Sunday, November 6, 2011

Regular Season Game 12: Lame Ducks

Hockey is supposed to be fun. Winning is even more fun. I forgot those things during the Wings recent losing streak. Though they played largely as they had the previous six games, things finally went their way (read: into the back of the net) for the Wings on Saturday night. They outshot the Ducks by more than a 2-1 margin (50-22) and were rewarded for it, getting Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller pulled in the process. The Wings made smart reads and good passes all night, generating a great deal of their offense the Winged Wheel way; via cycling and shots from the point. Let's take a look.

1st Period:

Detroit 1 Anaheim 0; 7:04- Kronwall (2) from Filppula (6) & Franzen (4)
The poorly drawn dashed line is supposed to represent the pass here. The solid lines represent which direction the players go. The powerplay is just ending for the Wings, and the Ducks are still in their box PK formation. Franzen passes back to Filppula and skates through the box to the slot area. Filppula moves with the puck along the boards and towards the blue line.
Filpppula draws a defender out with him, and he makes the smart pass to Kronwall at the blue line. At this point there's so much open ice that Kronner probably doesn't remember whether he's playing for Team Sweden or the Wings. With no pass available, Kronwall takes the slapshot.

It's hard to tell from the film, but I'll give Hiller the benefit of the doubt and say that he likely couldn't see the puck here thanks to the Wings screening. They've got two layers of screeners here (creatively labeled 1 and 2 in the screen cap by yours truly), plus four of the five Ducks players. Sucks for Hiller, cool for us.

2nd Period:

Detroit 2 Anaheim 0; 1:55- Zetterberg (3) from Franzen (5) & Lidstrom (5)
Zetterberg carries the puck into the offensive zone, where Cam Fowler picks him up. Z uses his off arm to keep Fowler back, though Fowler gives chase behind the net and stays with Zetterberg.
Zetterberg notices Lidstrom open down low with no defenders in the area and drops the puck to him. Z will continue to skate towards the blue line, then turn and cut back. This becomes important later in the play.
The Anaheim defender has cut off the passing lane to Franzen. Or to put it more appropriately, he's cut off the obvious passing lane to Franzen. The Anaheim defender doesn't have an easy decision here, and you can't fault him for the way he plays the situation. From the defender's perspective, he either goes to cover Filppula and leaves Franzen open behind him, in which case he would have to hope for help defense, or he can try to take Franzen out of the play while keeping Filppula (who is farther from the net) in front of him. Lidstrom shows why he's the best in the world still, noticing that the defender is headed up ice and won't be able to defend a pass if he drops it for Franzen along the boards. This deft move is perfect, as Franzen is already headed in that direction.
The same defender who had originally shut down the passing lane to Franzen is now behind the play. He's trying to turn back to cover, but his change of direction isn't fast enough. Fil then heads for the front of the net to screen.
The Anaheim defender has finally changed directions and is back in the play, but he's a half step behind being able to take away Franzen's passing lane. It isn't the prettiest, but Frazen gets a pass to Z in the high slot. Zetterberg has to dig the puck out of his skates, but has room and time to shoot.
Talk about a clusterf..whaa. Zetterberg shots from the slot, Hiller has little chance of seeing with three guys draped all over him, and the Wings add to their lead.

Detroit 3 Anaheim 0; 2:45- Lidstrom (4) from Miller (3) & Brunnstrom (1)
The Wings dump the puck from center ice and the forwards chase it into the corner. The two things to notice here: the Ducks bastardized diamond formation is too bunched up, and the Wings win the puck battle down low. Miller throws a cross-ice pass through the defense to Lidstrom, who is entering the offensive zone with speed.
Lidstrom is read and one times the puck. See how much space there is between Lids and the nearest defender. Obviously that's not ideal for the Ducks.

3rd period:

Detroit 4 Anaheim 0; 1:39- PPG Lidstrom (5) from Datsyuk (7) & White (3)
The first thing to mention about this play is that it starts on a botched clearing attempt by Anaheim. The Ducks won the puck battle in the corner and threw the puck towards the blue line, where Ian White is able to corral it and start the cylce for the Wings.

Pavel has the puck and carries it, drawing the high defender with him. Datsyuk then drops the puck behind his back for an open Lidstrom.
No defender has a chance to come up and cover, least of all the D-man who went the same direction as Datsyuk and has to turn back. Lids has time to settle the puck and throw everything into a nasty slapshot from the blue line. Look directly in front of Hiller. There's Holmstrom, in the same position he's been in since I was in 3rd grade. Hiller's freakin' 6'2" and can't see past Homer.

Detroit 5 Anaheim 0; 10:37- Franzen (5) from White (4)

This sequence starts with a hockey fundamental; forechecking. Pressure from two Wings causes Getzlaf to make a quick pass into open ice, a pass that has a probability of being a turn over.

The pass not even close to the "nearest" (and that's putting it nicely) Anaheim players, and the Wings carry in on a 3-on-0 break.

To Anaheim's credit, their defensemen are able to close the gap and pick guys up in front of the net. It's hard to tell whether the puck is poked off White's stick or whether he mishandles it off a deke, but it ends up sitting in the middle of the slot. Franzen backhands it past Hiller, who is square to White but has no chance of recovering in time to get across the crease and stop the shot.

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