By now, we're all in full panic-mode about Pavel Datsyuk's broken hand thanks to the Mikael Samuellson trip in the first period of this game. It's going to be hard to concentrate, but bear with me. The Red Wings needed a victory against Vancouver going into Wednesday night's game and were able to earn one in a tightly contested game that at times felt like it had playoff intensity. Both teams gave up two leads each in this game, but Detroit was able to gain the final lead in the overtime period thanks to Henrik Zetterberg's second goal.
Special teams was not a great story on the night, as Detroit gave up two goals to Vancouver on three attempts. The did manage to go 1-for-4 themselves for a respectable conversion rate on their own power plays, but the PK needs to improve off of that performance. Overall, I thought the Wings competed hard all game, but made too many mistakes, which the Canucks were able to finish. Some guys had better nights than others though; let's get to the analysis.
The theme of the month has been Detroit goaltenders with the opportunity to win games for them and their failure to do so. Jimmy Howard didn't outright win this game for the Red Wings, but he outplayed his competition. Neither goaltender had a save percentage over .900, but Jimmy's 35 saves on 39 shots outdueled Luongo's 40 saves on 45 shots. What's more, I'm only crediting Howard with one bad goal, whereas if forced to do Luongo's CSSI, I'd have to give him two. Overall, The team bailed Jimmy out when they had to as a thanks for bailing them out when he had to. He made five big saves on the night, including two in a very short stretch to start the third period, when Detroit was still down a goal. Still, the Tambellini goal grinds on me. I'm going to give him a rating of +3.5.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 8:12 - Detroit Goal: Danny Cleary (snap shot) from Todd Bertuzzi and Brian Rafalski
After a Vancouver dump-and-change, the Wings move up ice. A cross-ice pass from Ericsson misses Zetterberg and he's forced to cycle back and pass to Rafalski. Rafalski immediately turns and flings a pass from the top of the faceoff circle to the opposite blue line right on Bertuzzi's stick as he moves in with Cleary 2-on-1. Bert passes to Cleary at the top of the right faceoff circle where Danny collects the pass and fires it over Lu's glove before he can react. Rafalski's outlet pass is again a thing of beauty and will earn him a bonus half-assist.
2nd Period 1:11 - Vancouver Goal (PP): Henrik Sedin (wrist shot) from Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin
Less than a minute into the period, Brian Rafalski is sent to the box for cross-checking Jannik Hansen in the face after Hansen elbows Dan Cleary. I hate to give Rafalski any minus, considering what Hansen got away with, but it was retaliatory. Rafalski gets a minus. On the ensuing PP, the Canucks control inside the Detroit zone and cycle around to move the PKers. Daniel Sedin gets it on the left side and slides a pass to Kesler standing in front of Howard. Kesler tries to move to his forehand and shoot while Lidstrom puts his stick on the ice to prevent this. The puck flubs off Kesler's stick straight to Henrik Sedin who deposits it. No scoring adjustment on this play.
Penalty Adjustment: On the next shift after this goal, the Wings keep their feet moving and Filppula forces Bieksa to take an interference penalty as his speed into the zone to chase down a loose puck creates trouble for the Canucks' d-man. Filppula gets a plus. Later, the power play is cut short on a Holmstrom high stick which the replay shows is clearly not a high-stick, so there's no minus awarded here.
2nd Period 6:29 - Detroit Goal: Valtteri Filppula (wrist shot) from Danny Cleary and Jonathan Ericsson
Another fantastic long pass from Rafalski gets Detroit into the Vancouver zone with Cleary and Bertuzzi. This time, Cleary pulls off while Bert drives the net. A pass to a covered Filppula doesn't work, but the puck gets back to Cleary, who cycles back to Raffi on the blue line for an immediate feed to Ericsson. Big Rig winds up for a slap shot and instead rips it to Cleary on the far side in the faceoff dot. With Bertuzzi screening out front, Cleary aims top shelf through traffic, but has it stopped by Luongo. The rebound bounces out front to a waiting Filppula, who makes no mistake in sending it net-bound. Both Rafalski and Bertuzzi will pick up assists for their work on this play. I'm also going to give Rafalski a half-plus for two very quick decisions.
Penalty Adjustment: On the shift immediately following the Filppula goal, the fourth line buzzes around the Vancouver zone, eventually forcing MIkael Samuelsson to take an interference penalty on Patrick Eaves. I'm going to give a half-plus to Miller, Helm, and Eaves for their work in confusing the Vancouver defense.
2nd Period 11:21 - Vancouver Goal (PP): Daniel Sedin (wrist shot) from Ryan Kesler and Christian Ehrhoff
Vancouver's power play comes as a result of Filppula closing his hand on the puck in his own zone under pressure. This will earn Filppula a minus to cancel out the plus he earned earlier. Aside from taking longer than 15 seconds, this goal is nearly a carbon copy of the first. The Canucks cycle clockwise around the zone, Ehrhoff shoots instead of passing with Kesler out front, but the Livonia native Ryan Kesler sweeps the rebound to Sedin on the back door for the goal. No scoring adjustment.
2nd Period 19:39 - Vancouver Goal: Mikael Samuelsson (snap shot) from Henrik Sedin
I'm still mad about this goal and probably will be forever. The Wings put on good pressure for the rest of the period and the shift leading to this goal, but on a puck that gets poked hard around the boards from behind the net, Brad Stuart inexplicably hands the puck over to none other than Henrik Sedin at the blue line, creating a 3-on-2 chance for the Canucks going the other way. Sedin carries up ice with Raffi Torres beside him and Samuelsson trailing. Torres goes to the net front as Sammy receives the puck and fires it past a screened Jimmy Howard. Brad Stuart gets an extra minus here as well as my undying scorn for such a brutal mistake. LIdstrom, Eaves, Bertuzzi, and Filppula will not get minuses on this play.
3rd Period 1:54 - Detroit Goal: Henrik Zetterberg (backhand) from Niklas Kronwall and Ruslan Salei
After Howard bails the Wings' defense out early, Ruslan Salei picks up an outlet pass from the Canucks that didn't connect and passes over to Kronwall. Kronner finds Zetterberg coming through the middle of the ice through the neutral zone with speed. Z is forced wide, but makes the D respect his ability to cut back in. As he feints carrying behind the net, he throws a backhander at Luungo that finds a seam and bounces through to him. This is the kind of soft goal that makes people not fear Roberto Luongo. No scoring adjustment.
3rd Period 12:10 - Vancouver Goal: Jeff Tambellini (snap shot) from Ryan Kesler
Detroit is cycling the puck around the boards in the Vancouver end when a pinch by Rafalski gets through him. Ericsson tries to pitch it back forward, but has his attempt picked off by Kesler to help the Canucks start a 4-on-2 against Ericsson and Abdelkader. Kesler carries in and feeds wide to Tambellini, a right-handed shot coming down the right side. The Canucks forward gathers the pass in and fires a snap shot over Howard's shoulder top shelf to take the lead. I don't like Howard giving up this goal and am going to credit it as a bad goal. However, where I'd normally clear minuses on a bad goal, I feel that Rafalski, Ericsson, and Abdelkader deserve to keep their minuses for a combined trio of miscues which lead to the odd-man chance and the shot. Raffi's inability to get the puck on the pinch, Ericsson's intercepted dump and Abby's failure to get a stick on the shot are enough to let them keep their minuses. However, Hudler and Zetterberg will not get minuses.
3rd Period 16:06 - Detroit Goal (PP): Nicklas Lidstrom (snap shot) from Henrik Zetterberg and Brian Rafalski
Detroit gets a power play late in a reffing move I'd like to call "the same shit you see coming a mile away in every freaking game." This time it benefits the Wings, who were trailing at the time, but I'm not going to give Holmstrom a bonus plus for drawing this one, as it's pretty much a foregone conclusion. Don't worry though, because on the ensuing power play, Holmstrom works magic. First, he takes the puck away from Ryan Kesler in the Vancouver zone to feed Franzen down low; next, he takes a beating in front as Franzen tries to find him for a one-timer; after that, he goes into the corner to retrieve a poke-in and gets absolutely creamed by Bieksa to get it to Zetterberg in the corner, who passes to Rafalski at the point. The Wings' players shift as Rafalski takes it to the other side of the ice with Lidstrom going low and Zetterberg coming high. Raffi passes back across to Z for a one-timer on Luongo with you-know-who standing in front of him. The puck caroms off Luongo straight to Lidstrom low in the zone for the easy put-away into the open net. I'm going to give Holmstrom two assists and a plus on this play. The dedication he shows and hard work is amazing. The first assist is for a combination of the steal on Kesler to keep it in the zone and for taking the punishing hit by Bieksa to get it to Zetterberg. The second assist is for getting right back up after being hammered and stepping into his office to screen Luongo leading to the game-tying goal. Lidstrom makes a couple of head's up plays that get him a half-plus.
Overtime 2:59 - Detroit Goal: Henrik Zetterberg (snap shot) from Brian Rafalski and Darren Helm
In the OT period, Darren Helm pressures Jannik Hansen in his own end into throwing a pass to Alex Edler. While Zetterberg pressures him, Edler mishandles enough so that Helm can be in position to intercept his clearing attempt at the blue line. Helm gets it to Rafalski in the middle for a wrister back deep in the zone under pressure. The shot bounces off Edler's chest and straight to Zetterberg still at the half-boards where he fires off a very quick snap shot that gets past Luongo on the short side for the game-winner. Both Zetterberg and Helm will get half-pluses for their forechecking work on this play.
+1 to Darren Helm: Danger was flying all over the ice and putting a lot of forechecking pressure on a Vancouver defense that had trouble with him. This is the Darren Helm we'd all love to see more of.
+1 to Henrik Zetterberg: When Datsyuk went down, he really stepped his game up to the next level exactly how Detroit needed it. Playing against tough defensive competition, Zetterberg managed a very good 3-point night.
+1 to Valtteri Filppula: The other player I thought really stepped it up tonight was Filppula. His four takeaways led the team and his forechecking was fantastic. Also, although I thought he could have done it more, his five shot attempts was third on the team and no Wings forward played more of those tough 5-on-5 minutes than Flip did.
+1 to Nicklas Lidstrom: with the score tied 1-1 in the 2nd period and the Canucks on a power play, Lidstrom broke up a pass from Henrik Sedin to Ryan Kesler that would have certainly been a goal on Detroit's only successful kill of the night.
Honorable Mentions: Despite the horrible turnover on the Samuellson goal, Brad Stuart didn't play horribly, I'm just not giving a plus to the guy until I can think of him without wanting to yell an expletive. Jonathan Ericsson had an assist and an official +2, but he was the closest among Wings defenders to getting an overall play minus. He's more consistent now, but he turned the puck over a few times. Same goes for Kronwall for that matter. Also, I was all set to give Jiri Hudler a plus for a solid showing in the first period and an impressive body check, but he really faded late. I liked his hustle, but he had zero shots on goal. I just don't think he made enough of a difference to warrant a plus.
St Louis up next on a short turnaround. Hopefully the boys have enough left in the tank.