The whole numerical motif seemed to work out pretty well last time, so I am going to stick to it for now. So here are some of my observations following Detroit’s victory in game 2.
1. If you paid to go to those first two games…
I feel sorry for you. You might have been surprised to find that you didn’t actually pay up your hard-earned cash to see a full-scale hockey game. Instead, you paid to watch a few refs force two teams play shorthanded for a majority of the time. Exciting, eh?
Well I don’t think so either.
There were questionable calls abound in the first two games of this series. Going both ways – Hockey Gods forbid someone call be a homer. The roughing call on Hanzel after Danny Cleary touched up for icing in the first period irritated me. That’s a take it or leave it call. In a series where hard-nosed battles and sand paper should be the story, the whistles have really taken away from these games so far.
I know this is a trite thing to complain about. But when a team has seven minutes of power play time in a period of a game, it’s kind of gross. Nothing has been out of hand in these two games. Nothing dirty. Just tough, playoff hockey. Battles. I don’t feel there has been any need for the zebras to send the messages that they are.
Today all three of Phoenix’s goals came on the power play, while two of Detroit’s markers came with the extra man. I just feel like that is too much time on the power play in general. I want to see up-and-down action – as few whistles as possible. That being said…
2. I’m not worried about Phoenix until they start creating chances five-on-five
They apparently got their power play worked out, which is good for them since it was bloody awful in the game 1. But the Desert Dogs have been pretty bite-less at even strength. Detroit dominated for stretches of this game with their puck control and skill while the Coyotes looked bewildered.
That’s the most cycle happy I’ve seen the Wings in a long while. It was dizzying to watch on television. I can’t imagine what it was like to try to keep up with down on ice level.
As long as Detroit keeps clicking on their power plays, and continues to dominate with five a side, they will win this series. They are collapsing to the net with aggression and creativity when they are a man up, and it seems to be getting to Bryz. Or at least working.
3. Which Bryzgalov will show up for game 3?
We’ve seen a very peak and (death) valley performance from the Coyote’s vaunted goaltender so far. One minute he is auctioning off goals to shooters, and the next he is withstanding tidal waves of Detroit’s offense. I can’t quite figure it out, and I am sure Tippet it wondering the same thing.
Great call to leave him in after the fourth goal found the back of the net. I give credit where it is due. I figured the hook was coming. Instead Bryz stood on his head as the Wings threw everything they could at him to try to make the game totally out of reach.
I really think the game could have been 6 or 7 nil at the end of two. Turns out he almost stole one for his squad. So will the real Bryzgalov please stand up?
(Sidenote: I was thinking right before the puck dropped and “Lose Yourself” was playing… Do you think when Eminem wrote that like, a decade ago, he knew that he’d be writing the rallying cry for his home city after it was ravaged by depression-like conditions? All of a sudden they are playing it again at Detroit home games and in car commercials… odd how things work out. But I digress.)
4. Regardless of how games are being called the Wings need to improve their PK
It hasn’t been good enough. It’s that simple. When you’re dictating the pace five on five like Detroit is you just can’t give the opposition the chance to crawl back into games like that. I’m sure Mike Babcock didn’t really notice this weak spot though, and probably won’t bring it up at all on the long flight to Phoenix…
5. Starts and finishes: roles reversed for the Wings
Detroit got the start that they had been looking for: controlling the puck, responsible play in their own zone, cashing in on opportunities, not starting the game on auto-pilot, etc. After accumulating a 3 goal lead through twenty minutes and controlling the second, the slid into a bit of a sleep walk in period 3.
To reiterate a hockey phrase that I despise… they need to play a full sixty. Today was better. But, aside from some clutch defense in the waning moments of game two, they about blew this one. It was way closer than it should have been. We need to see killers out there. We saw that for two. Now if we could see it for three…
I’m not used to this kind of game out of him. Man, did he play well today. He’s generally associated with destroying opponents in open ice. But today he played outstanding positional, was skating well, had his head up and was very reliable. He’s been susceptible to turning pucks over, and it was great to see him rock up like he did. He jumped into the play very well, and didn’t make a lot of wrong choices with the puck.
This is really the first time in a while I felt Detroit resembled a team that could challenge for the Cup. Whenever we get Z back – which doesn’t appear to be anytime soon – the Wings will have three lines that can flat-out skate. Big bodies to send to the front. The works. Jimmy has looked great, and Pavel is playing like a man possessed. Again, I don’t think I can remember a time he looked so scary.
Helm and Abdelkader (henceforth named alphabet soup) have been forces. Everyone on this team seems to have clearly defined roles. They all seem to know what they are supposed to do, and they are doing it well. They’re winning most of the small battles for pucks, and the crowd is chanting Todd Bertuzzi’s name once a game for his hard work. Mule has taken cuts to the face in three straight games, but it still skating well despite looking like Frankenstein. Be afraid.
Quick shout out to everyone that was at the Joe today. Listened to the game in stereo headphones – you guys were loud! Three chants in the first 90 seconds by my count.
Thanks for reading. Be sure to check back after game 3 for some more analysis from yours truly. Be well, and good luck.