Hey! Another metaphor about driver's seats, right there!
Still trying to get caught up on the CSSI backlog, now we turn our attention to Thursday night's disappointing loss to the Devils, which took Detroit out of the driver's seat for fourth in the conference.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
1st Period 10:13 - New Jersey Goal: Alexei Ponikarovsky (wrist shot) from Peter Harrold and David Clarkson
Justin Abdelkader wins an offensive zone draw back to an empty point and Ponikarovsky wins a race to the puck. As Poni stabs it into the Detroit end, Kronwall gets back on it first pressured by Adam Henrique. Kronner tries to clear it past Henrique on the backhand, but Ponikarovsky gets to it before it crosses the blue line. The Devils' forward with the annoyingly-long name skates it up the boards before shooting low on Howard. The puck kicks behind the net where Henrique picks it up, skates to the other side, and feeds it back in front for another Ponikarovsky attempt from point-blank. This time, Stuart gets to the puck behind the net, but he's hounded up the boards by David Clarkson, who dispossesses him and turns to make a bit of room before going to Harrold at the far point. Harrold skates to the top of the circle and fakes a slapshot as Drew Miller skates in to try and block it. Harrold's fake works and he gets the inside. Unfortunately, he fakes a little too well and loses the puck off his stick. As the puck slides back to the corner where it's been twice before, Ponikarovsky skates through tied up with Abdelkader and stops it in place just outside the crease. Harrold's momentum carries him into it where he brings it to his forehand and tries to jam it through Howard's legs. This hole is closed, but Ponikarovsky lurks just to the side where he pucks up the rebound and roofs it over Howard's pad to give the Devils the lead. Kronwall's blind backhanded attempt out of the zone is a mistake here and will earn him an extra minus. Brad Stuart will also earn an extra minus for losing the board battle cleanly to Clarkson. Holmstrom will keep his minus while both Abdelkader and Miller will pick up an extra half-minus for coverage mistakes.
Penalty Adjustment: 13:39 into the period, Nick Lidstrom battles Zach Parise on the boards behind Detroit's net. Lidstrom gets a hook into Parise and goes to the box. Lidstrom will get a minus.
2nd Period 06:13 - Detroit Goal (PP): Tomas Holmstrom (wrist shot) from Jiri Hudler and Valtteri Filppula
The Penalty - Marek Zidlicky (high-sticking): Careless stickwork by Zidlicky catches Holmstrom high. No adjustment.
Nik Kronwall goes back into his own zone to pick up a cleared puck with 30 seconds left in the Wings power play. As soon as he circles behind his net, he throws a pass to Quincey in the faceoff circle closer to the benches while both sides change. Quincey hits Filppula coming up the opposite side wing to enter the zone with some space. Tomas Holmstrom crosses over in front of Filppula while Volchenkov slides over to watch him. This leaves Jiri Hudler to enter the zone on the far wing completely uncovered. Filppula hits him with the cross-ice saucer pass in stride skating toward Brodeur. Volchenkov turns to face Hudler while Brodeur comes out to challenge him. This leaves Holmstrom completely uncovered on the back door for the easy pass from Hudler and the easy put-away into the wide-open net. This is a beautiful play by the Wings, but it's mostly about how badly Volchenkov over commits to playing the wrong side of the ice. However, both Quincey (third) and Kronwall (fourth) will get assists on this play. Without the quick puck movement, New Jersey has more time to adjust to the line change.
3rd Period 11:20 - New Jersey Goal: Petr Sykora (wrist shot) from Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus
The Wings put off what looks inevitable from the start of the period for as long as they can, but ultimately give up the game-winner on a play that's much easier to defend than they made it look. New Jersey frees up a puck deep in their end by double-teaming Hudler in the corner and getting it past Filppula at the half-wall. Zubrus carries through the middle with Sykora flanking his right and Volchenkov to the left until they get to the blue line, when Volchenkov peels off and Elias takes his place. Zubrus slides it to Sykora on the boards at the top of the zone to make Lidstrom move over to challenge. Sykora pushes it behind Lidstrom knowing that Zubrus has a step on Zetterberg in the race to retrieve it in the corner. Zubrus gets to it first and slides a backhand to Elias crossing behind the net to his side. With Zubrus' body position and Elias' speed, Zetterberg can't stop him from stepping out from behind the net. When he does this, Jonathan Ericsson abandons the far side post to challenge and sees the pass go right through him to a wide-open Sykora, who skates it around Howard and puts it into the net. This goal is caused by the entire line not moving their feet enough. Of everybody involved, Hudler shares the least blame, since he at least had to fight off two Devils before losing the puck. In fact, Hudler will not get a minus. Filppula is also not very involved in this play, but he lets the Devils out of the zone far too easily. Filppula will keep his minus. Zetterberg will get an extra minus. He coasts far too soon on Zubrus, allowing him to gain body position and set up the play. Now this next part is going to sound like blasphemy, but the mistakes made by Lidstrom on this play are worse than Ericsson's. Don't get me wrong, Ericsson makes a mistake here in stepping away from the net-front towards Elias as he escapes from behind the goal. Riggy is going to get an extra half-minus for failing to prevent this pass, but if you remember the 2nd Blues' goal from Wednesday, this is a case of a defenseman being caught on an island. Ericsson makes an aggressive play and it turns out to be wrong. This is why he's being punished. However, the much more direct mistake is Lidstrom's slowness in coming off of the boards after the initial Sykora dump-in. He's either got to allow Ericsson to go to Elias by marking closely on Sykora or he's got to rush to the near post to prevent Sykora from having an easy lane to a stuff-in attempt. He does neither of those things as he coasts back into the play. This will earn Lidstrom an extra -1.5.
Penalty Adjustment: Less than a minute after the goal, Brad Stuart goes off for hooking David Clarkson as the Devils swarm around the Detroit net again. Stuart will get a minus for this.
-0.5 to Kyle Quincey: All of the Wings' defensemen struggled at time with zone clears, but Quincey struggled most. He's still a step up from Kindl's play on Wednesday, but most basement staircases are more than two steps.
-1 to Todd Bertuzzi: Aside from a blind backhanded pass which created an odd-man rush that Jonathan Ericsson was forced to (successfully) defend, Bert spent 90% of his time in the offensive zone with the blade of his stick at waist-height or higher. This is an unacceptable lack of focus.
+1 to Jonathan Ericsson: Rig played big and solid again on Lidstrom's pair and even killed off three odd-man rushes, one of which could have developed into a 3-on-1. Another good game by Riggy.
Really, the whole team faded as their legs drained late in this game. I really liked the first ten minutes, but they needed to capitalize during that time. Their inability to do so did them in.
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