Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wings Waste Game 1 with Sloppy Performance

The Detroit Red Wings may have misconstrued the phrase, "What happens in the regular season doesn't matter in the playoffs".  I say this because we sure as hell did not see the team of last week on the ice for Game One of Detroit's opening playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks,  What we got was garbage, from top to bottom: a lackluster, undisciplined showing that was not in line with what one expects of a team in the playoffs.

One of the biggest concerns of the night had to be the penalties.  Terrible decisions made at the worst possible times hampered any chance Detroit had to get any sort of early rhythm going, and made it impossible to really turn the tide as the game went on.  Anaheim opened the night's scoring on a powerplay goal spawned from a moronic cross-check by Jordin Tootoo in front of the Wings' net, literally seconds after we dodged a massive bullet where Detroit should have been called for a penalty, but wasn't.

The Red Wings' only goal of the night followed, on what can only be described as a 'lucky bounce', Jakub Kindl, in what may have been the only smart thing he did all night, shot the puck toward the net, and the puck deflected off of Dan Cleary's body and past Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller.

From there, it was much of the same: Bad passes, terrible exits from the defensive zone getting stymied in the neutral zone, one-and-dones once the Wings finally DID breach the O-zone.  No sustained pressure. At all.  Even Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard was off his game tonight.  Don't misunderstand me though, he did his job and gave Detroit a fighting chance, but almost every stop that Howard made looked forced.  He fought the puck all night long, it seemed, and never truly got settled in, which may have further unsettled the skaters in front of him.

The young guys played like young guys tend to in the Playoffs: trying too hard, trying to force things that weren't there, and just generally not making smart, simple plays.  Take Kindl for example.  With a chance to hammer the down down the ice, he decides to get cute and try to bank the puck off the glass in his own zone...and totally misses the glass.  Delay of game penalty ensues, Ducks take the lead on another PPG early in the 3rd.

Everything kept slipping downhill from there, with the Wings gradually losing what little grip they still had on the game.  A few chances cropped up here and there, but Hiller was square to the task of shutting our minimal offense down for the rest of the match.  Add to that an empty netter from the Ducks' own zone, and it was the icing on the suck-cake.

So with the first game squandered, it's now up to Detroit to learn what they may from the loss, adapt, and move on.  They can still split the road pair and come out strong at home in Games 3 and 4.  This series is far from over, but Detroit needs to make performances like the one tonight disappear from their future matches.

Don't Believe the Odds, Detroit will be Dangerous

The Wings begin their quest toward the Stanley Cup tonight in Game 1 of their first round series against the Anaheim Ducks, but while Detroit's late-season push to make it in was extremely impressive, many analysts and odds-makers obviously don't believe that means much.  The majority of the hockey world sees the Red Wings as longshot to win the Cup in comparison to teams like Chicago and Pittsburgh, but I wouldn't count out a team whose last-second revival was of sleeping-giant-proportions.

Let's take a look at the last week, shall we?  Over the course of four games, Detroit decimated each and every team they faced, starting with the Phoenix Coyotes, who at the time were hot on Detroit's heels looking to overtake the Wings for a playoff spot.  They were pounded 4-0 for their efforts.

Next came the defending champs, the Los Angeles Kings.  LA jumped out to a 1-0 lead and everyone expected the worst.  Instead, Detroit rallied back, roaring past the Kings with three unanswered goals to win 3-1.

Then, it was the Nashville Predators, a team out of playoff hopes, but still with a chance to play giant-killer to a hated division rival.  The game was fiercely contested for the first 20 minutes, but after that, it was all Detroit, exploding for four goals to go from down 2-1 to winning 5-2.

Finally, in the critical final game of the season, Detroit faced another would-be dream killer in Dallas.  The Stars could also potentially crush the Wings hopes for Playoff glory by so much as taking a single point from the Wings.  The Red Wings weren't interested in that, however, and came to win, dominating the Stars 3-0 to lock up the 7th seed.

And now, here we are opening the 2012-13 playoffs against an Anaheim team we took to task in a back-to-back showdown just over a month ago.  In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, anything is possible if you work for it.  But go ahead, lay the odds against the Wings.  I'm sure they're just fine with that, and they'll let their play determine the real odds.