This was a wonderful series to watch. While the three other series were lop-sided affairs with few competitive moments, this was a show. Behind The Net put it best:
It was a bit more surprising to see seven one-goal games (2-1, 2-1, 4-3, 4-3, 4-3, 2-1, 3-2 - don't forget to exclude EN goals) but it perfectly captured the relative differences between these two teams.
The games were close, the score was close and the scoring chances were close. I'll put the finishing touches on the series with a look at the scoring chance totals and head-to-head matchups.
For those who'd like a definition: a scoring chance is defined as a clear play directed toward the opposing net from a dangerous scoring area - loosely defined as the top of the circle in and inside the faceoff dots, though sometimes slightly more generous than that depending on the amount of immediately-preceding puck movement or screens in front of the net. Blocked shots are generally not included but missed shots are. A player is awarded a scoring chance anytime he is on the ice and someone from either team has a chance to score. He is awarded a "chance for" if someone on his team has a chance to score and a "chance against" if the opposing team has a chance to score. Finally, a big thanks to Vic Ferrari for making the whole damn thing possible with his awesome scripts.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Some of the numbers above should be a surprise for most people. The Sharks' top pairing of Douglas Murray and Dan Boyle struggled against Detroit's top players, but the rest of defensive corps held their own against the rest of the Wings' roster. The forwards were relatively close throughout the lineup, with the lone exception being Torrey Mitchell's -7, the largest negative chance differential among the regular forwards. Of note is Patrick Marleau's +5, second among forwards after Devin Setoguchi.
Except for Dany Heatley, the top two lines were in the black. The bottom of the roster didn't look good and I wonder how unbeatable the Sharks would look if they had useful bottom-line players rather than a couple of brawlers and a faceoff specialist.
I still believe these numbers would look much better had Todd McClellan replaced Clowe with Ferriero in game six and used Pavelski as the second line. San Jose was beaten up on the chances board in game six and didn't have an effective line. Keeping Thornton's line and Pavelski's line together would have been the more effective strategy.
Pavel Datsyuk was stellar all series long, that's not a secret. But Johan Franzen's numbers are excellent, even though he was hurting badly. Given his numbers while injuried, how different is this series with a healthy mule? Tomas Holmstrom is noticeably slowing and doesn't keep up with the play much anymore, even though he's out with either Datsyuk or Zetterberg or both.
Only the bottom of the lineup was in the red for the Wings as well. Effective bottom-line guys don't cost more than ineffective bottom-line guys - it's interesting that two very good General Managers choose to keep chaff on the roster.
Datsyuk's numbers are just incredible.
*Click to enlarge all charts
How even was the series? Add the numbers in the top left box together and we have...zero. The two top lines (lineup as of the opening of the series) played each other to a draw.
The Red Wings held the advantage at the top of the roster, but the Sharks made it back by beating the bottom of the roster.
The most astonishing thing on this chart is the toughness of minutes played by Lidstrom and Stuart. 65% of Lidstrom's minutes at even strength came against Thornton. 82% of his minutes were against either Thornton or Couture. In recapping last year's Sharks-Wings series, I wrote:
Nicklas Lidstrom's minutes were amazing during this series. 89% of his minutes at even strength game against Thornton or Pavelski.
Lidstrom isn't slowing down - the Sharks forward compmliment is deeper this season and Lidstrom had to spend some time against Pavelski.
The minutes Demers and Vlasic played against Zetterberg and Datsyuk are also surprising - they were the secondary shutdown pair - not Wallin and White.
Continuing on the topic of Demers and Vlasic, note that they played Zetterberg as well as the top pairing of Murray and Boyle. Murray and Boyle had much more success against Datsyuk, however and when considered in the context above, they had more success against Datsyuk than any other Wings forward except the mistake-prone Justin Abdelkader.