Sacrifice is big part of Wings' game plan
White misses Saturday's practice, but won't miss Game 3
|Ian White has helped the Wings' penalty kill hold Nashville scoreless on 12 power play attempts in their Western Conference quarterfinal series. (Photo by Getty Images)|
Though Ian White could get his left skate on Saturday morning, he claimed that he would be fine when the Western Conference quarterfinal shifts to Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena for Game 3 at noon Sunday.
“No, I’ve been hit in the foot by a puck many times, so I was pretty sure it wasn’t broken,” said White, who was injured late in the second period of Friday’s 3-2 win. “It was just one of those things that when you take a puck in the foot it’s gonna hurt.”
Unlike Lidstrom, who was hurt by a shot rimmed around the boards in late February – and still isn’t well enough to play on the penalty kill – White stepped in front a thunderous one-timer by Predators defenseman Roman Josi with 6:01 left in the second period Friday.
White finished the game, but at the time he wanted to head to the bench, but couldn’t. Unfortunately, as the Wings cleared the zone, the Predators transitioned quickly, forcing White back into position.
“We were out there killing for a while,” he said, “and you take that puck in the foot and you’re already tired and you can’t skate and you have to go battle some more, but that’s how it goes.”
White did not have X-rays of his foot, saying, “I’ve been hit in the foot by a puck many times, so I was pretty sure it wasn’t broken. It was just one of those things that when you take a puck in the foot it’s gonna hurt.”
White’s determination Friday is just a microcosm of how the Wings’ defense, particularly their stingy penalty kill has been through the first two games of the series against the league’s top power play this season.
While the PK has been impressive and the Wings have stymied the Predators’ power play on all 12 opportunities in the series, Detroit last surrendered a power-play goal on March 24 against Carolina. And while that was 10 games ago, the PK is two men down – literally – with the loss of Darren Helm (lacerated forearm) for the rest of the postseason, and Nicklas Lidstrom, whose right ankle still isn’t well-enough for him to help out on the PK.
Still, guys have picked up the intensity, sacrificing their bodies, blocking shots and goalie Jimmy Howard has stopped all 12 shots that the Predators have shot at him on the power play.
“We’ve just done a great job taking away passing lanes and blocking shots, just working hard out there,” Howard said. “I really think sacrificing the body and blocking shots has been key, guys are putting their body out there and it’s not easy to step in front of Shea Weber’s shot, but guys are doing it.”
In Game 2, the Wings blocked 16 shots, including four each by defenseman Brad Stuart and forward Valtteri Filppula. Detroit also blocked 10 shots in Game 1.
“They’re playing a good PK, they’re blocking shots, and the goalie is playing well,” Nashville forward Alexander Radulov said. “We just have to keep working and make things happen. We just have to shoot more. … We had a lot of chances, we just didn’t bury it. There were empty
nets we missed and some rebounds. Their goalie played well. Like I said, we just have to battle through it.”
The Wings’ PK was pretty successful against the Predators during the regular-season, just allowing three goals on 17 chances. But coach Mike Babcock attributes his team’s PK success early in this season to early March when Andrei Kostitsyn scored a pair of power-play goals in a Predators’ win.
“I really think number one is their power play went 17 percent against us all year,” Babcock said. “They scored two goals in one game where we got real smart as coaches and we told them we weren’t going to pressure them from the top down and we were going to cut off Weber and we dug it out of our net twice, so coaches were minus-2 that night
“Other than that we’ve had pretty good success against them. To me if you’re aggressive you have a great chance to kill and if you’re real patient and stand on the inside especially with a guy like Weber with a bomb like that they’re going to get to you.”
Weber had two of his five shots blocked in Game 2.
“I think we’re putting a lot of pressure on them and not giving them a lot of time to set-up and make plays,” said White, whose second career playoff goal gave the Wings an early lead Friday. "And Howie’s made some very big plays and guys have stepped up and that’s what you need at this time of the season.”
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