COMMENTARY | Coach Mike Babcock wasn't happy with how his team performed after a loss to the Phoenix Coyotes last week. He made some line changes, and they appear to be making a difference as the Detroit Red Wings picked up a pair of impressive wins against the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins.
The Red Wings started each game by scoring first, and used great goaltending and great defense to secure the wins. Detroit also found its scoring touch notching eight goals in those two games after scoring eight goals in the first four games this season.
Red Wings score first power-play goal
The power play certainly has been lacking during the Red Wings' first four games. They had their opportunities -- the first unit more so than the second unit -- but could never get any pucks in the net.
They changed that on Saturday, October 12 as they scored three power-play goals against the Flyers.
The big reason for the improved power play was the net-front presence of Todd Bertuzzi. He parked himself in front of Ray Emery, and Emery couldn't see two of the goals scored on him.
Bertuzzi scored the first power-play goal after Niklas Kronwall brought the puck in the offensive zone and Bertuzzi retrieved a loose puck from behind the net and shoved it through Emery's legs before Emery knew where the puck was.
The Red Wings have been missing a solid net-front presence ever since Tomas Holmstrom retired last year. Bertuzzi can't replace Holmstrom, but if he continues to be used to create chaos in front of the net, the Red Wings surely will benefit.
Jonas Gustavsson impresses in win
Jimmy Howard injured his hand in the game against the Flyers, and Jonas Gustavsson was told minutes before the Bruins game that he would be starting against Boston on Monday, October 14.
He didn't disappoint as he stopped 28 shots in a 3-2 win against Boston. Gustavsson even had to come up big on a 5-on-3 that lasted nearly two minutes. The defense certainly came up big as well blocking numerous shots and not allowing the Bruins to get a ton of quality scoring chances.
Gustavsson isn't as technical as Howard, often relying on his size to stop pucks. But as long as he can perform well and give the team a chance to win, you can't ask that much more from your backup goalie.
Red Wings blocking shots
In addition to finding their scoring touch, the Red Wings have done a phenomenal job blocking shots in their past two games. They blocked 15 shots against the Flyers, and 22 against the Bruins.
One of the big problems early in the season was allowing shots to get on net. They showed no sense of urgency if they lost a faceoff, which led to second-chance opportunities for the opposing team. Against the Flyers and Bruins, they not only won the majority of faceoffs, but got bodies and sticks in the shooting lanes to prevent quality scoring chances.
The Red Wings go right back at it again on Tuesday, October 15 when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets. Gustavsson may get the start again as Howard isn't sure if he'll be able to play.
These Blue Jackets aren't the same team that constantly found itself at the bottom of the standings in years' past. They have some pieces to make a push for a playoff spot, and the Red Wings can't take them lightly after picking up two big wins.
Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who covers the Detroit Red Wings for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He also co-hosts a Red Wings Podcast called The Octopod, and is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can follow Tom on Twitter.
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