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Red Wings-Coyotes Game 3 quick take: respectful play drives Coyotes to distraction

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.

Final stats:

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.

Individual Stats:

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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Comments

Avatar

I wonder how much of the Wings’ PK crapiness over the last couple of games has to do with the fact that Lidstrom hasn’t seen any PK time since the first period of Game 1.

Not that I’m complaining—if Lidstrom doesn’t have to play more than 20 minutes a night or play much on the PK (and he hasn’t yet), it probably means that the Wings are winning handily and actually getting good play from the rest of the D corps. But it is strange to see him on the bench when even Ericsson is getting steady PK time and playing more than him at even strength.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 04/19/11 at 03:11 AM ET

Chet's avatar

a very fine post but let’s also be clear: bryz has been garbage in this series. flatfooted and/or out of position far too often, even if you think as i do that det is the far deeper team offensively, he’s done nothing to keep his team in any of the first three. don’t want to be negative or dickish, but if the wings were down 3-0 jimmy would be ridden out of town in someone’s trunk w this level of play…

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 04/19/11 at 03:20 AM ET

Puppies and Hookers's avatar

don’t have photoshop, but here’s a little paintshop work I threw together

13 to 12!

Posted by Puppies and Hookers from La la land on 04/19/11 at 03:45 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

Pretty damn good account of things, George. 

The fact that the ice time has been pretty evenly distributed and the Wings’ best players haven’t been over-extended in the first three games bodes well for Detroit, not just in this series, but going forward in the playoffs as well.

Jimmy Howard has been far better than just good enough and the team in front of him, while very solid thus far, still has yet to fire all of their guns.  I said before these playoffs started that if the Wings find their rhythm in the early stages of the post-season and start to regain their swagger, the rest of the league should be very afraid.

I don’t think they’re quite on top of their game just yet, but so far we’ve seen good, solid playoff hockey.  Game four would be an ideal time to take their game to another level.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 04/19/11 at 04:36 AM ET

w2j2's avatar

I have been impressed with Ericsson’s play.  He is definitely improving.

Posted by w2j2 on 04/19/11 at 08:48 AM ET

joedaiceman's avatar

The one person that did concern me was Ericsson. Although his outlet pass to Franzen was a thing of beauty, he seems troubled on some of his other outlet passes that were sloppy. On the other hand - he used his size to take several ‘Yotes off the puck.

But hey, if this is the biggest complaint I can find - it must mean we are up 3-0.

Posted by joedaiceman on 04/19/11 at 10:08 AM ET

42jeff's avatar

I have found it encouraging to see the Wings finally starting to assert themselves physically.  There were countless times during the regular season when the hit was there…but the Wing player would turn away.  From about half way through Game 2 on…you could really see the Wings not so much LOOKING for the big hit…but just finishing the ones that were there.

That really goes a long way in the long run.

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 04/19/11 at 11:17 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

Ericsson has made a few sloppy outlet passes that have had me closing my eyes, but that said I am pretty happy with him.  I also don’t mind seeing Nick ride the bench during the PK.  We’ll need him down the road, and I haven’t seen a situation yet in this series except for the end of game two where I’d say he had to be on the ice.  Uncle Mike is right to keep Nick healthy (and away from the cheap shots) whenever he can.

Back to Ericsson though, it sure is good to see him start using his size.  He put more than a few of the Coyote’s forwards on their arses last night.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 04/19/11 at 12:44 PM ET

MsRedWingFan's avatar

great assessment as always George grin

Posted by MsRedWingFan from West Michigan hometown of Abdelkader on 04/19/11 at 02:04 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

Both E52 and Bert were making craptastic passes last night.

Chet is right, Brzy has been absolutely horrible. If he played at his normal level, this series could look quite different.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 04/19/11 at 02:44 PM ET

calquake's avatar

, Brzy has been absolutely horrible. If he played at his normal level, this series could look quite different.
Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from Warm and sunny SoCal on 04/19/11 at 01:44 PM ET

I think the question regarding Breezy is “Why is he playing so craptastic?”.  Last night he looked more uncomfortable than ever.  Lack of confidence?  Minor injury bothering him?  Given up on his teammates?  Personally I think he quietly pines for Winnipeg. cheese

Posted by calquake on 04/19/11 at 03:42 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Chet is right, Brzy has been absolutely horrible. If he played at his normal level, this series could look quite different.

Is there really that much to say about Bryzgalov’s career other than last season?  I know he has always been a decent goalie, but christ everyone treats him like he’s Marty Brodeur.  To me its the Kipprusoff effect, no doubt he is a good goalie, but the bad team in front of him most nights make him look better than he is in the regular season when teams aren’t scrapping as hard and are taking weak shots.  Come playoff team he folds.  It happens again and again.  The same has been true for Nabokov in most of his career.

I think the question regarding Breezy is “Why is he playing so craptastic?”.  Last night he looked more uncomfortable than ever.  Lack of confidence?  Minor injury bothering him?  Given up on his teammates? 

The Mule has burned him badly on two occasions this playoff, I think Franzen is in his head.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 04/19/11 at 04:19 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

George, thanks as always - great post.  Most interesting to me was your use of the word “calm,” because on several occasions last night, especially as the Wings cycled the puck during a PP, I was thinking how calm, composed and patient they looked.

Hope they can sweep this thing and get some rest.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 04/19/11 at 06:27 PM ET

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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.