Thursday, April 11, 2013

Marleau difference, as Red Wings fall to Sharks in shootout 3-2

In the crisp air of this spring day (WTF spring, get your act straight!), the Red Wings were playing at home in the hunt for a playoff spot (WTF Red Wings, get your act straight!). « To win, they have to score goals » said Ken on Fox Sports Detroit, a very smart fellow, as Mickey mumbled something about how the Sharks were going to play a « nasty game ». Joe Thornton was slated to play with Torres and Wingels after a couple of horrible games, even though Big Joe’s parents were in the crowd. This game had a strange feel to it, making it a great Thursday night game at the Joe. The bottom-line was simple: if the Wings win, they’re two back of San Jose in 5th with the Wings having more regular or OT wins. If the Red Wings lose, they risk sliding to 9th if Phoenix wins against the woeful Calgary Flames tomorrow night.

Marleau potted a shorthanded goal in the first period and Abdelkader notched his 8th goal of the season in the 2nd as the Sharks captain would win it in shootout for the visting team.

Apparently, the blurry TV feed in the first 6 minutes of the game affected the Red Wings’ on-ice play aswell. The Red Wings just couldn’t make passes on the tape that resulted in numerous turnovers. The Sharks took away every single play the Wings could have done, thus the Red Wings didn’t score in the first. This Shark’s team was huge, even without Murray at defence and it was evident in the corners and in the neutral zone where the Sharks were very active with sticks. Marleau had the only goal of the period.

In the second period, Detroit came on harder and were making better plays, aka a normal Red Wings’ game. During the couple of first minutes, Niemi made a couple of big saves, stoned Emmerton and Mickey Redmond commented on it for the next 5 minutes, so nothing out of the ordinary. All was not lost however, Abdelkader scored after Franzen did all the hard work behind the net (barely, he waltzed in like Datsyuk on a shootout attempt), matching his jersey number’s total in goals for the year. The little things the Red Wings did in this period were better than in the first; Brunner made simple plays to pick the puck out of the Sharks way, Dekeyser made great heads-up passes, Andersson poked Niemi in the back when the latter went out to play the puck and Smith played « real-gud »hockey, like coach Mike Babcock likes to say. The Wings did fall in to penalty trouble in the latter part of the 2nd period, but the 5.3 million-dollar man made some amazing saves against Marleau to keep it tied.

The third period was a very critical point in the Red Wings’ season. If they win this one, they go into Chicago tomorrow with a little bit more confidence, having won against a team in front of them in the conference. If they lose, they might be playing a little more out of desperation against a Chicago team that doesn’t make a lot of mistake, especially on home ice where they’re 14-3-2. After a Burns’ penalty, Kindl makes them pay with a shot top shelf, where moms hide the cookies from the kids (sorry kids)!  After a couple of bang and crash plays, Brendan Smith does his best Don Cherry impression after getting caught for a holding penalty  and the Sharks get a PP marker with a Logan Couture backhander from a spot he hardly had room to do so. The pace of the game then slowed down at the 10 minutes in the 3rd period, with San Jose playing a tight-checking game and the Red Wings stalling, needing the valuable point. At the 5 minute mark, Abdelkader and Filppula had great chances individually, but nothing came out of it.

With each team getting the oh-so-valuable one point, they went at it with each team still playing it safe. In this period, we heard the ever-so-rare words of « Gomez with a shot » and « Andersson on the ice in OT ». Even with their best shots, Kronwall and Datsyuk couldn’t put it past Niemi, thus bringing this game to shootout.

In the shootout, Datsyuk kept it simple for a backhand goal against Niemi and Couture mimicked him to score against Howard. For the second attempt, Pavelski and Brunner didn’t score and Nyquist almost scored on the spin-o-rama move, but Niemi had an amazing toe save. Then, the one who started the scoring also finished it with Marleau going five-hole on Howard.

All in all, it was a hard-fought game that the Red Wings kept close and got a valuable point. Now, they have to rest up and play Poop-cago tomorrow night. Let’s hope the Wings can repeat the feat on the anniversary of their 61st win of the year in 1996, coincidently a 5-3 over the visiting Blackhawks. That year, the Wings broke the record of 60 set by Montreal in 1976-77.