Sunday, October 9, 2011

Regular Season Game 1: A Fine Defensive Effort By Both Clubs

Detroit 1 Ottawa 0; 16:01 1st period- Bertuzzi (1) from Helm (1) & Kindl (1)
The Wings are in the middle of a line change here (see red box above). Kindl did a nice job to slow the play down and move laterally behind the blue line until the Wings got fresh players on the ice. He passes to Helm, who see Bertuzzi open up ice. Helm puts a long pass through the neutral zone on Bertiuzzi's stick.
That's Bertuzzi above. Those are the closest defenders. This could end well.
It didn't end well for Craig Anderson. Bertuzzi's in all alone and releases a quick wrist shot that beats Anderson high blocker side.

Detroit 2 Ottawa 0; 1:39 2nd period- Lidstrom (1) unassisted
Ottawa wins a faceoff in their own zone and rims the puck around the boards. After picking up the puck, Lidstrom moves in and with one fluid motion takes the puck off the stick of the Ottawa player and skates towards the net.
Lidstrom goes backhand-forehand-backhand-forehand before shooting. The only guy with a chance at stopping him is circled above, and Nick lifts the puck over his outstretched stick, effectively neutralizing him. Lidstrom isn't able to get a strong shot off, and it's for the better as Anderson hits the ice quickly while the puck ends up fluttering over his blocker.

Detroit 3 Ottawa 0; 9:40 2nd period- Emmerton (1) from Miller (1)
Anderson tries to play the puck behind the net to his defenseman. Drew Miller forechecks like crazy, hits Karlsson, and wins the puck battle. Miller creates a turnover, and Karlsson has to slow down and turn back to defend.
Miller astutely sees Emmerton (circled above) in front of the net and feeds him a perfect pass that Karlsson can do nothing to alter. Emmerton taps it in past a not-quite-on-the-ice-yet Anderson, who has left some gaps open.

Detroit 4 Ottawa 0; 10:38 2nd period- Hudler (1) from Datsyuk (1) & Ericsson (1)
Puck possession has been transferring back and forth prior to where we pick up the play, with the Wings' forecheck effective once again. Just when the Senators, and Jared Cowen in particular, think they're about to clear their own zone Pavel Datsyuk enters the frame and changes everything. The takeaway king cleanly steals the puck from Cowen and turns with it into a tantalizingly open amount of ice.
Datsyuk has Hudler wide open in front of him, and he passes up to create a mini-breakaway for Happy Huds.
Hudler extends his reach to avoid the defender's stick. With little room left before reaching the crease, he has to shoot off of his backhand. There's not enough time or space to pull the puck back across to the forehand. Anderson never gets his glove above his shoulder, and Hudler hits the exposed top corner for the Wings' fourth goal of the night.

Detroit 5 Ottawa 0; 3:12 3rd period- White (1) from Miller (2) & Emmerton (1)
Detroit wins the faceoff and the puck is on a line directly back to White. He wastes no time, one timing it as soon as it's within reach. Look at how closely bunched the Ottawa and Detroit players still are around the faceoff circle. That's a good indicator of the passage of time here.
White's shot clearly catches Anderson off guard, and it doesn't help that all of those guys around the faceoff circle are partially screening him. Anderson gets beat again over the blocker.

Detroit 5 Ottawa 1; Michalek (1) from Spezza (1) & Filatov (1)
We'll pick this one up in the corner. Spezza has the puck and Holmstrom is doing his damndest to get him off of it. Unfortunately, it's to no avail as Homer pushes and pushes and Spezza just takes it and skates away from him.
Datsyuk (circled on the far left above) picks up Spezza near the blue line, while Homer makes his way over and almost takes away Spezza's shot through the slot. Homer's a step too slow to alter the shot, and Spezza gets one through to the net.
Can't really fault Ian White for not moving the screener out of the way on this play. He does everything within his power to do so. Look at him, he's draped all over the guy. Somehow Michalek gets a stick or skate on the puck and it's deflected up and over Jimmy Howard (the puck is circled in gold above).

Detroit 5 Ottawa 2; 8:22 3rd period- PPG Michalek (2) from Spezza (2) & Karlsson (1)
Karlsson makes a nice outlet pass to Spezza, who carries the puck through the neutral zone with good straight line speed. He's got three Detroit defenders near him, and he outskates all of them.
First thing to note here is the location of three of Detroit's four defenders; behind Spezza. He's going to pull the puck to the right (indicated by the gold arrow above) to try and avoid the fourth Detroit defender.
Kronwall picks up Spezza and defends him well, but Spezza still connects on a cross ice pass to Michalek. Detroit's other defenders are still behind the play, leaving Howard to deal with an odd man situation that just turned into a 1-on-1 battle.
Michalek goes to the backhand and taps one past Howard.

Detroit 5 Ottawa 3; 18:29 3rd period- PPG Kuba (1) from Alfredsson (1) & Zibanejad (1)
Kuba doesn't even let a slap shot go from the blue line. This is typically-harmless wrist shot, except that it's not so harmless. From this camera angle, there's not much to criticize. The closest Detroit defender drops to a knee and tries to block the shot, and defensively you can't ask for much more than that with 10 seconds left on the penalty kill and a minute and a half left in the game.
If there's a part of the play to critique it's here. Ottawa has 2 guys camped out down low, rendering Detroit's diamond formation ineffective. They're screening Howard like there's no tomorrow, and that's the reason the puck goes in. I can't understand why neither of Detroit's middle two defenders switch down low to try and move an Ottawa player from the front of the net. This is a garbage goal that was defended in a similar manner.

The Good
Corey Emmerton- Nice to see the rookie making a difference from the start. He seems to fit nicely into the grinder-with-a-scoring-touch mold that Detroit has employed for the better part of the last fifteen years.
Jakub Kindl- He was impressive on both ends of the ice. He made intelligent plays to slow down the offense, and finished with good outlet passes. Defensively his coverage looks like it's improved, and he's playing more physical along the boards than he was last year. This didn't go unnoticed, as Mickey did a mid-game spotlight on him on the FSD broadcast.

The Bad
Penalty Killing- After a summer of work on all defensive aspects of the game, it's disappointing to see the Wings give up two late power play goals. While it doesn't spell doom for the rest of the year, it is troubling.

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