The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/27/11 at 12:40 AM ET
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.
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).
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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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.