Lesson Number 3
I'd be lying if I'd say this game didn't play out the same as the other two up in Detroit. Wings score first, Wings build lead, Jackets stay in until we were down 3.
We were more competitive tonight, but I use the word loosely. When Umberger gets leveled by a questionable hit (I haven't seen a replay since that is impossible at Nationwide), and Chimera gets plastered face first into the boards... and nobody does anything (except for Commodore trying to hip check Mike Babcock...)
The crazy crowd was instantly neutralized with the early goal. Mason hadn't even taken his eyes off of the spotlight yet. It was obvious we had the jitters, but Detroit is jitter-free. They capitalized as they have in every game this series.
Their scoring chances were honestly pretty well limited tonight, but so were ours.
Huselius passed up an open look, Peca whiffed on an empty net, and Umberger had at least one great scoring chance before finding the twine in the dying minutes.
The entire tone tonight was "we're happy to be here" from the pregame videos, to the in-game entertainment. The pregame video was nice, but it set the tone of "you already won." Miracle? Is it a Miracle we made it to the playoffs, or that we would not be a miracle to beat Detroit? Either message is dumb. It was sappy, rather than raucous, just like our team. Instead of loud music, that revved through the Joe we get "Happy and You Know It." The team didn't inspire much else I suppose.
In the biggest surprise of the playoffs, Klesla continues to be our best player. He's been my personal favorite for 5-6 years, but I was expecting some baby giraffe moments, but that has totally not happened. He's been easily our best defensemen and one of our best offense players... yikes.
Hejda looked to have broken his foot blocking a shot. It will likely end his season, I liked him more last season, and I don't think he played well in the playoffs, but he has been a rock for us.
When the current Freddy Modin is on the top PP unit, you know stuff is bad. Hitch has had a Modin mancrush for years, but he simply is not good right now. He's very much the fat we will need to trim. He will be a bottom line player for us, but he does not hit. We need hungry vets who regularly lay the body. He and Peca are two players who do not fit into the image of the current team.
Huselius played his best game of the series and ended up minus 3. Vermette was also bad tonight. You can see what the problem in Ottawa was. He has been incredibly streaky for us.
The entire series has been Detroit the cat playing with us the mouse. For long stretches tonight he played with Detroit, but then *snap the fingers* they score.
Mancrush of the Night would be Klesla, he has played very well for us in this series...
Doghouse for Freddy Mo. He is a great guy, he is a big body, but he is incredibly slow and he did not check tonight. You can only puck protect so long, before it gets poked out the other way.
In reality the series is over because there is no way we will win 4 in a row, but we do need to salvage some pride and win tomorrow. We have to.