Mike Babcock seen here wishing he had 18 forwards willing to work as hard as the guy with the puck here.
The Red Wings traveled to Phoenix for a West coast game that started on a more East coast friendly time, managed to jump out to a 2-0, then eventually 4-1 lead before losing this game in a shootout. Despite being outshot in the first, the Wings played a very good period, and then got away from the habits that make road teams successful. They lost control of the pace of the game and started trying to force the play through the neutral zone again when cycling back and drawing forecheckers too deep had worked so well. I always hate when I have to admit this, but Mike Babcock got outcoached.
Of course, the 'Yotes had some help in this game, by way of favors from the Red Wings in giving them plenty of power play opportunities. The one thing that did work consistently well was the Detroit penalty kill though, as they stopped Phoenix on all five opportunities. On the other end, Detroit got three opportunities and converted on the first for a respectable number. The real reffing story was the first Phoenix goal, but I'll get to that below.
Jimmy Howard started the game in amazing fashion, as he made several huge saves throughout the game, the biggest coming on a rebound chance for Martin Hanzal 4:54 into the 2nd period that he managed to get a stick on. All in all, I counted four big saves. Aside from the Hanzal shot, there was also a brilliant save on Radim Vrbata from the slot on the Coyotes' first power play as the puck moved from side-to-side, a great job holding the near post on a Shane Doan opportunity in low, and another excellent job of shutting down the five hole as Whitney came rushing in on a breakaway. I thought he did a very good job of controlling the pace of play in the first period, but faded in effectiveness late. I don't think any of the goals he gave up were weak, but I'm only rating him a +3 because of the late fading. His defense had plenty to do with it, but he lost his ability to control rebounds and help dictate the pace late and that cost him.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump.The Goals
1st Period 02:04 - Detroit Goal: Drew Miller (wrist shot) from Darren Helm
David Schlemko has the puck in the Phoenix zone where he's pressured by Bertuzzi into trying to throw the puck off the boards on the opposite side of the ice to Kyle Turris. The pass misses as Helm steps up in the neutral zone and pokes it forward to Miller. Drew Miller goes the other way with it on Aucoin. As he crosses the blue line, he throws a puck on net through Aucoin that Bryzgalov sees, but completely misplays and allows through his five hole. This is a weak goal by Bryzgalov, but I like Bertuzzi's forechecking and Helm's step-up. Bert and Helm will get a half bonus plus each.
Penalty Adjustment (x2): Brad Stuart takes two penalties 5 1/2 minutes apart at this point in the period. The first is a hook on Lauri Korpikoski which is a good call and the second is an offensive zone high-stick on Rozsival. Stuart minus two.
1st Period 16:57 - Detroit Goal (PP): Johan Franzen (wrist shot) from Nicklas Lidstrom and Mike Modano
With Michal Rozsival in the box for holding up Pavel Datsyuk behind the Phoenix net, Detroit's power play goes to work. Franzen loses the initial faceoff, forcing the Wings to chase after a clear. After retrieving in their own end where Lidstrom makes a clever decoy play to draw the forechecker Vernon Fiddler in and then let the puck by him to Franzen, the rush starts up ice when Franzen passes it (inexplicably) to Howard. Howie collects it and passes to Modano, who picks up speed and carries down ice into the Phoenix end. He shovels it to Lidstrom on the wing where the captain dumps it in behind the net. Klesla threatens to get there first, but some good hustle by Hudler cancels him out and lets the puck again go to Franzen. Mule goes to Filppula on the boards to carry to the top of the zone. Filppula and Modano play catch a couple times while the umbrella sets up. Vernon Fiddler tries to get between the second pass from Flip to Mo, but misses his shot. Modano now turns the other way and gets it to Lidstrom in the left faceoff circle. Lidstrom carries low and waits for Aucoin to come out and challenge. Meanwhile, Franzen steps away from his position at net-front into the slot where there's a lane between the penalty killers on Lidstrom's side. The pass connects to Franzen's stick and he immediately turns with it to fire it over Bryzgalov's glove for his first goal since the Ottawa game. Jiri Hudler canceling Klesla's stick is worth another half-assist. I also feel that Filppula deserves an assist for helping draw the forwards on the PK out and help create the hole in the coverage that Franzen exploits.
1st Period 18:41 - Phoenix Goal: Kyle Turris (wrist shot) from Adrian Aucoin and Brett MacLean
This goal is bullshit. Turris skates all over the Detroit end, starting behind the net, he passes out to MacLean, who has a shot blocked that luckily bounces back to Turris to skate up the boards with it. Next, he turns and fires a wrist shot that Howard deflects back to the near corner where Turris picks it up again. Now, he makes a slight move to prevent Modano from bodying him off and starts to step out front with it. Bertuzzi stepping up on him forces him to lose the puck back to Adrian Aucoin, who gets a bit of a running start on the slap shot he takes from the top of the circle. Howard stops this, but from that range, can't put the rebound exactly where he wants to. The puck bounces to Turris at the side of the net. As Howard tries to move to get on the shot, he runs into Brett MacLean running a pick. Without a goalie to worry about, Turris puts it in the open net. This goal would be frustrating no matter what, but it's especially annoying after two straight Thursday night lessons about how even incidental contact with a goaltender outside of the crease should lead to a no-goal. Now, suddenly a guy runs a pick on the goalie and it's allowed to stand. To be clear, my stance on this is that you should be allowed to run a still pick on even a goalie outside of his crease, but that's not the way they've called the rule this year and it's horseshit that this goal was allowed to count. However, I'm not clearing any minuses on the play, since it should not have gotten to this. Although, I am going to give Bertuzzi an extra half-minus. When Turris tries to step to the middle, he has his head down and is skating straight at Bert. This was an opportunity to plow a guy over with a hard, legal check. Taking Turris out of the play probably prevents this goal.
Penalty Adjustment (x2): less than two minutes into the second period, Jakub Kindl finds himself flat-footed against Mikkal Boedker streaking in on the wing and hooks him as a result. Kindl gets a minus. Later in the period, Nick Lidstrom goes to the box for grabbing Hanzal behind the net on what would become Jimmy Howard's biggest save of the night. Lidstrom gets a minus.
2nd Period 15:27 - Detroit Goal: Valtteri Filppula (wrist shot) from Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart
Detroit gains possession in their own zone, as Stuart goes to Lidstrom to start the rush. Thankfully, the Phoenix feed decides to cut away from Nick Lidstrom's outlet pass to Valtteri Filppula in favor of showing Derek Morris returning to the Phoenix bench. Also thankfully, the NHL.com highlights chose to use this feed to cut the goal from. At any rate, Flip carries through the neutral zone on the wing with speed. He cuts into the middle to fire a shot on Bryzgalov that the 'Yotes goaltender stops. Filppula then picks up his own rebound and fires again. This time, Bryzgalov deflects it to the corner behind the net. Filppula again gets the puck and tries to center it, but puts it off Bryzgalov's blocker and into the net behind him. Filppula will get an assist on his own goal here. Hudler's center lane drive at the net to make space for all of this to happen is also worth a half-assist.
Penalty Adjustment: 18:05 into the middle frame, Detroit carries through center ice in a 2-on-2 rush. Inexplicably, Bertuzzi skates into Keith Yandle and runs the ugliest pick since Phil Kessel won a car at the All-Star weekend. Bertuzzi gets a minus.
2nd Period 19:47 - Detroit Goal (SH): Darren Helm (wrist shot) from Brad Stuart
After a pretty good chance by Detroit, Mikkel Boedker carries into the Wings' zone for a chance to score a power play goal for Phoenix. Instead, his pass to Stempniak on the wing misses behind the player and allows Brad Stuart to step up and clear it down ice. From here, Helm's speed takes over as he races Schlemko down the ice to retrieve it. Helm takes it off Schlemko in the corner and steps out front with it. From within the faceoff circle about ten feet out, Helm fires it top shelf over Bryzgalov's glove. Helm's good work here is worth an extra plus. Stuart's recognition of a good time to step up in the zone will also net him a bonus half-plus.
3rd Period 02:32 - Phoenix Goal: Mikkel Boedker (wrist shot) unassisted
On a routine dump-in by Phoenix, Howard controls behind the net where he sweeps it to Kindl. Under no forechecking pressure, Kindl tries to go to Helm skating out of the zone through the middle. Unfortunately, the puck misses Helm and goes straight to Boedker, who puts it into the open net before Jimmy Howard can yell "what the fuck, Kindl?" from behind his own goal. This is just an awful decision by the rookie defenseman to put the puck toward the middle of his own ice while his goaltender is still behind the net. Kindl will get an extra minus-and-a-half. I feel Helm is also partly to blame for not getting a stick on the pass. It was a little bit inside on him, but it's not like Kindl passed it through Helm's feet. Helm will get an extra half-minus for this. Miller, Salei, and Abdelkader are cleared of their minuses. They did nothing wrong on this play.
3rd Period 14:34 - Phoenix Goal: Ray Whitney (wrist shot) from Kyle Turris and Shane Doan
Niklas Kronwall steps up on Shane Doan in his own end to separate him from the puck on a good play. Unfortunately, Helm can't control the puck and loses it just inside the Phoenix blue line. This creates an odd-man situation coming through center ice that turns back into a 3-on-3 rush as Helm gets back. Turris brings it in on the wing and tries to feather it in front of the net for either Doan or Whitney rushing toward the net. Instead, Kronwall sweeps it to the corner and then cancels with Doan to prevent him from getting the puck. The puck instead rolls to Whitney behind the net to go to Turris in the corner. Whitney steps out front just in time to complete the give-and-go from Turris. With the puck directly in front of the net, Whitney whips around and deposits it under Jimmy Howard as he struggles to adjust to the movement. Considering Kronwall made the first good step-up in the offensive zone and then tied up his man exactly as he should have, I don't think it's fair to give Kronwall a minus, so I won't. Helm ends up making two mistakes on this play. The first is losing the puck at the offensive blue line and the second is losing Whitney as he comes out front. These mistakes will combine for an extra minus-and-a-half for Helm. Abdelkader and Miller are covering the points here and, in fact, Abdelkader even recognizes pretty quickly what's going on and tries to get in to stop it. Neither Abby nor Miller will get a minus. Ericsson's positioning is decent on the play, but he fails to stop the pass from Turris to Whitney and will keep his minus for it.
3rd Period 18:03 - Phoenix Goal: Martin Hanzal (wrist shot) from Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney
With about two minutes to go, the Wings play prevent defense in the neutral zone. Rozsival can't find a seam through the defense, so he does the sensible thing in gaining the red line and dumping it in. Cleary gets it on the far side, but is immediately pressured by Whitney into throwing it back around behind his own net. The puck finds its way past Jonathan Ericsson and onto the stick of Vrbata, who pushes it farther around the other side. Vrbata pokes it to the point where Whitney has moved to collect it and throw it at the net through traffic. The puck bounces off Hanzal and hits Howard, where it sits in Ericsson's feet. While the lumbering Swede is busy thinking about the meaning of life and other deep, meaningful bullshit, Hanzal, the man of action gets a stick on it and pushes it past Howard to tie the game. Ericsson will get an extra minus-and-a-half for his two mistakes on this play. His first mistake was letting the puck from Cleary get by him to allow Phoenix to continue the rush; the second was, of course, his failure to either clear the puck from his own feet or tie up his man. I feel the entire line had some chance on this play to prevent the goal from happening, so nobody is getting cleared of a minus.
+1 to Drew Miller: Aside from the weak goal he scored, Miller was awesome on the PK in this game. He should be slightly harder to scratch from the lineup come Wednesday against the Kings.
+1 to Justin Abdelkader: Abby also had a solid game of laying the body and playing defensively sound hockey. Add to that the puck he swept out of the crease after it went through Howard and off the post to save a goal and you've got yourself a plus.
-1 to Nicklas Lidstrom: The Whitney breakaway in the 2nd period was the result of Lidstrom getting caught flat-footed. He did not live up to his own standard in this game. Lidstrom made some good plays, but he looked a step slow in his own end.
-1 to Ruslan Salei: The official scoreboard had him as a +2, but he did not handle the puck well in this game. He consistently passed his forechecker problems off to the next guy by moving the puck to covered forwards, which led to a couple of keep-ins that extended the time spent playing in Detroit's end.
+1 to Niklas Kronwall: I thought Kronwall was the most consistently good Red Wings' defenseman in this game. He laid the body well, tied up sticks, and got to pucks. His decision-making in the offensive end was a lot better in this game than it had been recently.
Honorable Mentions: The Turris interference call in the third was a good call, but it wasn't drawn; the same is true of the Hanzal boarding penalty that Dave Strader spent the last four and a half minutes of regulation complaining about, even after Tyson Nash chimes in that the Coyotes' Ray Whitney told him that he'd have expected a call going the other way. If you're reading this, Strader (which I know you are, you lurking fool, you), to answer your question about what Hanzal should have done there, he should have not hit Brad Stuart in the numbers. I appreciate that Hanzal didn't follow through on his check and cause injury, but he hit a guy in the numbers. Back to the players though: Datsyuk had a good night in the faceoff circle, but he had a bit of trouble breaking out. Jonathan Ericsson played half a game very well and then half a game below-average. I was all set to give him a plus for how well he played on the puck and took the hit to make a play, but he stopped doing those things late. Franzen had good hustle, but didn't convert that to a lot of opportunities for the Wings.
Los Angeles Wednesday. I'm guaranteeing a win.