Among the best traditions in sports; no joke.
The Wings went into Glendale on Wednesday night looking to finish off a series they started with the Coyotes a week ago. Phoenix put together a hard-fought effort, but the experience and poise of the Wings were able to help them in the third period as they broke a 3-3 tie and went on to pour on two more insurance markers in a 6-3 win. Detroit will now wait for the other series to finish before finding out who their second round opponent will be.
Referees Brad Watson and Greg Kimmerly adopted the "let 'em play" attitude that fans had gotten used to in years past, giving out only five total power plays. I feel they did a good job with this one, as the teams played mostly clean. There were missed calls either way, but I felt the standard was upheld consistently. Detroit went 1-for-3 on their chances while Phoenix went 1-for-2, scoring their only PP goal of the series while Detroit was NOT winning by 2 or more goals. In the end, Detroit outshot Phoenix 40-27, including 19-11 in the third period.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 3:47 - Detroit Goal: Tomas Holmstrom (wrist shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Mike Modano
Stuart punches a puck in his own zone to Modano on the boards, who clears it out to Holmstrom moving through the neutral zone. The pass is slightly behind Holmstrom and by the time he controls, Klesla has stepped up on him trying to deliver a big check. Homer pokes it to Datsyuk coming into the Phoenix zone. Datsyuk skates in 1-on-1 with Rozsival as Modano catches up and takes the attention of Vrbata going to the net on Bryzgalov's left. Datsyuk cuts across the middle, taking Rozsival with him and opening up a hole that Homer steps into with a step on Hanzal. Homer gets a stick on the drop pass that Pavs leaves for him in the slot and puts it top shelf. I'm going to give Stuart a half-assist for his work in his own zone to help this rush start. Holmstrom is going to pick up a bonus half-plus on this play. Recognizing that Klesla is trying to kill him and still delivering that pass to Datsyuk was a very quick and smart play.
1st Period 5:46 - Phoenix Goal: Taylor Pyatt (wrist shot) from Ed Jovanovski
Bertuzzi makes a diving play to poke the puck out of the Wings' zone to center, but the Coyotes turn it around quickly with a pass from Jovanovski to Pyatt coming in on the Wing. Rafalski tries to angle Pyatt off at the boards, but he makes a quick slow-down play to pull free. As Abdelkader comes low to help, Pyatt tries to go to Stempniak on the back door, but the puck instead deflects off Ericsson's skate and through Howard for the Coyotes' first goal. Cleary and Bertuzzi will be cleared of their minuses. I'm also going to halve Abdelkader's minus. He was coming in on the play as he should have been and wasn't really late, but a great stick-lift might prevent this goal. Raffi and Ericsson keep their minuses for obvious reasons.
1st Period 9:45 - Phoenix Goal: Shane Doan (wrist shot) from Kyle Turris and Keith Yandle
The Wings fight for a puck on the boards in their own zone, but the puck has a magnetic attraction to referee Brad Watson's skate here, complicating matters. He first blocks a pass up the boards; then, when Doan and Stuart fight for it, he blocks another pass down the boards. Doan picks this puck off and turns to the middle with it. From here, Doan throws it toward the net where it again deflects off a defenders' skate and trickles in. This time, the victim is Lidstrom. I'm going to make no adjustments here. The ref coming into the play is unfortunate, but sometimes it happens. I felt the entire shift had an opportunity at some point to prevent the play from happening like it did here.
1st Period 18:47 - Detroit Goal: Patrick Eaves (wrist shot) from Darren Helm
Lidstrom picks off a dump-in attempt and goes immediately to Stuart. As Stuie is pressured by Hanzal, Lidstrom starts a rush up ice and gets the puck back. He moves into the Phoenix zone with all three Detroit forwards lined up at the Phoenix blue line. Lidstrom goes to Helm at the point and then charges the net with Draper. Helm throws a wrister at Bryzgalov that the goaltender kicks out to the opposite-end half-boards. Eaves brings it to the corner where he's bodied off by Rozsival, allowing Yandle to take control. Here, Yandle gets a little too cute holding onto the puck and gives Helm all the time he needs to bowl Yandle over. As a bonus, Yandle falls into Rozsival and takes both Phoenix defenders temporarily out of the play. As Helm brings the puck around front on the far side of the goal, Eaves goes to the back door. Helm throws the cross-crease pass to Eaves before the defensemen can get up and get on him and Eaves puts the stick on it to deflect it behind Bryzgalov. This play is almost all Darren Helm and I feel like he deserves big credit for it. I'm going to award half of Eaves' goal to Helm and also give Helm a bonus half-assist on the play. Eaves will get a half-goal and a half-assist for being in the right spot. I'm also going to add an assist to Lidstrom and give him a bonus half-plus for the speed at which he recognizes both chances to turn the puck up ice quickly.
Penalty Adjustment: at 19:39, Brad Stuart goes to the box for a stick slash on Taylor Pyatt. Nothing is going to change my dislike for the tough nature of the stick-slash penalty, but it's been a standard for a while now. Stuart will get a minus.
2nd Period 1:09 - Phoenix Goal (PP): Martin Hanzal (wrist shot) from Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney
With Stuart in the box to start the period, the play starts at the top of the umbrella as Yandle fakes a slapper and instead goes to Vrbata on the left side for a one-timer at the top of the circle that gets blocked to the corner by Salei. Hanzal picks the puck up in the corner and goes behind the net to Whitney. The former Red Wing threads a pass back up through the middle to Vrbata moving through the slot. As the defense adjusts to the Vrbata opportunity, he lays a pass to Hanzal on the weak side down low and catches Howard and the PK unit completely on their asses. He pots the puck before the Wings can react to give the Coyotes back the temporary lead. This is a great job by the Phoenix power play unit to get the PKers moving around, but I don't like the room that Whitney had to make a pass from behind one side of the net out front to the other side. Both Kronwall and Miller play their position too far to one side and let this pass get through. Both Kronwall and Miller will earn half-minuses for this.
2nd Period 4:49 - Detroit Goal (PP): Niklas Kronwall (wrist shot) from Danny Cleary and Jiri Hudler
Detroit gets this power play as Lauri Korpikoski high-sticks Mike Modano in the Phoenix zone. Ordinarily, I don't give pluses for drawing high-sticking calls because they're the fault of the guy holding the stick, but Mo does some very good battling in the offensive zone on this play, moving from one side to the other to fight for pucks on the boards before drawing this call. Modano will get a plus. Filppula wins the initial faceoff, which leads to a good scoring chance and a Bryzgalov freeze six seconds in. Filppula then wins the second faceoff cleanly back to Lidstrom on the opposite site. Lidstrom goes back to Flip as they set up the umbrella. From the top of the left faceoff circle, he tries to go to Kronwall streaking toward the far post. Aucoin gets a stick on this pass to interrupt the scoring chance, but Hudler picks it up on the boards and goes to Kronwall in the corner. Kronner feeds it into the crease as Filppula comes to the far post now and Cleary battles in front. The puck bounces off of Cleary's skate to his stick in front. Cleary tries to sweep it on the backhand to Filppula still standing on the back door, but Ed Jovanovski gets his skate on it and kicks it into the middle of the ice. Here, Kronwall follows up on his own play and gets the puck at the hash marks. He roofs it over Bryzgalov to tie the game up at 3 apiece. Filppula is going to get a bonus plus and a half-assist on this play. Winning two consecutive power play zone faceoffs as cleanly as this deserves recognition on his part. Also, setting up the play and going to the far post are important parts of what makes this play happen. Kronner is also going to pick up an assist on his own goal here.
Penalty Adjustment (x2): 12:47 into the 2nd period, Valtteri Filppula gets to a loose puck just outside the Phoenix blue line where he dangles David Schlemko and threatens to break in on goal. Schlemko takes Filppula down before he gets the chance, earning himself a trip to the box and Filppula a bonus plus. Later in the period, Kyle Turris does take one of those old-fashioned high-sticking penalties where it's just a matter of a guy not being careful with his stick, as he gets it up on Darren Helm. No adjustment.
Penalty Adjustment: 6:13 into the third period, as the Wings are trying to break out from under a Coyotes forecheck, Brad Stuart tries to lift a puck off the boards and out of the zone. Unfortunately, he misses the boards and goes off for delay-of-game. This will earn Stuart a minus.
3rd Period 13:41 - Detroit Goal: Danny Cleary (wrist shot) from Valtteri Filppula and Todd Bertuzzi
Detroit fights in their own zone to overcome some big pressure, but finally gets the clear as Ericsson receives a pass in open ice in the corner of the Wings zone. Big E bounces an outlet pass from deep in his own zone that hits Bertuzzi as he crosses the Phoenix blue line with Klesla in tow. Bert draws two defenders as he goes to the half boards and finds Cleary streaking in late. Cleary doesn't even see Filppula all alone on the back door and instead rips a low slap shot that pings off the outside of the post for him to pick back up on the boards . This time, Cleary does find Filppula, as he's moved to shooting position just above the dot. Hanzal gets in and gives Flip enough of a bump to knock the puck off his stick as he tries to one-time it, but he recovers enough to pass back to Cleary in the corner. This time, Cleary notices Bryzgalov cheating off his post pretty severely and throws a puck at him from the corner. The biscuit hits Bryzgalov and bounces down off his pad and into the net for the series-clinching goal. By the time this goal is scored, Ericsson and Rafalski have already changed off the ice for Kronwall and Salei. I'm going to give the defensemen's pluses back to Ericsson and Rafalksi, as they did the work to clear and get the puck up ice for the forwards to make the goal happen. In fact, I'm going to give Ericsson an assist as well for the great outlet pass that he puts on Bert's stick.
3rd Period 15:34 - Detroit Goal: Todd Bertuzzi (wrap-around) from Danny Cleary and Valtteri Filppula
On the Cleary line's next shift, Detroit pulls the all-important insurance goal. Lidstrom starts the play as he gets an errant puck just inside his blue line and turns it back up the boards. Bertuzzi tips it past Belanger and Cleary streaks in on the wing. He winds up for a big slapper that Bryzgalov sends to the corner, but Cleary gets to it again and fights for it in the corner. Eventually, Belanger and Schelmko team up to take it from him, but as Belanger tries to clear it up the boards, Filppula picks it off and goes right back around the boards for Cleary to pick it up behind the net again. Yandle chases him out to the corner, but he cycles it to Bertuzzi moving into position behind the net. Pestered by Belanger, Bert tries to poke it around him, but initially loses body position. Bert is able to rely on his strength here to step into Belanger and get under his stick to steal the puck back and bring it around for an attempted wrap-around jam in in the Coyotes' winger hanging on his back now. Bert doesn't quite jam it in, but instead puts it past Bryzgalov off Schlemko's skate. This play happens through Cleary even more than the previous goal and, as a result, Cleary will pick up a bonus half-assist. The entire thing happens because of offensive zone cycling and he does that incredibly well. Again, Kronwall and Salei are the recipients of a play that happens with them changing to get on. I'm going to give the pluses back to Lidstrom and Stuart and Lidstrom will pick up a half-assist for starting the play into the Phoenix zone in the first place.
3rd Period 19:24 - Detroit Goal (EN): Patrick Eaves (wrist shot) unassisted.
Phoenix goes to the empty-net with about two minutes remaining in the game and Datsyuk should have been able to ice it from the blue line off a feed from Filppula, but he can't hit the net. Later, off a faceoff at the Detroit blue line, Hanzal picks the puck out of mid-air on the drop and gets it back to Yandle. Eaves pressures and Yandle tries to dump it in, but instead he completely whiffs on it, sending Patrick Eaves in all alone to safely deposit it into the back of the net. Hanzal tosses his stick at Eaves when he's about ten feet out, which would have meant a goal for Detroit regardless of whether Eaves hit the net. No adjustment.
+1.5 to Drew Miller: The forechecking, the shorthanded rush, and the backcheck that saved a surefire goal. Drew Miller is going to be very hard to take out of the lineup when people start coming back.
+1 to Danny Cleary: Another backcheck that saved a goal. The Danny Cleary that plays defense like this is a very welcome addition to this team.
+1 to Niklas Kronwall: Despite that he got two pluses taken away from him for stepping onto the ice at just the right time, Kronwall played a solid game and earned one of them back with his defensive play.
Honorable Mentions: Not as many bonus ratings to give out because I felt that Phoenix gave their best effort of the series in this one. The adjusted plus/minus after the goals and penalties did a fairly good job telling the story of this one. Salei had two bad plays, but he also had three very good plays, including one where he won a board battle in his own zone against three Coyotes. Ultimately, I liked the play of a majority of the team. Bertuzzi had the worst giveaway of the game, as he handed a puck straight to Martin Hanzal coming through the slot, but he also came back to prevent a surefire goal for Turris later, so I feel that evened out.