The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/15/12 at 09:46 AM ET
We got into something of a philosophical discussion here on TMR after the Red Wings’ slightly sloppy 3-2 overtime win over Chicago on Saturday afternoon, to the tune of, “Is it about the journey or the destination?”
As the Wings are in the middle of a stretch in which they’re playing every other day for a full month (from December 30th to January 25th, a span of 27 days, the Wings will have played 14 games), one could very well argue that the “how” the Wings won on Saturday—in overtime, because the Wings out-shot Chicago 17-6 in the first period and took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, but slowly let up on the gas, let the Hawks off the mat and eventually allowed them to salvage a point via a Jonathan Toews game with 52 seconds remaining in regulation (during a period where the Wings were out-shot 16-5), requiring a fast and furious overtime period and a Todd Bertuzzi goal with 49 seconds left to avoid what would have been the Wings’ second shootout in two games—didn’t necessarily matter, because winning games by any means necessary is “all that matters” right now.
One could also argue that the Wings continue to expend far too much energy and effort to win games that they should be putting away by scoring three or four goals instead of one or two, allowing a team in the middle of a particularly nasty mental and physical grind to take into account the kinds of mistakes which will creep into play at this time of year, and that between last weekend’s 3-2 overtime win and Saturday’s version, the Wings have yet to figure out how to play the kind of consistent hockey over the course of 60 minutes necessary to win in April, and if they don’t start figuring it out now, they might never figure it out.
In terms of straight statistical bottom lines, however, here’s how the Wings’ pair of games shake down: the Red Wings have 57 points and a 28-15-and-1 record, but they sit one point behind the 26-13-and-6 Blackhawks, two points behind the 26-12-and-6 Blues and only 3 points ahead of the 25-15-and-4 Predators. Add in the fact that the Canucks lead the Western Conference with all of 59 points, and that whoever wins the division will at least finish in 3rd place in the West, while the losers will probably finish in fourth, fifth and sixth place, if not lower…
The Wings are in a dogfight for supremacy in the Central Division and the Western Conference, and on Saturday, they earned one point out of Chicago (which also plays against the Sharks, who have 55 points but lead the Pacific Division, on Sunday), not two, despite out-shooting them 43-27 and despite building a 2-0 lead in the first period.
So by Monday morning, the Wings might sit three points behind the Hawks as well as two behind the Blues, and as the team looks to set a franchise-best 15 straight wins at home when they tangle with the Buffalo Sabres, the Wings will have to know that continuing to win on a nightly basis won’t do much more than allow them to keep pace with a team that was very happy to “steal” a point against ‘em on Saturday.
The Hawks argued that instead, Corey Crawford was the story of Saturday’s game, and that the should have emerged from the first period at least tied with the Wings, as the Chicago Daily Herald’s Tim Sassone noted:
“Terrible start to the game — too much standing around watching them,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
Jonathan Toews’ goal on a deflection with 51.7 seconds left in the third period sent the game to overtime, but it was all Red Wings in the extra session. They outshot the Hawks 9-0 and got the winning goal from Todd Bertuzzi with 39 seconds remaining. Crawford made 40 saves in one of his best performances of the season.
With most Hawks playing as if they were still asleep, the Red Wings got goals from Tomas Holmstrom on a deflection and Bertuzzi in alone in the first period as Crawford was left to fend for himself. After Holmstrom’s goal at 12:58 that opened the scoring, the Hawks were being outshot 17-2.
The Hawks did have a good chance to score in the first period when a bad bounce off the end boards landed on Michael Frolik’s stick in front. But with most of the net open, Frolik shot the puck right into goalie Jimmy Howard’s left pad.
“Good goal scorers put it in, and I didn’t,” Frolik told reporters.
Frolik has gone 14 games without a goal with only 5 for the season.
“Someone with confidence would’ve put it in there some way,” Quenneville said. “When you’re not, the net’s a little tighter.”
Frolik lamented his missed opportunity while speaking to Comcast Sportsnet Chicago’s Tracey Myers...
Frolik thought he had a goal when the puck caromed off the board and right onto his stick, with Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard out of position. But Howard got over in time to deflect the shot away. Frolik, who has just five goals this season, couldn’t believe it.
“I just saw the wide-open net. I was pretty sure it was going to go in. I saw him slide over and it hit his toe,” said Frolik. “That’s got to go in. I have to make sure that goes in. I don’t know how he saved it.”
“For sure, it was a lucky bounce. You take those and I didn’t,” Frolik said. “It’s too bad. Good goal scorers put it in and I didn’t. What can you do?”
But as Myers noted, the Hawks were only disappointed with their start and perhaps the final goal, they were relatively satisfied with their effort in between:
“Terrible start to the game,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “(There was) too much standing around watching them. Nobody had any movement. We’ll definitely take a point and move along.”
“It’s tough to say why (we started bad),” said Marian Hossa, who assisted on Toews’ game-tying goal. “It seems like they controlled the game at the beginning. They were skating, we were standing. The good thing is, we get one point.”
The Blackhawks finally woke up later in the second, when a goofy puck bounce off the back boards led to Andrew Shaw’s third goal of the season. They took that momentum into the third period, where they outshot the Red Wings 11-0 in the first six-plus minutes. But when Drew Miller went for a double-minor high-stick, the Blackhawks seemed to lose momentum instead of capitalize on the ensuing power plays.
They got it back when Toews deflected Hossa’s shot with 52 seconds remaining in regulation. But the Blackhawks’ overtime looked much like their first period, as the Wings outshot them 9-0 with Bertuzzi winning it.
“It (Valtteri Filppula’s shot) went up in the air and I just lost it for a second. I think (Bertuzzi) one-timed it as soon as it hit the ice and it just squeaked through,” Crawford said. “It was just another tough, tough game against them. But we were able to battle back and bring it into overtime.”
“We’re not going to beat ourselves up about it,” Toews said. “When you work your way back, you feel that extra point is yours. It is a little disappointing. We have to learn from it and be better next time we play these guys.”
And as poorly as the Hawks admitted they started while speaking to ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers...
“I wouldn’t say we had a terrible first period,” Jonathan Toews said. “We didn’t control the game as much as we wanted to. They kind of did.”
The normally brutally honest, Toews, was being nice. The Hawks were outshot 21 to 4 and trailed 2-0 after the first 20 minutes. There’s no sugarcoating those numbers. The 21 shots given up tied a season high for one period set just recently against Philadelphia. The score would have been worse if not for an outstanding first period by Corey Crawford.
“Terrible start to the game,” coach Joel Quenneville said more bluntly than Toews. “Too much standing around. Watching them or watching us. Nobody had any movement prior to getting the puck.”
“They had a couple slow starts and they were ready and we weren’t.,” Quenneville stated. “The switch was a 12:30 pm (EST) game, might have been something to do with it. I don’t know. There’s no excuses but it was disappointing.”
They were absolutely delighted with their resiliency, especially in the third period…
“Maybe the best stretch we’ve had all year,” Quenneville said.
The Hawks threw everything at Howard, doubling their shot total through 40 minutes in just the first 6:30 of the third.
“We knew that game wasn’t over until the end,” Toews said. “We stuck with it.”
“We did an incredible job to come back. Everything was against us in that sense and we did a good job to get the first one and then the second one.-Steve Montador, who admitted the Hawks played poorly getting down 2-0.
The Hawks felt that Crawford’s performance in particular merited a different result, as Marian Hossa told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Adam L. Jahns...
If it wasn’t for goalie Corey Crawford, the Blackhawks couldn’t have stolen a point Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings Every Hawk said as much.
Crawford turned away 40 of 43 shots to keep the Hawks in a game they slept thru for the first 20 minutes, but he couldn’t prevent Todd Bertuzzi from scoring the game-winner with 38.3 seconds left in overtime. Bertuzzi scored after Valtteri Filppula’s shot hit the crossbar.
“It went up in the air and I lost it for a second, and I think he one-timed it as soon as it hit the ice,” Crawford said. “It just squeaked through.”
Crawford made plenty of key stops, including one on Drew Miller on a breakaway right after the Hawks’ four-minute power play expired to keep it a one-goal game in the third period.
“He was huge,” forward Marian Hossa said. “He deserved to have a win because he stopped some key goals on them. It’s a tough one. It always seems he always plays so good and we can’t win the game for him.”
And Hossa told the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc that the team with killer instinct on Saturday simply couldn’t close the deal…
“We knew that game wasn’t over until the end and we stuck with it and got a goal in the last minute,” said Toews, who redirected a Marian Hossa shot past Jimmy Howard that also hit Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom en route to the net. “It’s unfortunate we couldn’t find a way to get the extra point in overtime.”
The first period was all Wings, who outshot the Hawks 21-4 and held a two-goal lead after scores from Tomas Holmstrom and Bertuzzi. The Wings peppered Hawks goalie Corey Crawford, who was outstanding in keeping the deficit close.
In the second, the tide began to change when Hawks rookie Andrew Shaw pounced on a puck that Howard misplayed behind the net and tucked it into the open goal. Fueled by the gift, the Hawks slowly took control. They appeared poised to tie it in the third when they were buzzing the net and then went on a four-minute power play.
Instead, it was the Wings who seized momentum with a big penalty kill against a floundering Hawks power play, which mustered only two shots during the sequence. Detroit then held the advantage in play until Toews knotted the score and threatened the Wings’ mark at home, where they are 17-2-1.
“You have four teams all way up there (in the Central),” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Every game is critical, every point is vital. Winning your division the reward at the end is going to be huge.”
“Our goal is to win our division and the best positioning before the playoffs,” Hossa said. “It’s not going to be easy.”
And instead, as the Hawks told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Adam L. Jahns, the Hawks would take Saturday’s loss as a learning experience, take a point in the dogfight that is attempting to win the Central Division, and move on:
“Our goal is to win our division and try to have the best position before the playoffs, and it’s not going to be easy playing these guys,” said forward Marian Hossa, who fired the shot that deflected off defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and led to Toews’ goal. “It’s always tough to come to this building and play against this team. For whatever reason, they play strongly at home all the time. It’s never easy to take points from this building.”
The Hawks needed a fortunate bounce to beat Jimmy Howard, who had 25 saves, including a point-blank stop on Michael Frolik in the first, in a strong game. In a much tighter second period, defenseman Nick Leddy fired the puck around the boards, and Howard tried to play it behind the net. But the puck caromed in front of the goal, and Andrew Shaw put it in the vacated net.
The Hawks had a strong start in the third, but a failed four-minute power play gave the Red Wings’ the momentum until Toews scored. After that, the Red Wings showed why it’s so tough to beat them at home, outshooting the Hawks 9-0 in overtime.
“When you get to that point when you work your way back in a game like that, you feel like that extra point is yours,” Toews said. “It is a little disappointing. We know the last two games have gone to overtime against this team and we’ve come up short both times. If you look at it that way, we’ve got to learn from it and be better next time we play these guys.”
Comcast Sportsnet Chicago’s Chris Boden, who had hoped to see the Hawks literally inflict some pain on the Wings after last weekend’s 3-2 loss, offered this take on the game…
It’s unfortunate that as angry as the Hawks were about some of the Wings’ tactics and non-calls in last Sunday’s finish, they came out and were dominated. Yes, they turned the tables late and got the extra point to remain ahead of the Wings in the Central, but they were fortunate to escape the first down just 2-0, and a stronger start leads one to wonder if they could’ve gotten that second point instead.
And Comcast Sportsnet Chicago’s Tracey Myers wraps up our little survey of the Hawks’ press as follows:
The Blackhawks would’ve liked a better ending to their 3-2 overtime loss on Saturday afternoon. But for the third consecutive game the Blackhawks and Wings entertained and reminded us all of how tremendous this series can be: three games, all decided by one goal, two going into overtime. Drama, great competition and close endings? Now that’s entertainment.
“They’re fun. (And they’re) two great teams,” Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard told reporters Saturday afternoon. “We play similar styles; both teams like to get up and go and get on opposing teams’ D. It’s tough game for the D to play but at the same time they’re a lot of fun. There’s not much chirping between the teams, it’s all business like.”
No, as Patrick Sharp said when the series resumed in late December, this is a pretty respectful rivalry. The chirping comes in that other series. You know the one that’s been a playoff staple for the Blackhawks the past three seasons? But we digress. Just in case the old rivalry needed more spice, the Wings are right on the Blackhawks’ heels in the Central Division. With the one point gained on Saturday, the Blackhawks maintained their one-point lead over the Wings.
The Blackhawks and Wings are back to bringing out the best in each other. As Corey Crawford observed, Saturday’s outing was “just another tough, tough game against (the Wings).”
Just imagine if these two met in the postseason.
The Red Wings didn’t necessarily disagree, as the AP’s Larry Lage pointed out:
“It seems every time it’s always a Saturday against them at noon,” Bertuzzi said. “It seems to always create some good drama.”
The Red Wings looked as if they might roll toward an easy victory when Pavel Datsyuk assisted on two goals - scored by Tomas Holmstrom and Bertuzzi - and outshot Chicago 21-4 in the first period. Jimmy Howard wasn’t fooled.
“You knew eventually they were going to start coming and pressing,” Howard said.
Howard made 25 saves to earn his NHL-high 26th win. Corey Crawford had to make 40 saves to give the Blackhawks a shot to win. After pulling Crawford for an extra skater, Chicago called timeout and scored the tying goal following a faceoff in the Detroit end. Calgary is the last team to beat Detroit at Joe Louis Arena, winning 4-1 on Nov. 3.
“Always tough to come into this building and play that team,” said Hossa, a former Red Wing who is booed every time he has the puck at Detroit.
(he was booed in the third period, when the Hawks started to rally, but not beforehand)
The Wings were a little puzzled about the way in which the Hawks clawed their way back into the game—to some extent—as noted by NHL.com’s Brian Hedger...
Chicago started to even the play up in the second, which was highlighted by a strange goal scored off the stick of rookie Andrew Shaw—who had the puck bounce right to his stick in front of a vacated net after it eluded Howard behind the goal.
He tucked it into the net for his third career goal and second in as many games to cut Detroit’s lead to 2-1 with 3:07 left before the second intermission. Television replays showed what might have led to the puck getting past Howard. After a dump-in by Chicago’s Nick Leddy, the puck appeared to clip an extended portion of the Zamboni door that might’ve been pulled out by Wings defenseman Brad Stuart moments before—when he had to yank his jammed stick free from that spot in the wall.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Howard, who picked up his League-high 26th win by making 15 of his 25 saves in a frenzied third. “Stewie’s stick got caught in the Zamboni door a couple of seconds before and the next thing you know, I went behind to stop it for Stew and it hit the same spot and went between me and the net. Just a (bad) break for us.’‘
Howard was nearly beaten by another bad bounce in the first, when a puck that he went to play to the right of the net hopped over his stick and went straight to Chicago’s Michael Frolik in the low slot. Howard preserved a 1-0 lead by whirling his body and making a blind, sliding pad save on Frolik’s low attempt. Bertuzzi scored off a breakaway about 1:30 later—after sneaking onto the ice during a line change and getting a nice pass from Pavel Datsyuk from the defensive zone.
His work in the third, however, was a huge reason for it. The Hawks put 13 unanswered shots on him in a frenzied effort to get the tying goal to start the third, but Howard was up to the task on all but one. The save he couldn’t make was picked up by Detroit’s fourth-line center Justin Abdelkader, who cleared a loose puck from the crease with Howard on the ice during a scramble.
“I saw Jimmy was down and the guy was kind of coming around and I just tried to help play goal for a second there,” Abdelkader told NHL.com. “I’ve been there before, where I felt like I could’ve done something—where I don’t want to just stand in front of the net. So it was just a reactionary thing.”
And as the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness noted, the Wings were also in quite a bit of trouble when Drew Miller got a double-minor for high sticking six and-a-half minutes into the third period, but instead of bending and breaking, the Wings settled down instead, killing off the Hawks’ four-minute power play and returning to form:
“We did a good job, but I’ve been saying all along that our penalty kill has really come along,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’ve done real good work on it and it’s been good in lots of games … and yet the stats don’t lie.”
The Wings penalty kill came in ranked 23rd in the league.
“We’ve just got to keep getting better and better at it,” Babcock said. “That was a big kill for us to allow in the end to get two points. That’s a real positive for our team.”
“It was huge for us, it was a big kill, it was a great kill by the guys,” Howard said. “We’re cutting off lanes and it allowed me to see the puck and when we got the opportunity we got it all the way down the ice. It chewed up a lot of the clock.”
The end of the kill resulted in a breakaway for Miller that Corey Crawford stopped.
“It was a crucial time of the game,” Niklas Kronwall said. “It was an accident that really happened. We were able to stay inside and Howie came up with some big saves. We cleared the puck a lot of times so they had to breakout with it again. It was a big kill.”
The Wings were a little puzzled by their third-period let-down in general, as they told the Free Press’s Helene St. James...
“We played great at the start of the game,” coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought the second period, nothing happened much for either team. They were way better than us at the start of third. That penalty probably helped us. We kind of got energy and got going.”
Drew Miller was penalized 4 minutes after an accidental high-sticking bloodied Andrew Shaw, who had scored in the second period after a bouncing puck behind Detroit’s net left Howard out of position. The Blackhawks entered that 4-minute power play riding momentum after having owned the puck first 6 minutes of the third period.
“For some reason,” Niklas Kronwall said, “we stopped playing at the beginning of the third. We couldn’t seem to get out of our zone, really. Stopped skating. Howie came up big for us.”
But their stumbles didn’t take the shine off the Wings’ franchise-record-tying 14th straight home win:
“We’re playing really good hockey at home,” Todd Bertuzzi said after scoring his second goal in overtime. “We’re playing smart defensively; our shot total seems to be through the roof every time we’re at home, which is what you need in order to be successful.”
The Wings tied a record dating to 1965. Questions about their mastery at home—they’re 17-2-1 and haven’t lost at Joe Louis Arena since Nov. 3—usually get answered with observations about why they’re only 11-13 on the road.
“We’ve been able to play more of a 60-minute game,” Niklas Kronwall said. “I think on the road we’ve been chasing from behind, and that takes a lot of energy out of you.”
“It means we’ve been really consistent here,” Jimmy Howard said. “We’ve been playing really well at home, and now we’ve got to find a way to take it on the road with us.”
The Wings reiterated those points to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan...
“We’ve been playing real good hockey at home, smart defensively and the shot totals (43 Saturday) seem to be through the roof at home,” Bertuzzi said. These games are fun to be part of.”
“We’ve been real consistent at home and playing well,” said Howard, who made 24 saves and earned his league-leading 26th victory. “Points are at a premium and you have to get them every single night. We have to find a way to take this on the road.”
Tomas Holmstrom (power play) opened the scoring for the Wings (28-15-1, 57 points).
Chicago’s Jonathan Toews (23rd goal) forced overtime, scoring a goal with 51.7 seconds left in regulation time. Marian Hossa took a shot that deflected off Nicklas Lidstrom, with Toews getting his stick on it before it flew past Howard. But the Wings overcame that frustration and dominated the next shift after Toews’ goal, and overtime.
“We didn’t get discouraged and came out strong in overtime,” Lidstrom said. “We had the puck most of the time and it was nice to see Bert get rewarded going to the net for a rebound.”
The Free Press’s Helene St. James took note of Howard’s take on the Wings’ 9-0 shot advantage in overtime...
Howard, on the start of OT: “I thought we came out and did a good job, fired the puck a lot, and it was great to see it go through.” .
And St. James noted that Todd Bertuzzi didn’t exactly look rusty in his return from a groin injury spurned by a sore back:
“Bert has been a real factor for us, playing with Pav and Mule,” coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought that line was very good in playing against real good players. Bert’s been very consistent here of late and playing real hard. And he’s big and he’s physical, and he’s physical with the puck, so he’s protecting the puck and guys are bouncing off him, and that makes him hard to play against.”
Bertuzzi, who turns 37 next month, netted his first goal of the game when he came off the bench and got a beautiful pass from Datsyuk, who sent the puck between Chicago’s defense to Bertuzzi’s stick. Bertuzzi went to his backhand and sent the puck high on Corey Crawford.
“Not too many people could have seen me coming off the bench and seen a red stripe fly through and end up hitting me on the fly,” Bertuzzi said. “It was a great play by him, and it was nice to put that one in early. I’m fortunate at this age to be able to play with a guy like that. You just try to put yourself in the right spot, and he usually finds you, 90% of the time.”
“It was great to see Bert,” Niklas Kronwall said. “I thought he skated really well out there. Being out the other day with a groin injury, I thought he looked really good, took the puck to the net, and really holding on and being strong.”
Bertuzzi described the game-winner thusly to MLive’s Ansar Khan...
“I think we did a good job holding onto the puck and me and Fil played a little tic-tac down low, and it was a good play by Fil getting it on net,” Bertuzzi said. “I think there was a lot of movement, so I ended up getting open in the slot.”
“We’re playing smart defensively,” Bertuzzi said. “Our shot totals seem to be through the roof at home, which is what you need in order to be successful. We have to start taking a little bit of that on the road because we got some tough games coming up.”
Trailing 2-1, Chicago recorded the first 11 shots in the third period and then had a four-minute power play when Drew Miller was penalized for high-sticking at 6:28. The Red Wings killed it, thanks mainly to Jimmy Howard’s strong goaltending. But former Red Wing Marian Hossa scored with 52 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime. With Crawford off for an extra skater, Jonathan Toews won an offensive-zone faceoff. Hossa’s shot from the point deflected in off the skate of Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom. But it didn’t deflate the Red Wings, who swarmed the Blackhawks in OT.
“I thought we deserved it,” Howard said. “From the drop of the puck in the first period, that was probably the best start of the season for us. We completely dominated the play. I’m happy we got rewarded with the two points.”
So the Wings did indeed tie their home-ice winning record, and coach Babcock had an interesting way of describing the accomplishment to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness:
“Somebody told me that was going to tie a record or something and I thought, ‘We’ve had a few of those before and we always seem to screw that one up,’” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “So it was good we got it this time.”
Tomas Holmstrom also scored on the power play and Jimmy Howard made 25 saves. Pavel Datsyuk and Ian White each had two assists. Andrew Shaw and former Wing Marian Hossa scored for the Blackhawks, who remain a point ahead of Detroit in the Central Division standings, and Corey Crawford stopped 40 shots.
“I think we’re playing more aggressive at home,” Nicklas Lidstrom said. “We’re going after teams more. We’re fore-checking harder and have the puck more. We want to keep this thing going.”
“We need to find a way to play better on the road,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We’re playing pretty solid at home. A lot of times on the road we’re not starting off well and we’re chasing teams from behind. It takes a lot of energy out of you. We need to make sure to play a lot better on the road to have future success down the road.”
Bertuzzi might have the answer to that problem, suggesting that it lay in Saturday’s blueprint:
“We got shots and we got on them and we just continued to pepper the net,” Bertuzzi said. “The more we had the puck, the better chances we had for getting opportunities.”
And as for the whole Wings-Hawks rivalry? Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji tells us that a member of the Pistons (Jonas Jerebko) and some guy who plays quarterback for the Lions attended Saturday’s game, and while she happened to talk to Nicklas Lidstrom about the Hossa/Toews goal that went off his skate, I think these parts of her article might be a little more pertinent:
“It’s almost as close as you can get to playoff atmosphere in midseason,” said Wings captain Nick Lidstrom, a veteran of two decades of games against the Blackhawks. “Two strong teams, right up there in the standings. We’ve got a great rivalry going. It’s always fun to play them.”
“They’re fun,” Howard said. “Two great teams. We play similar styles, both teams like to get up and go, get on opposing teams’ D. It’s tough game for the D to play but at the same time they’re a lot of fun. We feed off the energy of the crowds.”
“It’s been unreal,” [Ian] White said. “Couldn’t write a better script. It’s been lots of fun so far.”
“I think the level of competition is always high,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s the speed, it’s a fast, fast game. I think that’s when our top players usually step up and do it — Pav, Z (Henrik Zetterberg) and Fil and those kind of guys. It’s fun to be a part of.”
There are three more regular-season games between these teams: Feb. 21 in Chicago, March 4 in Detroit and April 7 in Detroit to end the regular season schedule. It’s only been in the last few years that the Blackhawks have become competitive enough to challenge the Wings again.
“I think it makes it a stronger rivalry, especially when both are battling for spots in the standings, for points to move up in the standings,” Lidstrom said.
The Wings also addressed the tightness of the Central Division standings with MLive’s Ansar Khan...
“Every game seems like a playoff game. Every point’s crucial,” Bertuzzi said. “I think it keeps it entertaining during a long season because you still got to have your mojo each and every game. You can’t take nights off.”
Babcock said it’s great for the league, but added, “I liked it better when we were ahead of everyone. Let’s be honest. I’m very self-serving that way. There’s four teams that are elite teams and have a chance to do some damage as the year goes on. We’ve just got to worry about ourselves and keep getting better and find a way to (get) points when we can.”
Or, as Bertuzzi told the Detroit News’s Bob Wojnowski (who we’ll get back to later):
“I think we’ve jumped from second to ninth, second to eighth, second to seventh at different times,” said Bertuzzi, who had two goals Saturday. “But you know what? I think it keeps it entertaining during a long season because you gotta have your mojo every game.”
Highlights: ESPN posted a 1:04 highlight clip;
TSN posted a 1:32 highlight clip;
And the Red Wings’ website’s highlight clip is also narrated by the NBC crew:
And the Red Wings’ website posted a clip of Todd Bertuzzi and coach Mike Babcock’s takes on the game:
Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 19-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted a 29-image gallery;
Fox Sports Detroit posted a 10-image gallery;
CBS Detroit posted a wallpaper-sized photo of Bertuzzi;
The Chicago Tribune’s “Blackhawks in Action” gallery posted 10 images from the game;
Yahoo Sports posted an 11-image gallery;
NHL.com posted a 22-image gallery;
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.
Part II: Red Wings notebooks: Let’s go from small to large here. Mike Commodore explained the reason he couldn’t play on Saturday to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness—he’s got a sore ankle…
• And Bertuzzi talked to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan about his back issues:
“The last road trip was a long road trip, and you’re getting in at 3 or 4 in the morning, and getting on and off all the buses — after a while it takes a toll on you,” Bertuzzi said. “I didn’t see it (the back pain) coming, it came up quick during the morning skate and we spent more time on it. Hopefully it gets lost.”
Also of note from Kulfan:
… Saturday’s game was Babcock’s 700th in the NHL and career victory No. 401.
… It was a big game for Darren Helm in the faceoff circle, winning seven of nine draws. Jonathan Toews won 15 of 23 for the Blackhawks.
… Ian White had two assists for the Wings and played a team-high 25 minutes, 55 seconds.
• The Macomb Daily’s Pleiness also happened to speak to Babcock about his milestones on Friday afternoon (but the article didn’t post till last night):
“I think when you first come to the league you’re on a tryout, just like all of the players, you’re on a tryout and trying to survive,” Babcock said. “And as you’ve seen, the National Hockey League eats up coaches. But it eats up a lot of people. I think it’s the greatest exposure of weakness in anything, whether that be the media, that be radio people, that be TV people, that be athletic therapists or strength coaches. It’s just the way it is and that’s what the best are supposed to do. I think it’s survival of the fittest in some ways.”
“I feel very fortunate that I was able to get off to a good start in Anaheim and get my confidence, and I think confidence is everything in this league if you’re going to be a head coach,” Babcock said. “If you get confidence I think you have a chance to make good decisions on a more consistent basis and be steady on the rudder, and therefore, have a chance to win year in and year out. To me that’s the measure. Once you’ve been in it a while it’s not, ‘Did I have a good year this year? Can I have a good run?’ That doesn’t happen without Nick Lidstrom, Hank (Zetterberg), and Pav (Datsyuk) and Howie (Jimmy Howard) and these guys,” Babcock continued. “You have to have good players, it doesn’t matter. You can’t win without good players in this league, it doesn’t matter what the coach does, he isn’t going to score any goals.”
On Thursday, Babcock picked up his 400th career win, making him the third quickest coach to reach that mark. Scotty Bowman was the fastest coach to reach 400 wins doing so in 690 games. Toe Blake was third reaching 400 in 724 games.
“It’s great, don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled,” Babcock said. “But more than 400 though, the thing that I’m thrilled with is the names that go with it, you know, to be honest with you. Obviously, Scotty, I’ve got a ton of respect for. Glen Sather, we all know what he did as a coach in Edmonton, and Toe Blake, what can you say about that? So it’s all nice. I’ll think about it at some point in my life, no question about it,” Babcock added. “There are a lot of things when you coach real good teams, like I’ve got here in Detroit, when you coach good players you’re going to be fortunate to enjoy some of the winning along the way.”
• Babcock’s comments about Bertuzzi are worth noting as well, per MLive’s Ansar Khan...
“Bert has been a real factor for us, playing with Pav (Datsyuk) and Mule (Johan Franzen),” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought that line was very good and playing against real good players (Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane). Bert’s been playing very consistent of late and been playing real hard. He’s big and he’s physical and he’s physical with the puck ... so he’s protecting the puck and guys are bouncing off him. That makes him hard to play against.”
And going forward, Babcock has this to say about the Wings’ road record:
The Red Wings’ home and road disparity is evident by their goals for and against. They are averaging 3.9 goals per game at home, 2.54 on the road. They are allowing just 1.8 goals per game at home and 2.79 on the road.
“You can implement all (the strategy) you want, but unless you make a commitment to doing it, it doesn’t matter what you implement as the coach,” Babcock said. “We tried to be real good defensively last year, and we were (good) on the road and we weren’t at home, for whatever reason. If you look at our goals-against at home, it’s fantastic. Our goals-against on the road isn’t all-world at all this year, so we’ve got to continue to improve that. But we’ve got good players and they’re committed to it.”
• Regarding said road record, the Wings’ home-ice winning streak and their attempts to stem run-and-gun tendencies, the Detroit News’s Bob Wojnowski penned a fine column about the Wings’ evolution into a team that can better take care of its own end to a calmer, more mature Jimmy Howard, and Wojnowski believes that the strategies implemented at both ends of the ice by Babcock, Jeff Blashill and Bill Peters have the Wings better-prepared for a long playoff run. Here’s an excerpt from his column:
“We outscored a lot of teams last year, but I knew I could take on more of a role and be more of a difference-maker,” said Howard, who leads the NHL with 26 victories and has a 2.04 goals-against average. “I’m playing with a lot of confidence, and I’m being more patient out there. You don’t see me flying all over the place like a spider monkey and taking myself out of position. I just try to play the one puck.”
One puck can lead to one goal, which can lead to one point, which is approximately the difference between practically every good team in the Western Conference. At the moment I typed this, the Blackhawks led the Central with 58 points, followed by the Wings (57), Blues (56) and Predators (52). That would put all four in the playoffs, but check back for fresh typing. The Wings also were only two points behind the Canucks (59) for the top spot in the league, but only eight points ahead of the Stars for the ninth spot and out of the playoffs. The standings spin wildly as salary-cap-inspired parity takes root, which probably makes Gary Bettman titter. Not only is there little margin for error with 38 games left, there’s little margin for exhaling. Remember that six-game losing streak in October? If the Wings regurgitate another stretch like that, they’re in trouble.
“I think we’ve jumped from second to ninth, second to eighth, second to seventh at different times,” said Bertuzzi, who had two goals Saturday. “But you know what? I think it keeps it entertaining during a long season because you gotta have your mojo every game.”
Mike Babcock brought in new assistant coaches, Jeff Blashill and Bill Peters, and shook up his defense in the offseason. While the Wings’ dynamic skill—Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula—always makes them dangerous, I think they knew, deep down, they were kidding themselves last year with their leaky defense.
Then Brian Rafalski retired, and GM Ken Holland made an excellent mid-level acquisition in Ian White. The Wings have salary-cap space for another move or two at the Feb. 28 trade deadline, flexibility they didn’t enjoy last season.
The Wings have taken the third-most shots in the league and allowed the third-fewest, a nice combination. Ageless captain Nicklas Lidstrom explained the tighter defensive philosophy simply: “Being aggressive at the right moments.” In other words, nothing stupid, but nothing too passive.
“We’re trying to be aggressive on the puck when we can in the corners,” Lidstrom said. “We might have three guys over there, where before we had one guy in front of the net and two guys battling. Forwards are coming back more too, and we might give up a shot from the outside, but we’re protecting the slot.”
That’s the theory, anyway…
&bulll; And in light of the Wings tying their home-ice winning record, DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose spoke to Ted Lindsay about the Wings tying a record set in the 1964-65 season (and Nicklas Lidstrom’s only “bonus Swedish” comment to Aftonbladet’s Per Bjurman was that he wasn’t even born when the record was set—Lidstrom was born in 1970) to put the Wings’ accomplishment in a historical perspective. Lindsay played on the 64-65 team:
“They have so many good hockey players,” replied Lindsay, when asked to compare his Wings’ team to today’s modern version.
The ironic thing about the different Wings’ rosters is that they each had similar parts with a core of aging veterans and a stingy goaltender, hell-bent on stopping the oppositions’ best snipers. At the end of his legendary career, a 40-year-old Lindsay returned to the Wings after four-years of retirement for one last NHL season. It was in 1964 and the Wings weren’t expected to be very good. But they would eventually do something that hadn’t been done in Detroit – until Saturday. Lindsay wasn’t the only graying cast member on the Wings’ roster at the time – with Gordie Howe (37), Bill Gadbsy (37), Marcel Pronovost (34) and Alex Delvecchio (34) – but they also had rookie goalie Roger Crozier, who like Jimmy Howard this season, was outstanding.
“They picked us for fifth or six place in a six-team league that year. People weren’t too impressed about us,” Lindsay said. “But we had a great goaltender in Roger Crozier, and after we went around the league twice, we ended up in first-place and should have won the Stanley Cup that year, but lost to Chicago in the seventh game. And had we beat them we would have played Montreal and we owned Montreal that year, because we beat them out for the (regular-season) championship.”
“I think experience helps, and I think solid goaltending really helps, and Howie has been that for us,” said 41-year-old Nicklas Lidstrom, when asked about the current streak. “He’s been that solid guy for us on the back end, just playing so well for us game after game. And experience at home when you do that you can be a little bit more aggressive and we’ve been successful at doing that do.”
Part III: In the AHL and ECHL: The Grand Rapids Griffins received a welcome addition from the Red Wings on Saturday, as noted by the Griffins’ website: the Wings waived Chris Minard and sent him down to Grand Rapids after missing over a season with a concussion;
• In the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye received a goal and two assists from Andrej Nestrasil and a goal and an assist from Adam Estcolet in a 5-4 win over the Kalamazoo K-Wings. The Walleye’s website, the Toledo Blade and the Kalamazoo Gazette’s Pam Shebast provide recaps.
Part IV: Also of Red Wings-related note: Nicklas Lidstrom told Yahoo Sport’s Nicholas J. Cotsonika that the NHL might best be served by naming Dion Phaneuf and Daniel Alfredsson as the All-Star Game’s captains given the Leafs-Senators rivalry;
• For the record, Bertuzzi was named Puck Daddy’s first star for Saturday, and Don Cherry raved about Bertuzzi’s goals—and Jack Capuano’s timeout in the Islanders’ 5-1 win over Detroit on Tuesday—during Coach’s Corner;
• No comment, the Free Press’s Steve Schrader;
Howard: “You don’t see me flying all over the crease like a spider monkey, like before, taking myself out of position.” #Redwings
• Speaking of Howard, the Watertown Daily Times’ Dave Shea wants fans of Howard from in or around his hometown of Ogdensburg, NY know that their write-in votes for Howard’s All-Star candidacy were appreciated:
“Jimmy is obviously very excited and the great fan support he received from the north country definitely made a difference. I was getting e-mails every day from people who told me they were pushing for him,” said Howard’s dad, Jim Howard, on Thursday while watching Detroit’s game with Phoenix on television. “I want to thank everyone that voted.”
• Shifting focus to trade talk, I can only raise an eyebrow at this quip from the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson:
As much as the Detroit Red Wings covet Ryan Suter as an unrestricted free agent to help their defence, the guy they absolutely would love to sign this summer is the New Jersey Devils’ unrestricted free agent captain Zach Parise. Can you imagine Parise and Pavel Datsyuk on the same line? That shouldn’t be too tough a sell job for general manager Ken Holland, who can probably offer five years at an average of $8.25 million. The Devils need Parise to get to the playoffs and make some money for even one round for the fractured ownership, so sources say they won’t trade him at the deadline.
Parise is loyal, but money talks. “That is true,” said Parise. The Devils don’t have any. Things are shaky enough with the Devils’ ownership they’re not always staying in the five-star hotels on the road like before.
There will be an interesting dynamic with the next Winter Classic in Michigan (likely the Red Wings versus the Toronto Maple Leafs), which will almost surely be held at the University of Michigan’s “Big House” football stadium, with 110,000 seats. But they are tossing a bone to one of the game’s best owners, Mike Ilitch, who owns the baseball Comerica Park where the Tigers play. They could be having another outdoor rink there for other events, like an old-timers game or a college game. It’s not the same as the Winter Classic though. I can’t imagine Ilitch being totally onboard with this. Ann Arbor, Mich., is about 45 miles from Detroit, and they may have to shuttle people in and out. Parking around the football stadium isn’t great in the winter. No alcohol sales are allowed for college games, but of course, that will be waived for the Winter Classic.
Why would the Wings offer that much money to somebody when the CBA’s about to expire? And no, the Red Wings aren’t totally on “on board” with a Winter Classic that doesn’t take place in Detroit.
Also from Matheson: if you’re interested in reading about the fact that referee Dan O’Rourke once played for Mike Babcock, swell, but these tidbits might interest you more:
Awesome Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks game Saturday and Todd Bertuzzi looked like he’d turned back the hands of time to his Vancouver Canucks days to score two pretty goals on Corey Crawford. The Red Wings were all over Chicago in overtime, and deserved to run their home record to 14 straight wins.
If Brad Stuart is an unrestricted free agent this summer and wants to play for a California team, you have to think the Sharks will take another run at their former first-round draft pick. The Anaheim Ducks, too. Stuart’s family has been living in California while he’s been playing for the Red Wings.
Stuart is the biggest question mark in terms of the Wings’ off-season plans going forward (at least when you take Nicklas Lidstrom out of the mix), and I think that if he balks at staying in Detroit by mid-February, you’ll definitely see the Wings be more aggressive in terms of finding a replacement via the trade route. An all-purpose defenseman like Stuart will be almost impossible to replace via trades or free agency, but the Wings will try if Stuart does indeed decide to go back out West instead of finally bringing his family here (and I can’t speak for his trade rumors as they’re a little wacky, but Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
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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.