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THN.com Playoff Blog: Avalanche the ones getting buried by Wings

Not even a tilt between the Wings Darren McCarty and the Avs Cody McCormick could help turn the tide for Colorado in Game 2. (Photo by Tom Turrill/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Not even a tilt between the Wings Darren McCarty and the Avs Cody McCormick could help turn the tide for Colorado in Game 2. (Photo by Tom Turrill/NHLI via Getty Images)

At what point does secondary scoring become primary?

That’s the question we asked ourselves as “second-liners” Johan Franzen (three goals) and Valtteri Filppula (one) helped propel the Detroit Red Wings to an easy 5-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche Saturday afternoon.

For Franzen, it was the second consecutive multi-goal contest, giving him the team and league lead with seven. And the talented Swede can score them in a variety of ways. His first came on a deft redirect, the second on a power wraparound punctuated by a nifty backhand, the third a rebound bang-in on the penalty-kill.

The Forsberg-less Avs clearly have no answer, to this point, for Detroit’s remarkable depth. If coach Joel Quenneville tries to play shutdown against the Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Holmstrom trio, Franzen, Filppula and company make Colorado pay. Physical intimidation hasn’t worked, either. Av winger Cody McCormick picked a fight with Detroit veteran Darren McCarty in the second period and the bleeding didn’t stop.

In fact, things became more unraveled for the frustrated Avs, who at one point took five consecutive minor penalties.

The only beacon of hope was the play of Peter Budaj, who was strong in relief of Jose Theodore for the second game in a row. Budaj has now stopped 38 of 39 shots in the series (.974 save percentage compared to Theodore’s .778) and you have to believe he has earned the start for Game 3.

Quenneville has to try something to change his team’s karma. He obviously can’t rely on Forsberg’s return and mustn’t use the Swede’s absence as an excuse. That just perpetuates the victim mentality. The Avs need to start believing in themselves, with or without Forsberg, and Budaj’s play should inspire confidence.

Really, what does Colorado have to lose? This series is looking suspiciously like a sweep unless the Avs somehow, drastically, change their mojo.

REF RATING
I refuse to add my voice to the chorus of officiating bashers. I appreciate the job they do and feel, in general, they’ve performed credibly and competently this post-season under pressure-packed circumstances.

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There have been some exceptions, where mistakes have been made, but hey, that’s part of the game; really, it’s part of any sport. We can’t expect perfection.

The one area, however, where I see room for improvement is consistency, particularly late in games. There have been a handful of contests this spring in which whistles must’ve frozen as games wore on because indiscretions that were penalties in the first and second periods, failed to be called in the third.
 
The data supports that assertion. In Round 1, there were 543 minors assessed in regulation time: 198 (36 percent) in the first period; 206 (38 percent) in the second period; and 139 (26 percent) in the third.

Of course, the final frame decline may be partially attributable to players playing more cautiously, but our observations tell us it’s just as much about throwback officiating as it is skaters playing nice.

As a point of comparison, in the regular season the minors broke down as follows: first period (33 per cent); second period  (36 percent); third period (31 percent).

THN.com's Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.

Jason Kay is the editor of The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every weekend.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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