On the Sum of the Parts

Something about this year’s Detroit Red Wings team and what they accomplished will never really add up.

This Red Wings team was not constructed to make a long playoff run. I’m not certain that they were constructed to make the playoffs at all.

This is a team that lost Nicklas Lidstrom and Jiri Hudler and replaced them with Carlo Colaiacovo and Mikael Samuelsson. That added Jordin Tootoo to an already bottom-heavy forward unit.

This is a team that, midway through the season, had Justin Abdelkader dragging down Pavel Datsyuk on the top line.

You look at the team, you see the gaping holes in the lineup. You see rookie mistakes all season. You see an inability to close out even the worst teams. And yet they ended up one win from the Western Conference Finals.

Things that seemingly shouldn’t have worked did.

Abdelkader and Datsyuk ended up clicking, with Abdelkader looking like he belonged on the top line.

Colaiacovo outplayed Ian White, a top-two defender in 2011-12, to get the sixth defenseman’s spot after Danny DeKeyser (himself acquired midseason) went down to injury.

Tootoo and Samuelsson (and Todd Bertuzzi) were outplayed by rookies like Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson and left out of the lineup.

I’ve said my piece on the Red Wings’ organization’s preparation (or lack thereof) for the playoff run. The team had holes that should have been addressed. For the final weeks of the season, however, the individual players elevated their respective games to overcome that.

The sum of the parts was briefly greater than the whole.

I don’t think we can count on that going forward. The holes are still there. But for a few short weeks, it was kind of awesome to see what these players could do.

Red Wings Eliminated by Blackhawks in Overtime of Game Seven

The Detroit Red Wings rallied from down 1-0 heading into the third period on Wednesday but couldn’t stop the Chicago Blackhawks, dropping Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinal series between the teams in overtime.

Brent Seabrook gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 win at 3:35 of the extra period. After Dave Bolland crushed Gustav Nyquist into the boards in the neutral zone he worked the puck to Seabrook to gain the Detroit zone and step into the high slot. Seabrook snapped a shot that deflected off defenseman Niklas Kronwall and fluttered past Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.

Chicago thought they had taken a lead with 1:49 remaining in regulation when Niklas Hjalmarsson snapped a similar shot past Howard but the play occurred as referee Stephen Walkom called coincidental roughing minors on Kyle Quincey and Brandon Saad, negating the apparent goal.

After a scoreless first period, the Blackhawks got on the board at 1:08 of the second. As the Red Wings got caught on a line change, Hjalmarsson sprung Michal Hanzus, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp on a three-on-one. Sharp sent it to Handzus who worked it on to Hossa and back to Sharp to put past the sprawling Howard for a 1-0 lead.

Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg tied things back up just 26 seconds into the third. Gustav Nyquist faked a shot from the left faceoff circle on a quick rush and drew the Chicago defense to him before passing across to Zetterberg all alone for a wrister past Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford.

With the loss, the Red Wings failed to finish off the Blackhawks after taking a 3-1 series lead.

No power play goals were scored on the night. Chicago had four chances with the extra attacker to Detroit’s two.

Howard made 33 saves on 35 shots against. Crawford stopped 26 of 27 chances.

Detroit forward Valtteri Filppula left the game early in the first period after an apparent slew-foot by Chicago’s Andrew Shaw during a scrum in front of the Red Wings’ bench.

On Karma, the “Right Call” and Coverage of Both

Alright, I’ve got a bunch of stuff I expect to be writing over the next day or so and I’m going to kick things off with a bit of a gripe.

After Game Six, Puck Daddy himself Greg Wyshynski penned a piece on how the penalty shot awarded to Michael Frolik was the correct call and that it was “refreshing” to see such a call made at such a crucial point in a game.

So what is this defender of strict adherence to the rulebook’s reaction to the Chicago game-winner tonight that occurred on a play that saw Gustav Nyquist boarded to force a turnover?

That’s right, on Monday we need to get the call right but on Wednesday it’s okay to get the call wrong if it makes up for an earlier perceived wrong.

Malik covered this, too. I almost hate to bring it up myself but it’s one of the things that just irked me tonight so I figured I’d put it out there.

Red Wings go from being the Dead Things to seeing what the East brings

This season has seen it all. Another lockout. The first post-Lidstrom era season. No chemistry to players disappearing after not being able to shut their mouths to the media. About 3 dozen defensemen and nearly as many rookies.

Zetterberg’s era dawning…

Wings fans should be proud.

Yeah those that don the winged wheel are done until fall and some won’t be back, others not yet with the crest upon their chest will come to be.

Griffins will come up, hopefully players like Damien Brunner and Gustav Nyquist will return.

Mike Babcock will return – sorry Rangers fans I know you think for some bizarre reason that he is going to just jump ship and try to right your sinking one.

Detroit entered their biggest rebuild in the past two decades and came out far better than any expert predicted.

Before break up day hits take a moment to really look at what this team pulled off this year and get some distance from losing to the Chicago Blackhawks not only once but twice in a Game Seven.

Next year is new. New for all. Realignment is coming and though people want to say it is the end of Chicago and Detroit the fans know it isn’t. It’s been going on since the start of the NHL, it won’t be the same, but it won’t go away.

Chicago will now be that annoying “only team in the West that ever gets games on national coverage.”

Little Brother. Your time has come.

As Big Brother has been too old for too long the Wings are now young again – almost Phoenix like (no not the Coyotes that is another issue for another day) but from the ashes the Red Wings have been reborn.

A young team is going to take this team to the East.

A young team is now going to renew rivalries with old friends… old Canadia(/e)n friends. The battles with the Habs and the Leafs are around the bend. The Winter Classic is finally coming.

Detroit leaves Chicago to dominate the west while they forge forward to invade the east.

Get ready. Detroit is ready to bring their game.

On the Idea of 2013 as a Rebuiding Year

Should the Red Wings lose tonight, expect to see a lot of comments along the lines of “For a rebuilding year, just taking the Blackhawks to Game Seven should be considered a success.”

Yes, that this Red Wings team has come this far is something to take as a small victory. For large portions of the season, including the last two games, Detroit has not been a good team. Without a great run to close out the season, they wouldn’t have even made the playoffs, so to have upset the second-best team in the West and to take the league’s best team to a Game Seven is admirable.

We shouldn’t mistake Detroit’s reliance on youth to make that run as rebuilding, however.

Brian Lashoff made a home for himself on the Detroit blue line this season. Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson established themselves on the team’s third line. Justin Abdelkader improbably found his way to the top line. Brendan Smith finally found his way into a regular spot on defense.

And most of that only happened because of the ridiculous number of injuries the team suffered this season. Only Smith’s spot in the lineup was planned last summer.

A rebuilding team does not sign Mikael Samuelsson or Jordin Tootoo as free agents. A rebuilding team reserves those spots for Nyquist and Andersson, who only were called up because Samuelsson and Darren Helm spent most of the season injured.

A rebuilding team doesn’t sign Carlo Colaiacovo on what should have been the eve of training camp. Lashoff would have been allowed to earn the spot he inherited when half of Detroit’s blue line was injured within the first three games of the late-starting regular season.

A rebuilding team unloads expiring contracts at the trade deadline, getting whatever value they can for players who won’t be back next season. This means Daniel Cleary is gone. Ian White is gone. Even Valtteri Filppula is probably moved.

Whether it ends tonight or not, Detroit’s run this postseason has been impressive.

Just don’t call it a rebuilding year.

Pregame: Red Wings @ Blackhawks – Game 7 – 5/29

With Detroit having blown two consecutive chances to close out the Blackhawks after taking a 3-1 series lead, it’s on to Game Seven tied 3-3.

The Wings are still looking to get their power play going, having scored only once with the man-advantage all series. No lineup changes are expected, however.

Stupid stat(s) of the day: The Red Wings are 2-1 all-time on May 29. They’ve played in one series-deciding game on the date, losing to Colorado in Game Six of the 1996 Western Conference Finals.

All-time the Red Wings are 14-9 in Game Seven, most recently dispatching the Anaheim Ducks in the first round. When playing on the road in Game Seven, Detroit is 2-5. One of those wins was in Chicago in 1964.

Game time is 8:00 PM on NBCSN.

Red Wings’ Collapse Allows Blackhawks to Force Game Seven

For the seventh time in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs the Red Wings were outscored in the third period, with a final-frame collapse by Detroit on Monday giving the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 win to force a deciding Game Seven.

Detroit carried a 2-1 lead into the third in Monday’s Game Six with the opportunity to eliminate Chicago. Instead, the Blackhawks scored three times in the first ten minutes of the period.

Michal Handzus tied things up just 51 seconds into the period when he was left alone at the side of the net to take a pass from Niklas Hjalmarsson. He then made a quick move on Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard to make it 2-2.

At 5:48 it was Bryan Bickell who was left all alone, untouched at the top of the crease as he banged in the rebound of a Jonathan Toews chance and put the Blackhawks out in front.

Carlo Colaiacovo‘s slash on Michael Frolik during a breakaway at 9:43 gave Frolik a penalty shot, on which he converted to put Chicago up 4-2.

Damien Brunner scored for the Red Wings in the final minute to pull them back to within a goal but Detroit would be unable to force overtime.

Marian Hossa had crashed the net at 3:53 of the first period to knock the puck past Howard for a power play goal to give Chicago the early lead.

With 1:09 left in the opening frame Patrick Eaves gathered up the rebound of a Drew Miller chance and shoveled it past Chicago netminder Corey Crawford, tying things back up.

Joakim Andersson‘s knuckling shot from the left wing midway through the second gave Detroit a 2-1 lead.

Howard finished the night with 24 saves on 28 shots while Crawford stopped 35 of 38 chances.

The Blackhawks scored on one of five power play tries and added another on Frolik’s penalty shot. Detroit was scoreless on three attempts with the man-advantage.

Game Seven will be on Wednesday.

Pregame: Blackhawks @ Red Wings – Game 6 – 5/27

Following a 4-1 loss in Game Five in Chicago on Saturday, the Red Wings get their second chance to eliminate the Blackhawks as they host Game Six tonight in Detroit.

Chicago is expected to make no lineup changes following the win that kept their playoff hopes alive. Detroit will also go with the same lineup, which is also what they used in their three consecutive wins.

Stupid stat of the game: The Red Wings are 3-1 all-time on May 27. Their previous engagement on this date was when they hosted – and eliminated – the Blackhawks in 2009.

Game time is 8:00 PM on NBCSN.

Red Wings Fail to Eliminate Blackhawks in Game Five

The Detroit Red Wings had their first chance to eliminate Chicago from the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday night and failed, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Blackhawks.

After winning three consecutive games, the Red Wings carried a 3-1 series lead into the game but could never get anything going as the ‘Hawks staved off elimination on home ice.

Two power play goals in the second period broke a 1-1 tie to put Chicago out in front.

With 6:52 remaining in the middle frame, Andrew Shaw deflected a blue-line shot by Duncan Keith past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard from the top of the crease to make it 2-1.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews made it 3-1 2:39 later with his first goal of the series, snapping a low-angle shot off of Howard and into the top of the net.

Shaw rounded out the game’s scoring at 6:58 of the third on a broken play. Viktor Stalberg’s shot from the slot went high and off the glass behind the net. Shaw was all alone behind the goal to pick up the puck and wrap it around in behind Howard.

Bryan Bickell had opened the game’s scoring with 5:52 remaining in the first period. After a scramble in the right faceoff circle, Patrick Kane swatted the puck in on Howard. Alone on the opposite side, Bickell knocked in the rebound.

Daniel Cleary scored Detroit’s only goal of the game at 9:37 of the second period. On a slow three-on-two, Cleary sent the puck rink-wide to Henrik Zetterberg on the right wing. Zetterberg’s shot was knocked aside by Chicago goalie Corey Crawford but Cleary was there to put in the rebound to make it 1-1.

The ‘Hawks finished the night two-for-three on the power play while the Wings went scoreless on four tries with the man-advantage.

Howard stopped 41 of the 45 shots he faced. Crawford made 25 saves on 26 shots.

Game Six will be in Detroit on Monday night.

Pregame: Red Wings @ Blackhawks – Game 5 – 5/25

The Red Wings visit Chicago tonight with a chance to eliminate the Blackhawks, carrying a 3-1 series lead into Game Five of their Western Conference Semifinal matchup.

Having scored only twice in the last three games, the ‘Hawks will once again shake up their lines to stack the top line with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp.

The Red Wings will make no changes to their lineup.

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings are 1-2 all-time on May 25. Including tonight, they have never played at home on this day of the year.

Game time is 8:00 PM on NBC.

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