The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/14/11 at 12:17 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings’ 4-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 1 of their first-round series was almost a little too familiar to Wings fans who’ve stuck with Detroit through its regular-season ups and downs.
The Wings got into penalty trouble early, gave up the game’s first goal and looked like they’d been both backed onto their heels and were hoping to somehow rally from yet another 2-0 or 3-0 deficit in the third period, with the built-in excuse for sloppy play that they’d been afflicted by yet another injury-induced absence in Henrik Zetterberg…
But after Jimmy Howard and the Wings’ PK’ers steadied the ship, the Wings went into the locker room, regrouped, got back down to basic attention-to-detail plays and the kind of focused work ethic that exemplifies playoff hockey—the kind of hockey where the Wings slowly but surely gain possession and control of the puck, possession and control of territory, support each other, start crashing and banging any opponent that insists it can back the Wings off by hitting ‘em into next week, a fantastic effort and fight by Todd Bertuzzi included…
And then after Howard’s toes and the PK saved the Wings’ butts early, Pavel Datsyuk went to work being Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen figured that going top shelf on Ilya Bryzgalov was as good a reason as to any to wake from his late-season slumber, Rafalski and Hudler scored savvy PPG and even-strength goals, respectively, and every Wings player looked mentally and physically engaged as they efficiently diffused the Coyotes’ attack via strong positional defense, winger support, smooth and quick passes through the neutral zone to players skating fast and hard in on the Coyotes’ defenders, and the kinds of cycling plays and grit and grind in going to the front of the net, even if it means getting bloodied or getting beaten up with no consequences due to your opponent (see: Tomas Holmstrom, every time he went to the net), and the Wings managed to get to Bryzgalov as soon as they finally got down to the business of stopping the, “Let’s trade odd-man rushes” BS and finally and completely flipped the playoff switch.
The 4-2 goal put a scare into the Wings, but it was a necessary scare, reminding the Wings that the Coyotes will neither go away nor do they possess a lack of puck luck (no chance for Howard on the Vrbata flip shot), and the Wings ended up receiving the kinds of performances from their support players that they needed, the star players that they needed, and displayed a slightly-late-coming commitment to team defense and plain old hard work that the Wings haven’t displayed, without an exception here or there, in months.
That’s good, because two days off doesn’t just buy the Wings time to heal up a bit and soak in the momentum from this one, especially given the absolutely amazing levels of crowd participation at the Joe. Those two days give the Coyotes time to recover, re-set, know that Zetterberg remains “doubtful” and that if they execute on their game plan, they can do to the Wings what the Wings did to themselves in the first period. It only gets harder from here, but the Wings, from Jimmy Howard on out, proved that they’re at least ready to answer their doubters, their opponents and perhaps, most importantly,any of their own questions about their ability to regain Detroit’s trademark swagger.
That’s one down. Three to go.
And, obviously, more to come in the recap.
Update: Stats to chew on:
Shots 36-28 Detroit overall, breaking down as 11-9 Phoenix in the 1st, 17-8 Detroit in the 2nd and 10-9 Detroit in the 3rd.
The Coyotes went 0-for-6 in 9:09 of PP time, including 0-for-5 in 7:38 of 5 on 4 time and 0-for-1 in 1:31 of 5 on 3 time; the Wings went 1-for-3 in 4:02 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 26 of 28 shots against; Bryzgalov stopped 32 of 36.
The 3 stars, per Chuck Pleiness, were Datsyuk, Howard and Franzen.
The Wings’ goals: Datsyuk (1) from Franzen (1) and Holmstrom (1);
Franzen (1), unassisted;
Rafalski (1) from Filppula (1), PP;
Hudler (1) from Miller (1).
Faceoffs: 36-30 Phoenix (45% won by Detroit);
Blocked shots 18-8 Detroit;
Missed shots 15-15 (total shot attempts 59-55 Detroit);
Hits 33-28 Detroit;
Giveaways 10-8 Phoenix;
Takeaways 16-5 Detroit.
Faceoffs: Abdelkader went 10-and-8 (56%); Datsyuk went 8-and-9 (47%); Filppula went 1-and-8 (11%); Draper went 6-and-3 (67%); Helm went 3-and-6 (33%); Hudler went 0-and-2; Cleary won his only faceoff; Franzen won his only faceoff.
Shots: Datsyuk led the team with 8 shots; Franzen had 5; Cleary and Holmstrom had 3; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Hudler, Rafalski, Helm and Filppula had 2; Eaves, Miller, Salei, Bertuzzi and Kronwall had 1.
Blocked attempts: Ericsson had 2 shot attempts blocked by Coyotes players; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Eaves, Salei, Bertuzzi and Kronwall had single attempts blocked.
Missed shots: Franzen missed the net 5 times; Datsyuk and Filppula missed the net 2 times; Lidstrom, Cleary, Miller, Stuart, Draper and Ericsson missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Eaves, Bertuzzi and Franzen had 4 hits; Miller, Draper, Helm, Ericsson and Holmstrom had 3 hits; Stuart had 2 hits; Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Salei and Kronwall had 1 hit.
Giveaways: Ericsson had 2 giveaways; Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Miller, Stuart, Rafalski and Franzen had 1 giveaway.
Takeaways: Datsyuk had 3 takeaways; Cleary, Stuart and Draper had 2; Abdelkader, Salei, Hudler, Helm, Kronwall, Franzen and Holmstrom had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Salei blocked 4 shots; Cleary, Stuart and Kronwall blocked 2; Lidstrom, Eaves, Miller, Rafalski, Draper, Helm, Ericsson and Franzen blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Bertuzzi took a 5-minute major; Abdelkader was tagged with 2 minors; Lidstrom, Eaves, Helm and Filppula took single minors.
Plus-minus: Stuart finished at -2; Helm finished at -1; Salei, Ericsson, Franzen and Holmstrom were +1; Datsyuk and Rafalski were +2.
Points: Franzen had a goal and an assist; Datsyuk, Hudler and Rafalski had goals; Miller, Filppula and Holmstrom had assists.
Ice time: Stuart played 23:25; Kronwall played 21:21; Rafalski played 20:16;
Ericsson played 19:18; Lidstrom played 19:16; Datsyuk played 18:20;
Franzen played 17:42; Cleary played 17:03; Filppula played 16:43;
Salei played 16:29; Abdelkader played 15:51; Helm played 13:22;
Holmstrom played 12:46; Bertuzzi played 12:43; Eaves played 11:47;
Draper played 11:31; Miller played 11:02; Hudler played 9:05.
Update #2: Per Hockeyfights.com, and by request, Bertuzzi and Klesla, um, wrestle:
Post-game from the Wings: Raffy, Nick, Mule and Howie:
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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.