WINGS POSTGAME: GOODBYE REGULAR SEASON, HELLO PLAYOFFS

On a day that has become somewhat of a good luck charm for the Red Wings, the team headed into New York to face the Rangers for both teams’ final game of the regular season. The playoffs were still a question mark for the Wings as the game got underway. They were in need of either a regulation or overtime win or a Bruins loss to get in.

Well, the Wings didn’t win, but neither did the Bruins, so for the 25th consecutive season, the Detroit Red Wings are headed to the Stanley Cup Playoffs!

Before we get all giddy and excited about that, let’s break down this frustrating afternoon game that the Wings ended their season on.

The Rundown

The game got off to a good start for the Red Wings as Glendening and Andersson raced into the Rangers zone on a 2-on-1. Raanta made the first save on Glendening, but Andersson came streaking through the crease to bat in the rebound. The celebrating was cut short, though, as Alain Vignault called a coach’s challenge on the play. The goal was reversed. Andersson was offside.

(via reddit user /u/ChocolateAlmondFudge on /r/hockey)

As the game continued, both teams settled into a very risk-free style of play. There was a lot of start and stop due to icings, offsides, and forced faceoffs by the goaltenders. Neither team wanted to be the one to cough up that first goal.

At the 16:06 mark of the period though, the Red Wings went to the powerplay off a Rangers high stick. But the powerplay was cut short as Zetterberg was called for holding. While playing some 4-on-4 hockey, Nyquist coughed the puck up deep in the Rangers zone and it created an odd man rush going the other way. Dan Boyle made no mistake and buried a quick snapshot past Jimmy Howard.

The Red Wings came out even stronger in the second period, outshooting the Rangers 10 – 1 in the first seven minutes. It would pay off, too, on a Red Wings powerplay. Rick Nash was sitting for tripping when Datsyuk wired a puck on net from the point that went off Riley Sheahan’s body and into the net behind Raanta.

By the end of the second period, Detroit had outshot New York 16 to 7. They were hungry. 

The third period started off the same way, with Detroit driving possession and outshooting the Rangers 6 – 1 in the first seven minutes. Unfortunately for Detroit, not converting on all of their chances would come back to haunt them as Dylan McIlrath threw a puck on net from the point that went through all of the bodies and in behind Jimmy Howard.

After some back-and-forth pressure, Jimmy Howard was pulled from the net at an incredibly unfortunate time as the Rangers stole the puck in their own zone and broke out as soon as Howard stepped foot on the bench. Oscar Lindberg buried the easy empty-netter to make it 3-1 for the Rangers.

But the scoring didn’t end there. Playing 6-on-5 with less than two minutes left, Justin Abdelkader tipped in a shot from Brad Richards. 3-2. Then, the Rangers took two penalties and the Red Wings had a chance to tie it up 6-on-3. Frustratingly, the Wings fumbled the puck and couldn’t get any shots on.

The Rangers held on for the win.

The Stats

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Detroit drove possession for most of this game. They ran into a solid Antti Raanta who turned away all of their chances. Abdelkader led the team with a solid 70.59% 5v5CF%. Nick Kronwall and Alexei Marchenko followed it up with 68% and 67.74% respectively. This is the kind of offensive game Detroit needs to play going into the playoffs. With a little more puck luck and a few defensive adjustments, this game would have been filed as a win.

Motor City MVP

The Motor City MVP today goes to the Ottawa Senators for blowing the Boston Bruins out of the water 6-1 this afternoon. Had the Bruins won this game, they would have stolen the divisional playoff spot from Detroit and left their playoff fate to the hands of the Flyers’ next two games. But Ottawa dominated them and played the spoiler for the Bruins.

So on behalf of all of Wings Nation, thank you, Ottawa Senators.

What’s Next

The Tampa Bay Lightning. For the second year in a row, we’ll see a Detroit vs. Tampa first round series. Playoff hockey begins on Wednesday, April 13th. Check back on Monday for a full schedule, but early rumblings are suggesting Game 1 will be on Wednesday.