Game Thread

Game 48: Detroit really isn’t good

Just wanted to troll a bit (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Rangers are in Detroit today looking to beat a pretty bad team, something they’ve been struggling to do lately. The Wings are going to miss the playoffs after about 400 years in a row of making them. They have some pretty solid young talent up front, and it’s only recently that they’ve been starting to play more over the veterans. On the blue line, they are almost as bad as the Rangers, but not quite totally bad.

As for the Rangers, well we know where they stand at this point.

Disclaimer: I’m in New Orleans, and wrote this before I flew out Thursday. I did the best I could to predict the lineups. Considering this was done a few days in advance, it’s likely off.

Red Wings Systems

For those that don’t follow Prashanth Iyer, you should. He does a great job breaking down everything Detroit.

The Wings run a 1-2-2 forecheck, which is fairly standard. But Blashill is very aggressive, and encourages the first defenseman to get involved at the blue line, instead of the red line. That means more pressure on the Rangers blue liners to make proper decisions with the puck. The Rangers deploy a similar forecheck, but are less aggressive with their defensemen, preferring to pressure at the red line, instead of the blue line. The risk of Blashill’s scheme is that quick passing can lead to odd-man rushes with that aggressive defenseman.

In the defensive zone, the Wings play a hybrid overload/low zone collapse. They overload the strong side, much like the Rangers. When the puck gets below the goal line, the forwards collapse into low zone coverage. That’s where the Rangers differ, as they switch to man coverage when the puck gets below the goal line. Although it was admittedly hard to see what kind of scheme the Rangers ran early in the year, they’ve been significantly better at their switches lately.

The Wings run a variety of breakouts, all detailed here. This is common for a lot of teams, and the way Prashanth breaks it down is very relevant, as the Rangers play a 1-2-2 forecheck. The Rangers have had a strong forecheck the last few games, so expect them to pressure those first two passes on the breakouts. For more breakout plays, see this post from Suit.

On special teams, the Wings run a 1-3-1 powerplay. This has been standard for multiple teams since the Bolts started using it a few years ago. The Wings don’t have that one sniper they try to feed, so they rely on quick passes to breakdown the penalty kill. Considering how amazing the Rangers’ PK has been, the best bet is to stay out of the box.

On the PK, the Wings are one of the few teams that don’t run some form of hybrid system.They run a straight wedge+1, which is similar to the diamond force the Rangers use. Both have a “roamer” designed to force the play, while the remaining three defenders take out the high percentage shots. The difference is that the Wings will only use their forwards as the “+1” whereas the Rangers will rotate out based on puck location, including defensemen. The wedge is simpler to execute and more conservative, but the diamond force creates more turnovers.

For more on these systems, check out our Hockey Systems page.

Red Wings Lines

Gustav Nyquist-Henrik Zetterberg-Anthony Mantha
Andreas Athanasiou-Frans Nielsen-Thomas Vanek
Tomas Tatar-Riley Sheahan-Dylan Larkin
Justin Abdelkader-Luke Glendening-Drew Miller

Danny Dekeyser-Mike Green
Xavier Oullet-Nick Jensen
Jonathan Ericsson-Alexey Marchenko

PP1: Nyquist-Nielsen-Zetterberg-Vanek-Green
PP2: Athanasiou-Larkin-Mantha-Abdelkader-Dekeyser

Jimmy Howard gets the start.

Rangers Lines 

Rick Nash-Mika Zibanejad-Pavel Buchnevich
Chris KreiderDerek StepanMats Zuccarello
Michael GrabnerKevin HayesJT Miller
Jimmy Vesey-Oscar Lindberg-Brandon Pirri

Ryan McDonaghDan Girardi
Nick HoldenKevin Klein
Brady SkjeiAdam Clendening

PP1: Zibanejad-Buchnevich-Nash-Miller-Clendening
PP2: Stepan-Pirri-Kreider-Zuccarello-McDonagh

Henrik Lundqvist gets the start.

Injuries/Scratches: Marc Staal (upper body), Matt Puempel (IR), Jesper Fast (lower body), Antti Raanta (lower body)

Crazy Prediction: A shutout for Hank.

Game time is 12:30pm. Gifs are on @blueseatblogs. Be sure to follow our snapchat (blueseatblogs) too!

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  • Greetings everybody from Hockeytown!!! Wasn’t planning on this after a week in DC but last minute needed to be in Detroit tomorrow and obviously wasn’t going to miss out on one last chance to see a game at the Joe!

    I didn’t see much hockey the last few days but caught up on all your excellent commentary of the ups and downs of this week. Appreciate it as always!


  • So everyone talks about Z setting up Pirri, but on the first PP, it’s Stepan out with Pirri, not Z.

  • There is G fighting for the puck against TWO RedWs, puck lost & good scoring chance. Perfect example of lousy puck support.

      • Yep, Hank the difference alright. Agree, Clendo-Skjei scary for sure. Neither one of those guys is strong along the boards, under a heavy forecheck.

  • This game is about as exciting as Donald Trump’s hair. Rangers should be running roughshod over this team.

    • Wings are doing a effective job taking away time and space from the rangers. New york pk look soild keeping their shape taking away shooting and passing lanes.

  • Goaltending looks great today, defense is limiting chancs, and PK is solid. All reasons to be encouraged, given recent woes.

    But, no, let’s find something else to complain about, namely that the offense isn’t shredding Detroit, even though we all know what this offense can –and typically does– do.

    I swear, this team will never be able to live up to the demands of New York fans.

    • Sorry, but we all can’t be rah-rah guys like you. Rangers have not impressed at all today & even if they win(which will be great) one can’t feel that this team has turned a corner today.

      • What have they done wrong beside not scoring?

        And if not scoring is your only complaint, I think this offense has earned enough of a leash this season to have a game where they don’t score a bushel of goals.

        • Full 62 minute effort.

          They played hard every shift, Hank was excellent, defense was solid, leading to a shutout and perfectly executed OT winner (great effort by Skjei on the backcheck leading to the 2-on-1 Zuke to Miller goal).

          So, I ask again, what more do you want?

          • Chris, I agree 100%.

            Paul, you’ve watched enough hockey to know that, well, that’s hockey. Sometimes the games are ugly. Apparently the ice was brutal. The Rangers limited scoring chances, Hank played well for the second straight game. Not every game is going to be an artistic masterpiece.

            The last two games they’ve been better in their own zone. That’s good progress. Four out of four points on the road in tough buildings. Take it and move on.

          • It was a tough game to play on that ice. The Ice was in very poor condition, puck was bouncing all over the place and players not able to dish out clean passes.

          • Negative, Paul. Cyrgalis’ article doesn’t back up your claim whatsoever.

            You said that the Rangers “haven’t impressed at all,” and haven’t shown any indication of “turning a corner.”

            I never said today was beautiful, exciting hockey. I countered that goaltending, defense, and PK had impressed today, and that these were good signs moving ahead.

            You then suggest, I simply don’t get it, and link to an article, which while acknowledging it was pretty ugly hockey today (due to tight checking and ice conditions), also has this to say:

            “Yet that won’t be reflected in the two points the Rangers (30-16-1) collected, after J.T. Miller finished a 2-on-0 pass from Mats Zuccarello at 1:56 of the 3-on-3 extra frame. And although goalie Henrik Lundqvist only saw 21 shots, he stopped them all for his second shutout of the season.

            Following a few weeks where Lundqvist was going through a career-worst crisis of confidence, he and his team have now won two in a row following the steadying 5-2 victory over the Maple Leafs on Thursday in Toronto which ended a three-game losing streak.

            “It just comes down to a few things you need to pay attention to,” said Lundqvist, who has stopped 44 of the previous 46 shots he faced after allowing 16 goals on the 76 shots before that during the team’s three-game slide.

            “Not put too many things in your head, in your basket, where you change too many things even though you’ve given a lot of goals in a couple games — it’s just a couple games,” Lundqvist said. “Sometimes you have to take a step back. Going into this game we were 3-2 in my last five, and still people talk about, ‘It’s awful, it’s terrible.’ But you have to take a step back sometimes. I know I can be better, and the last two, with help from the guys, I feel like I’ve been better.”

            What has also been better is the Rangers defense, which shut down the Red Wings (20-19-8) by blocking 17 shots and stock-piling the front of the net. It was the antithesis to what happened this previous Tuesday, when they were down 7-3 to Stars after two periods and Lundqvist was pulled en route to a 7-6 loss.

            “I corrected a few things,” Lundqvist said, “but with the support in front of me, it’s a lot easier to get there.”

            It’s inevitable that all teams will play games like this during the season, regardless if it’s the result of bad ice or just tight checking.”

            This to me reads as Cyrgalis crediting the team for settling down defensively and for Hank playing a solid game and getting a shutout on a day where ice conditions and tight checking made for a less than exciting affair.

  • Pretty much spot on. The Wings got the better of play in the 1st and Hank bailed us out. Latter of which a good sign. Rangers limited their chances in the second. Also a good sign. I’m assuming after the Dallas debacle the message is “defense first”. So I’m ok with this.

    Not sure why we should run this team out of the building. They just concluded a three game winning streak where they blew out the Pens and beat the Habs and Bruins. Not exactly chopped liver. And we don’t exactly have elite talent that we should be expected to blow anyone out.

    Hayes out. Lower body injury. Uh-oh.

  • Both defenses are playing better than advertised since the first period. Brady and Adam are young, they make mistakes, but so far nothing fatal ?

  • Love Darren Helm, the other guy I wanted to sign last summer besides Grabner. Really good hockey player.

    • So, they’re paid to go out and win games or put on a show? I only ask, because when they get into a goalfest, you lampoon the lack of defense and terrible goaltending.

      But when they bunker down and execute in their own zone, you call it a snooze fest, and demand a refund.

    • The building, at times, sounded empty. Really, no atmosphere at all. But they won, bottom line.

      • It was an away game. Isn’t a silent building indicative that the away team was doing something right?

          • Who’s knocking anybody? Put your pom poms down for a minute. The place was dead; and for a building like the Joe, that is rare. The game was an ugly, no-flow mess. After the game, the coach and players complained about the condition of the ice. That probably had something to do with the total lack of execution on both sides. They won, which is the important thing—which is what I said above. A little reading comprehension can go a long ways, my friend.

          • I was bummed Joe. It had been years since I’d been there. Press row looks like something you’d see at an AHL arena. Real old school. The place was electric during the anthem and then the final two minutes or so and OT. The few brief moments when there were scoring chances you can feel the roar and the acoustics were great. But I would have preferred a 3-2 Rangers win to get a sense of the crowd and the building more.

            Whether it was the ice or the Rangers game plan, the Wings were largely neutralized. Wasn’t pretty but we will take the two points.

          • I was there a few years ago and caught a Red Wing -Toronto game. It was a sea of red when I was there. Great atmosphere! Thats why I was taken aback by yesterdays game. On TV, it came across as a dead building; and I know its not! Your right, we take the 2 points and move on!

  • Lundqvist with a shutout today starting to look more like himself. The magical hobbit makes a great feed pass to jt who slams home the winner.

    • I’m pretty sure Zuke was on for the entire 2 minutes of OT. At like the 1 minute mark he skated by the bench and instead of changing he stayed with the Red Wing he was covering. They regain possession and he skates in on the 2 on 1. Great stuff.

  • Hey, the Redwings have a decent first 6 forwards and have beaten three good teams recently. I don’t know what there is to complain about an OT win on the road, and a shutout pitched by Hank and the Dmen, with the forwards being defensively responsible too.

    • There isn’t anything to complain about, so we’ll just complain anyway about the aesthetics. It was boring, too quiet, and lacked smoothness and fluidity. Clearly this team doesn’t know how to put on an afternoon matinee performance for the good taxpayers trying to enjoy their weekend.

      Nevermind the 2 points. Nevermind that Hank looked reinvigorated and pitched a shutout. Nevermind the PK shutting things down, or the defense limiting chances, keeping the play largely to the outside, and making smart plays. Nevermind the forwards coming back and thinking defense first. Nevermind all the things we’ve been complaining about that got corrected today. No, let’s focus on whether it was exciting enough hockey to warrant praise.

  • What a hideous game to watch. Bad game by the Rangers against a very bad opponent (the ice was bad for both teams). The takeaway:

    2 pts
    Shutout for the King

    • that was a snooze fest , I was saying man Zuc has been out there for ever , we’re in trouble and then a bounce and its over , lol , ur goalie is looking better Pal

      • Hey pal, what an awful game to watch. How many stoppages? Geez, just ridiculous.

        Yep, we were fortunate to get the 2 pts. Based on fan sentiment we will be first round outs in the playoffs because everyone on the team is untouchable for trade and they think that Staal, G, and a #1 will get us a top pair D man.

        • Richter, you are a breath of fresh air believe me, because conversing with the rah-rah boys above is like trying to convince the emperor that he has no clothes on.

          • Paul,

            What did you actually do to convince anyone of anything? You made a claim that the Rangers did nothing to impress and haven’t turned a corner, then when confronted with some actual observations that would suggest otherwise, you linked to an article that made the same observations that we did, in that defense and goaltending were much improved today.

            Basically, all I can gather of your view is that this game wasn’t beautiful, a perspective no one disagreed with you on.

            Yet, here you go, popping off about not being able to get through to the rah-rah boys when you didn’t even make a lucid claim, and instead linked to an article that shared the same observations that I made.

          • i got a complaint about that game. I’m pissed off AV wore that color tie. Half the time I don’t even bother commenting or even reading these comments anymore cause I’m so tired of the crying about everything. This offseason we made a lot of moves in which you never know how they’ll turn out. We knew the D was gonna be bad news. Then the we lose 3 of our top forwards, 2 of them for a long stretch. Yet we’re hanging around the top teams and scoring goals like we haven’t in a million years. I’m not saying we’re perfect. There’s things I don’t like or agree with that AV does sometimes too. But man if I’m gonna complain about this team what would I do if we were having a season like the Islanders.

          • Actually it’s really not complaining, it’s reality checks.

            2 Cups in 76 years and I have been around for most of those 76 years. It’s about winning the Cup, not having nice regular seasons and making the playoffs (and mid round draft picks).

            And it’s about the King’s time clock because if the King is not our Cup winning goalie then who will it be? Because I do not know of any goalie in the Ranger system or available outside the organization that will lead the Rangers to the Cup or at least capable of it.

            So the time is now. Punting this season is not preferable if you believe that the King is a Cup worthy goalie as I do. So changes HAVE to be made for them to be contenders. Standing still guarantees that they will be early playoff outs, for sure.

            That was an awful game yesterday against a TERRIBLE opponent that basically had an AHL goalie in nets. 19 SOG I think the Rangers had? And that’s with all the forwards back. That’s bad against a bad team.

            Bad games happen, but let’s see what the Rangers do against the better teams in the league.

            Also, I guess the fans that are roasting me for even thinking about trading Zuc for Trouba are the same ones that hated the Brass for Zib deal, because Brass was our leading playoff scorer since he got here. I think that trade turned ok, no?

          • To me, it’s two different discussions. Was yesterday a game that says we’ve turned a corner? No. Does it make me feel we are ready to make a Cup run? No.

            But has there been progress the last two games in terms of Hank getting his groove back and the defense limiting chances? Yes and Yes.

            Just like in baseball, if you are a good team, defense usually is a constant, while offense comes and goes–even if you are in aggregate a good offensive team. Having a poor day offensively doesn’t worry me. It’s happens to every team.

            Also, can we please drop the notion that Detroit is an awful team? They are clearly not the Wings of old, but here is still talent here, and they’ve gotten points in five straight games. This league is too balanced to say that more than maybe two teams in the league (Arizona and Colorado) are truly awful.

            This team, as currently constructed, is NOT an elite team that can win the Cup. The expectations coming into this season was at best a borderline playoff team. They’ve exceeded expectations thus far.

            Where I absolutely agree with Richter is that for this team to be more than a marginal contender come playoff time, they will have to make some significant upgrades. Whether such a deal is out there remains to be seen.

            So while definitely a boring snooze fest, I’ll take the win, there is progress in defense and in goal, the offense we know is good, but this team as is is NOT winning a Cup without a big trade. And even then, getting by Pit or Was, arguably the two best teams in the league, will be a long shot.

          • My 2 takeaways from yesterday’s game was:

            2 pts
            King shutout

            So I agree. But I’m not giddy over it. The Wings are a terrible team with an AHL goalie playing. There was nothing “signature win” about this.

          • Yeah but Richter there’s a difference between a reality check and finding something to complain about even when you’re winning. I’m not referring to you on this one. I see the points you bring up and there’s many I agree with anyway. If we look at 2 cups in 76 years then of course we’re not happy, but as far as this year I was seeing complaints about stuff as we’re winning 7 of 8 games. We lose a game or two and it’s time to fire the coach or trade somebody. We’re all entitled to our opinions of course. I guess I’m just one of the optimistict fans. Do I think this team is winning a cup this year? Highly doubtful. With this D I can’t see that at all. But it’s the D we have right now and there’s no way to make a drastic change with it at this point. As far as your thought of trading Zucc for Trouba there’s nothing crazy about that to me. You can’t get talent without giving talent back.

          • We have an accord Ranger 11 and I think that you and I agree a lot if not always on things.

            But I did feel the need to explain because it does come across as complaining after a win. My comments come back to the same thing: Winning a Cup or at least contending for it. I try not to get too wrapped up on individual games because if i did then I would still be harping on the Buffalo game at home a couple of weeks ago, their worst game this season, IMO.

  • AV’s system is similar to the old Sather days without the talent he had …. we’re scoring (yes ) but at a price lots of games …. they won’t look for a stay at home defenseman,we had one in the system McG and beat it like a dead horse over and over , they changed McD who was halfway in between , he used to hit some now not so much.Why don’t they just let a few wings play D ?

  • Just seen Hayes expected to be out for 2 to. 3 weeks with a lower body injury. This is incredible how we just can’t seem to be able to keep our full roster on the ice. Well they did a good job when the other guys went out so let’s see how they do now

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