The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/09/11 at 01:23 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings’ 5-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night illustrated how the Wings play when they are at their very best…And how darn hard it still is for the Wings to pay attention to detail when their attention span starts to waiver and wander.
The Wings raced out to a fantastic 5-0 first period lead thanks to nothing less than an elegant exploitation of the Coyotes’ error-prone defense, plucking pucks away and capitalizing on turnovers, cycling said puck and then putting it into the back of the net past Mike Smith and Jason Labarbera.
The Wings both lurked in the Coyotes’ slot and utilized the Blashill Tweak, if you will, in tossing the puck laterally from one faceoff dot to the other, smartly finding seams in the Coyotes’ coverage and burying one-timers, and the first period was nothing less than a work of art…
But the artistically-inclined Wings succumbed to human nature in the second and third periods—against an incredibly proud and resilient Coyotes team—and the Wings allowed Phoenix’s forwards (led by Shane Doan, Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata, who were nothing less than fantastic) and puck-moving defense to impose their will on a slightly sloppily and poorly-executed level of competition.
As beautiful as Bertuzzi, Filppula, Holmstrom, Helm and Hudler’s goals were, Jimmy Howard’s saves—he stopped 30 of 32 shots—saved the Wings’ asses on more than one occasion, especially in the second period and when one might argue that some even-up calls came into the play in the 3rd, with the Wings withstanding three power plays on top of that second period 5-on-3, but the Wings’ attention span eventually stirred and the team closed things out by getting back to basics…
And the basics led them over Phoenix, from start to finish. The Wings’ transition game, which all but disappeared as they attempted to skate into instead of through Colorado and St. Louis’s defensemen, reappeared because smart one-touch passes via the Wings’ defense found forwards charging through the neutral zone with speed, and those forwards either carried the puck in or dumped it and retrieved it via a hard-charging forecheck, eventually engaging in looping, circling and rotate-into-my-spot plays which absolutely destroyed Mike Smith and took the Yotes out of the game early.
That being said, again, the Wings gave up 20 shots over the last 40 minutes of play (and 32 overall), they did struggle a bit to contain the Coyotes on the PK and they did lose some down-low battles of their own. Some of the Wings’ mistakes and their own turnovers stemmed from human nature as it’s bloody hard to keep playing at an elite level of intensity and effort when you’re up by two goals, but at the same time, nobody wants to allow their opponent back into the game, and if Howard hadn’t been as sharp as he was, and if the Wings hadn’t gotten a few breaks, they would have felt particularly sore about a game in which a playoff opponent found a way to make things, as Mike Babcock might say, “sporty.”
All in all, however, the Wings ended their 2-game losing streak in fine fashion, and the only scary part involved losing Pavel Datsyuk to a “lower-body injury,” albeit for precautionary reasons.
Regarding Datsyuk, Wings coach Mike Babcock told WXYT that Datsyuk left early as he was “a bit sore” going onto the game, he stayed sore and the Wings felt they should take him out, and will give him Friday off. Babcock further told the Free Press’s Helene St. James that Datsyuk “got a bump” the other day but will be fine, saying he didn’t suffer a tear or anything else…
Going forward, especially given that Hockey Night in Canada will be in town on Saturday for the Jets game and the Wings-Penguins tilt on Tuesday, in Pittsburgh, possibly with a Crosby return thrown in—after two full days off that the Wings need pretty badly given their grueling schedule since, really, before Thanksgiving—the Wings need to crank up their attention to detail and levels of fit, finish and all-around effort over 60 minutes of play so that they can feel good about themselves heading into two more road trips’ worth of games and their pre-Christmas rush.
The Wings have 11 games to play over the next 22 days, so good habit-forming play is very necessary to conserve energy and generate some momentum as the Wings attempt to keep up with and eventually surpass their Western Conference foes’ point totals.
Tonight’s effort was both a streak-breaking relief and a good start toward a productive end’s cause, but that’s all it was.
Shots 32-32 overall: the Wings and Coyotes were tied with 12 shots apiece in the 1st; the Coyotes out-shot the Wings 9-8 in the 2nd, and the Wings out-shot the Yotes 12-11 in the 3rd.
Jimmy Howard stopped 30 of the 32 shots he faced; Mike Smith gave up 4 goals on 11 shots; Jason Labarbera stopped 20 of 21.
The Red Wings went 1 for 5 in 8:53 of PP time; the Coyotes went 1 for 4 in 8:18 of PP time, including 50 seconds of a 5-on-3.
The 3 stars, per FSD’s Dana Wakiji, were Chris Conner, Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula.
The Wings’ goals:
Bertuzzi (2) from Datsyuk (17);
Filppula (9) from Zetterberg (11) and Hudler (12);
Holstrom (5) from White (8) and Datsyuk (18), power play;
Helm (4) from Conner (1) and Kindl (6);
Hudler (4) from Zetterberg (12) and Filppula (14).
Blocked shots 11-9 Detroit;
Missed shots 13-12 Phoenix (total shot attempts 56-51 Phoenix);
Giveaways 6-5 Phoenix;
Takeaways 6-4 Detroit.
Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 10-and-8 (56%); Datsyuk went 7-and-7 (50%); Helm went 6-and-7 (46%); Filppula went 3-and-3; Abdelkader went 3-and-1 (75%); Franzen went 1-and-2 (33%); Miller lost the 2 faceoffs he took.
Shots: Lidstrom led the team with 5 shots; Franzen had 4; Kindl, Helm and Kronwall had 3; White, Stuart, Bertuzzi and Holmstrom had 2; Abdelkader, Cleary, Miller, Hudler, Zetterberg and Filppula had 1.
Blocked attempts: Lidstrom, Datsyuk and Zetterberg had 2 shot attempts blocked by Coyotes players; Cleary, Hudler and Holmstrom had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Kronwall missed the net 3 times; Holmstrom missed the net 2 times; Kindl, Abdelkader, Hudler, Zetterberg, Conner, Helm and Filppula missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Stuart led the team with 6 hits; Abdelkader had 3; Helm had 2; Kindl, Cleary, Miller, Bertuzzi, Ericsson and Franzen had 1.
Giveaways: Zetterberg and Howard had 2 giveaways; Franzen had 1.
Takeaways: Cleary, Miller, Hudler, Zetterberg, Helm and Filppula had 1 takeaway apiece.
Blocked shots: Ericsson blocked 3 shots; White and Stuart had 2; Kindl, Lidstrom, Datsyuk and Kronwall had 1.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished a collective +15, with Stuart finishing at +2 and Kindl, Lidstrom, Cleary, Datsyuk, Hudler, Zetterberg, Conner, Helm, Bertuzzi, Filppula and Franzen finished at +1.
Penalties taken: Cleary was tagged for 2 minor penalties; Kindl and Kronwall took 1, and the Wings were tagged with a bench minor for too many men on the ice.
Points: Datsyuk and Zetterberg had 2 assists apeice; Filppula had a goal and an assist; Helm, Bertuzzi and Holmstrom had goals; Kindl, White and Conner had assists.
Ice time: White led the team with 23:49 played; Lidstrom played 21:49; Kronwall played 20:52;
Franzen played 20:29; Stuart played 19:46; Filppula played 16:57;
Zetterberg played 16:53; Kindl played 16:43; Ericsson played 16:18;
Bertuzzi played 16:08; Holmstrom played 14:53; Helm played 14:20;
Hudler played 13:54; Datsyuk played 12:16; Cleary played 12:12;
Abdelkader played 11:58; Conner played 11:18; Miller played 10:17.
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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.