Sunday, May 02, 2004

Game 5: Wings 0, Flames 1

The Wings put on one of their weakest performances of the year yesterday in one of the biggest games of the season and ended up getting shut out 1-0 in front of their own fans. They played very uninspired hockey and were almost completely outplayed by the Flames. Curtis Joseph once again served as a barrier to a blowout and was one of the few Wings who had a good game. He was left out to dry numerous times but came up with the save all but once. The first period was the Wings' worst. Their passes were terrible and their offense was not clicking as a result. They continually failed in attempts to pass the puck across the ice because the puck was either too far in front or behind the intended target. They turned the puck over numerous times in the defensive zone and the only reason the score stayed at 0-0 is because Curtis Joseph came to play, unlike the rest of his teammates. The Wings were being outshot 7-1 at the halfway mark of the period though they did have a few minutes where they controlled the play in the second half. They only had a couple chances and never really threatened the Flames too much though. Shots ended up 8-7 Wings. They started out a bit better in the second but still weren't all that threatening and still looked flat compared to Game 4. They had a couple power plays and generated good pressure but couldn't get the puck into the net so they were totally wasted. Steve Yzerman was injured a few seconds after the second power play expired (11:57) when Mathieu Schneider's point shot was deflected by the leg of Rhett Warrener (returning to the Flames lineup after going down in Game 2). The Captain was skating behind the net and never saw it coming. The puck hit him in the area of his left high and he immediately clutched his face and went down. He then jumped up and tried to skate a few feet before falling down again writhing in pain. At first I didn't know who it was because it happened live on the edge of the camera frame but as soon as I realized it was Yzerman, I was stunned as was the whole of Joe Louis Arena. The ref immediately motioned for the trainers to come out and The Captain laid on the ice for a couple minutes before getting up with a towel to his face. Brendan Shanahan helped him the bench and he went on to the lockerroom from there. If the Wings looked flat before that, they were even worse afterwards. Craig Conroy opened the scoring at 16:07 when Jiri Fischer put himself 10 feet out of position in an effort to level Jarome Iginla along the boards. Iginla calmly sent the puck forward to Conroy who was then free to come in on Joseph all alone. Fischer tried to get back in time but he was too late and Conroy beat CuJo high to make it 1-0 Flames. Curtis Joseph came up big for the rest of the period and the Flames didn't score again. Shots were 9-9. The Wings once again played their best hockey in the third period but still couldn't solve Miikka Kiprusoff, especially since they kept shooting long shots with no traffic in front. Far too many shots were blocked by a Flames team that was showing its determination on each play. The Wings outshot the Flames 15-4 in the third but too many of those shots were routine saves for Kiprusoff and not enough of them were followed up by going to the net. CBC reported during the second intermission that Steve Yzerman was sitting outside the Wings' lockerroom with a bandage on his eye, talking to the players. He then went to Henry Ford Hospital and ended up going through a four and a half hour surgery on his eye, which had a scratched cornea, and orbital bone, which had multiple fractures. He had blurry vision before the surgery but it was cleared up afterwards and he is expected to make a full recovery. He is out indefinitely, however, and we will not see him again this series for sure. Thank God it was nothing more serious that than. I wouldn't wish such a thing to happen to any player but The Captain is the last guy I'd want to see it happen to in the entire league. It was hard to watch and I feared the worst, though now I am relieved. I am not very confident in the Wings' ability to win this series, however. Not after their performance yesterday, in front of their home crowd. If they cannot get themselves up to play in Joe Louis Arena, how do they expect to do so in the Saddledome? Yesterday's game was of enormous importance and I am extremely disappointed in the Wings for losing in the way they did. I could understand being beaten after working hard but that is not what happened. They were outworked the whole game and were beaten by the better team, at least for yesterday. Even if they do get past this round, they will have to improve 1000 percent if they want to win the Conference and the Cup. They are nowhere near that level now. They have to win Game 6 and they must do it without their captain. It is sickly ironic that the player who the puck deflected off was Rhett Warrener, the man who was high-sticked accidentally by Steve Yzerman in Game 2 and ended up with a scratched cornea of his own. He was completely inactive from last Saturday to the game yesterday but ended up with the third most ice time of any of his teammates in Game 5. Dave Lowry played in place of Ville Nieminen yesterday after sitting for four months. He was a problem for the Wings all game long and had a couple good scoring chances. Pavel Datsyuk needs to get on the ball. He has not scored a goal in 20 consecutive playoff games. Here is the boxscore. Lines- (courtesy GWB) Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Hull Maltby-Draper-McCarty Shanahan-Lang-Holmstrom Whitney-Lang-Holmstrom Shanahan-Lang-Yzerman Devereaux-Datysuk-Whitney Maltby-Draper-Yzerman Devereaux-Datysuk-Hull Shanahan-Lang-McCarty Maltby-Draper-Holmstrom Lang-Datsyuk-Hull Lidstrom-Schneider Hatcher-Woolley Fischer-Dandenault Hatcher-Dandenault 4 on 4- Datysuk-Hull Lidstrom-Schneider PP- Lang-Yzerman-Holmstrom Shanahan-Datsyuk-Hull Shanahan-Lang-McCarty Shanahan-Datsyuk-Holmstrom Zetterberg-Datysuk-Hull Shanahan-Lang-Holmstrom Maltby-Draper-Devereaux Lidstrom-Schneider Lidstrom-Woolley Woolley-Schneider Woolley-Dandenault Whitney-Woolley PK- Maltby-Draper Shanahan-Yzerman Zetterberg-Shanahan Lidstrom-Hatcher Schneider-Dandenault Net- Curtis Joseph


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