Blog Entry

Veteran Wings see season, possibly era end

Posted on: May 13, 2011 12:20 am
Edited on: May 13, 2011 12:44 am

Entering Game 7, it was clear which team would have the advantage in the intangibles: experience, momentum, poise, etc. Those all belonged to the Red Wings. And it showed. They were the veteran group comfortable in the spotlight as they had been there so many times before.

Perhaps Detroit was too comfortable. The Wings came out knowing all too well they had to stem the tide in a rocking arena on the road. They weren't taking many chances, trying to make their way through. As a result, they were outworked and outplayed in the opening period. And they left it trailing by two.

They did have 11 shots on net in the first, but a lot was just firing from beyond the dots. The quality chances weren't there. The team was not interested in being caught in transition. They were relaxed. It looked like they weren't willing to take the risk for a shot at the rewards.

But the somewhat sleepy first period doesn't explain the night away. As much as they were dominated in the first period, they were as dominant in the second, getting one goal to show for their efforts.

"We pushed the issue the rest of the game, but their goalie was outstanding. I thought this series was a good series. It was entertaining, it was fast," coach Mike Babcock said after the game.

Babcock credited some line changes necessitated by the injuries to Todd Bertuzzi and later a friendly-fire hit on Dan Cleary as being the catalyst to get them back in. Yes, for a team that had erased a 3-0 deficit to get here, a 2-0 lead in a game didn't seem insurmountable. That doesn't mean those guys going down didn't hurt.

"We missed those guys, but it was an opportunity for other guys. I'm proud of our group, our group worked real hard," Babcock said.

On this night, though, it was the special-teams battle that didn't go Detroit's way. Not only did they give up a goal on the penalty kill, but they couldn't get much going on their own opportunities a man up. It seemed that everytime there was a faceoff in the offensive zone, it went the Sharks way. Then it was an adventure just to get the puck back into the zone for a great puck-controlling team.

The special-teams difference was one goal, and wouldn't you know that was the difference.

"Your disappointed tonight for sure, you're disappointed in your heart as you felt you were going to win tonight for sure."

Now you have to wonder if this is the last we've seen of this group of Red Wings. No, the window isn't completely closed. If we've learned anything in the last two decades it's that Detroit always does a goob job of restocking without becoming irrelevant. Take, for example, that this is the 20th straight season the Red Wings have been in the postseason, the same number of seasons the Sharks have been in existence.

"I'm pleased with the growth of our young players. Our high-end forwards. [Pavel] Datsyuk and [Henrik] Zetterberg were fantastic in this series and I think that's real important," Babcock said. "They showed great leadership quality, which is fantastic. We still feel we have a real young core and an opportunity to get better. As we continue to change our organization to try and be current, we need these guys to be great."

It's very possible Nicklas Lidstrom has played his last NHL game. But would anybody be surprised if he returns after watching the way this team never quit in this series? Regardless, the stalwarts from the last decade-plus are going to make way for the next generation of Wings soon.

Either way, we're talking about probably the classiest franchise in the game. There's a reason the Red Wings have become a playoff mainstay. It was on display all series long. It was a team that never quit, never panicked. They did Hockeytown proud.

-- Brian Stubits


Since: Jan 2, 2009
Posted on: May 13, 2011 10:42 am

Veteran Wings see season, possibly era end

The Sharks finished the season one point ahead of the Wings.  They won the series by one game.  The Sharks one the last game by the slimmest of margins.  But this old Red Wings fan knows that is what it takes to make the Sharks the better team in this go round.  A great series played by two of the finest teams.  A good rivalry without alot of cheap thug like plays and dirty hits.  Two talented teams playing their hearts out.  Congratulations are in order for the Sharks while I cry in my coffee.  Twenty straight years of being in the playoffs doesn't happen without a plan.  I plan on seeing the Wings in the playoffs next year.  Hats off to both teams for a very entertaining series.

Since: May 6, 2009
Posted on: May 13, 2011 9:51 am

Veteran Wings see season, possibly era end

Wow Yaveyork, I had the same thoughts, great post.
Rafalski got pushed around a lot, aside from his PP ability, he didn't seem to have it this postseason. Looking forward to seeing Smith, he's been raved about in many scouting reports. And I agree on Howard, we shouldn't need to have the goalie discussion for a couple years, he's the guy.

Since: Feb 27, 2007
Posted on: May 13, 2011 9:23 am

Veteran Wings see season, possibly era end

I don't know about an end to an era for the Red Wings, but I sure hope it is. 

Since: Dec 18, 2007
Posted on: May 13, 2011 9:05 am

Veteran Wings see season, possibly era end

I love articles that claim an "end" to the Wings era.  They pay a room full of people to come up with this trash every year.  Don't worry, you'll all still have jobs when the Wings are still a Stanley Cup contender next year.

Since: Sep 6, 2006
Posted on: May 13, 2011 8:19 am

Veteran Wings see season, possibly era end

   I have been a Wings fan since the mid seventies, and see a lot of lows, followed by twenty years of highs, this series was amazing, couldnt have been closer, hats off to San Jose, here are a few observations I took away from the series.
Rafalski and Hudler played poor, as did Ericsson and Abdelkader.
There is not a better player in the world than Pasha-period.
Franzens long term contract for a very one dimensional player may haunt us
Howard, even though the wings lost has proven that he can win in the playoffs
Lidstrom will be back next year, if he is the greatest fourty year old ever, why wouldnt he come back at 41.
Modano and Draper are done. Even though he never played, it is 50/50 with Osgood too
Kronwall and Stuart who both looked disinterested at times in the season are amazing in the playoffs.
I cannot remember anyonemissing as many chances as Cleary did in the playoffs this year
Filpulla would be a nice 2nd line center next year with Z on the wing, nice chemistry
Bertuzzi still has enough in the tank to bring back.
Its time to give some kids a regular shift to see if they sink or swim, Kindl, Brendan Smith, Mursak and Tatar
  Thats it, like twenty nine other teams, lets just say, WAIT TIL NEXT YEAR!!!

Since: Apr 16, 2008
Posted on: May 13, 2011 3:14 am

Veteran Wings see season, possibly era end

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough. I just want to say that by no means was I saying the Wings are done and won't be competitive next year, thought I stated clearly they would. It was simply in reference to some of the oldest veterans making an exit, the end of the era with the players that have been there for some time. Doesn't mean the next "era" won't be great, too. But the Lidstrom/Holmstrom era might now be gone.

Since: Jul 30, 2008
Posted on: May 13, 2011 2:39 am

Veteran Wings see season, possibly era end

Scotty Bowman, is that you?   Keep the what ifs dude.  The Sharks were the better team and won. 

Since: Jul 30, 2008
Posted on: May 13, 2011 2:38 am

Veteran Wings see season, possibly era end

I think the only end you will see is Draper and Modano retiring.  Not losing much with those two.  The "core" will still be in tact.  I would like to see them add some more depth at the defense position.  Rafalski looked uninterested this series.  Ericcson, I will not even get started on him.  I will just say he is not the greatest by any means.  Salei was pretty useless all year long. I think the Wings have finally found their goalie in Howard.  He was remarkable all series.  This will only drive him to be better next year.   Kinda scary!!! 

I feel there are 1 or 2 more runs left in the tank for this group.  Just hope Holland has some tricks up his sleeve this offseason.

Congrats to the Sharks.  The better team won the series.  Hard fought from Game 1 - 7.  One for the ages. 

Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: May 13, 2011 2:04 am

Veteran Wings see season, possibly era end

Congrat's to the Sharks, but I don't think this is the end of the Wings.  Yeah some changes are needed, but overall, great scouting, drafting and development, combined with what they already have in great players, coaching and management...  They'll be competitive.

Since: Jul 24, 2008
Posted on: May 13, 2011 1:47 am

Veteran Wings see season, possibly era end

Well, I am huge Wings fan and I can tell you exactly why the wings have lost to the sharks not only this year,but last year too! The reason is the poor play from Brian Rafalski...he made a stupid play on Marleau's goal and in an earlier overtime loss this series, pinched in and had plenty of time to get back to defend and still hung his defensive partner out to dry on a 2 on 1...last year he got caught as well and created the same result...I really admire his talents,but he did not have any jump or lead any nice rushes...I thought Kronwall deserved the pp time Rafalski played....Babcock is the best coach out there,but I wish he would have inserted Mike  Modano should have played instead of the ineffective Abdelkader (totalled a whopping 0 points all playoffs... Another major blow(in addition to losing heart and soul Dan Cleary) was Franzen not playing while Clowe was in the San Jose lineup...All in all , very proud of the guys- they were shorthanded personnel wise and Lidstrom will return if they re-tool a bit...I really think San Jose will run right over the Canucks in 5 games !!!

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