Detroit Red Wings
@ Anaheim Ducks
Sunday, Nov 20, 2011, 5:00 PM PST
TV: PRIME TICKET
Radio: AM 830 KLAA
Your Enemy: Winging It In Motown
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Since nothing seems to work lately, and because I'm a reasonably superstitious person, I wanted to try a different approach with today's gameday thread.
I hate the Red Wings. I have all of the standard reasons most Ducks fans do (they get too much credit for things they do right while getting away with all sorts of tomfoolery, they're the Yankees of hockey, etc), but one of the things that drives me crazy is how beatable they are and how rarely we actually achieve victory. I've seen enough Ducks/Wings games to this point that it seems pretty obvious how to beat this team.
Robby's Three Keys to Victory
1) Exploit Jimmy Howard's aggressiveness—More than any other goalie I can think of, Howard loves to play so far out of his net that his skates often aren't even in the blue paint. It seems like it should be so easy to beat this style of play, and yet the Ducks continue to try to beat him with point shots and shots from the middle of the ice. Beating Howard is a simple matter of being able to move the puck down to wingers on the half wall or along the goal line that can hit a wide open net. You know he's going to be aggressive. So take advantage of it.
2) Hit, hit, and hit some more—The Wings are going to get their fair share of offensive opportunities, but they're especially dangerous when they feel they have room to maneuver. In the 2008-2009 series, the Ducks were able to frustrate the Wings with their physical play, and they'll have to do the same thing tonight. Sure, hitting any team (let alone Detroit) carries the attendant risks of penalties. But unless Pavel Datsyuk thinks Luca Sbisa is about to crush him with an open-ice hit, Datsyuk will dangle and find a way to create offense.
3) Clear the defensive zone—In our last game against Detroit, we were victimized by several prolonged possessions in our defensive zone. While hitting will take away some of their time and space, the key will be to get control of those pucks and quickly clear them out of the defensive zone. I don't care if we take icing call after icing call; we just can't afford to let Detroit maintain any sustained pressure where they can get into a groove. It doesn't always have to be pretty or set up a rush down the ice, but the number one priority when the Wings have the puck is to separate them from it and send it back down the ice. If Jonas Hiller gives up a rebound, it has to go to the corners and then out of the zone.
Bonus Key) Score more than they do
Some may lament that we have to face Detroit in the midst of our current skid, but I relish the opportunity. If the Ducks can play a good game, beating Detroit would serve to be a modest boost in morale. If they lose, then they get beat by a team that has typically had their number. Either way, it's sort of a win-win for Anaheim tonight. The Ducks just need to do the little things right and deliver a gritty effort tonight.