The Wings entered the 2010-11 season with the goal of winning the Stanley Cup. I entered the season with a dream, and that was to sweep the Central Division this year; that dream is now over. The Red Wings entered the game on Wednesday night having lost 2 games in a row to the Pacific Division, but it was hoped that a vision from a rival would get the competitive juices flowing. Unfortunately, it was a case of too little, too late.
The Predators opened the scoring late in the first period when Colin Wilson tipped in an easy cross-ice pass at the top of the crease. The Wings then all forgot their assignments in front of their own net, leading to a goal by Martin Erat to make it 2-0. In a game devoid of many offensive opportunities, it looked like the Wings were going to be in serious trouble when Tomas Holmstrom took a 4-minute high-sticking penalty midway through the second. However, Mike Babcock went all 2008 on us and threw out Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk together on the penalty kill, and it paid off when Datsyuk scored a shorthanded goal to cut the deficit to 2-1. The Wings showed a lot of jump in the third, but failed to convert on two third period power plays. J.P. Dumont scored a goal with about 5 minutes left to put the Wings down by two goals again, and all looked lost. Johan Franzen was able to get the Wings back within one after the Wings pulled Jimmy Howard, but the guys were unable to get another one past Anders Lindback, falling to the Predators by a final score of 3-2.
The Wings were looking to be on the prowl tonight, but found themselves the prey. Follow me after the jump for the analysis.
The first half of this game was about as exciting as watching the Wild play. Let's get to the bullets.
- That first period was one of the most boring first periods I have ever witnessed. The Wings as a whole had no real jump, and outside of very rare moments here and there, they never threatened the Predators offensively. They took a penalty 200 feet away from their own net, and while they killed it off, the Predators really carried the play. The dreaded last minute goal reared its ugly head again, and the fact the Wings got out of the first down 1-0 was a blessing, not a curse.
- The Wings gave up a goal in the last minute of the first period (again), and then gave up a goal in the opening minute of the second period (again). I think the Wings need a refresher course entitled "How Long an NHL Period Is".
- The Wings power play has been really good lately, but failing to convert on either of their third period opportunities made me very nervous about the final result. Those are the type of situations that the Wings have been capitalizing on so far this year, and they did not get it done. To make matters worse, not long after the second power play expired, Brad Stuart got caught on a pinch and the Preds got the insurance goal. Tonight was a case of the Wings digging themselves in a hole they couldn't get out of (no, no, no. Dig up, stupid).
- Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together on the penalty kill makes me warm in my man areas, because it's such a treat knowing that the Wings have two players of their caliber that can be put out in any and all situations. Up by a goal and need to kill off a penalty late in the third? Pav and Hank. Down by two and shorthanded, where a goal for will give you life and a goal against can kill you? Pav and Hank. Despite all that they do in their own zone, there are very few things in hockey scarier than seeing the two of them bear down on you on a 2-on-1.
Jiri Hudler listens to us. He must, because tonight he was great. I only bring up his good game because we've harped on him over and over and over and over and over and....well, you get the idea. He had one beautiful chance in the second period, and even though it didn't go in, I think getting a golden opportunity like that woke him up a little. One thing I noticed: defenders seem to attack him in the offensive zone when he has the puck a lot more aggressively than they do almost anyone else on the Wings. Is this because of his skills or because they believe he will just turn the puck over after any semblance of defense? It's a curious thought.
- Jimmy Howard was "meh" again tonight. This losing streak is not solely on him, and neither is the loss tonight, but I really think he's starting to show the first signs of a little mental fatigue. Mickey pointed out on the broadcast that he was really aggressive and at the top of his crease for one goal, but on the Dumont goal he was back in his net. With the brutal stretch of games coming in, it's important now more than ever that Chris Osgood step up and give Jimmy a break.
- Hey, remember how we said that the Wings would come out of the gates with a lot of jump and really take it to the opponent early after a poor effort in their last outing? Me too. I guess we'll say the same thing before the next game and hope that this time, it actually happens.
- The only good thing about the game tonight? None of those damn Tootoo whistles.
The Wings have now lost 3 in a row, and I can guarantee there will be a few people out there starting to panic. Let's just remember that it's a long season, and the Wings are just in a little slump. There was going to be a stretch where they went two games in a row without a point, and it just so happened to be Monday and tonight. While they haven't played their best hockey lately, they are still keeping themselves in games enough that you can't count them out until the final buzzer. Despite the last few games, the Wings still lead the conference by 3 points over Dallas and the division by 5 points over Nashville and Chicago. This is the worst part of the schedule for the Wings in terms of the number of games in a short amount of time, and it's about getting through December healthy. Should this losing streak reach 5, 6 or 7 games, then it's start to get a little worried.
The Wings next play host to the Montreal Canadiens. Get out your magnifying glasses so you can see them, because they are the smallest team in the league. After that it's a date with the Devils, who are really, really bad so far this year, something that makes me very happy.