The Wings got off to a good start on their Western Canadian road trip with a win over the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Monday night. The Wings sometimes struggled with the speed of the Oilers, but held strong defensively to gut out a 3-2 victory.
The refs called this game somewhat inconsistently. Not every call they made was warranted and there was a lot that was missed. The linesmen even got in on the mistake action by missing a puck clearing the zone which led to a power play goal. It's a tough-as-hell call to make and one that the linesmen get right 95% of the time, but they missed this one. I felt that the Wings could have done a lot more to earn some calls in their favor though. The legs were not moving enough. Despite some great work to kill a :56 5-on-3 penalty, the Wings did allow a power play goal and failed to score on both of their chances.
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Jimmy Howard had a good night in making 21 saves. He made one incredible stop on Jordan Eberle at the side of the net, but ultimately, I feel that Khabibulin faced more dangerous shots and made more impressive saves. I'm going to give Howard a -1 in the head-to-head rating. On the overall rating though, I think Howard was a positive difference-maker. Aside from the Eberle stop in the 2nd, he also had a big save on an Edmonton chance early in the first, which could have severely changed the pace of the game. Howard's overall rating will be +1.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
1st Period 04:33 - Detroit Goal: Danny Cleary (tip in) from Jakub Kindl.
This play starts as something of a Charlie Foxtrot from the minute the Wings bring it out from behind their own net after both teams change. Edmonton stuffs up the neutral zone, but Drew Miller and Darren Helm combine to get it in where Helm tries to make a move around Ladislav Smid, only to get wiped out along the boards. Thanks to some good forechecking work, the Wings get the puck back and to Danny Cleary low to the side of the net. A feed out front leads to a couple of weak scrambly chances in front of Khabibulin. Eventually, a rebound bounces out in front where Ryan Jones beats Drew Miller to it and clears it to the boards. Kindl gets to the puck first at the half-boards and, under pressure from Belanger and Gagner, chucks a backhander into the fracas near the net. Danny Cleary gets a stick on it and tips it past Khabibulin. This is exactly the kind of muck-and-grind goal that this line is expected to produce and I love seeing them. Both Helm (full) and Miller (half) will get assists on this play. It's their board work which creates the opportunity.
Penalty Adjustment (x2) - At 13:44, with the Oilers putting offensive pressure on the Wings third pairing again, Jonathan Ericsson goes to the box for hooking on Ryan Jones. As I look at a freeze frame on my DVR, I marvel at how awful this call is. Jonathan Ericsson realizes that there's a man alone in front of the net before the passer does. He gets back to poke at Ryan Jones' stick and prevent a fantastic scoring opportunity. The ref stares directly at this play and calls Ericsson for a hook This penalty call is brutally shameful. No adjustment here. Just over a minute later, Ian White makes it a 5-on-3 with a trip on Tom Gilbert as Edmonton brings it into the Wings' zone. White will get a minus. It's just bad stickwork here.
2nd Period 02:37 - Edmonton Goal: Ryan Jones (snap shot) from Sam Gagner and Eric Belanger
Edmonton ties it early in the 2nd as the Wings turn the puck over in the offensive zone and don't get coverage back. It starts with Danny Cleary getting angled off behind the Edmonton net by Ladislav Smid (and by "angled off" I mean that Ladislav Smid has a free hand draped all over Cleary for ten feet). The two take it to the corner before Smid tries to clear it up the boards where Ericsson pinches on Belanger having both Helm and Miller to cover. The step-up causes the puck to bounce in the air where Helm has a play on it. Belanger makes a swipe at the puck which prevents Helm from completing a turn back into the middle of the ice and Ryan Jones knocks it down and past Helm where Belanger collects it just inside the Edmonton blue line. Jones lets his momentum carry him into center ice where he receives a pass made around Drew Miller's outstretched stick. The pass catches Jakub Kindl pinching inappropriately and flat-footed. Jones doesn't handle it perfectly, but it's good enough that he still has a step on Kindl by the time he regains control at the top of the faceoff circle to Jimmy Howard's right. Kindl tries to get in to cut off the option across the goal-mouth, but it's clear that he can't even do that and this is officially a breakaway. Jones waits just long enough to threaten a cut across the goal before sliding it under Jimmy Howard as the goalie has to respect that as an option. This is a brutally bad decision by Kindl to pinch here with so much going on. He is going to draw an extra minus for his mistake. Darren Helm needs to play this safer as well. While the result of the play isn't a 2-on-1, the failed coverage at the top of the zone leads to this goal and will earn Helm an additional half-minus. Danny Cleary is the only player who will have his minus cleared. There is no expectation on him to have prevented this from happening and I feel that he was sufficiently held by the defenseman on this play to explain how he lost the puck in the fist place.
2nd Period 14:36 - Detroit Goal: Jiri Hudler (tip in) from Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula
Detroit gets a lucky break here as Edmonton pressure in the Detroit zone ends promptly with Ryan Whitney making a pass from the blue line directly to Henrik Zetterberg at the top of the Wings' zone. He immediately goes to Hudler starting up ice to gain the zone at the boards. Hudler hits the line, pulls up, and dumps it in for Z to retrieve in the corner. Corey Potter cuts off Z's line behind the net, but can't stop him from turning in and feeding a pass out to Hudler cutting in through the slot. The scoring attempt here is deflected wide, but gathered in by Valtteri Filppula. Flip passes aback around to Z on the other side of the net, but he lets it go up the boards. Ian White steps up to dump it back in where Filppula gathers it back and cycles back up the opposite-side boards being chased by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Flip gets to the half-boards before making a great backhand pass for Henrik Zetterberg standing uncovered in the middle for a one-timer which is tipped under Khabibulin for the goal. Ian White's step-in on the boards to get it back to Flip will earn him a half-assist on the play.
2nd Period 19:59 - Edmonton Goal (PP): Jordan Eberle (snap shot) from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
The Penalty - Jonathan Ericsson (hooking): Late in the 2nd period, Jonathan Ericsson and Ryan Smyth have a battle in front of the net. Smyth gains body position and feels Ericsson get his stick parallel to the surface on him. As the battle continues, the wily veteran mysteriously loses his ability to stand up strongly on his skates and Ericsson is sent to the box for hooking. Ericsson will absolutely earn every bit of the minus on this play that one should get for obviously hooking his man in front of the net. I'm just sad that I don't think this gets called without an embellishment.
On the PK, Babcock goes with Datsyuk and Zetterberg to kill the time. The decision is almost made to look brilliant as both of them get chances to work a puck into the offensive zone. Unfortunately, the Oilers recover and get it into the zone with 17 seconds left. Here, they catch two lucky breaks as a cross-ice pass attempt is knocked into the air by Zetterberg and knocked back out of it with a high stick by Jeff Petry for a keep-in. Then, a pass back to Petry from Nugent-Hopkins appears to clear the zone with 9 seconds left. Petry dumps it to the far wall while the linesman waves the play onside. Here, coverage breaks down as both Datsyuk and Zetterberg chase the puck to the high corner. Eberle colects and finds Nugent-Hopkins all alone on the opposite point. He steps into one that gets initially blocked by Niklas Kronwall. The puck stays in the high slot after the block and Eberle comes in to snap the rebound past Howard to tie the game again. This is another pretty badly-called play by the officials, but both the high stick and the offside were very close. Neither of those things will act as a sufficient excuse for why Datsyuk finds himself covering the wrong side of the ice. Based on the way this play develops, he's the one who should be covering Nugent-Hopkins, so Dastyuk will be the one who pulls a minus for the coverage breakdown.
Penalty Adjustment: at 5:22 of the third period, Datsyuk is stick-handling in the Edmonton Zone when Shawn Horcoff misses a stick-lift attempt and pops Datsyuk in the face. This is the kind of play where you actually will see a player awarded for drawing one of these. Datsyuk's quick and strong stick leads to this penalty. Pavel will get a plus.
3rd Period 15:45 - Detroit Goal: Drew Miller (tip in) from Nicklas Lidstrom and Darren Helm
As the game starts to wind down and we start to wonder what kind of goofy shit will happen to lose us this one, Detroit gets the game-winner on a well-developed play. Ian White dumps it in from his own zone via a tip-in off Helm's stick at the other side of center, allowing Detroit to finish their defensive change. As the puck rings around behind the net, Drew Miller gets his stick on it first around Tom Gilbert to poke it back to Helm behind the net. Helm outmuscles Smid twice here and gets it to the corner where he goes cross-ice to Lidstrom at the opposite point. Edmonton's defensive box tries to adjust to this as Lidstrom tees it up from the point and fires a shin-high and very deflectable slap shot into the middle of the ice aimed directly at the stick of Drew Miller coasting through the slot covered by Belanger. Cleary is screening out front while Khabibulin peeks around and ranges to his left to adjust to the Lidstrom shot. He has no chance by the time Miller tips it back toward the short side through Cleary's legs and in. This will be good for a screener's assist from Cleary. Drew Miller will also get a half-assist on the hustle to jam it back in past Gilbert. Helm will earn a bonus plus for the forechecking work to separate Smid from the puck cleanly.
Penalty Adjustment: After the game-winning goal, the Oilers are putting on pressure in the Detroit zone. Kronwall gets a clear, but puts it over the glass and goes to the box for it. You simply cannot do this. Kronwall will get a minus.
2nd Period 06:09 - Drew Miller (interference): Drew Miller and Ryan Jones are both watching the puck in the Detroit zone when they run into each other. Apparently, this has to be somebody's fault and, since Ryan Jones is the one who falls down and appeals to the refs before he's even hit the ice, it's judged that Miller is the bad guy in this situation. This isn't a dive by Jones or anything, but it's an example of the refs calling a penalty based on the result of a play instead of its cause.
2nd Period 08:38 - Ben Eager (interference): Take your pick on interference or charging, but Ben Eager makes a stupid late hit and goes to the box.
+1.5 to Brad Stuart and +1 to Niklas Kronwall: Tom Renney tried very hard to help his stars avoid Nick Lidstrom. As a result, these two got the big minutes against the Oilers' top scoring threats and they came out smelling like a rose. These two ended so many good rushes, especially by Jordan Eberle. I was incredibly impressed by them.
-0.5 to Niklas Lidstrom: The two absolutley worst defensive zone turnovers in this game came off Lidstrom's stick. He made a lot of good plays to mitigate, but he was not as good as he should have been.
-1 to Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi: This line just didn't have it tonight as far as completing passes and it looked as though neither of these two were horribly mentally engaged in this game.
+1 to Henrik Zetterberg and +0.5 to Pavel Datsyuk: Z absolutely killed it defensively in this one, including a big chunk of the Oilers' two-man advantage. Datsyuk was as dangleriffic as ever, but he was also part of that scoring line which didn't look particularly dangerous, which brings his overall defensive minus back down by a half.
Cory Emmerton had a bit of a return to normal in a quiet 8:32 of ice time. Ian White was decent, but not spectacular; I'm still loving his signing.
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