Red Wings turn tables on Hawks with 4-1 win
By Mark Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org May 18, 2013 2:38PM
Updated: May 18, 2013 6:37PM
Jonathan Toews and Henrik Zetterberg, joined at the hip-check for most of the game, were tangled yet again in front of the Red Wings goal crease midway through the second period of Saturday’s Game 2. Zetterberg wriggled his hands free and whacked Toews in the back of the neck, knocking him to the ice. Toews, shaken and stirred up, glowered as he slowly got to his feet.
Before he could, Zetterberg shoved him right back to the ice.
As Red Wings coach Mike Babcock so succinctly put it, “Series on.”
Detroit’s 4-1 victory on Saturday afternoon did more than simply even the Western Conference semifinal at one game apiece and give the Red Wings home-ice advantage as the series heads to Detroit for Monday’s Game 3. It sent a clear message that Game 1 might have been an aberration, and that this apparent laughable, lop-sided, changing-of-the-guard series between the rising Hawks and the fading Red Wings is going to be anything but.
“I think maybe after the first game we thought it was going to be an easy series; we had a lot of confidence in here,” said Hawks winger Patrick Kane, who scored the first goal of the game before Detroit took over the game. “But they’re a good team, and they have a lot of good players over there that still want to battle and prove themselves even more than they have already. By no means is it going to be an easy series or a cakewalk.”
The Red Wings looked tired, slow and uninterested in the Hawks’ Game 1 rout, getting out-shot 42-21 and utterly dominated for the final two periods. But on Saturday, the Red Wings flipped the script. An aggressive forecheck, a relentless puck-possession game, and a brilliant harassing performance by Zetterberg in the clash of captains had the Wings flying and the Hawks foundering. A mix of sustained pressure and opportunistic play off Hawks mistakes led to goals by Damien Brunner, Brendan Smith, Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula on Corey Crawford (26 saves).
“They had the puck and we didn’t,” Kane said after being out-shot 30-20. “They used our own game against us.”
The biggest difference — and the biggest thing the Hawks need to adjust to in order to re-take home-ice advantage in the series — was the Wings’ tighter defense (they even employed a near trap-like left-wing lock at times) and the hyper-aggressive play against the Hawks’ top two lines, particularly Zetterberg on Toews. And it’s only likely to get tougher on Toews and the Hawks, as the Red Wings will have the advantage of making the last line change for Games 3 and 4.
“It’s part of playoffs,” said Zetterberg, who pointed out that the Hawks had control of who matched up against whom, not the Red Wings. “I think he plays better when it’s a little physical and I think I play better when it’s a little more physical. So there’s a lot of give and take.”
Babcock shrugged off the mental impact Zetterberg’s play had, saying the unflappable Toews simply can’t be frustrated. But the comments by Toews — who has yet to score in this postseason — after the game said otherwise.
“I’m not going to go off and complain about some calls that I thought should have been called or whatever,” Toews said, before essentially doing just that. “If that’s the way they’re going to play, we need to play the same way. There’s a lot of clutch and grab, a lot of interference, and if [the refs] are going to let that go, that’s something we need to know and maybe do to them a little bit. It’s just tough to understand sometimes why we get roughing penalties and hooking penalties, whatever it is, [and] doesn’t go both ways. It is what it is. If that’s the way it’s going to be, we need to understand that and play more physical and be tougher on them. We’ll know that going into the next one.”
Toews said that doesn’t mean the Hawks will abandon their team game and their puck-possession style of play to run around taking unnecessary penalties, or retaliate after particularly physical episodes. Walking that fine line between physical and foolish will be key.
“It’s not out of frustration, it’s trying to frustrate their team,” he said. “That’s something we need to do a little more. They’re trying to do it to our top couple of lines, and we can do a little more of it. We’re letting them skate around with the puck a little too much.”
In other words, the Hawks want to frustrate Pavel Datsyuk’s line with the same aggressive, suffocating defense. In other words, the Hawks want to fight fire with fire, and bring the same kind of intensity at both ends of the rink that they had in Game 1, and Detroit had in Game 2. In other words, the longest-running blood feud in NHL history has gotten serious again.
In other words, “Series on.”