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Detroit Red Wings Rule
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Following the 11 Time Stanlry Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings
Following the 11 Time Stanlry Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings

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Great, just what we need going into Game 7!

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      Game 6 Monday night at the Joe was Detroit's chance to send the Lightning packing without the pain and heartache of a game 7.  Unfortunately the Wings were unable to complete the upset losing to Tampa 5-2 setting up a Game 7 Wednesday night in Tampa.
      The scoring started early with Tyler Johnson putting one over Petr Mrazek's right shoulder at the 3:47 mark.  The goal, Johnson's fifth of the series, was assisted by Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman.  Jason Garrison added another goal at the 11:10 mark when he snapped one past Mrazek from the left circle.  The goal, his first of the playoffs was assisted by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.  The first period ended with Tampa leading 2-0.  In the second period Tyler Johnson proved why he is Tampa's best player when he scored his sixth goal of the playoffs after a blueline turn over by Brendan Smith.  The goal was assisted by Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov.  Detroit finally got one past Ben Bishop at the 12:26 mark of the second period. With Victor Hedman in the box after slashing Justin Abdelkader, Tomas Tater sent a on-timer from the right faceoff dote past Bishop to make the score 3-1.  The goal, Tater's second of the series was assisted by Niklas Kronwall.  Kronwall was a factor in another play in the second period when he pinched in from the point to hit Nikita Kucherov.  That hit, which did not result in a penalty at the time was called Charging by the league and Kronwall has been suspended for Game 7.  That 3-1 score was how the second period ended but the Wings looked like they were going to make a game of it early in the third period.  Tomas Tater scored his second of the game at the 1:39 mark when he took a faceoff win by Pavel Datsyuk and came out front of Bishop and fired one past him.  This goal brought the score to 3-2 but the Lightning had other ideas about a Wings come back.  At the 14:51 mark Alex Killorn put a back hand over Mrazek's catching glove for his second of the series.  The goal which was unassisted took the wind out of the Wings sails as they had been buzzing around Bishop.  Cedric Paquette added an unassisted empty-netter at the 19:01 mark to seal the victory for Tampa. 
      The Lightning outshot the Wings 28-24, had more faceoff wins and blocked more shots and most importantly of all the Wings were 1-7 on the powerplay.  If Detroit could have been more effective with he man advantage the game could have been much different.
      Game 7 will be Wednesday night at 7:00 PM ET in Tampa.  The Wings will be without Kronwall and will play Alexey Marchenko in his place.  Marchenko has played two career playoff games with no goals, no assists and -3.  If the Wings can with stand the initial flurry from Tampa and get the Lightning thinking about the consequences of losing they might be able to sneak it out.  If not there is always next year.

                                      GO WINGS!!!!!!!! 

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This is the official reasoning behind Kronwall's suspension.

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      After the disappointing Game 4, I was worried about Game 5 especially since it was in the oddly named Amalie Arena but I needn't have worried.  The Wings played their best game of the series and took the 3-2 series lead.
      The first period was a back and forth affair with Tampa carrying the play early and the Wings fighting back in the second half of the period.  It looked like it was going to be a scoreless period but at the 19:37 mark, with Ondrej Palat in the box for hooking, Riley Sheahan scored his second goal of the series, a one timer from the right faceoff dot.  The goal was assisted by Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg giving the Wings the 1-0 lead.  
      The second period saw teams trade chances until the 15:46 mark when Drew Miller took a rebound off a Luke Glendening shot and put it into a wide open net for his first goal of the playoffs, Jonathan Ericsson got the second assist.  
      The third period started with the score 2-0 Detroit just as it had in Game 4 and Tampa was desperate to repeat their third period comeback but this game was different.  Petr Mrazek was outstanding in the third period making multiple great saves to keep the score 2-0.  Late in the period with Steven Stamkos in the box for hooking, Pavel Datsyuk took the puck above the circles and fired it at the goal.  It found the back of the net after bouncing off a Lightning player and got past a screened Ben Bishop.  The goal, Datsyuk's third of the series, was assisted by Jonathan Ericsson and Darren Helm.  That goal made the score 3-0 and allowed Detroit players and fans to breath a little easier.  The Lightning pulled Bishop with three minutes to go to give them a man advantage and I had to start holding my breath again, but the Wings were blocking shots left and right and those that got through were easily turned aside by Mrazek.  At the 18:22 mark Danny DeKeyser took a rebound that had bounce into the corner, and fired it 200 feet into the empty Tampa net to seal the victory for Detroit.  The last 1:38 went by without a goal by the Lightning giving Petr Mrazek his second shutout of the series and giving Detroit the 3-2 lead.
      The Wings outshot Tampa 30-28, was 2-4 on the powerplay, held the Lightning scoreless on their three powerplay chances and blocked fourteen shots to Tampa's eleven.  The only area the Lightning were better than Detroit was in the faceoff circle with Tampa winning 41 out of the 64 faceoffs.  If Detroit can play like this Monday night they might just send the Lightning home early and move on in this year's Stanley Cup Playoff.  Game 6 is Monday night at 7:00 PM ET
                                          GO WINGS!!!!!!!    

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      What a disappointing game Thursday night, I really thought the Wings were going to take a 3-1 lead leading back to Tampa but Tyler Johnson had other ideas and the Lightning scored three goals in 7:51 to win the game 3-2 in overtime and tie up the series.
      The first period was scoreless and chippy as this series is turning out to be.  Brendan Smith was involved in all four penalties called in the first period with him being whistled for roughing and hi-sticking on Ryan Callahan and getting tripped by Jonathan Drouin but nothing came out of the powerplays for either team.  The second period saw the Wings break through on a goal by Gustav Nyquist, his first of the series, assisted by Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader at the 5:42 mark.  The Wings then got a big break when a shot by Joakim Andersson deflected off the knob of Tampa goalie Ben Bishop's stick, hit the cross bar fell down and spun across the goal line for his first goal of the playoffs.  The goal was assisted by Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco.  In past playoffs these kind of breaks have turned playoff series around (vs. Vancouver 2002) and I expected the same thing in this one.  The key point came when Luke Glendening left the game with a cut to his hand from a scuffle with Tyler Johnson and Victor Hedman with 7:28 remaining in the third period. Glendening and linemates Drew Miller and Landon Ferraro had held the Palat-Johnson-Kucherov line in check for most of two games and it was shortly thereafter that Tampa scored their first goal in more than five periods.  The goal was scored by Tyler Johnson, his third of the series, assisted by Anton Stralman.  All right, we knew the Wings couldn't hold them off the board forever but Tampa scored again just 1:18 later this time it was Ondrej Palat scoring his first, assisted by Tyler Johnson and Jason Garrison.  That goal took the energy right out of the Wings and the building and the third period ended with the score tied at two sending the two teams to their first sudden death overtime of the series.  The overtime did not last long with Tyler Johnson collecting his second goal and third point of the game on the first shot by either team just 2:25 into the extra period.  The goal was assisted by Victor Hedman and Ondrej Palat.
      Tampa outshot the Wings but not by much just 29-24, they out hit the Wings and were more successful in the faceoff circle.  Both teams were 0-4 on the powerplay with the Wings have a 50 second 5-3.  Like I said after Game 2 the Wings need to make that powerplay potent to keep the Lightning honest if they want to have any chance to win this series.
      Tyler Johnson was the first star, Kyle Quincey the second and Victor Hedman the third star as the series shift back to Tampa for Game 5 Saturday night at 6:00 PM ET.     

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      The Red Wings took a 2-1 series lead Tuesday night with a 3-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Petr Mrazek, Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm were the three stars in the game.
      The Wings opened the scoring to the delight of the nearly 20,000 fans at the Joe Louis Arena.  Pavel Datsyuk scored his second goal of the playoffs at the 8:46 mark, assisted by Tomas Tater and Jonathan Ericsson.  That was the last goal until 6:42 mark of the third period when, with Braydon Coburn in the box for tripping Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan scored his first goal of the playoffs, assisted by Justin Abdelkader and Henrik Zetterberg.  Late in the third period with Ben Bishop on the bench for the extra attacker Luke Glendening put the final nail in the Lightning coffin with an empty netter, assisted by Jonathan Ericsson and Drew Miller.  Marzek earned his first playoff shutout with 22 saves and theWings took a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 Thursday night in Detroit.  
      The shots were pretty even for the game but the Wings were 1-4 on the powerplay while Tampa was 0-6.  The Wings nearly doubled the number of hits by Tampa, 48-26 and the teams were dead even of faceoffs.

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      Well, the Wings got what every road playoff team says they are looking for; a split on the road.  I just wish it wouldn't have been so lop-sided.
      The Wings were in Tampa Saturday night for Game two in their best of seven first round series.  This game did not go as well as the first one, with the Wings losing 5-1 to even the series at one game apiece.
      It didn't take long for the Lightning to set the tone for the game.  After a scrum along the half boards that saw multiple players tussling on the ice, the Lightning came out of it with a powerplay as Kyle Quincey was giving a double minor.  Tyler Johnson scored his first goal of the playoffs on the ensuing powerplay just 3:05 into the opening period.  The goal was assisted by Nikita Nesterov and Nikita Kucherov.  The period ended with the Lightning leading 1-0.  The second period was the turning point in the game with the Lightning scoring three goals.  The first  at the 7:56 mark by Alex Kilorn assisted by Ryan Callahan and Steven Stamkos.  The second goal at the 14:48 mark scored by Andrej Sustr, his first, assisted by Valtteri Filppula and Vladislav Namestnikov.  The third, and a real killer by Tyler Johnson, his second of the game, assisted by Victor Hedman, just 38 seconds before the end of the period.  This was also the goal that chased Petr Mrazek.  The third period started with Jimmy Howard in net for Detroit and that just might have lit a little fire under the Wings because they scored their first goal of the game on a beautiful tip-in by Tomas Tater, his first of the playoffs, assisted by Quincey and Gustav Nyquist.  The Lightning, however, had other ideas and continued to shut the Wings down and added the final nail in the coffin of the Wings when Filppula scored his first of the series, assisted by Stamkos and Nesterov.  The Wings were outshot (but not nearly as bad as in Game One), 24-30, they were out hit 25-34 and saw Tampa block more shots 10-21 and maybe most importantly, the Lightning were 2-4 on the powerplay and the Wings were 0-4 witht he extra man.
      If the Wings want to make this an interesting series they need to forget about this game and work hard over the next few days to work on their powerplay, that is where they need to make Tampa pay.  The Lightning are man-handling Detroit and since the Wings don't have any enforcers, they need to make the Lightning think twice about the physical play, and the only way to do that is powerplay success.  They have been 1-7 so far 14%, the Lightning are at 18%.  Those numbers need to change if Detroit wants to have any thoughts of moving on.
      The venue changes for the next two games with the teams travelling to Detroit for Games 3 and 4.  Game 3 is Tuesday night at 7:00 ET and Game 4 is Thursday at 7:00 ET.  Hopefully the change in surroundings will help the Wings.    

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Wings Win!!  

Detroit leads the best of seven playoff series 1-0

      Red Wings jerseys were in evidence in Amalie Arena even with the ban on ticket sales to non-Florida residents as the Wings took the ice for Game One of their first round match-up against the Lightning.  The Wings struck first 9:03 into the first period when Pavel Datsyuk scored his first of the playoffs, a beautiful deflection, assisted by Kyle Quincey and Darren Helm.  Later in the first, the Wings were on the powerplay but it was Tampa that cashed in with a shorthanded goal scored by Brian Boyle.  The first period ended with the Wings on the powerplay again and 8 seconds into the second period Datsyuk scored his second of the game, assisted by Helm.  The second period ended with the Wings leading 2-1.  In the third period with the Wings down a man, Detroit got a shorthanded goal of their own, an unassisted scored by Luke Glendening, his first of the series.  That goal gave the Wings a little breathing room which was needed just 2:36 later when Nikita Nesterov put one by Petr Mrazek to pull the Lightning within one.  The Tampa goal made the last 11:34 a bit of a nail biter for us Wings fans but Mrazek and the rest of the boys held on for the 3-2 victory to steal home ice away from the Lightning.
      The Wings were horribly outshot in the game 46-14, they were out hit, Tampa ruled the faceoff circle and spent way to much time in the box, giving Tampa seven powerplays, but overcame those hurdles to pull out a Game One victory.  On the bright side the Wings had more blocked shots, got great goaltending, one of the big guns looks to be on a roll and they were 1-3 with the extra man.
      The teams meet again in Tampa for Game Two Saturday 4/18/15 at 3:00 PM ET. 

So the Wings have Steve Yzerman and the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The season series between the two teams looked like this: The Lightning won the first game 4-3 in a shootout at the Joe.  They won the second meeting 5-1 in Tampa.  Tampa won the third meeting 3-1 in Tampa and Detroit won the fourth meeting 4-0 in Detroit.
      The Wings score 2.82 goals a game and give up 2.57 per game, they have a powerplay percentage of 23.8 and a penalty kill of 80.8.
      The Lightning score 3.16 goals a game and give up 2.51 per game.  They have a PP% 18.8 and a penalty kill of 83.7,
      It will be interesting to see if the Wings can overcome their bad play of late and the Lightning's high powered offense to move on.

GO WINGS!!!!
    

Here are the matchups for the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Eastern Conference:

(1) New York Rangers vs. (8) Pittsburgh
(2) Montreal vs. (7) Ottawa
(3) Tampa Bay vs. (6) Detroit
(4) Washington vs. (5) New York Islanders 

Western Conference:

(1) Anaheim vs. (8) Winnipeg
(2) St. Louis vs. (7) Minnesota
(3) Nashville vs. (6) Chicago
(4) Vancouver vs. (5) Calgary  
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