Sunday, April 30, 2006

Game 5: Wings 2, Oilers 3

There isn't going to be a minute-by-minute analysis on this game since I'm too disgusted to dedicate that kind of time and effort. I could just give this post 20 minutes for composition because that's about how long the Wings' effort lasted yesterday, but I suspect it will take me longer than that to write it. So. The first period was everything I was expecting of the team: they showed good energy, they skated hard and created chances. Their power play was solid (though they couldn't put it in the net) and their penaly killing was strong. They had the Oilers back on their heels for much of the period but even then you could see flashes where Edmonton was ready to take over. For example, take Ales Hemsky's little chance while on the power play only 6 or 7 minutes into the game. He carried it in all by himself through the defense and froze Legace outside of the crease as he headed down the right wing. His shot should have gone in but it hit the outside of the post at ice level and somehow stayed out. Not encouraging. Dwayne Roloson kept the Oilers in it in the first and ought to get major credit for this win. When the Wings were skating hard and actually gettin chances, he was making saves and it paid off later for his team. The Wings had maybe 3 or 4 good minutes at the start of the second period before Edmonton started pressuring four minutes in. Then, they scored, at 5:16, on what seemed like a fairly harmless play. Chris Pronger took an ice-level shot at the net and it was tipped out front by Fernando Pisani and suddenly came up to armpit level, sneaking between Legace's arm and body before trickling into the net. Edmonton looked good after that and then the Wings got into some penalty trouble. Shanahan went off for hooking at 7:41 and at 8:34, the Oilers scored again. It was another deflection, coming off Smyth this time, and beat Legace 5-hole. The Wings put a little pressure on after that but the bounces were going the other way. It was very frustrating to watch. Edmonton was so keyed up on blocking shots that three skaters would fall at exactly the same time to block the same shot, but the Wings weren't interested in taking advantage of the three Oilers having taken themselves out of the play. MacTavish is establishing himself as a great coach in this series. Case in point: the Oilers iced the puck at 10:00 and weren't able to change. So, he used his timeout. First, it showed a lot of confidence in his players because he didn't foresee a time later on that he would need. Second, it gave his players a rest and enabled them to disrupt the Wings' admittedly weak comeback attempt with a strong pressure shift after their defensive zone faceoff. Shanahan took another penalty at 11:30 but 28 seconds later, Chris Chelios drew a cheap tripping penalty and the teams went to four a side. 34 seconds after that, the Oilers scored again. Legace had just made a big save on Shawn Horcroff but the rebound came right back to the Oilers forward and it ended up being knocked in, I think, by Nik Kronwall as he attempted to tie Horcoff up. Hemsky again had a nice rush just after that, busting out some moves and coming in on Legace, only just running out of real estate. Andreas Lilja whiffed on the puck at the blueline and Raffi Torres pounced on it, breaking in on Legace and getting a nice scoring chance but he couldn't score. Shanahan finally put the Wings on the board at 18:39. He got a breakaway and beat Roloson with a quick shot. Just before the goal, however, Draper had badly tripped Peca and had not been called for a penalty, even though both players expected it. Pretty sad that the Wings' first goal came off such a badly blown call. The Wings looked pretty disinterested in the third. It seemed as though they thought they only needed one goal and were waiting for the right time to score it. They were not physical at all and looked tired. They were making bad passes (even Lidstrom) and could get very little going. The Oilers were workmanlike and pressured the Wings into making poor decisions, reminding us that though they had settled into a defensive posture, they could break open the game at any time. The Wings were never there for rebounds and were hardly able to gain the zone. The Oilers played very carefully, not willing to give the Wings the power play that might have sparked them. At 15:54, Staios finally took a penalty and the Wings got one last power play. They couldn't do anything with it, though, getting one flurry and a blocked shot for their efforts. Babcock pulled Legace with 1:48 left. They didn't get much and Edmonton was content to sit back and didn't try too hard to score on the empty net. Henrik Zetterberg scored at 19:38. It was unexpected. A nice goal but too little, too late. Babcock called his time out after the goal and it actually nearly paid off. They won the faceoff and carried it in. Lang fanned on the puck just in front of the net and the game ended up on Nick Lidstrom's stick on the right point. Shawn Horcoff dove face first into the shot and stopped it with his shoulder. That pretty much sums up the Oilers of Game 5. As far as big games go, I don't remember a more uninspired performance by the Wings. I don't understand why they couldn't get up to play a full game in front of their fans (I suppose the tomb-like atmosphere at the Joe has something to do with that) and when they had a chance to take the lead in the series. The Oilers played great and maybe still would have won, but if the Wings had even played to half of their ability, I wouldn't feel so ripped off by this game. They put up a performance like this and I'm supposed to get all excited about Game 6? I'm supposed to have hope that they'll actually show up to play in Edmonton? Why couldn't they do it yesterday? They've been down 3-2 in a series before but that was in 2002 and it was a completely different team. That team knew how to win big games. This team seems to have forgotten. Sure, the series technically isn't over but they are going to have to play out of their minds Monday night if they even want a chance at winning. I know Edmonton will "bring it" but will the Wings? I'm not ready for another early exit. I waited two years for this? I'm tired of getting my hopes up only to have the Wings fall flat on their faces. Tell me, Brendan Shanahan, Mikael Samuelsson, Jason Williams, and the rest of you in the Winged Wheel. Is it worth it for me to tune in on Monday night? I have three finals on Tuesday. Should I take those three hours and study or should I watch? You know what? I'm going to watch because I'm a fan and dedicated to the team. Maybe you guys could think about giving me a return on my investment.


At 4/30/2006 12:25:00 PM, Blogger Humberto Fernandes said...

Nice post, Matt!
Great job!

Actually in this series the Wings don't deserves fans like us.
We give a lot to follow this team and then our return is almost nothing against Edmonton.

You should watch the game. Because Red Wings are life - the rest are just details.

At 4/30/2006 01:27:00 PM, Anonymous Megan said...

I have to first give credit to Henrik Zetterberg. Even though his team seems to have completely abandoned him, he still shows up for each game and works his butt off.
That said, where the heck is the rest of the team? Why can't they respond to anything that is thrown at them? This is the team that, during the regular season, always seemed to find a way to win. We were the only team that was never shut out in the entire series. Offense was never a problem. Where did it go?
Granted, Edmonton is a great team. I don't want to take any credit from them. Their coaching has been great, and their ability to shut the Wings down is phenomenal. There's a reason we didn't want to play Edmonton in the first round.
That said, the Wings should still be able to beat them. If we'd show up and make our passes and play like we gived a crap, we could beat them. We've beat the trap before. Even though we don't expect Manny to steal us a game, it would be great if he could keep us in one, when we desperately need him to.
Yes, I will be parked in front of the tv Monday night (what time?) and watching the game. Every moment will be torture. Every time Edmonton shoots, I'll hold my breath. Why do we put ourselves through this? I can only hope, desperately, that the outcome will be favorable. It seems like we just got Hockey back. I'm not ready to give it up again.

At 4/30/2006 03:51:00 PM, Anonymous Gabriel P said...

Same here, Megan. Despite the fact that I muted game 5 halfway through and just wandered by every once in awhile to swear at the tv, I'll be glued to it on Monday. I'll be hoping for another spark like Lidstrom's 2002 goal from center ice against Vancouver in game 3 that really got the Wings going.

Matt, either way, it's probably better to tune in. Keep in mind that we may see Yzerman on the ice, and if the Wings lose, I'm thinking it'll be the last time we do.

How depressing is that?

At 4/30/2006 04:21:00 PM, Blogger Nathan said... reports the game will start at 8PM EST on OLN and CBC. The 'nightcap' will be Anaheim at Calgary with an 11PM start.

Go Wings Go!!!

My personal (uneducated) feeling is that if the Wings see a first or second round exit in the playoffs, Yzerman will come back for one more hurah.

At 4/30/2006 04:52:00 PM, Anonymous Megan said...

I don't know, Nathan. Stevie's not the type to come back for "one more hurah," as you put it. If he feels he can't contribute to the level he demands of himself, he'll leave. I certainly hope he comes back, but you just never know. I'm sure many people, whether a Wings fan or not, would like to see him go out on top. He deserves that, for sure. But sometimes it's just not the way it happens.
Personally, and this may be a little biased, I think that if we somehow manage to squeek through this round, we'll go deep into the playoffs. Coming back and winning the series would be a huge boost for this team.
I don't know about all of you, but I'm still holding on to the tiny glimmer of hope.

At 4/30/2006 05:31:00 PM, Anonymous WI Wing Nut said...

"disgusted"...that word sums it up perfectly.

I love the Red Wings, always have always will, and I would not abandon them no matter what. I'll be watching tomorrow...with clenched fists....hoping.

Sadly, though, last night for the first time I felt that at least some of the Red Wings abandoned me. Maybe one too many years of success (or in the case of some of these players, just one too many years) has just made the cost-benefit analysis not worth it anymore to make the sacrifice needed ("I've already won three cups, I'm not getting any younger, why should I sacrifice my aging body to block this shot? fight it out in the corner? Is it REALLY worth it?")

I hope I'm wrong. I hate feeling this way about the team I love, but I feel a little betrayed. And if they lose tomorrow, it's been a great run for the core of this team, but maybe it will be time to come to grips with the end of this era of success. Maybe saying goodbye to Stevie (and I'm NOT blaming him for anything for sure) will be the catalyst for the re-tooling. I bet a few years of "Dead Wings" will make the JLA crowd appreciate a good team again.

Again...I hope I'm wrong. I still want to see Stevie raise that Cup one more time, and have not abandoned hope that it can happen, but for it to happen MY Red Wings (that they keep talking about in those damn commercials) need to show up tomorrow for a whole 60 minutes..


At 4/30/2006 11:53:00 PM, Blogger Nathan said...

Wi Wing, they don;t need to just show up tomorrow, they need to.........

BRING IT!!!!!!!!


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