This playoff-intensity game was a defensive battle from the get-go, though not as boring as some we’ve seen this season. Both teams grinded away at one another, clearing pucks away from their goaltenders, who both played great. Danny DeKeyser was a big difference-maker in the first period with his strong defending, especially a great one-on-one with St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko. The shots in the period would end with an 11-7 edge in shots for the Blues.
The second period was just as tight as the first. Few penalties, with some choice scoring chances for both sides. The scoring wouldn’t be opened until 16:28 of the period, as a big scrum in front of Jimmy Howard saw him get knocked down and shoved into the net, and Chris Porter tapped in St. Louis’ first of the game in all the confusion. The shot totals at the end of the period would flip-flop in favor of Detroit, 20-19.
The third period was a flurry of joke-penalties that easily changed the flow of the game in the remaining few minutes. Henrik Zetterberg took a roughing penalty against David Perron, who was laying on the ice holding Zetterberg’s stick so that he couldn’t get out of the zone. He tried furiously to pull his stick out, and in the process took the roughing call as Perron took a holding the stick call. During the course of the 4-on-4, Niklas Kronwall was called for an illegal puck movement as he covered the puck with his hand and took the penalty for it, putting them on a 4-on-3, and eliminating almost any chance of offense for the Red Wings in the last 2 minutes of the game. St. Louis would take the game 1-0.
The Good: DeKeyser and Howard continue to impress. That one-on-one move on Tarasenko, and his strong play on the penalty kill gives me a really good feeling about his future with the team.
The Bad: While their defensive pressure was good, the Red Wings’ aggressiveness in this game was lacking. You need to grind and pressure if you hope to make opportunities like drawn penalties. And their net-front presence this game was almost non-existent.
The Ugly: The inconsistency in their power play in crucial games is bordering on pathetic. You can’t ice the puck that often, and you can’t allow yourself to be batted out of the offensive zone before you even gain entry. If they can’t produce in these high-intensity games, then they stand no chance in the playoffs, if they even make it at this point.
The Red Wings get a long 3 nights off before hosting the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. With the defensive-trap style the Sharks like to put on the Wings, their offense will need to be firing on all cylinders. Let’s hope all of their top forwards, including Brunner, are back with their A-game.