NHL Playoffs: Can Red Wings Turn Game 6 Meltdown Into Game 7 Motivation?
On Saturday, the NHL saw two of its best teams overcome incredible odds en route to improbable victories.
Down 3-0 midway through the game, the defending Stanley Cup champions clawed their way back to even the score at three before winning the game in overtime, thus closing out the series and moving on to the second round.
Hawks forward Marian Hossa was hit with a five-minute major for boarding, putting his team down a man for the remainder of the contest.
With the Predators just 15 seconds away from grabbing a 3-2 series lead, Chicago forward Patrick Kane punched in a short-handed goal that sent the game into overtime and the United Center into pandemonium.
Just four minutes into the extra session, Marian Hossa completed the unimaginable comeback by scoring the OT winner.
Two games, two improbable comebacks.
Halfway through Sunday's game at Joe Louis Arena, Red Wings fans were no doubt hoping their team would complete a trifecta of comeback wins in the NHL this weekend as they saw the home team down 4-1 to the Phoenix Coyotes.
However, this was not to be.
The Red Wings failed to cash in on a chance to send the Coyotes back to the desert to clear out their lockers.
Now, rather than looking ahead to their next opponent, they find themselves traipsing back to Arizona for Game 7.
In hindsight, Game 6 was over about five minutes into the game.
Phoenix took three-straight penalties in those first five minutes, the last two overlapping by over a minute to give the Wings their first 5-on-3 of the series and a golden opportunity to put the Coyotes down a goal or two early.
However, rather than crashing the net and pummeling Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov with shots, the Red Wings elected to put on a passing clinic, which looked impressive, but was ultimately innocuous.
In fact, the Wings did see a goal on their power-play, however, it was one delivered to the back of their net by Phoenix forward Lauri Korpikoski (yeah, who?).
The disorganized mess that followed from the Red Wings the rest of the first period all but convinced this observer that there was no way this series was ending in Detroit.
As disappointing a display as this was from Detroit, they can take solace in the fact that they really shot themselves in the foot on Sunday.
Not to take anything away from the Coyotes, but Game 6 wasn't so much won by Phoenix as it was lost by Detroit.
Bad passes, tentative offensive plays, and leaky goaltending are gifts any opponent will almost certainly use to bury you should you be foolish enough to give them in the first place.
Many predicted this series would go the distance. However, not many would have thought a Game 7 showdown would be handed to the Coyotes on a platter.
As the Coyotes will now take full advantage of the home ice their fourth seed afforded them and will likely have their injured captain, Shane Doan, back in the lineup, the Red Wings have forced themselves into a very dangerous situation.
But, with the veteran leadership Detroit boasts in spades, it may very well be that this team will use their Game 6 flop as ample motivation to will a win in Phoenix on Tuesday night.
We've already seen poor performances by this team in this series (Game 3) followed up by an utter dominating outing the very next game.
Recent history suggests the Wings have what it takes to shake this loss off and dominate in Game 7.
Then again, if you follow their timeline back a bit further, you'll see that the last playoff series Detroit played put them in a similar position and did not yield good results.
The Wings had the Stanley Cup in the building last year in Game 6 against Pittsburgh with they, the only team, who could possibly win it.
They didn't, and instead went home to Detroit with the opportunity to win their second-straight Cup in front of their home crowd.
One has to wonder if that scenario isn't dancing around in the Wings' heads as they head to Arizona for the deciding game of this series.
Will they be able to accept squandering two straight playoff series; one at the cost of the Stanley Cup, the other a shot at moving forward and perhaps playing for another one?
For Red Wings fans, our hearts say "no."
After all, they didn't come as far as they did this season to go out in the first round, did they?
This will remain to be seen, however, if the Red Wings believe they can turn a big negative into an equally large positive, we might all be in luck.
For the negatives don't come much bigger than they did Sunday afternoon at The Joe.
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