Ducks don't quack under pressure
Ducks 5, Red Wings 3
Series tied 2-2
"I said this yesterday, and I said it again this morning: You know the team's going to play. You're not playing against Chris Pronger, you're playing against the Ducks. Just like when we lost our people, significant people for us, you just keep playing. That's what you do. That's what good teams do. So there's no surprise in that."— Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock
"We knew we had to be better tonight. Like I said earlier, we lost Pronger. You can't replace him. You have to play team smart, team tough."— Ducks winger Teemu Selanne
Eric Duhatschek's got his game story here, live from the Honda Center, and I'm just going to offer up some random thoughts on this game off the cuff:
- The question of who to match Sammy Pahlsson up against — Datsyuk or Zetterberg — came up this afternoon both with Randy Carlyle and Pahlsson himself. The Selke nominee had been drawing the Pavel Datsyuk assignment through the first three games, and despite a tough showing in Game 3, Carlyle stuck with the match-up. Datsyuk didn't accomplish much on the night (although neither did Henrik Zetterberg).
- For all the blithering I did earlier in the day about the Ducks' lack of defensive depth, the bottom three spent almost the entire game having about as much impact as Ilya Bryzgalov (or Bobby Ryan). The nominal No. 4, Kent Huskins, picked up 12:38 in ice time, while Joe DiPenta and Ric Jackman had 8:47 and 6:37. Jackman managed to somehow score a goal in his limited stint on the ice, sending his PPG/60 rate through the roof to the high-pitched cheers of the stat-geek throng.
- The Red Wings fanbase has started to warm-up to Todd Bertuzzi, and I've seen more than a few odes to his usefulness over the past week or so. But it's when he coughs up the puck like he did on Corey Perry's goal less than two minutes into the game that I think the real Bertuzzi rears his ugly self. True, he made amends with a goal and an assist on the power play, but at this point, that's really the only spot he should be getting significant ice time. He's slow, poor defensively and, after so much time away from the game the past three years, simply doesn't have the timing/instincts that made him an effective player with the Canucks way back when. (And, indeed, three of his 13 minutes tonight were with the man advantage.)
- Prior to the series, I mentioned Pahlsson as the 'player to watch' over at the Fanhouse, something that was met with some criticism from the Detroit side. "How big a factor can Pahlsson be," the reasoning went, "given Detroit has just as dominant a defensive player in Kris Draper?" Tonight, in what was a pretty important, momentum-swinging game, Draper played 9:10 minutes and was -1. Pahlsson? 20:59 and +1.
- How about Carlyle's decision to put Ryan Carter into his first-ever NHL game? He somehow managed to get scored on in his first-ever shift, and played just 2:32, but what a story he'll have for his pals back in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. (It might start with something along the lines of how good Dan Cleary is...)
- The Niedermayer brothers both took some dumb penalties.
- Ryan Getzlaf had 39 points in his rookie season, and then 58 as a sophomore this year. Based on how he played tonight, I'm guessing he'll regularly be in the 90-point range — perhaps as early as next season. And he just turned 22. He was a horse for the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL, one of the best players I saw come through junior hockey in about a five-year span, and he's starting to show signs of that dominance at the NHL level already.
- I think Detroit's five-man rotation on defence is creating a little bit of confusion given all of the partner swapping going on. They haven't missed Mathieu Schneider on the power play so far, but the fact he gave them a set second pairing with Andreas Lilja was a definite plus. Kyle Quincey played just 2:03 tonight, meaning he's had plenty of time to work on his thumb twiddling.