Detroit Red Wings: Kronwall Suspension Aside, Team Must Focus on Tyler Johnson

Isaac SmithAnalyst IApril 29, 2015

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 18: Tyler Johnson #9 of the Tampa Bay Lightning attempts to get past Niklas Kronwall #55 of the Detroit Red Wings in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 18, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
Mike Carlson/Getty Images

The Detroit Red Wings will now have an even more difficult time stopping Tyler Johnson and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The NHL announced Tuesday night that the Red Wings will not have the services of veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall for Game 7 in Tampa Bay.

Kronwall was suspended one game by the NHL Department of Player Safety for charging Nikita Kucherov in the second period of Game 6.

The video of the suspension and Twitter reactions are available below.

The negativity of the reaction on Twitter seems to stem from the fact that there was no apparent injury on the play, as well as the fact that other hits of similar magnitude went unpunished.

Regardless of the views of the Kronwall suspension from Red Wings fans and management, the focus of Game 7 still has to be stopping Tyler Johnson. The young Tampa Bay forward has torched Detroit in the games that he has scored in, putting up six goals and an assist.

The Red Wings have been solid in odd games in this series, never trailing the Lightning in the series overall. But they have not won more than one game at a time.

The Wings shut out the Lightning in Games 3 and 5, and they came six minutes away from doing so in Game 4 (which they ended up losing in overtime). But all that would be for naught if the Red Wings cannot move forward from the Kronwall suspension and find a way to take Game 7.

The Wings need to get back to simple, ugly hockey. Simply put, when Tyler Johnson has registered a point in this series, the Bolts have won. When Johnson has failed to register a point, Tampa Bay has lost (and has not scored in two of those three contests).

With Lightning captain Steven Stamkos off his game, it is up to the remaining Red Wings to take Johnson off his game and keep him away from the net all night. 

Head Coach Mike Babcock figured his team had more to show coming off a horrible Game 2 loss, and the Wings did not disappoint with a Game 3 shut out. Can Detroit pull it off again in Game 7?
Head Coach Mike Babcock figured his team had more to show coming off a horrible Game 2 loss, and the Wings did not disappoint with a Game 3 shut out. Can Detroit pull it off again in Game 7?Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Tampa Bay is already living on borrowed time after Johnson found a way to bring his team back in Game 4. He scored two points in the last six minutes of regulation and then got on the scoresheet on the overtime winner as well. 

It is now up to the Red Wings to once again stifle what was the league's highest-scoring offense in the regular season. They must replicate their performances from Games 3 and 5, and most importantly, they must keep Tyler Johnson from scoring.