Detroit put their one-game winning steak on the line against a Colorado Avalanche team that has played very well away from their own fans for some reason not at all related to how horrible it must be to spend any amount of time in a building full of Avalanche fans...
The refereeing standard was a bit weak in this game, but I felt it was at least more consistently weak than in games past. The Wings went 2-for-5 on the night, but their numbers weren't helped by an eight-second man advantage to end the game. Meanwhile, the dangerous Colorado power play potted both of their goals in the three chances given them. Detroit outshot Colorado 30-26, but also had 11 giveaways to the Avalanche's 5.
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Jimmy Howard didn't get pulled, so I feel safe in saying that he won the head-to-head battle in net for this game. This will earn him a +1 in that category. As for his play? I thought he was solid, but unspectacular. He had to make a couple of big saves, but I would have liked to have seen him play stronger on the first Colorado goal where he didn't get a quick whistle and allowed the puck to be pushed in. I'm going to give him a +0.5 overall for his performance. Again he wasn't the difference maker, but he helped.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
1st Period 08:54 - Detroit Goal: Nicklas Lidstrom (slap shot) unassisted
This play starts on a dump-in on Varlamov where very good forechecking pressure by the Wings' forwards force a hastily-played puck onto Ian White's stick. White turns it to Lidstrom, who goes to Zetterberg standing at the blue line. Z dumps it in high to the far corner where Franzen is first on it. Mule throws a sharp angle puck on net that Varlamov pushes behind the net. Franzen continues on with his forecheck and ties up Ryan Wilson. The Avs' defender is first on it, but as he falls from contact with Franzen, he sweeps the puck into the middle out front. Lidstrom is there to one-time it from the high slot over the glove and in. The forecheck to start this event will earn a bonus half-plus for Zetterberg, Franzen, and Filppula. Franzen will also earn a non-touch assist. While it's a dumb turnover by Wilson that leads to the goal, it's good work by Franzen to force the play which leads to the turnover.
Penalty Adjustment: 13:27 into the first, Ericsson gets undressed by Chuck Kobasew coming into the Wings zone. Ericsson is forced to hold his man and goes to the box for it. Ericsson will get a minus.
Penalty Adjusment: at 17:55 Hudler races Kyle Quincey into the corner for a loose puck. The two players briefly engage, but Hudler disengages and goes for the puck while Quincey pushes him off. This is a good decision by Hudler to make the right play and draw the penalty. Hudler will get a plus.
2nd Period 02:26 - Detroit Goal (PP): Johan Franzen (tip in) from Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler
The Penalty - Paul Stastny (cross checking): Filppula spends a very good shift in the offensive zone controlling the puck. Finally, he draws Stastny to cross-check him in an attempt to get him off the puck. The hard work here will be rewarded and Filppula will earn a plus.
The power play setup on this is a thing of beauty. After an Avalanche clear, the Wings change and regroup, bringing the puck out from their own zone. Lidstrom goes to Zetterberg, who hits Filppula in stride on the wing. The speed here makes the defense back off. Filppula pulls up at the half-boards to let Zetterberg and Franzen both skate low to draw the defense low. From this position, Filppula finds Zetterberg below the faceoff circle on the near side of the net. Z backs into the corner, stretching out the PKers while Filppula steps toward the middle and Franzen circles behind the net. From here, Zetterberg throws a cross-ice pass to Hudler at the top of the opposite faceoff circle. With two defenders turning to make a play on him, Hudler immediately turns back across the grain to Filppula in the other circle. Flip immediately snaps the pass on a wide-open net. Franzen, who is standing in front, gets his stick on it and tips it past Varlamov. This goal was originally credited to Filppula and then changed to Franzen during the intermission. In a case where a tip is needless, I would award the goal back to the shooter, but looking at the replay a dozen times, I'm not sure that the tip was needless on this play. I can't say for certainty that Varlamov would not have gotten his arm on the shot, so I'm going to let Franzen keep this goal while giving Filppula a bonus half-assist for the speed on the wing and creating the setup. Zetterberg will also get an assist on the play.
2nd Period 06:53 - Detroit Goal (PP): Johan Franzen (tip in) from Niklas Kronwall and Valtteri Filppula
The Penalty - Jay McClement (boarding): Idiot play cracking Brunnstrom in the back like that, but not brought on by a particularly good shift. No adjustment.
Zetterberg wins the ensuing faceoff and goes to Kronwall at the point. Kronner goes to Hudler at the opposite point before Hudler turns it to Filppula at the outside of the circle. With the PK box spread very wide, Filppula goes cross-corner back to Kronwall, who winds up and delivers a slap-pass directly to Franzen's stick as he cuts down through the wide-open middle. The puck deflects up into the near corner off Franzen's stick as Varlamov moves to play the shot. Another beautiful PP setup and goal. Hudler will get the third assist on this play and Zetterberg will get a fourth. The entire PP unit was in on this play and they should all get credit for creating this goal.
2nd Period 08:18 - Colorado Goal (PP): Gabriel Landeskog (wrist shot) from Matt Duchene and Kyle Quincey
The Penalty - Jonathan Ericsson (hooking): On the very next shift after the goal (and after Varlamov gets pulled), Colorado goes on the power play as Joakim Lindstrom carries into the middle of the Wings' zone, Ericsson steps into no-man's land and forgets to cover Duchene cutting in behind him. Lindstrom hits Duchene with the pass and Ericsson is left to weakly hook him. It's a bit of a soft call, but it's no softer than any of the previous calls and it was a horrible blown coverage by Ericsson, so he will get a minus.
On the Avs' PP, they get set up and Duchene gets to work. On the boards to Howard's left, Quincey feeds Duchene from the point. The kid does a fancy spin-o-rama to stay below Emmerton, who has to let him go to respect Quincey. From here, Duchene skates right at Kronwall to create a low odd-man. Brad Stuart is tied up with Ryan O'Reilly in front of the net and Duchene goes right to Kronner, so Gabriel Landeskog is left all alone low at the side of the net. Duchene does another fancy spin move in the circle and this time throws a backhand to Landeskog's stick. With Stuart unable to separate from O'Reilly, Landeskog takes it directly into Howard from the side of the net. Jimmy stops the initial chance,but Landeskog keeps slamming away at it until finally the weight of all the net-crashing forces the puck to squirt free from underneath Howard and in. It's a little bit of a late whistle, but a stronger play by the netminder would have made that a non-issue. The goal isn't soft, but it's also not forgiven. No adjustment.
3rd Period 14:46 - Detroit Goal: Danny Cleary (wrist shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Jakub Kindl
Colorado is trying to create chances in the Detroit zone while being held to the outside very well on this play. Finally, they pinch a play off at the boards and Kindl steps in front of his man to steal an attempt to reset the cycle. Kindl skates to the blue line and passes to Cleary, who heads up ice 3-on-3. Cleary goes to Datsyuk as they enter the zone on a right-side overload. Cleary goes to the net while Miller takes the outside lane getting ready to go behind the net. Datsyuk throws it on goal from the top of the circle. Giguere makes the initial save on a puck tipped by Cleary's stick, but the rebound pops directly to Cleary, who puts it in. During this play, Kindl and Ericsson both change in favor of Stuart and Kronwall. I'm going to give the pluses back to the Kindl and Ericsson here, who were on the ice for the shift which led to the transition. Additionally, I'm going to give Kindl a bonus plus on the play for the very savvy step up on the pass to pick it off and start play the other way. Cleary will also earn a self-assist. If he doesn't tip this puck, the rebound is likely an easy one to swallow for Giguere. Cleary created the opportunity for himself to score just as much as Datsyuk did.
3rd Period 16:55 - Colorado Goal (PP): Milan Hejduk (backhand) from Ryan Wilson and Erik Johnson
The Penalty - Pavel Datsyuk (holding): Pavel gets pinched off at the boards by Duchene and gets a free hand on his waist while trying to get around. It's a pretty easy call to make and will earn Datsyuk a minus.
The Avs win the faceoff back to Wilson at the point. Helm had gone down to try to prevent the puck from getting to him. In the time it takes him to recover, Wilson goes to Hejduk on the boards. Hejduk finds a seam to carry into the faceoff dot from the outside while David Jones sets up shop in front of the net. Lidstrom covers Jones while Ian White is forced to try to cover both the shooting lane from the faceoff dot and the lane to Stastny set up on the red line halfway between the net and the corner. Hejduk tries to catch Howard low to the short side, but Jimmy has the paddle down. Unfortunately, he can't control the rebound and it bounces out past Lidstrom, Jones, and White right back to Hejduk, who still has good position on Helm. Hejduk slides it under Howard as he comes across. I'm going to give Helm a minus on this play: Half will be coverage and half will be turnover. He lost the faceoff and scrambled to recover, but failed in that and ended up in bad position to cover Hejduk.
3rd Period 19:28 - Detroit Goal (EN): Johan Franzen (sky hook) unassisted
With less than a minute to go and the Colorado net empty, Zetterberg and Franzen combine to force a turnover at the top of the Wings' zone which gives Franzen room to skate the puck to center ice and throw a high backhand over the defense and into the empty net for the hat trick. I'm going to give Zetterberg an assist (non-touch) for helping clear the puck up to go to Franzen. I'm also going to give half a bonus plus to both Franzen and Zetterberg for winning the battle for the puck against four Avalanche players.
3rd Period 02:48 - Ryan O'Reilly (hooking): Even in a game where the standard was consistently soft, I felt this was an especially weak hooking call on O'Reilly as he got the stick parallel on Miller.
3rd Period 19:52 - Cody McLeod (boarding & cross-checking): Late in a blowout, McLeod thinks it's a good idea to charge Brunnstrom from behind and then give him a cross-check for good measure. This is a donkey play by an idiot player who has no business being on the ice.
+1 to Valtteri Filppula: He was a blur the entire game, as he constantly had his feet moving and was getting through center ice with speed. He was tenacious on the puck and good at forcing turnovers.
+0.5 to Nicklas Lidstrom: The Red Wings' captain controlled play like the perennial best defenseman in hockey does. He did have one bad turnover in his own zone in this game, but he more than made up for it.
+0.5 to Darren Helm, +1 to Drew Miller: I thought these two were consistently effective in their roles as the game went on. Miller led all players with a +10 in corsi while Helm's speed and stick handling helped break up plays in the Wings' zone and turn them into plays in the Avs' zone.
+1 to Ian White: Lidstrom's defensive partner had a solid night through both zones. He was quietly solid on the back end with breaking up passes and made several key plays to either relieve pressure one way or help pile it on the other.
If not for the two penalty minuses bringing his overall rating right to where it should have been, Ericsson would have pulled a bonus minus. He did not have a strong game. On the flip side, Stuart had one brutally awful turnover in his own zone in the first period which he was able to make up for with strong play as the game went along. Zetterberg and Franzen did well, but got their adjustments on the goals they created. The Cleary-Datsyuk-Holmstrom line struggled at times to keep the puck and was closer to an overall minus than a plus.
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