The Fat Lady Is Warming Up: Predators 3 - Red Wings 1 (Preds lead 3-1)

Unbelievable.

It's hard not to be angry right now. The Red Wings entered Game 4 pretty much in a "must-win" situation, because heading back to Nashville down 3-1 likely meant the Wings will be golfing before the end of the weekend.

We wanted a better start, and we got one. We wanted the Wings to draw penalties and stay out of the box, and they did that. We wanted them to get shots on net and create traffic in front of Pekka Rinne, and they did that.

The Red Wings were the better team tonight, and it wasn't good enough. 2 defensive miscues ended up behind Jimmy Howard, and the Wings will travel to Nashville Friday night facing elimination.

This was easily the best the Wings have played in any game of this series, and they still couldn't get the win. It's tough to be encouraged by anything going into that game. Bullets after the jump.

  • We wanted a better start, and we got one. The Wings were clearly the better team throughout the first period, outshooting the Predators 11-7, and maintaining puck possession for well over half of the period. When the Wings talked about "starting on time" and being better early, I think we remained cautiously optimistic that it could happen, but they started exactly the way we wanted them to.
  • The Wings PP looked dangerous throughout the game, and were given a ton of opportunities as they drew penalties all night. They cashed in one time, but going 1-7 is not good enough.
  • Ian White quietly had a good game for the Wings. Pairing him back up with Lidstrom seemed to give him a jolt of confidence, and he was involved offensively while at the same time showing off the physical side of his game that we wanted to see. Of course, as I finished typing this, he totally over-commits and leaves Kevin Klein all alone in front for the easiest goal he'll ever score to give the Preds the lead.
  • I know this has absolutely nothing to do with the game we witnessed tonight, but if Raffi Torres isn't suspended for the next century, then I just don't know anymore. Thoughts and prayers with former Wing Marian Hossa.
  • The NHL's best home team just lost 2 straight games in the playoffs. For those keeping score, the Wings are 5-7-3 since the 23-game winning streak ended. That invincibility that everyone thought existed was a mirage.
  • I'll admit what every Nashville fan is thinking: they got absolutely robbed of a goal early in the third period. As a Wing fan, I can relate to getting intent to blown. I mean, I'm not shedding any tears, but I can admit a bad call. Just another example of the total ineptitude of the referees. Unfortunately the Hockey Gods saw the injustice and gave them the goal that they deserved seconds later.
  • I was speaking to JJ and Jeff during the game, and when they got the Too Many Men power play, I said that we were about to witness the mental strength of the Wings. They won the faceoff, maintained possession, and scored. Jiri Hudler with a deflection after a one-timer on the power play. I hope you remembered where you were, because that's as rare as seeing bigfoot riding a unicorn.
  • If tonight proved one thing to me, it's this: Pekka Rinne is the #1 reason the Predators has a sniff at winning this series. He was outstanding again tonight, and has already cemented himself as MVP of the series regardless of the outcome.
  • That second Predators goal was one of the worst goals I've ever seen a Red Wing team give up. That's the kind of goal that made me want to kick a baby. Just an embarrassing display in a game in which they were nearly fighting for their lives.
Perhaps the most discouraging thing about all this is that the Wings played a really good game, but 2 mistakes cost them dearly. When a team is among the elite, they can overcome those miscues and still win. Bad teams can't, and that's what makes me worried about this team. If they have to play 100% mistake-free hockey to have a chance to win against good teams like the Predators, then that should be a sign that they are not good enough to advance.

I want to hold out hope. I saw this team come back from being down 3-0 to the Sharks last year and force a Game 7. I want to believe that this team has another run in them, and they can get to the second round and do some damage in the playoffs. I want to think that we are about to witness yet another miraculous comeback. But I don't. I don't see this team being good enough to beat a good team with a world-class goalie in 3 straight games. That may sound defeatist, but I'm just not convinced this team has what it takes.
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