Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wings Watch Game 5 Slip Away, Play Themselves to the Brink

Was last night's game an entertaining game? Certainly. Was last night's game a well-played game? For the most part, yes.  Was last night's game an inspired performance by the Detroit Red Wings? Absolutely not.

Detroit reverted back to their inconsistent ways and played some very roller-coaster-y hockey in Game 5 at Anaheim yesterday, and crucial lapses of communication and energy led to Detroit blowing two leads and allowing the Ducks to steal the game away in overtime with a 3-2 final score, similarly dropping the Wings to a 3-2 series deficit.  The Red Wings were haunted by the squandering of a 5-minute major penalty to Anaheim on which Detroit did absolutely nothing, barely even generating scoring chances.  Up 2-1 in the 2nd at the time, it was the golden opportunity they needed to put the game out of reach.

What did they do? Well first, Brendan Smith took a holding call to end the PP slightly early.  Second, they then proceed to let Ryan Getzlaf (Yes, you know...the guy that is kind of the captain of their team and one of their best scorers...? Yeah, him.) waltz in practically undeterred and rip a vicious shot past Jimmy Howard to tie the game.  I said when the penalty to Smith was called that wasting those 5 minutes would haunt us, and how right I turned out to be.

Detroit lost a lot of steam after that, still generating a little offense here and there, ringing 3 posts by the end of the game and coming close a few other times, but the one thing I still see that has been killing us is that there is still no one going to that open space in the high slot in the middle of the offensive zone.  Everything comes from the perimeter, and skaters will wait until the shot goes in to make a move for the middle on a rebound opportunity.  We need guys in that space from the get-go, wreaking havoc in the middle and becoming a problem for Jonas Hiller.

The 3rd period would solve nothing, and off to overtime we went...or at least the Ducks and the fans went, because the Wings did NOT show up.  Nick Bonino swept the puck past Jimmy not even 2 minutes into the overtime frame after Detroit basically just watched the Ducks skating around them, providing no resistance whatsoever.  No one playing the puck hard, no one grinding guys on the boards to try to take possession, just...nothing.  Honestly, this was Detroit's game to lose, and they managed to find a way to do it.

We now sit at the edge of the cliff, needing to run the table from here on out if we want to survive to see another playoff series this year.  We will need efforts like those that got us into the playoffs to begin with from the last week of the regular season.  We have that ability, it's now up to the boys in red and white to deliver.

This series is not over, so long as the Wings don't PLAY like it's over.