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The Malik Report

The overnight report: Red Wings-Jets wrap-up and some thoughts on mediocrity

The Red Wings defeated the Winnipeg Jets 5-1 on Tuesday, snapping a 7-game losing streak and rebounding, at least in part, from their 10-1 loss to Montreal.

Detroit got a break here and there (the Jets hated that this Gustav Nyquist goal, which made it 3-1, counted)...

And inflicted a little bit of pain upon the Jets (sometimes, vice versa)...

The Jets felt that they were still in the game down 2-1 after 2 periods, as the Winnipeg Sun's Ken Wiebe noted...

As poorly as they played through 40 minutes of action, the Jets were still within a goal. Until the Red Wings got a goal at 4:55 of the third after a point shot from Jonathan Ericsson that caromed in off Gustav Nyquist, who crashed into Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck on the play but was also pushed by defenceman Josh Morrissey. The goal stood after a video review and subsequent coach’s challenge and just like that, a one-goal deficit turned into two.

“I didn’t agree with it then and I don’t agree with it now,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice.

Nyquist had two goals and an assist to pace the Red Wings offensive attack, while Justin Abdelkader, David Booth and St. Andrews product Darren Helm had the other goals. It was an eventful game for Jets defenceman Dmitry Kulikov, who left the game with 5:58 to go in the first period after blocking a shot in the leg by Red Wings defenceman Mike Green.

Kulikov, who was already playing without his broken stick, had trouble getting to his feet after getting nailed with the blast during the Red Wings power play but he came out for the second period and finished the game.

...

Laine’s goal came on a blistering one-timer during a two-man advantage and gave him 14 goals on the season and 50 in 101 games to start his NHL career. But on Tuesday, it was the inability of the Jets’ second-ranked power play to generate much during the other five opportunities with the man-advantage that played a key role in this loss.

“Our best chance was in the first (period) and we missed the net on it, which was pretty indicative of a lot of the offence we did have here. We missed the net on a bunch of really good chances,” said Maurice. “But if you give up five even-strength goals, missed offence isn’t the key to the game. We weren’t good enough defensively.”

Blake Wheeler suggested that the Jets had no reason to underestimate their opponent...

“We should be desperate, too. There’s nothing given here,” said Wheeler. “We’re on a nice little run, but we knew what was at stake for them. You get embarrassed 10-1, you come home saying all the right things. I think we said all the right things before the game, but we just weren’t ready. I think the last two games were a little bit easy for us and we played an opponent that was hungry and we just weren’t able to match them early on.”

And Wheeler continued while speaking with WinnipegJets.com's Mitchell Clinton:

"We just looked slow. We had a hard time with the ice tonight, we had a hard time getting out of our zone clean. All the things that make us a good team, we just struggled with tonight," said captain Blake Wheeler. "We weren't able to use our speed the way we wanted to, never were able to establish a forecheck. You have to give them credit for the way they played. Ultimately though, I think we're disappointed with the way we played."

he momentum shifted in the third period, when the Red Wings, clinging to a 2-1 lead, took back a two-goal advantage when Ericsson's point shot beat Connor Hellebuyck, and stood up to both a review from Toronto for a high-stick, and a coach's challenge from Maurice for goaltender interference.

"I didn't agree with it then, and I don't agree with it now," said Maurice, adding the team's compete level wasn't where it needed to be in the first period, when Detroit out shot the Jets 16-3. "We lost a game, and deserved to lose the game. We'll move on to the next one. We won't carry this one for two weeks."

...

"It's a tough break. It's a 2-1 game, and then there's the goal under review whether it's goaltender interference or not," said Adam Lowry. "Obviously they didn't think there was enough to change the call. Instead of a 2-1 game it switches to a 3-1 game, and they did a good job of putting us away."

Helm sealed it shortly after, taking advantage of a turnover in the neutral zone, and snapping a shot over Hellebuyck's glove on a breakaway. Booth added another with 9:20 remaining in the third, to round out the scoring.

"They were able to respond from a real tough loss," said Lowry. "They did a good job. We didn't really have a whole lot of chances in the first, and when we did have chances, Jimmy (Howard) was there."

The Associated Press's recap will serve as our pivot point between the Jets and Red Wings' perspectives, focusing on the disputed goal:

With 15:05 left in the third, Detroit’s Jonathan Ericsson took a shot that went into the net , with Hellebuyck ending up underneath both Nyquist and Winnipeg defenceman Josh Morrissey. After a long review, officials said Morrissey created the contact and there was no goalie interference. The goal was eventually credited to Nyquist.

"I’m just trying to get in front of the net. I don’t even know that the puck’s coming in there," Nyquist said. "I feel like I get pushed in, I’m trying to get out of the blue paint and he kind of keeps me in there, but it was nice to see it count."

Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler lost the puck in the neutral zone, allowing Helm to skate in on a breakaway to make it 4-1.

"The goalie interference call, I don’t know if we agree with that one. That shifted the momentum to them, and then one bounces over my stick for a breakaway goal. That hurts, because now we’re looking at a three-goal deficit," Wheeler said. "Obviously a terrible first period, but we still had a chance to win the game in the third."

Booth’s goal came on a 3-on-1 break and capped a forgettable night for the Jets, who were coming off a 5-0 win over Ottawa on Sunday in which they had 49 shots.

"We knew this was going to be tough, because that’s a good team that just took one of the worst losses in franchise history," Winnipeg’s Adam Lowry said. "We had it to 2-1, and I thought we were in good shape, but we didn’t get that interference call and it made things easier for them."

The coach suggested a wise course of action:

"It’s funny how a week in this league or two weeks can change a story," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. "Two weeks ago I think a lot of people felt like we were in a great spot, and then two weeks later we’re not. Let’s change that story two weeks from now."

The Red Wings felt differently about the disputed goal, and they felt very differently after the game, as noted by NHL.com's Dave Hogg:

"We needed to win a game, so this feels great," said Nyquist, who also had an assist. "We need a lot more of these to make up for that streak though."

Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm and David Booth scored for Detroit (11-12-5), which was 0-4-3 since a 3-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 17. Jimmy Howard, who had a 4.88 goals-against average in the losing streak, made 25 saves.

"We've spent a lot of time playing on our heels lately, and I thought we made them play on their heels tonight," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said.

Patrik Laine scored for the Jets (17-7-4), who were 9-2-1 in their prior 12 games. Connor Hellebuyck allowed five goals on 32 shots.

"I thought we looked slow all night," Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler said. "We had some trouble with the ice, but we couldn't get out of our zone and we never established our forecheck."

Detroit's line of Helm, Frans Nielsen and Luke Glendening held Winnipeg's top line of Wheeler, Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor without a point.

"I don't think we've played with a lot of passion the last couple games, so we wanted to show more intensity," Helm said. "We wanted to get pucks in deep, go hard on the forecheck and take away their space."

Nyquist and Helm continued while speaking with the Free Press's Helene St. James...

“Coming back from a game like the last one was big here at home for us,” Gustav Nyquist said after scoring twice and setting up Justin Abdelkader’s goal that made it 1-0. “t feels good right now, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Darren Helm and David Booth scored in the third period, and Jimmy Howard had some highlight saves among 25 total. It was, as Helm put it, a matter of the Wings wanting to “respond the right away” after Saturday’s 10-1 humiliation in Montreal, which left the Wings on a seven-game skid. The Jets only got three shots in the first period.

“We weren’t playing with passion the last couple games and we wanted to play with more intensity and show that we belong out there,” Helm said. “That was a great team we played. We knew it was going to be hard. They can score in a lot of different areas. We wanted to keep the pressure on. I thought we did a good job of keep pushing forward when things got a little difficult.”

The Jets converted 22 seconds into a 5-on-3, grabbing momentum in the second period. After failing to respond to such events last week, the Wings looked determined to do better.

“I think that was the key to the game right there,” Booth said. “They could have gotten another quick one, and then who knows? But keeping your composure, and Howie coming up with big saves or big blocks by our guys, goes a long way.”

Coach Jeff Blashill said the way the Wings responded to Laine’s goal was critical.

“Confidence is a huge factor that is so hard to put a finger on and is so hard to understand,” he said. “The two things that probably don’t get talked about enough are confidence and momentum. They scored to get a little momentum; we didn’t give them another one. That was huge. They pushed hard in the third, and we were able to get that third goal, it was a big one for us. We’ve got to go to work tomorrow, we are going to practice, we have to get to work and get better.”

Booth told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan that the Wings were sending a message with their performances, both collective and individual:

“The game in Montreal didn’t show who we are,” Booth said. “Tonight shows who we are. We needed to respond from that game.”

...

After five awful periods against Montreal dating back to the last two games, the Red Wings needed a good start. They definitely put together one in the opening 20 minutes Tuesday, thoroughly out-playing Winnipeg.

The Red Wings outshot the Jets 16-3 in the first period — the least the Red Wings have allowed in a period this season. And this against a Winnipeg team that came into the game leading the NHL with 36 first-period goals.

“We did a way better job of not making any real goofy errors and giving them easy chances,” Blashill said. “Our leadership did a real good job of, after the last game, setting the tone of obviously that wasn’t good enough. We came out, and from top to bottom, everybody was playing.”

...

“Our energy level was better,” Blashill said. “We were on pucks quicker, we got on our toes. Every single game, one team is trying to put the other on its heels. The last five periods, we spent a lot of time in those games on our heels. But our energy level was good and early on everybody was playing real good hockey.”

As DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji noted, the Wings did face some adversity in the form of a 5-on-3 that the Jets scored on...and TWO 5-on-3's in which the Wings couldn't generate a goal of their own...

Two-man advantage: You always want to score on your two-man advantage opportunities but only one team was able to do so Tuesday night. The Wings had the first chance as Morrissey and Tyler Myers both ended up in the box five seconds apart in the first. The Wings had three shots but were unable to score. The Jets had a chance when Dylan Larkin and Abdelkader were in the box early in the second. They only needed 22 seconds of their 5-on-3 for Laine to unleash his cannon of a shot from the left circle. The goal was Laine's 14th of the season. The Wings again had a two-man advantage for 1:05 as Morrissey and Myers again ended up in the penalty box but the Wings could only muster one shot.

Quotable: "No doubt, you get that long 5-on-3 and it can be easy to deflate you for sure. I thought on that 5-on-3 we had lots of chances, lots of shots. There was a chance to build momentum. But to score right there was huge, otherwise it's a psychological warfare on yourself a little bit." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill

Blashill continued while speaking with Hockeybuzz's Bob Duff...

“They scored to get a little momentum but we didn’t give them another one,” Blashill said. “That was huge. If you give them another one, all the sudden they got way more momentum. They pushed hard in the third and we were able to get that third goal.”

There were other elements of the game that were stark in their differences to what transpired during the losing stretch.

“In the first period we did a way better job of not making any real goofy errors to give them easy chances and then, two, playing through bodies,” Blashill said. “Not necessarily big hits, just making sure there was no stick-checks. Guys had to go through us to get up the ice and that’s a really important thing, and we were way better at that. We’ve played lots of good games and not scored. In this one, we scored.”

They stopped the bleeding, but the Wings were the first to acknowledge that one solid game can’t heal the wounds created by their second long losing skid of the season. Detroit also dropped six in a row in October, and slides of that length are generally fatal to postseason hopes.

“For us right now, I think it was just about winning a game and that feels great obviously, but we’ve still got a lot of games to make up for that long skid, so back to work,” forward Gustav Nyquist said.

Jimmy Howard agreed with Nyquist, as he told Reuters...

”We came out with a purpose tonight right from the drop of the puck,“ Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said. ”We played hard for a full 60 minutes. That is the type of game we need to play every single night, the way we supported each other around the ice, and the way we played as five-man units. When we play like that and we use our speed, we’re a tough team to play against.”

Gustav Nyquist recorded two goals and an assist, and Howard made 25 saves as the Red Wings ended a seven-game losing streak.

Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm and David Booth also scored for the Red Wings, who had gone 0-4-3 since a 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 17.

“I think we just weren’t really playing with a lot of passion the last couple games and we wanted to play with a little bit more intensity and show that we belong out there,” Helm said.

Patrik Laine scored his 14th goal of the season for the Jets (17-7-4), who are 0-2-1 in their past three road games.

The Red Wings wasted little time in establishing dominance, outshooting the Jets 16-3 in the first period and grabbing a 2-0 advantage.

“That just kind of encourages guys knowing, ‘Hey, that’s a good team over there and we can outplay them,'” Booth said. “We’re a good team, and I think we showed that tonight.”

And I'd usually give Nyquist the last word here, per Michigan Hockey's Stefan Kubus...

Winnipeg was just the start of a tough five-game home stand that ends next Friday and features (chronologically) St. Louis, Florida, Boston and Toronto.

“It’s a tight race; to go on a seven-game losing streak, that’s not good enough,” Nyquist said. “You’re gonna be looking up in the standings. We won today, but still lots to make up for that losing skid.”

But the Detroit News's John Niyo will get the last word--despite the fact that I disagree with him. Niyo penned a "Spirit of the Thing" column in which he suggests that the Red Wings are "living a charade," and that the charade is the belief that the team can make the playoffs.

So, Niyo believes that, with Ken Holland (expiring contract) and coach Blashill (1 more year on his contract) possessing uncertain futures, ownership has to step in and "remove the charade," if you will--by selling and bottoming out.

At this point, it’s really about ownership taking stock of a cupboard that’s been laid bare here, with too few high-end prospects in Detroit and too many bad contracts cluttering the shelves. And it’s about Chris Ilitch admitting that what’s right for one team doesn’t have to be wrong for the other.

“Nobody wants to see a rebuild,” Holland insisted last spring, after the Wings’ magical 25-year playoff run finally hit a wall.

But nobody is all that eager to see this, either, whatever they’re calling it. Entering Tuesday’s game, this current roster was on pace for 76 points this season. That’s less than a point per game, but it’s also less than a point per million dollars spent in player salaries, which may be why Holland has reached a point of no return in Ilitch’s eyes, if he has, in fact.

So how does one rebuild in Niyo's eyes? Not just by bottoming out, but by bottoming out...

Losing doesn’t have to be pointless, though. Ownership finally acknowledged that with the Tigers this summer, selling off big names and bigger contracts while openly committing to a lengthy — and painful — reconstruction project.

And while that can’t be done quite the same way here — no one’s taking some of these contracts weighing down the Wings’ payroll, while a draft lottery offers no sure things — there are moves waiting to be made.

Holland admitted as much in an interview with Fox Sports Detroit earlier Tuesday, giving his team about a month to give him a reason not to be a seller again at the trade deadline, as it did a year ago when he finally auctioned off a few spare parts.

“I look at the next 10 or 15 games for this team as being critical in determining what direction we’re gonna go,” he said, right before his team went and handed the Jets just their fourth regulation loss since mid-October.

That direction should already be decided, though, with a long list of players — Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Mike Green, Trevor Daley, and even Jimmy Howard — squarely on the block. If Dave Dombrowski could do it on his way out the door with the Tigers in 2015, Holland certainly can, too.

But it's up to ownership to make that call. Now is no time to let pride — or the past — get in the way of the future.

The Red Wings aren't the Tigers, and Trevor Daley and Jimmy Howard also have that thing called "years remaining on inflated contracts."

I would also suggest that if Little Caesars Arena is 2/3rds to 3/4ths full (depending on the opponent) for the sake of a mediocre and sometimes good team, it would be frickin' empty for a team that stank for the sake of stinking.

The draft lottery has changed things, too. You don't get a guaranteed top-5 pick for playing like a bottom-5 team any more, and the NHL draft isn't a draft of NFL-like certainty.

At this point, in my opinion, there is something to be said for working through the years of financial inflexibility due to Holland's intransigence (i.e. unwillingness or inability to change, especially one's opinion or perspective) while affording players like Mantha, Larkin and Athanasiou (among others) some experience with a professional atmosphere and some sort of semblance of a desire to win as the youth movement slowly but surely takes over.

That may involve trading Mike Green to the highest bidder given that Holland's team might not have enough cap space to re-sign Mantha and Larkin this spring, that may involve making the team a little "more spare" in terms of its roster, but tanking?

Nobody tanks any more. The Sabres aren't trying to tank. You can stink, but that's a different story. The Red Wings may yet stink this year, regardless of their personnel, but they aren't going to try to tank--especially under Ken Holland.

Which may be the point of it all. What does ownership want to occupy the shiny new, half-full arena?

Thus far, the message is, "Aiming for mediocrity is better than stinking."

And the Wings were better than mediocre for one night. Maybe they can keep it up for a couple of games...

If not, it doesn't sound like Tick Tock is going to be throwing in the towel any time soon, and if his certainty of employment isn't a mandate from the ownership, I don't know what is:

You and I don't have to like the concept that Ken Holland can write his retirement ticket if and or when he chooses to do so, but we get a team that he helps build and the players try to run in a professional and winning manner, even when they fall short of our expectations, and you can choose to spend your time rooting for them or doing other things with your time as you feel is best.

Multimedia:

Highlights: NHL.com posted a 4:05 highlight clip...

And an 8:54 "condensed game":

Post-game: The Jets posted post-game interviews with Blake Wheeler, Dmitry Kulikov, Adam Lowry and coach Paul Maurice, as well as a "road report";

TSN offered a 2-minute clip in which Craig Button broke down the game;

Illegal Curve's David Minuk filed a post-game report which includes audio from Wheeler, Kulikov and Maurice;

The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa Tweeted this:

Fox Sports Detroit posted Matt Sheppard's on-the-bench interview with Jimmy Howard...

As well as a locker room interview with Gustav Nyquist...

The Red Wings posted a clip of Darren Helm, Nyquist, Howard and coach Jeff Blashill's post-game comments:

MLive's Ansar Khan posted clips of Nyquist and Blashill's comments:

 

The Free Press's Helene St. James posted a clip of Darren Helm, David Booth and coach Blashill's post-game comments:

Photos: The Free Press posted a 12-image gallery;

The Detroit News posted a 26-image gallery;

Michigan Hockey posted a 28-image gallery;

ESPN posted a 15-image gallery;

And NHL.com and the Red Wings' website posted 25-image galleries.

Statistics:

Here's the Game Summary...

And the Event Summary

The final shot attemps were 61-54 Detroit.

 

Red Wings notebooks and also of Red Wings-related note: Among the Winnipeg Sun's Ken Wiebe's notes:

For four members of the Jets, Tuesday’s game felt like a home game – only in a new building.

Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck, defenceman Jacob Trouba and forwards Kyle Connor and Copp all grew up in Michigan and had plenty of support from family and friends in the crowd.

“It’s a little different,” said Copp. “I grew up going to The Joe and playing at The Joe so many times, from youth hockey to pro, so it holds a special place. But this is a great new rink and I’m looking forward to tonight.”

The first look at Little Caesars Arena, which opened this season, got a collective thumbs up from the Jets.

“It’s a big change. I spent a lot of time in the other building,” said Maurice. “It’s really impressive. There’s a great slant to the bowl, so there’s a lot that looks reminiscent to (Joe Louis Arena). But it looks new and smells new.”

And in the prospect department, in the WHL, Dennis Cholowski didn't register a point in the Prince George Cougars' 3-1 win over Kootenay.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

PierreC's avatar

i’m very surprise they allowed that third goal. Nyquis skated right behind the goalie and was a premier candidate to get knock over the goalie. Yeah he got pushes, but that is exactly what he was looking for.

But we’ll take it.

Posted by PierreC from Montreal, Canada on 12/06/17 at 02:28 AM ET

Alan's avatar

. Yeah he got pushes, but that is exactly what he was looking for.

And that’s exactly what the refs saw. You can call it a bit of a sly move on his part in an attempt to get a decision like that, but the defender saw it and decided to make matters worse for the Jets.

Had he not steered Nike into the goalie, that challenge wouldn’t have even happened since the puck went in off the defender.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 12/06/17 at 03:02 AM ET

damndog's avatar

Nyquist’s goal should of counted. If the Jets dman let’s Quist go, it would have been no goal. That’s Nyquist’s grittiest goal to date. Nyquist should have gotten elbowing the puck!  tongue wink

Posted by damndog from The Eastside of Detroit on 12/06/17 at 07:23 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Nike’s goal should have counted. He had no opportunity to get out of the way. Good call.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 12/06/17 at 08:14 AM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Posted by PierreC from Montreal, Canada on 12/06/17 at 02:28 AM ET

50/50, and the call on the ice let it stand. There was enough IMO to justify incidental contact, Nyquist already established himself in the blue, the dman finished him off. If the jerseys were reversed, so would the opinions.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 12/06/17 at 09:10 AM ET

Avatar

The goal probably should have been counted, but I never expected it to be the case.

Posted by VPalmer on 12/06/17 at 09:22 AM ET

PierreC's avatar

I’m watching the NY incident again.

I still maintain my opinion. NY is in the blue skating with good speed directly at the goalie.  Without the help of the defenseman he still would have collided with the goalie.

The only way i see it as a good goal is that the goalie was partially out of his blue, which makes him vulnerable.

Just change NY with Homer….do you still think this goal should have counted ?

Posted by PierreC from Montreal, Canada on 12/06/17 at 09:27 AM ET

Avatar

You don’t get a guaranteed top-5 pick for playing like a bottom-5 team any more

No, but you do get a guaranteed top-5 pick for playing like a bottom-2 team…

Posted by EthrDemon on 12/06/17 at 12:03 PM ET

Avatar

You and I don’t have to like the concept that Ken Holland can write his retirement ticket if and or when he chooses to do so, but we get a team that he helps build and the players try to run in a professional and winning manner, even when they fall short of our expectations, and you can choose to spend your time rooting for them or doing other things with your time as you feel is best.

Couldn’t agree more George and it’s 100 times nicer and more enjoyable than beating same decaying dead horse every day.

Posted by benzanato on 12/06/17 at 01:47 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.

 

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