Everyone take a deep breath. Listen to some Pink Floyd, because they have some sage wisdom for breathing: “Breathe, breathe in the air. Don’t be afraid to care.”
It’s playoff hockey.
It was only Game One.
It’s not time to lose hope just yet. It’s not even time to go into a panic just yet. Not that fans seem to be freaking out…
Yes, the Detroit Red Wings team we saw playing last night was the team we saw playing for the majority of the season. Yes, they looked lethargic, half-assed, and not that coordinated after the first period. It was not as though they played a poor game against Anaheim Tuesday night.
There’s still far too many opportunities for this team to bounce back.
So what went wrong in Game One that the team can fix and work on in Game Two?
Firstly, the offense was not on fire like it had been in the previous four. Valtteri Filppula had an excellent chance a few minutes into the first period and could not lift the puck up over Jonas Hiller‘s pad. (This was a recurring problem for almost every other players. Let’s hope they worked on that in practice.)
I noticed halfway through the second that any time Pavel Datsyuk was on the ice, he had two guys covering him. While that means less room to move for Datsyuk, it also means an easier time of the third man being open for a quick blind pass, something Datsyuk is incredibly good at. And if that third man is Henrik Zetterberg, there’s magic in the air. Granted, Zetterberg was almost as covered as Datsyuk, so that would leave it up to Justin Abdelkader or Damien Brunner, depending on how Mike Babcock shuffles up the lines.
Stop with the attempt to get pretty goals. The ratio of shots to net per passes made is probably outstandingly aggravating, so I won’t even wager a guess. The power plays were a lot of passing, not a lot of shooting. The one goal the team did score was a Jakub Kindl shot from the hash marks that hit Dan Cleary, who was falling out front.
Pretty goals don’t count any more than dirty goals. The Red Wings have struggled with this concept all season. If pretty goals did count as, say, one and a half goals, the Red Wings may have had a better record than they did. Alas…that’s not how the game of hockey works.
Jimmy Howard, of course, was as stellar as ever. The first goal on San Jose’s power play he can’t be faulted for – he was screened the whole way. The second goal tipped in off of Niklas Kronwall‘s leg. He made ridiculous saves that kept the game tied or kept the Red Wings within one goal.
They key is to beat Hiller. It’s not impossible, despite what it seems to look like. He does not give a lot of quality chances, and that’s where the whole “stop trying to get a pretty goal” part comes into play again.
There are also many rumblings about the possible additions of Todd Bertuzzi and/or Mikael Samuelsson into the lineup to shake things up a bit. Fans might die of rage if Samuelsson is put in. Bertuzzi would have more of a mixed response. He might give the team some much-needed grit, but he could also not do much of anything because it’s been a while since his last game played.
That is to say, those are just rumblings. Nothing is set in stone, and Babcock probably won’t make any changes until after Game Two.
One game has been played. That’s not enough to warrant the end of the world. The Red Wings like to bounce back. Tonight’s game is the perfect opportunity to prove they can make it past this first round.