The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/20/12 at 02:18 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings’ 3-2 shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes, I daresay, kinda played out the way I thought it would: the Wings were just sloppy enough—and their power play was bad enough, going a hideous 0-for-5 in 10 minutes of PP time—to give the Coyotes both the first goal and a game-tying goal directly after Gilbert Brule got out of the penalty box, and in between, the Wings dominated for about 45 minutes of play, but they could neither overcome their slow start or fade-away finish.
Thankfully, Todd Bertuzzi and Jimmy Howard starred in the shootout, because the Wings really, really, really should not have to be leading the West by having won so many shootouts (3 of their past 4 wins ) and overtime games (4 of their past 5 engagements), had their power play had anything other than its head stuck up its hockey pants…
But wins are wins at this time of year, and as the Wings rest up in Phoenix tonight before returning to Detroit on early Friday afternoon, they’ve won 5 straight, and temporarily lead the league because of their 31 overall wins (just ignore the playoff tie-breaking ROW stat for the moment).
The Wings started ugly, and they paid for it. Phoenix came out of the gate shot out of a cannon thanks to a combination of adrenaline and pissed-off-ness following their 6-2 loss to Anaheim on Wednesday, while the Wings looked like a team that went golfing the previous day.
Kyle Chipchura very easily stole the puck from a sleeping Jakub Kindl, and sent it to Raffi Torres, who walked around Jonathan Ericsson and wrapped the puck around the back of the net, catching Jimmy Howard looking blocker side as Torres found his catch glove and left pad leaning off the goalpost.
After that, mind you, the Wings clawed their way back into a game that was played on awful ice, was statistically silly (see below and try to believe that the Yotes’ turnover-prone defense made exactly two giveaways but managed 10 takeaways) and just…Off. The game didn’t have much flow; it had hustle and grit via the Coyotes’ extremely active sticks and skates, which blocked the Wings’ attempts to make pretty seam and back-door plays throughout the first period, and when the Coyotes pushed hard at the end of the 1st period, thankfully Howard and more than a few Wings players’ skates were there, so the Wings were able to nurse a 1-0 deficit into the first intermission.
It was the Wings who came out of the gate on fire in the second, with Ian White receiving a fantastic earned turnover (cough) and set of passes from Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, with the puck landing in White’s wheelhouse before he skated fifteen feet up ice and fluttered a pass though Keith Yandle’s legs and over Mike Smith’s glove.
As the Wings continued to finally fire shot after shot on Smith and utilize a sharper, speedier transition game to gain zone time and lots of grinding the puck out along the boards and down low, Todd Bertuzzi received yet another set of turnover-and-retrieval passes from Datsyuk and Franzen and fired the puck over a stunned Smith’s blocker from an angle so oblique that Bertuzzi was nearly on the goal line.
The Wings kept after Phoenix in the 2nd, out-shooting the Coyotes 14-10 despite offering slightly leaky play, and they earned a bit of a gift at the end of the period as Henrik Zetterberg got a little sporty in scrapping with Lauri Korpikoski, but he received the same deference Tomas Holmstrom did while the Coyotes worked him over tonight (and Holmstrom played fantastic hockey), drawing a penalty more or less for being there.
The Wings pushed relatively hard in the start of the 3rd, but after Gilbert Brule headed to the box, a power play whose top unit now contained a reunited Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom line with Lidstrom and White at the points and a second unit consisting of Todd Bertuzzi, Valtteri Filppula, Jiri Hudler, Johan Franzen and Niklas Kronwall did jack and [you know what], and as soon as Brule hopped out of the box and the 2nd unit went off on a change, Brule plucked the puck off Franzen’s stick, skated past a Nicklas Lidstrom who was pinching at the line and allowed Ian White to take Shane Doan away, walking in on Jimmy Howard, who bit on a breakaway deke yet again.
It should be mentioned somewhere along the way—probably here—that the fact that Franzen was able to continue playing yet another strong game (he, Holmstrom and Datsyuk were the Wings’ best forwards by far, and the Wings had really strong games from just about everybody, so no complaints there) after taking a puck off the toe of his right skate. Franzen went to the bench with about 12 minutes left in the 3rd but ended up needing his skate repaired, not his foot, after blocking a heavy shot. We’ll find out if he’s going to be okay based on post-game comments and Saturday’s morning skate, because he’s going to have
2-2 it was, and 2-2 it stayed as Phoenix played the game’s last six minutes of regulation with gusto, pushing the Wings onto their heels, and in overtime, well…
Pavel Datsyuk was called because he didn’t have a stick for over a minute, and the referees assumed, after having called Phoenix for five penalties (3 too-many men calls) and Detroit for only one infraction that didn’t involve 4-on-4 play, surely Datsyuk must have taken
Lauri Korpikoski out by tripping him.
Korpikoski fell over, but the call was made all of 1:41 into OT, and the Wings and Howard had to valiantly scrap through a strong penalty-kill—which also involved dealing with a broken Niklas Kronwall stick—and after that, the Yotes succeeded in playing for a shootout.
Thankfully, again, Jimmy Howard was strong, blockering away Shane Doan’s shot, nearly standing up on Radim Vrbata’s attempt to beat him glove side and allowing Brule to fumble the puck; at the other end, Mike Smith made an incredible save on Pavel Datsyuk, sticking his glove up to stop a fantastic deke…
Smith had an easy time of stopping Jiri Hudler, and as the Wings shot last, Todd Bertuzzi did what Todd Bertuzzi did during shootouts:
It wasn’t a pretty win, especially given the Wings’ scoring chances and realistic chance to put things away—repeatedly—on the power play (never mind both teams’ meetings with goalposts), but the Wings had to earn a win while dealing with the mental and physical fatigue that is not only playing 3 games over the course of 4 nights, day off included, but also playing their 8th game over the last 13 nights, and given that nobody’s gotten hurt, that the goaltending’s been good and that the Wings are .500 on the road going home?
Hell, you take what you can get. Now the Wings will get to rest some as they complete their near-playoff-worthy slate of a game every other night for the better part of a month (11 games over the course of 19 days) with a home affair against the Columbus Blue Brett Lebdas on Saturday, a nasty division tilt against the Blues on Monday and a crazy game against Montreal in Montreal next Wednesday.
To some extent, as much of a perfection-seeking Wings fan as I am, I wish the team had taken Phoenix out in regulation, but they’re clearly suffering from some combined mental and physical fatigue, and if no practice means the only breaks they can get, but no ability to cure a power play that is getting pretty close to 3-for-40 over their past 14 games, well…
Take it and run with it, Wings, because you’re coming back to sunny Detroit just in time for half a foot of snow.
Quickie update: Per FSD’s post-game clips, Kronwall, Howard and Zetterberg have all told Trevor Thompson that the Wings won a skills competition, and that this game was at best, as pretty as bulldog spit, so that much is good going forward. The Wings need to earn their damn points any way they can, and if ugly does the job, for now, ugly does the job.
Here’s the Coyotes’ announcers’ highlight clip:
Quickie update 2: If you want to just watch the shootout, here you go (it’s the Wings’ version, too):
Shots 35-34 Detroit overall. Phoenix out-shot Detroit 13-12 in the 1st; Detroit out-shot Phoenix 14-10 in the 2nd; Detroit out-shot Phoenix 8-7 in the 3rd; Phoenix out-shot Detroit 3-0 in OT.
The Wings went 0-for-5 in 10 minutes of PP time; the Yotes went 0 for 2, with 1 power play in regulation and 1 in OT.
Faceoffs 32-24 Detroit (Wings won 57%);
Blocked shots 18-18;
Missed shots 16-13 Phoenix (total attempts 67-66 Phoenix, with the Wings firing 31 wide or into Coyotes players);
Hits 35-20 Phoenix;
Giveaways 4-2 Detroit (bulls***)
Takeaways 10-3 Phoenix (equally BS by the Phoenix stats crew).
Just as bad as crediting Mark Fistric for 10 hits on Tuesday.
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 11-and-9 (55%); Helm went 10-and-4 (71%); Zetterberg went 5-and-6 (45%); Filppula went 2-and-3 (40%); Abdeklader went 3-and-0; Franzen went 1-and-2 (33%).
Shots taken: White, Zetterberg and Franzen co-led the team with 6 shots apiece, or in sum total, half of the team’s 35 shots; Kindl and Holmstrom had 3 shots apiece; Filppula and Kronwall had 2; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Cleary, Datsyuk, Miller, Helm and Bertuzzi had 1.
Blocked attempts: White also had 4 attempts blocked by Phoenix players; Lidstrom had 3 attempts blocked; Cleary, Datsyuk and Kronwall had 2 attempts blocked; Stuart, Hudler, Zetterberg, Helm and Franzen had single attempts blocked;
Missed shots: Zetterberg missed the net 3 times; Helm and Filppula missed the net 2 times; Kindl, Lidstrom, Datsyuk, White, Stuart and Hudler missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Kronwall led the team with 4 hits; Datsyuk and Ericsson had 3; Kindl, Helm and Bertuzzi had 2; Cleary, Stuart, Zetterberg and Filppula had 1.
Giveaways: Lidstrom, Cleary, Bertuzzi and Franzen were credited with giveaways, but Howard fired a puck right around to Doan, and I’m guessing Doan was awarded a takeaway for that one.
Takeaways: Stuart had 2 takeaways and White had 1. The end, say the Coyotes’ statisticians.
Blocked opponent shots: Datsyuk blocked 4 shots; Stuart blocked 3; Zetterberg, Kronwall and Franzen blocked 2; Lidstrom, White, Miller, Hudler and Filppula blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Stuart and Zetterberg took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective 0. Holmstrom bizarrely finished at -2; Kindl, Abdelkader, Miller, Emmerton and Ericsson finished at -1; Lidstrom, Datsyuk and White finished at +1; Bertuzzi and Franzen finished at +2.
Ice time: White led the team with 27:49 played; Lidstrom played 27:26; Kronwall played 22:45;
Datsyuk played 22:44; Stuart played 21:31; Zetterberg played 21:07;
Franzen played 20:54; Filppula played 17:48; Bertuzzi played 17:31;
Cleary played 17:21; Ericsson played 16:08; Helm played 15:18;
Miller played 14:02; Hudler played 13:44; Holmstrom played 12:20;
Kindl played 11:17; Abdelkader played 7:03; Emmerton played 5:12.
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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.