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Red Wings-Hurricanes quick take: Wings overcome themselves in a big win

Update: According to MLive’s Ansar Khan, the Wings have sent Brendan Smith to Grand Rapids as an olive branch as he’s not going to play while Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl get their feet wet again, and the Griffins rather desperately need to win out to make the playoffs. Having Janik and Smith in the lineup will help them considerably, and if they don’t “win out,” Smith will probably vie for a job come playoff time.

My goodness. I’m not even going to try to give you a narrative recap of the insanity that was the Detroit Red Wings’ wild, Jason Woolley 5-4 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Red Wings may have received a much-needed kick in the pants in the leadership department by Nicklas Lidstrom, who returned and registered an assist, 4 shots, 2 missed shots and 2 blocked shots in 20:26 of ice time…

But they also had to overcome the horrendous habits they’d accumulated during a 6-game winless streak. The Wings managed to surrender goals on the first shifts of the 1st and 2nd periods, surrendered 2 power play goals on 2 Hurricanes attempts and trailed 4-1 with 4 minutes and 5 seconds left in the second period.

Then the Wings somehow found their poise, despite some grevious defensive errors made by none less than Lidstrom himself, Kyle Quincey (who co-led the team with 7 shots, matching Henrik Zetterberg’s output), some shaky goaltending at times by Ty Conklin and some just plain old stupid play and stupid calls (see: Tomas Holmstrom is checked into Cam Ward by Tim Gleason, popped in the head as he tries to get away from Ward and stand back up, and once de-helmeted, Holmstrom pushed Gleason twice and is popped in the face again. Penalties? Gleason for roughing, Holmstrom for goaltender interference, and Gleason and Bryan Allen literally tried to beat on, beat up and injure Wings all night long) to simply keep the pedal down to the metal and do nothing less than fire 50 shots and register 5 goals as the Wings overcame themselves as well as their opponents.

Did the Wings turn the corner here, or do you think they need to take the Blue Jackets out on the back-to-back series starting on Monday—which will hopefully include Jonathan Ericsson (bet you never thought you’d miss him or Jakub Kindl as much as the Wings have) and maybe Jimmy Howard—before you’re willing to stop worrying and learn to love the trainwreck that is a Red Wings team still searching for its identity as it stumbles toward the regular season’s finish line and an all-but-inevitable match-up against the Predators?

I’m not sold yet, but I’m willing to take this game as it was, and my goodness, do I ever believe that the Wings defeated an incredibly difficult opponent that the Hurricanes could not provide them with: themselves. The Red Wings beat their own bad habits, struggles, stumbles and scatterbrained play while attempting to find some leadership without the captain.

I think there’s something to be said for the hope Lidstrom brought to the team, and there’s also something to be said for the fact that this team needs better goaltending, but that’s just my theory. I’m not going to complain after watching my team win for the first time in two weeks, regardless of how messily the win was accomplished.

I will say this, however: somebody sat down Kyle Quincey before the game and told him that given how Brendan Smith’s been playing and given the need to get Ericsson and Kindl’s feet wet, he’d be scratched if he didn’t pick things up, and he responded in a big way.

Onto the highlights…

Zetterberg’s 4-2 goal gave the Wings life…

And his first goal (2-1) was gorgeous…

 

Todd Bertuzzi gave the Joe some serious life with a slick play of his own (4-3)...

 

The magical Czech elf tied the game…

 

And then this happened:

 

Statistics:

Shots 50-24 Detroit. Detroit out-shot Carolina 16-10 in the 1st period, 15-11 in the 2nd period and 19-3 in the 3rd period.

Ugly stat: Detroit went 0 for 3 in 3:55 of PP time, while the Canes went 2 for 2 in 2:16 of PP time.

Ty Conklin stopped 20 of 24 shots; Ward stopped 45 of 50.

The 3 stars, per the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness, were Jiri Tlusty, Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg.

The Wings’ goals: Zetterberg (20) from Filppula (37) and Hudler (23);

Zetterberg (21) from Filppula (38) and Hudler (24);

Bertuzzi (14) from Nyquist (6) and Lidstrom (22);

Hudler (22) from Stuart (15) and Filppula (39);

Miller (14) from Cleary (21).

Faceoffs 34-32 Carolina (Detroit won 48%);

Blocked shots 13-8 Detroit;

Missed shots a stunning 21 to 7 Detroit (total attempts 79-44 Detroit);

Hits 25-21 Carolina;

Giveaways 6-4 Detroit;

Takeaways 14-6 Detroit.

Update: Here’s a full slate of highlights:

 

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Comments

Avatar

See, that wasn’t so difficult was it?!

Posted by godblender on 03/25/12 at 12:10 AM ET

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

I missed the first period…

Did the Wings turn the corner here, or do you think…..

I think I saw different Wings team tonight. 
None of the passing to the sideboards and head to the corner for puck control.
The forward crossing the blue line makes one pass and heads for the net, and the player receiving the pass shoots on net.  The chaos begins there since it was contrary to all the scouting reports, and preparation, to play the best franchise in the NHL.

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 03/25/12 at 12:12 AM ET

Avatar

Nyquist just keeps getting better and better. If he isn’t in the line-up, come playoff time, then I will have to begin to doubt Babcock’s sanity.

Posted by From The Hockey Wastelands from Cleveland on 03/25/12 at 12:20 AM ET

DocF's avatar

There was some poor play that resulted in all four of Carolina’s goals, but decent work in the net would have stopped three of them.  I shudder to think of going in to the playoffs having to rely on Conklin, even as a backup.

The first two lines were buzzing hard.  Nyquist and Bertuzzi seem to have established some chemistry, which is good.  The third line played like they were supposed to do.  Danny Cleary played a very hard game.  He made the winning goal possible.  He is hurting so bad he can barely walk, yet he goes out and plays his heart out.

Overall, I am satisfied.  I do want to see them blow the doors off Columbus twice.  That will make this old fan a happy camper.

Doc

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 03/25/12 at 12:26 AM ET

WingsFaninCO's avatar

Cleary played a very hard game.  He made the winning goal possible.  He is hurting so bad he can barely walk, yet he goes out and plays his heart out.

Amen.

Posted by WingsFaninCO on 03/25/12 at 12:34 AM ET

Avatar

As long as Cleary isn’t a liability on the ice, he could serve as the model for the team (“if he’s playing with that type of injury, I can play through my (insert injury here).). If I’m going to look for a silver lining, it’s Datsyuk saying in that Puck Daddy interview this week how he got rested and recharged. Can’t do much about seeding now, take advantage of Smith and co. getting valuable experience (because you know some of the Griffin players will be needed in the playoffs with the injuries) and the injured getting refreshed and hopefully have enough time to pull it back together as a team soon (especially special teams).

Hang in there George. Pray that your family does well with these medical issues.

Posted by Bugsy on 03/25/12 at 12:41 AM ET

Avatar

Three other thoughts:
I hope this doesn’t mean Zetterberg over time isn’t turning into the Ryan Rayburn of the Wings—not in talent, but getting off to a slow start in the first half, and then finding his groove in the second half. I wasn’t the first to comment on this, but I’d rather see him get hot in the second half (and boy, I appreciated having him with Datsyuk out)  after a cooler start than the other way around.

My feeling after the win: WHEW!

Oh, and is Drew MIller just a wee bit underappreciated?

Posted by Bugsy on 03/25/12 at 01:13 AM ET

Avatar

Last thing: quotes until George gets around to it

“They’ve got some world-class guys and they taught us a lesson,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said.

“They seemed to get some life and jump after their first goal,” Carolina’s Eric Staal said. “The Zetterberg line got hot.”

“We left our goaltender out to dry a lot,”  (Chad) LaRose said. “It could have been 10-4.”

“It’s a game we knew we needed, not just for the standings, but just to feel good again,” (Drew) Miller said.

Nicklas Lidstrom:
“We’re happy with the win, that’s for sure. We haven’t been playing well….I was a little sluggish and rusty in the first, but you have to battle through it to get your legs going again. It’s going to linger for a while, but I can play with it….We showed a lot more desperation. We showed a lot of character in the second period. We could’ve gone the other way, but we showed some desperation, and that’s what you have to have this time of year.”

Posted by Bugsy on 03/25/12 at 01:21 AM ET

Chet's avatar

white was garbage on 1st two car goals, seemed to recover after.

overall nice to see them pull one out. must be late march…

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 03/25/12 at 02:52 AM ET

Travis89's avatar

George,

Hudler seems to have done very well in the past with Datsyuk, and he is very good with the puck when he has a little room to maneuver.

But on the line with Z and Fil, Hudler is the guy who draws the straw to be the net-front presence. How about Huds-Pav-Bert for one line, with Bert net-front and Hudler sniping, and then Fil-Z-Franzen when he gets healthy?

Then since Helm is out a month or more, 3rd line is Cleary-Abby-Miller, followed by Nyquist-Emerton-Holmstrom.  I assume Mursak sits in this scenario.

What do you think?  Also, would it not be better to be in 6th place playing PHX or Dallas than 5th playing Nashville?  Regardless, the team is in trouble if Howard has a problem groin, and we are down to Conklin with Mac also down.  A real shame for a season that looked promising at 41-17-3.

Posted by Travis89 on 03/25/12 at 03:32 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I don’t think that Babs is gonna mess with Hudler working with Fil and Z. It’ll be back to Franzen, Datsyuk and Bertuzzi as soon as Franzen’s ready, and I’m assuming that Cleary will stay with Abdelkader. Right now, though, I do think that the fourth line is gonna be Nyquist-Emmerton-Holmstrom for the last few games of the season.

In terms of where the team finishes, they’re going to try to finish as high as possible and let the chips fall where they may.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 03/25/12 at 05:44 AM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

Not a huge believer in coincidence. I thought the Wings could have easily phoned it in, several times, last night.  It was good to see TPH back on ice.

Hudler did outstanding work last night too.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 03/25/12 at 09:47 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

George, great take on the game.  I was really proud of the Wings for overcoming the weak stuff and literally grinding out a win.  Geez, if Cam Ward hadn’t been so good, it really could have been 10-4. 

I agree that Z’s line is untouchable.  They have developed great chemistry.  I’ve always thought that the more guys play together and get a feel for each other, the better.  I’m not a fan of “mixing up the lines,” though I do understand that, at times, it’s necessary to get the team going. 

Nyquist is really impressive.  And Kyle Quincey definitely stepped it up.  And good to see people giving Dan Cleary some love.  Like Homer, he works his arse off every time he’s out there.

Biggest concern for me, as others commented, is goaltending.  Geez, we need Howard to be really healthy and to get his mojo back.  If that happens, I think the Wings are really going to soar.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 03/25/12 at 10:44 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

But on the line with Z and Fil, Hudler is the guy who draws the straw to be the net-front presence. How about Huds-Pav-Bert for one line, with Bert net-front and Hudler sniping, and then Fil-Z-Franzen when he gets healthy?

Not counting net-front tip-ins, Jiri Hudler has been responsible for 4 of the last 8 times a Red Wings player has screened a goalie.

Hudler was absolutely baller last night playing both in front of the net and along the boards.  I think the difference was that he was treating the entire net-front area like the key: he would back into defenders or slide behind them, hang out for only a second or two, and then move on to circle around to get elsewhere.  This solved two problems that the Wings have been having with their net-front presence: it kept defenders moving and less likely to either block shots or get to loose pucks, and it kept that net-front guy mobile enough to pinch guys off at either the half-boards or behind the net (since he was neither tied up nor fronted). This gave the wings more offensive options and made them rely slightly less on defenders having to pinch in order to keep possession.  This gave them more options to reset the cycle when a guy was close to getting cornered by a pressuring defender.

It looks like the other change they made was to make Hudler an intermediary for the zone breakout.  In previous games, Hudler was always the first to cherry-pick. The problem is that Hudler is slower than evolution. Instead what they were doing on the zone breakout was to get Hudler on the other side of the blue line and then run that hook-and-ladder play where he gets the puck, turns his back to the defender up ice, and lays a pass for Filppula skating by him with speed. Bertuzzi and Datsyuk did it a few times too. They essentially re-introduced the red line themselves and added an extra layer into their breakout that brought back the magical word we haven’t been able to use often enough lately: transition.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 03/25/12 at 12:58 PM ET

NIVO's avatar

could it be my eyes deceived me? In some cases i was seeing 2 Datsyuks out there! Oh, it was just good ole #14 showing what he can do in the passing department. The guy IS dynamite waiting to explode. And explode he will if he is in the lineup come playoff time.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 03/25/12 at 02:23 PM ET

Avatar

I came on here to gush about Nyquist.  Remember he’s 11 games into his career.  Wow!

The Datsyuk Nyquist Bertuzzi line is excellent together. 

But even MORE notable is the confidence that Filppula is skating with.  ZERO tentativeness.  AND he’s becoming more Datsyukian with his passing and moves…

If the back end gets fixed, or Smith gets the confidence that Nyquist or Filppula has as Mickey would say “look out”.

Posted by BobaFett from Las Vegas on 03/25/12 at 03:47 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Apologies I ain’t been around, 19.  I was in SJ visiting family and I came down with the flu.

FML…

Anyway, uber-Youtube user, awood40, posted a 23-minute vid of the gutsy win over the Canes.  It’s worth all 23 minutes.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 03/26/12 at 03:56 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Oh from that vid?  Gus/Dangles/Bert is absolutely sick.  No way Gus plays fourth line minutes now.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 03/26/12 at 03:57 PM ET

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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.