The Red Wings and Canucks met on Thursday night in what very well could be a WCF preview matchup. Detroit carried much of the play, but couldn't capitalize on mistakes and ended up having to rely on their still-perfect shootout record to pull out a 4-3 victory.
On special teams, Detroit was given four power play opportunities to Vancouver's one. Neither team converted with the man advantage. The reffing standard was almost good, but I'm not complaining hard considering I feel the Wings got away with a little more than the Canucks. Vancouver's third period helped stem the tide a little on the shot clock, but Detroit still ended the game with a 43-25 advantage there.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
1st Period 05:27 - Detroit Goal: Danny Cleary (wrist shot) from Darren Helm
Vancouver stops a 1-on-2 Drew Miller rush into their zone and Alex Burrows picks up the puck. In an attempt to hit a homerun breakout, he flips a puck cross-ice through center where a step-up by Darren Helm prevents it from connection. Helm skates to the blue line before dishing off to Cleary on the right wing side and going to the front of the net. Vancouver's defense collapses to adjust as Cleary comes off the half-boards to angle at the net. Dan Hamhuis is standing at the faceoff dot trying to prevent Cleary from getting cleanly to the net, but he gets okie-doked by an impressive Cleary dangle. Bieksa isn't there to back up Hamhuis because Darren Helm takes a line to the net-front which both prevents Luongo from seeing Cleary's shot from five feet away but also keeps Bieksa away from making it. Danny Cleary's dashing dangle will earn him a bonus half-plus for the guts to go to the middle. Darren Helm will pick up another assist on this play as the screener.
Penalty Adjustment: 6:40 into the first, Alex Edler steps up on Pavel Datsyuk in the neutral zone to try and steal the puck from him. Pavel ends up getting it back and poking it past Edler with a chance to break in. In response, Edler hauls down Datsyuk to prevent the break. This will earn Datsyuk a plus.
Penalty Adjustment: At 11:50 of the period, there's a puck battle in the Wings' zone during which Henrik Sedin gets his stick into the midsection of Henrik Zetterberg. Hank clamps down on the stick and Sedin lets go, throws his hands in the air, and waits for the call. Z definitely holds the stick here, but he actually WAS hooked. This will be a half-minus for Zetterberg
1st Period 16:13 - Vancouver Goal: Ryan Kesler (wrist shot) from David Booth and Kevin Bieksa
Late in the first, Vancouver ties it up with some good forechecking work. A shift and a half of good neutral zone defense by both teams creates a give-and-take while both teams try to get the puck into the other zone. Finally, Vancouver collects in their own zone and goes for a stretch saucer pass off the stick of Kevin Bieksa. Pavel Datsyuk deflects the pick out of the air and into his own zone to create a dump-in for the Canucks. David Booth is already moving with speed into the zone and gets to the puck in the corner first with Datsyuk trying to body him off, Brad Stuart covering behind the net to the side Booth is facing, and Kronwall coming in for support. Booth outmuscles Datsyuk to escape off the boards and gets and interior angle on Kronwall as he tries to bring it in front of the net for a chance. Kronwall gets his stick in and combines with Howard to block off the low near-side corner, but the fracas takes both Kronwall & Booth out of the play while leaving the puck to slide to the top of the crease, where a crashing Ryan Kesler puts the rebound home. Responsibility for this one is going to fall on the three low men on the play. Franzen and Bertuzzi will have their minuses cleared. Each of the three other defenders will pick up extra blame. Datsyuk cannot lose this board battle to Booth while allowing him to escape to the inside. If Booth has to take the puck back around the boards, then fine, but you cannot let a guy escape with a line to bring it to the front of the net. Kronwall has a lot to cover here and should be able to trust that the board battle isn't going to end this way, but he's too far to the outside of the positioning here and is not adequately covering. This leads to Kronwall getting taken out of the play with Kesler being unguarded. Stuart takes a risk in taking a step fully behind the net to cut off Booth and he gets burned. If he's covering the far post and minding Mason Raymond, there's a good chance he's actually in front of the net with a chance to keep Kesler off the rebound. Stuart gambled and lost. Of the three mistakes, Datsyuk and Stuart will each get a full minus, while Kronwall will get only an extra half-minus. I feel the mistakes of his teammates put more pressure on Kronwall to cover more angles than he can. He still goofs up, but not as badly.
2nd Period 13:51 - Detroit Goal: Jiri Hudler (slap shot) from Valtteri Filppula and Brad Stuart
Detroit finally gains the advantage in a period where they badly outskate their opponents. Vancouver breaks a low forecheck by the Wings' 2nd line, but some good work on the boards by Valtteri Filppula against Jannik Hansen keeps Vancouver from carrying out of their own zone. Hansen is forced to dump the puck into the neutral zone and regroup while Kronwall picks up the puck at center and immediately goes across to his defensive partner. Stuart lets the neutral zone defense adjust to the other side of the zone before going back across one more time to Valtteri Filppula at the blue line. Flip brings in with space while Zetterberg loops back in on the far side just in front of Hudler in what is now a 3-on-3 rush. Hansen angles to Filppula while Salo skates to keep him from getting a lane to the net. The 2-on-1 coverage on Filppula means the opposite on the far end as while this is happening, Zetterberg drives the net to tie up Edler with Hudler backing off into the empty space behind them. Filppula finds Hudler with the pass at the top of the circle that Hudler collects and fires over Luongo from the hash marks. Niklas Kronwall will get the third assist here. I'm going to give both Brad Stuart and Valtteri Filppula bonus half-assists on this play for their vision to make a tight neutral zone defense stretch beyond its bounds. The patience by both to let the defense adjust before making them reverse and adjust again creates all the space they need here. Henrik Zetterberg will pick up a non-touch assist for dragging Edler out of the way for Hudler. Also, Filppula's forechecking work to stifle transition and force the neutral zone turnover will earn Flip a bonus plus.
Penalty Adjustment: Late in the 2nd period, Jonathan Ericsson chases down an iced puck in his own end with Jannik Hansen on his tail. E gets there first and slides to stop, but Hansen jabs Ericsson's skate blade and brings him down. The hustle here is good for a half-plus for Ericsson.
3rd Period 10:10 - Vancouver Goal: Alexandre Burrows (slap shot) from Maxim Lapierre
Vancouver's pressure throughout the first part of the period pays off as their forecheck creates a turnover and a a goal to tie it. Two Canucks consistently dog the puck as Ericsson and Kindl combine to look for a way out of the zone. The two Wings defenders manage this from the low corner to Howard's right as they find the third man outlet in Drew Miller coming around behind the net to take a short pass from Ericsson and start carrying up ice. As Miller follows the round of the far boards, he's first met by Jannik Hansen taking a run at him which forces him to cut inside to avoid the check. This cut slows him down enough for Maxim Lapierre to catch him from behind and Alex Burrows to get in front. Miller tries to drag it between both of them, but Burrows pokes it off his stick Lapierre just gets his stick on it before Ericsson can get to it and pokes it back to where Burrows meets it. The Canucks' cannibal fires a slapper from pretty much the exact same spot Hudler had in the previous period and sees the same result. A large majority of the blame on this goal goes to Drew Miller. Kindl, Cleary, and Helm will be cleared of minuses on this play. Ericsson earns an extra half-minus. He's the last man back on the play and can't prevent this from developing after the turnover. I'm actually not worried that he got beaten to the puck by Lapierre as much as I'm concerned that he's too far up ice. There's a good chance that if he stays below the hash marks until Miller is farther up ice, he has a chance to stop Burrows from getting this slap shot on net. The big mistake is to Miller, who commits a cardinal sin of turning the puck over directly in a high-scoring area. Miller's turnover goof is good for an extra 1.5 minuses.
3rd Period 12:05 - Detroit Goal: Drew Miller (wrist shot) from Danny Cleary and Brad Stuart
Shortly after his big mistake, Drew Miller makes amends by regaining the lead for Detroit. Jimmy Howard stops a Dan Hamhuis point shot that he doesn't see all the way and it deflects to the corner for Brad Stuart to outlet on for Danny Cleary up the wing. Cleary skates across the blue line with Drew Miller joining him off the bench. Miller receives the pass on the left wing while Cleary goes to the net. Miller throws a shot at front that tips off Cleary's stick and on net. Luongo stops this shot, but the rebound comes back out. Cleary and Booth overskate and Aaron Rome gets his stick on it first; instead of trying to clear it away, Rome tries to pass it softly to Luongo to cover for a whistle. Lu isn't on the same page and can't control the puck, giving Miller another whack at the puck to start a scramble. Cleary comes back out front from behind the net and also gets a shot on net. As this third rebound comes off Luongo, it leaves him down and reaching for a puck which gets on Drew Miller's stick first two feed outside of the crease. Miller pops it over Luongo and Detroit has the lead again. This is a goal scored by two guys while the other three change. Brad Stuart, Nik Kronwall, and Henrik Zetterberg all step off the ice in favor of Jakub Kindl, Jonathan Ericsson, and Darren Helm. I am going to give Kindl, Ericsson, and Helm's pluses back to Kronwall, Stuart, and Zetterberg. The three that stepped off were all directly defensively responsible for how the previous Vancouver rush ended and the Red Wings' rush up ice started with the way they played their positions. On the rush, I like the determination of Miller and Cleary to just fight for an ugly goal directly on the doorstep (something some guys on the top line could learn from, I feel). Cleary and Miller will get half-pluses.
3rd Period 15:36 - Vancouver Goal: Mason Raymond (wrist shot) from Sami Salo and Henrik Sedin
Before they can run out the clock, Detroit again surrenders the lead on a deflected shot. Darren Helm loses a defensive zone faceoff, which is pushed back to Sami Salo at the point. Drew Miller pressures him, so he goes to Mason Raymond at the half-boards. Kronwall skates out to pressure him as Raymond takes two steps off the boards and throws a wrister which deflects off Brad Stuart and into the net. Cleary and Miller will have their minuses cleared. Miller is doing his job by forcing the point man to dump it off to a side option and Cleary's on the other side of the ice covering Salo while this is all going down. Kronwall will keep part of his blame, but it will only be a half-minus. There's a lot of interference going on after this faceoff which prevents him from cleanly separating from the scrum and getting to Raymond sooner. Darren Helm will get an extra minus for losing the faceoff cleanly. Brad Stuart will also get an extra minus on the "don't deflect it past your own goaltender" rule. Stuart sees this puck coming and reacts to it. He either needs to get all of it or none of it and he fails at that.
1st Period 19:19 - Ryan Kesler (cross checking): Kesler obviously remembers Kronwall's hit on him in the last game, as he forechecks in on #55 to deliver a cross-check which breaks Kesler's own stick. I almost want to give Kronwall credit for being in Kesler's head enough to make him take such a ridiculously immature penalty, but ultimately, it's up to the Hipstler to be a grown-up here, something he consistently fails to do.
2nd Period 06:22 - Kevin Bieksa (high sticking): Zetterberg is skating into the Vanouver zone behind Kevin Bieksa (Kesler is covering for him) and Bieksa goes for one of those lazy stick-checks on a guy to let him know that you're right behind him. Bieksa's even more careless than usual on a play like this though, and his stick ramps up to get Zetterberg high. Lazy penalty by the Vancouver D-man here.
2nd Period 13:53 - Justin Abdelkader & Maxim Lapierre (fighting): Those two men angrily hugged.
3rd Period 07:44 - Todd Bertuzzi & Keith Ballard (fighting): Those two men also angrily hugged and the angrier of them won the fight because the other angry one tried low-bridging him, which he angrily did not appreciate.
+1 to Henrik Zetterberg & Valtteri Filppula; +0.5 to Jiri Hudler: Henrik Sedin did manage to get an assist in this game, but that was only after the defense played by this line forced Alain Vigneault to split up the wondertwins. Zetterberg and Filppula were absolutely stifling in their own zone. Hudler had several key backchecks to prevent good entries as well.
-1 to Johan Franzen: Mule put 9 attempts towards the net (4 SOG), but he was playing away from contact again and many of those shots were simple non-dangerous perimeter shots. I'd love for those to go in, but Franzen needs to be fighting for the tough spots on the ice and he was not doing that in this game.
+1 to Darren Helm & Justin Abdelkader: The speed and tenacity of these two gave Vancouver's lines fits all night. Both of them did a very good job killing the Zetterberg penalty and had the kind of nose for action that would have made me happy to see either of them get a shift on the power play.
+1 to Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson: Yeah, I put them together just to make you cringe. Despite having drastically different assignments, these were the two most consistent defensemen on the team for confident positional defense.
Ian White played well as Lidstrom's partner, but he also had far too many mistakes in his own end to earn bonus consideration. Jakub Kindl held his own, but he continues to fall into shaky shifts. I get the feeling that Kindl needs to get himself a Kronwallian goal and he'll get the confidence to start playing like a puck-moving shut-down defender.
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