I SAIIID PEAAANUTTTTSSSSS!
Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal matchup between the Wings and the Sharks went differently from game 1 in a lot of ways except for the score. Detroit notched a power play goal, got three times the power play opportunities, gave the Sharks one fewer chance, didn't get nearly doubled up in shots, and was able to control play for longer stretches of time. Unfortunately, San Jose's defense and goaltending continued to perform expertly. There is an old and kind of dumb saying that a series doesn't start until one team loses on home ice. Unfortunately, that's not true for Detroit. The Wings can sweep the Joe and still lose this one. They'll need to find a way to win on HP Pavilion ice if they want to win this series; but first, they need to concentrate on simply playing better.
There's certainly less to complain about from the officials in this game, as I thought they did a better job than in game 1. Unfortunately, the officials seemed as focused on what was happening and as willing to take past events into consideration as the Red Wings were. Still, this is two games in a row where Detroit has simply not made the adjustments they need to make to compete better. They got 34 shots off in this one to San Jose's 37, but a lot of those shots were one-and-done rushes.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 4:54 - San Jose Goal (PP): Ian White (slap shot) from Dany Heatley and Ryane Clowe
San Jose is on their first power play of the game here because of another Justin Abdelkader high-sticking penalty. In Abdelkader's defense: nothing. I mean, in fewer than ten minutes of total game time, Abdelkader has taken six minutes worth of high-sticking penalties at this point. Abby will get a minus. The Wings kill off most of the man advantage, but San Jose brings it in with 40 seconds of power play time. After Couture recovers a pass off the boards to himself, the Sharks set up the attack and move the puck around the perimeter to get Detroit moving. Clowe goes from low in the corner to White at the point where the Sharks use their manpower advantage high to get Darren Helm moving. White passes to Heatley, who threatens by walking to the top of the circle to drag Helm lower into the zone before going back high to White. As Helm moves to adjust to this, White walks into the middle of the high slot and fires a slap shot to the stick side that Howard can't see through the three-man screen in front for the first goal of the game. It's difficult to do here, because this is a very good job by the Sharks' power play unit, but every penalty killer makes a mistake here which, had they been split-seconds faster or mere inches better positioned, they could have prevented the goal. I thought about giving them all a break and chalking it up as a unit failure in the presence of a very good play by the PP unit, but instead, I'm going to give Ericsson, Kronwall, Helm, and Eaves a half-minus each. Kronwall had a chance to get to the pass that Couture put to himself off the boards and was slow to it. Eaves is too far on the wrong side of center when he goes to block the White shot and gives him room to aim high to the stick side. Ericsson is fighting with Clowe for position and screens his own goaltender incredibly well when he could have been playing farther toward the open end. Finally, Helm needs to block that pass from Heatley to White.
Penalty Adjustment: Late in the first period, Datsyuk and Zetterberg got caught on the ice on a very long shift. Zetterberg forechecks against Ian White and loses the puck battle. He then turns to try to get back on Heatley and brings his stick overhand to hit Heatley on the shoulder. This was just a stupid penalty to take. Zetterberg will get a minus. Even without the slash, Z held White on the play as well. This happens when the shifts get too long.
Penalty Adjustment (x2): Early in the 2nd period, the Wings bring the puck into the zone and want to try to establish a forecheck, but that gets broken up before it gets started as Holmstrom and Murray fight for the puck on the boards and Homer puts Murray in an obvious headlock. Homer gets a minus for getting sent off for two on another offensive-zone penalty. He's being worse than neutralized so far in this series, he's being actively detrimental. Fortunately, one minute into this penalty kill, Drew Miller pokes a pass out of the zone and jumps to head up ice. Joe Pavelski takes a step to get in his way and goes to the box. Miller gets a plus.
Penalty Adjustment: about halfway through the 2nd, Brian Rafalski tries to go off the glass for an outlet pass and ends up lifting the puck too much. This is the difference between great focus and sloppy execution. Rafalski will get a minus.
3rd Period 1:39 - San Jose Goal: Niclas Wallin (wrist shot) from Ryane Clowe and Logan Couture
San Jose gets a goal here by using four passes in their own zone (and all five skaters staying under their own blue line until they know the clear is happening) to get a break up ice. After Cleary pokes it in, they go Couture to White to Couture to Clowe to beat the pressure. The final pass is cross-ice across the blue line to Wallin as four Wings are back in a box having failed on the forecheck and the Sharks are able to build speed. Bertuzzi takes a bad angle on the pass to Wallin and ends up with no ability to slow him down. The speed this gives them forces Kronwall to back off enough to let Wallin skate into the faceoff circle unmolested. Wallin skates into the right circle and about five feet above and to the outside of the dot releases a wrist shot that Howard gets a piece of, but the puck goes off the glove, arcs over Howard's shoulder, and bounces into the net. This is a soft goal for Howard, but I'm going to let each of the forwards keep his minus. Cleary and Abdelkader fail their parts of the forecheck enough to give the Sharks an opportunity at the speed here. Bertuzzi does the same, but he also makes the problem worse with the angle he takes on the pass to let Wallin by with speed. This will earn Bertuzzi an extra minus on top of the official one. I am going to clear the minuses for Kronwall and Salei. Kronner is closer to the play, but a move to cut off this outside shooting angle is also a move to get himself completely out of position for any of Wallin's ten other options.
Penalty Adjustment (x2): Ok, so maybe the "actively detrimental thing" was a bit premature. Shortly after the goal, Homer does a good job of backchecking on Setoguchi to separate him from the puck in the neutral zone and turn the play the other way. As Homer turns to join the play going the other way, Thornton turns the same way to cut inside of him, takes a look at him, and steps into his path. Homer will earn a plus for drawing this one. On the power play, the Wings set up a nice play to get Lidstrom a shot with a lane from the middle of the ice that goes through a Holmstrom screen, but that Niemi stops. After the whistle, Demers turns and gives Holmstrom a dirty chop across the wrist, then Pavelski slides in and gives him a cross-check in the ribs. While Homer is turning around to have words with Demers, Nichol comes in and puts him in a head lock. Homer's entire retaliation consists of grabbing Demers. He doesn't even throw a punch after getting slashed, cross-checked, and head-locked, yet somehow Holmstrom ends up as the only player taking a penalty. Sometimes I'll give a guy a minus for retaliation, but based on what the replay shows me here, I'm absolutely fucking sick that the play got called this way. No adjustment.
3rd Period 13:58 - Detroit Goal (PP): Henrik Zetterberg (wrist shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom
Detroit gets a late third period power play as Setoguchi gets a 3-for-1 special on his shift. He first interferes with Stuart with no call, but doesn't get away with a stick slash on Franzen as the Mule carries into the zone. Later, he cross-checks Filppula to get the puck away from him and go to the box for the least-dangerous of the three penalty-worthy plays he made on within 30 seconds of one another. The Sharks get an early clear on the power play, but Lidstrom picks it up and sets up the Wings' standard zone entry. He carries to the red line to force the PK forwards to tighten in the middle and then drops it to Datsyuk coming from behind with speed. Pavel carries it a couple of strides and shoulder-fakes the attempt to split the defense to keep everybody honest before going to the right wing for Holmstrom standing at the blue line (while Zetterberg stands on the boards at the other blue line to give options). Holmstrom carries in along the boards while Datsyuk skates across the zone and across Vlasic's path to Homer on his way lower into the zone on the same board side as Homer. This move prevents the Sharks' PKers from outmanning Holmstrom while also forcing Scott Nichol to give him a little extra room to stay north/south. Holmstrom passes to Datsyuk on the boards at the outside hash marks and now uses his turn to cut in front of Vlasic to keep him from challenging on the puck (by now, the D-men are set up at the points and Nichol is a non-factor to challenge unless he wants to give Nick Lidstrom 30 feet worth of skating room in the middle of the ice). While this is setting up, Zetterberg is cutting through the middle of the opposite-side faceoff circle behind the play and skating into the middle of the zone. Homer's move to his office keeps Demers from being able to step out and meet Zetterberg while Pavelski doesn't recognize the opening quickly enough as he's trying to prevent the pass to the far point where Kronwall now waits. Datsyuk finds Zetterberg with a quick pass. Z releases a snappy wrister back across the grain before Niemi can square to him. The puck beats Niemi to the glove side to bring the Wings closer. The only adjustment I'm going to make here is to give Lidstrom an assist for setting up the play to get Detroit into the zone. The PP scored here just like they practice.
-1 to Ruslan Salei: Despite an otherwise solid game, Salei had a bad pinch that led to an odd-man rush in the first period and fell down over a rut in the ice later in the game to give them another chance. Consider the rating an aggregate of two very bad plays partially canceled out by otherwise not-bad defense.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk: Again, an aggregate issue, as Datsyuk had another positive game, but this time he also had a bad third period turnover. Still, he outright saved a goal when a puck got behind Jimmy Howard in the crease.
+0.5 to Jonathan Ericsson: The Big Rig continued to remind us of the potential playoff breakout star from two years ago. He's not there in terms of realized potential, but he had a good game.
+1.5 to Niklas Kronwall: Arguably the Wings' best defenseman in these playoffs, Kronner blocked seven shots and definitely saved a surefire goal off a scrum in the 2nd period with two of those blocks.
+0.5 to Darren Helm: Helmer created a shorthanded breakaway in the 2nd period that everybody knew he wasn't going to convert, but the play had its desired effect. The threat of that kind of play made the Sharks' play much more carefully on the PP for the rest of the way and helped quiet their puck movement high in the zone.
+1 to Todd Bertuzzi: Not often a guy with two roughing penalties in a game will get a plus, but he took a guy with him each time and later drew Ben Eager into what could have been a power play for Detroit. I liked that he stood up for his teammates.
Honorable Mentions: At some point, the NBC announcers (I think it was Pang) said that Filppula was being way too quiet. I disagreed with this assessment, as Flip had four shots on net, three hits, and played fairly well. I guess I can't wholly disagree though, since I didn't think he played well enough to earn a bonus plus. going 38% in the faceoff dot will do that. I still think Hudler is playing well, but he's going to have to do better to get on the board and to get more than ten minutes of ice time from Babcock.
Penalty Non-Adjustments: Brian Rafalski had nothing to do with Ryane Clowe's donkey-like behavior in the first minute of the game, nor was Benn Ferriero's high-sticking call six minutes later a forced penalty.