The Wings headed into Game 4 acknowledging that they needed to work on their penalty-killing. But after the final buzzer, it was evident that there is still more work to be done. Detroit struggled on both sides of the man-advantage Thursday night. The stats sheet will say that the Penguins were 1-3 on their power-play chances, but they were really 1-2. One of the Penguins’ power plays lasted for 10 seconds, because Bill Guerin took a high-sticking call in the Detroit end. Therefore, the Wings’ penalty kill was at 50 percent tonight, and that’s not going to win hockey games.
On the other side of the man-advantage, the Wings went 0-3 on their power-play opportunities. That number is generous as well, because Wings allowed Jordan Staal to score shorthanded in the second period. Staal’s goal tied the game at two, and blew the doors open for the Penguins and their fans to jump on the Wings.
When will Pavel Datsyuk return?
It looked like it was going to be for tonight’s game. The Wings are really starting to miss their Hart Trophy candidate. Datsyuk skated yesterday, and he looked healthy. He skated this morning with the playing roster, and stayed after to skate with the ‘black aces’. He took the warm-ups. But then when the scratch list came out, Datsyuk’s name was on it. He’s missed seven games now, and playing against the Eastern Conference’s best team is showing how much the Wings miss him. In last year’s finals, the Penguins had a match-up nightmare, because they were looking at a line centered by either Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg
Now, Zetterberg has the main responsibility of trying to stifle the Penguins’ leading scorers. He played 20:58, which is about four minutes less then Game 3. Zetterberg took 27 shifts, however, which is lower then only Nicklas Lidstrom
and Dan Cleary, who had 29 and 28, respectively. Zetterberg could use the help of knowing when he gets off the ice, Datsyuk jumps on. And Datsyuk would help the power play, as well.
What did the Wings do right?
The Wings continued to control the face-off circle Thursday night, even in the loss. Detroit won 57 percent of the game’s face-offs, which is even more impressive when you consider that the Penguins’ centers have the home-ice advantage of putting their sticks down last. Coming into Game 4, the Wings had an 87-66 advantage in the face-off dot. Controlling the puck from the get-go will help the Wings as the series progresses.
The return of Kris Draper didn’t hurt the face-off numbers, either. The Wings’ assistant captain is one of the best face-off men in the game. He didn’t show much rust, winning 55 percent of his draws. Draper played 8:10 and he recorded three hits in the contest.