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Red Wings-Wild quick take: Datsyuk/Lidstrom-less Wings learn how to walk

Update: Regarding Todd Bertuzzi’s “lower-body injury,” per MLive’s Ansar Khan:

Bertuzzi is day to day with tender groin, Holland said. Questionable for Sunday’s game.
...
Holland on Bertuzzi: “He’s day-to-day, just a tender groin. we’re not taking any chances. See how he feels tomorrow.’‘
...
More Holland on Bertuzzi: “I’d say questionable for Sunday. Nothing serious. This time of year we want to be very cautious.’‘

The Detroit Red Wings’ 6-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild was both a case of a smart, veteran Wings team pouncing upon an opponent that got into town very, very late and a Red Wings team that started the game sans Nicklas Lidstrom (ankle), Pavel Datsyuk (knee) and Jonathan Ericsson’s (wrist) services, and played the 3rd period without Todd Bertuzzi (Wings coach Mike Babcock wouldn’t elaborate on his “lower-body injury” but to say to HSJ that he’d be reevaluated)...

Building upon their very ugly 5-2 win over Columbus on Monday by playing a gritty, spirited and hard-working game that was worthy of a much more desperate opponent, and by playing the kind of high-skill, up-tempo game that the slightly short-staffed Wings must, must, must embrace to keep winning when Chicago comes to town on Sunday.

To some extent, the younger, pluckier Wings did much more than perform superbly individually and collectively: they learned how to walk, if you will, without their two most important players not named Jimmy Howard in Lidstrom and Datsyuk, and taking the Wild out with such poise and panache is nothing less than fantastic for the team’s confidence going forward.

I’ll say this first and foremost:

You can almost throw out the Wings’ remarkable collective +30, Jimmy Howard’s 19-save shut-out (and I actually agree with the ref’s decision to wave off Darroll Powe’s shutout spoiler with 2:49 left as Powe DID shove Howard into the net before Smith shoved Powe into Howard), Smith’s 1st goal, 3-point performances from Kronwall (3 assists), Zetterberg (1 goal, 2 assists), Filppula (2 goals, 1 assist) and a 2-point performance by

Hudler

White (1G 1A), toss out the Wings’ 35 shots and 71 shot attempts and, for charity’s sake, ignore the Wings’ 0-for-5 PP performance in 9:55 of PP time…

Because the Wings just ground the f*** out of the Wild before they hammered permanent dents into the net behind Josh Harding.

Between the Wings’ first goal all of 35 seconds in, via Filppula, and the Wings’ back-breaking third goal by Darren Helm seven minutes into the second period, the Wings were in a game against a confident, plucky and tenacious team that had come into town running on an adrenaline high after rallying from a 4-1 third period deficit against the Canadiens on Thursday, and the Wild may not have gotten many shots on Howard, but in terms of their quality of play, they gave as good as they got, they pressed, forechecked, checked, hacked, whacked and grinded the Wings as if they were only a fortunate bounce away from playing the spoiler’s role and dropping the Wings for the third time in a row. The Wings had to pay attention to detail, display strong efforts on individual and collective bases, show incredible attention to detail to stifle the Wild’s rushes and just plain old work their asses off to hang with the Wild, never mind out-play them. Long before the Wings turned this game into a rout, they earned an incredibly hard-fought 3-0 lead over Minnesota 27 minutes into the game—and, really, until Valtteri Filppula turned things into a rout 46:35 into the game, the Wings displayed much more blue-collar dash than they did white-collar flash.

The fact that Howard was nothing less than rock-solid, gobbling up rebounds or placing them far out of danger zones, the fact that the Wings’ defensive corps of Ian White, Kyle Quincey, Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl were so damn good, and the fact that the Wings’ forwards, from the Mursak-Emmerton-Holmstrom line on up, were so tenacious in all three zones were the reasons why the Wings managed to break the game open, and without the players’ hard work and the coaches’ insistence that the Wings not let up upon a team that eventually displayed how mentally and physically tired they really were on the scoresheet, this game could have turned out very, very differently.

The Wings managed to find some of the swagger that had been missing without #5 and #13 in the lineup by displaying a tenacious, gritty, plucky, poised and determined effort whose panache and confidence were the result of hard work and leadership by the players who’ve needed to step up in the leadership department in Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Ian White, Valtteri Filppula, Henrik Zetterberg, Jiri Hudler, Johan Franzen and every member of the now-spread-out HEMI line, as well as the team’s support players and their unflappable goaltender.

In terms of the game’s narrative…

The Wings couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. Henrik Zetterberg won the opening faceoff via assistance from Valtteri Filppula, Niklas Kronwall dumped the puck in from center ice, the Wild dumped it down and Jimmy Howard handed it to Brad Stuart, who reversed flow to pass the puck up to Jiri Hudler…Hudler dropped it to Kronwall chugging through center ice, he deked and dangled into the Wild zone, fired the puck up to a rushing Zetterberg on the left wing side, and while Harding stopped Zetterberg’s shot, Harding gave up a horrific rebound which Filppula pounced upon for his 20th goal all of 36 seconds into the game.

A little under sixteen minutes later, Danny Cleary swiped the puck from a Wild defenseman—I’m sorry, but I think it was Justin Falk, but it could have been Tom Gilbert—along the right wing half boards, Todd Bertuzzi snagged the takeaway and skated it a bit deeper, Cleary snuck away from the scrum toward the shot and chipped Bertuzzi’s pass toward the net, and with Justin Abdelkader crashing the crease, Brendan Smith slithered in from the point and jammed a rebound past Harding’s blocker. The Wings executed their “layered screen” and it paid off in a big way, to the tune of Smith’s first NHL goal.

Again, in between those goals, and up until the 7:05 mark of the 2nd period, the game was played pretty damn evenly, and the Wings and Howard had to play smart, determined and disciplined hockey to out-grit a team whose middle name might be “grind.” After an extended period of time being hemmed in by the Wild’s players, Johan Franzen swiped the puck and slid it up to Darren Helm in the neutral zone. Helm deked and charged into the Wild zone, dumped it off Falk’s skate, and as Nick Johnson backed in toward his goaltender, Johnson took Falk’s blocked shot and put it right back on Helm’s stick. With Franzen and Drew Miller charging toward the net and causing confusion in the zone, Helm ripped a hard shot through the Wild players and over the blocker of a frustrated Harding. 7:05 into the 2nd, the Wings had the 3-0 lead they needed.

Nine minutes later, at the 16:35 mark of the 2nd, Valtteri Filppula scored the back-breaker, but it took a minute.

I’m gonna quote myself from the top secret hockey board where I watch games with the same people I have since 1999:

Nice give and go between Helm and Miller as the Wild hack and whack away, now Franzen gets it back to White shot blocked Franzen deke dangle off Helm’s butt Franzen to Helm shot blocked Helm and Miller battle but Wild ice it Quincey negates that skates around Wings net sticks up…

Quincey’s long shot played by Harding Prosser to Cullen, Heatley takes chips it up for Setoguchi deke dangle HUGE STOP HOWARD ON SPURGEON up come the Wings Z to Fil rt wing shot wide of the net held in Kronwall to Stuart left to rt point Stuart slides to Fil back to Z to Fil to line to Z rt wing half to point for Kronwall tipped Fil takes Fil to Stuart left to Kronwall right blockered Harding Wild play around Z takes chips back to Kronwall rt tipped by Fil wide Hudler backhand pass wide Z regains Z circles net in feets sends deep Fil battles kicks Hudler helps Wild take and Stuart holds to Z Z stood ups ends over for Fil to Z blocked pass Z takes pass….

For Fil fans but Stuart takes taps for Z to Fil rt side back for Kronwall Kronwall lw side deep for Z behind net centers FILPPULA GOAL WOW WHAT A CIRCUS ACT 3:25 left 2nd 4-0 DETROIT

Did you follow that, because it was hard for me to follow it. Long story short, After what Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond said was 1:14 of puck possession in the Wild’s end for Detroit, Filppula fanned on a Zetterberg pass, but got it back to Stuart, Stuart tap-passed the puck to Zetterberg, he slid it to Filppula along the right half boards, Filppula dropped it back to Kronwall who charged up from the left point and slid the puck to Zetterberg behind the Wild net, and Zetterberg centered the puck out front to Filppula, who slammed Zetterberg’s pass behind Harding.

Only 1:07 later, Bertuzzi helped the Wings gain the Wild zone as he was going off for a line change, Jan Mursak took possession of the puck as the Holmstrom line took to the ice, and Mursak’s cross-ice pass found Ian White down low in the right faceoff circle. White’s shot plain old bounced five feet in front of Harding and dribbled past him. 5-0, game all but over, and goal scored off a shift where the Wild skated into the Wings’ end and tried to start flopping around like octopi attempting to draw even-ups.

5:30 into the 3rd period, Henrik Zetterberg put the exclamation point on the game, and relieved Josh Harding of his duties:

 

Essentially speaking, the Wings gained the wild zone, Zetterberg fired the puck back to White. White sent a diagonal pass to Filppula, who sent the puck right back to Zetterberg near the hash marks, and because Harding and the Wild defense were so mesmerized by Filppula’s opportunity to shoot, Zetterberg blasted the puck into an empty net.

With 3:08 left, the Wild did nearly spoil Howard’s shutout. Stephane Vellieux held the puck in and Nate Prosser’s shot was blocked, but he retrieved the rebound, slid the puck across the blueline to Warren Peters, Peters battled past Miller but gave the puck up to Jakub Kindl, and after Kindl circled to avoid Zack Kassian and gave the puck away to Tyler Spurgeon in the slot, Spurgeon dropped the puck to Mario Scandella, his shot was blocked by Kindl, and after another terrible giveaway by Kindl, who was otherwise solid as could be, Darroll Powe stole the puck, plowed toward the net and plowed into Howard, taking his own rebound and plucking it past Howard while shoving Howard into the net—about half a second before Brendan Smith skated in and plowed both Powe and Howard into the net himself.

The ref made the right call in negating the goal—which is something I almost never say!—but it was a subtle one, and it was enough of a wake-up call for the Wings to close out the game strongly.

Via Paul, here’s Brendan Smith speaking to NHL Tonight after the game…

 

Here are post-game comments from Smith from the Wings’ website…

 

As well as comments from Filppula:

 

And I’ll post the highlight clip as soon as it’s up.

Statistics:

Shots 35-19 Detroit overall. The Wings out-shot Minnesota 13-5 in the 1st, out-shot Minnesota 12-5 in the 2nd, and out-shot Minnesota 10-9 in the 3rd period.

The Wings went 0 for 5 in 9:55 of PP time; the Wild went 0-for-3 in 4:01 of PP time.

Jimmy Howard stopped 19 shots; Josh Harding stopped 23 of 26; Matt Hackett stopped 6 of 6.

The 3 stars, per Michigan Talk Radio’s Rich Kincaide, were Brendan Smith, Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula.

The Wings’ goals: Filppula (20) from Zetterberg (38) and Kronwall (15);

Smith (1) from Abdelkader (13) and Cleary (18);

Helm (8) from Franzen (26) and Kronwall (16);

Filppula (21) from Zetterberg (39) and Kronwall (17);

White (7), unassisted;

Zetterberg (15) from Filppula (32) and White (23).

Faceoffs 37-25 Minnesota (Detroit won only 40% of their draws);

Blocked shots 15-8 Minnesota;

Missed shots 21-9 Detroit (total attempts 71-36 Detroit);

Hits 28-23 Minnesota;

Giveaways 8-4 Detroit;

Takeaways 4-4.

Indiidual stats:

Faceoffs: Helm went 6-and-12 (33%); Zetterberg went 5-and-12 (29%); Abdelkader went 6-and-5 (55%); Emmerton went 4-and-4 (50%); Franzen went 4-and-2 (67%); Abdelkader lost his only faceoff; Mursak lost his only faceoff.

Shots: Abdelkader, Zetterberg and Filppula had 4 shots; White and Helm had 3; Smith, Cleary, Quincey, Kronwall and Franzen had 2 shots; Kindl, Hudler, Mursak, Emmerton and Holmstrom had 1.

Blocked attempts: Zetterberg and Franzen had 3 attempts blocked by Wild players; White, Helm and Kronwall had 2 attempts blocked; Quincey, Mursak and Holmstrom had single shot attempts blocked.

Missed shots: Cleary and White missed the net 4 times; Abdelkader missed the net 3 times; Helm and Franzen missed the net 2 times; Kindl, Miller, Filppula, Kronwall and Holmstrom missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Mursak led the team with 4 hits; Quincey and Filppula had 3; Cleary, Stuart, Kronwall and Holmstrom had 2; Smith, Kindl, Abdelkader, Zetterberg and Helm had 1.

Giveaways: Kindl, Abdelkader, Miller, Quincey, Zetterberg, Filppula, Kronwall and Howard had giveaways.

Takeaways: Filppula had 2 takeaways; Cleary and Kronwall had 1.

Blocked shots: Bertuzzi blocked 2 Wild shots; Smith, Kindl, White, Stuart, Hudler and Kronwall blocked 1.

Penalties taken: Cleary took 2 minor penalties; Smith and Hudler were tagged with single minors.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a staggering +30.

White finished at +4; Hudler, Quincey, Zetterberg and Filppula were +3; Kronwall finished at +2; Smith, Kindl, Abdelkader, Cleary, Miller, Stuart, Mursak, Helm, Bertuzzi, Emmerton, Franzen and Holmstrom finished at +1.

Points: Filppula finished with 2 goals and 1 assist for 3 points; Zetterberg scored 1 goal and added 2 assists for 3 points; Kronwall had 3 assists for 3 points; White had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Helm and Smith had goals; Abdelkader, Cleary and Franzen had assists.

Ice time: White led the team with 23:16 played; Kronwall played 22:42; Stuart played 21:07;

Filppula played 20:06; Quincey played 19:48; Zetterberg played 19:38;

Hudler played 19:18; Kindl played 1802; Franzen played 16:18;

Helm played 15:46; Holmstrom played 15:45; Smith played 15:08;

Abdelkader played 13:01; Cleary played 12:57; Miller played 12:47;

Mursak played 11:20; Emmerton played 11:00; Bertuzzi played 8:01.

Update: Here’s a slate of game highlights from the Wings’ website:

 

Via RedWingsFeed, here’s Kyle Quincey’s longer interview with Mickey York…

 

And here’s the Jan Mursak fan club:

 

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

42jeff's avatar

What a game

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 03/03/12 at 02:18 AM ET

DocF's avatar

George, you speak truth with this major post.  I was amazed that the refs got the Powe non-goal call right.  They did.  I thought all the Wings looked like a desperate team instead of one in control of their own destiny.  They played the kind of game that literally hurts the opponent, both mentally and physically.

I thought Minnesota looked like a team that was playing out the season.  I thought Mike Yeo looked like a coach waiting to be fired.

All in all, it was nice to watch a game where I could relax and enjoy the beauty of the Wings system.

Doc

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 03/03/12 at 02:20 AM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Needed one of these games.. saw some swagger for the first time in a while.. true swagger…  I think Smith brings a lot of that with him and I am LOVING his play, especially without the puck.  Doing little things and being subtly nasty, love it.  Kid needs to put on some more weight and he’ll be a rock star.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/03/12 at 02:25 AM ET

Avatar

The “Mursak Contingent” was the highlight. Minnesota looked as bad as I’ve seen a team look all season. I disagree with the no-goal, however.

Posted by godblender on 03/03/12 at 02:59 AM ET

Chet's avatar

caught myself feeling bad for MN. they looked whipped and disinterested by the third. no passion, no display of i-hate-losing at all. just numb.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 03/03/12 at 02:59 AM ET

TheRealYooper's avatar

2-point performance by Hudler (1G 1A)

i think you mean I. White

Posted by TheRealYooper from within sight of the edge of the Earth. on 03/03/12 at 03:13 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

D’oh! Thanks for catching that!

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 03/03/12 at 03:22 AM ET

statelouis26's avatar

Smith is flippin awesome.  Not just because he score, but based on his overall play in the limited number of games he has shown a lot of promise.  His defense is spectacular because the puck gets out of the zone quickly.  He is so quick and mobile that he roves with ease.  Great Game.  Can’t say much for Franzen and Cleary as they are still daydreaming.

Posted by statelouis26 from Detroit, MI on 03/03/12 at 03:56 AM ET

SYF's avatar

Outstanding!

With a game won like that, I was on a breathless pace to read everything you got together for us, George, after having to leave late in the first period for Lenten dinner (fried catfish and coconut-fried shrimp.  nom nom nom).

Ten thousand gratitudes.

RE:  Bert’s sore groin.  I’m guessing we’ll see J.Andersson again?

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 03/03/12 at 06:39 AM ET

Avatar

I’m not saying anything original here, but most teams you can divide into predominantly braun (not necessarily fighting), where it’s simply overpowering, and predominantly skill. Sometimes, I’m just in the mood to see a team just run over the other (although that’s still the worst case scenario in my mind with the Wings). However, this is one of those nights that reminds you how gorgeous surgical precision can be. Minnesota’s heads are probably still swiveling. (enough cliches?) with the puck moving faster than they can react. It’s hard to find this sustained type of tic-tac-toe in any major sport (the 80’s Celtics are the closest comparison in my memory bank even though not as sustained, and I’m a PIstons fan).

I appreciate Jimmy Howard standing on his head, the Kronwalling, the art form known as Holmstroming (or being able to deflect 90 mph pucks while basically being hammered) and the magnetic ability of Datsyuk to get the puck and keep it forever. However, given my limited physical abilities, the only thing I could do reasonably well on the ice was pass the puck; so I appreciate more-day by day-the TEAM’S precision passing. That’s what I love most about hockey,. especially when done by the Masters of the Last Two Decades.

Just be peaking at playoff time boys, and don’t lose that swagger from tonight. Thanks again, George.

Posted by Bugsy on 03/03/12 at 06:58 AM ET

Avatar

Sorry, I mean “brawn”. It’s late. Off to bed.

Posted by Bugsy on 03/03/12 at 06:59 AM ET

Avatar

I looked over the games box score and realized ... only 5 players in tonites game were free agent signings (Bert, Clears,Miller,Stuart, White) ... the rest were Red Wing draft choices.

Just makes you wanna say ‘holy crap!” ... and then you get all warm & fuzzy when you look at the long list of talent waiting to crack the lineup.

Today we have Datsyuk & Zetterberg & Franzen & Filppula.  5 or 6 years from now we’ll be drooling over Nyquist, Tatar, Andersson, Jurco, Tvrdon, Jarnkrok and Pulkkinen.

As good as they looked tonite, things are only going to get better.

holy crap!

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from W.B. on 03/03/12 at 09:08 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Great write up, George!  I love this stuff.  Wonderful effort by the Wings last night with no let up, even when it was clear they were going to win.  So excited about the younger guys.  I thought Smith was really outstanding, as HockeytownOverhaul said, his play without the puck was terrific.  Again, we are getting a vision of the Red Wings’ future, and it looks very bright indeed.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 03/03/12 at 11:47 AM 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.