NHL Playoffs: Red Wings Brad Stuart, Justin Abdelkader Can Spark Rally

Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IIMay 4, 2010

SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 29:  Torrey Mitchell #17 of the San Jose Sharks gets hit by Brad Stuart #23 of the Detroit Red Wings in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on April 29, 2010 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Detroit Red Wings fans have had time to digest their team's second consecutive 4-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Amidst the gripes of "The Wings were robbed" and "the officiating was horrible," are undertones of "we're in trouble."

And rightfully so.

Forget the 5-on-3s that led to both of the Sharks' wins. Forget about the questionable calls. Those are out of superfans' control.

Although, many of you wish your cries at your television sets would miraculously be heard thousands of miles away in Northern California, specifically San Jose; they won't.

The facts are that the Wings looked tired, outworked and unprepared. That's why they dropped two games in a row.

But all hope is not lost.

A 2-0 deficit isn't just cause to write the Hockeytowners off just yet. With the series coming back to the friendly confines of the Joe (Louis Arena) in Detroit, there are glimmers of hope for the red-and-white faithful.

Ahh, yes, it is going to be a whole new scenario. Mike Babcock's club has been forced into the corner before—and emerged victorious. So just sit back, relax and watch the Wings play their brand of hockey.

It's been called "home cooking" by some. Just look at it like this: Detroit may get the generous calls at home that the Sharks enjoyed, capitalized on and looked for.

That's what home ice advantage can do for a team in the post season. Not a shocker there.

The real issue has been the Wings' "D."

Where has it been?

Babcock's blue-liners are M.I.A., with their faces plastered on milk cartons scattered throughout the greater Detroit metroplex.

Brad Stuart's offense has been present, but his defense has taken a back seat to his desire to put the pucks in the net. He was said to be like an "extra goalie out there" by Wings net minder Jimmy Howard in a recent MLive.com article, but he has yet to prove it against the Sharks.

Stuart said that he's "not really relied on for offense on this team" in the same Wings beat-writer Ansar Khan post.

And he's right. But the Wings do need the physical element that he brings to the table, err, ice—every night.

Stuart can be the Wings' x-factor, much like Joe Pavelski has been for the Sharks.

And don't count out former Michigan State Spartan, 2007 NCAA Division I champion and 2008 Stanley Cup recipient Justin Abdelkader.

The Grand Rapids, Mich. product has one thing on his mind during his shifts: disrupt the opposition's game flow. He's done a great job doing so. He can find the back of the net, and crack skulls simultaneously.

Abdelkader and Stuart's crowd pleasing, grind-style of play can swing the best-of-seven competition back in Detroit's favor.

Coming back home has the potential to give new life to Babcock's down trodden group. Let's see if it works.