonathan Toews beat Pavel Datsyuk cleanly on a faceoff, Duncan Keith passed the puck into Marian Hossa near the hash marks, and his shot went off Nicklas Lidstrom’s skates and in over Howard.
Just like that, the Wings’ first-period flourish and second third-period’s worth of sleepwalking meant that the Wings would not be able to tie the Hawks in points, and that it was entirely possible that Detroit would find itself scrambling for a lost point if the Hawks kept roaring in on Howard as they did in the 2nd and 3rd periods.
The Wings seemed to settle themselves down in OT, however, dominating play as they finally got back to dominant puck possession hockey, out-shooting the Hawks 9-0, and by the time Nicklas Lidstrom passed the puck to Pavel Datsyuk to continue a fine cycling play and Todd Bertuzzi slithered into the slot, there was no doubt that 49 seconds would not separate the Wings from a shootout—Bertuzzi was going to and did bury his shot, overpowering Corey Crawford and giving the Wings a much-needed two points.
One could very well argue that the fact that the Wings only climbed within a point instead of two against Chicago, and the fact that they blew a 2-0 lead, should both be overlooked given the mental and physical grind the team finds themselves in playing on an every-other-day basis since December 30th. Today’s game marked the Wings’ fifth in eight nights, and they’ve got four in six to come starting on Monday, so does it really matter if the Wings had to scramble to get points that seemed to be banked away?
Well yes, yes it does matter.
On both Thursday and today, the Wings absolutely tore the top off the pepper mill and fired a cavalcade of shots on their opposing goaltender, but the Wings’ willingness to actually go to the net to screen said goaltender in layers, retrieve rebounds or pass passing up shots for the sake of artistic panache and just plain old rip the damn shot on the net, go after it and score a gritty rebound goal has yielded two points given away over the past three nights and many more points given away over the course of a season in which the Wings seem to have the firepower to score at will but not the will to utilize their firepower to the greatest extent of its potential.
Moreover, the Wings’ wild inconsistencies on a period-by-period basis have yielded too-deep-to-dig-out-of holes and the kinds of third period and OT scrambles that the Wings simply can’t afford to continue to entertain going down the stretch. They’re wasting inordinate amounts of time, energy and mental and physical efforts—the kinds of efforts which produce wear and tear down the line (thank goodness Howard seems to have near-limitless energy reserves)—and the Wings are only around the mid-point of a nasty pre-All-Star Break schedule which will help determine how heavily they have to fight the dogfight against Chicago and St. Louis down the stretch.
Today’s effort was good enough to win, but if the Wings keep letting their opponents up off the ground like this, they’ll continue to bleed away much-needed points or simply have to work too damn hard to salvage games that the physical and mental stresses will eventually appear down the line.
Good enough, but there’s no point in letting an angry, venomous snake out from under one’s boot.
Here’s NHL.com’s full slate of highlights;
I guess we’ll find out whether the puppy-kicking Wings or righteous Hawks injured each other like the dastardly and/or sainted teams they are over the course of this evening…
For now, however, the Wings earning a win—and two out of three against Chicago over the past two-and-change weeks—overrides the temporary joy of, say, watching Johan Franzen slug someone right back in the face when they slug him three or four times in the back of the head.
Shots 43-27 Detroit. The Wings out-shot Chicago 21-4 in the 1st period, out-shot Chicago 8-7 in the 2nd period, were out-shot 16-5 in the 3rd period and out-shot Chicago 9-0 in OT.
The Wings went 1 for 1 in 52 seconds of PP time; the Hawks went 0 for 3 in 6 minutes of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 25 of 27; Corey Crawford stopped 40 of 43.
The 3 stars, per Michigan Hockey’s Michael Caples, were Marian Hossa, Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi.
The Wings’ goals: Holmstrom (7) from White (17) and Datsyuk (32), PPG;
Bertuzzi (7) from Datsyuk (33) and White (18);
Bertuzzi (8) from Filppula (22) and Lidstrom (16), OT.
Faceoffs 31-28 Detroit (Detroit won 53%);
Blocked shots 14-7 Detroit;
Missed shots 11-9 Chicago (so the Hawks were only out-chanced by seven attempts, with Detroit firing 59 attempts at or near Crawford and the Hawks firing 52 at or near Howard);
Hits 30-15 Detroit;
Giveaways 9-8 Detroit;
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 9-and-10 (47%); Zetterberg went 8-and-5 (62%); Helm went 7-and-2 (78%); Abdelkader went 4-and-4 (50%); Filppula went 1-and-3 (25%); Franzen went 0-and-3; Cleary went 1-and-1 (50%); Emmerton won his only faceoff.
Shots: Miller and Bertuzzi co-led the team with 6 shots apiece; Cleary, Zetterberg, Ericsson, Kronwall and Franzen had 3; Kindl, Datsyuk, White, Stuart, Filppula and Holmstrom had 2; Abdelkader, Hudler, Helm and Emmerton had 1. Only Nicklas Lidstrom wasn’t credited with a shot, and he had 2 attempts (2 blocked, 1 wide).
Blocked attempts: Again, Lidstrom had 2 attempts blocked; Kindl, Datsyuk, Miller, Zetterberg and Filppula had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Kindl, Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Stuart, Zetterberg, Helm, Bertuzzi and Franzen missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Stuart led the team with 5 hits; Helm and Kronwall had 4; Ericsson had 3; Abdelkader, Datsyuk and Bertuzzi had 2; Kindl, Lidstrom, Cleary, White, Miller, Hudler, Filppula and Franzen had 1.
Giveaways: Datsyuk had 3 giveaways; White, Helm, Bertuzzi, Ericsson, Holmstrom and Howard had 1.
Takeaways: Datsyuk had 2 takeaways; Cleary and Bertuzzi had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Ericsson blocked 3 shots; Cleary, White and Kronwall blocked 2; Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Miller, Emmerton and Franzen blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Miller took a double minor for high-sticking; Ericsson was tagged for a minor penalty.
Plus-minus: The Wings actually finished at a collective -1. Zetterberg finished the game at -2; Hudler and Kronwall were -1; Lidstrom was +1; Bertuzzi was +2.
Points: Bertuzzi had 2 goals; Datsyuk and White had 2 assists; Holmstrom had a goal; Lidstrom and Filppula had assists.
Ice time: White led the team with 25:55 played; Lidstrom played 24:31; Stuart played 23:19;
Kronwall played 23:06; Zetterberg played 20:13; Filppula played 20:05;
Datsyuk played 20:04; Franzen played 19:17; Ericsson played 17:09;
Cleary played 16;24; Bertuzzi played 16:21; Hudler played 15:26;
Kindl played 14:49; Helm played 14:35; Miller played 13:14;
Abdelkader played 9:44; Holmstrom played 9:03; Emmerton played 7:49.
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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.