The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/01/11 at 07:12 PM ET
The Detroit Red Wings’ late rally against the San Jose Sharks came up short, and the Wings are heading back to Detroit down 2-0 via a 2-1 loss that was a case of too little, too late—and inefficient play by the Wings.
It’s not that the Wings can’t hang with the Sharks. It’s that the Wings are facing must-win games from here on out because they’ve played scatterbrained hockey, and sometimes they’ve plain old looked intimidated by a Sharks team that’s clearly transferred its playoff hex to Detroit.
It’s…Scary. Scary to watch the Wings’ forecheck be neutralized, scary to watch the Wings lose so many 50-50 battles for the puck, scary to watch the Wings try so hard and accomplish so very little, while the Sharks seem to be able to generate the kind of forecheck, sustained pressure shots, screens, tips, rebound retrievals and secondary scoring chances that the Wings are so very desperate to accomplish themselves, but are too tentative and skittish to achieve.
Jimmy Howard has been wonderful. Johan Franzen’s worked very hard. The Wings’ defenders have done their best, and Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom and Pavel Datsyuk have obviously done a fantastic job. But Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi, Danny Cleary have disappeared, Brian Rafalski and Brad Stuart are coughing up the puck, and every Wings scoring chance was a one-and-done opportunity—with the Sharks getting a rush, shot or three and “o-zone time” and “grind time” on the Wings’ defenders…
So the Wings head home having to win Wednesday’s game, Friday’s game, and the rest against a team they’re truly matched up evenly against because the Sharks are executing and the Wings are not. It’s the Wings who, despite their physical flourishes on Sunday, don’t seem to want it as much as the Sharks do when the puck’s dropped and play’s underway.
I don’t know what else to say, other than that the Sharks have earned their results, as have the Wings…Who may very well be golfing by next week because the Wings haven’t screened Niemi or earned many rebound opportunities—I don’t buy this Niemi’s been fantastic BS when he’s rarely, if ever, seen Tomas Holmstrom, Todd Bertuzzi, Danny Cleary or Johan Franzen’s butts in his face, nor have the Wings retrieved the rebounds that pump off his pads—haven’t gotten their forechecking and may have “one to grow on” after a fantastic third period, but…
A good effort doesn’t matter. It’s about results, and the Wings haven’t produced them. Without Howard, Datsyuk and Lidstrom [edit: and the shot-blocking machine that is Niklas Kronwall] in particular, the Wings would be in much more trouble, and there are clearly too many passengers, too much intimidation and too little focus, will, heart, and plain old swagger from a team that exploited the Coyotes but are being exploited by a team that simply looks better than Detroit, and better than it really is, thanks to s***ty special teams play and indecisiveness by the Wings’ players.
Uphill. Not vertical yet, but the Wings’ climb is steep, and the task ahead if going to be incredibly difficult.
When you give Niclas Wallin an end-to-end rush, there’s something wrong with your team’s confidence, and these Wings need a talking-to from both coach Mike Babcock and Lidstrom, because the Wings can come back from this deficit, but only if they have the will to utilize their skill and make their effort count.
Shots 37-34 San Jose overall, breaking down as 12-7 Detroit in the 1st period, 19-9 San Jose in the 2nd period and 13-11 Detroit in the 3rd period.
Power plays: The Sharks went 1-for-5 in 8:22 of PP time; the Wings went 1-for-6 in 8:15 of PP time.
Howard stopped 35 of 37 Shots; Niemi stopped 33 of 34.
The 3 stars, per Dan Rusanowski, were Niclas Wallin, Ian White and Antti Niemi.
The Wings’ goal: Zetterberg (1) from Datsyuk (6) and Holmstrom (3).
Faceoffs 38-33 San Jose (46% won by Detroit);
Blocked shots 24-23 San Jose;
Missed shots 13-10 Detroit (total shot attempts 71-70 Detroit, with the Wings firing 34 on Niemi and 37 wide or into Sharks players);
Hits 31-19 Detroit;
Giveaways 11-5 Detroit;
Takeaways 15-5 San Jose—and those two stats tell you all you need to know about how often the Wings have coughed up the puck in this series.
Update: The press conference feed from San Jose broke up, but Babcock says that the team won’t practice on Monday.
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 9-and-11 (45%); Filppula went 6-and-10 (38%); Helm went 5-and-6 (45%); Franzen went 2-and-4 (33%); Zetterberg went 3-and-4 (43%); Cleary went 3-and-2 (60%); Abdelkader went 4-and-1 (80%); Eaves won his only faceoff.
Shots: Zetterberg led the team with 6 shots; Cleary had 5; Filppula, Ericsson and Franzen had 4; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Datsyuk and Zetterberg had 2; Rafalski, Bertuzzi and Holmstrom had 1.
Blocked attempts: Rafalski had 4 shot attempts blocked by Sharks players; Salei and Zetterberg had 3 attempts blocked; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Filppula and Kronwall had 2 attempts blocked; Cleary, Eaves, Stuart, Helm, Filppula and Holmstrom had single attempts blocked.
Missed shots: Datsyuk missed the net 3 times; Lidstrom and Zetterberg missed the net 2 times; Abdelkader, Eaves, Salei, Hudler, Bertuzzi and Franzen missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Abdelkader had 5 hits; Helm ha 4; Datsyuk, Miller, Bertuzzi and Ericsson had 3; Abdelkader and Filppula had 2; Eaves, Hudler, Rafalski, Zetterberg, Franzen and Holmstrom had 1 hit.
Giveaways: Ericsson had 2 giveaways; Abdelkader, Cleary, Salei, Rafalski, Zetterberg, helm, Filppula, Franzen and Howard had 1.
Takeaways: Stuart, Salei, Zetterberg, Helm and Kronwall had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall blocked 7 shots; Stuart blocked 3; Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Franzen blocked 2; lidstrom, Abdelkader, Eaves, Rafalski, Helm, Filppula and Ericsson blocked 1 shot.
Penalties taken: Bertuzzi took 2 minor penalties, as did Holmstrom; Abdelkader, Rafalski and Zetterberg took single minors.
Plus-minus: Abdelkader, Cleary, Salei, Bertuzzi and Kronwall finished at -1, so the team was a collective -5.
Points: Zetterberg had a goal; Datsyuk and Holmstrom had an assist.
ice time: Datsyuk led the team with 24:11 played; Lidstrom played 23;33; Zetterberg played 23:22;
Stuart played 21:50; Kronwall played 21:20; Rafalski played 21:17;
Ericsson played 18:55; Cleary played 17:34;Filppula played 17:01;
Holmstrom played 15:41; Franzen played 15:24; Helm played 13:38;
Salei played 13:07; Bertuzzi played 12:51; Hudler played 8;33;
Abdelkader played 6:33; Eaves played 6:32; Helm played 5:53.
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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.