Counting and We Have Ourselves a Series

First off, the obligatory comment on the blown too many men call: pure, unadulterated stupidity on the part of Paul Devorski, Dennis LaRue, Derek Amell and Pierre Racicot. Four about 20 seconds in the first, they missed the most obvious and most black-and-white call of the night, and changed the face of the game. Is that why the Wings lost? Heck no, and the same goes for all the other calls they blew tonight (and there were many). But that miss directly impacted the course of a 2-1 game. The incompetency of the officials in this post-season has been truly mind-boggling. Putting sandbags on skates with little jet engines to move them around would be about as effective as paying any of these idiots to “call” a game.

All that said, the Wings blew it tonight, too. They had a 3-0 series  lead within their reach, but couldn’t close the deal on so many of their chances.  Too many blown offensive opportunities, and too many blown defensive clears in this one. Their play in their own zone is far too scrambly in this series, and their offensive passing is not crisp enough, or timely enough. Their puck pursuit was solid, but didn’t beat the Pens’ often enough.

They need to make sure they don’t have to look back on this game as the one that got away, which means they have to play much better in Game 4. That means capitalizing on chances, and fighting through all of the uncalled hooks, interferences, trips, elbows, and slashes.

Henrik Zetterberg played out of his mind tonight. Marian Hossa continues to disappoint in a big way. Chris Osgood was strong when needed. Darren Helm is lucky to still be skating after all the high hits he took.

I predicted Wings in 5, and so I knew a loss had to come. This one sucks the way it happened because the Wings should have battled through to win it, but at least now they can clinch at home. Bring your best to Game 5, boys. Pittsburgh’s had their night. It’s time to shut the door and stomp the throat. We have ourselves a series now.

More tomorrow.

Filed under: 2008-2009, Playoffs

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Comments

  1. Chris Wasel says:

    This debate started a firestorm on Facebook…let's see 80+ comments in 25 minutes.  This was so blown but agreed not the only reason why the Wings lost.  Still bad for the NHL.

  2. Garth says:

    "Marian Hossa continues to disappoint in a big way…Darren Helm is lucky to still be skating after all the high hits he took."

     

    I wouldn't say that Hossa continues to disappoint.  Up till tonight he maye not have been putting up big numbers, but he'd been playing well (especially Games 4 and 5 of the Chicago series and 1 and 2 of this one), but today he certainly disappointed.  He seemed completely out of it, his head wasn't in the game.  Maybe the pressure of playing in the Mellon in the finals against the Pens got to him.  Hopefully he can shake it off and come back with another patented Hossa 2-goal Game 4.

    On CBC, Don Cherry presented the Cooke hit on Helm (the one that was a pretty blatant elbow) as the hit of the game.  Beyond the non-call (along with the third game straight of completely ignoring the rape and sodomy of Hossa whenever he was near the puck), is there anything that can stop Helm?  Jesus, I wouldn't be surprised if he got cut in a game and his metal endoskeleton was revealed.  Just wow!

  3. Nice.  You are so right it was even on CBC and I heard everyone on Twitter talking about the 6-5 for those 20 seconds.  The Red Wings outplayed them for most of the time but they still need an A game.

    If they play the 60 minutes then they will school them.

  4. John W. says:

    I hate to say it, but Detroit almost seems to be reverting back to it's play during the early going against the Ducks. Their breakout passing is way off, they turn the puck over in their zone all the time, and they just are generally not sharp at all. The #1 reason they lost this game was turnover after turnover on top of more turnovers, really poor.

    On to the refs:

    Did Ericsson commit interference? Yes

    Does Pittsburgh interfere with Detroit on just about every dump in? Yes

    Does Pittsburgh EVER get called on it? No

    6-men on the ice? Come the hell on, they at least have to call it when they see the guy leave the ice, you can't tell me they didn't see it then.

    Boarding? Lots of it, I saw Hossa and Kronner both get driven head first into the boards.

    Head shots? Yep, like Matt said, Helm got drilled in the head a number of times, and Mule took a cross-check to the ear. Not to mention Sammy getting cross-checked head first into the post.

    Yet they let all that go and call something they have let Pitt do all series, hmm.

    Again, that said, it still wasn't the biggest reason they lost, they shot themselves in the foot all night long, the repeated knife in the back from the refs only furthered the agony.

    Pavel WILL be back Thursday. Count on it.

    The Pens were going to get 1 at home, make sure it's the only 1.

    Play desperate, not panicky. You showed in the 2nd period you can dominate this team, do it for an entire game.

    In case you can't tell by my choppy writing, I'm a bit flustered tonight, better quit for now…

  5. Tim B. says:

    On the Game: You are right the Red Wings did not play very well in the 3rd. They Fell off from the very good 2nd they had. Each line had a number of chances in the 2nd, and they just could not capitalize. I think that they will come out flying in game 4. as you did I picked the Red Wings in 5, so they did have to lose one.

    On the Refs: Last time I knew there are two teams in the finals… The 6 guys for 25 seconds pure stupidity. I do understand that it is really hard to ref a hockey game. I used to ref when I was younger, but to be an official in the NHL you have to be the best of the best. To miss a too many men for 25 seconds if obsurd. I keep thinking… What if the Penguins scored on that play? I wonder if that is reviewable? Plus in the 3rd I saw a obvious interference by one of the Penguins and yelled it out, then a minnute later the Wings were called for the same thing. I hate being the one who complains about the officials, because I kept giving the Pens fans crap about complaining in the first two games. so no more on the officials.

    Game 4: The Red Wings need to send a statement early in the game. I think that the Pens will be a little more relaxed because the won a game. The Wings need to take advantage of that early. The one thing the Det. is still doing a good job of is keeping Sidney Crosby off the scoreboard. If they keep it up this series is going to be short for the Pens. I think that the Detroit really misses Pavel Datsuk. I know they are still up 2-1 in the series, but if Datsuk was in the lineup I think this would be a 3-0 series, and the Pens would not know what to do. You are right when you say "Now we have a series!"

    LET'S GO RED WINGS!!!!

  6. Jason says:

    Ha, yeah, Matt, I think it's sad that while Olczyk was screaming for half a minute about it and no call came, I wasn't even angry. All I could think was, sarcastically, "big surprise." It's become the norm. I found myself in a similar state of mind on the headshot Franzen received later in the game. What'd be nice though is, for a change, the NHL admitted publically that their crew blew it big time. Just admit it, admit they have to do better when the big prize is on the line. You don't have to be right all the time, but just admit when you're wrong. Cripes.

    Ah well, on the upside, the Pens faithful can no longer say their team didn't get any breaks in this series…

    But credit to the Pens, especially their role players. It was the game they needed to have if this was going to be a series at all. They were strong on faceoffs again too, and my earlier prediction that if they scored 4 or 5 goals they'd win has unfortunately held up…

    But three games in four nights after a short layoff, against a desperate team on enemy ice–no real surprise losing this one. Detroit should be more focused for game four, and Babs now can fiddle with his lineup a bit too, at the very least to get Draper in to shore up the faceoffs. And maybe we'll get us a minor miracle and even see some Datsyuk… though I know I shouldn't hold my breath.

  7. John W. says:

    Kinda a predictable series so far though. Wings are 4-0 in Game 1's, 3-1 in Game 2's, and 1-3 in Game 3's, which this series has followed perfectly. I too predicted Wings in 5, so a 2-1 series isn't much to worry about, especially when you figure in that so far in these playoffs, the Wings are 3-0 in Game 4's and 2-0 in Game 5's.

    The Wings in 5 most of us predicted is right on track.

    I'll keep telling myself that between now and Thursday night…

  8. Megan Saler says:

    I notice nobody is pointing out the blatant trip right before their empty-net goal. That was killer. And while you cannot solely blame the officiating (the Wings overcame it against the Ducks), that missed too-many men is what really changed the game. We were still up 2-1 at that point, and yet as soon as it happened, I just knew we were gonna lose. This game is another proof that if you complain long enough about something, calls will start to go your way. I sure hope Franzen and Helm aren't seeing stars, particularly Helm.

  9. John W. says:

    "I notice nobody is pointing out the blatant trip right before their empty-net goal."

    You're right Megan, that was BS too, unfortunately there were just too many to "count" to mention them all. The interference on Ericsson still gets me. If they called that all series, the Wings would have about 6 more PP goals this series. Gill did it to Helm twice on the same dump-in for crying out loud. For some reason it bothers me more than the 6-men thing.

  10. hockeychic says:

    You have summed it up really well.  It seemed like the Wings were really hesitant with the puck in the offensive zone, waiting seconds too long to shoot or shooting too quickly.  What the heck happened in the 3rd?  Great defense by the Pens but also, I thought the Wings looked a bit gassed.

    I'm just not going to comment on the officials except for this: 1,2,3,4,5,6 players on the ice equals too many men!

  11. Baroque says:

    Doesn't really surprise me at all.  The league does not want a sweep – and everyone has their orders.

  12. jvwalt says:

    Refs notwithstanding, the Wings could easily have won this game. Their biggest failing was blocking Osgood's view on the Pittsburgh goals. At least one of the goals was redirected off a Wing's foot, just enough to fool Ozzie. As Don Cherry says over and over again: block the shot or get out of your goalie's way! Don't just stand there!

    I'm not especially worried about the series; I think the Wings are still in control. If the Pens were going to win any game, it was going to be Game 3 at home (just like the Blackhawks). Under the circumstances, the Wings played pretty well overall.

    Broader reflection on these playoffs: the Wings sure do have tons of talent. And they've suddenly become a young team. Aside from Lidstrom and Osgood, their core players are either young or in their prime — and there are so many young players banging on the door, that Babcock is having trouble getting everybody in the lineup. The Wings dynasty shows absolutely no sign of ending. In fact, they're in much better shape now than they were a few years ago, when most of their core players were old. It's an amazing accomplishment in the salary cap era.

  13. JK says:

    Okay. I'm trying to keep quiet for the most part, but I have to respond.

    As a Pens fan in Detroit, I have to put up with HUNDREDS of comments about how Crosby is a whiner, and that we should call him "CRYsby", blah blah blah. And last year I had to hear about how Coach Therrien was complaining too much, and how he should be more cool and collected like Babcock. Now, I didn't like Therrien's behavior either, but I was harrassed about this during the entire Finals.

    But here we go.. In a great display of double standards, EVERY ONE of you here are whining about the refs. Even your beloved Coach Babcock is doing the same. I know that's what sports fans do – gripe about games. But let's face it.. Sports fans – even knowlegeable Detroit fans – typically have blinders on and don't zero in on the uncalled penalties that their favorite team committed. Yeah, the 6 men on the ice thing stinks, but this is a human game, and people make mistakes. I could go off about the officiating of the first two games. I'm not going to, because the Pens blew it and clearly didn't do what it took to win those games. And if we take a deep breath, we'll admit that there hasn't been a call or non-call in this series that cost either team a game.

    It gets old hearing these same complaints from wings fans during every playoff series the wings have faced this year. As much as you believe the whole League is out to get you.. Get over it already!!!  The league NEEDS the Wings. They are a GREAT team. They are an ELITE organization, and they draft better than any team in professional sports. I WISH the Penguins won as many cups as Detroit. If the Wings folded today, the NHL as we know it would cease to exist.. and even the dunderhead Bettman knows that.

    BUT, the wings AREN'T the only good team in the league, and they are not automatically entitled to the cup every year. It's an insult to the Pens and to the rest of the league when ya'll act this way.

    So, with all due respect, suck it up and enjoy the rest of an awesome series (in which your team is still in the lead)…. Or else – in my mind – you withdraw your right to call Crosby or anyone else a whiner.

    Of course, I hope the Pens pull off a comeback.. but hey.. may the best team win!!

     

  14. Matt Saler says:

    Chris,

    Dead on. It's not bad for the NHL because it went against the Wings. It's bad for the NHL because anyone paying attention will have more reason to think the League is a joke, that their officials can't do their jobs in a competant way.

    Garth,

    I guess what I mean by that is I've expected Hossa to be the dominant player he was at times in the season, the Wings' other "I shoot I score" player. He hasn't been that all playoffs, with the exception of Gme 4's. This is a key moment for him, an opportunity to step it up and both shut his critics up, and to add to the success of his stint here. Instead, he's seemingly let the storyline get in his head, to the detriment of his play. It's very disappointing, to me anyway. Playing well but not scoring isn't cutting it for me any more. We need him to rack up some points.

    Jamie,

    Yeah, the Wings outplayed them for over half the game, but a sixty minute effort is needed.

    John,

    Exactly. Their play in their own zone is far too loose and it's killing them. Pittsburgh's forecheck is getting to the defensemen far too much.

    Good analogy on the officiating. The knife in the back of an already sick person. The Wings were already in trouble of their own making, but some of those missed calls really sent them in a spiral.

    Tim,

    You're right. It is absurd. And what's more absurd is that I think they did notice, but chose not to call anything. My wife noticed that at the end of the shot Versus showed with a wide view, you can see the ref at center look at the Pens player going off, and then turn to look at the deep ref and make a sort of "eh" hand motion. Let's not forget that the guy skated right past the linesman, too. How they justify that is beyond me.

    The Wings do need to make a statement early in Game 4. It's time for them to take this series over. I'm not sure what mental block is keeping them from playing their best for long stretches, but they have to get over it tomorrow night.

    Jason,

    I was pissed, but I do remember laughing in an "of course!" way in my head. Pissed won out, though. The NHL would never admit any wrongdoing. I feel like we're in an alternate reality sometimes with this League: "Everything's great! We have no problems! We're perfect! Happy! Doubleplusgood!"

    After watching Samuelsson struggle at times last night, I'm definitely in the "Draper would have been better" camp. I hope he's in for Game 4.

    John,

    I’ll keep telling myself that between now and Thursday night…

    We all will, I think.

    Meg,

    Like John says in his response, there were almost too many to mention. That one was definitely key, though. The Wings could have gotten something going right there, but instead the puck went the other way on an illegal play.

    What's amazing is there haven't been that many complaints outside of the fans. It's disturbing that it takes that little to sway the officials' weak little minds.

    hockeychic,

    That's exactly it. No sense of immediacy/urgency. Waiting for a perfect moment in the future when that moment is already in the past by that time. So many great chances blocked by skates because the Wings waited a split second too long.

    Baroque,

    Yeah…

    jvwalt,

    That's what I'm saying–the Wings blew it, even with all the knives in the back. They definitely didn't help Osgood out much.

    I think the Wings are still in control, too, but they need to assert that control on Thursday or they'll lose it.

    You're right about this team. I find myself occassionally thinking, "too bad this'll be over soon" for no real reason other than a feeling that all good things have to end sometime, and having to remind myself, "No, it won't be. We're still stacked for years to come."

    JK,

    It's not a double standard to voice legitimate gripes, such as at least the too many men situation. And until last night, I've felt the officiating was poor both ways. Last night, however, the pedulum swung fully over to the Wings' side, and it seemed like they got jobbed every other shift.

    My view on complaining about officiating is this: it's open season during the game, and in the immediate news cycle afterward (so, today). After that, it's in the past, and time to move on. So, I'm going to go ahead and complain about it today, and then I'll be done, for the most part. Until the next pathetic excuse for officiating comes up.

    As for your claim that there hasn't been a bad call that cost a team the game, that's true if you mean a 1-to-1 connection. But I'll draw your attention to the blatant trip at the blueline that went uncalled just before the empty net goal last night. If that gets called, the Wings don't go down 4-2 there, and get a chance at tying it up. That's pretty direct, though not 1-to-1. 

    And let's not discount the too many men situation. The Wings took a penalty just after that sequence because they weren't able to clear after going up against six men in the defensive zone, and then Pittsburgh scored. Again, pretty direct, though the Wings could have killed the penalty off. The point is, though, a call there would have changed the game in a significant way.

    I certainly don't feel the Wings are entitled the Cup, unless they earn it. This year, I happen to believe they're well on their way to that. I do expect a fairly called series, even if it means the Wings get penalties for doing stupid things.

  15. Drikfan says:

    The officiating this offseason has been the worst officiating I can remember in the last 5-10 years of watching the NHL. It has been utterly inconsistent from series to series, game to game. Sad as it may be, I thought the first 2 games of this series were the best 2 officiated games of the offseason. Sure they missed a TON of stuff (intentionally letting things go or not) but they missed the calls both ways and were at least consistent. Last night was anything but consistent. Wings fans have every right to be upset with last nights officiating.

    JK – I've been very impressed with how Bylsma handles himself on the bench and the press conference. If he were my coach, I'd certainly bust my ass for him.

     

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