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Abel to Yzerman

All Aboard The Stress Train

The honeymoon is, not surprisingly, over; and we have returned to our regularly scheduled playoff programming: stress. And you know when it started? Not yesterday morning, or afternoon, or early evening. Nope. That kind of stress is a pleasant nervousness, a sense of anticipation. You like it because you like to look back on it and think, "What was I worried about?" The real stress started on the first shift when every one of us saw a different type of game, even though we expected it. Did the Flames look that good? No. But they looked...different, right off the hop.

Here’s what we shouldn’t be surprised by:

*That the Flames came out with a lot more energy and jump.  C’mon, did you think that team was going to lay down at home, in front of those wackjob fans?  But, the positive is that for every hit, every burst of speed, every rush Calgary made in the first; the Wings hung tough.  I remember thinking going into the second that the Wings were playing a perfect playoff road game.  They withstood the first ten minutes, the first twenty.

Really, they competed the whole game. I have no problem with the Wing effort last night. I don’t believe they were intimidated by the crowd, the team, the refs, whatever. 

*That the officiating seemed to lean in a Flamish direction.  Please. You’re surprised?  It’s the NHL playoffs and the home team gets a little home cooking?  Part of the game. 

*That the Wing offense didn’t click as it did in Detroit.  Held to 30 shots? Hmm…didn’t see that coming did we? Of course we did.  If the Wings are to win on Thursday they have to shoot more, or produce more quality shots than last night.

*That Todd Bertuzzi looked verywuzzi in the first.  He looked so bad, in fact, that it was the first time since his acquisition that I considered re-signing him a bad move, if Holland chooses to.  Not only was he getting his cage rattled…consistently…but he was taking it.  The pre-Moore Bertuzzi, after he was drilled on whichever occasion, would have cross-checked someone in the back.  Then he would have been an effective, angry maniac for the next fifteen to twenty minutes.  He would thrive on it. 

The post-Moore Bertuzzi lifted himself back to his skates and moved on.  Docile is a word I’d use to describe him now.  He improved in the second and third, held his ribs like Appollo in the 14th and 15th round of Rocky I in the second (or 3rd?), then seemed listless again after that.  At this point I don’t think anyone knows what to expect out of Bertuzzi.  I think that if he continues to dress, the 4th line may be best suited for him.

*Samuelsson’s continued lukewarm play. I say lukewarm instead of pathetic or invisible because I think he looked slightly better.  I also believe Hudler should have played, because hindsight and second-guessing it what this blog was founded on. 

What was I surprised by?

*The Saddledome crowd didn’t seem as loud as I recall it was in ‘04.  Maybe due to their 0-2 (at the time) footing in the series, or maybe due to Versus!!!!!!!!!!! crowd mic’s, etc, etc.  But it seemed subdued especially compared to, and they’ll love this, Rexall last year.

*Dan Cleary’s hit on Phaneuf.  I said it last night that if the Wings win that game, his hit and the resulting goal from Draper would be the play that sets the stage for the rest of the postseason. It still might.  Getting Draper on the scoresheet is big.  Cleary’s play, his grit and his hustle are making him a very valuable young man.

*Nick Lidstrom’s poor play.  Read that one more time, because you’ll never see it again.  His culpability in two goals last night could very well have been the best thing to ever happen to this team this year.  This may be the moment he truly solidifies himself as Captain material.  In ‘97 The Captain called himself out to his teammates, along with the other vets, and he said he had to improve if they were going to accomplish anything that year. 

Lidstrom is now in a similar position to lead by example.  Expect excellence Thursday night.

But excellence or not, another thing is certain.  The free ride is over.  The luxury of the 2-game lead, the fond memories of blowouts and 36-shot disparities are done.  The Wings? They’re probably not too stressed because last night was ultimately decided by mistakes made by players who just don’t make them.  They held a one-goal lead in the third, in Calgary.  They’re optimistic.

Us?  That’s downright illegal.  Pessimism baby….as my pal Doomsberry would say, “let it be your guide.”

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com