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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.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Thoughts on Game 2 vs. Anaheim

-- The Red Wings cannot win this series if the Datsyuk line doesn't outplay the Marchant line or whatever line that Anaheim puts on the ice against them. And it looks as though the Ducks are satisfied with the line matchups that the Wings created in the first two games of this series. The couple of times that Babcock got Datsyuk on the ice against the Ducks' fourth line, Carlyle threw Marchant's line right over the boards.

Hossa said after the game that the Ducks were doing a good job of taking away their speed. Good analysis. Still, even with neutral-zone speed gone, the Datsyuk line should be able to outplay the Marchant line in the offensive zone. That end has to pick up significantly.

With the Zetterberg line drawing the assignment of containing the Getzlaf line, Datsyuk's line has to outplay its line.

-- Franzen is obviously a big playoff performer, but his clutch ability keeps amazing me. I thought his goal yesterday was going to turn the game to the Wings.

-- Playing with five defensemen wasn't a big deal for the Red Wings in a triple overtime game. They have much more depth than the Ducks and sacrificing a little by sitting Chelios still left Detroit deeper. Lidstrom didn't play as many minutes as Pronger did.

-- Who would have guessed that Jonathan Ericsson would be logging top-three defenseman ice time in the playoffs and shine.

-- The Red Wings have the better goalie in this series which bodes well.

-- I was very impressed with one early battle behind the Anaheim net early between Pronger and Helm. Pronger couldn't move Helm. I'm sure he bruised him, but Helm won the position battle. Add to that Helm's attack style in his limited minutes and he's made a wonderful transition from top-line minor-leaguer to fourth-line NHLer.

-- Kronwall still doesn't look right. He's adding a big hit or two, but he's doing things like letting the puck through his feet for a big scoring chance and not making the same quick puck movement that he did last playoffs. On the other hand, Stuart looks better than he ever has in a Red Wings jersey. He looks like a former first-round draft pick. He's filling in nicely on the PP.

-- Total hits for Detroit, 63. Cleary had 9, Helm 8, Ericsson 7.

-- The defensive play of the Detroit forwards has been remarkable. This is why I like a player like Samuelsson. He is well above an average defensive forward, dropping back to cover the point when the D rush, jumping on a Duck when he's in front of the net. Sammy, Franzen, Cleary, Hossa ... they are where they need to be without hesitation. They (along with the obvious ones, Datsyuk and Zetterberg) are why opponents don't get many odd-man rushes.

-- That said, Datsyuk looked bad on the winning goal. He waved at Marchant just inside the blue line. The Wings actually had a 4-on-3 man advantage inside their own blue line, but Datsyuk letting Marchant go forced Stuart to react and leave his assignment. That switch gave Marchant the top of the circle. A nice drive by Rob Niedermayer, who Stuart had to leave, created a goal. Had Datsyuk skated with Marchant and allowed Stuart to tie up Niedermayer, there likely wouldn't have been a goal.


Blogger Nathan said...

Your analysis is awesome. I want to contend with one point -- the Wings forwards, especially in game two, were among the biggest culprits of committing the unforced giveaways that were the driving force behind losing the game.

There were a number of times when Helm, Filppula, Hudler, and even the usually invincible Datsyuk would gain control of puck in their own end, either in the corners or along the half-boards, and would either try to skate through forecheckers out of the zone, or try to make suicide passes right up the center of the ice. Completely unforced giveaways. Lebda was also a big culprit. And I can't remember who it was, forward or defensemen, but an unforced giveaway is what led to the Getzlaf 1-1 goal.

For me, the defense has been good in terms of gap control, bending but not breaking as the Ducks cycle, and even pretty solid in the neutral zone, but when it comes to the simple things, both the forwards and D need to get back to "get it deep" and "get it out" first and foremost, and let the open passing lanes and space to stick handle come to them, rather than trying to force it.

May 4, 2009 at 2:41 PM 
Anonymous Octopus said...

The Red Wings have the better goalie in this series which bodes well.Not saying you're wrong, but I'm just wondering what criteria you're using to justify this statement.

Hiller has been amazingly good, while Ozzie has been very good, imho.

May 4, 2009 at 2:56 PM 
Anonymous Hannibal said...

The Datsyuk line has yet to score a point in the series and Zetterberg's line got their asses handed to them in the first two periods yesterday. They have to figure out something to shut down Getzlaf too. He has 14 points in 6 games against the Wings this year.

May 4, 2009 at 3:01 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruce, any word on Rafalski for game 3? Does he provide anything that was missing in Games 1 and 2?

May 4, 2009 at 3:31 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Clearly not using shots on goal as the criteria.

However, Osgood has faced tougher chances, with more traffic in front, and has made the tougher saves.

Hiller is stopping 30 shots he has a clear line of sight on. Everything else?

He's good at embellishing glove saves, though. And 4 of the 5 goals he's let in this series have been soft.

Don't let the shot count fool you. Bruce is right, Osgood has been the better goaltender.

The Wings are playing their classic role of making the opposing goaltender look better than he actually is.

May 4, 2009 at 4:28 PM 
Anonymous lilja4mvp said...

"The Red Wings have the better goalie in this series which bodes well"
hard to make a statement like this when hiller stops 59. osgood gave the wings more then enough to win the game, but the winning goal could have been stopped.

by the way...shouldn't these crazy joe louis boards be benefiting us more than other teams? why is ozzie always the one getting beat by them instead of the other way around? you would think playing around 300 games there might help...

does datsyuk have the flu? someone might want to let him know that getzlaf had the same amount of points yesterday that datsyuk has had in the last 9 games. hart trophy candidate? hello? probably a good time to step it up, my friend.

May 4, 2009 at 4:53 PM 
Blogger Bruce MacLeod said...

Sorry, no word from me on Rafalski. My paper isn't sending me on the road any more. Having Rafalski in the fold would make a difference in that it would strengthen the Wings' advantage of depth. Those six D would be better than the five-D rotation used now.
As for Ozzie ... He's controlling the shots better than Hiller. Hiller, at times, is fighting it.
I'm not sure why anyone would think that the winning goal in Game 2 "could have been stopped" unless it means any shot could have been stopped in theory. Niedermayer had a clear path up the middle to screen/deflect. The shot was high and against the grain with the D-man late getting out on it. Tough situation for a goalie.
The backboard carom is tricky and it should benefit the Wings more than the opposition. To me, Ozzie plays it right. He can't start playing back in his net in case of a short-side shot. And he'd have to be on his goal line to allow himself to get across the net. That would be a disaster to play there. I think the problem is the weak-side defense. Someone has to be on the forward who's standing alone on the weak side if you want to guard against such plays.

May 4, 2009 at 5:11 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hossa needs to pick it up offensively if the Wings are going to win this series. He appears to not be playing as confident with the puck as he did in the regular season. In my opinion, Datsyuk is dogging it out there as well. He must play with more urgency.

May 4, 2009 at 6:02 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis, Bruce.

Finally, someone who realizes that the goaltender doesn't play in a vacuum.

Hiller has not had to move anything more than his glove in order to make a save over the past two games. The Wings have not forced him to move. Not once.

Furthermore, 2 of the 3 goals Hiller gave up in Game 1 were soft, as were 2 of the 3 he gave up yesterday.

Lilja, you're calling GWG in 3OT "soft", when it was a far better shot than 4 of the 6 that Hiller has given up thus far this series.

The Ducks are working for their goals, dragging Oz from post to post in order to make saves. The Wings are potting softies through the five hole, and squibbing between Hiller and the post for their tallies.

May 4, 2009 at 6:16 PM 
Anonymous Hannibal said...

I'm not holding my breath on Hossa since he has never been known as a clutch playoff performer. Him not showing up in the playoffs was a big factor in Ottawa and Atlanta laying such big eggs in the playoffs this decade. IMHO Babcock should put the twins back together again and get the dominant top line going again.

May 4, 2009 at 9:01 PM 
Anonymous Ryan said...

I think if Anaheim gets the first goal in G3, it won't be long before Babcock switches to Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom, Filppula-Franzen-Hossa, and Helm-Cleary-Samuelsson/Hudler. He could even rotate Holmstrom and Cleary in and out of the top line, depending on whether they're starting with an O-zone or D-zone faceoff. Helm was unreal last night, and when he plays like that, he can easily handle third line minutes. Filppula's been good enough for second line duty too, although it'd be a shame to lose his chemistry with Hudler and Samuelsson.

Maybe Datsyuk is sick. The drop-off was pretty sudden, for the last three games of the regular season and all the playoff games since then. Then again, maybe it's just that he's spending less time playing with Lidstrom now. I do think he's gotten better each game, but it still looks like he's overthinking some stuff.

May 4, 2009 at 9:55 PM 

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