Saturday, April 28, 2007

Red Wings vs. Sharks: Game 2 Recap

Detroit overcame an early 2-0 deficit to beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on a Pavel Datsyuk goal with 1:24 remaining in the third period. San Jose scored twice in the first 4:17 of the game. Jonathan Cheechoo (bless you!) scored 36 seconds into the game after a Detroit turnover led to a Kyle McLaren point shot, which Cheechoo deflected past Dominik Hasek. Three minutes later, Hasek played a puck behind the net directly to Milan Michalek, and Joe Thornton one-timed Michalek's pass into the open net to give San Jose a 2-0 lead.

However, Detroit controlled the play from that point on. Henrik Zetterburg scored on an innocent looking shot from the side boards that deflected off a Sharks defenseman and past Evgeni Nabokov. Early in the third, with Detroit shorthanded, Dan Cleary forced a turnover in the San Jose zone and beat Nabokov with a slap shot to tie the game at 2. Then, with under 2 minutes remaining, Mikael Samuelsson took a slapshot from the left circle and Nabokov could not control the rebound, allowing Datsyuk to work the puck around the Sharks goalie and send in the winning goal.

Some thoughts:
  • Detroit did a great job of playing physical with the Sharks all game. They may be much bigger than us, but the final hit tally was 23-23. There were very few plays where we were knocked completely off the puck by San Jose (one being the first goal; Joe Thornton shielded Danny Markov from the puck before passing it to McLaren). Datsyuk is doing a great job of neutralizing San Jose's size advantage with his incredible stickwork. He comes out of corners with the puck much more than he should because of his ability to find the puck and maneuver it to himself without getting hit. Detroit also had the two biggest hits of the game, with Andreas Lilja annihilating some pour soul (couldn't see the name, as the crowd was in the way) as he crossed the blue line and Johan Franzen decking Cheechoo in the third (Franzen was called for interference, but he thought Cheechoo was going to have the puck).
  • Hasek is a disaster with the puck. The NBC commentators were openly mocking his puck handling skills, and his lack of awareness led directly to San Jose's second goal. He has been fantastic in the net during the playoffs, but between the flopping and turnovers it seems like he sometimes doesn't have his head in the game. I doubt he's going to change his ways at the age of 42, but hopefully the coaching staff will at least try to get him to be a little more conservative away from the net.
  • All of the Wings have to be more careful with the puck in the defensive zone. Maltby's attempted outlet pass to Cleary led to the Shark's first goal. Lilja had six giveaways on the game. Lidstrom and Chelios both had outlet passes stolen as well, and both led to good scoring chances for San Jose. With the Sharks choosing not to forecheck as much, and try to trap Detroit in the neutral zone, the defense has to be more careful moving the puck up the ice.
  • Cleary has been playing remarkably well all over the ice. On top of the shorthanded goal, he also registered 4 shots, dished out 3 hits, was on both the second power play and penalty kill units, and even won the only faceoff he took. He is quickly becoming a fan favorite because of his effort during these playoffs, and has made a huge difference in both series so far.
The series now moves to San Jose for game 3 on Monday. Detroit needs to steal at least one of the next two games on the road to have a decent shot at taking the series. No word yet on Holmstrom or Lebda's injury status, but getting Homer back at the very least would be a welcome boost to Detroit's offense.

No comments: