The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/04/12 at 09:10 PM ET
The Detroit Red Wings’ 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks was summarized best by Brendan Smith’s decision to indulge Andrew Shaw’s decision to fight him with 3:28 left in the 2nd period:
With the Wings already down a defenseman thanks to Jakub Kindl’s “upper-body” injury and down their starting goaltender thanks to a “lower-body” injury which sounds like a minor groin injury that flared up on Jimmy Howard, Smith allowed his youth and enthusiasm to get the better of him, and exactly one minute and 59 seconds later, the Wings surrendered the game-winner to Patrick Kane thanks to a series of self-inflicted mistakes by several wings players during a scrum along the right-wing half boards and a terrible giveaway by Brad Stuart (and a case of missing one’s check by Henrik Zetterberg, who let Kane sneak in and jab the puck past a wrong-way-leaning MacDonald).
Injuries suck, but in the case of the Chicago Blackhawks’ seventh win and eighth at-least-earning-a-point effort at the Joe, the shorthanded Wings’ special teams bit them in the ass: they went 0-for-5 on the PP and gave up one goal on three Hawks power play chances, and as such, Detroit has no one but the Wings who were able to play to blame for not out-grinding and out-working their opponent.
I need to emphasize very, very strongly that the Red Wings did not play “badly” by any stretch of the imagination: regardless of their personnel issues, the Wings played hard, fast, speedy hockey, matching the Hawks hit for hit and punch for punch.
The problem was that the Wings didn’t match the Hawks’ desperation or level of urgency, and as such, two teams equally decimated by injuries, at least until the game began, offered an incredibly close battle to a national audience…
But the Hawks were more comfortable playing a stifling defensive game than the Wings were, and whenever Detroit tried to charge through the neutral zone, get the puck off the boards and toward the net or win a one-on-one puck battle, there were more Hawks than Wings in the mix, there were more Hawk sticks than Wings sticks in the scrum, and those sticks were stronger and more determined to steal pucks.
Just as importantly, as the Wings’ power play sputtered, it prevented the Wings from assuaging the mistakes they made thanks to the Hawks’ hard-charging forecheck.
The game might have turned out differently had the Wings not surrendered the first goal, but Kyle Quincey took an overenthusiastic interference penalty all of 2:08 into the first period, and after the Wings dumped the initial faceoff down the ice, Ray Emery—who was solid and also received help from 4 Wings shots that hit goalposts—set the puck up for Nick Leddy. Leddy chugged up the ice, slid the puck to Jamal Mayers, and after Henrik Zetterberg couldn’t repel Mayers’ attack, he slid the puck to Marian Hossa, who deked his way away from a backchecking Wing and gave the puck to Leddy at the point. Leddy pulled give-and-go with Patrick Sharp down low on the left wing side, Sharp tried to set up Patrick Kane, who missed his shot, regained the puck off a sore Niklas Kronwall, who blocked the shot, circled the net and gave the puck to Marian Hossa, who was repelled by a Jimmy Howard toe save…
But Leddy held the rebound in, gave the puck to Hossa, and Hossa slid a diagonal pass to Patrick Sharp, who ripped a snap shot off Niklas Kronwall’s right skate. The puck went top shelf over Howard, who had no chance on the shot.
1-0 Hawks, 3:17 in—and by then, Jakub Kindl had already left the game with his, “Upper-body injury.”
The Red Wings rallied relatively quickly: a little under 3 minutes later, at the 6:03 mark, Drew Miller sent the puck to Darren Helm at the left side of the Blackhawks’ line, and as Miller headed to the bench, Helm skated toward the left faceoff dot, peeled back against Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith, and as Jiri Hudler and Henrik Zetterberg jumped into play and got into position at and near the Hawks’ net, respectively, Helm fired the puck back to a newly-stationed Niklas Kronwall at the Hawks’ blueline, and Kronwall ripped the puck through traffic and though and past Emery. Brad Stuart was credited with the 2nd assist instead of Miller as Stuart’s outlet pass set up the rush, giving Stuart 300 points, and from then on in, the Wings were “even” with Chicago.
The Wings even did a pretty damn decent job of recovering from what sounds like losing Jimmy Howard to a groin injury, protecting Joey MacDonald very well during a second period in which the shots were even at 8-8…
But again, the Wings’ power play did jack and s***—including going 0-for-2 on penalties assessed to Dylan Olsen 3:27 in and Duncan Keith 8:13 in—and while the Wings were able to kill off a Danny Cleary penalty, once Smith and Shaw dropped the gloves, the Wings were down to four defensemen, and the Hawks pounced on the short-staffed Wings.
Exactly 1:59 after the Smith fight, the Hawks scored what would be the gamer during a period of time which the Wings desperately, desperately needed to emerge coming out of the second period unscathed.
18:41 into the 2nd, the Hawks completed their third or fourth dump-in of the post-Smith-Shaw fight, Brad Stuart skated up to the Hawks’ line, dropped it to Niklas Kronwall, and Valtteri Filppula, Jiri Hudler and Henrik Zetterberg were unable to put a shot past Marian Hossa, who stole the puck, went up with Patrick Kane and Andrew Brunette on a 3-on-2, Brunette carried the puck up toward the Wings’ left side, and while Filppula stripped him of the puck, Filppula put his clearing attempt off Kronwall, the when the Hawks pulled the puck toward the side boards, Hossa stole the puck out of the scrum, went down low and when Brad Stuart intercepted his pass behind the net and fired the puck directly onto…the stick of Patrick Sharp…Sharp shoveled the puck out front to Patrick Kane, and as Joey MacDonald found himself leaning the wrong way, Kane deked and got MacDonald to flop as he backhanded the gamer past #31.
Don’t just blame Stuart for the goal: Kronwall got back to the front of the net late, and as Kane chipped the puck into the net, Henrik Zetterberg came into the slot to chase after the check he lost.
The Wings received a power play a minute later, when Brian Bickell stupidly tried to butt-check Niklas Kronwall’s shoulders and head into the boards after Kronwall very, very cleanly hit Patrick Sharp, at the 19:54 mark of the 2nd. The Wings didn’t do anything during the first 6 seconds of PP time, which was expected…But they did very little with the next 1:54 as well, and by the time Smith returned to the ice, Detroit’s power play had ran into a Blackhawks team that made clearing Wings shots look easy.
The Wings struggled to retrieve rebounds and plain old charge into the Hawks’ zone with any sort of speed all night long, so the Hawks more or less controlled the neutral zone and forced Detroit to the boards whenever the Wings would manage to charge past the Hawks’ aggressive version of trap hockey—just as the Wings do when they sit back, the Hawks tossed two forecheckers into the Wings’ end to pressure Detroit’s defenders to the side wall—and if the Wings ever did win a puck battle, they’d find themselves facing three or four Blackhawks sticks while trying to find an open Wing to pass to, and the passes and shots that weren’t blocked outright were dumped down the ice or funneled to Wings point men who found 2 Hawks pouncing upon them as they tried to keep the puck in Chicago’s zone. For a goalie who stopped 23 Wings shots, Emery had a pretty easy night.
Equally frustrating, the Wings fired more shots wide or into Hawks players—29 blocked or wide shots—than they did on Emery.
I don’t need to tell you that the Wings neither capitalized on a late 3rd-period icing call against Chicago, nor did they really do much of anything when they repeatedly tried to pull Joey MacDonald and pressure the Hawks, but instead iced the puck themselves, do I?
In summary, the Wings gave up the first goal, a power play marker, against a team that has all sorts of confidence in Detroit, and while the Wings managed to rally in a hurry, regardless of whether it was the losses of Kindl and Howard or a simple inability to match the Hawks’ desire, desperation and work ethic while trying to skate through the Hawks’ stifling defense and trying to do too much as individuals, the Wings’ attack was ground to a halt, and after Smith’s enthusiasm got the better of him, a team down to 4 defensemen made some cascading errors which ended up in the back of their net, and because their power play was terrible, Detroit’s power play couldn’t get them out of trouble.
The fact that the refs, with the exception of a too-many-men call against Detroit 7:15 into the 3rd, let absolutely every penalty committed by both teams go in a clutchy-grabby-grope-y 3rd didn’t help, but the Wings weren’t able to out-grind Chicago, and again, despite their injuries, the Wings could have overcame their short-handed status if they’d managed to out-hustle and out-work their opponents instead of simply trying to do too much individually against an opponent whose desperation the Wings could or would not match.
Babcock: “Howie’s got a lower body injury and left the game. We’ll evaluate him and go from there.”
Babcock: “I thought we did lots of good things, but not enough to generate offense.”
Babcock on being concerned about the recent string of injuries to his team: “I’m not, because there’s nothing I can do.”
According to Mike Babcock, Kindl was a little sore heading into the game. Said they should have called someone up in hindsight.
Howard also stated to the media that he felt that he had a “small” injury, and that whatever muscle he pulled got “tighter and tighter” during the 1st period. He stated that he would be reevaluated on Monday.
Update: Here are Mike Babcock’s post-game comments…
As well as Jimmy Howard’s exchange with the media…
And here are some comments from Kyle Quincey:
Update #2: Here ‘s a slate of game highlights from the Wings’ website:
Shots 24-18 Detroit. The Wings out-shot Chicago 9-5 in the 1st period, were even with the Hawks via 8 shots apiece in the 2nd, and the Wings out-shot Chicago 7-5 in the 3rd.
Telling Stat: Detroit went 0-for-4 in 8:00 of PP time; Chicago went 1 for 3 in 5:09 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 4 of 5 shots; Joey MacDonald stopped 12 of 13; Ray Emery stopped 23 of 24.
The 3 stars, per Detroit Hockey Weekly’s Paul Harris, were Brendan Smith, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp.
The Wings’ goal: Kronwall (14) from Helm (16) and Stuart (11).
Faceoffs 30-23 Detroit (Detroit won 57%);
Blocked shots 13-5 Chicago;
Missed shots 16-11 Detroit (total attempts 53-34 Detroit);
Hits 24-16 Detroit;
Giveaways 8-6 Detroit;
Takeaways 8-7 Detroit.
Faceoffs: Helm went 12-and-4 (75%); Zetterberg went 8-and-6 (57%); Abdelkader went 5-and-7 (42%); Emmerton went 2-and-2 (50%); Filppula went 2-and-1 (67%); Cleary went 0-and-2; Hudler went 1-and-1.
Shots: Miller, Stuart, Quincey, Filppula and Kronwall had 3 shots; Cleary, Zetterberg and Franzen had 2; Helm, Bertuzzi and Holmstrom had 1.
Blocked attempts: White, Stuart and Quincey fired 2 attempts into Hawks players; Smith, Abdelkader, Hudler, Zetterberg, Helm, Bertuzzi and Kronwall had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Abdelkader and Franzen missed the net 3 times apiece; Filppula missed the net 2 times; White, Stuart, Hudler, Zetterberg, Helm, Bertuzzi, Emmerton and Kronwall missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Kronwall led the team with 4 hits; Abdelkader and Quincey had 3; Smith, Cleary, Stuart and Holmstrom had 2; Kindl, Miller, Mursak, Zetterberg, Helm and Franzen had 1.
Giveaways: Stuart had 3 giveaways; White, Quincey, Helm, Filppula and MacDonald had 1.
Takeaways: Cleary and Helm had 2 takeaways; Miller, Quincey, Zetterberg and Franzen had 1.
Blocked shots: Quincey blocked 2 Blackhawk shots; Stuart, Emmerton and Kronwall blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Smith took a major penalty for fighting; Cleary and Quincey took minor penalties; Bertuzzi served a bench minor assessed to the Wings for too many men on the ice.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective 0. Stuart and Zetterberg were -1; Helm and White were +1.
Points: Kronwall scored a goal; Stuart and Helm registered assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 27:48 played; White played 27:40; Quincey played 23:41;
Zetterberg played 21:50; Stuart played 21:28; Filppula played 20:51;
Hudler played 20:10; Franzen played 19:38; Smith played 17:50;
Helm played 15:46; Abdelkader played 14:02; Cleary played 13:50;
Miller played 13:46; Bertuzzi played 13:15; Holmstrom played 10:23;
Emmerton played 6:23; Mursak played 6:02; Kindl played 1:35.
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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.