The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/14/11 at 02:29 PM ET
TSN’s Scott Cullen analyzed the line match-ups from Wednesday night’s win:
Johan Franzen continued playoff dominance, scoring a goal and an assist, which is rather standard for a player who entered this year’s playoffs with 59 points in 51 games over the last three postseasons.
The Coyotes attempted to match up defencemen Ed Jovanovski and Adrian Aucoin and the top line of Shane Doan, Eric Belanger and Ray Whitney against the Red Wings’ top line, but it wasn’t especially successful. In addition to Franzen’s two points, Pavel Datsyuk socred a goal and recorded a game-high eight shots on goal while Holmstrom added an assist.
Coyotes centre Martin Hanzal recorded an assist, but was minus-2 while playing 21:21. After missing more than a month due to injury, Hanzal returned to action late last week, so it seemed like a heavy workload—he played more than 21:21 a dozen times through 61 regular season games.
Detroit appeared to be full value for the win; a good start for a lineup going without Henrik Zetterberg, who is injured, and Mike Modano, who was a healthy scratch.
Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner took note of the fact that Todd Bertuzzi received some well-earned cheers last night…
Todd “Big Bert” Bertuzzi vs. Rostislav “Rusty Nail (?)” Klesla ignited the fans at Joe Louis Arena into a frenzy that resulted in 20,000 puckheads chanting Bertuzzi’s name.
“Pretty cool, probably better if it was after a goal,” was how Bertuzzi described his feeling about the fan’s chanting. “It was neat, great fans here. When we get that kind of response, guys respond and play hard. It was a good first step.”
Up until that point, it appeared that the only battle was between the officials’ whistles and the Red Wings. Four first-period penalties against the Wings—including a minute and a half of a 5-on-3—left the JLA crowd feeling nasty and frustrated.
But that second point stuck in the craw of Wings GM Ken Holland:
What wasn’t great to see was the disturbing playoff trend where the NHL’s fourth-least penalized team, Detroit (9.2 minutes a game), suddenly turns into a rule-infraction machine. The Wings were whistled for seven penalties totaling 17 minutes. Phoenix was sent to the box four times and accumulated 11 total penalty minutes.
“I don’t get it, I just don’t understand,” was all Wings GM Ken Holland could say after the game about his club’s penalty issues.
From MLive, Michael Wayland confirms that the Wings’ logo and a Knight Rider-style red rotating LED light will take over the Renaissance Center on game days, Matt Otto raved about Jimmy Howard, and the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema duly noted that the Wings recaptured home-ice advantage, which has been easier said than done of late:
After a sloppy and undisciplined first period, the Red Wings seemed to flip that proverbial switch everyone likes to talk about in the second period and claim a 1-0 series lead with a 4-2 comeback win against the Phoenix Coyotes. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s a start. And, in the end, all that matters is that final score.
Oddly, The Joe and its rich past hasn’t been particularly kind to the Red Wings this season. After opening the season 10-1-2 at home, they went 11-13-4 to close the regular season. But the ghosts of playoffs past might have come out of the woodwork to help Detroit maintain the home-ice advantage.
“It’s huge. We haven’t been playing like we wanted to at home here,” Red Wings forward Johan Franzen said. “We’re well aware about it, but I think everyone is so used to this, coming into the playoffs and stepping it up and taking it to the next level. I wasn’t worried about that, I knew we were going to come out and play a strong game.”
Make no mistake, the Red Wings still have plenty of work ahead. If they want to have another shot at Lord Stanley, then they must eliminate the silly penalties and take care of the puck in their own zone. They can’t expect the penalty killers to cover for them until the offense starts to click. Of course, a healthy Henrik Zetterberg would go a long way toward curing both of those maladies, but the Red Wings should have more than enough experience, skill and depth to endure his absence through this series. It’s strange that a number of prognosticators picked the Coyotes to win this series. Sure, they’re a capable team that lost in seven games to the Red Wings in the first round last year, but is that really the smart bet to make?
There’s a reason why the Red Wings can use the playoff slogan, “This is Hockeytown. This is what we do.”
Update 12:41 PM: The Hockey News’s Adam Proteau, via Paul, is picking Nicklas Lidstrom as his Norris candidate:
The award presented to the league’s best all-round defenseman should go to the greatest blueliner of his generation: the 40-year-old Nicklas Lidstrom, who already has six Norris Trophies in his cabinet.
Now, you can talk about slight slippage in Lidstrom’s game and point out that he was a minus player (minus-2) for the first time in his career. I don’t care. If you asked all NHL coaches which D-man they’d put out on the ice at any time in a crucial game, the grand majority would reply with Lidstrom’s name. And on the offensive end, he finished the year with 62 points - his best total since 2007-08. Sorry, Shea Weber, but the professor isn’t leaning on his tenure enough for me to give you the Norris. Yet.
1. Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings
2. Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
3. Keith Yandle, Phoenix Coyotes
4. Lubomir Visnovsky, Anaheim Ducks
5. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
LADY BYNG TROPHY
Players may be too cool for school to revel in the idea behind this award, but I think it does say something positive about the character of a player just to be mentioned in this group. Incredibly, Lidstrom hasn’t won it yet and should this year.
1. Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings
2. Martin St-Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
3. Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars
4. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
5. Brad Richards, Dallas Stars
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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.