The Detroit Red Wings were able to pull out a 5-1 victory tonight despite the fact that they were badly out shot by the Dallas Stars, 45-27.
On the one end, the steady play of Sochi-bound Jimmy Howard was just the calming influence that the Wings seemed to need.
On the other end, it seemed that the play of Kari Lehtonen was decent, but probably not what was needed for this match up. That being said, there were no glaring, obviously bad goals that Lehtonen gave up tonight.
It was the perfect game to prove that the myth of simply “throwing everything on net” does not always have its merits. “Throwing everything on net”, for those who don’t know, is an imaginary offensive strategy that is based on the idea that one never knows what happens if you steer the puck towards the goal.
Against an established team with a good coach and an excellent system, this strategy does not work. This was evident tonight, as the setups that the Stars were using continued to miss their mark. At this point, most teams would do well to regroup and figure out what they were trying to do.
Instead, the Stars continued to try and push pucks forward and bat pucks out of the air. This style of stick-checking involves a lot of darting and dodging instead of good fundamental hockey that is more suited for successful play.
The Red Wings were able to take advantage of this style of play by the Stars and possess the puck in order to ensure that they generated quality chances. It seems evident after watching this game that it is not always about how many shots one takes, but it is often about the types of shots that are taken.
The Wings had a lot of activity in the slot area and were able to create screens and good chances to be able to use wrist shots to beat Lehtonen. This is a strategy that takes hard work and elaborate setups, but is a lot more effective than the perimeter play that Dallas was using against Detroit.
The Red Wings have always had success being able to settle down the puck and move the puck in a way that often makes it difficult for their opponent to hold back their attack, which can often come in waves. This type of game allows them to win matches in which they are technically outplayed.
It seems that Detroit as a franchise almost has a way of being able to take any player and fit them seamlessly into a system which allows them to succeed. Their strategies continue to pay off for players like Kyle Quincey and Drew Miller, both of whom played excellent positional games tonight.
Quincey had an active stick and was very good at closing down the space of everyone that he was covering. He was a plus+3 on the night.
Drew Miller had the best night of any forward on the ice, from shift-to-shift, and yes that even includes Zetterberg who scored twice. He was good on the forecheck and made smart plays with the puck time after time.
This game was a pleasure to watch from the Detroit perspective, but it was a tough loss for Dallas, who generated so many shots on goal. One might wonder what the CORSI advanced statistics group might say about a game like this, but there is nothing quite like the eye test to determine who was outplayed.
Anyone who watched this game knows that Detroit was in control for the majority of the game.