The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/04/12 at 01:55 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings’ 5-4 win over the Dallas Stars represented two very badly needed points, a very badly needed road win…And it was a game that the Wings made far, far too hard on themselves due to a second shaky performance out of Jimmy Howard over the past three games, a disturbing willingness by the Wings’ defenders to stand and stare as teams loop, whirl, deke and dangle the puck in Detroit’s defensive zone before finding players left unattended or picking corners, and in terms of attention to detail, attention span and consistency of effort…
This game was a [expletive deleted]ing mess, and the Wings made it far, far, far too hard on themselves while attempting to beat an injury-depleted team (convenient that, like the Chicago game, the Wings couldn’t earn a power play, eh?) because they simply couldn’t or wouldn’t emerge from the defensive funk they’ve been in for a while now. The Wings can obviously out-score just about anybody, but it’s worrisome when they seem to feel that that’s all they need to do.
The Wings got off to a great start, getting goals from Filppula and Jiri Hudler’s toe while withstanding a furious first period assault in the shooting and physical senses of the term, but fifty seconds after Hudler’s toe scored, Loui Eriksson got a softy, and Hudler’s response a minute and four seconds later at least gave the Wings a measure of control heading into the first intermission.
The Wings’ inattentiveness to detail resulted in an easy goal for Jamie Benn all of a minute into the second period, and while Cory Emmerton and the “kid line” exploited an incredibly shaky Kari Lehtonen by picking the back-of-the-knee hole from along the goal line, Michael Ryder ripped a puck through Howard on a wraparound three-and-a-half minutes later, and even after Johan Franzen roofed a shot over Lehtonen just under twelve minutes into the second period, the Wings kept trading chances and line rushes with the Stars, and by the end of the second, the Wings led 5-3 but certainly didn’t seem to be in command.
Then the Wings got downright schizophrenic in the third: for the first ten minutes, the Wings played a doggedly determined road game, plowing the puck into the Stars’ zone, withstanding the checks and hacks while grinding it out down low and playing defense 200 feet away from Jimmy Howard, but somewhere around the halfway mark, Mike Babcock chose to swap his defensive pairings, placing Brad Stuart with a Nicklas Lidstrom who looks like he’s playing through a tweaked groin and Niklas Kronwall with an Ian White who’s chasing puck carriers like there’s no tomorrow, and you could almost feel the 5-4 goal coming before Ryder ripped a shot through Lidstrom and then an out-of-position Howard with 5:54 left in the 3rd.
The Wings and Howard held on from there, a running, foot-leaving charge from Steve Ott on Pavel Datsyuk into the Wings’ bench and Todd Bertuzzi’s, “You want him to have a seat? How about you take a seat?” retaliation included (and no, I do not know why or how Nicklas Lidstrom got away with an accidental but no less vicious pop on Brenden Morrow, either)...
The Wings skated away from this one having given up far too many easy goals, unearned scoring chances and continuing to play like a team that looks mentally exhausted. The Wings rather desperately need their three-day break before their father’s trip, from Howard on out, and…
On a night when the Andersson-Emmerton-Nyquist line and the Ericsson-Commodore paring are your best forward line and defensive pairing, respectively [edit for clarity: defensively speaking], well, you take the points and run, but you don’t forget how hard it was—and how easy it could have been, given the Stars’ painfully thin blueline and an awfully shaky performance from a Kari Lehtonen that the Wings barely tested in the third period, when a 6-3 goal would have put the game to bed—to get those two points.
The Wings have been earning points of late, but unless they’re playing the Blues, they haven’t been playing very smartly, and given the Wings’ collective IQ, that’s enough to make fans like you and me feel a little jittery with 3 road games over the course of 4 days to come over the weekend and 7 games over the course of 19 days (i.e. a little under a game every other night) to come. Simplicity, efficiency, minimizing mental mistakes and not making things so damn hard on yourself are all points the Wings could and should focus on over the next three days.
At least they didn’t have to worry about their shaky power play tonight because they didn’t get any on a night where losing one linesman seemed to yield, “Anything goes”—which obviously benefited the Stars a wee bit more than it did the Wings.
Sometimes it isn’t necessarily survival of the fittest, but if you survive, you’re fit enough for the night.
Shots 31-29 Detroit. The Wings out-shot Dallas 15-14 in the 1st period, out-shot Dallas 8-7 in the 2nd period and tied the Stars 8-8 in the 3rd.
The Stars went 0 for 1 in 2:00 of PP time; the Wings did not have a power play.
Howard stopped 25 of 29; Lehtonen stopped 25 of 31.
The 3 stars, per KTCK’s Dan McDowell, were Valtteri Filppula, Michael Ryder and Jiri Hudler.
The Wings’ goals: Filppula (13) from Zetterberg (19) and White (15);
Hudler (10) from Zetterberg (20) and Filppula (19);
Hudler (11) from Filppula (20) and Zetterberg (21);
Emmerton (4) from Nyquist (1) and Stuart (4);
Franzen (16) from Datsyuk (28).
Faceoffs 34-23 Dallas (Detroit won 40%);
Blocked shots 19-12 Dallas;
Missed shots 10-7 Dallas (total attempts 58-51 Detroit, and it is very rare that the Wings give up more than 40 attempts);
Hits 29-19 Dallas;
Giveaways 6-3 Dallas;
Takeaways 8-7 Detroit.
Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 8-and-13 (38%); Datsyuk went 10-and-11 (48%); Abdelkader went 4-and-9 (31%); Emmerton went 1-and-1.
Shots: Franzen, who has awakened, led the Wings with 5 shots; Hudler had 4; White and Zetterberg had 3; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Miller, Bertuzzi, Emmerton and Filppula had 2; Datsyuk, Commodore, Stuart and Andersson had 1.
Blocked attempts: Zetterberg hit Stars players 6 frickin’ times; Stuart hit Stars players 3 times; Commodore had 2 attempts blocked; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Cleary, White, Emmerton, Ericsson and Franzen had single attempts blocked.
Missed shots: Cleary and Stuart missed the net 2 times; Lidstrom, Abdelkader and Franzen missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Commodore led the team with 4 hits; Ericsson had 3 Abdelkader, Cleary, Datsyuk, Stuart and Zetterberg had 2; Lidstrom and Emmerton had 1.
Giveaways: Abdelkader, Cleary and Franzen were tagged with giveaways, but the Wings had way more. The Stars were credited with takeaways galore instead.
Takeaways: Datsyuk had 3 takeaways; Cleary, Stuart, Bertuzzi, Ericsson and Franzen had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Commodore blocked 4 shots; Stuart blocked 3; Lidstrom blocked 2; Miller, Ericsson and Franzen blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Bertuzzi took the game’s only penalty.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished the game at a collective +5. Nyquist, Commodore, Hudler, Emmerton, Kronwall, Andersson and Franzen were +1; Abdelkader and Miller were -1; everyone else was even.
Given that the Wings scored 5 even-strength goals, that tells you that the Wings’ scorers were on for as many goals as they scored.
Points: Zetterberg had 3 assists; Filppula had a goal and 2 assists for 3 points; Hudler had 2 goals; Emmerton and Franzen had goals; Datsyuk, Nyquist, White and Stuart had assists.
Ice time: Stuart led the team with 23:33 played; White played 23:26; Lidstrom played 23:00;
Kronwall played 22:02; Zetterberg played 19:59; Filppula played 19:24;
Hudler played 18:14; Zetterberg played 18:11; Bertuzzi played 16:41;
Franzen palyed 15:58; Ericsson played 15:25; Cleary played 13:58;
Miller played 13:34; Abdelkader played 12:57; Commodore played 12:34;
Andersson played 10:07 Nyquist played 9:38; Emmerton played 9:19.
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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.