Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

Trouble

You’re going to see this a lot today: “A tale of two…”  Insert the key phrase there.  You’ll see that because it’s easy and it’s obvious.  And that, kids, is how our diggers roll.  The first period?  All the ills that had plagued the Wings to begin Games 1 and 2 were gone.  Speed. Danger.  Aggression?  Present.  Shots from the point? Getting through.  Open space in the neutral zone?  Available.  A lead?  Thank you.

But… 

...as suddenly as the Wings took control of that game, that’s how quickly they lost it.  I can’t remember seeing one game turn so drastically different in such a short period of time.  Clowe’s goal…it had impact that could be felt for months to come.  Up to that point we saw a Detroit team that, honestly, would be tough to beat….by anyone.

But that Clowe goal triggered something, or it deflated someone.  Most likely both.  I’m not smart enough to figure out how that goal shifted momentum to the extent it did.  All I know is that was the turning point.  The Wings completely dominated that team to that point, and they were utterly dominated afterward.  Ripe scoring opportunities present for the first 30 dried up immediately.  Those shots from the point? There…and then gone.  Datsyuk free-wheeling through the neutral zone?  Done.  Cleary stayed dangerous throughout, but that was it.

You saw it coming late in the second and throughout the third, all the way to Cheechoo’s goal.  Too much pressure.  Too much control in the Wing end.  San Jose owned the corners, the boards, the middle of the ice.  Hasek was scrambling and we waited for the inevitable. I don’t even think many of us were considering overtime as a possibility.

So, how did it happen?  Where did the shift occur?  Lang’s phantom interference call?  It was, perhaps, the worst we’ve seen this playoffs.  Bertuzzi’s radical elbow?  Not a bad call.  Just a bad frigging penalty.

Joe Thornton…the lovechild of TSN and the Versus boys back in the studio.  Did he control play THAT much?  No, but Cuthbert and Healy made a good point.  When Thornton’s double shifting, the Wings have no one to cover him when Lidstrom and Draper leave the ice.  It wasn’t double-shifting as we know it, though.  It was just a matter of leaving him out there longer, waiting for Lidstrom or Draper to tire or leave. 

Check this out.  Mike Babcock would like to have a double team of sorts, right?  Draper and Lidstrom both shadowing Thornton?  Thornton’s shifts averaged 57 seconds last night.  Draper’s? 31.  Lidstrom’s: 51.  Draper didn’t have enough face time and Lidstrom tired.  And as Lidstrom went, so went the Wings.

Home ice advantage in this series has nothing to do with the crowd and everything to do with the last change.  Wilson, at home, can use Thornton differently, more effectively.  As long as he doesn’t get worn down, he’ll be overused.

But…despite being dominated for the last half of the game, it was still there for the taking.

Until Bertuzzi’s penalty, the tripping call. 

Helent St. James

Bertuzzi, 6-foot-3 and 242 pounds, got called for tripping McLaren, 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, with 2:48 left in the third period.

“I know that he dove,” Bertuzzi said. “He’s a pretty big boy and he can stay on his feet. I didn’t really do anything. I just got around him and tried to break in and I knew he dropped right away.

Yeah. He might have.  But McLaren’s got to be some kind of stupid to dive in that situation rather than attempt to body Bertuzzi away from the net as he barrelled in.  Incidental contact most likely.  And Bertuzzi’s reputation sealing the deal in the mind of the official.  If that’s Brendan Shanahan making that move and McLaren hitting the ice? No call.  Todd Bertuzzi?  The hand went up on instinct.

So what now?  How does Detroit bottle that first period and re-produce it over three tomorrow night?  Well, it starts with the return of Holmstrom.  Nabokov leaves rebounds all over the place.  He’s nice to us about that.  Homer’s got to be excited about that.  And Nabokov rattles, so that will be pleasant.  But it can’t be just Holmstrom.  Franzen, Samuelsson, Cleary, Bertuzzi…all the agitators have to agitate more.

A few other notes:

Andres Lilja is a keeper.  He’s no longer a scapegoat or an easy mark for criticism. He’s now a dependable top 4 defenseman we should look to as a stay-at-home staple for the next few years.

Kyle Quincey may very well be earning himself a spot for next year’s roster as well.  Mistake-free hockey, for the most part.

Anyone surprised that this comment showed up soon after the final horn blew last night?

Funny to see this post go from confident Puckheads to wimpering cry babies. Very comical.

Posted by Can’tStoptheGrier on 05/01 at 01:14 AM

Here’s my general stance on playoff trash talk.  Day of the game, day after the game…let it fly. During and immediately following?  Might want to hold off.  While we’re all passionate about the success or failure of our teams, jumping in just minutes after a tough loss to throw some salt is pretty tasteless; especially considering his conspicuous absence since Game 2.  I’m not one to restrict, delete or censor comments.  But I do like to bring them up in conversation later when they have impact. 

That one’s filed.  As I’ve said before, there are some great Shark bloggers: PJ Swenson and Mike Chen, for instance.  And then there are others who offer little besides ample opportunity to point out that blogging’s kinda like parenting:  no qualifications required, unfortunately.

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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