Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Optimism? Don't Lose It Just Yet

It's not impossible. Pucks do get past him

I haven't checked Twitter yet. Quite frankly, I'm scared to. I know that heading over there will just mean more exposure to the doom and gloom I'm already feeling, exacerbating the feeling of emptiness over the events that, like they have so frequently during this postseason, couldn't and wouldn't go the way any Wings fan imagined.

The plot points in this series have already been laid. There's no sense in backtracking, as that won't change the cruel reality of a 3-1 series deficit. That means the only place to turn is the future, where hope may be waning but hasn't been extinguished.

Detroit has put 138 shots on net this series, with only 8 of those 138 getting behind Pekka Rinne. The Wings have had over 40 shots in each of their home games thus far, and yet haven't won either. The uncomfortable truth is that the only game Detroit has won is the one that appeared to be their worst performance of the series, registering less than 20 shots on net in Game 2.

This series isn't and has never been about the best team. Frankly, the best team isn't winning. Nashville handily outplayed Detroit in Game 2 and didn't win. Detroit's outplayed Nashville in both games at home and has dropped both. This series hinges on luck.

Luck will be the factor that swings this series, the better team be damned. It's going to be about broken sticks and deflections, not positional play and shot quantity. And as frustrating as it can be for control freaks, or the hockey equivalent of control freaks in puck possession teams, it's something that can't be controlled.

This is the most beautiful part about the rest of the series, the dim light that has yet to be snuffed out. Luck can turn. Luck can switch sides. Right about now, it's Detroit's turn to get luck on their side. All series long Nashville has had the deflections, seeing-eye shots, and bounces go in their favor. There's nothing that says these breaks won't fall to Detroit over the next three games.

Losing to a team that we've had to learn to hate on the fly isn't the way for this series to end. This isn't the fate that this team deserves, a team that Mike Babcock admitted he thought might miss the postseason prior to the start of the year and then watched develop into a team that he said had the best chance at a Cup since the 2009 squad.

Perhaps most importantly, this isn't the way that one of the top three Red Wings in franchise history deserves to go out. Nick Lidstrom hasn't said he's retiring, but the possibility is there. If we're completely honest with ourselves, Game 4 was one of his worst in recent memory. I still think he's one of the top ten players in the NHL and will defend him past reasonable expectations (there's a strong likelihood the guy's still hurt, and one bad game is an abberation), but there's a very real chance that he may have played his last game at Joe Louis Arena. There isn't always next year. For some, the time has to be now.

Don't give up on this team. Don't quit. Think about what happens if Hudler doesn't hit the post tonight, or if the Mule's goal in Game 3 isn't 0.01 seconds too late. If these breaks start to go the other way, we've got a series. The road team has won 17 of 25 games this postseason. Two out three on the road isn't a death sentence. It's time to go to Nashville, keep putting buckets of shots on Rinne, and hope that the inches and seconds that make a difference start to align themselves in our favor.

Like it? Hate it? Let me know on Twitter @TOGBlog1 or by email at theoctopigarden@gmail.com

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