The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/07/12 at 07:26 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings chose to remain in Phoenix after dropping a 3-1 loss to a potential playoff opponent, sitting a little less pretty in the Western Conference standings (three points ahead of the Canucks and four ahead ofthe Nashville Predators), and at least by judging from the comments made in the quick take and Mark Spector’s Nicklas Lidstrom story, we’re going to get a little philosophical prior to jumping into the Coyotes and Wings’ press’s takes on the game, so that means a necessary jump cut for the uninterested to opt out of:
Put simply, Wings fans seem a little torn about the Wings’ two-game losing streak heading into a rematch with the team the Wings lost to on Saturday in the Edmonton Oilers, who dropped a 6-3 decision to Toronto, when the Wings kick off a 6-game home stand on Wednesday.
The Wings’ consecutive losses drop the team to .500 on the road again, and the Wings’ special teams continue to struggle, having given up a short-handed goal and registering one power play goal over the course of 8 opportunities on Saturday and Monday; neither Ty Conklin nor Joey MacDonald have shone in the net while trying to win the back-up’s spot behind an injured Jimmy Howard, but they haven’t received much help from an incredibly mistake-prone defense; after “getting started on time” against Vancouver, the Wings have dropped consecutive 2-0 leads, etc. etc. Discontent, how do I count the ways that we’re feeling it?
I don’t believe that Red Wings fans panicking over a two-game losing streak is the end of the world. While I’d caution anyone who wishes to jump off the bandwagon of a team that owns a 9-2-and-1 record over the past 12 games that their desire to abandon their team might be a little premature in nature, I also believe that Wings fans aren’t “spoiled” if they appreciate and plan old enjoy every minute of the team’s 20-plus-year stretch of dominance, and I think that it’s healthy for fans’ expectations to remain sky-high about a team which has afforded Wings fans the opportunity to hold their team to a higher standard.
As such, Saturday and Monday’s efforts shouldn’t cut it in terms of meeting fans’ expectations as far as I’m concerned, and while I’d caution against overly negative remarks, especially given that the Wings could be tangling with the Predators for Central Division a week from Friday because blowing two games against “inferior” opponents taken too lightly can count that much down the line, criticism of the Wings going into an all-important home stand, Howard’s absence during both games and Stuart’s flu-induced absence on Monday included, is warranted here.
Now let’s get into both sides’ takes on this game:
For the Coyotes and 1,200-game veteran Ray Whitney, back-to-back wins against San Jose and Detroit—and ending a 7-game regular-season losing streak against the Wings while closing out their own 6-game home stand on a high note—mean that they’re going into Dallas tomorrow two points behind the 8th-place Minnesota Wild, and they spoke glowingly of Mike Smith’s 30-save effort and the team’s mentality going forward while speaking to the Arizona Republic’s Jim Gintonio...
“The psyche moving ahead is to continue to play well,” coach Dave Tippett said. “Smitty has been very strong in goal for us. I thought we competed very hard in front of him. We talked about it after the San Jose game. We’ve to get on a string here. We’ve got to put some wins together. Another big challenge (tonight) in Dallas, but to win these two games at home before we leave on the road is a positive step. We have to use that momentum to our advantage.”
The Coyotes have won three of their past four, but it was the first time since Dec. 20-21 that they won back-to-back games. It also was their first win over Detroit this season in the four-game series.
“It’s kind of been a struggle this year, too, finding ways to beat this team,” Smith said. “They’re obviously an elite team in this league, and any game against them is going to be hard to win, but we were gritty tonight. We found a way to get a win tonight on home ice when it’s needed the most. We had a great effort from a lot of our guys tonight, so that’s going to be key down the stretch here.”
At the 7:22 mark of the first period with the Red Wings on a power play, Boyd Gordon took control of a loose puck, taking a circuitous route toward goaltender Joey MacDonald, then cut across the ice to score the game’s first goal.
“They came up the left side, and they tried to shift the puck over to the far side,” Gordon said. ” ... I got a break, and I had some time to settle the puck down. I was originally going to shoot it, but I changed my mind at the last second and made a deke move, and fortunately it went in the net.”
Smith said consecutive wins over two top teams is a huge morale boost.
“To be the best you got to beat the best, and we’re going to have to beat a lot of teams that are ahead of us to get into the playoffs,” he said. “We got to find ways to get wins right now.”
And it Gintonio pointed out that registering a power play goal and a short-handed marker didn’t hurt for the league’s worst power play unit:
A power-play goal credited to Martin Hanzal after a shot by Ray Whitney pushed the Coyotes to a 2-0 lead in the second period. It provided a big sigh of relief for his teammates and coach Dave Tippett.
“There’s three things on the power play I think we need,” Tippett said. “We have to make sure the work ethic and the competitive levels are there for loose pucks. There’s execution to create scoring plays, and then there’s the finish. That’s where we’ve been missing. We track a lot of the scoring chances ... we’re not putting the pucks in the net. I was good to see. We kind of got a cheap one on them. You need traffic, you need pucks going at the net, that’s an area that every day we practice it at some point. We’re trying to find solutions.”
Hanzal smiled when asked the power play goal, his first of two scores on the night.
“I got a present from Whits because he hit me in the shin pads, but I was doing my job… I think the power play was a huge goal for us.”
The puck also riffled off the cuff of Joey MacDonald’s catch glove as he tried to turn it to get underneath the puck, but hey, that happens.
PhoenixCyotes.com’s Dave Vest provided something of a game narrative while highlighting the high points of NHL.coms Jerry Brown’s recap while adding a few quotes of his own…
Hanzal and Gordon have combined for four goals and seven points in the last two games as the Coyotes scored rare back-to-back wins over San Jose (5-3 on Saturday) and the Red Wings, who had won seven straight over Phoenix – including four straight in last year’s playoffs – and hadn’t lost to Phoenix since Mar. 5, 2011. And with the two defensive-minded pivots around to check lines led by Joe Thornton and Logan Couture of San Jose and Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg of Detroit, the Coyotes had a more even playing field to work with.
“You look at the last two games and those guys are playing against the two lines and that’s no easy chore,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “When you have Thornton and Couture and then you have Datsyuk and Zetterberg – it shows how much they mean to our team and how much we missed them when they were out.”
Four big points in 48 hours inched the Coyotes within two points of eighth-place Minnesota in the West and within a point of ninth-place Dallas – where the Coyotes will be Tuesday night to take on the Stars. It also ended a season-long, six-game homestand that started with an overtime loss to Detroit and included bitter losses to Tampa Bay and Anaheim on a happy note.
• Forward Ray Whitney chipped in two assists in his 1,200th NHL game. Whitney leads the Coyotes with 47 points.
Martin Hanzal: “It was frustrating to sit and not be able to help when the team had to play all those road games… Now I have a chance to make an impact. I am healthy and there are no excuses. I want to be a leader and help us win.”
Mike Smith: “We were gritty tonight. To be the best, we’re going to have to beat the best and we’re going to have to beat the teams ahead of us to get into the playoffs.”
Joey MacDonald: “I think we started a little slow. It’s been a long road trip for the guys and I think as the game went on we got our wheels underneath us. We got some good chances; we’ve just got to get a little more traffic in front.”
And Fox Sports Arizona’s Craig Morgan duly noted the subtext regarding the Coyotes’ win—it gave Phoenix a confidence-booster en route to a possible third straight first-round meeting with Detroit:
The Coyotes might be able to climb as high as No. 7 if they can turn in more efforts like Monday’s 3-1 win, but No. 8 is a more likely destination. Either way, a rematch of the rematch looks likely, which means a jam-packed Jobing.com Arena where you have to squint to determine who’s who among the similar shades of red.
“Everywhere Detroit goes, the stadium is a mixed bag with lots of Red Wing fans,” coach Dave Tippett said.
If they do meet again, at least the Coyotes finally have something to hang their hats on. After dropping seven straight to the Wings—including last season’s first-round playoff sweep—the Coyotes did all the little things Tippett has been preaching to withstand a 31-shot Detroit barrage and what felt like a full-on siege near the end of the third period.
The Coyotes got a second straight strong outing from goalie Mike Smith (30 saves). They limited most of Detroit’s chances to the perimeter. They went hard to the net and they kept their structure, intensity and work ethic consistent. They even got two goals from their special teams—a shorthanded goal by Boyd Gordon to open the scoring and a power-play goal from the league’s 30th-ranked unit that deflected off Hanzal’s stick and leg because he was doing what he’s supposed to do by creating traffic in front of the net. Hanzal also added an empty-netter, giving the two centers who missed a chunk of time during the middle of the season all the scoring while giving Tippett a glimpse of what’s possible when his lineup is intact.
No matter who the Coyotes face among the elite teams of the West, they are bound to see a pair of top-line centers. Detroit has Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. San Jose has Joe Thornton and Logan Couture. Vancouver has Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler. Gordon and Hanzal are vital to matching up with those pairs, and Monday’s game was a perfect example of the tempo the Coyotes will have to match.
“It was a very fast game,” Tippett said. “Seemed like in the first period, the first time I looked up when there was a whistle, there was about 10 minutes left to go in the period already.”
Familiarity? These two teams have it:
“We didn’t even have a video (session) before (Monday’s) game because we know them so well,” Phoenix center Martin Hanzal said. “We seem to play them over and over again.”
The Arizona Republic’s Gintonio also provided quips from both coaches regarding Monday night’s tilt, with Tippett reiterating that his team made strides forward in beating both San Jose and Detroit…
“Those are two good teams,” coach Dave Tippett said. “We talked about this with San Jose. They’re in the upper echelon of the conference, and when you’re taking points away from them, you’re getting some points that other teams aren’t going to get. So you look at those as very valuable points. We needed to put a push on. We recognize what’s at stake here and what we have to do.”
The Red Wings, meanwhile, stayed in the game the whole way without goaltender Jimmy Howard, out with a broken finger.
“I thought we didn’t execute as good as we’d like to in our zone,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “But you got to give them credit. I thought they played hard, and I thought we played hard. After two periods, we had given up 14 shots. I thought Mac (goaltender Joey MacDonald) gave us a chance, but we never scored enough goals for him.”
But Boyd Gordon suggested to the Associated Press that the team’s win only represented two points for a team which has to absolutely dominate down the stretch to earn a rematch with the Wings:
“We’ve been playing against some good hockey teams and getting some points,” Gordon said. “At this time of year, you’ve got to play with desperation to get the two points every night.”
The Red Wings, as usual, played with plenty of desperation, particularly in a furious third period. They just couldn’t find a way to convert, stymied by Smith and just missing the posts on numerous occasions.The good news for the Red Wings is that after a five-game road trip, the next six are at home, where Detroit has won 17 straight.
Prepare to cringe, folks:
“I think we started a little slow,” said Detroit goalie Joey MacDonald, who stopped 20 of the 22 shots he faced in his first start of the season. “It’s been a long road trip for the guys and I think as the game went on, we got our wheels underneath us.”
This was a night of milestones in a game between teams that met in the playoffs the two previous seasons. Coyotes left wing Ray Whitney played his 1,200th NHL game, Red Wings right wing Danny Cleary notched No. 800 despite a sore left knee and defenseman Adrian Aucoin played his 200th with the Coyotes.
“It was a slow start, but after we scored a goal, I think we played great,” Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk said.
NHL.com’s Jerry Brown allows us to complete the shift in perspectives from the Coyotes to Red Wings via a little reiteration and some pleasant—and unpleasant—statistics (and I promise that Oliver Ekman-Larsson said little of interest, save that Monday night’s win was “wonderful,” while speaking to Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom)...
Johan Franzen had his 20th goal of the season on the power play for the Red Wings, who were 9-1-1 in their last 11 games but ended a five-game road trip with losses at Edmonton and Phoenix. Detroit’s lead over the New York Rangers for the top spot in the NHL standings remains a single point.
“After we scored a goal I thought we played great,” Datsyuk said. “But we couldn’t score and Smith played well.”
But the Red Wings, now 2-for-45 on the power play over their last 16 road games, also allowed their sixth shorthanded goal of the season and lost the special teams battle again. They dropped to 15-15-1 on the road this season – a far cry from their sparkling 20-2-1 record at Joe Louis Arena. Goalie Joey MacDonald, subbing for the injured Jimmy Howard, made 20 saves and kept his team in the game.
“I thought we didn’t execute as well as we’d like in our own zone,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “But you’ve got to give them credit. I thought they played hard and I thought we played hard. We just had too many turnovers and a lot of their offense, in my opinion, came off of that.”
The Red Wings definitely tried to accentuate the positive while speaking to the Free Press’s Helene St. James...
“It was a pretty even game, really,” coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we got better as the game wore on, but didn’t have enough to win. In our own zone, we’re normally more efficient than we were today. We had too many turnovers.”
Johan Franzen converted a man advantage in the second period, the Wings’ first power play in a 1-for-18 stretch that dated back four games.
“It was good to get one, get our mind off that for a little bit,” Franzen said. “Hopefully it’s going to be a little easier.”
The Wings had to make do without stalwart top-four defenseman Brad Stuart, who missed the game because of the same flu bug that two weeks ago sidelined Lidstrom. Up front, Pavel Datsyuk didn’t take any face-offs because of a sore wrist, but Babcock called it “nothing major.”
But Niklas Kronwall was less than thrilled with his collision with Ian White in the first period, which just happened to result in Gordon’s shorthanded goal…
“It cost us the game, if you look at it, really,” Kronwall said. “I thought we had a few chances on our power play late in the (game), obviously a big goal there in the second to get us back in the game, just came up short at the end. They played well, clogged up the neutral zone. We just couldn’t score.”
Positives? St. James emphasizes them in a big way…
[The Wings] return to Detroit for six games at Joe Louis Arena, where they’ve won 17 in a row. A big week lies ahead—Tomas Holmstrom is slated to play in his 1,000th career game Friday, the same night Nicklas Lidstrom will tie Alex Delvecchio for second-most games played in a Wings uniform, at 1,549.
The 2013 Winter Classic, to be hosted by the Wings at Michigan Stadium, could be announced as early as Thursday.
But those cringe-worthy comments persist in St. James’ notes and quotes:
Overheard: MacDonald on how the game went: “They had a few good scoring chances there in the first and got me into the game early. I thought we turned the puck over early, and as the game wore on, we cut down on that. We had some good scoring chances in the third.”
Coach Mike Babcock on how the Wings played: “I thought we didn’t execute as good as we’d like to in our own zone, but you’ve got to give them credit. I thought they played hard, and I thought we played hard. After two periods, we’d given up 14 shots. Mac gave us a chance, and yet we never scored enough goals for him.”
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan believes that MacDonald played well enough to start on Wednesday—Jimmy Howard will be reevaluated by the team’s doctors today, and as soon as he can handle the vibrations of shots hitting his stick, he’ll be ready to go, but it might take a week for him to get to that point—and MacDonald (I have to say this somewhere: kudos to a goalie who wears normal-person-sized pads with thigh rises that don’t go up to his waist) told Kulfan that all’s well in his department…
“I felt good, they had a few scoring chances early that got me into the game,” MacDonald said. “It’s been a long road trip for the guys and as the game went on we got our wheels underneath.”
Franzen’s goal was the Wings’ first road power-play-goal since Jan. 8 (Valtteri Filppula in Chicago) and ended a stretch of 1-for-43 over 16 games (including Monday’s game) and 29 consecutive attempts without a goal.They hadn’t scored in 18 overall attempts — home or away — either.
“We had a few chances on the power play late in the game, and that was a big goal to get us back in the game,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We had our chances but just couldn’t find a way to get it (the puck) in.”
Um, screens? Rebound retrieval? No more trying to cutesy the puck into an open-net tap-in? Capturing your inner Van Gogh and stuffing him back into that cage in the basement? Hell, let me find him and I’ll bop him on the head…Let me at him, let me at him!
Oh, wait, did I say that out loud?
Now it’s time to go home, for an extended amount of time.
“It’s something we look forward to,” Kronwall said. “The schedule has been pretty tough. (But) we would have liked to have come out with two points here.”
[S]ince Dec. 2, they’ve been on the road for 21 of 31 games, going 10-10-1 away from Joe Louis Arena. Now, 18 of their final 28 games are at home, at the friendly surroundings of JLA, where they’ve won 17 consecutive games. It sets up nicely for the Wings.
“You still have to play,” said coach Mike Babcock said. “That’s our whole key. We have to play and play at a high level.”
Yeah, but Monday night wasn’t the kind of high-level hockey we’re used to witnessing thanks to the fact that the Wings’ defenders were all too willing to stay at home and block shots instead of head-manning the puck to allow the Wings’ forwards to do more than skate into the Coyotes’ trap without support or the ability to start forechecking thanks to a huge, huge gap between forwards and defensemen, as MacDonald told MLive’s Ansar Khan (more or less)...
“I thought they did a real good job of clogging up the neutral zone and their (defense) did a great job of stopping any second chances,” MacDonald said. “Once Smitty made the save they were just clearing out the rebound.”
The Wings didn’t do a very good job of retrieving those rebounds on a generally un-screened Smith..
“It was pretty tight, they don’t give away much,” Franzen said. “You got to earn your chances, keep working, grinding them down low to get them to collapse a little bit and maybe get some shots through from the (defense).”
The Red Wings had gone 1-for-41 (2.4 percent) on the power play in their previous 15 road games.
On the winning goal, Ray Whitney’s shot through traffic hit Hanzal and went in the net.
“We’re normally more efficient in our own zone, but today we had too many turnovers in that area and a lot of their offense came off of when we had the puck and we should have outlet the puck and we didn’t,” Babcock said. “All in all, I thought that our effort was fine.”
Exactly, coach. Turnovers, an unwillingness or inability to bear down on clearing attempts, turnovers through the neutral zone and a tendency to collapse around MacDonald—the Wings blocked a remarkable 19 shots—combined with the Wings firing 31 pucks on Smith and sent another 25 shot attempts wide or into Coyotes players, or plain old dumping the puck in and standing back as they watched Smith come out of the net and clear it himself, and lots of side-to-side passing between the bluelines yielded turnovers galore and/or Wings players firing one puck on the Smith and then watching the Coyotes skate it back down the ice and sustain pressure on MacDonald and the Wings’ defense, yielding the kind of “grinding down” of Detroit’s players that Babcock usually despises.
So the Wings still head home having gone 4-2-and-1 on a road trip which really started with that shellacking in Montreal prior to the All-Star break, and they do so with relatively clear consciences…
“The schedule has been pretty tough; I’m sure most teams would say the same thing for the last month-and-a-half or so,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Obviously, we would have liked to come out with two points here, that way the road trip would have been a lot better than (2-1-1). At the same time, it’s good to come home and get a little refreshed, try to take advantage of our home ice.”
And Babcock agreed with Kronwall while speaking to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose, perhaps hinting that the Wings can’t really work on their power play until they get some actual practice time…
“Now we have to get re-charged, get some home-cooking and get playing and get everyone skating again,” Babcock said. “You still have to play, we have to get playing and get playing at a high-level. I liked the way we played tonight, I wasn’t concerned with our energy level, I wasn’t concerned with our effort, (but) I thought our execution in our own zone could have been better.”
But, again, while the Wings feel that their goaltending situation is starting to sort itself out…
“I think last game was a great example, get right in there and give the team a chance to win,” said MacDonald, who turns 32 on Tuesday. “Same thing tonight. … You know these guys are going to come out hard.”
Team defense played a big role in helping out MacDonald in the first period with six different players combining on nine blocked shots, including defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom, Ian White and Niklas Kronwall, who each had two bocks through the first 20-minutes. The Wings’ block party finished with 19, and was led by Kronwall and Drew Miller, who four blocks each.
“I think he showed tonight again he’s a great goaltender,” Kronwall said. “He was able to keep us in the game, made some huge saves for us and gave us a chance and that’s all you can ask for.”
High expectations can and should apply to this team, and perhaps they were caught “cheating” toward looking forward to going home:
“I thought we did an absolutely great job of blocking shots,” said MacDonald, who stopped 20 shots. “They had a lot of chances and we blocked a lot of shots. D was boxing out, forwards even, in that case at getting in shooting lanes and blocking shots. I thought we did a great job that way, but it’s been a long road trip, the guys have been on the road for a long time and they’re ready to get home and get back to work there.”
The Coyotes went up 2-0 when they scored on a 5-on-3 power play with White and Pavel Datsyuk serving minor penalties for tripping and hooking, respectively. In fairness, MacDonald didn’t have much of a chance on the play as Ray Whitney’s point shot went in off of Martin Hanzal, who was screening in front. Hanzal also scored an empty-net tally with 29-seconds left.
“The first period or so we had a few turnovers in our end,” MacDonald said. “But you know what, they got a power-play goal and we got a power-play goal and it was a hard fought game. But they didn’t give us a lot of room. We came out a little slow and they had a couple chances in the slot there, but as the game went on I think we played a little better, but like I said, it’s been a long road trip, and guys are anxious to go home.”
Sigh. I’m not about to break my ankles jumping off the bandwagon, and given the Wings’ tremendously difficult road schedule since…Um…December…I’ll give them credit for making the best of an incredible grind (and the Wings have what is an uncharacteristic three two-day breaks this month, which seems like a week off after that 11-games-in-19-nights mess and a 13-games-in-29-nights schedule that almost feels “easy” by comparison), and doing their best to get up for a pair of games against teams they tend to overlook…And kind of did…But as somebody who doesn’t feel “spoiled” because he’s a Wings fan because he’s enjoyed every moment of his 21-year tenure as such, and as someone who, barring serious-ass illness, watches those 10-2 defeats till their bitter ends, too?
Not quite good enough, gents, not quite good enough by your own high standards, and not so great by ours, either.
Highlights: TSN posted a 1:13 highlight clip
NBC Sports posted a 1:35 highlight clip;
And the Wings website’s highlight clip is narrated by Dave Strader and Eddie Olczyk:
Post-game: TSN’s Steve Kouleas and Craig Button are claiming that Jimmy Howard is in fact out for 4-6 weeks (this is not true), and as such, the Dee-troit Red Wings must panic about their back-up goaltender’s spot;
The Coyotes’ website posted audio clips of Mike Smith, Martin Hanzal and Boyd Gordon’s post-game comments, as well as videos of coach Dave Tippett’s post-game presser and a video clip of Smith, Hanzal and Gordon’s comments;
Photos: The Arizona Republic posted a 16-image gallery;
Fox Sports Arizona posted a 5-image gallery;
Fox Sports Detroit posted an 8-image gallery;
The Detroit Free Press posted a 20-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted a 16-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted a 41-image gallery;
NHL.com posted a 49-image gallery;
The Coyotes’ website embedded a 49-image gallery in its website’s recap;
And the Red Wings’ website posted a 49-image gallery.
Shots 31-23 Detroit overall: the Wings and Coyotes tied 6-6 in terms of shots in the 1st; the Wings out-shot Phoenix 14-8 in the 2nd; the Wings also out-shot Phoenix 11-9 in the 3rd period.
The Wings went 1-for-4 in 4:48 of PP time and gave up a shorthanded goal; the Coyotes went 1-for-4 in 5:05 of PP time, including 12 seconds of 5 on 3 time, and scored a shorthanded goal.
Joey MacDonald stopped 20 of 22 shots; Mike Smith stopped 30 of 31.
The 3 stars, per the “Coyotes Broadcast Network,” were Martin Hanzal, Boyd Gordon and Mike Smith.
Faceoffs 28-21 Detroit (Wings won 57%);
Blocked shots 19-11 Detroit;
Missed shots 15-14 Phoenix (total attempts 57-56 Phoenix, and the Wings fired 25 shots into Coyotes players or wide of the net, which is just 6 short of the number they actually fired on Smith);
Hits 26-20 Phoenix;
Giveaways 4-3 Phoenix;
Takeaways 13-6 Detroit.
Faceoffs: Helm went 10-and-5 (67%); Zetterberg went 6-and-8 (43%); Filppula went 7-and-5 (58%); Abdelkader went 4-and-0 (100%); Franzen went 0-and-2; Miller lost his only faceoff; Datsyuk won his only faceoff.
Shots: White actually led the team with 4 shots; Zetterberg, Ericsson and Franzen had 3; Kindl, Lidstrom, Miller, Bertuzzi, Filppula and Holmstrom had 2; Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Commodore, Helm, Emmerton and Kronwall had 1;
Blocked attempts: White had 2 attempts blocked; Kindl, Lidstrom, Cleary, Hudler, Zetterberg, Helm, Ericsson, Kronwall and Holmstrom had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Zetterberg and Filppula missed the net 3 times; Franzen missed the net 2 times; Datsyuk, Miller, Commodore, Hudler, Bertuzzi and Emmerton missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Commodore led the Wings with 4 hits in a strong game; Ericsson and Franzen had 3 hits; Kindl and Holmstrom, who was also great, had 2; Lidstrom, Cleary, Datsyuk, Miller, Emmerton and Kronwall had 1.
Giveaways: Datsyuk, Filppula and Franzen had giveaways;
Takeaways: Both Lidstrom and Franzen had 2 takeaways; Kindl, Datsyuk, Commodore, Zetterberg, Helm, Emmerton, Filppula, Ericsson and Holmstrom had 1 takeaway.
Blocked opponent shots: Miller and Kronwall blocked 4 shots apiece; White blocked 3; Lidstrom and Abdelkader blocked 2; Cleary, Helm, Emmerton and Franzen blocked 1.
Penalties taken: White took 2 minors; Lidstrom and Datsyuk took one apiece.
Plus-minus: Via a short-handed goal and empty-netter, the Wings finished at a collective -11: Zetterberg finished at -2; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, White, Hudler, Bertuzzi, Filppula, Kronwall, Franzen and Holmstrom finished at -1.
Points: Franzen had a goal; Zetterberg and Datsyuk had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 23:57 played; Lidstrom played 23:31; Ericsson played 22:49;
White played 22:41; Zetterberg played 20:09; Datsyuk played 19:43;
Filppula played 19:05; Hudler played 19:02; Franzen played 18:02;
Bertuzzi played 15:21; Cleary played 13:28; Kindl played 13:11;
Helm played 13:04; Miller played 12:25; Holmstrom played 10:54;
Commodore played 10:20; Abdelkader played 8:59; Emmerton played 7:33.
Part II: Red Wings notebooks: If you haven’t noticed, one could very well argue that the Wings’ most consistent line over the last month-plus consists of Drew Miller, Darren Helm and Danny Cleary, and the gents spoke to the Free Press’s Helene St. James about their working relationships...
“I think our line has been playing well,” Miller said. “It’s fun to score, and we’re playing well at both ends. We’ve got good leadership on the line with Cleary, and then me and Helmer work hard and we learn a lot of from him.”
The trio often are out against an offensive line during road games, as the primary objective is to be a solid checking line. But Cleary, a former 20-goal scorer, and Miller, who has reached 10 goals three straight seasons, provide an offensive threat that makes the group especially effective.
“I think we complement each other well,” Miller said. “It’s just a lot of hard work that’s leading to success, which is nice.”
Cue the razzing!
“He’s doing a good job letting me and Danny do all the work,” Helm said. “He’s just sitting in the good spots, but that’s what good goal scorers do: They find a way to get in that spot and get open.”
“He’s going to need 20 or 30 (goals) to get out of that status, and we don’t need his head that big. He’s already chirping and talking enough with 10,” Helm said. “Nobody talks more than Danny. Milsie just talks about nonsense. We can’t get him to quiet down. And when he scores, it just magnifies it times three.”
Told of Helm’s claims, Cleary said, “I’ll second that. He’s getting a little too comfortable.”
• Shall the ribbing continue? Certainly, via the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
“We’re going to keep him down here and keep grinding,” linemate Darren Helm said before Monday’s game against the Coyotes. “We don’t need his head that big. He’s already chirping and letting everyone know he has 10 goals.”
His linemates also are needling Miller about the fact the last few goals have mostly come thanks to the grinding and battling Danny Cleary and Helm are doing. It’s a matter of Miller being in the right place at the right time.
“He’s doing a good job of letting me and Danny do all the work and he’s sitting in all those good spots where goal scorers go,” Helm said.
And did Tomas Holmstrom have something interesting to say about the fact that Niklas Kronwall’s skates, if you ever see them at Hockeytown Authentics in Troy or down at the Joe, are as beaten up, scored, scoured and sticky with streaks of vulcanized rubber as Holmstrom’s are (except for the part of the skate within the outline of Kronwall’s “skate fenders,” which aren’t included with his skates because they’re probably in even worse shape than his skates)?
The Red Wings haven’t been great on the power play lately, and one reason could be the fact more players are willing to block shots. That’s a change from when Tomas Holmstrom entered the league 14 seasons ago.
“Before you’d have one or two guys who’d block shots,” Holmstrom said. “Now it’s everybody blocking shots or you don’t play on the penalty kill. It’s tough to get the puck through, but you have to find a way.”
And yes, Pavel Datsyuk got hacked somewhere along the way—I blame Patrick Sharp and/or the entire Chicago Blackhawks roster, and possibly some of the members of its media corps—so he’s nursing a left wrist injury, and has been doing so for some time. Some games, he takes faceoffs and dominates. On Monday? Not so much:
Pavel Datsyuk, nursing some sort of arm injury, only took one faceoff Monday. Babcock said Datsyuk will likely stay away from draws for the next couple games.
• As for the member of the Miller-Helm-Cleary line that hit the 800-game mark? He hasn’t suffered as many figurative slings and arrows along the way as Holmstrom, but between broken ankles, major jaw surgery, sprained knees, repeatedly torn-up groin, a scratched cornea which is why he wears a visor, per Mrs. Cleary’s recommendation, and, at present, a Baker’s cyst which needs to be drained before doctors fire a cortisone shot and then a Synvisc shot—the same kind of synthetically-produced-natural-joint-lubricant-stuff that Holmstrom needed to have injected into his knees because of arthritis and hockey-related damage, indicating that Cleary’s knees are pretty damn worn down, too—into his left knee, yielding a week on the IR at some point this month?
Hoo boy, long sentence. Long story long, Cleary spoke to MLive’s Ansar Khan about going from, “Could’a, would’a, should’a” status as a high first-round pick who didn’t pan out with the Blackhawks, Oilers and Coyotes before narrowly, narrowly beating out Blake Sloan and Rem Murray (and Dan LaCouture) for a roster spot via trying out for the Wings waaaaaayyy back in 2005, and redeeming himself in a big way in Detroit:
“All you focused on [then] was, ‘Will I play another game? Am I staying, will I stick around?’ ” Cleary said. “Then, once you kind of find your niche, you become an everyday player. You really don’t look too far ahead.”
“I’ve been in the league a long time and I’m very fortunate to have 800 games,” Cleary said. “But there are guys in here with a lot more than 800.”
Still, it has been a hard 800 games for Cleary, who has persevered through numerous injuries (knee, back, groin, broken jaw) and overcame a troublesome eye infection. Now he has to get the knee treated. Cleary said if it’s still sore when the team returns home, he’ll get it drained and have a cortisone shot. That will idle him for a week.
“We’ll see,” Cleary said. “I’m hoping that eventually it will get better. It just hasn’t gotten any better.”
Coach Mike Babcock said a lot of players play with chronic knee issues.
“That’s part of playing for a long period of time,” Babcock said. “Tomas Holmstrom’s been playing with the same thing in both (knees) for a long, long time. So you got to find a way to manage it.”
Cleary may not score 20 goals and 40 points this season, but as Khan notes, he’s equally at home playing with a pair of “grinders,” killing penalties, playing on the power play as a net-crasher, forechecker, or regular linemate of Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg, and serving as something of the post-Kris Draper social coordinator-type dude in the locker room, so he’s more than worth his salary as a top-three-six-nine-twelve forward.
DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose spoke to Danny Cleary about playing in game 800 on Monday, too (and yes, this is a repeat from the game-day update post):
“I’ve been in the league a long time and I’m very fortunately to have 800 games,” Cleary said following Monday’s morning skate in the desert. “But there are guys in here with a lot more than 800.”
If Cleary plays, he will join teammates Nicklas Lidstrom (1,547), Todd Bertuzzi (1,069), Tomas Holmstrom (998) and Brad Stuart (849) in reaching the 800 games-played plateau. However, it’s not known whether Cleary will play tonight, especially since he left the ice shortly after the Monday’s morning skate began. The Red Wings’ forward has been bothered for a few months now by a painful Baker’s cyst which formed behind his left knee. The cyst ruptured last Wednesday, even landing him in a Vancouver hospital for a day. Despite the pain and discomfort though, Cleary said he’s roughly 75 percent certain that he’ll play against his old team. “It’s really sore today. I had a hard time skating on it, but hopefully it gets a little bit loose.”
Now in his 14th NHL season, Cleary is in his seventh campaign with the Wings, for whom he has played the majority of his pro games with. He’s played nearly 59 percent of his NHL games with the Red Wings, and despite the knee pain, is currently on a four-game points streak (a goal, four assists), which is his longest of the season. It’s also with Detroit that he has sustained three debilitating injuries – two pretty serious – in three consecutive seasons with a broken jaw (2008), scratched cornea (2009) and fractured ankle (2010). The eye injury was a concern, but having his jaws wired for three weeks isn’t something Cleary would wish on any hockey player.
“That was a tough one to handle there,” he said. “When you’re in front you have to be very careful, guys shooting high, I don’t want to get hit like that again. I’ve had a couple of good ones. The eye was scary, but the jaw was worse.”
“I’ve only been playing in front of the net for like the last six years, since I’ve been in Detroit,” said Cleary, who was prolific scoring machine in juniors. “Certainly, there’s a price to be paid for going around the net.”
Just like Homer.
• This isn’t necessarily a Red Wings notebook, but it fits here: USA Today’s Kevin Allen offered a Red Wings “trade deadline outlook” in a column discussing what the Western Conference’s teams’ deadline plans, and it jibes with just about everything Ken Holland’s said over the past, erm, month:
Detroit Red Wings: The Red Wings have no glaring holes but could bolster their defensive depth or add size up front. Although the talk in the hockey world is about Detroit’s need for a backup goalie, Jimmy Howard (broken finger) isn’t expected to be out long and the Red Wings’ playoff fortunes will rest with him.
Part III: Also of Red Wings-related note: I tried to consolidate power rankings in the game-day update thread. If you missed ‘em:
NHL.com’s Dan Rosen believes that the Wings are the NHl’s second-best team…
2 Detroit (35-16-2) [last week] 2: If the Wings’ time without Jimmy Howard is extended, will Ken Holland make a deal for a goalie? Ty Conklin was yanked Saturday after allowing three first-period goals
Scott Burnside agrees with Rosen via ESPN’s power rankings....
2. Detroit Last Week: 2: The Wings still are trying to figure out how long starter Jimmy Howard, who leads the league in wins, will be out of action. And Ty Conklin did little to assuage fears of Red Wings fans that they need to shore up their netminding for the playoffs after his performance against Edmonton on Saturday. But the Wings remain atop the Central and are 9-1-1 in their past 11.
Fox Sports’ Joe Rosen harps upon a familiar theme:
2. Red Wings [up] 1 [highest/lowest] 2/20 : Jimmy Howard is likely to miss at least two weeks with a broken finger. It’s not a good sign that in the first period of his absence, Ty Conklin stopped six of nine shots and was pulled for 31-year-old journeyman Joey MacDonald.
Sportsnet’s Luke Fox offers a spiffy trivia fact…
2 [last week] 2 Detroit Red Wings: Detroit’s huge 4-3 victory in Vancouver was tempered by a loss to Sam Gagner’s Oilers on Saturday. After Monday night in Phoenix, the Wings can look forward to a six-game stretch at home, where they are practicably unbeatable. Fun fact: The last two times the New England Patriots lost the Super Bowl (1997 and 2008), the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup.
And the Hockey News’s Adam Proteau sticks with simplicity:
1. Detroit Red Wings [last week] 1: Johan Franzen leads the Wings with nine power play goals.
Make it ten.
But wait, I gots new stuff! Sportsline’s Adam Gretz was a little late to the party, and we’ll probably get more power rankings from TSN and the CBC and SI today or tomorrow…or Thursday:
3. Red Wings [last week] 1: Even before Jimmy Howard’s injury the Red Wings looked like a team that was in need of a backup goalie upgrade, and nothing we’ve seen since his injury has changed that.
Not if Conklin or MacDonald can get the job done.
• Speaking of overreacting before knowing what you’ve got, the Southgate News-Herald’s PJ Sapiena wants the Wings to jettison Jiri Hudler (the Wings’ second-leading goal scorer). Ken Holland’s said that he’s not moving Brad Stuart because he might lose a valuable playoff contributor this summer, and the same is true for Jiri Hudler. The end;
• Again, the Edmonton Journal’s writers have no problem with Niklas Kronwall’s hit on Ales Hemsky. To the point that the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson answered a question about Hemsky as follows:
Q: Is Edmonton Oilers winger Ales Hemsky brave, or does he have to show some smarts every once in a while and get out of the way of hitters like Detroit Red Wings defenceman Niklas Kronwall? (Joey M.)
A: I’ve always admired Hemsky’s bravery in traffic, where he knows he’s going to take a hit to keep moving the puck. But I also think Hemsky has to know who’s very dangerous on the ice and Kronwall might be the best open-ice hitter in the whole league. When he hits you, he hurts you. Kronwall sometimes leaves his feet a little, but his smack-down on Hemsky in the game at Rexall Place last Saturday was clean and clinical. Hemsky, while big on valour, might have done better to say to steer clear of trouble.
• In the even less warm and fuzzy category, the Globe and Mail’s Jeff Blair reports that the Globe and Mail’s sportswriters chose to name NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr as the most influential person in “sport” in Canada in 2012. You can take a gander at their “Power 50” if you wish. Sidney Crosby and Jarome Iginla are the only active NHL players on the list;
• I don’t like to “end” on downers, so second-to-last, here’s a spiffy slate of January highlights from the Grand Rapids Griffins’ Vimeo channel…
I’m not sure if their “80’s night in-arena video” embodies the mess that was the 80’s (please, I grew up in the 80’s, I don’t want to relive them):
• And finally, as the Wings aren’t going to practice today, I’ll peek around for Wings coverage all day long, but by Gord, Amoxicillin is kicking my ass, so I’m going to lay very, very low today. I’ve also got to let you know that I’ll be “out of the office” for big chunks of Saturday and Friday the 17th, and my pal Steve’s getting married on the 25th, and the latter appointments will affect coverage of the February 17th game against Nashville and February 25th’s tangle with the Avalanche.
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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.