Game 4: Wings 0, Preds 3

Instead of the big statement Wings fans were expecting from their team, they got one from the Predators, who shut the Wings out 3-0 tonight in Nashville to even the series up 2-2. The two teams will go back to Detroit to face each other Thursday night in Game 5. We’ve got a series now, folks.

Manny Legace made the start for the Wings but did not finish the game as he was pulled in the third and replaced by Curtis Joseph. Tomas Vokoun got the start for the Preds and got his first playoff shutout.

First Period
The Wings came out of the gates firing on most cylinders. They got some good chances in the first minute and cycled the puck fairly well. They dominated the play for the first few minutes of the period but eventually slowed down as the period wore on.

The Wings had a good number of chances to score in the first 10 minutes but were always held off by the Preds defense and Tomas Vokoun.

The Wings got a power play at 9:15 but it didn’t last long as Brendan Shanahan got a penalty himself at 9:58. The Predators took 46 seconds to score after that. Steve Sullivan took a long bomb pass from Scott Walker and walked in on Manny Legace all alone. Remembering his failed penalty shot in Game 1, he made a move on Manny and beat him high off the backhand. The pass was a questionable one since it was darn close to being a two-line pass.

The Wings had to kill off a Jiri Fischer penalty at 12:46 and did a good job of it. The Predators got a good set up going at first but iced the puck after the Wings cleared it. On the ensuing faceoff, Kirk Maltby had a great chance with Vokoun down but couldn’t finish.

Maltby drew a penalty three or so minutes later when he took a quick shot at a Preds player after the play in front of the net. Scott Walker skated in and gave him some nasty stickwork, which was what the refs saw. The Wings got some good pressure early on their first two tries but the second unit didn’t get anything going so they came away empty handed.

That was pretty much it for the first period. The Wings played pretty well and mostly dominated the Preds but again came out behind. They took some more threatening shots than they have in the other games but still took too many from the perimeter making it too easy for Vokoun to stop them. Shots were 16-3 Wings. Perhaps a more telling category was the faceoffs: 13-12 Wings. Looks like the Wings are losing their dominance in that category.

Second Period
Since two penalties were handed out after the first period expired, both teams started with four skaters. The Predators got the pressure going first and it took a decent shift by (gasp!) Derian Hatcher to keep the score 1-0. After about 3 minutes had passed, the Predators really had the Wings on the heels in what looked like a power play.

After that, the Grind Line got some decent pressure and when things came the other way, Jiri Fischer rocked Scott Hartnell at the blueline with a big open-ice hit. That should have gotten the Wings going a bit but it didn’t.

Tomas Holmstrom got a penalty at 5:32 after slashing Tomas Vokoun, who in turn belted him back with his blocker. Both could have/should have gotten penalties there but Holmstrom was the only one who went to the box. The Wings had a good chance shorthanded but Kirk Maltby sent it just wide and the Preds came back with a chance of their own. The Wings held them off though and kept it 1-0.

I forgot to write down the time but sometime after that, Scott Walker slashed Kris Draper in the face when in front of the net on a huge scoring opportunity. Draper was cut on the play but the refs completely missed what should have been a four-minute double minor. That was probably the key moment in the game since the Wings could have gotten back in it with a power play that long. It didn’t happen, though, and to make any more of it would be just making excuses.

At 10:21, a scrum after the play resulted in three players being sent to the penalty box. Darren McCarty and Derian Hatcher went for the Wings and Jeremy Stevenson went for the Preds. The Wings killed most of the power play off before Brendan Shanahan took an idiot penalty in the offensive zone when he high sticked Adam Hall at least a couple times at 12:18. That put the Wings in another disadvantaged position and led to yet another penalty being called, this time on Yzerman. However, he never had to serve it since Vladimir Orszagh scored at 14:21 just as the Shanahan penalty expired. Dan Hamhuis took a shot from the point that would have completely missed the net had it not changed directions after hitting Orszagh. It just barely slipped in past Manny and made it 2-0 Predators.

The Wings got some more decent chances towards the end of the period and even drew a penalty at 18:15 but they could not get on the board. Shots in the period were 9-6 Wings. The penalties certainly threw the Wings off and they didn’t play all that well offensively anyway. They took too many shots from the perimeter and couldn’t get around the Predator’s careful defense.

Third Period
The Wings came out on the power play but only had 15 seconds and got nothing done.

Greg Johnson ended all scoring at 2:02 when he blasted in the rebound off the Scott Hartnell shot on a fairly harmless looking rush. Manny gave up a huge rebound and just missed making the save on the glove side. Since he allowed a third goal on the 10th shot, Dave Lewis pulled him then and replaced him with Curtis Joseph who looked very sharp in his 2004 playoff debut. The goal was not all Manny’s fault however, as Mathieu Schneider put himself out of position at the red line, which left Johnson uncovered in the zone.

The Wings got some decent chances after that and even scored a goal. It was called back, however, because Tomas Holmstrom was given a penalty for goaltender interference. A borderline call if you ask me but that’s just another excuse. Joseph came up big on the ensuing power play when David Legwand was up in his face but couldn’t score. There was another gathering behind the net after the play that resulted in coincidental penalties. The Wings had some good chances on the following 4-on-4 stretch and came even closer to scoring on the short power play after that. Ray Whitney blocked the shot from Steve Yzerman, however, and kept the score 3-0.

The Wings got another power play at 6:22 when Orszagh took out Curtis Joseph but they were unable to convert. Nice to know that even when the oppositions taking runs at their goalie, the Wings can’t build up enough emotion to do something, anything. The period wound down with the Wings making vain attempts at a comeback and the Preds just sitting back holding them off. They gave the Wings some good chances to score but again, they could not finish.

Shots in the third were 16-11 Wings for a total of 41-20 Wings.

Steve Thomas was benched in favor of Boyd Devereaux, who had a decent game tonight, though he didn’t play much (6:13) … Marek Zidlicky sat out his third straight game. His absence has had very little adverse effect on the Preds’ play, except, obviously, their power play … Final faceoffs were 45-25 Wings. So they regained some of their dominance in that category but still have nothing to show for it … Tomas Vokoun has made 134 saves on 140 shots this series … Derian Hatcher started the game tonight in what was perhaps a show of support from Dave Lewis after his gaffe in Game 3. I wish Lewis weren’t so nice, quite frankly. Derian should have been benched, in all honesty … Steve Yzerman has just one goal in 21 games. He last scored on February 29 in the Wings’ 4-2 win over Philadelphia … Brendan Shanahan had seven shots through two periods of play tonight and ended up with eight … I heard another classy cheer tonight to go along with “Red Wings… You suck!” I think it was “Red Wings are sissies!” Nice, Nashville fans, real nice … Curtis Joseph is highly likely to start Game 5. I hope Curtis can give the Wings the spark they need. He looked good tonight in net and seems to be fully okay … The next game truly is a must win game for both teams. The Wings have got to realize its importance and play like it means something …

Suckiness re-defined
From what I’ve seen so far this series:
Whitney on a breakaway
Hatcher’s cross ice passes and [lack of] speed
Shanahan penalties
Holmstrom’s interference negating Lang’s goal
The Wings on the power play
Datsyuk in the playoffs
Refs missing that high stick to Draper’s face
Two players named Steve (be honest with yourself)
Passing at all costs
Perimeter shots
Games 3 and 4
The First Round
Winning the President’s Trophy
Playing a young, fast, energetic Predators team

Don’t look now but this series is starting to feel like 2001. I hope I’m wrong. I…. must… keep… the faith. Show me why I should, Wings. Give me something!

Here is the boxscore.

(courtesy GWB)
Zetterberg-Yzerman-Whitney(Yzerman- minus 2 for the game)

Hatcher-Schneider(Schneider- minus three for the game
Lidstrom-Chelios(Lidstrom- minus 2 for the game)

4 on 4-






Manny Legace
Curtis Joseph