Quick Take: This is going to be a ridiculously stressful series. I was mostly thrilled with the way the Wings were taking it to the Sharks in the first period, when the game seemed firmly in their hands. I was progressively less thrilled as the game went on and the Sharks clawed into it, but even then, I felt pretty good. Until the Pavelski goal. Instantly, I had a bad feeling that the game wasn’t going to end well. I had an instinctive sense that the Wings had missed their chance by not netting a couple more in the first. They allowed the Sharks too small a gap to overcome and once they crossed it, the Wings were at the disadvantage.
The Wings cannot give the Sharks that kind of slack.
The Sharks: I’m reminded of why I hate and have no respect for the Sharks: they’re quite frankly in the wrong California town. They should be plying their trade in LA because if there’s a more accomplished group of actors in the NHL, I don’t know who they are. Substantive examples:
- The Bertuzzi hit on Pavelski. Wasn’t objectionable from where I sat. That’s a hockey play. Pavelski throwing his head back like that is not. Yet the officials bought it. That’s what I like to call a dive.
- The Eaves slash on Marleau. Completely ridiculous penalty. Marleau should go out for Hamlet this summer.
There were other great examples that I won’t bother mentioning because the refs apparently stopped hating themselves long enough to ignore them. But I can say that never have I been more glad that Todd McLellan is not in the organization any more than last night after watching his players do their best WWF impressions all over the ice.
Jimmy: I thought he looked incredible. He had no chance on either goal: one came as a result of Pavelski conveniently tripping Miller as he entered the zone and walking in for an easy knock-in. And the game winner came off Stuart’s stick. He was on all night and made some great saves throughout. If he plays like that in this series, I still think the Wings have the edge as I wasn’t overly impressed with Niemi and his 24 saves. Jimmy stopped 44.
One thing he did struggle with at times was rebound control, the prime example of which is the Pavelski goal. But the blame for that one, again, comes down to Pavelski being uncovered.
Bounces: It was a weird night for bounces. The Wings were getting most of the bounces in the majority of the white ice. In the white ice regions bordering blue ice, however, they seemed to have very little luck and it really hurt their overall finish. Meanwhile, the Sharks had pucks bouncing over their sticks left and right in most of the ice, but they lucked out on the game winner and the Pavelski goal.
Puck luck. So it goes.
Datsyuk: Looked in good form with slick moves and takeaways all over. There were a few times where he went too cute, but in general, he looked dangerous and will need to play like that tomorrow.
Zetterberg: Didn’t look too much like he’d missed a lot of time. That was good to see.
Franzen: On the other hand, I was less than impressed with Franzen. The Wings need more out of him.
Bertuzzi: The Wings dodged a bullet when Todd took a skate to the wrist and headed straight to the bench. I guess either the wrist tape protected him somehow or Mickey Redmond’s theory that the skate gave him a bit of a stinger and made him think he was cut is correct. Considering how Modano’s wrist injury has probably effectively prematurely ended his career, the last thing Todd needs is a similar injury.
Helm: Maybe not quite as effective as he was against Phoenix, but I do think his line’s going to make a difference in this series.
Abdelkader: Keep your stick down, Justin. And for the record, I’m not sold on Wallin’s blood. HD picture of him on the bench revealed absolutely nothing and he claims he got stitches for it. I guess he got cut in the mouth because there was nothing external. And I guess he likes drinking his own blood or something because he stayed in the game. Sketchy.
The Crowd: Another reason to hate the Sharks: their idiot crowd. You don’t taunt a goalie in the middle of a shutout, morons. Also: the gasping at every little thing got a little old. Though kudos: you successfully managed to get in the officials’ heads and influence their decisions, it seems. Part of the Shark’s high-board act was crowd-calls.
FSD: I just want to register my displeasure with the network’s decision to join the Wings game in progress. I love the Tigers too, but a game against Cleveland has nothing on a Red Wings playoff game. We were robbed of six minutes of Red Wings hockey because of that. Update: It’s been pointed out to me that the game was shown in full on FSD+. Noted. We recorded the wrong instance, apparently.
Next: The Wings need to press harder early and give the Sharks more serious ground to make up. That is a major part of not letting officials make the game for you: if you allow your opponent a one-goal margin, a chintzy call can screw you. Better to stack the odds in your favor by creating a wide gap. The Wings can do that and need to tomorrow.
I knew this series was going to be tough. I knew the Wings were going to lose a couple/few. But I really wanted a win in Game 1. Next best is a win in Game 2. Do it, guys.