Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Predators Game 3 quick take: ‘making a game of it’ doesn’t count

The Detroit Red Wings were beaten by two teams on Sunday—the Nashville Predators, who won a 3-2 decision, and the Detroit Red Wings.

The Wings bafflingly came out of the gate flatter than day-old pop in front of an electric Joe Louis Arena crowd, dug a 2-0 hole for themselves and then worked against the clock for the rest of the game, and while the Wings made a game of it and then some thanks to a Datsyukian deke, a near goal by Johan Franzen as time expired in the 2nd and a furious, 19-shot third period assault, the Red Wings’ power play went 1-for-4, on too many of the Predators’ odd-man rushes, pucks found their way through Jimmy Howard…

And now Detroit’s season more or less hangs upon a must-win on Tuesday because Nashville stole home ice back from a team that either couldn’t or wouldn’t play with any sort of passion, intensity, attention to detail, focus, desperation, or any sense of real urgency until they’d surrendered too much territory and scoreboard to their opponent—an opponent that they don’t seem to hate yet, and if you were to ask me what might cost the Wings this series, it’s the fact that they took all the anger pointed at Shea Weber in Game 2 and left it behind in Nashville.

Yes, the Wings rallied against themselves and the Predators, but this loss is immensely dispiriting because, well…The Wings are making Pekka Rinne into Dwayne Roloson, and for whatever reason, the Predators seem to have all the “puck luck” at both ends of the ice thanks to a forecheck that’s generating turnovers in Detroit’s zone, body position in their own end and a litany of blocked empty-net shots—Detroit had not only 43 shots on Rinne (who wasn’t forced back into his net nearly enough after Drew Miller ran him over) today, but they also fired 15 wide and 19 into Nashville Predators players for a total of 34 extra pucks not hitting Rinne or the back of the net, and 77 total attempted shots, perhaps most eloquently illustrating how incredibly inefficiently the Red Wings have played throughout this series.

They’re exerting far too much energy, blood, sweat and tears rallying from deficits (it seems that this is a “first goal wins” series) and battling against both their opponents and the same tendencies that cost them home ice down the stretch, and when you add in the fact that the Wings are, for whatever reason you want (discipline or referees’ discretion, depending on your point of view about all the hacks, whacks and interference the Predators are getting away with), taking too many penalties…

The Wings have dug an immense, immense hole for themselves, and I’m usually relatively optimistic about Detroit’s resiliency, but the Wings’ unwillingness to engage in anything less than catch-up hockey has me much more worried than the Predators’ play does. It’s not beating Nashville or Rinne that I think may very well spell a locker room clean-out if the Wings don’t win on Tuesday; it’s the Wings beating their own bad habits and beating their rather glaring lack of, as I continue to beat the dead horse into pulp, those extra faceoffs Kris Draper won them, those extra passes and shots from the point that are absent sans Brian Rafalski and that extra drive that just hasn’t manifested itself against, again, a team I don’t think the Wings hate nearly enough to want to not only defeat, but destroy and humiliate.

And you can’t win in the playoffs unless you want to kick the s*** out of a team you’ve got a healthy hate for.

The game’s narrative was too familiar. All of 1:35 into the game, Drew Miller was penalized for roaring into Pekka Rinne with the same kind of drive the Predators’ players have displayed going into Howard, and Nashville immediately deflated Detroit and their crowd on the power play. Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall couldn’t win a board battle down low—below the goal line, where the Wings are incredibly every spring, it seems—and Shea Weber and Ryan Suter did their “let’s play catch” thing, Pavel Datsyuk’s stick was broken as he blocked a Weber shot from the left point, the puck went to David Legwand along the left wing half boards, he gave it to Alex Radulov down low, Radulov tossed it to Kostitsyn, whose shot from the top of the crease was blocked, and because Kostitsyn was allowed to utilize Niklas Kronwall’s slight bump to throw Brad Stuart into Howard, Howard had no chance to stop Shea Weber sneaking in from the point and scoring all of 2:48 into the 1st period.

The Wings were more or less dominated in terms of possession and control of the puck, time of possession in the offensive zone and winger support during the first period, so the 11-9 shot advantage was deceiving and then some (as our friends on NBC kept reminding us in what seemed to be a Nashville Predators infomercial). The Wings managed to “kill off” the rest of the first period, but things did not start well in the 2nd, either.

After not capitalizing on a Jordin Tootoo penalty taken 1:21 into the 2nd, the Predators rebounded in a big way. Tootoo came out of the box, skated into his end to battle Jonathan Ericsson, Ericsson played the puck to Danny Cleary, he and Filppula tossed pucks around and Cleary fired a shot on net which was missed, Ericsson stumbled at the right point looking to switch to skating backwards, and as Brad Stuart attempted to stop Martin Erat and Kevin Klein on a 2-on-1, Stuart didn’t take away the pass, Klein charged in and beat Howard cleanly on the glove side despite Howard’s glove being up and in position. Howard should have had it, and he didn’t.

With 16:10 left in the 2nd, the Wings were down 2-0 (there was a delayed penalty during the play as well).

 

The Wings slowly but surely came on as the 2nd continued, despite taking penalties which resulted in a 5-on-3 via Franzen and Quincey infractions around the game’s halfway point, and the Wings rallied in a big way after killing 23 seconds of 5-on-3 time and almost four minutes’ of penalties…

But they couldn’t catch a break until Pavel Datsyuk made a characteristically Datsyukian play, losing a faceoff but skating deep, stealing the puck from Roman Josi behind his net and neatly tucking the puck past Pekka Rinne’s left toe with 4:57 left in the 2nd.

 

From then on, the Wings owned the puck, and they nearly scored in the 2nd’s waning seconds, on a power play, with Johan Franzen burying the rebound of a Tomas Holmstrom shot and an amazing sequence of passes to and from Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Regrettably, time expired when the puck was parallel to and going over Rinne’s torso, so the goal did not count.

 

The fact that the Wings didn’t convert on 1:49 of PP time to start the 3rd, on what was surprisingly good ice given the weather and Nickelback concert on Saturday night, hurt their chances, and the Wings absolutely kicked ass and took names as the Predators sagged, assaulting Rinne with a total of 19 shots…

But I had the feeling that the Wings were just waiting for that miraculous, last-minute comeback, and again, that lack of urgency, even when Detroit had finally established a forecheck, damned ‘em.

With 3:30 left in the 3rd period, Shea Weber chipped the puck down ice—in what should have been an icing call—and instead, Brad Stuart played the puck to Niklas Kronwall, he gave it to Henrik Zetterberg, Z skated up ice and gave a pinching Niklas Kronwall a nice pass, Kronwall pinched to take the shot and, well what do you know? The Predators capitalized on the fact that Valtteri Filppula, who was in Kronwall’s right point position, stood up, let Kevin Klein, Mike Fisher and Sergei Kostitsyn roar up ice, and Fisher fired the puck to Kostitsyn, he came up the same lane that Klein did, perhaps going a little wider to the left side, and he beat Jimmy Howard under the blocker in, again, a situation where Howard should have stopped the shot despite his intermittent 4-shot workload.

 

Henrik Zetterberg made a game of it again with 52 seconds left in the 3rd, scoring a gorgeous sniper’s goal off a drop pass from Pavel Datsyuk, sneaking a shot through Rinne’s glove, but the Wings otherwise were easily stopped at the Predators’ line or by the half boards, losing pucks to tenacious Predators defense, and the game ended perhaps predictably.

 

The Wings may have very well regained playoff form in this game, but they didn’t win it, and so Tuesday’s game may very well determine the post-season. If the Wings don’t win it and go into Nashville down 3-1 on Friday, the Wings might have not displayed the drive, urgency or again, hatred-fueled intensity early enough in this game or this series to prevent the media’s coronation of the Predators as their playoff darling…

And as bleak as I make this sound, there is no doubt in my mind that the Wings can—if they come out and score the first goal during a strong start on Tuesday—very easily split their home games, go into Nashville and win on Friday after a nice two-day break and beat the absolute snot out of the Predators both on the scoreboard and in the physical department, all while taking fewer penalties and ensuring that Pekka Rinne becomes very, very human in the process.

We saw that the Wings have the spirit, drive and desire to win in them during that 19-shot 3rd period, but what we didn’t see is results, and that’s the problem for a team that seems to be continuing to suffer growing pains during their playoff run.

Growing pains usually mean golf, and that’s why I am more than willing to admit that, this afternoon, I’m genuinely scared that the Wings are en route to ensuring that this is a rebuilding/transition year by defeating themselves. [edit: Do I still believe? Hell yes, but my faith isn’t blind, and I’m not ashamed to suggest that I’ve got my doubts while remaining firmly chained to the bandwagon. I wish the Wings despised the Predators as much as I do, frankly, because I want to see Nashville’s players curled up in a ball, crying for mommy, by this time next week.]

Statistics:

Shots 43-22 Detroit. The Wings out-shot Nashville 11-9 in the 1st period, 13-9 in the 2nd period and 19-4 in the 3rd period.

Nashville went 1 for 4 in 7:00 of PP time, including 23 seconds of 5 on 3 time; Detroit went 1-for-4 in 6:45 of PP time.

Pekka Rinne stopped 41 of 43 shots; Jimmy Howard stopped 19 of 22.

The 3 stars, per HNIC’s Kevin Weekes, were Pekka Rinne, Pavel Datsyuk and Shea weber.

The Wings’ goals: Datsyuk (1), unassisted;

Zetterberg (2) from Datsyuk (2) and Kronwall (1), PPG.

Faceoffs 32-26 Nashville (Detroit won 45%, mostly because Valtteri Filppula went 1-and-3 and Cory Emmerton went 2-and-4);

Blocked shots 19-9 Nashville;

Missed shots 15-10 Detroit (total attempts 77-41 Detroit, with Detroit firing 43 shots on Rinne and 34 near him);

Hits 34-28 Detroit;

Giveaways7-6 Detroit;

Takeaways 7-4 Detroit.

Stats that stand out: 9 shots for Henrik Zetterberg, 4 for Lidstrom, Miller, and Kronwall, 3 shots and 5 hits for Johan Franzen, 6 hits for Brad Stuart, 4 from Ian White, 4 takeaways for Pavel Datsyuk, 2 blocked shots for Datsyuk and White, who ended the game playing alongside Nicklas Lidstrom, 1 shot, 1 blocked attempt and 2 hits for Gus Nyquist, who played with Datsyuk for a while, and a team-leading 24:34 in ice time for Nicklas Lidstrom.

Here’s a slate of game highlights:

 

And, from the CBC’s Justin Piercy, I liked this from Franzen, who got furiously angry when David Legwand grabbed his jersey from Nashville’s bench:

 

Update: Here’s a pair of player comments from the Wings’ website, starting with Kyle Quincey…

 

And continuing with Nicklas Lidstrom:

 

And Drew Miller:

 

And NHL.com just posted Mike Babcock’s post-game presser, but it wont’ let me embed it for some reason.

More video stuff: The Windsor Star posted clips of comments from Kyle Quincey…

 

Cory Emmerton…

 

Nicklas Lidstrom…

 

Jonathan Ericsson…

 

And Jimmy Howard:

 

Here’s Henrik Zetterberg rom the Wings’ website, too:

 

Yet another video update: Here’s Babcock, finally, from the Wings’ website:

 

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Comments

creasemonkey's avatar

This loss is definitely not putting me in a good mood to celebrate my bday tomorrow.

Posted by creasemonkey from sweet home san diego on 04/15/12 at 05:43 PM ET

creasemonkey's avatar

P.S. glad to have your opinion/views back to read George. Take care of yourself.

Posted by creasemonkey from sweet home san diego on 04/15/12 at 05:43 PM ET

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There’s a lot about this analysis I agree with. The slow starts are driving me crazy, but at the same time the Wings utterly dominated this game from the 2nd period on. Parts of the 3rd period felt like we had a PP and yet nothing was going in. You hate to fall back on bad puck luck and shitty referees as an excuse, but honestly was there a more frustrating third period all season than this game? (and let’s be honest, Howard has to make that stop on the 3rd goal).

We’ve pretty much outplayed the Preds in this series (particularly in Gms 1 & 3) - that we are down 2-1 is enough to make you want to bang your head against a wall.

Not time to give up hope, but frustration is the word so far

Posted by Michael from Brooklyn on 04/15/12 at 05:52 PM ET

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Well, so much for “turning on the switch” in time. “Puck luck” you can’t control, other than creating/preventing the situations for deflections. I still think/hope they have the young talent, but I wondered the same thing a few weeks ago about whether it’s time to sweep more than a few players out or if I’m being too impatient with the “youth”.

The drive? I’m not sure how to judge that, but I don’t typically doubt Datsyuk, Lidstrom, or Zetterberg on drive, but they’re quiet types to begin with. What I’m concerned with is the rest of the team (although Bertuzzi throwing around his weight certainly helped today) being “quiet” (e.g., Franzen). Do they really miss a Draper/Franzen/McCarty/Verbeek?/Maltby that much (i.e., grit, fire) to balance out the quiet leaders? I don’t think they have to fight or play dirty, but the question I don’t know the answer to is the “switch” issue complacency, overconfidence, and/or lack of fire now?

I’ve got no clue now, just ranting to get my frustrations out. I just have the same gnawing concern that maybe this is first round and out. Not because they’re a mediocre team, just not good enough. I guess the one positive is the Wings still have a chance to pull this out (and that people in Vancouver are probably doubling our panic right now).

Posted by Bugsy on 04/15/12 at 06:07 PM ET

Alzy's avatar

The Wings have to bury their scoring chances. It’s as simple as that for me. I don’t think Pekka Rinne has looked like an All-World goaltender in this series, his mechanics I think have been pretty average. He kicks out juicy rebounds all the time, he seems to over-commit on the first shot a lot of the time, the net’s been gaping wide open so many times but the Wing players are always a step behind the Nashville players.. The Wings just have to get to the net, and then finish.

Frustrated is definitely my mood right now, because it feels like to me we should be up 3-0, not trailing 2-1.

Posted by Alzy from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada on 04/15/12 at 06:38 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Meh. Welcome back to the regular season or something. Why can’t they stay motivated? Why can’t they stay pissed off? The officiating…again…WTF? What is a call for one team isn’t for another, and vice versa. This shit just pisses me off…do you or don’t you have anything to play for?

Sigh…at least the windows are open and I’m hearing horsepower as OLN finally shows something worth showing on their channels in the Long Beach Grand Pricks….er…you get the idea.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 04/15/12 at 06:51 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I’m angry, honestly, very, very angry. I’m tired of the refs only seeing red, too—this has been what, three playoff runs where that’s happened, and where even people who don’t wear red tinfoil an readily admit that there’s a double *#$%@& standard—-and if I hadn’t let my semi-professionalism get the better of me, I think I would have written, “I’m tired of these motherfuckin’ Predators on my motherfuckin’ plane!” and left the commentary to you.

Regarding personnel, I know it’s hard to take Gus Nyquist out of the lineup, but the Wings rather desperately need more forechecking and speed with Helm out, and I think that unless the team were to bring Dallas Drake out of retirement, Jan Mursak might be better-suited to filling a necessary role at present…

And if I were the GM this summer, assuming that Stuart’s out the door, Homer’s 50/50, Hudler’s 50/50 and TPH remains? As of today, I’d consider packaging Q and Kuba for a more elite offensive defenseman who’s struggled elsewhere to bolster the top four while making room for Smith, and yes, I’d add a forward who was an ornery, physical and Cup-starved veteran, but this is just slight depression talking.

Mostly, the Wings do indeed need to bury their chances, early and often, and they’ve GOT to stop allowing the Predators to set up and cycle down low and fire passes to defensemen sneaking into the slot—a la the Sharks, to years running—and they’ve GOT to stop allowing the Predators to roar up ice on 2-on-1’s and 3-on-2’s, because, as today illustrated, Howard isn’t going to stop ‘em all.

The Wings can make the Predators look like what they are in a team that has as much depth but not nearly as much skill as a Detroit team whose levels of talent and high-tempo puck possession hockey can simply not be kept up with over the course of 60 minutes of play, the Wings can match and exceed the Predators’ physicality and pugnaciousness down low, the Wings can generate the kinds of secondary and tertiary scoring chances that expose Rinne’s flaws, and the Wings can three of the next four games, but I don’t know if they can get their heads on the same page in enough time to, as I keep saying, predate upon a team that only has to win two more games to escape the first round.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 04/15/12 at 07:08 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

For what it’s worth…the Flyers have completely exposed the Penguins and vice-versa. Shit…the Wings would be putting both of these teams out of their misery.

But not in the West where the trap reins supreme. Oh wait…we’ve got a realignment coming up.

Oh…no we don’t. Fuching Gary, Ass.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 04/15/12 at 07:11 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

George, I have much the same feelings you expressed. I think the most frustrating for me all season has been the Wings’ struggle to score frickin’ goals!  Sometimes I think I’m going to tear my hair out if I hear any of the following phrases again:  “Just wide.” “Just missed.” “Just couldn’t bury it.” Once in awhile, sure, but WAY too much all year. 

Did anyone hear Trotz’s presser after the game?  He was asked about the Wings outshooting the Preds. Know what he said?  “They can have all the shots they want. Pekka is a good goaltender.”

That is swagger. Webergoon has it too. He wasn’t one bit intimidated by having to play in the Joe in front of the Wings’ fans. The Wings haven’t got any swagger and I don’t know how they’re going to find it. And they are expending way too much energy for not enough results.

But, anything is possible, so I’m not giving up hope.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 04/15/12 at 07:29 PM ET

42jeff's avatar

Captain Dennis just posted this at the LB. 

Everybody is right. If they played in the 1st and 2nd like they played in the 3rd, it wouldn’t have mattered how bad the officiating was. And it was atrocious.

Leads are for closers, First place is a Cadillac Eldorado. Second place is a set of steak knives. Too often this team spends too much of the game playing for a set of steak knives.

If this team comes out flat again on Tuesday night for the umpteen millionth time on and I am Babcock, I call a time out 2 minutes into the game and start yelling and screaming in their faces until it looks like I’m going to blown a vein out. Make it very public. Challenge their manhood and profesionalism and make sure the cameras and douce canoe in the box see and hear all of it. And if they still don’t respond, well then If I’m Babs, I resign.

How the fuch can a collection of the best players in the world not be itching to play from the second the puck drops all the way until the horn ends the game? In the playoffs. With your team trailing a game.

That switch that needs flipped? It has a short in it.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from Warm and sunny SoCal on 04/15/12 at 04:20 PM ET

Word.

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 04/15/12 at 07:33 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

IMO!!!!

The flat starts are the Coaches problem to fix and it has been a very consistent problem.

Most of the shots the Wings took George would stop, too much perimeter play that resulted in turnovers.

Trotz put fresh legs in the lineup and Babs did not, even though this was a short turnaround from Game 2 to Game 3.  Connor , Smith should have played.

Changing up the lines after 2 periods of obviously nothing working is getting boring/predictable.  MAYBE start the game with a few changes to the lines.  I know the word change is not in the Babcockian hockey for Dummies, but time to wake up Babs.

I still think Pav needs 2 top 6 wingers, Bert is a role (good) guy and our only physical forward but.. And Franzen is a PP specialist and 3rd line Winger.

Obviously lose Game 4 and 1st round fodder! Holland will have more time to think about the changes that have to happen on D and top 6!

I wasn’t even upset watching this game, if you have watched the Wings long enough this game stunk of a late 3rd push, AGAIN!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 04/15/12 at 07:44 PM ET

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I agree with all your comments but…no word on Howard? Can’t say he was stellar? Pekka stole 2 games, how many did Howard steal?

Posted by Jeff from Michigan on 04/15/12 at 07:48 PM ET

calquake's avatar

that lack of urgency

“What are four words that best describe the Red Wings this playoff series for $400 Alex?”

Posted by calquake on 04/15/12 at 08:08 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

I agree with all your comments but…no word on Howard? Can’t say he was stellar? Pekka stole 2 games, how many did Howard steal?

Posted by Jeff from Michigan on 04/15/12 at 05:48 PM ET

Yes Howard wasn’t great but I don’t think he was bad or cost Wings the game.  I was actually watching Rinne wait for the puck to come to him.  Howie could have been more aggressive but no chance on Webers?

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 04/15/12 at 08:15 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

I do side with Goalies as I was sort of one and my son is a much better goalie!  Had a lot of shots that were from far out or weak.  Stuart was either great or in San Jose in this game!

I guess stats don’t lie, Howie was average which is better than most Wings effort until too late!

VERY DISAPPOINTED!

Preds are not a Cup team and Wings are being out skated and out worked by them.

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 04/15/12 at 08:22 PM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

This team lacks fire more than anything, although their grit level is extremely low. We desperately need a couple Drake, Maltby, Verbeek type guys. Wings have become way to complacent

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 04/15/12 at 08:26 PM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Also missing Helm and Eaves is a big deal. Those two cats show up every game.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 04/15/12 at 08:29 PM ET

calquake's avatar

The only way I see the Wings coming back and winning this series is by imposing their will on Nashville.  Screw puck luck, referees, clutching, grabbing, WWE moves and any other reasons you can come up with.  IMPOSE YOUR WILL Red Wings or check tee times come Wednesday.

Posted by calquake on 04/15/12 at 08:31 PM ET

42jeff's avatar

I was scanning through a bajillion tweets from today and saw something about Franzen getting grabbed from the Pred bench?  What was that about?

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 04/15/12 at 08:42 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

So very frustrating, because the Wings have been the better team overall after three games; and this is coming from a guy who came into this series with no expectations, and predicted a 4-1 Nashville series win.

Playing thirty minutes of a hockey game is something this team has done all too often the last three years. And all that goes back to the belief that, in the end, Babcock has more or less lost this team. They stay in games simply because of the talent level. If the heart matched the talent this series would be 3-0 Wings.

Nashville has looked nowhere near the unbeatable team people made them out to be coming into this. But, per usual, Detroit makes a lesser opponent look better than they are with 3/4 efforts and late starts.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 04/15/12 at 09:12 PM ET

jimathor's avatar

This team lacks fire more than anything, although their grit level is extremely low. We desperately need a couple Drake, Maltby, Verbeek type guys. Wings have become way to complacent

Posted by Vladimir16 on 04/15/12 at 06:26 PM ET


THIS.

Apart from the occasional Moose temper tantrum, when was the last time you saw any of the players barking, yapping, shouting, kicking off at anyone?

Okay, Kenny and Mr.I are old-time gentlemen, there are no ego’s on the team, no mouths are ever run, in so many ways the Wings are an understated and polite team, but at times that bullcrap has to stop. TPH, Hank, Pasha, Mule, Homer, Whitey, Disco Stu, fuch man, allllll of them are what my Grandma would’ve called “Lovely young boys”.

Now (and i’m not suggesting we let the curly haired goon within a thousand yards of this team), look at Scotty Hartnell, he yaps at the other team, he fire’s up the crowd, he fires up the boys on the bench, he is the lynchpin of the Flyers team now Pronger’s gone, they play around him and for him because he’s there and he’ll say what needs to be said. Darren McCarty, Kris Draper, both had bucket loads of this.

Maybe I’ve read too many cliched stories, but I firmly believe if TPH would man-up and say “this is my final year and I want that fuching cup on my way out the door”, that would be enough to pull everyone together and to start playing like we know they should.

Posted by jimathor from The land of Sir Humblepatch of Bumblehound on 04/15/12 at 09:54 PM ET

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1. My error above for including Franzen with the other grit guys in the list (I meant Drake, but in my frustration, I don’t know where my mind went).
2. The Franzen being grabbed and him spearing back video is above. The Predators are better right now at straddling the line (e.g., Franzen’s face)
3. No complaints about the quiet sportsmanlike play of Datsyuk (even with his occasional booming check), Lidstrom, Zetterberg, etc., as long as they are winning, right? The question is when the regular season ends, and the lack of skilled grit to balance things out. It’s hard to acquire “skilled grit”, and maybe we’ve taken Ken Holland for granted for pulling that out of the hat in the past (including Brad Stuart and Dallas Drake the Stanley Cup year, I believe). I didn’t realize how much the Wings would miss Eaves and Helm until now. They do need more skill (either young players to mature and/or acquire new blood), but they need sandpaper more.

Posted by Bugsy on 04/15/12 at 10:11 PM ET

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I had to turn this one off after the first 10 min.  I am so sick of this team only showing up for half a playoff game.  You can take this all the way back to game 7 against Pittsburgh.  It makes me sick.

Posted by pawl91 on 04/15/12 at 10:41 PM ET

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A couple more frustrating things this series:
* the Predators get away with a lot of stuff the Red Wings aren’t getting away with
* even when the Red Wings are dominating play and have the Predators completely disorganized, the Predators still always get to the puck in the slot before the Red Wings—getting in front of the net isn’t everything; you still have to be able to find the puck and get to it
* the Predators are specifically targeting Datsyuk and Lidstrom with unnecessary [often illegal] hits. Who are the Red Wings targeting aside from themselves?

Posted by bleep bloop on 04/15/12 at 11:42 PM ET

calquake's avatar

They do need more skill (either young players to mature and/or acquire new blood), but they need sandpaper more.

Posted by Bugsy on 04/15/12 at 08:11 PM ET

Amazing how much I miss William Tell.  I would take him over Hudler in a heartbeat now even with Hudler’s goals.

Posted by calquake on 04/15/12 at 11:47 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

On every single scrum with the Devils, Sammy (if on the ice) is right in the middle of it.

Tell them to go faux themselves, indeed.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 04/16/12 at 12:13 AM ET

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Why did we lose? We couldn’t put the cat in the hat. We basically can’t do it since 2003. We couldn’t do it against JS Giguere in ‘03 (round 1), worldbeater Miikka Kiprusoff in ‘94 (round 2), worldbeater Dwayne Roloson in ‘06 (round 1) anyone….? JS Giguere again in ‘07 (round 3), worldbeater Evgeni Nabokov in ‘10 (round 2), worldbeater Antti Niemi in ‘11 (round 2).

www(dot)youtube(dot)com/watch?v=IjkUMbrT5SU

Posted by Alex on 04/16/12 at 12:14 AM ET

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Trade some playmakers for some goalscores and sandpapers in the off-season, please. Make this team more balanced, please.

Posted by Alex on 04/16/12 at 12:22 AM ET

DocF's avatar

The flat starts are the Coaches problem to fix and it has been a very consistent problem.

Most of the shots the Wings took George would stop, too much perimeter play that resulted in turnovers.

so sayeth WingedRider.

Yup, I thought that perhaps Babcock had gotten interested in his job again, but it is obvious he is not.  Time to move on.

Doc

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 04/16/12 at 03:04 AM ET

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I must be watching a different series to many others.  The Wings probably have a slight edge overall in play: about dead even in game 1, slightly outplayed in game 2 and clearly the better side in game 3.  So being down 2-1 is no surprise given their play.  The difference in game 3 was goal tending.  Howard didn’t make the key saves when the defence broke down for two odd-man rushes.  That said, Howard was stellar in game 2 and the win was largely down to his play.

The officiating has been incredibly inconsistent in this series.  There have been at least 6 very soft penalties called against the Wings.  In later stages of all three games the very same “infractions” were not called.  Especially infuriating is cross-checking.  So much of that goes on that I don’t know how anybody can be called.  The ref may as well just draw a name out of hat to penalize - it’s that arbitrary. 

Bottom line for me, the Wings defence just isn’t good enough.  Blueliners turn the puck over far too much in their own zone while playing catch - a problem all season long.  Defencemen are too slow in chasing dumped pucks.  Far too often players aren’t sensing the danger they are in trying to make a play rather than taking an easier clearing option.  Finally, far too many blueline shots are blocked in the offensive zone.  This is another case of not sensing the danger or even realizing lanes are blocked.  Part of all this is down to players taking too long to make decisions and part is down to not recognizing the restricted space.  Of course, my comments don’t apply to Lidstrom.  Yes, he does get knocked off the puck more these days, but when he has control anywhere, he makes the right play.  The guy never gets caught out with a bad pass up the middle, a blocked drive from the blueline or not clearing the puck. 

The man is still clearly the Wings best player and thank heavens he still pulls on the red sweater.  When Lids goes, unless the Wings can snatch TWO top defencemen, the glory years for Detroit will be well and truly over.  We can then all be honest and freely admit that Detroit is trying to rebuild on the fly - something extremely difficult to do.

Posted by El Gringo on 04/16/12 at 06:16 AM 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.