The Ducks' Plan: Play Better?

Ryan LarimoreContributor IMay 12, 2009

DETROIT - MAY 10:  Jonas Hiller #1 of the Anaheim Ducks looks on as Brad Stuart #23 of the Detroit Red Wings and his teammates celebrate a third period gaol during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 10, 2009 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 4-1 to take a 3-2 series lead.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Ducks came out of Game Five with more questions than answers.

Heading into Game Six tonight, the Ducks better find a cheat sheet, or they won't be coming back to Detroit for a Game Seven against the defending Stanley Cup Champs.

There are no secret plans for the Ducks—from all accounts, they have one sheet of paper in their playbook, and  it reads "Play Better". From what we have seen in the last two games, it is hard to see that working now.

"Play Better" is a tactful way of saying "the Red Wings are too much". "Play Better" means the Ducks don't have the depth; the Red Wings four lines have been rolling all over the Ducks. Darren Helm scored the back breaker in Game Five with just under seven minutes of ice time.

It means the Ducks don't have the goaltending. Hiller has been very human in this series, giving up a couple of soft goals through the five-hole, as well as being chased in Game Four in favor of Giguere.

The Ducks don't have the grit to make it past the defending champions—they are being out-hit and out-shot in five games, and they lack commitment on defense.

A few good bounces and a controversial call have gotten the Ducks to Game Six, but being out-played for an entire series can wear on a team, and it has been made abundantly clear that this is the case.

"I thought at times we looked worn down," Carlyle admitted according to the OC register. "We'll fly home. We'll re-energize, re-focus. We'll visit on the things that we have to do and emotionally try to charge ourselves. We weren't emotionally involved enough on a consistent basis."

Too little too late. The Ducks have been hunted, and Game Six could be the long drag back, in the mouth of a retriever dog.

Adding to the Duck's problems heading into Game Six, the Red Wing's No. 2 defenseman Brain Rafalski could be making his return, after missing the entire series with a mystery injury that occurred sometime between Rounds One and Two.