Game 6 Morning Skate: Just Win

Wings lead series 3-2

7:00p ET, Joe LouisArena

Detroit, MI

TV: Fox Sports Detroit, CNBC, CBC, TVA, Fox Sports Florida

Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

Lightning Blog: Raw Charge

One more win. That's all it takes for the Wings to advance to the Division Finals.

One more loss. That's all it takes to make all of us clench our sphincters and vomit up the contents of our stomachs in a game 7.

*deep breath*

Who else is dealing with these feeling? The ones where you're torn between wanting to take your pants off and helicopter them above your head while screaming at the top of your lungs, and throwing up violently from nervousness.

There's a lot to be excited about so far. Petr Mrazek and the Wings have shut out Tampa twice in 5 games and have a 3-2 series lead when a lot of people were predicting Tampa to sweep the series. There's also a lot to be nervous about. Tampa is going to be desperate in this game, more so than they've been in any game so far. Here they are on the brink of elimination and if they don't throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at Mrazek and the Wings, they're going to be done playing hockey. They're on the road and it's do or die, this is going to be a battle of a game and I hope the Wings have prepared themselves. I expect this game to by even more physical and confrontational than any of the previous games.

Please Wings, just win this game so we don't have to endure a game 7.

What do the Wings have to do to win this game? Exactly what they did for the last 45 minutes of game 5. Defense has been a weakness for the Wings ever since we lost Nick Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, and Brad Stuart (the good one) without replacing them with comparable players. How do you make up for that weakness? A deeper team commitment to playing defense. That's a huge part of why the Wings are up 3 games to 2 in this series and it was featured repeatedly in game 5. Forwards backchecking like their lives depended on it, keeping Tampa to the outside and limiting their quality shots on Mrazek, suppressing shots, and being physical and moving bodies out of the way so Mrazek can see to do his job. Sure we need to score goals, but as long as Jonathan Ericsson is on your top pair, you're going to need a little extra help on D from your forwards. Mike Babcock and the players have done a great job most of the year at doing exactly that, and it's won us many games.

Stick with your game.

Keep doing what's got you this far.

Believe in yourselves.

Never give up, never back down, never take your foot off the gas.

Jump out of the gate with speed and pressure, and never let up.

Give Tampa nothing but cause to lament.

We need a complete game effort from every single player, no dumb defensive mistakes, no excuses.

When you have the upper hand, you don't give it away.

Don't give the Lightning any hope.

Do it in six, Wings.


The Expected Lineups


Gustav Nyquist Henrik Zetterberg Justin Abdelkader
Darren Helm Pavel Datsyuk Tomas Tatar
Joakim Andersson Riley Sheahan Tomas Jurco
Drew Miller Luke Glendening Landon Ferraro


Niklas Kronwall Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey Danny DeKeyser
Brendan Smith Marek Zidlicky


Petr Mrazek (starting)
Jimmy Howard

Scratches: Danny Cleary, Stephen Weiss, Jakub Kindl, and Alexey Marchenko

Injuries: Johan Franzen (concussion), Jonas Gustavsson (concussion) & Erik Cole (neck)


Alex Killorn Steven Stamkos Ryan Callahan
Ondrej Palat Tyler Johnson Nikita Kucherov
Vladislav Namestnikov Valtteri Filppula Cedric Pacquette
Brenden Morrow Brian Boyle J.T. Brown


Victor Hedman Andrej Sustr
Nikita Nesterov Anton Stralman
Matt Carle Braydon Coburn


Ben Bishop (starting)
Andrei Vasilevskiy


Line Matchups

Despite the Wings 2 shutouts it's still a close scoring affair with Tampa scoring 10 goals and the Wings 13. Thanks to Danny (long wonderful legs) DeKeyser's empty net goal on Saturday, the Wings defense is now on the goal sheet. It would be nice to get more defensemen chipping in on offense, but they do have 8 assists already, and if locking down defensively means fewer goals from them, I'm perfectly happy to let the D set up the forwards, dish the outlet passes and contribute to offense that way. It's still surprising that Zetterberg's line only has 1 goal so far (from Nyquist) but they've been playing well and I feel like they're over due. Maybe tonight? Thanks in large part to Johnson's 2 goals in game 4, that line now accounts for 40% of Tampa's total goals.


Defensive Matchups

At 5on5, the pairing of Danny DeKeyser and Kyle Quincey continues to draw the toughest defensive assignments and, for the most part, have been the Wings best pairing. DDK-Quincey have matched up against Tyler Johnson's line for most of the series, and I'd wager part of that reason has to do with speed. Johnson's line is fast, and DeKeyser is a great skater and uses those long wonderful legs (as Mickey Redmond likes to say) to keep up speed-wise, maneuver quickly and efficiently, and use his reach to get his stick in shooting lanes and poke pucks away. Quincey isn't particularly speedy or fantastic at skating, but paired with DeKeyser, Quincey can be the physical ornery one and the skill sets of those two seem to compliment each other nicely.


28 Age 23
170 Reg. 5 Playoff Games Played 40 Reg. 5 Playoff
2.21 Series GAA 1.91
.901 Series SV% .937
111 Shots Faced 143
100 Saves Made 134

2 Wins 3
2.00 (10 goals total) Goals Per Game 2.60 (13 goals total)
2.60 Goals Against Per Game 2.00
8.3% Power Play % 21.0%
79.0% Penalty Kill % 91.7%
Tyler Johnson (4 goals) Goal Leader Pavel Datsyuk (3 goals)
Tyler Johnson (5 points) Points Leader Datsyuk& Ericsson (4 points)

Let's Go Red Wings!!!