If ever there was a moment that summed up the 2013-14 Red Wings, it was the game-winning goal from tonight.
The Wings had their 4th line out against the KIL line and Chara/Hamilton. Jonas Gustavsson had to get the emergency start because Jimmy Howard got the flu. After being dominated throughout OT, yet somehow holding on for dear life, a relatively harmless looking wrist shot deflected off of 2 or 3 players and past Gustavsson to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory and a commanding 3-1 series lead.
What makes this loss so hard to take is that the Red Wings played easily their best period of the series in the first and looked like the team that could give the Bruins troubles. Unfortunately, as the game went on, you could just see the superior talent of Boston take over, and by the end, it was only a matter of time.
I won't say that the season is done, although I recognize that there's a massive hole for the Wings to climb out of and the Bruins are heaping mounds of dirt on them. I won't talk about next year or any of that because there is still another game. Let's not forget this is a Bruins team that just last year nearly blew a 3-1 series lead to the Maple Leafs, a lead that they got when they won Game 4 in OT on the road. I'm not saying it's going to happen, but stranger things have happened.
I will admit that I wasn't a big fan of Todd Bertuzzi being put in the lineup in place of Tomas Jurco. I like Bert in the lineup, but I wanted to see Jurco remain in because of his speed and skill. Then Bert parks himself in front of the net on the PP and creates the screen that leads to the first Wings goal, and I'm reminded why I'm a dumbfuck fan and the coaches make the decisions.
Outside of Patrice Bergeron, there is absolutely zero reason to like the Bruins. How anyone could voluntarily cheer for them makes me sad and a little worried that there aren't enough people on the proper psychiatric medication. They're just like the Ducks except with better uniforms. But you go ahead and try to convince all of us that your team is a bunch of precious little angels and the entire rest of the hockey-watching world will be over here smiling patronizingly at how obtuse real live adults can be.
The only analogy I can make watching Henrik Zetterberg take his first hit was if I was forced to witness one of my children try to ride a rabid alligator through a tunnel that shot out bees who had flamethrowers for stingers.
Admit it: when Z made that first pass to Datsyuk early in the first to spring him for a rush, you all felt better than you have in a month. I know we were concerned about him being rushed back, and he definitely looked gassed as the game went on, but his presence in the lineup made the Wings a better team tonight.
There are no more words to describe how little I want Jakub Kindl to be on the ice at any time in a close game. If the answer is "Kindl and a third" the question is "what would I give up to have my big toe eaten off by fire ants?" As the game progressed I thought to myself that if the Wings had even a slightly better third pairing, they would have been up by more heading into the third period.
4 goals in 4 games. We can blame goaltending (not the issue tonight and hasn't been the issue this series) or the defense, but when this series is over, we're going to lament the lack of offense from players not named Pavel Datsyuk. Got to give Tuukka Rask credit for this one as he kept the Bruins in it early while the Wings were flying.
Did anyone else feel like regulation was Game 3 but in reverse? The Wings started strong, playing their best period of the series and building up a lead over the first half of the game. Then the Bruins started chipping away, getting a deflection goal and then the tying goal in the third before taking over.
The issue I had as the game progressed was that all the speed and crisp passing that the Wings exhibited in the first period kept disappearing as the game went on. The Wings began to look panicked with the puck and didn't take their time to set up plays. When they did connect with a pass, it was to a guy who was standing still and that meant they couldn't get in to Boston's zone with speed because the Bruins could just stand up at the blueline and force a dump in.
I almost want Johan Franzen to be hurt so that I can rationalize why he's been so invisible in this series. When you're on a line with Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist and Helm is the most dangerous forward of the bunch, you're not doing your job. I'm very close to the point of wondering if the Wings should seriously consider buying him out and going with a guy like Pulkkinen in the same role. Dammit I said I wasn't going to talk about the offseason....
I know people are going to lament the 4th line being on the ice for the GWG, but that line was actually quite effective during the game and managed to keep the Bergeron line quiet tonight. The goal itself was a bounce that was bound to go the Bruins' way given how many open looks they missed, but it wasn't because Glendening/Miller/Legwand were on the ice.
I had another thought and then my dog needed to be let out so I got up and then lost the thought. Why the fuck did I even type this? Whatever.
I've noticed that I have a lot of observations about the first period of Wing games, but the second and third periods tend to be overlooked. That's usually because I'm either very upset or very happy or I've just lost interest. In the case of tonight, it was all 3 at various points. And yet, in the end, I'm not devastated by the loss because it became apparent that Boston is just plain better than the Wings right now, and there's no shame in losing to a good team. Yes, we don't like them because of their antics, but when the Bruins put all that shit to the side and just play hockey, they're an excellent team. Having watched the rest of the East, if the Wings are not able to pull off the comeback, I really can't see anyone in the East beating them in a 7-game series.
Next game is Saturday. Could be the last one of the season. Could be the start of something awesome. Could just be delaying the inevitable. No matter what, it's been a fun ride this year.