2008 NHL Playoffs: Nashville Cuts Detroit's Lead By One

The Captain -Brian KatesSenior Analyst IApril 15, 2008

"Oh, how the mighty have fallen." No, wait, "Flash in the Pan, Wings". Or, how about, "The 'Dead' Wings are alive and well". I can hear all the critics and naysayers and fair-weather fans around the country talking now. I have one thing to say to all of them, "It's ONE game!"

Ask yourself this. In 1997, how many playoff games did the Detroit Red Wings lose? I'll tell you. Four total games during the playoffs and the finals. You think that's bad? What about in 1998? Six games. And in 2002? Oh my, they lost seven games.

Instead why don't you ask yourself, "Does Detroit have what it takes to come back?" My answer is yes, of course they do. They have been in worse positions than this and have shaken it off and gone on to win it all.

This is not going to be a recap of the game per se, except to say that the Wings, again, jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Two quick goals later, Nashville tied it at two. Detroit went ahead 3-2 in the third period and then Nashville ran away with it and won 5-3. There's your recap, eh?

This is more of an analysis of what happened and why Detroit lost. Maybe then you will not be so critical of NHL's best hockey team in the 2007-8 season. Even the New York Yankees lost games when they were in their heyday with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and Lefty Gomez.

Let's take a look at what happened:

The 2-0 Lead

The most dangerous lead in hockey is a 2-0 lead. When your team is ahead 2-0, and it doesn't matter what team you play for, everyone on the team falls into a false sense of security. They become comfortable with that lead and the longer it lasts, the more comfortable they become. Why?

Your goaltender is working on a shut-out and your team has an insurance goal. If the other team scores, so what, you still are winning 2-1. So what's the difference between a 2-0 lead and a 3-1 or 4-2 lead? Here's the difference.

Your goalie is working on a shut-out with a 2-0 lead. And...? That makes a HUGE difference. Goaltenders, surprisingly, are sometimes better when they are scored on than when they are working on a shut-out. Some are more relaxed, some more alert.

When a goalie has a shut-out going, the longer it goes, the more nervous they become. It's kind of like a pitcher that has a no-hitter going, as the game wears on, they become more pensive. So why not just let the other team score and get down to business? C'mon, it's their job to keep the puck out of the net.

The Time Out That Should Have Been Called

Again, Detroit jumps out to a 2-0 lead and gets comfortable with it. Then, Nashville scores two goals tying the game. Head Coach, Mike Babcock, doesn't call a time out and it was probably because there was less than five minutes left in the period. Why waste a time out when you're about to go into the locker room.

There, in the 20-minute intermission, he can settle his team, get them focused again and let them take it in the third period. And that's what looked like what was going to happen

Pavel Datsyuk scored 40-seconds into the third period giving Detroit a 3-2 lead. But that didn't shake the Predators. With less than four minutes to play, they scored, tying the game and then seconds later, scored again giving them the lead for the first time in these playoff games.

Time out, time out, time out! That's what Babcock should have done. Called time, regrouped his troops and send them back into play but he didn't. He waited until there was about one minute left, called time, sent them back and by that time, it was too late.

Martin Erat got a hold of the puck and scored on Detroit's empty net. End of game. Sorry, the time out should have been called much sooner to allow Babcock's players to regain their focus and composure.

And the reason why Nashville wasn't shaken after the quick goal in the third period? One simple answer. They are the underdogs. If they manage to beat the Red Wings look at what they have accomplished and if they lose, well, and this is not a slam by any means, everyone will say that they didn't expect them to beat Detroit.

The Bottom Line

This is not the end for Detroit. The way I figure it, they win the next game in Nashville. Then head back to Detroit, up three games to one, and beat them in Hockeytown on their own ice in front of the home town crowd. Kind of a fitting end to this first round. Maybe Mr. Babcock will listen to me next time like he did in Game 2 and call a time out when I tell him to. I think the wind must have been blowing in the wrong direction for him to hear me.