Update (4:23 PM): IwoCPO writes on why the Wings have to win tonight and reminds me of the experience I've had being a Wings fan post-elimination, especially in high school. In 2001 especially, after the Kings took them out ("Hey, hey Shockeytown!"), I had to endure merciless mocking from teammates and people who just didn't understand.
NHL.com's Stats Blog gives us some hope, though. -- Matt
The Oilers have a chance to clinch the series tonight in their home arena, something they have not done in 14 years, apparently. You think Rexall Place is going to be rocking? You think the Oilers are going to amped up to play? I do.
On other hand, you have the Wings, who need a win to stay alive, and will face the task not only of matching Edmonton's energy but of exceeding it or at least dampening it. The first goal is (actually, the first couple goals are) essential here.
It's also time for Manny Legace to put up or shut up. A loss tonight without anything less than a stellar performance means he'll be run out of town on a rail. As it is, he's almost certainly done in Detroit, barring a sudden infusion of Sawchuk-like ability and the resultant performance. His apparent lack of confidence is worrisome and can't be helping his teammates out at all. Michael Rosenberg
is pretty hard on Manny in today's Freep and, in some ways, it's hard to argue. Tonight is crunch time for Legace, a chance for him to restore both his confidence and ours.
While a lot of the onus is on Manny tonight, any effort at a win is the responsibility of the team, from the net on out. And fault for a loss would be shared by the team, as well.
Pavel Datsyuk has shown jump and flashes of brilliance but his time is running out. Henrik Zetterberg has produced this series but Pavel is heading toward the gallows and doesn't appear to know it. Let's see some points tonight, Datsyuk.
Hopefully Shanahan's breakaway goal on Saturday will have reminded him what it's like to score goals and cause him to want to score more.
I want to see Babcock put Don MacLean in the lineup tonight. I went to a Griffins game a couple weeks ago and though his teammates were dying from having played a long overtime game the night before, MacLean was one of the best players on the ice and finished as one of the arena stars. He scored in his first game with the Wings this season, April 11th against the Oilers, and would undoubtedly provide a spark, as the Freep says today
. It looks like MacLean will only play if Yzerman sits but I say take Mikael Samuelsson out and put Don in. Oh well.
If The Captain plays, I have a hard time seeing the Wings lose. If he doesn't, I don't know if they can win. It's a game-time decision
and you know that he'll play if he can. The effect of that decision on the team's morale will be huge, I expect, one way or the other.
I go into tonight's game as I always do when the Wings are facing elimination: dreading it. I hate watching these games and tonight is going to be as rough as any of the games they've played on the brink.
Can the Wings do it? That's a stupid question. Of course they can! Will they? I have no idea. They have to want it enough and play with the passion that accompanies desperation. They can't get out of control but they need to be desperate. Please, guys?