The Wings started their 2014-15 campaign off right with a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins. It wasn't an entirely pretty game, but the Wings got it done where it mattered and could have earned a much larger margin of victory were it not for some timely saves by Tuukka Rask.
As most NHL games nowadays, the refereeing seemed to be more dictated by score and context than by an objective standard. Both teams got four power play opportunities and the Wings were the only team to capitalize on one, but there was a lot of stuff let go in the third period that probably would have been a penalty in the first. After dominating total shots 20-9 through the first two periods, the Wings saw their overall advantage shrink to 24-17 after the Bruins' desperate attempt to pull even.
I thought both goaltenders played well in this game, and their save numbers bear that out. Rask had a fantastic stop on a Zetterberg shot from the point and Howard flashed the glove three times on good scoring chances for Brad Marchand.
1st Period 12:01 - Boston Goal: Patrice Bergeron (snap shot) Unassisted
The Bruins get the first goal of the game on their very first shot of the game with just under 8 minutes left in the period. Ericsson is holding the puck waiting for a lane to make a breakout pass with two Bruins lightly pressuring him at the blue line after a turnover. Riggy tries for a long break through both of these players and unsurprising gets his pass picked off by Bergeron, who quickly turns it and snaps it over Howard's glove from the top of the circle. This one is all on Ericsson, who will earn a turnover minus. This is a gamble that just doesn't pay off, as he's trying to hit Zetterberg on the left wing outlet (Boston is changing their defense and it's likely he catches them flat if this pass gets through). Shit happens, but DeKeyser, Zetterberg, Abdelkader, and Franzen will have their minuses cleared.
2nd Period 03:53 - Detroit Goal: Justin Abdelkader (boooooty) from Johan Franzen and Danny DeKeyser
Detroit ties it with a deflection shot with some great timing on a cross in front of the net by both Justin Abdelkader and Johan Franzen on a DeKeyser shot. Mule tips it first and then it changes direction severely off Abdelkader's rear end, beating Rask high to the near side. After the end of the Bruins' power play, Miller blocks a pass in his own end and gets it to Tatar, who very quickly gets it up ice and sets up Abdelkader coming off the bench for a near-goal. Abby follows up his shot by holding off the Bruins behind the net until Z comes in and takes it up to the corner. Z is pinched by Soderberg short of the half-wall, but they've got the Boston defense in a late change so there's nobody up top to cover DeKeyser when the pass gets to him. DK walks a few steps in from the corner to get the timing and fires it for the eventual double-tip. I love the defensive work by Miller and the hustle by Tatar to catch the Bruins' power play unit out there on the long change. I'm going to give Miller a half-plus and Tatar a full plus for this work. Abdelkader makes the goal take about 5 seconds longer than it should with the miss off a great Tatar feed, but his dogged work to hold off two defenders until Hank comes in to help makes this play happen. Abby will get a plus as well. Finally, I'm going to give credit for a screen to both Franzen and Abdelkader. Rask leans just as the shot is released because Franzen gets in his field of vision at the perfect time, then he's guessing again after the first tip because Abdelkader has his vision totally blocked.
2nd Period 14:46 - Detroit Goal (PP): Gustav Nyquist (wrist shot) from Darren Helm and Johan Franzen
The Wings get their first power play goal of the season on a beautiful net-front pass from Helm to Nyquist for an open net. The Bruins kill the first minute of the power play and clear the puck. Detroit regains the zone as they feint to the left wing side before dumping it to Zetterberg coming up the right. This gets Z to the half-boards on the right side with Helm there as support. Helm crosses over, but Z keeps it as two PKers converge on him. Cunningham momentarily strips him of the puck, but can't get enough control to clear it out. As Z takes it back almost up at the blue line, he throws it into the middle where an on-rushing Franzen picks it up. Kevan Miller is forced to step up on Franzen in the middle of the ice as Helm peels off the wall to the net-front and Nyquist slides down to the half-wall that Zetterberg had just occupied. Miller partially blocks Franzen's shot from the slot, but the puck moves forward to Helm at the net-front just to Rask's right. Seidenberg goes to the net-front as Helm recovers and spins, but he isn't in good enough position to step the pass to Nyquist sneaking in from behind Seidenberg. Goose finishes it and we've got ourselves the game-winner. This is a good power play entry and good work by everybody involved, but the good play by Zetterberg to recover was on a turnover he probably shouldn't have committed in the first place, so there will be no adjustment.. This goal is created mostly because Paille gets aggressive in thinking that Cunningham will be able to control the puck and he's too far up ice to stop the pass to Franzen, essentially setting up a low 3-on-2.
1st Period 08:26 - Dennis Seidenberg (interference) against Luke Glendening: Detroit gets the first power play of the night on a fourth line shift. Joakim Andersson wins an offensive zone icing faceoff and the Wings get set up in the zone as Glendening goes straight to the net-front to battle with Seidenberg. The B's defenseman takes out Glendening's leg in front and sits for it. I'm going to give Glendening a penalty plus for going to the right area and battling well to earn this. Additionally, the clean faceoff win by Andersson helps matters and will earn a half-plus.
1st Period 17:23 - Daniel Paille (goaltender interference): The Bruins get a deflected scoring opportunity off a faceoff after a Red Wings icing. Howard is high above his crease to cut it off and Paille bumps him as he crosses to the front of the net looking for a screen/rebound. No adjustment here.
2nd Period 00:35 - Henrik Zetterberg (interference) & Brad Marchand (diving): This is a nothing play, as Marchand makes a pass from the low corner in the Wings zone and tries to cut immediately to the net-front, but doesn't see Zetterberg there marking his position. Marchand falls down trying to avoid Z and they both go to the box for something that looked accidental on both sides. No adjustment.
2nd Period 01:16 - Tomas Tatar (tripping) against Kevan Miller: Tatar is forechecking at 4-on-4 and gets a little crossed-up/lazy on the stickwork as Miller keeps the puck away from him. Tats' stick corkscrews Miller and the penalty gets called. Minus for Tatar.
2nd Period 06:48 - Jakub Kindl (interference) against Daniel Paille: Paille dumps the puck in and goes to chase. Kindl has plenty of time to just casually get in his way, but decides to make two moves instead of one and gets called for it. This is a good call. Kindl can't keep weaving around to block people's paths. Textbook interference here. Minus for Kindl.
2nd Period 13:27 - Patrice Bergeron (slashing) against Johan Franzen: After the Wings nearly got a goal in, they get the puck back into the zone from a neutral zone faceoff and immediately cause trouble on an aggressive forecheck by Franzen and Zetterberg followed by a nice tip-in of the puck from Kronwall that nearly breaks Franzen for a scoring opportunity. The only thing keeping Mule from getting a good shot off is Bergeron cheating. Franzen does the brunt of the work here and will get a full plus, but Zetterberg will also get a half-plus for helping out on the forecheck and also helping make a lane for Franzen's possession to get that much more dangerous.
3rd Period 01:44 - Brendan Smith (slashing) against Chris Kelly: Smith gets taken down defending the net-front and takes a couple of whacks in the balls from Chris Kelly, finally retaliating with a slash. I think this should have been an even-up, but Smith can't retaliate here. Smith will get a half-minus.
3rd Period 17:26 - Johan Franzen (elbowing) against Patrice Bergeron: After Zdeno Chara hogties Justin Abdelkader behind his net, Franzen squeezes Bergeron off on the boards as the Bruins try to exit the zone. Franzen gets his elbow up and Bergeron tries to sneak under the hit just a little. I'm not happy with the reffing standard leading up to this call being made, but Franzen shouldn't have his arms up. Minus for Franzen.
3rd Period 18:14 - Zdeno Chara (interference) against Jimmy Howard: Chara pushes Howard's stick away as he plays the net-front and gets punished for it. No adjustment.
|Player||GP||Official +/-||Adjusted +/-||G+||Cov-||Turn-||OV+||OV-||Plty-||Plty+||Chg+||Chg-||PP+Lost||PK-Clear||GA-Clear||GSaved+||Adj Diff|
Checking the goalie stat shows just how dominant the Wings were in shot attempts in this game. From there, we see that the Tatar-Sheahan-Jurco line was in control of the play for much of the game. Possession-wise, the Quincey-Kindl pairing was also quite promising. The eyeball test had those two make a few mistakes each, but I thought they played well overall in 17 and 14 minutes of ice time.
But as we know, possession can be influenced by opportunity. Let's check the zone starts:
|Name||Pos||Faceoff %||Faceoffs Won||Faceoffs Lost||Off ZS %||OffZoneStart||NeuZoneStart||DefZoneStart|
This helps lend context to the good night that Nyquist-Nestrasil-Helm enjoyed despite looking like they were more holding their own than keeping the Bruins hemmed in. The Kid line enjoyed a 2/3rds advantage on offensive over defensive zone starts while things were slightly less-favorable for the top line, which played well and got good results (thanks in part to Patrice Bergeron having to go to the quiet room at one point). Getting to the bottom of both the Corsi chart and the zone starts chart, we can see the numbers match up with the overall impression that Detroit's top pair and fourth line had a good game as well.
Overall, I thought the eyeball test matched up pretty well with what the underlying numbers told us. Detroit put their offensively-dangerous kids in a position to succeed, sheltered their third pairing, gave their 4th line heavy defensive duties and made their top pair workhorses. The Smith-DeKeyser pairing was interesting. DeKeyser got better numbers thanks to his being used on the power play, but I thought they played very well together.
Be sure to check out War-on-Ice.com for much more info on the game, including a very pretty Fenwick timeline and the visualized shift chart which shows the time on ice/matchups used.