Posts tagged “Kings”

Wings 2, Kings 5

Slow Start: The Wings got behind the eight-ball pretty early in this one, coming out of the gates flat and ceding their ice to the Kings for most of the first period. They went down 1-0 at 6:48 and then 2-0 at 13:15. At one point they were down in the shot count 9-1, though they finished the period with 6 to the Kings’ 10. Their play improved as the game went on, but they were already down and apparently can’t pull even with the Kings with all their injuries despite still having considerable talent.

The Injuries: They’re a legitimate excuse for having a rough time in this stretch. Datsyuk and Lidstrom are, after all, the two most important skaters on the roster. And a defense that features Doug Janik is not going to look all that great. But I have to say that some of the holier-than-thou talk I see from other fans about how we are to react to these losses rubs me the wrong way. Yes, they’re depleted. And no, this is not an indication of future performance.

But I submit that it is still frustrating to see a lineup that yet consists of Henrik Zetterberg, Valtteri Filppula, Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Ian White, Johan Franzen, Jiri Hudler and some pretty decent role players go 3-6-1 in their last ten. Pointing that out does not mean the pointer is giving up.

If you want to affect a perpetually rosy view of things at all times, that’s your fanship style and it’s fine. If I or anyone else want to point out that this stretch sucks, that’s fine too. Injuries are an excuse to have a rougher time, but not to display a lower effort level.

Jimmy: Jimmy looked very good and made some seriously stellar saves. He was hung out to dry by his defense, however, and ended up looking worse on individual goals than was typical for him in this one.

Z’s Line: Played a strong game in the second and third periods and generated a good chunk of the Wings’ offensive pressure. Which is as it should be.

Abdelkader & Co.: The other line that stood out. This team still has depth.

Franzen: Good finish on his goal, which I hope is the start of something. That’s three goals in 7 games, but it doesn’t feel like that much.

Smith: Looks very confident out there and is an entirely different player at the NHL level. He needs a new partner, though. Janik isn’t cutting it. I’d love to see him with someone more talented, for sure.

The Race: The Blues lost, but got a point and are now 7 points u p on the Wings. The Predators are just two back, so the Wings really could not afford this loss. They need to find a way to eke out some wins or they’re going to slip even further.

Next: They’re in Anaheim to play the Ducks, who are 4-5-1 in their last 10 and coming off a 3-2 OT loss to Colorado on Monday. The Wings need this one.

Game Day Notes: @ Los Angeles

Update (4:34 PM): Sounds like Nick’s a little further from returning than we thought. – Matt

Update (2:30 PM): Khan with some details from the skate:

– Matt

… This is the fourth and final meeting between the Wings and Kings this season, with the series standing at 3-0-0 Detroit. The Wings have outscored LA 16-6 in their meetings so far, thanks largely to their 8-2 win on December 17th. The most recent meeting took place on Friday, with the Wings coming back to win 4-3 late.

… The Kings fit a game in between this one and Friday’s, beating the Blackhawks 3-2 in a shootout\. That win put them within a couple points of the 8th seed with 76 (to Colorado’s 78).

… That was their fourth win in six games as they’re making a push for that spot.

… The Kings played 14 of their past 18 away from home, so they may have a boost being at home for once.

… Jeff Carter has four goals and one assist in 8 games since joining the Kings last month. Two of those goals came in the past two games.

… The Kings are short just Simon Gagne.

… Jonathan Quick is the presumed starter for the Kings.

… The Wings are coming off a pair of games I missed because I was Up North this weekend. One of them was the comeback win over the Kings on Friday previously mentioned. The other was a 3-2 loss to division rival Nashville on Saturday.

… They now sit six points back of the Blues, who are 9-1-0 in their last 10. The good news is the Wings have a game in hand on them. The bad news is the Predators are just two back of them. Points every night are crucial.

… They’ll get some help on the injury front tonight, with Jimmy Howard returning. Nick Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl and Todd Bertuzzi remain out, however. Nick and Pavel are out at least two more games, while Bertuzzi’s looking at tomorrow night’s game in Anaheim. Kindl’s out for the trip, however, and Ericsson’s not close.

… Gustav Nyquist will be in tonight after playing three times in three nights over the weekend. Young legs.

… This is where I list the starter for the Wings, but I already did that.

… I also already said that points are critical for the Wings right now, but it bears repeating: points are critical for the Wings right now. If they don’t get points, they’re looking at fourth or fifth place. Neither is particularly attractive. If they can catch the Blues and take first, they’ll get whatever team ends up in 8th, whether that be the hot team that stole it or whichever group slid backwards into it. That can be a blessing or a curse, depending. But I’d rather that than a Central Division battle.

They face off against a desperate team tonight, but need to beat that desperation with some of their own.

Wings 8, Kings 2

Wasting No Time: The Wings scored a 1:45 into the game, when a Kings turnover led to a Helm shot+rebound and a Miller slam dunk. Cory Emmerton made it 2-0 15 seconds later when he redirected an Ericsson shot. It took them until 8:32 to score again, but when the Kings scored at 17:15, the Wings made it 4-1 at 18:35. They didn’t waste time letting the Kings think they had a chance. They had a similar response to the Kings’ second goal, which came at 11:03 of the second. The Wings went up 5-2 at 12:06.

While the Wings weren’t perfect in terms of attentiveness last night, they did have the right response to opposition goals: score yourself.

Emmerton: Finished the night with three points and looked good doing it. Playing the hapless Kings skews perspective a bit, but it was a promising night for Cory.

Miller: I certainly never envisioned a night where Cory Emmerton and Drew Miller combined for two goals and five points. I guess it underlines how bad the Kings’ night was.

The Kings: Offensively, they had some positives in terms of pressure in the Wings’ zone. They struggle with finishing, but they made the Wings defend their turf more than I would have preferred. Defensively, they’re pretty poor. They don’t do a good job of puck security and are just surprisingly bad in their own end for a team with such strong blueline talent. I guess the youth of guys like Doughty and Johnson explains that.

And their goalies were totally incapable in this one. Jonathan Quick is usually much more of a challenge, but he gave up three goals on seven shots before being pulled. Bernier did better but eventually he collapsed, too. The Kings have had trouble putting the puck in the net, but if their goalies have nights anything like last night, they’ll have a much more serious problem of being unable to keep it out.

Jimmy: Wasn’t challenged that much, but looked a little foolish on the Kings’ first. On their second, he coughed up the puck when bumped by his own defenseman (Kronwall), so I’m more annoyed with the bump than the drop. The Wings D needs to stop trucking guys into Jimmy and/or skating into him themselves. Jimmy also took another penalty. This time it was interference. Please just stay in the crease, James.

Half Zettermove Rewarded: The play on which Zetterberg scored started like so many Zetterberg chances: he took the puck to the backhand and seemed to be headed around the back of the net. This time, however, he unleashed a laser-guided puck into the top shelf, in and out so fast it seemed like it’d hit the crossbar. That’s what happens when a) you shoot the puck b) you get it up. So often that play turns into a low pad save or a pointless trip around the back of the net.

Next: Tomorrow night in Edmonton as we fans look down a week of late games. I’ll hope the Wings will be more attentive over the course of the game, though I won’t have much to complain about if they rack up 8 goals again.

Wings 4, Kings 1

The Start of an Answer: The Wings gave us a partial The Question yesterday. I say “partial” because they’ve still got a ways to go before their answer will stick. This could be a fake-out. But it was a promising start to what I hope will be a return to Red Wings hockey. The effort was good, the team leaders stood out in more positive ways and the played a much more complete game.

Pavel: Of the team leaders, he had the best game. Between his answering the Kings’ shorthanded goal with a goal of his own 37 seconds later, being at the center of some of the best chances of the game, centering the best line of the game and sealing the deal for the Wings in the third with is second goal, there’s no denying Datsyuk answered his coach’s challenge.

Hank: Answered the challenge, but not nearly as effectively as Datsyuk. He was held pointless and was -1, though he did have 7 shots. That’s an encouraging sign, but I would like to see more out of him tonight.

Franzen: Had just three shots on goal, but was at the center of some great opportunities and looked much more involved than he has at times this season.

Helm: Was extremely energetic and effective on the forecheck and the penalty kill. Very good game.

Jimmy: Continues to look sharp. He’s headed for a really great season.

The Kings: A win like this over a team like the Kings is a good sign. LA is a fast, energetic team and with Quick backing them up, they’re a threat to win a lot of games. The Wings could have been walking into a trap, but they showed up in a way that prevented that.

Smith: Earned his first NHL point and didn’t look too bad. He’s still green, but it could be he’s going to be a Jimmy: hits a new level of effort and investment at the NHL level that wasn’t necessarily seen at the AHL level. Megan’s eyewitness reports on Smith with the Griffins have not been encouraging: he’s been lazy and lackadaisical. But apparently, being the NHL has a motivating effect. Which is good. I just hope he has a better attitude when he’s sent back down.

Next up: Anaheim tonight. The Ducks are last in the Pacific, but the Wings can’t slide in there expecting an easy night. They need to be at their best. Whether they can perform as good as or better than yesterday tonight will be another piece of the answer to The Question.

Game Day Open Thread: @ Los Angeles

The Wings are in a bad way right now: losers of two in a row and 8 of their last 12, they may have come to a crossroads. One way, the heading they’re on, is a further decent into the mediocrity that has marked the bulk of their play since their 5-streak to start the season. The other is the difficult road, but it’s the turn they need to take if they want to make anything of this season.

I say they’re at a crossroads and not just on a long stretch of the same road because after the loss to San Jose, we’ve finally seen the Wings recognize they’re in trouble. The same old PR-speak didn’t see their usual use Thursday night. Instead, we saw a coach finally say some of the right things. Tonight, the Wings have a chance to put action to their coach’s words.

I’ll be looking to the ostensible leaders of this team to take the initiative. Hollis made a good case for why yesterday. It’s time for those guys to get it done.

What kind of team does the 2011-2012 version of the Detroit Red Wings want to be? We get a partial answer to that question tonight.

Wings 1, Kings 2

Update (4:44 PM): Press release from the team says Doug Janik’s been recalled. With Rafalski not ready and Stuart sore, it looks like we’ll be treated to the Jug tomorrow for H2H2. Awesome. – Matt

Update (2:16 PM): Looks like Stuart didn’t fully escape injury after all. Surprising it’s his ankle, though. – Matt

Closing The Gap, Closing It Out: The Sharks and Blackhawks must be loving the way the Wings are playing these days. The Sharks, winners of 9 of their last 10, are within two points of second place, and could take the spot as soon as this weekend. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks, who have won 8 of their last 10, are a mere 5 points back in the Central. Granted, Chicago has lost two in a row, but the point here is that the Wings’ margin is closing.

For weeks, we’ve reassured ourselves with the mantra “they’re still in second place.” We might not get to say that much longer.

This team has a problem and it’s not being a fairweather fan to notice. They’ve had trouble all calendar year, and to a lesser degree, all season (weakish D early on, but gutting out wins on O talent worked then). Citing the 5-game winning streak last month is no longer a reasonable defense of their play of late. They’ve won two of eight since then, and have dropped four in a row. Consolation points in two of those games aren’t enough.

And they no longer have the “it’s the February doldrums, everybody has them” excuse. It’s March, and that’s the start of the home stretch. Half-assed games against a potential playoff opponent, or against anyone, don’t cut it any more.

These guys have it in them to be so much  better than this. We’ve seen it for blips and stretches this season. It’s time now to make that the norm, time to engage and stay engaged.

There are 15 games left. And after that, four more efforts like we’ve seen in the last four will mean they’ll get just those four.

I don’t have a lot else to say about this one, but what I do have follows:

First Period: The effort was better, but still more of a promise of what they can do than the actuality of it. They seemed to want the puck more than they have lately, which was good, but obviously, the result wasn’t spectacular. One flukey goal and a kind of meh 11 shots. Holding the Kings to 3 shots is a good thing, though.

But after the first, the effort slid and it felt inevitable that the Kings would take advantage. The Wings let a young, dangerous team hang around and paid the price.

Quick: He’s a great goalie. The Wings occasionally made him flat out stone them, and it was tough to watch.

Stuart: Speaking of tough to watch, I can’t believe we’re not reading about an ACL or MCL injury today, after he fell awkwardly on it and twisted the way he did in the second period. The Wings dodged an artillery shell there.

Defense: This was less of an issue in this one than a flat offense was, but the Wings really need to get their defensive house in order. That was the single biggest reason for the success in ’08, when the synergy on defense drove the other phases of their game. They had a lesser degree of that in 2009, a lot less of it last year, and this year, at times it’s like there’s two different teams out there: a pair of guys on defense, and forwards playing D like chickens with their heads cut off. If the team can find a way to get back to a defense-first mentality rather than this current “meh, we’ll just outgun them, ‘cuz we gotz talent” mindset, 100% of their problems will melt away. The defense is the root of Red Wings hockey.

The Wings need to break free of that rule George mentioned the other day:

… [t]he more offensively talented the Wings’ team is during a particular season, the harder it is for them to focus on playing sound defensive hockey

Call it the Competition Paradox or something. This team has a lot of offensive talent and it has a lot of defensive talent. They need to find a way to break the above law and mesh both qualities into one Big Red Machine again.

Next: It’s Edmonton and H2H2. As Megan and I will be attending, the posting schedule may be a little wonky for a couple days.

I hope to see you there!

Game Day Notes: vs. Los Angeles

… This is the season finale for this series. The Kings own it so far, with wins in two of the first three meetings. The Wings prevented a sweep with a 7-4 win on February 28th.

… Since then, the Kings have won a game and lost two in a row. Last week, they were one of the hottest teams in the League, but now they’re in a bit of a rough patch.

… They went to overtime with the Stars on Monday, but lost. Some interesting post-game notes from Rich Hammond here.

… They had yesterday off for travel to Detroit.

… Obligatory visiting journalist shot at Detroit. First comment: “Ugh, what a dump.” Yes, because that particular photo looks nothing like every other American city in the rain. Idiot. The rest of the comments are guaranteed to temporarily reduce your IQ.

To be fair to Hammond, though, he may just be referring to the weather, and it’s the sheep taking it further. Who knows.

… Anyway. This is the first game of a four-stop road trip for the Kings. Given their recent relative trouble at home, they may be pumped to be away tonight.

… The Kings, as their official site says, are as healthy as a team could expect to be at this time of season.

… They sit at 8th place with 77 points, having won the tie-breaker with Minnesota for the time being.

… Jonathan Quick is the presumed starter.

… The Wings are probably pretty pumped to be back in Detroit after a road trip of mixed results. They won the first two games, but dropped the last three to close out the trip 2-1-2.

… Yet they return home still in second place in the Conference. Their lead on the third place team has deteriorated to just two points, however, so it’s high time to get in gear and keep ahead of San Jose.

… Brian Rafalski remains out tonight with back issues. And Patrick Eaves is also out, but with groin problems. Chris Osgood may be back as soon as Saturday (disappointingly, Friday doesn’t look likely).

… Jimmy Howard’s in net tonight for the Wings.

… We missed the game in Phoenix Saturday, but I can do without seeing a repeat performance of the lead blowing tonight. The Kings will be looking to turn over a new leaf with this road trip, and the Wings should be looking to do the same thing with this two-game homestand.