Is the 2016 Detroit Red Wings’ season going to end the same way it has ended in three out of the last four years, with a first-round exit? After being unable to seal the deal in Game 4, Detroit heads to Tampa Bay needing a win to keep their season alive.
Detroit had a dominant win in Game 3, but followed it up with a dud on Tuesday. They were rocked for the first 30 minutes of the game, before deciding to turn it on and nearly stealing Game 4 on the back of a strong performance from Petr Mrazek. This series isn’t over, but Detroit needs to win three in a row, which is going to be no easy task. A win tonight would make the series 3-2 and if you remember last year, Detroit had a 3-2 series lead over the Lightning, before dropping games six and seven.
The Red Wings have scored exactly two goals per game in the first four games of the series and clearly need to find more offence if they’re going to climb back into this series. The main reason for the lack of scoring is an abysmal power-play. The Red Wings have battled power-play issues all year, but it has been absolutely invisible through the first four games of the series—going 1-for-21 for a playoff worst 4.8 percent. The penalty kill had been a positive, until Game 4 when they allowed the Lightning to score three easy goals with the man-advantage—15-for-19 or 78.9 percent in the series (9th in playoffs). They allowed too many easy passes to get through the middle of the ice and all of them resulted in pucks getting by Mrazek. Let’s break Game 5 down.
THE RED WINGS
The lineup is expected to look the same as it did in the Game 4 loss, much to the chagrin of Red Wings fans, who were clamouring for Anthony Mantha to be recalled to help the power-play. Another change everyone will be hoping for but won’t get is to see Jonathan Ericsson be scratched. It looked nearly impossible for him to clear the puck from the defensive zone on Tuesday and took a bad cross-checking penalty with four minutes left, which led to the game-winning goal. He’ll be in the lineup though.
Another hot-topic is Andreas Atahanasiou’s ice-time. He played a series-high 12:15 TOI in Game 4, but many would like to see him play upwards of 15 minutes alongside Pavel Datsyuk, but that likely won’t happen either. Datsyuk, who could be playing his final game in a Red Wings’ uniform tonight is still searching for his first point of the playoffs—he is the only Wings’ forward without a point. Pavel and the power-play need to get going, or this one is over.
There’s no word whether or not the Lightning will roll with the same lineup as Game 4, but they might. They dressed seven defensemen on Tuesday, but that was likely because Jason Garrison was a bit banged up. Matt Taormina dressed as a pre-caution in case Garrison had to leave the game, but only played 2:39 TOI. As long as Garrison is good to go, expect Tampa Bay to go back wit the traditional 12-forwards, 6-defenseman alignment.
The Lightning are a one-line team right now, but Detroit is still having a difficult time containing them, especially when they were on the power-play in Game 4. Jonathan Drouin had an assist on all three of their power-play goals and has asserted himself as one of the best players in this series so far. Tyler Johnson had another point and Nikita Kucherov recorded his fourth and fifth goal of the series as well as his eighth point when he picked up an assist on the game-winner. They’re killing the Red Wings and it doesn’t look like the Red Wings have many answers.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Mrazek is expected to start again in Game 5 after stopping 30 of 33 shots in Game 4. He was under siege all night and stopped what he could. The 24-year-old has turned away 46 of 49 shots (.939 SV%) in his first two starts of the postseason and he will need to turn in another strong performance tonight. Detroit will look to tighten things up in their own end and give Mrazek more support, much like they did in Game 3.
Ben Bishop will go again for the Lightning and he comes in having gone 3-1 with a 2.01 GAA and .937 SV% in the first four games. He has allowed two goals in every game but has been given enough goal-support. He is an absolute monster and has really limited the Red Wings so far. Here’s how I feel about Bishop:
— Brock Seguin (@Brock_Seguin) April 19, 2016