The Red Wings' season is over. They were unable to make the adjustments as a team necessary to beat a very well-coached Predators team. The referees didn't cost the Wings this series, the lack of a Weber suspension didn't cost the Wings this series, nor did the injuries to Detroit's two best bottom-six forwards.
The Wings lost this series because they could not consistently outperform the Predators and they could not solve Pekka Rinne. They lost because the Predators seemed to play more of each game as a five-man unit rather than a few sets of players and other individuals. Now Detroit will have a long summer to figure out the adjustments they need to make as a team to be in a position to seriously compete for a Cup next season.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
1st Period 16:10 - Nashville Goal: Alexander Radulov (wrist shot) from David Legwand
The Predators lose the zone, but regroup and dump it back in with Legwand forechecking in on Quincey and Ericsson. Quincey gets to the puck in the corner while Ericsson gives him an outlet up the boards which he tries to take. The problem is that Legwand reads this and Quincey's pass attempt is far too soft to get it past the forward. Legwand throws it out front and finds Radulov all alone for an easy wrister past Howard. The biggest problem here is naturally Quiney's turnover, which will earn him an extra minus. The other big problem is that, as Radulov is scoring this goal from right in front of the crease, the nearest forward to him is Todd Bertuzzi, who has come all the way down from the top of the circle in the Nashville end as the high forechecker to try and cover a guy he shouldn't have to. This is caused by bad decision-making on the dump-in. When Gabriel Bourque dumps it in, he does it from the right wing side just shy of the Wings' blue line. Radulov is already standing there being marked by Drew Miller. As soon as Bourque dumps it in, Abdelkader lays a check into him that knocks Bourque down and knocks Miller off-balance. This allows Radulov to escape to the front of the net uncovered. Abdelkader knocking his own man out of the coverage will earn him an extra minus. Drew Miller will keep his minus though. Despite that he's knocked off-balance, he makes no attempt to get his feet moving to prevent this at any time. That is unacceptable. Todd Bertuzzi and Jonathan Ericsson will have their minuses cleared as innocent victims of being in the right position at the wrong time.
1st Period Penalties:
00:15 - Danny Cleary (interference): Immediately off the opening faceoff, Danny Cleary and Sergei Kostitsyn start battling at center ice for positioning. Cleary goes too far as the Preds have the puck and outright steps into Kostitsyn's way as he tries to move up ice. This is a very stupid play. Cleary will get a minus.
00:31 - Mike Fisher (interference): Fisher with a sneaky dirty play here as he runs a pick on Brad Stuart that hits him high on the shoulder and knocks him down. No adjustment.
11:55 - Jonathan Ericsson (hooking): Ericsson is double-teamed in the corner of his own zone and loses the board battle against Sergei Kostitsyn and Mike Fisher. This leads to a chance at a good shot for Kostitsyn which is partially cancelled when Ericsson tries a stick-lift and instead gets in on his hands. Ericsson will get a minus for losing his positioning, but when a defenseman gets double-teamed in the corner without help, it's a bigger team breakdown. In this case, Datsyuk is slow to react to this and hopeful that Ericsson can beat two people to get it to him up the boards (where he's also covered by a third player). Datsyuk will also pull a minus on this play.
18:26 - Brandon Yip (goaltender interference): Yip skates right through Howard on his way to a loose puck. This one could have gone either way, but after watching the chop that Hornqvist put on Howard's glove hand a few minutes prior, I'm glad they made this one. No adjustment.
Goal-Saved Adjustment: At 3:52 of the 2nd period, the Predators are putting on pressure in the Detroit zone when they get people turned around. A great pass to Alexander Radulov on the back door of the play leads to a wide-open net for him to shoot at. Fortunately, Valtteri Filppula comes to the rescue by getting his stick in there and deflecting the shot over the net. Very close call here; plus for Filppula.
2nd Period 13:45 - Detroit Goal: Jiri Hudler (backhand) from Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg
The Wings win an offensive zone faceoff, but board battling by Paul Gaustad and Roman Josi frees up the puck while Detroit's forwards skate aggressively. This pays off when Valtteri Filppula ties up the stick of Kevin Klein for a pass from Craig Smith off the half-boards and then Zetterberg gets back on Brandon Yip to take the puck off his stick as they exit the Predators' zone. Stuart picks up the loose puck and cycles it back to Kronwall at the Detroit blue line. Kronner passes it to Hudler in the middle of the ice skating back towards him with Gaustad in tow. While Filppula cycles back around on the left wing and Z skates up the right, Hudler throws a backhanded pass into Zetterberg's path to enter the zone 2-on-2 with speed. Kevin Klein keeps Zetterberg to the outside, but can't prevent him from throwing the puck into the middle right as Valtteri Filppula gets to the front of the net blanketed by Josi. RInne tries to sweep the puck away, but his stick and Filppula's stick cancel each other out and the puck rolls just to the side of the net. Fortunately, Jiri Hudler is crashing right behind the play with a step on Gaustad and pokes it in before the goalie can recover. This is good hustle work by the forwards to cause a transition goal. Zetterberg and Filppula will get bonus pluses for their backchecking work to turn the puck over at the Nashville blue line. Kronwall will get the third assist for getting it to Hudler, who will get a self-assist for his clever means of turning it back up ice with speed.
2nd Period Penalties:
08:09 - Tomas Holmstrom (goaltender interference): Homer tries to skate around behind the Nashville net on the inside lane around Rinne and clips him. Homer definitely won't get the benefit of the doubt here. He's got to do better to avoid contact. Minus for Holmstrom.
3rd Period 00:13 - Nashville Goal: David Legwand (wrist shot) from Gabriel Bourque and Alexander Radulov
Henrik Zetterberg wins the faceoff to start the third period directly back to Brad Stuart. After backing across his own blue line, Stuart misses Jiri Hudler with a ten-foot pass. Hudler tries to pin the puck on the boards, but to no avail as it squirts through him to Gabriel Bourque. Here, Stuart decides to step up on Bourque to stop his momentum flat. Unfortunately, he misses his sweep check and now finds himself out of position as Bourque gets it to Radulov entering the zone. Kronwall cuts off the angle for Radulov, forcing him to circle back as he drops a pass back to Bourque, who has been pumping his feet from the get-go. Kronwall recovers in time to cover Bourque while Filppula also pinches in on him. As Bourque tries to split the defenders, Kronwall sweeps it off his stick. Unfortunately, he sweeps it directly to the guy Filppula would have been covering if it weren't for a defenseman being caught completely out of position and a pass that made it look a lot like there was going to be a breakaway. Legwand picks it up in the high slot and drags it to the right-side hash marks while Bourque runs a screen in front. Howard never sees the puck going back across the grain to beat him on the blocker side. This is how a series dies. You can see the chain reaction of bad plays starting the minute Stuart misses the pass to Hudler and then just compounding from there. Stuart will get two minuses for two errors (missing the pass, missing the step-up). Hudler will have his minus halved. He fights to keep transition from speeding up, but ultimately, the puck does go through him. Kronwall will also have his minus halved. He forces off Radulov and does a good job to get back in position to make a play on Bourque. He's just unfortunate enough to have a good defensive play end up directly on Legwand's stick. Filppula's decision to move low into the zone to attack Bourque as he receives the pass is a lightning-fast split-second choice based on a read that Kronwall looks a bit turned around by Radulov's spin. He's actively trying to do too much here, but I can see why. Hindsight tells us that Filppula needs to watch the high man in the zone, but that's incredibly hard to do when you read breakaway only a few feet away. As it stands, Filppula will keep his minus, but get no extra punishment. Finally, Zetterberg's crime is winning the faceoff and assuming his defenseman can complete a ten-foot pass. Perhaps he was too trusting, but Zetterberg won't receive a minus on this play.
-1 to Todd Bertuzzi: No matter which line he was on, he did not play consistently well. He had flashes of brilliance, but they were badly overshadowed by turnovers. He was a team-worst -10 in corsi and only managed one shot on net. Unacceptable.
-0.5 to Johan Franzen: Franzen looked very engaged early, but by the third, he looked like he had nothing left. Three giveaways and not nearly enough offensive chances created by him.
+0.5 to Jiri Hudler and Niklas Kronwall: Late in the first period, these two made a backchecking play which very likely saved a goal by eliminating sticks on a rebound caused by a Bertuzzi turnover. While I'm not happy with their offensive effort, I feel credit is due for them helping out defensively.
-1 to Pavel Datsyuk: I'm not looking forward to hearing about the scope of any hidden injuries he does/doesn't have because no matter what it's not good news. Datsyuk was held largely ineffective in this game and that can't happen.
+0.5 to Henrik Zetterberg: Hank played well in this game. He constantly attacked the defense with the puck and hounded people on the backcheck. He was Detroit's most dangerous forward in this one.
I wasn't disappointed with the Wings fourth liners in this game and I thought they generally did well for themselves. Lidstrom again looked average. Abdelkader moved his feet well, but not well enough to make up for the gaffe leading to the first Preds' goal.
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