Sunday, April 23, 2006

Game 2: vs. Edmonton, 1:00 ET

Today's game is probably the most important game of the series. With a win, the Wings would go into Edmonton up 2-0 and with the league's best road record on their resume, putting them in prime position to take the series. An Oilers win would tie the series at one and give them the confidence they need to pull two wins out of the hat at home. A loss today obviously does not guarantee elimination but it certainly doesn't help that team's chances. The key for the Wings is going to be special teams. In Game 1, their power play was at a measly 16.7% (1-for-6) while their penalty kill was just 33.3% (2-for-6). That has to improve if they are going to be successful. They know it, too. They are going to have to find a way to get shots through on Roloson, too. And if they're going to take perimeter shots, they need to follow up on them around the net. The Oilers just need to stick to the trap. The Wings had a lot of trouble with it Friday night and though they'll certainly make adjustments, sticking to it is Edmonton's best strategy, I think. If they try to open the game up, they'll just get burned by the Wings' puck possession. I would like to see a better game out of Henrik Zetterberg, who was very disappointing in Game 1. He needs to be more of a presence, for sure. Pavel Datsyuk is supposed to play (or is he?) and he needs to be a factor. If nothing else, he at least ought to make it easier for Hank to play as he'll draw considerable attention from the Edmonton defense. Friday night proved that Edmonton can take advantage of defensive lapses. The defense needs to be a little tighter, both defensemen and forwards. I expect the Wings to be better all around today but you know the Oilers will be firing on all cylinders from the start. The game is on NBC, in case you forgot. Update (10:40 AM): Looks like the Oilers may utilize the trap again. According to the Edmonton Sun, "MacTavish was still teaching the trap at practice preparing for Game 2 here today." Interesting little factoid I had not picked up: Chris Pronger was on the ice for all three Red Wing goals on Friday, as the Sun points out. Now, he played 38:33 and is going to be matched up against the team's best scorers. Wait. Kirk Maltby scored two of those goals. What was "Sasquatch" doing out there against Maltby? Oh yeah. His was the best line that night. What'll Pronger do if the Wings' scoring lines start to produce on top of the fourth line? Ah, another interesting bit of information from the Sun: "The Edmonton Oilers have never won a playoff series after losing the first two games." They're 0-6 thus far in such situations. Hmm. The Sun is not very positive: "If the Oilers lose today's matinee, the Red Wings can start thinking about a sweep and resting up for the second round." Just under two and a half hours until the puck drops... Update (10:57 AM): Chris Chelios won't win any NHL awards this summer but Georges Laraque would nominate him for an Oscar if he could (via. TSN):
GIVE HIM AN OSCAR: Detroit defenceman Chris Chelios admitted embelishing a hit from Georges Laraque that knocked him to the ice in the second period of Game 1. Laracque was sent off for roughing. ''It was nothing,'' said Laraque. ''Right after that happened he looked at me and said, `That didn't hurt me. I just did that to draw a penalty.' It worked."
I thought that hit was pretty nasty, myself but whatever you say, Georges. And you'd think the professionals at TSN would know how to spell Laraque's name. No "c," guys.


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