Detroit Red Wings Game Analysis, After-Action Report for Tuesday Dec 23rd: Detroit Red Wings 6 - Buffalo Sabres 3
The Wings came into the game before the Christmas break with a six game losing streak they were looking to end against a hapless Buffalo Sabres team. After a nightmare start to the game, the Red Wings finally got rolling and finished off the Sabres with a 6-3 performance.
The reffing was strange in this one. The standard changed as the game went on. Actually, I guess that's not that strange. Detroit got six power play chances (four goals) to Buffalo's one (zero goals), but they were also the team with the puck most-often and that usually begets more power plays. Shots were 39-16 for the Wings.
Peter Mrazek allowed three goals and had a save percentage below .800. Two of those goals were odd-man rushes, including one 2-on-0 rush. The other goal was batted in but allowed to stand. Shit happens.
Guide to plus/minus adjustments
[Ed Note: Going a bit short-form on the goals tonight. Check out the video highlights on the box score for the visuals]
1st Period 02:36 - Buffalo Goal: Nicolas Deslauriers (punch-in) from Drew Stafford and Brian Flynn
The Sabres get one the board first with a lucky bounce off a chest-height centering pass from behind the net. Flynn blocks a Kindl shot and the Sabres come up ice 2-on-2 as Deslauriers dumps into the corner for Stafford up the right wing side while Kindl and Franzen defend. Stafford gets there and chucks the puck from behind the icing line to the back door where it hits Deslauriers and bounces into the net behind Mrazek. Nyquist, Helm and Smith will be cleared on this play. Kindl keeps his minus for having the shot blocked, but he keeps it to the outside as he defends back. Franzen is coasting back on his coverage here and will earn an extra minus for not checking closer in Deslauriers.
1st Period 10:50 - Detroit Goal (PP): Stephen Weiss (tip in) from Jakub Kindl and Gustav Nyquist
The Wings pull even on a power play goal as Kindl drives one fro the top of the zone and Weiss tips it between the legs. The power play umbrella gets set and the Wings try to feed Weiss in the slot for a shot that gets blocked back to Nyquist at the top of the circle. Nyquist immediately passes back up top to Kindl for a one-timer that Weiss tips from his same position in the slot for the goal. I'm not going to make an adjustment on this play, but I am going to give Sheahan a screener's assist. Neuvirth is peeking around Sheahan when the Kindl shot comes and he has to guess on the save.
1st Period 13:35 - Buffalo Goal: Chris Stewart (tap-in) from Cody Hodgson and Mikhail Grigorenko
Buffalo regains the lead on an odd-man rush that finds Stewart all alone in front for a cross-ice pass and tip-in. Kindl is unable to keep a puck in the zone and gets caught flat-footed as Hodgson skates into it at center ice. Smith has just come off the bench and immediately makes a mistaken read, thinking that there's going to be coverage back to help him with this rush. Instead, Stewart blows past everybody and takes the pass at the net-front for the easy goal. Helm and Franzen will be cleared on this one for having no fault. Kindl is going to earn a turnover minus and a coverage half-minus on this goof-up that hangs his defensive partner out to dry. Smith is going to get a coverage minus for making a bad read and playing the odd-man rush the wrong way. Nyquist is going to get a half-minus for not getting on his horse immediately after Kindl misplays. A quicker jump might help kill this odd-man rush.
2nd Period 09:00 - Buffalo Goal (SH): Andre Benoit (wrist shot) from Brian Flynn
Buffalo makes it 3-1 on a shorthanded goal after a 2-on-0 rush. After one good scoring attempt gets blocked out to the side, Franzen gets on an aggressive line to the post from just behind the icing line before leaning in and trying to come out front with it. Pysyk knocks it off his stick as he tries this, so the puck rolls out to the slot. Kindl steps into the puck for a one-timer with all four Buffalo defenders clogging the slot and Justin Abdelkader in shooting position inside the right faceoff circle. Kindl's blast hits the mess of bodies in front and bounces straight back out. Both Flynn and Benoit recognize and head up ice immediately as Kindl circles back after his shot. This creates the 2-on-0 that Benoit finishes with Flynn just behind him. I'm going to clear Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Abdelkader, and Franzen here. No decision was a bad one on this play until the decision by Kindl to shoot into four blockers being the high man back. Kindl will get a turnover minus and a coverage minus. You simply can't get this shot blocked.
2nd Period 17:54 - Detroit Goal: Danny DeKeyser (wrist shot) from Tomas Jurco and Luke Glendening
The Wings get one back on a turnover late in the 2nd period that DeKeyser puts through the five-hole of Neuvirth. DeKeyser steps up on Stewart on a clear to the weak side after the Wings' forwards forecheck aggressively to the right. DK blocks the initial clearing attempt, giving the forwards time to get into position for what happens next. Stewart's second attempt up ice is blocked short of the blue line by Glendening, who knocks it down for Jurco to skate into. Jurco is immediately cut off, but a quick back pass finds DeKeyser behind the Buffalo players trying to force a clear. With only Pysyk and Miller lower in the zone than DeKeyser, he's able to skate it into the high slot area and rip the wrister through. Glendening will pick up a half-plus for good plays on this sequence while DeKeyser will get a full plus for a well-executed pinch and Jurco will get a plus and a half. Jurco has a good forecheck work prior to the dump-in that gets the Wings possession back from Buffalo, then he has a good pinch on the dump-in that becomes the goal, then he has the great pass to DeKeyser off the turnover.
3rd Period 04:19 - Detroit Goal: Henrik Zetterberg (slap shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader
The Wings tie it on a beautiful setup for Zetterberg in the middle of the ice for a screened one-timer past Neuvirth. Datsyuk lets a dump-in by him to allow Z space to pick it off the boards and turn for a shot. This is blocked, but Flynn can't control before Abdelkader knocks it behind the net. Gorges tries dumping it up the boards, but Z intercepts and plays give-and-go with Abby to get it to the opposite-side corner where Z makes space for himself by leaning against the defender away from the boards before bouncing it off the dasher to Datsyuk coming in to cycle. Pavel picks it up and then feathers it back Zetterberg's way. Z, who is now standing in the middle above the circles is in position to one-time the puck, which he does. Neuvirth gets a pad on it, but it's not enough to stop the shot as it deflects off his pad into the net. Datsyuk and Zetterberg will each get a plus for this sequence while Abdelkader will get a screener's assist. Neuvirth is late to pick up on this one because Abby is in his vision.
3rd Period 11:40 - Detroit Goal (PP): Tomas Tatar (slap shot) from Danny DeKeyser and Gustav Nyquist
Detroit takes the lead on a pretty setup for Tatar for a one-timer power play goal. Detroit recovers the puck after a Tatar shot and resets the play. Nyquist tries to go across the ice to Tatar, but it's blocked and barely recovered by a long reach from Sheahan to get it back. Tatar next does good work along the boards to escape an aggressive pinch by Deslauriers to get it back to the middle of the ice. This allows for a pass from DK at the top to Nyquist at the far side wing which draws the PK low and over to one side. A quick pass back to DK and then another quick pass over to Tatar at the dot leads to a Brett Hull-esque one-knee one-time shot that beats Neuvirth for the GWG. Good puck work by Tatar and Sheahan will earn each a half-plus. They're the guys who did it under pressure of an imminent clear and defeated the PK box with it.
3rd Period 14:06 - Detroit Goal (PP): Johan Franzen (wrist shot) from Henrik Zetterberg and Jakub Kindl
Franzen finds the back of the net on the power play as a rebound comes right back to him for a snipe past a sprawling goalie. After a great save and a zone re-entry, Franzen rings a slapper off the pipe from distance. The puck bounces past the crease-crashing Datsyuk and the two collapsing PKers and right back to Franzen following up his shot. Mule collects it while coming across the ice before shooting it top corner back against the grain. Again, Neuvirth is left guessing thanks to traffic in front here. I'm going to give both Datsyuk and Abdelkader a half-screener's assist on this. Neuvirth is late to pick up the rebound and hten late to see the shot because of these two.
3rd Period 17:48 - Detroit Goal (PP): Tomas Tatar (slap shot) from Brendan Smith and Gustav Nyquist
Tatar likes his power play goal so much that he does it again for good measure. Sheahan wins the faceoff and the Wings get a good scoring chance soon after which is stopped and almost cleared except for a keep-in from Brendan Smith. Smith and Tatar work to get it cross-ice to DK at the other point, who feeds Nyquist down low. The pressure by two defenders at the opposite side point leaves the low defenders here no support to challenge Nyquist immediately, giving him a path to walk toward the post just under the level of the dot. As Goose coasts lower and closer and Sheahan battles at the net-front, the defense collapses in to cut off the options. However, they don't cut off the lane back to Smith at the opposite side point. Nyquist saucers a pass up there where Smith winds up for a slapper which freezes the defenders. The fake works as Smith half-slaps it to Tatar down low at the back door. Tatar one-times it through and it's game over. I'm going to give half-pluses to Smith, Tatar, and Nyquist for great puck movement to get the defenders out of position.
1st Period 09:23 - Mikhail Grigorenko (hooking) against Henrik Zetterberg: The Wings get a power play as the Eurotwins fight to get in and end up with a decent scoring chance out of it as Hank draws a hook. I'm going to give Zetterberg and Datsyuk each a plus for making this play develop as it did.
2nd Period 04:46 - Pavel Datsyuk (tripping) against Josh Gorges: Pavs spends a lot of time trying to get the puck into the middle of the ice with no luck. Late into the shift, he chases Gorges to the corner and lifts both his stick and his skate out from under him. Textbook tripping here. Minus for Datsyuk.
2nd Period 07:55 - Nikita Zadorov (holding) against Tomas Jurco: The Kid line is battling in the zone trying to get a good scoring opportunity. Jurco is in the high slot being covered by Zadorov when the puck comes nearby. Jurco positions himself well and Zadorov grabs on, taking a holding call. Jurco will get a plus.
2nd Period 14:48 - Nicolas Deslauriers (roughing) against Jakub Kindl: On an offside that had been yelled by every official on the ice, Deslauriers decides to crunch Kindl against the boards in the corner, heading to the box. No adjustment.
3rd Period 09:52 - Brian Flynn (delay of game): The Wings put on pressure in the offensive zone and Flynn chucks it over the glass trying to break the pressure. Jurco was the engine on that shift that made it happen. It's a mistake by Flynn, but I'm going to give Jurco a half-plus for creating the pressure which made the mistake happen.
3rd Period 12:46 - Johan Larsson (slashing) against Henrik Zetterberg: Buffalo takes another penalty as Larsson takes a whack at Zetterberg's stick in the slot and goes for a sit because of the broken twig. No adjustment.
3rd Period 17:14 - Andrej Meszaros (holding) against Darren Helm: The Nyquist-Helm-Franzen line is doing good work in the offensive zone to get the Sabres chasing around. Finally it ends when Helm gets messed up for the third time on the same shift. Meszaros for holding. Helm and Franzen will each get a plus. None of this happens if Franzen doesn't hustle to beat out an icing.
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Even-strength Corsi numbers provided thanks to NHL.com via War-On-Ice.com.
Single-digit CA/60 rates for the top line at even strength is a lot of fun to see.
Amazingly, Babcock did find a way to get multiple people low zone starts. Once again, thsi was more about line matching than zone matching for the Wings, so that's why Glendening got more offensive zone starts and Sheahan got fewer.
Check out more from war-on-ice.com, including the visualized shift chart here.
The Wings are probably lucky that Buffalo isn't a good team. Flukes went against the Wings early, but they were not defensively sound in the early going and probably would not have been able to climb back in against a better club. Jakub Kindl is bad and Tomas Jurco is very good.The end.
Corsi Timeline from Hockeystats.ca