Three Questions: Wings-Canucks
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' 20th game
Mikael Samuelsson scored the game’s first goal, but credit goes to coach Mike Babcock, who watched his breakout plan work to perfection. It all started with the crucial face-off win by Henrik Zetterberg, who got it into the rigt corner. Brett Lebda picked up the puck, and flung it around the boards to Johan Franzen, who was standing at the hash marks on the left boards. Franzen sacrificed himself, taking a hit so that he could tap the puck back to Zetterberg, who had curled around the Detroit end. Zetterberg found the other defenseman, Andreas Lilja, breaking up the right side of the ice. Then Lilja made a superb pass to winger Mikael Samuelsson, hitting him in stride inside the Vancouver blue line. Samuelsson made no mistake finishing off the play, sniping a backhand over goaltender Curtis Sanford’s shoulder. ‘Sami’ shows up on the score sheet, but the goal really ought to go to the guy diagramming the plays behind the bench. It’s always good to see a designated play work to perfection.
What was the main storyline Monday night?
Goaltending. It was a well-fought battle between the masked men late Monday night, in a game where goaltending was the main focus even before the puck dropped. It was announced earlier today that Vancouver’s workhorse goaltender Roberto Luongo would be ‘week-to-week’ after injuring his groin in the Canucks’ previous game. Sanford was in as backup, and he turned away 32 shots in the Vancouver win.
But it was Chris Osgood who stole the show, repeatedly turning away Vancouver scoring opportunities throughout the contest. A personal battle between Osgood and Daniel Sedin flourished during the game, with Osgood finding way after way to keep him off the score sheet for as long as he could. In the save of the game, Osgood nearly got beat by Sedin in the third period. Sedin came down the left wing boards, and Osgood came out to challenge. The twin of Henrik waited him out, however, and swung wide to find an empty net. Osgood had other ideas in mind, and reached his stick back, and basically backhanded the puck enough to change its trajectory so Brian Rafalski could field the puck out of harm’s way.
Who played the ‘warrior’ role best Monday night?
Due to injuries, Derek Meech has been thrust into a spot he’s not normally found in – skating as a forward. Meech has played up front the last two games, and he looked good in his limited role Monday night. He skated for 6:26, and in that time frame had two hits and three shots on goal. Meech showed off his toughness in the corners all game, fighting hard on the forecheck and creating opportunities with his hustle down low.