Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Coyotes Game 4 wrap-up: calm, composed Wings survive to fight another day

After the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 6-3 on Wednesday night, I took the high road in stating the obvious—that the Coyotes were a tenacious opponent, that I fully respect the organization’s right to exist and, quite frankly, that even this old Jets fan doesn’t believe that the Coyotes should be the team that relocates to Winnipeg, and, for that matter, the Yotes’ fans proved that they earned their right to use the Whiteout, and that I simply find the Canadian press’s corpse-picking mentality nothing less than distasteful…

Then I look at the box score, and realize how damn hard the Wings’ road was. Down 2-1 and 3-2, battling a team that hacked, whacked, cross-checked, picked pushed and shoved the Wings while continuing to target Nicklas Lidstrom and the Wings’ star players, I remember Jimmy Howard’s big saves, the absolutely vicious nature of what was the nastiest, hardest-fought four-game sweep I’ve witnessed in years…

And I look at the fact that Red Bird II’s scheduled to leave Metro Airport at 6 AM EDT to pick up the Wings to do nothing on Thursday but spend time with their families, and nothing on Friday but practice and watch fans pick up tickets for home games 1, 2 and 3 of Detroit’s second round series when they go on sale at 12 noon.

The Detroit Red Wings don’t begrudge the Phoenix Coyotes’ right to exist, their fans’ right to have a team, or have anything but respect for the way that the Coyotes’ coaches, players and fans have dealt with the ownership uncertainty that simply, and thankfully, isn’t an issue around here. But there’s no way in hell that the Wings would want to allow Shane Doan to take runs at Lidstrom for one more nanosecond than he did, and there’s no way in hell that the Wings have any sympathy for the fact that it’s Detroit who was the first to four wins in what is most certainly the most dangerous round—and that the Wings were the first to four wins in a series where, after the various broadcasts wrapped up, the various “experts” had to admit, “And I picked Phoenix!”

To hell with that. If the Coyotes’ willingness to go out and very deliberately attempt to injure the Wings’ players as part of what they insisted was their “identity” as a team illustrated, the playoffs are war, and you either win or you golf.

So yes, I’ll give Craig Morgan’s plea for some stable ownership a little bandwidth...

The scene was no different than any other Coyotes home loss. Long after every other player had cleared the room. Long after the coaches, equipment staff and media had moved on. Long after the crowds had spilled out onto the freeways, Phoenix captain Shane Doan lingered. The distant gaze of his coffee-brown eyes was the same. So was the anguish as he ran his hands repeatedly through his hair. But there was an added element to this loss that not even the 15-year veteran was prepared to handle – the possibility that it was his last in Phoenix.

“No one’s said it’s done and I don’t really think it is,” he said with as much hope as belief. “There’s always next year. And one year, it will finally be our year.”
“Come playoffs they were still driving it through our brains that we might be moving so it was tough,” defenseman Adrian Aucoin said. “For a guy like me who’s been around for a while it’s one thing to be able to park things, but for some of the younger guys obviously it wasn’t that easy.”
“There needs to be a solution to the situation because it is a competitive disadvantage,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said in a rare admission of off-ice distractions. “We’ve scratched and clawed and I give our group a ton of credit. (We)‘re doing everything in our power to try and win but in the end it probably takes a better situation to give you a chance to win. The way to do that is stable ownership. Stable ownership gives you an atmosphere where you feel you can be successful. I don’t think you can win in this league without it.”

And I’ll give at least a few paragraphs of Bob McManaman’s tribute to Doan a glance…

“Nobody likes to leave their home, ever,” Doan said after the game. “Fifteen years ago, it was an emotional time to leave. When you’re told to leave your home, it’s always difficult.”

The only difference is, back then the Jets and their fans knew it was coming. The relocation to Phoenix was a done deal before the playoffs even began in 1996. This time, there is nothing but uncertainty. Still, there is a very real possibility that if prospective owner Matthew Hulsizer can’t complete his purchase of the team, the Coyotes will relocate back to Winnipeg. As he did as a rookie, Doan will accompany the team to another new home if it is forced to leave.

“I still have a ton of faith that it will get done here,” Doan said, fighting back tears - tears he couldn’t control on the ice after the Coyotes were eliminated and serenaded by fans chanting, “Let’s go Coyotes!” He was the last Coyotes player to leave the ice.
“I have a whole new respect for what guys like Teppo (Numminen) and those guys went through,” Doan said, referring to his longtime former teammate. “When you don’t get a choice, it’s difficult. I’m sure it was difficult for them. But right now, no one has said it’s done and I don’t think it is.”
“It’s a strain. It is,” Doan said. “I don’t care what anybody says. It’s a strain when you deal with your family and people outside (the organization) and then you go and lose a series, 4-0. You don’t get a chance to even think about the year. You have to think about what’s going on next and that’s the part that bugs you because you only get so many years to play this game and you want to enjoy them.”

And I"m even willing to give Coyotes goalie coach Sean Burke’s quip to Dan Bickley, who duly notes that the Coyotes’ prospective owner, Matthew Hulsizer, was in attendance, but will not meet the Goldwater Institute, the group that’s trying to block the Coyotes’ sale, on Thursday, a moment—but only with his own context included:

In the vortex of this gathering tornado, the Coyotes responded with a fabulous effort for most of Wednesday’s game. They skated hard, charged the net, took the fight to a superior team. It still wasn’t enough, and the regret is palpable.

Coyotes goalie coach Sean Burke had a theory on why the team had been missing some intensity earlier in the series. After fighting for their lives to make the postseason, he felt the Coyotes let down once the playoffs arrived, a “whew, we made it” attitude that cost them dearly in the first two games.

“We had been playing playoff hockey for two months,” Burke said. “It seems like we took a little bit of break when the playoffs started. And you can’t ease into a series against the Red Wings.”

By now, the Coyotes should know better. And when Ilya Bryzgalov allowed a soft goal in the final period that broke a 3-3 tie and the hearts of his teammates, Coyotes fans groaned in collective agony. Soon, the on-ice game was over, and now the other game moves into sudden-death overtime.

Regardless of the Coyotes’ obviously difficult off-ice situation, I have no sympathy for them when it comes to being a Red Wings fan who wants to see my team win, and I have no sympathy whatsoever for a team that helped bring the Wings’ playoff run to an early end by pushing Detroit to seven games during the “Jimmy Howard has to spend a year learning on the job” playoff run.

In the Yiddish my Irish Catholic mother picked up from her best friend’s grandmother growing up, Tough Getsetz. Tough luck, tough law. Tough. No sympathy. No, “Aww, sorry.” Not for a second. Not to the team that insisted, after every loss, that it had only yet to begin its miraculous comeback, and even before the series began, that it hadn’t lost to the Wings the previous season—that instead, it had failed to take advantages to win.

Doan had this to say to the Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek about his team dropping its second consecutive playoff series against the Wings in four fewer games than he’d anticipated they would:

“I’ve never been swept four straight – ever,” said Doan. “That’s embarrassing. It’s frustrating, when you think you’re better, but you didn’t show it.”

Patrick Eaves, with two including an empty netter, Tomas Holmstrom and Niklas Kronwall scored the other Detroit goals. Taylor Pyatt, Shane Doan and Martin Hanzal scored for the Coyotes. Hanzal’s goal came on a second-period power-play and briefly gave Phoenix a 3-2 lead. It was their sixth power-play goal on the previous 10 chances, a remarkably efficient run for a team not normally known for its offensive skill or creativity.

But Kronwall got that one back almost right away, on a brilliant wrist shot to the top corner past Bryzgalov’s outstretched glove and it stayed that way until Cleary connected for the third-period go-ahead goal.

“I thought we were going to do a lot better,” said Aucoin, “even down 3-0. There’s no way any of us thought that we were going to get this outcome tonight.”

Bryzgalov did what he had to do while speaking to the Arizona Republic’s Gim Gintonio about giving up five goals on Wednesday and four or more in every one of his starts:

“Team deserved better, better fate, better results tonight,” he said. “I’m the reason why we lose tonight.”

The Coyotes, who twice were not able to hold one-goal leads, gave up scores 2:07 apart late in the third period, marking another frustrating night for Bryzgalov, who again was victimized by Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. Howard has won five consecutive playoff games when matched against the big Russian. Daniel Cleary took advantage when Bryzgalov was out of position and scored the winning goal from a sharp angle with 6:19 remaining as the puck caromed off his leg.

“I just check in the middle of the ice with my shoulder, kind of turn my head and check what’s going on, and when I get back to Cleary again, he’s already shot the puck. The puck hit me in the leg and go to the net. I tried to catch it. I was too late.”

About two minutes after Cleary’s goal, Todd Bertuzzi’s shot hit David Schlemko and skidded past Bryzgalov to wipe out any hope of a Coyotes comeback. Patrick Eaves scored an empty-netter with 35 seconds left for his second goal of the game.

Shane Doan said the Coyotes could not get the game going the way they wanted to; the Red Wings, he said, were able to play their game.

“With this team, I don’t think we really ever questioned the effort,” he said. “It’s always been there, and sometimes we might not have executed as well as wanted to. Tonight, the effort was decent, and it was there, as usual, and we needed to find a way to get that one to get momentum ore on our side.”

The effort was furious. No question about it. Furious and focused and sustained. The Coyotes were and remain a damn good team, no doubt about it. But as Bryzgalov’s teammates defended him while speaking to the Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan...

“For a guy who pretty much got us to the playoffs, I don’t think it’s fair to put anything on him,” defenseman Adrian Aucoin said. “We look at the shots. We look at the chances. Has he played better? Of course he has. But you can’t expect one guy to do everything, and I think we could have been better.”

Even after the less-than-stellar playoff performance, captain Shane Doan still thought Bryzgalov was worthy of the Hart Memorial Trophy, given to the player thought to be most valuable to this team.

“He played unbelievable, especially in the first period when it was 2-1,” Doan said. “He’s arguably one the best players in the playoffs. He’s been our best player for two years. It hasn’t even been close.”

Bryzgalov wasn’t the sole reason the Coyotes lost this series in quick fashion. But it was refreshing for the backbone of the team to acknowledge his part in the demise. Whether he remains a Coyote or tests the free-agent market, this was undoubtedly a turning point for Bryzgalov’s career.

“Clearly, I’ve gotta be better,” he said. “Much better.”

McLellan’s other article about the Coyotes’ ownership situation? It’s not for a Wings blog.

A recap from the Winnipeg Sun’s Paul Friesen—from Winnipeg of all places, for goodness’ sake—which barely mentions the game? That’s just vulgar. I’m old enough to remember the corpse-picking press vultures telling people in Winnipeg that they didn’t “deserve” to have a hockey team, and to now read the Canadian media attempt to insinuate the same for the sake of plucking Peggers’ heartstrings and opening up a wound that’s never really healed?

No, just no. I’m not about to go and tell anyone who “deserves” to have a team and who doesn’t. But I will tell you that I’m damn happy that the Red Wings kicked the Coyotes’ arses, and that I find some cruel irony in the fact that it took eleven games for Doan to admit the following to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:

“They scored more goals than us. They beat us,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “They beat us and we couldn’t get the game going the way we wanted it to, and they did. They beat us.”

That’s how it works. The team that wins four games deserves credit for winning, and while the Wings weren’t perfect by any means, they’re getting their post-season butts in gear and slowly but surely getting their game together, if not ever-so-quietly starting to regain their early-season swagger, and they did so on Wednesday night with neither Henrik Zetterberg (sprained left MCL) or Johan Franzen (sore ankle) in the lineup.

Keith Yandle made a few astute points about the Wings’ effort to the Arizona Republic’s McLellan and McManaman:

One noticeable problem Wednesday for the Coyotes was their inability on several occasions to carry or pass the puck out of their zone. Detroit’s forechecking was relentless, and it led to multiple scoring chances off turnovers, including Patrick Eaves’ goal late in the first period that tied the score at 2. Darren Helm set it up by barreling over Yandle behind the Phoenix net.

“Every guy on their team came hard. They came and they finished you,” Yandle said. “They made their presence and when they’re coming that hard, you know that if you turn it over, they have the skill to put it in the net. If you’re turning it over and playing in your end, they’re going to make you pay.I think they’re going to go far. They’re a good team, and if they play this well the rest of the playoffs, they’re going to do some damage.”
The Coyotes felt they were victim to puck luck at times through the first three games with the Red Wings earning fortuitous bounces, especially in Game 3 with their first two goals beating Bryzgalov off of clunky deflections. They finally got a few breaks in Game 4, namely with Taylor Pyatt’s goal careening in off of Jonathan Ericsson’s skate. But that wasn’t enough to postpone the series to Detroit for a fifth game.

“It’s not like they were getting lucky all series,” Yandle said. “They worked for their luck. You gotta give them credit. They played great. They played hard. We would have liked to win tonight and see what we could have done with it, but obviously the puck luck wasn’t on our side.”

Some puck luck is just puck luck, but most of it is earned. The Coyotes earned their puck luck early and the Wings earned their puck luck later on, so while Bryzgalov insisted that he was the only reason that the Coyotes lost, and that Danny Cleary’s goal was the reason that the Coyotes lost, as noted by NHL.com’s Jerry Brown...

“It was my mistake. The team deserved a better result tonight,” Bryzgalov said. “I’m the reason we lost tonight. I thought overall I played a good game except for this goal. But that’s the mistake that cost us the chance to compete for the next game. They are a hell of a team. They execute well and they have excellent players.”

The Wings begged to differ:

“I had time in the corner, so I looked around to see what was available,” Cleary said. “Bryz is always coming off the post a little, so we always try to shoot from different angles. His knee was kind bent in a 45-degree (angle) there, and I just tried to bank it off him.”
After spotting the Coyotes a 1-0 lead in Game 1, the Red Wings only trailed one other time in the series, when Doan gave the Coyotes a short-lived 2-1 lead in the first period on Wednesday. But even without Johan Franzen (head, ankle) and Henrik Zetterberg (knee), the Red Wings kept applying pressure and dominated the final period.

“It’s funny how it goes,” Cleary said. “When an important player like (Zetterberg) is out, it’s almost like you play smarter, play harder. You realize you’re missing your top offensive guy. Certainly our depth was key for this series. We’re going to need that as time goes on.’‘
“We have a lot of respect for Phoenix,” Bertuzzi said. “They work hard, they play hard and they played with everything they had. But it’s nice to get this series over with, get back to Detroit and get a little bit of a rest here to get ready for the next round.”

Nicklas Lidstrom agreed while speaking to the Associated Press:

“We knew they were going to come out and play with their best effort and I thought they did, but we really wanted to win tonight,” Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said.
Pavel Datsyuk was the cog for Detroit in the first two games, accounting for two goals and five assists on Detroit’s eight scores. The Red Wings had four players score in Game 3 in the desert, all coming within the first 3 minutes of each period. Detroit got a little of both in Game 4: Holmstrom scored his second of the series 3:37 into the game on a how’d-he-see-him, no-look pass from Datsyuk.

This time, the Coyotes responded quickly instead of waiting until the game was out of hand. Pyatt tied it less than 2 minutes after Holmstrom’s goal when his pass across the crease caromed off the skate of Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson past goalie Jimmy Howard, who had no chance.

It went back and forth from there. Doan put the Coyotes up in the series for the first time since early in Game 1 midway through the first, wristing a shot from the right circle that nicked Lidstrom’s skate and squeezed through Howard’s pads over the line, almost in slow motion.

Detroit finished off the wild first period on a mis-hit one-timer by Eaves that still went in after two Coyotes got knocked to the ice behind the goal. Phoenix got the early period goal in the second, scoring on a power play 1:09 in, when Radim Vrbata hit Hanzal for an easy goal with Howard on the other side of the crease. Again, the Red Wings answered, with Kronwall punching in a rebound on a power play 3 1/2 minutes later.

“We didn’t lose our composure,” Bertuzzi said. “They came at us a couple times and got some big goals, but I thought we really stayed with it.”

As Cleary told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan, it was the Wings who learned their lesson from last time these two teams met…

“We saw the effect of a long series last year,” said Danny Cleary, noting the Wings went seven games against Phoenix then had to immediately jump into the series against San Jose, which the Wings lost in five games. “This is huge. We wanted to close it out right away.”

And Mike Modano subbing for Franzen? No problem. He earned an assist on Tomas Holmstrom’s game-opening goal and played well all night long:

“There was some excitement to get back in there,” said Modano, who had an assist and two shots on goal in 11:25 of ice time.
“Mo played great, better than I thought he’d play,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He was physical, shot the puck, and skated well and that’s a good sign for us.”

Sitting and watching hasn’t been easy for Modano, who lost three months this season with a lacerated right wrist. Modano, a Westland native, signed with his hometown Wings last summer, hoping for one more chance at a Stanley Cup. Not getting to play has been difficult.

“It’s tough to deal with at this point in my career and my life, it’s a challenge,” Modano said. “(But) you have to be ready and try to stay mentally sharp and stay positive and know that weird things can happen and your opportunity can happen again, and when it does, hopefully the night goes like this.”

He looked so good that he may push somebody for a job come the next round.

But he wouldn’t be talking about a successful outing if Jimmy Howard and the Wings hadn’t been able to overcome their “bad puck luck,” as Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji noted:

Unlike previous games, the Coyotes got the next two goals, both off the skates of Wings’ defensemen. The first, credited to Taylor Pyatt, went off Jonathan Ericsson, and the second, credited to Coyotes captain Shane Doan, went off Nick Lidstrom.

“I thought we were very patient tonight,” goaltender Jimmy Howard told FOX Sports Detroit’s John Keating after the game. “We knew they were going to come out emotional, they were throwing everything at the net, they had a couple go in off skates. It’s part of the playoffs. Bounces like that are going to happen. We stayed the course and we found a way to win.”
“You’re up 3-0, you have them where you want them but we realized that an elimination game, closing a team out, is the hardest game to play in,” Cleary told Keating. “They gave us a good push tonight, we were able just to push back a little harder and we got the win.”

This time it was Howard whose clutch saves kept the Wings in it and kept them tied before Cleary’s goal allowed them to pull ahead, and Howard wasn’t backing down after the game regarding the hard lessons learned a year ago at this time:

“It’s all about believing in yourself and I believe in myself and I believe in my teammates,” Howard said. That’s all that matters. I know what it takes just by watching it and just by being out here last year was a good lesson for me. It’s just one of those things where I want it bad.”

Howard knows that it’s not enough to win one round in the playoffs. Keating tried to get the normally easygoing Howard to crack a smile, but Howard would have none of it.

“I’ll smile in June,” Howard said.

The Wings gave Howard full marks while speaking to Fox Sports Arizona’s Craig Lumia:

“I thought he played really well for us the whole series,” defenseman Niklas Lidstrom said.

Babcock said Howard has made significant strides since last season.

“With more experience, you get better,” Babock said. “We gave him a lot of run support. That builds your confidence.”

The Red Wings were anxious to close out the Coyotes, not only to keep them from gaining a spark of momentum, but to keep themselves fresh for what’s to come.

“You just want to get the series done as fast as you can,” Babcock said.

So the Wings were able to point out that they did a pretty damn good job of getting to Phoenix early and often, and then stuck with it when luck didn’t go their way, as the Free Press’s Helene St. James noted…

Coach Mike Babcock: “I thought it was a good game by our team. In the first period, obviously, a couple goals went in off our feet and we didn’t have good sticks, but we played a good first period as well, because they’re charged up, they’re fired up and we outshot them 12-6.”

Bertuzzi: “We got a lot of respect for that team over there. They work hard, they play hard, they’re a tough opponent and they played with everything they had and you got to tip your hats off to them, but it’s nice to get it over with, get to Detroit and get a little bit of rest here and get ourselves ready (for the next round).”

And Nicklas Lidstrom told St. James that his team simply remained composed as the Coyotes gave Detroit all it could handle…

“We knew they were going to come out with a strong effort and play their best game, and I thought they did, too,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “But we really wanted to win tonight and not have to go back and play a fifth game in Detroit. We put ourselves in a great position heading into the third period by being tied in the game and them having the pressure to win tonight. We stayed patient, stayed with our game plan.”

As Lidstrom suggested, the team’s depth came through in a big way…

The first round showed just how well the Wings are able to plug even big holes, as 13 players scored and 16 of 19 skaters came away with at least one point. From Pavel Datsyuk dazzling with a no-look pass to Darren Helm making huge hits to getting contributions from every line and every defensive pairings, along with solid goaltending from Jimmy Howard, the simply overpowered the Coyotes.

“I think it just shows the depth that we have, and not having to rely on a couple of guys to score all the time,” Lidstrom said. “That makes it harder to play against us, makes it harder to match up against us.”

And Helm was indeed a wrecking ball:

Bryzgalov made a huge save on Bertuzzi when he attempted to tip Niklas Kronwall’s pass late in the first period, but the Wings’ fourth line delivered the tying goal with just over a minute to play in the period when Helm knocked the puck off Keith Yandle with a crushing hit and then took the puck out front and swung it on net for Eaves to tip.

“I like to finish my checks, and I saw a great opportunity to get a hit on Yandle,” Helm said. “The puck was laying there and I was able to come around the net and find Patty, back-door.”

As such, Mike Modano was able to sound like an enthusiastic youngster, as the Detroit News’s Kulfan noted...

“It was fun being out there,” Modano said. “You have to be ready when you get that call and fill in and you don’t want to let your teammates down. There was a sense of urgency, to say the least.”

Cleary and Bertuzzi could reiterate their points of emphasis…

“It’s very important, considering we have players who are hurt,” said Danny Cleary, who broke a 3-3 tie with a sharp angle goal at 13:41 of the third period. “This is huge. We wanted to close it out right away against a good hockey team and we did.”

Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi scored late goals 1:53 apart, and Patrick Eaves added an empty-net goal — his second goal of the game — as the Wings broke open a close game.

“We didn’t lose our composure,” Bertuzzi said. “They came back on us a couple of times and got some big goals. We really stayed with it, great discipline and really patient and it paid off.”

And as for the gamer? Cleary explained why he did what he did to MLive’s Ansar Khan:

Cleary snapped a 3-3 tie on a shot from the corner, just behind the goal line, that bounced in off of the leg of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.

“We talked about it,’’ Cleary said. “Bryz likes to get off his post a lot. I had time in the corner, I looked and saw he was cheating a little, so I tried to bank it off him.’‘

Bank, goal, series:

“It’s a good series for us, anytime you can win four straight and not risk getting hurt,’’ Babcock said. “I thought tonight was our best game.’‘
“Stuff’s going to happen out there,’’ Howard said. “The first two went off skates and the third one was a tremendous passing play on the power play. It’s important you keep the right mind frame and continue to battle and make saves for the guys.’‘

The Red Wings were too resilient to be denied in the third period.

“I thought our third period we just stuck to it,’’ Babcock said. “They’re pressing, they’re trying to score, they know they’re on the ropes. We’re allowed to be more patient and wait for opportunities.’‘

Cleary made an intriguing comment to the CBC’s series blogger...

“We talk about there’s no switch, but I think we step up at certain times in big games and big situations,” Cleary said. “Everyone loves playoff time, especially in this locker room. It’s the most important time, the most fun time.”

Who took note of nothing less than a fantastic statistic…

Minus regular-season scoring leader Henrik Zetterberg due to a sprained left knee, 13 different Red Wings scored goals during series, with Cleary, Kronwall, Todd Bertuzzi and Patrick Eaves notching their first tallies of the series in the Game 4 triumph. Eaves scored twice.

“It’s definitely that time of year when you need contribution from everyone,” Detroit forward Drew Miller said. “Having Z out of the lineup, different guys need to step up and I think as a whole everyone is preparing to play a little harder in the playoffs. I think all year the third and fourth lines, we work hard and try to generate offensive zone presence and take the body. The playoffs, now we’re taking it to the next level and chipping in offensively. It’s just a bonus for the team.”

Before noting that the Wings didn’t seem as much vindicated as plain old relieved to have this segment of what they hope is a long playoff marathon done and over with:

“I kind of remember last year,” Wings centre Pavel Datsyuk said. “It takes lots of time, lots of travel, takes our energy away.’‘

“We’re going to get a few days here before the next series, and I think it’s big for us to get some guys back,” Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “We really wanted to win to get those guys a few days rest.”

Is there an “even better” answer to the open question Lidstrom essentially poses? You bet your sweet bippy, and you only have to read the end of the Free Press’s Michael Rosenberg’s sixteen paragraphs of blather and bluster to learn it:

Wings coach Mike Babcock said of Franzen (ankle) and Zetterberg: “Oh, they’ll be ready to go.”

Then he said: “Obviously we’re a way better team if we’ve got Mule and Z.”

So the Wings may earn as much as a week’s worth of rest and recuperation time, as well as time with their families (which is rare as can be during the playoffs), which is nothing less than essential, as the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa ever-so-humorously suggests in his keys to the game…

As Babcock says, there is no such thing as a best of seven, it is a race to win four. As Scotty Bowman said, much about winning the Stanley Cup involves playing the fewest games and making those games easy.

After losing the sixth and seventh game of the finals to Pittsburgh in 2009, when they could have won a consecutive Stanley Cup, and enduring all of the injures of 2009-10 and the uneven play and injuries of 2010-11, it may be that those hockey gods are beginning to nod toward the Wings and smile.

Four-game sweep of Phoenix, when most thought it would take six or seven, and now they are the only team still playing in the NHL who does not have an opponent, and will not for a week. My prediction? The wives are all tired of having them home after five days.

Not necessarily, though I’m sure that the Wings’ players will, as Danny Cleary suggested to FSD’s Keating after the game, cheering for every other series to “go long,” and I suppose this one statistic from PhoenixCoyotes.com’s Dave Vest is worth savoring, if only for a moment…

The Coyotes were swept in a playoff series for the first time since moving to Phoenix in 1996-97. The franchise has now lost 13 consecutive playoff series, dating back to the 1986-87 Winnipeg Jets.

And here are a few more stats and quips of note from DetroitRedWings.com’s Michael Caples:

5: Shots by Dan Cleary, tops for the Wings.
57: Consecutive postseason games the Wings have won when recording four or more goals.

18: Shots taken by the Wings in the third period. Phoenix had 11.

I might suggest that the Coyotes’ stat-keepers were just as charitable in the hitting department as Detroit’s, if not more so…

Overlooked stat: The Coyotes tried to control the play in Game 4 by winning in the hits count, but the Wings battled through. Phoenix out-hit the Wings 37-17 Wednesday night, with Doan leading the way (11 hits). Tomas Holmstrom led the Wings with three hits; four other Detroit skaters had two.

But the bottom line remains that the Detroit Red Wings improved, for the most part, over the course of every game, and aside from their penalty-killing issues, there are no glaring errors in the game of a team that has nothing but a little R&R&R—rest, relaxation/recuperation, and reinforcements—on their minds as they prepare for the next “race to four”:

“Oh they’ll be ready to go, which is good. Obviously we’re a way better team if we have Mule and Z. We’re way deeper; we’re on three or four lines now because [Darren Helm’s] line is so good now, so that will really help us out.”

- Mike Babcock on how the break before the second round begins will help injured forwards Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg.

The Wings will have a stronger lineup, refreshed bodies and minds and a fully playoff-ready game in hand when they resume play sometime next week, and while the “rest versus rust” factor is always a bit of a concern, the pluses outweigh the minuses when you’re talking about a “rusty” team coming back to play with Franzen and Zetterberg good to go.

This wasn’t about defeating Phoenix’s NHL dreams or disrespecting their fans by bringing that stupid “deserve to have a team” line into the equation. This series was about learning from past mistakes while playing the team you made them against, and it was about showing more composure when the Coyotes chose to make it more than business, and more than just a playoff war.

When the Coyotes chose to start deliberately running the Wings’ captain, Wings fans probably knew that Phoenix’s playoff run was numbered in days, and then hours, because if the Wings can do one thing better than any other team, and only one thing, it’s keeping its collective and individuals’ composure. The Wings stay focused on winning the game on the ice and sticking with it when things don’t go their way on the scoreboard, and they prevailed because the Red Wings were nothing but relentlessly and sometimes viciously patient.

So now they’ll rest up, recharge and get ready to go, understanding that they’ll have no edges upon their next opponent save the ones they’ve already got, and when it comes to composure…Sometimes you have to know when to be patient and when to cross-check your opponent where it has no padding. In the Coyotes’ case, that was the crease, and the Wings will spend the next few days learning where to apply pressure to prospective foes.

And as for Phoenix fans? As I said earlier, even this Jets fan hopes that you keep the team I’d argue you more than “deserve” to call your own and more than “deserve” to ensure that the Coyotes call Phoenix home.


Highlights: ESPN posted a 1:01 highlight clip;

TSN posted a 3:05 highlight clip which includes some post-game comments from Shane Doan;

Sportsnet posted a 3:33 highlight clip;

NBC posted a 3:20 highlight clip;

The CBC posted a 1:41 highlight clip;

And NHL.com’s highlight clip is narrated by Versus’ announcers:

Post-game: The CBC posted a quick pre-game intro, a profile of Shane Doan, their After 40 Minutes segment, and their 8:35 game wrap-up includes interviews with Nicklas Lidstrom and Coyotes coach Dave Tippett;

Fox Sports Arizona posted clips of coach Dave Tippett’s post-game presser, Shane Doan’s on-ice interview, Jody Jackson and Tyson Nash’s recap and a post-game standing ovation;

The Coyotes’ website posted audio clips of Keith Yandle and Adrian Aucoin speaking about the loss, as well as Dave Tippett’s post-game presser:


Fox Sports Detroit posted Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond’s recap, as well as a montage of interviews with Nicklas Lidstrom, Jimmy Howard, Danny Cleary and a short clip of Mike Babcock’s post-game presser;

The Red Wings’ website posted Mike Babcock’s post-game presser:


NHL.com posted the handshake line…


NHL “On the Fly’s” take on the game:


And Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating’s interviews with Nicklas Lidstrom…


And Jimmy Howard:


Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 22-image gallery;

The Detroit News posted a 36-image gallery;

The Arizona Republic posted a 36-image game gallery and a 34-image fan gallery;

Fox Sports Arizona posted a 14-image gallery;

Fox Sports Detroit posted an 8-image gallery;

Yahoo Sports posted a 56-image gallery;

NHL.com posted a 14-image gallery;

The CBC posted a 9-image gallery in its website’s recap;

The Coyotes’ website posted a 13-image gallery and embedded an image in its website’s recap;

And the Red Wings’ website posted a 15-image gallery and embedded an image in its website’s recap.

Final Stats:

Shots 39-27 Detroit overall, breaking down as 12-6 Detroit in the 1st period, 10-9 Phoenix in the 2nd period and 18-11 Detroit in the 3rd period.

The Wings went 1-for-3 in 4:20 of PP time; the Coyotes went 1-for-2 in 3:30 of PP time.

Howard stopped 24 of 27, and Bryzgalov stopped 34 of 39, with the Wings getting their last goal in an empty net.

The 3 stars: Filppula, Doan, and Cleary, per the “Coyotes Broadcasting Network.”

Our Goals: Holmstrom (2) from Datsyuk (4) and Modano (1);

Eaves (1) from Helm 92);

Kronwall (1) from Cleary (1) and Hudler (2), PPG;

Cleary (1) from Filppula (3) and Bertuzzi (2);

Bertuzzi (1) from Cleary (2) and Filppula (4);

Eaves (4), unassisted.

Faceoffs: 36-30 Phoenix (45% won by Detroit);

Blocked shots: 13-13;

Missed shots: 19-16 Detroit (total attempted shots 70-56 Detroit);

Hits: 37-17 Phoenix;

Giveaways: 10-4 Phoenix;

Takeaways: 3-3.

Individual stats:

Faceoffs: Filppula went 11-and-10 (52%); Datsyuk went 10-and-11 (48%); Draper went 4-and-11 (27%); Abdelkader went 3-and-2 (60%); Helm went 1-and-1 (50%); Cleary lost his only faceoff; Eaves won his only faceoff.

Shots: Cleary led the team with 5 shots; Eaves, Helm and Bertuzzi had 4; Filppula had 3; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Miller, Stuart, Kronwall, Modano and Holmstrom had 2; Abdelkader, Salei, Hudler, Rafalski and Ericsson had 1.

Blocked attempts: Modano had 3 attempted shots blocked by Coyotes players; Rafalski and Helm had 2 attempts blocked; Eaves, Miller, Stuart, Bertuzzi, Filppula and Holmstrom had single shot attempts blocked.

Missed shots: Cleary and Rafalski missed the net 3 times; Stuart missed the net 2 times; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Eaves, Miller, Salei, Draper, Helm, Bertuzzi, Ericsson and Kronwall missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Holmstrom led the team with 3 hits; Abdelkader, Rafalski, Helm and Filppula had 2; Cleary, Datsyuk, Miller, Salei, Kronwall and Modano had 1.

Giveaways: Datsyuk, Stuart, Rafalski and Ericsson had 1 giveaway.

Takeaways: Only Datsyuk, Helm and Bertuzzi were credited with takeaways.

Blocked opponent shots: Lidstrom blocked 4 shots; Stuart blocked 3; Salei and Bertuzzi blocked 2; Rafalski and Draper blocked 1.

Penalties taken: Stuart took 2 minor penalties.

Plus-minus: Abdelkader, Rafalski and Ericsson finished at -1; Lidstrom, Cleary, Datsyuk, Eaves, Helm, Modano and Holmstrom finished at +1; Stuart, Salei, Draper and Filppula finished at +2; Kronwall finished at +3.

Points: Cleary registered a goal and 2 assists for 3 points; Eaves had 2 goals; Kronwall had 2 assists; Bertuzzi had a goal and an assist; Kronwall and Holmstrom scored goals; Datsyuk, Hudler, Helm and Modano had assists.

Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 23:02 played; Lidstrom played 21:41; Rafalski played 21:14;

Filppula played 20:47; Datsyuk played 19:19; Stuart played 18:18;

Ericsson played 18:00; Salei played 17:54; Cleary played 17:17;

Bertuzzi played 16:33; Holmstrom played 14:44; Abdelkader played 14:05;

Eaves played 14:03; Helm played 13:42; Hudler played 12:03;

Draper played 11:55; Modano played 11:25; Miller played 10:28.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Yeesh, George, do what you urged the Wings to do, and get some rest!  After a late game like that, and a SWEEP like that, we can all wait for your famous detailed recaps.  There’s no hurry, nobody’s chewing our fingernails in nervous anticipation anymore.  Especially not as the soonest we’re back in action will be next Tuesday (Schmucks-Bubba will go at least to Game 6 on Sunday).

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 04/21/11 at 08:33 AM ET

sloaner's avatar

I’m normally with George and after a series all the “game hate” drains away and I’m left with respect… but… Shane Doan is kind of a tool.  He is unable to give respect, even when he is kneeling before Zod.  “They scored more.”  Yes they did.  They also worked just as hard—if not harder—and refused to resort to cheap shots.  You can do all the hard checks you want, but when you start cross-checking the classiest guy in the game, hockey karma is out to get you.  At least there’s plenty of courses in Phoenix.

Posted by sloaner from Los Angeles, CA on 04/21/11 at 09:07 AM ET

Tuba Guy's avatar

What’s with l the general zod references lately?

Posted by Tuba Guy from Royal Oak, MI on 04/21/11 at 09:17 AM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

I’ll give Doan one thing—if the stats are correct, then in Game 4 he really went all-out to avoid getting knocked out of the playoffs.  That’s heart, and you can’t teach that.

In all other things, however, he’s stll a dick.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 04/21/11 at 10:19 AM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

Thanks George - - especially since I missed most of the fauxing game.

Shane Doan is a tool.

Fixt Sloaner.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 04/21/11 at 10:49 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

”...but we really wanted to win tonight,” Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said.

From Jimmah:  “...It’s just one of those things where I want it bad.”

Yep, they wanted it and it showed, and this applies to the entire team.  I don’t anticipate any let down in the next round.

George, for goodness’ sake you are amazing!  This was a tremendous recap.  Hope you have nothing planned but sleep today.


Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 04/21/11 at 12:45 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

“They scored more goals than us. They beat us,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “They beat us and we couldn’t get the game going the way we wanted it to, and they did. They beat us.”

Maybe if Doan would have been willing to admit that last year… Maybe if he would have acknowledged that when he lost game 1… 2… 3…. He wouldn’t be hitting the links this morning.

I know a team like Phoenix can’t give a team like Detroit too much respect, but you do need to give them some.  Perhaps if Doan had been a little more humble and a little less focused on running people we’d be talking about game six in a few days. 

The guy has been nothing but an arrogant windbag, I don’t care how many goals he scored in the series.  Screw that guy, I hope he does go back to Winnipeg.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 04/21/11 at 01:40 PM ET

calquake's avatar

What I don’t understand aboot the ‘Yotes series gameplan was their insistance on playing overly physical, even when by game 3 it was evident it wasn’t working.  Tippett, I thought, was way smarter than that.  If the ‘Yotes had played more hockey with less emphasis on trying to knock the snot out of every Wing player, I believe they would have been better served.  Not to win the series but to at least extend it.  Maybe Tippett felt they couldn’t compete with the Wings talent-wise and felt their only chance was physically wearing the Wings down.  Whatever it was, it wasn’t a very good gameplan and I suspect later opponents won’t be copying the ‘Yotes style.

Posted by calquake from a.k.a. Uniquake, workin' on my manifesto on 04/21/11 at 03:40 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Unbelievabe, George.  What an outstanding recap.  Now get some R&R&R yourself.  Well done, mate.  Well done.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 04/21/11 at 04:09 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.