The battle of the undefeated teams in Saturday night's Wings/Caps contest went about as well for Detroit as Pickett's Charge went. If you need more description for how the game went overall, I can offer none.
I have no idea what the refs were doing in this game. All I know is that Stephane Auger should probably be legally considered a tree. The Wings committed some stupid penalties in the first period, but overall there's more certainty in a Magic 8-Ball than in what constituted a penalty in this game. The Wings did manage to go a respectable 1-4 on their power play chances, but their PK let the Caps go a much more respectable 2-4. That's almost twice as respectable!
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
1st Period 14:00 - Washington Goal (PP): Mike Green (wrist shot) from Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin
The Penalty: Todd Bertuzzi (boarding) - Bert hits Carlson from behind after an icing whistle. This is a dumb play and Bert will get a minus.
On the ensuing power play, Washington wins the faceoff and cycles clockwise around the zone twice. On the second trip behind the Wings' net, Ovechkin and Backstrom play give-and-go in the corner before Backstrom threads a cross-ice pass from one low corner to Mike Green at the opposite point for a wrister through Conklin. Green is wide open at the point here because when the puck goes behind the net the 2nd time, Stuart chases Ovechkin from behind the net instead of staying in the lane to cover the back door for a pass. His coverage hole is filled by Troy Brouwer. Darren Helm sees this hole and adjusts down to cover Brower. Backstrom saucers the pass over Abdelkader's stick, but there's no way Helm can cover everybody here and he's forced to cover low because of a mistake by his defenseman. Brad Stuart will pick up a minus on this play.
1st Period 15:01 - Washington Goal: Marcus Johansson (wrist shot) from Alex Semin and Mike Knuble
On a routine dump-in, Kindl makes a pass behind his net that Ericsson mishandles. Through some good work on Semin, Kindl gets the puck back and outlets to Brunnstrom on the half-boards. Brunnstrom makes a pass to Emmerton moving up through the center of the Wings' zone that is slightly behind the rookie. From here, Cory Emmerton mishandles the puck under pressure. Despite none of the forecheckers preventing him from just skating backwards out of the zone, Emmerton tries passing back across the center and across the forecheck. Mike Knuble blocks this pass and drops it to Semin moving rapidly the other way. Semin gets it around Emmerton on a pass to Marcus Johansson at the side of the net. Ty Conklin fails to challenge the shooter and Johansson buries it. This is a half-bad goal for Conklin, who is left out to dry, but bites hard on a non-move. By rule, everybody on the ice will have his minus halved. However, a few guys are going to earn minuses back. First and foremost, Emmerton is going to get a minus-and-a-half for turning the puck over in the middle of his defensive zone on a breakout. This is a cardinal sin. Brunnstrom's pass being behind Emmerton in the first place is just needlessly sloppy and contributes to the suck. Brunnstrom will get an extra half-minus leading to the turnover. Kindl will earn the half-minus back for failing to challenge Johansson and instead covering a cross-crease pass to a player who was 40 feet away. Ericsson will keep his half-minus for flubbing the initial pass which could have led to a clear and Eaves will have his minus cleared completely.
Penalty Adjustment: 18:09 into the first period, Jiri Hudler goes to the box for boarding Dennis Wideman when he rides him into the boards and finishes. I don't know what happened to the checking from behind penalty, but either way, Hudler will get a minus.
2nd Period 04:59 - Washington Goal (PP): Mike Green (wrist shot) from Alex Ovechkin and Dennis Wideman
The Penalty: Cory Emmerton (hi-sticking) - Refs got the wrong guy here. This is a case of Lidstrom getting his stick up on Mathieu Perreault as he turns to play a puck. Lidstrom gets a minus.
The Caps get set up on the power play in the zone and Ovechkin almost scores on a one-timer from a cross-ice pass. The puck goes wide, but bounces back to Ovie, who goes to Wideman at the point before receiving the pass back. Before anybody reacts, Ovechkin goes immediately to Green who is transitioning into umbrella positioning at the top of the opposite faceoff circle. Green cradles the puck just long enough to send a snapper top shelf on the near side. I don't think Conklin had a good chance to make this save. However, when the pass goes from Ovechkin to Green, that's a lane Abdelkader needs to be blocking. He's standing in the slot from the time Ovechkin gets his own rebound and is still standing there when the puck goes to Wideman at the point. At this time, Abdelkader is covering exactly nothing. Helm is already blocking Wideman's shooting lane. When the puck returns back low to Ovechkin, Kronwall is blocking the cross-ice to Backstrom standing at the bottom of the circle on the far side. Abdelkader's entire job is to either prevent this pass or prevent Green from immediately having a shooting lane. Abby will get a coverage minus.
2nd Period 11:05 - Detroit Goal (PP): Niklas Kronwall (slap shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom
The Penalties: Matt Hendricks (hooking) and Roman Hamrlik (delay of game) - The Hendricks hooking call will earn Helm a plus, as he gets the puck into the zone and starts moving his feet to force the refs to finally call this. The Hamrlik delay-of-game is something the refs call inconsistently and it's not something that Franzen necessarily forced him to do, so there won't be an adjustment there.
Late on the 5-on-3, the wings are set up in their 2-3 formation with Lidstrom and Datsyuk playing catch to Vokoun's right to try to change angles. Datsyuk tries to thread a pass for a shot by Zetterberg in the slot, but it's in his feet. Feeling immediate pressure by Knuble, Zetterberg kicks it back to Kronwall, who goes over to Lidstrom to reset, except that this time after Lidstrom passes to Datsyuk down low, he follows it up by skating in on net and forcing Mike Knuble to give up part of the ice. Kronwall steps into that spot and steps into the pass from Datsyuk to one-time it over Vokoun for the Wings' lone goal.Zetterberg will pick up a half-third assist on the play for recovering smoothly and kicking it back to Kronwall. Kronner will get a half-assist for resetting to Lidstrom. Lidstrom will pick up an extra half non-touch assist for drawing Knuble out of the shooting lane.
2nd Period 19:52 - Washington Goal: Mathieu Perreault (wrist shot) from Matt Hendricks and Mike Green
With 20 seconds left in the second period, the Capitals still have the puck in their own end. 12 seconds later, they have it in the Wings net. Mike Green dumps a puck in deep that Jakub Kindl goes back to get. Perreault pressures Kindl from the backside while Halpern skates in to pressure from the front. Although the pressure isn't very tight, Kindl lazily throws it up the boards where Green and Hendricks combine to keep it in. They separate enough to get the puck past Abdelkader at the blue line and Hendricks fires an unscreened slapper from 60 feet on Conklin. Conks completely misplays the puck, letting it squirt through him for Perreault to poke in. This is a grievously bad goal by Conklin. Every minus is auto-cleared by this, but Kindl is going to earn his minus back for the turnover he created lazily ringing this puck up the boards instead of using his coverage to beat a fairly non-threatening forecheck.
3rd Period 8:17 - Washington Goal: Joel Ward (wrist shot) from Brooks Laich and Mike Green
The Caps put on a very good forecheck on the Wings about midway through the third. Detroit is able to break the pressure and get it to Stuart at the top of the zone. From here, Stuart throws a lazy backhand to nobody (except Mike Green at the opposing blue line). Green immediately turns it back in the Wings' direction by bouncing a pass off the boards that gets to Brooks Laich's stick behind Stuart and his slow job getting back. Coming in on a low 2-on-1 Laich just gets it under Kronwall to Joel Ward skating hard at the back door for the put-away. Brad Stuart commits a turnover half-minus and a coverage minus on this play. I'd like to see Kronwall stop this pass, but I'm not going to punish him extra. He'll keep his minus. Cleary, Datsyuk and Zetterberg will all have their minuses cleared.
3rd Period 11:19 - Washington Goal: Mathieu Perreault (wrist shot) from Jeff Halpern and Matt Hendricks
Off a defensive zone faceoff win by Johan Franzen, Nick Lidstrom finds himself beaten to the puck by the stick of Jeff Halpern, who pokes it into the middle of the ice for Perreault to pick up and snap past Conklin. Lidstrom is going to earn an extra minus. This is a faceoff win by his team and he simply gets beaten to the puck. His teammates are adjusting to the play the way they're supposed to. If he can't get the puck first, he needs to get Halpern's stick. Minuses cleared for Filppula, Franzen, Hudler, and Ericsson.
3rd Period 17:21 - Washington Goal: Nicklas Backstrom (tip in) from John Carlson and Troy Brouwer
Late in what's already a blowout, the Caps gain possession behind their own net and move up ice in the slowest transition play leading to a goal that I've seen in some time. Carlson brings the puck down the wing and throws it at the front of the net where Backstrom gets a stick on it and redirects it just enough to tip it in past Conklin. Nobody moved their feet on this play. No adjustment; everybody keeps his own minus.
2nd Period 13:22 - Alex Semin (hi-stick): Ericsson plays decent defense on Semin, but he doesn't force the guy to hi-stick him.
2nd Period 14:44 - Marcus Johansson (tripping): Lazy stickwork by the Caps' PKer leads to another 5-on-3, but it wasn't forced by Zetterberg. I'd like to give him partial credit for getting right back up and trying to score instead of diving though.
3rd Period 8:40 - Ian White (tripping): This was like tripping dominoes and White was the last one in the chain, so he apparently takes the penalty. That's a stupid metaphor and a stupid way to call penalties. No adjustment.
-1 for Todd Bertuzzi: In a desert of suck for the Wings, he stuck out as an oasis of super-suck.
-1 to Pavel Datsyuk: His stick-handling was as impressive as always, but he was not skating throughout most of the game. If he can drive shots that well while playing what looks like only half-interested hockey, then look out when he starts moving his feet again.
-0.5 to Danny Cleary: Speaking of Datsyuk, if Cleary gets his skate out of the way in the first period instead of blocking a Datsyuk goal, this game may turn out differently. For preventing a Red Wings goal, Cleary gets this half-minus.
It's worth noting that Ovechkin's line played most of their time against the third line and was kept off the scoresheet until that last garbage goal of the game. Boudreau won the line matchup battle (obviously). This isn't enough to absolve Bertuzzi of the minus he earned, but each side's top line got fairly well shut down by the opposition's third.
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