I had a hard time sleeping last night, and to be honest the large breakfast I made for myself to pass the time before work this morning doesn’t appear too appetizing. In a see-saw battle against the Sharks last night Detroit came up short in overtime (again.)
This one will leave a mark. This whole series will leave a mark. There are numerous reasons why.
Maybe because just this time last week I honestly thought this team could make a run at the Cup. After looking so awful down the stretch, the cogs seemed to come together at the right time. The Wings looked outstanding in the first round, and were arguably the most impressive team.
While the rest of the playoff teams were tearing each other down in emotionally draining 6 or 7 game series, the Wings were getting some rest after quickly downing the Coyotes—rest that they needed. Is it that rest that cost Detroit this series?
You don’t lose three games in a row by one goal because you’re tired. You lose them because you’re not winning the small battles: the battles for the puck in the corner, at the faceoff dot in your own end, in the neutral zone, and in front of the oppositions net.
These were all things that the Red Wings had done in the first round. These are all things the Red Wings have failed to do in their series against San Jose.
Had Detroit found it in them to win these battles on a consistent basis the series could just as easily be 3-0 the other way. Because they hung in there for all three of these games even when they had no business being in the same building as the Sharks (game 1), and held leads for solid blocks of time. But the Sharks always seemed to have an answer and then a bit more while Detroit always seemed one shot shy.
The Wings never seemed to panic though. But then again, they never do. I’m starting to think that this facet of the teams makeup may be a bit of an issue. I don’t want to see panic, but I’d love to see urgency out of every player on the ice. An up-tempo, throw yourself and your soul out onto the ice to win a game. See what Chicago managed to do against Vancouver for what I’m referring to. Or what Tampa Bay is doing.
Every player coming to the bench after every shift sapped and drained.
There were some efforts like that, but those were the highlights. That can’t be the case on a championship run. Last night Detroit had the chance to make this a series and just couldn’t find an answer for Devin Setoguchi.
That fact will bother me for the rest of the summer.
So now what?
Detroit will probably wake up a bit now and make the Sharks work for it a bit more. There’s a lot of pride in that locker room. But there is no reason to believe that San Jose won’t win one of the next four games and advance to the Western Conference Finals.
Last year Detroit had injuries to fall back on. They were tired. And so on. Fine. Now Detroit has accumulated a 1 win, 7 loss record against San Jose in the playoffs dating back to last year. That is sour, and worrisome.
But the Detroit Red Wings left their best hockey in the locker room collectively during this series and they’ll be catching flights to their respective home residencies because of it. I don’t have unreasonably high expectations. I know it’s an any given series playoff world out there.
But these guys should be too good for this kind of bow out.
It’s going to be a long offseason for the guys in Red and White, and for the Hockeytown faithful collectively. Some changes in personnel are probably coming in the offseason—mostly from Grand Rapids I’d assume.
Perhaps I’ll look back here in a week or so and realize I’m being too hard on the squad. I know a team can’t win the Cup every year. That would be boring. And this kind of uncertainty is what makes hockey great.
I guess I just didn’t expect this. I didn’t expect it to be so easy for San Jose.