Me too, stunned Wings fans. Me too.
Getting caught up on a heartbreaking loss from Wednesday night, I apologize for not getting this done sooner. I realize that there are times when I still write this emotionally and the readers do a good job of correcting for that bias, but after watching a period and a half of good Red Wings hockey turn into watching my team drown in quicksand for 30 minutes, I wasn't in a position to look at the game objectively enough.
The refs let quite a bit go in this game, but they kept the standard to a baseline acceptable level of consistency. Neither team scored on the power play (0/3 for Detroit, 0/2 for Anaheim). Detroit also didn't allow a shorthanded goal. I want to chalk this up as a special teams victory, but that's insulting. The 2nd period which saw the collapse of the Wings also shored up the victory in the shots department, as Anaheim held a 12-6 advantage in that period and a 24-23 advantage overall.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
2nd Period 08:52 - Anaheim Goal: Teemu Selanne (tip in) from Cam Fowler and Saku Koivu
Henrik Zetterberg loses a faceoff just outside of his own blue line. Selanne steps up to grab the puck and throw it to Cam Fowler across the ice to gain the zone. Kyle Quincey angles Fowler to the boards quickly to keep him above the circles while Zetterberg shadows Koivu on the near side low and White tracks Selanne to the front of the net. As the threat of Andrew Cogliano jumping in just behind Quincey develops, the Wings' defender backs off down the boards to play this possibility while handing off responsibility of covering Fowler to Valtteri Filppula. In the time while this is happening, Fowler spins and throws a weak, low backhand at the net. As MacDonald goes down to play it, Selanne slides in just behind Ian White and gets his stick down on the puck, deflecting it up and over the shoulder of MacDonald to land behind him and roll into the net. There are only two mistakes on this play. They are Zetterberg losing the faceoff cleanly and White allowing his man to gain favorable position and to have his stick in the ice for this tip. Z will get an extra half-minus (since the faceoff wasn't in the zone) and White will get a full minus. I'm going to clear Hudler's minus completely as he's not involved in this play at any point. Quincey and Filppula will see their minuses halved. They actually play this very defensively well resulting in an unscreened weak wrister from a long distance. They're both aware of their ultimate defensive responsibility (Quincey can't let Fowler get farther down the boards than he does and Filppula can't let him get the puck to Cogliano) and are aware of when is the proper time to move and adjust responsibilities (Filpulla coming in on the defenseman backing to the point and Quincey making sure the forward jumping back into the play from covering that D-man doesn't have a good lane). The play does go through them and playing this slightly more aggressively could have even prevented the weak shot, but I can hardly fault them for not playing more aggressively, as the other side of that coin leads to Fowler or Cogliano making a different decision and opening up an odd-man situation low in the zone.
Penalty Adjustment: 12:29 into the 2nd, Todd Bertuzzi is forechecking into the Anaheim zone on Ryan Getzlaf and tries to play the stick instead of the body. Bert hooks Getzlaf and goes to the box, earning a minus.
2nd Period 15:49 - Anaheim Goal: Kyle Palmieri (backhand) unassisted
Tony Lydman forces Doug Janik to pass up the boards to Jan Mursak trying to escape the zone when he gets stepped up on by Ryan Getzlaf midway between the top of the circle and the blue line. Getzlaf steals the puck and escapes off the boards to gain separation from Mursak (thanks to a pick run by his teammate) and throws a backhand pass intended for Bobby Ryan all alone in front of the net. Fortunately, Brendan Smith is covering this passing lane from the high slot and intercepts the pass before it gets through. Smith circles back around his own faceoff dot under forechecking pressure by Kyle Palmieri to let the breakout set. Unfortunately, as he carries to the bottom of the circle, Palmieri's angle has only improved by this point. I don't know if Smith whiffs on an attempt to go off the end-boards to Janik on the other side or he's trying to fake out his forechecker, but as Brendan Smith's stick goes over the puck and the puck goes between his legs, the first person to recover it is Kyle Palmieri, who brings it back through Smith's legs as he now has his back to the middle of the ice. Palmieri is now all alone with the puck traveling across the ice just above the crease. Joey MacDonald has no chance as he brings it across the mouth of the goal and backhands it to the far side of the net. Brendan Smith's turnover is one of those cardinal mistakes which earn people two minuses. This is a great piece of forechecking by Palmieri, but it's not exactly a Datsyukian stick-lift which separates the defender from the puck. It is a mistake by a young D-man. Mursak will also pick up an extra minus for losing the board battle cleanly to Getzlaf (which he had done before the Lydman pick). Emmerton and Holmstrom will be cleared here. Janik has a clearing attempt deflected and blocked, which leads to this goal, so he will keep his minus.
2nd Period 18:55 - Anaheim Goal: Bobby Ryan (wrist shot) from Kyle Palmieri and Ryan Getzlaf
Justin Abdelkader picks up a loose puck high in his own zone and bounces it off the boards to beat a pinch by Lubomir Visnovsky. As he skates up ice, Ryan Getzlaf comes back and makes a good defensive play to tie him up and allow Visnovsky to come back and pick up the loose puck just inside his own blue line. Visnovsky turns and bounces a puck off the far boards behind Bobby Ryan at the blue line while he cuts inward to give space for Ryan Getzlaf to pick it up with speed entering the Detroit zone. Franzen comes over to help Janik keep the shifty center to the outside while he cuts deep into the zone. It doesn't help a great deal, as by the time Getzlaf hits the half-boards, he still catches Janik a bit flat-footed, which allows him to throw a backhand pass from the corner to the front of the net intended for the stick of Palmieri, who has beaten Brad Stuart to this area. Palmieri redirects the pass on net, forcing MacDonald to make a tough save in close. Joey Mac stops it, but the rebound comes out the other side and right to the stick of Bobby Ryan just inside the hash marks and completely alone to put it into the open net. Both defensemen (Janik and Stuart) make a mistake that's worth an extra minus. Janik is given the opportunity to cheat up the boards on Getzlaf without having to worry about being stepped around to the inside because of the presence of Franzen. Meanwhile, Stuart gets beaten to the net-front and allows a guy to get his stick on the ice right in front of the goalie again. Franzen won't get off the hook for blame here either. After he backs off from supporting Janik, he coasts to the front of the net (where he absolutely should be going). The play happens fairly fast and I'm not entirely sure that Franzen skating full-speed could have gotten over on Bobby Ryan, but Mule will get a half-minus for not giving a better skating effort to let me see. I feel he's a bit slow to process his coverage responsibility. Cleary is behind the play the entire time having come on from a change and will not get a minus. Drew Miller is covering the potential of Lubomir Visnovsky coming in from the point to pick up a rebound coming out the other way and will also not get a minus. Abdelkader will get a minus, despite changing, as what he commits here is a blue line turnover during a line change where a dump-in was more appropriate.
3rd Period 01:22 - Anaheim Goal: Kyle Palmieri (backhand) from Ryan Getzlaf and Sheldon Brookbank
Todd Bertuzzi chases Brookbank behind his own net on the forecheck, getting a hit on him enough to disrupt his breakout plan. Brookbank turns the other way to escape Bertuzzi while both Franzen and Cleary decide to come in from their respective up-the-board assignments to help. Neither get there on time as Brookbank gets it to Palmieri on the half-boards to tip to Getzlaf breaking out of his own zone straight up the middle of the ice. Quincey angles to keep him from splitting between him and his defensive partner White, but Getzlaf beats this with a backhand pass to Kyle Palmieri streaking up the right wing behind any number of Red Wings forwards who should be back covering what is a 3-on-2 rush. Palmieri gloves it to his stick without losing much of his momentum, making it impossible for Quincey to keep him from getting to the net-front after turning to face the pass. The speedy right-shooting winger cuts diagonally from the dot to the net front and freezes MacDonald with a fake shot at the short side corner before taking it around the goalie for an easy backhand put-away. Quincey is going to keep his minus on the play as he ranges just a little too far inside on Getzlaf which helps allow Palmieri to gain the corner. However, the alternate choice to what he actually did was to range slightly less inside on Getzlaf and allow him to skate unimpeded to at least the high slot where he'd STILL have the option of passing to an uncovered Palmieri, except he would have been in a great shooting position of his own as well. I can hardly assign extra blame to Quincey for not better covering a man that one of his teammates should have been covering. The truth is that the forward responsible is either Franzen or Cleary and there isn't a perfect way to separate blame to either/or. I was mad at Franzen in the previous game for not actually stepping up on a guy and instead getting himself caught in a pass. He does it again here, but it's actually because he decides a half-step too late that this is what he wants to do. The decision is a good one, but the execution is slow. Meanwhile, Cleary should be making the adjustment to peel off as the high-man in the zone with the puck on his off-wing side. Bertuzzi actually has the up-the-boards option covered, making Cleary's positioning there not needed. The fact he didn't get to Brookbank on time makes his decision to attack aggressively the wrong one. Cleary and Franzen will each pick up an extra minus for the blown coverages. Ian White will keep a half-minus. It's his job to prevent Bobby Ryan from scoring the exact same goal he did at the end of the 2nd and he's doing that, but there's a part of me that wants to see him skate hard and come down from the top rope on Palmieri. I don't think he has the speed to have pulled it off and I'm aware of the potential of either turning White into a murderer or seeing him run an offensive player into his own goalie (like we've seen Kronwall do), but I feel there was a chance to plant a sign firmly in the area just above the crease which stated loudly "NO KYLE PALMIERI'S ALLOWED". Bertuzzi keeps a half-minus for not single-handedly knocking Sheldon Brookbank off the puck and taking it from him. It's not an expected play, but it would have been nice.
Penalty Adjustment: 9:13 into the third, Hudler forechecks well in the Ducks' zone and creates a turnover high on the boards. While the defenders key on him, he throws a puck to Filppula in the middle of the ice just in front of Toni Lydman. Flip makes a move around the defender and gets held to prevent a shot. Hudler and Filppula will each get a plus for drawing this call.
1st Period 18:48 - Rod Pelley (interference): Anaheim's forward hits Darren Helm anticipating that he's going to receive the puck. When that doesn't happen, the refs blow it for interference. It's a weak call.
2nd Period 09:12 - Matt Beleskey (clipping): Brendan Smith takes it across his own blue line and passes it off. A second later, Beleskey tries to low-bridge him. It's a good thing for Smith that he saw this and was able to mostly avoid contact. This is a sneaky shitty play by Beleskey.
3rd Period 01:41 - Doug Janik (slashing): 19 seconds after the Palmieri goal to open the period, Janik is trying to chip a puck past Niklas Hagman and instead knocks Hagman's stick out of his hands. Sure, it's maybe a bit careless, but this is a stupid call.
-1 to Todd Bertuzzi, Johan Franzen, and Danny Cleary: I'm glad that Bert's back, but I'm not sure I can honestly say the Wings were better off with him in the lineup. I also can't say it was entirely Bert's fault. This entire line was sufficiently owned in this game. Boudreau was able to consistently get the Ryan-Getzlaf-Palmieri line against them and it showed. Cory Emmerton was the only other forward with a negative Corsi. The difference is that Emmerton was a -1 while the best of these three was Danny Cleary at a -11.
-1 to Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart: The defensive pair behind the worst forward trio struggled every bit as much in their assignments. Sometimes these two are able to play every bit of the top-pairing role that they've been forced into by injuries. Sometimes they're exposed as a solid #2 pair trying to defend above their grade. This game was the latter.
-0.5 to Ian White, Kyle Quincey, and Doug Janik: Brendan Smith belongs in this list as well and gets there because of the turnover leading straight to the Palmieri goal. None of Detroit's blueliners played a particularly good game after the first period.
The Filppula-Zetterberg-Hudler trio was the closest to dangerous, but don't earn bonus credit for close enough. The Miller-Helm-Abdelkader line consistently created the best in-zone cycling and forechecking pressure, but they also struggled more than other lines at actually clearing their own zone. The fourth line held their own, but didn't wow me.
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