So it turns out that only mustering three shots on goal in the first period is not a good way to win the Stanley Cup. Who knew? Also, there's apparently something about Mellon Arena that's like Red Wing kryptonite. It looks like Drew Sharp got his wish
I'm back in that valley of despair that inevitably follows any playoff loss. This one just seems worse than usual. It's worse than Game 5 last year, worse than Game 6 of the Anaheim series, worse than when our hamster died. This is just my way of saying that this is going to be another post filled with excessively angry attacks on my boys. Also, I'm never, ever going back to the Hockeytown Cafe for a Finals game again. The Wings are 0-3 when I'm in attendance during the Finals, and I want no part of it.
The afternoon started out fairly well. We visited the Spirit of Detroit statue and met this guy:
We're pretty sure that wasn't water in his bottle there, but I liked his spirit. And he made us laugh. We were pretty sad when he skateboarded away down Jefferson leaving us alone with a homeless dude who wanted us to take his picture. Then we headed over to Hockeytown and almost didn't get in. They closed for capacity at 7. The evening was pretty much all downhill from that point. We should've taken it as an omen and headed over to Cheli's.
The Stanley Cup was in the building tonight. It was within their reach. And they didn't show up to take it. It was entirely up to them to decide whether they wanted it or not, but apparently they hadn't made up their minds yet.
The first few minutes seemed alright. There were good chances both ways, and neither team seemed to have momentum. Then Zetterberg got called for goalie interference. While the call wasn't as obnoxiously bad as the one against Hudler in Game 7 of the Anaheim series, it was clearly a joke. Although I have to say that the part where Z was literally swinging from the crossbar was fairly amusing.
The rest of the first period was not worth mentioning. I didn't see the play that resulted in Pittsburgh's powerplay, thanks to NBC not bothering to replay the incident, so I don't really have much insight on it. When the Wings killed it off, I started wondering if maybe it was another statement, like the kill at the beginning of Game 5. However, the Wings finished the first having been outshot 12-3. While that stat hides a few good chances that the Wings just sent wide or had blocked, it's still pathetic. They were extremely lucky to survive the first period tied at zero. You can only live dangerously like that for so long until it comes back to bite you.
It seems like whenever the Wings get the media behind them, where everyone's praising them and saying that their victory is inevitable, they play like crap. Maybe we should be glad that the media outside of Detroit seem to anticipate failure at every turn.
It was during a commercial break near the end of the first that I looked around at the crowd in the City Theater and realized that it felt a little bit like a support group. Like AA for Wings fans or something. It didn't do me a whole lot of good, but it felt nice.
After the Pens scored at the beginning of the second, I started mentally preparing myself for Game 7. I knew that things were far from over, but the Wings just didn't look good. They showed a little bit more spark in the second, but it wasn't enough. There were a few pretty obvious interference calls that could/should have been made against the Pens. Even the NBC guys were pointing them out, so you know they were flagrant. When the national guys are going against Crosby and his annointed buddies, it's pretty safe to assume that the refs are screwing things up. Considering how much success the powerplay had during Game 5, it would've been nice to have seen it get a chance to go to work before the third period.
The Wings looked pretty good at the start of the third, but it was too little too late. Giving up the second goal was a backbreaker. I had pretty much resigned myself to three days of agony at that point. Then Kris Draper scored and gave me hope. I have to say that the Hockeytown crowd was incredible from this point on. The City Theater went nuts, and the chants started right back up. The powerplays were insane. (Is it bad that I really, really wanted Drapes to be bleeding when he got high-sticked? The rational side of me says that there's something very wrong with hoping for a man who you adore to stand up with his face looking like a red fountain, but I was seriously calling on the Hockey Gods to cause his face to start gushing.) Everyone in the theater stood for the last two minutes of the game. I don't care that the Joe didn't sell out during the regular season. The crowds and fans during the playoffs have been fantastic.
During the first half of the game, the turnovers and lack of intensity that have plagued the Wings since October came back to bite them. I thought they had worked that out of their system after Game 5, but it turns out that I was sadly mistaken. They threw everything they had at the Pens during the third period, but it just wasn't enough to overcome the hole they had dug for themselves.
Datsyuk, Helm, and Zetterberg played like crazy men again. Zetterberg, in particular, was brilliant on that play where his stick broke and he smacked the puck out of the zone as he dove to the ice. It was a relatively minor play and could easily go unnoticed, but it's just another example of how hard the man's working to win the Stanley Cup. It looked like something right out of the Steve Yzerman playbook. It might sound trite, but I just don't see Sidney Crosby making that play. And everyone knows that but for Ozzie, this score wouldn't have been close. On the Pens' side, Rob Scuderi just earned his place on the list of hockey players who make me shudder. I was surrounded by 300 people jumping up and down and screaming the the last minute of the third. I was pretty sure that the floor was going to collapse, and it all would've been his fault.
The most frustrating part of the first half of the game was that I could see the Wings doing the exact same things they had been doing during Games 3 and 4. They were making pretty passes, but only taking perimeter shots. They were "one and done" as Mike Babcock likes to say, whereas Pittsburgh was consistently able to establish control in the zone and get several chances. The Wings weren't driving to the net until the third period. It's been proven over and over again: if you get traffic in front of MAF, you will have success. Plain and simple. Eventually, you're going to get a juicy rebound that even a toddler could smack into the net.
Also, during the second intermission, the NBC guy who was doing the "you be the coach" thing was way intense. It was like he was yelling at us through the screen. We felt like we should go sit in a corner after his little rant.
Now it's down to one game to decide who gets the Stanley Cup. It's winner-take-all, and I don't like it one bit. Over the next couple of days, I'm going to age approximately 37 years. I normally would have more to say, but everyone knows what Game 7 means. Also, I'm not in a very happy place right now, and I'm going to try to sleep tonight without having nightmares of Sidney Crosby hoisting the Cup.