The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/24/12 at 02:03 AM ET
The Vancouver Canucks came into Joe Louis Arena insisting that they would break the Red Wings’ 23-game home ice winning streak. They repeated their mantra throughout the day, and they backed their bluster up, defeating Detroit 4-3 in a shootout.
As a Red Wings fan, I would be remiss to not point out that the Canucks never would have tied the game had Sami Salo not “Larry Murphied” an icing call, chugging his arms and legs so hard that the linesman believed the Canucks earned an icing which resulted in Daniel Sedin’s game-tying goal with all of 16 seconds remaining…
But I also have to admit the following:
1. The Red Wings’ power play was horrible. It went 0-for-5 in 8:59 of PP time, including 53 seconds of a 5-on-3, and the Wings actually gave the Canucks more scoring chances than they created.
2. The Red Wings were out-shot 43-36 overall, including 17 to 5 in the 1st period, and they were as flat as southern Manitoba in the 1st period, to say the least, and not much better in the 2nd.
Had Jimmy Howard not played nothing less than valiant hockey with a stick hand that looks like it’s 100% and then some, we would be talking about the Wings dropping a regulation game to a team that was tied with Detroit in points, not 1 point behind thanks to overtime/the shootout.
3. The Red Wings surrendered 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 leads, and gave up two third-period goals, both on “fluky” plays;
4. It was absolutely amazing that Darren Helm (1 goal, 2 assists), Justin Abdelkader (1 goal, 1 assist) and Drew Miller (2 assists) were the best line on the ice for both teams, but it’s also completely unacceptable for the Bertuzzi-Zetterberg-Franzen and Hudler-Filppula-Cleary lines to have come up so very empty and so very paper thin in terms of confidence.
It seemed like Franzen and Bertuzzi in particular—who had strong games—just understood that they were going to be steered toward the side boards, and while Danny Cleary had a strong game, Hudler and Filppula weren’t good, and the Wings generated little to no traffic, few screens and fewer rebound opportunities, never mind secondary scoring chances or the kind of sustained pressure that involved more than pumping the puck back to the point, that the Wings needed to sustain their efforts.
5. As excellent as Kyle Quincey was in his debut, scoring a goal and registering 3 hits and 2 blocked shots as well as 4 shots in 21:32 of ice time, and as awesome as it was to see Niklas Kronwall repeatedly lay the body on players….
6. Brad Stuart had an absolutely horrific game, Jonathan Ericsson wasn’t much better, and as hard as Ian White and a seemingly slightly hobbled Nicklas Lidstrom worked to prevent the Canucks from generating secondary scoring chances, generating tips and screens and the kind of sustained pressure on the cycle and/or grinding down low in the Wings’ zone, and the defense received little help from their forwards, who were turnover-happy and simply couldn’t cleanly clear the puck on a regular-enough basis.
7. Put simply, the Wings’ power play was awful, their defense wasn’t good enough, despite a remarkable 40-save performance from Jimmy Howard, they came out flat and didn’t warm up against an opponent which told them all but to their faces that they were coming into the Joe to celebrate like they won the damn Stanley Cup after the game because they were gonna end the Wings’ winning streak, and the Wings ended up deserving their result…
8. In front of an international audience on TSN and the NHL Network U.S., NHL.com and ESPN, and one could very well argue that the Wings’ forwards’ production and their paper-thin offensive confidence over the past two defeats—defeats the Wings cannot sustain if they are to hold off the Canucks (who have a game in hand) in the Western Conference, the Blues and Predators in the Central Division and everybody else who’s got their eye on taking out Detroit—enough that the Wings’ players might have at least offered a passive-aggressive request to Ken Holland to bolster their forward lines as the Wings prepare to play for another 7-to-10 days without Pavel Datsyuk.
[edit/update: Dear Ken Holland, please take a look at the last two games. See how Valtteri Filppula’s offense disappears when you place him back in the middle of the ice, and take that under consideration, please]
9. And the Wings’ shootout strategy—skate into a gigantic Roberto Luongo slowly?—was just baffling to boot.
10. Frankly, as Wings coach Mike Babcock suggested after the game, the Wings need to get to practice tomorrow, somehow through the snow, and “get skating” again as they re-set and attempt to get back to the business of winning games after a late February hiccup.
11. And there’s something to be said for noting that every time an opponent talks a big game, the Wings almost seem lulled into a, “Gee, you really think we’re that big a deal? Thank you!” stupor before eventually engaging in a futile effort to make their opponents eat their words.
In terms of the game’s narrative, the Canucks came out running ramp-shod over the Wings, peppering Jimmy Howard and grinding the Wings down and out, and yet, after Stuart attempted to clear the puck two or three times, Darren Helm swiped the puck from Kevin Bieksa, roared up ice and deferred passing to a well-covered Justin Abdelkader for the sake of firing a fluttering knuckleball through Luongo just over 11 minutes into the game.
The Wings either could not or would not build upon two successive Canucks penalties late in the first period and instead, they rope-a-doped their way until the halfway mark of the second, killing off two Kyle Quincey penalties in the process, but it was less than something of a surprise when Daniel Sedin tied things up 13:34 into the 2nd.
Off a Vancouver dump-in, Daniel and Henrik Sedin piled behind the net and overpowered a flat-footed Ian White and a less-flat-footed Nicklas Lidstrom, they mucked the puck back out to the point, where Alex Edler chipped a point shot that Henrik tipped in the slot, and as the puck went by Drew Miller, Daniel slithered past Ian White and tipped the puck past Howard’s right toe while Howard was attempting to stop that initial Edler shot.
Did the Wings do anything when a succession of kesler and Hamhuis penalties yielded a 4-on-3 for 53 seconds?
Nope. And so the game went ahead, and while the Wings out-shot Vancouver 15-8 in the 2nd period, the play was very even as the Wings either couldn’t or wouldn’t find their legs.
The Wings recovered somewhat in the third period. Off another big mistake—a Jonathan Ericsson giveaway yielded Jimmy Howard having to make a huge toe save—Darren Helm grabbed the puck, charged headlong up ice and into 5 defending Canucks, and when he gave Justin Abdelkader the puck in the slot, Abdelkader’s shot was blocked, he retrieved the rebound and gave it to Kyle Quincey…Who had his first shot blocked, but his second, again, via an Abdelkader pass, went through Drew Miller and a Roberto Luongo who was screened as the puck fluttered toward the top shelf. 6 minutes into the 3rd, the Wings looked to be up for good…
But off yet another inability to clear, this time via Stuart, Cody Hodgson held the puck in and flicked a shot toward the net, and regrettably, Niklas Kronwall’s right leg tipped it past a stunned Howard, all off a sustained period of Canucks cycling and grinding down the Wings.
All of 20 seconds later, at 13:46, it looked like the Wings were finally taking a definitive step when Drew Miller chased Quincey’s dump-in, held off a Canuck defender with his free hand as he circled the back of the net and came out to the right faceoff dot, and when he fired a pass to Darren Helm, Helm’s shot bounced off a Canuck and the post, but before Luongo could grab the rebound, Justin Abdelkader crashed the crease and jammed the puck home blocker side.
Well, the Wings kept pushing for a while, but again, with all of 33 seconds left in the game, Sami Salo chugged his arms and legs like he was Larry Murphy chasing an icing call, the Canucks got a deep faceoff in the Wings’ zone, and when Todd Bertuzzi and Henrik Zetterberg couldn’t clear it, Kesler muscled the puck to Henrik Sedin, behind the net, Henrik fired a seeing-eye pass all the way to the blueline, and Daniel fluttered a shot through four or five Wings and Canucks and into the back of the net past a Red Wings goaltender who had no idea where the puck was. Bang-bang, 3-3, going to OT when the Wings were 16 seconds from a regulation win.
In OT, the Wings’ lack of “wind,” “legs,” urgency, whatever, caught up to them, because they were only out-shot by a 5-4 margin, but it seemed as if the Wings were skating through mud and battling a bouncing BB instead of a puck that was fluttering off ice that was a little sticky thanks to the impending half-foot of snow coming down tonight.
So we headed to a shootout, and…
Jiri Hudler just skated up the gut, fast, and fired the puck into Roberto Luongo’s glove with not the slightest hint of a fake.
David Booth tried to work the Zetterberg/Forsberg/Nilsson move, but Howard didn’t buy it.
Zetterberg went up the gut, too, and ended up skating right out of space as Luongo poke checked him and Zetterberg lost control of the puck.
Alex Edler ROARED up ice at Howard but he squeezed his legs together to stop a low wrister.
Then Todd Bertuzzi tried to sloth it in by skating up…very…slowly… and…it…didn’t…work…as…Luongo…blockered…the…puck…away…
So the game was on Alex Burrows’ stick, and he managed to indulge Jimmy Howard’s willingness to bite on the occasional deke, dropping his shoulder and getting Howard to bite on a forehand deke which went onto Burrows’ backhand, into the back shelf, and then back onto an ice surface which the Canucks flooded onto like they’d won a playoff game.
I guess they earned their right to celebrate, but if I might be rude for a moment, I cannot think of a bigger bunch of self-absorbed assholes playing hockey this side of Chicago. The Canucks are a fantastic team, but they also act like a cavalcade of divas who are absolutely in love with talking loud, being hated and backing their talk up with an incredibly arrogant flair. I sure as hell hope a team that put so much importance on ending the Wings’ streak exhibits the same kind of flash and dash in the playoffs, whereas the more workmanlike Wings…
Do what they tend to do when it’s time to put up after shutting up.
Here’s the shootout…
As well as a full slate of game highlights…
And from the Wings’ website, here are the comments of Wings coach Mike Babcock…
Forward Justin Abdelkader…
And defenseman Kyle Quincey:
Statistics: Shots 43-36 Vancouver overall. The Nucks out-shot the Wings 17-5 in the 1st period, were out-shot 15-8 in the 2nd period and out-shot Detroit 13-12 in the 3rd period and 5-4 in OT.
Detroit went 0-for-5 in 7:59 of PP time, including 53 seconds of 4-on-3 time and 6 seconds of 5-on-3 time, and Vancouver went 0-for-4 in 6:06 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 40 of 43 shots; Roberto Luongo stopped 34 of 36.
The 3 Stars, per Nicholas J. Cotsonika, were Jimmy Howard, Daniel Sedin and Darren Helm.
The Wings’ goals: Helm (7), unassisted;
Quincey (6) from Abdelkader (12) and Helm (14);
Abdelkader (7) from Helm (15) and Miller (11).
Faceoffs 36-31 Vancouver (Detroit won 46%);
Blocked shots 9-9;
Missed shots 13-7 Vancouver (total attempts 65-51 Vancouver);
Hits 25-11 Detroit;
Giveaways 8-5 Detroit;
Takeaways 11-10 Detroit.
Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 11-and-10 (52%); Filppula went 4-and-11 (27%); Helm went 6-and-7 (46%); Emmerton went 5-and-3 (63%); Abdelkader went 3-and-2 (60%); Franzen went 2-and-1 (67%); both Cleary and Hudler lost their only faceoffs.
Shots: Cleary and Bertuzzi co-led the team with 5 shots apiece; Lidstrom and Quincey had 4; Miller and Holmstrom had 3; White, Hudler and Zetterberg had 2; Helm, Ericsson, Kronwall and Franzen had 1.
Blocked attempts: Helm had 2 shot attempts blocked; Lidstrom, White, Hudler, Quincey, Zetterberg, Kronwall and Holmstrom had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Helm missed the net 2 times; White, Stuart, Bertuzzi, Ericsson and Holmstrom missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Kronwall led the Wings with 5 hits; Abdelkader, Stuart and Quincey had 3; Lidstrom, White, Bertuzzi and Ericsson had 2; Hudler, Mursak and Holmstrom—who may have been the Wings’ best forward not on the Grind Line, The Next Generation—had 1;
Giveaways: Stuart, Hudler and Filppula had 2 giveaways; Zetterberg and Howard had 1.
Takeaways: Hudlerh ad 3 takeaways; Miller and Helm ahd 2; Lidstrom, White, Zetterberg and Franzen had 1.
Blocked shots: Quincey blocked 2 Vancouver shots; Cleary, White, Miller, Mursak, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Ericsson blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Quincey took 2 minor penalties; Abdelkader and Lidstrom took 1 apiece.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +1. Franzen finished at an ugly -3; Zetterberg finished at -2; Lidstrom, Cleary, Stuart, Filppula and Kronwall finished at -1; Quincey and Emmerton finished at +1; Miller, Helm and Ericsson finished at +2; Abdelkader finished at +3.
Points: Helm had a goal and 2 assists for 3 points; Abdelkader had a goal and an assist; Quincey had a goal; Miller had an assist.
Ice time: Lidstrom led the team with 23:42 played; Kronwall played 23:07; Zetterberg played 22:24;
Stuart played 22:02; Quincey played 21:32; White played 20:06;
Filppula played 20:04; Ericsson played 19:38; Franzen played 19:35;
Bertuzzi played 17:55; Helm played 17:01; Miller played 16:41;
Cleary played 16:34; Hudler played 15:30; Abdelkader played 14:43;
Holmstrom played 10:20; Emmerton played 5:23; Mursak played 5:06.
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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.