Holy cow the real start for this game was closer to 3:30. That was the thirty extra minutes I had to lament that this game was broadcast on NBC and not Bally Sports Detroit. The coverage wasn’t too bad, all-in-all, but after a long couple of weeks I just wanted to be soothed by a nice “Holy Jumpin’!” for the last home game of the season.
So uhh, Detroit basically started the game with a 1-0 deficit as a defensive zone turnover via Hronek resulted in a Blake Coleman goal to put Tampa up 1-0.
To Detroit’s credit, they didn’t completely roll over, which is basically what I keep expecting to happen with this roster. What’s so bizarre is that with the lines that Detroit is rolling for this game, my concern isn’t with our defensemen for the first time in probably a thousand days or more.
Tampa still went out and hammered play overall, though. Detroit got a scoring opportunity early, but the ice was tilted heavily toward Detroit’s net. Tampa racked up ten shots on goal within the first half of the period. It’s like they were upset about last night’s game and are far, far more talented than Detroit or something.
Throughout the period, Bernier was hands down, far-and-away Detroit’s best player. The netminder was on point throughout the first, turning aside opportunity after opportunity from Tampa. In particular, he was great at recognizing the late man on Tampa’s breakaways. Even one of the refs felt for him; he gave Bernier a firm pat on the arm just as the game was cutting to a commercial break.
The refs must have just wanted to keep the game moving, because Detroit should have finished the game on the power play thanks to a trip, but there was no call. At a different point in the season I might be more upset about this than I am now, but currently I’m like, “let’s keep this train rolling!”
Score: 1-0 Lightning
Shots: 19-6 Lightning
Stand Ups: Bernier
Sit Downs: Hronek
So there’s a pattern here. Sergachev scored 70 seconds into the period for Tampa off a nice cycle to make it 2-0. Also, he scored for the first time in 20-some games, which the NBC crew had been talking about going back to the first period, so you knew this goal was coming.
Finally, a penalty! Luke Schenn got called for being a goon to Rasmussen, but Tampa’s PK made Detroit look silly.
On the subject of Rasmussen, though, I’ve been pretty pleased overall with his play lately. He’s clearly outmatched, but he’s not getting embarrassed, and I think we can count that as a win at this point for the development of the young center. The fact that he’s in this position at all speaks volumes to what the organization thinks of him.
Veleno went to the box for hooking, but I don’t know if Tampa’s power play will really feel all that different from their 5-on-5 play. But in actuality, the PK performed well, keeping Tampa off the board and sheltering Bernier from any awful scoring opportunities.
Then, just as I was thinking about how awful ugly this game is, Bernier made an incredible save, which sparked a 3-on-2. Zadina passed back and forth with Namestnikov, then Zadina snapped the wrister to cut the lead in half!
Glendening nearly made it a tie game on the next shift thanks to a sweet pass from Vrana, but the puck wouldn’t settle and Glendening just couldn’t get a clean shot. What a crazy turn of events for a snoozer of a game.
And the life continued for Detroit with Veleno getting two shots in the slot but getting shut down on both. Detroit couldn’t get the game-tying goal before the period closed out, though, so Detroit would need to find a way get two and not allow any in the final frame.
Score: 2-1 Lightning
Shots: 36-14 Lightning
Stand Ups: Zadina, Bernier
Sit Downs: Filppula
This time the period didn’t start with a Tampa goal, probably because they spent the first three minutes icing the puck over and over. Detroit actually got the first good chance of the period on a giveaway in front of Christopher Gibson, but the angle just wasn’t there for the team in red to capitalize on the opportunity.
The Red Wings’ forecheck actually did a good job making the game pretty boring early in the period. It didn’t result in anything pretty for Detroit, but you could sort of say Detroit was carrying play.
Tampa wrangled control back, though, on a delayed penalty against Cholowski for holding and Tampa held control at the 6-on-5 for over a minute before the Wings were able to tag the puck for long enough that Cholowski could actually end up in the box. Detroit killed off the penalty, though, in what was probably their strongest kill of the afternoon.
Theeeeen Tampa had a hilarious march to the penalty box thanks to two interferences and a faceoff violation. Even before the second interference and the faceoff violation, the powerplay looked pretty good; they were stretching Tampa’s box play and contorting them, but just couldn’t seal the deal.
But Detroit looked a heck of a lot better at 5-on-4 than 5-on-3. Tampa just made them look silly, and you have a hard time believing Detroit can win this game if they can’t convert on 2:03 on 5-on-3 play. Filppula had the best opportunity, but he couldn’t calm the puck down on Gibson’s left side.
With Bernier pulled, Gagner shot from a sharp angle to create a rebound opportunity, and create a rebound it did, but Zadina couldn’t get to the crease quick enough to smash home that rebound, and that’s the way it would end.
Score: 2-1 Lightning
Shots: 42-23 Lightning
Stand Ups: Zadina, Bernier
Sit Downs: The 5-on-3 Power Play
Overall that game got a heck of a lot better in the final 25 minutes. The first period and change was pretty brutal to watch. Bernier had one of his best performances of the year, and Zadina was the team’s best skater. Cholowski and Lindstrom didn’t look out of place and I felt like I was watching Veleno actively learn on the ice today. Ras hung tough in a difficult job, and overall there is a lot to feel good about as far as player growth goes. That 5-on-3 late in the third was brutal to watch, but if the Wings had won this one it would have been an absolute steal, so I’m not going to lose any sleep over this one. If this was the way Detroit had to lose their final home game of the season, well, that’s not so bad.