Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wings Powerplay Erupts in Blowout Win over Flyers

It was coming.  Everyone knew it, especially the Detroit Red Wings: It was only a matter of time.

Detroit saw its PP units finally get rewarded for some very good work last night as the Red Wings netted their first 3 goals of the game on the man-advantage, snapping a torturous 0-10 drought, to carry them to a 5-2 victory over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers.  Todd Bertuzzi got things going with the opening tally and the Wings really never looked back, with the Flyers never able to pull even with Detroit for the rest of the contest.

Niklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk got the next 2 goals for the Red Wings, followed by a pair from captain Henrik Zetterberg.  Hank's first goal was the only even-strength tally for the Wings, while the finishing blow was lobbed lightly into an empty Philly net after goalie Ray Emery had gone off for the extra skater.  Flyers goals from Erik Gustafsson and Tye McGinn kept the score somewhat close, but Detroit would not be denied on the night their powerplay found life.

Overall, Detroit did a much better job of playing a hard, assertive, and FULL 60 minutes of hockey, making it very difficult for Philadelphia to generate any consistent offensive threat.  There was one small gap of time where, after the Flyers scored their second goal, the Wings seemed to devolve down to a stuttering mess, similar to how they looked in the previous two games: started turning pucks over, chasing guys instead of playing their position, and generally looking like they had completely forgotten what to do out on the ice.  Thankfully, Detroit recovered their composure and locked the game down from that point forward.

The lineup changes and line shuffles by coach Mike Babcock seemed to pay some dividends, with his use of rookie Luke Glendenning in the 4th line center position, and switching in Brian Lashoff for the reeling and deservedly scratched Brendan Smith.  Justin Abdelkader saw himself on the 2nd line while Daniel Alfredsson was demoted to the 3rd line, making way for Todd Bertuzzi to play with Datsyuk and Zetterberg on the top line.  All parties seemed to benefit from these changes, except of course for Johan Franzen, who seems to still refuse to fully engage in the play.  I vividly recall a moment in the game where he and Stephen Weiss were coming through the neutral zone. Weiss dumped the puck in on Franzen's side and Mule responds by...peeling off back into the neutral zone.  Perhaps I just missed the memo where Mule is now allowed to opt out of forechecking when he feels like it.

My frustration with Franzen is enough for a novel, let alone it's own article here.  I won't get fully into it now, but this man has become something BEYOND streaky: he's flighty.  Mule only seems interested when he wants to be, and that doesn't seem to happen very damned often nowaday.  The Law of Averages suggests that while the sum of one's attempts at any action should, on average, come out around 50/50 if there are only two possible outcomes; however, it ALSO suggests that each individual attempt still only has that 50/50 chance of success.  So every time Mule gets the puck, the two outcomes are that he either makes a play that results in a goal--be it his own shot or a pass resulting in an assist--or he doesn't.

We're 5 games in, Franzen has 2 assists.  He has 13 shots...only 13, over 5 games.  Henrik Zetterberg has 27 shots, literally more than double, also having buried 4 of those shots in the net.  Yes, Franzen doesn't make Zetterberg money, but with the effort he puts in, he's lucky he makes ANY money.

Alright, enough, time to close this out before it DOES become a Mule article.  Overall, a much improved game from Detroit last night, who rest up today for a rematch against Boston on Monday.  Up here in Canada, this is going to be my Thanksgiving day game, so I'm expecting good things from the Wings.

Until then, stay cool Hockeytown!