So we knew the Wings weren’t going to go 82-0-0. The first loss had to come at some point. Last night just happened to be it. And maybe that’s a good thing.
Shots: The Wings were outshot 38-28, though that doesn’t tell the whole story. The Avs managed to block 26 shots and the Wings sent a further 11 wide. That’s a lot of shooting. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. either.
Possession: Time of possession isn’t a stat in hockey like it is in football, but if it were, I’d say the Avs would have owned that statistical category last night. Â They had the puck, it seemed to me, in the Wings’ end far more than the Wings had it in the Avs’.
The Wings arguably had the better scoring chances, but they were somewhat isolated and though the stats showed they had a ton of offense generated with pucks headed toward the net, I almost don’t believe the numbers because that’s not how it felt in-game. The Avs were causing trouble for the Wings in the defensive end all night as the Wings struggled to get control of the puck and then get it out.
Defense: So that’s what I mean when I say maybe the first loss coming now is a good thing. During the Ducks game, Hollis tweeted this:
#redwings may be up by four, but there’s alot of room for improvement in their own zone. Lots of turnovers. Need to stay focused.
I think that perspective was somewhat lost in the excitement over the 2-0 start. But as far as I’m concerned, it was thrown in full relief last night (and after registering the Ducks’ two followup games). The season is young, but so far the Wings are leaning fairly heavily on the offensive side of things, to the detriment of the defensive.
That’s been a problem the past two years, the first as the prime issue and the second as a contributing factor second only to the injuries. I feel like I say this a lot, but they need to find a way to return to the wholesale sacrificial team defense of 2008. The Wings have the offensive talent to win more often than not, but that’s the easy way and it’s not the key to real success.
You want to see the Wings racking up the shot blocks and limiting the opposition to under 30 (preferably low 20s), not getting hemmed in their own end and watching the goalie get peppered. They have the opportunity to fix this before they get too comfortable.
Goaltending: Some nights, the goalie is the victim of his team’s failures to do their jobs. He showed up to play, even though they didn’t. He puts on a heroic, but failing effort as he is inevitably overwhelmed.
I may face an angry pro-Jimmy mob for this, but last night as I saw it was not such a night. The Wings’ skaters had a rough outing, and so did Jimmy. The Avs’ second, third and fourth goals were all weak and on a night where the Wings’ offense managed to net four despite being outplayed in their own end, giving up three softies is not acceptable.
I point out above that the defense wasn’t so strong last night, so the defense most often used for games where Osgood is shellacked seems to apply, right? I say wrong, because like I didn’t see Howard’s effort as a heroic failing one, despite a few big saves. It’s one thing for a goalie to be overwhelmed. It’s another for him to whiff on shots he should be stopping.
The Avs were getting a lot of traffic out front and in the crease (as on the first goal), so maybe that threw Jimmy off his game. Whatever the cause, he didn’t give the Wings a chance to win a game they didn’t deserve to win. And if you’re a big believer in fairness, that’s not a problem. But the Wings did manage to score four and that should be enough to win most nights, even if it’s not fair.
He did almost make up for it in the shootout, but the shooters did the letting down in that phase.
It’s not nearly early enough to detect a trend, but when you look at how bad the Ducks apparently are and how he looked last night, that game one shutout is looking somewhat ess shiny. I hope he plays Thursday so he can bounce back.
Third Line: Not their best night. -3 for all three guys? Rough.
Janik: Made me wish Meech was on a two-way.
Mule: 2 more goals, but still seems like he’s not going all out. Yet. Which should be a scary thought for the 29 other teams.
Passing: Another thing the Wings had a hard time with last night. A lot of passing to spots on the ice, which is all well and good if you have guys skating to get to those spots. But they weren’t. So a lot of pucks got missed. especially those sent up ice by the D. A definite area where Rafalski was missed. Could have used his breakout passes.
Thursday: It’ll be Mike Modano’s return to Dallas, so that’ll be a little awkward. Here’s hoping he lights it up for fun.