1-0 Dallas over Detroit
Dallas is now 8 pts behind Detroit for the presidents trophy lead
Going into the trade deadline I've had two big concerns about the stars: adding a veteran defender and adding a scorer to play with Modano to keep Dallas from being a 1 line team. The young defenders are solid players, but veteran experience can't hurt, and a 1 line team doesn't win in the playoffs. Today and Friday vs the Ducks a 2nd line has been gelling to the point that if Hull/Jackson can find a scorer to with Modano Dallas will have 3 defensively responsible scoring lines. Jussi Jokinen, Nik Hagman, and Jere Lehtinen played a very solid game today. If Dallas is able to find a goal scorer to go with Modano I'll take my chances in the playoffs with Jokinen/Hagman/Lehtinen as my 3rd line any day of the week.
Just a couple of notes from the NBC broadcast:
* Dallas is the only team in the top 6 in both special teams categories
* Mike Emerick and Eddie Olczyk mentioned how little coverage Dallas gets
* Dallas was 2-13 in their last 15 home games vs Detroit. 3-13 now
* I don't know much about Kyle Quincy, but he has some speed from the back
Player of the Game: Marty Turco had 28 saves for his 2nd shutout of the year. Pavel Datsyuk was a bull at times and deserves some recognition, but Turco was equal to his every attempt.
Recap: The game didn't have the playoff feel of Friday night's Anaheim game for the full 60 minutes, but by the last 10 minutes of the 3rd period the emotion was showing up.
The first period belonged to Detroit. They were up 5 shot to 0 on Dallas 5 minutes in when Turco stopped Tomas Kopecky on a 2-0 breakaway for his first of many big saves on the night. Shortly after Detroit got their 1st powerplay of the game which foreshadowed how the remainder of the game would go. Detroit was unable to get any pressure on Dallas' top ranked penalty killing unit, and for the remainder of the game they would have virtually no success even generating scoring chances on the powerplay. Datsyuk would bull his way to the front of Dallas' net around the 17:30 mark only to have Turco pokecheck the puck away to safety.
Datsyuk started the 2nd period in much the same fashion with another breakaway that Turco stopped. In the second period Detroit picked up the hitting a little bit; Hagman got wrecked 2:30 in and Draper killed Niskanen at the 8 minute mark. Dallas didn't allow Detroit to knock them off of their game, but they didn't appear to respond physically like they normally would, perhaps in an effort to limit penalties against a strong offensive team like Detroit. Robidas also had a tough second period. He took a slapshot off the hand and followed that up by cutting his upper lip open.
3:13 into the third period Nik Hagman got the game winning goal off of a fat rebound from Jimmy Howard where Andreas Lilja was more worried about blocking a point shot than defending a 20 goal scorer. Detroit stepped the efforts up again, but around the 15 minute mark Dallas began dropping 4 men back to defend their blueline. Detroit's lack of size and unwillingness to forecheck became evident. They got a few chances in the final minute, but nothing Turco couldn't handle.
Detroit played a solid enough game to win, but they did expose a fatal flaw: they are too small as a team up front, and outside of Draper and Holmstrom they didn't appear to want to get their hands dirty. You don't beat teams like Dallas, Anaheim, and San Jose if thats how you want to play them in the playoffs. Detroit missed Rafalski, but Rafalski isn't a 6'5 forechecking forward so even with him they still have a fatal flaw. Olli Jokinen really would be a nice addition to help Dallas exploit that flaw if they meet in the playoffs.