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Talking Points: Game 2

Saturday, 05.10.2008 / 11:54 PM / 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Against a Stars team skating much harder than it did in the series opener, Darren Helm helped Detroit get off to a good start with a first-period score.
WATCH Darren Helm's goal
Even without “The Mule” the Detroit Red Wings demonstrated on Saturday night that they still have plenty of firepower.

The Wings announced just prior to Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Stars that Johan Franzen, who leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 12 goals, would be unavailable due to concussion-like symptoms.

Given Franzen’s contributions this postseason, one would certainly be under the impression that the Wings would be hard-pressed to take a 2-0 series lead, right?

Not exactly.

Darren Helm picked up his first NHL goal less than six minutes into the game, and Henrik Zetterberg broke a 1-1 tie on the power play as the Wings pulled within two victories of a trip to the Stanley Cup Final with a 2-1 win over the Stars at Joe Louis Arena.

Perhaps nobody will be happier to get back to Dallas than goalie Marty Turco, who is now 0-9-2 lifetime as a pro in Motown. This time, though, Turco was hardly to blame for Saturday’s shortcomings; he made 32 saves in the loss and kept his team in the contest.

With Game 3 slated for Monday night in Dallas, here are five talking points from Game 2 to ponder as we await the start of Game 2 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night:

1. Winning The Draws

One of the many reasons why the Red Wings are halfway to the Stanley Cup Final is because of their remarkable success on faceoffs. After winning 35 of 56 draws in Game 1 on Thursday, Detroit went 39-16 on Saturday night.

Kris Draper stole the show in this department for the Wings in Game 2, as the veteran center won 12 of 16 draws — a success rate of 75 percent. Valtteri Filppula was right behind Draper, going 10-for-16 (63 percent).

Mike Ribeiro struggled mightily on faceoffs for Dallas on Saturday, winning only 23 percent of the time (3-for-13). Veteran Mike Modano won just four of 14 draws, while Toby Petersen lost all five of his chances.

Clearly, this needs to change if the Stars have any hope of getting back into this series. The Red Wings are a puck-possession team, and they’ll continue to soar if they can gain control of the puck on the majority of faceoffs.

2. Limiting Their Chances

Few teams can match the Red Wings when it comes to talent up front, but isn’t it time to give Detroit’s defense its due?

Once again on Saturday night, Detroit gave Dallas next to nothing in the early going. While Stephane Robidas was able to erase a 1-0 deficit with a power-play goal midway through the opening period, the Stars mustered only four shots — and fired wide five times — in the first 20 minutes of play.

When the final horn sounded, Dallas had a total of 18 shots on goal — three fewer than what it fired on Chris Osgood in Thursday’s 4-1 loss. The Red Wings’ ability to score early and limit the opposition’s chances in the opening period is clearly a reason why they’re halfway to the Final. Detroit has outscored its opponents 17-6 in the first period during the postseason.

3. Walking Wounded

The Stars were already shorthanded with the loss of gritty forward Stu Barnes to a concussion, but Dallas suffered another blow in Game 2 when Jere Lehtinen went down in the first period with a leg injury.

After scoring 15 times in 48 games for Dallas during the regular season, the 34-year-old Lehtinen has four goals and four assists in 13 playoff games. Given their limitations on offense — only captain Brenden Morrow has scored more than five goals in the postseason — the Stars really can’t afford to lose Lehtinen for any amount of time.

Dallas coach Dave Tippett listed Lehtinen as day-to-day. The two-way forward may very well wind up being a game-time decision on Monday night.

4. Failing To Take Advantage

Dallas was successful in its attempt to play more disciplined hockey in Game 2. After handing the Red Wings seven power plays on Thursday — including an early two-man advantage that Detroit capitalized on — the Stars were able to trim that number to four on Saturday.

Unfortunately, though, Dallas was unable to take advantage of Detroit’s parade to the penalty box during the second period. Henrik Zetterberg, Chris Chelios (twice), Brad Stuart and Tomas Holmstrom all spent time in the box in the second, but Dallas was somehow outshot, 9-8.

We’re seeing just how vulnerable the Stars can be when their power play is not clicking. After being highly successful in the first two rounds against Anaheim and San Jose, their inability to capitalize in these first two games in Detroit has the Stars halfway to the golf course.

5. Health Means More Than Anything

As much as Johan Franzen wanted to be in the lineup — and as much as Mike Babcock would have enjoyed his presence — the Red Wings ultimately determined that “The Mule” was unable to go in Game 2.

Babcock said Franzen complained of headaches following Friday’s practice, and it apparently didn’t get any better before the start of Saturday’s contest. Babcock also said Franzen was not suffering from dizziness, which is an encouraging sign as the series shifts to Dallas.

Whether or not Franzen — who has a League-high 27 goals since March 2 — will be able to return later in the series remains to be seen. But with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk skating on the top line, the Red Wings clearly are still capable of providing enough offense.

Contact Brian Compton at: bcompton@nhl.com.

Quote of the Day

Obviously a lot happened in a short period of time. At the end of the day, considering everything I went through, I really felt close to my teammates and I really feel like what we accomplished, I know we didn't win it all. ... I'm really proud of how we got there and what we did once we got there.

— Rangers forward Martin St. Louis to Jim Cerny of BlueshirtsUnited.com