Hell of a way to lose a series, but the Wings showed a lot of heart. Congratulations to San Jose for turning their season around and proving my November prediction wrong. Whatever finger-wagging you want to do, go ahead (after all, I did say "I fully expect to be crucified if they get outplayed."). I will say that I was not wrong at the time, but that's not important. Ultimately, I was wrong. San Jose turned their season around and are now going to be a lot of people's favorites to win the cup. Adding guys like White and Wellwood helped, but more crucial was that, as a team, they were able to dig deep enough to find the will to win. Again, for that I say congrats.
The refs did a pretty good job of not making a difference in this game. I thought this was one of the better-reffed games of the playoffs. The Wings' power play had their chances and could not finish any of the four they earned. On the other side, the Sharks scored on the first of their three opportunities. Detroit was playing catch-up for most of the game, which would likely explain the 40-30 shots advantage.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 12:20 - San Jose Goal (PP): Devin Setoguchi (slap shot) from Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle
San Jose gets a power play early thanks to a hold from Jonathan Ericsson which will earn him a minus. Detroit kills off the first minute, but the Sharks' PP gets set up on the cycle in the zone after a net-front scramble leaves all four PKers tight near their goal. As the Sharks transition to the umbrella with Pavelski on the point, Boyle gets it at the high boards. He mishandles for a brief second, but recovers and goes to Thornton below the net at the edge of the trapezoid. As the Wings' defense turns to adjust, Thornton goes right through them to find Setoguchi on the back door for the one-timer through Howard and in. Ruslan Salei is going to get a minus on this play. When Thornton makes the pass, Salei has his stick blocking a lane that Lidstrom is already in. He is not in the right position to make this play.
Penalty Adjustment: soon after the expiration of a Ryane Clowe penalty for running Jimmy Howard, Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm combine for a great shift in the offensive zone that involves them beating Sharks to loose pucks and culminating in a Marc-Edouard Vlasic tripping penalty that could have gone as any one of three calls on a Sharks' defenseman. Both Helm and Abdelkader will get pluses.
1st Period 19:01 - San Jose Goal: Logan Couture (wrist shot) unassisted
Henrik Zetterberg rushes to get a free puck behind his own net (sent there thanks to another faceoff loss) that Ericsson and Rafalski fought to get away from Heatley and Clowe. Z uses some fancy stickwork to draw Logan Couture past him and start up ice. Unfortunately, Zetterberg forgets about Couture still being there. The Sharks' "rookie" gets his stick in the way of Zetterberg's outlet pass six feet in front of Jimmy Howard, steals the puck and quickly turns it over the glove hand to put the Sharks up 2-0. Zetterberg will get two extra minuses for this play. There is absolutely no excuse ever for this to happen. Nobody else on the play will get a minus. Ericsson, Rafalski, Hudler, and Cleary will all be cleared of minuses.
Penalty Adjustment: With the Wings really cycling well in the Sharks' zone a little over ten minutes into the 2nd period, Tomas Holmstrom gets the puck and is being hounded by Dan Boyle. To clear the pressure, Datsyuk skates into Boyle's path to try to put one of those subtle little screens on a guy to create room (the kind that we've seen dozens of times in this series). The problem is that Datsyuk's screen isn't really "subtle", as he moves directly into Boyle's path to spring Homer into the middle. Datsyuk will get a minus for this penalty.
2nd Period 13:10 - Detroit Goal: Henrik Zetterberg (backhand) from Valtteri Filppula
After the Wings kill off the Datsyuk penalty and on a routine breakout pass, Ruslan Salei temporarily turns into and completely whiffs on a pass in his own zone, turning the puck over to Ryane Clowe deep in the Detroit zone. Clowe tries to go to Couture, who is open in front, but the pass is in his feet and by the time he has it, Zetterberg is on him. Instead of forcing a shot, he tries to go back between his legs to Heatley higher in the zone. Datsyuk ties up Heatley to prevent him from getting the shot off and the puck rolls in behind them. Filppula swoops in to pick it up high in the Wings zone and carries it the other way in a 3-on-2 with Zetterberg and Datsyuk joining. Filppula carries in on the right Wing and goes to Z at the top of the circle on the opposite side of the ice. Datsyuk meanwhile charges the net to make a hole in the center of the ice. Z skates into this hole and roofs a backhander over Niemi. Salei will not get a plus on this play. His turnover nearly ended my life. Fuck that guy. Instead, Datsyuk and Zetterberg will each get bonus pluses. Their work tying up Couture and Heatley saved a goal. Datsyuk will also get an assist. His tie-up of Heatley is essentially a pass to Filppula.
Penalty Adjustment: I hate stick-slashing penalties with the burning hot passion of a harlequin romance being given the Ray Bradbury treatment while Buster Pointdexter narrates the action to a soca beat, but Kronwall loses position in the offensive zone on Patrick Marleau during a power play and chops his stick pretty aggressively to prevent an odd-man rush. This is actually a good call and Kronwall will get a minus.
3rd Period 12:13 - San Jose Goal: Patrick Marleau (slap shot) from Devin Setoguchi and Dan Boyle
The Wings start pressing a little harder as time ticks off. Kronwall carries into the San Jose zone, but loses the puck and gets caught deep. Thornton outlets to Boyle to start a 3-on-2 rush against Rafalski and Filppula (who is back deep covering for Kronwall). Boyle carries across the blue line and, for some inexplicable reason, Rafalski completely crosses out of his lane to pressure Boyle, leaving Setoguchi all alone cutting in on net. Boyle finds him with the pass and Seto goes to the net with it. Howard makes the initial stop as Setoguchi crashes into him, but Marleau is on the back door to pop the rebound home for the series-clincher. Holmstrom is going to be the lone player to avoid a minus. He's put on the ice to play offense and was going to his office when the puck was lost. He was behind the play the entire time and was neither expected nor needed to make a goal-saving play here.. Datsyuk keeps his minus for missing the outlet from Thornton to Boyle. Filppula keeps his minus for his failure to lock up Marleau's stick at the side of the net. Kronwall keeps his minus for losing the puck in the offensive zone to start the play the other way. Finally, Rafalski picks up an extra minus. If he's going to pressure Boyle, he cannot let the pass get through him to Setoguchi.
3rd Period 13:59 - Detroit Goal: Pavel Datsyuk (backhand) from Brad Stuart and Jonathan Ericsson
Within the next two minutes, the Wings pull the deficit back to one. Detroit loses the zone, but Ericsson gets it at center ice. After a give-and-go with Datsyuk, he tries hits Stuart cutting up the ice through center. Stuart has a pass back across the ice blocked, but quickly recovers it and recognizes Datsyuk cutting behind him with speed. Stu pushes the puck back to Pavel and he's off into the zone. Datsyuk splits Marleau and Setoguchi at the blue line and cuts into the right faceoff circle. By the time he gets to the dot, Douglas Murray is on him trying to force him to the boards. Datsyuk throws a tricky backhand on net from here that beats Niemi high to the far side. Datsyuk will get a half-assist for his part in setting up the rush.
Penalty Adjustment: With about five minutes to go in the game, Ruslan Salei pinches deep into the zone on what looks like it should turn into a Torrey Mitchell clear, but instead turns into a penalty. Salei blocks the outlet and threatens to carry deep when Mitchell slashes the stick out of his hands. This will earn Salei a plus.
-1.5 to Ruslan Salei: Picked one hell of a time to have a terrible game. Aside from the lost plus on the turnover and the earned minus on the first period PK, he just could not consistently bang his two brain cells together fast enough to form thoughts all game long.
+1 to Valtteri Filppula: He was among the Wings' best players early on and pushed things very well.
-1 to Jiri Hudler: He did a few things right, but he also took Danny Cleary out of the game. He didn't do nearly enough things right to make up for that.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk: I'm maybe the saddest for him, as I don't think a guy who didn't make it out of the 2nd round has much of a shot at the Conn Smythe. It's too bad. He has been spectacular. This game was no exception.
+1 to Darren Helm +0.5 to Patrick Eaves: Helm did a little bit more than his PK linemate, but the shorthanded 2-on-1 rush created by them was a great chance. I would have liked to have seen Eaves' skates being pushed out from under him punished, but I can't complain when the Wings PP gets held off the scoreboard.
+1 to Brad Stuart and Nicklas Lidstrom: The combined Corsi rating for this pair was +47. PLUS-FORTY-SEVEN. They were certainly not part of the problem in this game.
+1 to Henrik Zetterberg: This is to partially make up for the turnover he gave to Logan Couture for the Sharks' 2nd goal. It still leaves him as an overall minus.
-0.5 to Brian Rafalski: The screw up on the goal coverage was painful to watch, but he really didn't have a good third period at all. His inability to control pucks hurt the team's momentum.
Honorable Mentions: Niklas Kronwall had a pretty bad defensive zone turnover, but he played the remainder of the game well enough to keep him from getting a minus. Ryane Clowe running Howard to take the penalty in the first was not a drawn penalty, but I'd still like to hit him in the face with a red-hot shovel for it.