Blogs > Red Wings Corner

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, June 10, 2009

Thoughts on SCF Game 6

-- If the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup, I really hope that Chris Osgood is the Conn Smythe winner. Once again, the Wings have the better goalie this round and Osgood's game last night was phenomenal. Marc-Andre Fleury overplaying so much with 15 seconds left in the game that his body was totally outside of the net. Sure, Fleury reached back with his stick and sure Scuderi did a fine job, but Fleury didn't look good on that one.

-- Fleury did look good on the Dan Cleary breakaway with 1:43 on the clock. Good move by Cleary under stress, being hacked. How Cleary felt that the slash was coming from his left and was heady enough to move the puck over to his right for a shot is beyond me.

-- Why is Pavel Datsyuk our best forward? OK, because he might be the best player in the world is a fine answer, but he's also a player who is slowed in his skating by an injury. That pass by Datsyuk to send Cleary in on a breakaway was unreal. So were his two back-door feeds to Henrik Zetterberg early in the game. But my point is this ... Datsyuk is playing above where he should be playing. But Zetterberg has slid backwards the past few games. Now, this is holding Zetterberg to his Conn Smythe level of play, but I hope he's on his game Friday and a dangerous offensive player. I don't know if Zetterberg's gassed or if the return of Datsyuk actually has him relaxing a bit more.

-- That ice must have been horrible last night. It was very warm in Pittsburgh and I haven't heard any player quotes about the ice, but you could see chances missed because of it. Those two back-door feeds from Datsyuk to Zetterberg looked like the puck hopped. There was another pass like that from the first line in the first period. With better ice, I think that Detroit would have scored in the first period. I know the Wings only got three shots on goal, but they had a handful of good opportunities where the puck bounced and no shot was taken.

-- Small point, but Jonathan Ericsson is mighty calm under pressure. Too calm. I'd like to see a little more urgency in getting the puck out of the defensive zone, a little more zip on the passes.

-- I really don't talk much about refereeing because it's such a blinders-on flashpoint with fans. But there were a few things in Game 6 I'd like to point out. Brian Rafalski was leveled behind the net by Chris Kunitz when the puck was closer to New Jersey than the Red Wings defenseman. I don't care if the whistle is being put away, you can't allow players to run players who aren't near the puck.

Nicklas Lidstrom was the victim of a can-opener on Pittsburgh's second goal. Ruslan Fedotenko put his stick between Lidstrom's legs from behind, so Lidstrom basically had to step over a three-foot fence to get to the puck. Fedotenko came from behind Lidstrom, passed him, picked up the puck and made a play. You have to call penalties that lead to clear puck possession changes. I'd understand it more if there was another Penguin along the boards who picked the puck up after Lidstrom was interfered with ... but it was Fedotenko himself who got the puck. It was way too obvious.

On the other side, I know that Jiri Hudler grabbed a stick on the Kris Draper goal. It was a stick hold, but the difference is this ... it didn't turn the puck over as the non-call on Lidstrom did and it came in a net-front battle and it was much more subtle. I bet you didn't see the Hudler stick hold until they showed the replay. You could see the Fedotenko can-opener as it happened. In a game in which penalties were being called at a moderate level, then I could see Hudler getting two for holding the stick. But there was a very high level for a penalty to be called last night and Hudler's play wasn't that obvious.

-- OK, one more point about the way the game was called. This series is totally getting away from the "New NHL's" stance on interference on dump-ins. And this goes for both teams. The league has been calling defensemen who hold up forwards after the puck is dumped in deep for a while. Defensemen would get clever and turn towards the end boards, but turn in a way that they impeded the oncoming forward. Fine.

Watch what's going on in this series. It's more like the line in football. Defensemen aren't even turning. The forward will go to step around the defenseman and the defenseman will step over in front of him like an offensive lineman. Why haven't those been called on both sides? Is this a change in philosophy for the NHL or just a situation happening in these playoffs?

-- All that said ... Game 7, so looking forward to it.


Anonymous Athtar said...

I wonder if Ericsson is suffering from the after effects of his surgery or perhaps he has hit a wall. But I see him wiping out 2 to 3 times a game when he retreats to get the puck behind the net.

June 10, 2009 at 2:26 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THanks for the notes -- greatly appreciated.

Ericsson *has* looked a little less potent these past few games. Still solid, but missing a little something. A few passes of his passes last night were definitely cringe-inducing.

Also, the interference being run by all the defensemen in this series has been annoying to say the least. It's totally screwing up the style we enjoyed during the regular season and beginning of the playoffs. Forwards are just peeling off for the bench instead of chasing a dumped in puck because they know they're going to run into a wall of bodies with arms and sticks up slowing them down -- nowhere near the puck.

June 10, 2009 at 3:05 PM 
Anonymous deez said...

And Hal Gill's just a walking Interference Minor at this point, right?

June 10, 2009 at 3:34 PM 
Blogger Bruce MacLeod said...

I was going to correct you and say he's a skating interference minor ... but you're right. He's a walking interference minor.

June 10, 2009 at 3:45 PM 
Anonymous HockeytownWax said...

I don't know if it was the incorrect penalty call on Zetterberg or if it was the bad ice or if it was just a case of the heebee geebees, but it was easy to pick out the players that weren't giving 110% last night.

Ericsson has had that 'deer in the headlights' look on his face way too much the last few games .. like he can't believe he's really in a Stanley Cup Finals game.

Hossa has been next to invisible except for some excessive puck handling and some decent back checking. You may quote me when I predict the Wings will NOT re-sign Hossa in the off season.

Filppula has been hit or miss in this Finals series ... maybe folding under the pressure, maybe not 100% healthy, maybe a little pissed that he isn't being used on the first or 2nd lines (replacing Hossa).

Hudler is getting pounded physically which has revealed his limitations and indicates the dire need for him to spend some time with Dino Ciccarelli to learn some new tricks so he can play with the big boys.

On the flip side, we see Draper, Holmstrom, Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Osgood, Stuart, Maltby all playing with a hell bent "you're not going to beat me" type attitude that always wins cups.

Game 7 is going to be a disaster if they all aren't on the same page and they all don't give 110%. If it comes down to whining about officiating then you know you haven't done your job. Its like boxing ... don't leave it in the hands of the judges to decide the outcome, knock out your opponent so no one can question the decision. The Red Wings have to come out hell bent, all guns blazing, and just bury the Penguins so officiating can't screw anything up. Those that can't play with the necessary attitude and intensity need not show up for training camp next fall (*cough*hossa*cough).

June 10, 2009 at 10:35 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm happy the recaps are back. Best insight on the Wings game easily. I'm a little worried about game 7. Hopefully the game recap will be a positive one. If it's a close game I think the Pens might take it..especially if they score early. If the Wings can bury the first one, I'm just not sure if the Pens could stem the tide (or at least I hope not).

June 10, 2009 at 11:13 PM 
Anonymous Garth said...

I've gotta say that I think everyone's being REALLY harsh on Ericsson. I mean, a couple months ago he was riding the bus around the AHL and now he's being (occasionally) paired with the best defenseman in the world. I think he can be forgiven for being a little shaky in the finals. Frankly, I think it's amazing that he held it together, acting like a seasoned pro, as long as he has!

June 11, 2009 at 11:17 AM 

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