Sunday, April 21, 2013

Red Wings lose another one in shootout

Even before tuning in to watch this Red Wings game, I was sure of two things. One, there would be major homerism in tonight’s game; I have rarely seen bigger homers than Vancouver’s announcers. Game in and game out, they toot Vancouver’s horn, they belittle any of Detroit’s achievements, like how they’re still in the hunt with Cleary and Abdelkader in their top-six. And two, they had one job tonight, and that’s a win and they’re back in the hunt.

The way I see things, it’s going to come down to the very last game of the season against Dallas, and I don’t like the Red Wings’ chances.

In the pre-game, the announcers kept saying that Vancouver was probably going to get to a slow start, seeing how they just came home from a 5 game road-trip and Detroit just isn’t the same after losing Lidstrom and Stuart. I hate and loathe when they use that excuse, yes this team lost the 7-time Norris trophy winner, but they can still play. When they say that, it’s like they’re saying a player has no stick on a shootout attempt, for which it’s practically impossible for it to work. To that, I say nay nay.

The first period went by fast, about as fast as a Canuck diving, as shown by Burrows on a semi-breakaway. Edler, who Detroit should have drafted but Vancouver snagged him first, scored on an absolute bomb from the point. Emmerton did his best Datsyuk in-between-the-leggers and it was all tied up after one period. The game had a tentative pace after both teams had a lot on the line – Vancouver needing one point to clinch a playoff spot and Detroit just needing to stay in the hunt.

In the second period, Abdelkader and Ballard traded punches after Ballard hog-tied number 8 in the blue paint (see Ma, I can rhyme!). Abdelkader is really playing like a power-forward these last games, which is very needed and appreciated by the Piano man, Datsyuk. Later on, we saw a rare sight, as the Sedins attempted to jump the Mule, who just shrugged it off but wasn’t laughing when he took an additional penalty on the play. After the announcers laughed at who much experience the Red Wings lost in the last two years (I swear, they make an exception to put it in EVERY time…)

The third period saw Detroit outshoot Vancouver 17-3 and really dominating the play, but in the end, it was Maxim ‘I have a face only a mother could love’ Lapierre who won it in the shootout.

What does it mean for the Red Wings? Well, for one, they’re one point back of Columbus for the eighth and final playoff spot, which is a good thing: let’s say they en up tied for points, the Wings would have more ROW (regular or overtime wins), which are the first tie-breaker. Secondly, they managed to get at least a point in a road game. But really, the most telling stat is that Detroit has 3 goals in 14 attempts on the shootout this year and in the last couple of games against San Jose, Chicago and Vancouver, the shooters have really let this team down. But on the upside, there’s no shootout in the playoffs and should the Red Wings get there, look for the 3rd line of Nyquist, Andersson and Brunner to get some valuable playoff experience and  unfortunately, probably a first round exit against the Blackhawks, who are assured of finishing 1st in the Western conference. The Red Wings now are in a race for 8th with Columbus, Minnesota, Phoenix and Dallas.

Thing is, and I might be in the minority here, I'd rather see Detroit lose by trying than to win only by skills and barely, like the Red Wings of old.

Wings Let Another One Slip Away

The Detroit Red Wings are running out of games, and they are running out of time.

The Wings had a chance last night to lock up 2 points to pull even with division foe Columbus in the Western Conference standings, but lack of finishing took a 1-1 tied game all the way to the shootout, where the Red Wings did what they've seemed to do every time they go that deep into a game: absolutely nothing.  Max Lapierre got the only goal in the shootout and the Vancouver Canucks stole that invaluable second point from Detroit in a 2-1 final.

At least what we saw from Detroit last night included more heart and effort than had been witnessed in many of the recent matches.  The Wings did battle harder yesterday, but on so many scoring chances, just couldn't seem to find the cracks in Cory Schneider's armor.  The only Red Wing to beat Cory was...well, Cory! Cory Emmerton got a beautiful tip off a shot heading toward the net and slipped the puck between the arm and pad of Schneider to knot the game at 1 after Vancouver had taken the lead earlier in the 1st period.

It was another game in which the bottom forward lines seemed more effective than the top, and another game where Detroit did not capitalize on their powerplay chances.  Detroit managed to give the Canucks not one, but two shorthanded breakaway opportunities, with goalie Jimmy Howard bailing out his skaters once again.  Howard's stat-line has been phenomenal, but the production from the skaters has been strangling the life out of the team, costing Detroit precious points far too late into the season.  Johan Franzen, for all his chances last night, could not find the twine--and he had a ton of chances, especially early on in the game.  Val Filppula was his usual self: uninspired and turning away from the opposing net every chance he could find.  So of the top 6, the Eurotwins were left to shoulder the big load on their shoulders with little to no help once again.  Hank and Pavel are obviously exhausted from the extreme wear and tear of trying to control the entire game in both ends by themselves to make up for incompetence coming from their linemates.

On the injury front, Drew Miller, another of the rare breed on this year's Wings who has the heart to play with some energy, left the game with a broken hand.  Todd Bertuzzi is hoping to make a comeback before the end of the regular season, and if his back issues finally do clear up in time to allow him some games, he will hopefully add a spark to a reeling Red Wings squad that is watching the sand of a playoff spot slip through their fingers.

Four games remain, and the nail is dangerously close to the coffin.  Detroit needs wins, especially against Phoenix and Dallas who both chase them coming into this morning.  Anything less could very well sink the ship.