Anger. Frustration. Exasperation. Disbelief. Defiance. All emotions emanating from Detroit Red Wings fans and media the morning after their Game 3, 4-3 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks, putting the defending conference champions one loss away from a sweep at the hands of a perennial postseason disappointment.
George Malik has a great rundown of some of the major storylines and reactions from last night on Snapshots. Here are a few more that cover everything from penalties to no-goals to the Tin Foil Hat Society to the unwavering hope that this veteran Wings team has a rally in it.
Scott Cullen of TSN writes that there's one primary reason the whole "these aren't your father's choking Sharks" meme exists today is because of Jimmy Howard's(notes) whiff on the tying goal in the third:
If Detroit falls in this series, and down 3-0 it sure looks like that's the direction this is heading, the tying goal for San Jose in Game 3 is going to be the terrible tying goal allowed by Jimmy Howard.
Under different circumstances, it might not be so crushing, but for a team that was already down two games to none, that's a tough one that ends up overshadowing an otherwise solid game from Howard. But, if that shot from Couture doesn't go in and the Red Wings finish off the game...
Chris McCosky of The Detroit News believes the Wings only have themselves to blame for the Game 3 loss, including another parade to the sin bin:
The mission was clear heading into Game 3: Stay out of the penalty box. "We got 31 shots (in Game 2) and we were in the box 10 times," coach Mike Babcock said. "Just think if you're not in the box 10 times. You're not even giving yourself a chance to compete in the series, in my opinion, if you are in the penalty box all the time."
How did that work out for the Wings? Not so much. They had to kill 10 minutes of power play time to two minutes for the Sharks.
"Obviously, we're taking penalties," Babcock said. "When you go through our penalties, I don't know, maybe there's the (Tomas Holmstrom(notes)) one, but I don't know if there are any others we didn't deserve. ... Bottom line is, we took penalties."
Clark Rasmussen of DetroitHockey.Net had two complaints about the coaching in Game 3:
One is that Todd Bertuzzi(notes) should have taken that penalty shot. He was one of Detroit's more reliable shooters in the tiebreaker during the regular season while Henrik Zetterberg(notes) was inconsistent at best.
The other is wondering how the hell the fourth line ended up on the ice against Thornton, Heatley and Marleau for the last shift of the game. I'm blaming Rafalski for that one but you've gotta wonder if it would have happened in the first place if another line had been out there.
I'm not sure what to think going forward. I think the Red Wings have the talent to win the next four but, like too many times in the Phoenix series, I'm not seeing the desire at all. They quit in the third period with a two-goal lead tonight. That's unacceptable and if they're playing like that they deserve to lose.
The disallowed goal by Henrik Zetterberg isn't the overwhelming story it may have been under different circumstances, but it's still part of a larger "us against them" theme for the Wings.
Q: What about your goal in the first period that was disallowed, what are your thoughts on that? Was it a kick in?
Zetterberg: No. My skate did not leave the ice. So I did not have a kicking motion. It was a battle with their D, and I just tried to stop to be in position to play with the stick -- but he kind of pushed me and of course you're a little off-balance, so it's tough to be completely still with the skates, but I wasn't kicking it.
Meanwhile, the Tin Foil Hat Society met outside the Joe before the game. For the most part, it was the expected goof on the conspiratorial stereotyping of Wings fans ... save for those who actually buy into that dogma. From the Detroit Free Press:
"If you don't want us to have these ideas, these conspiracy theories, then make some sort of standard in the NHL for the officiating, for the games, so we don't have to resort to saying someone's out to get us," said South Lyons' Robert Masters, 23, who has his own Wings blog, etchedincold.blogspot.com.
"I believe the NHL has its own interests besides individual markets," he said. "They're trying to look out for the big picture. They want parity.
"What's the best way to get parity in the league than taking out the biggest dynasty. It makes sense a little bit."
Oh, totally. But reader Joelle Beebe checked in with an enlightening look at why Wings fans feel the way they do:
What's driving us Wings fans to conspiracy theories is not so much the fact that the Wings have gotten twice the amount of penalties as the Sharks. Or even that some of those calls are at best suspect.
We (at least most of us) know that the Wings were guilty of some of the calls made against them. You commit the crime you do the time. And there have been some suspect calls against the Sharks as well, but not near the same amount. What drives us batty is that the Sharks are not being called for the same things that the Wings are being called for. It appears that what's a penalty for the Wings isn't a penalty for the Sharks. (Say interference with me. Or diving, or hooking, or holding the stick, or slashing, etc.) I am of the belief that the series would be completely different right now if the officials were calling the same against both teams.
It's hard to ignore the elephant in the room: The Wings score, the goal is reviewed. Then the Wings get penalized: The Sharks score a goal, and then the Wings get penalized. Then the Sharks get a 5-on-3 power play. All we ask (perhaps foolishly) is a fairly officiated game. Which to this point hasn't happened. Even you have to admit that. What does the media expect the Wings to do? Complain against the refs/officiating and you get slapped with a fine. It's like we're transported back into the wild west where the sheriff was corrupt, but since he was the "law" of the town, there was nothing the townspeople could do.
Here is my suggestion for the next game on Thursday. Write the Wings down for their averaged six penalties and the Sharks for their averaged four. Make the score 4-3 Sharks win, and send each team on their way. What's the point of actually playing the game when the results were preordained by the league? This way none of the players will get hurt and the Wings get an extra day of vacation.
And just for the record. A Wings' loss is not the end of a dynasty, A dynasty is family or group that maintains power for several generations and a playoff loss will not take that away from them. It is merely a bump in the hockey road. And us Wing fans here in Michigan are used to road construction. Road construction is our state's pastime.
Well-played, and your anger is understandable.
Indeed, not all hope is lost. Fight Night at The Joe raged against Game 3 but thinks history could be on the Wings' side:
I could choose to blame the goal that was wrongly blown off, or the penalty towards the end, but I won't. This game was lost because the Wings started coasting and lost their energy and focus after they went up 3-1. That is bad, unacceptable, and just terrible. Howard wasn't good, but neither were the rest of the team.
On the bright side: We are owed one of these. In 1955 the Wings blew a 3-0 Stanley Cup Final series lead and lost 4-3 to the Leafs. This is the year to make up for that.
Detroit is the better team. Have we gotten the better breaks in this series? Laughable. But things can always change. I don't care about what happened in the previous three games. Okay...that's a lie. But I don't care about what happened so much as I care about what is going to happen.
We've lost three close games in a row...by identical scores. This series could be 2-1 in San Jose's favor. This series could be 2-1 in Detroit's favor. We weren't that far off from carrying a 3-0 lead into Game 4. But it doesn't matter. The Red Wings need to just go in there and play.
It starts with one. The Wings win Thursday, and then all the pressure is on the Sharks to win at home. Then, perhaps they remember that they are the Sharks and choke. Then we stomp out a Game 6 victory at home because we came too far to lose at the Joe again. Then anything can happen in a Game 7.
Honestly: This scenario would be completely nonsensical were it not for "they remember that they are the Sharks and choke" creeping in the back of one's mind, right?