DETROIT - MAY 10: Ruslan Salei #24 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates a third period goal by Valtteri Filppula #51 with teammates while playing the San Jose Sharks in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 10, 2011 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 3-1. The series is tied 3-3. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
The Wings went into game 6 looking to put together a better game than the previous one that many felt they were able to steal after being outplayed. What resulted was perhaps the most complete sixty-minute effort Detroit has put in all year. If not for some outstanding saves by Antti Niemi and some unfortunate luck in the Sharks' favor, this one might have turned into a drubbing.
The refs were hit-and-miss in this game, letting them play some times and then suddenly deciding to stop letting them play. Detroit had six power plays, but less than one minute of man advantage time per PP opportunity (5:35 PP time total). San Jose got 5:25 PP time in their four man advantage chances. Neither team was able to capitalize, but Detroit did a better job of using the man advantage to build off momentum and the PK to gain it back. Detroit ended up outshooting San Jose 45-25.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
Penalty Adjustment: While the Wings are killing a weak holding call on Kronwall, Stuart bodies Devin Setoguchi off the puck behind the net and threatens to clear, forcing Setoguchi to hook him. It's a pretty dumb play by Setoguchi, but Stuart helped make it happen. Stu will get a half-plus.
Penalty Adjustment: 4:35 into the 2nd Period, Datsyuk puts an easy-to-call hold on Torrey Mitchell and takes a penalty for it. He and Mitchell have words and end up taking matching roughing calls for their trouble as well. Datsyuk will get a minus.
Penalty Adjustment: 10:39 into the 2nd, Mike Modano fights to get a puck loose in the neutral zone and to protect it from Marleau and Eager. Both players hit Modano in the numbers and Marleau goes to the box. It's a good job on puck retrieval and security that will earn Modano a plus.
Penalty Adjustment: late in the 2nd, the Wings are buzzing around the San Jose zone as Cleary finds an opening to pass to Bertuzzi standing at the front of the net. As Bert turns to get it, Douglas Murray jams his stick between Bert's legs and takes him down. This is a shared hustle play that will result in a half-plus for both Bertuzzi and Cleary.
3rd Period 3:54 - San Jose Goal: Logan Couture (wrist shot) from Dany Heatley
Despite the game going strongly in Detroit's favor to this point, the Sharks get on the board first. The Sharks bring up ice as both teams change. Couture dumps the puck in off the glass to gain the zone. The puck takes a funny bounce and gets on Ruslan Salei too quickly for him to handle it. Heatley pokes it away from him and takes it to the boards before turning back up ice and against the flow of the play before bringing it off the boards to the top of the faceoff circle where he releases a quick and tricky low shot on Howard. As Hudler ties up with Mitchell cutting across the front, the puck comes to the side where Couture, who is locked up with Kronwall, gets a stick on it and chops it back on net. The puck trickles under Howard and over the line to break the shutout. Letting the puck sneak through is a half-bad goal in this context. Abdelkader and Filppula are in good position throughout and will not get minuses. Kronwall, Salei, and Hudler will each keep minuses on the play. Salei needs to control the puck better; Kronwall needs to eliminate Couture's stick, and Hudler is the first man back, but has his stick eliminated by Mitchell to keep him from sweeping the puck out before it crosses the goal line.
3rd Period 10:38 - Detroit Goal: Henrik Zetterberg (tip in) from Niklas Kronwall and Valtteri Filppula
The Wings start to take chances in the zone here, as Ericsson has to win a foot-race with Heatley to be the last man back on a puck cleared out of the San Jose zone. E brings it back into his own zone and spins to find Filppula turning back up ice through the middle. The pass is right on Flip's tape and he heads up the middle with speed, eventually cutting to the corner of the Sharks' zone as the defense collapses. Filppula lets the Sharks' defense over-collapse a bit before skating back against the grain halfway up the faceoff circle on the boards. Here, he finds Kronwall cutting right up the middle of the ice. The pass hits him in stride for a snap shot from the high slot that's tipped by Zetterberg standing in front. The puck gets through Niemi and we have ourselves a hockey game. Ericsson will get an assist on this play for starting the rush up ice.
3rd Period 12:32 - Detroit Goal: Valtteri Filppula (tip in) from Pavel Datsyuk
just about two minutes later, Filppula gets the eventual game-winner. Logan Couture skates up through center with the benefit of the Sharks' having six skaters on at the time when Datsyuk challenges him shy of the red line. Couture tries angling a pass to Torrey Mitchell entering the Wings' zone, but Filppula makes a brilliant read and steps up to intercept the puck, turning the other way with it. As they enter the zone together, Filppula feeds to Datsyuk on the wing before fading off to the back door while Holmstrom rushes the net. The reeling Sharks' defense doesn't have an answer for the backhand saucer pass that Datsyuk throws over Ian White's stick to Filppula wide open going to the net in front of Demers (covering Holmstrom) and behind Heatley (too far behind the play). Filppula wastes no time redirecting the puck in one fluid motion into the open net. This is a fantastic play by Filppula. The pass interception will earn him a bonus plus, while going to Datsyuk before getting into the lane from where he eventually scores will get him an assist. Holmstrom's contribution in going to the front of the net will earn him half a screener's assist. Just a good all-around play.
Penalty Adjustment: less than a minute later, Justin Abdelkader is chasing a loose puck into the Sharks' zone trying to get around Boyle when he grabs his head from behind. This is a very easy call for the refs to make at a horrible time. Quite frankly, I'm tired of these late dumb penalties by this kid. Abdelkader will get a minus-and-a-half.
3rd Period 18:55 - Detroit Goal (EN): Darren Helm (snap shot) unassisted
With the empty net and the puck in their own zone, the Sharks' bid to tie it up is effectively ended when Joe Pavelski tries to go cross-ice to either Boyle or Wellwood and instead misses them both and finds Helm's stick in the lane. Helm gains the center stripe to make sure it's not icing and snaps it into the open net to put a ribbon on a good victory. I'm going to adjust Zetterberg's plus on this play to give it to Filppula instead, since Flip's the one who got the puck down the ice with a great clear that got most of the way without being an icing before changing for Z. I'm also going to award Datsyuk a plus on the play for helping free the puck up the boards to Filppula for the clear, despite being mugged by two players. Finally, I'm going to give the pluses awarded to Lidstrom and Stuart to Kronwall and Salei instead. This was another example of people coming on the ice and getting a plus thanks to the hard work of the people they replaced.
+2 to Valtteri Filppula: From the opening puck drop to the game-winning goal and eventually the final horn, Filppula was in high gear. He kept the puck in the Sharks' zone, created lots of chances, and backchecked like mad.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk: It's weird saying in these playoffs that he got outplayed, but if he's going to do this well and still be the 2nd-best guy on the ice, then I'll take that 100 out of 100 times.
+1.5 to Jonathan Ericsson: I'm starting to run out of superlatives, so instead I'll temper it back a little bit. Jonathan Ericsson was fucking BOSS in this game. Joe Pavelski and Kyle Wellwood were much quieter in this game than they had been all series and him sharing so much ice time with them was a big reason for that.
+1 to Brad Stuart and Nicklas Lidstrom: The best overall pair on the ice, Lidstrom and Stuart controlled the tempo, blocked the lanes, and turned the puck back up ice to keep the Detroit pressure on.
+0.5 to Ruslan Salei, Niklas Kronwall, and Brian Rafalski: Yes, every single Red Wings defenseman had a good game. Kronwall's in-zone sense, Rafalski's quick thinking in his own zone, and Salei saving what very well might have turned into a goal were all factors in this game.
+1 to Henrik Zetterberg +0.5 to Danny Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi: The entire line dominated play when they were on the ice. Cleary wasn't able to capitalize, but his six shots on goal led the team. Bertuzzi used the body very effectively to separate people from the puck. Zetterberg played that dominant two-way game that a lot of people (myself included) flat-out forget about when paying attention to the flashier Datsyuk.
Honorable Mentions: Yes, I gave nearly the entire team bonus pluses. It was well-deserved. The effort in this one was the best I've seen from this Red Wings team all season long. Nobody got close to pulling an overall-play bonus minus (even Abdelkader did a good job when he wasn't earning his minus for taking a stupid late penalty again). I was looking for Modano to keep his feet moving and he did a good job. Looks like he was having some timing issues, but he was far from a liability. He displayed the hustle I wanted to see from him. Anyway, as far as the non-adjusted penalties go, none of the matching calls deserved adjustments. The Boyle and Kronwall holding penalties were equally as weak and without need for adjustment. The Holmstrom goaltender interference call was a really tough call to make. I don't feel that Homer deserved to be punished for it. The Danny Cleary roughing call at the 20 minute mark of the third period was flat-out the wrong call. That call should have gone against Nichol.