2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Who's Hot and Cold for Detroit Red Wings

Isaac SmithAnalyst IMay 6, 2013

2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Who's Hot and Cold for Detroit Red Wings

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    The first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs has the Detroit Red Wings doing a lot of head scratching.

    After a shutout loss in Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Anaheim Ducks, the Red Wings need answers, and quickly.

    The Red Wings came off of a Game 2 overtime win to steal home-ice advantage away from the Ducks. But as the Red Wings found out Saturday night, home-ice advantage doesn't mean much against the Ducks, as the Red Wings have now lost five of their last six home playoff games against the Ducks.

    The Red Wings team as a whole has some bright spots, in terms of player performances, thus far in the playoffs, but there have definitely been some stinker performances, as well.

    Here are three Red Wings who are hot and three Red Wings who are cold through the series.

1. Jimmy Howard, Hot

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    How can a goalie be considered a "hot" player when they have a 1-2 record, an 88.5 save percentage and a 3.33 GAA?

    Well, simply by playing the way Jimmy Howard has been playing thus far through three games. Howard has given his team a chance to win in each and every game thus far of the playoffs. Of the 10 goals that Howard has given up over three games, a substantial number of them have been breakdowns in front of him.

    In Game 3, Howard gave up four goals.

    The first goal, a result of the five-minute major to Justin Abdelkader, featured his entire penalty-killing unit far too high on the ice, leaving Corey Perry and Nick Bonino too wide open right in front of the net.

    Howard was left on an island on the next goal, as Damien Brunner turned the puck over on a power play right in front of the net. Howard went for the poke check and missed.

    The third and fourth goals were a result of defensemen not staying with their men while going to the net, resulting in tap-in goals before Howard could get set to face the shooter.

    Howard has played much better than his playoff numbers would indicate. He was leaned upon substantially in the regular season after Nick Lidstrom retired and Brad Stuart departed last offseason.

    He has, contrary to what his numbers would suggest, been one of the Red Wings' hottest players so far in this playoff series.

2. Johan Franzen, Hot

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    Johan Franzen was the big reason that the Red Wings won Game 2. Sure, the Red Wings blew a three-goal lead in the third period, but Franzen helped build that lead by getting to the net on both of his goals in that game.

    Game 3 was different from Game 2, in that Franzen did not score. But Franzen still pushed the pace in Game 3 and made a difference by forcing Jonas Hiller to make some big saves.

    Franzen was stopped on a breakaway in Game 3, but if he continues getting to the net, as well as using his shot to his advantage, he could find the back of the net a few more times before this series is over.

    "The Mule" has also been good defensively, with no giveaways, 2 takeaways, 2 hits and 4 blocked shots (per NHL.com) in three games. One of his takeaways last night in the neutral zone led to Valtteri Filppula getting a scoring chance.

3. Valtteri Filppula, Hot

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    Valtteri Filppula, along with Johan Franzen, has been a dynamic player in this series. Filppula is constantly being optimistic in the offensive zone, as he goes for loose pucks to put them on net and makes himself available for players like Johan Franzen to pass the puck to in entries into the zone.

    Filppula's effort needs to be reciprocated by the rest of the Red Wings' players if they are to have any chance of coming back in this series against the Ducks and Jonas Hiller.

    The Finnish forward had a number of good chances in Game 3, but he has just one point in the series. If Filppula continues to push the pace offensively, he should get a few more points before the end of this series, as well.

1. Damien Brunner, Cold

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    Damien Brunner leads the Red Wings in points in this series. But he went from one of the Red Wings' hottest players, with three points in Game 2, to one of their coldest players after Game 3.

    Brunner had a costly turnover to Ryan Getzlaf in Game 3 that put the Red Wings in a 2-0 hole in the game, leading to a 4-0 loss.

    The Swiss-born forward had numerous chances to make himself a weapon offensively, but he chose to stand around in the offensive zone on the 5-on-3 power play that the Red Wings had in the first period as opposed to move around and make himself an option to pass to like Valtteri Filppula did.

    Brunner opted to shoot from the outside in Game 3 instead of making himself a threat by moving closer to the net. He is having a little bit of a "2012 Alex Ovechkin" type season in that he chooses to shoot first and waits for the puck to come to him.

    He needs to focus on going to where he can be in a prime position to shoot instead of waiting for the puck to come to him. By waiting around, Brunner makes himself easier to defend, especially on the power play.

2. Brian Lashoff, Cold

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    One might ask how Brian Lashoff can be a "cold" player when he's only played one game in this series.

    Well, Lashoff had one job coming into Game 3. That job was being a defensive defenseman on the third line, playing some penalty killing roles as well.

    Lashoff had a hit and three blocked shots (per NHL.com), but he failed in his attempts to keep the Ducks off of the scoreboard.

    Lashoff was directly responsible for the third Ducks' goal, as he attempted to follow Teemu Selanne around the goal (who was already being checked by Jakub Kindl) instead of picking up Emerson Etem who one-timed the Selanne pass into the net.

    The young defenseman was also on the ice and responsible for the fourth Ducks' goal, a power-play tally that saw Lashoff leave the front of the goal to chase Bobby Ryan behind the net. Once Lashoff left his post in front of the net, Saku Koivu fired a quick pass right to the area where Lashoff had just departed, where Matt Beleskey was waiting to tap the puck into the net.

    Lashoff needs to position himself better. He had three blocked shots, which count for something. But his departure from the net and not playing his man on respective plays made it easy for the Ducks to take advantage of his presence on the ice because they knew he was going to over-pursue the puck.

    If Lashoff is to be of any help to the Red Wings going forward, he must stay by the front of the net and be accountable to his man when playing five-on-five.

3. Niklas Kronwall, Cold

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    Niklas Kronwall is the third and final player on the "cold" side of the spectrum.

    Kronwall simply needs to pick an end of the ice to dominate. He is the new No. 1 defenseman in Detroit, after the departures of Lidstrom and Stuart in the offseason last year, but Kronwall simply cannot be good offensively and defensively.

    In this series, Kronwall has no points, while being part of a Red Wings penalty kill that is yielding a power play goal 33.3 percent of the time (the Ducks are 5-15 on the power play). He is also minus-three in the series with 3 shots, 4 hits, 6 blocked shots and 2 giveaways (per NHL.com).

    Simply put, Kronwall is trying to do too much as a No. 1 defenseman. He is already playing 23:48 a game on defense and must simplify his game if the Red Wings are to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

    He must get on the score sheet, as he was fourth in team scoring in the regular season with 29 points.


    All stats courtesy of NHL.com

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