What looked like a walk in the park turned into a nail biter, but the Wings held on for victory to take a well-earned 2-0 lead in the series. Phoenix, who looked over-matched for the first two periods, got themselves back into the game with an opportunistic power play, aided by some friendly calls by the men in stripes.
Red Wings 4 Coyotes 3
Series: Wings up 2-0
Pavel Datsyuk, who willed the Wings to victory in Game 1, bettered his performance this afternoon. There is simply no way I could do justice to the game Datsyuk played today and ever hope to do it justice.
Every time you watch him play, you are left speechless.
The best I can do is this:
Did you see his assist on the Helm goal?
Did you see him snipe the first of the game again?
Did you see the way he dangled and made everybody out there look like they were playing at a different speed?
Games like that show why he really should be in the Hart trophy talk every single year, no matter what stats say. You can’t measure his effectiveness in simply goals, and assists. Plus/minus doesn’t tell you the whole tale. Takeaways gives you a small insight into how good he is at separating his man from the puck.
Impressive as his numbers always are, you can’t just look at a box score and tell what kind of game he had. You have to watch him to truly get the picture, and any time you watch the Red Wings play, he inevitably steals the show. You might not set out intending to specifically watch him on the ice, but sooner or later he is going to steal your attention away.
It might be an ankle-breaking deke. It might be a perfectly placed pass. It might be his hustle to snag another steal from an unsuspecting opponent. However he does it, Pavel Datsyuk is going to steal your attention, and your breath along with it.
It was one of the most impressive individual efforts I’ve ever seen from a player, on no less a stage than the Stanley Cup playoffs.
There were questions about who would step up in the absence of Henrik Zetterberg, the team’s points leader.
Pavel Datsyuk stood up and took the lead.
Then, just minutes into Game 2, Johan Franzen was awkwardly flung into the boards by Shane Doan, on a play that probably should have been called boarding. In all, Franzen needed 23 stitches, some band-aids and cotton up the nose to patch all the holes and stop the bleeding.
Again, Datsyuk took charge, proving his worth as both a player and a leader.
He figured into all four Red Wings goals, and very easily could have had several more if not for the very strong goaltending of Ilya Bryzgalov.
His play set the tone for the Red Wings who played as good an opening two periods as they have all year long.
Backed by the fantastic goaltending of Jimmy Howard, the Wings looked to cruise to an easy victory.
Not so fast, said the NHL. In a week that has already seen the NHL ban one of the longest traditions in NHL history (not that it stopped the octopi from flying), the men in charge of enforcing the rules of the game set out to make sure Phoenix had a chance to get back into it.
Again, the least penalized team in the league took far more penalties than they usually do, and this time the Coyotes powerplay made them pay, scoring three powerplay markers to close the gap to one goal.
In the end, the Wings held on for dear life and the Coyotes could not complete the comeback.
Heading to the desert now, don’t expect the Coyotes to play any less physically and border-line illegally than they have to this point. The Wings will need to match the effort they put on the ice tonight to escape Arizona with a series win.
Phoenix may have some injury issues of their own to address before Game 3. Ed Jovanovski, one of their top defenders, took a clean hit from Darren Helm, but left favoring his shoulder. Add that to arguably one of their top two defensive defenders in Derek Morris being out, and the Coyote blue line is in bad shape. The Wings need to continue to exploit their weakness to have success getting pucks on goal.
The Off Wing View’s Three Stars
3. Tomas Holmstrom GWG, 1A - Homer’s deflection of a Valtteri Filppula pass ended up standing for the game winner, when at the time it looked like it was just going to be insurance.
2. Shane Doan 2G, 1A - As much as Wings fans must hate him given his play in the last two games, and even last years series, he was easily Phoenix’s best player today.
1. Pavel Datsyuk 1G, 3A - Datsyuk was in a zone I have never really seen before. Like I said, unless you saw the game, you can’t begin to appreciate how well he played. First star by a mile today.