Detroit finished their 2011 with a bang as they shut out the Blues at the Joe Louis Arena by a 3-0 score. The teams played a very tight first period before the Wings made adjustments for the 2nd and poured it on with three goals in the second. Those were the only goals of the game and all the Wings would need to even the season series between these two teams.
For a change, I felt the refs did a downright decent job with this game. Then again, that may simply be a result of the Blues taking three of four "automatic" calls (two high-sticks and a puck-over-glass). I do feel they did well in making a call against Ian Cole for an illegal check to the head at least. The Wings' PK remained strong in killing off all three of the Blues power plays, but it looks like it's going to be time to take the PK behind the woodshed for some re-education. Score effects helped St. Louis even the shot differential at 31, but this game was all Detroit.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
Penalty Adjustment: 3:18 into the 2nd period, Nicklas Lidstrom goes to the box for holding. This play develops as the Blues forecheck mercilessly in the Wings' zone. Detroit gets a chance to clear, but fails as Jiri Hudler's outlet pass through the middle of his own zone is blocked and held in (barely) at the line. Another pass attempt from White to Zetterberg which would have led to a clear fails moments later. As a result, David Perron gets the puck and a chance to cut in. Lidstrom cuts off his angle and Perron falls down. There's definitely a free hand at play here though. Lidstrom will get a minus. However, Hudler, White, and Zetterberg were also part of what made this play develop like it did. Each will get a half-minus.
2nd Period 07:28 - Detroit Goal: Johan Franzen (wrist shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall
Detroit gets on the board first with the eventual game-winner. The Wings put on pressure in the zone and Kronwall gets a good scoring chance before St. Louis is able to clear the zone and bring it up ice. This little Blues rush is quickly ended as Kronwall wipes Patrik Berglund off at the high boards and Brad Stuart beats Chris Stewart to the loose puck behind the net after Berglund dumps it in. Stewart hits Stuart, but not before the puck is reversed behind the net to Kronwall for the outlet to Datsyuk exiting the zone. Perron steps up on Datsyuk as he crosses center ice, but Pavs makes a very smart play to use his body and angle Perron off the play as he lets the puck go to Franzen skating up ice with speed. The Blues' defense is forced to back off by Franzen's speed and by Bertuzzi's presence at the blue offensive blue line. As Barret Jackman backs in and takes up position to force Franzen against the boards (which Franzen looks all too willing to skate into as a great sell-job), Kronwall goes to the net on the far side. Franzen gives Jackman the slip by quickly cutting back toward the middle of the ice. There's a huge hole here for Franzen to skate through. He uses his room to skate in on Elliott at the bottom of the circle to force the goaltender to make a move. As soon as this is complete, Franzen cuts across to the other hash mark and fires it in. What a great goal. Brad Stuart will pick up the third assist for helping spring this play. Additionally, Kronwall, Stuart, and Datsyuk will each pick up a half-plus for defensive work to set the transition. Franzen's cut in on Jackman will also get him a bonus half-plus.
2nd Period 08:45 - Detroit Goal: Justin Abdelkader (snap shot) from Drew Miller
The Wings' third line recovers a puck in their own zone and moves it up ice for a give-and-go attempt by Abdelkader and Cleary entering the zone. D'Agostini pokes the puck off Cleary's stick to the corner and the two go in to battle for it. Shattenkirk comes in to help and he pokes the puck back off the boards to get it around an on-rushing Abdelkader. As Shattenkirk and Arnott leave the zone on the wing, Drew Miller has already started backing out to get into defensive position. Cleary chases and hounds Shattenkirk, who tries to alleviate the pressure with a pass to Ian Cole standing in the middle of the ice as the safety valve. Miller gets his stick on this pass attempt to leave it laying in the slot. Abdelkader picks it up and turns back toward Elliott, snapping his fourth goal of the year over the blocker. Miller will pick up a bonus plus for the defensive work. It's a boneheaded turnover by Shattenkirk, but Miller recognizes where he needs to be positionally very early and does everything he needs to. Cleary will also pick up a non-touch assist and a bonus half-plus. His dogged hustle to get back quickly and force Shattenkirk to try and make that pass makes a big difference.
2nd Period 19:07 - Detroit Goal: Jiri Hudler (wrist shot) from Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg
Great pressure and teamwork by the Wings' 2nd line to get this one done. As they tend to do when playing well, Detroit begins playing defense ten feet inside the offensive zone, as the Blues fight to get a clear, but aren't allowed to keep possession coming out of their zone. Zetterberg recovers the loose puck and turns it to Stuart at his own blue line. Stu carries to the center stripe before hitting FIlppula coming into the zone. Flip is beset by two Blues defenders, so he immediately pushes the puck to Jiri Hudler standing at the point while he drags the defenders low. Hudler gets it to Zetterberg coming in as the late man down the middle of the ice. David Backes gets back to keep Z from making a move, but Hank still manages to get a spinning forehand shot off. This puck goes just wide, but Valtteri Filppula is the only man there to get it behind the net. Flip picks it up and carries it to the corner with Roman Polak in tow while Alex Pietrangelo takes the near post/behind-the-net pass and Backes goes to la-la land as far as where he should be standing. Polak takes an angle to wipe Filppula off the puck on the boards in the corner, but Flip is crafty and feisty and other words as well. Polak comes up empty as Filppula turns back inside with the puck and takes one stride before finding a wide-open Jiri Hudler standing out front for a shot on net. Elliott stops the initial one, but neither he nor Pietrangelo can prevent Hudler from putting the rebound back in. This will be another third assist for Stuart, as the quick turn and pass helped the play develop at the speed it did. Hudler will pick up a half self-assist for his great play to hit Zetterberg streaking in on net. The play very nearly turned into a goal right there. Bonus half-pluses will go to Kronwall and Zetterberg, as their defensive pressure on the boards is what keeps the Blues from exiting their zone cleanly.
Penalty Adjustment: 03:05 into the third, Gustav Nyquist goes off for tripping up David Backes as he drives hard down the middle of the ice. This will earn Nyquist a penalty minus. He definitely jams his stick in and takes the man down.
Penalty Adjustment: at 14:23, Henrik Zetterberg gets a call for a holding penalty on David Perron. This is another case of Perron going down like Joe Thornton was in the building, but Zetterberg only has one hand on his stick when Perron takes this tumble and it's an easy call for the ref to make. Zetterberg will get a half-minus.
1st Period - 06:34: Patrik Berglund (high sticking): Berglund is careless with his stick and gets it up on Brad Stuart. Nothing forced about this one.
1st Period - 09:11: Ian Cole (check to the head): Justin Abdelkader brings the puck across the blue line coming into the St. Louis zone and Ian Cole steps up on him to catch him with his head down. Cole lifts his arm to make sure he makes contact with the head and Abdelkader gets knocked into next century. Abby needs to have his head up here, but the penalty comes because Cole can't keep himself from going for a head shot.
2nd Period - 08:48: B.J. Crombeen and Mike Commodore (fighting): Immediately after the Abdelkader goal that put Detroit up 2-0, Crombeen picks out Commodore for a scrap to "change the momentum". Crombeen hands Commodore his ass, but it doesn't do much for the momentum. No adjustment.
2nd Period - 11:54: Patrik Berglund (high sticking): Holy crap this guy can't control his lumber, can he?
2nd Period - 14:36: Jason Arnott (delay of game): Arnott makes a play on a puck that's at waist-level and gets unfortunate enough to see it fly over the glass for a delay of game penalty. I'll take it, but there's no way anybody's getting credit for it.
+1 to Henrik Zetterberg: Z set the pace early in the game when he was victimized on a big hit and then gave one back on his first shift. He had his feet moving and his defensive prowess turned on in this game.
+0.5 to Gustav Nyquist and Cory Emmerton: These two did more than Joakim Andersson to make that line very effective. They didn't get on the scoring table in this one, but that has more to do with a post than anything. They were very impressive.
+0.5 to Pavel Datsyuk: He didn't have the space he usually does moving up ice with the puck, but just watch how he defeats forechecks in his own zone with his puck skills. It's absolutely amazing to watch.
+0.5 to Jiri Hudler and Valtteri Filppula: Give credit to Z's wingers for having a great showing in all three zones on the ice. I loved watching this line cycle and backcheck.
+1 to Nicklas Lidstrom and Ian White: These two got the toughest defensive minutes and shined. Backes, Perron, and Oshie were held largely ineffective and frustrated throughout the game thanks in large part to these two.
Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall struggled early, but got their bearings and played much better as the game went on. I had Franzen down for a minus through the first, but he really got his feet moving in the second. The hustle wasn't as good in the third, but he had enough of it to have a solid defensive period.
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