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Red Wings Need Justin Abdelkader to Smarten Up

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After some questionable play in the first game that some fans approved of and others disparaged, Justin Abdelkader took things a step further in Game 2 of the playoffs.

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Make no bones about it, the Detroit Red Wings didn't play well in Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both times the Wings scored to tie it, the Bolts came right back to re-take the lead. And once again, they were completely obliterated by the Tyler Johnson line. I don't know about you guys, but I'm sick of seeing that fish-faced jerkwad absolutely killing our team.

The Wings certainly didn't do themselves any favors in the way they played defense, but their penalty situation made things all the more difficult for them. They took five straight penalties over the course of the first and second periods, and while you can argue the merit of the calls all you want, you can't deny that that lack of discipline put them at a disadvantage.

Quite possibly the worst penalty was the one Justin Abdelkader took only 27 seconds after the slash by Gustav Nyquist. He swept the legs out from an unsuspecting Johnson -- from behind -- with his team already on the penalty kill. That's the very definition of a stupid penalty, awful in action and in timing.

Tampa, of course, scored the first goal of the game on the ensuing 5-on-3.

With 54 seconds left in the game, well out of the Red Wings' reach at a score of 5-2 and after nearly 120 minutes of progressively nastier play (and I hesitate to call some of the shenanigans in this series "play") a brawl unlike any we've seen between the two teams broke out in front of Ben Bishop. Misconducts were handed out to several players.

Most egregiously was the conduct of Justin Abdelkader, who threw several punches at Mike Blunden when the latter player was already down on the ice. Blunden was only assessed a roughing minor, while Abdelkader was assessed a game misconduct and what is presumed to be an instigator major penalty, since there's no matching major to Blunden for it to simply be a penalty for fighting.

Red Wings fans can attest to instigator penalties in the last five minutes of a game don't always lead to a suspension, but there's a non-zero chance Abdelkader does indeed get dinged for a one-game sitdown for this. One would hope supplemental discipline would knock some sense into him.

If there's not a call from the league, however, Abdelkader is going to have to figure it out on his own. This is not the kind of play that is going to help his team. It's selfish penalties at bad times under the guise of "playoff-style hockey," but it's been going on for a while to the tune of 50 PIM in the last month of the regular season (16 games back to March 10).