I am leaving this "untitled" because I am not sure what to say. The shock of the Wings losing the series has mostly worn off, leaving me to analyze the series itself and my thoughts about it. Actually, the word "shock" is not the right one. I was not shocked the Wings lost. For most of the series, the Wings were a step behind the Sharks, and never caught up.
It's hard to pinpoint what exactly went wrong. The Wings lost too many battles for loose pucks, and good God were they awful at faceoffs. A puck possession team has to be actually have the puck, and the Wings were forced to chase the Sharks, unlike in years past when it was the other team chasing the Wings. It's not a good feeling being on the other side, watching Wings' opponent control the play and never give up the puck. I hope that when training camp opens in September, every single centerman on the Wings practises faceoffs for at least 2 hours a day.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the referees. Let me start by saying that I do not believe the refs had anything to do with the Sharks winning this series; they won (mostly) fair and square. But I have been watching hockey for a very long time, and I truly believe that was the worst officiated series I have ever seen. I say that as both a fan of the Red Wings and a fan of hockey. If I were a Sharks fan, I would probably say the same thing. Two of the most brutal calls were against the Sharks; the penalty shot in Game 3 and the goaltender interference call on Heatley in Game 2. I hope that in the coming years, when tapes are shown of how not to officiate a playoff series, every game in this series is shown.
Again, I want to repeat: the Sharks were the better team in this series, and the refs did not affect the outcome of the series. There were calls missed, including yet another one in Game 5 with Murray's head-shot to Franzen. The Sharks scored immediately after that play after the Wings fucked up yet another faceoff. I heard someone argue that the faceoff never should have been in the Wings' zone if not for the missed call; but, be honest with yourself. Do you really believe the Wings were going to win that game? Whether the Sharks scored on that faceoff or another one, I had the sense that a Sharks win was inevitable. Even in the dying seconds, when the Wings had a power play and were trying to tie it, I could not shake the sense that even if they made it to OT, the Wings were going to lose. The Sharks were the better team for the first 30 minutes of the game, and the last 20.
This series was not lost due to the penalty discrepancy of Game 2, or the 3-goals-in-90-seconds of Game 1, or even with Rafalski's brain fart in Game 5. This series was lost when the Wings could not hold a 2-goal lead in the third period of Game 3. At some point this summer, I am going to go back and look at how many games the Wings lost when they had at least a 2-goal lead at some point in the game; I am dreading the results of that research. Unfortunately, this was a team that could not clamp down on their opponent, and it cost them both during the regular season and in the playoffs.
I will probably do a season "recap" in the next few days. I am working on something that sums up how I feel about the season as a whole, not just the series just passed. All I can say about this series is that, as much as it pains me to say it, the better team won. I wish I could say I want the Sharks to do well going forward, but I just can't. In fact, as it stands today, the final 4 would be the Penguins, Bruins, Sharks and Blackhawks. Ugh. I think I am going to unplug my satellite and just read the post-game reports. On second thought, maybe I will cheer for the Sharks; they seem to be the lesser of all evils.