Relax folks. It's game 81 and the Wings can finish no lower than the third seed in their conference. They faced off against a team that still hasn't clinched a playoff spot the season after winning the cup. Of course I wanted to see the Wings end the Hawks' chances and stick it to them, but the Hawks don't suck and it would have taken a toll I don't want my team paying at this point.
The Wings found themselves down 3-0 within the first ten minutes and neither team showed much interest in engaging in the nasty stuff. The refs didn't need to do much more than make sure the game got over without bloodshed (although friendly fire and Tomas Kopecky's ear had something to say about that). Chicago scored on the only power play the refs had to give the Hawks and Detroit failed on the two calls that went their way. Neither team hit 30 shots in this game, as the Hawks barely edged out Detroit 29-28.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 0:27 - Chicago Goal: Brent Seabrook (wrist shot) from Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa
This play begins in the corner of the Wings' zone to Howard's right as Stuart takes the body on Toews to separate him from the puck. Datsyuk picks it up and plays far too casually in the corner, allowing Patrick Sharp to catch him from behind and get pressure on. Instead of reversing the play to the empty side, he tries to force it up the boards where it's picked off by Hossa. Sharp gets it back in the corner as Toews moves toward the middle to give him room. Stuart gives him enough room to wait for Toews to take Lidstrom to the front before he threads a pass to Seabrook sneaking in the back door behind Johan Franzen, who's busy doing his best statue impression. Seabrook puts it in to start the early spiral. Datsyuk and Franzen will each earn extra minuses. Datsyuk plays too casually and turns the puck over while Franzen has to watch the defenseman coming in. Brad Stuart will essentially have an extra plus awarded canceled out by an extra half-minus. I like him bodying Toews on the board to create a turnover, but then he gets cold feet as it comes to pressuring Sharp in the corner to prevent the centering attempt.
1st Period 6:07 - Chicago Goal: Ben Smith (wrist shot) from Patrick Kane
Rafalski gets to a dump-in and goes to the middle for Filppula, who brings the puck up, but is too enamored with watching his own stick work to watch for Patrick Kane's stick sweeping in to knock it away from the pretty boy. Ben Smith is standing behind the play and is the recipient of this poke. He turns and roofs it over Howard before Rafalski could finish his swoop around the net to defend. Filppula will get a minus-and-a-half on this turnover. That's just terrible puck security. Hudler and Bertuzzi will be cleared of their minuses. I'm also going to halve Ericsson's minus. I don't mind him joining the rush like this, but he's also responsible for keeping an eye on Smith. The same goes for Rafalski, who will keep his minus for not hustling more to get around the net faster after Smith forced him wide around like so.
1st Period 8:45 - Chicago Goal: Brian Campbell (wrist shot) from Michael Frolik and Patrick Kane
Kane carries in on what becomes a 2-on-4 rush. As the defense backs off, Kane carries from one side of the blue line to the opposite corner before being cut off and forced to dump it behind the net. Ericsson does a good job eliminating Ben Smith behind the net before he can get to it, but nobody picks up Frolik coming in to grab the puck in the opposite corner. Frolik carries it from the edge of the trapezoid behind the net to the corner where the goal line meets the boards and throws a puck to Campbell sneaking through the middle of the ice while Bertuzzi is doing his best impression of Franzen's impression of a statue. Campbell dances it around Howard and deposits it in. Bertuzzi gets an extra minus for his failure to pick up Campbell. The rest of the failure on this play was pretty well-distributed among the team, so no further adjustment is needed.
2nd Period 6:44 - Chicago Goal (PP): Marian Hossa (wrist shot) from Brent Seabrook
Chicago gets a power play here when Ruslan Salei whiffs on a simple pass attempt and sends Jake Dowell in on Howard. Salei hooks him to prevent a better chance and goes to the box. Salei gets a minus. On the power play, Chicago has a couple of good chances, but sees the puck cleared down the ice a 2nd time. From here, Crawford sets it up for Seabrook, who turns and throws a pass from his own goal line to Hossa, who has somehow magically managed to get himself behind Stuart for a power play breakaway as the puck deflects off Stuart's stick and straight to the winger. Hossa freezes Howard by winding up for a half-slapper and then wristing it low to the blocker side. Stuart will get a minus-and-a-half on this play. If you're going to let a forward get behind you on the power play, then don't let the pass get to him. At the very least don't tip it DIRECTLY ONTO HIS STICK.
Penalty Adjustment: 16 minutes into the 2nd, Viktor Stalberg carries around behind the Detroit net, only to see the puck knocked off his stick by Salei. Rusty then makes a good move to put Stalberg on the ice and get his body in position to protect the puck. From his back, Stalberg hooks Salei twice. This will earn Salei a plus for a drawn penalty.
2nd Period 19:38 - Detroit Goal: Drew Miller (tip in) from Johan Franzen and Justin Abdelkader
The Wings are finally able to beat the forechecking pressure as Salei retrieves a puck behind his own net and goes to Ericsson in the corner. Under immediate pressure, Ericsson goes across the ice to Abdelkader to bring it out. Abby steps around Ryan Johnson at the blue line to start a 3-on-2 rush. Pestered by Stalberg as he enters the zone, Gator passes off to Franzen on the wing and goes to the front of the net, dragging Stalberg and Brian Campbell with him. Franzen stops just shy of the corner to wait for Abdelkader to clear this traffic from his passing lane, then Miller fills the lane just as Franzen's centering attempt gets there and he tips it over Crawford to break the shutout. I'm going to give Ericsson an assist and Salei a half-assist on starting this play. The real hero on the rush is Abdelkader though. The step around Johnson and the rush to the net are two crucial parts of what makes this goal happen. Abdelkader will get a bonus plus and an extra half-assist for his work.
3rd Period 18:40 - Detroit Goal: Tomas Holmstrom (backhand) from Jonathan Ericsson and Brad Stuart
Late in the third, the Wings score the kind of goal that makes you let out a lowercase "woo". Ericsson gets it behind his own net and makes a good outlet to Stuart under the pressure of the one-man forecheck. Stuart and Abdelkader carry up ice while Ericsson joins the rush. Stu gets to the Detroit blue line and goes to Ericsson still skating through center. Once he crosses the Hawks' blue line, where Holmstrom is standing waiting for the play to develop, Ericsson fires a low slapper on goal that Crawford kicks to the corner. The puck takes a bounce off the boards straight back to Ericsson now in the corner. Big Rig throws a pass to Holmstrom as he's now deep in the faceoff circle in front of Crawford. Homer tries a fancy backhand pass to Modano sneaking in on the back door, but instead sees the puck deflect off Hjalmarsson's stick and into the net. Chicago played some (understandably) lazy defense here, but it's a nice play by those involved. Still, as is customary when a player tries to make a pass that he sees deflect off a defender and in, I'm going to halve Homer's goal and give him a half-assist. Modano making the run to the back door also earns him a half-assist.
-1 to Ruslan Salei: Just a brutal game for a guy supposedly fighting for his position. I said when the rumors got started that Babcock was making him play for his spot in the playoffs that he was just trying to play mind games with Salei to get him motivated. Now I'm very close to seriously saying that Salei actually should sit in favor of [shudder] Jonathan Ericsson.
Yep, that's it. Nobody played particularly well, but the goals were a pretty good indication of who sucked the most.
Honorable Mentions: The Patrick Sharp cross-check may have been to Danny Cleary's face, but Cleary didn't do anything remarkable to force Sharp to take a dumb call behind the play.