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Abel to Yzerman

Oh…So It’s Over?

Look, I know gut reactions after an OT loss…especially a loss like today’s…are going to be pretty extreme.  And I can tell you that this particular defeat was tougher for me to handle than any I can remember. 

But I also know this:  this team is not going to lay down.  These Red Wings, unlike the team we expected to lose last year’s Game 6 in Edmonton, are not going to go quietly in Southern California; of all places.

In fact, I’ll say right now there will be a Game 7 in Hockeytown.  And Game 6 is not going to be close…statistically.

There can be no doubt about that, that the Wings will dominate statistically in Game 6 just as they have the last three games of this series.  Mike Babcock has figured the poultry out and we’ve all seen that.  They will outshoot Anaheim, again.  They will outhit the rough and tumble Ducks, again.  They will control play and they will outchance the Ducks.  Unfortunately, despite my prediction of a return to Detroit, that doesn’t guarantee squat.  Why? Because I have an uncomfortable feeling that JSG is in their heads.  I hope not, but that’s the impression I have.  Does it change my feeling that Game 6 will belong to the Wings? No. But it worries me.

About this afternoon….I’ve read a lot of anti-Lilja comments, and I understand them. 

But I’ll tell you this: that kid has played some great hockey this postseason.  He has silenced those of us who ripped him since last April, and he’s deserved every bit of praise he’s received.  He made a mistake, a disastrous one, but he’s earned a spot on this team next year.  And he’ll have that spot.

And he handled himself like a man after what could very well be the worst moment of his life.  Read this from Bruce MacLeod and you’ll see that.  He answered every question, dealt with every tough reminder of his failure.  Unlike some very prominent Red Wings of the past three years who decided speaking to the media wasn’t part of their jobs after losses, Lilja hung tough.

What I saw after Sunday’s game, however, impressed me just as much as the outcome of the game depressed me.Andreas Lilja sat on the small stool at his locker and answered every reporter, looked into every bright camera light without squinting, dealt with every question (although they were mostly the same question asked over and over and over).And that is not easy. Nor was it necessary.Of the 20 Red Wings who played yesterday’s game, about six or seven were available for questions after the game.

Only two or three were still around 15 minutes after the game. That’s the way it is after every game, regular season or playoff.Lilja could easily have made his way to the back areas where players work out after games and avoided reliving a game that was once the best of his playoff career, but turned into the worst.But Lilja didn’t hide.“It happens,” said Lilja of his turnover. “It’s not supposed to happen, but it happens.”

What’s not supposed to happen is that dreams are not supposed to turn into nightmares that fast.The questions eventually went away with the reporters and Lilja was left alone on his locker stool. He looked down and silently unwrapped the brace that he wears on his left knee during every game. No brace. No crutch. No alibi.

Can someone tell me what happened to Todd Bertuzzi?  1.5 shifts in the third.  Zero PT in overtime.  NBC’s pan of the bench didn’t show him on it, but they may have cut out of it before they got to the far right.  Not sure.  I’ll tell you this, though.  A one-goal game that requires extreme concentration and defensive effort is not the type that Bert is going to flourish in.  I’ve seen nothing about an injury but it may be safe to assume that Babcock held him out.  He did miss an entire power play though, which strikes me as odd.  I guess we’ll hear the story behind his absence tomorrow or later tonite.

Anaheim is ahead in this series and you can never claim a team didn’t earn a playoff victory.  But they’ve been outplayed, and both teams realize that.  Andreas Lilja made a mistake, a horrendous one.  But not clearing the puck before Niedermayer’s goal is just as heinous.  Multiple opportunities, but they…just…couldn’t…clear it.  Lidstrom’s stick.  Zetterberg missing the open net.  Bad breaks abounded and that’s how the playoffs go, as we’re all aware.

Game 6 in Anaheim: hand it to the Wings.  This team has proven many things to us this offseason.  Giving up on them now would be naive and, honestly, disloyal. 

This series will return to Detroit.

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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