Saturday, November 16, 2013

Winged Wheels Fall Off Again, Washington Edges Detroit in SO

Life was good in Hockeytown last night in the Red Wings' match against the Washington Capitals.

Then the 3rd period happened, and proved that shit really does roll downhill.

Detroit came into what should have been the final frame of a 3-1 hockey game on the right side of the scoreboard.  They had found a way to silence the mighty Alexander Ovechkin and just had to keep things under wraps and cruise to the W.  Instead, an admittedly skillful goal by Ovechkin began the counter-attack, and Washington never slowed down, forcing us later into a 3-3 tie and into Overtime.  As if in response to the Wings' struggles, they found themselves scrambling in an Overtime PK situation which they somehow managed to survive until the Caps took a call of their own. After a short demo of Ken Holland's vision of 3 on 3 OT, the Wings got their greatest chance to close out the game with their own powerplay in extra time.

Once again, the Red Wings found a way to squander their opportunity when it mattered most.  OT would solve nothing, and back to the dreaded shootout we went.  The first two rounds were stalemates, Jimmah standing firm for his 2 saves, but Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen both looked uninspired in their attempts and Capitals goalie Braden Holtby made short work of both forwards.  Todd Bertuzzi went next and obviously learned nothing from watching Holtby, as he tried to pull a spin-o-rama way too close to the net of a guy who had a really active stick, and a quick poke-check had us on the brink.  Nicklas Backstrom was the 3rd shooter for Washington, and he won the battle of wills with Howard, slipping the puck by and in.  For a closer look at the game, check out the boxscore here.

Now Jimmah has had some rough times over the last few games, and I won't defend him for everything that's happened, but I'll tell you one thing: for all the bitching I'm hearing on Twitter and elsewhere about Howard in the shootouts, chew on this--we shouldn't even be GOING to OT or a shootout.  Many of the last few games could have and SHOULD HAVE been won in regulation.  The Red Wings as a whole are not committing to 60 minutes of serious, balls-to-the-wall hockey.  Why did we really lose last night against the Caps? Simple, they played for 60+ minutes, not mailing the rest of the game in when they came into the 3rd down 2 goals, but we were content to believe that they would.  The Wings got lazy, and the Capitals...well, capitalized.  Hockey is a game like any other: if you stop playing the game, you can't expect to win.

Yes, there were positives, I'm not saying that there weren't, but does that not warrant playing a full game and not slacking off so that you can better savour and appreciate those accomplishments with a win rather than scrambling to right a suddenly sinking ship!?  Points are great and all, but OT and SO games are going to hurt us like hell come season's end when tiebreakers start getting tabulated. Regulation points take precedence, and even if we win some of these games going into extra time, it may end up being meaningless.  The real objective is to beat your opponent within 60 minutes, and the Red Wings need to get their act together and start playing to do just that.  The coaching staff need to lead by example and prepare these guys to do just that.  Ken Holland needs to fix his own mistakes with the cap and roster issues we're now suffering under so that we can put forth the best possible team to do JUST THAT.  Hockeytown is starting to take on a very 'Ce la vie' attitude, and I'm not buying into it.  The Red Wings are a better team than the product we are seeing on the ice, and they need to start proving it.