We at On Goal Analysis (OGA) are rooting against the Red Wings tonight because we don’t want our Hockey season to end too quickly. A 3-0 deficit for the upstart Chicago Blackhawks would be too much of a hill to climb in the playoffs, and we don’t want to see a four-or-five game series here. So we took a hard look at Detroit to see where they are truly weak.
There is not much to find in this search. Where we could find these potential chinks in Red Wing armor, we provide notes below in the hopes the ‘Hawks can extend this series for a while.
The Breakdown In Minutes
Looking at scoring minute-by-minute over Detroit’s 13 contests, we found three points in time when they have issues:
1. The 2nd Period overall. Admittedly, the Wings are 7-3-3 (leading-losing-tied) in terms of outscoring their opponent in this period. Not much of a margin. But consider they are 15-1-8 in outscoring their opponents in the 1st and 3rd stanzas.
2. Specifically, in the last three minutes of the 2nd Period. This is the only stretch in a game where they have been outscored (4-0) by their opponents. This point and number 1 above suggests their characteristic of play – their hustle – has some kind of a minor letdown in the 2nd Period which is exploitable if the ‘Hawks can ramp up their play at this time.
3. The 3rd Period ‘Dead Zone.’ The Wings have been outscored 3-0 in the 9th through 15th minutes of the third period. In terms of the game’s lead, going into that 9th minute, the Wings sat at 7-2-4, or with just under half of the games still undecided. On average, their lead at that point was only an overall 1.08 goals. Scoring in this goal ‘Dead Zone’ might turn the tide and should be thought of as ‘storing up nuts for winter’ considering the ‘Wings have outscored their opponents 9-0 in the last four minutes of regulation.
A full 56.3% of all Detroit goals have come off the sticks of four players: Franzen (9); Zetterberg (7); Cleary (6); and Samuelsson (5). So there are two, and possibly three lines to subvert. No team has three checking lines, BUT there are specific times in a game when this quartet has been dominant:
1. Cleary – 3 of 6 goals after minute 7 in the 1st Period.
2. Franzen - 3 of 9 goals after minute 10 in the 1st Period; 2 of 9 goals in minutes 3 through 5 of the 3rd Period; and 2 PPGs in minutes 17 through 19 of the 3rd period.
3. Samuelsson – 3 of 5 goals from minute 16 of the 2nd through minute 7 of the 3rd Periods.
4. Zetterberg – 3 of 7 goals in minutes 13 though 15 of the 2nd Period; 4 of 7 goals in the last three minutes of the game (3 empty netters).
Said another way, Detroit Playoff performance indicates: Cleary is strong later in the 1st period; Franzen in the last half of the 1st and early/late in the 3rd; Samuelsson late in the 2nd into the early 3rd; and Zetterberg in the middle of the 2nd and at the end of the game. Admittedly, the above is tactical knowledge only the coaches on the bench could fight with by adjusting line combinations as appropriate. But it also potentially indicates WHEN Coach Babcock has these players putting out more effort on the ice.
It is important to also note here that the above mentioned players have NOT been dominant on the PP, accounting for only four of Detroit’s 15 PPGs. A full six, or 40% of, PPGs have come from defensemen indicating more pressure needs to go out on the points. This is something the ‘Hawks can do with their speed.
And finally, there is the ‘Two Goals In A Row’ rule. Detroit has a habit of shooting for what we call the ‘Surge Goal’ – a score within five minutes of an opponent’s goal in order to swing the game’s momentum back in their favor. When an opponent scores, they counter with Hitting and SOG pressure with a design to put something in the net and give them back their comfort zone. In only five of 13 contests did they let the opponent score two goals in a row. One was Game 4 versus Columbus which they almost lost. They did so in all three losses to the Ducks. And they did it again in Game 7 versus Anaheim which came up one goal short of seeing their departure from this post-season. Chicago needs to therefore score, and then INCREASE pressure to score consecutive goals versus resting on any laurels as this will take Detroit out of their mental comfort zone.
In doing a minute-by-minute analysis of the Red Wings this post-season, their margin of victory has not been as great as their 10-4 record says. Since we at OGA are rooting for a longer series, we hope the ’Hawks exploit: the 2nd Period overall; the 3rd Period goal ‘Dead Zone’; selectively, Detroit’s top four scorers when they are strongest; the points on the PP; and consecutive goal scoring to defeat the ‘Wings and guarantee us a longer Conference Finals out west.
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