Sure, the Red Wings beating the Ducks was a team effort and every one in the organization contributed, but let’s get past the cliches. Some members of the Red Wings were more responsible for the win than others. It’s not like that social media intern really made a difference in Game 6. Here are the four people you should be building bedroom shrines to, and one more that will get more than that if the Red Wings upset the Blackhawks.
Henrik Zetterberg - Zetterberg led everybody on the Responsibility Chart with a 2.83 rating, a full goal better than anybody else on the team. He single-handedly accounted for 3.08 goals, while allowing just 0.25. The winning team averaged 3.57 goals in the series. Zetterberg was basically solely responsible for one win.
In total, Zetterberg played a part in 10 of his team’s 18 goals and just one of the Ducks’s 21 goals in this series.
Justin Abdelkader and Dan Cleary - Second and third (1.83 and 1.6, respectively) on the Responsibility Chart, they both did one thing well: go to the front of the net. Filling the void left by Tomas Holmstrom is where the two got most of their points, although Abdelkader became better player after the suspension and Put Da Team on his Back with that shorthanded goal in Game 7. If the stars get you to the finals and the grinders get you to the Cup, these two showed the Red Wings might have the roster to do it.
Mike Babcock - Babcock has become the Mike Tyson of coaching. Before the opponent even steps in the ring they’re scared of him. Take what Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau told the Detroit Free Press before Game 7.
“You’re always looking at the other bench and at who they’re putting on, who is not playing as well for you as you think, and maybe making changes,” Bodreau said. “You try to think three steps ahead, but it’s difficult.
“I know at the end of each of these games, I’m pretty whipped. That tells me I’m having to do more thinking than I really want to do. And besides, when you’re trying to match wits with Mike (Babcock), who has been in every pressure situation in the world, it’s not the easiest thing.”
To simply 92 words into five: Babcock was in his head.
It became most apparent in Game 7. Babcock knew the Red Wings had little chance if they fell behind early, so he kept Pavel Datsyuk and Zetterberg on the same line for warmups, then split them up to start the game. Bodreau overreacted and split up Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. The Red Wings out shoot the Ducks 7-1 in the first five minutes of the game and score the game’s first goal.
Babcock hit Bodreau with body shots like those the entire series.
What about Jimmy Howard? - Well, Game 3 was his only bad game of the series, when he conceded two soft goals in the 4-0 loss. The only other goal he was partially responsible for was Emerson Etem’s goal in Game 7, but Etem was allowed to power slide around three Red Wings and take a wide-open shot in that situation.
My Responsibility Chart has Howard at -1.31 in the series — fourth worst on the team. The system, however, skews negatively towards defensive players and especially Howard for a simple reason: Howard can’t score any goals. All he can do is wrack up the negative points.
His save percentage is up 23 percentage points (from .888 to .911) from last year’s five-game series loss to Nashville. He has made a number above-average to spectacular stops, including a Corey Perry-to-Ryan Getzlaf connection in Game 7 that would have mutated everything. But he didn’t exactly pull a ‘I put da team on my back’ series though.
Among the 15 goalies that played four or more games in this first round, Howard’s .911 save percentage is tied for 11th, second worst among the eight conference semifinalist goalies.*
Howard has been good. But as the Red Wings face the Blackhawks, they need something beyond that. For once they need the goalie who keeps the puck out of the net on every scramble, the one that makes it obvious for all the analysts that this is the year’s ‘hot’ goalie. The Red Wings need Jean-Sebastien Gigure with the Ducks, or Curtis Joseph with the Oilers. Howard has been good enough put himself in position to be that goalie. But he isn’t that yet.
*(Marc-Andre Fleury’s has a .891 save percentage.)