Posts filed under “2005-2006”

Game 6: Wings 3, Oilers 4

Update (7:13 PM, 02. May): Okay, enough with the comments about our interpretation of, and reaction to, Hemsky’s first goal. None of us at OtW believe that goal was the reason the Wings lost and I believe Brian stated that pretty clearly in his first paragraph.

I personally distinctly remember seeing Hemsky’s foot turn, pull back, and move forward in an umistakable kicking-like motion. But, as many of you have been so kind to point out, the puck went in off the crest of his jersey, not the foot, so any type of kicking motion is entirely irrelevant.

The goal obviously should have counted and we know it wasn’t the game winner. So, don’t think we OtW bloggers, at least, believe that’s why Edmonton won, or that we are whining about it. The juveniles in the forums, maybe, but not us. The posted reaction is just an attempt to come to terms with it all.

That said, having the game tied up in such a screwy way brutally sucked and I still have a bad taste in my mouth. That’s all I have to say for now. Maybe in a day or two I’ll have more.

And, for those of you who are coming here to leave a gloating comment, acquire some class and bug off. — Matt

The Wings lost a 2-0 lead in the third period, as well as a 3-2 lead with four minutes left, and a goal from Hemsky with 1:06 remaining gave Edmonton a 4-3 win over the Wings. Edmonton won their first playoff series in 8 years, 4-2 , and did it at home. Yzerman had 13:04 of ice time, and assisted on Robert Lang’s power play goal in the 2nd. Manny Legace had 26 saves on 30 shots, and wasn’t individually to blame for the loss tonight. To blame was Andreas Lilja, who blew coverage on the winning goal as well as on the goal that made it 2-2 midway through the 3rd period. He flat out left Legace out to dry by covering the wrong guys and leaving Pisani and Hemsky open for their respective goals. Holland should be eating crow for recently signing Lilja to a 2 year, $2 million deal. Also, Samuelsson didn’t help with his turnovers and two penalties in the 1st. Finally, the Wings dominated the 2nd period with 17-2 shots, but only converted that lopsided margin in chances to one goal. That and a number of shots hitting the post will haunt the Wings all summer. Tonight it was more a breakdown in defensive coverage than a lack of offense that killed the Wings, though more goals would’ve helped of course.

First Period
Both teams started the game with energy, with Zetterberg opening the scoring chances at 0:53. On the play, Zetterberg got a point blank chance after the puck took a bad bounce in front of Roloson. The Wings sustained pressure on the Edmonton end, and Datsyuk was strong on the next shift with a chance between the circles.

At 2:36, Yzerman took his first check of the game from Stoll and appeared very sensitive coming off of it. He would play only 3 minutes and take only one faceoff in the first, due to his back injury. At 3:59, Lebda jumped in on offense and his shot almost caught Roloson off guard with Samuelsson creating trouble in front. Draper followed the rebound with his own shot on Roloson.

At 4:19, Samuelsson was caught hooking Horcoff. It was an automatic call, and a bad way to start the game for the Wings. Samsonov had the best chance of the Oilers powerplay, driving the net off the near side with bad angle shot on Legace. Cleary cleared the Wings zone (how appropriate), and the Wings killed off the first Oilers powerplay.

For the next two minutes, the Oilers commanded the tempo and stuck in the Wings zone with sustained pressure. The Wings didn’t allow any quality chances, but their offensive stagnation was disappointing.

At 7:50, Samsonov had a wrap-around chance on Legace after a Wings giveaway behind the net. Then, at 8:16, Schneider coughed the puck up at center and Horcoff nearly had a breakaway. Luckily, he was not confident with the puck and pulled back to dump it off to a teammate. The Oilers had a tendency of doing that tonight.

At the midpoint of the period, the Oilers had an 8-4 advantage in shots and the crowd was into it. The Oilers were getting a lot of odd man rushes, the result of Wings giveaways and trouble passing the puck (partly the same thing).

At 10:33, Schneider was called for high sticking behind the play, as the Wings were about to carry the puck into the Oiler zone. Samsonov was strong again, and forced Manny to make a tough glove save in traffic. The Wings had a good penalty kill other than that, with blocked shots from Chelios and finally Maltby.

Coming off the penalty kill, I noted how the Wings were in desperate need of a powerplay to kill the Edmonton momentum. Soon after, at 14:36, Zetterberg scored an even-strength goal. On the play, a falling Samuelson passed across to Zetterberg on the near side. Zetterberg took the pass and beat a poorly positioned Spacek, before deiking on Roloson to make it 1-0 Wings. It was a very timely goal for Zetterberg, the Wings needing it to kill the energy of the crowd. Now my focus was getting the Wings to escape this period still up a goal, since Edmonton had carried all the play until this out-of-the-blue goal by Henrik.

At 16:29, Samuelsson was called for high sticking, his stick riding up Jason Smith’s arms to make contact near the face. A Pronger blast at 16:35 hit the post to the left of Manny, the refs quickly waving it off. It looked good, and it was a break for the Wings that it clanked off the post.

Draper and Maltby had a shorthanded 2-on-1, but Maltby was stopped on a pretty weak shot. A Pronger interference call at 17:09 nullified the Oiler powerplay. He was called for picking a Wings player, something Oilers fans thought should’ve been called on Lidstrom during the winning goal of Game 4.

The Wings got a 40 second powerplay after Samuelsson got out of the box, but they couldn’t even gain the Oiler zone. Shots were 15-10 for the Oilers in the first period, and the Wings were very lucky to escape with a 1-0 lead.

Second Period
The Oilers opened the second period with a wrap-around chance from Pisani at 1:05, with Torres in front. Legace had good positioning and made the save on the post. It would be one of the few Oiler chances of the second period. At 3:03, Maltby had a backhand chance off the near side. The rebound fluttered out to the mouth of the crease, but there was no trailing Wing on the play to pick it up.

At 4:54, Spacek was caught hooking Lang after a Rem Murray giveaway. It was a good penalty for the Oilers to take after the turnover. The Wings powerplay lasted only 24 seconds, with a Holmstrom penalty for goaltender interference nullifying the man advantage. At 6:46, Datsyuk clanked one off the post after picking up a Spacek turnover. Williams picked up another Spacek turnover soon after, to which the CBC crew joked that Spacek shouldn’t have gotten out of bed this morning.

The story of the second period was Edmonton’s inability to convert on dump-ins, and their subsequent passing up the middle led to a number of turnovers (Spacek the culprit on a few just mentioned).

At 9:24, Cleary nearly scored after shooting on Roloson from behind the net. Roloson was awkward on the save, twisting around to grab Cleary’s rebound chance. At 11:55, Yzerman carried it into the Oiler zone and made his patented cut-back move. His shot went off the near post, and it was good to see Yzerman have an energetic shift like that. After this chance, the CBC crew began what became a complement-athon of Yzerman’s career and they basically put up all his career numbers. You can bet they were waiting to do this.

At 13:51, Pronger was called for high sticking on Samuelsson. The Wings scored just 11 seconds into the powerplay, with Yzerman centering Lang for a between the circles bang-bang play. Yzerman’s faceoff win over Stoll was crucial on this play. 2-0 Wings. At this point, shots were 10-1 Wings in the 2nd.

At 15:11, Hemsky had a near-breakaway, but he pulled up looking to pass it, apparently afraid to carry the puck and use his own speed. After getting booted from a faceoff, Yzerman had a wrist shot that went off Roloson’s shoulder and fluttered behind him. Although he lost track of it, Roloson was able to do a snow-angel and catch the puck on the goal-line.

At 16:40, Shanahan hit the post driving the net and ran right over Roloson, drawing boos and the “bull sh*t” chant. This also led the CBC crew to pull out the scripted argument that any non-call on the Wings is due to their being veterans and thus are “reputation calls.” Now that’s bull sh*t. The Wings closed out the period strong, and led shots 17-2 in the 2nd.

Third Period
The Oilers’ second period was so bad that Don Cherry came out in the second intermission (he usually only does the first intermission) to call it a “disgrace for a team at home to play like that.” Well, the Oilers must’ve been watching CBC in the locker room, because they definitely turned it around in the third. It also didn’t help when Mickey Redmond jinxed the Wings by saying we didn’t need any more goals and could just protect our lead to win. Right…when have two goals ever been enough this series?

At 1:44, Datsyuk broke in 1-on-1 with Staios, and got decked by Staios after getting a shot off. At 2:43, Winchester had a good chance in front on a one-timer, but fanned on it. This came after Kronwall failed to clear the zone. A scrum ensued, and Williams was picked by the refs for a penalty after he jumped in late. The refs have been doing this all playoffs to eliminate scrums after every stoppage, and Williams messed up.

The Williams roughing call came back to bite the Wings, with Pisani scoring at 2:56 to make it 2-1 Wings. It came off a rebound on a Stoll shot, and Manny was caught out of position after the initial save. Not a weak goal at all.

This brought the crowd into it, and Peca broke in on Legace at 3:36 after elbowing Lebda at center ice. It was a dirty hit, and the refs didn’t see it or else it would’ve been a penalty. The Peca breakaway fizzled out with not much of a shot on Manny, but Peca did enjoy running Manny over at the end.

At 6:10, Lebda hit the post from the far side, off a bad angle shot fed by Williams. I can’t take Lebda hitting the post anymore…At 6:40, the Oilers carried the puck down after the Lebda post, and Pisani scored alone in front of Manny. On the play, Lilja failed to cover his man, and left Pisani wide open and Manny out to dry. 2-2 tie. Pisani, the Edmonton native, was energetic throughout, and the crowd seemed to feed off his play.

Well, it was a new game now, with Edmonton owning the third period thus far. Mickey Redmond was eating crow after his prediction that the Wings’ 2-0 lead was enough to win it. At this point, shots were 5-1 Edmonton.

At 7:52, Moreau was called for tripping Kronwall in the Wings zone. On the powerplay, Datsyuk had a chance between the circles but switched to his backhand, and the shot wasn’t strong enough to beat Roloson. Shanahan and Lang missed the net on rebound chances.

At 10:07, Franzen scored an even-strength goal to make it 3-2 Wings. On the play, Maltby held it in the Edmonton zone and ripped it at the net. The shot went off the post, and Franzen picked up the rebound to stuff it into an empty net. It was Franzen’s 1st career playoff goal.

At this point, the crowd was killed and the Wings were generating great pressure in the Oilers zone. Things were looking great. With 5:36 left, the Edmonton crowd was begging for a powerplay and they finally got it with a Cleary interference call.

The Oilers scored at very controversial goal at 16:07, with Hemsky kicking the puck in the net following what should’ve been a high-stick on Horcoff. On the play, Horcoff had his stick above his head and redirected a point shot at Legace. Mike Leggo and Mick McGeough blew the call, as it was pretty obvious Horcoff tipped the puck with a high-stick. McGeough was the closest on the play. Legace attempted to cover the rebound off the Horcoff re-direct, but couldn’t get his glove on it. Hemsky picked up the rebound and was seen in the replay kicking it in, with Lidstrom pushing him in the back. McGeough called it a goal on the spot, and the play went under review to Toronto. It was ruled a goal. Since they couldn’t review the Horcoff high-stick, they could only review whether Hemsky kicked it in. It appeared obvious to everyone that he did, so the only reason I can see that they ruled it a goal was that Lidstrom was pushing him and could’ve contributed to the kicking motion. A bit much to go on to give the Oilers a 3-3 tie. But then again, the NHL would love to see the Battle of Alberta with Edmonton versus Calgary next round.

It was a horrible call by the league, and the Wings were as shocked as their fans were. With a few minutes left, all of us were thinking it would go to overtime and I was getting ready to find a snack. I even saw a commercial for Yzerman’s line of furniture and got a laugh out of that. But in a shocking turn of events, Hemsky scored with 1:06 left. Lilja left him all alone on the backdoor to receive a Samsonov pass, and it was 4-3 Oilers. Lilja is the bonehead of this year’s playoffs.

This is when all Wings fans saw the score and looked at the clock with shock. Here the Wings were, down a goal with only a minute left. This after being up with four minutes left. Complete shock. The Wings pulled Legace and put together a desperate, but unproductive attempt at a comeback. Moreau blocked their best chance in the final seconds. Datsyuk took the faceoff with 6 seconds left and won it, but the Wings couldn’t get one on net. And that was it. Oilers GM Kevin Lowe was seen consoling Yzerman, and the way Yzerman looked he is most likely done.

Results
The Wings’ third first round playoff exit in five seasons could bring about some changes in the locker room. Manny Legace comes to mind as the most obvious scapegoat. While no one can say he played badly, he certainly didn’t play well and gave the Wings no inspiration or confidence with his body language and post-game quotes throughout the series. It will be a huge offseason decision whether to retain Manny as the backup, or give Osgood that role. Both are unrestricted free agents this summer.

Chris Chelios will also have to decide whether he is coming back, and all indications are that he is. The Wings will gladly re-sign him. Nicklas Lidstrom is the biggest player who is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Wings will give him whatever next season’s cap allows the maximum salary to be. Also, Brendan Shanahan is an unrestricted free agent and could possibly retire with a front office job with the NHL guaranteed. But I expect him to be back next season. Finally, Steve Yzerman’s contract is up and he will have to decide on whether he is returning. All indications are that he is not – he has been bitter and frustrated all season, and, despite his jump come playoff times, his back injury really put things back into perspective of his age and physical condition.

As for coaching, Babcock signed a three year deal with the Wings last summer. By the precedent of firing Dave Lewis after his second early playoff exit, Babcock is expected to be given another chance. Ken Holland is considered a core member of the front office, but his job should be scrutinized. His signing of Derian Hatcher and Ray Whitney were predictably bad from day one, and the Curtis Joseph situation was poorly managed and an embarrassment to the organization. Just some examples of bad recent moves. Gone are the days of Holland doing blockbuster moves with unlimited resources via Ilitch, so Holland’s role on the team deserves some constructive criticism – I’m not saying he’s out but some Wings strategies need tuning.

Quotes
Manny Legace:

“I feel like going home and hanging myself. To have such a great year and then such a disappointing last two weeks. And you’re out. You’re golfing. It’s hard to take.”

Coach Babcock:

“If we had caught a couple breaks we could have been up 4-0. But coulda, shoulda, woulda. They found a way to win and we’re going home. I’m shocked that we are in this situation…We’re going to have to evaluate our team this summer and if we have to make changes we’ll make changes. We don’t want to be about winning in the regular season and not getting it done in the playoffs. It’s hard to look at our team and think we wouldn’t have success in the playoffs.”

Steve Yzerman:

“I’m flying home tomorrow and that’s about as far as I can go. I think it is best to wait a few days. Whether it is later this week or next week, I’ll be ready to make a decision on my future then. It is such a fun game to play. That building tonight, the more times you are in situations like that, the more you come to enjoy it. I don’t know that I’m ever not going to want to play. But I’ll have a decision soon.”

Game #6 – Oilers 4, Wings 3

Pregame
– The Captain is playing in tonight’s game. Knowing that Steve Yzerman will be playing makes me feel a whole lot better about the game today. Obviously he’s going to be in pain, but hopefully that will inspire the Wings into action. It will be Yzerman’s 196th playoff game; his experience and passion will certainly be an asset.

Those are the types of performances that define Yzerman, who usually saves his best for the biggest games. He has become comfortable in the suffocating atmosphere that is the chase for the Stanley Cup. He has learned to push the inevitable butterflies to the side and attack these games with the steely eyed determination necessary to make a personal impact as well as set the tone for his team.”Early in my career, (I’d) be extremely nervous, where I found myself always extremely nervous without a lot of experience,” said Yzerman. “I found in the last few years I’ve just gotten much more comfortable and you kind of know what to expect and you know what it’s all about.”

– We must get the first couple goals in order to establish our style of play. We also cannot afford stupid defensive errors and Lidstrom needs to be on fire tonight! Manny can’t be average – he needs to be great or amazing for this series to head back to Detroit on Wednesday. The Oilers are going to be flying today with their crazy loud Rexall crowd behind them.

– The Wings have over 1600 playoff game experience among the roster; let’s use that veteran experience and knowledge to our advantage.

– I would get such joy in seeing the Wings score a goal while Pronger was in the box. I just can’t believe he has 0 PIM this series – very impressive.

First Period
– The first three minutes provided numerous opportunities for the Wings from the likes of Henrik Zetterberg, Kris Draper, and Pavel Datsyuk. (Shots: 4-1 in favor of Detroit)

– Oilers get the first power play. Blast it. Mikael Samuelsson is heading to the box with 15:41 left in the first thanks to his hooking ability. The Oilers are 6/31 on the PP this series…The Wings were able to successfully kill this penalty.

– The PP gave the Oilers some momentum and have had some nice scoring chances of their own. (Shots: 6-4 in favor of Edmonton)

– Mathieu Schneider was called for high sticking so the Oilers go on the power play, again. Crap crap crap. Manny made a couple key saves and Maltby blocked the last shot of the PP. This penalty was also successfully killed by the Wings. (Shots: 12-6 in favor of Edmonton)

– Zetterberg scores!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Steals the puck from Spacek (who had intercepted a Samuelsson pass) and dekes Roloson to get his 6th goal of the postseason at 14:36 into the first. Lilja was also given the assist. It’s the second time this series that the Wings have scored first. When was the last game? Game #1. Wings 1, Oilers 0

– Samuelsson is going to the penalty box. Twice in one period! Ugh. Way to get the assist, but the Oilers are going to score on the power play – it’s only a matter of time. We don’t want to give them 25 million chances tonight. We can’t afford this.

– Draper and Maltby had a great shorthanded chance on the penalty kill. The two went 2 on 1, but Roloson made the save.

– Chris Pronger *finally* got a penalty for interference (17:09 into the first)! Woohoo! So it’s 4 on 4 for 1:20 minutes and then we’ll get 40 seconds with the man advantage. It’s just very comforting to know that Pronger won’t be on the ice during this time. :)

– Neither team scored on their respective power plays.

– Obviously, I would’ve liked a two goal lead but at least we have a lead. And Manny has been reasonably solid tonight.

End of First Period: Wings 1, Oilers 0
(Edmonton outshot Detroit, 15-10)

Second Period
– Apparently Cheli blocked a shot and hasn’t played this period, yet. Don’t know any more information than that. (a little less than 4 minutes into the second)

– Spacek called for hooking Robert Lang (15:06 left in second). Lets go Wings! Man…Tomas Holmstrom called for interference – this sucks. 1:36 of 4 on 4 hockey then a short Oilers power play. No goals scored.

– Shots favor Detroit, 5-1. Roloson just made a big save on Dan Cleary. Roloson has been playing pretty well tonight.

– Chelios is finally back in (9:20 left).

– Yzerman hit the goalpost making it two hit goalposts hit in 6 minutes. Craziness! I’m liking what I’m seeing – they aren’t in their typical second period slump.

– Mickey Redmond: “You gotta say it’s the Dwayne Roloson show.”

– Pronger is going back in the penalty box thanks to a high sticking penalty. After winning the face-off, Yzerman makes a sweet pass to Robert Lang (to the left of Roloson) after receiving the pass from Lang (who got it from Schneider). Lang scores!!!!!!!!!!! What did I say about how sweet it’d be with Pronger in the box and a Wings goal? Goal came 14:02 into the second period while on the power play. Wings 2, Oilers 0

– Wings have outshot the Oilers, 10-1, this period. The Wings must keep up this intensity; we cannot afford to become lax and make costly errors.

– Yzerman has been coming out to take the face-offs and then go to the bench. Yzerman has been looking fantastic today – the Captain certainly is something else!

– I love this comment from someone on the Lets Go Wings forum: “Man, any more whining by the Oilers fans in the arena, and they might as well start handing out free pacifiers.” I thought Horcoff really was offsides, sharp call by the officials.

– Another great LGW comment about the Captain: “I think I’ve run out of words to describe how much I appreciate Steve Yzerman these days. What he’s done tonight (in the second period especially) on that back of his is just amazing.”

End of Second Period: Wings 2, Edmonton 0
(Detroit outshot Edmonton, 17-2)

Third Period
– For a change, we’re actually seeing the Wings actually playing like themselves. Let’s just hope that they can keep this up in the third and make it 3-0 or 4-0!

– Jason Williams took an incredibly stupid penalty; it didn’t save us from a potential goal and it had no value whatsoever. Oilers PP starts with 17:17 left. And 13 seconds into the PP, Fernando Pisani scores at 2:56 into the second. He scored off of Ryan Smyth’s rebound. We cannot take stupid penalties – ugh. The Wings must rebound from this; we cannot hand the momentum over to the Oilers after we’ve dominated for most of the game. Wings 2, Oilers 1

– We cannot lose our composure. We still have a lead, but we won’t for long at this rate of stupidity.

– Brett Lebda got injured and went off to the bench – from the quick look at Lebda, it appears to be shoulder related. Edit: He is now back on the ice.

– Wow, the Wings have only spent 4 nights at home. While the Oilers have been in Edmonton eight nights. So much for home ice advantage.

– Pisani makes a nice deke to tie the game up at two and get his second goal of the game with 13:20 left in the third. Crap. The Oilers have momentum and the Wings were playing so well in the first two periods. Ahhh. I’m panicking now; we need to go on a PP or something and get some offensive opportunities. Wings 2, Oilers 2

– Kronwall is tripped and the Wings go on the power play with 12:08 left. We have to score here to get some of the momentum and back in the game. Plus it would be nice to quiet the Rexall Crowd – man they are loud! Couple good chances in the PP, but no goal.

– Wooo!! Johan Franzen drills it into the net with 9:53 left in the third for his first goal of the postseason (and the career). Cleary and Maltby were given credit for the assists. Wings 3, Oilers 2

– Lebda has now left for the training room. Shots are now even at 5 apiece.

– Crap. Oilers will go on the power play. Please let the Wings kill this penalty – ahh. Dan Cleary called for interference. You can see Yzerman giving some words of advice to his teammates and then winning the face-off.

– Man! The Oilers bloody scored. Manny is arguing about the call. Please no goal. Please! Crap – not looking good. There was a high stick in the play – that should’ve been called before. This sucks! Oh wait, there was a kicking motion by Hemsky’s left foot, will they notice that? There was a high stick and kicking motion – ahhh. Wings 3, Oilers 3

– That was an awful awful awful call. The goal should not have stood and I’m bloody pissed off. The Wings better be angry too and respond! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I don’t understand how that could be a goal. I realize they couldn’t rule no goal because of a high stick, but the refs should’ve made that bloody call before Hemsky even started kicking. Absolutely fricking ridiculous.

– Hemsky scores with 1:06 left in regulation. If the Wings lose, I’m going to be so pissed off. I want to cry. Who was guarding Hemsky? Man. Oilers 4, Wings 3

End of Third Period: Oilers 4, Wings 3
(Edmonton outshot Detroit, 13-9)

Overall
– I am so fricking upset. It would be one thing if we lost because the Wings played poorly / the Oilers played great. But that didn’t happen – that third goal never should’ve happened. The Wings played mediocre for those first two goals, but I am sooo pissed off about the third.

– The Wings deserved that game. Ahhhh. I can’t even talk right now. I’m so upset and frustrated. I’m not an idiot thinking that the Wings deserved to win all the games, they got themselves into this precarious position. But, tonight’s game is a different matter.

– And now I have to drive down to Cinci tomorrow morning to prepare for an incredibly sucky surgery on Wednesday. Man this totally sucks. I want to hurt something – ugh.

Stats
– Detroit outshot Edmonton, 36-30.
– Detroit went 1/6 on the PP / Edmonton went 2/6 on the PP
– Edmonton won 62% of the face-offs. Wow.
– Edmonton defeats the President’s Trophy winners in the series, 4-2.

Final Thoughts Tonight
– I’ll post some more tomorrow morning before I head to Cinci after I’ve had the night to sleep on it. (Mainly I’ll talk about who needs to go and who should stay…)
– If that was Yzerman’s last game…I don’t even want to think about it. Please don’t retire Yzie.
– I would not want to be Ken Holland right now – he has a lot of work to do this off-season with this great regular season / early round playoff exit team mess.
– I want to say congrats to the Oilers; they played with passion and pounced on all the Wings mistakes. Roloson played a great series and really kept them in tonight’s game. While I won’t be cheering for the Oilers in future playoff rounds, they did pull off an upset and it was not by luck.
– Until the team learns to play a full 60 minutes of hockey in the playoff games, we’re going to always be booted out in an early round. This whole series the Wings struggled to play 40 solid minutes per game, much less 60.
– Someone on the LGW forum brought up a good thought, we may have been screwed over by a ref’s bad call (or two or three or four) but the Wings had many chances and could never capitalize. There has been bad reffing throughout the entire series; the Wings need to learn to rise above it and still win these games.
– Tonight’s costly errors in defense cost the Wings those first two Oilers goals – not the refs. What happened to our coverage? While I totally disagree with the third goal standing, our coverage on the other three goals was just awful. I’m not placing complete blame on Manny. He had to deal with a breakaway, poor defensive coverage, and the puck being kicked in. He certainly wasn’t great (like we needed him to be), but he was not the whole reason we lost tonight in my opinion.

Game 6: @ Edmonton, 8:00 ET

Update (4:23 PM): IwoCPO writes on why the Wings have to win tonight and reminds me of the experience I’ve had being a Wings fan post-elimination, especially in high school. In 2001 especially, after the Kings took them out (“Hey, hey Shockeytown!”), I had to endure merciless mocking from teammates and people who just didn’t understand.

NHL.com’s Stats Blog gives us some hope, though. – Matt

The Oilers have a chance to clinch the series tonight in their home arena, something they have not done in 14 years, apparently. You think Rexall Place is going to be rocking? You think the Oilers are going to amped up to play? I do.

On other hand, you have the Wings, who need a win to stay alive, and will face the task not only of matching Edmonton’s energy but of exceeding it or at least dampening it. The first goal is (actually, the first couple goals are) essential here.

It’s also time for Manny Legace to put up or shut up. A loss tonight without anything less than a stellar performance means he’ll be run out of town on a rail. As it is, he’s almost certainly done in Detroit, barring a sudden infusion of Sawchuk-like ability and the resultant performance. His apparent lack of confidence is worrisome and can’t be helping his teammates out at all. Michael Rosenberg is pretty hard on Manny in today’s Freep and, in some ways, it’s hard to argue. Tonight is crunch time for Legace, a chance for him to restore both his confidence and ours.

While a lot of the onus is on Manny tonight, any effort at a win is the responsibility of the team, from the net on out. And fault for a loss would be shared by the team, as well.

Pavel Datsyuk has shown jump and flashes of brilliance but his time is running out. Henrik Zetterberg has produced this series but Pavel is heading toward the gallows and doesn’t appear to know it. Let’s see some points tonight, Datsyuk.

Hopefully Shanahan’s breakaway goal on Saturday will have reminded him what it’s like to score goals and cause him to want to score more.

I want to see Babcock put Don MacLean in the lineup tonight. I went to a Griffins game a couple weeks ago and though his teammates were dying from having played a long overtime game the night before, MacLean was one of the best players on the ice and finished as one of the arena stars. He scored in his first game with the Wings this season, April 11th against the Oilers, and would undoubtedly provide a spark, as the Freep says today. It looks like MacLean will only play if Yzerman sits but I say take Mikael Samuelsson out and put Don in. Oh well.

If The Captain plays, I have a hard time seeing the Wings lose. If he doesn’t, I don’t know if they can win. It’s a game-time decision and you know that he’ll play if he can. The effect of that decision on the team’s morale will be huge, I expect, one way or the other.

I go into tonight’s game as I always do when the Wings are facing elimination: dreading it. I hate watching these games and tonight is going to be as rough as any of the games they’ve played on the brink.

Can the Wings do it? That’s a stupid question. Of course they can! Will they? I have no idea. They have to want it enough and play with the passion that accompanies desperation. They can’t get out of control but they need to be desperate. Please, guys?

Game 5: Wings 2, Oilers 3

There isn’t going to be a minute-by-minute analysis on this game since I’m too disgusted to dedicate that kind of time and effort. I could just give this post 20 minutes for composition because that’s about how long the Wings’ effort lasted yesterday, but I suspect it will take me longer than that to write it.

So. The first period was everything I was expecting of the team: they showed good energy, they skated hard and created chances. Their power play was solid (though they couldn’t put it in the net) and their penaly killing was strong. They had the Oilers back on their heels for much of the period but even then you could see flashes where Edmonton was ready to take over.

For example, take Ales Hemsky’s little chance while on the power play only 6 or 7 minutes into the game. He carried it in all by himself through the defense and froze Legace outside of the crease as he headed down the right wing. His shot should have gone in but it hit the outside of the post at ice level and somehow stayed out. Not encouraging.

Dwayne Roloson kept the Oilers in it in the first and ought to get major credit for this win. When the Wings were skating hard and actually gettin chances, he was making saves and it paid off later for his team.

The Wings had maybe 3 or 4 good minutes at the start of the second period before Edmonton started pressuring four minutes in. Then, they scored, at 5:16, on what seemed like a fairly harmless play. Chris Pronger took an ice-level shot at the net and it was tipped out front by Fernando Pisani and suddenly came up to armpit level, sneaking between Legace’s arm and body before trickling into the net.

Edmonton looked good after that and then the Wings got into some penalty trouble. Shanahan went off for hooking at 7:41 and at 8:34, the Oilers scored again. It was another deflection, coming off Smyth this time, and beat Legace 5-hole.

The Wings put a little pressure on after that but the bounces were going the other way. It was very frustrating to watch. Edmonton was so keyed up on blocking shots that three skaters would fall at exactly the same time to block the same shot, but the Wings weren’t interested in taking advantage of the three Oilers having taken themselves out of the play.

MacTavish is establishing himself as a great coach in this series. Case in point: the Oilers iced the puck at 10:00 and weren’t able to change. So, he used his timeout. First, it showed a lot of confidence in his players because he didn’t foresee a time later on that he would need. Second, it gave his players a rest and enabled them to disrupt the Wings’ admittedly weak comeback attempt with a strong pressure shift after their defensive zone faceoff.

Shanahan took another penalty at 11:30 but 28 seconds later, Chris Chelios drew a cheap tripping penalty and the teams went to four a side. 34 seconds after that, the Oilers scored again. Legace had just made a big save on Shawn Horcroff but the rebound came right back to the Oilers forward and it ended up being knocked in, I think, by Nik Kronwall as he attempted to tie Horcoff up.

Hemsky again had a nice rush just after that, busting out some moves and coming in on Legace, only just running out of real estate. Andreas Lilja whiffed on the puck at the blueline and Raffi Torres pounced on it, breaking in on Legace and getting a nice scoring chance but he couldn’t score.

Shanahan finally put the Wings on the board at 18:39. He got a breakaway and beat Roloson with a quick shot. Just before the goal, however, Draper had badly tripped Peca and had not been called for a penalty, even though both players expected it. Pretty sad that the Wings’ first goal came off such a badly blown call.

The Wings looked pretty disinterested in the third. It seemed as though they thought they only needed one goal and were waiting for the right time to score it. They were not physical at all and looked tired. They were making bad passes (even Lidstrom) and could get very little going. The Oilers were workmanlike and pressured the Wings into making poor decisions, reminding us that though they had settled into a defensive posture, they could break open the game at any time. The Wings were never there for rebounds and were hardly able to gain the zone. The Oilers played very carefully, not willing to give the Wings the power play that might have sparked them.

At 15:54, Staios finally took a penalty and the Wings got one last power play. They couldn’t do anything with it, though, getting one flurry and a blocked shot for their efforts.

Babcock pulled Legace with 1:48 left. They didn’t get much and Edmonton was content to sit back and didn’t try too hard to score on the empty net.

Henrik Zetterberg scored at 19:38. It was unexpected. A nice goal but too little, too late. Babcock called his time out after the goal and it actually nearly paid off. They won the faceoff and carried it in. Lang fanned on the puck just in front of the net and the game ended up on Nick Lidstrom’s stick on the right point. Shawn Horcoff dove face first into the shot and stopped it with his shoulder. That pretty much sums up the Oilers of Game 5.

As far as big games go, I don’t remember a more uninspired performance by the Wings. I don’t understand why they couldn’t get up to play a full game in front of their fans (I suppose the tomb-like atmosphere at the Joe has something to do with that) and when they had a chance to take the lead in the series. The Oilers played great and maybe still would have won, but if the Wings had even played to half of their ability, I wouldn’t feel so ripped off by this game. They put up a performance like this and I’m supposed to get all excited about Game 6? I’m supposed to have hope that they’ll actually show up to play in Edmonton? Why couldn’t they do it yesterday?

They’ve been down 3-2 in a series before but that was in 2002 and it was a completely different team. That team knew how to win big games. This team seems to have forgotten. Sure, the series technically isn’t over but they are going to have to play out of their minds Monday night if they even want a chance at winning. I know Edmonton will “bring it” but will the Wings?

I’m not ready for another early exit. I waited two years for this? I’m tired of getting my hopes up only to have the Wings fall flat on their faces.

Tell me, Brendan Shanahan, Mikael Samuelsson, Jason Williams, and the rest of you in the Winged Wheel. Is it worth it for me to tune in on Monday night? I have three finals on Tuesday. Should I take those three hours and study or should I watch? You know what? I’m going to watch because I’m a fan and dedicated to the team. Maybe you guys could think about giving me a return on my investment.

Game #5 – Oilers 3, Wings 2

I watched the game at Dockside Sports Pub in Ft. Myers Beach with about 9-12 other Wings fans; I was shocked to see such a large “crowd” at a random sports pub in Florida. The comments made during each period were what I wrote down while watching the game. So these are during the game reactions…

Anyways, the game sucked. I’m depressed, discouraged, disappointed, disenchanted, downhearted, down, and desolate. We only played 20 solid minutes of hockey in the first period. Ugh. The Wings have to head to Edmonton with a 2-3 series deficit. Not cool whatsoever.

There are three things that scare me in this series:
1) The second period. Is it just me, or do the Wings find a way to suck it up in the second period? Edmonton scored all three goals in this afternoon’s second and I’m pretty sure Detroit sucks in the second period this series.
2) Our penalty kill. Sure we had some nice 5-on-3 kills in Game #4, but the Oilers seem to always score on one of their first few power plays.
3) Chris Pronger. He’s averaging 36:41 minutes per game this series and got an assist on all three Oilers’ goals this afternoon

First Period
– To start the game off, Willy pummeled some Oiler behind the Oilers net – my check of the game.

– During a Wings power play, Homer was alone in front of Roloson, but couldn’t find a way to get the puck in the back of the net.

– There was a 4 on 3 for about a minute producing some good scoring chances for the Wings, but no goal.

– We’re looking pretty good because we’re applying a lot of pressure and thus getting some scoring opportunities. Manny has made some key saves, but hasn’t had to deal with a lot of shots thus far in the game.

– With 3:30 left in the first, we’ve gone 0/4 on the power play.

– While I’m bummed we haven’t scored yet, we’ve been playing pretty well and Roloson has made some great saves.

End of First Period: Wings 0, Oilers 0
(Detroit outshot Edmonton, 11-4)

Second Period
– Chris Pronger takes a shot from inside the blue line whereupon Fernando Pisani flicks it into the back of the Wings net 5:16 into the second period. The Oilers have six 5 on 5 goals this series. I can’t believe we have been controlling this game and then the Oilers get the first goal. Ugh. The second period is always our downfall. Oilers 1, Wings 0

– I’m enjoying this NBC feed much more than the CBC one on Thursday night. At least they aren’t extremely biased in either direction…or so it seems.

– With 11:26 left in the second, Stoll took a shot from the center of the face-off circle to Manny’s right. The shot deflects off Ryan Smyth’s leg and goes behind Manny into the net. Oilers 2, Wings 0

– The Joe is embarassingly quiet. Rexall’s crowd puts the Joe’s to shame.

– While it’s 4 on 4, Shawn Horcoff just “poked and jammed away” (according to an NBC broadcaster) to score the Oilers’ third goal of the game with 7:24 left in the second. Oilers 3, Wings 0

– Manny made a nice save when Torres went on a breakaway.

– A guy’s wife in the pub is the granddaughter of former Wings goalie Terry Sawchuk; unfortunately, her presence did not grant us any luck.

– 1:21 left in the period, Shanny gets on a breakaway and actually gets a goal!!!! An absolute miracle since he’s had zero offense previously. The Wings can still do it since they are only down two goals at this point. However, I believe it was Draper who tripped some Oiler, which should’ve been called a penalty but then resulted in Shanny’s breakaway. Like I said before, I’ll take any goal we can get (tainted or not).

– An Oilers shot hit the post – thank goodness that didn’t go in.

End of Second Period: Oilers 3, Wings 1
(Emonton outshot Detroit, 11-10)

Third Period
– It’s not looking good. We really didn’t come out flying – not a good sign.

– Roloson made a really nice save on a Shanny/Draper rush (Shanny shot?) to maintain the Oilers two goal lead.

– With 21.5 seconds left in the game, Henrik Zetterberg scores to give the Wings and fans a tiny minute chance of tying this game up. Datsyuk and Holmstrom were given the assists.

– They left Manny in goal and then called a timeout. I believe they still left Manny in net. Why wouldn’t you pull Manny? We needed that extra man! Please let me know if I am incorrect and that they in fact pulled Manny at that point in the game.

End of Third Period: Oilers 3, Wings 2
(Detroit outshot Edmonton, 11-4)

Overall Stats
– Detroit had 32 total shots on goal / Edmonton only had 19 shots
– There were 10 total penalties in the game (6 on the Oilers / 4 on the Wings)
– Only one penalty came in the final period of the game, while six penalties came in the first period
– Detroit won 61% of the face-offs
– The three stars of the game were (in order from 1 to 3) Chris Pronger, Dwayne Roloson, and Brendan Shanahan.
– Detroit went 0/6 on the power play and killed 3 of 4 penalties.

Game 5: vs. Edmonton, 3:00 ET

Having averted near-disaster Thursday night in Edmonton, the Wings will look to take the series lead this afternoon at the JLA. They have the momentum but they cannot let up and will need to pick up where they left off in Game 4.

The big thing for Game 5 will be their even strength play, which has not been up to par, as reader firebird995 pointed out after Game 4. If the officials today aren’t as willing to call everything, this will be especially important. That said, their power play needs to continue to click and could be even better, as could their penalty kill. For the league’s sake, I hope this game is called correctly because the whining about the officiating at various times from both sides during this series doesn’t do much to help the credbility of the game.

I would like to see Manny have a strong game across the board, not just in the end after allowing a soft goal or two. The defense isn’t going to make many mistakes but he needs to be ready for the mistakes they do make.

Datsyuk needs to continue his period-by-period improvement and have an even stronger game today. The Oilers may go back to the trap and Pavel’s ability with the puck will be a key part in breaking through center.

This game is huge for both teams and may even be a must-win. Should be a good one.

Head over to A2Y, who has been blogging up a storm this morning, for more. I may add to this post as the day progresses but I have a lot of end-of-the-semester assignment crap to work on and I’ll be pretty busy with that until game time.

Game 4: Wings 4, Oilers 2

With the Wings’ playoff hopes on the line in a hostile arena, Manny Legace came through with solid goaltending tonight and led the Wings to a 4-2 win in Edmonton. Legace had 24 saves on 26 shots, and Nicklas Lidstrom scored the winner on a 5-on-3 advantage in the third period. Henrik Zetterberg, Robert Lang, and Tomas Holmstrom added the other goals. Lang had a goal and two assists, and Schneider and Datsyuk each had a pair of assists. The Wings scored two 5-on-3 goals, and added an insurance goal from Zetterberg on the powerplay with four minutes left. Jimmy Howard was called up from the Griffins to backup Legace, with Osgood out with a tweaked groin, effectively eliminating the goaltender controversy before the game even started. It is possible Legace gained confidence knowing his starting spot was not in peril, at least for tonight. Yzerman did the pregame skate but gave Mowers the nod after deciding he couldn’t last a full 60 minutes of play.

The style of play at even strength was fairly open, but most of the game was special teams battles. Lebda played great, especially toward the end of the game, blocking shots in crucial penalty-killing situations. He almost added a goal on a feed from Datsyuk. Datsyuk had his best game of the series, and showed a lot of speed and good puck control throughout the game. His 23-game playoff goal slump still sticks out though. I was happy with Lang’s effort tonight, and didn’t see as many lazy plays from him. Schneider also had his most dominant game of the series, and was an important weapon on the power play. Chelios was resilient after getting roughed up all night, and was important in clearing the Wings’ zone on the penalty kill. Zetterberg has been solid all series and continued that tonight. Legace made a few mistakes that could’ve cost the Wings, and he allowed two five-hole goals that he might want back. In the end, he was solid and gave Wings fans a bit more confidence coming into Game 5. Disappointments on the night include Shanahan and Samuelsson’s scoring droughts. Shanny shot the puck out the other end on a wide open net and had six shots, and Samuelsson missed the net on more than a few scoring chances.

As for officiating, the refs called the game under the rumor that Gary Bettman might be in attendance, and they followed through by calling 20 penalties. It got to the point in the third where Brendan Shanahan fell to the ice by himself to avoid contact with Chris Pronger at the blue line. Any contact with the opposition tonight was followed by a penalty, though credit is due that the calls were fairly even, with 11 Edmonton penalties to the Wings’ 10. The total joke of officiating really took away from the enjoyment of the game, and I didn’t appreciate how any close save along the goal line led to a 10 minute review process between the war-room in Toronto and arena officials. These stoppages had the good intention of making the correct calls, but should be limited to extreme circumstances. The NHL should be very concerned about crossing the line of reviewing to the point they become the NFL, with coach’s challenges and reviews left and right. Mickey Redmond was all over the calls all night, and hated the new replay process.

First Period
The Wings got an early powerplay 25 seconds in, after Raffi Torres was caught with his stick between Kronwall’s skates. The Oilers met the Wings’ sustained pressure by blocking shots to prevent quality scoring chances, just like in previous games this series. The best chance came when Zetterberg had a chance on a back door tip- in, but couldn’t handle the pass.

At 3:17, Franzen was cut on the forehead by Bergeron’s skate in a scrum behind Roloson. Not wearing a visor, he was lucky the skate didn’t catch him closer to the eye. At 4:42, Datsyuk nearing broke his playoff scoring drought with a wrist shot from the right circle. The puck rose on Roloson, caught him high up, and would’ve trickled across the line had he not turned around and gotten his glove on it.

At 6:02, Legace made a good save on a shot coming off an Oiler 3-on-2. The play resulted in an Oiler powerplay, with Williams called for hooking behind the net. Draper and Zetterberg did a good job killing off the majority of the penalty kill, playing keep-away with Cleary. But, at 7:22, Pisani scored from Torres and Horcoff. On the play, Torres beat the Wings on the dump in, and got it off to Pisani near the left circle. Pasani beat Legace five-hole, and it was a shot that might have been saved if the Wings had a game-saving goaltender. But such goals should be expected the way the Wings played the regular season. 1-0 Oilers.

At 8:40, Winchester was called for holding and the Wings got another powerplay. The Wings had trouble gaining the Edmonton zone, with Zetterberg carrying the puck right into traffic at the line. The Wings generated some sustained pressure, but only one shot on net.

Following the penalty kill, Cleary did a good job beating Bergeron on the dump in behind Roloson, and the pressure led to an Oiler penalty at 11:34, cross checking on Greene. Soon after, Staios was also caught cross checking and the Wings got a crucial 5-on-3 advantage. The Wings scored at 13:25, on a Holmstrom redirection of a Schneider blast from the point. Holmstrom did a good job getting Roloson frustrated on the previous stoppage, and, whether it had any affect, Roloson was out of position on the shot. 1-1 tie.

At 15:30, Draper had a huge hit on Spacek, and the Wings showed a lot of energy following the powerplay goal. But every Edmonton shot on Legace gave me the sense that Legace was beatable tonight – certainly wasn’t going to steal the game – and we would need strong offense to back up his effort.

At 16:28, Holmstrom got called for holding the stick. The Wings killed the penalty with authority, beating the Oilers to dump-ins and clearing the zone to avoid a scoring chance. At this point, I noticed just how much the Wings had killed the energy of the crowd with the tying goal.

At 19:23, the Wings scored an unusual goal from Lang. On the play, Datsyuk passed across to Lang on the left circle, and a shot from Lang managed to hit the left post, the right post, and the back of Spacek’s leg into the net. The goal was reviewed at length, the refs apparently making sure it did not go off of Kronwall with on a kicking motion. It did neither, which was obvious in all angles of video, but they kept the fans and tv audience waiting as Toronto checked it out. Ruled a goal. 2-1 Wings. Shots in the period were 14-6 Wings. Faceoffs 14-9 Wings, with Datsyuk going a near-perfect 9-1 on faceoffs.

Second Period
Yzerman was interviewed during intermission, and thought the Wings had played well in overtime in Game 3, and that was carrying over into tonight’s game. He explained that he couldn’t have played the entire game tonight, and thought that Mower’s speed would be a good match for the Oiler’s speedy forwards.

Again, the Oilers committed the early penalty. This time, Michael Peca, 32 seconds in for elbowing. On the powerplay, Shanahan was hit up high by a Lang shot, and fell to his knees. The Wings sustained pressure with Shanny down, and he was forced to get up and play out the rest of the shift till the Oilers cleared. The Wings got some good set-ups with Lidstrom shooting and Holmstrom in front before the powerplay was killed off.

At 2:54, Holmstrom fed Zetterberg back-door, but Roloson was square to the shot and made one of his best saves of the night. Another game, another Zetterberg back-door chance. I’m enjoying getting used to that set-up.

At 3:43, Maltby was called for hooking. It didn’t take long for the Oilers to capitalize. Legace made a save on a point shot, but gave up a huge rebound and the Wings failed to clear the zone. Spacek scored from the right circle, beating Legace five-hole, again. This time he was thrown off by a cross-ice pass from Hemsky and wasn’t in position for the shot. It was a weak goal by playoff standards, and the cross-ice pass should’ve been broken up by the Wings’ defense, as well. 2-2 tie. And that means the Oilers have the crowd back and every shot on Legace is as tense as ever for Wings fans.

At 6:02, Manny made a big stand with the puck cycling from behind the net and chances from Samsonov and Stoll. These scoring opportunities showed the importance of Manny not giving up big rebounds. At 8:26, Lebda was called for holding to the right of Legace. It was a scary dump-in, as Manny almost got caught out of the net trying to play the puck. Cleary had a good penalty kill, and forced Roloson to make a shorthanded save.

At 11:30, Winchester was called for hooking behind Legace, coming off a 2-on-1 with Ryan Smyth. Shanahan did a good job of recovering from getting beat by Winchester by breaking up the 2-on-1 on the trail. On the resulting powerplay, Shanny had several chances on Roloson but missed the net or got off weak shots. The best chance came when Zetterberg handled the puck behind the net and got it out to Datsyuk, who fed it to Lebda back-door. Lebda had a wide-open net but somehow hit the left post. It was a bad break for Lebda, and could’ve potentially hurt the Wings had they lost.

At 14:15, Greene was called for hooking on Cleary. Williams turned the puck over to Ryan Smyth behind Legace, and the Oilers were able to clear the zone and play keep-away for awhile. This was not a good powerplay, and the Oilers outworked the Wings, even creating their own shorthanded chance.

The powerplay was nullified with an interference call on Samuelsson at 15:46. This was a terrible call, with Staios diving after Samuelsson just barely tapped the back of his leg. This set off the Wings’ bench, and set the stage for a frustrating end to the second period.

With play at 4-on-4, a Kronwall “hook” led to an Oiler 5-on-3 man advantage (after a few seconds at 5-on-4). The 5-on-3 lasted one minute. Legace was strong in this final stretch of the second, making a save on a Pronger point shot and not giving up a rebound. The Wings got it killed and were back to killing the 5-on-4. Chelios had a good penalty kill, doing the dirty work in front, but was called for cross-checking in front. This sent the Oilers back to a 5-on-3, and set off Chelios. He looked as angry as I’ve seen him, and I really thought he was going to clock one of the refs and/or get ejected for arguing the call. On seeing the replay, it was a good call, as Cheli really did cross check the guy across the face, but I guess Chelios was still upset about the Samuelsson call. The Wings were lucky the refs didn’t tack on extra minutes for Chelios’ tirade.

The Wings lasted the dozen or so seconds of a 5-on-3, and had 1:44 left on the penalty kill for 5-on-4. However, Franzen losing his stick made it, for all intensive purposes, another 5-on-3. In what could be a defining moment of the series, the Wings were able to kill off the remaining Oilers powerplay and get out of the first period at 2-2.

Third Period
The Oilers nearly took the lead over a minute in, but Manny made the save on Ryan Smyth along the post. He lost track of the rebound, but luckily the Wings were able to clear the zone. At 1:13, Holmstrom was called for cross checking. It was a phantom call, as he just bumped into an Oiler and that was it. At 2:02, Legace made an awkward save on Torres in front, and found himself way out of position with the puck on the mouth of the crease. Lucky for the Wings, Maltby was able to stand his ground in front and prevent a rebound chance from the Oilers.

At 5:06, Greene was called for tripping behind Roloson. A Pisani high-stick on Samuelsson at 6:29 gave the Wings a short 5-on-3 opportunity. And they came through huge. After switching sides with Schneider, Lidstrom blasted a shot from the right and beat Roloson cleanly. It would turn out to be the game-winning goal, 3-2 Wings. The Oilers wanted an interference call on the play, because when Lidstrom switched sides, he had slight contact with Stoll, who dove looking for the call. The crowd joined in and booed loudly.

At 8:35, Shanahan found himself staring at a wide open net when he snuck in behind Roloson. Unfortunately, he shot the puck out the other side, costing the Wings what could’ve been an important insurance goal. Shanny just couldn’t get a break tonight.

At 10:01, Bergeron was called for interference behind the play. Samuelsson missed the net on a shot, which was typical of him tonight. Legace turned the puck over the Ryan Smyth on the other end, but recovered with a glove save on the goal-line to keep the Wings ahead. The play was reviewed to make sure the puck did not cross the line. No goal. Still a Wings powerplay, even though everyone forgot after the officials went over seconds of replay for about ten minutes. The powerplay was killed off.

At 14:53, Cleary tried to hit Pronger, but instead got lifted three feet off the ice and thrown into the boards himself. It was a good effort – you have to recognize that Cleary is half Pronger’s size. At 15:22, Hemsky hooked Lebda, who did a good job moving his feet to draw the call. The Wings got their insurance goal on the ensuing powerplay, with Datsyuk splitting the Oiler defense and feeding an open Zetterberg in front. Henrik dieked Roloson out of his jock-strap and roofed it. 4-2 Wings.

The game got a bit tight when Franzen was sent to the box for slashing, but the Wings, notably Chelios, were able to clear the zone and prevent any major chances on Manny. Lebda also blocked a Pronger shot. Kronwall and Lebda being on the ice in such a key situation shows just how much confidence Babcock has in them.

The Wings finished the game with 31 shots to the Oilers’ 26. The Wings played as complete of a game as they have this series, and Manny did what he had to do to keep the Wings in it. He was shakey at times: the save on Torres, the turnover to Smyth, and the two five-hole goals. But the bottom line is that he was solid down the stretch, especially near the end of the second period when the Oilers had nearly four minutes of power play time. If the Wings can get some scoring from Shanahan, Samuelsson, and Datsyuk, they will be in a good position of putting the Oilers away. Being at home for Game 5 should be enough to give the Wings the edge, but who knows. Let’s just hope we never see referees Marc Joannette and Dean Warren again this playoffs. That was a travesty.