Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Preseason Game 4: Killer Hands, Bert

The Lidstrom-led Wings played another split squad preseason game on Sunday, this time against the visiting Blackhawks. The "white" squad from training camp played for the Wings in a game that was a tale of two sides. The Wings' offense looked to be in regular season form, but the defense was shaky at best and downright scary at times.

Detroit 1 Chi 0; 7:35 in 1st period- PPG Filppula from Lidstrom and Zetterberg

Chicago's set up in a box on the penalty kill. There's nothing exceptional to note yet.

Lidstrom starts with the puck near the left side of the blue line. As he slides towards the middle, the Chicago defender moves with him. The Wings' other defenseman moves down the right side boards, baiting his defender into sliding down with him. This movement of Chicago players has opened up a huge area of open ice (red box above).

Lidstrom passes to Filppula on his left, who walks the puck into the open area in the slot. Franzen does an excellent job of screening the goalie, who can't see Filppula's rising wrister.

Detroit 2 Chi 0; 19:13 in 1st period- Zetterberg from Franzen and Filppula

A great breakout pass through the neutral zone is for naught as the puck is just out of Filppula's reach. The puck bounces off the left side boards, and Filppula is able to corral it around the blueline.

Filppula uses a spinning backhand pass to get the puck to Franzen, who's entering the offensive zone with speed along the left side. Two strides into the zone he's created an irreversible amount of separation between himself and four Chicago defenders.

Gotta love alternate angles. You can see here that the Chicago player is able to get his stick on the ice in front of Franzen's shot. The puck hits the stick and bounces straight up, eventually landing behind the net to the goaltender's left.

Franzen is able to regain control of the puck and finds a streaking Henrik Zetterberg near the goal (Z's the one on the right side that looks like a ghost. Very seasonally appropriate). Z puts one just under the crossbar on the far side of the net for the goal.

Detroit 2 Chi 1; 7:32 in 2nd period- SHG Pirri unassisted

The puck is stripped from the Wing carrying into the zone, and Franzen isn't able to pick it up. Instead, Pirri gets ahold of it, turns, and sprints up the left side.

This goal doesn't lend itself to analysis. The Wings defenders backcheck and are in good position, but Pirri's slapshot beats Howard high short side for the goal.

Detroit 3 Chi 1; 8:55 in 2nd period- PPG Lidstrom from White & Filppula

The Wings move the puck to Lidstrom off the faceoff. Lidstrom passes to White before the Chicago defender can stretch his stick out far enough to cut off the passing lane. Note that the defender is facing Lidstrom prior to the pass.

Ian White makes a tremendous pass fake towards the low slot area. This pulls Chicago's center (#16) down low, leaving lots of space for Lidstrom to operate in. White reads this and passes back to Lidstrom.

Lidstrom one times it and beats the goalie high glove side. You can tell from the screen cap that things didn't really work out for #16 in white.

Detroit 3 Chi 2; 16:01 in 2nd period- Hayes from Smith & Pirri

Chicago gets the puck off a Detroit turnover in the neutral zone. At this point the Wings are in a good defensive position. Both Chicago skaters are being covered by one of the Wings' D-men.

Kindl skates hard towards Smith and gets embarrassed when Smith stops hard. Abdelkader comes down to help but Smith stickhandles around him. That leaves 2 Wings defenders completely out of position, and an unchecked Chicago player open in the left faceoff circle. Smith easily gets the cross ice pass off to Hayes.

The player circled in the screencap is Ericsson. He's done a good job of sticking with his man throughout the play, but at this point he's so far off the the goaltender's right that he can't recover in time to do anything about Hayes having the puck. Hayes goes backhand-forehand-backhand, enough to bait Conklin into dropping to the ice and exposing the top of the net. Hayes shoots high and scores.

Detroit 3 Chi 3; 9:33 in 3rd period- Pirri from Hayes

Brendan Smith brings the puck out from behind the net, but a Chicago player gets a stick on it right before Smith can make his clearing pass. It's hard to see in the screencap, but that's what's happening in the red bubble. This is a Wings turnover dangerously deep in their own zone.

There's a little bit of puck luck involved here, as somehow the puck ends up directly on a Chicago player's stick. Now there's a 2 on 1 directly in front of the net, leaving plenty of room for Hayes to pass to Pirri.

Commodore covers this really well. He stays square to the shooter, so I don't place any blame on him for the goal. Pirri snaps one from the slot and beats Conklin to tie the game.

The game ended up going through an overtime period and into the shootout. Here's how the shootout went:
Franzen- save
Pirri- goal
Bertuzzi- goal
Frolik- save
Zetterberg- goal
Saad- save

Bertuzzi's goal was a thing of beauty. Looks a lot like the move Pavel used on Bryzgalov against Phoenix in round 1 of last season's playoffs. If you haven't seen it, you've got to watch the video here.

The Good
Valtteri Filppula- Flip was a tremendous offensive weapon in this game. His passes were sharp and he generated not only numerous scoring chances, but was rewarded with a multipoint game. It's nice to see him exhibiting the skill that we've heard about and, at times, seen for the past few years. Moving him to the wing may have been a stroke of genius by Mike Babcock.

The Bad
The Wings' breakout passes- Too many times the Wings not only watched their breakouts fall about, but saw them turn into quality scoring chances for the Hawks. I'm sure they'll work out the kinks here but turnovers were an issue in this game.

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