Saturday, October 22, 2011

Regular Season Game 5: Stung Jackets

Though Columbus was within a one goal margin a number of times, the Red Wings controlled the game throughout. The offense was fantastic, the anemic powerplay got on track, and though there were a few miscues the defense was solid again. The Big Three got theirs, but it's a better sign for long term success to see the 2nd line (and beyond) getting hot and really carrying the team at this point.

1st period:

Detroit 1 Columbus 0; 9:03 1st period- PPG Franzen (3) from Filppula (3)

Valtteri Filppula sees the hit coming and is able to drop the puck back to Johan Frazen before it arrives.

Filppula gets bowled over, but this also occupies the closest defenseman to Franzen. Take a look at Danny Cleary in front of the net. He has Steve Mason perfectly screened. At this point, there's a good chance Mason has no idea who has the puck. The far side top corner is wide open for Franzen.

Luckily the Mule can aim, as he hits the top corner before Mason can react. You can see Cleary and Mason both turn to look at the puck after it's in the net.

Detroit 2 Columbus 0; 14:21 1st period- PPG Franzen (4) from Filppula (4)

Franzen skates along the right side boards and cuts towards the net around the red line. He throws a shot on net from a poor angle...

Only to have it bounce off of a Columbus player's skate and in. It looks like Franzen may have been putting the puck on net for Cleary, but the Columbus player made that unnecessary. Not much to analyze here as it's really just a bad break for the Blue Jackets.

Detroit 2 Columbus 1; 15:18 1st period- Brassard (2) from Johnson (2) & Nash (5)

The Jackets switch at the top of the offensive zone. This draws a defender away from the play, while the other defender (Justin Abdelkader) has to turn back if he's going to stay with the Columbus skater.

That's Kronwall down low to Jimmy Howard's left. Brassard is down low and undefended, which shouldn't happen. If Kronwall ties up Brassard there's no worry about what happens in the case of a rebound. Instead, it's just the shooter and the goaltender, and you don't have to worry about the goaltender being screened. I'd trust my goalie to make the first save on a shot he can see rather than the second save off of a rebound.

In what is basically a worst-case-scenario scenario, Howard gives up a rebound that's perfectly placed for a tap in from Brassard.

Kronwall can't turn quick enough to react, and Brassard roofs it over Howard.

2nd period:

Detroit 3 Columbus 1; 00:27 2nd period- Datsyuk (2) from Holmstrom (2) & Zetterberg (1)

This should never happen. I'm fine with teams doing this the rest of the year, but really? Letting Datsyuk lurk alone in the high slot? Ladies and gentlemen, defensive responsibility at it's finest.
Zetterberg puts a shot on net that turns into a rebound, and the rebound is passed back from Holmstrom to a wide open Datsyuk. The defenders circled in blue in the previous screenshot still haven't turned around to pick up Datsyuk.

Pavel has a huge amount of open net as Mason is way out of position. Mason has to stand to try and speed up his lateral push to take away the area of the net to his right, but he has no chance of making it before Datsyuk's shot.

3rd period:

Detroit 3 Columbus 2; 1:42 3rd period- PPG Johnson (1) from Prospal (3) & Vermette (1)

The Wings start on the penalty kill here. The Wings circled in red above played the puck but are now behind the play, as the puck carrier has it in the right faceoff circle. He has a wide open teammate at the top of the left faceoff circle.
Prospal makes the pass and Johnson converts. Once again Howard is screened by his own man and likely never saw the shot coming.

Detroit 4 Columbus 2; 7:46 3rd period- PPG Lidstrom (2) from Filppula (5) & Holmstrom (3)

Lidstrom cycles the puck down to Filppula.
Filppula takes a step towards the net, drawing two defenders with him. This makes Lidstrom, who is already open, a great candidate for a one timer. It also makes him a good candidate to score because Mason is hugging the right post and hits the ice when Filppula moves in towards him.
Filppula passes back to Lidstrom, and though the Columbus defenders turn there's nothing they can do but watch Lidstrom pick his corner (high far side) and hit it.

Detroit 5 Columbus 2; 18:33 3rd period- EN Filppula (2) from Franzen (3) & Lidstrom (1)

I only screencapped this because it shows how much productive punishment Johan Franzen has taken early this season. He's hit crossbars with his face and been sent flying through the air on a simple late-game pass, but he continues to produce. His pass is on target and Filppula taps one in for an empty netter.

The Good:
The Wings powerplay- I don't think anyone thought the drought would last, but it's nice to have confirmation.
Johan Franzen- Sacrificing life and limb is nothing for Mule. Mule too stubborn not to sacrifice life and limb.

The Bad:
Not picking up backdoor guys- Yep, I'm complaining about one missed assignment on one goal allowed. That means it was a pretty good night.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Regular Season Game 4: Where the Wild Things Were

The title of the post? Definitely referring to Franzen's OT winner. Wait for the last screencap, you'll see what I mean.

1st period:

Minnesota 1 Detroit 0; 19:48 1st period- Zanon (1) from Latendresse (4)
Pavel takes the puck away and tries to spin away from an oncoming defender. He coughs the puck up in the process. So where are we now? A Wild player has the puck alone behind the net, and upon seeing this Dany Heatley turns and moves towards the slot...
where he promptly has his stick tied up by Justin Abdelkader. Ah, shades of Zetterberg tying up Crosby in the '08 Cup Finals. The puck goes past Heatley and is picked up by a Wild defenseman at the blue line.

Zanon (the aforementioned defenseman) puts a slap shot on net and can only hope for basically exactly what happens. Three Wings defenders are crowded in front of the net, leaving Jimmy Howard with almost no chance to see the puck. He doesn't, and the Wild get on the board first.

2nd period:

Minnesota 2 Detroit 0; 00:16 2nd period- Clutterbuck (1) from Gillies (1) & Brodziak (1)
The breakdown of this goal is best served by focusing on the defensive zones above. Lidstrom has control of zone 1 at first (eventually White will switch with him) and Zettberg should be taking care of zone 2 throughout the play.
As we move further into the play coverage switches. Datsyuk once again gets the puck taken from him behind his own net, this time via a double team of Wild defenders. Lidstrom slid towards the board to be ready for a pass from Datsyuk that never came. White has moved in front of the net to take control of parts of zones 1 and 2, while Lidstrom and Datsyuk are now taken out of the play entirely. The only player close to their starting position is Zetterberg. He's still in the left faceoff circle, which is the area Cal Clutterbuck cuts towards after the Wild gain possession. Z sees him and, though there is a gap, should pick him up.
Zetterberg doesn't move towards Clutterbuck in time, leaving the forward open in the slot directly in front of the net. The pass from Gillies connects and Clutterbuck roofs it for a goal.
Minnesota 2 Detroit 1; 19:12 2nd period- White (2) from Franzen (2) & Filppula (1)
We'll pick this one up with White carrying down the left side boards. He has a trailing man who's sort of open, though the passing lane could potentially be played by the only Wild player not cirlced above. White decides to throw the puck into traffic, likely hoping that it goes off a stick or skate and changes directions in front of the net.
The pass works out well enough, as a Wing is able to gain control after the puck bounces off of his skate. He passes back to White, who has now moved into the slot area above the bunching of players directly in front of the net.
Filppula gets tangled with a defender just long enough to delay him in his pursuit out towards White. This allows White to carry the puck through the slot area and towards the right faceoff circle.
Besides being the most epic move ever attempted by a defender, this is also the fallout from Filppula bumping the defender as he tried to get net-front position.
With all of the Wild defenders in the high slot or close to the left faceoff circle, White has a clear shot. It 's a partially (but not very) screened Josh Harding versus an Ian White snapshot, and White wins.

3rd period:

Minnesota 2 Detroit 2; 3:46 3rd period- Hudler (2) from Kindl (2) & Filppula (2)
Filppula carries the puck up the right side boards, drawing his defender with him. Kindl slides towards the left side, and the other Wild defenders start to converge (see green arrows above).
The Wild defenders all key on the puck carrier, leaving plenty of room for Kindl to receive a pass and direct a slap shot towards the net-front area.
Jiri Hudler does his best Holmstrom impression and tips one in for the equalizer.


Minnesota 2 Detroit 3; 4:11 OT- Franzen (2) from Holmstrom (1) & White (1)
This is a good place to have the puck. Alone in front of the net in overtime? Yeah, I'll take that. Holmstrom shows some adept puck handling here. He starts forehand and switches to the backhand before...
somehow sensing Johan Franzen behind him and dropping the puck back between his legs. As you can see, there's a good portion of the Wild net available for the taking.
Franzen's defender has terrible positioning and can't do anything but bump him and hope to alter the shot that way.
Unfortunately it works, and the Mule gets momentarily bumped off the puck. The puck has momentum and glides towards Franzen's right skate, where it hits and is redirected into the net before Franzen crashes into it.
There's the puck, clearly in the net as Franzen gets acquainted with the crossbar and prior to net burial.
This is post net burial. This is also awesome.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Regular Season Game 3: What a Riot

1st period:

2nd period:
Detroit 1 Vancouver 0; 8:37 2nd period- Abdelkader (1) from Bertuzzi (1) & Kronwall (1)

The Wings start with a 3-on-2 break. The defensemen are in position, and there's help defense coming in the form of a Canuck backchecking.

Datsyuk drives the net, effectively isolating one of the two defenders. The other has to play off Bertuzzi, leaving him room to make a play. Bertuzzi has a cross-ice passing lane that is about to be taken away by the aforementioned backchecker. He makes the split-second decision to pass.

Abdelkader has the puck in close with a large gap between himself and the closest defender. Schneider can't get his pads on the ice in time and Abdelkader puts one through the five hole. I could write something about Abdelkader beating Schneider in 07 to win the National Championship but...nah. After the UM-MSU game and the Spartans gross lack of sportsmanship I have no desire whatsoever to promote MSU in any way in any sport. Sometimes there's an advantage to writing these a few days after the (Wings) game.

Detroit 2 Vancouver 0; 10:55 2nd period- Filppula (1) from Franzen (1) & Hudler (2)

The play starts to form as Filppula carries from the middle towards the right side boards. The Canucks defender makes a lunging attempt at a poke check and ends up pulling himself right, back towards the middle of the ice and the other defender.

Slightly out of position and woefully out of balance, the Canucks defender has a DERP moment and basically falls over. He's also acting as a screen, holding back the other defender. There's all kinds of room for Filppula on this play, and he drops the puck back to Johan Franzen as he enters the zone.

Typically you'd expect the Mule to shoot in this situation, but even he couldn't ignore how great a scoring chance Filppula had created here. Franzen passes back on the give-and-go, and Filppula has a wide open left side of the net and turned around defender to work with. Schneider tries to get across laterally and take away the open near side, but Flip puts the shot over his glove.
3rd period:

The Good:
Jimmy Howard- He was both sharp and very fortunate. There were two near-goals for the Canucks, the closest coming as time ran out in the 2nd period and the puck rolled across the line after the clock hit :00. Sometimes all you need is a little luck.

The Bad:
Detroit's powerplay- 0-16 on the season. Anything else I write here would be words wasted.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Regular Season Game 2: Thrice as Nice

Colorado 0 Detroit 1; 17:41 2nd period- Franzen (1) from Hudler (1)
Hudler carries the puck into the offensive zone with speed. Colorado has two defensemen back, so there won't be an odd man rush here. Hudler, however, has a wide open Johan Franzen behind and slightly to the right. No one is able to catch up to Franzen, leaving him primed for a one timer. Hudler spots him and drops the puck back, and Franzen puts a wicked snap shot on net.
Filppula creates an unintentional screen by cutting towards the front of the net. Moving right to left draws his defender with him, while the other defender is still skating backwards and watching Hudler. Both Colorado defensemen flow away from the shot. There's a momentary screen where Varlamov likely can't see the puck, and by the time the three guys in front of the net are out of the way the puck's behind him.

Colorado 0 Detroit 2; 11:58 3rd period- Zetterberg (1) from Datsyuk (1) & Cleary (1)
Detroit has a 3-on-2 rush here, and one of Colorado's defenders is in poor position to start. Zetterberg carries in along the right side, and the Colorado defenseman has to rush to try and cover him. Zetterberg sees the defender's approach and drops the puck to Datsyuk, his trailer.
The circled defender drops to one knee to try and block a shot from Datsyuk. Unfortunately for him there's no shot on its way. Instead, Datsyuk reads the defenseman in the box above and passes back to Zetterberg. The boxed in defenseman above can't charge Datsyuk, as that guarantees that Z is left open alone down low. He also can't play too close to Zetterberg, as that allows Datsyuk an open shot at the net and likely an open path if he chooses to drive. His only viable option is to play somewhere in the middle, allowing both room to skate and shoot. He's basically in a brutal Catch-22; he's truly damned is he does and damned if he doesn't. One last thing of note is how far out of his crease Varlamov is playing. He may be trying to cut down the angle, but it doesn't do much when the shot comes from the side and he can't get across laterally to square himself to the shooter.
Zetterberg has time and space to let loose a disgustingly beuatiful slap shot that beats Varlamov high. There's only so much that screnncapping can do here. If you can find a replay of this goal online I highly recommend it as there's just nothing quite like watching the Euro Twins work their magic on a 3-on-2 rush.

Colorado 0 Detroit 3; 17:40 3rd period- EN Datsyuk (1) from Cleary (2) & Conklin (1)
Dan Cleary tips an airborn puck down and settles it near center ice. He carries it into the offensive zone before dropping it to Datsyuk near the blue line.
Datsyuk lifts a shot that somehow arcs over the defense and hits the net.

The Good
Ty Conklin- Any time you get a shutout you'll end up on this list. Any time you get a shutout AND an assist, you'll...well, you'll still make the list but damn that's impressive. Conklin stopped a respectable 29 shots on the way to his first shutout of the year.
Euro Twins- They weren't on the same line the entire game, but when they were it was hockey perfection. Regardless of line combinations, Datsyuk and Zetterberg both look like they're in midseason form, and what's most impressive is they look that way at both ends of the ice. These are clearly two elite players still in their primes, and Detroit is all the better for it.

The Bad
Scheduling- Opening with back-to-back games, and one's on the road? Then having to wait until Thursday to play again? Might as well get used to it, because October's schedule is one of the stranger we've ever seen in terms of consistency. At least the Wings will get a few more days to practice and work on any systems issues that arose in the first two games.