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Red Wings-Penguins quick: ground down, or ‘the Danny comes around’

The Detroit Red Wings may as well have been playing the Pittsburgh Penguins in April given the sandpapery grit and grind, vicious intensity, immense attention paid to detail by both teams and nothing less than a grudge match’s worth of effort as lines neutralized their opponents and, for a while, anyway, it looked like the game would only showcase Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk’s talents.

The Wings emerged with a 4-1 victory because Datsyuk played that much better with his linemates than Malkin, taking a lovely pass from Todd Bertuzzi to score his own goal and then handing Johan Franzen a goal of his own, because Jimmy Howard battled like nobody’s business to assuage for leaning too far to the left on Malkin’s almost-last-second goal in the first, and because the Wings finally played what was at times an ugly, mean and nasty road game with a leopard’s worth of spots of high-energy, high-speed puck possession hockey decorating a base coat of red and white work ethic.

The Wings selflessly blocked shots and passes with their bodies, absorbed bodychecks for the sake of getting the puck out of trouble, they flailed and dove to help out their goaltender, and of course, Howard made some fantastic saves, including this amazing seeing-eye glove save…

But on a night when Pavel Datsyuk literally threaded the needle against a Penguins team that possessed more than enough star power to counter even this kind of wizardry…

 

And “Give[ing] the Mule What he Wants” didn’t necessarily ensure victory…

 

One could very well argue that the Wings’ third and fourth lines were Detroit’s other difference-makers. Tomas Holmstrom continues to absolutely shine as a “grind liner,” out-eclipsing superb workmanlike performances from Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader, and the Danny Cleary-Darren Helm-Chris Conner line finally found its stride with a motivated Conner’s blazing speed setting up a fantastic 3-1 goal from Cleary with only 4:24 remaining in the game, setting the Wings up for four minutes’ worth of clock-killing hockey which Cleary salted away with an empty-netter of his own.

The Wings’ defense was equally up to the task, with Lidstrom’s elegant positional play and White’s Rafalski-like flash and dash balanced by gravelly performances from Stuart and Kronwall, who sometimes literally scratched and clawed the puck away from Penguins players, and a remarkably steady set of performances from players who’ve made themselves indispensable in the suddenly steady Jonathan Ericsson and a player who must drive Mike Commodore nuts in the emerging Jakub Kindl, whose strength and defensive poise belie an offensive flair which is slowly but surely giving the Wings’ third pairing a sprinkling of offensively adept intimidation…

And while they were more or less neutralized offensively, the penalty-prone Jiri Hudler and his sterling linemates, Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula, didn’t give the Penguins an inch while continuing to take their speed game from one end of the rink to the other (emphasis on the Penguins’ end, and Zetterberg was fantastic on the PK)...

The Wings’ first real “road game” of the season resulted in two hard-earned and well-deserved points on what is about to become a nasty set of road, road and more road games between now and the middle of January. It involved a total team effort, but given the return of a lightning-fast transition game, a stellar forecheck and perhaps Danny Cleary’s inevitable rousing from his offensive doldrums, giving the Wings the three-line offensive attack they’d been missing since Valtteri Filppula joined the Zetterberg line.

As individuals and as a team, the Wings probably needed to face the Penguins’ nemesis to finally elevate their road game to a level necessary to do more than break even over 10 of the next 13 games between now and January 10th, and even after Malkin’s goal negated a first period’s worth of excellent work, the Wings came out showing no fear from the drop of the puck, displaying none of their paper tiger’s worth of first-quarter confidence while standing tall, staring their opponent in the eye and then grinding them into pulp over game’s final forty minutes.

Here’s hoping that this game serves as a blueprint for many gritty road wins to come, starting with Thursday’s game in what can be a house of horrors, an incredibly difficult opponent to beat at home and a vexing, Wings-hexing goalie in Nashville, the Predators and Pekka Rinne.

Statistics:

Shots 26-25 Pittsburgh. The Wings out-shot the Penguins 8-6 in the 1st period, but were out-shot 12-5 in the 2nd period; they out-shot Pittsburgh 12-8 in the 3rd.

The Wings went 1 for 2 in 2:16 of PP time; the Penguins went 0 for 4 in 7:52 of PP time.

Howard stopped 24 of 25 shots; Fleury stopped 21 of 24 and the Wings scored into an empty net.

The 3 stars, per the Pens’ media corps, were Danny Cleary, Jimmy Howard and Pavel Datsyuk.

Not exactly fair given how great Maklin was (pardon the complement, sorry).

The Wings’ goals: Datsyuk (9) from Bertuzzi (8);

Franzen (14) from Datsyuk (21), power play;

Cleary (6) from Conner (2) and Helm (4);

Cleary (7) from Zetterberg (14) and Kronwall (7), empty net.

Faceoffs 27-25 Detroit (52% won by Detroit);

Blocked shots 20-12 Detroit;

Missed shots 12-11 Pittsburgh (total shot attempts 58-48 Pittsburgh);

Hits 20-19 Pittsburgh;

Giveaways 6-2 Pittsburgh;

Takeaways 7-1 Detroit.

Individual stats:

Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 12-and-11 (52%); Zetterberg went 8-and-5 (62%); Helm went 4-and-5 (44%); Miller won 2 faceoffs; Filppula went 1-and-1; Abdelkader lost both the faceoffs he took; Franzen lost the only faceoff he took.

Shots: Cleary led the Wings with 6 shots; Lidstrom, Datsyuk and Franzen had 3; Bertuzzi, Filppula and Holmstrom had 2; White, Miller, Zetterberg and Kronwall had 1.

Blocked attempts: Abdelkader, Datsyuk and Kronwall fired 2 pucks into Penguins players; Kindl, Cleary, White, Miller, Filppula and Ericsson fired single shots into Penguins players.

Missed shots: White missed the net 3 times; Lidstrom and Datsyuk missed the net 2 times; Miller, Hudler, Conner and Filppula missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Franzen had 3 hits; Abdelkader, Stuart, Conner and Kronwall had 2; Cleary, Datsyuk, Miller, Hudler, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Filppula and Ericsson had 1.

Giveaways: White and Holmstrom had giveaways.

Takeaways: Both Datsyuk and Miller had 2 takeaways; Stuart, Conner and Bertuzzi had 1 takeaway.

Blocked opponent shots: White and Kronwall blocked 4 Penguins shots; Lidstrom, Stuart and Ericsson blocked 2 shots; Kindl, Zetterberg, Conner, Helm, Bertuzzi and Franzen blocked 1 shot.

Penalties taken: Hudler took 2 minor penalties; Lidstrom and Franzen took minor penalties.

Plus-minus: Cleary and Datsyuk finished at +2; Kindl, Stuart, Conner, Helm, Bertuzzi, Ericsson and Kronwall finished at +1; Hudler and Filppula finished at -1; everybody else was even.

Points: Cleary scored 2 goals; Datsyuk scored a goal and added an assist; Franzen scored a goal; Zetterberg, Conner, Helm, Bertuzzi and Kronwall had assists.

Ice time: Lidstrom led the team with 23:56 played; White played 23:46; Stuart played 22:41;

Kronwall played 20:57; Zetterberg played 18:41; Filppula played 17:11;

Datsyuk played 16:59; Cleary played 16:33; Ericsson played 15:49;

Franzen played 15:19; Hudler played 14:56; Helm played 14:32;

Conner played 13:17; Bertuzzi played 13:12; Kindl played 12:26;

Miller played 11:05; Holmstrom played 10:35; Abdelkader played 10:05.

Update: Aww, “It stayed out”...

 

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

EDJ's avatar

It must hurt, but you made a bad compliment right after you mentioned the three stars of the game.

Also, I remember there being a discussion a while back about whether we’re allowed to call the Red Wings our team, us or we, but I thought it was interesting that Mickey Redmond said “now that we’ve won,” in his comments about how it was nice that Malkin got to play.

Posted by EDJ on 12/14/11 at 01:09 AM ET

Chet's avatar

i was forced to watch this on the ROOT sports network or whatever it’s called by way of center ice. it was the worst in-game coverage i’ve seen in years.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/14/11 at 01:25 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Ken, Mickey and I believe Murph are on the payroll, as are Ken Kal and Paul Woods, so it’s literally “we.” It drives Paul nuts when people say “we” but I’m a fan, so I try to avoid it but do say “we” on occasion.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/14/11 at 01:33 AM ET

Avatar

I’m not afraid to give credit to the opponent where credit is due. Malkin almost won that game by himself. 1 goal, two post clanks and nearly put it in on the diving effort after the first clank. I’d still rather have Datsyuk than Malkin, but wow, was Malkin good tonight—had other good chances. Happy they pulled this one out, hope Howard doesn’t keep getting run into. Bertuzzi taking that puck away is a reminder of what he can do with his size.

My favorite quote of the night however, was from Abel to Yzerman tonight, when Datsyuk knocked the puck down for Franzen’s goal:
“I always said with his hand eye coordination, had he grown up in North America he would have been an All-Star second baseman with a .360 batting average.

Posted by RWBill from the customary position atop the western conference on 12/13/11 at 08:59 PM ET “

Posted by Bugsy on 12/14/11 at 01:46 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

i was forced to watch this on the ROOT sports network or whatever it’s called by way of center ice. it was the worst in-game coverage i’ve seen in years.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/13/11 at 10:25 PM ET

The Pens broadcast is awful.  Its as if its a contest for them to mention the ‘09 cup as many times as possible, like they’d never been there before.  Totally annoying.

Anyway, just finished watching the Wings on DVR…. an all around great win for the Wings, but they’d better keep better tabs on Geno next time.  I don’t know what that dude had for breakfast this morning, but I want some.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 12/14/11 at 02:40 AM ET

SYF's avatar

Shots 26-25 Pittsburgh. The Wings out-shot the Penguins 8-6 in the 1st period, but were out-shot 12-5 in the 2nd period; they out-shot Pittsburgh 12-8 in the 3rd.

Weird stat for the second period since it’s that period that the Wings were more methodical in shot selection.  Admittedly, there were times that I would be frustrated with some of the Wings not taking what would appear to be great scoring chances only to find a better play that resulted in a goal.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 12/14/11 at 05:13 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

Tomas Holmstrom continues to absolutely shine as a “grind liner”

Absolute truth.  Homer as a grind liner and, of course, a PP specialist seems to be the perfect role for him at this stage of his career.  Deep down, I think he was always a Grind Liner at heart.

Great point about this being the blueprint for successful road hockey.  As you pointed out, a look at the schedule dicates that now is the time for this.

More please.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 12/14/11 at 05:53 AM ET

Chet's avatar

no, they often get outshot on the road in the 2nd this year. something about the system vs. the long change. i could def. be wrong, but i’ve only missed watching one and that seems to be the case.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/14/11 at 07:33 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

I was stuck with the Pittsburgh broadcast as well. I puked a little when they said Datsyuk’s goal was “crosby-like.”

I was surprised by the non-calls in the game. The officials left everything short of a mugging go uncalled, which reminded me of pre-lockout officiating. I would have expected that would have helped pittsburgh, but the wings ground back. It was nice to see.

And I don’t miss seeing Steve Sullivan against the wings. That guy has a great shot and it was nice to see the wings keep him off the score sheet.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 12/14/11 at 11:49 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Fantastic game summary, George!  Thanks.

So glad I had Ken and Mick.  If I’d have heard the comment that Pav’s goal was “Crosby like,” I would have barfed all over my keyboard.  There were lots of comments on the LB on A2Y about how horrible the Pens announcers were.

It was just incredibly sweet to see the Wings beat the Pengoons in their barn.  Just sweet as can be.

cool smile

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 12/14/11 at 12:06 PM ET

SYF's avatar

no, they often get outshot on the road in the 2nd this year. something about the system vs. the long change. i could def. be wrong, but i’ve only missed watching one and that seems to be the case.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/14/11 at 04:33 AM ET

I getcha, Chet.  If you checked out the SOGs in the second before Dangles tied it at 1-apiece, Wings had only two SOGs.  cal (God bless ya, man) said, “...you don’t need a lot of shots if they are quality.”  Methodical.  Precise.  Surgical.  That’s how the Wings looked like for most of the game last night.

Maybe this is a trend for the team.  I like it.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 12/14/11 at 04:49 PM ET

Avatar

I thought they were a bit tentative in the first period, too unwilling to battle in the second and got outplayed, then really took over in the third. Early in the second, I was concerned they wouldn’t be able to get sustained offense and would be trapped in their own zone for much of the rest of the game. Needless to say…

i was forced to watch this on the ROOT sports network or whatever it’s called by way of center ice. it was the worst in-game coverage i’ve seen in years.

Ditto. It was quite homerific, but they were actually very complimentary of the Red Wings and saw a lot of the Wings mistakes as intentional, methodical hockey, so it wasn’t that bad.

So glad I had Ken and Mick.  If I’d have heard the comment that Pav’s goal was “Crosby like,” I would have barfed all over my keyboard.

Eventually Crosby will turn into a generic hockey cliche and everyone will forget that he’s a real person who actually played the game. “That save was Crosby-esque.”

wow, was Malkin good tonight

That bears repeating at least a few more times. Though, if he didn’t try to do everything himself and worked with his linemates a little better, that might have been truly scary.

no, they often get outshot on the road in the 2nd this year. something about the system vs. the long change.

I can’t find shot statistics, but for GF/GA, they are great in the first period (4th/1st), not as good in the second period (T6th/T11th), and worst in the third period (12th/12th). Though, PP vs. shorthanded times supports that, with the Red Wings being penalized more than half the league in the second period and getting very few power plays to make up for it (whereas in the third period, they get penalized the same amount, but get most of their power plays).

My CAPTCHA says this is “response12”. Is it?

Posted by bleep bloop on 12/14/11 at 04:53 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Shots on Goal differentials by period:

1st Period:

Detroit outshoots their opponents 296-228.

2nd Period:

Detroit outshoots their opponents 322-252

3rd Period:

Detroit enjoys a mere 262-250 shots advantage.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/14/11 at 05:06 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Unfortunately, I don’t have league standings on those figures.  (well I could, but I’d have to look each team up individually and create a chart, which I’m not going to do right now).

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/14/11 at 05:17 PM ET

SYF's avatar

You’re such a nerd, JJ.  LOL

Precisely why it was an unusual second period and yet it was the second period the reason why the Wings won.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 12/14/11 at 05:49 PM ET

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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.