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Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thoughts on Game 14 (7-6 overtime loss to Pittsburgh)

Such an unusual game that you have to forget about it. Let's see if the Red Wings make a habit of giving up third-period leads or Datsyuk being stripped of the puck from behind or of Lidstrom losing the puck in his feet in the slot.

What does concern me about this game more than the freaky way the Wings lost it is that it adds to the pile of sub-Red Wing defensive efforts this season. What concerns me is 47 goals allowed through 14 games. Since 1994-95, the Red Wings allowed four or more goals in approximately 21 percent of their games, varying season-to-season from 16 to 27 percent. This year, the Red Wings have allowed four or more goals in 43 percent of their games.

At the same time, since 94-95 the Red Wings have limited opponents to two or fewer goals in roughly 58 percent of their games. This season, that's down to 29 percent. Cause for concern.

-- The Wings allowed their sixth 5-on-3 goal against. No other team has allowed more than three. Last season, the Wings allowed seven such goals all year. The season before that, eight allowed. Not sure why so many 5-on-3s against this year, but that's skewing the PK stats. Only seven 5-on-4 goals allowed this season.

-- Jiri Hudler had a very good game. Pavel Datsyuk did not.

-- Pittsburgh's Rob Scuderi got hurt blocking a Nicklas Lidstrom slap shot. So many times, you see players turn when blocking a shot. When they go down to block, you sometimes see players turn onto their stomachs instead of stacking their shin pads. I don't get it. Isn't the protection still mostly in the front? Why do players turn as Scuderi turned his legs?

-- Henrik Zetterberg clearly has a secondary role right now. It's an interesting dynamic to follow this season -- a contract year for Z. It's not that Zetterberg doesn't get plenty of opportunity or that he's not centering a scoring line. But Zetterberg is the No. 2 center behind Datsyuk. Would you rather have Hossa and Homer as your wings every night or a mix of Hudler, Samuelsson, Filppula or Cleary? When the Wings have a power play tonight that bridged two periods, the Datsyuk line was on the ice at the end of one period, then was put back out at the start of the next period, keeping Zetterberg on the bench.

I have a lot of respect for Zetterberg for doing this. But I still wonder if he'll do it all season long.


Anonymous Justin said...

That pass by Hudler to Franzen to set up Franzen's goal was Datsyukian. Hope to see more of that kind of play from Hudler in the future. And Datsyuk's giveaway to set up the OT goal was completely uncharacteristic of him. How was he not aware of Staal's presence?!?

The Red Wings' defense has been downright disgusting so far. As great as it was last year, it is bad this year. I hate to be pessimistic and I know it's still early in the season, but there's no way the Wings are getting far in the playoffs playing this kind of defense. I'm not even sure what the problem is. The team's roster hasn't changed much, so why have they worsened so significantly? I guess I AM spoiled a bit, but it pains me to see them play such sloppy D after getting so accustomed to seeing them be one of the best in the league.

November 12, 2008 at 2:26 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting that you mention the stats since the 94-95 season, because I was thinking these Red Wings look puzzlingly like the 93-94 Red Wings that lost to San Jose in the first round. They can light up the scoreboard with the best of them, but they can't stop anybody. There's a long way to go but things have to change.

I think Zetterberg will be just fine in his current role since he is more like a 1B than a #2 and he is scoring a lot of goals. He's a surprising -1 though. Could all of the extra games that these guys have played over the past three yeras and the short off season finally be catching up with these guys?

November 12, 2008 at 8:22 AM 
Blogger ryan stiner said...

I agree about Z. I've been curious all year about how he feels not getting time with Hoss and Datsyuk. I think that would be an unstoppable line ... And it's not like we wouldn't still have 4 potent lines to throw out there ... I just don't get Babcocks thinking this year.

November 12, 2008 at 9:04 AM 
Blogger Kurt said...

Well I think Babs sees that the Dats, Hossa, Mule line is very potent and allows him a great second line (much better line than last year's second line).

Bruce, as to blocking shots, I think your point is well taken but the natural reaction to a fast oncoming object is to turn to the side. Maybe it's simply instinct that is hard to overcome.

November 12, 2008 at 10:50 AM 
Blogger Bruce MacLeod said...

Hey Kurt. I agree with you about the natural reaction. But at the NHL level, you should be able to control that. I was the worst right wing in house league hockey growing up, but I was trained from an early age to face the shooter when blocking a shot. Not saying I did it, but I have to think that NHLers have been trained to do so since they were 7 or 8.

November 12, 2008 at 11:59 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do believe it is a natural reaction to protect your face causing one to turn to the side, however, goalies are trained to face a shot head on. I agree that an NHLer should be able to "stack the pads" so to speak. With enough practice, proper technique can become "instinctual".

November 12, 2008 at 3:50 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Z, Hossa and Datsyuk line sounds better then it would be. Shut down one line, and it all goes downhill (see Alfredson/Heatly/Spezza). Holmstrom needs to be with Datysuk to be successful, he has a perfect role, but needs the right players around him. Maybe a Hossa, Franzen, Hudler line might be worth a try.

Either way, they have 5 top line forwards, who could play with eachother in any combination and succeed and the rest are underachievers. Hudler seems like he has potential. But that second line needs a 3rd man who can keep up.

November 12, 2008 at 11:31 PM 
Blogger YzermanZetterberg said...

With Franzen healthy now, hopefully Babcock will keep the Filppula-Zetterberg-Franzen line together ES and on the PP. Hudler shows flashes, but needs to become much more consistent at both ends of the ice. I think he should continue his "internship" on the 3rd or 4th line for now. IMO, Filppula is a more complete player who really only lacks the confidence that consistent time on the 2nd line and PP will give him.

Either way, Hank will be fine. Just no more Samuelsson on the 2nd line please!

November 13, 2008 at 2:07 PM 

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