Tuesday, June 21, 2011

AVGÖRANDE 2011: Lidstrom watch complete

He's back. I know this is late, but I can't let this pass without noting. More info is available here, here, and especially here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

AVGÖRANDE 2011: Lidstrom watch

It has now been exactly one week past the point when Nicklas Lidstrom made his decision to return to the Wings a year ago, and I'm getting worried.

Today's news came from an interview with Lidstrom on the Jim Rome Show, and while not a death knell it isn't exactly reassuring either.

The Free Press and Detroit News both have reports up, and essentially they just reiterate what we already know; there aren't any physical issues that would cause Nick to consider retirement, only issues of motivation.

Lidstrom said during the interview with Rome that his decision has mostly to do with getting motivated to train for a long season, and the fact that training to perform at an elite level gets more difficult with age.

A very small slice of comfort can be found here and here- old articles I dug up that discuss Lidstrom's flirtation with returning to Sweden in the 1999 offseason. Though it sorta feels like we're living on 12 years of borrowed time, what's one more year when you're still a Norris-caliber defenseman...right?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

11 for '11 Game 3: The Franzen Five

Never has there been a multi-goal performance with a better nickname than this. The Franzen Five? Pure gold, and something I definitely did not come up with.

Franzen's five goals are naturally worthy of inclusion on a season-highlights list, but perhaps more interesting than the number of goals The Mule scored is the necessity of them in the win. A 7-5 win is terrifying from a defensive perspective, but since there's not a chance in hell I'm going to spend a minimum of 20 screen caps on Ottawa Senator's goals we really don't have to worry about that. Instead, I'm just going to analyze the Franzen Five and call it a night. Enjoy.

Franzen goal 1: 6:52 in 1st- Franzen (22) from Salei (8) and Filppula (19)
The play begins as Filppula enters the offensive zone and the defenders switch. Karlsson covers Franzen for a minute, but lets him cut deeper into the offensive zone uninhibited.

As the Senators settle into their defensive zones, it becomes apparent that no one has picked up Franzen. This leaves him in a great net-front position, with any potential rebounds easily accessible.

Filppula backhands one from the high slot that hits Lehner and bounces off his pads and to his left. Take a look at the two Senators defenders in the screen shot. Think they realized they forgot about Franzen now?

Yeah, that's a goal.

Franzen goal 2- 7:40 in 1st: Franzen (23) from Zetterberg (38) and Bertuzzi (22)

Bertuzzi carries the puck through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone. He spots Zetterberg trailing him and puts on the brakes.

Zetterberg cuts towards the net and draws two defenders with him in the process. Bertuzzi is tightly defended as well, but Franzen is all alone immediately behind him. Zetterberg sees this and makes the cross-ice pass.

Zetterberg has skated far enough into the offensive zone to make Lehner slide to his left and account for him. Zetterberg times his pass to Franzen perfectly, leaving Franzen with half of the net empty and Lehner out of position to do much about that. Franzen puts this one away for his second goal in less than a minute.

Franzen goal 3- 00:30 in 3rd: Franzen (24) from Zetterberg (39) and Rafalski (29)

We'll start this one with the breakout. Zetterberg has the puck in his own zone as Franzen starts to cut towards the center lane.

Franzen gets the pass around center ice. He cuts back towards his left around the blue line, recognizing that the Senators line change has left no one in the right faceoff circle and two defenders bunched up near the left blueline.

Franzen takes a shot from the right faceoff circle and beats the goaltender. It's pretty much as simple as it sounds.

Franzen goal 4- 7:10 in 3rd: PPG Franzen (25) from Rafalski (30) and Lidstrom (33)

Lidstrom gets the puck at the point and fakes a slapshot, instead dishing to Rafalski.

Rafalski unleashes a huge shot that hits the boards behind the net and ricochets towards the side of the net.

The puck hits Franzen's skate, and somehow that settles it down enough for him to get his stick on it.

It's a good night when pucks are hitting you in the skates and just lying in front of you, waiting to be shot. Franzen lifts this one and scores his fourth on the night.

Franzen goal 5- 19:26 in 3rd: Franzen (26) from Zetterberg (40)

There's a lot of little keep-away type plays we're going to skip here. We start with Zetterberg carrying the puck into the offensive zone against three defenders. He has Franzen waiting on his left.

The defense collapses around Zetterberg at the top of the zone. Zetterberg backhands one to Franzen, who now has the entirety left side of the ice to work with.

Franzen backhands a shot towards the empty net just before a Seantors defender dives for the puck. Franzen shoots in time to avoid the dive and scores once again.

All in all, a truly amazing performance. The only thing that might be more remarkable than Franzen's night is the fact that he only scored two more goals the rest of the regular season

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

11 for '11 Game 4: Calgarian Comeback

The Wings offered a little foreshadowing in an exciting but, at the time, easy to ignore regular season game in November. What appeared to be simply an exciting late game tally and subsequent overtime win showed early on that this team was never out of a game or series, no matter the deficit.

Detroit goal 1: 1:56 in 1st- PPG Franzen (9) from Rafalski (8) and Lidstrom (16)

We pick this one up mid-way through a Wings powerplay. The puck is chipped out of the corner to Lidstrom at the left point. He has a lot of space between himself and his defender and takes advantage by putting a hard slapshot on net.

The puck hits Kiprusoff, and he gives up a huge rebound. Rafalski is waiting for the puck in the right faceoff circle. In this frame, Rafalski is at the apex of his fake slap shot.

Rafalski puts a perfect pass on Franzen's stick instead of following through with the slap shot. Franzen is in perfect position to put a quality shot on net; two of the defenders are behind him, and the one that is assigned to him is a second slow to react and playing low in the zone. Franzen has time to settle the puck and lift it over Kiprusoff.

Detroit goal 2: 2:28 in 3rd- PPG Datsyuk (7) from Lidstrom (17) and Rafalski (9)

The play starts with Rafalski getting the puck in the high slot. The defenders at the top of Calgary’s box are tight together, and Rafalski’s man is closer to him than Lidstrom’s. Rafalski makes the smart play and passes to Lidstrom instead of forcing a shot.

Lidstrom one-times the puck into traffic. Holmstrom is directly in front of the net and Datsyuk is in the left faceoff circle. Both are in great position for any rebounds or tip-ins.

Somewhere in the general vicinity of this frame is where Datsyuk gets his stick on the puck and redirects it. It happens so quickly that it’s difficult to find a non-blurred frame to screen cap.

Detroit goal 3: 11:04 in 3rd- Zetterberg (6) from Datsyuk (14) and Kronwall (5)

Upon carrying the puck into the neutral zone, Datsyuk notices Calgary’s defenders bunched together and dishes to Zetterberg on the left side.

Though his defender is playing him tightly, I’m a little surprised Zetterberg decides to cut to the middle of the ice here. While he’s almost guaranteed a step on his d-man, there’s a defender in the high slot that could easily close the gap and make a play on the puck. Oh well, that’s why I’m not in the NHL as clearly Zetterberg made the right choice. He has room enough to cut through the middle and towards the left faceoff circle.

The aforementioned high slot defender does attempt to play Zetterberg but is a step behind. At the same time, Zetterberg’s initial defender tries to stick with him but is also behind. This gives Zetterberg a great backhanded opportunity, as he already is making Kiprusoff use his feet and move across the crease. Zetterberg takes the backhander and buries it.

Detroit goal 4- 19:56 in 3rd: PPG Zetterberg (7) from Datsyuk (15) and Rafalski (10)

While there are times that I try to extoll the beauty of the game in an attempt to convert non-fans into fans, the truth is that hockey is often a game of strange bounces and improbable occurrences. Take this goal, for instance.

The key to this play comes with 14 seconds left in the game, when a Calgary defender loses his stick. The Red Wings have already pulled Jimmy Howard, and now Calgary finds themselves down a man and down a stick. That makes this something like a 6-on-4.5.

The puck is cleared to Rafalski near center ice. Rafalski sees Datsyuk moving into the neutral zone and makes a nice pass to him right before Datsyuk pivots to re-enter the offensive zone.

What happens next is truly and uniquely Datsyukian. Pavel sheds two defenders, at one point lifting his stick and placing it across the stick of one of the defenders. Somehow he emerges from

Datsyuk carries it into the left faceoff circle, where he notices that both the defenseman and the goalie are playing him and not Zetterberg. Left alone in the right faceoff circle, Datsyuk needles a cross-ice pass to him.

The defenseman reacts and is able to turn. He might be able to get a stick on the puck, or at least change the shot…except that he has no stick. Kiprusoff doesn’t have much of a chance here, and we’re all tied with 3 seconds left in the game.

Det goal 5- Lidstrom 1:38 in OT

We’ll pick this up mid-cycle with Helm carrying the puck towards the left faceoff circle. It looks like Tanguay has good coverage on him. Note the words “looks like”.

Helm turns hard to cut towards the net, while Tanguay just sorta keeps drifting up ice.

Kiprusoff has somewhat committed to Helm and already has his pads on the ice. Prior to getting crushed Helm is able to get a pass across to Lidstrom, who has just jumped up and joined the play. Lidstrom must not have been able to get much on the shot because he chooses to walk around a diving Kiprusoff despite having a completely empty upper half of the net.

Lidstrom turns the corner and backhands one into the net for what has to be one of the prettiest goals of his career. Comeback complete, game over, and Detroit walks away with 2 points.