Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Blues quick take: repetitive errors and the paper confidence tiger

Updated 2x with videos of Stuart’s save and the Elliott and Howard collisions at 11:46 PM: The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 3-1 decision to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night because the Wings chose not to learn lessons from their 4-2 loss to Colorado on Sunday, at least until it was too late for anything other than a a final flourish: for the second game in a row, the Wings were out-worked, out-hustled and ground down by a team that paid just a little more attention to detail, worked just a little more efficiently and effectively as a team and, plainly speaking, quite happily indulged the remnants of the Wings’ inner diva long enough to keep its inner grinder indulgently taking a catnap.

The Blues happily traded rushes with the Wings while happily inviting Detroit to make dekes and dangles at the offensive blueline instead of getting the puck in deep, encouraged the Wings to look for that extra pass that wasn’t there in the slot, and the Blues gleefully baited the Wings into the kinds of retaliatory hacks and whacks (and maybe a dive in Brian Elliott’s case) that result in power plays against and points surrendered. The Blues didn’t just force the Wings to make mistakes—their Hitchcockian trap and subtle grind created an environment in which the Wings could make unforced errors as they allowed their opponent to dictate the pace of play, and a team that’s still lacking in some self-confidence was all too willing to oblige.

Perhaps that’s as big a concern as the way in which the Wings almost shrugged their shoulders and gave away the game like a bored teenager doodling in class when his teacher says, “Okay, here’s what’s going to be on the test,” playing spaced-out, lackadaisical and disinterested hockey precisely when the game pivoted on power plays, big saves (Howard gave up a softy on the 3-1 goal, but was sterling and perhaps more inspired in terms of his physical play than his teammates in defending himself against getting ran over instead of flailing and calling for the trainer) and plain old working harder, smarter and more consistently than the Wings could muster.

Yes, most definitely, the fact that Jimmy Howard engaged the Blues who ran him was very good to see, and Hudler’s late power play goal restored the kind of tenacity to the Wings’ play that was missing for the vast majority of the last 100+-minutes of Wings hockey, but the Blues dictated the pace of play for the vast majority of the game, rallied from a 1-0 deficit via two power play goals (when the Blues’ power play is supposed to stink like cheese, but it scored 2, and the Wings’ power play is supposed to be the great equalizer, but it came up full of turnovers when it mattered the most)—and two very quick third period goals which opened up the game and more or less decided its outcome…

Because, when the Wings’ confidence took the kind of body blows that you and I’d probably hoped the newfound leadership from players like Franzen (who scored a gorgeous, determined goal) and Howard had assuaged, it didn’t recover until the game’s final minutes, when Cleary’s goal at least salvaged some pride, but did little more.

The Wings are still a team in transition, still a team looking for leaders and players to step up and make the right, simple plays when necessary, and when the team starts playing sloppily and pays for it, it’s as if the mighty Red Machine starts to sputter and wail, affording its opponent a remarkable amount of confidence and poise against a team that can seemingly no longer get through the neutral zone with speed, break through at trapping defense, sustain any sort of offensive pressure or generate secondary scoring chances.

Once the Wings surrendered a 2-goal lead, they spent the vast majority of the third period giving away pucks, over-passing and all but literally skating into the five men stacked at the Blues’ blueline, essentially running themselves over when the Blues weren’t running ‘em down. And as the last desperate flourish showed, it’s not as if the Wings lack the talent necessary to rally from multi-goal deficits in the third period, or salvage games after making doofy mistakes—it’s as if they don’t seem to believe that their reserve of guts, gumption and leadership is there anymore now that they don’t have Kris Draper, Chris Osgood and Brian Rafalski on the bench, all but serving as de-facto assistant coaches.

The Wings lost their focus, their resolve and then their identity against the Blues, and it cost them two incredibly important points in the jam-packed Western Conference against a team which can now call itself the Wings’ equal—the Blues and Wings both have 33 points—despite the fact that the Wings remain, when they choose to be, anyway, Detroit.

For the moment, anyway, regaining consistency and eliminating losing streaks are the result of the Wings’ sustained identity crisis, but over the long haul, the Wings have already eliminated any advantage they had points-wise over their Western Conference foes, and down the line, we’ve got to wonder what wear and tear the Wings are going to have to endure to possibly scramble for a top-four playoff spot instead of putting the S.S. Red Wings on cruise control in March and April due to their inability to figure themselves—never mind their opponents—out.

Statistics:

Shots 29-26 Detroit overall: the Wings out-shot St. Louis 10-8 in the 1st period, were out-shot 13-9 in the 2nd period and out-shot St. Louis 10-5 in the 3rd period.

Jimmy Howard stopped 23 of 26 shots; Brian Elliott stopped 27 of 29.

The Red Wings’ power play went 2-for-7 in 8;39 of PP time; the Blues’ power play went 2-for-8 in 10:30 of PP time.

The Wings’ goals: Franzen (13) from Hudler (11) and Howard (1), power play;

Cleary (6) from Hudler (12) and Kronwall (5), power play.

Faceoffs 35-24 Detroit (the Wings won 59% of their draws);

Blocked shots 15-10 Detroit;

Missed shots 10-8 Detroit (so the Wings fired 49 shots at or near Elliott, and the Blues fired 49 attempts at or near Howard as well);

Hits 21-13 St. Louis;

Giveaways 3-3;

Takeaways 5-2 St. Louis.

Individual stats:

Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 16-and-8 (67%); Zetterberg went 8-and-8 (50%); Abdelkader went 5-and-4 (56%); Helm went 3-and-4 (43%); Cleary, Hudler and Emmerton won single faceoffs.

Shots: White led the Wings with 5 shots; Datsyuk and Franzen took 3; Kindl, Miller, Zetterberg, Helm, Bertuzzi and Holmstrom took 2; Datsyuk, Hudler, Zetterberg, Emmerton, Ericsson and Kronwall took 1.

Blocked attempts: Zetterberg and Kronwall had 3 shot attempts blocked; Cleary, Datsyuk, Stuart and Helm had single shot attempts blocked.

Missed shots: Datsyuk, Bertuzzi and Franzen missed the net 2 times; Lidstrom, Cleary, Ericsson and Kronwall missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Datsyuk led the Wings with 4 hits; Kindl, Cleary, Stuart and Helm had 2; Abdelkader had 1.

Giveaways: Stuart, Zetterberg and Emmerton had giveaways.

Takeaways: Conner and Bertuzzi were credited with takeaways.

Blocked shots: Kronwall blocked 5 Blues shots; Stuart, Helm and Bertuzzi blocked 2; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, White and Ericsson blocked 1.

Penalties taken: Kronwall and Franzen took 2 penalties apiece; Kindl, Abdelkader, Cleary and Ericsson took single penalties.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective -5, with Conner, Helm, Emmerton, Ericsson and Kronwall finishing at -1.

Points: Hudler had 2 assists; Cleary and Franzen scored goals; Cleary, Kronwall and Howard had single assists.

Ice time: Lidstrom led the team with 25:30 played; Kronwall played 23:19; Zetterberg played 21:57;

White played 21:55; Stuart played 19:58; Datsyuk played 19:52;

Cleary played 18:57; Hudler played 17:30; Bertuzzi played 16:34;

Ericsson played 15:54; Franzen played 15:43; Holmstrom played 12:45;

Helm played 12:42; Miller played 11:59; Kindl played 10:33;

Abdelkader played 9:06; Emmerton played 7:34; Conner played 6:39.

Update: Via Paul, here’s the game’s lone highlight, as far as I’m concerned, in Brad Stuart’s save:

Update #2: I’m gonna refrain from commenting on this one:

 

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Chet's avatar

people are asking, and i wanna know: wth is with zetterberg?

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/07/11 at 02:46 AM ET

Avatar

Until the Wings get their mettle, I’m guessing the streaks continue, hence another once started (and hopefully ended) soon.

Posted by Bugsy on 12/07/11 at 03:39 AM ET

DrewBehr's avatar

Zetterberg is suffering from “Franz-itis.”

On another note: I’m still wondering at what point Kenny is going to bite the bullet and waive Ericsson, and possibly bury his contract in the minors. St. Louis’ second and third goals were mainly the result of him being out of position. I still can’t believe we gave him the kind of money we did this off season, and I’d be surprised if any other team would do the same.

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 12/07/11 at 05:44 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I think Zetterberg may have broken his wrist or something a few weeks ago. He was wearing a very unwieldy piece of plastic over his right hand glove against the Bruins. That and he’s having just as hard a time adjusting to being one of “the” guys at a very different and real level as Pavel was. He’ll come around.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/07/11 at 05:50 AM ET

Chet's avatar

it seems like he was having a pretty easy time adjusting to just that when he was one of “the” guys on this team up until…sometime last season. of course, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he did have some nagging, chronic-type injury that’s costing him points. guys like him seemingly don’t just lose motivation one day.

as for ericsson, he makes at least a bad play a game. if it’s not a giveaway, he’s caught looking like a lost puppy somewhere in the D-zone. twice in one night? why not, it’s tuesday! i don’t know the solution for this save patience and hope that they’re breaking down video with him all the time. the problem seems to be that he never learns.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/07/11 at 06:06 AM ET

Alzy's avatar

With Zetterberg, I think it’s a bad case of his documented back issues, but he’s trying to play through the pain. He really seems to struggle to skate with any kind of intensity, and as a result he’s trying to deke and dangle way more than he has in the past. He really should take the time he needs though as I’ve said before, because we need him for May and June, not killing himself now in throwaway games in the middle of the season.

And I must say, I know it’s beating a dead horse, but dammit do I wish the Wings had someone on the team who just flat out hated to lose. Someone who would go postal on the team when they surrender a goal. Am I overreacting? Probably, but that’s how I feel as a fan. I absolutely loathe seeing the opposing team look even the tiniest bit of happy. I want them to be drowning in tears of sorrow for 60 minutes because they know they have no chance. The Wings have shown they can play like that, so why not do that every single night? I don’t get it.

Posted by Alzy from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada on 12/07/11 at 06:42 AM ET

Avatar

I’m with Drew and Chef on this Ericsson situation ... actually, I’ve been a Big E hater for quite a while. There are players that don’t give a shit, and then theres Ericsson. Dufus makes too many mistakes and and could care less about correcting them. He’s GOT to go, and will probably be moved at the trade deadline. Until then we just have to be patient and hope he doesn’t cost us too many more games.

Alzy, I’ll tell you who on the team hates to lose ... Brad Stuart. How many sticks have we seen him break over the crossbar when they lose in OT ??  Only problem is, once they step off the ice he turns into Mr. Nice Guy again.  Too quiet fir his own good ... and the teams.  All the ranting & raving does only so much good. The rest is up to the players to go out and execute.  If they can’t do that then it becomes Holland’s problem to clean up with trades & placing players on waivers etc.

Like Santa, I’m sure Kenny has his list and has checked it more than twice.

Once we get through X-mas & New Years there will be changes.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from W.B. on 12/07/11 at 08:12 AM ET

Chet's avatar

i hate to say it, but the idea that ericsson is going to be waived or traded is kind of hard to support. who’s going to pick up his salary? how do we justify sending him to grand rapids if we don’t have a player who’ll do better? if the options are janik, smith, or commodore…who knows?

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/07/11 at 08:21 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Ericsson’s not going to be traded or waived. His salary and especially the term remaining on his deal mean that, at least for the next year or two, he’s the Wings’ problem.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/07/11 at 09:19 AM ET

Chet's avatar

GM, what’s your take on ericsson? are you as big a hater as others seem to be?

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/07/11 at 10:46 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

Ericsson is a really good hockey player, but he’s playing in a very elite league. He’s out of his element.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 12/07/11 at 10:52 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

No. I think he still makes a bunch of stupid mistakes back to back once every three or four games, but I think he’s taken two steps forward this season. He’s sharper, smarter, more efficient, his pinches aren’t as crazy as they used to be and he’s skating harder every night. I think he looks pretty good. He’s never going to be elite, but if you take him for what he is, he gets the job done as a sort of a Stuart-Kronwall mash-up (not equal to either but containing elements of both).

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/07/11 at 10:54 AM ET

Avatar

The Wings lost their focus, their resolve and then their identity

Man, who didn’t see this coming? Seriously.

Posted by Red Winger from work on 12/07/11 at 11:15 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

If the wings win 7 and lose 2, I’ll take that 100% of the time. At that rate, a team would only gain about 126 points on the season.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 12/07/11 at 11:52 AM ET

Chet's avatar

No. I think he still makes a bunch of stupid mistakes back to back once every three or four games, but I think he’s taken two steps forward this season. He’s sharper, smarter, more efficient, his pinches aren’t as crazy as they used to be and he’s skating harder every night. I think he looks pretty good. He’s never going to be elite, but if you take him for what he is, he gets the job done as a sort of a Stuart-Kronwall mash-up (not equal to either but containing elements of both).

i would actually have agreed with you earlier in the season, but over the past couple weeks he seems to have regressed to the same old clod we’d gotten used to in seasons past. i guess time will tell.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/07/11 at 12:11 PM ET

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

Everyone is being way too critical of Ericsson.  Wings play crappy, Babcock coaches as if he is comatose, and all of a sudden it is every error that Ericsson makes that is magnified.  I continue to see Ericsson doing very many things right.  He will settle down.  He could still be trying a little too hard to justify his new contract, once he simplifies his game he will look better.

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 12/07/11 at 01:16 PM ET

WestWing's avatar

I continue to see Ericsson doing very many things right.

Fair enough.  I also continue to see him do very many things that make a lot of us wanna throw up.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 12/07/11 at 02:42 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Seems Ericsson is the only topic about which Gramps and I agree.

Well said, sir.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/07/11 at 03:11 PM ET

Avatar

I almost never call out a dive because it is much harder to actually spot than people tend to realize, but Elliot pulled the worst one I’ve seen since Seguin in the Tampa series.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt on 12/07/11 at 04:25 PM ET

Avatar

Here’s what many of us would like Ericcson to do: quit giving away the puck so much.

Is that really asking a lot?

If the wings win 7 and lose 2, I’ll take that 100% of the time

Me, too.

When does it start?

Posted by Red Winger from Work on 12/07/11 at 04:45 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Here’s what many of us would like Ericcson to do: quit giving away the puck so much.

Is that really asking a lot?

Ericsson had zero giveaways last night. The mistakes which helped lead to goals for the Blues were not giveaways.

One of them was caused by Brad Stuart leaving him on an island on the penalty kill.

Ericsson has fewer turnovers which have lead directly to goals than both Stuart and Kronwall.  So is it really about giveaways?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/07/11 at 05:17 PM ET

Avatar

giveaway, turnover, being nice and giving the opposing player the puck ...I don’t really care what it’s called, but they guy makes absurd decisions with the puck at times; much more often than is ‘normal’.

Posted by Red Winger from Work on 12/07/11 at 05:59 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

giveaway, turnover, being nice and giving the opposing player the puck ...I don’t really care what it’s called, but they guy makes absurd decisions with the puck at times; much more often than is ‘normal’.

Posted by Red Winger from Work on 12/07/11 at 02:59 PM ET

Yeah… except he didn’t do that last night.

And he’s done it in ways that have led directly to goals less often than both Stuart and Kronwall.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/07/11 at 06:12 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The simplest way I can put it is this:

If you only view Ericsson as someone who will never fulfill his potential to become a #1/2 defenseman and/or was supposed to become Nicklas Lidstrom’s heir, he’s never gonna do anything other than disppoint you.

If you’re comfortable with the concept that the Wings poured and inordinate amount of time, energy and effort to develop their first huge defenseman who’s panned out in over a decade, and that he’s never going to be anything more than a very solid #3/4 guy in the, “Kind of like Brad Stuart with a little more offense” mold, and you feel that it’s OK that he’s never going to pan out to the extent that the Wings, and the rest of us, hoped…

He’s really a pretty darn decent value for his salary, especially given that he continues to improve on a yearly basis. Yes, he’s always going ot make some doofy mistakes, and to some extent, his are more glaring than Kronwall or Stuart’s because he has less to make up for them with in terms of consistent grit or consistent scoring, but at the same time, he is anything *but* Brett Lebda II. He’s a real NHL’er

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/07/11 at 07:08 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Yeah… except he didn’t do that last night.

That’s true, J.J.

But then again, the NHL season is a bit longer than one game.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 12/07/11 at 08:15 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

But then again, the NHL season is a bit longer than one game.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 12/07/11 at 05:15 PM ET

Yep.  It just seems weird that on a day where everybody is crucifying the big idiot that this would be the primary complaint, considering that’s not what he did this time.

But it’s also why I’ve twice said that he’s made fewer turnovers leading to goals than two of his teammates who are better defensemen so far this season.

You remember the ones Ericsson makes not because they’re so common, but because, like Malik says, he doesn’t make up for them with consistently and noticeably outstanding play elsewhere.  But he’s more solid than people give him credit for.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/07/11 at 08:39 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

George claims he will not turn into the D-man we were hoping for (I agree), but is a good deal, still (I disagree)

I’ll give George the benefit of the doubt, and say Ericsson is the #3 D-man (this makes his salary look better in comparison to his potential). Let’s compare him to the other teams’ #3 D-men and their cap hit:

Ana: Lydman, 3.0
Bos: Ference, 2.2
Buf: Leopold, 3.0
Cal: Sarich, 3.6
Car: Allen, 2.9
Chi: Hjalmarsson, 3.5
Col: Johnson, 2.6
Clb: Tyutin, 2.8
Dal: Pardy, 2.0
Edm: Smid, 2.25
Fla: Gudbranson, 3.2
LAK: Mitchell, 3.5
Min: Zanon, 1.9
Mtl: Gorges, 2.5
Nas: Bouillon, 1.3
NJD: Greene, 3.0
NYI: Staois, 1.6
NYR: McDonagh, 1.3
Ott: Phillips, 3.0
Phi: Meszaros, 4.0
Pho: Klesla, 2.9
Pit: Orpik, 3.7
SJS: Vlasic, 3.1
STL: Polak, 3.7
TBY: Ohlund, 3.6
Tor: Liles, 4.2
Van: Ballard, 4.2
Was: Hamrlik, 3.5
Win: Enstrom, 3.5


Sorry, I don’t see much of a deal at all

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 12/07/11 at 08:52 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.

Smileys

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Feed

Most Recent Blog Posts

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.