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The Malik Report

Red Wings-Predators quick take: systematic

Update: FSD’s Trevor Thompson reports that Tomas Holmstrom suffered a groin injury and won’t play tomorrow: The Detroit Red Wings began play against the Nashville Predators with a little lead in their legs from their Christmas break and a little “stupid” lingering in their play from their ineffectual, inefficient and mistake-prone hockey against Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary last week, but the Wings slowly but surely gained their footing and ended up routing the Predators at home, defeating Nashville 4-1 at a Bridgestone Arena where the Wings rarely win.

Embarking on a slate of four straight games versus Central Division opponents and their first of two back-to-back slates this week, the Wings plain old played smart hockey against a Predators team missing Shea Weber, exploiting the Predators’ absence of depth with some depth scoring of their own…as well as some pretty damn spectacular play by their stars.

This is where I’d usually talk about what happened in the game and I’d blather on about the suspicious 5-2 penalty disparity toward the Predators or perhaps the fact that the Wings got a break when Pavel Datsyuk more or less called his own goal and the linesmen agreed, opening up a much-needed 2-0 lead…

.

But I think that Jimmy Howard deserves the most praise here. Despite giving up a late-game goal which he had no chance on (double screened by White and Legwand on the play), Howard was nothing less than spectacular while keeping the Wings in the game early, denying the Predators opportunities to crawl back into the game and generally continuing to display nothing less than spectacular form while having to face a very sporadic workload involving long stretches without shots and then furious bursts of offense by the Predators.

Howard took it all in stride, gobbling up pucks and rebounds while making a very hard job look easy, and it’s regrettable that the Wings couldn’t deliver him the shutout he deserved.

As for the game, the Wings shut the Predators out at least in terms of 5 power plays and 10 minutes of PP time, and while the Wings were out-shot 32-22, the Wings out-territoried the Predators in terms of puck possession and they simply played classic Red Wings hockey, a high-tempo puck possession game consisting of equal parts high skill and serious grit, speedily moving the puck through the neutral zone and cycling it down low in the Predators’ end or working d-to-d passes and an offensive formation that almost looked like an “umbrella” power play, more or less running the Predators ragged before pouncing upon their defensive mistakes.

The usually impenetrable Pekka Rinne gave up a surprisingly leaky goal when Valtteri Filppula one-timed a Henrik Zetterberg chance into the net from the slot about 10 minutes into the 1st period, and, as previously noted, the Wings broke the game wide open halfway through the second via Datsyuk’s wraparound (from a Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen who looked much more engaged, just as Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart’s resurgent play powered the Wings’ PK unit’s play) which Datsyuk called, and then a 3-0 goal from Danny Cleary on the Wings’ “bump-up shift”—a goal which caught the Predators sleeping in the slot—and Valtteri Filppula gave the Wings some insurance in the 3rd period, scoring off a one-timer while substituting for Tomas Holmstrom…

Who left the game with a lower-body injury, which is the one big concern for the Wings heading into a back-to-back game against a St. Louis Blues team the Wings still trail by one point (and play twice this week). If Homer’s “lower-body injury” is any more serious than the puck to the face which yielded stitches but no teeth lost for Darren Helm during the pre-game warm-up, the Wings have to worry a bit.

That being said, especially given how very poorly the Wings played both collectively and as individuals, and especially given that the Wings being out-shot, out-penalized and having given up a few too many odd-man rushes (especially on the PP when Jiri Hudler was on the right point) indicating room to grow on, the Wings played fantastic hockey via passionate, gritty and plain old efficient play on the road, and to be able to rebound from their crappy road trip with such a strong road effort is a noteworthy accomplishment.

The fact that Shea Weber was out of the Predators’ lineup definitely helped, but the Wings didn’t pounce on the Predators’ lack of depth as much as they victimized Nashville by simply playing a much more efficient and determined game. This win’s satisfying and is “one to grow on” as the Wings embark upon a difficult week, and the fact that it serves as a little measure of revenge for their 4-3 loss two weeks ago doesn’t hurt, either (though it’d be a little sweeter to beat the Predators when they have Weber in the lineup…We’ll have to wait till February 17th to see the Predators again).

One more thing: Mike Commodore’s been pretty quiet, but you’re seeing far fewer boobles when Jonathan Ericsson pinches than you and I might have counted up than we did when Jakub Kindl played alongside Big E. I think Commodore might have earned himself a little more regular playing time.

So here’s hoping that Homer’s going to be okay and that the Wings can get on a positive streak by building off this win against the ever-difficult-to-play whoever Hitchcock’s coaching tea…I mean the Blues…tomorrow night.

Update: According to Fox Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson, Tomas Holmstrom suffered a groin injury and won’t play tomorrow.


Statistics:

The Red Wings were out-shot 32-22. The Wings were out-shot 8-7 in the 1st period, were even with the Predators at 9-9 in the 2nd period and were out-shot 15-6, in no small part due to two Predators power plays and a little bit of slacking off, in the 3rd.

The Wings went 0 for 2 in 4:00 of PP time and the Predators went 0 for 5 in 10:00 of PP time.

Jimmy Howard stopped 31 of 32 shots; Pekka Rinne stopped 18 of 22 shots.

The 3 stars, per the Predators’ media, were Datsyuk, Filppula and Howard.

The Wings’ goals: Filppula (11) from Zetterberg (16);

Datsyuk (11) from Bertuzzi (11) and Franzen (17);

Cleary (9) from Miller (5);

Filppula (12) from Abdelkader (6) and Emmerton (3).

Faceoffs 32-22 Nashville (Detroit won 41% of their faceoffs);

Blocked shots 13-9 Detroit;

Missed shots 12-8 Nashville (total shot attempts 57-39 Nashville);

Hits 15-14 Detroit;

Giveaways 8-4 Nashville;

Takeaways 12-5 Nashville (methinks those last two stats are skewed toward the home team just a little bit).

Individual stats:

Faceoffs: Helm went 7-and-8 (47%); Datsyuk went 4-and-10 (29%); Zetterberg went 8-and-5 (62%); Abdelkader went 2-and-7 (22%); Franzen won his only faceoff.

Shots: Zetterberg led the team with 5 shots; Cleary had 4; Datsyuk, White, Commodore (who played very well), Helm and Filppula had 2; Miller, Bertuzzi and Ericsson had 1.

Blocked attempts: Filppula and Ericsson had 2 attempts blocked by Predators players; Abdelkader, Cleary, White, Kronwall and Franzen had 1 attempt blocked.

Missed shots: Lidstrom, Datsyuk, White, Miller, Bertuzzi, Filppula, Ericsson and Franzen missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Commodore led the team with 4 hits; Abdelkader, Stuart and Kronwall had 2; Lidstrom, White, Zetterberg, Helm and Holmstrom had 1.

Giveaways: Cleary, Datsyuk, Helm and Bertuzzi were tagged with giveaways.

Takeaways: Cleary, Datsyuk, Hudler, Zetterberg and Bertuzzi had 1 takeaway.

Blocked shots: Stuart blocked 3 shots; White, Miller, Zetterberg and Kronwall blocked 2; Abdelkader and Helm blocked 1.

Penalties taken: Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Emmerton, Ericsson and Franzen took minor penalties.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +15. White and Filppula finished at +2; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Cleary, Datsyuk, Stuart, Zetterberg, Emmerton, Ericsson, Kronwall and Franzen all finished at +1.

Points: Filppula had 2 goals; Cleary and Datsyuk scored goals; Abdelkader, Miller, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Emmerton and Franzen had assists.

Ice time: White led the team with 24:29 played; Lidstrom played 21:48; Kronwall played 21:38;

Stuart played 20:44; Cleary played 18:01; Zetterberg played 17:54;

Filppula played 17:22; Datsyuk played 16:37; Ericsson played 16:43;

Bertuzzi played 16:13; Franzen played 15:44; Miller played 15:04;

Helm played 13:56; Commodore played 13:42; Abdelkader played 12:41;

Hudler played 12:29; Emmerton played 7:50; Holmstrom played 7:05.

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Comments

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it’s regrettable that the Wings couldn’t didn’t care enough to deliver him the shutout he deserved.

Shots were 15-6 in the third period. Seriously. Every time the Red Wings had the puck in the third period, they gave it away almost immediately. Normally, when a team holds a 4-0 lead late in the third period, they try to stifle the other team’s offense to get their goalie the shutout, but it looked like the Red Wings decided the game was over, so why bother.

Posted by bleep bloop on 12/27/11 at 02:29 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

My one concern involves the Wings’ inability or unwillingness to play a full 60-minute game as of yet. We haven’t seen them truly bear down and take it to their opponents all game long this year, and it’s more than time for the Wings to not veg out at one time or another.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/27/11 at 02:40 AM ET

BrendonR's avatar

I’ve got Jimmy in my hockey pool and I’ve been stuck on 4 shutouts from my goalies for some time.  There have been a ton of games this year it seems where he’s been destined for the shutout only to let one in in the second half of the third.  I guess if there’s one thing we know about this team, it’s that they step up like no other when it matters, but that motivating them when playing against a (perceived to be) weak opponent or playing with a big lead seems to be something Uncle Mike has some trouble with.

Posted by BrendonR on 12/27/11 at 03:07 AM ET

Michiru Kaioh's avatar

One more thing: Mike Commodore’s been pretty quiet, but you’re seeing far fewer boobles when Jonathan Ericsson pinches than you and I might have counted up than we did when Jakub Kindl played alongside Big E. I think Commodore might have earned himself a little more regular playing time.

Very, very true, but the solution to this shouldn’t be sitting Kindl; it should be benching Ericsson for making all the screwups. Kindl has more offensive upside…if we want an offensively styled defenseman on that third pair, it should be Kindl, and if we want someone there to play steady and be good defensively, it should be Commodore.

Big E has done nothing to earn his ice time. Mobility is a big factor in the increased team defense, and Kindl’s skating is far more valuable than anything Ericsson (wrongly) thinks he can bring to the table offensively…

Posted by Michiru Kaioh on 12/27/11 at 03:41 AM ET

Avatar

Maybe ericson is like a warfare technique.
Keep player on better team for years
trade to biggest threat
team implosion
trade ericson and his size to boston.

Posted by Jasper on 12/27/11 at 03:57 AM ET

Alzy's avatar

Come on Michiru, Errorson has value. He umm.. oh, he makes sure Jimmah never gets too comfortable in goal by randomly throwing the puck to an opposing player in the slot every ten minutes. And he makes sure the PK gets some work every game.

Posted by Alzy from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada on 12/27/11 at 04:06 AM ET

SYF's avatar

Posted by Michiru Kaioh on 12/27/11 at 12:41 AM ET

Wish you were on the LBs more often.

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 12/27/11 at 06:23 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I’m going to make an unpopular comment here:

I know that Ericsson is the resident whipping boy, and that he’s never going to be much more than a #4 defenseman who isn’t quite as physical as we’d like him to be, not quite as offensively inclined as we’d like him to be and not quite as mistake-free as we’d like him to be, and in that sense, he really hasn’t panned out in terms of what we were told about a potential #1/2 defenseman in the making coming down the pipe…

But he’s pretty damn solid, all things considered, and I think that he’s really earned an awful reputation among Wings fans (when a player gets nicknamed Sh*tbox, it’s hard to see him in a positive light) that he’s at least doing a decent job of overcoming.

I get that he’s basically Andreas Lilja II, and that that’s disappointing. It’s disappointing for me, too, because I’d really hoped that he was going to be the kind of player who could partner with Kronwall and deliver 20-30 points, but that’s just not how things are unfolding.

But in terms of being a player who just is what he is, I think that he’s been more than acceptable on the third pairing, and while those pinches are still ill-timed, he’s not exactly playing like someone who should be waived and sent to Grand Rapids or traded to whoever is willing to take his contract, at least in my opinion.

I think he’s played alright and that he’s at least continuing to progress and mature, and I know that that’s near blasphemy, but that’s really how I feel about Ericsson.

He’s gotten this reputation of being Brett Lebda II, and he’s easy to bag on because he’s never fulfilled the potential we were promised by the Wings’ management, but he’s not the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad player that he’s been made out to be. He’s just a #5/6 defenseman who has his flaws but goes about his job and is relatively solid in his present role.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/27/11 at 06:45 AM ET

Michiru Kaioh's avatar

I actually don’t have anything against Ericsson, I think that, like you said, if he’s going to be playing with a defensive-minded partner, he could be pretty solid. He actually has a cannon of a shot.

My contention is just that, if we’re going to have an offensive defenseman on the third pairing, Kindl has better mobility, better offensive skills, he’s a better passer, all those things. I just feel like Ericsson isn’t a very good fit right now on the third pair…he is playing ahead of two guys that each do something much better than he does, and that the Kindl/Commie pairing is worth giving a shot.

I do see him getting better a bit, but he was best in the ‘09 playoffs when all he was worried about doing was “not screwing up”. Simple plays, move the puck to the safe place, play solid defense…I just long for some consistency there. I don’t want to give up on him, I just think he’s our 7th best defenseman right now.

I apologize if I come off as being too negative, or an Ericsson hater…I don’t want to stir up trouble or harp on the negatives, I just feel like he’s playing outside of his skill set, and if he’d go back to just being a simple “move the puck, play good defense, don’t take too many risks” kind of player that he was when he came up earlier, he’d be a very good, serviceable defenseman.

Posted by Michiru Kaioh on 12/27/11 at 07:15 AM ET

Avatar

George, it’s become comical the amount of negativity spewed Ericsson’s way this year.  Every mistake he makes becomes a nuclear bomb dropping on the Wings, while every good play he makes becomes a fleeting glimpse of something you’re not real sure you caught out of the corner of your eye and pass off as not having really happened.  One bad turnover that doesn’t even end up in the net negates anything good Ericsson had done or will do in that game.

I’m in no way ecstatic with the way Ericsson’s playing, but I’m content for the time being.  He appears to be playing the body better this year, and he’s still young enough and relatively new enough at the position to improve.  Sure it may never happen, but I’m still going to remain optimistic on Ericsson’s chances.

I think Ericsson would have looked better to a lot of people this year if he had been playing alongside Commodore all year.  This isn’t a knock on Kindl or Commodore, but Ericsson and Kindl don’t seem to be on the same page at times in regards to positioning.  Having the steady stay at home presence of Commodore I think would have helped Ericsson.  Of course having Ericsson and Kindl together so much this year should help in the long run.  The mistakes are obvious when they happen and they can be learned from.  If one of them was playing alongside Lidstrom, how do you learn from a mistake that doesn’t appear to have ever happened because of TPH?

Posted by Valek from Chicago on 12/27/11 at 07:57 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Ericsson’s size included, I wouldn’t mind seeing what Kindl can do with Commodore for a few games. Kindl’s really developing into a heady puck-mover.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/27/11 at 07:59 AM ET

Chet's avatar

52 is an NHL player.

they need to tell ericsson 3 things and hope he listens:

1) you ALMOST ALWAYS have more time than you think, so make better first passes and stop panicking;
2) BE SURE WHEN YOU PINCH;
3) move your feet and use your body better, and your +/- and PIMs will improve.

this is really 5 things and if he did them all he’d be lidstrom, but he can still be better. at this point it’s as much a matter of confidence as ability and in fairness he’s still an improving if frustrating player.

this is the nicest post i’ve made about ericsson in years, but it’s also probably the most accurate. he’s a fun and popular whipping boy to be certain, but not a total waste.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/27/11 at 08:09 AM ET

Chet's avatar

also, they made a point of talking about how zetterberg’s shots are down this season without mentioning how rarely he’s lined up with datsyuk. zetterberg’s an amazing player, but doesn’t it really also speak volumes about datsyuk? he’s been in the league 10 years, has 2 cups in really only 9 seasons, and is nearly a point a game player. with his style he’s probably got quite a few more productive years, too. it’s something special that we get to live and die with this team—i really thought it was over when 19 hung em up…

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/27/11 at 08:21 AM ET

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Ericsson played well in the 2009 playoffs because he only played against 4 different teams.  Once the next season started and he had to go up against different teams every night, we began to see why he was the very last player selected in the 2002 draft.  He’s tall ... oh yippy ... so is Joe Thornton .. and he sucks too (i guarantee thornton will never win a cup).

The few times this season we’ve seen an Ericsson TV interview, there was no passion, no energy, no glimmer in his eyes. Does he lack talent or does he just not get it ?  I understand every player can’t be a Chelios or a Draper but c’mon .. start playing like you give a shit.

I’ve been bagging on Ericsson ever since he started screwing up in the 2009-2010 season and haven’t seen much improvement since, except for an occasional brilliant first pass out of his own zone.

At 6’ 5” he could be putting people through the glass yet he rarely hits anything ... he’s got the lamest, sloppiest looking shot since Chelios developed that hitch in his swing late in his career ... and I can’t remember when the last time was that he limped off the ice after blocking a shot.

I almost had a cow when Holland handed him a $3.25 mil. contract, but everyone I bitched at about it seemed to think it was the right thing to do and gave me the proverbial “trust me” line ... like he’s got a hidden talent thats magically going to show up one day.  Yeah right ... and I’m going to be the first jewish Pope in history ... pffffff.

I’d have to agree with the general consensus in this thread and say bench him and see what the Kindl/Commodore pairing looks like.

Someone or something needs to light a fire under Ericssons ass or he’s going to end up on a different team.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from W.B.Mich. on 12/27/11 at 09:32 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

This entire thread is ridiculous.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/27/11 at 11:02 AM ET

Avatar

FWIW, I thought Ericsson’s penalty call last night was pretty bogus. But like others have said, he needs to do a better job of not putting himself in situations where that penalty can be called.

Posted by RyanVM on 12/27/11 at 01:15 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

(especially on the PP when Jiri Hudler was on the right point)

Can we please stop with the Hudler on the point business Uncle Mike?  PLEEEEAAAAASSSSEEEE?

Hudler is 90% off of my shit list for this season, but I still cringe at the idea of him mishandling the puck at the line and giving up break aways.  I’d much rather have a practiced blue liner in that spot.


As for the Errorson debate, I’m done with this guy.  Too many goals have been given up because of his incompetence.  I wonder what Detroit would look like in the standings this morning if we factored out Errorson’s “assists” for the other team.  Commodore isn’t flashy, nor do we have a great sample of his work thus far; but I feel a lot better with a “defense first” minded guy than I do with somebody who doesn’t seem capable of learning from his sophmoric mistakes.

If Errorson does stay in the lineup, and I expect he will, (as I suggested during one of the LBs) I want the Wings to hire Gordon Ramsay to stand behind the bench and yell at him after every shift.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 12/27/11 at 01:29 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I wonder what Detroit would look like in the standings this morning if we factored out Errorson’s “assists” for the other team

Well, considering that most of the games Detroit has lost have been 2-goal performances in a league where you consistently need three to win, I’d say Detroit would probably be 22-12-1 if you factored out all of Ericsson’s errors (and the errors that Kindl made which Ericsson was blamed for as well)

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/27/11 at 02:03 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/27/11 at 11:03 AM ET

I’ll generally grant you the truth of your remark regarding the number of goals it takes to win these days, but for me that doesn’t excuse poorly timed pinches, sloppy/frantic puck handling, and a lack of physicality on Ericsson’s part.  Although I accept your truism relative to the number of goals it takes to win; that doesn’t mean that one-goal-lead situations don’t happen, (n?)or that those situations never determine games.  In my earlier post I was merely postulating about the standings, but I wonder if at the end of the year the cumulative effect of Ericsson’s gaffes might cost the Wings home ice advantage.

I know its a habit on this board to vicariously excuse the Red Wings’ shortcomings on the back of a scapegoat named Ericsson, and I see where you’re coming from.  That doesn’t mean I’ll vicariously fault the team because they haven’t scored enough goals to overcome Ericsson’s defensive mistakes.  This guy isn’t a rookie anymore, how long before we see some improvement?

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 12/27/11 at 03:38 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

My main problem with Ericsson is his salary.  What you see is all you are going to get and that is OK but he is being paid to be A LOT better.  I agree I would like to see Kindl with Commodore for a few games.  In reality Wings are stuck with E for 2 1/2 more years.

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 12/27/11 at 04:01 PM ET

SYF's avatar

This guy isn’t a rookie anymore, how long before we see some improvement?

Posted by bezukov from South of Detroit on 12/27/11 at 12:38 PM ET

I give Ericsson grief, too, but the Wings are far more patient than we are as fans.  For years prior to this season, we kept hearing and talking about the potential of Filppula.  I even remember how some of us wanted to trade him away for Bobby Ryan or some other big, skilled forward and now look at him.  I wouldn’t trade Fils for anyone.

We’re fans and we’re impatient.

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 12/27/11 at 04:07 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

That doesn’t mean I’ll vicariously fault the team because they haven’t scored enough goals to overcome Ericsson’s defensive mistakes.

Well ok, then let’s at least try to discuss some specifics. Which game(s) have the Red Wings lost of their 13 can you put primarily on Ericsson mistakes?  We’re both adults here and can throw out the platitude that they win and lose as a team as completely accepted.  I’m looking for games where an Ericsson mistake really was a focal point (an example would be the Holmstrom penalty in Calgary with the Red Wings down 2-0 and on a power play which completely changed the momentum of the game possibly cost Detroit a goal, and led to a 4-on-4 situation where Homer’s teammates allowed the game-winner.  Obviously it was a team loss, but I’m comfortable calling that one an example of a mistake by one player being so egregious as to put more than the average share of blame on him).

I mean, let’s go through the ones that had an effect on the standings (the losses and the games that went to OT)

Oct 15th - Wings beat Wild 3-2 in OT, give Wild charity point
Oct 22nd - Wings lose 7-1 against Washington
Oct 25th - Wings lose 4-1 to Columbus
Oct 28th - Sharks beat Wings 4-2
Oct 29th - 1-0 loss to Minnesota
Nov 1st - 2-1 OTL to Minny
Nov 3rd - Flames 4 to Detroit 1
Nov 15th - St. Louis 2-1 over Detroit
Nov 17th - 5-2 loss to San Jose
Nov 25th - 3-2 SOW which gives Boston a charity point
Dec 4th - 4-2 loss in Colorado
Dec 6th - 3-2 loss to St. Louis
Dec 15th - 4-3 heartbreaker to the Preds
Dec 21 - Vancouver beats us 4-2
Dec 23 - Calgary wins 3-2 (as discussed above)

There, that’s all the losses and the two times Detroit has won while letting their opponents earn points.  Which of those games has Ericsson been a primary factor in?  I’m honestly not trying to be a dick here, I just want to know.

He was an official -3 in the 7-1 loss to Washington, but if we’ve got to assign blame on a 7-1 loss to only one guy, I’m picking Ty Conklin (and even that’s pretty unfair). There were a half-dozen guys on the team who played worse than Ericsson on that one.

The 2-1 loss to the Blues, the Wings were up 1-0 when Ericsson took an interference penalty and went to the box. The Blues scored on that power play to tie it and went on to win it.  We COULD blame Ericsson for that based solely on what the box score tells us, or we could also see that penalty came about a minute after the expiration of Chris Stewart’s major penalty for hitting Kronwall into the boards where the Wings failed to score.  Context also reveals that Ericsson’s penalty on Arnott prevented the Blues’ forward from scoring a surefire goal (and was a weak call to boot, as Ericsson laid the body on Arnott to take him out of the play with the puck in Arnott’s legs).

The 4-2 loss to Colorado is perhaps our best bet. He cross-checks David Jones behind the net and the Avs score on the power play and generally had a pretty bad game in that one. That was also the game where detroit got outshot 19-4 in the 2nd period and had Ty Conklin in net (and a Conklin turnover is what led to the Ericsson penalty). Ian White had a worse game than Ericsson did.

In the rest of them, I’m searching my notes and finding it difficult to circle the Ericsson mistakes (of which there are plenty written) which I could actually argue led to lost points for the Wings.  That’s the three best and most-likely example games where Ericsson could even be considered part of the overall problem and Detroit scored a grand total of four goals in those three games. It’s exceedingly hard to place blame on a third-pairing defenseman for losses like this.

I’ll say the same thing I’ve been saying all season to the “how long until we see improvement” statement: All you have to do is watch him more closely and you’ll see it.  Ericsson makes Commodore better; it isn’t the other way around.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/27/11 at 05:01 PM ET

Michiru Kaioh's avatar

Ericsson makes Commodore better; it isn’t the other way around.

I have to admit, this really made me chuckle.

Posted by Michiru Kaioh on 12/27/11 at 06:09 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Huh, I only thought “it’s funny because it’s true!” worked with racial comedy?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/27/11 at 06:23 PM ET

Michiru Kaioh's avatar

In this case it’s funny for many reasons…like they’ve only played three or four games together, so you really don’t get any sort of sense for that…it’s Ericsson being covered for on turnovers…Commodore making the steady play along the boards to run his man out of the play, then slap the puck off a Nashville stick to his own guy…Commodore making the hits, Ericsson being caught pinching when you can clearly see that there are at least two players behind him and thus if he gets beat (which happens probably half of the time he pinches) it’s an odd-man-rush-against…

...I suppose it’s funny because of how entirely untrue it is. I like Big E, and I want him to do well, but to say he’s making other players better when you can easily make the argument that he hasn’t made himself any better in 2.5 seasons is just amusing. If you can’t make yourself better, you’re probably not making someone else look better either.

Posted by Michiru Kaioh on 12/27/11 at 06:38 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Ericsson being caught pinching when you can clearly see that there are at least two players behind him and thus if he gets beat (which happens probably half of the time he pinches) it’s an odd-man-rush-against…

What’s funny is people making up false narratives to badly fit what they already believe.

You want to know how many Ericsson pinches have led to odd-man rushes in the last three games?

ONE

Want to know what happened on that play? Ericsson pinched because he saw Drew Miller skating back to cover. The Predators came down ice and, SURPRISE! Drew Miller got back and made the play to cancel the odd-man rush and prevent the scoring opportunity.

Want to know how many of his pinches were “good” in the same game (against Nashville)?  Two.  Each time, he recognized his forwards getting back into the play to cover (and Commodore realized the pinch was coming so he could back into center ice like he’s supposed to), and he made a play to prevent the opposition from gaining momentum coming into center ice.

No, though, you claim “probably half the time he pinches” that he gets caught.

Want to know who else has been caught in pinches in the last three games?

Niklas Kronwall - On the Chris Higgins goal in Vancouver where he joins the rush and doesn’t get back to stop Higgins from putting in the rebound off the scoring chance.
Ian White - Same game, 21 seconds later, White Pinches up on Manny Malhotra at the Vancouver blue line and the Canucks get numbers.
Niklas Kronwall - Against Calgary, he steps up on Tim Jackman at the blue line despite no forward coverage and no expectation there should be, leading to a goal against.
Ian White - 4-on-4 with Calgary and he puts a pass into Datsyuk’s skate at the offensive half-boards, allowing Curtis Glencross to skate up ice in another 2-on-1

Those are just ones that have led to goals.

Watch when Ericsson and Commodore are on the ice together who is deferring to whom as far as the breakout and in-zone defense are concerned. Watch who’s covering the angles for whom as he ties a guy up on the boards.

For shit’s sake, actually watch Ericsson tie up his man to allow backchecking forwards to get the puck and how he’s developed in-zone patience to get the puck moving to the right option. 

This is bullshit though. It’s time for people to stop picking things out of their asses as far as Ericsson’s shortcomings and start coming up with real, tangible examples. It’s getting really old reading people hiding behind platitudes like “he screws this up half the time” when the truth isn’t close to that.

I can’t believe you’d honestly think Babcock is stupid enough to keep Ericsson in the lineup over Kindl if he’s responsible for a good-play-to-screwup ratio even close to what you’re suggesting.

The reason you can “easily make the argument that he hasn’t made himself any better in 2.5 seasons” is because it’s really easy to say crap online about a guy screwing up “probably half the time” even though it’s not true.  It’s just as easy to make the argument bigfoot really exists. 

That doesn’t make it right, it just means it’s easy. No, go ahead and throw out the turnover he made in his own zone to Craig Wilson last night about 20 seconds before Val Filppula scored his 2nd goal.  That one actually WAS Commodore covering for Ericsson.

Of course that wasn’t brought up because it’s just “easy” to say Riggy messes up half the time and just trust that nobody’s going to call you out on it.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/27/11 at 07:01 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

JJ- The only other thing I would rather sheepishly submit is that Ericsson is good for two minutes in the penalty box just about every other game.  I know he isn’t alone in that distinction, but the other chief offenders (Bert and Mule) have brought a lot more to the table this year. 

There isn’t a lot of upswing with Ericsson, and I guess that makes the mistakes harder to overlook.  It is true that Kronwall and White have been caught pinching and have given up breakaways, but you have to admit that comparing White or Kronwall to Ericsson isn’t an apples to apples comparison, at least in the confines of our discussion.  White and Kronwall make up for the mistakes (as far as I’m concerned) by contributing offensively and don’t they parade to the penalty box quite as much.  With those two I can take the good with the bad.  With Ericsson I have to take the mediocre with the bad, and it gets old.  I know he was the best the Wings could get for the money in this past free agency, and so on, that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I’ll agree with you that E comes in for more shit than he probably deserves, but can you really blame people for disliking him? 

As for the earlier postulations, I was being mostly rhetorical.  Since I’ll never match your statistical prowess, I’ll hand you the talking stick now.  Thanks for the info you posted, btw.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 12/27/11 at 08:05 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

The only other thing I would rather sheepishly submit is that Ericsson is good for two minutes in the penalty box just about every other game.

Admittedly, I don’t have nearly as good a defense against this claim.  I will say that Ericsson doesn’t receive nearly the same benefit of the doubt his teammates get (seriously, there have been some truly awful calls on him this season), but it’s up to him to simply not take them rather than complaining about unfairness.  I really want to see his penalty rate come down.

I’ll also completely agree that Ericsson is not comparable to any of the top-four D-men.  I just used their example in the discussion as far as my observation that it seems people want to blame him for a lot more than he deserves while forgiving others for a lot more than they do. Kronwall is a hell of a D-man and I wouldn’t dream of benching him right now, but he has not been good defensively lately. Ian White has been an absolute steal. If I’m getting rid of one D-man of those three, you better believe it’s Riggy.

As far as blaming people for disliking him? Well no. To tell the truth, it comes across a lot that I’m apparently in love with the way he plays, but I don’t particularly like him either. I’m just more of a “careful what you wish for” kind of person as far as getting rid of him.  This Detroit team is always going to have a defensive scapegoat. With Ericsson gone, SOMEBODY is going to take up that mantle and I’m worried that somebody actually will truly be as awful as people say Ericsson is.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/27/11 at 08:20 PM ET

SYF's avatar

With Ericsson gone, SOMEBODY is going to take up that mantle and I’m worried that somebody actually will truly be as awful as people say Ericsson is.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/27/11 at 05:20 PM ET

Andreas Lilja.

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 12/27/11 at 08:30 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Ericsson is not an NHL-caliber player, because his mental mistakes severely limit his potential.

To summarize, folks: he’s too dumb to play NHL hockey. He can’t think at the speed which the game is played at that level.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 12/27/11 at 08:51 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.