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Quick on the draw

Winning face-offs was a big factor in the Wings' Game 1 dominance

Friday, 05.9.2008 / 3:14 PM ET / News
By Lindsey Ungar  - DetroitRedWings.com Special Writer
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Quick on the draw
Darren Helm (43) and the other Red Wings' centers won 63 percent of the face-off draws against Dallas in Game 1.
DETROIT — In Game 1 Detroit was dominant in every zone, which helped the Red Wings dominate the scoresheet.

But the puck-control game looked easy because Detroit was extremely over-powering in one category — faceoffs. The Red Wings’ centermen won 63 percent of Thursday's draws.

“I think we had a good two or three shifts to start the game, and then the ice got tilted the other way,” Stars forward Brendan Morrow said. “We were chasing it. They were doing a good job putting the pucks in there and chasing it down.”

While the home team’s centerman has the advantage of putting his stick down last in the playoff circle, the run-and-chase game the Stars were forced into helped the Red Wings draw four obstruction-type penalties in the first period alone. And that resulted in a 2-0 lead for the Wings.

While stats can often be misleading, the Stars’ top three centers were atrocious, even if the numbers were exaggerated for Brad Richards (29 percent), Mike Ribeiro (33 percent) and Mike Modano (30 percent).

“They have good faceoff people, so I don’t expect that to continue,” said Babcock, who insists on keeping his own face-off statistics. “And yet it’s something we take a lot of pride in. I think we were best in the league this year, and want to continue to do that. They have real good players down the middle. I don’t know of any team that can go one-two-three like they can.”

Coming into Game 1, Dallas had lost the faceoff battle in half of its 12 playoff games — but always by slim margins. Thursday night was the first time Dallas dropped below 40 percent as a team this postseason.

Stars coach Dave Tippett blamed the disparity on a lack of focus, especially early in the game.

“Things that (are successful) when you’re engaged in a game and doing things at a top level,” Tippett said. “We didn’t have enough people at that level.”

But Detroit’s success in the faceoff circle can’t completely be blamed on Dallas’ bad faceoff outing.

“We like ours (centermen), too,” Babcock said. “We don’t think we’re any slouch there.”

Detroit’s third goal was the clearest indication of its strength, and showed how wins and losses in the faceoff circle are important to a team's overall success.

On the power play, Henrik Zetterberg lost the draw cleanly to Stars center Steve Ott. But Tomas Holmstrom gobbled the puck up behind Ott before his teammate could. The Wings worked the play around the perimeter until Holmstrom deflected Nicklas Lidstrom’s shot past Stars goalie Marty Turco.

But it all starts with Detroit’s centermen — Kris Draper, Henrik Zetterberg, Valtteri Filppula and rookie Darren Helm.

Draper leads the league, winning draws at a blistering 62.2 percent. And Helm, who was inserted into the lineup in Game 5 against Nashville, hasn’t missed a beat, either.

“The play of Helm has really solidified our middle,” Babcock said. “He’s just so quick. So you add him with the quickness of Draper and Filppula and you can flat out fly. And Z’s not bad, either.”

Can that dominance continue?

“Tomorrow will be a different game,” Babcock said. “We understand that totally. And you gotta get prepared and focused.”

Especially inside the circles.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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