Update (9:55 AM): I should add that Chris Osgood looked solid once again. The two Flyers goals were simply great shots, and while it would have been nice to see a save on the Hartnell goal, he made up for it at other points in the game when Philadelphia was pressing hard. He’s getting to where he needs to be. – Matt
… Overall, I thought the Wings played this one pretty well, even before the comeback. The game was exciting and had a lot of action throughout, and showcased two good teams going at in their different ways. Obviously the Wings could have played better, or they wouldn’t have been down 2 goals, but I don’t want to take away from the Flyers, who proved to be surprisingly good.
… Broad Street hockey is definitely still alive and well in Philly, however, and that’s not a positive thing. It’s reached its purest form in the person of Scott Hartnell, a player I consider more dangerous than a Jordin Tootoo because he’s no loose cannon. He knows exactly what he’s doing, and does it in sneaky ways that are more dangerous than Tootoo’s mindless bodychecks. His tripping penalty on Kronwall last night was intent to injure, but he gets off with just a minor apparently because he has long hair? I dunno.
… How much did it suck to have Hartnell of all people score 1-on-1 with Hossa like that? Ugh.
… Moving on. If there were negative aspects in the Wings’ play last night, one stood out for me in particular: their over-eagerness to start the rush. In the first two periods especially, they had a tendency to immediately take off as soon as it looked like the puck was going to be in their possession. This led to at least one 2-on-0 as well as a few scrambling situations where someone like Marian Hossa had to cover a free Flyer. There was not enough patience with the puck, at least not until Datsyuk scored and they seemed to settle down.
… The Flyers’ second goal was a nice example of what I’ve been getting at with the forward/defense integration. The way the play developed, a forward or two should have been back to support Stuart, but he ended up having to play a 2-on-1 while Kronwall dashed back hard with the forwards apparently watching from afar. Stuart played it well, I thought, but a laser shot beat Osgood nonetheless. The forward corps has been better in recent games, but they still need to make a point of remembering their defensive responsibilities.
… Another negative in the Wings’ game last night was the power play. They had times where they had real heavy pressure, but couldn’t score, and times where they could barely get the puck in the zone. Not exactly a banner night.
… This negative stuff isn’t meant to paint a picture of the Wings’ game as a whole. These things were spotty and just examples of areas they still need to work on. They put on a good effort overall, and are definitely still on the right road.
… This was Pavel Datsyuk’s night. The guy had a heck of a game with a goal and an assist, and the best on-ice presence of anyone in red.
… I thought Marian Hossa put on a good effort, but sometimes he tried too hard and it led to penalties. His first period holding the stick penalty was an example of a “veteran play” going too far. He was counting on the official somehow missing a stick hold that would have been obvious to someone with 10% eyesight.
Later, though, his hard work resulted in a nicely drawn penalty on a scoring chance that came out of nowhere in the third.
… The Flyers were great at a couple things last night and it was driving me crazy: taking away the middle, and blocking shots. The Wings could get one player or the puck Â to the front of the net, but rarely both at the same time. And the Flyers seemed to block every other shot. They even blocked a Hossa shot on the empty net in the final minutes of the game. Ridiculous.
… I somehow managed to guess the line combos on a hunch. Kopecky really did play on the top line with Datsyuk and Franzen, at least until Babcock started mixing things up in the second. Brett Lebda did not play center, and Derek Meech and Kirk Maltby rotated in some shifts and had a center rotated in others.
… As a history buff, I can appreciate the decision to show the final minutes as well as the aftermath of Martin Brodeur’s rec0rd-breaking game. It worked out nicely in happening during intermission. But did they have to linger on him taking forever to cut the net off? Did they really have to show us Bettman’s impersonl formal statement? Versus had an obligation to show the Wings/Flyers game and they cost us three and a half minutes of the third period.
Showing Brodeur break the wins record is good marketing for the League because breaking records is something all sports fans understand and find interesting. So I get the reason behind the “live look-in,” but it could have been handled better. After all, the Wings are one of the League’s most important brands, and one that doesn’t get on Versus all that often.
… This was the kind of game that would have been a letdown had the Wings not made a comeback, but it would have been a loss I could have lived with. The difference between last night’s Wings when behind and the two recent Saturday’s Wings when behind was stark. I don’t expect a win every night, though I certainly hope for one. I expect a strong effort. And they gave it last night. It turned out to be enough for a win, but if it hadn’t, I’d still feel like they were making progress.