The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/15/12 at 02:59 AM ET
In the words of Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg, “I know this music.” And the music Mr. Zorg speaks of in The Fifth Element best represents the Red Wings’ 4-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, representing the Wings’ fifth loss in seven March games:
It’s the sound of senseless, useless and ultimately futile combat in the film, and for the Red Wings, who have gone 3-8-and-1 since they established their home-ice winning record way back on February 19th, Wednesday night’s loss must doubtlessly mark the lowest point of their 2011-2012 season.
By the time the Wings face off against the playoff-desperate Sharks on Saturday night at 10:30 PM EDT—and the Sharks at least have a home game against Nashville on Thursday, so here’s hoping that they win and help the Wings avoid losing 4th place to the Predators—Detroit may very well trail the Blues, who currently harbor an 8-point advantage over the Wings, and the Predators, who sit 2 points behind Detroit presently, by as much as 12 and 2 points, respectively.
The Blues play on both Thursday in Carolina and on Saturday in Tampa Bay, and if the Blues win both of those games, even if Detroit defeats San Jose, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the Wings will only be playing for home ice against Nashville, which also has a late game on Saturday against Los Angeles, and may very well sit 2 points ahead of Detroit if they win their games and Detroit loses on Saturday.
Fuzzy divisional math aside, sans Nicklas Lidstrom, who told Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy that, despite Thursday’s setback, he does hope to return as soon as possible, be that next Monday against Washington, next Wednesday in New York or whenever, from his bone bruise, the Wings have not been the same defensively…
I think that we’re underestimating the effects of not having Jonathan Ericsson (wrist, out for 3 more weeks, minimum) and Jakub Kindl (strained oblique muscle, out indefinitely) on the blueline…
And without Pavel Datsyuk (knee surgery, maybe back Saturday) and Todd Bertuzzi (who looked rusty as f*** in his return on Wednesday night), the Wings’ offense, with the exception of the Filppula-Zetterberg-Hudler line, has gone completely flat.
Poor defense, little offense and a power play that has now gone 0-for-30 over the Wings’ past seven games, all combined with occasional lapses in, “I will at least try to salvage the game and save all of your asses” goaltending by Joey MacDonald, who looked very vulnerable at times against the Ducks, and Jimmy Howard, who was understandably rusty against the Kings, and my friends and fellow Wings fans…
It does not get any worse than this.
Well it could, per a conversation between Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji, Fox 2’s Jennifer Hammond and former Red Wings trainer John Wharton, who noted that Nicklas Lidstrom told Murphy and Daniels that the training staff has employed a bone growth stimulator, which is usually used on broken limbs, to help mend the back and side of his left ankle—and before you lose your lunch in the middle of the night while reading this, please note that I will explain what’s going on after the exchange:
Jennifer Hammond @HammerFox2: Lidstrom telling the fellas in FSD booth that his leg hurt a little bit more today than yesterday. #Setback
Johnny Wharton: @HammerFox2 “bone bruise” is a misnomer. Used only to prevent panic. should have been treated as a fracture, which it is. This isn’t good
Dana Wakiji: @johnnywharton @HammerFox2 I thought for sure it had to be to last this long and be this painful.
Johnny Wharton: @FSDwakiji @HammerFox2 I always treated them as “ankle concussions” no skull fracture but the medullary tissue beneath, more important
Dana Wakiji: @johnnywharton @HammerFox2 Why is that tissue more important?
Johnny Wharton: @FSDwakiji @HammerFox2 it supplies the nutrients to the bone. Not treated with caution, the bone breaks.
Okay, here’s the dealy-o. John Wharton is not the Wings’ trainer anymore, and knowing that Piet Van Zant and the Red Wings’ trainers and their entire medical staff have repeatedly x-rayed Lidstrom’s ankle over the course of the past three weeks, they are not going to do so much as let Lidstrom on the ice if they’re afraid that his bone bruise turns into a break.
Moreover, just as every pulled ligament is actually a small tear of said ligament, as many tweaked backs involve small herniations of disc tissue, and every “Charley horse” or muscle contusion represents blood pooling and clotting in the area, every bone bruise involves small fractures to the bone’s surface and underlying tissue.
But the conversation underscores why the Wings have been so bloody cautious.
Anyway, in terms of Wednesday night’s game, the Wings came out strong but managed to fall as flat as a bottle of pop left with its top open, and…
They got schooled. By a team that’s not gonna make the playoffs, despite their protestations to the contrary. They got schooled by the Ducks and may have very well have had their Central Division title changes scuttled by a “spoiler” that did exactly what it hoped to—spoil Detroit’s attempts to salvage a road trip on which they now possess a 0-and-2 record.
Detroit is now 16-19-and-1 on the road, were per the Free Press’s Helene St. James, shut out for the first time on the road since October 29th, and…
I don’t know how else to put this other than to go back to the overzealous bolding. It’s not that the Wings played a poor game by any means, but it cannot be understated that at every key juncture over the past four weeks, they have simply made the worst defensive plays possible, and it’s hard to win when you can’t or won’t keep the puck out of your own net—and when the team does not have the offensive chops to rebound from said mistakes, they’re done like dinner as soon as they surrender leads.
On a night when stats were suspicious, the facts speak for themselves:
The Red Wings came out on fire and played a solid first period, out-shooting the Ducks 9-6, but they blew a power play at the end of the 1st and beginning of the 2nd that could have delivered them the lead, and in a second period where they were out-shot 12-6, their mistakes and lack of confidence came to bite them in the ass.
8:52 in, Henrik Zetterberg drew in for a faceoff at the right blueline dot, just outside their zone, and Saku Koivu won the faceoff. Teemu Selanne took the puck from the side boards and slid it against the grain toward Cam Fowler, who pinched from his defensive position toward the Wings’ blueline, somehow, Selanne slipped through Zetterberg, Filppula and Hudler, and as Fowler ripped a hard shot at the net, Selanne managed to charge into MacDonald at the exact same time as Ian White closed on Selanne to tie his stick up, and Selanne’s free stick poked the puck through Joey MacDonald before he could fully close his 5-hole. 1-0 Ducks.
Seven minutes later—after the Wings did jack and you-know-what on a power play awarded to them all of 11 seconds after Selanne’s goal—they struck again.
Cory Emmerton’s line was doing an admirable job of attempting to battle the Ryan-Getzlaf-Palmieri line, but off a faceoff at the left dot in Detroit’s zone, Emmerton won the faceoff, it was rifled around to the right wing half boards, where Niklas Hagman took Doug Janik’s rim around and fired a shot wide of the net, Palmieri ran over Niklas Kronwall as he batted the puck down and fired it down ice, Emmerton chased it down but was grabbed, Smith and Emmerton dumped the puck in and then had to retreat as the Ducks dumped the puck in themselves and forechecked.
Smith retrieved the dump-in and tried to fire an outlet to Jan Mursak along the left wall, Mursak carried it out and was stood up, the Ducks dumped it in again, Janik, Smith and Tomas Holmstrom could not get the puck past the red line, and as Toni Lydman walked in on the right side and more or less tackled Cory Emmerton, Smith tried to take the loose puck at the left faceoff dot and gave it to Mursak, he was stripped by Getzlaf at the left wing half boards, and when Smith tried to take Getzlaf’s shot-pass, he bafflingly tried to deke between his legs, Palmieri stripped him of the puck and deked, dangled and as Joey MacDonald bit on his backhand deke, he went back to his forehand as he skated across the crease from the left post to the right, tucking the puck back in on MacDonald’s glove side.
15:49 of the 2nd, 2-0 Ducks.
Soon, the Ducks would put it away, and I’ll keep things more succinct this time:
The Red Wings continued to struggle with the Ducks’ pressure, and as the HEMI line attempted to generate some offense, Justin Abdelkader chugged up and into the Ducks’ zone, tried to get past Ryan Getzlaf, and was stood up just inside the Ducks’ line. Lubomir Visnovsky took the puck from the scrum, carried it up the ice, dumped it in, and after Ryan Getzlaf fired a centering pass on net, MacDonald stopped the shot, but of course, Palmieri crashed the net on a fly-by with Doug Janik trailing him, and as such, MacDonald was felled and kicked out a juicy rebound to Bobby Ryan, who deposited the puck into an open net with MacDonald laying on his left side and swatting at the puck futilely. 18:55 into the 2nd period, it was over.
In the 3rd, the Ducks added insult to injury. Off a faceoff at the Ducks’ right faceoff circle, which Johan Franzen lost, Danny Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi completely missed their checking assignments, allowing Sheldon Brookbank to fire a puck up to Getzlaf, who chugged up the gut and into the Wings’ zone, and fired a pass to Palmieri, who took the wide lane around Kyle Quincey, who seemingly had no clue that Palmieri was headed toward the net. Palmieri took his opportunity to charge up the lane to the net and scored a second goal that was similar to his first, skating into the slot and jamming a backhander past MacDonald as MacDonald got caught moving side to side.
The Wings had a few flourishes which Jonas Hiller had to make great stops on during the 3rd, including a lovely tip-down by Tomas Holmstrom, but nothing would spoil Hiller’s 23-save shutout.
The Wings rather desperately need the day off they will receive on Thursday, and on Friday, they have to get down to the business of salvaging their season.
Shots 24-23 Anaheim. The Wings out-shot Anaheim 9-6 in the 1st period, were out-shot 12-6 in the 2nd and out-shot Anaheim 8-6 in the 3rd period.
The Wings’ power play went 0-for-3 in 6:00 of PP time; The Ducks went 0-for-2 in 4:00 of PP time.
Joey MacDonald stopped 20 of 24 shots he faced; Jonas Hiller stopped 23 of 23.
The 3 stars were Selanne, Hiller and Palmieri.
Faceoffs 24-22 Detroit (Detroit won 52%);
Blocked shots 17-12 Anaheim;
Missed shots 17-14 Anaheim (total attempts 53-53);
Hits 28-26 Anaheim;
Takeaways 6-1 Anaheim.
Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 8-and-7 (53%); Franzen went 5-and-7 (42%); Helm went 5-and-5 (50%); Emmerton went 4-and-2 (67%); Abdelkader went 1-and-1 (50%); Cleary won his only faceoff.
Shots: Zetterberg led the team with 8 shots; Abdelkader had 4; Holmstrom had 3; Kronwall had 2; Cleary, Miller, Stuart, Quincey, Filppula and Franzen had 1.
Blocked attempts: White fired 4 shots into Sharks players; Kronwall fired 4 shots into Sharks players; Hudler and Zetterberg had 2 attempts blocked; Smith, Abdelkader, Bertuzzi, Filppula and Franzen had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Zetterberg missed the net 3 times; Mursak and Helm missed the net 2 times; White, Miller, Stuart, Quincey, Janik, Bertuzzi and Filppula missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Abdelkader, Stuart and Bertuzzi had 3 hits; Miller, Quincey, Franzen and Holmstrom had 2; Smith, Cleary, White, Hudler, Janik, Mursak, Helm, Emmerton and Kronwall had 1.
Giveaways: Bertuzzi had 3 giveaways; Miller had 2; Stuart, Zetterberg and Helm had 1.
Takeaways: Brendan Smith was credited with the Wings’ only takeaway.
Blocked opponent shots: Emmerton and Kronwall blocked 3 shots; Stuart, Quincey and Franzen blocked 2.
Penalties taken: Janik and Bertuzzi took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective -20. Cleary, White, Quincey, Janik and Franzen finished at -2; Smith, Miller, Stuart, Hudler, Mursak, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Emmerton, Filppula and Holmstrom finished at -1; only Abdelkader, Helm and Kronwall were even.
Points: No Red Wing registered a point.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 25:06 played; Stuart played 22:43; White played 21:09;
Quincey played 20:56; Filppula played 20:05; Zetterberg played 19:35;
Franzen played 16:19; Bertuzzi played 15:27; Smith played 15:24;
Hudler played 15:15; Helm played 15:11; Miller played 15:05;
Cleary played 14:50; Janik played 14:15; Abdelkader played 14:02;
Holmstrom played 12:28; Emmerton played 9:49; Mursak played 8:23.
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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.