Many factors can help decide a hockey game, for instance skill, experience, desire and intimidation. The deciding Game 7 of the Detroit-Anaheim series simply came down to who had quicker thinking and quicker reactions, and who made fewer mistakes while capitalizing on their opponents’ mistakes. What you see below is how the goals played out in this entertaining game between the two previous Stanley Cup champions.
Detroit 0, Anaheim 0: At the risk of drawing further ire from the Red Wings faithful, Chris Osgood is okay at best on a good day. His “acrobatic save” against James Wisniewski off Corey Perry’s feed was only “acrobatic” in the sense that Osgood melodramatically flopped over while being hit in the breadbasket by the big defenseman’s point blank shot. Indeed, it was a competent save for Osgood and the beginning of a bad day for Wisniewski. We can give Ducks’ defenseman credit, though, for putting himself in position for the shot by surprising Daniel Cleary with his offensive sortie. It’s interesting how the eventual hero of the game could have been the goat of that play.
Detroit 1, Anaheim 0: This goal was a thing of beauty. The Red Wings’ power play unit connected the dots on this one with precision and purpose. It was like high speed chess. After gaining possession of the puck in the neutral zone, Niklas Kronwall played it across ice to Henrik Zetterberg. Zetterberg surprised the Anaheim penalty killers by firing the puck back across the ice to Johan Franzen, threading the needle through several defenders. Todd Marchant misread that Francois Beachemin was going to stick with Jiri Hulder while Beauchemin went for Franzen. While misreading is excusable, standing aimlessly is not. Marchant’s brainfreeze allowed Hudler to drift towards the goal and to deftly redirect Franzen’s clinical feed past Jonas Hiller. You could blame the Ducks a smidge on slow reads and reactions on this goal, but in the end, this goal speaks more about the quality of the Red Wings’ than the Ducks’ lack of quality.
Detroit 2, Anaheim 0: Anticipation and speed. Darren Helm’s goal was a piece of simpler beauty than the previous Detroit goal. The young forward anticipated the Marian Hossa’s deflection of Teemu Selanne’s pass, splitting the gap between defenders Wisniewski and Scott Niedermayer to beat Hiller on the breakaway. More on Helm below.
Detroit 2, Anaheim 1: Vision and quick hands. Gaining the offensive zone on the rush, Selanne calmly found Ryan Whitney at the point for a blast on goal. Osgood gave up the rebound and Selanne avoided Brad Stuart and two other Wings to pull a slight-of-hand trick to bring the puck out from behind the net and in. This time, it was Anaheim taking advantage of a Detroit defense that was a step slow to react.
Detroit 3, Anaheim 1: An ugly looking mistake compounded by a bunch of guys standing around gawking. Wisniewski missed the puck at the Anaheim blue line following a Red Wings’ clear, allowing Valtteri Filppula to out-dive him for the puck. As Drew Miller flew past the play ineffectually, Filppula dished to Pavel Datsyuk for a shot. As Marchant drove Datsyuk into the boards, Datsyuk was able to throw the puck back in front of the net. Unfortunately, Rob Niedermayer and Drew Miller were standing aimlessly near the crease, facing away from any incoming shooters, while defenseman Scott Niedermayer was too far behind Mikael Samuelsson to stop him from scoring Detroit’s third goal. Compounding matters was the fact that Miller was partially impeding his goaltender by being in the crease.
Detroit 3, Anaheim 2: Another mistake, taken advantage of by quick hands. Selanne quarterbacked the play again, handing off the puck for a slapshot by Chris Pronger. The rebound given up by Osgood –stop me if you’ve heard this one before– was put away by Corey Perry.
Detroit 3, Anaheim 3: Rapid-fire passing. Bobby Ryan was fortunate enough to pick up a loose puck behind the Detroit goal from young defenseman Jonathan Ericsson. Within the brief span of 5 seconds, the puck moved from Bobby Ryan to Ryan Getzlaf to Scott Niedermayer to Corey Perry and back to Ryan for a tap in at the far side of the net.
Detroit 4, Anaheim 3: Skill sets up extra effort. On the power play, last postseason’s Conn Smythe winner Henrik Zetterberg was able to center a pass from the end boards to Daniel Cleary, standing at the top of the crease. What you may have missed on the goal was the fact that Cleary beat Hiller to the puck in the air – He deflected the puck down before Hiller could get a glove on it. That skill move opened the door for Cleary to have a chance to jam the puck through Hiller. There was more to that goal than just bulling it in.
Game, set, match to Detroit, which sets up a wonderful offensive matchup between two division rivals and Original Six rivals for the Conference Championships.
Darren Helm is my new hero. The 2005 fifth round draft pick now has four career postseason goals, though, he has yet to record a regular season goal. His ability to draw penalties, already demonstrated in Game 6 is perhaps his biggest asset, a side effect of his speed, energy and intelligence.
While the 22 year old’s conventional regular season stats are unimpressive to say the least (16 GP, 0 G, 1 A, -7 rating, 4 PIM, 21 SOG), his Net Penalties per 60 minutes are on par with that of Dustin Brown, the NHL’s gold standard. How good is Helm? See the table below, which includes all players with at least 10 GP in 2008-9 (Base stats courtesy of Gabe Desjardins. Perhaps one of these players will be the next Dustin Brown, given more playing time:
NAME POS TEAM GP TOI/60 PTAKE/60 PDRAW/60 NET/60
Patrick Kaleta RW BUF 51 8.39 1.4 4.9 3.5
JasonJaffray RW VAN 14 7.63 0.0 2.8 2.8
Dustin Brown RW L.A 80 13.42 0.8 3.5 2.7
Darren Helm C DET 16 11.27 0.7 3.3 2.6
Jonathon Kalinski C PHI 12 7.59 0.0 2.0 2.0
Cal Clutterbuck RW MIN 78 11.68 0.9 2.8 1.9
Cody Bass C OTT 12 5.48 0.0 1.8 1.8
Tom Wandell C DAL 14 10.02 0.9 2.6 1.7
Ryan Jones LW NSH 46 9.89 1.1 2.8 1.7
David Perron LW STL 81 10.85 1.1 2.7 1.6
Petr Prucha RW PHX 47 12.32 0.3 1.9 1.6
David Jones LW COL 40 10.97 0.4 1.9 1.5
Garth Murray C PHX 10 7.82 0.0 1.5 1.5
Erik Cole RW CAR 80 13.17 0.9 2.3 1.4
Maxim LaPierre C MTL 79 12.06 0.6 2.0 1.4
Tim Wallace RW PIT 16 7.98 0.5 1.9 1.4
Devin Setoguchi RW SJS 81 12.99 0.3 1.7 1.4
Joe Sakic C COL 15 11.97 0.3 1.7 1.4
Georges Laraque RW MTL 33 7.34 1.2 2.5 1.3
Maxim Afinogenov RW BUF 48 9.95 1.0 2.3 1.3
Jarome Iginla RW CGY 82 15.77 0.4 1.7 1.3
Patrick O'Sullivan RW EDM 81 13.60 0.4 1.7 1.3
Timo Seppa is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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