The Red Wings were kind enough to lock up their playoff position early on Saturday so their fans wouldn't have to root for the Avalanche. This was very nice of them to do, but losing a shootout to the Blackhawks still isn't very comforting.
Typical playoff refereeing allowed a bit of little stuff to go either way, but called the big, obvious things. Chicago had six power play opportunities to Detroit's two, but everybody was held off the boards in special teams in this one. I'd like to call that a win for the Wings, but Chicago's 2nd goal happened immediately after the expiration of a penalty, so it was essentially a power play goal. The disappointing part here is that I find it hard to complain about Chicago having three times more opportunities, I felt they outworked Detroit for most of the game. Shots were close in each period, but Chicago came out one ahead 33-32.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
Penalty Adjustment: On his very first NHL shift, Riley Sheahan earns a double-minor when he misses a stick-lift on Andrew Shaw coming out of the Chicago zone and pops him in the face. This will be worth two minuses for the youngster.
1st Period 10:14 - Chicago Goal: Viktor Stalberg (wrist shot) from Patrick Sharp and Marcus Kruger
The Hawks dump it in just outside the trapezoid so Howard can't play it; this allows Stalberg to get it to Sharp in the corner, who pushes it up to Oduya at the point for a one-time attempt. Oduya dubs the shot as it flutters harmlessly into the middle of the ice around Zetterberg's stick. Marcus Kruger wins the race to the puck and, while three Wings converge on him, feeds it back to Sharp coming back to cover the point with Oduya taking the very high cover position at center ice. Sharp tees it up on goal from here through the screen of players. Howard prevents the shot from getting through his legs, but the rebound comes straight to Stalberg alone out front to put right back through him. It's bad luck that the Oduya shot went straight to the only guy in white nearby, but there were a couple of defensive breakdowns here. The problem isn't necessarily that Ian White and Nick Lidstrom were both above the circles when the Sharp blast came through, the problem was that neither of them stopped it. Both D-men are up covering their guys. Filppula and Zetterberg had switched off defensive responsibilities, making Flip the de-facto center on this line. It's his job to mark Stalberg in front of the net and he doesn't do that. The coverage mistakes will earn Filppula a full minus and both White and Lidstrom half-minuses. Hudler will be cleared of his minus, being the winger covering the far point-man and out of the play. Zetterberg will keep his minus. He reacts to the flubbed shot with a mind towards transition, which isn't a bad thing without the luck of it going right to Kruger, but the winger's job is to prevent good shots from the point and this play involved two of them from his side.
Penalty Adjustment: Two minutes after the Stalberg goal, Datsyuk outworks Marian Hossa in the Chicago zone and draws a hooking call. Datsyuk will get a plus.
Penalty Adjustment (x3): Henrik Zetterberg goes off for tripping at 1:38 in the second when he gets his stick tied up with Johnny Oduya and the D-man takes a fall. Minus for Zetterberg. Next, Brent Seabrook uses slight contact from Tomas Holmstrom to push his own net of its moorings to end a good scoring chance. No adjustment on that one. Then, at 15:12, Justin Abdelkader gets 4 minutes for high sticking on Niklas Hjlamarsson's two for interference. Abdelkader will get a minus for not controlling his stick.
2nd Period 17:18 - Chicago Goal: Andrew Shaw (wrist shot) from Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane
Just after the end of the Abdelkader penalty, Chicago scores again. Seabrook feeds Kane at the half-boards and he carries up to and across the blue line looking for a lane. he finally finds one in a bank off the corner boards to Patrick Sharp. While Kronwall chases to close the gap, Sharp throws a backhanded pass through him that hits Andrew Shaw on his way to the front of the net. Shaw chips it past Howard and it's 2-0. This play happens before the Wings are back to a set 5-man unit, so the minuses for Quincey, Bertuzzi, Emmerton,Filppula, and Kronwall will be cleared. However, Emmerton is going to earn back his minus. When Seabrook goes to Kane, Emmerton is too far up the ice. Quincey steps up to keep Kane from stepping into the middle. Instead of keeping the diamond formation that the Wings are supposed to be running while Kane runs it across the blue line, Emmerton stays high in the zone worrying too much about the lane back to Seabrook at the weak-side point and not enough about Andrew Shaw standing in the slot with nobody near him. Both Quincey and Emmerton realize at the same time that there's a wide-open man, but neither can get back in time. Despite how down on him I've been, Quincey made the exact right read on this play when he stepped up to watch Kane. He prevents the player from moving into the middle and even forces him to make something of an iffy pass (which ended up working perfectly). Emmerton has to recognize the coverage change faster.
Penalty Adjustment: at 4:17 into the third, Cory Emmerton takes a penalty for a strong play on a puck and having Marcus Kruger's stick break. I still hate this call. No adjustment.
3rd Period 08:11 - Detroit Goal: Johan Franzen (wrist shot) unassisted
Filppula skates to the middle of the ice and feeds it off to Kyle Quincey shooting up the left wing through the neutral zone. Quincey crosses the blue line and unleashes a slap shot which is blocked by Nick Leddy and rolls to Johnny Oduya behind the net. Oduya tries a hard clear around the boards which is stopped by Johan Franzen in the corner. Franzen collects, takes a step off the boards, and throws a wrister on net which squibs in through Crawford. I'll take being the beneficiary of a soft goal, sure. Although the Oduya turnover had more to do with it, Quincey and Filppula will get half-assists. This is essentially what this play is designed to do, they just added a Blackhawks player to the writeup.
3rd Period 19:13 - Detroit Goal: Pavel Datsyuk (wrist shot) from Tomas Holmstrom and Henrik Zetterberg
Late in the game with the goalie pulled, the Wings enter the zone and put a shot on net that's blocked to the boards high in the zone where Lidstrom gets to it first and dumps it hard around to the far side. Ian White picks up the puck and skates to the half-boards with it and does a half-turn fake to get it around Patrick Sharp to Pavel Datsyuk in the corner. As Kruger skates in on Datsyuk (who is still facing the boards), Pavel lobs a backhand pass across the zone where Henrik Zetterberg gloves it down. Zetterberg fights off Seabrook as they both fight for the puck on its way to the boards before he turns and tosses a shot toward the front of the net. The puck gets knocked down right in front of the goal where Holmstrom is screening in a battle against Duncan Keith. The puck lays at the two men's feet for a split second before Holmstrom gets a stick on it and backhands it through his own legs to Datsyuk crashing in on the far side post. Datsyuk pops the puck into the open net and ties the game. Ian White will get the third assist on this play and a half-plus for the good board battling. Nick Lidstrom will get the fourth assist. Zetterberg's battle with Seabrook to maintain possession is excellent and will earn him a bonus plus. Holmstrom will get a screener's assist. Crawford has no idea where the puck is through 90% of this sequence and that's all about Homer doing his job.
+0.5 to Gustav Nyquist: I severely doubt we see the Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Nyquist line in the playoffs, but man did they fly together. Goose still has to learn to use the body as he matures, but his stick skills are insane.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk: Pavs struggled in the offensive zone through much of this game, but he also spent most of his time matched up with Keith, Seabrook, Hossa, and Kane, ending the day with positive puck possession numbers and on the right side of the plus/minus battle.
+1 to Henrik Zetterberg: Z fared best on the team for puck possession and played some huge minutes. He fired 8 shots on goal and really helped create lots of havoc for Valtteri Filppula to not capitalize on.
-0.5 to Valtteri Fippula: Flip did not have a good game. He had a few good scoring opportunities, but he has to be able to finish those. I know things weren't helped when he was made to center for Franzen and Hudler late, but I want to be able to trust that Flip can be a shut-down center in the postseason.
+1 to Niklas Kronwall, Kyle Quincey, and Nicklas Lidstrom, +0.5 to Jonathan Ericsson and Brad Stuart: I thought the Wings' D-corps did well against a speedy Chicago transition game when the forwards weren't getting the job done. Kronwall had a poke check in overtime that probably extended the game, Quincey had one struggle to clear the zone, but he also played very big, especially on the PK. Lidstrom played his ever-solid defensively sound game. Ericsson and Stuart used their bodies effectively when they could and did a good job of clearing the traffic.
I just want to say thank you to everybody who stuck with me and helped out with the CSSI analysis all season long. The numbers still aren't up-to-date, but we'll have that done before round 1 starts. Of course we'll continue this throughout the playoffs and then be taking many more in-depth looks now that we have two seasons worth of data.
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