Just another day at the office. Your boss, managers, secretaries, and long-time coworkers are all sick. You’re the janitor just observing whatever is left. 20 interns are sitting around oblivious, and the whole building burns down.
Welcome to the Red Wings.
Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Helm, Weiss, Gustavsson, Howard, Andersson, Cleary, Samuelsson, and now Jurco. This is Detroit’s injury list. That could easily be the top two lines of a playoff-contending team, with two Olympic goalies, to boot. The Red Wings SHOULDN’T make the playoffs. I mean, with SO many injuries, such a tight playoff race in the east, and an awfully tough schedule, by the laws of hockey, it’s supposed to be impossible. But somehow, after the Olympic break, they were clinging to a playoff spot and were winning games, ignoring the odds and playing good hockey. Then they got stomped by the Rangers. And tonight they were stomped again, but the team they lost to just took their playoff spot. The Columbus Blue Jackets just hopped in front of the Wings for the 8th spot in the east, and the Wings are now on the outside looking in.
The worst part is, the Red Wings had an extremely reasonable chance at walking away with at least one point. They played amazing hockey through 50 minutes, were tied with the Jackets 1-1, then gave up 3 goals. Just like we’re used to seeing, the Red Wings can’t play a full 60 minutes. Just like in Ottawa, in New Jersey, in New York, in Montreal, and Washington, and what do you know? They’re all Western Conference teams fighting for playoff spots (more or less), and they’re constantly stealing our “deserved” points.
The first period was dominated by the Red Wings. They outskated the Jax, put up several great scoring chances, and got shut down continuously by ‘Bobby’, the 2012-13 Vezina winner. Danny Dekesyer fired a laser through a load of traffic to hit the back of the net 5 minutes in. Nick Foligno answered ten minutes later, after a scramble in front of Petr Mrazek left the puck in the crease ripe for the picking.
The second period was scoreless, although Columbus came out leading in shots in those 20 minutes 14-10. A period similar to the 2nd on Sunday against the Rangers; even play both ways, a few chances here and there, and the red team had their dreaded tied-into-the-third scenario in which almost always turns out negatively.
The Wings came back to play a strong 10 first minutes in the third period, and suffered their infamous 3rd period collapse. BOOOOOOONNNNNEEEE Jenner stole the puck from Emmerton behind the net, after Cory was abandoned by a couple wide-eyed and staring defensemen, spun around the left of Mrazek to fire one top shelf/glove side, and effectively ended the game. The Wheelers lost any sort of confidence or pressure, and ‘Lumbus took advantage of the opportunity. Brandon Dubinsky scored a Datsyukian-style goal, slicing the Wing’s defense like a tender steak, and made his 3-1 goal look effortless as he lifted the puck past Mrazek’s left shoulder. The domination continued, as Derek MacKenzie decided to boost his numbers, throwing the puck at the net and bouncing the puck off one of the orange traffic cones we call a Red Wing defenseman into the net.
The Red Wings must have missed the memo that they needed to win this game. Now, they’re 2 points back on Columbus, and 3 behind Tampa Bay. Detroit is throwing away whatever playoff chances that remain, and things aren’t going to get easier. After playing Edmonton on Friday, the Wings will play Chicago, Toronto, and Pittsburgh. Have fun with that, Red Wings.
The injuries the team has experienced this season can be the blame for the fact that Detroit will, in my opinion, will not return to the playoffs for a 23rd straight season. How liable are injuries of probably ending the streak? I’d say about 99%. The other 1% is the lack of heart and desperation we are seeing in the team right now. And if they want any glimmer of hope to keep the streak alive, erasing that 1% is the only way they’ll have a chance.