Abel to Yzerman
by IwoCPO on 12/10/06 at 02:31 PM ET
Alright…reality. Toronto’s terrible. The Wings caught a bad team at its worst and capitalized. But, man, what a difference. After scoring 9 power play goals in their first 23 games, the “system” is apparently working. Working to the tune of 10 PP goals their last five games.
“We said all along it’s going to come, now it got a little boost here,’’ Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Early in the year our power play was pretty good and then it went into the tank, then we got it back but we just didn’t score on it. I’ve said all along, we play 82 games, be patient and let guys play and eventually they’ll get their confidence. And it’s pretty obvious they’re getting their confidence.
“The adversity we went through where we couldn’t score on the power play and always had to win five-on-five has been a real positive for our team.’‘
What Babcock didn’t say, or at least not to the media, is this: the power play is going to make or break him, and it’s going to make or break this team’s playoff hopes. As of right now, we have a goalie—IF HEALTHY—who can hang with anyone. We have a defensive system that will keep the Wings in nearly every game. And, 5-on-5 Detroit is among the top 3 teams in the league.
But, it’s the power play that will break all ties. It’s the power play that’s going to keep the Drakes and Mitchells off the Datsyuks and Zetterbergs. It’s the power play that will give our young guns room to move. The mere threat of a Detroit power play, if potent, will make the even strength Wings that much more dangerous.
So, what Babcock didn’t say was, “Whew.”
Joanne Gerstner/Detroit News
The results were devastating: Henrik Zetterberg and Samuelsson scored two goals each, with Dan Cleary adding one. Mathieu Schneider and Pavel Datsyuk also figured prominently, with three assists each.
The Leafs became more agitated and unhinged as the game wore on. Tempers flared, leading to small skirmishes started by the Leafs after the whistle.
“When that happens, you just have to make them pay for it,” Kris Draper said about the Leafs’ lack of control. “You are given opportunities; we did a good job of scoring when we had the chance.”
The power play’s had an effect in some subtle ways, as well. The offensive confidence of this team seems to hinge on the success of the specialty units. More specifically, the psyche of players like Samuelsson and Datsyuk is directly tied to the performance of the power play. I’m telling you, mood swings.
Datsyuk has five points his last five games, 3 last night. Samuelsson, that streaky little bastard, has six points (4g) his last 5. As junior Deep Digger George Sipple reports today, even the Enigma’s in on the act. He has six points his last five.
“We don’t score like we did in the past, but now with our power play going a little better, you take a little pressure off the guys that are supposed to score and they suddenly start scoring better.’‘
With the win, Detroit moves a point behind Bubba in the Central and remains locked in 6th in the conference. Unlike last season, though, the Wings have games in hand on Dallas (2 pts ahead) and Bubba.
A humorous side note: Colorado sits at 10th in the West today. Now that’s fun for the whole family. Links for your reading pleasure are listed. You’ll find a much more factually accurate recap from Matt and Sarah from On The Wings below.
Detroit News: Wings Too Powerful For Leafs
Detroit Free Press: Power Suits Wings
Toronto Sun: Wings Overpower Hapless Leafs
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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977. No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y. Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation. There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature. Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org