Lots to say about this game and most of that has already been covered in Graham's recap last night, so I'll just say it was "interesting". Definitely not a statement game (or not the statement you want the team to make), but it was a game they should have won and they found a way to do it, despite being outplayed for two periods. Halak's own-goal helped a bunch, but I'm definitely happy to see that the lower lines can turn it on when the stars get stymied.
Detroit was outshot 36-31 in this one, despite holding a 14-12 advantage in the four-goal third period. The penalty kill which had started so strongly gave up 1 goal on three attempts on the night. Fortunately, the power play which had struggled converted 40% of their opportunities on the night with a 2-5 effort. Unfortunately, both of those goals came in the third when Detroit was already ahead. It would have been much nicer to have scored those earlier. Oh well, like I said, it's definitely good that Detroit pulled this one off and poured it on late.
Jimmy Howard played well again, especially early when St. Louis threatened to pour it on and always seemed to have forecheckers in the right position to pick up soft rebounds. Of the 36 shots he faced, I counted that three of them were saves of the big variety, especially one he had late in the first. Unfortunately, I think he played St. Louis' first goal a bit sloppy and will be credited with a half-bad goal for failing to block the ice low on the Boyes' backhand tap. His overall rating is +2.5
Scoring and Plus/Minus adjustments after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 8:05 - Detroit Goal:
Drew Miller (wrist shot) from Justin Abdelkader and Niklas Kronwall
Kronwall carries through neutral ice and dumps the puck in; he chases down his own dump-in to retrieve on the boards and get it to Abdelkader at the top of the circle. Abdelkader finds Drew Miller coming in late and dishes to him for a quick wrister on goal. Halak stops the initial shot and tries to clear to the corner using his goal stick, but he muffs it off the blade and into his own net behind him. Such an incredibly weird play, this one. I'm going to let Kronwall and Abdelkader keep their full assists, but I'm going to split Miller's point, giving him a half-goal and half-assist. Taking the shot was the right play by Miller, but Halak had more to do with that than our young Salt N' Pepa.
1st Period 9:37 - St. Louis Goal: Brad Boyes (backhand) from Andy McDonald and David Backes
After taking the puck in their own defensive zone, the Blues rush through Center ice in what develops into a 4-on-3 rush. Brewer receives a pass from Boyes at the Blue line as St. Louis has three across coming in with a trailer. Brewer dishes back to Backes, who throws the puck at the front of the net where McDonald touches, but the puck deflects off Stuart's skate out front. Boyes picks up the rebound and puts it home under Jimmy Howard, who is caught between squaring to the puck and moving to his right to cut off Boyes at the post. This whole play was a defensive breakdown by the Wings and I don't think anybody on the line deserves any extra breaks in the minus column here. Boyes walked past Lidstrom to pick up the puck after a rare moment of indecision, but that's only a small part of the mistake. No scoring adjustment.
2nd Period 8:16 - St. Louis Goal (PP): Brad Winchester from Andy McDonald and Patrik Berglund
Johan Franzen is in the box because the ref behind the play thinks he hooked Matt D'Agostini, but replay shows this is probably the weakest call on Detroit in the game. On the power play, the Blues cycle the puck on Howard's left side from low-to-high a couple times while Winchester battles with Salei out front. Salei is fronting his man here, which is a relatively new strategy for dealing with the net-front guys on power plays. Unfortunately, this means that the guy is standing behind you when he's looking for a pass from the side of the net to jam in under the goaltender. The goal isn't wholly on Salei, but it's a good illustration of what constantly changing the angles on a PK unit will do. This was well-executed by St. Louis and there will be no scoring adjustment.
2nd Period 13.42 - Detroit Goal: Justin Abdelkader (tip in) from Brian Rafalski and Drew Miller
This play starts with Rafalski holding the puck behind Detroit's net to get the Wings' offense organized. He comes out from behind and finds Darren Helm in the neutral zone in-stride. Helm carries in and around behind the net where he tries to throw it in front with both Abdelkader and Miller present to pick up loose pucks. The biscuit ends up on Miller's stick, but he has his back to the goal and is moving away from the net, so he passes up to Rafalski on the point. Rafalski sees Abdelkader standing in front and throws a pass low and wide that Abdelkader tips in between Halak's legs as he moves to adjust. Helm will pick up an assist for helping get this play set up.
2nd Period 16:30 - Detroit Goal: Dan Cleary (slap shot) from Brian Rafalski
Dan Cleary makes this play happen through sheer determination. Despite receiving the puck and being hounded from his own blue line, he carries it into the St. Louis zone 2-on-3. He's finally stripped of his puck, but not after he's done enough damage to let Modano get into the play and pressure the defensemen. Modano makes a good move forechecking and gets a stick on the clearing attempt. The puck is kept in at the line by Rafalski, but he's challenged immediately and doesn't have great control of the puck, so he passes off to Cleary at the half-boards. Cleary, being the hot shooting hand with his goal scoring streak decides to take a what-the-hell slapshot that deflects off Carlo Coliaicovo and past Halak. Cleary gets a half-plus for his determination and Modano gets a half-assist for deflecting the clearing attempt to Rafalski.
2nd Period 17:07 - St. Louis Goal: Andy McDonald (backhand) from Brad Boyes
Just 37 seconds later, the Blues are pressuring in the Detroit zone. Datsyuk takes the puck behind the Wings' net, but is pinched off at the boards, forcing the puck up to Franzen. Franzen finds his up-the-boards escape route is cut off, so he tries passing across to Brad Stuart in front of his own net. Boyes intercepts the pass and gets it out front to McDonald before anybody can react for the game-tying goal. Franzen's attempted pass here is a big problem as nearly anything would have been preferable to a pass across the middle right there. Franzen gets a minus for this mistake. The only difference between this minus and the minus-and-a-half I gave Doug Janik earlier for an equally egregious error is that Franzen had two people pressuring him. Also, Henrik Zetterberg was in position for this entire play. Z will not get a minus.
3rd Period 12:26 - Detroit Goal: Dan Cleary (wrist shot) from Mike Modano and Ruslan Salei
After 12 minutes of a back-and-forth third period, the Blues finally get caught with their aggressive forechecking when the Wings' third line stacks all three forwards. Bertuzzi gets the puck on the boards in the zone, but is pinched off, so he pokes it to center ice to Modano. Mikey meets a defender at center ice at the boards, so he pokes it past to Cleary, who finally has some room as the last defender back had to respect the puck-carrier. The Wings come in on a 2-on-1 that turns into a 3-on-2. Cleary passes to Bertuzzi as the trailing man, but Bert passes it right back to Cleary for a one-timer that doesn't work. The puck goes behind the net where they fight for it some before it comes back up around the boards. Ruslan Salei pinches in to keep the zone and gets it to Modano behind the net. Modano finds Cleary out front for a wrister past Halak. Bertuzzi will pick up a half-assist for helping this play develop back from the Wings' zone. While I would have liked to have seen him shoot on Halak when he had the chance, he did make good plays leading up to this goal.
3rd Period 13:12 - Detroit Goal: Henrik Zetterberg (snap shot) unassisted
The next shift, the top line gets a chance to redeem themselves for the McDonald goal with a good shift. They hold the puck in most of their shift and keep St. Louis from coming through center ice. Datsyuk forces McDonald with the puck and he abides by turning the puck over to Zetterberg, who carries into the Blues end to the half-boards waiting for the late guy. Unfortunately, the late guy doesn't come, as Lidstrom and Stuart are playing safe defense late in their shifts and Datsyuk has already gone to change. However, for some reason, the Blues finally decide not to pressure the puck carrier in their end and play passively. Zetterberg uses this opportunity to take a good four steps farther up ice and toward the middle and release a wrist shot that beats Halak on the short side. Datsyuk's pressure on the puck gets him a half-assist while the late line change will have him split the plus rating with Filppula. Flip hasn't joined the play quite yet, but the Blues had previously almost gotten burned by losing track of Holmstrom coming in on a line change from an earlier shift and I have to think part of the reason for the passive defense around Zetterberg was respecting that play. FIlppula skated hard into the zone to keep forcing them to respect that option and I think that's worth at least a half-plus.
3rd Period 14:30 - Detroit Goal (PP): Brad Stuart (slap shot) from Niklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk
Immediately after the Zetterberg goal, Filppula's line gets a chance of their own to shine, as Hudler finds Flip coming through center ice with speed. Filppula splits the D and moves in on net with a move that has Erik Johnson so overcome with passion that he grabs Filppula's hip to get him to dance the forbidden dance. Unfortunately, the ref's a stiff and sends Johnson to the box to cool down a bit. Lucky for the Wings, they scored on the ensuing power play. After goofing around in their own zone for a while, Datsyuk gets bored with it and carries the puck up ice into the Blues' zone. He's kept to the outside, so he circles around and passes to Stuart at the point. Stuart goes D-to-D across to Kronwall and shifts the PK ever so slightly. Kronwall returns the favor back to Stuart, who's now in position to rip a slap shot right past Halak thanks to a number-96-sized shadow being cast on the Blue's goalie. Holmstrom will pick up the screener's assist on this play. Filppula also gets a plus for drawing the penalty.
3rd Period 15:40 - Detroit Goal (PP): Tomas Holmstrom (tip in) from Brian Rafalski and Pavel Datsyuk
Cam Janssen shows why he only got 4:15 of ice time (in which he managed a minus-2 rating) when, after laying a clean but questionable hit on Kronwall, he tries to get Salei to fight him late and takes a two minute minor for being a stupid donkey. I'm glad to see the concept of letting your power play be the enforcer here still works, as Detroit capitalizes. Anyway, remember back in the Vancouver game when Datsyuk took an extra minus for turning the puck over to the PK unit at the blue line? Well, he got away with some dangerous puck-handling there this time, as he had a pass lower into the zone bounce off a skate into open ice. Franzen picked the puck up here and dished it back to Pavel, who tested the PKers on the outside low, to be turned back and pass to Rafalski at the point. Rafalski takes a step in to set up on the shot and give Holmstrom time to slide into his office to set the screen. Rafalski's shot deflects off of Holmstrom in front and in past Halak for goal number seven. Franzen deserves an assist here for his hustle getting to a loose puck and pass to a man in motion.
+1 to Jonathan Ericsson: Once again rock-solid and not just in the not-noticeable sort of way, but in the "damn this kid is really playing well" sort of way.
-1 to Pavel Datsyuk: Aside from getting two assists in the third period, I thought this might have been Datsyuk's weakest game of the season. He got brutalized on faceoffs, winning just 1 of 5 and his skating was nonchalant, often giving the Blues' defense time to set up against his up-ice carries.
-0.5 to Todd Bertuzzi: He took a weak hook in the first period and was on for a couple of Wings' goals for, but that's the only thing he registered on the scoreboard. He didn't even have a shot attempt on the night, three times passing up fantastic opportunities in favor of the pass. His defensive play was still solid (despite taking a -7 in the night's Corsi rating), so he only gets a half-minus.
+1 to Drew Miller, Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm: While Miller finally got rewarded on the scoresheet for his hard work, and Abdelkader continued to play well, all three of these guys deserve bonus ratings for how they essentially carried the team through a majority of the first and second periods. Add in that they continue to carry the penalty killing load and they deserve their credit.
-1 to Johan Franzen: Aside from the awful turnover that earned him a minus-2 rating on one play, he had a quiet game where he couldn't hold onto the puck or complete a pass to save his life. For a big guy like him to be a non-factor like that is unacceptable.
Friday, join us as the Wings take on the Minnesota Wild for game 5 of the 6-game homestand.