The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/04/11 at 05:43 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings officially clinched their 9th Central Division title over the past 10 seasons and pushed themselves to within a point of the 2nd-place San Jose Sharks, with a game in hand, in the Western Conference standings via a slate of back-to-back wins this past weekend, defeating the Nashville Predators 4-3 in overtime on Saturday and the Minnesota Wild 4-2 on Sunday.
If you’re willing to constrain your focus to the last week-or-so’s worth of games, the Wings have technically won 3 of their past 5 and boast a 3-1-and-1 record, and given the number of goals waved off due to players in the crease, near the crease, looking at the crease or thinking about the opposing goaltender, take out their loss to the Blues and they’re ever-so-slowly starting to rebound, mostly on home ice, no less, from a truly crappy March while, as Nicklas Lidstrom suggested, starting to focus on the kinds of details which separate teams that make long playoff runs from those that are golfing by the end of April.
The Minnesota Wild, on the other hand, played in Sunday’s game harboring neither playoff hopes nor anything resembling a healthy roster, so they took the positives their prospects displayed and ran with the positives, as ESPN 1050’s Jess Myers suggested:
With players like John Madden, Martin Havlat and Nick Schultz out of the lineup and not making the trip to Motown, the Wild dressed four rookies among the six defensemen in uniform on Sunday, and got some encouraging signs that there may be some talent waiting to break out in the future.
While the Red Wings passed out [gold] coins commemorating 20 consecutive years in the playoffs [to fans], and clinched the Central Division title with the win, the Wild’s Carson McMillan became just the fourth player in franchise history to score a goal in his NHL debut. Colton Gillies carried the puck with authority throughout, and the Wild’s other goal was initially credited to rookie defenseman Justin Falk, before a video review changed the scoring and gave credit to Brad Staubitz. Still, coach Todd Richards liked what he saw from the youth.
“Four young defensemen on the back end. I was impressed with Colton tonight,” Richards said. “I liked his game, and Mac scores his first NHL goal is his first NHL game, and Justin Falk gets his first too, so it’s nice to see those stories in a game like this.”
Most young NHL prospects get a chance to prove themselves and impress the team brass in a practice rink somewhere in September. For a change, the Wild is giving players like Gillies, Falk, McMillan and Maxim Noreau a chance to try out on the big stage, versus a top-level NHL team like the Red Wings, in a venue like Joe Louis Arena. Richards said that even with the playoffs out of reach, there should be plenty to play for.
“It’s playing for each other, it’s playing for the franchise, the organization and the fans,” he said. “I’ve been asked that question a lot and I was asked it a long time ago. There’s always that pride. That pride in how you play as an individual and being proud of how we play as a collective group.”
The Pioneer Press’s Brian Murphy took Myers’ tack in assessing Minnesota’s collective and individual performances…
There is no column in the NHL standings for moral victories so the Wild gained no tangible benefit from their predictable 4-2 loss to the mighty Red Wings on Sunday night. Without a postseason berth to celebrate, and considering the glaring manpower disadvantage they carried into Joe Louis Arena, the fact that Minnesota avoided embarrassment was enough to claim some measure of success.
Playing four defensemen who collectively averaged 34 games of NHL experience and a pair of emergency call-ups — one playing his first NHL game, the other playing his fourth game in four nights — the Wild managed to outshoot the Red Wings 23-20 through two periods. This from a team that had been outshot by an average of 44-19 over the past 11 games. Carson McMillan, the club’s 2007 seventh-round pick, even bagged his first career goal in his NHL debut. It was not enough to prevent the Wild’s 10th loss in 12 games, but it provided a glimmer of hope in what has been a depressing final month of the regular season.
“Pretty special, I guess. First game, first goal,” McMillan said. “Would have been nice to get the win. We had a good effort. Just didn’t show in the score.”
Coach Todd Richards was forced to pair two sets of rookie blue-liners — Clayton Stoner and Spurgeon, plus Justin Falk and Maxim Noreau. They were a combined minus-1, not bad against a Detroit team that leads the NHL with 255 goals.
“I think at first it’s a little intimidating,” Richards said. “But I think we battled and competed, on the back end our young guys did. You get exposed at times but I’ve seen those guys expose veteran defensemen, too.”
The Wings were a little leaky defensively—they were out-shot 11-10 in the 1st period and 12-10 in the 2nd period, before rallying via a 14-6 shot advantage in the 3rd period, and the Wild only finished 4 shot attempts behind the Wings (60-56), but Jimmy Howard was strong in stopping 27 of 29 shots—and one might very well argue that Staubitz’s goal never should have counted as Howard had the puck covered but wasn’t given the opportunity to freeze it thanks to an extremely charitable referee’s discretion.
The Pioneer Press also provided a quick sans-quotes recap...
With seven players out of the lineup Sunday because of injury, the overmatched Wild managed to stay relevant against the high-powered Red Wings — forging a rare 23-20 shots advantage through two periods — only to suffer a familiar fate at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit’s victory improved its record against the Wild to 27-6-7 all time, including 14-3-3 in Motown.
The Red Wings, headed to the postseason for the 20th straight year, jumped out to a 2-0 lead on first-period goals by Darren Helm and Niklas Lidstrom. Minnesota’s Brad Staubitz got one back off a goalmouth scramble 4:32 into the second period. But on a power play midway through the period, Tomas Holmstrom answered by tiptoeing around a sprawling Brent Burns in the slot to beat Jose Theodore for the goal that effectively snuffed the Wild.
On the bright side, with 3:06 remaining in the game, rookie winger Carson McMillan — the Wild’s 2007 seventh-round draft pick — scored his first career goal in his NHL debut.
And the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo offered complimentary takes on both the Wild’s young players and the Wings’ staying power in his recap:
First and foremost, the Wild hardly was embarrassed Sunday, a modest achievement, yes, but one coach Todd Richards was understandably worried about before the game.
After all, against a healthy, superstar-laden team priming for a 20th consecutive postseason appearance, the undermanned Wild limped in with four rookie defensemen and two young forwards—one being rookie Carson McMillan, who was making his NHL debut, the second being Colton Gillies, who was playing his fourth game this season after 45 as a rushed-up rookie in 2008-09.
For two periods, the scoring chances were about even. The Wild, in an arena in which it traditionally struggles, even had the shot advantage until Detroit ultimately got a 34-29 edge. But the reality is the Red Wings, who spend the same $59 million on payroll as the Wild, are bigger, faster and better by a wide margin even when the Wild is healthy.
They’ve used a draft-and-develop mentality, and it has paid off with a flock of stars. Draft picks Darren Helm, Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen each scored. Draft pick Henrik Zetterberg had two assists. Draft pick Pavel Datsyuk had a helper and was a threat all night.
This is what the Wild aspires to be. “It’s tough to acquire those guys unless you do it through the draft,” Richards said.
The differences between the Wild and Wings’ levels of experience on the blueline were vast, as Russo pointed out...
979 Games played by the Wild’s six defensemen Sunday. Lidstrom has 1,491 in his career.
I’m not quite sure how to read into what MinnesotaWild.com’s Greg Andresen had to say about the Wings via his in-game comments...
0:19.1 - MIN 0 - DET 2 - I don’t know about you, but I think Nicklas Lidstrom has lost a step and should retire any day now. Forget the fact that he makes a great play here by hesitating with a slapper before zipping a shot through traffic and a screen by Datsyuk to beat Theodore. Come on, Nicklas! How nice does year-round golf and fishing sound?
15:28 - MIN 1 - DET 2 - That’s a goal, y’all! I’m pretty sure I’ve seen prettier plays, but they all count the same once they go over the line. The puck is played to the side of the net where Brad Staubitz puts a stick on it and puts it in the crease. Howard is splayed out on the ice and the puck is somewhere near him. The players keep jamming away, and it’s actually Justin Falk who punches it in as he barrels into the crease for his first career NHL goal. The light never comes on, but the ref behind the net points at the puck in the net, and the replays confirm a goal.
13:49 - MIN 1 - DET 4 - The Red Wings are starting to open this thing up as they keep bringing in wave after wave of offensive pressure. Zetterberg carries behind the Wild net and then throws a pass back to Johan Franzen at the side of the net. Theodore makes the initial stop, but the puck lays on the goal line. He tries to kick it out, but Franzen punches it in.
11:04 - No goal! The Wings think they have another one as Brad Stuart blisters a shot past Theodore, but the refs immediately wave it off, saying that Justin Abdelkader interfered with Theodore. Replays show they are right as the former Michigan State Spartan was in the goal just seconds earlier and clipped Theo on his way out, right before Stuart’s shot came in.
Or his “Five Takeaways” (and Abdelkader was both pushed into the goal by a Wild player and was trying to get the hell out of the way):
3. Tomas Holmstrom is one of the biggest, strongest power forwards in the National Hockey League. He was known as “Demolition Man” in his native Sweden. Bulldozers have been unsuccessful in pushing the guy out from in front of an opponent’s net.
But Kyle Brodziak found the key to putting Holmstrom on the ice. Simply brush your stick lightly against Holmstrom’s shin pad, and he’ll crumble to the ice like an unfrozen caveman.
Brodziak was given two minutes for tripping, while Holmstrom got zero minutes for diving. In a little over a week, playoff teams are going to look for every chance to get ahead in a game. Please tell me these types of dives won’t be allowed to happen.
Pfft. Holmstrom’s knocked to the ice all the damn time by opponents cross-checking him, hacking his legs out from under him and otherwise beating the hell out of him, and 9 times out of 10, he’s called for “diving” if the referees ever choose to actually call an opponent for their latest hack-or-whack. I’m as surprised as anyone that he didn’t get called for some imagined infraction, but I don’t think he dove (though I’m an admittedly biased Wings fan)...
And then there’s this:
Now that the Minnesota Wild has officially been eliminated from postseason contention, we can start looking a teams to pick so we can have a rooting interest this spring. I thought yesterday’s opponent, the Tampa Bay Lightning, would be a good choice. They’ve got 41-year-old former Wild goaltender Dwayne Roloson as their starter, three other former Wild skaters and some entertaining forwards in Martin St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos.
I can’t say the same for today’s opponent, the Red Wings. Even though they are fun to watch and boast some players you can’t help but admire (Nicklas Lidstrom, Jimmy Howard and Kris Draper), they have Todd Bertuzzi. If I can somehow avoid the sight of Bertuzzi hoisting the Stanley Cup, I’ll be a pretty happy guy. After Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez, Brett Favre and Matt Cooke have won championships, Bertuzzi is one of the few villains left to have never won a title. I’d like to see that through to the end. Side note: the distaste for Bertuzzi should dissipate immediately should the Wings meet the Canucks in the playoffs.
In any case, the Wild were a little more complimentary while talking about the Wings with the Associated Press...
“The first thing that pops out at you is the skill level,” Minnesota winger Andrew Brunette said. “The way they make the first pass, they’ve got Lidstrom, whose the best at it. I think he’s the best player in the league in the past 15 years.”
And the Wings themselves tried to downplay the significance of capturing yet another Central Division title, preferring to focus on Pavel Datsyuk’s return:
Nicklas Lidstrom had a Central Division champs T-shirt and hat waiting for him in his locker. Again. Lidstrom scored to help the Detroit Red Wings beat the Minnesota Wild 4-2 on Sunday night and clinch their ninth division title in 10 seasons and the 14th since 1991-92 when he was a rookie.
“I’ve got a few of those,” Lidstrom joked, gesturing toward the red T-shirt and black baseball cap. “We’re in a tough division with Nashville and Chicago, so it always matters to finish first.”
The Red Wings moved one point ahead of idle San Jose, which has played one fewer game, for second place in the Western Conference with a week left in the regular season. Perhaps more importantly, Detroit is getting some key players back on the ice. Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk played for the first time since March 17, returning from a lower body injury, and Jimmy Howard made 27 saves in his second straight game after missing two because of an injured left shoulder.
“As soon as Pav gets on the ice, the whole team suddenly has more space,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
The Free Press’s George Sipple noted that Darren Helm, who continues to evolve into a more and more reliable offensive contributor, feels that winning the Central Division is merely a bonus…
“It’s not really our main focus,” Darren Helm said of winning the Central Division for the ninth time in 10 seasons. “Getting to the playoffs and getting something started there is what we’re focused on. It’s a long year, and this is an accomplishment, and we’re happy about it, but lots of work to do.”
Helm opened the scoring with his 12th goal of the season and won 70% of his draws (7-for-10) Sunday. Helm didn’t have a point in his previous six games. He has 12 goals and 20 assists in 79 games this season. He had 11 goals with 13 assists in 75 games last season.
Most importantly, the Wings rebounded from that horrific 10-3 loss to St. Louis last Wednesday, as Nicklas Lidstrom told the Detroit News’s Tim Twentyman...
“This weekend we played with a lot more desperation and we played the way we can play,” Wings captain Niklas Lidstrom said. “We proved to ourselves that we can bear down and play our system and pay attention to details and we can win games.”
The Central Division championship is the Wings’ ninth in the last 10 years. It certainly was a better feeling skating off the ice Sunday for the Wings than after their previous home game, a 10-3 shellacking by the St. Louis Blues.
“It sure was a different feeling,” Lidstrom admitted. “We got embarrassed last home game we played so we definitely wanted to play a lot more solid game.”
That included a fast start. Forward Darren Helm gave the Wings a 1-0 lead less than three minutes in when he put a one-timer over the glove of Wild goaltender Jose Theodore. The goal was Helm’s 12th, a career high.
“I thought everyone just rolled their lines out of the gate and our guys were focused and determined,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We needed a win at home. I liked a lot of things that happened here today. It was a good win for our team.”
While Niklas Kronwall remains out with a shoulder injury, Jimmy Howard’s recovered from his shoulder issue, and again, he was very strong in the net. He reported no ill effects after playing back-to-back games…
“I felt great out there,” he said. “Just keeping it simple and trying to make the first save and not trying to do too much.”
And the Wings were definitely pleased to get Pavel Datsyuk (thigh contusion, a.k.a. a Charley horse) back in the lineup, as DetroitRedWings.com’s Dave Burke noted:
After missing seven games with a lower body injury, Pavel Datsyuk returned to the line-up Sunday night as the Red Wings hosted the Minnesota Wild at Joe Louis Arena. The Russian superstar, who skated alongside some familiar linemates in Danny Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg, posted his 58th point of the season and was instrumental in the Wings’ 4-2 victory over the Wild. With the playoffs around the corner, Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom knows how valuable Datsyuk’s presence is for the team.
“He’s so important to our offense,” Lidstrom said. “But just having him back and for him to get a few games in before the playoffs is going to be key as well. And I’ll tell you, he looked good tonight.”
Datsyuk showed virtually no signs of rust, creating opportunities in the Minnesota zone from the onset. With five minutes into the first period, he found a wide-open Jakub Kindl about 20 feet in front of the Minnesota net. Unfortunately, Kindl’s shot sailed high, but Datsyuk’s ability to create scoring chances was surely felt by an outmatched Minnesota Wild. It was Datsyuk who posted up in front of Minnesota goalie Jose Theodore, screening the goaltender as Lidstrom’s blast from the point found the back of the net and put the Wings up 2-0 at 19:40 in the first.
And it wasn’t long after that Datsyuk showed up on the box score, tallying an assist on Tomas Holmstrom’s power-play goal at 12:38 in the second. It was Datsyuk’s 36th assist of the season, which is an even more impressive statistic considering Datsyuk has only played in 53 games all season.
Babcock raved about Datsyuk to the Detroit News’s Twentyman:
“As soon a Pavel gets on the ice, the whole team suddenly has more space and has the puck way more,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t know why, but that’s just the way it is. He scares you. He makes our team better and he knows how to play with and without the puck.”
Datsyuk played 17:50 in his first game action in two weeks, playing the role of setup man. He didn’t record a shot, instead, setting his teammates up for a number of great opportunities.
Datsyuk’s assist, his 37th of the season, puts him two points shy of 60 for the season. He’s reached at least 60 his previous six seasons.
It’s no small coincidence, either, the Wings lost five of the seven games that Datsyuk missed (2-3-2). He’s the catalyst for much of what the Wings do offensively, and having a forward that plays as well as Datsyuk away from the puck is a crucial asset to the team come playoff time.
“The other thing about him is that he’s not a perimeter player,” Babcock said. “On the 4-on-4 (Lidstrom) goal he’s right in front (of the net). He’s hard on the puck. He shoots at the right times. He makes plays. He’s a good player.”
Datsyuk also went 8-and-6 in the faceoff circle (Darren Helm led the team with a 7-and-3 record), matching Justin Abdelkader’s winning percentage (57%) and helping the Wings win the faceoff battle 29 to 24.
Both Lidstrom and Babcock reiterated their points of emphasis to the Free Press’s George Sipple, but Lidstrom also pointed out that he wasn’t just relieved by the Wings’ ability to bounce back from their 10-3 defeat. Lidstrom also expects his Wings to work harder on their fundamentals going forward:
“It means a lot, especially the way we played this weekend,” said Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom. “We played with a lot more desperation and played the way we can play.”
“We’ve proven to ourselves that we just need to bear down, play our system and pay attention to details, and we can win games,” Lidstrom said. “We got embarrassed the last home game we played here. We definitely wanted to play a lot more solid game. I thought we carried most of the game tonight.”
Datsyuk’s return to the lineup can’t be overstated, so I’ll ask you to bear with a little repetition…
“He’s so important to our offense,” Lidstrom said of Datsyuk. “Just having him back, and for him to get a few games in before the playoffs start is going to be key as well. He looked good out there tonight.”
“As soon as Pav gets on the ice, the whole team suddenly has more space and has the puck way more,” said coach Mike Babcock. “I don’t know why, but that’s just the way it is. He scares you. He’s like (Patrick) Kane for Chicago. As soon as he touches the puck, their rink is bigger. Why is that? Because guys are scared to get near him because he makes you look so bad. (Datsyuk) makes our team better and knows how to play with and without the puck. The other thing about him is he’s not a perimeter player. On the 4-on-4 goal, he’s right in front. That was a huge goal for our team.”
But it’s also worth noting that Babcock hopes that Johan Franzen, who scored a goal and registered 2 shots, 3 hits and a takeaway, will get back to the business of scoring goals on a regular basis.
“The Mule, we need to get his minutes up and we will,” said Babcock. “But he’s an important part of this team and a big part in the playoffs. The more physical, the more determined he plays, the better team we’re going to be.”
He’s certainly lived up to his power forward’s billing of late, has set up more than a few teammates’ fantastic scoring chances and goals, is skating well, protecting the puck as he lugs it up the ice, and is very engaged physically, but the Wings need him to score goals, plain and simple, come playoff time.
Lost in the shuffle, or nearly so? Henrik Zetterberg registered 2 assists, as did Brian Rafalski, who did the same on Saturday and has very quietly racked up 43 assists and 47 points over the course of only 60 games played.
And now it’s time for a rant, via a note from Sipple:
NO GOAL: Brad Stuart appeared to score with 11:04 left on a pass that would have given Zetterberg his third assist of the game. The goal was waved off after the referee ruled that Justin Abdelkader made incidental contact in the crease.
The amount of Red Wings “goals for” waved off, as well as the number of goals awarded against the Wings on plays where much more egregious goaltender interference is being committed.
It’s gotten to be a joke, way past ridiculous, all the way to an [expletive deleted]ing joke. I’d argue that between the two, the Wings have had at least 24-30 goals waved off and/or awarded to opponents combined, and when it’s the Red Wings…
When the Wings are involved, as Mike Babcock pointed out after Sunday’s game, we’ve gotten back to a hyperactive version of the “crease rule,” where feet in the crease, butts breaking the “plane” of the crease (it’s restricted airspace, you know), arms or other assorted body parts in the crease, players being checked by goaltenders outside the lip of the crease, and even Wings players who’ve been checked into opposing goaltenders or, in Abdelkader’s case, the net—and Abdelkader did not intentionally interfere with Theodore—all mean that Detroit goals have supposedly been scored illegally, and must be waved off.
At the other end of the ice, however, if Jimmy Howard attempts to move around in the crease with a player in his way of that player’s own accord, if he attempts to get to the top of the crease and is impeded, tripped, ran into, or, in the case of Joffrey Lupul, fallen upon, goals are allowed to stand, because, clearly, Howard’s “fair game” to opposing players, and while Wings goals are waved off if their forwards are so much as forced to brush goalies because they’re cross-checked into them by opposing defensemen, if the Wings’ defenders even stand near an opponent who chooses to take advantage of the situation and clip Howard, the goals stand because the players were clearly pushed into Howard, and bear no responsibility for getting out of his way or out of the crease, even if they’re still standing in the same damn place 15 or 20 seconds after they’ve bumped Howard.
I don’t have to be wearing my tinfoil hat to suggest that there’s clearly a double standard when it comes to the Red Wings and goaltender interference, and these bizarrely consistent twists and turns of the rulebook into Mobius strips have cost the Wings at least regulation wins, if not wins, period, 5-7 times this season.
It’s simply ridiculous, and while I’m the first to admit that I’m offering a subjective Wings fan’s opinion here, I’m not simply spewing sour grapes. The NHL’s referees are enforcing a double standard based upon what they expect the Wings to do by reputation, or what they’ve been told to anticipate happening in front of the creases of the Wings’ opponents, and that’s simply unacceptable.
The NHL’s supposed to call penalties and wave off or award goals based upon what actually happens on the ice, not based upon extending Tomas Holmstrom’s reputation to Justin Abdelkader, Danny Cleary, Todd Bertuzzi, Johan Franzen and the rest of the Red Wings’ forwards, and Mike Babcock needs to do more than ask for a simple explanation from the refs, as he did after the Abdelkader affair, and then simply state that he’s going to re-teach his players to stand outside the plane of the crease because the NHL’s calling penalties a certain way and the Wings can’t do anything but adapt.
Not when the Wings are being asked to adapt in front of other teams’ nets, but opponents remain free and clear in terms of being able to pick off Howard or prevent him from doing his job and be rewarded with goals as a result.
I’m thrilled that the Wings won back-to-backs this weekend, and especially delighted that the Wings won in what has been nothing less than a house of horrors in Nashville, but I’m getting fed up with the fact that very legal Red Wings goals are being waved off on an almost every-game basis these days. It’s unacceptable.
Highlights: Fox Sports North posted a quick highlight clip;
The Red Wings’ website’s 4-and-a-half-minute-long highlight clip is narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond:
The Wings’ website also posted a clip of Tomas Holmstrom’s deke-and-dangle goal:
Post-game: Fox Sports North posted Wild coach Todd Richards’ post-game presser;
The Wild’s website posted a very long post-game radio show which includes Richards’ presser;
WXYZ posted a 44-second clip of Jimmy Howard talking about looking forward to the playoffs and Nicklas Lidstrom suggesting that the Wings’ attention to detail has improved, as well as a few quips from Babcock:
And the Red Wings’ website posted a clip of Lidstrom, Howard and Babcock’s comments to the press:
Photos: The Free Press posted a 19-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted a 16-image gallery;
The Pioneer Press posted a 9-image Flash gallery;
NHL.com posted a 24-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted an 11-image gallery;
Shots 34-29 Detroit overall, breaking down as 11-10 Minnesota in the 1st period, 12-10 Minnesota in the 2nd period and 14-6 Detroit in the 3rd period.
The Wild went 0-for-5 in 6:34 of PP time; the Wings went 1-for-3 in 3:00 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 27 of 29 shots against; Jose Theodore stopped 31 of 34.
The 3 stars, per Mitch Kincaide of Michigan Talk Radio, were Brad Staubitz, Darren Helm and Tomas Holmstrom.
Our goals: Helm (12) from Eaves (7) and Rafalski (42);
Lidstrom (16) from Zetterberg (55);
Holmstrom (16) from Rafalski (43) and Datsyuk (36), PPG;
Franzen (28) from Zetterberg (56) and Bertuzzi (27).
Faceoffs: 29-24 Detroit;
Blocked shots: 16-14 Minnesota;
Missed shots: 13-10 Minnesota (total shot attempts 60-56 Detroit);
Hits: 33-23 Minnesota;
Giveaways: 8-6 Detroit;
Takeaways: 7-5 Detroit.
Faceoffs: Both Justin Abdelkader and Pavel Datsyuk went 8-and-6 (57%); Helm went 7-and-3 (70%); Filppula went 2-and-6 (25%); Franzen went 2-and-2 (50%); Hudler went 1-and-1 (50%); Zetterberg won his only faceoff.
Shots: Rafalski led the team with 5 shots; Holmstrom and Lidstrom had 4; Zetterberg and Ericsson had 3; Kindl, Eaves and Franzen had 2; Abdelkader, Cleary, Hudler, Helm, Bertuzzi and Filppula had 1.
Blocked attempts: The Wild blocked 4 Rafalski attempts; they blocked 3 attempts by Datsyuk; 2 of Kindl and Ericsson’s shots hit Wild players; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Eaves, Miller and Salei had single shot attempts blocked.
Missed shots: Both Kindl and Abdelkader missed the net 3 times; Cleary, Miller, Stuart and Salei missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Both Salei and Franzen had 3 hits; Kindl, Abdelkader, Miller, Stuart, Bertuzzi and Ericsson had 2; Eaves, Rafalski, Zetterberg, Helm and Holmstrom had 1.
Giveaways: Datsyuk had 3 giveaways; Rafalski had 2; Lidstrom, Bertuzzi and Filppula had 1.
Takeaways: Eaves had 2 takeaways; Kindl, Cleary, Salei, Zetterberg and Franzen had 1 takeaway.
Blocked opponent shots: Both Abdelkader and Miller blocked 3 Wild shots; Rafalski blocked 2 shots; Kindl, Lidstrom, Cleary, Stuart, Bertuzzi and Holmstrom blocked 1 shot.
Penalties taken: Kindl, Cleary, Rafalski, Filppula and Franzen were tagged with minor penalties.
Plus-minus: Kindl, Cleary, Hudler and Filppula were -1; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Rafalski, Bertuzzi, Ericsson and Franzen were +1; Zetterberg was +2. The team finished at a collective +4.
Points: Both Rafalski and Zetterberg had 2 assists; Lidstrom, Helm, Franzen and Holmstrom had 1 goal; Datsyuk, Eaves and Bertuzzi had 1 assist.
Ice time: Ericsson led the team with 21:37 played; Rafalski played 21:18; Stuart played19:42;
Salei played 19:30; Lidstrom played 19:23; Zetterberg played 19:03;
Kindl played 18:50; Datsyuk played 17:50; Cleary played 16:26;
Abdelkader played 14:31; Bertuzzi played 13:40; Helm played 13:31;
Franzen played 13:17; Filppula played 13:00; Eaves played 12:55;
Holmstrom played 12:33; Hudler played 11:57; Miller played 11:01.
Red Wings notebooks: Depending on who you believe, Mike Modano either missed Sunday’s game to rest a groin injury and other bumps and bruises, as Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels and the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan initially suggested, or he was a healthy scratch if you believe Wings coach Mike Babcock, who was unapologetic about his decision while speaking to the Detroit Free Press’s George Sipple, who noted that Modano won’t hit the 1,500-game mark this season thanks to Sunday’s scratch:
“It was one of those tough decisions,” Babcock said. “He had a chance to get to 1,500 games. And yet, him and Drapes, both for their age up front, I sat them out. We didn’t bring him here to get 1,500 games. We brought him here to win the Cup. That’s our total focus.”
Modano said after Saturday’s game he was fine and not bothered by the hip flexor that kept him from skating Thursday.
The Detroit News’s Tim Twentyman also took note of Babcock’s comments about Modano…
“It was one of those tough decisions,” Babcock said of sitting Modano knowing he had a chance to get to 1,500. “We didn’t bring him here to get 1,500 games. We brought him here to win the cup. So that’s our focus. As much as you look at that and say ‘Geez, I don’t know if that’s a great decision,’ that’s our total focus here. I talked to Mike about it and he knows that. It’s unfortunate he got injured or he would have had that anyways.”
And, as previously noted, the Wings really, really, really hope that Johan Franzen will heat up in the goal-scoring department as the playoffs approach:
Wings forward Johan Franzen recorded just his second goal in his last 23 games Sunday. Since scoring five against the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 2, Franzen hasn’t been able to find the back of the net on a consistent basis. That’s why Babcock hopes Sunday’s third-period goal helps Franzen break free from his funk.
“Obviously, we need The Mule going,” Babcock said. “I thought The Mule was very determined two nights in a row. We need to get his minutes up and we will but he’s an important part of this team and a big part in the playoffs and the more physical and more determined he plays the better team we’re going to be.”
Also of Red Wings-related note: Pretty spiffy news, via the Mercury News’s David Pollak: If the Red Wings and San Jose Sharks end up tied in points and wins, the Wings would win the shootout tiebreaker and finish 2nd in the Western Conference;
• According to the Raleigh News & Observer’s Luke DeCock, even if the Carolina Hurricanes win Wednesday night’s tilt in Detroit, the Canes probably won’t make the playoffs. That being said, when Peter Karmanos’s NHL team faces Mike Ilitch’s team, bragging rights are on the line for two of Detroit’s highest-profile businessmen and developmental hockey pioneeers;
• In the prospect department, RedWIngsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau, writing on her Left Wing Lock blog, reports that the Grand Rapids Griffins’ crease will get a little crowded for the team’s last four games:
After suffering a disappointing end to his OHL season, Petr Mrazek will get a chance to join the Grand Rapids Griffins for the remainder of the season. The 19 year-old is expected to sign an amateur contract with the Griffins that will help him gain valuable experience. Mrazek was hoping to have a long playoff, but fatigue and injuries caught up with him and the 67’s as they were swept in four games by the Sudbury Wolves.
The 6-foot,162 [lb] goalie had an impressive season starting in 52 games and leading the league with an impressive .920 save percentage. Mrazek confirmed that, barring complications, he is expecting to join the Griffins on Monday and be available for their Wednesday game against the Milwaukee Admirals.
• In the WHL, Wings prospect Mitchell Callahan’s Kelowna Rockets will open their second-round series against the Portland Winterhawks on Thursday, April 7th;
• In the alumni department, Sergei Fedorov scored a goal and added an assist as Metallurg Magnitogorsk forced a seventh and deciding game in their KHL semifinal series against Salavat Yulaev via a 5-3 win on Sunday;
Former Wings prospect Igor Grigorenko scored two goals for Salavat Yualev, and the winner of the seventh game on Tuesday will advance to the KHL final against Atlant, and consider this your gossip of the day: according to Sovetsky Sport, Salavat’s Alex Radulov trashed the visitors’ dressing room in Magnitogorsk;
• I’m very, very, very confused as to why independent journalist Greg Eno believes that Henrik Zetterberg’s been dogging it of late;
• I posted a few links in the A2Y game call thread, including a few quips about Gustav Nyquist and Riley Sheahan (who’s taking part in the Frozen Four next weekend) by Hockey’s Future’s DJ Powers, and one of the links involved a video posted by Pro Hockey Talk’s Joe Yerdon.
Our dear friends, Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire, have the jitters about the Wings heading into the playoffs…
And again, from Yerdon, Mike Emrick and Ed Olczyk previewed next Sunday’s Wings-Hawks regular season finale:
• In local Wings-related business news, Crain’s Detroit Business’s Bill Shea reports that the Ilitch and Karmanos-backed M1 Rail line will be given an assist by the City of Detroit, which will help back the Woodward center lane light rail project by using some grant money to back a bond sale that will help raise $500 million to pay for the 9.3-mile line’s construction, which will begin in 2012;
• In case you didn’t already know, the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson confirms that former Red Wings assistant coach Barry Smith’s going to coach Lugano in the Swiss league next season;
• Things you learn from looking for sales on pop for the mom and aunt: on Saturday, April 9th, several un-named Red Wings Alums will take part in a “Hockey Fest” at the Kroger on Eureka Road in Southgate, MI to benefit the Ted Lindsay Foundation for Autism research;
And regarding the mom, it’s time to take her to her accountant to file her taxes, so I’ll be out during the middle of the day today, which means that my practice update post will probably be a few hours late. My apologies for any inconveniences.
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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.