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Game 3 - Round 1 CSSI Analysis: Red Wings 4 - Coyotes 2

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Detroit and Phoenix turned their series to Arizona for a game three that promised a storm of effort from the Coyotes early as they attempted to feed off the home crowd's energy and get back into their first round series.  Fortunately, Detroit was able to notch two early first period goals and completely choke off the energy.  If it weren't for the suddenly hot Phoenix PP/cold Detroit PK, this game would have been a laugher.  The score might have said 4-2, but the game was not close.

Not much surprise here, but a homer blogger has less of a problem with the reffing standard when his team gets more PP opportunities than the opposition, but there is something to be said.  I feel the refs did a good job of keeping the 'Yotes from gooning things up, but there was still more let go than I would have liked to have seen.  Detroit went 0-for-4 on the PP while Phoenix scored on 2 of their 3 opportunities.  Again, despite trailing for most of the game, the Coyotes couldn't even lead on the shot clock, as the game ended 33-30 in favor of Detroit there.

CSSI Playoff Tracking Chart here
CSSI Methodology Explanation here

Goalie Ratings

So the Wings jumped on the Coyotes early, put 4 on the board, stifled them at even strength and I even said that the game was not as close as the scoreboard indicated.  I'm still as close as I can be to saying that Jimmy Howard stole this game for the Wings.  30 shots isn't necessarily an onslaught, but he had to make three big saves in the first period.  The Wings were already up 2-0, but if even one of those big saves gets past him, we may have a different game entirely.  I feel it was very important to the way the game went for the Coyotes to have been held scoreless through the first.  Howard ended up with four big saves: the first on a dangerous Belanger slapper off a bounce from the boards, the second off a low slot chance through traffic on Schlemko, the third on an Ebbett opportunity right in front, and the fourth came in the 3rd period as Pyatt got off a good ripper off the rush.  Howard's rating on the night was +4.

Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump

The Goals

1st Period 1:57 - Detroit Goal: Ruslan Salei (slap shot) from Darren Helm and Niklas Kronwall
Kronwall digs a puck out in his own end and feeds Helm for a rush down ice.  The grinders toss the puck in deep and go to retrieve, as Helm lays the body on Jovanovski and gets the puck behind the net before throwing a pass up through the middle of the ice.  Salei steps up and gets to it, releasing a slapper from the top of the circle into the net.  I love the hustle here, especially by Helm, who will earn a bonus half-assist for getting on Jovo to free the puck up cleanly for his pass to Salei.

1st Period 2:41 - Detroit Goal: Drew Miller (tip in) from Niklas Kronwall
44 seconds later, the Wings make it 2-0.  The Coyotes have trouble clearing their own zone again, as the Filppula-Hudler-Miller combination pressures very well down low.  Filppula battles Stempniak and then Yandle in the corner for the puck, forcing Yandle to throw it around the boards where Kronwall picks it off at the blue line.  Kronwall, feeling pressure at the line, throws a wrister at the front that Drew Miller tips to the far side past Bryzgalov.  Filppula will pick up an assist on this play for forcing the turnover.

2nd Period 2:50 - Detroit Goal: Valtteri Filppula (wrist shot) from Jiri Hudler
Filppula wins an offensive zone faceoff to Hudler, who takes it to the boards and waits for a hole to open up where he finds Filppula in the middle of the ice.  Flip brings it around to Bryzgalov's right and simply outwaits the goalie.  Bryzgalov goes down on one angle and Flip walks around it and wrists it in behind him.  Just a simple, lovely play all-around.  Filppula will get an assist on his own goal for the clean faceoff win and I'm going to give Hudler a bonus half-assist on how he moved the defense around and found Flip with such a beautiful pass.  That play by Huds was, dare I say, "Datsyukian"?

2nd Period 11:43 - Phoenix Goal (PP): David Schlemko (wrist shot) from Mikkel Boedker and Kyle Turris
Detroit finds themselves shorthanded here thanks to a hook, as Abby gets caught with this stick parallel on Jovanovski while he's not moving his feet. Abdelkader will get a minus.  The Wings kill off most of this power play, but Phoenix brings it in, as Turris crosses the blue line and drops a pass to Boedker, who immediately goes to Schlemko sliding down the weak side. As everybody rushes to their coverage, Schlemko finds the small hole that Howard leaves on the top shelf with a great shot.  I'm going to give Eaves a half-minus on this play, as he's very deep in the zone when Schlemko receives this pass and this gives him all the room he needs to sneak down and pot one.

3rd Period 00:45 - Detroit Goal: Johan Franzen (wrist shot) from Jonathan Ericsson
The Coyotes start the third period with decent pressure in the Wings' zone, even forcing a turnover in the neutral zone.  Rozsival gets it at the center stripe as Franzen takes a step to force the issue.  The Phoenix defender completely misses Radim Vrbata with a pass (which I can't decide if it's more a shitty pass from Roszival or more some shitty hustle by Vrbata).  Jonathan Ericsson picks up the turnover and immediately tosses the puck to Franzen already heading up ice behind the defense.  Mule skates in on Bryzgalov and calmly pots it in the top corner.  This is a great job by Detroit to capitalize on mistakes from Phoenix.  No adjustment.  I feel that Franzen didn't have as much to do with the turnover as Phoenix screwing up did and I'd expect any baseline competent NHL defenseman to hit his mark with that outlet pass.  I'm thankful that Ericsson did it, but I feel it would cheapen a bonus rating to give one for for a result we should expect.

3rd Period 13:00 - Phoenix Goal (PP): Ray Whitney (tip in) from Radim Vrbata and Keith Yandle
Phoenix's final power play comes as Holmstrom is chasing Yandle down on the puck.  Homer goes stick-on-stick a few times from behind and the rush goes offside.  Yandle gets mad and gives Holmstrom a chop in the back.  Guess who got penalized?  I'm not going to give Homer a minus here.  I thought he was playing good defense.  On the power play, Doan is nice enough to clear the zone for Detroit, but the Coyotes bring it back in on a very Red Wings-looking play.  Vrbata has speed crossing the blue line on the right wing and throws a pass across the ice.  Here, Yandle and Hanzal criss-cross, but neither touches the puck.  This makes the defense have to back off a little while they sort out the movement.  Whitney comes in and picks it up at the top of the faceoff circle and releases a shot high to the glove side on Howard as Hanzal drives the net.  Howard stops the shot, but the rebound bounces off of Salei's ass and in as he fights for position with Hanzal.  No adjustment.

Penalty Summary

Not much to report here, as two of the Wings' penalties resulted in goals and were analyzed above.  I don't think Eaves should have gotten an even-up with Aucoin in the first period, but it wasn't worthy of adjustment regardless.  The Doan cross-check on Lidstrom was a stupid play by a stupid man.  The Hanzal roughing penalty was a soft call.  I still haven't seen a replay of the Belanger cross check on Stuart, but based on the nature of the penalty, I don't think it was drawn.  The Miller "slash" was kind of ridiculous.  I've never seen an underhanded slash before.  While Yandle and Miller are both fighting for a loose puck, Yandle brings his stick down at the same time Miller goes to lift it.  The ensuing coming together of sticks is SO PAINFUL that Yandle immediately drops his glove and coasts into his own zone in OBVIOUS PAIN.  Pain that is so bad that it prevented him from making any good passes the remainder of the night, which was different than the rest of the series in exactly zero ways.  Finally, Doan tries to get around Lidstrom for a loose puck dump-in and grabs hold of him, bringing him down.  Another stupid play by Doan.  No adjustments on any of these penalties.

Bonus Ratings

+1.5 to Niklas Kronwall: 23:24 worth of ice time was almost two minutes more than the next-highest (Rafalski).  Four hits, two blocks, and great positioning all game long.  This may have been Kronner's best game ever.
-0.5 to Todd Bertuzzi: It's tough to give an overall minus in such a dominant 5-on-5 performance by the team, but Bertuzzi was fighting the puck all game long and did not seem to engage much.  I'm worried his back is flaring up again.
+1 to Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart: Lidstrom had to play only 18:03 in this game, but those were 18 very tough minutes, as he had to shadow Shane Doan and deal with his special brand of crap all game long.  Stuart used the body well in front of the net and helped kill rushes.
+1 to Justin Abdelkader and Danny Cleary: Each of these players at one point pulled a surefire goal out of harm's way.  Cleary made an outstanding backcheck in the first and Abby was right where he needed to be on the back door for a tough rebound.
+1 to Darren Helm, +0.5 to Patrick Eaves and Kris Draper: This line ate up a lot of tough minutes early and came out smelling of roses.  The Corsi on this one showed that they did a great job driving possession.  Helm got the full plus because he was the catalyst on most of their shared shifts together.
+1 to Valtteri Filppula: While the Coyotes were busy keying in strong on Datsyuk, Filppula came alive.  His goal was a thing of beauty and likely was a big part of the reason he led the team with four shots on goal.  If he stays hot, the Wings are going to be insanely hard to beat.
+0.5 to Jiri Hudler: It's bullshit that he wasn't credited with a hit.  Just because he didn't knock anybody on his ass doesn't mean that Hudler's forechecking (yes, you read that right, "Hudler" and "forechecking" together in the same sentence) wasn't effective.  Also, despite that he's primarily the cherry-picker on his line, he made some really good plays on the puck in the Wings' defensive zone.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk: Kept off the scoreboard, sure, but Datsyuk had three takeaways, won half his faceoffs, got credited with two hits, and willed possession at times. 

Honorable Mentions: Ruslan's Salei's +3 was very well-earned, as I thought he had a solid game. I liked a lot of what I saw from Jonathan Ericsson, but I also didn't like the early turnover, the middle-period turnover, and the late turnover.  Still, I'd say he played closer to a bonus plus than a bonus minus.  Drew Miller and Tomas Holmstrom were the only forwards who didn't get bonus ratings.  I feel kind of badly, since they did their jobs, but Miller already finished a +2 and I don't feel he deserved more than that and Holmstrom didn't do anything to defensively shine.