He's worried! You cut him! You hurt him! You see? You see? He's not a machine, he's a man! - Duke to Rocky in "Rocky IV"
That's probably the best way to describe my thoughts after this afternoon's game. It's been a very long time since we've been able to celebrate a Red Wing victory over the Blackhawks, but if there's a good place to start it's in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
After a Game 1 in which the Wings were pushed around by the more talented Hawks, Game 2 saw a complete role reversal as the Wings dominated for the majority of the game. Everything that the Hawks did in Game 1 was negated by the strong play of the Wings. Detroit skated harder, fought for lose pucks more, stayed more patient with the puck in their own zone, and generally out-played Chicago throughout the game.
So now it's a best-of-5, but more importantly the Red Wings finally have the proof that they can indeed skate with Chicago and beat them while playing their game. For all the people that said the Wings couldn't hang with the Hawks at all, today was a nice little reminder that the Wings are still a pretty good team. And the ultimate bright side here is that they won't get swept.
- The first period was a much better start for Detroit, and they had better pace and got shots on Corey Crawford. Unfortunately, Brendan Smith got lost in Patrick Sharp's eyes and allowed an odd-man rush to develop. Kyle Quincey played it perfectly but a bad bounce ended up on Patrick Kane's stick, and as he so often does when something fluky lands on his lap, he scored and scored hard.
- Is this what it feels like to recap a playoff win? No wonder Tyler keeps doing these. This is better than doing drugs.
- I had a comment about how Twitter is a terrible place when the Wings are losing but then they won the game so I love all of you and let's never fight again.
- Do you all remember when Jakub Kindl looked shaky in his own end, couldn't make an outlet pass, and was tentative in the offensive zone? He was pants-soilingly bad at times. Now how do you feel about him? Pretty darn good, right? Apply that same logic to Brendan Smith. I could write an entire blog post about him, but basically it boils down to this: he's played less than a full season of hockey at the NHL level and he's going to make mistakes. But at the end of the day his upside and ceiling are too high and the Wings have invested too much in him to give up on him now. Learn to roll with the mistakes and watch him develop into the player we expect him to become.
- Related: Brendan Smith has more goals in these playoffs than Patrick Kane.
- Drew Miller was inserted into the lineup over Todd Bertuzzi, and he was a -1 on the night in Corsi but that's just fine for that line. More importantly he was key on the PK as the Wings killed off both Hawk power plays, especially the one after the Wings had tied the game early in the second. Miller's presence gives the Wings more versatility in the bottom half of the lineup and I hope he keeps his spot.
- Dan Carcillo is Dave Bolland is Dan Carcillo. I know that Joel Quenneville has a very talented lineup but how he continues to play meatheads who contribute nothing except taking dumb penalties is beyond me. Say what you will about Mike Babcock, but he is constantly tinkering with the lineup to play the guys who deserve to be on the ice.
- For those keeping score at home, that's the first win in Game 2 of a second round series since 2008 when the Red Wings defeated the Colorado Avalanche. 5 years between victories seems like a long time, but good things come to those who wait. More importantly, it's the first Red Wing victory over the Blackhawks at the United Center since JJ, JJ's sister, chicagowingsfreak, Cptnshnr4 and I graced the UC with our presences last January and Pavel Datsyuk scored in OT. Man that was a fun game.
- The one thing I was struck by today was how composed the Wings looked defensively. The Hawks only had 20 shots on net, including 7 in the third despite trailing for the entire period. The Wings locked it down and played an absolute perfect road game. They didn't have to rely on Jimmy Howard to steal this one (although he made a big save on Jonathan Toews after the Wings had taken the lead), and should have some confidence heading into Game 3.
- Detroit Red Wings victory in a Saturday matinee game against Chicago on the road. Let that entire sentence sink in and think about how weird it sounds.
This was a nice win, but Chicago is too good and too smart to not come out with a much better effort on Monday night. The Red Wings should expect an onslaught from the Hawks early and often in Game 3, but they can take comfort in knowing that they've been as good or better than the Hawks in 4 of their 6 meetings this year.