Detroit Red Wings Eliminated in Game Five

Thomas KnappContributor IMay 9, 2010

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 08:  Todd Bertuzzi #44 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates after Brian Rafalski scored in the second period past Evgeni Nabokov #20 of the San Jose Sharks in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 8, 2010 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

It's hard to say that the Wings didn't look like they wanted to win this game.  The Sharks didn't exactly look like they had rockets on their skates either. 

Both teams played a really sluggish game trying to minimize mistakes.

The Wings didn't play stupid.

They didn't take a ton of penalties.

They didn't make too many bad turnovers.

They weren't even dominated in the face-off circle.

No, this was simply one of those games where the opponent did just a little bit more to squeak out a win.

Oddly enough, in a game where the defense at least minimized their errors (although Stuart's elbowing penalty was pretty bad), it was the offense that came up lame.

The Wings stars looked like they were skating through molasses.  In the first period, they had all of six shots on goal.  Their only goal was off the stick of a Sharks player.  Down a goal, with their season on the line, there was no spark, no life.

The best of the winged wheel looked like they were out of gas.

Perhaps it was a result of a playoff mentality that started a month before the playoffs started.

Maybe it was the result of a hard fought seven game series just a couple weeks before, and the prospect of another too daunting.

Perchance it was the cumulative result of seven years of relatively deep playoff runs, playing the most games in that stretch of any team in the league.

Whatever the reason, the Wings season is over.

In retrospect, this actually wasn't a bad season.  With the way that it started, with the struggles through injuries and playing what felt like the Grand Rapids Griffins trying to survive in the NHL.

Breaking in a rookie goaltender after Osgood came out poorly on top of that would have been a recipe for disaster in roughly 26 other teams in the league.

To make the playoffs at all after a perfect storm that would make George Clooney scream was a significant accomplishment in and of itself.  To make a little bit of noise in those playoffs even more so.

On this night, I respectfully ask the Wings fandom to not scream about the officiating.  To not cry about the missed chances.  Do not fret about what could have been.

Acknowledge the accomplishment the team has made.  Applaud the effort just to make it this far.  Congratulate the San Jose Sharks and get ready for next season.

So what about next season?

First and foremost, the team needs to revitalize a defense that was sub-par, to put it gently.  To put it more aptly would require words that are not fit to utter in a public venue.  They were the Achilles Heel of this team from the start of the season to the end.

Whether it means that they make some personnel changes or rededicate themselves mentally, something has to change.  They cannot hope to make another deep playoff run with the team defense performing as is.

Secondly, I think it is finally time to part with the old guard of the last decade.  It's time to wave goodbye to Drapes and Maltby once and for all, for example. 

It's nothing against them—and I honestly mean no disrespect—but I can't help but think this team would have been more ready for these playoffs (and seasons to come) giving Abdelkader and Miller and the other gritty young men that have been waiting rather patiently more time to shine.

The same goes for Chris Osgood.  This is Howard's team now, and to have Osgood on it can only become a distraction in the long run.  Everyone heard the whispers after every playoff struggle.  It will only get worse.

I understand the argument that it is never a bad thing to have a proven goaltender in reserve; but I think in this case that the negatives outweigh the positives.

But what do I know?  I'm not even an armchair GM.  I'm a freelance writer who has enough marginal experience to not sound completely incompetent.

So, on this evening, I open the floor to the rank and file.  Let's hear your ideas.

We've got some extra time on our hands this summer that we're not used to, after all.

Let's try and make the best of it.


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