The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/14/12 at 07:28 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings’ frustrating 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night leaves the Wings facing a quick turnaround for tonight’s game against the Ducks (10 PM EDT, FSD/FS West/97.1 FM) with almost no margin for error in their 12 remaining games.
The Wings now sit seven points behind the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference and Central Division standings, and are only two points ahead of an increasingly probable first-round opponent in the Nashville Predators, so the Wings may very well need some help to simply earn home-ice advantage over Nashville, never mind make a stab at the Central title as Detroit’s 2-and-3 March record and 3-5-and-1 record since the team established their home-ice winning record against San Jose some 24 days ago, and while the Wings might get Todd Bertuzzi (groin) back in their lineup tonight, Pavel Datsyuk (knee, will return Saturday at the earliest), Nicklas Lidstrom (bone bruise, will return Monday at the earliest), Jakub Kindl (upper-body, ???) and Jonathan Ericsson (broken wrist, out 3-4 more weeks) remain sidelined, and if Tuesday’s effort is any indication, Jimmy Howard’s teammates need to do much more than run around like a mite team if they are to defeat the Ducks, who are both out of the playoff picture and possess a similar 2-and-3 record this month thanks to a 3-game losing streak.
The Los Angeles Kings, however, now find themselves in a four-way tie for eighth in the Western Conference (the Sharks lead the pack), and sit a point behind the 7th-place Coyotes, as well as 6 points behind the 6th-place Chicago Blackhawks. Maybe the Red Wings’ loss in LA was simply a case of a team that had been defeated by Detroit last Friday simply “wanting it more” due to their precarious playoff positioning.
The Kings certainly suggested as much to ESPN Los Angeles’s Dan Arritt:
“We just have to worry about ourselves,” said defenseman Drew Doughty, who had a goal, an assist and a plus-3 rating. “All that we can control is the games that we are winning and, hopefully, some other teams lose some for us.”
Along the mental lines, the Kings also needed to put to rest their devastating loss Friday in Detroit, when they let a one-goal lead slip away in the final five minutes and lost in regulation, 4-3. They did that by seizing control early. Justin Williams nudged a loose puck past the goal line just under seven minutes into the game, and Anze Kopitar scored a timely short-handed goal with 6:45 left in the opening period.
After blowing eight-one goal leads in the previous four games, including three in the loss in Detroit, the Kings didn’t flinch when the Red Wings pulled to within a goal early in the second period. Instead they took back the two-goal advantage on Doughty’s ninth of the season, a slap shot that deflected off Detroit defenseman Ian White and into the net with 9:03 left in the second period. The goal was originally awarded to Mike Richards, which would have ended a 25-game goal-scoring drought, but later given to Doughty.
“The key to this game was weathering their storm in the second,” said Dustin Brown, who had two assists to stretch his point streak to nine games, matching his career high. “They had some good pressure on us, and some good chances, but we found a way to play even through the second period and that’s huge against a team like that.”
Brown helped lead a massive 49-20 advantage in hits by delivering 10 on the Red Wings. That seemed to soften them up as the game wore on.
“You’ve got to find a way to slow them down and, one way, is just to get in front of them and bump them and rub them off,” Brown said. “Over the course of the game, it wears on them. I’m not sure if they’re used to getting bumped because they move the puck so well.”
I don’t buy that stat for a second—it’s bullsh*t—but the Kings did out-hit and definitely out-grabbed the Wings as the NHL continues to allow clutching, grabbing, sometimes even wrestling and, most notably on Tuesday night, picking off skaters who were attempting to get to the puck by doing more than simply taking a skating lane. I haven’t seen so much pushing and shoving of non-puck carriers since the Wings were rudely awakened to the tenuous nature of the “crackdown” when they played the Edmonton Oilers in the first round back in 2006, and while I cannot deny that the Red Wings got away with their fair share of regular-season penalties, the bump-and-grab-and-grind game does not benefit a team built like the Wings are.
And that being said, the Wings were trailing the Kings 3-1 when they were awarded a power play with 31 seconds left in the 2nd period which became a 5-on-3 1:27 into the 3rd period, and while they did not surrender a second shorthanded goal on said power play, the Kings easily killed it off, more or less securing a victory against a team that can’t move the puck quite as well without Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Bertuzzi, and yes, even Kindl and Ericsson in the lineup:
“Killing off that 5 on 3 was a just huge momentum booster us for us,” Doughty said. “Getting that power play goal was huge as well.”
The Kings more or less reiterated their points of emphasis to the Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott, but they also included their retelling of their short-handed goal which staggered the Wings, too:
“With the way it is and the amount of games left you’re always scoreboard watching. It’s just so tight,” said Dustin Brown, who contributed two assists and extended his point streak to nine games. But we’ve got to win games for us to have a chance, and that’s our main priority. Afterward you worry about what happened around the league.”
Last Friday at Detroit the Kings squandered three leads over the Red Wings but avoided a repeat of that unpleasant history. Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar scored in the first period, Drew Doughty beat Jimmy Howard with a long blast in the second and defenseman Slava Voynov scored on the power play in the third, setting up Jeff Carter’s final flourish into an empty net.
Detroit, playing without multiple Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom, forward Todd Bertuzzi and all-world center Pavel Datsyuk, took 24 shots at Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.
“Probably the most important part of the game is we weathered the storm in the second,” Brown said of the middle period, when the Red Wings scored their first goal. “They had us hemmed in the zone a good amount of time in the second. We found a way to sustain that and get a goal back and that goes a long way against a team like that.”
Williams gave the Kings the lead by jabbing home the rebound of a shot by Doughty at 6:48 of the first period, and Kopitar padded that to 2-0 on a short-handed goal. Kopitar took a pass from Brown and broke in one-on-one against defenseman Kyle Quincey before rifling a 35-foot shot that eluded Howard at 13:15.
“That was a great individual effort by Kopi there,” Doughty said. “I actually didn’t think he was even going to get a shot off ,but next thing you know, it’s post and in.”
(on the game…)
DOUGHTY: “I think the team showed a lot of character tonight. We started that first period really hard, and I thought we really dominated them. I think that was a big reason why we won the game. We were really disappointed with that loss in Detroit. We never should have lost that game, so to come out here and have a good three periods, it was a big win.’’
(on the good starts to games recently…)
DOUGHTY: “That’s one thing that Darryl is always harping on us about, is to come out hard and get on the forecheck, bang some bodies and let the other team know that we’re not going to hold back and we’re going to be the hardest-working team out there. So we’ve done a great job of that in the last couple games, and I think it’s really key to our success.’’
(on fending off Detroit’s second-period charge, and the Kings’ consistency…)
DOUGHTY: “I thought we were great throughout all three periods, and when we weren’t, Quickie came up big every time. He’s been doing that all year for us, and in that second period he kept us right in there. And then killing off that 5-on-3 was just a huge momentum boost for us. Then getting that goal on the power play was huge as well.’’
(on Kopitar’s shorthanded goal…)
DOUGHTY: “That was a great individual effort by Kopi there. I actually didn’t think it was even going to get a shot off, and then the next thing you know, it was in. Kopi never seems to seems to surprise you. He did a great job there and got our team going.’’
Brown (if you’re keeping score at home, the Wings were actually out-shot 9-8 in the 2nd period, but at least carried play until shortly before Doughty scored at 10:57)...
(on rebounding from last week’s loss in Detroit…)
BROWN: “It was huge. That was a pretty crushing defeat we had in Detroit, given the circumstances. I think the key to this game was maybe weathering their storm in the second (period). They had some good pressure on us, some good chances, but we found a way to play even in the second period. That’s huge against a team like that.’’
(on Kopitar’s shorthanded goal…)
BROWN: “It was good. It’s always a momentum-changer when it’s shorthanded. He made a pretty good shot. Everything counts at this point of the year.’’
And Kings coach Darryl Sutter:
(on the game…)
SUTTER: “We had a good first period and we weathered the storm in the second period, for the first seven or eight minutes. Our penalty killing was awesome and our power play scored us a big goal in the third. If you do those things, with a little bit of luck, then you have a chance to win the game.’’
(on Kopitar’s shorthanded goal…)
SUTTER: “He’s a big part of our penalty kill. We talk about trying to take advantage of it in certain situations, when they had the puck and we could be aggressive. Brownie made a really good play there.’’
(on getting a win after the disappointing loss in Detroit…)
SUTTER: “Well, we lost by one because we weren’t perfect. Detroit has an experienced team, and they know they’re never out of it. You have to be right on top of it.’’
(on the special-teams effort…)
SUTTER: “Obviously our penalty killing is at the top. A lot of times, there’s a home-road difference. Our penalty killing is right near the top, both home and road, and our power play, the last probably 15 games, is probably near the top too.’’
(on the Kings’ hitting…)
SUTTER: “I thought [Kyle Clifford] and [Colin Fraser] and Jordan [Nolan] did a good job of trying to do that for us, and our defense, we’re trying to get them to be more assertive in that part of the game.’’
So the Kings told the Associated Press that they’re going to continue to win and hope after learning lessons from last Friday’s loss and applying them on Tuesday…
“We were so disappointed in that loss because there was no way we should have given away those two points,” Doughty said. “We learned from that game, and we’re using that. ... All that we can control is the games that we are winning. Hopefully some other teams lose some for us.”
“We have to take care of our own game,” said captain Dustin Brown, who had two assists to extend his point streak to nine games. “But with the way it is and the amount of games left, you always scoreboard-watch just because it’s so tight. Ultimately, we have to win games for us to have a chance, and that’s our main priority. Afterward, you have to worry about what happened around the league.”
While Red Wings coach Mike Babcock suggested that his team’s power play struggles—as Fox Sports Detroit’s Darren Eliot noted, the Wings have given up 4 short-handed goals over their past 8 games—didn’t matter:
Detroit’s power play foundered again in its stars’ absence, going 0 for 4 to extend its scoreless slump to six games. Los Angeles has killed 32 consecutive penalties.
“I don’t know how much the power play had to do with anything tonight,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “I didn’t think we played hard enough. They had a simple plan, getting the puck in, getting on the forecheck and grinding, and I didn’t think we had enough resistance. You’re not going to win with the approach we had. The other team can’t win all the battles.”
Jimmy Howard wasn’t happy with his performance—I thought he played well but didn’t get any help from his teammates—as he told NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke, and it’s with Zupke’s recap that we’ll permanently pivot from the Kings’ perspectives to those of the Wings’ players and coach:
Jimmy Howard had allowed three goals in two previous meetings this season against the Kings but he allowed three in the first 31 minutes Tuesday. Howard returned to the lineup after missing three games with a groin injury and couldn’t really be faulted much, but coach Mike Babcock labeled his performance “not good enough.” Howard shouldered much of the blame.
“There were a lot of things I thought I could have done better,” Howard said. “At the same time, it was my first game back in a week and a half so I have just got to continue to work hard in practice and get the rhythm back and feeling back of being out there. I thought the game was extremely fast in front of me so I have to find a way to slow it down until I get back to the game speed of things.”
Howard probably could not have done much on L.A.‘s third goal. Drew Doughty lifted a wrist shot from just inside the blue line that hit a Detroit player and found the net through traffic for a 3-1 lead at 10:57 of the second period. Slava Voynov added a power-play goal and Jeff Carter scored into an empty netter.
Babcock said his team offered little resistance to L.A.‘s forecheck and grinding style of play and thought the game was lost in the second period.
“You’re not going to win with the approach that we had tonight,” Babcock said. “I thought we had a really good start to the second period, and as soon as they scored a goal we got deflated and that was it for us. I didn’t think we were competitive enough tonight.”
I agree with Babcock 100% there—the 3-1 goal more or less killed the Wings, but as the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa notes, the Wings began the game with an incredibly poor spate of hockey:
The first period was a bit of a rude greeting for Jimmy Howard, making his return from a groin injury. The Kings were all over the Red Wings for long stretches, outshooting them 9-1 after 15:54. Howard made two big saves, at about the five-minute mark on Jarret Stoll, who broke in alone through the Red Wings defense, and moments later with a brilliant leg tossed high in the air to beat sniper Jeff Carter. But he could not hold them off, largely by himself.
At 6:48, Justin Williams poked the puck by Howard during a scramble in the crease. Howard stood little chance.
The Kings had a goal before the Wings had a shot. Then, with the Wings on a power play, a cross-ice pass at the Wings blue line went awry and ended up on Kopitar’s stick. The offensive ace for the Kings skated in alone to the faceoff circle to Howard’s left, and blasted it by him. Kopitar has 19 points in 23 games against the Wings.
The Kings killed their 29th consecutive power play, and the Wings did not record a shot. The Wings’ first shot came 8:36 in. They did not have another until after the 16-minute mark, before accumulating five in the last four minutes for a total of six in the period.
The line of Darren Helm, Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader began supplying lots of energy and getting some shots late in the period. It carried over to the second period when the Wings were the more aggressive team for first 10 minutes. At 4:08, nifty tick-tack-toe passing by Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg resulted in a goal by Hudler, as he continued his terrific comeback season.
But the bizarre goal awarded to Doughty at 10:57 changed the momentum of the period and restored the Kings two-goal lead. Doughty let go of a slap shot from the blue line that ramped off the stick of a Wings’ forward and hit Ian White’s stick, as he struggled to gain position on Mike Richards in front of the net. The shot changed directions at least twice. Howard nearly jumped to stop it before it deflected the last time, and he got beat down low.
“They played better on special teams than we did tonight,” Howard said. “We gave up a shorty and they got a power-play goal. That third one, the deflection, just sort of took the wind out of our sails,” he said. “They got a good bounce.”
Or, as Brad Stuart told the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
“The first period, in general, was bad,” Brad Stuart said. “We have to be better. We’re playing teams that are desperate for points, so we’ve got to be ready to go from the start of the game, because they definitely were. I thought second period we were a lot better, but at some point, you’ve got to make sure you’re ready to go from the start. You can’t be playing catch up. It’s not winning hockey.”
“Not good enough,” coach Mike Babcock said in judging Howard, but the assessment embraced the whole team. “They had a simple plan of getting the puck in and getting on the forecheck and grinding and I didn’t think we had enough resistance. In the end, you can talk about the power play or the penalty kill if you want—the whole lot of us, we never played hard enough. You’re not going to win with the approach we had tonight.”
Well, coach, let’s talk about it after all:
A man-advantage only made it worse. The Wings had gone 0-for-20 over their previous five games on the power play, but at least felt like they had used it to gain momentum in the last outing. This time, Dustin Brown knocked the puck off Brendan Smith, and Anze Kopitar ended up beating Howard on a breakaway to make it 2-0.
“They got two quick goals,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “I think we came out in the second and the first 10 minutes we played really good. After that, they took over a little bit again, and unfortunately they got their third one before we got our second one.”
If you’re keeping score over the past 5 games, then, that’s 0 for 24 on the power play and 2 or 3 shorthanded goals against. Whee.
Also from St. James:
Mike Babcock, on how the Wings played: “I thought we had a real good start to the second period. We got it back to 2-1. And then as soon as they scored a goal, we got deflated and that was it for us. So that makes for a long night. ... I don’t know how much the power play had to do with anything tonight. I didn’t think we played hard enough.”
Jimmy Howard, on the Kings: “They played better on special teams than we did. We gave up a shortie and they got a power play goal as well, so a really tough night for the special teams.”
Oh, the stats get worse from there, per DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:
The Wings have now allowed 10 shorthanded goals, the most they’ve surrendered in a single season since 2006-07. Only the New Jersey Devils (13) have allowed more this season. Detroit only gave up 12 shorthanded goals in the previous three seasons combined.
“We shouldn’t have let them score when we’re on the power play, so it is tough,” Zetterberg said. “We’ve been working on it, we’ve been talking about it for months now it feels but it doesn’t get better.”
The Wings made some necessary adjustments during the first intermission and began to finish body-checks, which created more energy in the offensive zone. And their hustle paid off when the Kings’ Williams turned the puck over in the neutral zone, kick-starting the Wings’ first scoring play. Henrik Zetterberg faked a shot from the half wall before making a bullet pass to Jiri Hudler in the slot and he buried it behind Kings goalie Jonathan Quick at 4:06 of the second. Trailing 3-1 through 40-minutes, the Wings called a timeout early in the third when LA defenseman Matt Greene went to the penalty box, thus giving the Wings a two man-advantage for 34-seconds. However, Detroit was held scoreless when Quick made two fine saves, one each on Zetterberg and then Danny Cleary.
“It would have been easier if we would have scored a goal there,” Zetterberg said, “but we didn’t so they got the momentum back.”
The Wings were 0-for-4 on the power play, and is scoreless in the last six games, going 0-for-25 in that time.
So that means that…Let me look at my calendar…Ah yes! One power play against Minnesota.
As MLive’s Ansar Khan notes that Babcock was talking to a different tune about said special teams before the game:
“Focus on winning a faceoff, focus on one breakout, execution when you come in, have a big man at the net and shoot the puck and have good retrievals,’’ Babcock said. “Real simple approach. This has been an ongoing thing for us. I think it’s in our head more than anything. The way to get out of it is be simplified and shoot the puck. We’ll get one and get on a roll.’‘
Yeah, not so much. After the game, sir Khan?
“I didn’t think we played hard enough,’’ Babcock, whose team fell to 16-19-1 on the road, said. “I thought they had a simple plan, getting the puck in, getting on the forecheck and grinding. I didn’t think we had enough resistance. In the end, you can talk about the power play and penalty kill, but we didn’t play hard enough. You’re not going to win with the approach we had tonight. The other team can’t win all the battles and all the races.’‘
Their frustration was evident midway through the third period when Henrik Zetterberg drew an interference penalty and began pushing and shoving after the whistle with Dustin Brown.
“We’ve got to be better and we know that,’’ Zetterberg said. “We know we’re not good enough and it’s frustrating.’‘
Despite missing Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi with injuries, Babcock knows his team needs to have more than just Zetterberg’s line (with Valtteri Filppula and Hudler) contributing.
“We had Z’s line, that was it,’’ Babcock said. “That’s not enough.’‘
Yeah, well as it turned out, once Gustav Nyquist was determined to be in waaaaayyyyy over his head trying to muck and grind with the surprisingly good Johan Franzen as his center and Danny Cleary as his complementary winger, and Tomas Holmstrom added some grit, grind and a complete and total absence of fear of the Kings’ wingers trying to take his head off, that line worked well. The Helm line, reunited as the HEMI line? Ore or less invisible. The Emmerton line? Surprisingly good, not played enough. Overall? Well I don’t have a thing to say that’s “smart” about these remarks, because they’re the bottom line:
“We’re playing teams that are desperate for points, so we got to be ready to go from the start because they definitely were,’’ Detroit’s Brad Stuart said. “We can’t be playing catch-up. We need the points just as bad as anyone else. We’re trying to establish a good spot for ourselves, home ice in the first round and beyond. The desperation level in here should be just as high as the teams fighting to get into the playoffs.’‘
The Red Wings are 3-6-1 in their past 10 games. Babcock said his team competed in many of those losses, but said of this performance, “I didn’t think we were competitive enough tonight.’‘
[edit/update: Or, as Jimmy Howard told Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji while discussing the Wings’ injuries:
“They’re huge for our team,” Howard said. “They’re key players. At the same time, it gives guys an opportunity and a chance to play in a position they might not otherwise be in. Just because they’re out of the lineup, we can’t use that as an excuse. We gotta find a way to win games and be better, myself included.”
Highlights: The Red Wings’ webiste’s highlight clip is narrated by Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy.
ESPN Los Angeles’s Dan Arritt posted a 1:40 clip of Drew Doughty and Dustin Brown’s post-game comments;
I’ve tried to find a way to squeeze Fox Sports West’s Joe Rosen’s recap into the game narrative, but I can’t as it focuses on Kings Masterton Trophy nominee Colin Fraser, so instead, I will point out that it includes a video of post-game comments from Doughty, Brown, Jeff Carter and coach Sutter, as well as Jim Fox and Patrick O’Neal’s takes on the game;
Photos: Fox Sports California posted a 7-image gallery;
Fox Sports Detroit posted an 8-image gallery;
The Detroit Free Press posted a 22-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted an 11-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted a 28-image gallery;
NHL.com posted a 39-image gallery;
The Kings’ website posted a 42-image gallery;
And the Red Wings’ website posted a 39-image gallery.
Statistics: As JJ pointed out in the quick take, Janik was on the ice for Johan Franzen’s 4-2 goal, not Quincey, who was on the ice for the goal that Janik was supposed to be on for, and I should note that the scorers didn’t just change the Doughty goal’s assists half a billion times, announcing their changes to the crowd each time.
No, they changed the assists on most of the goals, as well as the people on and off the ice, and they credited the Kings with, as Arritt noted, an unbef***inglievable 49 hits, which tells me that you need to take these stats with a 50-lb. bag of rock salt.
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.
Part II: Red Wings notebooks: As I knew that this was one of those nights—as you know, I live “at home” due to reasons health-related on both sides of the equation in addition to the whole trying to live the bloggin’ dream, baby! thing, and I’m not ashamed of it, so deal—when I’d be going upstairs repeatedly to refuel, and the aunt, who wakes up at the slightest noise, would ask me if I was in fact “G.J.” instead of some roving bandit at least once, and probably more than a couple of times, and the mom would be snoring like a band of wild animals at a watering hole, as usual.
Anyway, I posted a “Mad Dash” prior to the game as the Wings’ beat writers penned their notebooks a bit before the game to make their recap’s print/online deadlines, and I’m not gonna repeat everything. In the Mad Dash, you can learn that:
• Per DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose, Brendan Smith rooms with and kinda idolizes Doug Janik, who’s doing his best to try and stake a claim on a playoff spot on Detroit’s roster while worrying about his wife, who is a full 9 months pregnant back in Grand Rapids;
• As we learned from the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa, Pavel Datsyuk is doing better, Jimmy Howard felt good to go, and Nicklas Lidstrom absofrickinlutely hates sitting out. Hates!
“After a while, you get sick and tired of sitting around and watching the guys playing,” he said. “You want to be part of it, you want to be on the ice and be part of the team, again.”
“The trainer said if you push it too much you might aggravate it, so you’ve got to be careful with it. But, at the same time, you want to get back on the ice and start skating with it again. Some pain, you’ve got to feel. But you know if it’s too much, you’ve got to stop.”
Lidstrom said the ankle “felt about the same” during his skate Tuesday as it did during his first skate since the injury, on Monday: “You know, I still have pain in the ankle. So it’s not good stopping or turning or making any quick starts and stops.”
“I think the guys have been playing well,” he said. “We’ve just got to tighten up a bit more, defensively, and special teams are going to have to play better. But we all know that. So, it’s about a month before the playoffs. We still have some things to work on.”
Many of you pointed out that this is perhaps good news: while Lidstrom will not play during the Wings’ West Coast swing, and may be anywhere from 5-7 to even 10 days away from returning to action, the fact that he is miserable in the press box and just wants to play speaks quite well of his desire to continue doing his job into next fall.
• You can also find out about Johan Franzen and spatulas from the Free Press’s Helene St. James…
• You can read about Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart’s respective takes on Hybrid Icing from Ansar Khan…
• And DetroitRedWings.com’s Roose also spoke to Kyle Quincey about his days with the Kings. Needless to say, there are distractions out in LA that involve the lifestyle that do not involve the abundance of celebrities or parties. There’s apparently something called a beach as well;
As for the stuff that didn’t fit under my deadline, the Free Press’s St. James duly notes that Todd Bertuzzi can’t come back fast enough—and the same is true for Datsyuk. If Bertuzzi’s available tonight, perhaps he can switch in for Holmstrom on the Franzen-Cleary pairing, because it’s pretty bloody obvious that the Wings can’t get more than one line going right now:
“We had Z’s line, that was it,” coach Mike Babcock said after Tuesday’s loss. “For whatever reason, that’s not enough. We’ve got to do better than that.”
The Wings have been without Pavel Datsyuk since Feb. 21, when he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. He could be back Saturday at San Jose; for the Wings, his return can’t happen soon enough.
Babcock had experimented with using Franzen next to Darren Helm, but decided Helm is better when he’s with his usual line mates, Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader. That prompted moving Franzen to center on Tuesday, with Danny Cleary on one wing and newcomer Gustav Nyquist on the other. When it didn’t work particularly well, Tomas Holmstrom got moved up to the line.
Zetterberg’s line has far and away been the most consistent scoring threat during Datsyuk’s absence.
“They’ve been pretty solid for us,” Brad Stuart said after setting up Franzen’s goal. “They’ve been getting us goals. They’ve been keeping us in some games, winning us some games. We just need some production, I guess, from some guys that are getting more of a chance. That’s what it comes down to, this time. You’ve got to have a couple of lines that are threats to score on any given night.”
Nyquist’s inability to perform on Wednesday takes nothing away from his potential, as MLive’s Ansar Khan notes—it just means that he’s not automatically going to make the Wings’ playoff roster, nor next year’s roster, unless the team decides that he’s really ready for NHL action as a scorer, because that’s what he is:
“Really talented player, good with the puck, makes things happen, as long as he doesn’t look for his linemates too much,’’ Johan Franzen said. “When he focuses on holding onto the puck and creating stuff on his own, he’s really good. He likes to pass, but he needs to hang onto the puck a little bit, make his turns in the corners, get himself open and then he can pass the puck.’‘
Franzen started Tuesday’s game in Los Angeles centering a line with Nyquist and Danny Cleary. Nyquist had an assist in each of the previous two games, since being recalled from the Grand Rapids Griffins. He called it a great opportunity to play with skilled players. Nyquist is more of playmaker than a finisher. But he realizes the need to shoot more (he has four shots in seven games with Detroit).
“I’ve always been more of a passer,’’ Nyquist said. “(Shooting) is something I need to think about and something I want to do to be more of a threat. You want to be a scoring threat as well out there, you don’t just want to be a passing threat. Makes it tougher on the goalie if he thinks you’re going to shoot, too.’‘
“We saw what he could do in training camp,’’ Lidstrom said. “He’s a very shifty player, he’s very smart with the puck. He can beat players one-on-one and he can make the passes as well.’‘
This is where Bonus Swedish comes in. Nicklas Lidstrom spoke to Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom, who’s based in LA, from the press box at the Staples Center, and he told Nordstrom that he’s still holding out hope that he can play on Saturday, though Babcock has ruled him out for the weekend.
• Nyquist also spoke to Nordstrom, telling him that the Wings’ Swedes have been tremendously welcoming and have made him feel at home, but he says that he’s learned quite a bit and learned to work very hard in the AHL, and while he feels more NHL-ready than he did previously…
Nordstrom: Do you expect to play regularly [here] at the start of next season?
Nyquist: “Of course I will do everything I can to earn a spot, but right now my focus is on doing as well as I can when I’m called. We’ll see what happens when the injured guys come back.”
Part III: In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins went 2-and-2 on their Texas trip thanks to a win on Sunday against Houston and a 5-2 victory over the Texas Stars thanks to a remarkable 38-save performance by Ty Conklin. The Griffins’ website (including a Flickr photo gallery) and the Stars’ website provide recaps.
Part IV: Red Wings-Ducks set-up: As the Red Wings prepare to play the Ducks tonight (again, 10 PM EDT start, FSD and FS West are your TV options and 97.1 FM will handle the radio duties), I’ve got some good news! The Ducks are almost as banged-up as the Wings are!
Okay, not quite, but given that the Ducks probably watched the Wings lose and thought that they could have a great opportunity to kick a team while it’s down, especially given that sitting a full nine points behind that 8th-place pack and having lost four of their past six games, including a 3-2 overtime loss to Colorado on Monday, the Ducks aren’t exactly coming into tonight’s game aiming to take on a potential first-round foe.
Instead, they’re going to want to play the spoiler, and it’s uncertain whether Corey Perry (shoulder) will play tonight, though Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau told the Orange County Register’s Jeff Miller that it’s possible, if not probable:
Forward Corey Perry (shoulder) skated for about 20 minutes Tuesday and, afterward, Coach Bruce Boudreau sounded optimistic that the Ducks’ leading goal scorer and the league’s reigning MVP would be available against Detroit.
“He makes remarkable improvement every day,” Boudreau said. “I’ve only known him four months, but it would not surprise me to say that he would be playing (Wednesday). But I don’t know yet.”
Perry suffered the injury Saturday in Dallas when he was shoved into the boards by defenseman Stephane Robidas. He missed the Ducks’ 3-2 overtime loss Monday in Colorado, snapping a string of 272 consecutive games played.
“It gets better every day,” Perry said. “We’ll see how it feels (Wednesday). That’s about all I can say right now.”
The winger has 34 goals and 21 assists. His 55 points are second on the Ducks to Teemu Selanne. Among the team’s forwards, Perry’s average ice time of 21 minutes, 36 seconds is second only to Ryan Getzlaf.
“It’s hard not having him,” Getzlaf said. “He’s one of our leaders and our leading (goal) scorer. He’s a guy who plays a lot. He doesn’t miss many games. Hopefully, it’s a short-term thing.”
Boudreau tossed off a similar assessment regarding defenseman Luca Sbisa, who took a twirl before practice after suffering back spasms prior to the Ducks-Avs game…
Sbisa missed the Ducks’ 3-2 overtime loss Monday in Colorado after injuring his back in the pregame skate. He did it taking a shot. Coach Bruce Boudreau said he figured Sbisa would be a game-time decision Wednesday when the Ducks host Detroit at Honda Center.
Several Ducks veterans participated in only a portion of practice Tuesday or skipped the on-ice work completely. The group included Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu and Jonas Hiller.
“They were ‘maintenance days,’ ” Boudreau explained, “because they’re older than the game.”
Koivu will be honored for reaching the 1,000-game mark tonight, and Stephens provides warm fuzzies if you wish to read them.
Miller says that the Ducks dressed the following practice lines…
Bobby Ryan-Ryan Getzlaf-Kyle Palmieri
Niklas Hagman-Rod Pelley-Devante Smith-Pelly
Andrew Cogliano-Nick Bonino-Jason Blake
George Parros-Ryan O’Marra-Matt Beleskey
Francois Beauchemin-Cam Fowler
Nate Guenin-Lubomir Visnovsky
Toni Lydman-Sheldon Brookbank
While the Sports Exchange offers both some alternate lines and some notable, um, notes...
—LW Bobby Ryan had two assists against Colorado, marking only the second time this season he has had two helpers in a game. Ryan has perked up on the scoresheet of late. He has three goals and four assists in his last eight games and 13 points in his last 16.
—D Francois Beauchemin played a game-high 29 minutes, 20 seconds against Colorado and scored his seventh goal of the season. Beauchemin also had seven goals for the Ducks in 2006-07, one off his career high of eight, set a year earlier with the club.
The Ducks’ website posted clips of Bourdreau speaking to the media and
In terms of “the spirit of the thing,” the Orange County Register’s Miller says that the Ducks have not given up on the playoffs, but they know that they’re going to have to both win out and get some help to do so:
“We’ve gotta come pretty close to it,” captain Ryan Getzlaf said of 12-0. “We know the situation we’re in. We’ve got some big games coming up, needless to say.”
Yeah, the Ducks going 12-0 right now seems about as likely as the Angels going 162-0. And the Ducks don’t have Albert Pujols, whose right-handed shot would be absolutely coveted by any hockey team. Going 12-0 has been done. But this isn’t football and this isn’t the Mountain West Conference. Coach Bruce Boudreau, who’s generally as optimistic as a peace sign, did agree that 12-0 is probably the Ducks’ lone shot.
“Either that,” he said, “or a lot of teams have to forfeit some games.”
And what are the odds that Chicago, Phoenix and Colorado all have used academically ineligible players this season? To understand how staggering the logic is against the Ducks winning their final 12, consider that the franchise’s longest winning streak is only seven. No Ducks team has won as many as 12 games in an entire month. With slightly more than three weeks to go, the Ducks’ chances aren’t even as healthy as Tiger Woods’ Achilles’ tendon. And, the last time he tried to survive, he had to quit.
“Until I look and do the math and we’re six points out with two games to go or things like that,” Boudreau insisted, “we’re going to fight and see where it leads.”
Of course, the Ducks coach needs to say things like that. No matter how appropriate, it wouldn’t be much of a rallying cry for Boudreau to show up at Honda Center on Wednesday in golf shoes. He also has watched one of his teams close frantically to go from castoffs to playoffs. During his first year in Washington, Boudreau’s Capitals won 11 of their final 12 games, making the postseason on the last day. During their streak, those Caps won twice in shootouts and once in overtime and also won their final seven games to advance as Southeast Division champions. They vaulted from 72 points to 94.
Said Boudreau: “It can be done.”
“When I’m preaching that it can happen, it’s not like it hasn’t happened,” Boudreau continued. “The schedule has not been in our favor, but now it starts to turn in our favor. Whether it’s too late or not, we’ll see.”
Miller offers the following preview...
Outlook: The Ducks are 0-2-1 against Detroit this season. The teams’ most recent meeting was a tightly contested, intense 2-1 Red Wings victory in a shootout at Joe Louis Arena in February. The Ducks have scored only three goals in their three games against Detroit and one of those was by enforcer George Parros. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf have just one point each and Bobby Ryan hasn’t scored versus the Wings in 2011-12. Detroit has injury problems. Nicklas Lidstrom, Jonathan Erickson and Jakub Kindl aren’t expected to play Wednesday. Pavel Datsyuk also has been out and his return remains uncertain. Former Duck Todd Bertuzzi could return to face his old team.
And NHL.com’s Brian Compton sets up tonight’s game as follows:
Last 10: Detroit 3-6-1; Anaheim 4-5-1.
Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. Detroit has won all three showdowns thus far and has allowed only three goals.
Big Story: Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard returned to the lineup Tuesday night after missing three straight games with a groin injury. It wasn’t enough, however, to help the injury-plagued Red Wings earn a victory, as they suffered a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center.
Detroit has lost four of five and is midway through a four-game road trip that includes all three California teams. The recent slide has the fourth-place Wings just two points ahead of No. 5 Nashville in the Western Conference playoff race.
Ducks [team scope]: Wednesday marks the beginning of a three-game homestand for Anaheim, which is now nine points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with only 12 games remaining. The Ducks will be aiming to avoid a four-game skid after suffering a 3-2 overtime loss at Colorado on Monday night.
Who’s Hot: Ducks winger Bobby Ryan has 3 goals and 4 assists in his last eight games and 13 points in his last 16 contests.
Injury Report: Detroit is without forwards Todd Bertuzzi (groin), Datsyuk (knee) and Patrick Eaves (jaw), and defensemen Lidstrom (bone bruise), Jonathan Ericsson (wrist) and Jakub Kindl (upper body). … Anaheim is hoping to have Nick Bonino back in the lineup after the center missed the last two games with a leg injury. Corey Perry (shoulder) is day-to-day and Dan Ellis (sports hernia) is out.
Part V: Also of Red Wings-related note: I can tell you that the CBC’s Tim Wharnsby, the Canadian Press, Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, the Ottawa Sun’s Chris Stevenson, everybody but Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika took note of Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s decision to, as noted on Tuesday, refuse to make any comments whatsoever regarding Alex Radulov being allowed to bypass waivers and return to the Nashville Predators for the balance of the regular season and playoffs;
• The one part of the GM’s meetings I found fascinating given that Joey MacDonald missed a month while he was with the Griffins due to a concussion, per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:
Kay Whitmore, the goalie guru for the NHL head office, spoke to GMs Tuesday about his desire to standardize goalie masks from a safety perspective. Incredibly, in an era when head injuries and concussion awareness have grown to new heights, goalie masks are not standardized like player helmets.
Some goalie masks, quite frankly, are unsafe and putting goalies at risk. Some manufacturers are doing good work in this area, others aren’t. Whitmore just wants a universal standard applied to all masks.
“We want to have the best possible standard for the NHL,’’ Whitmore told ESPN.com.
Whitmore hopes to work with the NHL Players’ Association in the coming months to find a way to standardize goalie masks and make them safer. As it is, every other piece of goaltender equipment gets vetted by Whitmore in his league office. Now the hope is to add goalie masks to that.
• SI’s ever-grumpy Adrian Dater offers a power rankings outlier:
6. Detroit Red Wings Last Week: 3: For all the rhapsodizing over Mike Babcock’s savvy ways, he’s not much better than your average coach without his top players. The Wings stumbling down the stretch without Pavel Datsyuk and Nick Lidstrom ? and Babcock’s record in the playoffs after injuries have struck—is the proof. Detroit is 16-18-1 on the road, a real concern as the playoffs near, and home ice won’t mean much except in seventh games. These Wings look just like the team of the last two years that peaked too soon and got banged up in the end. Last week: 1-2-0.
• And I don’t know what to do with this one. The Free Press’s Mike Bruendell penned a fine remembrance of Fox Sports Detroit’s Tim Bryant, complimenting John Keating’s tribute to his friend. I know that you may not have heard of him, but he was a really great human being in addition to being Fox Sports Detroit’s PR point man.
Part VI: Player assessments: Given the back-to-backs and the fact that the stats are suspicious, I’m going to go with “gut feeling” comments this morning, especially as it’s 5:40 as I begin these and that I’m gonna be up this evening/Thursday morning doing the same thing before rising about four hours after I wrap up the Wings-Ducks game for a 100-mile trip (urgh).
Anyway, these are nothing more than subjective assessments of the Red Wings’ players as observed by a partisan fan, with the “letter grades” consisting of Outstanding, Satisfactory or Needs Improvement.
#2 Brendan Smith: Needs Improvement. Smith played 14:55, had a missed shot and finished at -1, says the stat sheet. He remains supremely steady when necessary, and I thought that it was absolutely wonderful that he was out there on the power play—and that he was occasionally jumping up into play to help keep the puck in the offensive zone—until he pinched at the wrong time and Kyle Quincey got burned by Anze Kopitar. Chalk it up to a costly learning experience.
#8 Justin Abdelkader: Satisfactory. He played 13:20, was credited with 2 hits, which means that he probably had 4, took 1 shot and went 3-and-1 in the faceoff circle. He did the best he could to readjust to playing on Helm’s wing, took a shift or two alongside Franzen and Cleary and he at did something some of his teammates didn’t—when he skated into Kings players grabbing him as he tried to go after the puck, he pushed, shoved and smacked ‘em back.
#11 Danny Cleary: Satisfactory. Cleary is slowly but surely regaining his offensive punch despite his knee issues, and he played 15:47, had an assist, 2 shots, a blocked shot, went 1-and-1 in the faceoff circle and mostly he ground out the puck along the boards. He did finish at a -1 but he didn’t screw up on the Doughty or Kopitar goals.
#14 Gustav Nyquist: Needs improvement. Played 12:38, had 2 shots, a hit, got demoted to the fourth line because he looked scared, out of his league and easily pushed around and pushed off the puck, all while being counted upon to make things happen on the Franzen-Cleary line as a playmaker with lots of speed. He found out how hard it is to battle in the trenches in the NHL when nothing’s being called, he’ll be a better player because next time around, he’ll have more poise.
#18 Ian White: Needs Improvement. -1, 24:37 played, 5 shot attempts and a hit, yeah yeah yeah, but he was…A liability. On the power play, on the PK, at even strength, with Kyle Quincey, with Niklas Kronwall, he had a very rough night. Despite his mobility, he got turned around far too easily, made boobles in terms of retaining the puck in deep and was chasing puck carriers instead of playing his usual smart, positionally-based game. He’s starting to fade without Lidstrom and that’s not good, but it’s kinda expected.
#20 Drew Miller: Played 13:38, finished at a -1, had a shot, a missed shot, 2 hits, a giveaway and a blocked shot. He was woefully underutilized but did what he always does—skate hard, play smart defensively, move the puck through the middle of the ice well, muck and grind and muck it up. Every night, he brings it, even if it doesn’t pay off.
#23 Brad Stuart: Satisfactory. Stuart and Kronwall remain the only defensive pair that can get the job done on a night-by-night basis. Stuart had an assist in 20:27 of ice time, had 2 shots, 3 hits on a night where he may have had more, and yeah, he had a giveaway, but he was competitive and combative when Kings players tried to overpower him and steal the puck in one-on-one battles. He’s doing a solid job right now.
#26 Jiri Hudler: Satisfactory. Hudler scored a really lovely goal and seemed to return to at least neutral ground after a rough go and lots of standing around against Nashville. He’s darting back into the proper positions to give and go with Zetterberg and Filppula, he’s skating well, he played 18:32, had 2 shots, 6 total shot attempts, a hit and a blocked shot and he plain old worked hard.
#27 Kyle Quincey: Needs improvement. Finished at a -1 in 22:00 of ice time, had 1 shot, a blocked attempt, 3 hits and an earned 2 giveaways. He’s having a bumpy ride trying to readjust to the Red Wings’ style of play, and in addition to getting burned by Kopitar, he was in the wrong position on Voynov’s goal—he and Quincey tried to cover Dustin Brown at the same time—and while he can skate very well and his outlet passes are nothing less than direly needed at this point, when he overdoes it and gets sucked into chasing players, he gets in trouble.
#37 Doug Janik: Satisfactory. Janik finished at an unearned -1, took a penalty and had a hit and a blocked shot in 12:38. He was solid, unspectacular, helped Brendan Smith on a night where even Smith was a little intimidated and he knows how to get the puck out of the defensive zone in a hurry. He’s not going to steal Jonathan Ericsson’s job, but if Jakub Kindl has any setbacks, he’s ready, willing and able to play.
#39 Jan Mursak: Satisfactory. He only played 9:18 but had a shot, anoth
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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.