Krupa: Feeble power play is Wings' demise
Detroit — They could not bring it back home.
Despite a valiant effort, during which they were the aggressors and the better team for long stretches, the Red Wings are eliminated in the first round for a third consecutive season.
And so a Red Wings season that began with a rookie coach, aging veterans, a couple of new free agents, competition in the net and a rookie who would star, ended strewn with tasks not accomplished.
The scoring never improved, the power play lagged almost throughout the season, the defensive corps never quite jelled, the penalty kill was so-so and the goalies, who stumbled intermittently, were left to perform most of the good work.
They lost in the playoffs for a second straight time to a team that probably reminds some Red Wings fans a bit of their team in 1996, with a failure in the Stanley Cup Final just behind them and considerable potential for success ahead.
Now, 20 seasons on for the Wings, the gathering sense is that of an era ending.
Two-goal Red Wings
Teams do not win many when they score two goals, at the most. And the Wings could not even get two, Thursday.
Teams do not win too many playoff games if they do not score first, and the Wings failed to score in the first period in the series.
In a series that was closely contested, the paltry offense the Wings produced was their death knell.
Once again, Thursday, the Wings played a good first period, generating scoring chances, out-shooting the Lightning and playing a lot in the offensive zone.
Once again, they came away with no goals.
In the first 15 minutes of the second period, they had eight scoring chances to none for the Lightning. Still no goals.
They got breakaways by Riley Sheahan, Darren Helm and Dylan Larkin. No goals.
Well into the third period, the Lightning had 15 giveaways, and the Red Wings failed to capitalize on any.
They entered the playoffs with the worst goal differential of any of the 16 teams. They had fewer goals for than seven of the 14 teams not in the playoffs.
In search for first goal, the Red Wing got nothing on one minute, 14 seconds of a two-man advantage in the first period.
They were shutout on the power play in Game 5 and went 1-25 in the series.
It cost them, dearly.
Pavel Datsyuk hit a post with 20 percent of net open in front of him, after a terrific feed from Brad Richards.
Danny DeKeyser hit the post.
Brian Boyle blocked Green on big chance in the slot.
Whatever video they watched or new strategies they conjured, the Wings’ power play was inept again in Game 5.
The Red Wings had talked about making improvements, getting the puck through to the net and preparing better. They got nothing done early, when they need it and when the first goal of the game could have made a drastic difference, as it usually does in the NHL, especially in the playoffs.
The Red Wings lost, but they played valiantly. For long stretches they were the better team.
The second period was among their very finest of the season. They played blanketing defense, killed two penalties and had an even dozen scoring chances to just two by the Lightning.
They supplied constant offensive pressure throughout the night, almost at the level of Game 3.
They played better defense, with few of the costly gaffs that often threatened to ruin their season.
In defeat, they were men of valor.
Lightning not at best
The Lightning provided the Red Wings would a big opportunity. As in Game 3, they did not perform well.
It was not quite as bad as during the Wings only victory in the series. But the Lightning lacked the quicker step that allowed them to beat the Red Wings to some pucks and provided for three power-play goals in their 3-2 victory in Game 4.
In the first 25 minutes of play, they gave the puck to the Wings seven times.
Playing 5-on-5, the Wings continued to defend well against the big line of Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov, which dominated them in Game 1 and Game 2.
They penalty kill was also better.
Wings leaders fail in series
Henrik Zetterberg had but one goal, scored with his skate.
Datsyuk had none.
Gustav Nyquist had one.
Tomas Tatar had none.
In essence, that was the foursome on which the Red Wings had to rely for their scoring, this season. They were not as potent as expected during the season.
They were impotent against the Lightning.