Just be glad that your last name isn't ALSO Smith. Brendan hates those guys.
The Detroit Red Wings came back home on Friday night after a trip to Columbus ended their losing streak on Tuesday. The Wings immediately got the jump on the Wild, who looked every bit the part of a team that was playing their third game in four night and second of back-to-backs. Even the Wings' lulls in this game looked dominant on their way to a 6-0 victory.
Not being a fan of the Wild, I find it hard to be upset about a reffing standard I don't feel was fair, but if we're being honest, I can say I felt the Wings got more breaks than Minnesota. The Wild got a goal called off in the third period (when the game was completely out of reach) that really could have gone either way. Again, if I'm being as non-biased as possible, I have to admit that I thought it should have counted. Neither team scored on the power play (0/3 for Minny, 0/5 for Detroit). The Wings last three power plays came when the game was out of reach and Babcock gave the lower line guys a chance to shine. They looked decent, but not scoring kind of defeats that purpose. Shots in this one were 35-19 for Detroit.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
1st Period 00:35 - Detroit Goal: Valtteri Filppula (backhand) from Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall
Detroit lets us know how the game is going to go on the very first shift with the game-winner. Zetterberg wins the opening faceoff, but a dump-in gives Minnesota the puck. Step-ups in the offensive and neutral zones by Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall stifle the breakout and leave the puck to roll all the way into the Detroit zone. Howard leaves for Stuart, who is pressured by a forecheck into going to Hudler at the half-boards. Hudler is boxed in, so he goes back the other way to Kronwall, who calmly backs away from the pressure and watches the Wild back off to start a line change. While Kronner takes up the middle of his zone under the watchful eye of Dany Heatley, Stuart takes up position to his right and Zetterberg to his left. Kronner goes to Zetterberg as he crosses into the neutral zone. With the chance of Setoguchi for Clutterbuck, there's a wide gap in coverage on this wing which allows Zetterberg to gain speed through center and force Jared Spurgeon to let him gain the offensive zone unimpeded. Spurgeon does a good job forcing Z to the half-boards and a point where he can't turn the corner on him, but he's let down by his teammates. Z throws a harmless wrister on net that Harding badly plays. The goaltender stops the puck, but instead of clearing it away, he just lets it bounce straight out off his stick. The problem here is that Valtteri Filppula has been driving the center lane the entire time and has a full step on Cal Clutterbuck (who got on to replace Setoguchi). Filppula picks up the loose puck and moves it to his backhand to sweep it into the open net while Clutterbuck tries in vain to hook him and Marco Scandella watches this entire play develop from five feet away with nobody to cover. I'm going to add an assist to Hudler for his part in calmly reversing the play under pressure in his own zone. I'm also going to give back the pluses for Stuart and Kronwall that they lose by changing behind the play. White and Quincey will have their pluses taken away. No additional adjustments here as this is just some awful play by the defense and goaltending.
1st Period 16:04 - Detroit Goal: Brendan Smith (wrist shot) from Justin Abelkader and Danny Cleary
After two unsuccessful power plays and 15 more minutes of Red Wings' domination, they extend their lead. Justin Abdelkader loses a faceoff to Warren Peters in the Wild zone. Justin Falk picks it up and tries to escape up through the circle between Bertuzzi to the outside and Cleary to the inside. Cleary checks Falk, who loses the puck and falls down at the half-boards. While Buckets steps around the heaping mass, Bertuzzi comes in and picks up the puck while Tom GIlbert backs to the front of the net to cover the low odd-man situation that's developing. Bert steps off the boards to the bottom of the faceoff circle while Abdelkader drives the front of the net and Cleary comes in from the angle. Gilbert blocks the cross-crease pass, so Bert drops it back to Cleary for a snap shot which Harding gets his toe on and kicks it to the far side. Abdelkader gets his skate on the rebound and tries to kick it up to his skate to put it around the outside of Harding's foot, but can't handle it cleanly. Fortunately, Brendan Smith comes all the way down the zone to sweep the loose puck over the goalie and into the net for his first career goal. Bertuzzi will get the third assist on this one, as this is pretty much the prototypical reason for the CSSI to exist. Cleary will also pick up a bonus plus for his forechecking work which recovered the puck. I'm also going to give Abdelkader a bonus half-assist for forcing Gilbert to respect that option and also stopping the rebound of the initial shot from getting behind the scrum. However, Abby will also get his plus halved for losing the faceoff cleanly. It's only halved because I feel the rest of his work was worth it.
2nd Period 07:05 - Detroit Goal: Darren Helm (snap shot) from Johan Franzen and Niklas Kronwall
Close to the midway point of the game, the Wings continued to outplay the Wild at every aspect, but there was perhaps a bit of growing concern that it was only a two-goal lead and that Minnesota could easily find themselves back in this one. Fortunately, Darren Helm ain't tryn'a hear that. The play starts in the corner of the Red Wings' zone to Jimmy Howard's right as Brad Stuart holds off both Matt Kassian and Darryl Powe until Darren Helm can get in to help. Helm tries to kick it out of the scrum, but it goes through Kronwall and is nearly picked up cleanly by Nick Johnson. Instead, Johnson recognizes he can't get it cleanly and pokes it back to Kurtis Foster at the point. Franzen pressures and Foster dumps it back to that same side where Powe is on the half-boards. Powe plays it to Kassian, who is bodied by Stuart and tries to return it to him only to see Helm come back in and knock it away. After a bit more scrumming, the puck is dumped around the boards where Stuart bodies off Kassian once again at the low corner of the trapezoid. Johnson comes in to help by cutting off the angle up the boards on Stuart, so he reverses back to the same stinky corner that's been the site of the previous two board battles. This time, Falk comes up the boards to grab. Helm keeps him to the outside where his run ends in at the red line, forcing him to dump it back in behind the net. Stu gets this puck again, but sees it come off his stick to the opposite-side corner where Johnson gets it. Johnson tries to get it around Detroit's #23 as he steps to pressure him, but Stu gets his stick on it and it rolls to Kronwall stepping in to cut off the attempt. Now we get to talk about the fun part. Kronwall goes to Franzen on the near-side half-boards to get the rush started the other way. Powe steps to cut him off, but he hits Helm coming out of the middle and the Wings get it out of the zone. Helm cuts from the left wing to the middle to allow the Wings to cross into the zone three abreast (Kronwall jumping into the play on the left and Miller joining on the right). Helm goes to the top of the circles and pulls up while Kronner drives the net and Miller steps into the coverage hole left when Falk steps up. Helm tries to hit Franzen coming in behind Kronwall as the late-man, but Falk partially blocks the pass and Nick Johnson gets his stick on it to stop it from getting to its destination. Fortunately, Johnson can't corral it and his momentum takes him a step too far. Helm's momentum takes him right to the puck and gives him just enough separation from Falk to tun and get a good shot off from the inside-top of the left circle that Harding can't see around Kurtis Foster in front to cap off this novel of a goal description. First off, Ian White steps on for Stuart behind this play and will lose his plus for that. Stu will earn back the initial plus, but he will also earn a bonus 1.5 plus for his work along the boards as well as an assist for helping make this play go in the right direction. Kronwall's drive to the net to take two guys with him is also a very smart play and will earn him a bonus half-assist.
Penalty Adjustment: 10:35 into the 2nd period, Jiri Hudler goes to the box for holding on Marco Scandella. It would be a lot easier for the refs to not call this if Hudler didn't take his hand off the stick (and, you know, if he hadn't held Marco Scandella). Minus for Hudler
2nd Period 16:35 - Detroit Goal: Valtteri Filppula (slap shot) from Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall
Late in the second period, the Wings get a power play goal. Wait... it was? 5-on-5? Are you serious? Holy shit; what a shift. This play starts at 15:21 when Detroit enters the Minnesota zone with Hudler, Zetterberg, and Filppula coming in 3-on-3. I'd like to lay out all of the specifics of the 74 seconds in between, but the last goal writeup covered 40 seconds and look how long that was. I'll do as best I can to hit all the important stuff. Immediately after the zone entry, Filppula feeds it cross-ice barely missing Hudler. Kronwall and Stuart keep it in before getting it one level lower as Filppula and Zetterberg cycle to make space. With enough of that space, Z brings it to the point and tries to go cross-ice to hit Filppula cutting into the far circle. The pass is deflected to the corner and the cycle resets. Harding stops a Kronner shot and Zetterberg steps behind Heatley to stop his clearing attempt and get it back to the point. Another shot by Kronner goes high where Hudler gets it and throws it across the net-front to nobody. Z gets this in the corner, skates behind the net and drops it for Flip as they cross in the other corner. Flip loses it, but Hudler stops the ring-around attempt. Cullen gets it behind the net, but Zetterberg immediately pressures him. Cullen tries to get it to Heatley in the circle, but it just eludes his stick and goes to Stuart at the point. Stu & Z have a high-cycle broken when Cullen gets his stick in, but he also loses his grip on the lumber, which allows Z to get back on it and poke it to Filppula at the half-boards. Flip tries going cross-ice now to Z at the far circle, but the puck is tipped off the glass where Z gathers. and skates to the half-boards on that side. Flip follows into the high slot and Z passes to him. Here, Flip intentionally whiffs on the puck thinking that Stuart is jumping in behind the play and trying to be the decoy. Fortunately, the ploy works well enough to give Stu the space to pick it up as it comes off the boards. and dump it back into the middle for Z to weaver through traffic and pass off to Filppula, who goes back against the grain of the chasing and now very-tired defense to Kronwall at the far point. Kronner skates to the half-boards, passes to Z coming around behind the net, and drives to the front in hopes of a return pass. From just outside the trapezoid and behind the net, Z tries to catch Harding napping a bit as he attempts to bank it off of him. The puck hits Harding's pad and bounces right into the slot (past all 5 defenders within the defensive box inside the circles). Filppula is right there to one-time the puck past the goalie to complete this mercy-killing of a sequence. I absolutely love this play. There were a couple of unforced errors (by Heatley) that helped the Wings out, but mostly it was good passing, good movement, and patience. Here's a breakdown of adjustments:
Hudler - (4th assist, bonus half-plus): Hudler touches the puck two times in the 1:14, but one of them blocks a clearing attempt and the other keeps a cycle going. He's also not lounging this entire time. The whole shift, he's staying in front of the goalie, distracting a defenseman, and taking net-front abuse.
Kronwall - (bonus half-plus): Kronwall also didn't touch the puck much here, but when he was, he made solid decisions to get the puck to good areas. He also blocked off the outlets.
Stuart - (3rd assist, bonus half-plus): Stu was a bit more involved in the play as the safety-valve point man. He was every bit as involved as Kronwall, despite being the stay-at-home guy.
Filppula - (self-assist, bonus 1.5 plus): Flip was very involved in this play from start-to-finish and helped make sure it stayed alive. Most of his touches were on the outside of the zone, but he consistently went to the middle. These constant cuts through the slot were a big pat of why the Minnesota defense gave the Wings so much room. Usually, a team tries keeping the other guys to the outside along the boards, but with the cuts through the middle, the Detroit cycle was able to avoid falling into a trap where a guy was forced into a battle like that.
Zetterberg - (bonus assist, bonus +2): Z was the straw that stirred the drink on this shift. The other half of most of the cycling in the zone, whether it was with Stuart or Filppula, Z also added puck retrieval to the list of things he did to help this shift along. What an amazing shift.
2nd Period 17:42 - Detroit Goal: Ian White (slap shot) unassisted
Just over a minute later, the Wings get a lucky home-ice bounce to make it 5-0. Ian White separates Jed Ortmeyer from the puck in the Detroit zone, allowing Jakub Kindl to pick it up behind the net. Kindl tries a slap-pass off the boards to Bertuzzi at the opposite blue line that just goes off Bert's stick to be swept by Foster a few feet up ice intended for Ortmeyer coming back. Ort-2D2 (which nobody calls him) tries chipping it to Stephane Veilleux while Jan Mursak steps up on him at center. The puck gets away from everybody and Ian White steps up to grab it, stepping around Peters to get it into the zone. Nate Prosser keeps him to the outside, but White fires a slapper from the half-boards that rolls and takes a funny hop over the glove of Harding. White will get a bonus plus for his defensive work to free the puck for the Wings while Mursak will get a half-assist and a bonus plus for separating Ortmeyer from the puck at center. Without that pressure, the puck doesn't end up back on White's stick.
3rd Period 05:30 - Detroit Goal: Henrik Zetterberg (slap shot) from Valtteri Filppula and Ian White
The Wings finally end Harding's night on another tic-tac-toe setup. The Wild gain possession on a scrambled faceoff in the Detroit zone, but the Wings get it back when a Dany Heatley centering pass hits nobody and then is picked up by Valtteri Filppula off the boards to exit with numbers. Flip goes to Zetterberg in the center lane as he crosses the Minnesota blue line. Two defenders get on Z quickly and force him off to the corner of the zone. Z is able to reset to White at the point, who immediately dumps it across the ice to Filppula at the bottom of the opposite circle. The entire defense turns to face Flip while Harding slides over in his butterfly position to cover for a possible one-timer. Instead, Filppula goes back across the grain to Henrik Zetterberg at the top of the other faceoff circle for a one-timer into a gap so big that Luke Skywalker wouldn't have needed the force to hit with a torpedo. Great bang-bang play against a tired and beaten team. No adjustments here though.
1st Period 1:08 - Cal Clutterbuck (delay of game) The Wings continue to put on good pressure after the first goal of the game and Cal Clutterbuck ends up clearing the puck over the glass from his own end immediately after Darren Helm is stoned on a breakaway. It is a partially-forced error, but not to enough of a degree to give an adjustment.
1st Period 06:56 - Nick Johnson (slashing): Johnson goes in on Ian White in the Detroit zone, ends up chopping him down along the boards and going to the box for it. Bad decision by Johnson.
3rd Period 00:36 - Matt Cullen (cross-checking): After playing a puck behind his own net, Cullen cross-checks Hudler in the head. Somebody's mad his team is getting owned...
3rd Period 05:48 - Darryl Powe (holding): No idea what the near-side ref sees Powe do to call this a hold.
3rd Period 08:39 - Dany Heatley (roughing): Heatley doesn't like being the victim of a clean Filppula hit low in the Detroit zone and gets back at him by hitting him high. Stupid play by Heatley.
3rd Period 17:42 - Matt Kassian & Danny Cleary (roughing double-minors): A scoring chance from Abdelkader is stopped by Hackett, giving Kassian the opportunity to take out some frustration on the nearest net-front guy. Cleary isn't having any of that and gives it back to him. No adjustments here.
+2 to Henrik Zetterberg & Valtteri Filppula: These two were incredible Z could have been better in the faceoff circle, but more than made up for it with his forechecking and backchecking. Filppula was every bit as good and possibly better. What I liked most about Flip in this one was that he consistently played the body instead of trying to sweep pucks off of guys sticks. I know it's hard to trust the official stats after the scorekeeper in Columbus did us wrong on Tuesday, but the three hits for Flip were solid.
+1 to Darren Helm: Helmer had another solid night on the ice for the Wings, leading all skaters with a +13 corsi rating. The Wild managed only two shots on goal with Helm on the ice.
+1 to Brad Stuart & Niklas Kronwall: Detroit's de-facto top pair continued to show themselves capable of the biggest, toughest even-strength minutes. I was impressed with how active they were on the rush and in the offensive zone while avoiding any of those pesky odd-man rushes against that things like that can cause.
Literally everybody who didn't get a bonus rating is an honorable mention after this game. There's not a single player I can point to as having an off night. Kindl and Smith continue to impress; Mursak is looking more like a scorer than a grinder lately; Franzen had his feet moving; Cleary kept his positioning and got the better of his board battles. Good game from the entire team.
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