Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 4/18/12
Detroit -- There has been a lot of talk over the last week about the Red Wings and their inability to score. It's true, against Nashville this series the Wings have been outscored 11-8, which is rare in the playoffs for them. But fans seem to remember the good old days through rose-colored glasses. It's really about scoring timely goals, especially the first goal of the game. In fact, I went through the playoff statistics since the 2005 lockout and, really, not a lot has changed in terms of scoring. Last year in four games against the Phoenix Coyotes, the Wings had 18 goals for, 10 goals against. In seven games against the San Jose Sharks, the Wings had 18 goals for, 18 goals against. In 2010, in seven games against the Coyotes, the Wings had 26 goals for, 18 goals against. In five games against the Sharks, the Wings had 17 goals for, 15 goals against. In 2009, in four games against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Wings had 18 goals for, 7 goals against. In seven games against the Anaheim Ducks, the Wings had 22 goals for, 17 goals against. In five games against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Wings had 19 goals for, 10 goals against. In seven games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Wings had 17 goals for, 14 goals against. In 2008, the last time the Wings won the Stanley Cup, in six games against the Predators, the Wings had 17 goals for, 12 goals against. In four games against the Colorado Avalanche, the Wings had 21 goals for, 9 goals against. In six games against the Dallas Stars, the Wings had 17 goals for, 10 goals against. In six games against the Penguins, the Wings had 17 goals for, 10 goals against. In 2007, in six games against the Calgary Flames, the Wings had 18 goals for, 10 goals against. In six games against the Sharks, the Wings had 13 goals for, 9 goals against. In six games against the Ducks, the Wings had 17 goals for, 16 goals against. In 2006, in six games against the Edmonton Oilers, the Wings had 18 goals for, 18 goals against. Well, some might say things were so much better before the lockout when the Wings could buy as many players as they wanted to without having to deal with the salary cap. That was true but it didn't always guarantee victory. In 2004, in six games against the Predators, the Wings had 12 goals for, 9 goals against. In six games against the Flames, the Wings had 12 goals for, 11 goals against. In 2003, in four games against the Mike Babcock-coached Mighty Ducks, the Wings only had 7 goals for, 11 goals against. So what does all of this tell you? It tells you the goaltender is the most important player on the team in the playoffs. Certainly he isn't responsible for scoring goals but if he can prevent them, it enables his team to hang on until the other team makes a mistake, which happened Tuesday night in the Wings' 3-1 loss to the Predators. Here's what Wings captain Nick Lidstrom said after the game, when talking about Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne: "He's been playing real well. I think he's been their best player." The Wings have sent 40 or more shots Rinne's way the last two games, both home losses. "I think we had 40 shots again, a lot of them are quality chances," said Henrik Zetterberg, who has had 14 shots the last two games. "It's tough when you keep getting chance after chance after chance after chance and then they come up and score a goal. The momentum goes to their side. It's tough to fight back." Although firing so many pucks at Rinne is exactly what the Wings want to do, it also can backfire in that the more saves Rinne makes, the better he feels and the more confidence his team gains. "Usually, the game gets more easier when you face more pucks," Rinne said. "It almost feels like the other team is just trying to shoot the puck...they are trying to create rebounds and that's an area in my game that I feel comfortable in." Rinne isn't even the top playoff goaltender in save percentage or goals-against. He's sixth in save percentage at .942 and ninth in goals-against at 2.01. But Jimmy Howard, who had similar regular-season numbers to Rinne, is 16th (out of 19) in save percentage at .879 and 14th in goals-against at 2.78. The goals haven't all been his fault but he has not played at the same level as Rinne, which could be because he missed so much time late in the regular season because of a groin injury. But it's not time to throw the baby out with the bath water, even though the Wings are down 3-1 in the series. "When we do get the chances we have to bear down, really make sure we capitalize," Niklas Kronwall said. "I thought we had some really good chances. "We got to stick to the program and keep believing in what we do. We feel like we have a good team. If we can just keep playing like this obviously we want to clean up our game in our own zone. "It feels like we're giving them a few goals for free. We want to make sure they have to work a lot harder for the goals."
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