Krupa: Wings need more intensity for Game 2
Detroit — Game 1 was a bit of a mixed bag, with the Red Wings coming out with considerable determination in the first and second periods, but not following it up with their strongest performance.
In the first period, it was a matter of failing to score, despite launching numerous forays in the opening 6 1/2 minutes.
In the second, they lit it up for two goals in 4:07, but allowed themselves to fall into a bit of a lull after the Lightning killed a big penalty. The Lightning tied the game.
In the Stanley Cup playoffs, the slightest lapse and the puck can be quickly into the back of the net.
The Wings, who have hurt themselves with lots of lapses this season, had relatively fewer in the first game of the series.
It made for a better performance. But they still did not win.
Intensity. It was a welcome sign when the Red Wings came out with lots of it to start the game, and then again at the beginning of the second period.
They began with the first six shots before yielding one on Jimmy Howard.
In the second, they were all over the Lightning again. This time, it paid off, with two goals in the first 4:07.
By the start of the third period, they were credited with 14 quality scoring chances to the Lightning’s nine.
The most evidence still more intensity is required is the Red Wings failure to get forwards behind the Lightning defense for better scoring opportunities from close range, the sorts of goals that are more likely in the closely contested playoffs.
Scoring first in the NHL is one of the best ways to win a game, especially in the playoffs. It is especially important when a team is not scoring a lot, and that describes the Red Wings all season long.
It is especially important to go up 1-0 in the playoffs, in which teams play tighter defense.
The Wings looked intent at the start of the game, with the first half-dozen shots. But too few of them were good scoring opportunities, and the Lightning managed to tip the ice on them when they scored on their second shot of the game, 6:37 into the first period.
The Lightning scored on a second shot and set the Red Wings on their heels for a while, allowing the next four shots.
In the second period, after failing to score on their third power play, there was an inexplicable lull in their efforts.
They failed to clear the zone in front of Howard and compounded it with a snag in defensive deployment that allowed the dangerous Kucherov all the space he needed to tie the game.
The Wings also suffered a significant letdown after the Lightning went ahead 3-2 in the third, allowing Tampa Bay to swarm offensively. Instead of grabbing the puck and creating their own scoring chances, they left Howard at the opponents’ mercy for two minutes of play.
The Red Wings would benefit greatly if one of their goalies steals a game or two, especially given the offensive prowess of the Lightning and goalie Ben Bishop’s considerable abilities.
But after their fine start and big, early lead in shots, Howard was not at his best on the first Lightning goal. It scored on just its second shot.
The play was created with a cross-ice pass to Nikita Kucherov.
Howard’s side-to-side movement is not always brisk, but he seemed quite slow getting to the point where he could face Kucherov squarely. He never quite made it.
Own the offensive crease
Meanwhile, the Wings could have capitalized on a dicey Bishop, if their forwards had managed to get behind the Lightning defenders to grab some of the big rebounds, create traffic and deflections and garner the “dirty” or “greasy” goals that are so important amid the tight defensive play of the NHL, in this era — especially in the playoffs.
For all of their shooting and offensive vigor, the Red Wings simply did not have enough attackers on top of Bishop to create more quality chances and goals.