The Wings took the early 1-0 lead last night in their first round series with the Predators, winning the game 3-1 on a goal from the continuously red hot Johan Franzen, and two from star Henrik Zetterberg. Unfortunately all I saw was the last five minutes of the second period, and the third, but this much was clear: The Wings weren't playing their best hockey, but then, they didn't need to be.
Dan Ellis was good, but not at all unbeatable, and while you can argue that Dominik Hasek wasn't particularly tested, he did what he needed to do. The amount of pucks he saw last night is the amount of pucks we should expected him to see regularly throughout the playoffs - the Wings have been a puck possession team all season and they're certainly not going to stop taking the heavy load off of him now. Meanwhile the big Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Tomas Holmstrom line was great, while the Predators big guns faltered - Jason Arnott was -2 with no shots and J.P. Dumont a -3.
There seems to be some controversy floating around over Niklas Kronwall's hit on Rich Peverly regarding if he left his feet or not (A2Y found this shot proving he clearly didn't!), and on whether or not Zetterberg's gamewinning goal came on a play that was offsides, but leaving both of those incidents alone, the Wings were still the better team on the ice yesterday night - and whether or not they were playing as good as they can be, they were playing as good as they needed to be, a point with which everyone seems to concur:
- Christy Hammond: Overall, it certainly wasn’t Detroit’s best game but in the end they found a way to get the win. And really, that’s all that matters. I must admit, it was certainly frustrating to see the Wings outshoot Nashville by so much and still end the second with a 1-1 tie. I definitely liked seeing Henrik Zetterberg get on the scoreboard in the first game of the playoffs. It was more comforting and reassuring than anything else to see a top player perform well in the first game of the playoffs.
- IwoCPO: the Wings don’t need to play perfect hockey to win this series. Limit mistakes, generate consistent offense, exhibit a few violent tendencies...and steady play in net. That’s really all that’s necessary.
- Mike Babcock: That’s what the playoffs are about, being patient and waiting for your opportunity. We weren’t great but we were good enough to find a way to win.
(Just one last little bit, did anyone else see Zetterberg come out as first star last night? He clapped - which is one of my favorite little hockey player quirks - but then he waved, gloves still on, only with his fingertips. He looked positively adorable - and remarkably clean shaven as well. Wanted to start fresh for the playoffs? I hope he gets as scruffy as usual by the end.)