With one dead-eye shot, with one well-placed snapper, the Red Wings’ slippery superstar would have jammed a sweat sock into the mouths of all those asking, “What’s wrong with Pavel Datsyuk?”
It was in the waning seconds—less than three of them remained—of the third period, and the Ducks inexplicably coughed the puck up.
Marian Hossa found himself with it and nudged a pass over to Datsyuk, planted between the circles, perhaps 15, 20 feet from the net.
A game-tying goal, right there, in that situation, for that guy, might have been the linchpin to not only win the game and the series, but maybe the whole darn Stanley Cup.
Who knows what kind of a point-scoring tear by Datsyuk would have been unleashed had he found the twine with just a couple ticks of the clock left, sending Game Six into overtime?
Instead, we’ll read more about Pavel, and the words associated with his name will be like this.
Can’t get off the schneide.
Where is he?
No puck luck.
Actually, you could use those words to describe the Red Wings and their ultimately futile effort last night, squaring their series with the still-quacking Ducks at three games apiece.
But the Red Wings were snakebitten, couldn’t get off the schneide, nonexistent, and had no puck luck because they didn’t play well enough to right all those wrongs.
This was not your typical Red Wings game in a closeout situation.
You kept waiting for them to flick that switch and grab control, quieting an already nervous crowd and goading the volatile Ducks into bad penalties that would simply lead to more damage on the scoreboard.
Anyone who’s followed the Red Wings over the past 11 years, since the 1997 Stanley Cup, knows that when the team sniffs the end of a series, especially on the road, it’s pretty much olly olly oxen free.
The end usually comes for the underdog home team definitively. By the final buzzer, the Red Wings are surrounding their goalie in triumph, while the game but outclassed opponents are wheezing from having their playoff hockey life choked out of them.
Not last night. Not even close.
The Ducks didn’t do much offensively themselves, but turns out they didn’t need to, for the Red Wings played just enough below their capabilities to shoot themselves in the skates.
It was as if coach Mike Babcock rousted them from their beds in the middle of a dead sleep and ordered them to suit up and hit the ice in 30 minutes.
Still, it was a “one-shot game," as they say, after Johan Franzen the Playoff Scoring Mule netted another, his 21st in his last 26 playoff games, with a couple minutes and some change left.
The crowd at the Honda Center got nervous again.
But the Red Wings, even with the goalie pulled and six skaters, still didn’t really get enough of those “oh my goodness”-type scoring chances in the closing 90 seconds.
Except the one at the very end, off the turnover. The one that, had Datsyuk buried it, might have been the one we’d be talking about all summer as the Stanley Cup got passed from one Red Wing to another in their respective hometowns.
“Remember when Datsyuk ended that scoring slump with that uber-clutch goal in Anaheim in Game Six? The one that led to the series clincher in OT?”
Which would be followed by how the Red Wings used that goal, as they’ve used so many other big goals in the past, to storm their way past the Blackhawks and through whatever paper champion the Eastern Conference has to offer.
That’s OK; it says here that the Red Wings win Game Seven, and it may even be bordering on the laugher variety.
There’s no way, no how, that the Ducks go into Detroit on Thursday and come out with a Game Seven win. No way.
You’re going to beat this veteran, battle-tested Stanley Cup champion in its own building in a Game Seven?
The Red Wings have done this to themselves, though. That they have to suit up for a seventh game instead of plan on how to beat the Blackhawks in the conference finals is all their own doing.
The Red Wings, shockingly, didn’t totally show up for Game Six. Quite out of character.
So now we have to hear more about Datsyuk, and where is he, anyway?
The Wings took a 3-2 series lead sans No. 2 defenseman and lovely Nick Lidstrom assistant Brian Rafalski.
Can they win it with Datsyuk tied behind their backs?