The Wings had a much better showing in game 2 of their series than they did in game 1. Hell, they had a better showing against the Blackhawks than they've probably had in two years. Detroit moved the puck much better and was able to avoid making as many turnover mistakes.
Detroit's power play went 0-for-4 today and extended Chicago's penalty kill streak to something dumb. Fortunately, they also held Chicago's power play scoreless on two attempts. Shots in this one were 30 to 20 in favor of the Wings.
Jimmy Howard wasn't tested as much as Corey Crawford, but the difference in this one wasn't as severe as it was in game 1. Howard will win the head-to-head. I'm going to give Howard a +2 overall. He had to make three fairly sizable saves in this game at times when the game was still on the brink. The timeliness of these stops made a big difference, I feel.
1st Period 14:05 - Chicago Goal: Patrick Kane (wrist shot) from Michal Handzus and Patrick Sharp
The Hawks get on the board first in what is basically a 3-on-1 rush after Patrick Shark lifts Brendan Smith's puck outside the Hawks' blue line to create an odd-man. Sharp's pass gets blocked but goes right to Handzus, who finds Kane on the back door for the put-away. Smith letting Sharp behind him is a fairly cardinal mistake which will earn him a minus and a half. Cleary plays the backcheck completely wrong and will get an extra minus for not having Handzus. Zetterberg and Filppula will be cleared of minuses. Quincey will keep his minus as the unlucky recipient of being put in a bad situation that he doesn't superman his way out of.
2nd Period 02:40 - Detroit Goal: Damien Brunner (tip-in) from Jakub Kindl and Joakim Andersson
The Wings pull even on some great play by the third line. After they do some good work supporting one another to get out of their own zone, the Wings move the puck up ice and move the puck around the perimeter until Kindl gets a chance to chuck the puck towards the traffic collected in front of Crawford. Brunner gets the tip on its way in and it gets into the net. Nyquist will get the third assist on this play and Brunner a self-assist. They work the puck up ice and then help recover the puck. I'm also going to give Nyquist and Brunner bonus pluses, as well as one for Andersson for smart defensive positioning transitioning to great forechecking.
2nd Period 16:08 - Detroit Goal: Brendan Smith (wrist shot) from Henrik Zetterberg and Daniel Cleary
The Wings get another in the 2nd period on a great forecheck by Zetterberg which creates a low odd-man when he embarrasses Hjalmarsson. Z finds Smith on the back door and the D-man finishes it. The play by Z here is fantastic stick positioning on a guy who is forced into a tough position on the puck. Z will get a bonus assist on this play as well as a bonus plus-and-a-half. The extra is because Z is the reason the Hawks lose possession on a transition attempt prior to the Wings resetting and creating this play. Filppula also helps in this regard and will get a bonus plus. I'm also going to give Flip an assist here as he's the reason Hjalmarsson struggles. The dump from Cleary up the boards is tipped past Chicago's D-man with a perfect amount of touch. Hjalmarrson has to respect that Flip can get the pass and move in so he can't back off too far. If the tip is too strong past him, Zetterberg gets angled off. I also like Filppula driving the front of the net to pull Keith away. Smith will get a half-plus here for a quick decision to jump up on the play since he has Cleary covering behind him.
3rd Period 07:18 - Detroit Goal: Johan Franzen (wrist shot) from Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall
Playoff mule shows up and Ericsson hits him in transition for a snipe shot top corner from the circle. The vision and patience by Ericsson (yep... I just said that) is pretty fantastic here. Riggy's going to get a bonus plus for the tape-to-tape spring pass. Datsyuk will get a bonus half-plus. He pressures Sharp on a rebound, causing the Chicago forward to essentially give up on the transition and chuck it to center where Kronwall picks it up easy. Franzen will also get a bonus half-plus for his positioning on this play and quick transition back to offense.
3rd Period 12:03 - Detroit Goal: Valtteri Filppula (backhand) from Henrik Zetterberg
The Wings turn a defensive zone faceoff loss into a 4-1 advantage as hustle by Zetterberg gets Filppula through center with speed. Flip takes advantage of space created by Cleary and Bolland trying harder to lay the body than tie up the stick as he moves to the middle and slides the puck between Crawford's legs. Cleary will pick up a non-touch assist here for driving the net and establishing the ice (fancy term for "legal pick") to keep Leddy occupied. All three of Zetterberg, Filppula, and Cleary will get bonus pluses for the hustle here.
Penalty Adjustments (pluses and minuses only)
1st Period 10:21 - Brendan Smith (hooking): I'm only going to give Smith a half-minus here for what is technically a stick in the midsection, but one that probably doesn't get called if it's not for a sell job by Hossa.
(Ed Note: I have yet to see a replay of what earned Bolland two penalties and Kindl one at 14:45 of the first, but I'm not sure if I can adjust here. Logic would say Kindl was slightly calmer and might deserve a half-plus or something, but I don't want to give him a penalty adjustment on a guess. Plenty of other things I can say good about Kindl's game here without guessing he deserves credit for Bolland being a dipshit.)
2nd Period 07:07 - Pavel Datsyuk (delay of game): Datsyuk gets a minus for putting the puck over the glass and causing everybody to renew their vows of hatred for that rule.
3rd Period 09:43 - Dave Bolland (roughing): Filppula will earn a plus here for drawing Bolland into a retaliatory penalty after he gives the guy a clean shot and that pisses him off. I'm going to give Zetterberg a half-plus for good defensive work leading to the keep-in which leads to Flip getting roughed up in the corner as well.
3rd Period 18:38 - Patrick Kane (hooking): Brendan Smith will get a plus on this play as he's moving his feet confidently and gets around Kane so cleanly that all Kane can really do to slow him is hook.
+1.5 to Kyle Quincey +1 to Brendan Smith: Overall, these two played second pairing defense quite well. The punishment aside on the Kane goal, I think they responded well and I thought Quincey was especially good.
+0.5 to Carlo Colaiacovo: A minor adjustment for a guy who I think was better than an overall +1. I thought he was very solid and moved the puck well in transition.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Justin Abdelkader: Through two coaches trying to out-match each other, Datsyuk got about even time against the Hawks' top two lines and he answered by centering the line with the best puck possession in the game. Franzen was a force on the puck and Abdelkader forechecked Abdelkaderingly.
+1 to Drew Miller: 2:28 of perfect PK work in his first game back in weeks. Miller added speed to the fourth line and a stick in the passing lanes for the Red Wings' PK.
Kronwall and Ericsson each had a bit of an up-and-down game, but the adjustments got it right as far as how overall good they were in the face of tough competition.