The trend, win one, lose one favors our Ducks. Virtually everything favors our Ducks save three. Lack of finish or killer instinct, the Red Wings motion game and their best players have been the best players in this series. One look at the top scorers from each is all the evidence you need to know that the Red Wings best players are the best players in this series.
Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterburg with support and very timely scoring coming from Damien Brunner, Gustav Nyqyist and Dan Cleary. Ducks scoring leaders are Ryan Getlzaf, Kyle Palmieri and Nick Bonino with three each. Matt Beleskey and Emerson Etem have two goals apiece while Teemu Selanne scored the winner in game one.
Following the best players have to be the best players on the ice, the keys to the game for our Ducks are, (2) take away Wings hunger for the puck, in other words make them pay a physical price for touching the biscuit, (3) dominate the play at both blue lines. This will result in forcing the Wings to dump and chase the puck into our zone and keep them bottled up in their own zone, (4) Get sticks and bodies into the passing lanes when the Wings have the puck.
The one single aspect of this series that can’t be ignored is the role of the officials. Bruce Boudreau has admitted that our Ducks have been warned against cross-checking and roughing down low. I will note that referees caution both teams prior to every game about what they intend to call. So far Mike Babcock has indicated what the Refs have told him. Given how the calls have gone in this series, many Ducks fans are wondering if the Refs told Babs, “Don’t worry.” This isn’t too suggest the fix is in but I does accuse NHL officials of bias and one-sided penalty calls throughout this series.
Biased officiating has been institutionalized by the NHL. The league’s stated policy has been to open the game up and limit interference. Apparently and according to coach Boudreau you can no longer defend the low slot either.
I’m not alone in calling out the officials in this playoff. THN’s Ken Campbell to Bleacher Report and even former NHL referee Kerry Frazier have all been critical of numerous in particular as well the quality of officiating generally.
Win and our Ducks face the L.A. Kings in series in the NHL’s second largest media market. This fact alone makes the notion that game is actually fixed just another weird conspiracy theory. I don’t and won’t go there without undeniable evidence.
But officials incompetent to the extent that they actually determine the outcome of a playoff series? You bet they are and this series is part of the incontrovertible body of evidence.
Either way, and it’s a sad sate of affairs for the NHL to have to say this but I hope the players determine the outcome and not the officials.