Game 76 Recap: The Crying Game

We try to find something positive to say in these recaps, even in a season as littered with disappointments as this one.

I've been looking at the screen for five minutes, and so far, the best thing I can say is "Well, it ended."

Actually, no, that's not entirely true, but it's awfully close.

With the Red Wings looking to clinch their 23rd consecutive playoff berth, the Jackets weren't going to truly play "spoiler", but with the Wings 2-6-2 in the last 10, it was a chance to perhaps slow down the inevitable grinding progress of the winged wheel.

Instead, the Wings jumped on the Jackets from the get go, and the game was lost within ten minutes, though the rules required that the remaining fifty be run off the clock.

With the Jackets' defense looking lost and Steve Mason struggling to control the puck early, the Jackets were in trouble when Cam Atkinson was called for a tripping penalty under a minute into the game. With Detroit's power play going to work, Mason attempted to make a save on Henrik Zetterberg, but failed to get back into his net for the second chance opportunity by Tomas Holmstrom, who had a completely empty cage to shoot into.

Insult would be added to injury minutes later when Pavel Datsyuk undressed R.J. Umberger before spinning around to feed the puck to rookie Gustav Nyquist right in front of Mason for his first NHL goal, and the Wings were up 2-0 before Columbus had their second shot on goal in the game.

Back on the PK with Derek Dorsett in the box for a boarding minor, Holmstrom would score his second of the night, and less than a minute later Jiri Hudler would beat Mason for the fourth time, forcing Jackets' head coach Todd Richards to call his timeout to to address both the shaky goaltending and the frustrating turnovers and total lack of cohesion from the defense and forwards.

As at least two (and perhaps three) of the goals against the Jackets were more about bad turnovers and weak defensive zone coverage than the goaltender's errors, it was understandable why the coach decided to leave Mason in net, and the team seemed to gather themselves up and play actual defense afterwards. Unfortunately, the cost came at a total lack of offensive production, with the Jackets managing all of five shots on goal after 20 minutes.

The second period would start with more penalty trouble for Columbus, and though the team successfully killed off a tripping call against Derick Brassard, Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom would blast his 11th goal of the season past Mason on a delayed call against Vinny Prospal, and Brad Stuart would make it 6-0 just over two minutes later, finally bringing Steve Mason's night to an end.

With Allen York installed, the team limped through 40 minutes, finally breaking past 10 shots on goal, but Pavel Datsuyk would grab a cross-crease feed from Henrik Zetterberg and formally welcome York to life in the Central Division with a sick sharp angle wrist shot to make it seven.

One of those "positive moments" came on the ensuing posession, when Mark Letestu took a Rick Nash feed at center ice and furiously charged through the Red Wings defense before walking in and scoring on Ty Conklin to bust the shutout bid. That goal makes three straight games with a goal for the former Penguin, who continues to show his value to the Jackets, and also continues a three game points streak for Nash.

York would see a bit more rubber, stopping 10 of 11 shots in relief, while Nash would add one last goal to the scoring with a beautiful slapper off a nice feed from Vinny Prospal midway through the final period.

Time would finally run down and the celebrations began at Joe Louis, while the headscratching continues in Columbus, where they must prepare for the rematch (and the final tilt of the season series between the two clubs) on Wednesday.

Standard Bearers:

  • Mark Letestu - Nice to see that goal scoring streak continue, though Test Tube, like the rest of the team, was also guilty of getting smoked a few times tonight.
  • Allen York - 31 minutes in net, one goal allowed, admittedly didn't see the same onslaught of rubber that Mason did, but still looked like he knew what he was doing.
  • Derek Dorsett - Give DD credit for working like hell with the puck and trying to keep the team fired up through the game, though he did finally get tossed with a game misconduct in the final minutes./

Bottom Of The Barrel:

  • Wake Up Calls - That's two games in a row that this team has failed to show up. Everything they did right against Carolina on Friday and in the first period against Edmonton went out the window. Lazy passing, bad turnovers, unengaged defensive play, and a complete lack of awareness.
  • Steve Mason - While I agree that the team would have lost regardless of who was in net tonight, Mason's play the last two games has not been sharp. I think that York deserves the opportunity to start on Wednesday, and give Mason a chance to refocus after two bad games. Clear the mind, then go back out against Florida on Friday./

If It Looks Like A Duck, Quacks Like A Duck, and You Just Stepped In Duck Shit... - No window dressing. This was an awful game, and it's terrifying that somehow this game is NOT the worst loss of the season.
As mentioned above, the team will fly home tonight and prepare for the rematch at Nationwide on Wednesday night, a game which will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network. Let's go out, wear our gear, and represent our city with some pride for the big time cameras.

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