The Red Wings headed into Winnipeg on Thursday night to take on the Jets and try to figure out what they were doing right. After struggling with the Jets' forecheck for much of the game and being ground up by the Jets' size, Detroit found a way to battle back and take the decision 4-3.
There was one really bad call in this game where a Jets player blew a tired in the zone and instead of the 2-on-1 the Wings should have gotten from it, they got a penalty kill instead. Other than that mistake (which was a fairly easy one to make overall), I think the reffing standard was pretty ok. Detroit went 1/4 on the PP and Winnipeg went 0/3. Shots in this one favored the Jets 31-27, which is almost a victory for the Wings, considering it was 22-13 after two periods.
Graham said it perfectly during the game when he compared Mrazek to Gustavsson except that Mrazek looks like he's making saves on purpose. It wasn't always under control and Mrazek probably got lucky he didn't give up another goal, but all he had to do was outplay Ondrej Pavelec, who never met a puck that didn't surprise him.
2nd Period 02:15 - Winnipeg Goal: Dustin Byfuglien (wrist shot) from Evander Kane and Matheiu Perreault
The Jets get extended zone time and finally find a lane for a scoring chance out front as Kane feeds Byfuglien at the doorstep. Byfuglien carries in and the Jets end up with a shot from the blue line that ends up harmlessly on Abdelkader's stick near the faceoff dot. Instead of making a simple play, Abdelkader waits and gets pushed into the boards by Evander Kane. Sheahan comes in to help with a dump behind the net that gets past Quincey and is recovered by Pardy. Sheahan dispossesses Perrault behind the net after Pardy dumps it, but Kane blocks his pass attempt and the puck gets back to Perrault with a bit of room to set up shop in the trapezoid now. DeKeyser blocks the centering pass attempt, but again the two-man-on-the-puck pressure frees the puck as Kane slides it up to Postma with plenty of room to work thanks to the collapsed defense. Postma walks to the middle before firing a shot that Perrault tips over the net. Kane recovers and immediately throws a backhand pass to the front of the net where Byfuglien has turned to the right position to knock it in past Mrazek. It's weird for a play this long to have a cleared minus, but there will be the exception here. Tatar is doing a good positional job throughout this play and will have his minus cleared. Quincey will keep his minus for not picking the Sheahan pass out of midair on the turnover that Pardy recovers. Sheahan will get two half-minuses for turnovers on this play as neither are egregious enough for a full minus itself, but both combine to be bad. Abdelkader getting fancy instead of just clearing the zone will earn him a minus on the turnover that creates this entire play. DeKeyser will get a half turnover minus and a half coverage minus for his inability to do his job right. This is good zone aggression by the Jets, but the Wings are chasing around far too much.
2nd Period 09:32 - Winnipeg Goal: Adam Lowry (wrist shot) from Mark Scheifele and Michael Frolik
Winnipeg takes advantage of a bad pinch and capitalizes on a second chance off an odd-man rush to make it 2-0. The Jets try to clear it up the boards after a couple chances for the Wings, but Kronwall gets it with Frolik pressuring him. Kronner tries to play it past him, but he only gets the puck by before being taken down. Scheifele gets it at the half-wall and moves it past Kronwall to Frolik moving up ice with Lowry joining the 2-on-1 against Ericsson. Frolik moves it in on the right wing side as Kronwall backchecks on him and Ericsson watches the center lane. Kronner does fully catch up by the circle, so Frolik turns and throws it back to Scheifele trailing just behind in the slot. Jurco gets his stick in on the backcheck to disrupt Scheifele, but the shot gets off. Kronwall is still in the area and he goes down to block it. Here the puck bounces off Kronner and to the top of the crease. As Mrazek tries to react to the change in direction, Lowry knocks the puck out of midair into the net. I'm going to clear Abdelkader and Sheahan on this play for being victimized by a turnover they had nothing to do with. Jurco will also be cleared, despite being close to the play. This play turns odd-man rush after Kronwall gets back because of a pinch he shouldn't have pulled. Cleary would have been the man responsible for getting back, but he was at the end of a 75-second shift and wasn't ever in ideal position to be able to respond to Kronwall making this read. Cleary changes and Jurco has to come across the ice to cover the high man. Kronwall will get a turnover minus and a coverage minus for these two mistakes. I'm also going to give Ericsson a coverage minus. After the play collapses, he's responsible for Lowry and he fails to either knock the man on his ass or tie up his stick.
2nd Period 10:02 - Detroit Goal: Tomas Tatar (wrist shot) from Tobias Enstrom
30 seconds later, Tatar cuts the lead in half off a gift from the Jets' defense. A Jets turnover gets Quincey out of the zone with a pass to Abdelkader that turns into a dump-in and forecheck for the Wings. Quincey at one point makes a good pinch to prevent a Jets breakout before the realizes that he's below the half-wall causes his brain to sieze as he reverts to dumping it to nobody in particular before screaming back to his own point to cover. Enstrom picks up the puck in the corner and throws it up the ice where he thinks Ladd will be. Unfortunately for Toby, Ladd had stopped running that route and the puck instead finds Tomas Tatar jumping back down into the zone after Quincey re-establishes his point position. Tatar walks unimpeded to the hash marks and rips it past Pavelec. The turnover is a welcome gift, but I do think that the offensive zone switching done by Quincey and Tatar helps lead to this play developing like it did. Quincey's step-up kept it in the zone and Tatar's step-up found his feet moving in the right direction. Heck, I even think that their switch helped lead to the miscommunication between Enstrom and Ladd. I'm going to give Quincey and Tatar each a half-plus.
2nd Period 12:52 - Detroit Goal (PP): Johan Franzen (Mule-fu) from Tomas Jurco and Danny DeKeyser
Franzen ties the game on a rush into the Jets zone that murders a guy to get him to the net unimpeded where he scores. The second unit gets chased back behind their own net and the team starts a line change as DeKeyser begins the rush. DK drops it to Jurco at his own blue line because Kane is high in the neutral zone covering. Jurco goes immediately to Franzen skating parallel to him into center. Wheeler and Stuart make up the two-layers of defense in the neutral zone designed to slow the zone entry here, but Wheeler isn't on the right angle to stop Franzen as he accelerates around him to get across the blue line. Stuart is standing behind the blue line flat-footed as Franzen enters and feints pulling it to his forehand. Stuart bites hard and tries to poke-check it only to fall on his dumb face as Mule keeps it on the backhand and slides around him. With speed toward the net from the outside top of the circle and Trouba stuck having to cover the passing lane to Helm going to the back post, Franzen is able to walk it down to the lower inside quadrant of the circle before deftly snapping it in off the far post. This is a wonderful play by Franzen which will earn him a half-plus. The subtle full-speed feint work is hard to pull off and he does it beautifully.
2nd Period 16:12 - Winnipeg Goal: Mathieu Perrault (wrist shot) from from Jacob Trouba
The Jets retake the lead as the Wings allow another easy entry and cycle leading to a goal. The Wings dump it in and half-heart a forecheck as they start a line change. Trouba recognizes this change and passes to Perrault up the right wing side for a zone entry with Evander Kane in the middle lane and Dustin Byfuglien coasting in from the left side to take up the trailer position. Perrault is already a step ahead of Z as he crosses the blue line and Kane drives the center lane hard to pull Kronwall back. This gives the Jets' puck carrier space to walk to the dot and fire a puck that Mrazek stops. The puck bounces back behind the net where Perrault is able to get to it unimpeded (Zetterberg leaves his chase to make sure the lane to Byfuglien was covered). Byfuglien sets up in such a way to give Sheahan a long skate around him before he can challenge Perrault while Kane makes space at the far post to walk around the other way by keeping Ericsson occupied. This works out for Winnipeg as Perrault walks it around behind the net and almost all the way to the opposite side dot before turning and firing it in past a still-very-deep-in-his-crease Mrazek. I don't like this goal by Mrazek, but I'm not going to go as far as to call it bad because Perrault still does get the shot off from within the home plate scoring area. I'm going to clear Tatar and Sheahan on this play. Tatar is the easy call as he's the late man on a line change, but Sheahan's blame-clearing is going to come from the idea that he's in good shape to cover Byfuglien this entire time and that he wouldn't have to make this chase if Zetterberg hadn't abandoned his chase of Perrault. I'm going to give Zetterberg an extra coverage minus for this error. Ericsson and Kronwall will keep their minuses for being part of this play, but neither will earn extra punishment.
3rd Period 13:00 - Detroit Goal: Justin Abdelkader (tip in) from Riley Sheahan and Brian Lashoff
Detroit ties it on a good line rush that ends with a puck tipped in on Pavelec that bounces in off Abdelkader after a supremely short rebound. Evander Kane dumps a puck in to retrieve against Xavier Ouellet behind the Wings net. Kane is in full-stride, so Ouellet lets him win the race, but he reads his position perfectly and is able to pinch enough to separate Kane from the puck without staying in the way and earning a penalty. Lashoff gets to the loose puck in the opposite corner and jabs it up the ice before both Kane and Byfuglien get to him. This frees up Abdelkader skating with the puck up the right side through the neutral zone joined by Tatar along the right side boards and Sheahan trailing to the left. Abby goes to Tatar just across the Winnipeg blue line so he can take the middle lane on the rush covered by Bogosian. Enstrom watches Tatar up at the point as he slows down to let the play develop. Little watches the lane across to Sheahan, but also stays in the middle in case Tatar finds Ouellet jumping up as the fourth man (which he does). Little is in Ouellet's way for a shot, so XO passes up to Sheahan. The pass isn't perfect so Sheahan has to go skate-to-stick before turning and throwing a backhanded shot that bounces out to Tatar at the opposite faceoff dot. Tatar pulls it out of the air and controls for a split-second before Byfuglien gets on him. With no lane, Tatar taps it to Lashoff at the top of the zone with a lane to the net. Lashoff quickly fires the puck into the traffic from here. The puck first redirects off Sheahan's stick in the slot before almost sneaking through Pavelec. Somehow the puck bounces back out, but Abdelkader is there screening the goalie and this pays off for him as the rebound hits Abdelkader's calf and bounces into the net. This is a smart play by Ouellet to separate Kane from the puck and a good play by Lashoff to make a simply play which defeats the forecheck entirely. Both Ouellet and Lashoff will get a plus for both of those plays as well as the offensive zone decisions to keep the puck moving. Tatar will get a half-plus for his smart puck-work, especially pulling the puck out of midair on the rebound and immediately getting it away from Byfuglien.
3rd Period 15:10 - Detroit Goal: Tomas Tatar (snap shot) from Justin Abdelkader and Jonathan Ericsson
The Wings take the lead on a beauty of a rush and pass that finds Tatar for the goal. After a couple scary plays by the Jets, including a shot from Ladd that bounces off the post behind Mrazek, the Wings get the puck deep in the Winnipeg end so they can finish a line change. Tatar and Sheahan pressure on the forecheck, forcing the Jets to make hurried plays. This pays off when Trouba misses Byfuglien with an outlet pass coming out of the Winnipeg zone. Kronwall gets the puck backing across his own blue line with Perrault skating hard at him. Kronwall immediately slides it over to Ericsson in the middle of the Wings' zone with Evander Kane already charging at him. Riggy wastes no time passing it up to Abdelkader turning at the Wings' blue line to head up ice. Abby starts working up speed through center as Byfuglien angles him towards the boards. Instead of taking the body, Byfuglien tries a sweep check to knock it off Abdelkader's stick. This works, but the puck bounces off Abdelkader and he recovers control coming up the boards on the left side of the zone. Trouba comes over to help out, but he has a brief moment of hesitation before doing so. This is all Abdelkader needs to pick his speed back up and turn around Trouba to the near post. Jurco heads to the front of the net from here as Abby throws a centering pass under the stick of Mark Stuart right to Tatar, who finishes it off for the GWG. Tatar and Sheahan will each get a half-plus for the good forechecking. Abdelkader will pick up a half-plus for the strong skating zone entry as well.
1st Period 05:23 - Dustin Byfuglien (interference) against Drew Miller: The Jets are trying to keep control in the Wings zone as a puck rolls toward the point for the defenseman to recover. Miller chases, but has his path obstructed by Byfuglien stepping in front of him. Good hustle by Miller helps draw this and will earn a half-plus. Mostly this is Byfuglien being too obvious in his interference.
1st Period 07:20 - Kyle Quincey (boarding) against Mark Scheifele: Quincey screws up on the power play and allows a shorthanded scoring chance. As Scheifele goes to the corner after the rebound, Quincey plasters him. The hit is a bit awkward, but Quincey definitely takes a run and earns this penalty. Quincey will get a minus.
1st Period 14:56 - Adam Pardy (holding the stick) against Drew Miller: It's not that kind of Pardy, dude. Pardy checks Miller and gets the Silver Fox's stick stuck. Pardy decides to double down on keeping Miller from getting by him and grabs onto the stick. This is another mostly dumb play that's helped out by Miller's hustle, so Miller will get another half-plus.
1st Period 17:14 - Detroit Bench (too many men): The line change monster strikes again as the Wings put six skaters into the offensive zone while the puck is in the corner farthest from the bench. No adjustment. This one is on the coaches.
2nd Period 12:13 - Tobias Enstrom (tripping) against Tomas Tatar: Tatar pulls down a sky-puck at the Winnipeg line and gets it around Enstrom, who panics and hauls his man down to prevent a scoring chance. Tatar will earn a plus for this.
2nd Period 17:55 - Tomas Jurco (tripping) against Zach Bogosian: Jurco chases Bogosian into the Jets' zone on a Murphy-Dump play. As Bogo turns away from Jurco, he loses an edge and falls. The ref is at a such an angle so that it looks like Jurco's outstretched stick is the cause of the fall so he calls the penalty. This is a missed call. No adjustment.
3rd Period 03:34 - Winnipeg Bench (too many men): The Jets pass the puck directly into their own line change and take a penalty to make the Red Wings' bench feel better about their inability to have the right number of players on the ice at the same time. No adjustment.
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The Wings got pretty much killed wire-to-wire in this game as far as possession. The fourth line was more of a black hole than usual, putting up single digits as far as shot attempt pace per 60 against the Byfuglien-Perrault-Kane trio. This wasn't made up for by other lines playing against slightly easier competition either. Zetterberg lost the battle against Ladd-Little-Wheeler (which sounds like an awesome tricycle). The water for the Wings mostly got carried by the guys who put up even strength points tonight. Sheahan's line saw a bit more mixing, but had most of their success against Lowry-Sheifele-Frolik. Interestingly, this was the line that Helm's line saw most often.
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The Wings had three more defensive zone draws than offensive but still manage to get 13 out of 18 skaters at least 50% starts thanks to the sacrifice of the Glendening grouping. Tough stuff for those guys.
Danny DeKeyser's passing in his own zone was brutal in the first period and then he passed his sickness on to Kronwall to carry for the second. Darren Helm had a very good showing in front of his family. I really liked his jump in this one. I'll take the win, but I think we were all prepared to write this off as "just one of those games." I'll admit that it does make it a tiny bit more-satisfying to win a game the fancystats and eyeball test agree that you probably shouldn't. I find the enjoyment of these is tied to their rarity though. I want the Wings to smoke their opponents for every single game.
Corsi Timeline from Hockeystats.ca