After each game, I'll be posting some thoughts and things I noticed about the previous night's game. Here are some of the things I noticed while watching Game 1.
- First thing we see happen in the game is a giveaway by Brad Stuart that didn't need to be made, forcing a nice save by Osgood. This continued through the game, as the lone Blue Jackets' goal came on a Kronwall giveaway. There were other giveaways during the game too, though those two were the highlights. You can get away with those things against some of these lesser teams, but when you start getting further into the playoffs, and the competition gets better, you're going to pay for making those kind of mistakes. This first round matchup was highly favorable to the Red Wings, giving the Wings an opponent that they could get away with making a few mistakes against. They need to take advantage of this chance to help refine their defensive play, and fix these problems, before these problems kill them later in the playoffs.
- Rick Nash scares me. A big dude like that can do some serious damage against a team like the Red Wings. He was nearly invisible tonight, and that is a very good thing for the Red Wings. If Nash plays with a mean streak, and starts getting aggressive about hitting the Wings defenders and establishing himself in front of the Detroit net, he could create problems. If he keeps playing more towards the perimeter, he's going to remain invisible for the series. Obviously, I'd prefer if he just stands near the boards and plays pattycake with someone. Good job on Lidstrom for taking care of him all night.
- The beginning of the game almost went terribly bad for the Wings. A careless high stick by Rafalski especially almost led to an early deficit. Against the 30th ranked PP unit, you might get away with that. Again, if you do that later in the playoffs, someone is gonna make you pay, and they're gonna make you pay hard.
- The refs were calling it pretty tight, especially around the goalies. Wonder if that's going to be a playoffs-long trend, or maybe its just this crew? In any case, thats something for each team to be aware, particularly Tomas Holmstrom on the Wings. The Wings got a couple fluky goals today, but you can't count on that every night. You definitely can't afford to lose goals in the playoffs because a referee has a bug up his ass about you being anywhere near the crease.
- The Wings did well in creating pressure throughout the game, and occupying the front of the Columbus net. Gotta keep that up. Traffic, deflections, and screens in front are what its all about in the playoffs. Ugly goals count as much as the pretty ones, and they're generally a lot more common against the better goaltenders you'll see as you progress through a playoff run.
- The defense played well in the Columbus end, picking up goals for both Kronwall and Ericsson. Kronwall obviously helped create the Blue Jackets' goal on the night, so I guess he breaks even. If they play that well in their own zone, playing smart and disciplined, then they're gonna have a good playoff run. Babcock ought to seriously think about benching a couple guys if this keeps up, especially if the Wings take a commanding lead in the series, allowing them to afford to sit a couple guys.