Thursday, June 6
Updated: June 7, 12:37 AM ET
Wings expose Irbe's weakness, Hasek exposes own
By Darren Pang
Special to ESPN.com
ESPN's Darren Pang breaks down the goaltending in Detroit's 3-1 win over the Hurricanes in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals:
I thought early on during Detroit's 3-1 win in Game 2 that Dominik Hasek made some hesitant decisions. The first time he went to play the puck he hesitated. When you hesitate, your defensemen don't know what's going on. As a result, Kris Draper took a penalty by hitting from behind, because of confusion.
I watched him closely after that, and on his next time playing the puck he was also hesitant. Then there was a high shot to his blocker and he fell down awkwardly and I was thinking, "Boy, he's got to get going, here."
Hasek dodged a bullet. When Carolina sees the game tape, they'll say we've got to get more pucks on net and take advantage of the situation. When Hasek is not seeing pucks, he feels like he has to do something extraordinary to contribute. Basically, he's bored and he's thinking, 100 m.p.h., "What can I do to do something?" And in the meantime, he ends up doing nothing.
Then he made a great save with his left pad off a breakdown, and I thought he was getting going. But then at the start of the second period he misplayed another puck. If I were a fan of the Detroit Red Wings, I'd have been concerned at that time.
On the other side, Arturs Irbe made so many solid-looking saves. He made them look very simple and didn't do anything extraordinary except stop the puck.
Detroit missed several golden opportunities. Kirk Maltby had a backhander, Draper had a backhander, Igor Larionov had an open net -- they were missed opportunities that made me think that fate was on his side in this game. I thought Irbe would walk away with the victory, until the Red Wings scored high glove twice in a row in the third period. Overall, three goals scored high glove on Irbe in this game.
In Game 1, the Wings really went low stick a lot. They made some changes for Game 2.
Shooters will tell you that it depends on the situation and where they are on the ice. They'll take what is given to them. In this particular case, I think the Wings got frustrated going low on Irbe, when he's such a strong low, butterfly goaltender. Technically, Irbe is exceptional at shuffling side to side and taking away the low part of the net. The Red Wings had an area, read the play and picked him apart on that.
A disturbing pattern with Hasek has been his lack of patience. Between periods, Rod Brind'Amour told Steve Levy that Hasek made the first move on that breakaway. That is something the goalie doesn't want to hear.
Obviously, Hasek is one of the greatest, but if he's making the first move he has to tweak his game. He did it in a breakaway sequence against Colorado, he did it on Jeff O'Neill's goal in Game 1 and he did it again on Brind'Amour's goal. If there's an area of concern in Hasek's game, it's a lack of patience. He's got to get back to letting the shooter make the first move, then reacting to that. He'll be better off when he gets more patient.
Darren Pang, a former goaltender with the Chicago Blackhawks, is a hockey analyst for ESPN.