Monday, April 24, 2006

Game 2: Wings 2, Oilers 4

Update (6:09 PM): If I sound pessimistic it's because I've watched the Wings outplay Edmonton in both games only to barely win in the first and lose in the second. All Edmonton has to do is keep capitalizing on Red Wing mistakes and they'll keep it close enough to win, if the Wings' luck runs out. All Detroit needs to do is find a way to score from the perimeter, something they have been completely incapable of doing so far. I know it's not best-of-three but I think the Wings need a confidence win in Game 3 or they'll have a real hard time scoring through that trap in Game 4+ after Edmonton starts to smell blood. - Matt Update (3:36 PM): Anyone going out to Edmonton for Games 3 and 4? If so, drop me a line. - Matt Did you really think this would be a sweep? I didn't per se but I wasn't expecting a loss like yesterday's. I'll stick with the mini-summary I posted earlier:
The Wings were solidly in control until a couple lousy turnovers killed them in the second and they couldn't recover. They were much more physical than we've seen them for most of the year and actually ended up out-hitting Edmonton. Scary thing: Edmonton opened the game up a little to make their comeback and then went back to the trap. Either way, the Wings' offense was muted. No one really stood out offensively, though guys like Schneider and Chelios did defensively. Schneider's shot is not a given goal any more. Datsyuk not a positive factor, looked tentative, still somewhat in pain. Legace looked bad on the third Edmonton goal. The Oilers wrenched momentum away from the Wings and are now in charge of their own destinies as they head back home with the series tied 1-1.
More on Manny: He's got to make the save on that third goal. Just has to. He looked good other than that but allowing that shot to go in from the top of the circles was killer. That doesn't mean he should be yanked but it means he needs to rebound with a stellar game tomorrow night. The Wings aren't making a ton of defensive mistakes but when they are making them, the Oilers are pouncing. It's Manny's job to fill in on the lapses. I'll pass over the second Edmonton goal because it was much more sudden but on the game winner, there was a significant delay between the turnover and the goal. More than enough time to get set. More on Pavel: he was hardly noticeable yesterday. He had a couple nice plays but beyond that, he was pretty out of it. Just watching him skate up ice was enough to know something is still wrong. I don't know if it's because the injury is still that bad or if he's just being tentative in his first game back. I assume his conditioning is off and that is probably a factor but I would have liked to have seen a better game from him. If it was just first-game-back jitters, he'd better be stellar tomorrow night. The Swedes started the game and Pavel followed them up centering Brendan Shanahan and Kris Draper. There wasn't a whole lot of offense in the first 2-4 minutes as the Wings couldn't get much going with Edmonton pressuring the puck so well. Play was pretty continuous with both teams changing quickly. The Oilers got the first real scoring chance but sent the puck through the crease. Jason Williams got the first for the Wings, just a shot off the left wing that was blocked into the netting. Henrik Zetterberg nearly entered the zone on a break all alone at about 5:40 but the Edmonton defense closed him off. It didn't take long for the game to get physical. Seven minutes into the period, Raffi Torres nailed Datsyuk at center and was immediately hit in return by Shanahan (would like to see more of that). Ryan Smyth (or was it Jason Smith?) took the body to Chelios here too. Just after that, there was a bit of an odd-man rush that resulted in a solid save by Manny on Torres' shot from 17 feet out. As a result of the sudden hitting, the pace picked up considerably but because both teams were playing pretty tight defensively, this didn't necessarily translate into more scoring chances. The Wings got a little sloppy with the puck around the halfway mark and a giveaway by Draper led to a high-sticking penalty at 11:08. The Oilers set up and got off a point shot that was stopped. They cycled the puck a little more, got off another shot and forced a face-off. Ales Hemsky got tied up with Chelios on the draw and was called for high-sticking himself, making it 4-on-4 at 11:42. 50 seconds later, Chris Pronger released a blast from the point that somehow found it's way into the net. Not sure about that one, Manny. It looked like Radek Dvorak may have gotten his stick on it but the box score says it was Pronger's goal so I guess it went in clean. There wasn't much of a screen, either. 1-0 Edmonton at 12:32. The Wings got a short power play after Draper's penalty expired but only got one shot off (Lidstrom). Jason Williams tied it at 14:50 with a totally random goal. From the side of the net to Roloson's right, he took a shot that was stopped by the defenseman's skate. It bounced right back to him and he kicked it back out front. The puck went off the defenseman again before heading on net, where it bounced off Roloson's skate and across the line. Very weird. But it counted and negated a delayed call on the Oilers at the same time. 1-1. The Wings got their first full-length power play starting at 15:27 and did a pretty good job with it. They got a couple good shots off after cycling the puck but couldn't score. Shanahan and Staios had a little scrum in front of the net as the game got chippier. Legace made a big save on a Dick Tarnstrom tip-in with 1:44 remaining. At this point, the battle between Ryan Smyth and Chris Chelios became very obvious as they had a pretty physical shift. Edmonton took another penalty at 18:25 and the Wings put out a pretty good power play to start with. The Oilers put on some good shorthanded pressure, though, and caused some trouble in the process. It wasn't a bad period. Both teams looked pretty good defensively if a little anemic offensively. The Oilers continued their shorthanded pressure at the start of the second and ended up getting a power play themselves just 40 seconds in, when Steve Yzerman went off for hooking. They set up and cycled the puck around and got off a couple shots. Manny made two big saves, first on Pronger and second on Smyth. The fans started chanting, "Manny! Manny!" and the penalty expired. Raffi Torres had a nice shift after that and only a good defensive play from Mathieu Schneider prevented a dangerous play. Niklas Kronwall had a Bobby Orr Moment at 4:40 when he took the puck down the left wing and got off a shot, though it went wide. Tomas Holmstrom, of all people, nearly had a breakaway at center but was tied up minutely by Staios. After a little embellishment on Tomas' part, the ref called Staios for hooking and the Wings went back on the power play. The Edmonton bench was screaming for a diving penalty but I felt Holmstrom's acting looked worse in slow motion than in real time. The initial setup constituted a shot by Lidstrom that was blocked and followed up by Edmonton carrying the puck out of the zone. It looked like a good kill for the Oilers until the Wings scored at 7:11. Kronwall took the initial shot from the point and Roloson stopped it. The puck went up in the air and Roloson just sort of sat there until it fell on top of him and rolled down his back. Fortunately, Zetterberg was johnny-on-the-spot and knocked it in. The Oilers had to love the fact that Holmstrom, the man responsible for their disadvantage, was right in front of Roloson the whole time. 2-1 Wings, off another fluke/weird goal. Noticing a pattern? The Wings were handling the puck well, if tentatively, but Edmonton was playing the trap very well through mid-period, forcing the Detroit to the outside on practically every rush and limiting their shots to the perimeter. The good thing was that the Wings were matching the physical play of Edmonton, surprisingly enough. Yzerman's line, with Schneider, had a nice shift with about 7:20 left but it amounted to a missed shot and a failed opportunity. Edmonton broke out of the trap with about six minutes to go and put some good pressure on in the Wings zone. Manny was solid, though, and the Wings took it the other way, with Datsyuk's line getting a good chance on net but failing to score. I had just written down, "DET good in their end -> clearing puck well, limiting EDM chances," when the Oilers scored on a seemingly harmless play. Michael Peca pressured Kirk Maltby behind the goal to Legace's right and stole the puck. He sent it immediately out front to a wide-open Fernando Pisani, who had no trouble one-timing it past an off-balance Manny Legace. Okay. 2-2 tie, at 17:49. Less than a minute later, the Oilers struck again. This time, Jason Williams turned it over to Pronger after failing to clear the zone. Granted, he took an elbow the face but that was after he could have gotten it out. The puck ended up on Winchester's stick and he had a clear shot on Legace. He took a hard wrister from 44 feet out and beat Manny glove side. Just like that, the Oilers have a 3-2 lead and are back to running the trap. The period ended on a pretty sour, note, needless to say. This time, the fans didn't even bother to boo. Two minutes into the third, Dan Cleary and Tarnstrom had a little scrum that resulted in offsetting minors. During 4-on-4 play, Datsyuk showed up to play for really the first time. He carried the puck over the blueline on one rush but lost it and was dumped. Then, he and Steve Yzerman hooked up for a nice play. Pavel entered the zone at the far blueline and dropped the puck off to The Captain, who proceeded to drive on net, around Chris Pronger. A2Y described it this way:
Yzerman muscles his way by Pronger and time stops. Frame by frame we see the Captain pulling us even, willing his way to the crease, falling, holding on to the puck, burning Roloson, waiting, horizontal now, sliding it toward a tie game and an explosion at the Joe.

Off the post.

And he got up limping slightly.

Cleary and Franzen had a good shift after a Torres turnover six and a half minutes in but they couldn't put the puck in the net. Chris Chelios laid a big hit on Sergei Samsonov at center ice at 7:28, drawing criticism in today's Edmonton Journal.

Yzerman, who had been fairly quiet most of the night, looked strong in the third as he tried to spark his team to make the comeback. It seemed to be working as the Wings' started to have good energy, but a Cleary penalty at 10:08 killed it. The penalty was pretty easily killed off by the Wings, who had a nice scoring opportunity when Henrik Zetterberg intercepted a pass at the blueline and took it the other way. Marc-Andre Bergeron got back in time to force a weak backhand shot, however, and Roloson had a pretty easy save. It looked like Bergeron threw his stick but the refs didn't call anything. As the period progressed, the Wings got chances but just couldn't finish on them. The Oilers did a very good job of shutting the game down as time started to run out, forcing the Wings to continually take outside shots. Babcock called a timeout with 1:05 left or so but it didn't result in anything. Legace was pulled with 50 seconds left but Edmonton just scored an empty net goal as the Wings had trouble even gaining the zone, despite having an extra man. Not a very impressive finish for the Wings. Edmonton controls this series, folks. They nearly won Friday night by dictating their terms to the Wings and did it again yesterday, coming out on top as a result. The Wings need to find a way to beat the trap and they need to do it soon. I would love to see some more crashing the net but I'm afraid they don't have the size to do it. They certainly don't have the toughness. Maybe they ought to call up Don MacLean again, if that's even possible. The Griffins need him but the Wings could use his size. Also, the consensus seems to be that the Wings ought to dress Cory Cross tomorrow night. I agree. Lebda brings energy but he also brings rookie mistakes and the Wings need to be able to match up better physically with Edmonton at the moment. Cory would be fired up to play in the playoffs in Edmonton, I'm sure. Chris Pronger has been great for Edmonton, which is very disconcerting. I keep expecting a meltdown and keep getting disappointed. He seems to be a man on a mission and is causing a lot of trouble. They need to get under his skin more. Of course, this loss means the Wings no longer have home ice advantage in this series. Maybe that shouldn't be worrisome. They've been good on the road all year but will they be now? I sure hope so. If they lose tomorrow, the series is essentially over. If they win, and in convincing fashion, they ought to be able to salvage it. The offense needs to perform. That's it. Abel to Yzerman summary


At 4/23/2006 10:30:00 PM, Blogger Brian List said...

Among the obvious reasons to be disappointed, it really bothered me that the Wings didn't even generate much of a rally in the final minutes. They couldn't even keep the puck in the Edmonton zone long enough to stage a meaningful comeback. All attempts were weak, bad angle shots and it just was a bad way to go down at home.

At 4/24/2006 12:00:00 AM, Anonymous megan said...

I have a crazy idea for game three. How about the Wings show up for the second period? Just a thought.

At 4/24/2006 12:34:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the Wings really lacked on the Power Play. Usually, they control at least 1:30 of puck control. Their powerplay was pretty sloppy today, and it didn't look like they had control at all.

I also thought the Oiler's defense was very tight and physical. I think it started with that hit on Datsyuk. In game 3, the Wings need to focus on their powerplay and puck control, and maybe step up the physical aspect as well.


At 4/24/2006 03:55:00 PM, Anonymous megan said...

For the Oilers win, you really have to give credit to MacTavish. He was a genius. He played the trap most of the time, and when he pulled his team off the trap, they scored. It was a wonderfully played game by Edm, though the did benefit from some lucky bounces--as did the Wings. I think the one thing that put Edm above Det in this game was the ability to take advantage of defensive mistakes and Det's defensive zone turnovers. Edm had turnovers, as well, but the Wings couldn't seem to take advantage. Our guys need to be quicker to the puck.

At 4/24/2006 06:09:00 PM, Anonymous Jules said...

Gosh Matt, you do know it's a best of seven, not three, right? The series is only 1-1 and you're already talking like we've lost. We have to win "convincingly" to even have a chance to "salvage" the series? Talk about your pessimism. Going down 2-1 is hardly the end of a series. Disheartening, yes and concernful of course, but not the final nail in the coffin. We've come back from worse before and I have no doubt we could do it again if need be. It's not over til it's over.

That said...Wings in 5

At 4/24/2006 06:35:00 PM, Anonymous iwocpo said...

Whew Matt...over tomorrow if they lose? Nah. I expect them to split in Edmonton and head back to Detroit 2-2. Wings win game 5, then 6 in Edmonton and on we go.

At 4/24/2006 06:59:00 PM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

Bill, a 2-2 split is likely, I think. I think they'll win tomorrow night. I've got faith in the team. I was just expressing a concern about what could happen if they aren't on their toes.

Maybe I overstated my point, which was just that Game 3 is important. A Red Wing loss in Game 3 suits the Oilers just fine because they've shown they are more than capable of shutting the Wings down with that trap. I don't relish the thought of the Wings going into Game 4 down 2-1 with MacTavish running a neutral zone trap and the Wings relying purely on lucky goals.

If they win tomorrow and lose Thursday, I'm not worried. If they lose tomorrow, though, I'll be worried.

That doesn't mean I think they will lose. Sheesh.

At 4/24/2006 07:32:00 PM, Anonymous iwocpo said...

Actually, because my pain isn't complete yet, I think they'll lose tomorrow then blow them out Thursday.

At 4/24/2006 08:04:00 PM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

Yeah, Bill, that'd be about how'd they do it, wouldn't it? Keeps us fans on our toes...

At 4/25/2006 05:28:00 AM, Blogger James Mirtle said...

A Pronger elbow to the face? No, no that was a thing of beauty what Pronger did on that play. It's not his fault he's about four times as strong as Williams and can one-arm him off the puck.

At 4/25/2006 05:48:00 AM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

James, it's kind of hard for me to admire Pronger's strong play when it's making things so difficult for my team!


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