The Wings pissed away an excellent chance to get back into this series tonight. They had the lead, but decided to back down in the third and lay back. That cost them and the Sharks took them to overtime and won it. You can blame several things here. You can blame the refs for the chintzy calls of course, but you've gotta look at the Wings and see that they'd have won if only ONE of these following factors had been better:
- The team only killed two out of four penalties. That is 50 % and completely unacceptable.
- The team had the chance to win the game in overtime, but blew tons of chances by taking weak shots, some of them on a power play.
- The team, even when they were pretty good in the two first periods, was nowhere near as consistently dominant as they can and should be.
- The Wings laid back in the third and let the Sharks take the game to them. That's like asking them to equalize.
I'm gonna take a look at the big picture now with some thoughts/rants. Will come back to much of this after the season, but right now I need to say these things:
- I believe in my team. I believe in my players. Yes, I think Ericsson, Salei and Hudler should go, but aside from them, I think the players on this team have potential to win the cup and be the best team in the league if this team plays to their abilites. I think a trade of someone like Flip to make the team get shaken up might be a good idea, but on paper, this team SHOULD be one of the, if not the best team in the NHL. Thus, I also think that they are better than the Sharks on paper and should beat the Sharks. I think this team is better than the Sharks from top to bottom, from goalie to forwards. If you disagree, then sue me. Does that mean that I think they've been better? No. The Sharks have been the better team for the first two games and were equally good as the Wings today. Which is why I am pissed. The Wings SHOULD play better than them, but they don't.
- Proof of this? The Wings have been nowhere close to their potential for either of the three games, but still lost every game by one goal, two of them in overtime. Is this an excuse? Am I making excuses? No. I am stating the fact that the Wings should win this, but they aren't and deservedly so, because they're not playing to their potential. I'm blaming the Wings players and coaches, not bad luck.
- The players need to be better. They do. Zetterberg was better today and with his injury and all, I'm satisfied with him. Mule can maybe also be excused because of the visor and his injury. But both of those have been too lazy and not as good as they should at times this season. Filppula has had yet another disappointing season where he's had the same issues and failed to break through. Bertuzzi suddenly fell asleep in the second round after a great first round. Hudler is still useless, so is Salei and E, so I'll skip them for now. Homer is suddenly not burying the chances he always buries. Stuart, Kronwall and Rafa have been okay, but have made too many mistakes. Abdelkader is a shadow of himself and has been detrimental to his team in this round. Where did Cleary suddenly go this round? I could go on and on, and Eaves, Draper, Helm, Datsyuk, Lidstrom and Howard are the only ones who hasn't at some point this year been disappointing. Why? Are they complacent? Don't they have the right focus? I think they care, but something is wrong? Do we need to blow up the group? No. They are too good and too right for the Wings for that, but I think a trade of someone secondary, like Filppula, to shake them up, would be good.
- A lot of the blame must fall on the coaches. Laying back in the third? Unacceptable. The system not working as well as it should and being figured out by other teams? Their job to adapt. PK and defense being bad for three years, since McCrimmon came in? McCrimmon's fault. Team not playing to their abilities, lacking focuse, seeming complacent and disinterested at times? That's gotta be Babcock. Babcock's job is to provide a system that works and make the players motivated and in the right state of mind to play their best. He has failed at this since December this year. He struggled with it even when the team was healthy at the start of the season last year too, though fatigue has to take some of the blame for the playoffs last year. I'm tentatively on the fire Babcock bandwagon. It feels like he has lost the room. The problem is, who do we hire instead that would fit? Not that many good puck possession coaches out there. So while I want him and this coaches gone and another team of coaches to take over the same core, I would be okay with him getting another year's chance, but then McCrimmon and maybe MacLean needs to go. BTW, not saying Babbles is a bad coach, it just seems like he's worn out his time with this team and isn't effective on them anymore.
- I am also tired of the coaches being so lenient on players not performing. I understand that they are pissed at Mo talking about retirement, but with Abs not performing, Mule struggling and Hudler sucking, he HAS to be a better option. And why sit Drapes for two games when the first of those went to hell? And why not play Kindl when golden boy E and Salei are struggling?
- I don't want a rebuild. I want a tweak. Wether it happens among the players or coaches, it has to happen if the Wings lose this series. But blowing up and excellent core like this would be dumb.
- And just to be clear: I say this because I love the team, I love the players, I love the Wings and I kinda even love Babcock. And I believe in the players' abilities to be the best. I expect them to live up to that and I get disappointed and angry when they fall short.
- Chances of pulling this off are small. Let's face that, but the Wings have gotten better for each game and if they continue getting better, they will win games, but they are running out of time to be better. Still, there is hope. If they can find the switch, they can do this. Not saying it's a good chance, but it's there and we have to have hope. Gotta take one game at a time. Let's focus on winning one game. If we do, we can focus on winning the next, but right now all we should care about is to win on Friday to avoid getting swept.