One of Mike Babcock’s major points of emphasis prior to Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals had to do with what he was calling “net presence” in front of Dallas goalie Marty Turco
The Red Wings coach was worried that if his team didn’t distract Turco by screening and frustrating him, then he would stay as hot as he was in the first two rounds and become the wall that separates Detroit from the Stanley Cup Final.
At least in Game 1, Detroit’s net presence was the difference in a 4-1 win.
Two of the Red Wings’ four goals came off deflections right in front of Turco, the first by Johan Franzen
off a Niklas Kronwall
shot, and the second by Tomas Holmstrom
off a Nicklas Lidstrom
shot. Brian Rafalski
also scored on a slap shot through a screen.
“I thought we did a good job of that,” Babcock said. “Turco is on fire, playing real well in the playoffs. We can’t let him have space so we have to be right there and back him in. If we do that, we have a chance to be real successful in this series.”
It’s no surprise the two players who scored tip-in goals were Franzen and Holmstrom, two of the best in the League at gaining position in front of the goalie and finding the puck in the air to make a quick deflection.
Franzen got position on Trevor Daley
for his goal, while Holmstrom got in behind Mark Fistric
– and perilously close to a goalie interference penalty – on his goal.
“They’re both unbelievable,” Kris Draper
said. “Mule (Franzen), this is something that he’s worked on. Holmstrom is the best in the League at it, and the Mule’s making a run at it right now.”
Dallas coach Dave Tippett
was, shall we say, less than pleased that Holmstrom’s goal was allowed. He felt Holmstrom was in the blue paint in front of Turco, which should have been a penalty. Turco also argued to no avail.
“We were told if a player was in the blue paint it would be no goal,” Tippett said. “That didn’t happen. Marty has to be more aggressive and we’re going to have to be more aggressive in front if they’re not going to call it as I perceive it should be called.”
Fill The Tank
– Tippett used a great term to describe how he felt Dallas’ best players looked Thursday night.
“Our top players looked down a quart,” he said.
Tippett meant he didn’t see his team skating the way it had in 12 previous playoff games. They were slow on the draw, winning only 38 percent of faceoffs. Mike Ribeiro
and Brad Richards
, the top two centers, combined for 10 wins on 32 draws.
Tippett believes the Stars’ slower-than-usual pace led to some of their seven penalties, resulting in three power-play goals for the Red Wings.
“It’s a result of being behind the game, the hooking and holding,” Tippett said. “We have to get skating. Before you can talk about tactics or anything else we need to get our legs moving. We did a lot of standing in that game. That’s the bottom line.”
The Red Wings, though, expect Dallas to be a lot quicker in Game 2 Saturday.
Many expressed how it must have been difficult for the Stars to play into the fourth overtime Monday night, get over the celebration of winning a round, fly north to Detroit and then have to play Thursday night against the Presidents’ Trophy winners.
“They played two games in one night and then had to fly out here,” Brian Rafalski
said. “They showed more energy in the third and I think that had something to do with it. We need to expect more from them next game and we need to come out better.
“They’re going to try some new things. They’ll give us some different looks. I am sure they’ll try to be more physical and up their energy for the next game.”
Dallas wasn’t using anything as an excuse.
“Whether we left our legs in Dallas, only time will tell,” Tippett said.
Wings of Old
– Detroit now has won seven straight games this postseason and is 6-0 at home, which prompted Lidstrom to say the 2008 Red Wings now look quite similar to the late 1990s teams that won back-to-back Stanley Cups.
“I think it’s comparable to some of the great teams we had back in the ’90s,” Lidstrom said when asked about this current run the Red Wings are on, including their 6-0 record at home in the playoffs. “We’re playing well as a team. We’re not relying on one or two players. We have a lot of players chipping in. We’re not relying on one line to carry the team. It’s very comparable to the teams we had in the ’90s.”
There are some familiar faces on this team that won Cups with Detroit in 1997 and 1998. Lidstrom, Kirk Maltby
, Kris Draper
, Chris Osgood
, Tomas Holmstrom
and Darren McCarty
all played for those Red Wings teams, as well.
Contact Dan Rosen at email@example.com.