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Friday, May 9

Dazed and Confused in D-Town

I was reluctant to write a series preview on this thing yesterday because I feared what I would find and would then have to predict.

The Wings are an excellent team that are clicking on all cylinders right now, and the Stars are going to have the toughest of times advancing through this round. After losing 4-1 yesterday they're chasing the series early now, and will have that much more pressure put on themselves as they now have to win 4 of the next 6 in order to advance.

At the end of the Sharks series, I described the three types of goals that can get by a goaltender:
-impossible to stop (deflections, cross ice defensive breakdowns)
-goalscorer's goals (breakaways or otherwise uncontested shots that are placed perfectly)
-everything else (aka soft goals)

So lets review the goals shall we?

The early Detroit goal featured Turco getting beaten twice from the blueline past a screen in front of the net with the Wings on the power play. Lidstrom initially beats Turco with a slapper that ricochets off of the bottom of the far post and back out into the slot, where Rafalski grabs it, sideskates two steps and then beats him again, this time elevating over the pads.

Its a generally ugly sequence for the Stars D in general and the goalie in particular. The refs called the game tight, but as usual they were zoned in on hooking and tripping and not crosschecking and roughing (though Fistric did get nailed with a weak roughing call that set up this power play). How do you prevent this goal? Clean up the front of the net, and let Marty see the puck. He was completely screened, but at the same time played off of his fundamentals and was in no position to stop the second shot.

The second powerplay goal was set up just like so many the Wings have cashed in on this year. Versus actually did a cool package where they showed three separate goals that looked exactly like the one that Franzen scored. A wing skates to the middle of the blue line and fires it up and off of Franzen's stick. Goalie has no chance.

You'll see a few great Turco moments in between the second and third goals. Turco had great moments in this game, but was not consistently great, and his team couldn't bail him out with scoring.

The third powerplay goal was the same story over again. Defenseman (this time Lidstrom) firing from distance through a screen/tip at the lip of the goal (Holmstrom). Anaheim only had Pronger going to the front of the net and the Stars dealt with him well. Detroit has everyone going there though, and they're getting there unmolested. The replay showed the puck careening off of Holmstrom's shoulder and over Turco, who was right up on him. No chance for the goalie on that one either.

That one was the backbreaker, but then there was insult to injury as Filppula walked in all alone and put one past Turco. I'd love to call this one the "goalscorer's goal" type tally, but really Marty didn't challenge him, sunk back into his net, and didn't give himself a chance to make a save there. That one has to be called a softy.

And that was all she wrote. Morrow got his goal and continues his hot streak, but there are deeper things wrong with this team right now.

The Wings at times looked as though they were reading the Stars playbook. When the Stars would get the puck down low and try to cycle, the Wings would just jump into the passing lanes and casually pick up the puck and skate it out. The Stars couldn't get through the neutral zone, couldn't generate shots, and couldn't stop giving up breakaways.

What needs to get better in game 2?
  • Prison rules in front of the net please. The refs aren't calling crosschecking in the playoffs, so make any Wing withing coughing distance of Turco pay for admission. This single element is a major key to much of the Wings' scoring abilities, and should be prioritized
  • Stay physical, but don't be stupid. A physical forecheck is going to be the best way to generate offense, but the Stars can't get out of position looking for hits or else this series will look like Stars/Ducks but in reverse. Miettenen has been hitting more in the playoffs, which has been earning him ice time. Ott, and Norstrom need to follow that trend as well.
  • Don't take penalties. Specifically, don't put the stick near the belly button. You can't do much about tripping since the refs like to call dives, but at least don't hook.
  • Score on the power play.
That's a lot, and I'm not confident the Stars can win this series without some significant help from the Wings at this point. Their knob goes to eleven.

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