Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Wings hope for more from Filppula

Categories: Detroit Red Wings, SJS vs. DET, San Jose Sharks, Second Round

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Detroit Red Wings centre Valtteri Filppula, gets stuck between two San Jose Sharks during the first period in Game 1. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press) Detroit Red Wings centre Valtteri Filppula, gets stuck between two San Jose Sharks during the first period in Game 1. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

When the Detroit Red Wings fell behind 1-0 in their Western Conference semifinal series against the San Jose Sharks, things didn't look all that bleak. In fact, the Wings had won three of their last six and six of their last 10 playoffs series when dropping Game 1.

Now that they trail 2-0, though, the outlook grows significantly dimmer. Detroit is 5-15 all-time in Stanley Cup play when falling behind 2-0, and have been swept 10 times. The Wings last rallied from such a deficit since in the opening round of the 2002 playoffs, coming back to win in six games from the Vancouver Canucks.

The Wings also came back to win a 1992 first-round series against the Minnesota North Stars, in a 1987 Norris Division final against Toronto, in the 1963 semifinals against Chicago, and in the 1945 semifinals against Boston.

The 1963 comeback against Chicago, which saw Detroit win in six games, marked the only time the Wings won when down 2-0 after losing the first two games on the road.

Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom, part of two of the five Detroit teams rally from a 2-0 series disadvantage, insists the formula for a comeback isn't complicated.

"It's a matter of bearing down and playing a little better defensively," Lidstrom said. "We've got to score more goals. Getting one goal [per game], it's hard to win in the playoffs. We need more shots and traffic."

Taking a break

With Game 3 not slated until Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena, Wings coach Mike Babcock decided that the best medicine for what ails his team was rest, so the Wings didn't skate Monday.

"They've held serve at home," Babcock said. "We've got to lick our wounds, have a day off, get freshened up. We'll practice Tuesday and get ready to win the next game at home."

Delivering takeout

One stat which emphasized San Jose's dominance in Sunday's 2-1 Game 2 victory was in the takeaway department. Usually a huge edge for the skilled Wings, the Sharks garnered 15 takeaways in Game 2 to five for Detroit.

"They won more battles than we did, and by doing that, they end up with the puck more than we do," Babcock said. "I still think we've got to be harder for longer. In the second period, that's what they did. They were harder for longer."

"You pay a price if you play in your zone. It might not happen right away, but it's going to happen over time. We've just got to be harder on pucks. When we win D-zone faceoffs, we've got get on them and be harder on the puck in their zone. The more of those 50-50 pucks you win, the more time you're going to have the puck."

Detroit defenceman Brad Stuart agreed with his coach's assessment.

"I don't think we made it hard enough on their team," Stuart said."We just need to shoot more, get pucks in behind them a little better and that will help us."

Need their Fil

Several Detroit players were held off the scoresheet during the first two games of the series, and one of those who will look to step up in Game 3 is centre Valtteri Filppula. Toward the end of Game 2, Babcock flipped his second and third-line centres, moving Filppula between Todd Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary, while dropping Justin Abdelkader in with Johan Franzen and Jiri Hudler.

After a disappointing regular season in which he produced 16-23-39 totals in 51 games, Filppula contributed 1-4-5 totals in the first-round sweep of Phoenix.

"I should have [contributed more offence during the regular season]," Filppula admitted. "I got to play the minutes that you [need] to do more, but that didn't happen. Playoffs are another season. Hopefully I can do more for the team now."

SAN JOSE

With the extra day between Games 2 and 3, the Sharks took Monday as a travel day, meaning no exciting news for the team that a narrow but in some ways decisive 2-0 series lead.

The power play that was so troublesome through the Kings series has now improved, to the point where it merely a dismal sixth of the remaining eight teams, as opposed to a dismal-er seventh. Better for San Jose, though, is the power play improvement, to 81.2 per cent, or fourth, It isn't exactly Tampa Bay's one goal allowed in 46 kill attempts, but it is no longer Question No. 1 for head coach Todd McLellan.

Indeed, the only pressing matter he is likely to have to address Tuesday when exertions resume is what do with his fourth line. He has kept the first three lines intact throughout the postseason, but fit and re-fit the fourth repeatedly.

The new issue is Ben Eager, who seems simply too geeked up for play. He played only 1:10 Sunday, and in his ten seconds of the second period, he took a minor penalty and a misconduct in engaging Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi, effectively reducing San Jose to 11 forwards.

McLellan said nothing incendiary about Eager's performance in Game 2, but after playing 13 minutes in the first two games of the Los Angeles series, he has played fewer than nine in the other four, and was scratched for Games 5 and 6.

There are speculations that Jamal Mayers, who played all six games of the Kings series but has been a scratch for both Detroit games, would get time in Game 3. In addition, Jamie McGinn, who took a bad penalty in Game 5 as his chief contribution, is also a possibility.

McLellan is largely content with the rest of the roster, from the crack snowman builders Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton to point machines like Ian White and Niclas Wallin. Barring injury, the six defensemen and the other 11 forwards seem solid for Game 3 at Joe Louis Arena.