The Red Wings drop another crucial game, and get swept in the season by the Flames, falling on their own sword and dropping the game 3-2.
For the Red Wings, their playoff hopes this year, and the fate of their current playoff streak, lie with the results of their upcoming games to close out the regular season. By watching their play through the first period of this game, you wouldn’t really know it. They looked flat, uncoordinated, and just not in the game. They managed to knock away almost every Calgary scoring chance in the period though, despite this fact. The only goal in the period went to the Flames at 13:28, as Jimmy Howard made a great initial save, but a fortunate bounce for Lee Stempniak found the puck right on his stick, which he wristed in the empty net to open the scoring in the game. The Red Wings would enter the dressing room down 1-0, and being led in shots 10-8.
They came out in the second period looking much like the first. Their play was more upbeat, but they didn’t look to be playing with much urgency. Halfway through the period, though, they seemed to wake up out of nowhere, after two bad power plays that went unconverted on. They would finally open their scoring at 12:31 of the period, as Joakim Andersson was given the puck behind the Flames’ net by Daniel Cleary, and he then put it across the front of the net to a waiting Gustav Nyquist, who put in his 3rd of the season, and tied the game 1-1. It would remain that way the rest of the period, and the Wings would leave the ice with a 19-12 edge in shots.
And has been par for the course this season against the Flames, the third period is where everything completely and pathetically fell apart. Calgary took the lead at 2:28, as Jimmy Howard settled the puck behind the net for Jonathan Ericsson, who instead of taking possession and bringing it out of the zone, got it tangled in Howard’s skates, who then had it poked out and into the net by Steve Begin. Later, on a power play, the Flames cleared the puck out of their zone, and as Steve Begin chased after it as Howard came out of the net to play it, who couldn’t immediately because it was in the trapezoid, the Wings decided to take a line change and leave Howard in alone. As he tried to play it around, the puck didn’t make it around the net, it was picked up by Begin, and put into the empty net after being left alone, and they found themselves down 3-1. They would be redeemed, though, as at 17:18, Johan Franzen flung the puck into the zone to try to get it deep, and as it reached Miikka Kiprusoff, it bounced funny at the last moment, and went in through the 5-hole for Franzen’s 10th of the season, bringing the score to 3-2. They would manage to pull a 6-on-4 in the last minute of the game, trying to find the equalizing goal. The hemorrhaging power play wouldn’t be able to pull it off, though, as they dropped it 3-2.
The Good: The rookies are continuing to impress everyone. Nyquist’s tying goal gave the team such a boost when they needed it. It’s amazing to see these kids improving at the rate that they are. It gives a nice bout of confidence for our future.
The Bad: The power play looks like it’s regressing back to the pre-first-road-goal ways. 0 for 5 in the game. 5 chances. And zero goals on any of them. That’s pathetic. They simply can’t convert on them now when they really need to. This is the very, very last point in the season that you want your special teams to get cold. You need to get the rebounds, go to the net, and avoid playing perimeter hockey the entire time. And that completely inexcusably badly timed line change on the power play directly led to the Flames’ 3rd goal. You never EVER leave your goaltender in alone, whether the other team is on the penalty kill or not.
The Ugly: The bounces this season have just been all but against the Red Wings this season. I don’t know which god of hockey they angered, but they’d better make peace very quickly if they want their season to go any further.
The Wings will enjoy another 2 days off, and get back at it Saturday night in Vancouver for yet another do-or-die game in the closing weeks of this regular season, with much more urgency this time around.