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Red Wings-Canucks quick take: talked into a dogfight

Updated w/ Kronwall’s hit and Kesler’s knee on Z: The Detroit Red Wings came late to the party and found themselves devoured by their own mistakes—and what only Larry Murphy could call a “good play” on a ridiculous insurance goal—playing far too indecisively for far too long against a Canucks team with which they spent the morning complimenting, dropping a 4-2 decision.

If this makes any sense, I wasn’t surprised that the Wings’ players basically stood around and watched the Canucks make decisive and determined plays as Detroit’s forwards and defensemen cheated toward offense in the first period very specifically because of the game-day love affair.


Despite assertions about the Wings’ arrogance, the Canucks are, by far, the most talkative team in the league, but unlike the Wings, their compliments usually precede trash talk and in-game nastiness. The Wings seemed to all but buy into the concept that they were going to play “skill versus skill,” and when the Canucks came out forechecking, forcing turnovers with hard-charging skating, checks—and let’s not kid ourselves here, a silly amount of hooking, holding and pick-throwing—the Wings seemed downright lost as Higgins, Hodgson (on the only goal Howard may have wanted back) and Burrows caught Wings defensemen or forwards cheating toward offensive plays that weren’t there, utilizing stretch passes to send their players in on Howard to slide players into the slot uncontested.

Even after Todd Bertuzzi’s own “run ‘im into the goalie and then tip it past him” goal gave the wings life, they almost immediately gave up a silly goal to Burrows via a tip to a player standing fifteen feet behind any Wings player, and the Wings more or less went into the locker room looking like a team with a bad case of lake stare.

In the second period, the Wings’ mistake-prone ways were bailed out in a big way by some fantastic saves by Howard before Drew Miller’s tip-in of a fantastic shift by the Helm line got the Wings back into the game. Regretttably, the Wings burned through their first power play…

And in the third period, when Niklas Kronwall stood up on Ryan Kesler and he went ape…

Instead of tying the game on the power play drawn when Kronwall’s “flying butt pliers” caught Kesler in the chest and he got up trying to fight Johan Franzen and then Kronwall, well…

Depending on your rooting interest, either the Wings couldn’t hold in the puck and Henrik Zetterberg pulled down Janik Hansen on something close to a breakaway, thus making Janik Hansen’s depositing of the rebound and salting away of the game legal, or Hansen made sure to feel that tug, go down and run Howard over, and that goal never, ever should have stood



Whether you believe that Howard should have been penalized for coming up swinging as well, or whether you believe that the Canucks either made a fine defense by standing up to the Wings with physical play until the furious finish by Detroit was just simply too much far too late, or whether you think that the Red Wings worked their asses off but were plain old not rewarded despite the refs more or less turning their heads as the Canucks went headhunting…

Well, the game would have been much closer if the Wings who dominated play over the last 10 minutes of the 3rd period and showed flashes of tremendous brilliance in the second had not waited so very long to do anything other than have the other team’s will will thrust upon them as they committed mistake after mistake and plain old cheated themselves out of a game they should have at least had a chance to win, had they chosen to not be so flattered by their opponents’ smile that they ignored a very obvious pair of fangs.

As such, the Wings ended up wasting an astonishing amount of energy, effort and the kind of intensity, attention to detail and plain old urgency that they simply chose not to display early, and as such, the Wings’ 16-shot third period effort might bite into their energy level going into a back-to-back game in Calgary on Thursday night.

The Wings-Canucks match-up was never going to be anything less than a dogfight, nothing less than a game filled with scraping and scrumming and grinding one’s way toward hard-fought results, and the Wings came to the fight minus their gloves. By the time they raised the Canucks’ ire to the point that it woke the furious beast that lurks within a Wings team whose younger players can be backed off, whose veterans can be lulled into sleep and whose second pair on defense in particular (Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart) had been particularly leaky of late…

Well, the Wings’ timing was terrible throughout the game, and when they did earn power plays, they were the exact opposite of the urgent, determined and downright dastardly net-front-driving and sometimes goalie-crashing team they should have been. They were casual, and the Canucks’ penalty-killers picked ‘em apart as Luongo picked cherries. One could and very well might argue that, bad breaks and stupid s*** included, had the Wings capitalized on their second and third-period power plays, they’d be the ones with something to talk about.

Call it cognitive dissonance, call it karma, call it a game that was coming given how the wheels of fundamental hockey came off the train in Edmonton. No matter how you slice it, the Wings were “off” enough to make their opponent look absolutely fantastic, and perhaps they were “off” enough to remind us that this team that truly is still in a huge transition in terms of leadership, go-to players and evolving into a harder, faster and more efficient team at both ends of the ice does still exhibit a paper tiger’s worth of paper-thin confidence from time to time, and when the Wings get knocked onto their heels, mistakes and games like this happen.

It’ll be very, very, very interesting to see whether the Wings have enough energy to earn two very necessary points in Calgary on Thursday night, because 1-out-of-3 in Western Canada just isn’t acceptable at this point of the season.

Even if the Wings both jobbed themselves and, in my opinion, got jobbed by a team whose talkativeness belies a skin thinner than Detroit’s margin for error in a game they could have won had they “started on time” in a hard-working instead of flattered mood.

Regardless of how one perceives things to have unfolded, or how much the press chooses to talk this one up, from any sort of remotely Red Wings-friendly perspective, this one was a big fat opportunity wasted to a team that told the Wings exactly what they could and couldn’t do and then made sure to straitjacket the Wings in their coat of typecasting compliments.


Shots 40-25 Detroit. The Wings were out-shot 9-8 in the 1st period, out-shot Vancouver 16-12 in the 2nd period and out-shot Vancouver 16-4 in the 3rd period.

The Wings went 0-for-4 in 6:49 of PP time. The Canucks scored a short-handed goal but had no power plays.

Jimmy Howard stopped 21 of 25; Roberto Luongo stopped 38 of 40.

The 3 stars, per TSN, were Janik Hansen, Roberto Luongo and Alex Edler.

The Wings’ goals: Bertuzzi (4) from White (12) and Datsyuk (24);

Miller (7) from Helm (8) and Cleary (9).

Faceoffs 32-27 Vancouver (Detroit won 46%);

Blocked shots 18-10 Vancouver;

Missed shots 10-5 Detroit (total attempts 68-40 Detroit);

Hits 33-19 Vancouver;

Giveaways 6-5 Detroit;

Takeaways 6-5 Vancouver.

Individual stats:

Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 15-and-11 (58%); Zetterberg went 6-and-6 (46%); Helm went 2-and-8 (20%); Abdelkader went 1-and-5 (17%); Filppula went 2-and-0 (100%); Franzen went 1-and-1 (50%).

Shots: White led the team with 8 shots; Miller and Helm had 5; Bertuzzi had 4; Cleary and Zetterberg had 3; Lidstrom, Hudler, Kronwall and Holmstrom had 2; Kindl, Datsyuk, Stuart and Emmerton had 1.

Blocked attempts: Cleary hit Canucks players 4 times, as did Filppula; Datsyuk and Zetterberg had 2 shot attempts blocked; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, White, Hudler, Ericsson and Kronwall had 1 attempt blocked.

Missed shots: White, Hudler and Franzen missed the net 2 times; Cleary, Stuart, Zetterberg and Kronwall missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Miller led the team with 4 hits; Cleary and Datsyuk had 3; Helm and Holmstrom had 2; Kindl,Helm, Emmerton, Filppula and Kronwall had 1.

Giveaways: Stuart and Zetterberg had 2 giveaways; Datsyuk and Franzen had 1.

Takeaways: Cleary, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Kronwall and Franzen had 1 takeaway.

Blocked shots: Lidstrom and Ericsson blocked 2 shots; Datsyuk, White, Stuart, Kronwall, Franzen and Holmstrom of all people blocked 1 shot.

Penalties taken: The Wings weren’t assessed a penalty.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective -10: Hudler, Zetterberg and Filppula finished at -2; Lidstrom, Cleary, White, Miller, Helm and Kronwall finished at -1; Datsyuk and Franzen finished at +1.

Points: Miller and Bertuzzi scored goals; Cleary, Datsyuk, White and Helm had assists.

Ice time: Lidstrom led the team with 23:56 played; White played 23:29; Kronwall played 22:17;

Zetterberg played 21:55; Stuart played 21:46; Filppula played 19:47;

Franzen played 18:33; Datsyuk played 18:06; Bertuzzi played 17:36;

Hudler played 17:27; Holmstrom played 15:08; Cleary played 14:16;

Ericsson played 13:46; Helm played 12:39; Kindl played 12:16;

Miller played 11:56; Abdelkader played 8:32; Emmerton played 8:28.

Update: I don’t care if he’s from Livonia. He rooted for the Avs. He went to Ohio State with standing full rides from Michigan and State. And he’s a dick.

Ryan Kesler can’t just take a hit, and when he can’t take a hit, he’s apparently also got to try to take out Henrik Zetterberg’s knee in retaliation.


Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


SYF's avatar

After giving up the second goal, Uncle Mike called a perfectly timed time-out and calmly raged into his team.  I saw him say, “Get in the fuching game.” 

‘Nucks wanted this game more than we did.  Plain and simple.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 12/22/11 at 02:56 AM ET

SYF's avatar

From TSN:

@FarhanLaljiTSN: #kesler didn’t hate the hit but didnt like that Kronwall “didn’t anser the bell…That’s his move, I had my head ... http://t.co/teyf3Glg

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 12/22/11 at 02:57 AM ET

Alan's avatar

Have to agree, Malik. Whether all that transpired in the third is right or wrong, we should have played a full sixty minutes, and not a second less.

Still very unhappy about Howard getting run by yet another player from yet another opponent, but circumstances could have been a whole lot different if we were playing our game instead of sleeping through the first period.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 12/22/11 at 03:08 AM ET

Chet's avatar

i don’t mind howard looking out for himself, but he’s starting to be a bit too much of a hothead and i hope it doesn’t cost us at some point. i didn’t like van’s 4th goal. seemed like howard was interfered with, to put it lightly.

GM has it right: the wings just didn’t show up until the game was well on its way toward being out of reach, with predictable results. an entertaining game, at least.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/22/11 at 03:16 AM ET


That was a hell of a game.

The Canucks definitely get up for the Wings.

The response by the Canucks after the Kronwall hit was awesome.  (I call BS on George’s “headhunting” comment). 

A playoff series between these 2 would be epic.

Posted by Jerry on 12/22/11 at 03:18 AM ET


So along with being defensively asleep the first 25 minutes of the game, you blame this loss on the Canucks playing hard-nose hockey? The same style that they have played all year? Right. I didn’t know that the way teams won in this league was by pumping each others tires and then making daisy-chains while seated in a circle at center ice. I guess the Wings didn’t get the memo that secret-santa is tomorrow night, not tonight.
The Canucks are a team that Detroit made look “fantastic”, which obviously the Canucks can’t be. It’s not 95% of the same roster as the WCC and President trophy winning team of last year. They don’t have 2 players in the top 5 in scoring, thats for sure.  I mean they almost have identical stats, these two teams. But Detroit is obviously far superior.
Now, of course this piece is far to biased to mention how many non-calls there were on blatant Detroit penalties in the first period. But those Canucks, oh those Canucks, head hunting all game! Too many illegal hits to count. Oh wait, I remember one: Kronwall on Kesler. It’s about the um-teenth time I’ve seen Kronwall leave his feet on a big hit and not be called for it. But we’ll just sweep that under the rug of satire and call it a “flying butt pliers” hit. I suppose along with chirping the most in the NHL, the Canucks probably dive the most too, right? Of course they do. Those extremely thin-skinned Canucks, never standing up for anything.  Detroit is by far the tougher team, with 4 major penalties to date on the season to back up that truculence they display night in and night out. At least they are tops in the NHL in 1 category this season.

Posted by Rick from Red Deer on 12/22/11 at 03:30 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

The Canucks *are* a fantastic team. I’m not suggesting otherwise. As for the rest, I’m a fan, not a journalist, and I am very biased.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/22/11 at 03:34 AM ET

Chet's avatar

rick from red deer needs a xanax.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/22/11 at 03:51 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

As long as Rick is yelling at me and not you, it’s part of my job to be a Tomas Holmstrom blogger.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/22/11 at 03:55 AM ET

Chet's avatar

i wonder what rick thinks of kesler’s swipe at zetterberg’s leg. just good hardnosed hockey?

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/22/11 at 03:59 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

That game was lost in the first twenty minutes.  Can’t come out and lay a turd that big and realistically expect to recover from it.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 12/22/11 at 05:01 AM ET


Too many illegal hits to count. Oh wait, I remember one: Kronwall on Kesler.

The cliche is that it’s only illegal if the referee decided to call it, but in this case that is actually true. Any hard hit, whether the attacking player left his feet or not, is charging; in fact, the rule on charging specifically refers to a charge as a check, which is generally legal. It is only illegal when the charge is particularly violent.

Posted by bleep bloop on 12/22/11 at 05:57 AM ET


Please don’t tell me that anyone would stand up for that Kronwall hit.  That was the perfect version of his patented leaping illegal check.  Why the hell is he allowed to do that?  Kesler got 2 minutes for what, trying to get to him?  Howard actually threw 3 or 4 punches.  All the cheap shit happened after that hit.  The Wings got away with at least 4 tripping and interference calls in the first; I didn’t really mind cause the game was exciting, but I cannot believe how pathetically one-sided this crap is.  If they had called Kronwall, or Franzen for coming in hard and flattening Raymond on top of Kesler, none of the other stuff would have happened.  I agree Kesler threw the knee, but that was the lightest version of that I have ever seen…..it happens in a lot of games.  Hansen dive-bombing Howard was a direct retaliation out of frustration; it was also a result of Shanahan deciding that you are allowed to do that, which is why you see it a fair bit now too.  But if Malik says “yeah Zetterburg hooked him or whatever”, then the goal obviously should stand.  Personally, I think he meant to do it, and could have been called, but be logical…..clearly the ref thought Zetterburg pushed him in.  If you agree then it was a goal.  Whatever, great game that got a little ugly mainly because Kronwall has been granted a pass for what is obviously a super illegal hit. 
(ps I’m a Nuck man but I have no wish to see Filpula concussed by Bieksa’s insanely heavy, though clearly legal and to the shoulder, hit.  Hopefully he’s okay). 
(pps - Who the hell said “headhunting”?  What game did you watch?)

Posted by tuxedoTshirt on 12/22/11 at 06:14 AM ET

Chet's avatar

dude, that’s garbage. you agree kesler dragged his knee, which is a very injurious move. kronwall may or may not have left his feet, but he very specifically avoided kesler’s head. you can inject as much faux rage and hyperbole as you’d like at this point, because it’s hard to take you seriously.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/22/11 at 08:16 AM ET


I’m a Canucks fan, and I’ll admit that I didn’t like Kesler’s hit on Zetterberg. But come on: “kronwall may or may not have left his feet”. There are probably 47 places where you can watch highlights of the game. It’s not a “may or may not” kind of situation.

Posted by Mike from Toronto on 12/22/11 at 12:26 PM ET


Kronwall left his feet, a lot of his hits are questionable, there was no question here he left his feet before he made contact.

From one angle I didn’t think Kesler was doing anything wrong, from the other angle it looks like he stuck his leg out deliberately. 

I don’t know that Howard was deliberately run,  it kind of looks like Hansen slipped.  I think the Goal/No Goal call could have went either way. 

Howard had to (and will continue to) stand up for him self because no one else does, Rather what Hansen did was deliberate or not, you don’t let the other time touch your goalie….

Posted by wingsnut25 on 12/22/11 at 12:52 PM ET


I’m a Nucks fan who’s rooted for the Wings (when they’re not playing the Nucks) and I didn’t like Kesler’s move on Zetterberg.  I understand his anger, but he was very lucky to get away with that.

On the flip side, Kronwall clearly left his feet and should have been penalized on the play for that reason.

As for the Hansen/Edler goal, yeah it’s iffy and could have gone either way - but it also appears that Bertuzzi may have pushed Salo into Lu on his goal…

In the end, it was a game that kept my attention for sixty minutes.

Posted by Dave on 12/22/11 at 03:10 PM ET

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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.


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