Sometimes a loss is good.
Tonight isn't one of those nights. Playoff losses are always bad, even when it's just the first game and it's on the road.
Being behind in a playoff series is something the Wings should be used to, however. They haven't won Game 1 of a playoff series on the road since the last century, so being down 1-0 to the Ducks after one game shouldn't be cause for too much panic.
I'm taking this as an opportunity to temper my expectations of this team going forward in this series. For all the so-called "experts" picking Detroit to win this series, it's important to remember that the Wings are the 7th seed and finished there for a reason. They were inconsistent and mediocre for most of the season and that team reared its ugly head tonight.
Overall this was a game where the Wings looked sharp in the first period but the Ducks slowly took over. It remains to be seen whether this is because the Ducks are a better team or because the Wings were playing their 5th game in 8 nights and found it hard to muster up the kind of desperation we saw all of last week when they were literally playing just to make it in the playoffs.
- First night of the playoffs, and I'm flipping back and forth between NHLN and NBCSN to try and see the start of the game. I understand that I'm in Chicago and with the Blackhawks playing at the same time I'm blocked from watching the channel that their game was supposed to be on. But for the love of all that is fucking holy NHL get your shit together and put the Wing game on another channel and unblock it for the rest of us.
- I missed the entire first period so I assume that Nick Bonino cheated to score his goal, Dan Cleary dazzled us all with his brilliant play, and Jimmy Howard was so amazing that the Ducks simply decided that there was no chance they could win and they literally laid down on the ice and cried until the buzzer sounded.
- Kudos to Corey Perry. I didn't realize how big his balls actually were. How else do you explain kicking someone in the face and then complaining about the call?
- If there's one thing the Wings are going to have to going forward it's make better choices when they take shots. The Ducks were very conscious about getting in shooting lanes and preventing the puck from getting to the net, especially from the point. The Ducks were credited with 17 blocked shots on the night, and the Wings only had 22 shots total, not good enough against a team like the Ducks who typically get murdered in possession.
- The second period saw the return of the 2013 Red Wings. They were out-skated, hit, and played throughout the entire period by the Ducks, and to get out of it still tied was nothing short of a miracle. Of course, not giving up the go-ahead goal while down a man just into the third period was not the way to bounce back after the terrible second period.
- How good was Jimmy Howard tonight? He's the Red Wing with the most pressure on him in this series and he responded with a very good performance in Game 1, making 24 saves on 26 shots and keeping the Wings in it during a bad second period. Once again the offense let him down.
- The defense was pretty terrible tonight. Jakub Kindl and Jonathan Ericsson, in particular, had rough games, and Kyle Quincey wasn't much better. The defense is going to have do a much better job of making a good outlet pass to the defense to neutralize the very aggressive forecheck of the Duck forwards. If the Wings can get their transition game going, they should be able to take advantage of a Duck defense that is not very good and get better scoring opportunities. Tonight, the Ducks were faster and didn't allow the Wing forwards to create any separation, leading to the Wing players being outnumbered on the boards and losing puck battles.
- Telling stat of the night: only 5 Wing forwards had a negative Corsi in this game. Two of them were Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. These two carried the Wings during the last week of the season, and they need to score for the Wings to have any hope.
- J.J. touched on the special teams in his preview, and tonight they were the difference in the game. The Ducks' 4th-ranked PP unit scored two of their goals while the Wings were unable to take advantage of the Ducks lack of discipline and only got one of their own.
Ultimately this was the worst the Wings have looked in quite some time, and they deservedly lost. I'm not sure if it was a let-down game or if this is a harbinger of things to come, but it is just one game. There's work to be done for sure, because another effort like that and this series will be over in a hurry. I do take solace in the fact that the Wings played pretty poorly and still only lost by 1 (because empty-net goals don't count). It's still all about the split, just as it was at the beginning of this series, so I'll only panic if they lose on Thursday.