Rinne Stops Wings From Winning Game 4

Nashville Predators Pekka Rinne stole another win in the playoffs from the Detroit Red Wings last night. The Wings have now lost three out of four games in the first round of the playoffs. Can Detroit make a come back or are they done for?

The Wings played well last night. All you need to do is mention the 41 shots on goal they had throughout the 60 minutes of play time to make someone believe you. If they had 41 shots on goal, why did they only score once? Well, let’s state the obvious: Pekka Rinne is a genius. I think it is safe to say that without Rinne, Nashville would not have a chance in this series. However, Rinne seems to be Nashville’s number one star and, unfortunately for the Wings, not going anywhere anytime soon.

The first period and second period were scoreless for both teams. However between the two periods, Detroit had many opportunities with four power plays total, 28 shots on goal throughout the 40 minutes, and not allowing the Predators a shot on goal in the second for almost 9 minutes. It looked like the Wings were going to score many times, including when Pavel Datsyuk passed the puck to Danny Cleary but Cleary could not get the puck past Rinne. The Wings struggling to get the puck past Pekka Rinne seems to be the reoccurring theme in this series.

After 28 shots and 40 minutes, one would think Detroit would score the first goal in the third period. But, that person would be thinking wrong. David Legwand seemed to had put the first point on the board, but officials had blew the whistle due to losing site of the puck before it went into the net. It was only fourteen short seconds later when Gabriel Bourque scored off of a slap shot, just under two minutes into the third period. Jiri Hudler answered back with a power play goal a little over a minute after Bourque’s goal, tying the two teams at one goal each. The puck hit the back of the net and bounced out, which lead to the goal being sent for review. Luckily, Hudler’s tip-in off of Kronwall’s slap shot was counted for the Wings.

Kevin Klein scored the next goal with 13:35 left in third period due to poor Wings coverage in front of the net. Martin Erat took the puck down the net and three Wings players and Howard went to cover him, leaving Klein wide open to shoot on an open net. The Wings pulled Howard from net with 1:31 left, but had to put him back in when Zetterberg was called for high sticking with 55.8 seconds left in the game. On the power play, Jimmy Howard let in a weak goal from David Legwand. The game concluded about 40 seconds later, with the Red Wings losing 3 to 1 at the Joe Louis Arena.

The Wings played very well in the first and second period. While they still lead shots on goal 13 to 7 in the third, they did not seem to play as strong. There were only two real issues that could be identified in game four: Pekka Rinne and Jimmy Howard. Both issues are goalies, but are on the opposite sides of the spectrum. When predicting the series at the beginning of the playoffs, I identified that Rinne would be a problem for the Wings. He is an all-around amazing goalie that seems to be unstoppable against the Detroit Red Wings. 41 shots on goal and all the Wings could get past him was one power play goal?  That is the definition of what a goalie aspires to be and what a star goalie looks like.

Jimmy Howard is the other issue, which I also identified as being a possible problem before the series began. Howard has not played the same since he left because of his finger injury. I am not sure if he is choking or just has not gotten his swing back, but 17 shots on goal and 3 goals total is not acceptable in the playoffs or ever really. To make it sound even worse, that is a save percentage of 82. Now it is obvious that not all the goals were entirely Howard’s fault, but the problem still remains. Howard is not as sharp as he was when we were on our home winning streak. He does not win games when the Wings are lacking, the Wings players cannot count on him like before, and he definitely does not make those one of a kind, need to click rewind on the DVR and watch again kind of saves like he used to multiple times a game.

Many people are starting to point the finger at coach Mike Babcock, which I personally think is a mistake. Do you think the coach is having a hard time? Is it possible for the Wings to bounce back and possibly pull it off this series or is one round all the Wings will see this year in the playoffs? What can the Wings do differently to win the next game?

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