Because I was going to touch on many of the same things John did, I’m going to use his comment as a frame for my wrap-up:
Was lucky enough to be at this game too, and the start was eerily similar to Game 1, despite the Duckâ€™s being generous enough to score one for us. I chalked up the poor start in Game 1 to layoff rust, but that canâ€™t be used here.
No, it’s definitely more than rust. It looks like they were having trouble finding motivation to get up and play the Ducks, which is disturbing. It’s one thing to come out a little sluggish in the first period of an afternoon game. It’s another to carry it over to the second period. Granted, they were running up hill with the officials putting away the whistles for any and all possible Ducks infractions, but showed little fight until the third.
They apparently had a lot of faith in their ability to turn it on late in the game and pull out a win, forgetting that there are 60 minutes on the clock rather than 20.
What Iâ€™m not liking so far, and this goes for both games, as they were both pretty much the same:
Poor outlet passes by the D. This is key for a puck possession team, and it just hasnâ€™t been good. I sat behind the nets both games, and you really get to see the plays develop, and the D men are either too slow to make the plays at times, or make the wrong plays at others. Sometimes they wait too long, and a Duck is able to get in the lanes, leading to turnovers, and other times they fail to make the correct read, and instead pass to someone who is either covered or standing still. We are getting no flow at all in the transition game, and itâ€™s hurting. Some of it is undoubtedly due to the Duckâ€™s strong D, but not all of it. A lot of times when the Duckâ€™s were changing, there was an entire side of the ice open, and the D were too slow to exploit that. This is where Raffi is very much missed.
Dead on. I thought the Wings got their transition game back pretty well in the third and in overtime , but before that, it was floundering. Rafalski’s absence definitely leaves a big hole in their capability in this regard, but they’ve still got some capable guys out there.
They’re letting the Ducks’ extremely aggressive forecheck get to them rather than taking advantage of it by getting the puck up ice before the Anaheim forwards can recover. Too often, the defenseman with the puck had little support and had to make a hurried decision rather than a safe dump off to his partner or a low forward.
Like I said, they were able to get this going better later in the game and the difference in level of play was pretty stark. They’re going to have to get that part of their game back online, or they aren’t going anywhere.
The Hossa/Datsyuk/Holmstrom line. Where the hell where they in Game 1 and most of Game 2? They FINALLY showed up in OT, but they need to get it together. They are gonna have to start scoring, or the Wings are going nowhere. So far in this series, only 2 forwards have goals for Detroit, not acceptable, Franzenâ€™s good, but he canâ€™t do it all. As for the OT, Hossa should have ended it in the 2nd OT, he got the puck wide-open in the slot, and didnâ€™t bury it. With his quick release, heâ€™s gotta score there.
No kidding. I’ve been incredibly disappointed in Datsyuk and Hossa in this series, and just about as much with Zetterberg. While the Ducks’ top players, particularly Getzlaf, are wrecking havoc, our top guys have made very little impact. Given Getzlaf’s success, you can’t even say they’ve been all that great defensively.
I was encouraged by some of what I saw from Hossa and Datsyuk later in the game, but they’re doing too much as individuals rather than doing enough together. They know they’re not performing up to snuff, and are trying to rectify it, but going about it on an individual basis isn’t the right way. Too many solo forays into the Ducks defense.
Getting trapped in our zone. The few shifts the Wings didnâ€™t dominate in OT, they got trapped for long periods of time. Now to their credit, they managed to keep the Ducks to the outside, but way, way too many failed clearing attempts. This was occuring in regulation and Game 1 as well.
This goes back to the Ducks’ forechecking and the Wings’ poor transition game, only this time it’s forwards making bad decisions too. Zetterberg in particular has been bad about clearing the puck in pressure situations. Rather than feeling confident in our shutdown line when they’re out there against the Ducks’ top guns, I start to cringe every time the puck nears the Wings’ zone.
Finally, Chris Chelios. Please, leave him in Detroit when you go to Anaheim. The only reason to play someone that old is because they are able to use their head effectively, but he isnâ€™t even doing that. He took a careless penalty that set-up Anaheimâ€™s third goal, and constantly made poor plays with the puck in his limited ice time. Besides, I think I noticed him once in the OTs. I hope Raffi gets better soon, and if not get Meech in there, at least he can skate.
Yeah, I don’t know if Chelios is going to be much help to the Wings this year. He’s not played nearly enough to be sharp at this point in the season, and is too old and slow to make up for it. Getting Meech back in wouldn’t be a bad idea at this point, for sure. The best case scenario would be a healthy Rafalski, but who knows when he’ll be back.
Some encouraging things:
Hiller: This guy is exceptionally beatable. Heâ€™s got a fast glove on 40 foot shots with no screen, but thatâ€™s about it. Sammyâ€™s goal was just pathetic. Just a nothing special backhander that shouldnâ€™t go in the first pre-season game, let alone in May. I couldnâ€™t tell if Franzenâ€™s goal went over the shoulder, or inside the post, but if it was inside the post, that goal was soft as well. He got very, very lucky on the OT powerplay, as there were some great deflections that he never saw that went just wide. Any luck at all for the Wings, and the game was over right there.
For a guy who plays such a pure butterfly, he’s got a bad 5-hole. The Wings keep beating him there, for all the talk about getting the puck high on him. He’s definitely beatable, but only if the Wings stop shooting themselves in the foot by sending shots high, wide, and into his crest. What won them Game 1 was going to the net and that’s something they did with far less alacrity in Game 2.
Speaking of Franzen, heâ€™s just Mr Clutch, nothing else to say.
The guy wants to win badly. It’d be great if some of his clutch dust or whatever it is he’s got would rub off on guys like Hossa, who used to be a “I shoot I score” kind of guy, and Datsyuk, who is having more trouble corraling the puck than I’ve ever seen him have.
The third and fourth lines. Seemed to get the majority of sustained offensive pressure. I really thought the OT game winner would come from one of those two lines, with all of their energy. I just love me some Darren Helm.
I kept writing “4th line our best” in my notes, and looking back, I stand by it, even if that really only applied to their offensive zone presence. Led by Helm, those three guys really looked great when they had the puck. They were less impressive at the other end, but overall they were outstanding.
It’s nice that the third line has been so strong in this run, but our depth isn’t really depth if our top players aren’t playing their best as well. As far as on-ice results so far in this series, the Wings are little better than the Ducks in the depth department.
Speaking of Helm, did I actually see him try to pull the Datsyuk move on his partial breakaway? First of all, sorry Helm, you ainâ€™t that good yet, and second, you canâ€™t really pull that move with a guy all over your back, takes too long. Gotta have balls to try it though!
Yeah, he tried a deke there, and without a desperate play by the Ducks’ defenseman, it might have worked. I would have rather seen him shoot it on that play.
I thought Ozzie was pretty good, he outplayed Hiller. Two breakaways he stoned â€˜em on, not to mention some good work finding pucks on some scrums down low. Not sure why he dove out of the net to stop a shot going way wide that ended up coming out the other side for a tap-in for the third goal though. He made a great stop on the first goal, before they scored on a pretty tough angle on the rebound. On the second goal, it was hard to tell, but it looked like the Duckâ€™s player had his entire body in the crease on the Pronger shot, I could be wrong though.
Osgood was definitely strong, the Getzlaf goal and the game winner aside. I’m not sure what he was doing so far out of position on that one myself. For a guy whose positioning is his strong suit, that was out of character.
On the game winner, unless it was deflected, I’m majorly unimpressed. This isn’t the time of year to be whiffing on shots off the rush.
I wanna give some due credit to the Ducks as well. They are really good defensively, and do a great job clogging up the neutral zone. The Wings just need to start working harder to try and get through it.
Yeah, they stuck with it well, which was particularly noticeable late in the second overtime when the Wings started looking tired. Pretty good endurance on the Ducks’ part, to weather the storm and be able to turn the tables like that.
The rest of this series is pretty simple, if they can sharpen up the transition and get their All Star forwars to start playing like it, the Wings will be fine. I think the Wings can easily score 4+ goals a game on Hiller if our guys wake up and play like they can. If they donâ€™t, they will lose this series.
That’s the big “if” that’s making my pre-series bravado look stupid. I’ve got a ton of confidence in this team that they’ll be able to rebound from this loss with improved play, but their lack of fire to this point is disconcerting. Of all the teams that they could face in the playoffs, the Ducks should provide the greatest motivation to play at their best without the need for a shocker like a third overtime loss. If they don’t develop a killer instinct as early as the first period of Game 3, they’re in trouble.