The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/31/11 at 01:29 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings fell into bad habits and found themselves paying for earned breaks on Friday, dropping a 3-2 decision to Chicago…And the Wings’ lack of discipline came to bite ‘em in the ass, repeatedly, but the Wings didn’t seem to be willing or able to learn from their mistakes, nor curry favor with the referees.
Don’t get me wrong—the Wings were terribly, terribly inefficient, choosing to chase the puck and chase a Hawks team out puck-possessing the masters of the craft instead of answering the Hawks’ play with more of the same. But after Nicklas Lidstrom hooked Marian Hossa on a breakaway and got away with it, the officiating crew seemed intent upon repaying their kindness, and the Wings were quite happy to indulge them. Lidstrom was then called for a penalty shot infraction against (on which Howard whiffed, big time, on Jonathan Toews’ shot) and then a 2-minute penalty on Toews…
But the Wings didn’t choose to address the fact that their defenders were attempting to and succeeding at stretching out the Wings’ forwards cheating at center via two-line passes. Instead, despite the fact that a Todd Bertuzzi-Daniel Carcillo scrap sparked the 1-0 Justin Abdelkader scored thanks to a near end-to-end rush by Brad Stuart (who provided traffic on Abdelkader’s goal), the Wings stopped going to the front of the net for the rest of the first period, and let the Hawks cycle, circle and out-shoot them throughout the second half of the first period.
After killing off Lidstrom’s penalty penalty and receiving a lovely tip-in goal by Todd Bertuzzi (Mike Commodore looks like he needs a real defensive partner, given the stinker of a game Jonathan Ericsson played), and all looked well…
But Howard whiffed on the puck twice, and if you’re willing to blame the goalie, that’s that. But how it happened?
Just over two minutes after Bertuzzi’s tip, Marian Hossa skated deep into the Wings’ zone, cycled back, and as Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall chased the puck, he ragged it back to the blueline, and Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula then chased Hossa, who gave himself open ice and fired another shot past Howard that he never seemed to have a chance on.
After that, it was if the air went out of the Wings’ balloon. They stabbed, flailed, jabbed and flopped after the puck, never out-skating the Hawks to achieve inside body position or to simply angle themselves into battles with their sticks or skates ready to pounce upon loose pucks.
Instead, the slightly too-happy-to-be-passive Wings, regardless of whether they were spooked by a refereeing crew that let the Hawks smash, crash and occasionally grab their way to domination of the pace and play of the game, or whether the Wings were just “off” themselves, were burned by an old hockey adage—if you’re going to give up two one-goal leads, you sure as f*** better not give up the next goal.
And they did. Howard absolutely whiffed on a Brent Seabrook slap shot from somewhere near Rockford, and were penalized three more times for their efforts, twice for bumping a Corey Crawford who, shall we say, Pekka Rinne’d every time he was brushed, and so some solid performances by Johan Franzen (hey, he shot the puck wide all the damn time, but he shot the puck) and Todd Bertuzzi were washed away amidst the five-to-one Hawks power play advantage, especially as the Wings tried in vain to rally from their deficit, and they simply spent too much time watching the Hawks play and playing in fear of what the officials might call instead of offering the kind of fast-paced, aggressive, demonstrative and efficient game that the Wings usually crank up and crank out when they go toe to toe with teams that can match their speed and skill.
Instead, Henrik Zetterberg’s linemates were invisible, Pavel Datsyuk’s linemates took penalties, the Helm-less “Grind Line 3.0” lost its jam, Danny Cleary and Drew Miller’s hard work included, and the “Kid Line” of Cory Emmerton, Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson may have been under-played given that the Wings played a full sixth of the game shorthanded.
Perhaps just as disturbingly, as hard as Lidstrom and White and Commodore played, this game marks perhaps the seventh or eighth time that Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart have spent the game chasing puck carriers, over-committing to one side of the ice and working for far too long in their own zone because they can’t or won’t bear down and clear the damn puck when the opportunity arises…
And yes, Jonathan Ericsson was truly awful tonight. Just awful, marring a fantastic game from a job-stealer in Commodore.
That’s the individual story, but collectively, just as Jimmy Howard stopped 25 pucks but absolutely whiffed on the three he should have stopped, the Wings killed 5 power plays but never managed to control the puck or back the Blackhawks’ forecheck, transition game or cycling in the Wings’ end off to carve out the time and space necessary to achieve and sustain their own attack upon Crawford and the Hawks’ defense.
In other words, the Wings played an inelegant, inefficient and downright sputtery game, perhaps getting off on their and the officials’ wrong foot and then choosing to never display the kind of aggressiveness necessary to win on a Friday night in Chicago.
The Wings looked like a team that was missing speed (Darren Helm) and fearless moxie (Tomas Holmstrom), and when your best defenseman not named Nicklas Lidstrom, hooks included, is one Mike Commodore, and your best players not named Datsyuk and Zetterberg are Gustav Nyquist, Cory Emmerton and Joakim Andersson, you’re not going to win many games.
Now the Wings are 5 points instead of 1 behind the Hawks, they’re tied with the Blues thanks to St. Louis’s 2-1 shootout loss to Nashville on Friday going into an all-important Saturday night game (7 PM EST, FSD/FS Midwest/WXYT)...
And the Wings remain very much so out of sorts, a team that hasn’t seem to have done of anything in terms of playing the kind of calm, confident, aggressively reserved and resilient hockey they displayed when they handed Los Angeles’s hockey pants to ‘em two weeks ago.
Yes, the Wings defeated the Oilers, and yes, their efforts were furious, if only eventually, against Vancouver and Calgary, but all the elegance the Wings displayed in their 4-1 win over Nashville disappeared in the Wings’ self-exhausting, brawling win over St. Louis, and the Wings seem to be back to their whiffing-at-a-flutter-puck-ing most indecisive all over again.
For a team that’s won two of their past three games and four of their past seven, the Wings haven’t displayed much swagger, Nashville game excluded, since long before Christmas, and perhaps mentally and physically tired from tonight’s loss, the Wings absolutely, positively must, must rebound and defeat the Blues on Saturday night…
Despite the fact that the Wings have been as resilient as drizzle over the past two weeks.
That huge, contender-worthy “step” the Wings took forward after defeating the Blues, occasional flailing effort included, on Tuesday? Yeah, the Wings gave it right back tonight. Time to make some self-adjustments and stop the the God-damned tendency to streak in terms of losses as well as wins tomorrow night.
Perhaps this game is the most disappointing because, at least until the Wings face Chicago on January 9th, anyway, we’re gonna hear the Hawks tell us how absolutely wonderful they are, and how they’re the “new” best in the West dynasty-in-the-making thanks to one meeting’s result. The Hawks and Canucks are as yappy as all hell get out, and after this game, the Wings might as well just tell the reporters to turn off their sound recorders because they’ll only need to nod or shake their heads when told everything the Hawks informed the press that the Wings clearly think after having been handed a handful of rocks.
One more thing: Aside from noting that the refs made sure to call this game as if Tomas Holmstrom were playing, and that the Wings certainly didn’t give the officials anything less than ample ammunition with which to make their assumptions, I’d say that what really concerns me is that when Jimmy doesn’t stand on his head, his teammates have yet to show me that they are willing or able to bail their goaltender out. Howard was definitely “off” tonight, but had the Wings played a little harder and a little more determined hockey, they could have at least made a game of things instead of seemingly falling into that, “We’re quite happy to counter-punch” shell.
Shots 28-28. The Wings were out-shot 10-7 in the 1st period, out-shot Chicago 14-8 in the 2nd period and were out-shot 10-7 in the 3rd period.
The Blackhawks went 0-for-5 in 10:00 of PP time; the Wings went 0-for-1 in all of 1:25 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 25 of 28; Corey Crawford stopped 26 of 28
The 3 stars, per the “Chicago Media,” Were Seabrook, Toews and Hossa.
The Wings’ goals: Abdelkader (3) from Miller (6) and Cleary (10);
Bertuzzi (5) from Commodore (5) and Ericsson (6).
Faceoffs 30-29 Detroit (the Wings won 51%);
Blocked shots 16-8 Detroit;
Missed shots 11-8 Detroit (total attemtps 52-46 Chicago);
Hits 24-22 Detroit;
Giveaways 11-4 Chicago;
Takeaways 11-2 Chicago—and that’s accurate.
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 10-and-12 (45%); Abdelkader went 7-and-8 (47%); Zetterberg went 5-and-4 (56%); Filppula went 3-and-3 (50%); Emmerton went 3-and-1 (75%); Cleary and Andersson won their only faceoffs; Franzen lost his only faceoff.
Shots: Abdelkader led the Wings with 4 shots; Cleary, Commodore and Stuart had 3; Nyquist, White, Bertuzzi, Ericsson, Kronwall and Andersson had 2; Lidstrom, Zetterberg and Emmerton had 1.
Blocked attempts: White and Ericsson hit Chicago players 2 times; Datsyuk, Emmerton, Kronwall and Franzen missed the net 1 time (more for Franzen).
Missed shots: Zetterberg and Bertuzzi missed the net 2 times; Nyquist, White, Miller, Stuart, Emmerton, Ericsson and Franzen missed the net 1 time (more for Franzen).
Hits: Datsyuk led the Wings with 4 hits; Stuart, Zetterberg and Ericsson had 3; Abdelkader, Commodore and Kronwall had 2; Nyquist, White, Hudler, Emmerton and Franzen had 1.
Giveaways: Only Miller, Stuart, Filppula and Kronwall were tagged for giveaways. The Wings had more, but the Hawks were credited with takeaways instead.
Takeaways: Only Filppula and Ericsson were credited with takeaways.
Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall did indeed block 4 shots; Lidstrom, Cleary and Miller blocked 2; Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Commodore, Stuart, Zetterberg and Ericsson blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Bertuzzi took a major and a minor penalty; Lidstrom, Stuart, Ericsson and Franzen were tagged with minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective zero. Abdelkader, Cleary, Datsyuk, Miller, Commodore, Bertuzzi, Ericsson and Franzen finished at +1; Lidstrom and White finished at -1; Hudler, Zetterberg and Filppula earned their -2’s.
Points: Bertuzzi and Abdelkader scored goals; Cleary, Miller, Commodore and Ericsson had assists.
Ice time: White led the Wings with 26:33 played; Lidstrom played 24:50; Kronwall played 21:57;
Datsyuk played 20:40; Stuart played 20:27; Franzen played 18:27;
Zetterberg played 18:06; Miller played 17:20; Cleary played 16:58;
Filpula played 16:04; Abdelkader played 15:12; Ericsson played 14:58;
Bertuzzi played 14:40; Hudler played 12:54; Commodore played 12:18;
Emmerton played 6:53; Nyquist played 6:35; Andersson played 6:22.
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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.