The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/11/17 at 03:14 AM ET
Depending on your perspective, the Red Wings either coughed up a desperately-needed point to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night, or they managed to rally from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to earn a hard-earned point in a 4-3 OT loss to Chicago.
I believe that there's truth in both narratives: from the perspective of a team that opened the second half of its season in a desperate dash toward a playoff push, leaving a point on the table due to a penalty to Justin Abdelkader that was either careless, par for the course on a night when Chicago got 7 power plays and Detroit got 9 seconds of power play time, or perhaps a little bit of both...
That stings, and that stings a lot.
If you're looking at the game from the perspective of a fan who simply wants the team to learn as much as it possibly can from a season that is probably not going to end in a playoff push, perhaps you might feel a little more charitable toward the Red Wings managing to scrap a point out of a game in which self-inflicted wounds and some admitted carelessness on a night when the officiating was bad all over could have added up to a lop-sided Wings loss against an elite opponent.
As far as the Blackhawks are concerned, there is still an active rivalry with the Red Wings, as they told Comcast Sportsnet Chicago's Charlie Roumeliotis...
The Red Wings own a 336-269-14-84 record all-time in the regular season against Chicago, but it's the Blackhawks that have had their way with their arch rival in recent years.
With Tuesday's 4-3 overtime win, the Blackhawks improved to 12-1-4 in their last 17 meetings against Detroit. The final meeting of the season will be March 10 at the Joe Louis Arena.
"We were asked today, is there still a rivalry between Detroit and us?" Joel Quenneville said after the game. "I think you could sense it right off the bat, in the building, and the fans, and the chants, and the enthusiasm. ... It was fun playing against these guys. I think the players look forward to it because it’s always a good game and playing the right way against them is something we talk about a lot, that you have to do.
"But I still think there’s still some history there that it’s fun playing these guys. There’s a lot of mutual respect."
But the Blackhawks also puffed out their chests in a manner that the Red Wings cannot...
The Blackhawks' success in tight games continued with Tuesday's overtime win, improving to 17-6-5 in one-goal games this season. What gives?
Keith: "We've played a lot of tight games, and I think that's a good thing. We're finding ways to win some of them. I think we know that there's still room for improvement if we want to be a team that goes all the way. We're not going to get ahead of ourselves. We know there's still half a season here, but we've done good things. We're trying to get better."
Quenneville: "We had a lot of close games. Every game, you look around the league, they’re close games. I think the number of overtime games is a little higher than we’ve seen in the past. Everybody plays comparable. All the teams are pretty even. You look at the standings, you see just about every team .500 or above. I think 28 of the 30 are almost in that same neighborhood. I think teams know how to play to keep themselves in games. And then the score dictates a lot of the way the game is being played. Seems like there’s so much balance in the league, the parity’s as good as it’s ever been, or close as it’s ever been."
In more ways than one, as Roumeliotis noted in his main recap:
The Blackhawks knew they had to steer the ship in the right direction entering this four-game homestand after going 1-4-1 in their previous six games.
And they did just that, collecting eight out of a possible eight points before hitting the road for three of their next four games.
"It was good," Quenneville said of the homestand. "We wanted to take advantage of our home schedule here, getting back on track. I thought we had a good December, slowed down right around Christmas coming out of it. But we've been playing better. I thought tonight was a real solid game. A little slow in the second, but I thought we did some good things across the board. Obviously a great play on the winner there in overtime. Big win for us."
The Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus penned a game narrative in his recap...
The Hawks-Red Wings rivalry, if you can even call it that anymore, hasn’t meant so much since Detroit moved to the Eastern Conference for the 2013-14 season. And with the Red Wings well out of the playoff picture (they entered Tuesday’s game at the United Center in 15th place in the 16-team Eastern Conference), some of the juice was missing from this meeting early on.
But it didn’t take long for the fire to rekindle, as what looked like a laugher turned into a tense and taut game between the two Original Six teams. The Wings rallied from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to send the game to overtime, where Keith’s blast from the blue line ended things.
The Hawks were all over the Red Wings in the first period, pouring on shots on goal and taking a 2-0 lead midway through the first period as Brian Campbell and Richard Panik scored 26 seconds apart. First, Campbell scored on a blast from the point on a power play. Then Panik followed up a Hartman breakaway attempt for his 10th goal of the season.
But the rout wasn’t on. Detroit turned the tables in the second period and controlled play. Andreas Athanasiou’s snipe from the left circle beat Corey Crawford to cut the lead to 2-1 just 1:37 into the period. Tomas Tatar scored from a similar spot at 9:09 to tie it.
Tanner Kero scored his first goal of the season (and second of his career) at 18:18, capping another strong shift from the red-hot third line with Hartman and Panik. But Detroit again responded, as Luke Glendening popped the puck past Crawford after a series of close-range attempts by Drew Miller.
The Hawks finished with 43 shots on goal, tying their season high. And it was their 17th one-goal victory, most in the league (among 28 such games, also most in the league).
“A win’s a win,” Campbell said. “We kind of let up in the second there, so that was kind of disappointing. But we got it done.”
Hawks letting up = Detroit out-shot Chicago 20-11 in the 2nd period, scoring 3 times in the process.
The Hawks prevailed thanks to that late penalty on Justin Abdelkader, as the Chicago Daily Herald's John Dietz noted:
Of course, with this team nothing comes easy, and the Red Wings stormed back with 3 goals in the second period, forcing Toews and Co. into yet another nailbiter. The Hawks, playing 4-on-3 thanks to a Justin Abdelkader penalty late in the third period, prevailed when a Duncan Keith blast sailed over Peter Mrazek's right shoulder 38 seconds into overtime.
It was just Keith's second goal all season.
"I felt like I've been shooting the puck better the last three weeks or so," he said. "Eventually they'll come."
So the Hawks managed to take two points by capitalizing on the Wings' mistakes and mis-steps, as the Chicago Tribune's Chris Hine noted...
Keith helped secure the second point Tuesday when he scored the winning goal on a shot from the point 38 seconds into overtime. Keith's goal, his second of the season, came during a 4-on-3 power play in the extra session, one of two goals the Hawks scored on seven Red Wings penalties. The Hawks improved their record at home to 17-4-4 and 17-6-5 in one-goal games overall.
"At least we're in every game, I guess," said defenseman Brian Campbell, who scored the other power-play goal. "We're there and competing every night. We're not taking nights off. I also think a lot of teams gear up to play against us. Everybody wants to come in here and play well.
The Hawks appeared poised to run away with Tuesday's victory after jumping out to a 2-0 lead behind goals from Campbell and Richard Panik just 26 seconds apart. But the Red Wings tied the score 2-2 in the second period on goals from Tomas Tatar and Andreas Athanasiou. Tanner Kero's first goal of the season gave the Hawks a 3-2 lead late in the second before the Red Wings tied it again with 19 seconds remaining on a goal from Luke Glendening.
But the Hawks held it together in the third and got it to overtime for Keith to win it.
"We have played a lot of tight games," Keith said. "There's still room for improvement if we want to be a team that goes all the way."
Or did they? The Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc shared quotes from both teams in his recap (only in Chicago: two beat writers to cover hockey):
“I thought in the second we were excellent. I thought we did a great job skating and winning battles, even late there in the second when we fought our way back. So that was a positive, but we’ve got to be better … We got it to the point and we shot the puck. Shooting creates chaos, something we have talked lots about, and I thought we did a good job at it tonight for the most part, especially in the second.” -- Wings coach Jeff Blashill
“I thought we did a lot of good things. Now we just need to do it again. That is the situation we are in right now, we have to continue to get points. We played okay today, we have to play the same way in Dallas and hopefully get home with two points.” -- Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg
Reuters' recap will serve as our pivot point between the Blackhawks and Red Wings' perspectives:
"We've been finding ways to win, it seems," Keith said. "We did a lot of good things, but I think we still have times where we know we still could've been better in periods and in lapses of the game and whatnot. We did what we had to there, as a team, and they came back and scored every time we got the lead, it seemed. Give (Detroit) credit, but we've been able to find ways to win, and that's a big thing, too."
The Blackhawks took advantage of having the extra man and won despite finishing 2-for-6 on the power play. Crawford helped preserve the tie with several key saves in the final period, including one after he turned the puck over before he slid back into the crease to knock down a Frans Nielsen shot.
The tide turned, though, on the call against Abdelkader, who said he wasn't certain he did anything to merit a penalty.
"I just really tried to rub him out there," Abdelkader said. "I wasn't trying to put him into the fourth row or anything."
After back-to-back Detroit goals in the second period tied the game, Tanner Kero gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead with his first goal of the season with just under two minutes to play in the period. The Red Wings responded with 19 seconds remaining in the middle period when Luke Glendening poked in a backhanded rebound following a flurry of chances around the Chicago net.
The Red Wings bounced back after they struggled early to stay out of the penalty box. Chicago took advantage.
"The two ways you probably lose momentum is getting scored on and having to kill penalties," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. "That was a hard way to start the first. I think it had lots to do with the lack of jump."
The Red Wings definitely didn't "get started on time," but they managed to battle through it, as the AP's recap noted..
Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar and Luke Glendening had Detroit's goals. Mrazek had 39 saves as the Red Wings fell to 2-2-2 on a season-high seven-game road trip.
Penalties hurt the Red Wings. Chicago was 2 for 6 with the advantage and got added momentum from the chances. Detroit failed on its lone power play.
Abdelkader, who returned after missing 16 games with a knee injury, said he and his team were happy with the point, even if the late penalty against him allowed Chicago to get two.
"It's never a good feeling, but that's how it goes," Abdelkader said. "We took too many penalties tonight. but we found a way to battle back."
Panik's goal was his 10th, making him the sixth Chicago player to reach double digits. Both Panik and Campbell ended eight-game droughts. Kero's goal was his first in nine games since his recall from Rockford of the AHL.
Athanasiou, benched at Anaheim on Jan. 4, has responded with three goals and six points in his last three games.
Buoyed by three power plays, the Blackhawks dominated the first period and led 2-0 after 20 minutes on goals 26 seconds apart by Campbell and Panik.
"I thought (penalties) hurt us in the first period," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. "We took a penalty right away and now you're on your heels a little bit."
But the Red Wings weren't satisfied by their level of play against the star-studded Blackhawks by any means, as NHL.com's Brian Hedger noted:
"We played OK," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "I thought we did a lot of good things. Now we've just got to do it again. I think that's the situation we are in right now. We have to continue to get points."
Keith's goal followed a boarding minor called on Justin Abdelkader at 19:44 of the third period. It was the Blackhawks' second power-play goal of the game; they were 2-for-6.
Abdelkader, who returned from a knee injury that kept him out 16 games, boarded Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson.
"I didn't see the replay, but I was just trying to rub him out there," Abdelkader said. "It wasn't like I was trying to put him into the fourth row or anything. He went down, obviously. The ref maybe thought he was hurt and called a penalty. It's unfortunate. It never feels good to lose like that with a power play at the end."
Then there was the disparity in penalties, as noted by the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa...
The Red Wings complained about a lack of power play opportunities, with the Blackhawks called for only two penalties and the Red Wings seven.
Because some of the penalties were coincidental minors, the Wings had a grand total of nine seconds of power play time in the game, against the third-worst penalty killing team in the league and the second-worst at home. The Blackhawks had 8 minutes 56 seconds with a man advantage.
Asked if he was slashed as he cut to the net – his stick, clear evidence, lay broken behind the net for long moments as the play continued – Zetterberg seemed bemused.
“Yeah, in front of the net,” he said, wryly. “The stick broke, so it was either the wind or slashed.”
The trend of only Red Wings penalties and Blackhawks power plays ultimately made the difference in the game. It proved crucial in overtime, when Keith scored on a shot from the blue line on the power play with Justin Abdelkader in the box for boarding.
Abdelkader, who returned to the lineup after 16 game and tied for the team leads with four shots and four hits, said he believed he had basically brushed off the Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson in the corner, deep in the offensive zone, at 19:44 of the third period. But the referees did not see it that way.
“I didn’t see the replay, but I just really tried to rub him out, there,” Abdelkader said, describing a more glancing blow than what the referees perceived. “I didn’t try to put him in the fourth row, or anything. He went down, obviously. The ref maybe thought he was hurt or something and called a penalty. I don’t know. It’s frustrating, you know? But, hey, we’re not reffing the game. We don’t make the calls. It’s unfortunate. It never feels good to lose like that with the power pay at the end.”
For the Wings, for better or worse, theirs was an incomplete game, as Jeff Blashill told the Free Press's Helene St. James...
“I thought that hurt us in the first period,” Blashill said. “Right away, we took a penalty and now you are on your heels a little bit. The two ways that you probably lose momentum is getting scored on and having to kill penalties, so that was a hard way to start the first. I think it had lots to do with the lack of jump in the first – I didn’t think we skated well enough. In the second, we were excellent.”
The Blackhawks used their second power play to make it 1-0 on a Brian Campbell slap shot, and stoked that energy with a second goal 26 seconds later, from Richard Panik. The Blackhawks had a 12-6 edge in shots when the Wings took another penalty, at 14:14 of the first period.
And the Wings' players needed no prompting to explain that they took too many penalties:
“The first period wasn’t how we want to play,” Mrazek said. “They had three or four power plays so they play well. But in second period, we came back, had lots of chances. We showed in the second period that we can play good hockey. One point is better than nothing, but you want to win.”
The Wings stormed out to start the second period. Vanek got the puck along the wall and sent the puck out to Athanasiou, who halved the deficit.
“It's always nice after going down 2-0 getting one on the board,” Athanasiou said. “It was a great pass by Vanner and good forecheck by Niels. We knew we had to come out hard and we did.”
Tatar amended for taking two penalties by scoring at 9:09, making it 2-2 midway through the second period.
“We came back strong,” Tatar said. “We didn’t get any chance to play power play, and they played I don’t know how many. We paid a price for that.”
Blashill told St. James that he was happiest about the way the Wings responded in the 2nd period--and responded to the adversity they created for themselves:
Blashill pointed to better skating and puck battling as the difference in the second period, saying, “the one thing we did good in the second was we got it to the point and we shot the puck. Shooting creates chaos.”
Tanner Kero scored after winning a puck battle just outside Detroit’s crease at 18:18, but the Wings replied with 19 seconds left, when Glendening finished the hard work put in by Drew Miller at Chicago’s crease, firing the puck home from just a few feet to the right.
“It was a huge goal,” Blashill said. “We had dug ourselves from a 2-0 deficit and then you give one up late there, 3-2, it can be a tough thing,” Blashill said. “So for him to come back and score right away was huge.”
Ultimately, however, the Red Wings lost the game, and that yielded an honest take from the captain, as the Windsor Star's Bob Duff noted:
“We played OK,” was Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg’s assessment. “I thought we did a lot of good things. Now we’ve just got to do it again. I think that’s the situation we are in right now. We have to continue to get points.”
In a scenario where they must make up ground, deep down, the Red Wings recognize that playing OK isn’t really OK.
“We’re getting down to crunch time, we all know that” Zetterberg said. “We know how many games we have left, we know how many points are left to play with. We pretty much know how many we’ve got to win.
“I don’t think we have to look at the standings. We know where we are, we know what we have to do. The standings for one day, it moves just a little bit, you know you have to put a run together for weeks and games. If you’re not doing that, you’re not going to move. Even if we’re doing that and other teams are doing that, it’s the same thing. It’s hard to be behind and we’re behind now.”
So Tuesday's game was a learning experience for the Red Wings' young players, but it's a learning experience the Wings can't afford to repeat.
That means playing better from the start, playing more disciplined hockey, and showing the kind of killer instinct that Chicago displayed as the Wings attempt to "get on a streak" over their final 41 games.
That's...that's going to be difficult.
Highlights: NHL.com posted a 4:39 highlight clip...
And a 6:58 "condensed game":
CSN Chicago also posted a 1:14 highlight clip;
MLive's Ansar Khan posted clips of Henrik Zetterberg...
And Petr Mrazek's post-game comments:
The Free Press's Helene St. James posted a clip of Abdelkader, Zetterberg, Mrazek and Jeff Blashill's post-game remarks:
Photos: The Free Press posted an 11-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted a 17-image gallery;
MLive posted a 15-image gallery;
The Chicago Tribune posted a 14-image gallery;
ESPN posted a 39-image gallery;
Here's the Game Summary...
And the Event Summary:
Red Wings notebooks and also of Red Wings-related note: From DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji's notes...
There's a reason that Frans Nielsen has been considered one of the most underrated players in the league. But he hasn't escaped notice entirely and on Tuesday Nielsen was named to his first All-Star Game.
"It's going to be fun," Nielsen told reporters in Chicago. "For sure, it's something I'm very proud of, I'm really excited to be a part, so it's an honor."
Nielsen is currently third on the team in scoring with 22 points.
Thomas Vanek, who has been on Nielsen's line for a while and also played with him with the New York Islanders, said the honor is well-deserved.
"I think he'll represent the Red Wings in a good way and I'm real happy for him," Vanek said to reporters in Chicago. "First of all, he's a great guy off the ice, so it's easy to like him, but on the ice it's the way he thinks the game. He thinks at a high level and again I think the success has shown here."
Nielsen said he's not worried about getting some rest.
"For sure, I think everyone is feeling it right now, and the schedule's been tough, but especially being my first one, it's something I'm really excited about," Nielsen said. "It was, for sure, more entertaining watching it last year than other years. It seems like guys were competing a little bit more, so I'm sure it's going to be hard playing 20 minutes of 3-on-3. But it's going to be fun."
And the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa's notes:
“Big congrats to him,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s been a real good signing for us and a real good player for us.”
Blashill said the all-star break is more important for mental recovery than physical, and that Nielsen’s fluid skating style should help him in the three-on-three play that now highlights the all-star weekend.
“He’s such a driven person,” Blashill said. “So I don’t worry about him mentally. I think he’ll be absolutely fine. And, it’s in L.A., so that’ll be a nice get away, too.”
Nielsen laughed when asked about the three-on-three, which some veterans regard warily as part of their all-star experience.
“It was, for sure, more entertaining watching it last year than in other years,” Nielsen said. “It seemed like guys were competing a little bit more.”
He said he enjoys the three-on-three overtime initiated in the NHL last season.
“But it’s going to be hard playing 20 minutes of three-on-three,” he said. “But it’s going to be fun.”
FYI from my "other boss":
Quoting Elliotte Friedman:
19. Apparently, there are six current NHLers on the top 100 list, to be fully revealed at All-Star Weekend. Five seem obvious: Sidney Crosby, Jaromir Jagr, Patrick Kane, Alexander Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews. So, who’s your sixth? Evgeni Malkin? Carey Price? Duncan Keith? (I do know one voter who picked him.) Jagr doesn’t have to play in the game, so I wondered if maybe it was Joe Thornton, given the same consideration because he’s 37. We’ll find out in a little over two weeks.
20. More rumours out of Russia: that Pavel Datsyuk will be in attendance.
So Datsyuk will likely be named as one of the top NHL'ers of all time, and he'll be flying from St. Petersburg to Los Angeles to take in the announcement in person.
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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.