To hear what the Caniacs are saying about the game, visit Canes Country.
Quick question for anyone who watched this game: was it pretty apparent which team was fighting for a playoff spot and which was just playing out the string?
The Wings entered Wednesday night's game with one major goal: stay healthy. They lost the game, but that's not what we're all concerned about right now.
The first period was an intense affair, but neither team was able to score. Derek Joslin opened the scoring 4 minutes into the second. His point shot on a Canes' power play found its way through a few players and past Jimmy Howard to give the Canes a 1-0 lead. With just over a minute left, Jeff Skinner (more on his later) converted an Eric Staal rebound to make it 2-0. Staal outmuscled Tomas Holmstrom on the boards in the neutral zone and broke in to the Wings' end. After Jimmy stopped Staal's shot, Skinner took the rebound behind the net and put the wraparound in the net.
In the third, the Wings were given a glorious opportunity to get back in the game when they found themselves on a 4 minute power play. Unfortunately, they were unable to convert, and the Canes made them pay. Erik Cole took a pass from Eric Staal and buried it to give the Canes a 3-0 lead. From that point on, Carolina was only going to try and preserve the shutout for Cam Ward, which they succeeded in doing.
The team that wanted it more definitely won tonight. And you want to know what? I'm not that upset about it. Find out why after the jump.
- It's so hard to get upset about the loss on the ice. This is a game against an Eastern Conference team that is fighting for their playoff lives. The Canes displayed a ton of desperation, and while we all want the Wings to end up in the 2nd seed, it's not nearly as important to them as getting in to the playoffs is to Carolina. Kudos to the Hurricanes for a great game, but the Wings just looked very disinterested for the most part, especially after Zetterberg got hurt. Speaking of which......
- We're all worried about Henrik Zetterberg and his left ankle. Word from Khan is that he "probably" won't play this weekend, but he will be re-evaluated tomorrow. Look, I want the Chicago Blackhawks out of the playoffs as much as the next guy (especially after that HORRIFIC goal call tonight against the Blues. Talk about a screw-job), but not if it means jeopardizing any of the Wing players' health. For the record, the hit did not look malicious on Bryan Allen's part, but it is ironic that this is the same guy who broke Z's ankle during the 2003-04 season.
- So, that Jeff Skinner is pretty good, eh? He scored his 30th goal of the season to give the Canes a 2-0 lead, and was dangerous every time he touched the puck. I've seen Logan Couture play a bit this year, but I think that Skinner should be the Calder winner. He plays with far less overall talent than Juicy gets in San Jose, and has 1 fewer goal. I won't get into the age thing, but Couture did play last season, including in the playoffs, so that should count against him.
- The last few games have taught me something: Justin Abdelkader is going to be an important player for the Wings in the playoffs. He's the type of player who spurs a team forward, because he's not a "star", but he can do things that will make the Wings successful. The last few games have shown that if he is given quality linemates, he can make things happen. We've seen him score a couple of goals, throw some hits, and be a general nuisance for the other team. If he can pop in a few goals here and there during the postseason and play with the same contained-reckless abandon he's shown the last week, I think the Wings will do well.
- Kudos to Cam Ward, who earned a 42 save shutout tonight. However, I thought the Wings made it far too easy on him at times. There were very few second and third chances, a testament to the Canes' defense clearing the puck and the Wings lacking that extra effort and determination to win a battle for the puck. There were far too many passengers and not enough drivers on the Wing bus. The team really seemed to deflate after Zetterberg got hurt, and one can't help but think that they just want to get this season over with so they can get to the playoffs. 2 shots off the post told me that it was going to be "one of those games".
This wasn't the worst game the Wings have played, nor was it their best. The Canes were definitely the more desperate team, and while I liked what the Wings showed in the first period, it was only a matter of time before the Canes took over. It was a well-deserved win for them, and I wish them sincere luck in their quest to make the playoffs.
As for the Wings, we all know what's coming: the home-and-home with the Hawks. The stakes are simple: 2 regulation wins by the Wings and the Hawks will be in very real danger of missing the playoffs a year after winning the Stanley Cup, something that has only happened twice since 1996. However, with no Zetterberg and the possibility that the Wings could have nothing to play for in the last game, they may rest players and give the Hawks an easy "in". We'll have to wait and see. We'll have news for you tomorrow when we learn more about Zetterberg.