Once again, the Detroit Red Wings are down 3-0 to San Jose. Once again, the Red Wings played better in this game than the last one. And once again, the Red Wings lost by one goal, due to a bizarre tip that should never have happened.
For those of us who watch Coach’s Corner, there are certain things that Grapes always talks about. The danger of touch icing, and all the bad injuries that come from it. Unheralded Canadian players getting their first goal. The difference between physical play and dirty play.
Well, there’s one other thing that frustrates Don to no end: goals caused by a defenseman putting his stick in front of a shot, redirecting past a confused goalie. Either block the shot, or get out of the way, in his mind. And sure enough, this scenario happens all too often.
Right after the game, Jimmy Howard said to the assembled press that “the puck was going end over end, those are hard to read.” A lesson learned all too well for these three games.
Tonight, that sequence came back to wound the Wings. With Devin Setoguchi receiving a quick pass from Joe Thornton, Henrik Zetterberg couldn’t cover and tried to simply stand in front of the shot. A tip off his stick, and the puck goes by a confused Jimmy Howard. Sharks win.
It’s these little mistakes that have given the Sharks every win. In Game 1, a similar tip bounced by Howard in overtime. In Game 2, a fluttering high shot arced over Howard, into the net. And now, another bad tip in Game 3. San Jose has seemed to be just a bit ahead of the Red Wings, not by much, but by just enough. As a Red Wings fan, those bizarrely random game-winners could end up haunting the summer.
If not those San Jose goals, the lingering memory will be the chances missed. It will be Pavel Datsyuk having the puck in overtime, inside the slot, but being unable to get control of the thing. It will be Datsyuk to end the 3rd period, getting off a weak shot that Antti Niemi could barely save, instead of putting one in the top corner. It will be a lackluster effort after coming within a goal, to close Game 2. It will be all the missed chances, the plays where everyone was a stride out of sync.
Meanwhile, those missed chances took away a great game for the Red Wings. The newly shaken up line combinations led to three goals from different lines, some huge hits by Niklas Kronwall, and another great game from Jimmy Howard. Now, the Red Wings need to take what is possible from this game, and move on for a historic comeback.
Neither team was particularly dominant in Game 3, from the score always being tied or within one, to only short bursts of action in one end or the other. The momentum was always up for grabs. Bizarrely enough, these are the games that are usually 50-50 for either team…and San Jose has won seven straight like this against Detroit. Four games last year (separated only by a huge performance by Johan Franzen in Game 4), and now three more games this year. On one hand, the tide has to turn eventually, right?
On the other hand, it doesn’t have to. All of these games are winnable, and none went the Red Wings’ way. It all comes down to those little mistakes that started this column and ended the last game. That’s what the Red Wings must clean up, and if they can…history can be in the making.
About the Author: Gordon is currently looking to enter the world of journalism, while spending his free time at either the University of Michigan or the Joe Louis Arena.