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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.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thoughts on Game 2 vs. Chicago

-- Absolutely terrible play by Brian Campbell in overtime. I'm sure that Chicago management was cursing after the game that he was trying for a special play rather than make sure he kept the puck in the Detroit zone.

That said, let's give equal praise to the play by Mikael Samuelsson. Jiri Hudler had dropped down low. Samuelsson's job was to guard the other point, but he left that station to pressure Campbell. That's a very unusual move, but a clever one. Samuelsson was counting on a defensive rotation picking up his point should Campbell get a pass through. What I liked about Samuelsson's safe gamble was that he forced Campbell into dumping the puck down low, where Hudler was and the Wings had better numbers. If Campbell opted to go where the Hawks had better numbers (the other point), it was a high-risk pass. Campbell took that option and lost.

And here's what I really like about that play. It highlights why I don't like golfing or bowling. I don't like sports that count every shot. Hockey, basketball, baseball, football ... you can make a mistake, then hit the winning shot and you're a hero. Samuelsson made a mistake early in the game (not clearing the zone) that led to a Chicago power play goal. But that was outweighed by his winning play.

Golf counts every stroke the same. I don't like a sport that doesn't forgive.

-- I pointed this out earlier, but Babcock said that Kirk Maltby will be in the lineup for Game 3. A good guess is that Justin Abdelkader will be scratched.

-- Babcock was obviously not happy with the defense played on Patrick Kane in Game 2. After the game, Babcock said that Kane was "having way too much fun out there." In the second period, Babcock switched his defensive assignments on Kane, putting the Zetterberg line, Lidstrom and Rafalski against him, taking them off the Toews line.

Zetterberg's line has been the shut-down forward line all season. But Datsyuk's line always was a 1b option. Now it seems like Babcock has much more confidence in the Zetterberg line defensively. One part of that is that Cleary and Franzen are outstanding defensive wingers. One part is that Datsyuk's left wing has been rotating and when it's Holmstrom, he's not great defensively. And perhaps the biggest part is Zetterberg himself. I'll have to remember this for next season's Selke voting.

-- Darren Helm is invaluable. He's also valuable. Odd how invaluable and valuable aren't opposites.

-- Chris Osgood has been remarkable. Again he's the better goalie in the series. He's just so confident this post-season. I just wish he wouldn't be so confident handling the puck and leave it for his teammates. He and Brett Lebda were still talking about one miscommunication in the lockerroom after the game. There you go. Miscommunication and communication are opposites.

-- I was wrong in my post saying that I was more afraid of Chicago than Anaheim. Either the Hawks' youth is a bigger factor than anyone thought or this is a good style matchup for the Wings, or both.


Blogger Nathan said...

Hmm. I think the youth plays a role, especially in bouncing back from a game like this. Campbell was essentially crying during his post-game interviews in the room. And he's supposed to be one of their veterans.

More so, I just think it's the matchup of style. The Ducks play a game the Wings don't want to play, and they play that style incredibly well. Obviously, the Wings talent and hard work showed they CAN play that style if necessary, but it is far from preferred.

The Hawks want to play a similar game to Detroit, problem is the Wings are the best at it, period, so it looks like a losing battle for them. The Hawks play the puck-possession style well, but they essentially look like the Wings with more mistakes -- when they fly, they fly, and it's great, but they mess up a lot more. And the Wings take advantage of it almost every time. And the Hawks defense, as good as Seabrook and Keith are, has been overrated, much like the Pens D was last season, because the mediocre competition they went through made them look good.

With all due respect, the Flames and Canucks don't come close to having the horses to really put the heat on Seabrook/Keith. If Detroit, even if it took seven games, can finally wear down a top five of Pronger, Nidermayer, Beauchemin, Wisniewski, and Whitney, they're going to make life total hell for Keith, Seabrook, Campbell, Hjalmarsson, and Barker.

May 20, 2009 at 9:55 AM 
Anonymous jd said...

Hi Bruce,
Question about Datsyuk. He took a hit in the 3rd that seemed to sting him a little. The Versus announcers noted that and mentioned he was doubled over on the bench but really didn't follow up on that idea at all.

I saw him back out a little later. Anything to be concerned about there that you saw? I couldn't tell if he missed any shifts or anything?


May 20, 2009 at 10:41 AM 
Anonymous Hannibal said...

I think that the youth is the big factor. It has taken 10 years of minor league, European pro, and NHL experience for guys like Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Franzen to get to where they are now. The guys like Kane, Sharp, Versteeg, and Toews haven't had time to develop such a refined defensive game yet.

May 20, 2009 at 1:34 PM 
Blogger Ian said...

Seems to me that in golf, you can miss an easy putt, then make a hard one later to win. I don't really see the difference...

May 20, 2009 at 2:15 PM 
Blogger Bruce MacLeod said...

Let's put it this way Ian ... you can miss 10 shots in a row in hockey, still be tied 0-0 then score the winning goal.

If I miss 10 shots in a row in golf ... which I do ... that 1 good putt doesn't mean much.

May 20, 2009 at 2:23 PM 
Blogger John said...

Golf is a game about screwing up as few times as possible.

Hockey as a sport of succeeding as many times as possible.

I understand. I played golf a couple times. You are not allowed to putt with a goal stick. Well, they chase you away for that anyway. :) Golf is all pressure of not screwing up. In hockey, if you screw up, you skate hard and go get it back so you can try again. And even if you do screw up a few times, as long as your hard work is up to the task, you can come back from any deficit.

I once played for a team that went up 9-0 in the first half of a roller hockey game. (2x22 minute halves, weird right?).. within the first 5 minutes of the second half, we were up 9-8. I faced at least six three on ones my first shift. They scored on three of them. We called our time out. We got our heads straight. (mind you, i was the defenseman that WAS back there) We came back out and rallied to a 13-10 win. That was four years ago. I haven't been in a game like that since (I have played my share of 1-0 wins and 0-0 ties too). The point was just that in hockey, the opportunity is there to use more than just skill to turn the tables. And the golf comparison is because there are so many fewer dimensions to the sport. Yes, it is definitely a sport, but not on the level with Hockey.

May 20, 2009 at 3:13 PM 
Blogger Bruce MacLeod said...

Dammit John. I thought I was the writer.

Golf is a game about screwing up as few times as possible.
Hockey as a sport of succeeding as many times as possible.

THAT is what I was trying to say. Screwing up as few times as possible. That kind of sport doesn't fit my screw-up style.

Thanks for finding the words for me John.

May 20, 2009 at 7:16 PM 
Blogger John said...

Have you ever read any articles by Katie Merx at the Freep/News/Crain/now Bloomburg? It had to rub off eventually! Plus, without your blog, I wouldn't have the outlet!!!

Without you thinking of the ideas (the reason I am an illustrator not a writer) i wouldnt have many. And I do spend a lot of time in locker rooms so i get lots of opportunity to contemplate what it's all for.

If you don't know why you're there, you won't win nuthin.

May 20, 2009 at 8:00 PM 

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