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The Door is Ajar, Mr Conklin: Oilers 5 - Red Wings 4

I guess there's something to be said about moral victories. While we as Wing fans don't get to experience too many of them, it's important to recognize them when they happen.

Tonight was a moral victory for the Red Wings. This had "trap game" written all over it, and they came out and played like it. Losing puck battles, getting out-skated, terrible special teams, and 3 very preventable goals against later, the Wings were down 3-1 only because of a fluke goal by Valtteri Filppula. It seemed like the first half road Red Wings were back.

The second period wasn't much better. The Wings were able to contain the awesomeness that is Sam Gagner after he potted another 3 points in the first period in between his attempts to cure cancer and end world hunger, but they couldn't get any pucks past Devan Dubnyk in their annual "make Dubnyk look like a Vezina winner" game. All seemed lost entering the third period.

But a funny thing happened in the third. The Wings, despite every single fan counting this game as a loss, woke up. Sure it took 40 minutes, but once they got going, it was impressive. Dominating puck possession and tilting the ice towards the Oilers' end, the Wings got 2 goals from Todd Bertuzzi and one from Drew Miller and managed to actually have a lead with less than a minute to go. Unfortunately, Jordan Eberle, who has a pesky habit of scoring last-minute goals, tied the game at 4 and we headed to overtime.

While the Wings have been dynamite in extra time, it was Edmonton who had the best chances. After stops by the post and Nicklas Lidstrom, the Wings were able to get the game into a shootout, meaning we all thought this was a win for Detroit. But, Pavel Datsyuk missed the net and Joey MacDonald (in relief of Ty Conklin) couldn't stop everyone and the Oilers got the 2 points they deserved.

After the jump, the late-night bullets.

  • We give Babs some shit for not doing things when the Wings aren't playing well, but switching Zetterberg for Datsyuk was a sublte and brilliant move that immediately paid dividends. It seems like such a small thing, to swap centers, and yet Zetterberg immediately flourished with Bertuzzi and Franzen, chipping in 3 assists and looking fantastic. Tonight was not one of Datsyuk's better nights, as he looked "off" for the whole game.
  • Speaking of Datsyuk, JJ had the following comment in the game thread tonight:
    It's time to start criticizing Datsyuk

    He’s money at 5-on-5, but I’m getting tired of watching him lazily hold the puck at the side of the play while the PKers get set to defend all the high-quality plays and leave them with nothing but low-percentage bullshit.

    It’s time for Datsyuk to start putting pressure on the penalty killers.

I wholeheartedly agree with the above. Datsyuk is the player who typically has the puck the most, and he has the ability to influence the play more than anyone on the Wings' power play.

  • Speaking of the power play, what the fuck is going on? 1 for their last 38 on the road, and their inability to get any decent chances while enjoying a 5-on-3 advantage in the first period while down 2-0 was probably the biggest reason why they lost the game. Combine that with a penalty kill unit that seems to give up at least one power play goal a game, and it's an extremely large area of concern for the Wings.
  • Thanks for nothing, Ty Conklin. Seriously, if you're going to be "the guy" after Jimmy Howard gets injured, you might not want to flop around like a fish on "Deadliest Catch" and then allow a last second shot to get through you after your team miraculously pulls within one. To make matters worse for Mr Plumber, Joey MacDonald comes in an plays great. MacDonald's play has got to earn him the start on Monday night against Phoenix. The team just doesn't seem to have any confidence when Conklin's in net.
  • Going after Niklas Kronwall after a clean hit on Ales Hemsky? I thought you were better than that, Edmonton.
  • Drew Miller tied his career high in goals for a season, with his 10th of the season. He's scored 10 each of the three seasons he's been a Red Wing. He now has 18 points, 1 off his career high set in 2009-10, his first with the Wings. To say that Miller was a good pickup would be a massive understatement.
  • Sam Gagner just scored again.
  • Congratulations to Todd Bertuzzi, who scored his 300th goal of his career tonight, then added 301 and finished off the "hat trick" by scoring in the shootout (if Edmonton fans are going to throw hats for Gagner, then I'm going to sarcastically call Bert's performance a hat trick). Haters are going to hate, but good on you for reaching this milestone. For your efforts, you get the coveted WIIM Player of the Game.
5 out of 6 points in Western Canada is pretty darn good. If we're being honest with each other (and we should be, because this is a place of trust), the Wings did not deserve to win this game, and there should be an arrest warrant issued for them because they stole a point. Unfortunately, we've come to expect these types of letdowns after strong wins against good teams, but at least this time the Wings were able to get something out of it.

The Wings will head to Hockeytown West for their last road game in Phoenix, possibly forever. After that, the Wings will get to come home and attempt to continue their impressive winning streak at the Joe. Something tells me that the trend of Conklin not getting a start at home is going to continue.