Krupa: Will the good Wings show up vs. Rangers?
Detroit – Good Red Wings, bad Red Wings.
Sometimes, like on Wednesday against the Flyers, they are very good. Sometimes, as on Thursday against the Bruins, they are very bad.
Playing 20 hours after a huge win involving high emotions, the Wings came out flat against the Bruins Thursday. They did not execute several strategies and tactics key to victory throughout almost the entire game and generated only 15 shots and scant scoring chances.
The Wings needed a big game and did not get it.
As Jeff Blashill said after the Flyers game, there would be no excuses for a poor performance against the Bruins. And as Henrik Zetterberg said after the Bruins game, it was their 17th set of back-to-backs of the season and “we are used to it.”
Any team that proclaims a goal of winning the Stanley Cup, as the 2016 Red Wings have, must master the rollercoaster of emotions that is the two months of playoffs, let alone the slighter passions of the regular season.
Fatigue? Easier said than done, but with their conditioning, strategies for rest and nutritional care, professional athletes train to accomplish their tasks, regardless.
The Red Wings did not.
But that is past.
What is present and future is one game for a playoff berth, and the realization the Red Wings can be very good.
When defensemen and forwards execute well in their designed defensive deployment, when they maintain possession of the puck, when they launch attacks efficiently from their own zone and when the forwards get behind the opponents’ defense and set up at the crease, especially on the power play, the Wings very good, indeed.
After proving themselves masters of those strategies and tactics against the Flyers Wednesday, the Wings failed against the Bruins.
Now it is essentially a one-game playoff for the Wings, against Rangers in a Saturday matinee in Madison Square Garden. If the Wings win in regulation or overtime, they are in the playoffs.
The Wings can also lose to the Rangers and still back into the playoffs, depending on what happens to the Bruins in their one remaining game, and to the Flyers in their remaining two.
They might afford losing to the Rangers. But if they afford themselves the opportunity to think of that for more than a few moments, they could well end up out of the playoffs for the first time in 25 years.
The preparation, now, is for execution. It is about being the good Red Wings for a full 60 minutes and any overtime that may be required.
The problem, on-and-off all season, has been in the doing.
It may be that their roster discourages a fuller, more durable accomplishment of strategy and tactics. But the Wings know that at times they have been very good, indeed.
After the Bruins game, Blashill made it plain.
“Biggest thing we’ve got to do is – it’s a big loss – let’s put it behind us and get ready to win a game on Saturday,” he said.
The Rangers may play without both of their top defensemen. Dan Girardi, (plus-18) is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury after he was boarded by the Lightning’s Brian Boyle Tuesday. Boyle received a major penalty and game misconduct on the play.
Ryan McDonagh (plus-26) is out for the season with an upper-body injury, after blocking a shot Monday against the Blue Jackets.
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist is unlikely to play. He was pulled after two periods against the Islanders Thursday after yielding three goals on 16 shots, in what was intended as his last tune-up before the playoffs.
The Wings have an opportunity.
Will they be the good Red Wings?