Not a great effort in this game, as the Red Wings have now lost three games in a row and fans everywhere prepare their guts for ritual seppuku. I thought Nashville played a pretty good game on the night, capitalizing on opportunities when they got them. The Predators certainly carried play early and were able to hold off the Wings' onslaught late as Detroit held a shot advantage of 29-10 through the last two periods.
Neither team was able to capitalize on any of the four power play opportunities given to each side. However, Detroit's first goal of the game came shorthanded off Pavel Datsyuk's stick, so at least we can safely say we won the special teams battle (party hats & streamers). Unfortunately, despite Lindback the giant goalie going down early any time a Red Wings player approached him, the Wings kind of forgot that there's space in the net more than two feet off the ice. I was not horribly impressed by Lindback's fundamentals, but when you're tall enough to smell the awesome wafting off of the banners hanging from the rafters at the Joe, fundamentals tend to matter a bit less.
Jimmy Howard had an opportunity to win this game for the Red Wings and he didn't. I'm not saying he lost it for them either, but this was not a good performance. The two last goals he gave up were bad enough from a "could have stopped them" perspective without their timing being brutal. From a scoring perspective, I'm only calling the second goal outright weak, but I also only counted one big save for Howard, leaving his rating at a 0.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
Quick Note: I'm rolling out a change to the way I'm scoring CSSI. I'll have a full explanation post up hopefully tonight, but for now, this game is being analyzed based on a newer system by which I am not limiting a player to one point on a goal scored.
Penalty Adjustment: You know it's a bad omen when one of these comes before even the first goal. During some early pressure by the Wings fourth line in the first period, Patrick Eaves jumps in front of a guy away from the puck behind the Nashville net for an easy penalty call. No excuses for taking one 200 feet from your own net. Eaves gets a minus.
1st Period 19:27 - Nashville Goal: Colin Wilson (wrist shot) from Cal O'Reilly and Steve Sullivan
Detroit's 2nd line is trying to close out an ugly period with some good pressure, as Franzen carries up the boards and Ericsson starts to move low to cycle. Unfortunately, the puck is intercepted by Sullivan and he starts up ice with O'Reilly in tow and Franzen trying to catch up. Sullivan drops the puck to O'Reilly as the Wings' D tries to set up. The Preds' forward skates through the center of the ice with Rafalski trailing while Colin Wilson goes to the front of the net. Right as O'Reilly gets to the point where Rafalski is handing off coverage of Wilson to Ericsson to block the lane, the pass comes and the puck ends up behind Howard. Franzen will get an extra minus here for the turnover. Bertuzzi and Filppula do not receive minuses, as the goal happened before they had a chance to get back into the play. Rafalski and Ericsson keep their minuses for being back, but not stopping the play from developing. Neither will get punished extra though because of how impressed I am with the patience of O'Reilly to wait until the exact second the coverage shifts before firing a pass to Wilson.
2nd Period 00:49 - Nashvillle Goal: Martin Erat (wrist shot) from Sergei Kostitsyn and Marcel Goc
The 2nd period starts with a decent first shift by the fourth line. After Lindback freezes the puck, the Preds win a defensive zone faceoff and head up ice. Goc feeds Kostitsyn coming across the blue line for a low shot on Howard. Jimmy pushes the rebound out the other end, but it is far too close to the center of the ice directly to Marty Erat. The Nashville Pretty-Boy puts it back on Howard; he stops the initial chance, but puts that rebound straight into the air where it bounces off of Ericsson and past him. This is two bad rebounds on one play for Jimmy Howard and perhaps his weakest goal of the season. As a result of this, Rafalski, Bertuzzi, Filppula, and Ericsson will not get a minus. The deflection off E's glove is a fluke and was caused solely by the bad rebound. I am going to let Franzen keep his minus for not tying up Erat's stick on the rush.
Penalty Adjustment: With the Wings putting on the best pressure of the period so far on a line with Datsyuk, Franzen, and Holmstrom, Homer blocks a pass behind the net and fights for it with Martin Erat. At the 11:05 mark, Homer gets his stick up on the Preds forward for a double-minor. Gotta control that stick, Homer. This gets him a minus.
2nd Period 13:04 - Detroit Goal (SH): Pavel Datsyuk (tip in) from Henrik Zetterberg
On the four-minute penalty, Babcock puts Datsyuk and Zetterberg together on the penalty kill to see what he can spark. The move works beautifully as a momentary mishandle by the Preds at the Red Wings' blue line goes the other way thanks to Zetterberg forcing the play and poking it past the defender to Head the other way in a near-2-on-1. Datsyuk heads to the net while Z skates into the middle and releases a backhand that Lindback leaves laying in front. Datsyuk tries to chip it over him, but it hits the post. Fortunately, the man with the best hand-eye coordination in the league picks it up in midair and slaps it home. Both Zetterberg and Datsyuk will receive bonus pluses for their work making this play happen.
Penalty Adjustment: Later in the 2nd period, as the Wings start to control the momentum, they earn a power play opportunity when Colin Wilson goes to the box for high-sticking. 1:37 into the power play, Filppula gets the puck down low in front of Lindback, but doesn't get a shot off on the towering goaltender who's blocking the low part of the net. Instead, Flip backs off and tries to go cross-crease to Bertuzzi standing in front. Unfortunately, Bert doesn't have his stick on the ice, choosing instead to use it for the evil purpose of cross-checking a guy in the back as he falls down. Bertuzzi gets a minus for doing this. He needs to have his stick on the ice here.
Penalty Adjustment:In the third period now, the Wings are pressing to even it up. Good pressure in the Predators zone forces Jerred Smithson to hold up Holmstrom out front for a penalty. Holmstrom will earn back a plus for forcing Smithson to take this call.
Penalty Adjustment: After the first power play of the period expires, the Wings are again putting pressure on in the Nasvhille zone. Some great cycling work by Dan Cleary to get it to Hudler, who fights off a check and finds Stuart streaking into the middle forces Erat to trip Stuart up. No one player's hustle totally creates this penalty, but Stuart, Hudler, and Cleary will all get half-pluses for combining to get Erat turned around enough to force him to take a penalty.
3rd Period 14:37 - Nasvhille Goal: JP Dumont (snap shot) unassisted
The Wings are really pressing hard to even up the game by this point and activating their defensemen. Unfortunately, this can lead to trouble and does here. Zetterberg has the puck behind the Nashville net while Brad Stuart takes off toward the slot looking for a pass. Unfortunately, Z doesn't recognize that Stuart has left his point and tries banking the puck up the boards to his open spot at the point. JP Dumont picks up the loose puck and skates the other way with it with Klein jumping into the rush to force Salei off Dumont to defend. Dumon skates into the faceoff circle and rips a goal top corner on the glove side. This is the 2nd game in a row where a Zetterberg pass to nowhere leads to an odd-man rush and a goal against. This will earn Zetterberg an extra minus on the play. I'm also going to clear the minus for everybody else here: Stuart, Salei, Cleary and Hudler catch breaks and don't get minuses. They had been doing some good work previously on the shift and Stuart is supposed to be taking these chances with the Wings down late. For Salei, while I typically don't clear a minus for the guy who was back on the odd-man rush, I think circumstance works well enough in his favor here to exonerate it.
3rd Period 18:27 - Detroit Goal: Johan Franzen (wrist shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula
Late in the third with the Wings trailing by two goals and Howard on the bench for the extra skater, they get one to pull close to a comeback. Datsyuk carries in and sets up the play by cycling back to Rafalski. Raffi dishes to LIdstrom, who finds FIlppula off the bench. Flip and Mule play catch at the side boards before Franzen passes to Holmstrom behind the goal line in at the side of the net. Holmstrom finds Filppula sneaking in for a one-timer that Lindback stops, but leaves the rebound in front. Datsyuk tries to put home the rebound himself, but Joel Ward tips it off his stick and right to Franzen, who double-clutches the puck before firing it home. Interestingly, Datsyuk got the primary assist here and I don't think he deserved it. I'm not going to clear him of an assist on the scoresheet because he did more than enough work in the zone to earn it though. Holmstrom definitely gets an assist for feeding Flip out front for the primary shot. I'm also going to give Franzen an assist here on his own goal for the pass to Holmstrom. Filppula and Lidstrom each get half-assists for their passing even further back in the play.
+1 to Darren Helm: His penalty-killing work on the night was stellar. He may be one of the best PK forwards in the league.
+1 to Jiri Hudler: Admittedly, I was probably looking harder at him than I was a lot of forwards, considering the recent talks about his status with the Wings, but he had a good night. The 14:58 of ice time is his highest of the season and I really liked his passing and positioning as well as the two shots he took.
+1 to Justin Abdelkader: He was the most effective forechecker the Wings had in a night where they needed more forechecking. He laid a couple of good-sized hits on Predators playing and had more takeaways on the scoresheet than Datsyuk. I also continue to be impressed by his shoot-from-anywhere attitude, especially with how often I'm bemoaning some of his teammates for being too fancy at times.
Honorable Mentions: Despite looking like shit on the scoresheet thanks to Nasvhille capitalizing on their chances, I liked the jump of Bertuzzi-FIlppula-Franzen early. They just didn't put it together. Cleary was close to getting a plus, I feel, but he looked like he faded a bit late.
Time to figure it out, boys, because Montreal is not a slouch team, despite being in the East. This week could turn into quicksand very fast and Detroit needs to work through what looks like some focus issues.