Red Wings’ Skid Continues with Shutout Loss to Ducks

The Detroit Red Wings suffered their third loss in a row and their eighth in the last eleven games Wednesday night, a 4-0 shutout by the Anaheim Ducks.

After a scoreless first period, the Ducks opened the game’s scoring at 8:52 of the second. Teemu Selanne tipped a Cam Fowler shot past Detroit goalie Joey MacDonald from inside the crease for his 1400th career point, giving Anaheim a 1-0 lead.

Kyle Palmieri made it 2-0 with 4:11 left in the period, stealing the puck from defenseman Brendan Smith down low and beating MacDonald on a backhand chance from in close all alone.

Bobby Ryan banged home the rebound of a Ryan Getzlaf chance 3:06 later to put the Ducks up 3-0 entering the second intermission.

Palmieri would add another goal at 1:22 of the third to round out the scoring.

MacDonald stopped 20 of the 24 shots he faced on the night, while Anaheim netminder Jonas Hiller made 23 saves in the shutout effort.

Neither team scored a power play goal. Detroit had three chances with the extra attacker while the Ducks had two.

The Red Wings continue their West Coast road trip on Saturday when they visit the San Jose Sharks.

Detroit forward Todd Bertuzzi returned from injury, replacing Gustav Nyquist in the lineup. Nyquist will be returned to the Grand Rapids Griffins with Bertuzzi healthy.

Postgame: Red Wings @ Predators – 3/10

Well, by my count the Red Wings are now 3-9 in their twelve total Saturday games in Nashville on no rest. Someone let me know if FSD uses that number, too.

I want to complain about this one ’cause it feels like the Wings were close enough to make something happen tonight, but really there wasn’t any one thing.

I don’t like how Kyle Quincey played the two-on-one that turned into Nashville’s opening goal but Drew Miller responded almost immediately so it doesn’t really matter. I don’t like the interference penalty on Brad Stuart that gave the Predators the power play on which they scored the GWG, but Ian White really needed to cut off that pass whether the team was shorthanded or not.

A couple miscues, a couple goals against. That’s why you can’t make mistakes against a team like the Predators. They’re too efficient to give chances like that.

In the offensive end, the Wings blew their chances. The power play was better than it’s been in awhile but until they get a goal with the extra man, those are just missed opportunities.

Filppula with the puck at the side of the net in the closing minute? Gotta get that up and in. Hard to knock how he’s been playing, though, especially since he hasn’t been the guy called on for those clutch goals before.

Joey MacDonald? Stupid college chants be damned, he kept the Wings in it.

So lots of good things tonight, just not the outcome, which hurts worse ’cause the Blues are going to get their points against Columbus and extend the division lead.

Postgame: Kings @ Red Wings – 3/9

Make no mistake, I love tonight’s outcome and I love every one of the goals the Red Wings scored, but this was an awful game.

In today’s NHL, there is no way a team should win 4-3 while taking only 15 shots. This game was sixty minutes of absurdity.

That said, as was pointed out to me on Twitter, “Every so often, you need to win a piece of sh*t game to prove you can.”

The Red Wings needed this. There’s no doubt about that. They needed it to stop their skid at two games and they needed the two points to keep pace in the Central with the St. Louis Blues.

The Kings needed it, too, and they threw everything they had at the Wings in the final minute. Joey MacDonald made up for a soft goal earlier in the game by standing tall at the end.

Combine that with one of Valtteri Filppula‘s best games, Henrik Zetterberg continuing his hot streak, Darren Helm finding some finish and Brendan Smith showing why he may never play in Grand Rapids again, it makes for a pretty gutsy win.

On Saturdays in Nashville and Back-to-Backs

Last night via Twitter, “Herm” of Red Wings Brasil made a comment that piqued my interest.

I feel like 120% of Wings games in Nashville are on Saturdays, on the second leg of a back-to-back. (@georgemalik)

I thought to myself, “He’s right, it does feel like every time the Wings are in Nashville, it’s on a Saturday wrapping up two games in two nights.” And after looking into some stats, he’s not entirely wrong.

The Red Wings have had 81 regular season games scheduled against the Predators (including ones yet to be played this season). Of those, 21 were played on a Saturday. Of the 21 Saturday games against the Preds, 16 of those were in Nashville. Of those 16, 12 were on the second night of a back-to-back.

That means that of all Red Wings – Predators matchups, 14.8% of them take place on a Saturday in Nashville after the Red Wings played the night before. Of Saturday games between the teams, 76.2% are in Nashville. Of Saturday games in Nashville, the Wings played the previous Friday 75% of the time.

When I first pulled those numbers up, I felt like they were absurdly high, so I dug around a little more.

First, a disclaimer: I’m in no way a statistician so I don’t know if these numbers really mean anything, I just know how they look. Additionally, any games that were rescheduled were counted for the days they were actually played, so the numbers may not represent how things were originally scheduled. Neutral site games where the Wings are the designated road team count as a home game for their opponent. I also don’t have any numbers for the Red Wings’ opponents, so just because the Wings are playing their second game in a row doesn’t mean the opposition isn’t as well.

The previously-mentioned 14.8% of total games against Nashville that are played on Saturday on the road after playing the night before is the highest percentage against any team on a Saturday. Next closest are the New York Islanders at 10.3%.

The overall leader in this stat is the Chicago Blackhawks. Of the 721 games between the Wings and the ‘Hawks, 15.7% have been played in Chicago on Sunday when the Red Wings played on Saturday.

On Monday, the Tampa Bay Lightning lead, with 3.1% of all Detroit – Tampa Bay matchups coming on Monday in Tampa after the Wings played on Sunday. That said, it’s only happened once, Tampa really only leads because the two teams have met only 32 times total. The Wings have met the Rangers under those conditions four times but have played them 575 times overall, so that number gets diluted.

A similar case happens on Tuesdays. The Wings have played the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks – 1970 expansion siblings – twice under these circumstances but have played those teams more often than the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise, which leads the way at 7.1% (one of 14 games).

Wednesday and Friday are interesting, as the Florida Panthers lead both days with the same percentage, 8.7%.

Thursday is led by the San Jose Sharks, with 5.1% (though the Predators make another appearance, coming in second at 4.9%).

As I said, I’m not a statistician. I can’t talk about outliers or standard deviation or anything like that. That said, I think we can look at some of these numbers and give them some historical context.

The Red Wings – Blackhawks rivaly goes back over 85 years, to a time when travel and scheduling weren’t what they are now. Weekend home-and-home matchups were a bit more common then. I’m willing to bet a significant portion of the Sunday games in Chicago were preceded by a Saturday game between the teams in Detroit.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, as I mentioned, are anomolies due to the fact that the Red Wings have played the Lightning, Thrashers/Jets and Panthers so infrequently.

With San Jose on Thursday, I think you have to take into account the fact that the Wings and Sharks often meet with Detroit on a West Coast road trip. These trips usually include three games in four nights, meaning that one of the California teams will always get the Red Wings a night after they played elsewhere.

Nashville (both Saturday and Thursday), is interesting to me, though.

There’s no long road trip for the game to be a part of. There’s no historical reason. The teams are divisional rivals who’ve played often enough that the numbers aren’t insiginificant.

On that last point, it’s worth noting that the Wings have played in Nashville with no rest (all days combined for 20) more times than they’ve played the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise under any circumstances.

If we’re to assume that the Nashville numbers are because the city is close enough that the Red Wings don’t need to be on a road trip to make a run to Nashville, consider Columbus. The Wings and Blue Jackets have met 69 total times and 14 of those came in Columbus with Detroit playing the night before. That’s 20.3% of all games but no single day of the week has more than 5.8% (Sunday).

Against the Predators, meanwhile, the Wings are on the road and unrested 24.7% of the time, with those games clearly loaded onto one day of the week – Saturday.

The Predators have only been in the league for two years longer than the Blue Jackets. They’ve shared a division with the Red Wings the whole time. They’re geographically similar. You’d think their scheduling would be similar as well.

Again, I’m not sure that these numbers mean anything but I was surprised to see how things fell out. I’d be very interested in seeing these numbers for other teams. Even better would be the opposite numbers: Is there any team that comes to Detroit tired on a certain day more often than not?

Red Wings Remain Winless in Philly Since 1997, Drop 3-2 Decision to Flyers

The Detroit Red Wings lost in Philadelphia Tuesday night, running their winless streak there to seven games with a 3-2 loss to the Flyers.

The Wings haven’t beaten the Flyers on their home ice since a pair of wins there en route to a sweep of the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals. In 62 total regular season and playoff matches, Detroit is 15-36-11 on the road against Philadelphia, with one of the ties coming in a Flyers’ “home” game in Cleveland, Ohio.

Henrik Zetterberg opened the game’s scoring at the game’s four-minute mark. Jiri Hudler gained the Flyers’ zone on a three-on-two and passed it off to Valtteri Filppula in the right circle. Filppula looked as though he would shoot while cutting to the slot but dropped it to Zetterberg, who cut to the bottom of the circle and roofed a backhander over Philadelphia goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

The Flyers responded on a Detroit miscue with 6:10 left in the period. Detroit netminder Joey MacDonald came behind his net to stop the puck for defenseman Doug Janik, who thought MacDonald was going to pass to him. The Flyers’ Jakub Voracek ended up being the first one to the puck and his wraparound attempt went off the skate of defenseman Brendan Smith, slipping past MacDonald.

With 1:49 left in the first, the Flyers took the lead when Niklas Kronwall failed to hold the puck in at the Philadelphia blue line, leaving Claude Giroux clear for a breakaway, on which he beat MacDonald stick-side to make it 2-1.

Kronwall would be involved in another big play in the first half of the second period, when he stepped up on Voracek, who was attempting to carry the puck out of the Philadelphia zone down the right wing. Voracek didn’t see Kronwall coming and put his head down as Kronwall slammed into him.

Voracek also hit his head on the ice on the way down after the hit. He did not return to play.

The Flyers took a 3-1 lead with 5:50 left in the middle period on a shorthanded goal by Maxime Talbot. Giroux had another break in towards MacDonald when Ian White flubbed the puck at the Philly blue line, but White and Kronwall got back to cover him and MacDonald was able to make the initial stop. Talbot jumped up to bang the rebound past MacDonald for the ninth shorthanded goal against Detroit this season.

Johan Franzen made it close at 8:47 of the third, snapping a shot from the inside edge of the left faceoff circle past Bryzgalov just after the expiration of a Detroit power play. The Wings would be unable to pull even, however.

Detroit went scoreless on four power play tries. The Flyers couldn’t score on their two attempts with the extra attacker but did add the shorthanded goal.

MacDonald stopped 20 of 23 shots he faced. Bryzgalov made 37 saves on 39 shots.

The Red Wings’ next game will be Friday when they host the Los Angeles Kings.

The Red Wings were without Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Todd Bertuzzi, Jimmy Howard, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl and Patrick Eaves for the game. With Howard out, Jordan Pearce backed up MacDonald. Chris Conner replaced Bertuzzi up front while Doug Janik replaced Kindl on the blue line… Before the game, Philadelphia retired the jersey of former Flyer and Red Wing Mark Howe, a current Detroit scout.

Postgame: Red Wings @ Flyers – 3/6

I wasn’t going to write up and postgame notes ’cause the Wings’ power play effort has me p*ssed off, but I don’t want to do a formal recap of the game right now either so I’ll start with notes.

After the game, Babcock said he thought the Wings played the Flyers hard but gifted them two goals. I won’t disagree about the gifts but I’ll be damned if that was the Wings playing hard.

Even though Detroit came back to outshoot Philly, was there ever a moment where the Flyers felt threatened? Sure, they were mad after Niklas Kronwall‘s hit on Jakub Voricek (more on that to come) but I don’t think they ever thought, “Man, we might lose this game.”

People used to talk about the aura the Wings had. Around the time that you started hearing that the Wings didn’t need a fighter because their power play was a better enforcer than a fourth-liner would ever be, people talked about the team like they were a force of nature. This team doesn’t have that. Quite honestly, they haven’t earned it.

Now, some of that is the fact that seven players who should be in the Detroit lineup right now are injured. Yes, I think Patrick Eaves should be in over Jan Mursak or Cory Emmerton. And to a certain extent, the guys who are left are doing what they can.

That said, losing one power play unit doesn’t make the other one suddenly forget how to get the puck to the net. Multiple power plays with no shots on goal? That’s just absurd.

As for the Kronwall hit… Earlier I said I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a suspension but that I don’t think there should be one. I’m going give Shanahan some more credit than that and change my mind. There won’t be a suspension there. That’s the poster child for a “keep your head up” play. While no one wants to see Voracek hurt, we also don’t want to see that kind of hit taken out of the game.

For those who missed it, that clip is all over the Internet right now but I’ll get a version of it up on DH.N soon.