The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/05/12 at 04:45 AM ET
Updated with highlights, fights, etc.: The Detroit Red Wings’ 5-4 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers was a tale of would’ve’s, should’ve’s and could’ve’s.
What would have happened if the Red Wings hadn’t given up a 2-goal lead? What should have happened had the Wings not allowed the Oilers to take a 3-1 lead on a goal scored with under a second left in the 1st period? What could have happened had the Red Wings scored on their four power plays—including 2 full minutes of 5-on-3 time which involved passing, passing and trying to cutesy a back-door goal into nowhere?
What would have happened had the Red Wings not rallied to take a 4-3 lead in the third, only to surrender a second last-minute goal in the 3rd, and then fell flat as played as flaccidly as they did during the first and the first half of the second periods?
And why did the Wings try to tempt the shootout gods for the sixth time in their last eleven games?
In any case, mistakes, poor defensive coverage, an inability to score on the power play and plain old probability added up to the Wings’ first shootout loss and a loss that should not be pinned on the shoulders of Ty Conklin, who was left alone on two of the 3 first-period goals he gave up—just as Joey MacDonald was abandoned by his teammates on both of the goals he gave up.
The Wings’ defensive zone coverage was nothing less than horrible against the Oilers’ cycle, with Oilers players poking rebounds in, tipping pucks or getting pucks to deflect off Wings players despite the fact that three or four Wings players were standing in front of their goalie on every goal save Gagner’s tip shot—where Gagner was the only player within 12 feet of Conklin—and while the Wings crashed, thrashed and ground their way to a well-earned point in the third period thanks to superb performances by the Miller-Helm-Cleary line and Todd Bertuzzi, who scored his 300th and 301st goals…
The Wings were too prone to mistakes, too prone to lapses in concentration, attention to detail and effort, and they were far too spotty in terms of engaging against a team that could be easily provoked to take stupid, undisciplined penalties if the Wings dared to push and shove them, never mind get down and dirty near their goaltender.
Maybe the Wings were already planning their Superbowl party, maybe they got a little too loose after prevailing over the Canucks, or maybe it was just time to watch all the mistakes and errors the team had been making far too regularly catch up to them without Jimmy Howard in the net—though Conklin was fine and MacDonald was finer—and it all leads up to a lost point and a helluva time trying to close out the post-ASG break road trip going 4-and-1 in Phoenix on Monday (before facing these same Oilers on Wednesday).
In terms of a game narrative?
The Wings took a penalty almost immediately, and with Danny Cleary in the box for a simple trip, Ryan Whitney fired the puck up to Ryan Smyth, who skated in almost alone, but he fired the puck wide…But the Oilers retrieved the puck, Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner gave and went below the goal line, and with Stuart and Kronwall standing in front of Conklin, Hemsky’s shot from the right side was stopped, but the rebound went right to Gagner, who got a stick on it and put it past Stuart and Conklin.
Three minutes later, all of 5:41 in, Stuart’s clearing attempt was blocked by Gagner, who skated in, walked around Nicklas Lidstrom, shot the puck off Ty Conklin’s right pad, and instead of keeping his pads on the ice, Conklin did the bunny hop, and with Oilers and Wings crashing the net off its pegs, Eberle snuck past Stuart and jammed the puck in.
The Wings then managed to blow a double-minor assessed to Cory Potter after Niklas Kronwall very cleanly hit Ales Hemsky at the 8:37 mark…
And a dumb boarding penalty by Ladislav Smid at 9:56, but again, the Wings didn’t do a thing but pass the puck around and try to paint a perfect back-door open-net-jam picture.
The Wings rallied late after Mike Commodore and Ben Eager (what an *#$%@&!) dropped gloves…
While the Wings were killing a late penalty to Tomas Holmstrom. Gagner flubbed the puck to Henrik Zetterberg at the Oilers’ blueline, he slid the puck up to Valtteri Filppula and Filppula’s shot attempt was tipped in via Ryan Whitney.
The Wings had hoped to go into the 1st intermission down 2-1…But with seconds left in the period, Whitney assuaged his mistake by blocking another clearing pass, this time by Ian White, and as the Wings’ defenders left Conklin all alone, Whitney slid the puck from the left to right sides of the ice, and Ryan Smyth’s shot was tipped between Conklin’s legs by Gagner, who was all alone in front.
3-1 after 1.
The second period involved some penalties and a 13-10 Oilers shot advantage after the Wings had out-shot Edmonton 13-9 in the 1st…But it was mostly the Wings and Oilers playing chess, with Edmonton getting much better scoring chances on Joey MacDonald than the Wings did on Dubnyk. The Wings looked content to just skate out a game they trailed 3-1 and they seemed to zone out during what was nothing less than wasted time.
They killed a dumb penalty exchange in which Eager and Commodore went for roughing and Holmstrom was tagged for interference at the halfway mark of the period, but the rest was a throwaway.
Sometime between the second and third periods, however, somebody must have torn some leaded paint chips off the walls of the visitors’ locker room, because the Wings came out for the third shot out of a cannon, and they rallied for a point.
2:18 in, Todd Bertuzzi, now playing with Henrik Zetterberg instead of usual center Pavel Datsyuk, capitalized when the Wings actually did a nice job of recovering from a dumb Jonathan Ericsson giveaway to Ales Hemsky: Zetterberg and Franzen gave and went up the ice, ground the puck out down low and as Franzen and Zetterberg swept the puck toward Dubnyk, Bertuzzi found the loose puck and jammed his 300th through Dubnyk’s legs before the Oilers goaltender could squeeze his pads together.
Four minutes later, off a line change, Danny Cleary chugged up as the Wings skated in 3 on 3, peeled past and then around Andy Sutton to take the puck down low on the right side, he cut to the net and fired the puck across to Darren Helm, who immediately reversed its direction and found Drew Miller in the middle of the ice in the slot, and Miller jammed the puck despite the fact that Sutton was all but hanging off Miller.
The Wings continued to press, pressure, and finally out-skate, out-work and out-check the Oilers, and with 3:41 let in the period, their hard work paid off as Zetterberg chugged the puck out of his own zone, fired a diagonal pass to Bertuzzi, and he walked around Sutton and roofed the puck over Dubnyk.
But could the Wings hang on up 4-3?
With under a minute left in the 3rd, after a fantastic shift in which Franzen and Zetterberg mucked it up down low and ate clock, the Oilers carried the puck up ice, Dubnyk left for the bench, and with a sixth man on the ice, Smyth out-skated Kronwall on the left side, got the puck to Hemsky on the right side, and Hemsky found Jordan Eberle in the slot—Eberle left Pavel Datsyuk behind him and headed toward the net and flicked a puck off Brad Stuart’s left ankle and into the net past a screened MacDonald, again, with 4 Wings standing around but an Oiler finding the puck and the back of the net.
The Wings flopped energy-wise from there and were out-skated badly in OT as both teams played for a shootout, and, well…
The Wings didn’t have Jimmy Howard in the net, and their go-to shooters messed up.
Jordan Eberle started for Edmonton, skated in hard and fast, but MacDonald’s right pad stoned him;
Datsyuk skated in equally hard and fast and his backhand deke forced Dubnyk to flop, but Datsyuk fired the puck over the net;
Gagner skated up and in pulled a backhand-to-forehand deke and scored with MacDonald swimming;
Jiri Hudler skated in and fired the puck into Dubnyk’s glove;
Hemsky could have won the shootout himself, but his sweep play was gloved by MaDonald;
Todd Bertuzzi then tied things up via a slap shot goal, and MacDonald stoned Taylor Hall with his left pad…
But when Zetterberg could win it for Detroit, he tried to pull the Forsberg/Nilsson move and allowed Dubnyk to stick away the puck.
Eric Belanger could have won it, too, but he fired a slap shot wide, allowing Valtteri Filppula one more chance to win it…And he deked his way into Dubnyk’s right pad, running out of room in a hurry.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins then gave MacDonald a head fake and MacDonald bit hard, allowing Nugent-Hopkins to score blocker side…
And Danny Cleary’s backhand shot was another case of skating in and running out of room, making the shootout easy on Dubnyk and giving the Oilers a 5-4 victory…
It was a wasted effort, at least when the Wings displayed any effort at all.
And, frankly, as We All Bleed Red on YouTube points out, the Wings would have lost in OT had Nicklas Lidstrom not played goal:
Here’s the shootout:
And here’s a slate of game highlights narrated by Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy:
Shots 39-32 Detroit overall: the Wings out-shot Edmonton 13-9 in the 1st, were out-shot 13-10 in the 2nd, out-shot Edmonton 15-6 in the 3rd and were out-shot 4-1 in OT.
The Wings went 0-for-4 in 6:00 of PP time, including 2:00 of 5 on 3 time; the Oilers went 2-for-3 in 5:17 of PP time.
Ty Conklin stopped 6 of 9 shots; Joey MacDonald stopped 22 of 23 shots; Devan Dubnyk stopped 35 of 39 shots.
The 3 stars, per Hockey Night in Canada, were Jordan Eberle, Henrik Zetterberg and Sam Gagner.
The Wings’ goals: Filppula (16) from Zetterberg (27), shorthanded;
Bertuzzi (11) from Zetterberg (28) and Franzen (23);
Miller (10) from Helm (12) and Cleary (15);
Bertuzzi (12) from White (19).
Faceoffs 40-34 Detroit (54% won by Detroit);
Blocked shots 22-7 Edmonton;
Missed shots 14-11 Edmonton (total attempts 72-53 Detroit);
Hits 14-10 Edmonton;
Giveaways 21-11 Edmonton;
Takeaways 9-6 Edmonton.
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 13-and-12 (52%); Helm went 10-and-7 (59%); Zetterberg went 7-and-8 (47%); Abdelakder went 6-and-5 (55%); Filppula went 2-and-0 (100%); Cleary went 1-and-1 (50%); Bertuzzi won his only faceoff; Emmerton lost his only faceoff.
Shots taken: Lidstrom led the team with 5 shots; Cleary, White and Bertuzzi had 4 shots; Miller, Zetterberg, Emmerton and Holmstrom had 3 shots; Abdelkader, Datsyuk and Helm had 2 shots; Commodore, Filppula, Ericsson and Franzen had 1.
Blocked attempts: Franzen had 4 attempts blocked; Lidstrom and White had 3 attempts blocked; Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Filppula and Kronwall had 2 attempts blocked; Cleary, Hudler, Helm and Ericsson had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Hudler, Franzen and Holmstrom missed the net 2 times; Commodore, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Filppula and Kronwall missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Stuart had 3 hits; Miller and Kronwall had 2; Abdelkader, Bertuzzi and Franzen had 1.
Giveaways: Ericsson had 3 giveaways on a pretty terrible night ; Bertuzzi and MacDonald had 2; Lidstrom, Cleary, Commodore and Kronwall had 1.
Takeaways: Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Stuart, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Emmerton had 1 takeaway.
Blocked shots: Datsyuk and Stuart blocked 2 Oilers shots; Lidstrom, White and Hudler blocked 1 shot.
Penalties taken: Commodore took a major penalty for fighting and a minor penalty; Holmstrom took 2 minor penalties; Cleary took 1 minor penalty.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +9. Datsyuk and Helm finished at -1; Lidstrom, White, Bertuzzi and Franzen finished at +2; Zetterberg finished at +3.
Points: Bertuzzi had 2 goals; Zetterberg had 2 assists; Miller and Filppula had goals; Cleary, White, Helm and Franzen had assists.
Ice time: White led the team with 28:40 played; Lidstrom played 27:51; Kronwall played 24:11;
Datsyuk played 23:38; Franzen played 21:29; Zetterberg played 21:17;
Stuart played 21:15; Filppula played 20:21; Hudler played 18:22;
Bertuzzi played 18:14; Ericsson played 16:57; Cleary played 13:48;
Helm played 12:55; Miller played 11:12; Holmstrom played 10:25;
Commodore played 8:41; Abdelkader played 8:33; Emmerton played 6:54.
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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.