Sunday, November 20, 2011

Regular Season Game 18: Our Magna Carta

It wasn't supposed to be like this. The second game on this pre-Thanksgiving West Coast swing wasn't supposed to matter this much, wasn't supposed to have so much of the season riding on it. But then again, the Wings wouldn't be in this situation if they had played consistent hockey. The Wings made a statement to the rest of the league two nights after being challenged by their coach and one day after having a meeting to figure out their identity as a team. They know who they are. This is a team of superstars that crash the net and play sound defensive hockey, defensemen that can cover the opposition while also moving the puck, grinders that leave everything on the ice every shift, and a goaltender that occasionally gives up a soft goal, then goes out and stands on his head to keep his team in a game. In other words, this is a damn good team. Looks like the team itself finally figured that out too.

1st Period:

LA 1 Detroit 0; 6:37- SHG Richards unassisted
Detroit starts their powerplay by winning the draw. Cleary taps it back to Hudler at the point, who misses the puck. Now it's a race to retrieve between Hudler and a trailing Mike Richards.
Hudler loses the race and Richards moves in on goal. Hudler tries his best to stickcheck but isn't able to alter  Richard's shot or slow him down. Howard hesitates here, slowed by a quick backhand-forehand-backhand deke from Richards. Richards sticks with the backhand to beat Jimmy.

LA 1 Detroit 1; 7:14- PPG Datsyuk (3) from Holmstrom (5) & Lidstrom (8)
Franzen shoots, then chases his own rebound to the boards. There's not a snowball's chance in hell that he's going to get beaten to the puck, and he basically pancake blocks the Kings player to make sure that doesn't happen. Franzen moves the puck back to Lidstrom at the point.
Lidstrom moves laterally to the middle of the blueline before taking  slapshot. Both low Kings defenders turn to look for the rebound, which allows Datsyuk to sneak in untouched behind the defenders. The puck comes  into the middle, where Datsyuk is waiting and backhands it past Quick.

2nd Period:

LA 1 Detroit 2; 7:08- PPG Kronwall (6) from Holmstrom (6) & Franzen (8)
Kronwall has the puck and the Kings defender has cut off the passing lane back across the blue line. Kronner has no option other than to move the puck to Lidstrom down the boards or to shoot. He chooses to pass.
Lidstrom passes below the red line, where two Wings run in to each other and have to scrap to get the puck back.
Franzen gains control of the puck and passes to Holmstrom behind the net. In the process he gets tripped up and goes airborne, doing his best Orr impression.
Holmstrom sees Kronwall pinching crazy hard down low and puts a pass right on his stick. Kronwall shoots and, in the infamous words of Ken Kal, "SCORES." Ok, that doesn't work so well without audio but you get the gist of it.

LA 1 Detroit 3; 15:38- Abdelkader (2) from Smith (1) & Ericsson (2)
A Los Angeles powerplay expires here. As Brendan Smith steps out of the box, he sees Abdelkader coming up with wing with speed and leaves the puck for him.
Abdelkader has plenty of ice to work with here, and both passing and shooting options are open. Abby opens his shoulder as if he's about to pass, then turns back and shoots.
Abdelkader beats what appeared to be an unprepared Quick. In the previous frame, Quick was pointing out Smith to his defensemen trying to make sure someone had him covered. It looked like he didn't have enough time to get completely set before Abdelkader let his shot go. I think Quick expected the pass and, in that split second where he took his eye off of the puck carrier, ended up beating himself.

3rd Period:

LA 1 Detroit 4; 15:06- Datsyuk (4) from Franzen (9) 
Bertuzzi drapes himself all over Kopitar along the boards, forcing Kopitar to turn and start moving towards the red line.
Franzen flys into the zone like a bat out of hell and heads straight for the corner. He knocks the puck loose from Kopitar. Look at the screen cap above. Look to Bertuzzi's left. There's Datsyuk, undefended and hovering, waiting...
...because if you got no puck you got no fun. Datsyuk picks up the loose puck and moves laterally through the slot, beating Quick on the far side.

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