Found May 28, 2013 on The Detroit Sports Site:
Detroit-red-wings-new-york
The Detroit Red Wings blew their only real opportunity to eliminate the Chicago Blackhawks with a bad third period on Monday. Thanks to that performance, they’ll now head to the United Center for their once unlikely funeral. Choruses of “Detroit sucks” and catcalls of Jimmy Howard’s last name following goals await them. It won’t be the worst collapse in Red Wings’ playoff history, but it will certainly be the most painful recently, given last week at this very time, it seemed like Detroit was on their way to the conference finals. Now, the only formality will be how fast the Red Wings are eliminated Wednesday. After messing themselves early in the third period Monday, Detroit didn’t look ready to compete, much less win a game they had to. The first three minutes of the period, Brendan Smith failed to get his head out of the dressing room. There was confusion and no intensity. The Red Wings suddenly looked like the entitled team, coasting without a care. While a questionable penalty shot call provided the winning goal, Smith’s gaffes in front of the net should be remembered as the plays decisive towards defeat. It’s been a maddening, reoccurring trend for Smith, often times the single worst player the Red Wings have on the ice defensively. Out of position more times than not, Smith has looked lost in his own zone, especially as it relates to picking up his man and covering the front of the net. Chicago will likely win the series thanks to Smith’s consecutive brain farts, where he was far too passive in the defensive zone and lost one on one battles in front of the net to more determined, aware Blackhawk players. You’ll want me to be optimistic the Red Wings have the fortitude to get the job done because they survived game seven against the Anaheim Ducks on the road. In this series, that is ancient history. Following a game six victory back then, the Red Wings had momentum. This time around, the shoe is on the other foot and momentum is a runaway train. Chicago has snatched back the series by gritting out two games they had to, particularly this game six in epic fashion. Going back home, they have no reason to be anything other than fully confident, especially after Saturday night’s drubbing which exposed Detroit. These Red Wings are too young and mentally fragile in key spots to finish the job against a more complete team like the Blackhawks. As it is said about championship caliber teams, you must knock them out when you’ve got the chance. If not, they’ll find their footing and quickly make you regret it. Detroit’s about to regret having enough hubris to kick away game five as if game six’s result at home was a mere formality. In order to win and truly shock the hockey world, the Red Wings will need Chicago to play as confused and disorganized as they did in games two through four. In the meantime, just to keep things close, Detroit will have to work much harder than they did in the third period on Monday and hope those attending the game simultaneously manage to lose their voices early on. The chances of all that happening at once? Last Sunday afternoon, it may have seemed plausible. Now, they’re about as realistic as the Red Wings actually advancing on to the third round. One Game Seven Stat To Watch: Turnovers. They’ve plagued the Red Wings all season long, and were Detroit’s undoing again in their latest losses to Chicago. In order to survive the expected onslaught by the Blackhawks, the Red Wings must find a way to play responsible defense. That means few blown assignments and responsible outlet passes out of the zone. If they’re coughing the puck up as much as they have been lately, game seven will get ugly for the Detroiters. Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax
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