Jeff Riger: This Is A Must Win For The Wings!
Red Wings’ players shared one mentality when addressing members of the media following Tuesday’s morning’s practice: we just have to win one game. While there is truth in that mentality, we all know there is more than just one game to win. The Wings face a tough task down 0-2 to the Sharks: they must now win 4 out of the remaining 5 games in order to advance to the Western Conference Finals. There are several things the Red Wings must do in order to get back into this series:
-The number one thing in my mind that Detroit has to do better is to spend more time in the offensive zone. Over the course of the first two games of this series, the Wings have not had enough good shots on Anti Niemi and they have not been hard enough on the San Jose defense. There have been spurts when Detroit seemed to carry the play, but those times have been far outnumbered by Sharks pressure.
-Once in the offensive zone, Detroit needs to get better quality chances on Neimi. Can you think of the last time Niemi was forced to make a “Jimmy Howard” type save in this series? If you can, you must have been watching closer than me, because I think Niemi has had too easy of a time in goal. Howard has been forced to lay out multiple times when San Jose threatened to score while Neimi is just going through the motions due to a lack of dangerous chances by Detroit.
-Staying on the topic of better quality chances and spending more time in the offensive zone, Detroit also needs more second chances against Niemi. There has not been that typical even strength pressure that the Wings are known for in this series, you know the kind where they set up and fire puck after puck at the opposing goaltender. To win game three and this series that dominant, electrifying play needs to return.
-This one is simple! WIN MORE BATTLES! The Wings are not getting to enough 50/50 pucks!
-It’s no secret that the Wings also need to stay out of the penalty box. San Jose has been doing their best to annoy and frustrate Detroit and it has been working. From the multiple ice showers that the Sharks have given Jimmy Howard to Ben Eager trying to go at it with Todd Bertuzzi, San Jose will continue to try and get into the heads of the Wings. Usually these types of tactics don’t work on a much disciplined Detroit team, but in game two they did as Thomas Holmstrom took the Wings off a power play with a silly penalty in the 3rd period. Detroit is usually the team that frustrates, not the team that gets frustrated.
-Other things that the Wings need to do better is to convert on the power play and get Johan Franzen healthier then he seems to be right now as he suffers from a bad ankle. Detroit also, as obvious as this might sound needs to score more goals considering they have just 2 in 2 games. They had 18 goals in 4 games against the Coyotes.
I know this list might seem insurmountable and that I might be saying long mindedly that the Wings are just flat out done. I actually did believe that right after game two, but now after thinking about it, there is no doubt in my mind that the Wings will show Hockey Town on Wednesday night the team they are capable of being. The only question is, can they do it the next four of five games? I say yes! Wings in 7!
Watch the Mike Babcock, Nick Lidstrom, Jimmy Howard and Kris Draper videos below for how the players and Babcock see the remainder of this series playing out.