A lot of folks say that you learn more from a loss than you do a win. I beg to differ. The Red Wings
learned from a 2-1 win over Los Angeles: play better defense or you won't win anything. They learned from a 4-1 win over San Jose: they are more than capable of competing in the Western Conference, even with the remaining injuries.
Here are some of the things I noticed in the game:
Jimmy Howard played a solid game in net last night. He was on his angles and seeing the puck very well. The one goal he did allow would have been near impossible and the fact that he stopped 2 of the 3 shots in that attack was incredible. Had the defense actually moved to the puck on that, instead of standing around after the face-off, the goal might have been prevented but they didn't and it's still not a terrible goal to give up. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Jimmy started against the Islanders but maybe it would be wise to give him a bit of a break
As if the standings didn't indicate it enough already, San Jose is a very good team so a win like that could be huge for Detroit moving forward into next week. Heatley, Thornton and Marleau are some of the best players in the league and they were held to only a handful of chances in the game and the lone goal to show for it. Playing the San Jose studs like that was great to see and hopefully that style of play keeps up.
Pavel Datsyuk must have read the things I wrote about him in the Morning Skate before the game. Well, okay very unlikely but I'll eat my words after saying he looked flat recently. Pavel came out last night and was a game changer. His first goal was great to see. He's normally one to drop the puck off to another player but he used that nasty shot that he has and put it past Nabokov before he even knew what was going on. All night long Datsyuk was twisting and twirling with the puck practically glued to his stick as he did so. He also made some great passes and played a sound defensive game as usual. So, I've learned not to question Pavel the Great.
Darren Helm needs to be locked up long term. The guy shows something new and jawdropping each night. He's quickly becoming a fan favorite for the way he plays the game and why not? He's a hard working guy that does everything he can to help the team and he's being rewarded for it recently. 4 goals in 5 games is a big accomplishment from Helmer and his speed is becoming a thorn in the collective side of opposing defenses.
How about this return for Dan Cleary? 2 goals in 2 games is awesome. At this pace he'll have about 38 more goals this year. Unlikely? Yes, very much so but I can dream right? Anyway, the goal against LA was a case of right place, right time. Tonight's goal was a beauty. Toe drag around the defender and then a bullet into the upper corner--all the while making it look like child's play.
Zetterberg's slowly coming back into his form. He's getting more involved in plays and I noticed him being more active in the corners and taking more chances with the puck instead of dishing it in anticipation of possibly getting rocked again. I can understand being a little hesitant in the first game back so it was good to see him progress a bit back towards his normal style.
Lady Luck was responsible for the win over LA, Mike Babcock gets the credit for the San Jose win. Surely Babcock let the team know the performance in LA simply wouldn't do and the difference between the Red Wings team in those two games is as clear as day. The guys played much better on the PK and at even strength. Like I said, the Wings filled the passing and shooting lanes and forechecked ferociously all night. I guess that's also what happens when you play a nearly identical team. You know your own weaknesses are going to be virtually the same as theirs so you know how to exploit them.
- San Jose outplayed Detroit in nearly every facet of the game last night but the Wings did what they needed to do. They found a way to win by taking advantage of everything that San Jose gave to them. Turnovers by the Sharks directly lead to 3 of the 4 Detroit goals and that speaks volumes in a game between two teams that place a high priority on puck possession.
- The Wings forced those turnovers by maintaining a very effective forecheck and high pressure all night long. Helm's goal came as a result of Kris Draper (I believe) forcing the issue and making the Sharks defender dump a pass to nowhere and Helm pressing up in the zone and picking the puck up and driving to the net. Datsyuk's goal was the result of pressure the puck carrier into a poor pass which lead to a break the other way. These are the types of plays the Wings are starting to have enough confidence to make.
- Detroit played much better defensive hockey last night (in comparison to the 52 shots allowed night in Los Angeles) and filled the passing and shooting lanes. The Sharks were forced mainly to shots from the perimeter or from bad angles as defenders and forwards dropped to the ice to stop chances from happening or getting to the net.
That's all I've got for today. Heading off to enjoy some NFL Playoffs soon. Have a good Sunday!