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Key faceoffs go Detroit's way

Saturday, 04.18.2009 / 10:29 PM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Quarterfinals

By Larry Wigge - NHL.com Columnist

It's funny how all of the blather about faceoff cheating by the Detroit Red Wings got brushed under the rug after Game 2, isn't it?

After all of the commotion, Detroit was 15-9 on faceoffs in the first period -- including 6-2 for Pavel Datsyuk, who won the draw that set up Brian Rafalski's goal. That gave Datsyuk a 20-5 record on faceoffs in his first four periods. Although the Jackets rallied to finish 31-31 in faceoffs for the game, Detroit showed it is better when the game is on the line.

"There are subtle little things that define this team," Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg explained. "Faceoffs. Power plays. Penalty killing. Hard work. A passion to play the game. You can't talk about one part of the game and make a big issue out of it. There are too many things that go into winning."

While the Blue Jackets seemed to be concentrating on getting more shots on goalie Chris Osgood and following up those shots with pressure on rebounds and down low in their two practices before Game 2, they only improved from 21 shots to 25.

Some of it has to do with Detroit's defense, especially in holding off Columbus sniper Rick Nash, whose power forward skills enabled him to get 40 goals and 39 assists in the regular season, off the scoresheet for the second straight game.

Said Osgood, "Nick (Lidstrom) and Raffi (Rafalski) always seem to be out there against him but Mule (Johan Franzen) and Hank (Zetterberg) have done a great job of leaning on him and making it difficult for him to get to the scoring areas. They've eliminated his time and space."

In Game 3, Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock will have the last change. So he might be able to get more time and space for his team's leading scorer.

Or maybe not ... with Detroit's depth at both ends of the rink.

 

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