Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wings Hit Oil Slick, Recover for Win

"After the second we let them back in the game..we just said 'continue to put pucks in try to work them down low and get chances..." - Defenseman Brad Stuart

Wow...for the Wings getting their sixth straight win, I thought I'd be much more happy. Detroit salvaged an absolutely HORRIBLE meltdown where they allowed the Edmonton Oilers to score four straight goals to tie the game and escape with a 5-4 regulation win. Brad Stuart tipped a high shot from my man Pavel Datsyuk which, after a long, lengthy and frankly nerve-wracking video review, kept the Red Wings from looking the (complete) fool.

It's a real shame that the Wings, no matter how far along the generations you go the last few years, have some habits that just seem to reside in the entity of the team, and not the players and staff. Slacking and blowing leads? Definitely one of them. Kind of scary to watch this tonight so close to the post-season, but all we can do is hope it scared the hell out of the Wings and keeps them from pulling this stunt again for a long, long time.

So with that, let's look at the three keys from the preview:

1.) Learn from the Past - Hah. Well, I think the Wings skipped this class in school today. Detroit had to have that season series somewhere in the back of their heads, but I don't think they were looking back far enough. The Red Wings let their foot off the gas, and boy did Edmonton ever let them know how that ends up. "We sat back a little..." commented Stuart. I'd call it more sitting down and taking a nap, setting a four-goal alarm clock. Luckily the Wings heard the bells and woke up in time...

2.) Demoralize Dubnyk - It's funny how some things just kind of domino-effect, isn't it? Remember how I said to throw this out should Dubnyk not get the nod? Well, Detroit played the first half of the game well enough for this to hold true. Props to the Slicks for sticking to their main goalie, but Detroit did all the damage they needed...or SHOULD have needed. Instead, we have the acid-trip freak-out by the Wings that led to the game being tied and, oh, guess what happens next? All of a sudden, Deslauriers knows how to stop a hockey puck!! Goddamnit, when you score four goals on a guy, you shouldn't NEED to pound him any further, but because of Detroit's lack of discipline tonight, that ended up being a necessity, and it damn-well almost didn't happen!!

3.) More Shots on the PP - I honestly don't know about this one, as I missed two of Detroit's man-advantages, but let me say thank CHRIST we got at least one! It made a hell of a difference tonight, now didn't it? I'm assuming since we converted that we did, indeed, take a few more shots. I don't like the idea of our PP unit relying on lucky bounces when we have the opponent scrambling for two straight minutes. Am I wrong to expect that, with the firepower of the Red Wings, we should feasibly be converting close to half the PP opportunities we get? Am I out of line here? Should our PK corps be scoring as much as our powerplay guys??

Oi...I am just really not pleased with this game. I can't get happy about the win. Take the two points? Without a doubt, but it's the most bitter two points we've had in a while. Brad Stuart also mentioned in the locker room, "They came at us with a good push...we can't be letting teams back in. Hindsight is great, yeah? But can you really blame anyone specific in this instance, though? The whole team basically cashed in their chips after the fourth Detroit goal. Even Jimmy Howard was off his rhythm by this point in the game. Of Howard, coach Mike Babcock said, "He's just like everybody else, when everything's going good, you relax a little bit." It sounded at the end of the interview with Babs that Howard will get the nod on Thursday as well.

So we'll see what happens on Thursday when the Wings host the Columbus Bluejackets, another non-playoff-contending team from which the Wings could squeeze two more valuable points. Till then, Wingnuts! Let's Go Red Wings!!!

Preview: Wings VS Oilers

"We're still not out of the woods yet, we know we still have to continue to win to make sure we're going to make it and be in the playoffs." - Captain Nicklas Lidstrom

Detroit (39-23-13) VS Edmonton (24-44-7)

Look closely at this picture. Look into Jimmy Howard's earnest eyes. Those, my friends, are the eyes of someone who's going to be really really pissed off if the Detroit Red Wings get swept in their season series with the most garbage team in the NHL this year. The Wings look to prevent this tonight as they play host to the Oilers for the final meeting between these two teams in the regular season. A win tonight not only bolsters our playoff chances, but also ensures that Edmonton finishes with the worst record in the league. I'm not sure which part would make me smile more, honestly.

But regardless, let's look at the three keys to victory tonight:

1.) Learn from the Past - As mentioned, Edmonton has taken every game against Detroit thus far this season. Come up with whatever excuse suits your fancy: we were hurt, we were tired, we played back-to-back games. What it boils down to is this: the Wings made mistakes in their games against the Oil. Detroit needs to look to their previous games, find the mistakes and make sure they don't repeat them. Solve the problems and make it difficult for Edmonton to formulate an effective strategy to combat the Big Red Machine.

2.) Demoralize Dubnyk - I'm banking here, but I have a good feeling we'll see Mr. Dubnyk back between the pipes for this one, if only because of his performance against Detroit last time. The guy is still young and playing for an ailing team, he has things to prove, and getting his win against a healthy Red Wings squad proved some of them. We need to see the Wings come out and punish this man like he's not been punished before, don't let him feel that tonight is merely an extension of the last game. Now, in the event the Oilers go with Deslauriers, you can throw this out, but at the same time, I think the Oilers will have thrown out the game, I've not been impressed with him at all and I feel it would just lead to an eventual goalie change to Dubnyk anyway.

3.) More Shots on the PP - I laid off the Wings recently as they had found some success on the one-up, but after watching the game in Nashville...I still have grave concerns. That game did not need to go to OT, let alone the SO. The Wings had two powerplays in which Detroit did what only Detroit can do so well: squander time by over-cycling. Too many turnovers leading to clears from one too many passes, 1-2 shots per man advantage, not enough rush to the front of the net for second and third chances from rebounds...should I go on, or do you get the picture? Detroit needs to address this, unless they're undergoing special training to score shorthanded goals, which have actually been more effective lately than their powerplay...

If Detroit takes control of this game early, they can definitely use this match as a tune-up game for some of their problem areas, and with the playoffs looming, I say if they get the chance, they damn well better use it.

I will again, sadly, miss a good chunk of the game to work, barring a miracle allowance to leave early. A few less bucks in the pocket I can take if it means I see my Wings win tonight. So whenever I manage to get on Twitter, I'll hopefully see you there. Until then Wingnuts, Let's Go Red Wings!!!