The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/18/13 at 05:21 PM ET
The Detroit Red Wings elevated just about every aspect of their game during their 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, but while Henrik Zetterberg told the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus that his somewhat personal battle with Jonathan Toews (and more than a few Blackhawks who tried to take the heads off of Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula, among others) was just the way things go come playoff time...
“It’s part of playoffs,” said Zetterberg, who pointed out that the Hawks had control of who matched up against whom, not the Red Wings. “I think he plays better when it’s a little physical and I think I play better when it’s a little more physical. So there’s a lot of give and take.”
Toews complained loudly about the officiating, or the perceived lack thereof:
“I’m not going to go off and complain about some calls that I thought should have been called or whatever,” Toews said, before essentially doing just that. “If that’s the way they’re going to play, we need to play the same way. There’s a lot of clutch and grab, a lot of interference, and if [the refs] are going to let that go, that’s something we need to know and maybe do to them a little bit. It’s just tough to understand sometimes why we get roughing penalties and hooking penalties, whatever it is, [and] doesn’t go both ways. It is what it is. If that’s the way it’s going to be, we need to understand that and play more physical and be tougher on them. We’ll know that going into the next one.”
Toews said that doesn’t mean the Hawks will abandon their team game and their puck-possession style of play to run around taking unnecessary penalties, or retaliate after particularly physical episodes. Walking that fine line between physical and foolish will be key.
“It’s not out of frustration, it’s trying to frustrate their team,” he said. “That’s something we need to do a little more. They’re trying to do it to our top couple of lines, and we can do a little more of it. We’re letting them skate around with the puck a little too much.”
Hmm, as Corey Perry might say, they're "gonna get it" in Detroit?
In other words, the Hawks want to frustrate Pavel Datsyuk’s line with the same aggressive, suffocating defense. In other words, the Hawks want to fight fire with fire, and bring the same kind of intensity at both ends of the rink that they had in Game 1, and Detroit had in Game 2. In other words, the longest-running blood feud in NHL history has gotten serious again.
In other words, “Series on.”
Update: Wings coach Mike Babcock wasn't sure if it was possible to frustrate Toews, as he told ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers...
“I don’t know about frustrate,” Babcock said of his team’s impact on Toews. “That guy doesn’t get very frustrated. He just competes. I don’t concern myself with that. We try to give him no space. They got four elite, elite forwards. They got lots of depth, but they got four guys who are all world, and you can’t give them much room.”
And Hawks coach Joel Quenneville simply wasn't having any of it:
“I think we expect your top guys are going to get some coverage looks be it from the forwards or D,” Quenneville said. “All year long, they faced top coverage against them. Hopefully, they have to find a way to fight through it, and we got to be harder in the tougher areas, particularly at their net. We didn’t really look to shoot it. We seemed to be on the outside.”
Toews didn’t believe the Blackhawks would take themselves out of their own game if they started to play in the same physical fashion. He saw it more as a way to balance the game.
“It’s not out of frustration,” Toews said. “It’s trying to frustrate their team. That’s something we need to do a little bit more. They’re trying to do it to our top couple lines. We can do a little bit more of it. We’re kind of letting them skate around with the puck too much.”
Update: Via Powers, Toews on video: GRR! GRR!
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