Powerless and Stupid

The story of this game is the Wings’ inability to score on the powerplay. They had enough opportunities in the first period to build a lead that might have withstood their later collapse, but even their loaded first unit couldn’t produce. That failure is what sealed their fate. I can’t emphasize that enough: the utter impotence of the Wings’ power play last night is what has them down 2-1 in the series. That can’t continue if they hope to do anything more in this series—just contrast Game 2 and Game 3.

Abdelkader’s hit on Lydman was just the final nail in the coffin. A big, stupid, inexcusable nail.

I fought this battle at length on Twitter last night, but I’ll repeat the basics here: the call on Abdelkader was a good one. If anyone has any doubts about that, I refer you to Rule 42.

That rule can be boiled down to the following: a + b = c, where “a” is extra distance travelled, “b” is extraordinary violence and “c” is charging. Abdelkader’s hit incorporates both elements of charging: he took a long beeline to Lydman (even if he was gliding by the end) and jumped to make a high hit.

It’s not a Rule 48 play, because the head wasn’t necessarily targeted. Though you could argue that the head was the principle point of contact (but not the first), because though there was a glancing blow along Lydman’s shoulder, the bulk of the energy of the hit is expended on his head. But I don’t think the League can review it under Rule 48. It’d have to be Rule 42, which has its own suspension clause.

A major penalty is at the ref’s discretion and is necessarily subjective. But once given a major, Abdelkader was subject to Rule 42.5, which stipulates a game misconduct should the hit player be injured in the head or face. Lydman went to the lockerroom as a precaution for a possible head injury, so it should surprise nobody that Abdelkader was tossed.

If your dispute is based on the claim that there was no call on the play initially, I refer you to the replay. Note the ref away from the play around :10. His arm is up. I have no idea why the ref virtually in Lydman’s face didn’t call it, but his colleague did.

So there was a call on the play—the penalty wasn’t conjured up out of nowhere as a response to Duck complaints (though I don’t see a rule that explicitly says the refs can’t assess a penalty retroactively).

At the time, the game was 0-0. The Ducks only managed to score one goal on their power play, but Abdelkader’s stupidity still cost the Wings, who were already behind the eight ball.

After the game, Abdelkader was nowhere to be found, since he’d already left the arena. So he didn’t face the media, which doesn’t bode well for hopes that he’d say something contrite about letting his team down. Maybe he had to hit an ATM to get the $100 for his fine under 42.6.

If he says it was a clean hit and claims surprise over the call, I’ll be annoyed. That was not a team play and he should own up to that.

Anyway, the Wings continued their Game 2 third period performance last night, rather than return to their Game 2 first period effort. Now they’re in serious trouble. They can’t afford any more mistakes, whether in the form of stupid hits or impotent power plays.

Dad Babcock

“It’s a good life lesson for our crew. We have lots of kids on our team. They’re not like veterans. It takes time for them to figure it all out. They’re figure it out and this will be a good thing.” (via)

I wonder if Mike Babcock is the kind of dad whose method for teaching his kids to swim involved tossing them into the water and presenting them with a literal sink-or-swim scenario.

Because that’s what he did last night, as the game was collapsing around the team’s ears. As @captnorris5 pointed out last night, Babcock’s refusal to call a timeout during that third period was problematic, even if it turned out okay in the end (thanks to College Boy Nyquist).

We’ll see if the lesson Babcock was teaching sticks.

Unfortunately, he’ll have one less kid to teach, now that Danny “#2″ DeKeyser is out for the duration with a broken thumb.

First Stab

This is the first chance I’ve had to post today and I’m doing it from my phone, so I’ll be brief.

The Wings picked just the right time to hear up to make the playoffs and, once in, the perfect time to cool. Aside from a decent first period, last night was pretty much textbook 2013 Red Wings: sloppy passing and low-percentage shots making the opposition goalie look even better than he already was.

There was enough to suggest that the Wings can hang with the Ducks if they chose to, but the question is whether or not they have the mental discipline to put it together across a full game.

“It” does not mean lean on Jimmy Howard and hope he enables a goal or two output to be enough. Forced plays aren’t going to get it done. They need to find a way to be patient with the puck and proactive without it.

I hope last night was a reality check for them and that they’ll bring a more appropriate game to the ice tomorrow night.

Playoffs

I gotta say I wasn’t real sure this would happen. The Wings didn’t do a lot of showing that they were playoff-capable this season, pretty much except for the past few games. Even accounting for their injury troubles, this group had a disturbingly expedited decline to start the post-Lidstrom era.

But now they’re in. The problems in evidence all season haven’t miraculously disappeared (though they were papered over in the four-game win streak), but anything can happen now. Certainly they have a better chance to make something happen by starting against the Ducks rather than the Blackhawks.

So This Is New

It’s been silent around here, but I’ve been watching. And I’ll be watching tonight.

I’ll be watching the Wings with their season on the line in a way nobody in this current group has ever experienced. The past couple games, they’ve shown sparks of life that have been largely missing this season, which is why they’re in this position in the first place. But those sparks of life could be the start of something, if they get a point today.

If they want it badly enough, against a team with nothing left to play for but pride and the chance to be the organization that ended the Wings’ playoff streak.

As far as regular season games go, it doesn’t get any bigger than this.

I hope the Wings bring the playoffs to the ice tonight.

Wings Still a Draw for Players That Are Both Michigan Natives and Fans, At Least

Graham has the details, such as they are.

I’m being a little sarcastic, but this is pretty neat. Not sure if he’ll actually make the lineup (though the defense is probably that weak), but it’s some positive roster/acquisition news for once.

Also, there’s this:

Ha. Sorry Nashville.

Kronwall Should Have Been Suspended

The NHL passed down word today that Niklas Kronwall won’t be suspended or face any other form of supplemental discipline for that hit last night on Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle. With that decision, the League demonstrates its complete lack of seriousness about addressing the issue of head contact in the game today.

Incredibly, the League claims Kronwall hit Coyle with “full body contact,” something the video replay does not bear out. Kronwall’s initial point of contact is Coyle’s head, followed by additional contact with the side of his chest. And that shouldn’t be okay any more, given what we now know about the cumulative effects of head contact.

Now, compared to the Joffrey Lupul hit on Victor Hedman last night, this is relatively small potatoes. But the only way the NHL is meaningfully going to cut down on head contact and the risk of head injury is to take seriously even these kinds of hits.

Coyle apparently was not injured on the play, but that’s just the roll of the dice that particular time.

Better yet to not roll the dice at all, or at least do it much less frequently.