**We've got another series-related post over at our blog if you just aren't getting enough Ducks/Wings talk in your life**
I'm going to ask the question that's really on the mind of every Ducks fan after last night: how do we stop the Franzen, Filppula, Hossa line? They seemed to just have their way with us. I can't really figure out why. No matter who Carlyle threw out there, there was no answer. What do the Ducks do to counter this new Detroit line, and get their own scoring back on track?
A lot of the Ducks' issues in Game 4 stemmed from problems on the blueline: Festerling gets caught changing, Brookbank gets called back to the bench halfway through a shift after a horrendous turnover, Beauchemin can't handle Detroit's forecheck, etc. As someone who's been very critical of Wisniewski, I tell you I'm missing him now. He could make quick transition passes that our non-Norris defensemen just don't know how to do. We rely on the boards too much, and that's not safe when the other team's bringing more energy than you are. We can't put ourselves in situations where we're wasting a shift trying to figure out how to leave our zone.
We need to get some consistency on those first passes and breakout passes from our blueline. They're making too many mistakes, and they are succumbing to pressure. Some of it will be fixed in practice with the two days off. Some of it will remain, regardless of what we do. BUT we can't let Detroit pressure giveaways from our defense. That takes our forwards out of the equation and leads to bad penalties, not to mention quality scoring chances.
To a degree, that will help us counter Franzen and Hossa. I doubt there's a sure-fire way to cool them off, just as I doubt there's a sure fire way to heat Bobby Ryan up. Franzen was called out by Carlyle and Hossa by Babcock. They both came into Game 4 with something to prove. Whether or not they can continue to prove it, we'll see on Sunday. But the only effective method to shut them down is to make sure they're playing with the puck as little as possible. Effective passing from the rearguards will go a long way toward that.
There was a sequence last night where Beauchemin and Niedermayer just played catch at our blue line for an entire shift, forcing the Hossa line to change. When a line is cycling pressure like this, they are weary of getting caught out there. Their energy is front-loaded in the shift, and if they don't get the puck, they have to change. We've got to keep that line playing defense. That means breaking out of our zone quickly, being responsible with the puck and upping pressure in their zone.
As far as getting our scoring going, I think it's up to the players. Carlyle's tried different combinations, including ones that worked during the regular season like Ryan/Ebbett/Selanne. Personally, I would like to see what I call the Crazy Eights line: Miller/Ebbett/Selanne because I feel they've done well in stretches together, and Miller plays defense well enough for Selanne to take the risks he can't help but take. But at the end of the day, whether Bobby Ryan figures out his game is really up to him. He's running out of time to do it, but the kid has the ability to dominate-- We've seen-t-it. Carlyle's called him out. I'm sure Carlyle's calling out a lot of guys in practice. Now, he's waiting for them to answer. We all are.