You know that one friend you had in school who always yelled "Kobe!" when he threw something away but missed the trash can every time? That was the Red Wings in Game 1. If you poll the fanbase right now, you'll get a variety of responses ranging from DOOOOOOM to aggressive optimism. Yes, I am one of the pessimists whose bracket says Tampa in 6, but after seeing the level of effort from the Wings in Game 1, I am feeling cautiously optimistic.
The Wings know what they're up against, the Lightning aren't a team that's full of surprises, we've pretty much seen everything they can throw at us. On the other hand, there are a lot of players on the Wings who could suddenly go on a monster tear - Larkin, Datsyuk, Tatar, Nyquist...maybe even Zetterberg. Or Athanasiou, but he'll only have five minutes to do it.
We know we have to shut down their top line. Easier said than done, but it's just a matter of finding the right match-up. I know who should not be involved in that match-up, and that is Darren Helm. There were a lot of mistakes in Game 1, but Helm made some big ones and he's a "veteran" now so he doesn't get a pass (except from Blashill). Other players of concern to me are Zetterberg (go read Kyle's piece from yesterday) and Abdelkader...and I'm always concerned about Ericsson, but he didn't do anything extra specially stupid in Game 1, just the usual.
Abby is walking the line right now and veering into chunkhead territory. Nothing wrong with playing a physical game, but Abby made (and attempted to make) some questionable hits and he puts us on the penalty kill too often. He needs to settle down a bit and start making better choices. This series will continue to be ugly, and as often as possible we need to get Tampa in trouble for picking fights. Fight back, but be smart about it, and please protect our precious baby angel Larkin.
As far as goaltending goes, Bishop is not a brick wall. He's big, that's his thing, but in Game 1 we saw him stranded out of position a few times leaving us wide open nets to shoot at and miss. Wings need to be a little more aggressive net front scrambling for rebounds. For us, I would stick with Jimmy, he was a little shaky at times but made a couple of huge saves that kept us in the game. He didn't steal the game for us, but he shouldn't have to. Mrazek tends to either be 100% brilliant or 100% awful, and lately it's been hard to decide which Mrazek we're going to get. We may need them both to make this a long series, but for Game 2 I would pick Jimmy.
The Wings had a few minutes in Game 1 where they were discombobulated and completely overwhelmed, but overall I thought they played pretty well, especially compared to some of the games we've seen them play recently. They seem to be awake, if a little disorganized, and far from giving up. Game 2 is ours, let's go get it.
LET'S GO RED WINGS
Game Day Prediction Contest
Would you like to predict the outcome of the game and potentially become internet famous? Well you're in luck, because here's your opportunity. Here's how it works.
Make your game predictions on the winning team, final score, and who the Wings player of the game will be. Enter the required information into the form below using the formats indicated in the questions. If you don't use those formats, your answers will be disregarded. All submissions are timestamped and will be accepted only until the official game start time. All other submissions after that will be disregarded. Only one submission per person, please. POTG will be determined by the collective of WiiM writers.
Each correct winning team prediction is worth 1 point. Each correct player of the game prediction is worth 2 points. Each correct final score prediction is worth 5 points. If you get all three correct you'll receive 15 points.