Not really much to say about this game from the Red Wings end. They got outworked in a lot of areas on the ice but didn't look horrible. Corey Crawford played a very good game in the Chicago net, and Chicago came away with a 4-1 victory that was one of those nights where the game was a lot closer than the score. The Blackhawks played very close to the puck all night long and the Wings couldn't find that open space on the ice facing the goal consistently.
Not much to say about special teams either here. The Blackhawks capitalized on their one-and-a-half opportunities, going 1-for-1 officially on the PP and scoring another goal with a delayed penalty pending. The Red Wings earned zero power play opportunities. Enough has been said about not blaming refs when you don't play well enough to win the game (which Detroit didn't), by the time you read this, you've already made up your mind about the standard of reffing for that game. I will say that the missing standard means that I can't properly do penalty adjustments. Things were painfully arbitrary and I don't think it's fair to hurt a player's adjusted rating because of something that counted in the first minute, but not the tenth.
Jimmy Howard had another average night in this game. I'm not pinning any of the goals on him as soft, but this is a game I feel he could have won by playing lights-out and he didn't. Those kinds of games are gifts, but they're the difference between pulling a +2 rating like he did here and a much better rating. Every Red Wings player still had his head in his ass by the time the first goal went in and I'll hardly ever blame a goalie for giving up one on an in-close breakaway like that third one (although it's very hard to credit Tomas Kopecky for doing something right).
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 1:04 - Chicago Goal (PP): Patrick Sharp (slap shot) from Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews
Jonathan Ericsson is in the box for hooking when Chicago scores this goal. As explained above, he will not get a minus for this. On the power play, Toews wins the faceoff to Seabrook, who finds Sharp moving across the blue line. As the play moves from right-to-left facing the net, Sharp one-times the puck back across the grain that finds the lower corner of the net through a partial screen. The worst play of this entire sequence of events belongs to Rafalski and Helm right before the Ericsson penalty. As a result, both #28 and 43 will get half-minuses. This is a turnover at the Wings' blue line that forces the play.
1st Period 4:32 - Chicago Goal: Bryan Bickell (wrist shot) from Fernando Pisani and Brent Seabrook
The Hawks establish a cycle in the Wings' zone, as Seabrook receives the pass at the point and dumps it around behind the net where Pisani picks it up and skates with speed at the boards into the coverage gap between Stuart and Holmstrom, where he takes it off the board and finds a streaking Bryan Bickell in the high slot to fire a laser top-shelf past Howard. Both Datsyuk and Holmstrom will pick up extra minuses here for their play in the defensive zone. Homer needs to challenge Pisani as he skates up the boards with his head down. If Pisani recognizes him and pushes it around back to the point, Stuart is already skating that way to change coverages. Datsyuk gets caught standing around when Bickell is his responsibility to cover. The other three Wings skaters, Zetterberg, Stuart, and Lidstrom each keep their minuses. At some point, each player contributes to the play by either not reacting to the play and moving fast enough or by failure to act aggressively enough to cut off the Hawks' options.
1st Period 4:59 - Detroit Goal: Patrick Eaves (backhand) from Jonathan Ericsson and Brian Rafalski
After the 2nd goal, Babcock calls a timeout and gives his bench the silent treatment that you get when you later realize the only reason your dad didn't say anything is because he knew that he could never ever take back the things he really wanted to say at that moment. Fortunately, it worked for the time being and the Wings scored soon after. A hand pass off the faceoff forces them to drop the puck in the Hawks' end. Detroit's fourth line plays a very aggressive shift on the boards int he offensive zone as Abdelkader and Eaves team up to free the puck. Eaves passes to Rafalski at the point, who moves it to Ericsson. Big Rig fires a slap shot intentionally wide that he's trying to get on Miller's stick for the redirect but misses. The puck bounces off the end boards and out the other side where Eaves wastes no time in putting a backhand in while Corey Crawford regains his bearings. Eaves gets an assist for his work on the boards and in finding Rafalski quickly. Abdelkader also gets a half assist and a half-plus for his dogged work in fighting for the puck.
2nd Period 11:22 - Chicago Goal: Tomas Kopecky (wrist shot) from Brian Campbell
Chicago is on a man advantage here as Crawford has left the ice for an extra attacker following a Todd Bertuzzi high stick. I know I said I wasn't giving out minuses for penalty adjustments, so just take Bertuzzis' minus here as measure of my intolerance for inexcusably hitting people in the face with your lumber. The Wings inexplicably allow the Hawks to sit back and get their goalie off the ice with no pressure. Brian Campbell responds by carrying up ice and bringing it into the zone through a tiny hole in the passive and static defense. He immediately finds Tomas Kopecky streaking to the net between Lidstrom and Bertuzzi, springing him for a 30-foot breakaway which he capitalizes on by putting it over Jimmy's pad as he sprawls to make a save. Bertuzzi will get another extra minus for his failure to cover Kopecky, bringing his total rating on this play to -3. He is standing far too wide on this play and gives Kopecky the room he needs to be wide enough to keep LIdstrom from blocking the pass, but centered enough to force Howard to commit. Again though, I'm not clearing any minuses. The entire defensive unit played this soft.
3rd Period 18:56 - Chicago Goal (EN): Tomas Kopecky (wrist shot) from Jack Skille and Jake Dowell
After another period and a half of being unable to get the puck past Corey Crawford and the Chicago defense, Tommy Kopecky puts the icing on the shitcake by putting an empty netter in to seal the Wings' fate. I'm not going to make a scoring adjustment here, but I almost want to give an extra minus for Bertuzzi for the blind backhand pass he tries which ends up deflecting off Hjalmarsson's skate to start the play up ice leading to the goal. I don't because I think it was a good idea and was just another in a long series of bad bounces. I also like the spunk of Brian Rafalksi chucking his stick at Kopecky trying to break up the empty-netter, despite the fact that if his stick had made contact and had stopped the goal, the act of throwing his stick would have made the goal count anyway.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk: his bad coverage on the first goal was covered above, but I think he at least made up for the extra minus with his takeaways and defensive play. It still leaves him a -2 on the night, but I think that's deserved.
-1 to any Chicago fan that booed Chelios: Yeah, you paid your ticket for the right to boo when you want to boo, but screw you anyway. Boo Dollar Bill Wirtz, not the guy fortunate enough to get away from that hellhole of an organization he was running when Chelios was traded to Detroit.
Honorable Mentions: Just about every Red WIngs player did a handfull of small good things and a handful of not moving his feet and working harder for pucks. Just assume that all cancels out.
Stars on Sunday. See you then.