The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/11/11 at 12:03 AM ET
The Winnipeg Jets got off to a fantastic start against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, scoring a goal on the game’s first shift, but the game’s final 59:25 didn’t go exactly as Winnipeg had planned. Detroit out-worked, out-hustled, out-ground and plain old schooled (slightly sloppy 3rd period included) the Jets, defeating them 7-1.
The Wings definitely seemed shaken when the Jets pounced upon them, but the team simply chose to settle down, regain puck possession and give the Jets, who displayed a lightning-fast transition game and an excellent ability to cycle the puck down low and fire pucks into the slot for prime scoring chances, a little bit of their own medicine. The Wings slowly but surely took the puck back, cranked the pace of the game back down and then turned it up to a level that Winnipeg simply couldn’t handle, setting up in the Jets’ end and firing pucks out to open players in the slot in Todd Bertuzzi and Henrik Zetterberg in the 1st period, a lurking Jiri Hudler in the 2nd, and, after Chris Conner scored his first goal as a Wing off two Jets players’ shin pads, the Wings kept going to the slot and continued to reap the rewards, with Filppula, Hudler and Miller scoring before the Jets finally chose to relieve Ondrej Pavelec of his duties early in the 3rd.
Were the Wings perfect? Not exactly, especially given that the team obviously talked about not playing as poorly as they did in the 2nd and 3rd periods of their effort against Phoenix on Thursday; the Wings were instead out-shot 12-4 and occasionally quite scatterbrained in the 3rd, but at the same time, the Wings played smart hockey, restricting the Jets’ shots to single opportunities and giving Jimmy Howard, with perhaps the exception of Niklas Kronwall’s run of Evander Kane into Howard, a relatively easy night.
Kronwall did take some stitches off an Andrew Ladd shot which Kronwall blocked right up his stick shaft and into his face, but a few stitches and no Chiclets later, he returned and played superb hockey…
As did every Wings player, from lines 1-4 and defensive positions 1-6. The Wings executed their system to near perfection, met the bigger, stronger Jets with a work ethic which simply refused to cede an un-earned inch to a team that, at least initially, looked anything but tired (despite getting into Detroit around 3 AM after defeating the Canes), and the Wings confidently, simply and sometimes elegantly picked the Jets apart, exposing their inability to keep up with the Wings’ skill and their unfortunate luck in terms of finding themselves facing a team which chose to impose its will upon its opponent to the point that they were utterly and completely out-competed, out-worked and plain old out-classed by a Red Wings team which is starting to resemble something truly terrifying, intimidating and imposing as all hell gets out.
Itself. The Wings finally look like a team that’s going to go into their upcoming stretch of 6 games (five on the road) over the course of 11 pre-Christmas nights with their eyes set upon first place in the Western Conference, continued break-out performances by Jiri Hudler and Valtteri Filppula and continued dominance by and sterling leadership from Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and their new leaders and voices on the bench and locker room in Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall and Jimmy Howard.
Sometimes you need to “sort out” your opponents and sometimes it takes a little while to sort out your own identity when you undergo significant personnel changes, both behind the bench and on the ice, but the Wings seemed to finally rediscover their blueprint on Saturday—high-speed, high-skill, highly-attentive-to-detail puck-possession hockey powered by a fiery transition game and puck-moving defensemen, a fantastic ability to grind the puck out down low and find players in the slot, and a work ethic as representative of the blue-collar Detroiters the Wings represent as their jerseys are beautifully and intimidatingly red and white.
The Jets’ third period proved that there are no easy games for a Wings team that can always be gotten up for because they are the Wings, but there really is something to be said that tonight, finally, and perhaps for the first time, the Wings exceeded their highly regarded standard of excellence, and maybe in doing so, they showed the rest of the league that you don’t have to wear a Jet on your jersey to turn and burn with your afterburners blazing.
Tonight, the Wings took flight and left the Jets singed and spinning in their wake, and it was a beautiful thing…The kind of hockey that the Wings need to keep playing to go on a December run that sets up an identity-stamping iteration upon the tried-and-true blueprint that can carry a team deep into the spring.
Shots 30-29 Winnipeg overall. The Wings out-shot the Jets 12-9 in the 1st, out-shot the Jets 13-9 in the 2nd and were out-shot 12-4 in the 3rd.
The Wings went 0 for 3 in 4:17 of PP time; the Jets went 0 for 2 in 2:17 of PP time.
Howard stopped 29 of 30 shots; Pavelec stopped 19 of 26 and Mason stopped 3.
The 3 stars, per the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff, were Johan Franzen, Jiri Hudler and Valtteri Filppula.
The Wings’ goals: Bertuzzi (3) from Franzen (14) and Lidstrom (14);
Zetterberg (6) from Filppula (15) and Kronwall (6);
Hudler (5) from Franzen (15) and Datsyuk (19);
Conner (1) from Cleary (5) and Helm (3);
Filppula (10) from Datsyuk (20) and White (9);
Miller (3) from Stuart (2) and Bertuzzi (7);
Hudler (6) from Zetterberg (13).
Faceoffs 34-21 Detroit (Wings won 62%);
Blocked shots 12-12;
Missed shots 16-5 Detroit (total attempts 56-47 Detroit);
hits 29-20 Winnipeg;
Giveaways 13-4 Detroit;
Takeaways 7-4 Detroit.
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 10-and-6 (63%); Zetterberg went 9-and-5 (64%); Abdelkader went 8-and-4 (67%); Helm went 7-and-3 (70%); Filppula went 0-and-2; Franzen went 0-and-1.
Shots: Lidstrom led the Wings with 4 shots; Cleary, Hudler, Helm and Franzen had 3 shots; White, Miller, Zetterberg, Filppula and Kronwall had 2; Stuart, Conner and Bertuzzi had 1.
Blocked attempts: White fired 3 shots into Jets players; Helm and Franzen had 2 shot attempts blocked; Cleary, Stuart, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Kronwall had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Filppula missed the net 3 times; White and Hudler missed the net 2 times; Kindl, Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Helm, Bertuzzi, Kronwall, Franzen and Holmstrom missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Kindl led the team with 4 hits; Abdelkader had 3; Stuart, Bertuzzi and Kronwall had 2; Lidstrom, Cleary, Miller, Conner, Helm, Ericsson and Franzen had 1.
Giveaways: White and Howard had 3 giveaways; Cleary had 2; Kindl, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Kronwall and Holmstrom had 1.
Takeaways: Kindl had 2 takeaways; White, Hudler, Filppula, Ericsson and Kronwall had 1.
Blocked oppponent shots: Miller blocked 3 Jets shots; Franzen blocked 2; Kindl, Abdelkader, Stuart, Hudler, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Kronwall blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Bertuzzi and Ericsson took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a stunning collective +29. Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Hudler, Filppula and Ericsson finished at +3; White, Stuart, Zetterberg and Kronwall had 2; Cleary, Miller, Conner, Helm, Bertuzzi and Franzen finished at +1; only Kindl, Abdelkader and Holmstrom finished even.
Points: Hudler had 2 goals; Datsyuk, Kronwall and Franzen had 2 assists; Zetterberg had a goal and an assist, as did Filppula and Bertuzzi; Conner and Miller scored goals; Lidstrom, Cleary, White, Stuart, Helm and Kronwall had assists.
Ice time: Lidstrom led the team with 22:01 played; White played 20:32; Ericsson played 20:05;
Stuart played 19:12; Kronwall played 18:42; Kindl played 18:19;
Zetterberg played 17:45; Filppula played 17:30; Datsyuk played 16:00;
Franzen played 15:54; Hudler played 15:32; Cleary played 15:00;
Holmstrom played 14:14; Helm played 14:03; Bertuzzi played 13:55;
Conner played 13:16; Miller played 12:22; Abdelkader played 11:38.
Update: Via Paul, here’s Pavel’s no-look pass to Filppula:
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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.