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Red Wings-Flyers quick take: an ‘A for effort’

I know that the Detroit Red Wings dropped a 3-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers because of the usual reasons that have haunted them over their past half-dozen or so games—puckhandling errors by their goaltender, a power play that went 0-for-4 again, plain old fluke bounces and an inability to rally after surrendering a multiple-goal deficit…

But for f***‘s ake, I’m a Red Wings fan, and while I’m not gonna get into trying to defend Niklas Kronwall’s hit on Jakub Voracek (Review? Definitely. Fine? Maybe. Suspension? Don’t think so), an incredibly depleted Red WIngs team did their director of pro scouting proud by displaying grit, jam and resolve in attempting to rally from a 3-1 deficit—and nearly accomplishing their task despite the absences of Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Todd Bertuzzi, Jimmy Howard, Jakub Kindl and Jonathan Ericsson.

There were so many good things that happened in this game—the injury to Voracek being the obvious exception—from a Wings fan’s perspective. Johan Franzen woke from his mid-winter slumber in a big way, registering 7 shots, a goal and a fantastic performance in terms of his energy and intensity; the Filppula-Zetterberg-Hudler line remains nothing less than superbly dominant, and, perhaps somewhat ironically, Darren Helm and Franzen are feeding off of each other in terms of offensive confidence, enabling Helm to put a scare into opponents with his dekes, dangles and determined efforts to charge through his opponents; while Brendan Smith got caught flat-footed a few times, he continued to play excellent; Doug Janik acquitted himself well, Kyle Quincey looks like he belongs, Brad Stuart rebounded from a poor performance on Sunday, Niklas Kronwall was excellent, Ian White was great, mistakes included, you can say the same for Joey MacDonald, that mish-mash line of Abdelkader, Holmstrom and Cleary was grittier than synthetic diamond-encrusted sandpaper and Cory Emmerton’s starting to carry his linemates in the ever-dangerous Jan Mursak and call-up Chris Conner.

I’m frustrated as hell with the result. Because the Wings don’t play again until Friday, and because the Blues won tonight, the Wings will probably be 4 points behind St. Louis, six behind Vancouver and maybe only 4 points ahead of the Predators going into those back-to-backs against LA at the Joe Friday and Nashville in a rink they can’t win in very regularly on Saturday…

But the Wings will also probably have at least two of Bertuzzi, Howard and Lidstrom back for those games, if not Kindl as well, and Datsyuk should be back sometime next week.

Minus Bertuzzi’s size and strength and Datsyuk’s ability to battle through all of those 6’2”-plus forwards and defensemen the Flyers possessed, minus Lidstrom’s puckhandling and perhaps minus the confidence which Howard’s presence gives the team, the Wings were out-muscled, out-shoved, out-clutched-and-grabbed (yeah, the Wings got away with more than a few of their own, but I’m amazed at the level of football tackles, wrestling and obstruction that are let go in an NHL where the crackdown has fallen flat and Eastern Conference rules make the West look like a no-checking league) and plain old out-powered by the Flyers…

And yes, the Wings made some utterly stupid mistakes which may have cost the the game, that I cannot deny…

But Detroit out-shot Philly 21-6 in the 3rd and 37-14 in the 2nd and 3rd periods, they received outstanding performances from the vast majority of their players, and the Talbot goal was just bizarre—a bad bounce of bad bounces. 

I’ve gotta take off the objective blogger hat and wear the one with the old Detroit Cougars “D” on it and applaud a team that’s on a two-game losing streak and has lost 5 of their last 7 games—which is completely unacceptable—and applaud them for a helluvan effort in Philly.

In terms of the game’s narrative, obviously, the Wings started flat-footed, registering only 2 shots, and they didn’t register a shot for a somewhat silly 15-or-so minutes between their 2nd shot and the 2nd period, but the second one was a beauty.

Off a fantastic transition play from White and Quincey, Jiri Hudler chugged up the gut, gave the puck to Valtteri Filppula, who was going up ice with both Hudler and a smartly-pinching Kyle Quincey on the left side, and as Filppula deked and dangled at the very top of the faceoff circle,  Henrik Zetterberg skated off the bench, gave Filppula a holler, received Filppula’s drop pass and roofed a backhander over Bryzgalov. 4 minutes in, the Wings had the lead.

Ten minutes later, Johan Franzen, Justin Abdelkader couldn’t get the puck in deep, and as the Wings made a line change, Brendan Smith tried to give the puck to Jan Mursak as he came onto the ice, and instead, Maxime Talbot swiped the puck at center, dumped it in, and as it slid past Doug Janik, Joey MacDonald thought he’d set it up for Janik on a tee…But instead, he left the puck behind the net as Janik nearly pulled a groin trying to get to the puck, and instead, Jakub Voracek stole the puck, wrapped around the net and put the puck off MacDonald’s right leg as he tried to regain his situational awareness. 13:10 in, it was 1-1.

Then things got worse, much worse, as the Red Wings set up in deep on the cycle, and with Stuart and Kronwall manning the points and Hudler, Filppula and Zetterberg trying to move the puck around, and instead, Braydon Coburn fluttered a clearing pass over Kronwall, and a Flyers team that was trying to send its players on breakaways all period long found Claude Giroux roaring up ice. He blew past Kronwall, roared in on MacDonald and roofed a deke-dangle backhand over MacDonald. With 1:49 left in the 1st, the Flyers went up 2-1.

A little under eight minutes into the second, the Kronwall hit happened, and when the Flyers took a pair of doofy penalties as Zack Rinaldo tried to fight anyone who would listen at 8:01, and at 13:46, Scott Hartnell attempted to do the same damn thing, and instead of scoring on those power plays, and just after Valtteri Filppula and Jaromir Jagr collided in a hit which would send Jagr off and out of the game, the Wings got caught flat-footed at the blueline again. Kronwall made a dumb pass to Ian White at the line as Kronwall was stick-checked (the Wings should have dumped the puck in deep), White coughed the puck up Giroux, and after MacDondald stopped Giroux but dumped out a juicy breakaway rebound, Maxime Talbot fired the puck into an open net with 5:50 left in the 2nd.

The Wings obviously kicked the afterburners in after that, and while it took ‘em a while to start generating traffic, off another doofy penalty, this time by Hartnell for literally tugging MacDonald down by the back of his jersey, the Wings held the puck in on the power play, generated chances, cycled it around the back boards, and as Hartnell came out of the penalty box, the Wings’ dump-in was played poorly by Ilya Bryzgalov, Kyle Quincey held it in, slid it to Brendan Smith, and with Tomas Holmstrom in front, Smith passed the puck to Johan Franzen, who blazed toward the net and roofed the puck over Bryzgalov.

The Wings couldn’t close the deal between Franzen’s goal at the 8:47 mark of the 3rd and the end of the game, but by Gord, they tried, and while the Wings’ mistakes and inept power play doomed them, I cannot give them enough credit for trying and working their asses off in the second and especially third periods.

Update: Here are the game’s highlights from the Wings’ website:

Statistics:

Shots 39-23 Red Wings. The Wings were out-shot 9-2 in the 1st period, but out-shot Philadelphia 16-8 in the 2nd period and out-shot them 21-6 in the 3rd.

The Wings’ power play went 0-for-4 in 8:00 of PP time and gave up a shorthanded goal; the Flyers’ PP went 0-for-2 in 4:00 of PP time.

Joey MacDonald stopped 20 of the 23 shots he faced; Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 37 of the 39 shots he faced.

The 3 stars, per the Philadelphia Daily News’s Frank Seravalli, were Maxime Talbot, Claude Giroux and Ilya Bryzgalov.

The Wings’ goals: Zetterberg (16) from Filppula (33) and Hudler (20);

Franzen (25) from Smith (3) and Quincey (19).

Faceoffs 36-19 Detroit (Detroit won 65%);

Blocked shots 24-10 Philadelphia;

Missed shots 15-14 Detroit (total attempts 78-47 Detroit);

Hits 25-20 Philadelphia;

Giveaways 11-7 Philadelphia;

Takeaways 5-5.

Individual stats:

Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 14-and-10 (58%); Helm went 10-and-4 (71%); Abdelkader went 6-and-3 (67%); Emmerton went 3-and-1 (75%); Filppula went 2-and-0 (100%); Franzen went 1-and-1 (50%).

Shots: Franzen led the Wings with 7 shots; Zetterberg had 4; Hudler, Emmerton and Kronwall had 3; Cleary, Miller, Quincey, Mursak, Conner, Helm, Filppula and Holmstrom had 2; Smith, Abdelkader and Stuart had 1.

Blocked attempts: The Flyers blocked 4 shot attempts by Ian White; Kronwall, Franzen and Quincey had 3 attempts blocked; Stuart and Zetterberg had 2 attempts blocked; Smith, Cleary, Hudler, Janik, Conner, Helm and Franzen had 1 attempt blocked.

Missed shots: Abdelkader missed the net 4 times; Franzen missed the net 3 times; Quincey and Kronwall missed the net 2 times; Stuart, Janik, Zetterberg and Helm missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Abdelkader and Stuart had 4 hits; Franzen had 3; Conner and Kronwall had 2; White, Stuart, Janik, Helm and Holmstrom had 1.

Giveaways: Helm had 2 giveaways; Smith, Stuart, Hudler, Kronwall and MacDonald had 1.

Takeaways: Franzen had 2 takeaways; Abdelkader, Miller and Helm had 1.

Blocked opponent shots: Smith and Quincey blocked 2 shots; Cleary, White, Stuart, Janik, Emmerton and Kronwall blocked 1.

Penalties taken: Helm and Kronwall were tagged with minor penalties.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective -5. Abdelkader, Miller, Stuart, Janik, Mursak, Emmerton and Filppula were -1; Hudler and Franzen were +1; Quincey was +2.

Points: Franzen and Zetterberg scored goals; Hudler, Quincey and Filppula had assists.

Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 24:43 played; White played 22:49; Quincey played 21:34;

Stuart played 20:56; Filppula played 20:32; Zetterberg played 19:50;

Franzen played 18:24; Hudler played 17:50; Smith played 16:18;

Cleary played 16:03; Miller played 15:31; Holmstrom played 15:15;

Helm played 14:51; Janik played 13:51; Abdelkader played 12:51;

Emmerton played 9:11; Mursak played 8:30; Conner played 8:23.

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Comments

mrfluffy's avatar

Not to ignore your post George but just throwing out a general whatnot-

Any of you going to the *ucks game on the 14th? Thinking of dragging the Mrs along…first NHL game for me…sigh…and I used to live 4 hours south of Detroit. Go figure.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 03/07/12 at 12:35 AM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Johan Franzen woke from his mid-winter slumber in a big way, registering 7 shots, a goal and a fantastic performance in terms of his energy and intensity

I’m definitely not watching what you’re watching.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 03/07/12 at 12:37 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Franzen’s becoming the new Ericsson. If he scores a hat trick it’s not gonna be enough anymore. I’m sure somebody will start selling “Shitbox 93” shirts at this rate.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 03/07/12 at 12:50 AM ET

Guilherme's avatar

If I only paid attention to scoring, my avatar would have a Pavel on it.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 03/07/12 at 12:56 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I don’t mean to take it out on you, Herm, I just find the perception of Franzen to be particularly entrenched in a negative vein.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 03/07/12 at 01:05 AM ET

Avatar

I was there tonight, and I basically agree. I thought the first period (2 shots on goal? WTF?) and the 0-4 power play were the difference. The second period was pretty evenly played and the third was all Wings, but too little too late.

Posted by RyanVM on 03/07/12 at 01:15 AM ET

DocF's avatar

The best thing about this game was when the Mark Howe ceremony was over, ALL the Flyers shook Gordie Howe’s hand.  I suspect most of them had never met him and none had seen him play.  That puts me two up on a whole team of NHL players.

Too little too late summarizes the situation, I guess.  George, I think you were fair in your summary.  I saw the game the same way you did.

For the benefit of the uniformed, Conner is up because he is a proven commodity.  He knows how to play NHL level hockey and is effective.  He sort of reminds me of the guy Curt Gowdy used to call the human bowling ball in the old American Football League days - Charlie Toler who was the Houston fullback.

Anyway, we must win on Friday.  I hope some bodies are back by then. 

Doc

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 03/07/12 at 01:49 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Review? Definitely. Fine? Maybe. Suspension? Don’t think so

If they even fine Kronwall for backing into a player who’s skating with his head down, then they might as well just give everyone tutus and ballet slippers. As Mickey so brilliantly pointed out, at some point you have to be responsible for what you yourself do on the ice.

So, wake up, streaking wingers, it’s a frigging contact sport. You don’t get a free pass to skate up the outside with the puck. That’s just common sense.

As for the Wings’ effort…meh. The only forwards who seem to have any idea what to do with all of that “effort” are those on the 3rd and 4th lines (with the exception of The Horse’s Ass). Bad passes. Bad decisions. Bad positioning. Those seem to be the traits of the 1st and 2nd line forwards. Personally, I’d rather see Nyquist, Andersson and Brunnstrom as the 1st line right now.

I get your defense of Franzen, George, but the reality is he only exerts himself when he thinks he has a chance to score. The rest of the time it seems like he skates around looking for places to hide. Personally, I think he plays “smaller” than any big man in the league.

But as I told a friend today, I’ve made peace with the fact that this team is going nowhere in the playoffs. My hope is for next year and, more importantly, the years beyond that. There’s a stockpile of talent in the minors (guys like Nyquist, Tatar, Andersson, Pulkkinen, Sheehan, Jurko, Janrkrok, Mrazek and others) that I can’t wait to see in Detroit.

Until then, I’ll cheer on Cleary and Bert and Fil and Happy – hoping they can make each season last as long as possible. But it’s two or three years from now that I’m really excited about.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 03/07/12 at 01:51 AM ET

calquake's avatar

Posted by OlderThanChelios on 03/06/12 at 11:51 PM ET

Aren’t you being a little overly pessimistic?  Nowhere? You mean 1st Round?  I disagree.  2nd Round?  Maybe, but I’d be disappointed.  WCF?  They have as good a shot as anyone in the West.  SCF?  If they come out of the West, my money is on them.  This is all predicated on the two things Gramps knows to be truisms… injuries and officiating.  Red Wings healthy?  At least to the WCF.  Fix PP and have regular season officiating in the playoffs?  I see them winning the Cup.  But that’s just me being overly optimistic. cheese

Posted by calquake on 03/07/12 at 03:16 AM ET

Avatar

Rinaldo got a misconduct after the game?

I was surprised by how the Flyers played. Normally, when the Red Wings play against the Flyers, the Flyers get away with a lot, but I think the Red Wings got away with a lot more that game.

I think those shot totals are overly generous to Bryzgalov. 16-8 in the 2nd period? 21-6 in the 3rd? Looked much closer than that to me.

Three goals against, all at least partially blamable on the defense. On the first goal against, MacDonald and Janik conspired to give away the puck behind the net (i.e., didn’t communicate). On the second one, Kronwall couldn’t hold the puck in and no one got back defensively until there was a breakaway. And on the third one, White couldn’t control the puck, so he tried to bring it to his backhand and essentially gave it right to Giroux, then both defenders ignored Talbot.

I don’t see how there could be supplemental discipline for Kronwall’s hit. Kronwall didn’t leave his feet or launch himself through/into Voracek, he kept his elbows down and didn’t sprint into the hit or plaster Voracek into the boards. Furthermore, Voracek was not turned away and I don’t think anyone believes there was intent to injure. He just had his head down and didn’t see the ‘wall in front of him (dur, horrible pun). I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a concussion, but his helmet stayed on and it didn’t look like his head hit the ice, so it could have been worse. (“Could have been worse” sounds wrong but “fortunately” and “that’s a good thing” don’t belong when talking of an injury.)

Posted by bleep bloop on 03/07/12 at 05:20 AM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

LoL George….

I’m SURE you can tell the difference between faking the funk and not.  Like in the start of the second when they only had 2 shots to that point.  They started throwing trash from the outside to get the count up.  No real chance of scoring.  Thing that killed me was that if they were going to do this, NO ONE WENT TO THE OTHER SIDE FOR REBOUNDS.

Franzen made it look frantic at times, but there wasn’t any real threat except for the goal he scored (which he’s so fantastic at, it blows my mind that he’s not consistantly a leading goal scorer in the league, can only be attributed to work ethic or being fragile mentally, considering he’s got the best playmaker in the league centering him) and the one other shot he took from the high slot in the third.

2 dangerous shots, put 7 on net.  5 from shitty outside attempt.  He’s not going to the hard areas consistantly.  He does it just enough to be able to say he did it, but spent majority of the time on the outside.  That’s why they said Philly did a good job of boxing them out, because not even they’re biggest player on the ice wanted to battle for prime real estate.  Might as well be Conners size.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/07/12 at 01:04 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.