The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/25/11 at 01:53 AM ET
Updated 2x in the middle of the night with quotes, multimedia, notes, stats and other goodies: The Detroit Red Wings returned home from a successful road trip on a five-game winning streak, and over the course of the past two days, they’ve managed to squander successive efforts against the San Jose Sharks, who defeated the Wings 4-3 on Tuesday, and the Dallas Stars, who defeated the Wings by a 4-1 tally this past evening. Instead of learning from the errors the Wings committed in a Tuesday tilt that was played at three-quarters’ speed, the Wings decided to dial things back to 60%, hoping that their skill would win out over a much more desperate but struggling team.
Passes placed onto opposing players’ sticks, fanned-upon shots, inattentiveness instead of intensity, lackadaisical attention to detail and a lovely combination of making the opposing goalie look like a world-beater thanks to no little traffic and almost no secondary or tertiary scoring opportunities (which are hard to earn when you can’t seem to sustain possession and control of the puck in the offensive zone, even during five power plays) and the usual, “Holmstrom stands within five feet of a goaltender = no goal” penalty yielded what has become an all-too-predictable result for the Red Wings in front of their paying fans of late—another frustrating loss.
Compounding my frustration as I watched this game from the upper bowl was the fact that, for everything you saw regarding Jimmy Howard getting into it with Mike Ribeiro and Jonathan Ericsson eventually going at it with Steve Ott…You missed the same referees who all but wiped the snow from Kari Lehtonen’s brow when Darren Helm had the gall to dare snow an opposing goaltender allow Ribeiro and Ott to continue to jaw at Howard, both after the play and, bizarrely, during commercial breaks in the second period. With the Stars’ bench close by, Ribeiro repeatedly came off the bench during commercial breaks to “take a turn” on the ice, and instead, he’d skate into the slot, sometimes as far down as the hash marks and at one point almost up to Howard’s crease, tossing expletives his way. I’m not sure how Howard kept his composure, but he did, especially after the end of the second period, when a referee very reluctantly pushed Ribeiro away from Howard’s general vicinity after over a minute of trash talk. The stuff that you saw on FSD with Ott bumping Howard at the end of the second was just the tip of the iceberg.
Breathe on one goalie wrong, get a penalty. Literally come off the bench and try to get one to snap, no big deal. Regrettably, the Wings also saw this happen, and for some reason, no one chose to take issue with Mr. Ribeiro.
The Wings didn’t lose due to a lack of goaltending or a lack of anything else other than energy, effort, attention to detail, intensity and the kind of competitiveness that the Stars displayed whenever the Wings either set them up, cheated toward offense or telegraphed shots and passes so poorly that the Wings all but powered the Stars’ breakout at times. Add in the fact that, save when Holmstrom was on the ice, the Wings fired one-and-done scoring opportunities into an un-screened Lehtonen’s glove or stomach, and rarely attempted to so much as swat at any rebounds, and you get a game that the Wings could have and should have won had they chosen to show up at any point before Tomas Holmstrom finally went to the net and lifted a puck over Lehtonen with only 3:29 left in the 3rd period.
Instead, the Stars trash-talked and often cheap-shotted their way to an opportunistic win that doesn’t leave me wondering why the Wings don’t carry a dedicated enforcer—instead, I left the rink wondering where the Wings’ collective fighting spirit wound up when they returned home from Minnesota, because it clearly got lost in the luggage.
I’m going to start with the “enemy’s press” as usual, but I may hold my nose at times in doing so. The Dallas News’s Mike Heika provides the following game narrative...
First period: Dallas played its best period in the last three weeks and took a 2-0 lead. The Stars had a 12-8 edge in shots on goal and killed two penalties. Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson each had three shots on goal, and each scored a goal. Ribeiro took a perfect no-look feed from Brenden Morrow and tapped a puck in at the doorstep for his 12th goal of the season. Then Eriksson broke away and scored short-handed with his one-handed Peter Forsberg move with 22.9 seconds left in the period.
Stars 2, Detroit 0
That might have been the one goal Howard would like back as his own momentum drove his pad back into the net and the puck went with it.
Second period: The Stars stretched their lead, but Detroit had a 14-6 edge in shots on goal. Brian Rafalski appeared to score through a Tomas Holmstrom screen at 2:42, but officials waved off the goal because of incidental contact. Krys Barch then came back and scored just his second goal of the season at 8:54. A shot come right back to Barch off a Detroit defender, and Barch flipped in a fluttering shot for a 3-0 lead.
Stars 3, Detroit 0
Third period: The Red Wings played most of the period in the Stars’ end, and Kari Lehtonen finished with 16 saves, but Detroit scored on a Tomas Holmstrom power-play goal with 3:31 remaining. But the Stars held on, and Jamie Langenbrunner tallied an empty-net goal to seal the game.
Stars 4, Detroit 1
Let’s just say that I disagree with ESPN Dallas’s Mark Stepenski’s take on the “disputed goal” scored by Brian Rafalski:
The Red Wings went on their third power play of the game early in the second and appeared to score to make it a 2-1 game, but the goal was waved off because Tomas Holmstrom interfered with Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen. The Red Wings had some good chances on the rest of the power play, but Lehtonen made some sharp saves to keep Detroit off the board.
WXYT’s Jeff Riger claimed that, after the game, Kari Lehtonen had walked by Tomas Holmstrom and stated nothing less than this: “You were robbed.”
After Wes McCauley finished wiping Lehtonen’s brow when Helm snowed him, the refs did finally start calling some of the clutching and grabbing committed by both sides on Thursday night, but mooning is apparently expressly prohibited when Tomas Holmstrom does it against the Stars (we’ve seen that before a dozen or more times over the years, haven’t we?).
The Stars kept pace with the playoff pack via their third win in four tries over the Wings (they went 3-0-and-1 against Detroit this season), but 70 points isn’t good for much other than staying afloat in the Western Conference at this point. That being said, the Stars justifiably puffed out their chests after their win, and…
Remember how I said that thing about the Wings not being able to manufacture the same intensity as their opponents during their home stand? It’s cringe time, per ESPN Dallas’s Stepenski:
“We know the urgency of each and every game and there’s going to be a lot more like this. It was a real solid effort for us,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford, whose team also snapped a seven-game road losing streak. “We had good spirit in the group. I think the return of [Adam] Burish and [Krys] Barch helped pick up the enthusiasm of our guys. We got [Jamie] Benn back the last game. Any time you add three significant bodies like that back into your lineup it gives your team a boost.”
The Stars got a big boost from Lehtonen, as well. The Stars netminder was outstanding, stopping 38 shots in the game, including 31 over the final two periods as the Red Wings tried to climb back into the game.
“He had to make several saves throughout the game,” said Crawford. “He was sharp throughout. It’s unfortunate he lost the shutout late.”
“It was such a desperate win for us,” said Crawford. “It puts us back in a playoff position, and we’ve got to keep rolling out performances like this.”
I generally don’t give a rat’s butt about “being right” when making a point, and I’m particularly peeved about the whole, “I was right here” thing. It stinks when your team loses.
The Stars also reflected upon what will become a common theme: they felt that their trash-talking, instigating and grit got the Wings’ goat by forcing Detroit out of its comfort zone:
“We got off to a real good start. That was huge and it carried on the whole game,” said Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. “I think they got a little frustrated.”
Crawford seconded that suggestion in speaking to the Dallas News’s Heika—who also notes that the Stars are now 9-3-and-0 over the Wings over the past two seasons, and won their 700th game in Dallas:
“It was a real solid effort for us,” coach Marc Crawford said. “We had good spirit in the group. I think the return of Burish and Barch helped bring up the enthusiasm of our guys. We were sharp tonight. We did a lot of good things, and played with the proper amount of aggression up front. It was such a desperate win for us, and now it puts us back in a playoff position. We have to keep rolling out performances like this.”
The Stars are back in the top eight in the West, but does it really matter until the last game of the season? Win now, and they are in. Lose, and they are out. It’s that simple.
“They’re all huge, and I don’t think this one means more than the last one, but it’s two points at a time,” said Brenden Morrow, who had a sweet set-up on the Ribeiro goal. “It’s all about just this one game, and our preparation and focus was just on that. A lot of things come with it. You hope you give management some confidence before the trade deadline, and they believe in the group here. There’s a lot of things that come with it, but I think once the puck is dropped you’re thinking about just winning that game.”
Detroit eventually earned a 39-25 edge in shots on goal, but Dallas dominated early, got a 3-0 lead and then backed off and let Detroit shooting from the perimeter.
“We kept them to the outside, and I think that helped a lot,” Ribeiro said. “Special teams were big tonight. They had a lot of power plays that could have turned the game around, but we killed them. Once again, our goalie was outstanding, and we scored on our chances. But if we play well defensively, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win. We’re not going to score five or six goals a game, it’s the tight games that we are going to win.”
The Wings’ satisfaction with perimeter play, one-and-done scoring opportunities and not going to the slot or getting into Lehtonen’s sight lines were big parts of their problem—as was the fact that the Wings fired 12 shots into Stars players and an additional 19 wide of the net for a total of 70 shot attempts, with a little over half of them actually hitting or going past Lehtonen.
Ahem, again, per Heika:
“We got some breaks there, but we made them happen,’’ said Lehtonen. “When you get rolling, good things happen, and we haven’t had that for a while.’’
The Stars move to 32-23-6 and move into a pack of teams with 70 points, all fighting for one of the eight playoff spots in the West. Detroit falls to 37-18-6 (80 points), but still is the second seed in the West. The Stars finish the season series against the Red Wings at 3-1-0 and are now 9-3-0 in the last three seasons against Detroit.
“They definitely get your attention,’’ Stars coach Marc Crawford said. ``And I thought we were ready from the start.’’
The quick start was a key, and a lot of energy came from the return of Barch and Adam Burish after they missed eight games each with fractured orbital bones. Mix in the earlier return of Jamie Benn (shoulder) and the addition of Alex Goligoski through trade, and the Stars are beginning to regain some depth.
“We had good spirit in the group after getting Burish and Barch back, and we got Benn back the last game. Any time you add three significant bodies like that, it gives you a boost,’’ Crawford said. “The other thing it does is the guys at the end of the lineup, they start to recognize they have to play their tails off in order to stay in. We were sharp tonight from the top to the bottom.’’
Also, “Ahem,” per DallasStars.com’s Bob Matuszak...
Steve Ott took on the much bigger Jonathan Ericsson in a third-period scrap. Ericsson had a four-inch height advantage, but Ott was able to get a couple of nice shots in a bout that resulted in a draw.
It was more like, “Ericsson tossed ‘em with Ott after Ott tried to get Johan Franzen to go, and Ericsson dropped Ott twice before he got back up and got a few punches in and a ceremonial take down at the end of a fight that Ericsson won.” But I’m biased.
Matuszak also allowed the Stars to reiterate their points of emphasis…
“They’re all huge, and I don’t think this one means more than the last one, but it’s two points at a time,” captain Brenden Morrow said. “It’s all about just this one game, and our preparation and focus was just on that. A lot of things come with it. You hope you give management some confidence before the trade deadline, and they believe in the group here. There’s a lot of things that come with it, but I think once the puck is dropped you’re thinking about just winning that game.”
At least for one night, the Stars (32-23-6) were able to plug the hole that caused them to sink from the top of the Pacific Division to the middle of a log-jammed Western Conference playoff race, and righted many things that were going wrong during a 2-10-1 skid. The Stars were energized from the opening faceoff, and jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead by outshooting the Central Division leaders by a 12-8 margin. Lehtonen then kept the Red Wings (37-18-6) at bay with 30 stops over the final two periods, and Dallas’ 25th ranked penalty killing unit stymied Detroit’s fifth-ranked power play by erasing all but one of the Red Wings’ six man advantage opportunities.
Did I mention that the Wings’ power play stank on ice, shorthanded goal included?
“We kept them to the outside, and I think that helped a lot,” Ribeiro said. “Special teams was big tonight. They had a lot of power plays that could have turned the game around, but we killed them. Once again, our goalie was outstanding, and we scored on our chances. But if we play well defensively, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win. We’re not going to score five or six goals a game, it’s the tight games that we are going to win.”
The Stars also were able to mend some of their offensive woes by scoring more than two goals for just the second time in the last nine games.
“I think we drove the net well, had some bounces go our way, worked hard, and stayed on the puck,” Morrow said. “You give that team transition chances, they’ll make you pay.”
My opinion and that of NHL.com’s Brian Hedger regarding Lehtonen’s performance differ slightly (he calls Lehtonen “outstanding”), and the same can be said for Crawford’s take…
“He had to make several saves throughout the game,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said of Lehtonen. “I thought he was sharp throughout. Unfortunately, he lost his shutout bid with the power-play goal at the end, but at the end of the day, I don’t think he worries about it too much. All he was concerned about was trying to make sure that this team won tonight. It was such a desperate win for us.”
In the end, the trash-talking, instigating Ribeiro and Krys Barch got the last laughs…
“It was a big game for us,” said center Mike Ribeiro, who opened the scoring late in the first period with his 12th goal. “It didn’t matter who we played against. We knew that we played good games here and they maybe took us a little bit lightly at the beginning of the game - and we took it to them.”
As for the season series against the Red Wings, the win gave Dallas its third victory against Detroit this season - making it the third straight season the Stars have taken three of the four regular-season meetings. Dallas has also won nine of the last 12 games against Detroit during that span, after dropping 16 of 20 between 2002 and 2008.
“It’s one thing right now beating an Edmonton Oilers team, but coming into Detroit and stealing a game out of here against a team that’s second in our conference is a big confidence builder for us,” said forward Krys Barch, who scored in his return from a facial injury that kept him out for eight games. “We’re starting to turn the ship in the right direction, and we’re starting to get some smiles in the room, too.”
While the Wings, who’ve dropped 3 of their past 4 games at home and are a silly 7-9-and-2 of late , could only admit that they were outworked, plain and simple, and beaten at their own puck possession game:
“I thought they outworked us in our zone,” Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “They had the puck a lot in our own zone and we had some turnovers right at our own blue line, where they came back and spent another 20 seconds in our zone. That just tires the whole team out.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock told the Associated Press’s Larry Lage that he wasn’t happy with any aspect of the Wings’ loss...
“You can’t have success unless you’re dominant at home,” coach Mike Babcock said. “If I could explain it, I’d straighten it out.”
Detroit starts a five-game road trip Saturday at Buffalo before going across the country to play three games in California and one at Phoenix.
“Maybe we’re fortunate, going on the road,” Babcock said. “Maybe we can get our act together.”
Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen had 38 saves and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard had 21. The Red Wings had a goal by Brian Rafalski waived off because Holmstrom backed into Lehtonen outside the crease.
“I thought it should’ve been a goal,” Babcock said. “But I don’t think you can point fingers at anything but ourselves.”
Lage also notes that the Wings honored Todd Bertuzzi for his 1,000th game before the Wings-Stars tilt, but I don’t think that you’re going to see the Bertuzzi tribute on the Wings’ website. It was odd as odd can be, with the vast majority of the highlights showing Bertuzzi scoring on the Wings as an Islander, Canuck, Duck and Flame before only focusing on Bertuzzi’s goals from this season. Some fans justifiably booed the unflattering portions of the clip, but Bertuzzi received a standing ovation, which was very nice to see.
I love reading Waddell’s takes on the Wings’ play because he never pulls punches, and the man who would be what Bill calls the “Deep Diggers’” captain if he traveled with the team deemed the Wings’ effort nothing less than “horrible.” He’s right.
“You can’t have success unless you’re dominant at home and right now we’re not,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Maybe we’re fortunate. We’re going on the road for a time and maybe we can get our act together.”
The Wings thought they’d done that in stringing together five straight wins in which they played extremely well. However, long gone is that urgency and attention to detail. Back were the sloppy habits and a poor start that the Stars exploited fully.
Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg, who was an ineffective minus-2, theorized the Wings struggles at Joe Louis Arena are a product of worrying too much about line matching.
“Sometimes it feels like we’re too much about (the) match up,” Zetterberg said “We can’t get everyone in the game and get everyone going. On the road we don’t have to worry about (the) match up, you just roll your four lines all the time. Here, as soon as we have last change, we focus a little bit too much about that. Just go out and play. We’re a pretty good team ourselves and maybe they have to adjust to us once in awhile.”
As for that bizarre play where Holmstrom was actually pushed by Lehtonen outside the crease, but the goal the Wings scored was waved off because Lehtonen complained?
“Even the goalie came up to me and said ’You got robbed on that one,’ ” said Holmstrom of a conversation during a commercial break.
I can only nod my head regarding Waddell’s conclusion:
In the middle of much of the extracurriculars all evening was [Steve] Ott, who yapped, poked and provoked throughout the game with hardly a cross word from the Wings until Ericsson squared off with him in the third period. By then the Stars had already bloodied the Wings’ collective noses and secured the two points rendering an exchange of goals by Holmstrom and Jamie Langenbrunner meaningless.
After the first period’s worth of Ribeiro yapping at Howard and Ott running around like the madman that he is whenever he plays the Wings because he’s from Windsor (see: Bob Duff’s conversation with Ott in his blog, which you can read on your own), I turned to my friend Terry and said, “You know, this is one of those times where, if I was Babcock, I’d tap somebody on the shoulder and say, ‘We’ll kill the penalty.’”
I don’t think the Wings need a dedicated fighter by any means, but I do believe that there are occasions when they need to fight back, and as such, I can only deem the comments the Wings made about Ericsson’s fight to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan ironic in the Alanis Morrisette sense of the term:
Dallas is a chippy team, and the Red Wings seemed to play into that aspect, with Johan Franzen and Jonathan Ericsson both getting into fights.
But Henrik Zetterberg felt that was a positive, rather than negative.
“That kind of got us going,” he said. “It helped us a little bit. We got excited and got after them.”
Point the second: can we call what Franzen got into a fight? It was more like, “Getting jumped.”
Again, Babcock growled about the Wings’ loss…
Mike Babcock is baffled by his team’s struggles — 7-9-2 at home after Thursday’s 4-1 loss.
“We won five games (on the road), played real well and started every night and played with urgency and played fast and looked organized,” he said. “Then we come back and play like this. That’s not good enough.”
As Kulfan also noted in his recap:
“To play the way we did, with the energy we did, it’s not good enough,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We didn’t start good enough, and weren’t very good all night long.”
“We haven’t been good enough at home,” Babcock said. “That’s not good enough in your home building (the 7-9-2 recent record). You can’t have success unless you’re dominant at home and right now we’re not.”
Again, Nicklas Lidstrom agreed with Babcock’s assessment…
“It’s frustrating,” Lidstrom said of the Wings’ lack of success at home. “You look at the standings, they’re (the Stars) right outside of the playoffs and they’re desperate for wins. That showed. They were more desperate than we were.”
And after Henrik Zetterberg suggested that Lehtonen’s 38-save performance wasn’t exactly one man against the world…
“He played good, but they played real good in front of him blocking a lot of shots and always having guys in front of him,” Henrik Zetterberg said of Lehtonen.
Adam Burish seemed to confirm that sentiment:
“It’s our desperate hockey right now,” forward Adam Burish said. “You got to play that way. A lot of guys chipping in, playing desperate, playing hard and just playing the right way. Playing a simple game against these guys is key. You’re not going to be fancy against the Red Wings. They’re too good. You have to play simple and keep them in front of you.”
As for the Holmstrom situation, shall we say, Lidstrom attempted to take the high road…
“It’s disappointing,” Nicklas Lidstrom said. “But you have to work through it. You’re not going to get the breaks all the time.”
But Holmstrom himself was baffled by the call, as he told the Free Press’s George Sipple:
“I didn’t see it myself, but I think I was feet out,” Holmstrom said. “It was a tough one. It would be a momentum changer for sure, too. It was a tough break for us. It should be allowed.”
“Even the goalie come up to me and say, ‘Hey, you got robbed on that one,” Holmstrom said. “So what can you do?”
Holmstrom and Nicklas Lidstrom suggested that the “incidental contact” and/or goaltender interference calls should be reviewable by the “war room” in Toronto…
“Yeah, why not?” Holmstrom said. “So many goals get disallowed around the net. You gotta be sure. You can’t just blow the whistle.”
And while Holmstrom believed that the game, at least to some extent, hinged upon the ref’s judgment call…
“It was 2-1,” Holmstrom said. “For sure. Hopefully we go into the third 2-1 and go from there. It’s a big difference.”
Babcock disagreed, and after saying that it “didn’t matter” what he thought about what should have been a 2-1 game, the coach pointed fingers at a team that constantly cheated toward offense for giving up a shorthanded goal that sent the Wings to the locker room after the first period thinking, “Oh, crap, not again.” Babcock felt that Loui Eriksson’s goal was a direct result of Niklas Kronwall, and Nicklas Lidstrom, trying to get a little fancy:
“They rimmed it around the board and (Niklas) Kronwall tried to keep it in,” Babcock said. “We should have backed out, and they end up scoring a shorthanded goal for the key play in the game.”
We’re going to go back and forth for a minute here, as MLive’s Ansar Khan spoke to Henrik Zetterberg about the waved-off goal...
“In games like that, we have to fight for our chances,” Zetterberg said. “We get one in and it gets disallowed. Of course you get frustrated and automatically you do a little bit too much.
“It’s clearly outside the crease,” Zetterberg said. “If it’s outside the crease, it’s tough to interfere with the goalie.
Before letting Babcock go to town:
“Disappointing,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “It has nothing to do with them, it has to do with us, just to play the way we did. The energy wasn’t good enough. We didn’t start good enough. Just never were that good all night long. Their goalie was outstanding, made lots of key saves.”
It was not a good way for the Red Wings to embark on a five-game road trip, which starts Saturday in Buffalo and continues on the West Coast. Then again, getting away will do them some good, since they’re 4-6-1 in their last 11 home games and have won four in a row on the road.
“I don’t think it was so much starting, tonight we didn’t play,” Babcock said. “We went on the road and won five games and played real well and started every night and played with urgency and played fast and looked organized. Then we come back here and play like that, it’s not good enough. We haven’t been good enough at home. You can’t have success unless you’re dominant at home and right now we’re not.”
I don’t know what I can say about this one:
“I think it’s our desire,” Ott said. “We came in with a mindset to come in here and try and play a controlled system. If you can eliminate the chances off the line rushes that they’re so good at with (Pavel) Datsyuk and Zetterberg, and play them hard along the wall, it played into our favor.”
Keep the Wings to the outside in terms of shots, limiting them to one-and-done scoring chances by pushing them out of the slot and snagging rebounds before they do. Tick them off by playing hard physically. Win the one-on-one battles along the wall in the offensive zone to disrupt their cycle. Allow them to get frustrated when you line 5 men up at the blueline and start passing back endlessly until they send one man into your defenders when they refuse to skate through the neutral zone with speed. Establish a cycle in their zone and let the Wings chase after the puck carrier until you find an open man in front of Howard and put the puck in the net via a slot pass or a back-door play. There’s your blueprint.
The fact that the Wings all but telegraphed every shot, pass and play, especially on the rush, didn’t help, but the Wings very literally played into the Stars’ hands, especially when those hands were clenched into fists.
Hell, I’m not sure I even agree with what Sipple saw as starting the skirmish in front of Howard, who very admirably went after Ribeiro and Ott on his own at the 9:16 mark of the second period, yielding a stupid ten-minute misconduct for Franzen’s non-fight which not only resulted in Babcock reuniting the Eurotwins line at times, but also disrupted the Wings’ flow up front as Babcock also put the forward lines into a blender with adverse results (the only thing that stuck was Tomas Holmstrom in Jiri Hudler’s place alongside Pavel Datsyuk, and I hope that’s a permanent change):
SAY WHAT? Ruslan Salei pushed [Ribeiro] down in the crease, touching off a skirmish that ended with a roughing penalties to [Ribeiro] and Howard and roughing and 10-minute misconduct penalties to Wings forward Johan Franzen and Stars forward Adam Burish.
All night long. Ribeiro and Ott were jawing at Howard and occasionally bumping him all night long. The refs didn’t do a thing to stop it save eventually pulling Ribeiro away from Howard at the end of the second period, and then allowing Ott to bump Howard as he skated by toward the Wings’ bench.
And while Nicklas Lidstrom agreed with Zetterberg’s theory regarding line-matching yielding a 7-9-and-2 home record of late when he spoke to MLive’s Khan...
The Red Wings have been better on the road (20-8-2) than at home (17-10-4). The theories on their home woes range from too much focus on line matchups to shifts that last too long.
“On the road, we don’t have to worry about matchup, you just roll your four lines all the time,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “Here, as soon as we have last change, we focus a little bit too much about that. Just go out and play. We’re a pretty good team ourselves, and maybe they have to adjust to us once in a while. ... Sometimes it feels like we’re too much about matchup. We can’t get everyone in the game and get everyone going.”
“Sometimes when you’re trying too hard, you’re staying out there too long, and you’re hurting the whole team by taking long shifts,” Lidstrom said. “The tempo slows down when you’re out there too long. The average shift is a lot higher at home and that’s something we have to get away from.”
Babcock earns the last word because he refused to exempt himself from blame:
“Obviously, if I could explain it I’d straighten it right out,” Babcock said. “When things don’t go well, we got 23 guys in here, we got a coaching staff and we’re not getting it done. Maybe we’re fortunate we’re going on the road, we can get our act together.”
Highlights: Fox Sports Southwest posted a one-minute highlight clip;
ESPN posted a 2-minute highlight clip in which Barry Melrose and Matthew Barnaby weigh in, embedded in their recap;
NHL.com’s highlight clip is mercifully narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond:
Only Hockeyfights.com posted the Ericsson-Ott bout:
Post-game: Fox Sports Southwest posted a 3-minute clip of Mike Ribeiro and Alex Goligoski speaking to the media...
As well as Craig Ludwig and John Rhagidan’s take on the game…
And coach Marc Crawford’s 3:29 post-game presser.
Fox Sports Detroit posted a 3-minute clip of Ken and Mickey Redmond’s game break-down…
As well as a 4:06 clip of coach Mike Babcock, Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg talking to the media.
TSN posted a clip of Darren Eliot and Steve Kouleas talking about whether the Wings can win with Howard, including a serious-arse breakdown of Howard’s game from Eliot, and the gents talked about the Holmstrom waived-off goal.
My verdict, in terms of both Eliot’s analysis of Howard’s play and the Holmstrom call? Eliot’s an idiot.
The Red Wings’ website posted a clip of Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg and Mike Babcock’s comments to the media:
Prior to the game, USA Today’s Kevin Allen spoke to WDFN’s Sean Baligian:
Photos: The Free Press posted an 11-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted a 17-image gallery;
NHL.com posted a 45-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted a 23-image gallery;
Statistics: Shots 39-25: Red Wings overall, with the shots breaking down as 12-8 Dallas in the 1st period, 14-6 Detroit in the 2nd and 17-7 Detroit in the 3rd.
Jimmy Howard stopped 21 of 24 shots against and the Stars scored an empty-netter; Kari Lehtonen stopped 38 shots.
The Red Wings went an ugly 1-for-6 in 10:29 of PP time; the Stars went 0-for-3 in 6:00 of PP time.
The Wings’ goal: Holmstrom (13) from Datsyuk (32), PPG.
The 3 stars, per Chuck Pleiness, were Loui Eriksson, Mike Ribeiro and Kari Lehtonen.
Faceoffs 30-27 Red Wings;
Blocked shots: 12-5 Dallas;
Missed shots: 19-7 Detroit (total shot attempts 70-37 Detroit, with the Wings firing 31 shots into Stars players or wide of the net);
Hits: 24-23 Detroit;
Giveaways: 10-2 Detroit;
Takeaways: 6-5 Detroit.
Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 11-and-10 (52%); Datsyuk went 6-and-7 (46%); Abdelkader went 6-and-2 (75%); Helm went 4-and-2 (67%); Hudler went 1-and-2 (33%); Draper went 1-and-2 (33%); Franzen lost two faceoffs; Draper lost one faceoff.
Shots taken: Zetterberg and Rafalski co-led the team with 5 shots apiece; Datsyuk, Helm and Holmstrom had 4 shots; Kronwall had 3; Lidstrom, Draper, Ericsson and Franzen took 2 shots; Cleary, Stuart, Salei, Hudler, Mursak and Bertuzzi had 1.
Blocked attempts: Lidstrom, Cleary, Datsyuk, Hudler and Rafalski had 2 shot attempts blocked; Stuart and Zetterberg had 1 shot attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Ericsson missed the net 3 times; Abdelkader, Cleary, Bertuzzi and Kronwall missed the net 2 times; Lidstrom, Cleary, Hudler, Draper, Mursak, Bertuzzi, Kronwall and Franzen missed the net once.
Hits: Franzen and Stuart co-led the team with 4 hits apiece; Helm had 3; Abdelkader, Cleary, Bertuzzi and Kronwall had 2; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Rafalski, Ericsson and Holmstrom had 1.
Giveaways: Datsyuk had 3 giveaways; Kronwall had 2; Stuart, Rafalski, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Howard had 1.
Takeaways: Datsyuk had 2 takeaways; Draper, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Kronwall had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Salei, Zetterberg, Helm, Kronwall and Franzen blocked 1 shot apiece.
Penalties taken: Franzen took a minor penalty and a 10-minute misconduct; Lidstrom, Draper, Helm and Kronwall took minor penalties; Ericsson took a major for fighting.
Plus-minus: Danny Cleary was an ugly -4; Lidstrom finished at -3; Hudler, Rafalski, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Franzen were -2; Datsyuk, Stuart, Ericsson and Kronwall were -1, so the team finished at -21.
Points: Holmstrom had a goal; Datsyuk had an assist.
Ice time: Lidstrom led the team with 26:39 played; Rafalski played 22:18; Stuart played 22:15;
Zetterberg played 21:56; Datsyuk played 21:40; Kronwall played 21:36;
Cleary played 19:26; Holmstrom played 15:28; Bertuzzi played 15:13;
Salei played 14:46; Hudler played 14:27; Franzen played 14:11;
Ericsson played 12:44; Helm played 12:08; Abdelkader played 11:37;
Draper played 9:48; Miller played 9:09; Mursak played 7:21.
Also of Red Wings-related note this morning:
• The Detroit Free Press’s James Jahnke went over the Wings-related trade rumors from Thursday.
I missed Spector suggesting that the Wings might want to go after Tomas Vokoun (won’t happen) because I was at the game;
But the Fourth Period’s Tweet about Ken Holland saying, “Nothing’s on the front burner” is from this past weekend, never mind Wednesday…
I already said that Fanhouse’s Monte Stewart’s suggestion that Kris Draper might be moved is ludicrous;
And the other column I missed was from someone who walked by me when I was outside of the box office waiting for my pal. Yahoo Sport’s Nicholas J. Cotsonika attended the game to write a feature column on Brad Richards, but he also added this quip…
The Red Wings are reluctant to part with their draft picks, especially those in high rounds. They know they need to restock their system. Unearthing late-round gems like Pavel Datsyuk (sixth round, 1998) and Henrik Zetterberg (seventh round, 1999) helped keep them among the elite, but that isn’t a sustainable strategy.
It is if you unearth two every decade. The Wings have done pretty darn well with the, “If we can find a Lidstrom and Fedorov in 89, Zetterberg and Datsyuk in 98 and 99, and if we can find a Kronwall here, a Howard there, a Smith, etc.” strategy.
• Sticking with Cotsonika but shifting gears, he also spoke to Mike Modano about his decision to stay with the Stars at last year’s trade deadline, as well as his return from three torn flexor tendons and a nerve damage in his right wrist:
“I figured, ‘There’s still a chance here, an opportunity,’ ” Modano said. “Certainly, I think if we were out of the picture, I may have thought of doing something like that. But I figured, ‘I don’t want to quit on this thing yet.’ ”
Modano stayed for the rest of the season. But instead of retiring after the Stars let him go, he signed with the Red Wings, his hometown team. The 40-year-old was admittedly out of shape and struggled early. Then, just as he was rounding into form 20 games in, a skate blade cut his right forearm and severed a tendon. Now Modano is set to return Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres, and it’s almost like he has accepted a trade to Detroit at the deadline. “That was mentioned a couple times, that it feels like they’ve made a trade for somebody and hopefully it pays off,” Modano said, smiling.
After three months of seeing doctors and rehabbing and conditioning, Modano is going to need an adjustment period before everything returns – his legs, timing, hands, shot, positioning. But he’ll have time to do it before the playoffs.
“I think I just can’t get too discouraged and too frustrated too fast,” Modano said. “I think the fun part is starting to begin here now. Spring’s around the corner, and that’s the part that we’ve all been kind of gearing towards, and it seems like this team thrives on that part of the year. It will be fun to be a part of it. The timing worked out where I came back 20, 21 games left in the season. Hopefully that’s plenty enough to get where I want to be.”
Said teammate Danny Cleary: “He’s going to be a huge help for us. He’s still got it. He can shoot, pass, skate, create plays. He’s a good, experienced guy.”
“The fun part is starting to begin here now,” Modano said. “Spring’s around the corner. That’s the part that we’ve all been gearing towards. Seems like this team thrives on that part of the year.”
Modano said he’ll have to be patient as he works his way back into the lineup: “Just can’t get too discouraged or too frustrated too fast.”
Knowing the Wings are a contender for the Stanley Cup was all the motivation Modano needed to come back ahead of schedule.
“The opportunity we have here certainly is exciting,” he said.
And Sipple also updated the status of Chris Osgood…
Goaltender Chris Osgood, who had sports hernia surgery in early January, said he had another good day on the ice Thursday, but he hopes to be ready to play March 9 against the Kings.
Chris Osgood, who had sports hernia surgery on Jan. 11, will go on the trip to continue to practice, but won’t play in those five games. He’s hoping to be back on the bench March 9 when the Los Angeles Kings visit Joe Louis Arena.
“That’s the date I’m shooting for, but I can’t guarantee it,” Osgood said. “I should know on that last game in Phoenix.”
And he noted Patrick Eaves’ status:
Patrick Eaves will not be on the team’s West Coast trip, which begins Monday after playing in Buffalo on Saturday night. Eaves still has soreness in his groin and has yet to get the results from an MRI Wednesday sometime.
“It’s not a knee so I lucked out there,” Eaves said. “I’ll see the doctor tonight and get the full report. Hopefully (I’ll be out) just a little while.”
“I hit [Torrey Mitchell] and kind of went up in the air and as I was coming down I kind of got a split situation and it didn’t feel very good,” Eaves said. “I’m trying to get better everyday.”
• The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan spoke to Brad Stuart about his second jaw-related procedure which required anesthetic—the removal of the metal braces which were quite literally attached to the plates placed in his jaw to stabilize fractures caused by Tom Kostopoulos way back in January. Stuart says that he wants nothing more than to eat a steak, the larger the better:
“I’ll have one probably,” said Stuart, who finally had the braces — the medical term was arch bars — taken out Wednesday after having them on for more than a month since suffering a broken jaw Jan. 7. So now, after being able to consume only liquids and soft foods, Stuart’s free to eat whatever he wants.
“I could probably have had a steak before, but those things dug into my gums any time I tried to chew,” Stuart said. “It would hurt. Now I’m free to do whatever what I want without that discomfort.”
Stuart returned to the lineup last week, with the arch bars in his mouth. The wires were wrapped around each tooth, just under the gum, supporting the bands. And on Thursday, after his mouth was free from any medical devices, Stuart enjoyed a simple pleasure.
“It’s a great feeling to wake up and be able to run my tongue over my teeth and not feel metal and sharp, pointy things sticking into my gums,” he said. “It was definitely a day I’ve been looking forward to for a while.”
I looked the “arch bar” up in Google but am too squeamish to look at pictures. They’re scary devices.
• Per MLive’s Ansar Khan, the video tribute to Todd Bertuzzi during the ceremony honoring his 1,000th game wasn’t the only weird part of the occasion:
The Red Wings, in a pregame ceremony, honored Todd Bertuzzi for playing in his 1,000th game Sunday. Bertuzzi was joined on the ice by his wife, Julie; daughter, Jaden; and son, Tag. NHL vice president of operations Colin Campbell and Red Wings executive Christopher Ilitch presented Bertuzzi with gifts.
That Colin Campbell. Do I need to tell you why that was awkward?
• In Swedish: Jonathan Ericsson spoke to Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom, but I’m guessing that you’re probably not interested in the fact that Ericsson says that he’s improved his plus-minus statistic by focusing on playing better defense or is OK with his streaky point production.
Instead, here’s what he had to say about his fight with Steve Ott, and this is, of course, a rough translation:
“He was about to fight Homer, and then I thought that was enough. Ott, as we know, is quite the talker,” says Jonte to HockeyExpressen.se.
The general opinion was that Jonte won the fight on points.
“I sent a lot of punches into his helmet, but in any case, he didn’t hit me very much at all. So we talked afterward that I won on points,” said Jonte.
What made you choose to fight?
“Oh, nothing special. Ott is a guy that pesters people on the ice, and he tussled with Homer (Tomas Holmstrom). I got up and we talked a little bit about whether we would fight or not. And I decided at that point that I couldn’t back down.”
• In the AHL, and also in the fisticuffs department: the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema notes that scrappy Griffins forward Jordan Owens was suspended for one game by the AHL for elbowing Toronto Marlies forward Danny Richmond on February 19th:
He was called for a penalty for the hit, and fought the Marlies’ Danny Richmond a few minutes later. Owens said he couldn’t remember who he hit.
“It is what it is. I didn’t mean to elbow him, but I think it looked a little worse on video than I thought it was,” Owens said. “But they’re cracking down on that kind of stuff this year, so there’s no one to blame but myself. I’ll take the suspension, take it for what it’s worth — a day of rest — and there are two other big games this weekend to focus on.”
Owens said it was his first suspension since the 2007-08 season, when he instigated a fight with less than 5 minutes to go. It was the Griffins’ first suspension this year. Owens was suspended under the provisions of AHL Rule 28.1 (supplementary discipline).
Owens has six goals, 13 assists and 101 penalty minutes in 57 games this season. The only other game he’s missed was due to illness.
Update, still the middle of the night: Sticking with prospects for a moment, the Everett Herald’s Nick Patterson reports that the WHL’s Everett Silvertips are hoping to welcome Landon Ferraro back to the lineup from sports hernia surgery in 3 weeks;
• According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford, Blues forward David Perron reports progress in attempting to return from post-concussive issues after seeing Dr. Donald Grant, who worked wonders for then-Wings defenseman Andreas Lilja a year ago;
• And in writing a column about the reasons why the Bruins had to deal for Tomas Kaberle, the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa gives Nicklas Lidstrom heady praise:
Like grass-fed beef in steak houses or tablet computers in the business world, puck-moving defensemen are the hottest items in hockey. They’re low in supply, high in demand, and even higher in price. Like a player at no other position, the puck-moving defenseman touches the game in the most degrees. Because they can retrieve pucks and shuttle them out of the defensive zone, their goalies face fewer threats. A puck mover’s partner gets the first pass a second quicker, and the puck lands flat on his tape. In turn, the forwards generate speed through the neutral zone and cross the blue line at full speed, poised for pucks to turn them into scoring chances.
The Bruins were on the wrong end of such quick-strike danger earlier this month. Nicklas Lidstrom, the NHL’s best puck-moving defenseman, started the breakout behind the Detroit net. With his head up, Lidstrom spotted Darren Helm cutting through the neutral zone. Bing, went Lidstrom’s tape-to-tape pass to an in-stride Helm. Bang, went Helm’s dish to Kris Draper. Boom, went Draper’s top-shelf shot over Tim Thomas.
It looked so easy. But few players could have read the situation and executed the play with such precision.
“Lidstrom’s the best you could possibly imagine,’’ said Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney, who often played beside one of the best in Ray Bourque. “He’s making the game look easy when every one of us knows it isn’t. It’s not fair. And that’s a great example. It took two passes. Even Scott Niedermayer, the best skater in the world, would never have been able to skate it to that point that quickly.’’
The Red Wings have two elite puck movers in Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski. As a result, Detroit’s bread and butter is puck possession. Most other teams are lucky to have just one top-notch puck mover, with some of the best including Duncan Keith, Tobias Enstrom, and Kris Letang. After wheeling Dennis Wideman last summer to Florida for Nathan Horton, the Bruins had none.
Update: I don’t need to elaborate on this comment from Defending Big D’s Brandon Worley:
Lehtonen made 16 saves in the third period when the Red Wings fought the hardest, attempting to recover from a 3-0 deficit after two periods. Lehtonen was instrumental in the Stars killing off five of the first six power plays for Detroit, about the only times in the game where the Red Wings offense ever showed some life. The Stars were fortunate, however, when an apparent goal was waived off in the second period when Tomas Holmstrom was called for incidental goaltender interference. The referees were perhaps a bit generous to the Stars.
“We did give up one there,” said Lehtonen. “The referee was my friend there. It was fortunate there. It was just good to have things rolling when things are going good, and we haven’t had that in a while.”
Update 11:20 AM: Sometime around 9 AM, the Macomb Daily finally posted Pleiness’s recap with quotes:
“I don’t think it was so much the starting, I just think tonight we didn’t play,” Babcock said. “We went on the road and won (four) games and played real well. We started every night, we played with urgency, played real fast and looked organized. Then we come back here and play like that.”
“We haven’t been good enough at home,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock, whose team has also been shutout twice at home this season. “You can’t have success unless you’re dominant at home and right now we’re not.”
This five-game road trip, which begins Saturday in Buffalo against the Sabres may be what the doctor ordered for Detroit.
“I don’t explain it,” Babcock said when asked about the Wings’ problems at home. “We’re not getting it done. Maybe we’re fortunate that we’re going on the road here for a time so maybe we can get our act together.”
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