The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/19/11 at 02:57 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings turned the home-ice tables on the Phoenix Coyotes by scoring two quick goals en route to a 4-2 victory over the Coyotes on Monday night/Tuesday morning Detroit time, and while the Wings lead the series 3-0, I’d argue that there’s quite a bit of room for improvement for Detroit going into Wednesday’s game.
The Wings found themselves making glaring defensive mistakes at times, getting caught flat-footed on too many occasions where Jimmy Howard had to make sensational, ten-bell saves, and while it’s wonderful that Howard’s clearly up to the challenge, the Wings have made his life a little too difficult. The penalty-kill remains a problematic issue, strange bounces on both goals against tonight included, and the Coyotes were able to, for the most part, shut the Datsyuk line down as the Wings continued to display sometimes inattentive efforts, sagging during the second half of the first period and around the 10-minute mark of the third period…
But the Wings’ depth is giving the Coyotes fits—if Phoenix focuses on shutting one or two lines down, Detroit’s supplementary players like Valtteri Filppula can dent the back of the net with ease, the grinders and “depth” guys like Ruslan Salei continue to contribute, and in addition to the fact that the Wings have solved Bryzgalov for the most part and are playing relatively dominant hockey at even strength, the biggest and most important part of the Wings’ three wins thus far involves a simple word and a simple concept: RESPECT.
Yes, the Wings have lost their composure and have gone to the penalty box for horizontal stick fouls and the kind of ticky-tack stuff that the league chose to completely ignore from January on, and yes, it’s cost them goals against, a little too much energy expended in games that should have been more handily won in every instance thus far, and yes, the Wings’ ability to get the upper hand on Phoenix physically speaking has been an uphill affair, but the Wings have never, ever taken the Coyotes for granted, nor has their on-ice play reflected anything less than their repeated and emphasized suggestions that the Coyotes are a formidable, tenacious, dangerous and very worthy opponent.
The Wings aren’t letting their emotions get the better of them in any physical confrontations because they simply understand that it’s part of the Coyotes’ game to try and intimidate Detroit and knock the Wings’ fillings out, so they’ve stayed in control and have done their best to only respond to egregious fouls and stupid stuff like Shane Doan’s repeated attempts to hack the hell out of Nicklas Lidstrom after Taylor Pyatt smoked Nick (cleanly but dangerously in a hit in that “valley of death”), or the Pyatt bump to the head of Eaves from the blind side that went unpunished. Even when the Coyotes and the ever-supposedly-gentlemanly Doan tried to beat Pavel Datsyuk up as time expired, the Wings did their best to give the Yotes a few pops to get them the hell off of Datsyuk and let Phoenix know that the Wings aren’t backing down, but the Wings have yet to even come close to losing their cool physically.
That’s not the case for Phoenix. If the Coyotes don’t lose to the Wings because Detroit’s outplaying them while finding their playoff footing, the Coyotes will lose to the Red Wings because Phoenix spends so much time concerning itself with attempting to beat up, beat on and beat down the Wings, from Doan on down, rather than focusing on simply beating Detroit over the full course of a 60-minute game, and if the Coyotes continue to insist that it is nothing more and nothing less than their “identity” to play as recklessly physically as they have been doing over the course of the first three games…
No matter how well they stick with Detroit over the course of as many as four more games, the Wings will eventually prevail because the Wings respect Phoenix too much to play anything less than clear-headed hockey, worrying about sending a message by putting more goals behind Bryzgalov than they give up instead of worrying about sending messages via overenthusiastic hits and what Wings fans like myself might argue are repeatedly (and usually un-penalized) attempts to injure Red Wings players.
If that’s the way Phoenix wants to play, the Wings will prevail. The Wings are deeper, more offensively adept, better defensively, they’ve got the better goaltender for the moment, they’re more opportunistic, sharper, smarter and plain old calmer. One way or another, the Red Wings are going to prevail and move on unless the Coyotes pull off the kind of clear-headed miracle that they’ve insisted is nothing less than completely out of character.
And that’s fitting, because in this series, respect has remained a one-way street.
Shots 34-30 Detroit overall, breaking down as 13-9 Detroit in the 1st, 12-8 Phoenix in the 2nd and 13-9 Detroit in the 3rd.
The Coyotes went 2 for 3 in 4:47 of PP time; the Wings went 0 for 4 in 8:00 of PP time.
Howard stopped 32 of 34; Bryzgalov stopped 30 of 34.
The 3 stars, per the “Coyotes Broadcasting Network,” were Niklas Kronwall, Kyle Turris and Jimmy Howard.
The Wings’ goals: Salei (1) from Helm (1) and Kronwall (1);
Miller (1) from Kronwall (2);
Filppula (1) from Hudler (1);
Franzen (2) from Ericsson (1).
Faceoffs: 34-28 Detroit (55% won by Detroit);
Blocked shots: 15-13 Detroit;
Missed shots: 20-19 Phoenix (total shot attempts 66-65 Detroit);
Hits: 36-27 Phoenix;
Giveaways: 5-2 Phoenix;
Takeaways: 7-6 Detroit.
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 9-and-9 (50%); Filppula went 8-and-8 (50%); Abdelkader went 11-and-5 (69%); Draper went 4-and-4 (50%); Eaves lost his only faceoff; Helm lost his only faceoff.
Shots: Filppula led the team with 4 shots; Miller, Salei, Ericsson and Franzen had 3; Cleary, Stuart, Rafalski, Helm, Bertuzzi, Kronwall and Holmstrom had 2; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Datsyuk and Eaves had 1.
Blocked attempts: Bertuzzi, Filppula and Kronwall had 2 shot attempts blocked by Phoenix players; Lidstrom, Eaves, Salei, Hudler, Draper, Helm and Holmstrom had single shot attempts blocked.
Missed shots: Eaves missed the net 3 times; Lidstrom, Cleary and Miller missed the net 2 times; Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Stuart, Salei, Rafalski, Draper, Bertuzzi, Filppula, Franzen and Holmstrom missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Ericsson and Kronwall co-led the team with 4 hits; Helm had 3; Datsyuk, Eaves, Stuart, Bertuzzi and Franzen had 2; Lidstrom, Miller, Salei, Rafalski, Draper and Filppula had 1.
Giveaways: Only Cleary and Franzen had giveaways.
Takeaways: Datsyuk had 3 takeaways; Eaves, Stuart, Helm and Kronwall had 1 takeaway.
Blocked opponent shots: Datsyuk blocked 3 shots; Bertuzzi, Ericsson and Kronwall blocked 2 Coyotes shots; Eaves, Stuart, Salei, rafalski, Draper and Filppula blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Abdelkader, Eaves, Miller and Holmstrom were tagged by minor penalties.
Plus-minus: Salei and Kronwall finished at +3; Miller, Hudler and Filppula finished at +2; Cleary, Datsyuk, Eaves, Rafalski, Draper, Helm, Ericsson and Franzen finished at +1.
Points: Kronwall had 2 assists; Miller, Salei, Filppula and Franzen had goals; Hudler, Helm and Ericsson had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 23:24 played; Rafalski played 21:32; Datsyuk played 20:45;
Stuart played 20:15; Ericsson played 19:45; Franzen played 18:52;
Filppula played 18:17; Lidstrom played 18:03; Cleary played 17:34;
Salei played 17:01; Abdelkader played 15:09; Bertuzzi played 14:05;
Holmstrom played 13:23; Helm played 11:38; Miller played 11:34;
Hudler played 11:19; Eaves played 10:32; Draper played 10:05.
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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.