Hey, Hey Hockeytown! After a disappointing first two games in Tampa Bay, the Red Wings returned home a determined team and it showed in Game 3. They made a few changes that many of us have been asking for for a while—reinserting Brendan Smith and putting Petr Mrazek between the pipes. The result? A dominating 2-0 shutout win that had Joe Louis Arena bumping like they were watching Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov and Nicklas Lidstrom.
It was a completely different looking team than in Games 1 and 2 and simply dominated the Lightning at both ends of the rink. You’ve probably heard this already but, “it isn’t a series until you lose at home” and if the Red Wings can take Game 4 as well and send things back to Tampa Bay tied 2-2, they’ll be a more confident road team and could exit the first round for the first time since 2012-13. Here’s a good look at how the Red Wings dominated puck possession on Sunday:
— Sean Tierney (@SeanTierneyTss) April 18, 2016
Sean Tierney points out that Niklas Kronwall led all players in 5v5 Corsi% while Henrik Zetterberg and Andreas Athanasiou directed eight and six shots towards goal, to lead the Red Wings. The one thing that sticks out from Game 3, is the Red Wings made the Lightnings’ “Triplets” line defend way more than they did in the first two games–eh, the best defence is a good offence right? Enough about Game 3 though, let’s take a look at Game 4.
THE RED WINGS
Before Game 3, I wrote that the Red Wings needed more from Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk if they’re going to win this series. Datsyuk possessed the puck quite a bit, but is still without a point in three games. Zetterberg had a great effort and was rewarded with a goal. One player the fans have asked to see more of is Athanasiou and he should get more ice-time in Game 4, because he was arguably the best player on the ice in Game 3–however, he still only played 9:05 TOI. I mean just look at what he did to Jason Garrison.
— AOL KEYWORD:Playoffs (@mikeFAIL) April 18, 2016
You can add Smith and Gustav Nyquist to the list of players who were great in Game 3 and need to be great to give the Red Wings a chance to win this series. Nyquist was noticeably better on a line with Zetterberg, despite failing to record a shot on goal and Smith’s physical presence was felt immediately:
— Stefan Kubus (@StefanKubus) April 17, 2016
Despite all of those performances, the Red Wings need the newly formed “shutdown line” of Justin Abdelkader–Luke Glendening–Riley Sheahan will continue to be the key to success. It looks like if you stop “The Triplets,” you’re going to win this series. The Lightning’s secondary scoring has been virtually non-existent so far and the Red Wings will want to keep it that way. Don’t expect any lineup changes for Game 4, unless somebody is dinged up.
Just because they were shutout on Sunday, don’t expect major changes for the Lightning. Erik Condra stepped in for the injury J.T Brown, but if they’re looking for a little more offence, don’t be surprised if Jonathan Marchessault is put into the lineup—he had seven goals and 11 assists (18 points) in 45 games this season. Without Steven Stamkos they are not nearly as deep as they usually are, which is why so much of the burden to score falls on the top line. They did so with a tonne of success in the first two games, but were stifled in Game 3. Johnson remains tied for second in playoff scoring with six points (2G / 4A) and Nikita Kucherov’s three goals is also good for second in the postseason.
On the blueline, you saw in Sean’s chart that Nikita Nesterov was beat up pretty bad in Game 3, but without Anton Stralman, the Lightning don’t really have the ability to make any changes on the back-end. Although, Garrison did not look 100 percent in the second half of Sunday’s game, so we’ll see what his availability is.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
It will be another battle between Petr Mrazek and Ben Bishop. Mrazek came in and stopped all 16 shots that he faced for his third career postseason shutout. He is now 4-4 with a 1.83 GAA, .931 SV% and those three shutouts in eight career playoff starts against the Lightning. He wasn’t busy on Sunday, but he was great when called upon. It will definitely boost his confidence, which was lacking down the stretch and all of that time off he had, should have him fresh and ready to roll like he did in the 2015 playoffs and earlier this season.
Bishop was solid again, stopping 28 of 30 shots in the loss and now holds a 2.01 GAA and .936 SV% in the first three games of this series. Bishop has bent bot not broken so far, allowing two goals in each game, which is great when you get offensive support like in games 1 and 2.
NHL 16 SIMULATION
I should just stop doing this. NHL 16 is 1-2 in predicting the winner so far and was way off in Game 3. Let’s hope that is the case again tonight.
I don’t know what it is with this game and early goals, but the Lightning jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Namestnikov goal just :53 seconds into the simulation. Tampa Bay later added goals from Condra and Johnson to give them a commanding 3-0 lead heading into the room.
Nyquist picked up where he left off in Game 3 and brought the game within two when he scored his first of the series to make it 3-1. However, The Joe was silenced less than five minutes later when Namestnikov made it 4-1, ending Mrazek’s night.
I made a run to Tim Hortons during the third, only to return and see that Chicken Dancing Brian Boyle scored halfway through the period and the Red Wings had fallen 5-1. I’m pretty sure the Lightning are way overrated in this game…they score at least four goals every game and ruining my simulation fun. Again, let’s hope NHL 16 is way off.
Final: Lightning (5) – Red Wings (1)
⭐️ V. Namestnikov (TBL) – 2G / 0A
⭐️⭐️ Tyler Johnson (TBL) – 1G / 1A
⭐️⭐️⭐️ Nikita Kucherov (TBL) – 0G / 2A
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m ET at Joe Louis Arena. You can watch it on Fox Sports Detroit, CBC or NBCSN and if you aren’t near a television, you can catch it on the Radio with WXYT-FM 97.1 The Ticket.
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