Well that was uninspiring, wasn't it? No excuses for this one, not even one about a quick whistle that disallowed a goal which looked very similar to one that was allowed previously in the season for another team. The Wings had plenty of chances to put this team away early and choke them to death, but they did not want to put forth the effort required to do so early and later forgot their entire team concept of playing in favor of attempting to be 18 individuals on the ice trying to win the game themselves. I'd give Babcock a minus for letting this happen if I were keeping stats on the coach.
But, make no mistake, Detroit is still the team to beat in the West. I'm not happy with the effort by anybody on either side of the bench for the Red Wings following this game, but San Jose was playing perhaps their most important game of the season to date on Monday while Detroit was playing their first game back from a 5/6 point performance in California. If you're a Red WIngs fan (and it's likely you are), you don't have to spend the next couple of days fretting over whether your team has what it takes. Ultimate bright side time: Detroit went 2-for-6 on their power play opportunities while keeping the Sharks to a 0-for-4 performance.
Jimmy Howard did not play particularly well. He wasn't terrible and he made a couple of big saves, but I feel coming up huge in a couple of spots could have really turned momentum around. I'm going to give him half a bad goal on the Couture wrister in the 2nd period. It was a hell of a shot by the Sharks' rookie, but that was one of those stops that could have really turned the game around. All in all, I'm going to give him a rating of +0.5.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 7:48 - Red Wings Goal (PP): Tomas Holmstrom (tip in) from Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski
After starting the first period with good jump and a good scoring chance, Justin Abdelkader's hustle behind the Sharks net forces a penalty on Derek Joslin. The ensuing power play starts with a Sharks clear, but the Wings dump it back in and fight to retrieve with Datsyuk, Holmstrom, and Franzen doing work in the corner to free the puck and create space. Datsyuk dangles the puck around to back off the San Jose defense enough to find an alley to pass through to Lidstrom on the point. He and Rafalski play catch as they cycle around into the umbrella formation with Lidstrom at the blue line in the middle of the ice. Nick receives a pass, gathers it in, and fires a slap shot that is redirected into the net by Tomas Holmstrom screening in front of Niemi. Pavel Datsyuk will get an assist on this play for his stick-handling to create space. Johan Franzen gets a half-assist for his work in this scrum as well. Although Franzen never actually touches the puck, he takes body position two different times and on two different sides of Datsyuk in order to keep a defender off of the Russian. Abdelkader also gets a plus for drawing the penalty.
Penalty Adjustment: Figuring he's got enough good mojo going from drawing the game's first penalty, Justin Abdelkader gives Dany Heatley the ol' BC two-hander in the Wings' zone. Seriously, he nearly brings the stick down from over his own head like a samurai. He's doing it to break up a cross-ice pass from Thornton, but it's so obvious and dumb that Abby will get a minus for it.
1st Period 15:59 - Sharks Goal (SH): Joe Thornton (wrist shot) from Dany Heatley
With Derek Joslin in the box for his second penalty (this one a blatant elbow), the Wings' power play carries into the Sharks' zone. They try to cycle the puck at the boards, but a pass by Filppula angles off of Zetterberg's skate into the middle of the ice where Heatley picks it up. Jiri Hudler pinches in from the point to cut Heatley off, but a give-and-go to Thornton defeats that idea and the two Sharks' forwards come up ice in a 2-on-1 against Kronwall. Kronner is unable to block a cross-ice saucer pass over his stick and onto Thornton's and Joe pots it over a sprawling Jimmy Howard. Bertuzzi is the only player on the Wings who does not get a minus for this play. The FIlppula pass to Zetterberg was not well-aimed by the passer or well-received by the recipient. The Hudler decision to step up on this play was flat-out wrong and he will get an extra minus. Kronwall's primary job is to block the cross-ice pass. Heatley's pass is very good, but that doesn't absolve Kronner.
1st Period 18:35 - Red Wings Goal (PP): Johan Franzen (snap shot) from Tomas Holmstrom and Brian Rafalski
Detroit is on this power play because Detroit's #55 Kronwalls Ryan Clowe and Logan Couture acts a damned fool over it. I am going to give Kronwall credit for drawing this one as the hit was beautiful and the refusal to take the even-up retaliation was smart. The goal itself is probably among the most beautiful passing plays I've seen all year. Datsyuk carries into the small dead space between three Sharks' defenders, who have to give him enough room or get burned. He takes to the boards to draw two of them with him and passes to Rafalski. Raffi immediately recognizes Holmstrom streaking toward the net up the middle of the ice and hits him in stride. As Niemi and the defense react to Holmstrom's approach, he first a quick-touch backhand to Johan Franzen for the quick snapper past a dizzy Antti Niemi. The passing here is just ridiculous. Datsyuk gets another third assist for making this play work.
2nd Period 4:53 - Sharks Goal: Dany Heatley (tip in) from Niklas Wallin and Justin Braun
The Sharks establish possession in the Wings' zone as they continuously cycle the puck to the outside of the defense. The Wings' do a good job of keeping them to the outside, but at the expense of allowing too much room at the points. Justin Braun takes the puck from the boards and feeds Wallin for a slap shot that is deflected twice on its way past Howard, the second tip coming from Heatley. There will be no scoring adjustment on this play. Nobody is absolved of their minus here because nobody was able to take the puck away from the Sharks, but there were no glaring defensive breakdowns that led to this goal either.
2nd Period 5:01 - Sharks Goal: Logan Couture (wrist shot) from Ryan Clowe
8 seconds later off the faceoff, the Sharks strike again to take the lead. The puck drop gets scrambled as Bertuzzi and Clowe tie up for the puck. Brad Stuart, in an effort to help, pokes the puck forward, but it's taken by the centerman Couture, who is on a partial breakaway thanks to a ridiculously bad angle taken by Valtteri Filppula and the misfortune Stuart had of being heading the wrong direction after poking the puck directly to the rookie. Couture skates into the faceoff circle and releases a wrist shot over Jimmy Howard's glove. Filppula will get an extra minus on this play for the angle he takes on Couture. Franzen will not get a minus, as he had his coverages down. Bertuzzi, Stuart, and Lidstrom all keep their minuses.
2nd Period 18:57 - Sharks Goal: Dany Heatley (wrist shot) from Douglas Murray
After getting a line change with the puck in their own zone, the Wings start the breakout with Henrik Zetterberg. Unfortunately, Z decides to throw a pass to nowhere between Datsyuk and Kronwall. As Kronner joins the rush, the puck ends up bouncing off the boards onto Douglas Murray's stick. Murray immediately finds Heatley going the other way behind Kronwall with Thornton making it a 2-on-1 against Ruslan Salei. I don't know if this is more a mental cramp on Zetterberg's part for the pass to nowhere or on Kronwall's part for not rushing to meet the pass, but it's a turnover in just about the worst possible spot to have one. Both Zetterberg and Kronwall will receive extra minuses on the play. Nobody else will have their minus erased though. Datsyuk had a chance to cut off the angle for the pass to Heatley but didn't. Holmstrom recognizes the pass doesn't connect and, if he moves his feet, can possibly get the puck past Murray. Salei is unfortunate enough to be the guy back on a 2-on-1. He played the pass like instructed, but I feel that he could have forced Heatley more to the outside before giving up the angle to block the lane.
Penalty Adjustment: 3:36 into the 3rd period, Valtteri Filppula goes to the box for high-sticking Joe Thornton. This is a careless offensive zone penalty that was not caused by his stick ramping up or other outside factors; Filppula was simply not thinking. For this, he gets a minus, my temporary scorn, and a coupon for a derisive high-five.
3rd Period 11:17 - Sharks Goal: Logan Couture (tip in) from Ryan Clowe and Derek Joslin
The Sharks put on good pressure, but the Wings' fourth line clears it just long enough to get a line change. As San Jose brings the puck back in, Logan Couture completely steps around Brian Rafalski on the entrance. He tries to feed Ferriero out front, but Ericsson has him covered. The puck comes to Clowe on the far side, who throws a puck at the front of the net that's directed into the net off Couture's skate. Rafalski gets an extra minus for getting stepped around here while Ericsson also picks up a second minus on the play for allowing such a slow-moving puck to get through him. Holmstrom also allows the Clowe pass to get past him, but he has significantly less time to react to it. He won't get an extra minus, but he'll keep the one he's already earned. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are actually covering the points like they're supposed to, so they will not receive minuses.
Penalty Adjustment: two shifts after the goal to put the game away, Johan Franzen takes a charging penalty in the Sharks zone. Replay clearly shows he leaves his feet. This is the kind of undisciplined crap that I can't stand and I'm glad Franzen didn't hurt anybody while doing it. Mule gets a minus for acting like a donkey here.
+1 to Brad Stuart: Stuart made a goal-saving stop in the first period when the game was still close. That's worth a plus to me.
-1 to Jiri Hudler: Again, he's off my radar if he's passively invisible, but the guy was actively detrimental at times (other than when he already got punished for the ill-timed step up). He made a couple of good passes early, but he shat all over that good will by his complete inability to keep the puck on his stick with a Sharks player within five feet of him. If my notes are accurate, and they usually are, then I have really good reason to have written "Hudler fucking sucks" during the 2nd period.
Phantom Adjustment: I want to put this up to all of you as to whether we want to count this, so vote yes or no in the comments below. Directly after the Wings' first goal, Filppula and Zetterberg combine to win a faceoff back to Lidstrom. Nick finds Zetterberg streaking through center ice to gain the zone. Zetterberg draws the Sharks defender near enough to him to give Filppula room from behind to receive Z's pass and bring it in on net. Niemi never controls this puck and Bertuzzi pokes it home behind him, but for some reason, Dave Jackson, the ref who's standing behind the net and is the one person on the ice with the best vantage point to see the puck loses sight and blows the whistle, disallowing the goal. I'm leaning towards counting this anyway for the CSSI adjusted stats, because the nature of the stats is to reflect the work that all of the Red Wings are doing, not necessarily to reflect the scoreboard. If you vote to make this play count, Bertuzzi will get an adjusted goal with assists by Filppula, Zetterberg, and Lidstrom. Also, each of those four along with Brad Stuart would receive a plus. Let me know whether you think this should count or not. If so, I'll change the numbers in the tracking post.
Up next, Red Wings have a couple days to get back on Michigan time before the Predators come into town for a visit fresh off giving up a 2-goal lead and losing to the Thrashers in overtime.