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Wings' stars being stymied by Ducks

by Eric Stephens / NHL.com
ANAHEIM, Calif.Henrik Zetterberg hasn’t scored a goal in the first two games. Pavel Datsyuk has but one assist. Marian Hossa has yet to get on the score sheet.

Together, the top three offensive players for the Detroit Red Wings have not found the net and have just three points between them. Are they worried about the lack of production heading into Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Anaheim Ducks?

Yes and no.

"Obviously we would like to be more productive," Hossa said after Monday’s workout. "But we’re facing a really hard opponent. Nobody said it was going to be easy and we knew it. We just have to grind and adjust some things because they’re doing some things really well.

"It’s going to be a long series. We’re in the beginning of the series. We have to adjust and get productive."

Datsyuk, a Hart Trophy finalist who had 32 goals and led the Red Wings with 97 points, has nine shots over the equivalent of eight-plus periods. Hossa, who led Detroit with 40 goals, got both of his postseason goals in the clinching Game 4 against Columbus in the first round.

Zetterberg has been the most productive, assisting on Nicklas Lidstrom’s late third-period winner in Game 1 and helping set up Johan Franzen’s third-period goal in Game 2 to force overtime. Fortunately, for the Red Wings, Franzen has scored in each game while Lidstrom had two goals in Game 1.

Too often, Zetterberg said, the Ducks have been able to cycle the puck deep in the Red Wings’ zone and not allow the Red Wings to launch their vaunted transition game.

"Our main focus always is to control the puck," Anaheim center Ryan Getzlaf said. "The more we have the puck, the more we’re cycling and all that stuff, the less time they have to make plays."

Detroit coach Mike Babcock acknowledged that checking forwards Todd Marchant and Rob Niedermayer have been particularly effective against Datsyuk and Hossa and offered up a simple solution.

"Well, they’ve got to spend more time in the offensive zone," Babcock said. "Basically, the way it works right now is they want to play Marchant against [Datsyuk] they want to play Niedermayer against Hossa. One’s head to head with Pavel and one’s head to head with Hossa. They’re limiting their time and space."

Said Datsyuk: "We have chances. Not many chances. But we have chances. We need to score."

Babcock said he wasn’t concerned about Datsyuk’s current dry spell, adding that his center made three or four plays in the overtime periods that could have set up goals if his teammates were able to bury their chances.

There’s no doubt that once Datsyuk, Zetterberg or Hossa get going, the Red Wings become especially tough to handle.

"You know that's the great thing about the playoffs," Babcock said. "In a game like yesterday, the fun thing about being involved in it is that it’s competitive. They want to do something, we want to do something and you both can’t do it. That’s what it is. It becomes a battle of will.

"They’re in those guys way at this point. You’ve got to find a way to battle harder. You’ve got to find ways to create more space for yourself. You’ve got to find a way to get better opportunities."

Detroit Red Wings Playoff GearAnaheim defenseman James Wisniewski said his blue line merely wants to limit their impact.

"You’ve got two, three, four of the best players in the NHL," Wisniewski said. "The thing is you only hope to contain them because you’re not going to shut them down. They’re going to produce, they’re going to get timely goals. Hopefully, they’re not in situations where it hurts with a minute left in the period or something like that so you could have time to regroup.

"As long as you can try to keep them off the scoreboard or at least limit them from putting three points up, you’re doing a pretty good job."

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