Breathe. Just take a deep breath. Don't you feel better? I know I do. Maybe it's the 3 cups of coffee I had in just over 90 minutes. Maybe it's the fact I just got yelled at on the phone by a crazy person (not my wife). Or maybe it's because I have had time to digest last night. But, I feel better.
Look, we all know the officiating was garbage last night. My main issue is that the referees have had far too great an impact on the outcome of the games. These are two excellent teams, and it would be nice to see them let these teams play and decide the game on the ice. However, this has been talked about to death by the fans, so we won't get in to it again.
As Drew at NOHS pointed out, the Red Wings have played very well in these first two games. Looking back at last night's contest, they were the better team throughout a majority of the second period. The start of the game was something else, though. They were on their heels for the first 10 minutes, and had it not been for Datsyuk's goal and some stellar goaltending by Jimmy, it could have been another night like Game 1. But they buckled down and got back to even, despite not playing that great. The GWG last night was off a fluke play, but Lidstrom should have tackled Thornton or Heatley. That's a situation where I wouldn't mind a penalty being called, because it would stop a 3-on-1. Throw in the fact that Jimmy made the first save but the rebound went off Rafalski's leg right to Jumbo Joe for the easy goal. (As an aside, what the fuck is up with Thornton's nickname? He plays like he's 5'7" and 180 lbs. He's not gritty or tough. He's a finesse guy. There is nothing "Jumbo" about his game besides his ability to disappear in the playoffs). So what do the Red Wings have to get back in the series? There are still several aspects of their game that need to improve.
My God, their inability to win a crucial faceoff is driving me insane. Remember when it was automatic that the Wings would win a faceoff and immediately break out of the zone? Zetterberg is getting owned in the faceoff circle, and this is creating a lot of problems. This was something that Phoenix took advantage of, and it's obvious the Sharks are exploiting this weakness. I think they should just start each faceoff basketball style with the Sharks "inbounding" to another player. You know they are going to get the puck anyway, so why not let the Wings get set up defensively in the zone.
Joe Pavelski scares me. Every time he touches the puck, I pee myself just a little bit. I honestly expect him to score every time he touches the puck. If he took a shot from center, I would hold my breath until Jimmy saved it. He's that good right now. I haven't seen anything like this since Franzen vs the Avalanche circa 2008. With Pavelski seemingly scoring at will, the Sharks' top line has not had to be the difference. The Wings have to find a way to stop Pavelski, Clowe and Setoguchi. I would suggest that all 5 Wings on the ice gang-tackle Pavelski and let Jimmy face the other 4 Sharks - that would give us a chance.
This will sound funny, but the Wings PK has to be better. How can they improve on their 80% from last night? Stop going down by 2 men. 3 of the Sharks PP goals have been scored with only 3 Red Wings on the ice. The Sharks are far too talented to allow them that much time and space to operate. They were much better overall on the PK last night, but they were also bailed out by some spectacular saves by Jimmy. They desperately need an 0-fer to gain some momentum.
Speaking of Jimmy, there had better not be a single person out there who blames him for either loss. He has not been given any help by the Wings' defense so far, and last night he was the only reason they were still in the game after the first period. I watch Jimmy and I feel confident that he is going to keep them in the game. I've long maintained that the Wings do not need a goalie to steal a game or a series from the other team; all he has to do is make the right save at the right time. Last night Jimmy did that.
The second line of Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Filppula has to create more offense. The Wings are relying far too much on Datsyuk's line to score goals, and without balanced scoring, the Wings are in trouble. Nabokov has not looked particularly sharp in either game so far, so the Wings need to exploit this. I feel the goaltending matchup is in favor of Detroit. Nabby just does not scare me.
All in all, the Wings are still in this series. Obviously Game 3 is disgustingly important. The Sharks have had their problems at the Joe over the years, and there's no reason why that can't continue. The Sharks have not been head-and-shoulders better than the Wings in this series. They've had some good fortune and some....help (that's the last time I mention the refs, I swear). The Wings need to remember how they played in Game 7 against Phoenix - determined and dangerous. When the Wings dictate the tempo and style of play, there is not a team in the NHL that can match them. They showed that against Phoenix last Tuesday. Even down 0-2, I still don't feel like the Red Wings are in deep trouble - yet. They have not lost a home game yet, which is very important. I'm not going to worry about winning both at home, because they have to win the first at home. I have no doubts the Wings are going to throw everything they have at the Sharks on Tuesday. This team has battled through all sorts of adversity this season, and have emerged on the other side of it more battle-tested and hardened. Tuesday will no different. I fully expect the Wings to get a victory on Tuesday, and then we will worry about Thursday.