Coach Bruce Boudreau referred to the way the Red Wings can snap the puck around the offensive zone to make other teams seem helpless before the opening faceoff at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday night. The Red Wings did just that against the Capitals from the very start and although Washington would have its fair share of opportunities, it never seemed like the visitors were in control of the contest. That role belonged to Detroit.
To go along with their crisp passes, the Red Wings seemed to have at least one body in the crease at almost all times and they also took advantage of the springy boards in their legendary home arena — an advantage that John Carlson said threw the Capitals off and out of sync at times.
“They know this building pretty good and it felt that a lot of the times they started their offense with a smart play by them — they’re dumping it off the boards and they know where it’s going,” Carlson said. “We were just trying to ad-lib and try to counter that but they’re a good team and they use that stuff to their advantage.”
Carlson was one of four players to skate over 20 minutes against the Red Wings, along with Dennis Wideman, Alex Ovechkin and Scott Hannan. In the second and third periods in particular, a large chunk of Carlson’s task became trying to clear out Tomas Holmstrom from his wheelhouse in front of the net. It was a task the phrase ‘easier said than done’ was invented for.
“He’s unbelievable at [getting in front],” Carlson said of Holmstrom. “He’s made a living there and I don’t know how many goals he’s had in front of the net but I’m sure it’s a lot. He’s tough guy to move but you’ve got to be careful because you don’t want to take a penalty at the same time. It’s more of a team effort and defensively we had a few more breakdowns that we haven’t been having and we need to work on it.”
— Boudreau said he thought Henrik Zetterberg’s game-winning goal went in the net cleanly and although it wasn’t completely conclusive on the in-game replays I saw on the Detroit broadcast it looked like the puck might have caught the slightest piece of Michal Neuvirth’s glove.
— After the game Ovechkin didn’t appear to be showing any ill effects from a knee-on-knee collision with Darren Helm and the Capitals’ left wing said he was fine.
— Before the game, Boudreau said that there’s a possibility Nicklas Backstrom could return to the lineup on Friday. If not then he will likely return at some point in the final three road games of this current stretch of schedule. It doesn’t sound like the Capitals’ top center will be out too much longer.
— The team is off tomorrow before facing the Devils on Friday.