The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/20/11 at 02:11 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings were neither perfect, nor did they deliver a particularly aesthetically pleasing game in their 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night, but for a team with a (now) 8-and-8 road record, style points just don’t count right now.
While out-shooting the Oilers badly at times, the Wings dominated in terms of puck possession and in terms of time in the opposition’s zone, but they just didn’t play particularly dangerous hockey when compared to Edmonton’s ability to cause havoc, scrambling and panic in the Wings’ end. That resulted in an uncharacteristically squeaky goal by Ryan Jones early in the second, countering Danny Cleary’s first-period marker, and after the Wings went ahead on a slick Hudler tip, the air went out of the Wings’ balloon in a hurry as they gave up a game-tying goal with half a second left in the second period, thanks in no small part due to a missed offside call…
But as the Oilers mucked it up physically and defensively in the third period, and the Wings continued to be able to generate about a shot-and-a-half before chasing the fleet-footed Oilers back down the ice (as opposed to the Wings’ usual ability to generate secondary and tertiary scoring chances, perhaps in no small part due to the fact that Pavel Datsyuk’s linemates had a bit of a nap throughout this one), the Wings seemed to settle themselves right down, not get flustered as Nikolai Khabibulin made some spectacular saves in the third period, and, eventually, the Wings forced a team that was definitely nursing the game to overtime make a crucial mistake.
With just over four minutes left in the game, Darren Helm refused to allow Ladislav Smid to keep the puck off his stick blade, and after winning a board battle he flicked the puck back to Nicklas Lidstrom (he wasn’t all that great either, and Niklas Kronwall had an “off” night, too), and Lidstrom’s shot found what the Wings have worked very, very hard to do on a more consistent basis this season—two bodies in the slot.
Drew Miller tipped the puck at the hash marks and Danny Cleary may or may not have been in the crease as the puck slid betwixt his legs and over Khabibulin’s blocker to give the Wings a goal as gritty and perhaps elegantly ugly as they’d been playing in the third period, and the Wings managed to “kill” the rest of the period and kill off a doofy delay of game penalty by Kronwall—and that Oilers glass is low along the side boards, isn’t it?—in fine fashion, really finding their form from minutes 57 onward. For those last three minutes, the Wings finally displayed the heady, confident and high-octane hockey that they usually offer for the vast majority of a game, and in doing so, they gave Jimmy Howard tons of support as they neutralized the Oilers’ power play, nearly scored an empty-netter and found a way to grind out two points against a speedy and surprisingly nasty opponent.
It wasn’t pretty and the Wings spent more time chasing pucks and puck carriers against the Oilers’ youngsters than they’ve done in a long, long time, but the Wings out-worked, out-hustled and mostly out-lasted the Oilers, choosing to patiently and persistently dedicate themselves to defensively sound and offensively smart hockey in what was a fantastic road game.
Sometimes the beauty is in the points, and as the Wings’ depth players continue to roll, they’ve gotten off to the right foot on a road trip that’s absolutely crucial for the Wings to gain some ground in the Western Conference standings. They did so by working hard and focusing on out-working and out-smarting their opponents one shift at a time.
Off to Vancouver with two patient points in the bank.
Update: Here’s Danny Cleary’s goal….
And Howard made a huge save on Jordan Eberle with his glove—twice:
Shots 28-23 Detroit. The Wings were out-shot 10-8 in the 1st period but out-shot Edmonton 10-8 in the 2nd and 10-5 in the 3rd.
The Wings went 0 for 2 in 4:00 of PP time; the Oilers went 1 for 5 in 7:47 of PP time, including 0-for-1 in 56 seconds of 5 on 3 time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 21 of 23 shots; Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 25 of 28 shots.
The 3 stars, per Sportsnet, were Jordan Eberle, Nikolai Khabibulin and Pavel Datsyuk.
The Wings’ goals: Cleary (8) from Kindl (7);
Hudler (7) from Zetterberg (15) and Filppula (16);
Miller (6) from Lidstrom (15) and Helm (7).
Faceoffs 28-26 Detroit (the Wings won 53% of the faceoffs taken);
Blocked shots 18-11 Detroit;
Missed shots 9-8 Detroit (total shot attempts 49-48 Edmonton);
Hits 18-17 Edmonton;
Giveaways 19-11 Edmonton;
Takeaways 12-5 Edmonton.
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 7-and-10 (41%); Zetterberg went 11-and-4 (73%); Helm went 4-and-6 (40%); Abdelkader went 6-and-3 (67%); Cleary, Filppula and Franzen all lost the only faceoffs they took.
Shots: Cleary, Datsyuk, Miller, Hudler and Franzen co-led the team with 3 shots; Stuart, Zetterberg and Filppula had 2; Kindl, Lidstrom, Abdelkader, White, Helm, Kronwall and Holmstrom had 1.
Blocked attempts: Zetterberg took 4 shots that were blocked by Oilers players; Kindl, Lidstrom, Cleary, Datsyuk, Filppula, Ericsson and Holmstrom had single attempts blocked.
Missed shots: Miller missed the net 3 times; Kindl, White, Zetterberg, Filppula, Franzen and Holmstrom missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Datsyuk and White had 3 hits apiece; Ericsson had 2 hits; Kindl, Cleary, Stuart, Hudler, Zetterberg, Helm, Kronwall, Franzen and Holmstrom had 1 hit.
Giveaways: Lidstrom and Kronwall had 2 giveaways; Cleary, Datsyuk, White, Hudler, Bertuzzi, Filppula and Ericsson had 1 giveaway;
Takeaways: Datsyuk had 2 takeaways; Helm, Ericsson and Kronwall had 1.
Penalties taken: Ericsson took 2 minor penalties; White, Miller and Kronwall took 1 minor penalty.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +10. Cleary and White finished at +2; Lidstrom, Miller, Hudler, Zetterberg, Helm, Filppula and Ericsson finished at +1; Holmstrom finished at -1.
Points: Cleary, Miller and Hudler scored goals; Kindl, Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Helm and Filppula had assists.
Ice time: Stuart led the team with 23:28 played; Lidstrom played 22:12; White played 21:35;
Kronwal played 21:08; Zetterberg played 21:03; Datsyuk played 17:38;
Filppula played 17:35; Ericsson played 17:11; Franzen played 16:38;
Cleary played 16:16; Bertuzzi played 15:16; Hudler played 13:45;
Kindl played 13:29; Helm played 13:24; Miller played 12:43;
Holmstrom played 10:29; Abdelkader played 8:55; Emmerton played 8:32.
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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.