I've been having a hard time coming up with the words to match my thoughts about the Red Wings' ouster from the playoffs at the hands of the San Jose Sharks.
As I said earlier, I'm proud of the team's effort tonight. I haven't always been. I didn't like the way they seemingly went to sleep in Game Three (or several games in the Phoenix series, for that matter) but tonight that wasn't the case. They weren't at the top of their game tonight but it certainly wasn't a case of lack of effort.
If you're looking for something to blame, one big thing sticks out but - as is often the case no matter what gets reported - it's not the only thing.
The Red Wings had four power plays and failed to score. For the first time, power play opportunities were completely even and Detroit's failure to take advantage left them coming up short.
Their offense in general wasn't enough. You can't expect to win games in which you only score one goal. Evgeni Nabokov came up big a couple times but if you deserve to advance you find a way to solve the opposing goalie.
Turnovers absolutely killed the Wings tonight. There were stretches of time where they simply could not clear their own zone, and you can't win a game if you're playing in your own end. The game-winning goal came off of a turnover. Brian Rafalski lost the puck and it ended up in the net.
That said, about the GWG...
It never should have happened. Rafalski never should have had a chance to lose the puck because the previous faceoff shouldn't have been in the Detroit end.
On the preceding play, Douglas Murray clearly threw an elbow to Johan Franzen's head from the blind side and after Franzen had passed the puck off. The kind of hit that the NHL made a big deal about wanting to get out of the game. And no call was made. Instead of a power play and a faceoff in the San Jose end, Jimmy Howard had to make a stop as the Sharks took it back down, then the faceoff in the Wings' zone and the Rafalski turnover.
I know, tinfoil hat Red Wings fan means I'm just blaming the refs, despite the four paragraphs before the previous three.
I'm not happy with how the season ended and I don't have to be, but I feel better about it than I did last year. Last year the Red Wings did not appear to put forth their best effort when it mattered most. This year their best wasn't enough and there's not much you can do about that.
As per usual, I'll probably take a break from writing for awhile now. If any Red Wings news comes up I'll post it but I won't be covering much of the remaining playoffs. Like many have said happened to the Wings, I've also run out of gas. I'd rather be watching my team advance but there's a part of me that likes the idea of having about 12 extra hours of free time each week.
I'll probably do a season review / offseason preview sometime soon. It's important to remember that no matter how this season ended, the Wings will be back next year.