GAME 1- It felt good.
Just a few thoughts to go with your evening coffee. Given the relations of where the writers on this page live (CJ is a Bostoner, Caroline lives in Mass, and I dwell in the hills of Metro-Nashville), this blog runs on Dunkin.
-I wonder if Mike Babcock likes that 3rd and 4th line matchup now? They had NO answer for Gabby Bourque’s speed. Nick Spaling had a nice game. Brandon Yip didn’t have his best game, so expect Smith or Tootoo likely back in the lineup. Just a hunch for Friday.
-You have to feel bad for Darren Helm. I hope he gets better, and heals up before next year. It’s a freak accident, and a damn shame a player of his talent won’t be around. My own father had an issue with a severed tendon, and his use in his arm has never recovered fully. He’s no athlete like Helm, so I’d say his chances are better. Nevertheless, that’s an unfortunate way to end your season.
-Realistically, this game was tough to watch. Way too many calls for minor stuff, and still quite a few were missed. With the commish in the crowd (literally in the crowd too, not in a box), we shouldn’t have been too surprised. Still… this was bad.
-Pekka Rinne stood on his freaking head. From the second period forth, he earned his nice new salary starting next year.
-Ryan Suter had a rough shift on the PK in the third, where he botches a short handed breakaway with a very pedestrian shot (3 on 1, he had help), then a slash on Datsyuk which broke his stick. The result: a 5 on 3, but the extended power play time resulted in the goal the Wings used to get back into the contest.
-Paul Gaustad also earned his keep as well, winning some “humangous big” face-offs in the third. While the rest of the squad was lackluster for most the night on the draw, the Goose was pretty good… and great when it counted the most.
-Aside from Martin Erat hitting the pipe after a rare face-off win by Fisher, the top two lines for both teams equalized each other for most of the contest.
-Matt Halischuk, playoff hero extraordinaire. That combination with him and Gabby Bourque was stellar, again.
-Kevin Klein saved the day again by blocking a shot in the crease.
-The three Preds’ goals were all a product of simple hockey… put the puck on the net. The offense has quietly struggled as of late by trying to be too pretty. The “Hair Line” (Fisher, Sergei, Erat… yes that’s what they are to be called) hasn’t looked too great as of late. Radulov looks to be having some minor issues. Legwand can’t do it alone. Andrei looks pretty good. But it’s timt to simplify the game, and get back to the basics. This is exactly why guys like Legwand, Ward (last year) all turn into suddenly great players in April.
-Shea Weber turned into #ANGRYSHEA and went all WWE on pool Henrik Zetterberg after the Swede checked him from behind. We can sit and debate the punishment, but here’s the best reaction- by Phoenix color commentator and former NHL’er, Tyson Nash:
Let’s not forget why Weber did what he did last night. When u hit a guy head first into the boards shouldn’t u expect that in return? I did!
(Confession – I love the PHX broadcast team. Todd Walsh and Tyson Nash are both great follows on Twitter, BTW)
Even Don Cherry sees it like Tyson Nash does.
(fast forward to the 5 minute mark)
Billy Jaffe and Mike Modano from NHL Tonight even calmed down on it after seeing it from all sides.
If Wings fans want to be angry at someone, be angry at Brendan Shanahan. His wrist slap on Kyle Quincey set this in motion and set a precedent. No injury = less likely for a suspension.
What will need to be done better next time:
-You have to believe less penalties will be called. No need to back down on the physical game. Bring it hard, again.
-At the same time, they have to convert on the power plays. Nashville will not outscore the Wings 5 on 5 most nights. Move movement, more traffic, and more patience. Detroit isn’t deep, especially now with Helm out.
-Less pretty stuff, more gritty stuff. Dump, smother, chase, and bang on these guys in the corner. Pin the Wings in deep, and create space. It’s the same recipe guys like Halischuk have used all year long.
Friday, it’s a big thing. Get yer gold on, folks.