Tight game, this one. Both goaltenders played very well, with Miikka Kiprusoff handling the significantly more intense load, stopping 31 of 33 Red Wings shots. Jimmy Howard denied 16 of 17 Calgary shot attempts as the Detroit defense cut their per-game shots average in half.
Detroit finally had their streak for consecutive games with a power play goal snapped at eight, as the Calgary PK killed off all 7 Detroit power play opportunities. That number doesn't really tell the whole story though as a penalty-marred first period had plenty of weak calls going both ways. The Wings only had 8:58 of total power play time. The penalty kill gave up one on a 4-on-3 chance for the Flames, but held them to 1 for 7 in the Flames' 9:14 of total power play time.
Let's get to the analysis
Jimmy Howard had an outstanding game. He was only tested for 17 shots thanks largely to the defense in front of him and Brent Sutter's line-matching decisions, but don't let the low number of shots fool you; Calgary had a lot of very good scoring chances and Howard had to make some huge saves, including one on a power play opportunity for the Flames that almost has me convinced to award him a big save and a half for how good it was. I counted four big saves on the night where Howard bailed out his defense. The one goal he gave up was a slapshot from the faceoff circle and was in no way weak. His rating is +4.
Scoring and bonus plus/minus after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 15:58 - Calgary Goal (PP): Mark Giordano (slap shot) from Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay
This is a 4-on-3 power play goal, as half of the game's 16 penalties called (counting double minors as double) came in the first period, and half of those penalties came into play leading up to this goal. Craig Conroy was serving a double minor for high-sticking Dan Cleary; on the ensuing PP, Johan Franzen takes a bad boarding penalty. While 4-on-4, Lidstrom is called for a hook matched in weakness only by the Curtis Glencross hooking call just over 2 minutes later. While set up on the power play, Tanguay feeds Giordano point-to-point about ten feet inside the blue line with the Wings PK triangle of Datsyuk, Stuart, and Kronwall working to keep them to the outside. Giordano passes low to Iginla at the side, who feeds it back to Giordano who settles the puck just long enough to fire a laser past Howard. The only scoring adjustment I'm making here is to give Franzen a minus for taking a boarding call in the offensive zone with the Wings on the power play to start this whole series of events in motion. The Lidstrom penalty was ridiculous.
2nd Period 1:54 - Detroit Goal: Mike Modano (snap shot) from Dan Cleary and Brad Stuart
Modano wins a defensive zone faceoff behind his own net to Stuart, who rings it around the boards to Cleary at center ice. Despite two flames covering Cleary, he's able to find Modano streaking full-speed through the neutral zone to create an odd-man rush. Abdelkader joins him as a decoy as Modano waits just long enough on Kiprusoff before unleasing a wrister that beats Calgary's goalie over the left shoulder. Modano's faceoff win and hustle are enough to earn him an extra half-plus on the play. Cleary also gets a half-plus for his vision in finding and kicking the puck to Modano. These are both inherently defensive plays that led to offense the other way.
2nd Period 12:05 - Detroit Goal: Justin Abdelkader (wrist shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom
Lidstrom receives the puck at his own blue line and waits long enough to draw two Calgary forecheckers to him. When Lidstrom notices that Calgary has made a bad change and only has two guys back, he feeds Datsyuk with a two-line outlet pass going the other way. With Holmstrom on the far end keeping Robyn Regehr wide, Datsyuk and Abdelkader gang up on Jay Bouwmeester, creating a 2-on-1. Abdelkader skates hard to the net and gets behind the Calgary D where Datsyuk finds him. Before Kiprusoff can adjust, Abby releases a wrister that beats him above his pad and next to his glove-side hip. The vision displayed here by Lidstrom is nothing new for the future first-ballot Hall of Famer, but it's fantastic work when compared to what's expected of average. Lidstrom gets a half-plus.
+1 to Mike Modano, Dan Cleary, and Justin Abdelkader: These guys dominated every shift and played exactly the kind of game they needed to on the road. Together, they made Mike Babcock's decision about what to do for the game on Friday a collectively tougher one.
-0.5 to Jakub Kindl: The kid only got 7:19 of ice time and managed to blow a shot at a wide-open net and also turn the puck over to Calgary in his own zone leading to a scoring chance. There's hardly much question right now as to who will sit when Brian Rafalski returns, possibly as soon as Monday.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk: Pavel stepped around Mark Giordano in the first period and forced him to take a holding penalty. This is the quintessential play to which I'm going to refer as far as which penalties are earned by players versus which ones are given by the opposition for lazy, stupid, or weak plays. Datsyuk forced the Calgary defenseman to hold him or else face the wrath of his coach wondering why he hates his own goalie.
+0.5 to Darren Helm: The best penalty-killing forward the Wings had tonight in terms of both time played on the PK and overall effectiveness.
+0.5 to Brad Stuart: What Helm did on the front of the penalty kill, Stuart did on the back end, leading all PKers in shorthanded ice time and doing the most work of anybody not named Jimmy Howard on a crucial four-minute kill in the third period.
Of note, but not deserving scoring adjustments, I was pleased with Jonathan Ericsson's play tonight. He had almost 18 minutes of ice time and was hardly noticeable, save for a weak hooking penalty in the first that was pretty well sold by Olli Jokinen. Just like I have to try to make sure I do credit Listrom for doing things that only he makes look easy, I'm trying not to credit Ericsson for simply not sucking. Still, his play tonight is worth a mention at least.
Next Red Wings game is Friday in Edmonton before going to Vancouver on Saturday. As a quick CSSI news tidbit, I'm going to be out and about watching the Friday game in the Kansas City area with some fellow Wings fans. I expect I'll be out late and, by the end of the night, in no position to objectively look at anything. Right now the plan is to have both Friday and Saturday's games' CSSI posts go up during the day on Sunday. If I can get the Edmonton CSSI up with enough time to spare before Saturday night's game, I will.