The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/14/12 at 03:32 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings may be playing with Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom and a pair of defensemen who are missed more than we might think in Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl, and their absences played no small part in Detroit’s 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night…
But there are no excuses for the Red Wings having given up 4 shorthanded goals over the past 8 games, not having scored a power play goal themselves since the tenth of never, nor are there any excuses for the complete and total lack of structure with which the Wings played far too frequently and for stretches of far too much time against the Kings—and it’s got to stop here and now if the Wings are to harbor any hopes of avoiding a first-round match-up against the Nashville Radulovs—strange bounces and bad breaks included.
I’m still baffled about why, after the Red Wings make a doofy turnover by Doug Janik, Jeff Carter and Dwight King manage to muck the puck back to Drew Doughty, who fires a long shot on net, with Mike Richards tying up Ian White and Jeff Carter tying up Janik in a layered screen, and somehow, Doughty’s puck is tipped down by Ian White’s elbow while his stick is over White’s head thanks to being spun around by Mike Green (How about them non-calls? On both sides? Love this football on ice, don’tchya?) and that puck finds the back of the net down and behind Jimmy Howard, yielding the goal from which the Red Wings could never recover.
I’m still baffled as to why Wings coach Mike Babcock’s hope that Gustav Nyquist would energize Danny Cleary and Johan Franzen—who actually looked pretty damn good and pretty damn engaged as a center—failed so miserably that Tomas Holmstrom had to join the line for the line to gain any time of puck possession and control in the offensive zone without Nyquist of all people floundering and flailing as badly as the Wings’ collective confidence has late, and Franzen somehow having to keep the puck in as defensemen got their signals crossed up with Nyquist and Cleary, charging in as if there was…No structure to the team’s play.
I’m still baffled as to how Jimmy Howard comes back into the Wings’ cage and his defensemen and forwards half-ass their jobs and coverage of the opposition’s forwards like they’re trying to bail out Ty Conklin (the Wings are now 1-4-and-1 in front of Howard of late!). Yes, the first goal Howard gave up was a bit of a squeaker, but Kopitar banked a puck off of Howard’s toe and blocker as he reached as far to the right side as his leg and arm would go, on a de-facto breakaway thanks to Kyle Quincey’s bungling, and why Howard was pretty much on his own from there, with few exceptions, thanks to really terrible outings for the vast majority of his defensemen.
I’m still baffled as to why the Wings almost literally skated scared when the lines of Valtteri Filppula, Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler, or Nyquist/Holmstrom with Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak were on the ice, and at least one of Niklas Kronwall or Brendan Smith were on the ice. If the Wings weren’t running into or being ran over by Kings players, they were charging up and down the ice with the puck on their stick like they were attending the Running of the Bulls in Pamploma, Spain, not running from Los Angeles Kings a hundred miles west of Palm Springs.
I’m incredibly confused as to why the Wings look doubly terrified of body contact and are triply easy to defend when they’re on the power play….
But the fact of the matter is that none of the above really matters in terms of the fact that the Wings have gone 2-and-3 in March and 3-5-and-1 since they established their home-ice winning record against the Sharks way back on February 21st, nor does any of the above matter in terms of the fact that the Wings are now 7 points behind the St. Louis Blues with only 12 games left to play for Detroit and 11 for St. Louis.
Screw the context.
Screw the personnel issues (not literally, sorry ladies and some gents).
The Wings need to play with much more pride, poise, urgency and especially structure. They’re skating in such a disorganized fashion that it’s as if we’re watching a youth team at times. Players are literally getting lost on the ice, missing assignments, missing checks, totally getting sucked into chasing pucks and players and, when their teammates have the puck, showing no gumption or verve to do as much as present an “out” for their pals.
Far too regularly, the Red Wings look like they’re not being out-played, but instead, like they’re being out-skilled and out-classed as much as they are being out-worked, out-hustled and out-checked.
Hell, even if the Red Wings do end up playing the Predators, for goodness’ sake, they need to earn home ice advantage…Or at least go into the playoffs looking more than fragile as a solitary leaf on an oak tree in a November gale.
Plain and simple, this sh*t has to stop, and it shouldn’t take, in an ironic twist for those of you who’ve chosen to place Jonathan Ericsson’s goat horns upon Johan Franzen until #52 returns, the refreshed and rejuvenated Franzen to be the only player not named in the aforementioned set of lines or defensemen to lead the damn way.
The Wings get to try to put this one behind them in 24 hours, and boy howdy, is their work cut out for ‘em going into Anaheim on Wednesday night.
In terms of the game’s narrative, off a fantastic stop by Howard on Dwight King, the Wings tried to carry the puck out of their zone off a faceoff, Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall fumbled the puck at center ice and backed off into their own zone. Stuart took off on a line change, Kronwall tried to send a two-line pass from the slot to Drew Miller on the right side of center ice, and instead, Anze Kopitar stole the puck and dumped it in, behind the net, Dustin Brown beat Kronwall and Darren Helm to the puck behind the net, he and Justin Williams overpowered the Wings’ duo and mucked the puck back to Drew Doughty, and while Jimmy Howard was able to stop the first shot, the puck remained loose near his left toe, and Justin Williams both corkscrewed Howard and managed to jab the puck past him at 6:48 of the 1st period.
A little over six minutes later, at 13:15, the Wings were on the power play, but as Kyle Quincey fired the puck into the offensive zone, Brendan Smith chose to pinch with Johan Franzen being cut off by the Kings’ defensemen along the right side boards, and as Smith charged for the puck, Dustin Brown, again, shoveled the puck toward the point, Anze Kopitar jumped on it, and with none of the Wings’ other forwards (Danny Cleary and Jiri Hudler) anything less than caught deep trying to cheat toward offense, Kopitar roared past Kyle Quincey, and while Quincey was at least able to steer Kopitar toward an outside lane, he fired a vicious snapper off Jimmy Howard’s right toe and blocker.
the Wings didn’t so much as stir until the second period, when it at least appeared that they would make a game of it. Off a fine job of cycling from Jiri Hudler, Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula in the Kings’ end, the Kings chipped the puck to center ice, Justin Williams lost the puck to Valtteri Filppula at center ice, FIlppula carried the puck up the middle, slid it sideways to Henrik Zetterberg all of ten feet from the side boards, and Zetterberg faked a shot as he passed it side to side to Jiri Hudler, who took the puck off his skate, kicked it to his stick and put the puck past Quick on the glove side as Quick had done the Trevor Kidd splits to stop a shot that would barely clear his leg pads. 4:06 into the 2nd period, the Wings had life.
The Wings continued to genuinely dominate play and actually challenge Quick and the Kings for about four more minutes, but somewhere around the 9-minute mark, the Wings’ energy flagged, and the Kings took over.
10:57 into the 2nd period, again, as the Wings were caught starting to change their defensive pairings, Drew Doughty skated the puck up to center, gave it to Rob Scuderi, he chipped the puck in, it went around the back boards, Jeff Carter reversed it to Mike Richards, he handed it back to Carter in the right corner, and Carter and King managed to work the puck back to Doughty, who just ripped a long, high shot that went off Ian White’s elbow as he was being twisted around by Richards—and again, Howard didn’t have much hope of knowing where the hell the puck was as Carter had made his way to the front of the net and had tied up Doug Janik.
The Wings continued to flail and jab throughout the second period, and while they started extremely strong in the third period, in no small part due to Holmstrom joining Cleary and Franzen, the Wings absolutely blew the first 31 seconds of a Jarret Stoll penalty taken with 31 seconds left in the 2nd, continued to fumble it as Matt Greene took a penalty for slashing 56 seconds into the 3rd, and by the time both penalties expired—Babcock timeout at the start of the 5 on 3 included—the Wings had perhaps sent three or four one-and-done shots in on Quick before chasing the puck back down ice and trying to skate it up 200 feet and set up again.
Doug Janik got called for a very obvious boarding call at 6:53, and about ninety seconds later, Alec Martinez and Slava Voynov set up going d-to-d off a Voynov dump-in retrieved by Stoll, Jimmy Howard stopped Voynov’s first shot, but Justin Williams won the battle for the rebound against Ian White, Martinez and Voynov worked the puck back and forth, and when Brown fanned on a shot, the rebound came to Martinez again, Howard stopped another shot, and then Williams took the rebound, shoveled it to Jarrett Stoll at the bottom of the right faceoff dot, and when Brown fanned on a shot at the top of the crease, point blank, Howard committed to that shot, and as both White and Quincey were standing to the right of and in front of Howard, respectively, Voynov charged in from the point, past Justin Abdelkader, and flicked a hard, low shot into Howard’s pads before he could re-seal them.
8:23 in, it was more or less over.
The Wings salvaged some pride when Danny Cleary took a deep puck sent around to him from Justin Abdelkader and ground it back to the point, where Brad Stuart ripped a hard shot at Quick and Johan Franzen deftly placed the rebound over Quick’s blocker as he flailed, and at 13:30, the Wings were only down by 2 goals…
But their attempts to turn the two-goal deficit into a one-goal deficit failed, and when the Wings pulled Howard in a desperate attempt to salvage a point late, Anze Kopitar won a clean faceoff at the Kings’ left dot, and Jeff Carter rifled a long shot through five Wings and into the empty net before Kyle Quincey could chase it down.
19:39 of the 3rd, 5-2, insult added to injury.
Shots 27-24 Los Angeles overall. The Wings were out-shot 10-6 in the 1st period, 9-8 in the 2nd and out-shot LA 10-8 in the 3rd.
The Wings’ power play went 0-for-4 in 6:08 of ice time, including 33 seconds of 5 on 3 time, and the Kings’ power play went 1-for-2 in 2:11.
Jimmy Howard stopped 22 of the 26 shots he faced, and the 5th goal went in an empty net; Jonathan Quick stopped 22 of 24.
The 3 stars, per the “media,” were Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Williams and Drew Doughty.
The Wings’ goals: Hudler (21) from Zetterberg (41) and Filppula (36).
Franzen (26) from Stuart (13) and Cleary (20).
Faceoffs 26-25 Detroit (Detroit won 51%);
Blocked shots 10-7 Los Angeles;
Missed shots 14-9 Detroit;
Total shot attempts: 48-42 Detroit;
Hits a laughable 49 to 20—this is an unbelievable and inexcusable joke by the Kings’ stat crew. No wonder Dustin Brown leads the NHL in hits when he’s credited with 10.
Giveaways an equally laughable 21-8 Los Angeles;
Takeaways 10-1 Los Angeles.
Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 8-and-10 (44%); Emmerton went 6-and-3 (67%); Franzen went 4-and-4 (50%); Helm went 3-and-4 (43%); Abdelkader went 3-and-1 (75%); Cleary went 1-and-1 (50%); Filppula went 0-and-2 (0%); Mursak won his only faceoff.
Shots: Franzen and Zetterberg co-led the team with 3 shots; Cleary, Nyquist, Stuart, Hudler, Filppula and Kronwall had 2; Abdelkader, White, Miller, Quincey, Mursak and Helm had 1.
Blocked attempts: White fired 3 shots into Kings players; Hudler and Helm had 2 attempts blocked; Quincey, Zetterberg and Filppula had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Franzen missed the net 3 times; Hudler, Zetterberg and Filppula missed the net 2 times; Smith, White, Miller, Mursak and Helm missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Quincey and Stuart had 3 hits apiece; Abdelkader, Miller, Kronwall and Holmstrom had 2 hits; Nyquist, White, Hudler, Janik, Mursak and Zetterberg had 1.
Giveaways: Quincey and Holmstrom had 2 giveaways; Miller, Stuart, Kronwall and Howard had 1.
Takeaways: Filppula was the only Red Wings player who was credited with a takeaway. The Kings were awarded 10 by the stats-keepers.
Blocked shots: Cleary, Miller, Hudler, Janik, Mursak, Helm and Holmstrom blocked 1 shot.
Penalties taken: Janik and Zetterberg were tagged with minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective -11. Franzen finished at -2; Smith, Cleary, Nyquist, White, Miller, Hudler, Quincey, Janik, Helm, Filppula and Kronwall finished at -1; Abdelkader and Stuart finished at +1.
Points: Franzen and Hudler scored goals; Cleary, Stuart, Zetterberg and Filppula had assists.
Ice time: White led the team with 24:37 played; Kronwall played 24:07; Quincey played 22:00;
Filppula played 21:52; Zetterberg played 20:50; Stuart played 20:27;
Hudler played 18:32; Franzen played 15:55; Cleary played 15:47;
Smith played 14:55; Miller played 23:28; Helm played 13:30;
Abdelkader played 13:20; Holmstrom played 13:10; Nyquist played 12:38;
Janik played 12:38; Emmerton played 9:40; Mursak played 9:18.
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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.