Well this was a fun game to watch. The Wings beat the Los Angeles Kings 8-2 in a game which started well early and only got better for the Wings, as they poured on the pressure, got the good breaks and cruised to an 8-2 victory. Had this been a grudge-match, it feels like Detroit could have put up 15. Instead, I almost feel a little bad for the Kings.
I'm going to admit this, I have no idea what the referees were doing in this game. It felt as though they got tired of pity penalty calling and just decided to get mean late in the game by calling things against the Kings tighter than they had. It's possible they were trying to make sure they didn't lose control of things after a few heated exchanges, but the calls were just not consistent. What was consistent was the Detroit special teams, which went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill and 1-3 on the power play, despite being outshot 29-27.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
1st Period 01:45 - Detroit Goal: Drew Miller (wrist shot) from Darren Helm and Danny Cleary
The Kings start the game with some good zone pressure against the Filppula-Zetterberg-Hudler line. Justin Williams gets one shot attempt blocked before a second one goes wide and is cleared down ice into the Kings' zone for both teams to make a change. Drew Doughty tries to send it up ice to Trevor Lewis, but the puck goes off his stick and to Drew Miller at center. Miller gets it to Cleary going into the zone and the two of them enter on the left wing. Darren Helm joins on the other wing and Cleary feeds him the puck as they gain the line. Helm takes it into the faceoff circle while Cleary and Miller both go to the net. Quick sees a low shot from Helm and kicks it out into the middle of the ice. Miller has beaten his coverage to the front here and sweeps it into the open net for the first goal of the game. This is a pretty terrible turnover by the Kings leading to this goal, but Drew Miller will pick up a self-assist for picking up the loose puck and starting the play up ice.
1st Period 02:00 - Detroit Goal: Cory Emmerton (tip in) from Jonathan Ericsson and Tomas Holmstrom
15 seconds later, the Wings get another one. Abdelkader wins the faceoff and the Wings dump the puck into the Kings' zone. Jonathan Quick stops the puck in front of the no-fly-zone and leaves it there about ten feet away from the net for Matt Greene to pick up. Unfortunately, Quick never accounts for Tomas Holmstrom skating in. Homer beats Greene to the puck and throws it back up through the middle of the Kings zone while everybody wearing white and black has his butthole pucker at the thought of what's about to happen. Jonathan Ericsson is there at the top of the zone to quickly fire the puck at the confusion in front. Cory Emmerton gets his stick on this attempt and tips it through Quick's five hole. Another mistake by the Kings here costs them a goal. However, Holmstrom is going to earn a bonus plus for his hustle to get to this puck first on the forecheck. It's not a mistake by Quick if Homer doesn't do what he does.
Penalty Adjustment: 02:25 into the first period, Johan Franzen battles for a puck on the boards coming out of the LA zone. In the process, Mule brings down Dustin Brown. It's an easy call for the refs to make. Franzen will get a minus.
1st Period 08:32 - Detroit Goal: Niklas Krownall (slap shot) from Danny Cleary and Darren Helm
Danny Cleary and Brad Stuart do some good work on the low boards in the Detroit zone to clear a puck up to Darren Helm standing higher along the boards. While Cleary skates hard to get up ice, Kevin Westgarth steps in to try to pin Helm in. Helm breaks the pressure with a fantastic backhand pass to Cleary in stride coming out of the zone Drew Miller and Niklas Kronwall join the rush skating in on Matt Greene and Alec Martinez, who give up the blue line uncontested in the face of a developing 3-on-2. Cleary gains the line and drops the puck off for Kronwall to pick up while he skates in on his line to tie up with Martinez. This gives Kronwall room to take it to the faceoff dot and fire a slap shot over Quick's shoulder for what would be the game-winner. Defensive work by Brad Stuart, Danny Cleary and Darren Helm will earn them all bonus pluses. The way Cleary drives Martinez out of the way to open a great shooting lane for Kronwall will also get him an extra half-assist.
1st Period 17:15 - Los Angeles Goal: Davis Drewiskie (snap shot) from Justin Williams and Dustin Penner
Zetterberg loses a defensive zone draw, but Hudler gets a chance to clear the puck on a rebound. Unfortunately, the clearing attempt gets stopped at the blue line and thrown back into the zone. Kronwall gets to it behind the net and tries to continue it up the boards to Filppula, but he's set on by a pinching Matt Greene. Flip tries to reverse the play only to see the puck pinball around a bit before being tipped from Penner in the corner to Justin Williams at the top of the faceoff circle. At this point, all five Red Wings skaters are on one side of the ice. Williams recognizes this and hits Drewiskie sneaking in from the far point. The Kings' defenseman snaps it over Howard from the dot to break the shutout. Nobody in this play is going to have his minus cleared, as everybody could have done something differently. The biggest culprit here is Jiri Hudler though. His failed clear will earn him an extra half-minus while the fact that Drewiskie is his coverage responsibility on this play will earn him another full minus. Brad Stuart will also get an extra half-minus on the coverage. As soon as Drewiskie receives it, Stuart recognizes, but he stops short of trying to go out and challenge him in order to stay on the doorstep and watch for rebounds. Considering Filppula and Kronwall were both there to do that, Stuart should have gone out and challenged.
1st Period 18:35 - Detroit Goal: Cory Emmerton (snap shot) from Justin Abdelkader and Tomas Holmstrom
80 seconds later, the three-goal lead is restored. The Kings pick up a loose puck at center and cycle back into their own zone as Jack Johnson skates around behind his own net and tries to go to Colin Fraser up the middle. This pass doesn't connect and Tomas Holmstrom is there to stop it at the line and protect it from Fraser to dump it in and restart the forecheck. Martinez goes back to get it, but is slow to make a decision, which gives Abdelkader time to pin him to the boards. Martinez is able to clear it around to Johnson on the weak side, but Holmstrom backs into coverage before coming into position to cut off the outlet up the boards. Holmstrom does exactly this and steals the puck. While Johnson tries to pin Homer long enough for Fraser to get over, the wily old Swede kicks it out to Abdelkader to the inside. Abby skates it to the corner and turns to see Emmerton cutting into the middle of the ice. While Fraser steps to pressure Abdelkader, the pass comes off the backhand onto Emmerton's stick in front of Alec Martinez in the slot. Emmerton quickly snaps it under Bernier for his 2nd goal of the game. Homer again makes this play happen. I'm going to award him a bonus plus and a bonus assist for his work. Abdelkader's work to turn the puck over is also worthy of a half-plus.
Penalty Adjustment: 07:26 into the 2nd, Jimmy Howard takes his 2nd penalty in as many games. A communication error has him leave the puck behind his own net before realizing that he left it where Colin Fraser would get to it first. To prevent this, he interferes with the Kings' forward. This is a mistake for the Wings' goalie. Minus for Howard.
2nd Period 11:03 - Los Angeles Goal: Jarret Stoll (wrist shot) from Justin Williams and Dustin Penner
Drew Doughty carries into the Wings' zone with speed thanks to Detroit making the long change. He throws a backhand on net that Howard calmly paddles to the far boards. Penner beats Abdelkader to this puck and sets it to Williams at the top of the zone. Williams takes a step inside and throws the puck on net. Howard makes the initial save, but Stoll is there to pick up the rebound and put it past a down-and-out Howard. This play is a little odd. I don't like the rebound, but I feel that it was a direct result of Howard getting bumped at the same time as the puck hits him. Howard is trying to push off to make sure the biscuit hits him squarely, but Stoll's skate stops that from happening. It's not anything close to intentional, nor is it even something severe enough to say that the goal should have been called back, but it makes a bad rebound into an understandable one. The only cleared minus on this play will be Hudler's. Abdelkader and Filppula have a chance to prevent passes/shots while Kronwall and Kindl have a chance to prevent the rebound chance.
2nd Period 12:06 - Detroit Goal: Henrik Zetterberg (backhand) from Jiri Hudler and Niklas Kronwall
Detroit simply will not let Los Angeles off the mat though, as they wait less than two minutes to strike back again. Brad Stuart does yeoman's work along the boards in the Detroit zone to interrupt the Kings' forecheck and cycle, eventually pinning Dustin Penner to the boards while Kronwall pins Stoll. Kronner pokes it to Hudler on the half-boards to be pressured by Dustin Brown. Hudler beats the pressure by chipping it around the forward into space. Zetterberg and Doughty race for this puck with Z getting his stick to it first to poke it to center ice and race into the zone with it. Alec Martinez ranges over to cover Zetterberg now entering the zone on the left wing while Doughty backs off to cover Filppula driving through the middle. Z cuts across the blue line while Martinez tries to step up on him and Brown backchecks. Somehow Z keeps control while shooting through the middle of the ice down to the opposite faceoff dot. Here, Zetterberg gets a backhand off which beats Bernier to the short side, of the post and in. Brad Stuart's hard work on the boards is assist-worthy on this play. Zetterberg's puck control being hounded by two players is incredible. Hank will get a bonus half-plus. I'm also going to give Stuart and Kronwall the pluses they lose by changing in favor of Lidstrom and White.
2nd Period 19:38 - Detroit Goal: Pavel Datsyuk (tip in) from Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi
You've got to love the Budd Lynch goals that happen in favor of the Wings. Well, if you've read this far, you pretty much have to love ANY goal scored by the Wings, but that's not important. What is important is that in the last minute of play in the 2nd, Drew Doughty carries into the Wings zone and blows a tire. Anze Kopitar steps in to pick up the loose puck, but Pavel Datsyuk lifts his stick and heads the other way with it (probably giggling to himself, the crafty bastard). On the rush, Datsyuk makes the exact same play as he did to create a Filppula goal against the Jets where he throws an absolutely sick backhand pass through traffic to a late man coming in. The difference this time is that it's at 5-on-5 and that the man he passes it to (Lidstrom) misses the shot. The Kings recover the rebound, but have to reset behind their own net. Franzen and Datsyuk stay up to forecheck and the Kings play into this by goofing around with the puck in their own zone. This gives the Wings time to cut off the simple angles. Jack Johnson goes to Doughty from one side of the ice behind the net to the other. The puck bounces slightly off Doughty's stick, which gives Franzen enough time to cut off his options into the middle and force him to throw the puck up the boards. The Wings catch a bit of a lucky bounce as it goes through Kopitar (covered closely by Bertuzzi) and hits the linesman trying to jump out of the way. Dustin Brown comes flying out of the Kings' zone trying to pick up the loose puck, but Bert dives and lunges at the puck to prevent that. Still on one knee and with Kopitar draped over him, Bert sweeps the puck off the boards back to Franzen as he tags up at the blue line. Doughty is completely out of position on this 2-on-1 and can't do anything about Franzen feathering a pass into the middle where Datsyuk is coming in all alone. Bernier has just enough time to mentally picture all of the horrible things Datsyuk can do to him before it's on Pavel's stick. Pavel goes with the incredibly simple play of simply redirecting the pass to the far post and into the net. This is a beauty goal. Ultimately, no additional points will be awarded, but both Datsyuk and Bertuzzi will get a bonus plus for their work to take the puck away from the opposition on this series.
Penalty Adjustment: 2:32 into the third, Justin Abdelkader goes to the box for high sticking on Colin Fraser. Despite Mickey Redmond's pleas to the contrary, getting your stick into a guy's face to defend yourself is still a penalty. Abdelkader will get a minus.
3rd Period 07:34 - Detroit Goal: Drew Miller (snap shot) from Danny Cleary
The Wings free the puck up in their own end and carry it out. Ian White dumps the puck cross-ice for Dustin Brown to retrieve under pressure by Darren Helm. Brown tries to relieve the pressure by dumping it behind his own net. Danny Cleary cuts it off before it gets to Scuderi and tries to get it to Helm cutting toward the front. Jack Johnson gets his skates in the way of the pass, but both Helm and Cleary are there to pester him. Helm blocks his outlet attempt to Brown and Cleary recovers it. Johnson sweeps back at the puck in a panic, but ends up sweeping it directly onto the stick of Drew Miller standing in a hole wide enough to drive Jonathan Ericsson's suck through. Miller wastes no time snapping it far side top shelf to get himself into the curly fries conversation. Helm is definitely going to pick up an assist on this, but he'll also get a bonus plus for his forechecking. Cleary will also earn a bonus plus for the great forechecking work to create this.
3rd Period 11:18 - Detroit Goal (PP): Brad Stuart (slap shot) from Cory Emmerton and Niklas Kronwall.
The Penalty - Colin Fraser (charging): Stuart retrieves a loose puck in the corner of the Wings zone. Colin Fraser plugs him squarely in the numbers into the boards. I think it's more boarding than charging, but who cares? No adjustment here.
Ken and Mick are barely done talking about Ian White's antler chandelier when Detroit puts their eight on the scoreboard. Abdlkader wins a faceoff to Holmstrom, who goes to Kronwall at the point Kronner goes to Emmerton on the side boards while Homer sets up shop in his office. Emmer steps off the boards towards Abby standing covered in the high slot. This draws the PKers close to him before he goes across the ice (on the 2nd try) to Brad Stuart at the top of the opposite faceoff circle. Stuart sets it up and blasts a slap shot through Tomas Holmstrom's dirty wickets and into the net. This is a very well-set goal. Abdelkader winning the faceoff and running the decoy will earn him a half-assist on this play while Holmstrom will pick up the screener's assist for giving Bernier nothing but butt to view while the puck goes in.
2nd Period 00:43 - Todd Bertuzzi (hooking): My god this call is so soft. Pity penalties don't deserve minuses.
2nd Period 13:18 - Kevin Westgarth (unsportsmanlike): Westgarth is trying to fire up his team by running Jimmy Howard immediately after a scrum where Howard had been bumped and the Wings took exception. It's a dumb play by Westgarth, but not a drawn call.
3rd Period 13:25 - Jarret Stoll (hooking): This feels like a makeup call for the refs letting Stoll get away with a late hit on Stuart earlier in the period. The hook itself was as weak as the Bertuzzi hook.
+1 to Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall: I thought this was Detroit's best defensive pair, considering they played behind the forward unit which struggled the most and against LA's toughest forward trio.
+1 to Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg: The line of Filppula-Zetterberg-Hudler struggled with puck possession tonight as a whole unit. However, Flip and Z led the way for Red Wings forwards playing on the PK tonight. Some of it has to do with the LA Squad struggling, but they were very good defensively in this game
+1 to Johan Franzen: Compared to his defensive play last year when he was either trying to do too much or too little, Franzen is having a much better season working hard on getting to what he's supposed to be getting to. In this game, he had some excellent plays on the boards and the backcheck.
Kindl was the most up-and-down noticeable defenseman on the Wings, in that he made some scary plays, but made up for them. Ericsson had a solid game after a good first period. I did not find myself instinctively reaching for booze every time that pairing was on the ice while watching this game.
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