The main objective for the season has been accomplished. We're in. But, we have the ability to be more than just another pawn in the playoffs. We have the opportunity to be real players.
That is why this game was so important.
It is reasonable to argue that choosing between the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins is like picking your poison. Neither is a favorable matchup. But, I beg to differ. The Bruins are as flawless as you can get. The Penguins on the other hand have "struggled" in the postseason in recent years. They are beatable.
That is why tonight's two points were so important.
Losing to Carolina is not the end of the world. But, it is a missed opportunity.
Here's what happened:
- The first period would be the tale of two opposing stories. In terms of play, the Wings were by far the dominant side. Nyquist, Tatar, Miller, and Legwand all had superb chances, but none of them were able to capitalize. The Hurricanes on the other hand would have a bit more luck in the goal department.
- Eight minutes into the period, Elias Lindholm scored on a power play to give Carolina the lead. Ten minutes later, Jiri Tlusty scored to double the Hurricanes' lead. Letting a goal in with less than two minutes left to play in a period is not a good thing.
- The second period was fairly similar to the first. The Wings had a boatload of great chances, including a couple of empty-net attempts, yet were unable to score.
- The Hurricanes also had their fair share of chances. The main reason why Carolina was not able to extend its lead was the play of Jimmy Howard. Jimmy played great tonight, and his magnificent play was exemplified when he made a stop on a 2-on-1 Jeff Skinner attempt.
- In the third period, the ice finally broke for the Wings. Jay Harrison took a slashing penalty after he was forced to subdue the impeccable skill of a certain Pavel Datsyuk. On the subsequent powerplay, Riley Sheahan would score to pull the Wings within one. The assists on the goal went to Tomas Jurco and Tomas Tatar.
- With nine minutes left to play in the period, Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader found themselves on a 2-on-1 opportunity. Datsyuk decided to pass the puck to Abby instead of taking the shot himself. I agree with Datsyuk that passing the puck was advantageous in that situation. Any player with a decent pair of hands would easily score. We did not score.
- The Wings outshot and outplayed the Hurricanes in the third period. But, the late effort by Detroit was not enough, and Carolina would take home the two points.
- Being the last home game at the Joe during the regular season, the Wings decided to throw a fan appreciation night. While I do not know what gimmicks were a part of this event, I do know that the Wings did not show any appreciation by losing to a team that had never won a regular season game at Joe Louis Arena until tonight.
The Wings played an overall decent game. They certainly were not playing like a Stanley Cup competitor, nor were they playing like an ECHL team. The Wings outshot the 'Canes 29 to 19, yet were only able to score on one of those attempts. That left 28 potential goals wondering what could have been.
If I had to pin this loss on one single factor, it would have to be the inability to score. While the Abdelkader attempt that I mentioned above was the pinnacle of this, many players fell victim to Glendening hands tonight.
The worst part of tonight's game for me was the fact that the Blue Jackets also lost. Even if we had been able to claim only one point from this game, we would have had the advantage over the Blue Jackets.
The good news is that we are still level with the Blue Jackets. We can still end up 7th in the Eastern Conference.
Next up for the Red Wings are the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.
Let's Go Red Wings!