Friday, April 23, 2010

Patient Red Wings Pound Pups, Take Game 5 in Phoenix

"All I'm saying is if I got a skate blade on my thigh looking like Cpt. Morgan, I'm being interfered with..!" - The Geek

Detroit came into Phoenix facing a strange situation: the Wings were playing Game 5, and it was not in their own building. Not since 1966 have the Red Wings won a road Game 5, but thanks to another outstanding performance by Jimmy Howard and timely offense from the top lines, my main man included, Detroit exploded for three goals in the third period to snatch the 5th game of this series away from the Coyotes by a score of 4-1.

I'm going to get this out of the way right now, as I'm still conversing about it as I write this and tweet simultaneously: That Jovo goal...this is why people have no confidence in the NHL officials anymore. Hi, your skate blade is about 5 inches from giving me a vasectomy, and that's not someone being interfered with?? Not that it mattered in the end, I know, but it's principal damnit!! Howard was sparkling all game long and it took a lumbering idiot stomping down on his leg to keep him from stopping the one puck that got in!!

As many said on Twitter tonight while this was going on, there's not a person living who knows hockey that can say that, had that been Tomas Holmstrom, the goal would have been reviewed, called back, and homer would be sitting in the sin bin. No contest. Had to try and keep the game interesting, didn't we Gary...?

Anyway, putting away the tinfoil hat for a sec to go over The Geek's Winning Formula!!

1.) Solid Special Teams - Mmm...we were close...! The PK units definitely passed here, as they kept Detroit in the game. We're still taking waaay too many penalties for the playoffs, and at agonizingly horrible times!! It's bad enough to give a team the man-up, but to do it late in a game with a chance to take the lead?? Discipline: we have it, we use it, but we don't maintain it. If pressured, the Wings have a penchant for getting lazy and that leads to hooks and holds and trips and...yeah, you see what I mean. PP units got to take it easy in this one but I'm still going to rip on their ineffectiveness, especially after their recent success! The cup-winning Wings squads have all had something we've yet to see fully on this year's roster: consistency. Once we see that, we'll be fine all the way to the finals.

2.) Don't Get Cocky - I definitely think Detroit passed this criteria. the Red wings could have swaggered in, but instead laid low, watching the Coyotes carefully and picking them apart piece by piece, looking for chances and exploiting them. The Wings, whether by intent or not, let the game lull its way into the third, then blasted awake from out of nowhere for a 3 goal barrage!! One has to keep their eyes peeled for opportunities, and the Red Wings did just that. Even with a 2 and 3 goal lead, Detroit never slowed, even looking for an extra goal on the very late powerplay that closed out the game. That's the kind of hunger that drives you through playoff rounds.

3.) Control the Face-offs - Oi...I'm thinking Detroit would have a much easier time of it if they really say down and worked on this. Yet again, we saw the Red Wings decimated at the dots: 25 won, 29 lost, many wins late in the game, 38% in the 1st period alone!! This is not how a team that prides itself on puck-possession should be conducting itself at the face-off!! Also, we again saw Detroit losing a lot of the critical face-offs: draws in the offensive zone, draws on the PK, on the PP. It's not the even-strength draws that kill you, it's the ones that mean something! How many goals would Detroit have had on the PP had the centers won some of those face-offs and got a quick setup?? Phoenix has been very generous in not making us pay for this, but we only get Phoenix for two more games, maximum. Round 2 would be a whole new monster, and whoever it is could very well punish Detroit for losing as many draws as they are currently.

With just one more win, the Red Wings can advance to Round 2 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This series with Phoenix is just what Detroit needed early: a tough series to keep them honest and not let them become complacent. All credit in the world to the Coyotes for a hard-fought series, but I wanna see some Coyotes get kicked around one last time, then leave Phoenix as nothing more than dust in the wind...

Until Game 6, Wingnuts!! Let's Go Red Wings!!!

Preview: Wings @ Coyotes, Round 1 Game 5

"Special teams has been a big part of our success as of late. Strong special teams can win you a series or win you a game at the right moment." - Defenseman/Captain Nicklas Lidstrom"

The Red Wings will need to keep their Captain's words in mind as they suit up to battle Phoenix tonight when Game 5 of this Wings/Coyotes series gets underway. The Coyotes have already made their statement that they will be trying to press for improvement in their special teams, particularly the powerplay. I say let them, as long as we stay disciplined and don't take stupid penalties, they won't get a chance to capitalize. On the other side, Detroit is finally seeing some success on the man-advantage and I really want to see that continue. I'm sure this is big news to everyone.

Humor/sarcasm aside, let's recalculate The Geek's Winning Formula!!

1.) Solid Special Teams - As mentioned above, this will be key. Do not give Phoenix PP chances and cash in when they give the chances to Detroit. The Wings are 4 for 11 on the powerplay from Game 2 onward, much improved from the regular season stats. The PK has gotten its engine running again, yes, but let's not push luck any harder than we have to, eh? Detroit has gotten into the right rhythm to hold down the Coyotes during even-strength play, so this factor could tip the scales in one team's favor.

2.) Don't Get Cocky - The Wings are bad for this, we all know it, but we can't afford for Detroit to ease itself into this game. We need full throttle from the get-go and no letting up on a hungry Phoenix team that will make Detroit pay for taking the skate blade off their throat. Last game was the only real blowout game on the scoresheet, but the match was much closer than the boxscore would lead you to believe: the Wings fought for and earned that win, and will need that same grit two more times to get through this series.

3.) Control the Face-offs - This was the biggest concern after Game 4. Detroit did manage to pull even with Phoenix by the end of the game, but for a long stretch of Game 4, Detroit was being badly beaten at the dots. This is not something a puck-possession team should be allowing, as it prevents Detroit from possessing the puck. Call it a cardinal sin of puck-possession, call it bad luck. Whatever you want to call it, we need to make sure it doesn't happen again, because the Hockey Gods may not be wearing the Winged Wheel this time around and may just make the Wings pay for losing key draws in the face-off circle.

I'm not sure what my plans are for tonight. May be home, may be at a friend's place, might even be out at the sports bar begging the management to put the Wings game on. Hopefully you'll see me on Twitter though!

Till then, Wingnuts!! Let's Go Red Wings!!!