AAAAAH! EAVES IS COMING TO KILL US! HOLD ME, DARREN!
Coming off a 6-1 Red Wings victory over their original six rival in Boston on Friday night, the Wings and Bruins met again, this time in Detroit, to complete their season home-and-a-day-off-and-home series. The Wings pulled off the mini-sweep in impressive fashion, as they downed the Bruins 4-2. The play wasn't perfect, as they again found themselves down early in the game and ended the first period down 2-1, but they fought back hard and wound up with a well-deserved victory.
The step forward that the Wings' power play took on Friday night when they scored two seemed to have disappeared in this one, as Detroit was blanked on three chances. The PP units on the ice looked downright ordinary and created very little in the way of chances. On the other side, the PK unit played better than they had recently, but were unfortunate in giving up 1 goal on three tries. The one they did give up is a prime example of what a good team will do with a man advantage and a momentary lapse. Regardless, the Wings held their opponents to only 25 shots on goal while putting up 36 of their own and again managed to give up fewer than three in what's becoming a trend I could really learn to love, if only given the chance.
Jimmy Howard played solidly, but unspectacularly - definitely above average though. He wasn't tested often and there were a few times when I felt he made mental mistakes, but he was overall very sharp with his positioning and rebound control. He made three big saves on the afternoon: one on a first period Chara slapper through traffic that he gobbled up perfectly, another where he made a lightning-quick decision and move to prevent a goal from being banked in off him in the first off a Ryder shot, and the third right before Bertuzzi's second goal when He sprawled out to get his leg in front of a Nathan Horton shot following a cross-crease pass. Since neither of the Boston goals were bad, his rating is +3.
Reminder: The H2H2 Pledge Drive continues through March 5th.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 1:29 - Boston Goal: Tyler Seguin (wrist shot) from Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder
Off a Red Wings-won faceoff where Kindl immediately gets mugged and separated from the puck by two Bruins, the puck goes behind the net. From there, Wheeler finds Seguin for a tight-angle shot that's blocked back to Wheeler, who has a step on Helm and brings it out the other side. Howard stops the first, but Wheeler gets a second knock at it and puts it in off Seguin. Helm gets an extra minus for losing his man. Kindl will also get an extra minus. He needs to come in sooner and at least try to knock wheeler on his ass before he can get the rebound. Salei gets an extra half-minus, as Seguin's stick is his responsibility. Neither Draper nor Eaves will keep his minus.
1st Period 6:09 - Detroit Goal: Todd Bertuzzi (backhand) unassisted
On a Boston change and with the puck in their own zone, Brad Marchand tries a d-to-d pass that Bertuzzi picks off right in front of Thomas. He holds it until the Bruins' goaltender goes down and then lifts it over him. Bertuzzi gets an extra plus. He does a good job feigning pressure to the front instead of the backhand, where the pass goes.
1st Period 12:17 - Boston Goal (PP): Brad Marchand (tip in) from Michael Ryder and Mark Recchi
Draper goes to the box interference off a faceoff. Detroit kills off most of the penalty, but as Boston brings it in on the last rush with speed, Ruslan Salei completely loses Brad Marchand as Ryder brings it in on the wing. Ryder finds Marchand as he goes to the net and tips it home. Salei will get a minus. I thought initially that the Draper penalty was weak and perhaps I wouldn't punish him, but based on the reffing standard of the game, I think it's appropriate that Draper does get his minus.
Penalty Adjustment: On a carry-over power play from the first period, Rafalski gets a high-sticking penalty to end the man advantage and start the Wings on a penalty kill of their own after 38 seconds of a 4-on-4. Rafalski will get a minus.
2nd Period 3:54 - Detroit Goal: Pavel Datsyuk (wrist shot) from Brian Rafalski and Jiri Hudler
Detroit fights to get the puck out around a tight Boston forecheck, with Datsyuk poking it up the boards to Cleary, who throws a cross-ice pass from high in his own zone to Jiri Hudler at the opposite end on the Bruin's blue line. Hudler carries in on the wing against both Bruins' d-men, where he holds the puck just long enough to allow Boston to contract too far on the backcheck before going back to Rafalski at the point. Raffi fires a slap shot through the traffic of Datsyuk, Cleary, and the Bruins who came low with them. Thomas stops the puck, but kicks the rebound straight out to Datsyuk, who had backed out into a quiet area of the ice just beyond the scrum out front, but still behind the wingers covering high. With Thomas already out of position, Datsyuk throws it into the open net. Cleary will get and assist and a half on this play, as he finds Hudler streaking out of the zone and he also helps create the play with his job screening the goalie. Datsyuk does good work to get the puck clear of Detroit's zone to start the rush the other way, so Pavel will get a half-assist and half-plus. Hudler picks a really good time to go on a cherry-picking streak and is a big part of the reason the defense got too far stretched and then too far contracted. Plays like this can lighten the pressure on an opposing team's forecheck if the right spots are chosen. Since this was the right spot, Hudler will get a bonus plus.
Penalty Adjustment: 7:51 into the 2nd period, Cleary catches a long outlet pass to bring it in on the wing. He actually gets a step around Chara and a shot on goal. As Cleary drives for the rebound, Chara slashes his stick and takes a penalty. Now, if you've kept up with these all season-long, you know my stance on stick-slash penalties, but I think the work Cleary does here forcing Chara to take the penalty is important and will at least get Cleary a half-plus.
2nd Period 12:44 - Detroit Goal: Kris Draper (wrist shot) from Patrick Eaves and Darren Helm
Coming out of the Detroit zone, Lidstrom recognizes a Boston change and throws a pass to Helm from his own faceoff dot right on the tape at the other side of center ice. Helm taps it to Eaves on the wing, who threads a saucer pass to Draper sneaking behind the D with speed. Draper picks it up and fires it over Thomas' pad. Lidstrom gets an assist for the outlet pass. This is perhaps my favorite goal of the game.
3rd Period 13:35 - Detroit Goal: Todd Bertuzzi (wrist shot) from Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg
Boston starts taking chances in order to tie up the game and the Wings make them pay. The Bruins dump it in on Howard, who pushes it to Rafalski to carry over to the side boards and throw a safe backhand up the ice to Zetterberg. Z feels the defender coming on and quickly reacts by poking it past the pinching Boychuk, breaking Franzen behind the coverage with Bertuzzi joining him on a 2-on-1. Franzen shows incredible patience coming down on Thomas' right side before he finds the pass between the D-man's stick and the goalie. Bertuzzi slides the puck in for his second of the day. Rafalski will pick up an assist for his part of the play. Zetterberg's quick poke to beat Boychuk will get him a bonus half-plus.
+1 to Patrick Eaves: He looked better in this game than he had in the last few and was really playing his role of a high-energy forechecker and backchecker well.
+1 to Brian Rafalski and Niklas Kronwall: It's good to see two traditional whipping boys defensively play really solid games and that's exactly what these two did. Rafalski broke up a 2-on-1 and a shorthanded chance in the third while Kronwall did a great job bailing out a couple of d-zone turnovers in the first and had an impressive Kronwalling of Jordan Caron in the 2nd. Overall, they consistently made the right plays
-0.5 to Ruslan Salei: Several defensive lapses in the first, between not getting the right jump and not taking the right angles got him to a minus; two following periods of very solidly-played defense got him back up to only a half-minus.
+1 to Nicklas Lidstrom: Seriously, you have to just watch him. Rush after offensive rush just crumbles in the face of Nicklas Lidstrom's perfect defensive positioning.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk, Danny Cleary, and Jiri Hudler: I don't know what's going to happen to the lines when Filppula and Modano come back, but I'm not sure I want to see this one broken up. They are consistently the most dangerous forward trio the Wings have. I don't put a lot of stock faith into individual Corsi stats, but these three were +10, +9, and +9 respectively.
+1 to Darren Helm: This is becoming near-automatic for Helm, who is really stepping into the role of the Wings best defensive forward. That's saying a lot for a guy who plays on a team with two Selke winners.
Honorable Mentions: The Eaves drawn penalty in the third was a result of him moving his feet, but he just happened to toe-pick (or he #Eavesed himself) while Gregory Campbell made the right play. This was a weak call. While I appreciate Eaves keeping his feet moving, he shouldn't get a plus for this. The Franzen penalty is of similar ilk, as he and Miller came together to body off Michael Ryder as he enters the zone and Ryder ends up going down as a result of being sandwiched. As far as I can remember "sandwiching" is only a penalty for Kyle Wellwood. Jonathan Ericsson played a pretty good game, but again balanced out his good plays with a couple of mental gaffes. He looks like he's back to "improving" though.
I have to say, on days like this, it makes it a little harder to do CSSI bonus ratings, because there are times when it seems the entire team deserves a plus. This was a very good overall team effort. Now the Wings have three days off to get some practice, get a bit healthier, and prepare to meet Steve Yzerman's Tampa Bay Lightning in Florida on Thursday.