DETROIT You can spin it any way you want and maybe a tenth of a second would have made the difference.
But, until the Red Wings start on time, stay out of the penalty box and receive a goal or two from Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler, time may not really matter.
A slow start, an early power play goal, and a lack of production from two of Detroits top goal scorers resulted in a 3-2 Red Wings defeat to the Nashville Predators, Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
It was Nashvilles first playoff win ever in Detroit and has propelled the Predators to a 2-1 advantage in their best of seven playoff series.
With game four slated for Tuesday night, the Wings need to find a way to quickly tweak their game or the Predators could return to the Music City with a stranglehold in this series.
Weve got to be more disciplined, because theyre calling this stuff. Weve got to stay out of the box, said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. We did a lot of good things, their goaltender was good. We just have to come back and get after them at the start of the game to the end of the game, like we did today in the latter half.
Starting on time has been Babcocks mantra all season long. A typical Wings effort is a sleepy first period, a jump start second period, followed by an all-out barrage in the third period.
It may win you games during the regular season, but during the playoffs you have to be dialed in from the start or youll allow your opponent a distinct advantage.
Without question the Wings need to come out of the gate strong, they need to play more controlled and they must play better in their own end. However, if they continue to struggle to scores goals, their run to the cup is in serious jeopardy.
Before, you get all crazy on me about the Wings lack of scoring, let me clarify. I know Detroit outshot the Predators 43-22. I know that the Wings missed numerous opportunities because of bad puck luck and I know Johan Franzens apparent game tying goal at the end of the second period was a tenth of a second too late.
Maybe the Wings deserved better, but you create your own chances in this game and you must seize the moment at this time of year.
Thats why its imperative to Detroit success that Filppula and Hudler begin to light the lamp. Out of Detroits 43 shots on net in Sundays game, Filppula and Hudler had a combined total of 3 one by Hudler and two by Filppula.
Thats not enough shots from a duo that scored 48 goals between them (Hudler, 25, Filppula, 23) during the regular season. Only Franzen scored more regular season tallies, with 29.
For the series, Filppula has an assist, 6 total shots and is a minus-2. Hudler hasnt registered a point, has 4 shots on goal and is also a minus-2.
By comparison, Henrik Zetterberg fired nine shots on Pekka Rinne in just Sundays game.
I realize that Zetterberg receives more ice time and that the quality of shots is far more important than the quantity, but Filppula and Hudler have been missing in action.
They need to be more engaged and drive harder to the net. What makes their lack of production alarming is that each of them has made significant contributions during previous playoff runs.
Heading into this playoff campaign, Hudler had accumulated 31 points, including 10 goals in 63 career playoff games. Filppula totals are 50 points, including 17 goals in 88 playoff contests.
With season ending injuries to Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves, Detroits secondary scoring is at a premium and when you think about it, Filppula and Hudler should not be secondary scorers on this team.
Babcock and the rest of Detroits brass may not publically admit it, but they must be extremely miffed and concerned that two of their key goals scorers have become ice cold.
Theres still time for Hudler and Filppula to dent the score sheet, but if they remain passengers on this playoff ride, theyll lead their team on the road to nowhere.