What an unusual season this one was. For one, I just shaved with barely a week having past in May. At the beginning of this season Osgood was looking to rebound, the entire team needed to play better defense to make up for the goals we lost in the off season and Howard…. well I didn’t really have any idea what to think of Howard.
Osgood was worse then last year and Howard ended up being a stud, and the wings gave up just a little over 200 goals which was right between the 170 in the Cup winning year of 08 and the 240 last year. All that while being plagued by one of the worst rash of injuries I’ve ever seen one team face in a single season. All in all a good year I’d say.
Now onto the post season… Expect a lot of bitching here.
Phoenix was the one team I did not want to see the Wings play in the first round, even with their 13 or 14 shoot out wins inflating their points for the season I knew they were a good team. Young and hungry. I really like Shane Doan and knew he would likely play harder and tougher then he ever had in his career. This could have been his one shot at a Cup after all. The Wings took a lot of dumb penalties and the Coyotes made them pay for it, but once the Wings were able to play their game and stopped running around in their own zone they were able to make it out of the series.
Going into the San Jose series I was pretty confident. Game one I didn’t expect the Wings to win, they had just come off of an emotional game 7 win and San Jose had been resting for something like 5 days. Still it was close and had the Wings not continued the trend of taking dumb penalties they may have stole a win. The trend of bad officiating started here when Franzen was cut with a high stick but for some reason was given a penalty. Like I said, I didn’t expect the Wings to win this one, but the ref’s seemed like they didn’t even want to give the Wings a chance to steal one! And so the trend continued through out games 2 and 3.
Now I’m not going all tin-foil hat conspiracy theory here, the Wings took some dumb penalties and looked tired at times, but it seemed to me like some flaky calls that were penalties for the Wings, were not for the Sharks.
Game 3 I think the Wings got some good calls to go their way, like the penalty shot that shouldn’t have been, and should have won that game. We know how that one ended. They simply blew it. Was theirs to win and they got lazy, sat back and let the sharks take it. Howard was shakey and the rest of the team wasn’t there to pick him up. Rafalski played the 2 on 1 in OT wrong and Howie had no chance. He may have overplayed the shot a little bit but that’s what you’re supposed to do, it’s up to the defencemen to not let that pass get through.
Game 4 went exactly as I thought game 3 would have. The Wings controlled play for much of the game and, although some blame should be on Nabokov as he was horrible, took it to the Sharks and probably got a lot of calls to go their way because they had San Jose running around in their own end.
After giving all us Wings fans a little hope though, game 5 happened. The Wings didn’t play especially well but were still in it. I’ve heard a lot of people claiming San Jose "dominated" the game, I however, disagree. The Wings out shot San Jose in the game and I thought it was a pretty even game. San Jose came out flying and controlled most of the first period, and then the Wings pretty much dominated the 2nd. Nabokov was brilliant, and then the 3rd was a pretty even period. What it comes down to, for me, is the Murray hit on Franzen. That pretty much summed up the officiating in the series for me. It was a head shot, he blind sided Franzen and it should have been a 5 minute major and game misconduct. I like Murray and don’t think he had any intentions of hurting Franzen or probably even hitting him in the head. Its a fast game and you’re reacting to other players, things happen. The very next play San Jose scores the game winner. If the Wings get that call, who knows maybe they score and win the game, maybe they don’t and San Jose comes back and scores anyway. All I’m saying is the ref’s didn’t even give them a chance to win.
And so the season ends in disappointing fashion. I think most of the games in the last series could have went either way, but the Wings took dumb penalties and that probably influenced the other calls that went against them. San Jose is one of the best teams in the league and may have won the series anyway, but I would have liked to see the Wings have a better chance.
So now I’m left rooting for… Vancouver, San Jose and anybody besides the Pens in the east while waiting for some off season news to get me pumped up for September to come. At least I’ll be much more comfortable this summer with out a haggard playoff beard.