Three Questions: Wings-Ducks
DRW.com analyzes Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals
Captain Nicklas Lidstrom stole the show in Game 1 Friday night at Joe Louis Arena. The Wings’ all-star defenseman took care of the defense AND the scoring as he led the Wings to a 3-2 win. With 50 seconds remaining, Lidstrom fired a slapshot towards the Anaheim goal, and raced towards the slot. Picking up his own rebound, Lidstrom beat goaltender Jonas Hiller five-hole to give the Wings the lead.
It was Lidstrom’s second goal of the night. The Wings’ captain scored at 14:24 of the second period, firing in a power-play goal to give Detroit a 2-1 lead at the time. Lidstrom also picked up the primary assist on Johan Franzen’s goal in the first period, as Franzen rushed up the right-wing boards and beat Hiller in close.
On top of his scoring, Lidstrom was his usual self on the defensive side of the win. He played for 27:15, three minutes of ice-time more then any other Red Wing, and second only to Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf (27:55) for the game. Lidstrom was plus-one, and he picked up four shots on the night. Even more impressive was that Lidstrom did all this without his usual defensive partner, as Brian Rafalski missed Game 1 with an upper-body injury.
What happened to Jiri Hudler?
Roughly halfway through the first period, Jiri Hudler got hit by Anaheim’s Mike Brown behind the play at the Detroit blue line. Brown hit Hudler up high, and Hudler was bleeding and lying on the ice afterwards. The officials gave Brown a five-minute major for interference, and a game misconduct. Franzen scored on the power play, and it was a big momentum swing for the Wings. Hudler was OK, he returned to the ice for the second period.
The hit on Hudler was one of many physical moments of Game 1. The match-up was littered with face-washes and scrums in front of both goals, and hits were flying left and right. It was expected; the Ducks are known as one of the more physical teams in the NHL. In the regular season, the Ducks led the way with 82 five-minute major penalties called, and the Red Wings were last with 12. But the Wings didn’t shy away from the rough stuff Friday night, leading the game in hits 36-24. And Jonathan Ericsson dropped the gloves with the Ducks’ Corey Perry, landing a few punches, and hauling him to the ground.
What was the key to Game 1?
With all the rough play throughout the contest, Game 1 was decided by the special teams’ play. The Wings had 10:47 worth of five-on-three advantages, and they scored two goals on six chances. The Ducks picked up a power-play goal of their own, but it came on a rare four-on-three opportunity. The Wings utilized the special teams as momentum changers, especially when Franzen scored on the five-minute major issued to Brown in the first. Anaheim came out flying in the first, and had picked up the early lead. Franzen brought the Wings, and the Joe Louis Arena crowd, right back into the game with the power-play marker. Most importantly, however, was that the Wings didn’t give the Ducks any chances on the power play late; the Wings stayed out of the box for the entire third period.