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Red Wings-Blackhawks quick take: Wings exercise their demons in Chicago

We all knew that the Detroit Red Wings would lose at some point after racking up six straight wins at home, and there was no doubt that going into Chicago, the Pavel Datsyuk-less Wings had their hands full, even without Jonathan Toews in the stumbling Hawks’ lineup…

But who knew that the Wings would take Jakub Kindl’s lead and start to play like an entire team that desperately needs Kyle Quincey to come in and relieve a team whose scoring and confidence remain paper thin on the road?

The Wings came out with a flourish but flittered away their lead and then committed a litany of turnovers in their own zone, odd-man rushes and successive scoring chances against, and as soon as Detroit gave up more scoring chances than it generated on a power play all of 3:15 into the second period…

Calling the man who was listed as #27...Can you not only help stabilize the Wings’ defense, but also give Detroit more gusto after dropping 3 straight on the road?

It’s ironic that as I write this, fox Sports Detroit’s Larry Murphy suggests that it was the Blackhawks who played the perfect road game. He’s right. As the Hawks try to climb back into playoff contention after a difficult losing streak, they were the ones who were willing to play simple, efficient, and gritty hockey, more or less using Jonathan Toews’ absence as an excuse to trap, hack, whack and ugly their way to a win.

And, as Murphy is suggesting that the Red Wings were, by far, given any sort of chance to win by a man who might have 70% strength in his blocker hand, I might mention that this rusty blogger literally got sick at the start of the third period.

I asked my friends if I missed anything, and I was told that I did not. I was not surprised. The Red Wings had absolutely nothing to give, for whatever reason, other than missed passes, turnovers through the neutral zone, an inability to get the puck in deep and, on a night when the average Red Wings fan might argue that the Hawks’ statisticians might be chanting, “Detroit sucks!” in between taking note of shots and hits, I cannot deny that they are spot-on here:

According to the Hawks’ stats crew, the Wings gave up the puck only 5 times, but also allowed the Hawks to take it off their sticks 17 times.

That’s stuff you don’t even see the Wings do when Datsyuk’s in the lineup. That’s being “hard on the stick” like an FSD girl on a differential equation.

The Wings were awful, absolutely awful, in the second and third periods, and while the Blackhawks deserve every compliment in the books for generating odd-man rushes, breakaways, cycling the puck down low and sustaining it off smart takeaways and plain old presence and pressure that seemed to even give Nicklas Lidstrom pause and hiccups, by Gord, the Wings served this mofo up on a platter.

Even if you’re willing to question what the hell Stephane Auger was thinking when the game was tied 1-1 and Darren Helm was pitchforked by Brent Seabrook on a clear, clean breakaway, and Seabrook earned nothing more than a minor penalty, the Wings did jack and s*** to earn any power plays after that, and aside from Howard’s saves, the highlight of the final 30 minutes of play was Niklas Kronwall deftly plucking the puck away from an unattended Red Wings’ cage so that the game’s final score would read 2-1 instead of 3-1 Chicago.

Is it time to worry, given the fact that the Wings are below .500 on the road again and given that they can’t seem to get more than one line going away from the Joe?

Maybe enough to give Ken Holland—and I don’t usually say this—a little more reason to not stop working his Blackberry to try to ensure that the Wings have at least a depth guy with some grit (and depth guys with grit do not cost 1st-round draft picks, nor do they cost Xavier Ouellet [a.k.a. the best offensive defenseman in the Wings’ system not named Brendan Smith], much to the Quebec media’s chagrin) and maybe somebody who is willing to smash, bash and crash into those two and three-man scrums and come up with the puck.

The Wings were due a hiccup and the Hawks were due a win, but it’s February and the Wings have nine road games left—nine road games in which to make statements that they won’t more sporadic than my attendance over the past week and a half (and I am really, really sorry about that) on this blog when the Wings play away from home.

In terms of the game’s narrative, the Wings got off to a wonderful start. Markus Kruger took a tripping penalty all of 34 seconds in, and halfway through the power play, the Wings worked the puck around in the Hawks’ end, Jakub Kindl held the puck in on the right side while playing alongside Lidstrom (who set the play up), and Valtteri Filppula slid the puck back and forth to Jiri Hudler, who’d replaced Lidstrom on the point, before Firing a seeing-eye shot through and under Corey Crawford’s blocker at the 2:22 mark.

The Wings even killed penalties to Tomas Holmstrom and Jiri Hudler before coughing up that Morrison power play 3:15 into the second…And then it was the Chicago Blackhawks show from there on in.

The Wings coughed up a clearing attempt to Nick Leddy with about 8 minutes left in the second period, and after Leddy tossed the puck back to Duncan Keith, the Hawks sent bodies to the net as Keith shot the puck from the right point—possibly off Jakub Kindl—and as Kindl, Hudler and Filppula were massed around the right faceoff dot and a bunch of Hawks players, Howard managed to get his toe on the tipped shot, but nobody was standing to Howard’s left at the lip of the crease save Jimmy Hayes, who very easily chipped the rebound into the net.

Thanks to some spectacular saves by Howard on odd-man rushes, more giveaways and the occasional half-breakaway, the Wings emerged from the second period tied and able to at least say that they could burn the tape and regroup in the third—despite having given up 21 scoring chances on 22 Hawks shots to 23 Wings chances on their 25 shots…

The Hawks got an easy goal off a doofy play from Jonathan Ericsson. With the Wings hemmed in their own zone, Ericsson tossed a blind backhand pass up the right boards. Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Brunette mucked it away from Drew Miller and Danny Cleary, who bumped into each other, Brunnette muscled the puck down low, twisted free and gave the puck to Jimmy Hayes, who was stopped by Howard at the lip of the crease…But Markus Kruger snuck in from the blueline and jammed the puck home while Miller was busy running into Ericsson.

1:53 into the 3rd period, the Wings were down 2-1, and after firing 25 shots on Crawford over the game’s first 40 minutes, they only mustered 7 in the 3rd. Their confidence seemed shot and they seemed equally flummoxed by the Hawks’ willingness to win 50-50 battles for the puck and come out of scrums with the puck without nearly a quarter of the effort the Wings put into losing those battles and scrums.

This isn’t a panic-inducing loss by any means, but the Wings have only nine more chances to prove that they can win on the road—and they won’t have Datsyuk for at least six more games—so there’s no time like the present to hope that this game was merely a case of a team that had played letter-perfect hockey to allow their demons to get a little exercise before shoving them back in their cages until next September.

Statistics:

Shots 32-29 Detroit overall. The Wings were out-shot 10-9 in the 1st period, out-shot Chicago 16-12 in the 2nd and were tied 7-7 in shots in the 3rd.

The Wings went 1 for 3 in 5:48 of PP time; the Hawks went 0 for 3 in 6 minutes of PP time.

Jimmy Howard stopped 27 of 29 shots; Corey Crawford stopped 31 of 32.

The 3 stars, per the “Chicago Media,” were Jimmy Howard, Markus Kruger and Jimmy Hayes.

The Wings’ goal: Filppula (17) from Kindl (10) and Hudler (18).

Faceoffs 28-26 Chicago (Wings won 48%);

Blocked shots 14-7 Detroit;

Missed shots 10-9 Chicago (total attempts 53-48 Chicago);

Hits 21-17 Chicago;

Giveaways 9-5 Chicago;

Takeaways 17-2 Chicago.

Individual Stats:

Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 9-and-10 (46%); Filppula went 6-and-8 (43%); Helm went 8-and-5 (62%); Franzen went 1-and-2 (33%); Emmerton went 1-and-1, as did Abdelkader; Miller lost his only faceoff.

Shots: Johan Franzen, who was actually pretty good, led the team with 5 shots; Zetterberg and Helm had 4; Filppula and Kindl had 3; Lidstrom, Stuart, Hudler and Bertuzzi had 2; Cleary, White, Mursak, Ericsson and Kronwall had 1.

Blocked attempts: Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Miller, Stuart, Hudler, Helm and Franzen had single shot attempts blocked.

Missed shots: Zetterberg missed the net 3 times; Franzen missed the net 2 times; Lidstrom, Cleary, Helm and Filppula missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Stuart led the team with 3 hits; Lidstrom, Ericsson, Kronwall and Holmstrom had 2; Kindl, Abdelkader, Miller, Hudler, Helm and Bertuzzi had 1.

Giveaways: Zetterberg had 2 giveaways; Cleary, Hudler and Helm had 1.

Takeaways: Only Lidstrom and Zetterberg were credited with takeaways.

Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall blocked 4 shots; Abdelkader and Helm blocked 3; Cleary, White, Miller and Stuart blocked 1.

Penalties taken: Hudler, Helm and Holmstrom took minor penalties.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective -10. Kindl, Cleary, White, Miller, Hudler, Helm, Filppula, Ericsson, Kronwall and Franzen were all -1.

Points: Filppula scored a goal; Kindl and Hudler had assists.

Ice time: Lidstrom led the team with 23:35 played; Stuart played 23:35; Kronwall played 21:20;

White played 20:16; Zetterberg played 19:35; Bertuzzi played 19:11;

Filppula played 18:12; Ericsson played 17:03; Franzen played 16:51;

Hudler played 16:23; Abdelkader played 16:10; Miller played 15:52;

Helm played 14:58; Cleary played 14:48; Kindl played 14:09;

Holmstrom played 10:40; Mursak played 6:25; Emmerton played 6:07.

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Comments

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The Wings’ demons in Chicago certainly got some exercise (did you mean exorcise?).
That was one of the most boring 3rd periods I’ve seen in a long time. Maybe since before the lockout. The Blackhawks didn’t want to commit too much and possibly get caught, and the Red Wings just… I don’t even know what they did.

I’m pretty sure the stat keepers credited Crawford with a save every time the puck went near the net, because there is no way the Red Wings had 16 shots in the 2nd. Perfect example: Franzen was credited with 5 shots, but I don’t recall a single of his shots going on goal.

Can’t figure out why you don’t win on the road? Not being able to play more than one good period in a game may have something to do with it.

Posted by bleep bloop on 02/22/12 at 01:12 AM ET

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Someone I watched the game with commented that the dueling chants of “Detroit sucks” overlapping “let’s go Hawks” sounded like “let’s go sucks”

Posted by bleep bloop on 02/22/12 at 01:14 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I meant exercise.

I also think that the Hawks got away with an unf***ingbelievable amount of interference in the 3rd, but that’s how they call it these days.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/22/12 at 01:17 AM ET

WingedRider's avatar

I am more concerned how they play at Home against the Nucks!  Hope they can play with more effort or this will be a long, tough stretch without Pavel.

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 02/22/12 at 01:35 AM ET

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To probably no-one’s surprise, out of Columbus tonight:

“With the trade deadline less than a week away, scouts for the New York Rangers, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Phoenix and Detroit watched from the press box.”

Any thoughts on who would Detroit want? I’m not sure.

Posted by Bugsy on 02/22/12 at 01:47 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

Is it time to worry, given the fact that the Wings are below .500 on the road again and given that they can’t seem to get more than one line going away from the Joe?

Yes, because by now there’s no reason to suspect that their road woes are an abberation.  How many road games have we endured this year that have more or less followed the exact same script this one? 

The narrative is all too familiar:  down a goal with virtually the whole third period left to play, and somehow a one goal deficit feels absolutely insurmountable.  Not only do they seem to be unable to ever come up with the tying goal in these situations, it looks for all the world as though they kind of just shrivel up and disappear.  Tonight felt like a carbon copy of about ten other road losses this season.

As much fun as the home winning streak has been, to me it’s rather negated at this point by the fact that this team is just flat out not very good away from the Joe. 
They look like a completely different hockey team once they get on the road.  They look like a team with no confidence at all.  Their top two lines are virtually non-existent on enemy ice, unable to mount or sustain any kind of attack and as a result never even come up with scoring chances, let alone clutch goals, when the game’s on the line This is not a real good recipe for playoff success.

Teams that aren’t road warriors typically don’t find themselves still standing in June, but as you’ve pointed out, KH may not be done yet, so maybe the final pieces of the puzzle are yet to come.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 02/22/12 at 02:14 AM ET

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Yes, because by now there’s no reason to suspect that their road woes are an abberation. 

We’re all aware that the Wings are still in the top third of the league on the road, right?

And if you get home ice and win at home then road woes aren’t as big a deal.

As much fun as the home winning streak has been, to me it’s rather negated at this point by the fact that this team is just flat out not very good away from the Joe.

Wow, complete dominance at home is negated by a slightly above average road record?

Posted by Garth on 02/22/12 at 02:22 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Shot in the dark guess is Pahlsson.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/22/12 at 02:47 AM ET

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We’re all aware that the Wings are still in the top third of the league on the road, right?

There are 30 teams, so if they were in the top third, they’d have to be ranked at least tenth, yet they are eleventh for points and fifteenth for point percentage. Top half (barely), but not top third.

Posted by bleep bloop on 02/22/12 at 03:21 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

We’re all aware that the Wings are still in the top third of the league on the road, right?

Somehow I don’t take a helluva lot of comfort in the fact that their road record is better than teams like Columbus, Carolina, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Buffalo, Washington, Tampa Bay and Anaheim.  The simple fact is, they should be better on the road.  Period.


And if you get home ice and win at home then road woes aren’t as big a deal.

That’s awesome.  On paper at least.  Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.  Seriously if you lose one or two of those home games in a hard fought playoff series, and suddenly find yourselves in a desperation game, fighitng for your playoff life on the road?  Might be nice to have a little swagger to draw upon at that point and right now, most of us just aren’t seeing it.


Wow, complete dominance at home is negated by a slightly above average road record?

Yes.  That’s a simple, straightforward, unequivocally true statement.  Given the unbelievable home record they’ve compiled, their inability to rise above mediocrity on the road is the only keeping the race close in the west.  Their phenomenal success at home merely underscores the point I’m trying to make, which is that there is no reason that this team should be such a throroughly mediocre road team.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 02/22/12 at 04:21 AM ET

Rdwings28's avatar

The Hawks got an easy goal off a doofy play from Jonathan Ericsson. With the Wings hemmed in their own zone, Ericsson tossed a blind backhand pass up the right boards. Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Brunette mucked it away from Drew Miller and Danny Cleary, who bumped into each other, Brunnette muscled the puck down low, twisted free and gave the puck to Jimmy Hayes, who was stopped by Howard at the lip of the crease…But Markus Kruger snuck in from the blueline and jammed the puck home while Miller was busy running into Ericsson.

I think I once saw the Keystone Cops do the same thing…

Posted by Rdwings28 on 02/22/12 at 09:10 AM ET

Avatar

The simple fact is, they should be better on the road.  Period.

And because they’re not, you see fit to panic.

On paper at least.

You know that goes both ways, right?  Nobody will expect the Wings to be so dominant at home, but there’s also no reason to expect that they won’t step up their game when the playoffs start.

which is that there is no reason that this team should be such a throroughly mediocre road team.

It also shows that they are a much better team than their road record states.

But hey, if you want to give yourself an ulcer because the Red Wings are #1 in the league and have improved themselves by picking up another top four defenseman who is going to be their #5/6 guy and probably aren’t done addressing the needs they know they have, be my guest.

Posted by Garth on 02/22/12 at 11:06 AM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.