The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/09/11 at 09:41 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings had the same, “What the hell just happened?” look on their faces that their fans did when the Blackhawks scored all of 27 seconds into what was ultimately a 4-2 loss to Chicago, but the Wings continued to allow the Blackhawks to cycle down low, chasing the Hawks’ puck-carriers and allowing them to build up a 3-0 lead by the time the game was all of 8 minutes and 44 seconds old, and, eventually, a 4-0 lead via Marian Hossa’s breakaway goal.
The Wings were booed off the ice after the first period, were spared from the same result thanks to a Drew Miller goal late in the second period, and saved from scoreboard frustration thanks to a Tomas Holmstrom goal in the third, but the Wings never really seemed to get back on track for anything other than isolated chances and rushes, leaving fans stunned and distressed and the Hawks a little closer to a playoff spot after their fifth straight win at Joe Louis Arena…In theory, anyway. As it turns out, the Hawks’ ability to avoid missing the playoffs as defending Stanley Cup champions still hinges upon Sunday’s game, as the Chicago Daily Herald’s Tim Sassone notes:
Friday’s 4-2 win over the Red Wings at Joe Luis Arena was critical, but now the Hawks need at least 1 point on Sunday in a rematch with Detroit at the United Center to get in the tournament. Should the Hawks lose, they would then need Dallas to lose at Minnesota on Sunday night to get in or the entire season will have been a waste.
That’s due to the fact that the Stars defeated Colorado 3-2 on Friday. The Hawks lead the Stars by 2 points, 97-95, but the Stars have more regulation wins than Chicago does, so if the Stars defeat Minnesota on Sunday and Chicago loses to Detroit, the Hawks are out.
Only one playoff spot is left in the Western Conference after the developments of Friday when Nashville, Anaheim and Phoenix clinched berths. Vancouver, San Jose, Detroit and Los Angeles were already in.
The order of finish remains wide open after the three division winners: Vancouver, San Jose and Detroit. Tiebreakers likely will be involved come Sunday night.
That’s also true for the Wings because the Sharks lost 4-3 to Phoenix, leaving the Sharks only one point ahead of the Wings, 103-102, with a rematch between the Sharks and Coyotes slated for Saturday night. If they win, the Wings will finish in third place in the West.
All of that lovely playoff math being expressed in non-algebraic form, it’s no comfort for this Red Wings fan or any other Wings fan given that the Hawks handed the Wings’ butts to ‘em in short order. The Red Wings look like a team that collectively and subconsciously chose to play out the string when it realized that the injury bug wasn’t going away, saying all the right things and then going out and refusing to match the intensity, effort, determination, urgency or attention to detail of their opponents when their opposition’s playoff hopes are on the line.
The Blackhawks, of course, were nothing more and nothing less than businesslike before, during and after the game, as noted by the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc:
“We were quiet in there,” defenseman Brian Campbell said of the dressing room before the game. “Guys were even saying, ‘We’re quiet but we’re ready.’ It just shows you what this team can do when we play together and play as a team. We have to remember these moments and know how hard we worked and what’s at stake.”
What was at stake in the first game of a home-and-home series with Detroit to end the regular season is a Western Conference postseason berth, and the Hawks pulled closer to that reality as they earned their 97th point of the season to put the pressure on the Stars, who are chasing them for eighth place in the West.
As they prepared to depart for Chicago, where they will face the Wings on Sunday, the Hawks learned the Stars (95 points) had defeated the Avalanche, meaning they still might need one point to clinch a playoff spot.
A regulation loss Sunday, coupled with a Stars road victory against the Wild in regulation or overtime, would keep the defending champs out of the postseason. A point, a Stars loss or a Stars shootout victory would get the Hawks in, and they still could finish as high as the No. 5 seed.
The Hawks exploded with a three-goal, first-period barrage that left the crowd of 20,066 jeering the hometown Wings as they slowly made their way off the ice. Brent Seabrook got things going with just 27 seconds elapsed when the defenseman took a feed from Patrick Sharp and buried it past goaltender Jimmy Howard to stun the Wings and put them on their heels — a position from which they never recovered.
“You could tell in the locker room we were ready and we wanted it,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “We were all set to play for each other and get the job done.”
And they suggested to the Chicago Daily Herald’s Sassone that the first shift set the tone and then some—with the Sharp-Toews-Kane line and Keith-Seabrook pairing out-working the Cleary-Datsyuk-Franzen line and the Lidstrom-Stuart pairing, and Seabrook sneaking into the slot for a back-door pass that he roofed over Jimmy Howard (who was hung out to dry by his teammates on every goal):
“That was a huge shift for us, especially coming off Wednesday when St. Louis scored 17 seconds into the game,” said rookie winger Ben Smith, who gave the Hawks a 2-0 lead at 6:07 with his first NHL goal. “We talked about it before the game, that we wanted to get after it and no holding back,” Sharp said. “It was a great first shift. I thought the three of them forechecked well; we got the puck back a few times and created a goal.”
Toews won two battles in the Detroit zone before Sharp found Seabrook flying to the net down the right side for the snap shot past goalie Jimmy Howard.
“It’s always been up to us,” Toews said. “It’s always been about how we prepare and how we play and how bad we want it. You could tell in the locker room we were ready and all set to play for each other and get a job done.”
Patrick Kane set up Smith’s goal by poking the puck away from Valtteri Filppula to Smith all alone in the slot. The rookie roofed it. The line of Michael Frolik, Kane and Smith had a strong game. Frolik and Kane also set up Brian Campbell’s goal at 8:45 of the first period that made it 3-0 and had Detroit coach Mike Babcock scrambling for a timeout.
“That line has been pretty special the couple games they’ve been together as far as seeing plays, play recognition and defensively,” Quenneville said. “They were dangerous all night long. It’s three guys that all have real good senses offensively and defensively. In a short amount of time it already looks like there’s a little chemistry there.”
So Smith was able to gush about scoring his first NHL goal to the Chicago Tribune’s Brian Hamilton…
Smith essentially opened the floodgates in the first period. The Hawks had a one-goal edge when Patrick Kane jabbed the puck away from the Red Wings’ Valtteri Filppula, leaving the loose change for Smith. He collected, roofing his first goal for a 2-0 lead.
“Kaner made a great play poking that puck right to me,” Smith said. “Any time you get the puck with some time there in the slot, you try to get it off fast, and I was able to do that.”
And the Chicago Sun-Times’ Adam L. Jahns...
Against the Wings, Smith scored his first NHL goal after Kane forced a turnover and set him up all alone in front of goalie Jimmy Howard.
The Smith-Frolik-Kane combo also factored in defenseman Brian Campbell’s first-period goal. Smith, who was plus-2 in 14:49, also saw time on the penalty kill, powering his 5-11, 205-pound frame to a scoring chance in the second period.
“I can only have dreamed of being here last year, playing with Chicago and against the Red Wings,” said Smith, 22. “It’s exciting. Every game is so big, every point is so big. You just have to be ready to go.”
And, as ESPN’s Jesse Rogers notes, another rookie earned his first point on the goal that hammered the nail in the Wings’ coffin:
Corey Crawford earned his first career point on a Marian Hossa breakaway in the second period. He tapped the puck to Brent Seabrook who sprung Hossa for the goal, earning the assist. The official scorer added the helper during the second intermission.
“I hope I stole it [the assist] off one of our guys,” Crawford joked.
So Patrick Sharp was allowed to pat himself on the back, as prompted by Rogers…
“It was a big first shift,” Sharp said. “The three of us got the puck back a few times and created a goal.”
The game was 27 seconds old when Sharp found a pinching Brent Seabrook, who opened the scoring. The Hawks have played their best hockey in recent memory over the last game and a half. It corresponds with Sharp’s return from a knee injury. As he shook the rust off midway through Wednesday’s win over St. Louis, his team took off. He’s feeling better.
“A little bit,” he said. “I did some different things before the game to get ready and I felt a little better skating, I think. I’ll get better as we move along.”
And the Hawks stated the obvious—they got the job done because they wanted the game more than the Wings did:
“You could sense it was a different type of approach going into the game,” Quenneville said. “The urgency was in the guys’ faces. The first shift exemplified that.”
Obviously, the Hawks knew the importance of the moment and weren’t about to let chance or good fortune dictate the outcome. They got their break on a video review against the Blues two nights earlier. This time nothing would be left to chance.
That was the theory, as Campbell told Comcast Sportsnet Chicago’s Tracey Myers:
“Either A: You’re not ready or, B: We knew what was at stake and we knew what we needed to do,” he said. “I’m glad it was option No. 2.”
It was a huge start and scoring first shift certainly helped,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “The guys had good energy in the morning skate. It was an important game and you could sense it was a different approach. You could see the urgency was in the guys’ faces. The first shift exemplified that and we took off from there.”
It was the start the Blackhawks needed and they kept up that style of play throughout. They won puck battles and constantly pressured the Wings. They were also aggressive in stymieing Detroit’s scoring chances, blocking 21 shots.
“We were prepared and ready to go,” said Corey Crawford, who stopped 26 of 28 for his 33rd victory this season. “That was one of our best starts in a while. We came out with a little offense and had them on their heels a little bit. That was great for us to get that.”
The Hawks were comfortable enough to preach to themselves about the dangers of building too large a lead too early and letting up, as Toews’ told the Sun-Times’ Jahns:
‘‘Sometimes it’s dangerous to have a lead like that early in the game,’’ Toews said. ‘‘It’s easy to think they’re just going to throw in the towel and give up. But they’re not that type of a team. We did a good job of just staying with it and making sure we finished up a solid 60 minutes.’’
The Red Wings got goals from Drew Miller late in the second period and Tomas Holmstrom late in the third, but the Hawks already had the game in hand. Jimmy Howard finished with 25 saves for the Red Wings, who managed only five shots in the first period.
‘‘We played strong defense, and our ‘D’ corps played really well, clearing pucks out of the slot,’’ Smith said. ‘‘They didn’t have many second- or third-chance opportunities. It was definitely a big part of the game. . . . It was definitely a big ‘W’ for us.’’
The Hawks did indeed limit the Wings to one-and-done offensive chances, and then they went the other way, usually on odd-man rushes, sustaining pressure in the Wings’ end and burning the clock.
So the Hawks plan on taking care of business and letting math take care of itself:
‘‘We [were] going into these last two games assuming that [the Stars were] going to win out, pretty much,’’ Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. ‘‘We [had] to do the same thing. It’s always been up to us. It’s always been about how we prepare, how we play and how bad we want it.’’
‘‘There’s so much to sort out,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘And there’s a lot of rooting interests going on, as well. The last game of the year has the makings to be a huge game. Let’s be excited about that.’’
NHL.com’s Brian Hedger also spoke to the Hawks about their win…
“We knew coming into this game we’d probably have to get three out of four points,” Patrick Kane told NHL.com. “We did our job, got two and hopefully we come back and get another two on Sunday.”
“You could tell in the locker room we were ready and we wanted it,” Toews said. “We were all set to play for each other and get a job done. I think it’s going to be the same thing Sunday. Having the pressure we’re under now is definitely going to get us ready. We’re not looking ahead to anything. We’ve got another job to do Sunday and we’re going to go do it.”
The Hawks’ built their lead to 4-0 on Marian Hossa’s breakaway power-play goal 6:44 into the second period. Seabrook found him with three-quarters length stretch pass that hit off Brad Stuart’s stick before Hossa grabbed it and beat Howard. Kane said that might have been the biggest goal of the night.
“We caught a lucky bounce, but getting that one to get some insurance, it was even better,” he said. “It put us in a position where we were confident with where we were at.”
So confident that Kane, being Kane, explained how he plucked the puck off Valtteri Filppula’s stick to set up Smith’s 3-0 goal:
“I don’t know if (Filppula) thought I was going to skate by him, but he left it out there,” Kane said. “One of the things we stress on this team is having good sticks and getting sticks on pucks and luckily enough I made a play there. It’s not like I was passing to Benny, just trying to get it away from Filppula, but luckily Benny was right there.”
Sassone’s notebook article about Smith and Kuc’s article about David Bolland‘s recovery from a concussion (ditto for Jahns, NHL.com’s Dan Rosen’s Sharp/Smith story and Nicholas J. Cotsonika’s Smith story) don’t really qualify as anything other than optional reading, so, aside from noting, via Myers, that Tomas Kopecky avoided serious injury when hit in the right ear by a Victor Stalberg shot, ESPN Chicago’s Rogers sums up the Hawks’ perspective...
How it Happened: The Hawks came out on fire opening the game with a dynamic shift by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa. They won board and puck battles, eventually getting it to a pinching Brent Seabrook for a goal 27 seconds into the contest. The Hawks never looked back. Two more goals in the opening 20 minutes set the tone for the rest of the night. Ben Smith scored his first career goal after a great poke-check by Patrick Kane. Brian Campbell also scored and Marian Hossa finished a breakaway on the power play in the second period. The Hawks led 4-0 at one point and cruised from there. Corey Crawford earned an assist on the Hossa goal for his first career point. Tomas Holmstrom added a late goal for the Wings.
What it means: The Hawks needed a win to stay alive in the playoff hunt and what they got was one of their better performances in quite some time. In the process they swept all three games played in Detroit this season. It puts them on the brink of a return to the playoffs and a chance to defend their Stanley Cup. Smith had his best game of his young career, killing penalties while earning his first NHL point. The Hawks got more contributions from their defense in the form of goals by Seabrook and Campbell. The combination of role players and blue-liners earning points bodes well for a playoff run, if they get in.
What’s next: The Hawks conclude the regular season on Sunday with another matchup with the Wings this time at the United Center. If San Jose wins its game late Friday night, the game will have no meaning to Detroit in regards to the standings.
And the Associated Press’s recap, via a quote from Hossa...
“Obviously, they are already in the playoffs and we don’t have sure playoffs. We had the energy,” said Hossa, a former Red Wing. “It seemed like we took the momentum right from the beginning.”
Turns us toward the Red Wings’ perspective, which involved quite a bit of shock, at least initially:
“We got down 4-0. I don’t know if we ever got playing,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
Meanwhile, the Red Wings - who have been inconsistent, particularly at home - have one last game to try and create momentum for the playoffs.
“We’re trying to figure it out,” Danny Cleary said. “Figuring out what we can be doing differently.”
The Wings stated the obvious to the Macomb Daily’s Michael J. Feld...
“They were a lot more desperate than we were,” Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. “Especially in that first period, for the better portion, they pushed us back and they were controlling the game from early on.”
“They did what they had to do,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Obviously, their urgency was a different level than ours was, [but] there’s no excuse for us. They’re playing for their life. We knew that before the game. I thought we were prepared. Obviously, we weren’t.”
“[The effort was about] not responding when we see a desperate team coming in,” Lidstrom said. “Not responding to how they’re preparing for the game, how they’re coming out with their speed and their effort. Just being outworked.”
Lidstrom also suggested to the Grand Rapids Press’s Joey Nowak that the Hawks pushed the Wings onto their heels—and never let up:
“They were a lot more desperate than we were, especially in the first period,” said Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom. “They came out with a better push and they pushed us back.”
The Blackhawks wasted little time—just 27 seconds—silencing the home crowd when defenseman Brent Seabrook connected on a one-timer from forward Patrick Sharp for an early 1-0 lead. Just less than six minutes later, Chicago forward Patrick Kane knocked the puck away from Detroit’s Valtteri Filppula, right to forward Ben Smith, who netted his first goal of the season. Chicago’s Brian Campbell made it a convincing 3-0 lead at the 8:45 mark, when he beat Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard in front of the Red Wings’ net.
Marian Hossa added a power-play goal—his 25th score of the season—6:44 into the second period for the 4-0 lead. From that point forward, Chicago continued to control the pace and flow of the game.
“It’s pretty tough,” said Detroit forward Danny Cleary. “We haven’t played well at home. We haven’t played well for a while here consistently. We’ve got to find a way.”
The Red Wings, who won just two of their final eight home games, will finish the season with a better road record (25-11-4 entering Sunday’s season finale at Chicago) than home mark (21-14-6).
Cleary sounded genuinely puzzled about the Wings’ struggles of late, especially on home ice, while speaking to the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
“We didn’t play well,” forward Danny Cleary said. “We didn’t get off to a good start. We’ve been saying that for a long time. We’re trying to figure it out in here, trying to see what we’ve got to do differently. Listen, we haven’t played well for a while here, consistently. We’ve got to find a way.”
“They had scored three goals and we had made three blatant mistakes,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Their intensity level was at a different level than ours was. There’s no excuse for this. They’re playing for their lives. We knew that before the game. We couldn’t have been very proud with the way things went tonight for ourselves. We got down 4-0. I don’t know if ever really got playing. We scored a couple of goals, but we weren’t good enough. That’s all there is to it.”
As St. James points out, the Wings have 1-and-4 record against Chicago, and haven’t won a home game against them, so there’s more than a little concern regarding a potential Wings-Hawks match-up…Or any other possible playoff match-up, quite frankly:
In two games since clinching the Central Division last Sunday, the Wings have allowed seven goals and have scored twice. With the playoffs a week away, the question that’s emerged is: Which team will show up—the one that rallied from a three-goal deficit last Saturday at Nashville to pull out an inspirational victory, or the one that got outworked Friday? The one that plays like it can win the Stanley Cup, or the one that plays like it’s ripe for a first-round exit?
“I think we’re not responding when we see a desperate team, not responding to how they’re preparing for the game,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “We’re just being outworked, I think. You want to play better, that’s for sure. You don’t want to play sloppy in your own zone and not take care of the puck. That’s something that’s going to hurt us in the playoffs. I think it’s very hard to relax and all of a sudden think you’re going to turn it up when playoffs come around. It’s very hard to do that.”
Babcock did at least tell St. James that he wasn’t particularly happy about coughing up a game to the Hawks on “Fan Appreciation Night”...
Mike Babcock on how the Wings played: “We thought we were prepared and obviously we weren’t. If you’re not all in and you’re not committed mentally to what you’re doing, you’re not going to be very successful. We didn’t want to play like that in front of our fans in our last regular-season game, and we didn’t want to play against Chicago like that.”
Danny Cleary on the poor puck management: “We’re trying to get it figure out. The key for us is making the right decisions.”
Nicklas Lidstrom on how the game went: “They were a lot more desperate than we were, especially in the first period. They came out with a better push. They pushed us back, and I thought they were controlling the game early on. They were first to pucks, they were hanging onto pucks, they were winning battles.”
And Lidstrom admitted to St. James that Howard, who stopped 25 of the 29 shots he faced, didn’t get any help:
Jimmy Howard appeared in his 62nd game Friday, making 25 saves as the Wings were outworked and outhustled by a Blackhawks team that badly needed the 4-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena. It wasn’t a stellar performance by Howard, but he was exposed over and over to breakaways and odd-man rushes.
“We kind of left him out to dry,” Nicklas Lidstrom said. “It’s not easy for goalies when you do that, especially for second chances or breakaways.”
But Babcock growled about the Wings’ home record translating into playoff concern…
The Wings finished 25-12-4 at Joe Louis Arena, but Babcock doesn’t read much into that. “I don’t buy any of that stuff. We put our equipment on. This is where we live. We’ve got to look after business here in the playoffs. You can’t lose at home in the playoffs. You just can’t. I’m not concerned about that part.”
As he also told the Detroit News’s Chris McCosky:
The Wings finished their home regular season schedule with just four wins in their last 12 games, but Babcock wasn’t about to petition the league and decline home-ice advantage in the first round.
“I don’t buy into any of that stuff,” Babcock said. “We put our equipment on here the same way we do on the road. We just have to get ourselves ready. The thing about the playoffs, it’s only long for two teams. For the rest it can be done in a heck of a hurry. The sense of urgency that we have to have and the change of mind-set we have to have isn’t there and that is very apparent from watching this game.”
“You can say they were more desperate and our spot is set, but to me, every day you go to work you try to do your job the best you can,” Babcock said. “That’s what it’s all about and obviously we can’t be proud of what we did here tonight.”
“Listen, we haven’t played well for awhile consistently so we’ve got to find a way,” Danny Cleary said. “We’ve got a big game Sunday, we’ve got to come out and have some good steps, play some good periods and get ready for the playoffs.”
Babcock was asked if he felt the team was ready for the playoffs.
“I’ve been through this a number of times and been through it a number of ways,” he said. “We’ve gone in on a roll. We’ve gone in playing bad and wondering if we’d ever win a game. My first year here we couldn’t lose (in the regular season) and six games later we were done. There’s lots of different ways that we’ve gone about this. But this isn’t how you draw it up. You don’t want to go into the playoffs playing like we have.”
Babcock continued, as NHL.com’s Brian Hedger noted:
“You want to go in feeling good about yourself,” Babcock said. “I don’t think your roll has to be a month long or anything like that, but I think you want to go in feeling good. There’s no way we can leave the rink tonight feeling good about ourselves.”
This was the second time in the last 10 days the Red Wings were handled easily by a Central Division rival in front of their home fans. It continues a disturbing trend of inconsistent—not to mention sloppy—play on home ice. Counting this loss, Detroit’s record dropped to just 3-5-2 overall in its past 10 games and 4-4-2 in the past 10 games at Joe Louis Arena. The part that’s most troubling is how they’ve played in several of those defeats.
There have been some close games, but the Red Wings have also been controlled far too easily in several recent defeats, including Friday. In those losses, Detroit has not looked like a team that’s ready to contend for the Stanley Cup. The Wings have also really struggled against the Blackhawks, having now dropped four straight games to the defending Cup champions after spoiling Chicago’s home opener and banner-raising on Oct. 9 at the United Center.
“They’re the defending Stanley Cup champs and they’re a good team,” said Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who was one of the few Detroit players without a minus rating on the stat sheet. “When they’re playing the way they played tonight, you have to show up and play a lot better than the way we did tonight.”
“You want to play better, that’s for sure,” Lidstrom said. “You don’t want to play sloppy in your own zone by losing coverage and not taking care of the puck. That’s something that’s going to hurt us in the playoffs.”
Despite the Wings ultimately scoring twice, it just wasn’t the way a team that’s considered by many to be Cup contenders should be playing at this time of year.
Lidstrom reiterated his point to Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji:
“We still have one more game left to play and we can’t just go out there and play the way we did tonight,” Lidstrom said. “We have to come out and play with a lot more determination than we showed tonight because you don’t want to be sloppy going into the playoffs. That’s something we have to correct.”
Of course, just because a team is playing well heading into the postseason doesn’t guarantee a long run.
“I’ve been through it a number of times, been through it a number of different ways—on a roll, going in bad, going in wondering if you’ll ever win again,” Babcock said. “My first year here we couldn’t lose and six games later we were done. So there’s lots of different ways we’ve gone about our business here. Obviously this isn’t what you draw up, you don’t want to go into the playoff playing the way we have, there’s no question about it. You want to go in feeling good about yourself. I don’t think your roll has to be a month long or anything like that but I think you want to go in feeling good. There’s no way we can leave the rink tonight feeling good about ourselves.”
But as Danny Cleary pointed out, the only consistent thing about the Wings’ play of late is that they’ve been inconsistent.
“I think everybody’s trying,” Cleary said. “We’re all trying out there, we’ve got a pretty hard-working team that cares about each other and about winning. Just gotta go out and do it. Doing too much talking, I think.”
That’s the whole damn point, isn’t it?
Despite what blank stares and, “Um, uh…” pauses during interviews might suggest, the Wings don’t have any dim bulbs in the locker room. The Wings’ players are smart, smart enough to follow Babcock’s incredibly demanding and detailed tactics when they’re so inclined, and they’re certainly smart enough to skate verbal three-dimensional shapes around the reasons why they’re struggling, offering reasons, rationalizations and endless points upon which they are absolutely certain their team can right itself, but they haven’t followed through lately.
Starting Sunday, the Wings need to let their play do the talking for them, and when they do talk, they need to elegantly and eloquently explain the reasons why they win games instead of offering excuses as to why they’ve lost yet another game…
Because, starting next week, four out of seven games’ worth of excuses for an explanations of losses mean one long summer, and that’s a mathematical equation that is indisputable.
Highlights: ESPN posted a 29-second highlight clip;
Versus posted a 3:35 highlight clip…
TSN posted a 50-second highlight clip;
Comcast Sportsnet Chicago posted a 4:06 highlight clip:
It’s not pretty, but at least the Red Wings’ website’s highlight clip is narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond:
Comcast Sportsnet Chicago posted post-game interviews with Jonathan Toews…
Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp…
As well as Joel Quenneville’s post-game presser:
The Red Wings’ website posted a clip of Nicklas Lidstrom and Mike Babcock speaking to the media:
The Wings also entertained alumnus Metro Prystai for Friday’s game:
Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 14-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted a 16-image gallery;
The Chicago Tribune posted a trio of images in its “Blackhawks in Action” gallery;
NHL.com posted a 23-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted a 12-image gallery;
Shots 29-28 Chicago, breaking down as 13-5 Chicago in the 1st period, 13-11 Chicago in the 2nd period and 12-3 Detroit in the 3rd period.
The Blackhawks went 1 for 1 in 43 seconds of PP time; the Wings went 0-for-2 in 4:00 of PP time.
Howard stopped 25 of 29; Crawford stopped 26 of 28.
The 3 stars, per Art Regner, were Seabrook, Hossa and Kane.
Our goals: Miller (9) from Franzen (27) and Abdelkader (12);
Holmstrom (17) from Ericsson (12) and Stuart (17).
Faceoffs 36-23 Chicago (39% won by Detroit);
Blocked shots 21-7 Chicago;
Missed shots 12-10 Detroit (so the Wings fired 28 shots on the net and 33 wide for a total of 61 attempts; the Hawks attempted 46 shots);
Hits 37-18 Detroit;
Giveaways 12-5 Detroit;
Takeaways 13-5 Chicago (So the Wings gave the puck to Chicago 25 times).
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 8-and-13 (38%); Filppula went 8-and-9 (47%); Abdelkader went 5-and-7 (42%); Helm went 2-and-6 (25%); Modano lost his only faceoff.
Shots: Datsyuk, Filppula and Ericsson had 5 shots; Miller had 4; Rafalski and Franzen had 2; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Cleary, Helm and Holmstrom had 1.
Blocked attempts: The Hawks blocked 4 attempts from Eaves and Rafalski; Lidstrom had 3 attempts blocked; Bertuzzi had 2 attempts blocked; Kindl, Cleary, Datsyuk, Salei, Helm, Filppula, Ericsson and Modano had single attempts blocked.
Missed shots: Cleary, Datsyuk and Modano missed the net 2 times; Stuart, Salei, Helm, Bertuzzi, Filppula and Ericsson missed the net 1 time.
Giveaways: Hudler and Ericsson had 3 giveaways; Salei had 2; Datsyuk, Stuart, Filppula and Holmstrom had 1.
Takeaways: Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Bertuzzi, Filppula and Ericsson had takeaways.
Blocked opponent shots: Kindl and Salei blocked 2 shots; Lidstrom, Stuart and Rafalski blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Salei was tagged for a minor penalty.
Plus-minus: Hudler, Bertuzzi and Filppula were -2; Kindl, Cleary, Datsyuk and Ericsson were -1; Miller, Modano and Holmstrom were +1; Abdelkader was +2. The team was a collective -5.
Points: Miller and Holmstrom had goals; Abdelkader, Stuart, Ericsson and Franzen had assists.
Ice time: Rafalski led the team with 22:43 played; Lidstrom played 21:09; Ericsson played 20:36;
Cleary played 16:16; Franzen played 19:04; Salei played 18:43;
Datsyuk played 18:41; Stuart played 18:02; Kindl played 16:58;
Filppula played 16:31; Hudler played 16:02; Bertuzzi played 15;13;
Holmstrom played 14:21; Modano played 13:36; Abdelkader played 13:11;
Helm played 12:27; Miller played 11:52; Eaves played 11:44.
Red Wings notebooks: If you’re interested, DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose, Michael Caples and Dave Burke posted a game breakdown, which included a few situationally and statistically-based notes:
Hockeytown hero: With the Wings in a desperate need for a goal, Drew Miller delivered. The Detroit winger drove to the Blackhawks’ net and managed to get his stick on a pass from Johan Franzen. Miller was able to redirect the puck into the top corner, beating goaltender Corey Crawford for the Wings’ first goal. Miller was +1 with four shots and one hit on the night.
Grinder: Justin Abdelkader (+2) was one of two Red Wings (Drew Miller, +1) who finished with plus-ratings in Friday night’s contest at JLA. Abdelkader skated for 13:11, recording one assist, one shot, two hits, and five face-off wins. ... Miller scored a goal in 11:52 of ice time.
By the numbers: 20: Drew Miller crack the 20-point plateau fo the first time in his career. The Wings’ forward took a cross-ice pass from Johan Franzen and wristed it high to the short side of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford for his ninth goal of the season.
6: With six hits in the game, Patrick Eaves equalled his season-high. He also had six hits in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars on Dec. 19. The Wings held a 37-18 advantage in hits against the Blackhawks on Friday.
47% Face-offs were a concentration that the Wings didn’t fare well on Friday. The Blackhawks won 61 percent of 59 total draws. Valtteri Filppula led the Wings, winning 47 percent of his 17 face-offs.
And Burke reports that Darren Helm was unsurprisingly named the Wings’ Hardest-Working Player for March;
• The Detroit News’s Chris McCosky offers an update on Niklas Kronwall’s, ahem, upper body injury:
The question was put to defenseman Niklas Kronwall Friday morning: Will you be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs?
“Absolutely,” he said. “Definitely.”
“It had been bothering me for some time but right now it’s feeling better every day,” said Kronwall, who has been skating the last three days. “It’s been progressing every day. I hope to have (a full-contact practice) Monday or Tuesday, but we’re just going day by day and seeing how it feels. I’ve been doing more every day, so we’re going in the right direction.”
• As for Chris Osgood, who stated on Friday that he’s coming back next year if he’s at all able, Wings GM Ken Holland put the kibosh on Osgood’s suggestions that he could back up Jimmy Howard sooner than later:
“It says ‘Osgood’ on the back of his jersey, but it’s not Osgood, know what I mean?” general manager Ken Holland said. “That’s why Jimmy Howard is No. 1, Joey Mac is No. 2. The longer we can play, if we get to a point where somebody gets injured, then obviously we’ll make a decision, do we dress Osgood as the backup? Let’s run two weeks of practices together. You can’t practice three times and say, OK, I’m ready for the Stanley Cup playoffs.”
Having to rely on MacDonald if needed is a scenario the Wings hoped to avoid. MacDonald, 31, has acquitted himself decently this season, going 5-5-3 with a 2.58 goals-against average and .917 save percentage, but he’s a career minor leaguer with no NHL playoff experience. Osgood, 38, underwent surgery Jan. 11. He hasn’t felt ready to play until now.
“I feel if I had to play in a game over the last four days, that I’d be able to play,” he said. “I feel like I’m in real good shape and I’d be able to play, regardless of the situation.”
Coach Mike Babcock said Osgood isn’t in the mix for Sunday’s season-closer at Chicago, though that could change. Osgood is emphatic that he will play again.
“As of right now, I’m coming back next year,” he said. “I just want to keep playing because I have fun playing, and I still know I can. Those would be the reason why I’d come back.”
That depends on whether Osgood’s groin can hold up, and as such, I think he’ll either have to prove himself via some serious work with Jim Bedard over the summer, or he may very well have to win a battle against MacDonald to prove himself worthy to back up Howard next fall, with no guarantees that he’ll win if his groin fails him again.
• Mike Modano also reiterated his suggestion that, should the Wings make the Cup finals, he’ll hang his skates up, as noted by the Grand Rapids Press’s Joey Nowak:
“It’s evident of how the season has gone,” Modano said after Detroit’s 4-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night. “It’s been a frustrating year for me, personally. But it’s not over yet. I’m just kind of basing it on the next couple months, and hopefully they’re fun and exciting and we have a lot of fun. If we do go deep, I think that’s probably it for me.”
The 21-year veteran, who spent much of his career in Minnesota and Dallas, returned home this season. But his time with the Red Wings has been cut short by a wrist injury that cost him 41 games. He has just four goals and 11 assists, more than a decade removed from leading the Dallas Stars to a Stanley Cup title in 1999.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Modano said. “It was a great opportunity to come back here and be with this organization and have the opportunity to be with some world-class players. You just couldn’t pass that up. Being around them, being with this team, this organization back home has been a real treat.”
Also of Red Wings-related note: You can expect the Detroit Red Wings to call up a gaggle of Grand Rapids Griffins players on Monday. The Griffins were eliminated from playoff contention via an ugly 6-0 loss to the Abbotsford Heat in their home finale. As the Griffins’ website’s recap notes, after Jordan Pearce gave up 3 goals on 16 shots, he was pulled in the second period…and over only 38 minutes of play, Thomas McCollum faced 26 more shots, giving up 3 more goals.
The Griffins finish their schedule with road games in Rockford tonight and Milwaukee on Sunday, and the Grand Rapids Press’s Steve Vedder provides a simple explanation as to why the Griffins struggled and ultimately failed to earn a playoff spot:
The loss leaves Grand Rapids with 82 points, and with no hope of claiming the North Division’s final playoff spot with two games left. It ends what was a disappointing on-ice home season for the Griffins, who finished with an 18-16-1-5 record at Van Andel Arena. That record on friendly ice is not what Griffins coach Curt Fraser had in mind for a club which finished with 42 points at home, just 18th best in the AHL going into Friday. Grand Rapids takes a credible 18-16-1-3 record into its final two road games today at Rockford and Sunday at Milwaukee.
“We had a pretty rough start (at home) and were great on the road,” Fraser said. “We worked to correct that, and we got better. Playing at Van Andel should be an advantage. But the team that wants to win does, whether it is at home, or on the road.”
• According to the University of Maine Black Bears’ website, Gustav Nyquist will join the Wings as both a Black Ace and a Second Team All-American;
• In the QMJHL, Louis-Marc Aubry scored a goal and Trevor Parkes scored two goals and had an assist—on the OT winner—as the Montreal Juniors opened their second-round series against Lewiston with a 6-5 OT win;
• If you missed it, on Friday, Tom Gores reached an agreement to buy the Detroit Pistons. That led to talk about what the future holds for Joe Louis Arena as the Pistons will remain at the Palace in Auburn Hills (and the Wings have committed themselves to maintaining residence at Joe Louis Arena until their new rink is built, regardless of what Evil Drew Sharp tries to tell you), so the Detroit Free Press’s Tom Gallagher discussed the Pistons’ sale as it applies to the possible construction and funding of a follow-on rink:
Two teams playing in the same arena would mean about twice the sports-related dates and revenue, which would make it that much easier to support a bond issue to raise money to pay for construction.
George Jackson, president of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. and the city’s point man for a deal, said Friday that Detroit’s first job is to make needed improvements to Joe Louis for the Red Wings, and then consider a state-of-the-art arena “down the road.”
He added, “The Joe’s getting old, no secret about that.”
Robert Gregory, president of the Detroit 300 Conservancy that operates Campus Martius Park, said the goal of planners is to integrate whatever arena the Red Wings play into the rest of downtown.
“Right now, Joe Louis is an island, and it’s really more of a drive and park and shuttle bus environment, and we’d all like more of a walking environment,” he said. He added, “It certainly would be easier if there were two teams playing, but if not, then we take what we can get.”
• If we’re going to talk about icons that will eventually be replaced, I suppose this question to the Hockey News’s Adam Proteau should at least be mentioned:
Adam, I was wondering what the Red Wings would do if Nick Lidstrom retired this summer. Would they give an offer sheet to a restricted free agent like division rival Shea Weber or stay in-house with what they have (Kronwall, Rafalski, et al.)
Matt Smith, Alpena, S.D.
The Red Wings are projected to have some $12.5 million in available salary cap space in the off-season (possibly more, if the salary cap rises as expected), but with only 15 players signed for 2011-12, GM Ken Holland likely isn’t in a position to go after Weber.
Besides, unless Detroit can conjure up a huge-money deal, it’s a virtual certainty the Preds are going to match any RFA offer sheet. Far more probable for the
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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.