Win one for the Gipper: Wings try to take game 5

This quote originated in football to inspire Notre Dame to win a game for a dying teammate George Gipp.  The quote was later coined by Ronald Reagan in the 1940 film, Knute Rockne with the line…

And the last thing he said to me, “Rock,” he said, “sometime when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper.

The Wings have their backs against the wall facing elimination tonight and they need to come out like they did against Phoenix in game 7.  They’ve also been the victims of bad breaks with too many phantom penalties which have resulted in 2 game winning power play goals.  If there was ever a time in this series for the Wings to “win one for the Gipper” it is now.  Really, we need 3 more games for the Gipper, but lets just get passed tonight and worry about that tomorrow.

Seeds of doubt: Red Wings fans remember the times when we were up in a series and then had a bad game.  The overwhelming confidence we had was shaken and a small crack appeared.  That’s what the Sharks and their fans are experiencing right now.  After a 7-1 ass whooping in Detroit the Sharks had to be thinking “WTF!?” on the flight back to San Jose.  They may not have said it, but I bet a lot of the players were thinking “where did that come from?”.

First goal: I’m not saying the outcome of game 5 will be decided by the first goal, but if the Wings can get 1 or even 2 in the first 10 minutes then that crack of confidence will get bigger and Sharks may implode on home ice.  Wouldn’t that be sweet!

Injuries: It will not be good if Stuart or Eaves can’t play on Saturday, but would Williams, Ritola, or Lebda be better at 100% than a Stuart or Eaves at 75%?  I’m not sure…I’ve always liked Williams, but his performance during these playoffs hasn’t been much to write about.

Goal tending: Howard hasn’t cracked under pressure, but he has made several rookie mistakes.  Howard needs to pull himself together and make the Sharks work hard for every goal.  The D needs to help him by not giving up two-on-ones and keeping pressure in the defensive zone.  Giving Couture (or any Shark) time in the corner to ponder life and pick exactly where he is going to bank the puck in off Howard is unacceptable.

Franzen: I don’t think Franzen needs another “game of his life” in order for the Wings to win.  The Sharks now know, as if McLellan didn’t already know, that The Mule is a threat and needs to be contained (you can’t stop him).  The Sharks are going to keep a close eye on him, but what would help immensely would be if Williams, Filppula, or Cleary had the game of their lives.  Hit them where they least expect it!

Visiting ice: Winning on the road ain’t easy.  Not only do you have 30k+ fans booing you, you have the rule changes for visiting teams.  The Wings get the last change which hurts Babcock’s ability to match lines.  The Wings have to put their sticks down first during the face off which makes them harder to win, something that has been very important this round.  And the officials in San Jose can’t see teal, they can only see red.

The Joes: The Wings need to keep Pavelski and Thornton off the score sheets!  Homer rattled Thornton’s cage on Thursday and he needs to do it again.  If Homer can get Big Joe to take a bad penalty that could be a slippery slope for the Sharks.  Another game misconduct would be nice!

It doesn’t matter if you’re for the Wings, the Sharks, or another team; game 5 is setting up to be a very exciting 60 minutes of hockey!

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Tags: Babcock Brad Stuart Brett Lebda Cleary Couture Dan Cleary Eaves Filppula Franzen George Gipp Holmstrom Howard Jason Williams Jimmie Howard Joe Pavelski Joe Thornton Johan Franzen Lebda McLellan Mike Babcock Notre Dame Patrick Eaves Pavelski Phoenix Phoenix Coyotes Playoffs Ritola San Jose Sharks Sharks Stuart The Mule Thorton Todd McLellan Tomas Holmstrom Valteri Filppula Williams

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