The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/03/11 at 11:37 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 2-1 decision to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night in spectacularly frustrating fashion, playing what I can only describe as a classic Red Wings home-game—an over-complicated, fancy-pants version of Red Wings hockey in which the Wings allow their inner Van Gogh out of his cage in the basement and let their inner artistes run wild.
The Wings essentially earned their result by going a horrific 1-for-10 in 12:07 of power play time, including 1:33 of 5-on-4 time and 1:47 of a 4-on-3 man advantage to start overtime, firing a miserly one shot on Dan Ellis in OT—and only 3 shots in the first period, four power plays and a 5-on-3 included—because they endlessly looped back through the middle of the ice, sending one player up against 3, 4, or 5 Ducks stacked at their blueline, and when they did gain possession and control of the puck in the offensive zone, their endless side-to-side passing and unwillingness to shoot or do anything less than attempt to set up a classic back-door-open-net passing play, all with no traffic in front of Dan Ellis and few attempts to retrieve the 18 shots they fired wide of Ellis (the Wings fired 29 pucks on the net and 31 wide or into Ducks players) yielded jack and you know what.
Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels found one statistic which summarized the Red Wings’ urgency, intensity, and attention to detail in a game where the real star of the game and the man who earned the Wings a point was Jimmy Howard, who faced the vast majority of quality scoring chances against, sustained offensive pressure and plain old hard work, making spectacular saves to earn his team a point: the Wings lost the faceoff battle 29 to 27 after dominating the circle for the first two periods, going 14-and-4 in the 1st and at least holding their own in the second period, going 22-and-19. According to Daniels, the Wings went something like 10-and-24 since their 5-on-3 at the 16:53 mark of the 1st…
And if you saw the game, the man who earned the Wings a point also probably lost them a point. Jimmy Howard was nothing less than spectacular, but he was so furious at the fact that Bobby Ryan earned an overtime penalty shot on a play where Howard said Ryan simply “toe picked” that he tracked Ryan’s center of mass (read: his body) instead of the puck as #9 skated in with the game on his stick blade, and Ryan easily deked Howard to the glove side, reached around the Wings’ goaltender and tucked the puck over Howard’s glove on a shot that was, due to Ryan’s long stick, simply un-savable.
Howard smashed his stick before he left the ice, and in doing so, he may have made the most passionate statement that any Red Wing did on a night that gave the Ducks their first ever win when trailing after two periods and pushed the Ducks into ninth place in the West with 73 points—only three points behind the fourth-place Blackhawks. The Red Wings now have
[edit: 85 points, whoops!], and are 5 points ahead of a San Jose Sharks team that claims it will send a playoff message by defeating the Wings in their Most Important Game Ever This Season (more on that later) tonight at 10:30 PM EST.
The Ducks were obviously delighted with themselves after earning their first win in 4 games against the Wings, and the Orange County Register’s Jeff Miller offers the most succinct take on the Ducks’ win against a bitter rival via the following and very partisan quip, noting that the Ducks hope this game has playoff implications:
Bobby Ryan delivered the perfect winning shot and then the perfect parting shot Wednesday in the Ducks’ shimmering 2-1 overtime victory over Detroit. After beating Jimmy Howard on a rare OT penalty shot, Ryan met with Fox Sports’ Kent French for a live television interview.
He noted the playoff atmosphere inside Honda Center and the enormity of the Ducks earning two points. Then Ryan added, “A lot of Red Wings fans going home unhappy.”
Amen to that, brother. With the Ducks desperate for points and clawing for anything they can get, beating Detroit — on a night when the Red Wings played well — is as big as early March victories can get. Here’s hoping Detroit fans for more chances to be disappointed at Honda Center before this season is over.
The LA Daily News’s J.P. Hoornstra offers a narrative recap of what he rightfully describes a a playoff-style game, at least from the effort put in by the Ducks, though I disagree with the concept that Dan Ellis was the Ducks’ other savior as his 28 saves involves mostly single, un-screened, un-tipped shots that weren’t followed up by secondary or tertiary Wings scoring opportunities:
The Ducks used an outstanding penalty kill to keep the Red Wings without a single shot on goal during 4 minutes, 31 seconds of power-play time in the first period. That span included 93 seconds of 5-on-3 time in which Detroit clanged a shot off the post.
The law of averages wasn’t working in the Ducks’ favor by the time the Wings went on their fourth power-play of the game at 4:34 of the second period. Sure enough, Pavel Datsyuk broke the scoreless tie by scoring from behind the goal line at the 5:10 mark. With Ellis out of the crease, in an open stance with the shot coming from his right, Datsyuk fired a wrister off the goalie’s leg and got the backward bounce into the net.
Datsyuk’s goal was the only shot in which the Wings really got creative and actually threw the puck toward the slot with traffic near the crease, and Tomas Holmstrom’s presence in the slot was enough to occupy the Ducks’ defenders and force Ellis to re-set after Nicklas Lidstrom’s shot was blocked, facilitating a pair of open legs for Datsyuk to shoot into.
The Ducks tried to get even on the power play when Jonathan Ericsson was sent to the penalty box for tripping with 1:41 left in the second period. Their best chance was denied, though, when Teemu Selanne tipped a breakaway shot into Howard’s chest - the first of many great saves by the second-year goalie.
The only shot that got past Howard in regulation was one he probably didn’t see until it was too late, if he saw it at all. Less than two minutes into the second period, Selanne gained the zone on the rush, drawing the Detroit defense with him. He dropped the pass back for Jason Blake, who teed up a slapshot from behind Salei that sailed over Howard’s blocker at 1:54.
Howard never saw it, and Blake fired the puck high enough over Howard’s blocker that he never had a chance to stop it.
Then, as the Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens notes, Ryan took over:
Bobby Ryan scored on a penalty shot at the 2:50 mark of overtime to give the Ducks a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night before 15,098 at Honda Center.
The win allowed the Ducks (34-25-5) to leapfrog Minnesota, which lost to the New York Islanders, and pull within one point of the eighth and final playoff spot in the jam-packed Western Conference.
Ryan was awarded the penalty shot when he was hauled down by Red Wings defenseman Ruslan Salei, the former longtime Duck, on a breakaway after he got a long stretch pass from Ryan Getzlaf. The winger beat Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard on the glove side for his 30th goal of the season. It was the first penalty shot and first overtime goal for Ryan, who now has hit the 30-goal mark in each of his three full NHL seasons.
Ryan told the Los Angeles Times’ Chris Foster that he knew what he was going to do all along:
“I knew what I was going to do,” Ryan said. “He’s a different kind of goalie. He gets his arms out and legs back. If I didn’t hit that one spot, it was going to be a save. I closed my eyes and found the right place.”
“We’ll enjoy this tonight and come back to work tomorrow,” Ryan said.
Foster argues that the Ducks’ bacon was saved by Ellis…
There was no reason the Ducks should have finished the night in celebration. Detroit came in with a six-game road winning streak and had mauled the Kings, 7-4, on Monday. The Red Wings picked up where they left off intensity-wise, aggressively attacking the net. Ellis, making his third consecutive start since being acquired from Tampa Bay, stopped 28 shots, one with his face. Pavel Datysuk’s shot late in the third period ricocheted off — and bent —his mask.
“I like this team,” Ellis said. “I liked the way we play defense. You see the puck.”
And Ducks coach Randy Carlyle seems to agree with Foster’s assessment that the Ducks were “battered but not beaten” (insert rolling eyes from this partisan Red Wings fan here):
“It was a hairy game for us,” Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said.
I will give Ryan and the Orange County Register’s Curtis Zupke this: the Ducks did indeed have 13 shots blocked and were forced to fire 18 wide, so the Ducks’ penalty-killers did do their jobs well:
The Ducks killed five power plays in the first 25 minutes, a five-on-three in the first period and a four-on-three in overtime as goalie Dan Ellis made 28 saves.
“Our penalty kill won the game for us, and Danny played a great game in the backstop,” Ryan said. “Guys blocked shots, sacrificed their bodies and gutted it out for us.”
The penalty shot came after Detroit defenseman Ruslan Salei pulled down Ryan on a breakaway after the Ducks had killed a too-many-men penalty that carried into overtime. Not exactly the advantage to give Detroit, but perhaps the toughest two points the Ducks have earned this year.
“They’re a good hockey club,” Todd Marchant said. “One of the best teams in the league, not by mistake. I think we proved to ourselves tonight that we’re capable of playing with the best teams when we play our game. Tonight we went out and we proved it.”
The Orange County Register’s Stephens was tasked with framing Ellis’s performance in heroic terms...
Ellis made his third Ducks start Wednesday against Detroit. He allowed five goals in his two games and got his first victory Sunday as he stopped 22 of 24 shots in a 3-2 victory over Colorado. The biggest thing Ellis has done is settle a team that began to see every stop by [Curtis] McElhinney become an adventure. [Ducks coach Randy] Carlyle didn’t know much about the one-time lead goalie for Nashville, but he has come to have a good read on Ellis since his arrival.
“We know he’s a battler,” Carlyle said. “He’s going to battle. I think that is what we’re looking for. His compete level is very high. I think he’s getting accustomed to some of the things we like to do on our puck recoveries in the defensive zone. He’s very active tracking down pucks and playing the puck. He’s probably the most active goalie that we’ve had in a while where he has the ability to take the puck and clear the zone himself.”
Ellis is glad to be back in the net regularly as he figured he would ride out the season as the backup with the Lightning after losing his job to Roloson and being in a goaltending mix that also included Mike Smith.
“I was more so just happy that got over with and then for this to kind of catch me completely off guard, again, I think I had just finally start to relax from that situation and get comfortable again,” said Ellis, who has a career mark of 64-49-15 with a 2.70 goals-against average. “And then you get lifted out of that into a new situation. When you play in the league, you want to play. You understand that your role can change at any time. When you’re given a chance to play games, you want to relish that and enjoy it.”
While the Orange County Register’s Mark Whicker, in writing a story about Michigan native Cam Fowler, offers the biggest bluster about the importance of the Ducks’ win:
It was a victory built from the bottom, out of sticks and limbs and shrubs and faceoffs and hits and blocked shots. It was also a victory under siege.
Rommel and Lombardi and Carville and other great strategists would never advise their clients to give the Detroit Red Wings, the International House of Goals, a total of nine power plays. It’s sort of like giving Charlie Sheen the keys to the mini-bar. Yet here were the Ducks, hurtling over the boards to mob Bobby Ryan after the penalty-shot, overtime goal that beat the Red Wings, 2-1.
There was no too-many-men penalty this time, like there was in the final minute of regulation that set up a 4-on-3 Detroit power play, which went nicely with the five-on-three in the first period. The Ducks killed both of those and all the others but one, in their most diligent and impressive victory in many weeks.
Goalie Dan Ellis was, again, a stabilizer. Ryan Getzlaf zipped the pass that sprung Ryan and did several hundred other nice things, and then there was Cam Fowler.
“He’s 19 years old, that’s unbelievable,” Lubomir Visnovsky said of his occasional partner. “I tell him things sometimes, but he already knows everything. He’s going to be a big star.”
He goes on, but the thrust of his story’s not necessarily relevant to a narrative-style recap, so you can read the rest on your own.
Whicker does, however offer a slate of game notes worth taking a little detour to explore:
Tough night for Ruslan Salei, the ex-Duck defenseman. Jason Blake used him as a screen on his game-tying goal, and then he hauled down Bobby Ryan to create the game-winning penalty shot in overtime. Of course, Salei is the one against whom Andy Sutton broke his thumb in the season opener. Salei might be sitting in the press box when Brian Rafalski returns to the Wings lineup.
Mike Babcock didn’t think the Wings shot enough, which was true, but it was a night to appreciate the defensive responsibility of forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. And goaltender Jimmy Howard gives the Wings fewer worries at that position than anybody since, who, Mike Vernon?
It’s debatable that Salei will sit, though Jakub Kindl’s certainly pushing him at the moment, and I’ll leave the Howard comment alone, but he definitely earned the Wings the point they received:
Howard reached out to snatch a front-door bid by Corey Perry that would have won the game for the Ducks in regulation. It happened after Ryan Getzlaf, who was inspired all night with a team-leading six hits, outfought three Red Wings for a loose puck.
His save on Teemu Selanne wasn’t bad, either:
Randy Carlyle said the officiating reminded him of the 2005-06 season, when the crackdown on interference and other penalties followed the institution of “new rules” hockey. It was particularly tough to get away with anything in the faceoff circle. The result was a very high-tempo hockey game. Maybe it’s time to do away with the leeway.
Carlyle was right. The referes have been letting everything but horizontal stick fowls, wrestling and attempted prostate exams go since January, but on Wednesday, they called players for the kinds of hooks and holds that, in theory, should be called when they negate possible scoring chances, as well as a few penalties on both sides that seemed to come out of left field, to say the least.
I happen to like it when referees call actual, honest-to-goodness penalties as they’re written in the rulebook—the kind of interference that prevents players from getting to pucks (i.e. “picks”), clutching and grabbing and serious interference on puck carriers—so I can’t say that I hated it, but some of the faceoff penalties were just plain weird.
It’s AnaheimDucks.com’s Adam Brady, however, who brings us back to the emotional thrust of the frustrating Wings loss by offering a even-more-partisan-than-me level of joy in describing the Ducks’ win:
As if a Ducks-Red Wings tilt isn’t engaging enough, Bobby Ryan made sure the home fans got one final thrill from this one tonight. Ryan wristed home a penalty shot past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard 2:50 into overtime to give the Ducks a huge 2-1 victory over their rivals from Detroit. With chants of “Bobby! Bobby!” raining down from the stands, Ryan went backhand-forehand-backhand-forehand before whipping the puck over Howard’s glove, setting off a huge roar from the Honda Center crowd. Ryan let out a shout himself as he jumped off the glass, just before being mobbed by teammates pouring off the bench. Howard, meanwhile, slammed his stick against the post, breaking it in half, and glared at an official as he skated off the ice.
“That shot seemed to work for me in the last couple of shootouts,” Ryan said. “He is a different kind of goalie. He challenges and he gets those legs back. He goes off to the side pretty well. There wasn’t any other gameplan if that didn’t work out, he was making the save. I just tried to close my eyes and put it in the right place.”
Ryan’s penalty shot was set up when Ryan Getzlaf gave him a beautiful stretch pass to set up a breakaway, and Ryan was tripped from behind by the stick of diving Detroit defenseman Ruslan Salei. His ensuing conversion was his first career penalty shot, first career overtime goal and the fourth penalty shot goal to win a game in overtime in franchise history.
“I didn’t know it was going to be a penalty shot,” Ryan said. “I just tried to push the puck towards the net after I went down and kind of lost control of it. I obviously knew we were going to get a power play or a penalty shot – I’ll take the latter.”
Cue praise for the penalty-killers…
“With the situation we are in, we killed a lot of penalties against a pretty good power play, you don’t always expect to come out on top,” Getzlaf said. “The guys did a great job killing and Dan [Ellis] stood in there hard for us and we got the result we wanted in the end.”
And inspirational talk from Ellis, who points out the streak-breaking nature of the Ducks’ win:
“Every win right now is key going into the final stretch,” Ellis said. “Especially with a team like Detroit. With the firepower they have and with the record they have on the road, I don’t think they have lost in the past six games on the road.”
“We had to find our best game,” Ellis said. “And I think we did tonight. We played a very solid 60-plus minutes and I think it showed by getting the win.”
Ellis continued in speaking to the AP’s Greg Beacham...
“They were definitely on a high, and we had to find our best game,” Ellis said. “It can be a little bit tough when you give up as many power plays as we did, but we’re prepared to grind it out. The (penalty-killers) really earned their paychecks, and when another goalie steps it up like (Howard) did, you have to dig deep and step it up yourself
And after Ducks coach Randy Carlyle offered a blunt assessment of the game…
“We’re basically in a state where we’re trying to feel good about ourselves,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “Hopefully we’ll give ourselves a little confidence. We were rewarded for hard work and for sticking with it.”
We rather abruptly swing our focus over to the Red Wings’ side of things.
Wings coach Mike Babcock was not happy with the Ducks’ ability to stifle nine of the ten power plays the Wings had…
“They did a good job and put some pressure on us,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “Their goalie made some saves, and we missed a couple of open nets. The game was set up for us to find a way to get a win, and we didn’t.”
And while Howard was diplomatic at one point in discussing Ryan’s penalty shot (and Beacham notes that the Wings hadn’t lost on the road since Feburary 5th)...
Howard made a spectacular glove save with 7:35 left in regulation when All-Star Corey Perry broke in alone, but he failed to earn his NHL-leading 32nd victory after getting beaten on a penalty shot for just the second time in Howard’s career.
“Bobby Ryan is a great player, and has a great set of hands on him,” Howard said. “It was a good deke. He capitalized on it.”
The Wings, whose ranks didn’t include healthy scratch Kris Draper or Brian Rafalski, who remained sidelined with back spasms, were less than diplomatic in talking about the Ryan penalty shot to MLive’s Ansar Khan, who notes that Steve Kozari made the call:
“It’s a bad call, he knows it, he saw the replay,’’ Howard said. “(Ryan) fell on his own, he tripped, just toe-picked. But things happen out there fast, he might have saw it differently. You could even tell on the replay, one arm on the stick, he just barely touches him. It’s unfortunate the call was made.’‘
“They’ve been calling (penalties) against them, everybody knew they probably were going to look for something (against his team),’’ Salei said. “The bottom line, we should not have given them the opportunity to make a call like that. It’s almost automatic nowadays on breakaways if anybody touch anybody, it’s a call.’‘
Said Detroit coach Mike Babcock: “Obviously, he toe-picked and fell down, but that’s life.’‘
Mostly, however, the Wings echoed Babcock’s first statement about the game being set up for them to win, duly noting that the ice was terrible, but not using the slush that the Ducks pretend is a playable surface as an excuse for their horrific power play:
“We would have like to score some goals on the five-on-three and the four-on-three, but they did a good job, they put some pressure on us,’’ Babcock said. “The goalie made some saves, we missed a couple open nets. I thought our penalty kill was really good as well. The ice in this building helps the penalty kill because (the puck) is bouncing all over. We didn’t shoot, we were trying to be too fine. We got a lot blocked too.’‘
“It’s a little chewed up, you can’t quite make the plays you’re looking for,’’ Modano said. “I think teams defend that a little better, they’re worried more about the shot. The through-the-seam passes are low percentage at that point.’‘
As the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan notes, only Pavel Datsyuk broke through on a night where the Wings really did themselves in…
Datsyuk’s power-play goal, his 20th, at 5:10 of the second period, gave the Wings a 1-0 lead. Datsyuk was in the corner when he banked a shot off the right leg of Ducks goalie Dan Ellis and into the net.
“Just shoot,” said Datsyuk of what his plan was. “We decided to do that before the game, to shoot and (get) rebounds. It was a tough game. Anaheim plays tough. We didn’t use our power play and that cost us a point.”
It was Datsyuk’s third consecutive game with a goal and his 13th point (8 goals, 5 assists) in the 12 games since he returned from a broken right hand.
The Wings (39-18-7, 85 points) travel to San Jose for the fourth game on this five-game trip Thursday. But there was a feeling in the locker room they left a point slip away because of a sputtering power play.
“That’s why we lost the game, no doubt about it,” Niklas Kronwall said. “Howie came up with some big saves, but we don’t feel good about our power play tonight.”
Kronwall continued in speaking to the Free Press’s Helene St. James...
“That’s why we lost the game tonight,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We had so many power plays, we had a 5-on-3, 4-on-3, that we didn’t take advantage of. If you don’t take advantage of those, a lot of nights you’re going to lose.”
And Babcock readily admitted that his team was channeling their inner artiste:
Babcock was frustrated by the Wings’ lack of shooting. “We would have liked to score some goals during the 5-on-3 and the 4-on-3. The game was set up for us to find a way to win and we didn’t. We didn’t shoot. We were trying to be too fine, and that was all night long. We should have come out shooting.”
We’ll take a little detour to St. James’ game notebook to note the most frustrating aspects of this tilt, including a second period in which the Wings at least actually shot the puck:
The Wings squandered a great chance to take the lead when they couldn’t get anything going during a 93-second two-man advantage. With the Ducks collapsing in and blocking lanes, the Wings were left passing the puck on the perimeter, and when Nicklas Lidstrom tried for a second time to send in a slap shot, his stick shattered. Niklas Kronwall hit a post late in the period, which saw the Wings outshot, 7-3.
Those 3 shots were the fewest the Wings have fired on the net in any period this season…
Dan Ellis caught a good shot by Kronwall on an early second period power play, but the Wings finally broke their drought at 5:10, after going 0-for-5 with the man advantage. Lidstrom shot the puck in from the blue line, and when his shot squirted behind the net, Pavel Datsyuk fired a shot that deflected in off Ellis. The Wings went on to outshoot the Ducks, 15-10, in the second period.
Jason Blake made it 1-1 early in the third period, crossing into Detroit’s zone and picking up Teemu Selanne’s nifty little drop pass and firing a shot that ended Jimmy Howard’s shot at shutting out the Ducks for a third time this season.
The Wings had 1:48 of a power-play bridge into overtime, but couldn’t convert. Bobby Ryan got a penalty shot when he was hauled down by Ruslan Salei and converted when he pushed the puck to the forehand and beat Howard cleanly.
Back to St. James’ main recap to finish ‘er off. She noted that even the Red Wings’ captain didn’t think that Kozari’s penalty shot call was particularly sound…
Nicklas Lidstrom said, “It didn’t look like he hooked him. He lost the puck, so I don’t know if Rusty got a stick on it and that’s why he lost it, or he just wobbled the puck. I couldn’t tell. But my first reaction was that he didn’t hook him.”
Before noting that the Wings, who St. James says stayed in Anaheim because there’s a 11:30 PM PST curfew in San Jose (you can track the Wings’ team plane’s travels on Flightaware.com), have to do this all over again against a San Jose Sharks team that’s only five points behind the Wings, tonight. As such, Babcock suggested that the team has to put an incredibly frustrating loss behind them, and do it fast:
“Frustration isn’t going to do us any good,” Babcock said. “I just think we’re a better team and I think we can do better on a daily basis and that’s a challenge of us.”
Highlights: Fox Sports West posted a 38-second highlight clip;
NHL.com’s highlight clip is narrated by Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy:
The Wings’ website also posted clips of a stellar Howard save on Teemu Selanne…
And a similarly stellar save on Corey Perry:
Post-game: Fox Sports West posted a 3:49, on-ice interview with Bobby Ryan and off-ice interviews with Corey Perry and Dan Ellis, as well as a 2:09 clip of Bill McDonald and Brian Hayward breaking down the game;
The Orange County Register posted a clip of Ducks coach Randy Carlyle’s post-game presser—and I actually agree with him regarding the fact that the Ducks and Wings were the subject of a surprisingly stiff crackdown by officials who’ve been lax as all hell get out since January 1st:
The Ducks’ website’s “Ducks TV” posted a massive slate of post-game interviews with Bobby Ryan, Dan Ellis, Randy Carlyle and Ryan Getzlaf:
Fox Sports Detroit posted a 2:55 clip of Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy discussing the game, as well as a must-watch slate of interviews with Wings coach Mike Babcock, Pavel Datsyuk and a furious Jimmy Howard.
Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 16-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted a 31-image gallery;
I can only say that NHL.com’s photo gallery is in progress as I write this;
Shots: 29-28 Detroit overall, breaking down as 8-3 Anaheim in the 1st period, 15-10 Detroit in the 2nd period, 10-9 Detroit in the 3rd period and 1-1 in OT.
Power plays: The Red Wings went a horrific 1-for-10 in a total of 12:07 of PP time, including 9:27 of 5 on 4 time, 1:33 of 5 on 3 time and 1:47 of 4 on 3 time. The Ducks went 0-for-4 in 5:44 of PP time.
Howard stopped 26 of 28 shots against; Ellis stopped 28 of 29.
Our goal: Datsyuk (20) from Lidstrom (38) and Holmstrom (15), PP.
The 3 stars: Howard, Ellis and Ryan. I’d argue that the Wings wouldn’t have had a point without Howard, who was this game’s first star by far.
Faceoffs: 29-27 Anaheim (48% won by Detroit);
Blocked shots: 13-8 Anaheim;
Missed shots: 18-10 Detroit (total attempted shots 60-46 Detroit);
Hits: 37-17 Anaheim, and that’s inflated by the home ice stat keepers;
Giveaways: An ugly 13-11 Detroit;
Takeaways: 9-5 Detroit.
Individual Stat breakdown:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 8-and-13 (38%); Zetterberg went 4-and-5 (44%); Helm went 5-and-3 (63%); Modano went 4-and-4 (50%); Filppula went 5-and-2 (71%); Franzen went 1-and-2 (33%).
Shots: Franzen led the team with 7 shots; Kronwall had 3; Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Miller, Stuart, Salei, Hudler and Helm had 2; Cleary, Ericsson, Modano and Holmstrom had 1 shots.
Blocked attempts: Lidstrom had 3 shot attempts blocked; the Ducks blocked 2 Zetterberg and Kronwall shot attempts; Kindl, Cleary, Datsyuk, Salei, Helm and Ericsson had 1 shot attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Zetterberg missed the net 5 times; Abdelkader, Helm and Filppula missed the net 2 times; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Miller, Stuart, Ericsson, Kronwall and Franzen missed the net 1 time apiece.
Hits: Salei led the team with 4 hits; Abdelkader and Ericsson had 2; Kindl, Cleary, Miller, Stuart, Hudler, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Kronwall and Modano had 1.
Giveaways: Ericsson had 4 giveaways—surprise; Hudler and Zetterberg had 2; Lidstrom, Stuart, Helm, Bertuzzi and Kronwall had single giveaways.
Takeaways: Filppula had 2 takeaways; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Salei, Ericsson, Kronwall, Franzen and Holmstrom had 1 takeaway.
Part 2: Wings notes: Johan Franzen fired a team-leading seven shots on the Ducks’ net on Wednesday, he’s skating well, skating hard and going to the net regularly, so his effort can’t be faulted, but he is in the middle of a 13-game goal-less funk. He spoke to the Free Press’s Helene St. James about the birth of “Baby Mule,” a.k.a. Eddie Bo Johan Franzen:
“I’m smiling more now, I think,” Franzen said. “It’s special. Everyone is talking about it – you’re going to change, you’re going to feel this and that, but you’re not really sure what they’re talking about until it happens. Now I know.”
Franzen says that his wife, Cecelia, is in good hands…
“Right before I left, she went back home, and she’s got her mom and grandma helping her, too,” Franzen said. “And her dad comes in today, so she’s got the big crew taking care of her. I got a lot of photos and video clips I can watch, so I should survive.”
Franzen, in turn, wants to take care of his crew. He played Saturday at Buffalo, after which the Wings immediately headed to Los Angeles, where they played Monday. The plane stopped in Detroit to drop off Franzen, and then stopped as usual in Lincoln, Neb., to refuel. That made for so long a night the Wings didn’t land at LAX until 4:30 in the morning local time. With that in mind, Franzen is planning on treating everyone Friday in Phoenix. It’s not like a traditional cigar would really work.
“We usually don’t smoke that much,” Franzen said, smiling. “Nah, I think we’re going to have a team dinner. Since they dropped me off and all with the plane, I guess I owe them that. They got out here a lot later than they would have without that.”
And he thanked the Wings’ management for first detouring the team plane to drop him off in Detroit, allowing him to take a few days off to be with his family, as well as flying him out to San Jose on what I’m assuming was Mike Ilitch’s plane, or at least a first class seat:
“I think they treated me really well,” he said. “They pretty much let me decide what I want to do. And it’s a lot easier only having to play Wednesday, Thursday, (Saturday), instead of being gone for nine days. That would have been hard, if we’d had the baby before the West Coast trip. That would have been a little longer.”
Franzen did admit to MLive’s Ansar Khan that someone smarter than he is (and he’s deceptively intelligent as all hell get out) thought he was distracted over the past month:
“My wife said I was nervous because I was acting weird. But I didn’t notice it,’’ Franzen said. “Especially a couple of days before, it was starting to get real exciting. You don’t really know what to expect, but everything went well. It was fun. It was something else.’‘
“Maybe your mind wanders a little bit between periods, but as soon as you’re on the ice you don’t think about it,’’ Franzen said.
This is Franzen’s longest scoring drought since he went 20 games without a goal during his rookie season (Jan. 18-March 18, 2006). It’s not from a reluctance to shoot. He had a game-high seven shots on Wednesday and has registered 47 shots during the 13-game dryspell. Coach Mike Babcock said Franzen needs to use his size (6-foot-3, 225) and strength to drive to the net more.
“He’s a streaky goal-scorer,’’ teammate Henrik Zetterberg said. “He’s had great chances, but the puck hasn’t gone in for him. He’s got new sticks, so that might help.’‘
As I’m the one who got up at 3 AM to start this 3-hour post off, we’ll conclude with a few Ducks notes and transition into our Wings-Sharks set-up (our as in you and me talking, not me talking about myself in the third person). Khan noted that Teemu Selanne has finally chosen to no longer threaten Niklas Kronwall for dinging him in the head this past October:
“I don’t think he tried to hurt (me), but the way he plays, you got to keep your head up,’’ Selanne said on Wednesday. “The hit came to my head, but I know he didn’t try to hurt (me). It happens sometimes.’‘
Selanne said of hits to the head: “A lot of times when we talk about concussions, it’s players’ responsibility to know who you play against. You have to keep your head up. Especially the sort of players that like to run you. You have to know their style, but still sometimes you get surprised.’‘
And the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan spoke to former Wing Andreas Lilja about his sometimes-rocky stint with the Ducks. Lilja suggested that it’s a little different battling for a playoff spot than it is playing for a perennial powerhouse…
“They’ll always be a contender, it’s what they do,” Lilja said. “I’m not surprised they’re playing as good as they are.”
And he revisited his decision to leave the Wings after demanding a 2-year deal at about $1.5 million per season, resulting in a try-out with the Sharks that ended by being told that his services weren’t needed when the Sharks landed in Sweden to open the season there, and an eventual deal with the Ducks which began with multiple occasions on which Lilja was a healthy scratch:
“I had a decision to make and I made a decision and stuck with it,” Lilja said. “I’m here, and I’m happy. … It’s fun.”
So, what’s it like playing against an organization that always seems to find a way to be on the top of the heap?
“When you play so long with them, nothing really changes when you see them (off the ice),” Lilja said of his teammates. “But when you play against them, you have to get after them.”
Lilja played 20 minutes, 51 seconds in the 2-1 victory Thursday over his old team. He was credited with one hit, one blocked shot and one takeaway, while being whistled for two penalties.
“We should have won the game on one of our many power plays,” said [Nicklas Lidstrom] to Hockeyexpressen.se.
“I felt like I’d been gone for a game; it took a while to get going again. I had a run on the treadmill in my basement at home on Monday,” said [Franzen]
Tomas Holmstrom complaned about the ice at the Honda Center.
“Yeah, it was pretty miserable [out there] tonight. It was hard to just carry the puck into the offensive zone on the power play. The puck hopped around and bounced a bit. But yes, we should have dominated on the power play early, given all the chances we had,” said Homer.
Part 2: Red Wings-Sharks set-up: Regarding the Sharks, I can only describe their take on the importance of tonight’s game (10:30 PM EST, FSD/Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area/WXYT) as surprising. The Sharks are, again, five points behind the Red Wings in the Western Conference standings, and they’re coming off both a 2-1 shootout win over Colorado on Tuesday and have won seven straight games going into tonight’s tilt.
After talking to the Sharks’ website about capitalizing on a six game home stand, which began on Tuesday, hoping to cut into a middling 16-10-and-3 home record…
“We have to establish our game at home and figure out what works,” Douglas Murray said. “What works right now is working hard and playing simple.”
San Jose’s players want to play like they did on the road, but they can’t assume it will happen.
“Big to win in those buildings, some tough buildings to play in,” Coach Todd McLellan said of the wins in Detroit, Pittsburgh and Calgary. “It’s pretty rewarding, but that’s behind us now. The danger now is we get home, get comfortable and take our foot off the gas. That would be unacceptable.”
“There’s the danger of coming home and relaxing,” McLellan said. “You’re in a comfortable environment. You’re eating your food and sleeping in your bed. Around town people are telling you things are going well. That can be dangerous. If we’ve taken anything from early in the season, we should be able to block that out.”
Todd McLellan talked to the Mercury News’s David Pollak about the Wings-Sharks rivalry, at least from his point of view…
“People in Detroit like to see Toronto and they like Original Six teams,” he said. “The biggest rival would be Chicago probably. Pittsburgh. But it’s the Original Six teams – when Boston comes in, Chicago, Montreal.
Have the Sharks made even a dent into that grouping with the fan base there?
“I don’t know,” McLellan said. “We’ve played them a lot lately, but I don’t know. Coast-to-coast is hard.”
All of which means that while Detroit may be on the top of other teams’ list of rivals, it doesn’t necessarily work both ways.
“Blues-Red Wings has a lot of history, although the last 10 years have clearly been dominated by Detroit,” said Jamal Mayers, who played a decade with St. Louis. “Needless to say I don’t like them.”
They talked to Pollak about a game that could push the Wings seven points ahead of the Sharks as if it was the be-all-end-all of message-senders in a series where the home team has yet to win a game:
“We come out ahead tomorrow, and we come away with a good opportunity to maybe overtake them down the stretch,” defenseman Ian White said. “If they win, they’re that much tougher. Huge game for both teams.”
Coach Todd McLellan prefers to have his players concentrate on the matchup as “one night, two points, that’s it.” But he also recognizes the value of the position the Sharks have put themselves in as a result of their current seven-game winning streak. “You’re a healthier team if you’re trying to catch somebody rather than waiting to be caught,” McLellan acknowledged Wednesday before adding the Sharks are still very aware of the crowd of teams just behind them despite their 16-2-1 record over the past six weeks.
“We had home ice against Detroit last year, and we got off to a great start against them. It’s huge,” [Douglas] Murray said of San Jose’s five-game knockout of Detroit to advance to the Western Conference finals. “They’re a team you usually have got to go through to win the Stanley Cup, and we would much rather play in the Tank than over at Joe Louis.”
And after McLellan isn’t too surprised by the fact that neither team has won at home…
“Both teams have very good road records, both teams are very comfortable playing on the road and in hostile environments, and both teams are veteran teams,” the Sharks coach said. “We’d like to change that trend obviously, but you’ve got to put the work in for that to happen.”
Ben Eager talked up the rivalry again, making it sound like the Sharks have “tiger blood” boiling in their veins regarding tonight’s tilt:
“In Chicago, we battled against them a lot, and you always got motivated when they came into town or you’re going into their barn,” said former Blackhawk Ben Eager, who is expected to play Thursday night after missing one game with an upper-body injury. “You know you’ve got to be ready when you play against them, because if you’re not, they’ll take advantage of you.”
The Mercury News’s Cam Inman also slid in a bit of a Wings-Sharks preview in his profile of Antti Niemi...
More than points are at stake Thursday. The Red Wings have 85 points, four shy of conference-leading Vancouver. The Sharks have racked up 80 points. Both teams are gearing up for their perennial playoff runs.
These aren’t the same Sharks that the Red Wings faced Nov. 30, when Detroit claimed a 5-3 victory with Antero Niittymaki tending San Jose’s goal. The Niittymaki-Niemi revolving door has become a one-way passage. Niittymaki has an injured groin, and Niemi is on to bigger and better things.
“They have a lot of talent,” Niemi said of the Red Wings. “It’ll be one more big game. Every day will be big. It’s like the playoffs already.”
And Pollak posted the following capsule preview:
Red Wings update: Detroit, like the Sharks, has a better record on the road than at home, bolstered by a six-game winning streak away from Joe Louis Arena that ended Wednesday in an overtime loss in Anaheim. Previous stops on the Red Wings’ current five-city tour included a 3-2 victory in Buffalo and a 7-4 win in Los Angeles.
Sharks update: Coach Todd McLellan left open the possibility D Dan Boyle would play after missing one game with an upper-body injury despite the fact he only skated briefly with his teammates at practice. Injured LW Ben Eager will return after sitting out one game. ... If the Sharks go to overtime or a shootout for a fourth consecutive game, it will set a franchise record.
Red Wings injuries: G Chris Osgood (hernia) and RW Patrick Eaves (lower body) are out; D Brian Rafalski (back spasms) is questionable.
Sharks injuries: G Antero Niittymaki (groin), C Scott Nichol (upper body) and D Kent Huskins (upper body) are out. D Boyle (upper body) is questionable.
NHL.com’s John Kreiser gets the honor of posting the “balanced preview” as the Wings and their beat writers tried to get some sleep before flying to San Jose early this morning:
Season series—It’s the last of four meetings this season, and the visiting team has won the first three—including San Jose’s 4-3 victory at Joe Louis Arena on Feb. 22.
Big story —Two of the NHL’s best—and hottest teams will get together at the Shark Tank. San Jose has won seven in a row, including the win at Detroit last week and a 2-1 shootout victory against Colorado on Tuesday. The Wings took a 1-0 lead into the third period at Anaheim on Wednesday, but wound up losing 2-1 in overtime on a penalty shot by Bobby Ryan, snapping their six-game road winning streak.
Sharks [team scope]—After spending almost all of February on the road, the Sharks are glad to be back at HP Pavilion. Thursday’s game is the second in a six-game homestand, and San Jose has 12 of its last 18 at the Shark Tank, where it has won six in a row.
Who’s hot—Pavel Datsyuk scored Detroit’s lone goal at Anaheim to reach the 20-goal mark for the seventh season in a row. .... Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi has started 19 games in a row and compiled a 1.85 goals-against average. His GAA is 1.64 during the seven-game winning streak. ... San Jose forward Ryane Clowe has the shootout winner in back-to-back games.
Stat pack—The Wings have won their last three regular-season visits to San Jose, including a 5-3 win on Nov. 30. ... Detroi’s Henrik Zetterberg has 23 points in his last 17 games against the Sharks. ... Niemi is 4-1-1 lifetime with a 2.15 goals-against average against Detroit
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan offered the only Wings game preview...kinda, sorta:
Brian Rafalski (back spasms) hopes to return for tonight’s game in San Jose. Rafalski has missed three consecutive games but isn’t concerned this is a long-term injury.
… Joey MacDonald will start in net against the Sharks.
… Chris Osgood (sports hernia) continues to practice and hopes to start next week.
Per the NHL’s media website, Gord Dwyer and Brad Watson will referee tonight’s game, and Mike Cvik and Tony Sericolo will work the lines.
Part 3: Also of Red Wings-related note: If you’re interested, Kulfan also filed an NHL notebook;
• Heading back to Expressen’s Nordstrom for a moment, he also received a significant endorsement for one Nicklas Lidstrom from Wings GM Ken Holland:
“In my opinion, there’s no doubt who’s the league’s best defenseman this season. No one’s as well-rounded as Nick,” said Red Wings GM Ken Holland to HockeyExpressen.se.
• Lidstrom also appeared on the Jim Rome show on Tuesday, but as his audio files are restricted to subscribers, I’ll have to put out a, “Help, please!” and ask if somebody heard it and/or has it and is willing to, ahem, share;
• In the prospect department, and for repetition’s sake, Wings prospect Gustav Nyquist was named Hockey East’s player of the month for February, as noted by the University of Maine Black Bears’ website:
University of Maine junior standout Gustav Nyquist (Malmo, Sweden) has been named the Hockey East Athletic Republic Player of the Month for February. Nyquist led the Black Bears to a 5-3-0 record in February, including a pair of wins over then fourth-ranked Merrimack.
Nyquist led all Black Bears in scoring in February with 10 goals and four assists for 14 points. He opened February with his first career hat trick in Maine’s game against New Hampshire. He followed that up with a goal against the Wildcats the following night to finish with four goals on the weekend.
It is the second time in his career that Nyquist has earned Hockey East Player of the Month honors, as he also received the honor in December of 2009. Nyquist leads Maine in scoring with 16 goals and 26 assists for 42 points. He has five power play goals on the season and two shorthanded goals.
• In other good prospect news, according to the Everett Herald’s Nick Patterson, Wings prospect and Everett Silvertips forward Landon Ferraro will make an early return from sports hernia surgery on Friday. Ferraro spoke to Patterson about his recovery:
“I can’t really ask for anything more,” Ferraro said. “I’m coming back right into playoffs pretty much. All these games we have left are against teams we’re fighting against, and we’ve got the harder schedule of all the teams. But that’s why you play. You play for the c
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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.