Thursday, April 12, 2007

Red Wings vs. Flames: Game 1 Recap

Now this is what a 1 seed vs. 8 seed matchup is supposed to look like. The Wings dominated the Calgary Flames, winning 4-1, outshooting the Flames 46-20, and holding Calgary superstar Jarome Iginla to zero shots on goal. A few random thoughts on the game:
  • The Wings' forwards really stepped up their play physically. The big concern going into this game was whether the Flames would rough up Detroit's diminuative forwards with Todd Bertuzzi day-to-day with a concussion. Dan Cleary and Johan Franzen stood out to me as a couple guys who got very aggressive on the forecheck, and Franzen had maybe the best hit of the entire game in the second period, laying out a Calgary forward in the open ice. All of the Wings' forwards were very good at initiating contact, instead of allowing the Flames' big defensemen push them around.
  • Consider the playoff monkey firmly off Pavel Datsyuk's back. Coming into this year's playoffs, Datsyuk had not scored a goal since Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Tonight he played like a man possessed, coming out strong from the beginning and nearly scoring a couple times before he took a Tomas Holmstrom pass on a 2-on-1 break and slipped the puck between Mikka Kiprusoff's legs 6:56 into the second period. Datsyuk added an assist on Mathieu Schneider's goal 3 minutes later.
  • The Wings' defensemen did an incredible job of jumping into the play on offense and creating scoring chances. Valtteri Filppula's first period goal was set up by Brett Lebda, who jumped into an odd-man rush before dropping the puck off to Franzen, who found Filppula for a one-timer wrist shot that beat Kiprusoff. Niklas Lidstrom scored a power play goal in the first when he snuck into the slot and knocked in a feed from Jiri Hudler. Schneider's aforementioned goal occurred when he moved into the slot and nailed a slapshot past a Tomas Holmstrom screen. Detroit's D knew when to be aggressive and step into the play, and they created 3 of the 4 Red Wing goals.
  • It is going to be tough to decide which forward to scratch when Bertuzzi returns to the lineup. It appears like it is going to come down to Hudler and Filppula, who both notched points today. I would vouch for scratching Hudler, as Filppula has shown a pretty good scoring touch and also can contribute on the penalty kill and the forecheck. Both played very well tonight, and it is tough to lose with either of them playing on your fourth line.
  • Referee Michael McGeough is a dead ringer for Barney Rubble.
This may have been the best start the Red Wings could have asked for. Hasek looked sharp, the Wings out-hit, out-shot, and out-played the Flames, and Datsyuk netted a goal before his scoreless streak could become a distraction. I doubt the rest of the series will go quite this well, as Calgary plays much better at home than they do on the road, but it was still a great start to what should be a deep run into the playoffs.

No comments: