A win is a win, folks, no matter how ugly.
1. Landon Ferraro threw 2 hits in his first shift of his first NHL playoff game HITS; I’m glad he’s in the lineup, even if it’s just to bang around while Abdelkader recovers. He plays a lot bigger than his 6-foot-nothing frame suggests, which is exactly what the scrappy 4th line needed, with Glendening being under 6 feet, and Miller playing like he’s smaller than he is.
2. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: Peter Mrazek looks so calm in net. When he’s not celebrating, that is. He may not always know where the puck is, but he’s got good positioning and he trusts his movements so much that he doesn’t lose his cool in there. I’m sure the Calder Cup win helps add some experience, too. 44 saves for the win tonight.
3. I’m not worried about the Datsyuk/Stamkos matchup, I’m more worried about the Helm/Callahan matchup. Callahan lead the Lightning in hits and will more than likely up his hitting game during the playoffs. Any kind of cycle that 1st line tries in the Red Wings zone will go through him; it will be interesting to see if the Wings defence and wingers can handle him – and Boyle, for that matter. (Cooper changed the matchups later in the game, but I’m going to keep an eye on who plays against Datsyuk throughout the series)
4. It’s unfortunate that the Wings’ 4th line spent the most time in the Lightning zone in the 1st period, and it’s exactly what contributed to Detroit not getting their first shot until 9:03. Thankfully for the Wings, it resulted in a goal. The Wings didn’t really recover, and were outshot 14-46.
5. The Red Wings are collapsing down deep in their own zone when they play defence. This may be a move that haunts them, considering the highest scoring Tampa defenceman was Victor Hedman, with 10 goals and Stralman had 9. The Lightning’s defence accounted for 26% of the team’s total goals on the season. Tampa’s 2nd goal cam because nobody pressured Nesterov and he was able to walk into the slot while the Wings hunkered down low.
6. The Wings continued to collapse on the penalty kill, but the Lightning didn’t seem to adjust well enough to use the open points. Is it not obvious that the Lightning will feed Stamkos for the one-timer at the circles? Either way, the Lightning went 0/7 on the powerplay tonight. Props to the Wings penalty killing crew.
7. Brian Boyle played his penalty kill positioning perfectly. He backed Zidlicky into a corner while he was on the point, and Zidlicky had no choice but to pass the puck into Boyle’s 6-foot-6 frame. Nice goal by Boyle, who had 3 shorties on the season. He and Callahan will be thorns in the sides of the Wings for this entire series.
8. Lots of rushes for both teams in this game, which is what you expect with the speed that each of these teams possess. You gotta wonder if Babcock will stress that his defencemen watch their pinches with how aggressively the Lightning forwards are pressuring.
9. It’s no fluke that Datsyuk is the all-time leader in playoff points among active players; you don’t need me to tell you that he’s good. Veteran play by Jurco, too, to screen Bishop so well, otherwise that big 6-foot-7 body likely gets in the way of that shot.
10. In my mind, Mrazek starts the rest of the series. He was so solid this whole game and wasn’t flustered by the high powered offense that the Lightning strike with. Maybe it’s because he’s played against so many of them in the American League.
11. My initial thought was that a wide open game like we saw in the 2nd period would benefit the Lightning, being that the Wings are a puck possession team. In that 2nd period when the game opened up, and there was lots of end-to-end rushes, the Wings hung tough.
12. The fact that the Wings can keep up with the Lightning in their speed game bodes well for Detroit if they have a shot at taking this series.
13. It’ll be interesting to see if Marchenko plays in game 2. He’s been on the wrong end of a few different scoring chances by Tampa. In my mind, his right handed stick isn’t enough to keep him in the lineup, especially with Zidlicky playing. Maybe this is Smith’s chance to crawl his way back into Babcock’s good books with some solid defensive play.
14. I can’t imagine Babcock is happy with being outshot 46-14, but in the playoffs, a win is a win.
15. How hot was the 4th line tonight? Ferraro, in his 1st NHL playoff game, started all 3 periods, and finished with 11:24 TOI, all but 27 seconds of that being even strength. Glendening used his body very well, potted the 3-1 shorthanded goal, and Miller played solidly as usual; he even had himself a breakaway in the 1st. They even had 3 shifts in the last 4 minutes of the game with a 1 goal lead, including playing the full last minute. The playoffs are when you start to see the value in having bottom 6 forwards who can grind the other team down. We can only hope they can come close to being as effective as The Grind Line.