The Red Wings are without Henrik Zetterberg, who still has a knee injury. I watched some video of him in practice Friday. It does not look promising. He could not stop and it looked like he was having trouble putting any pressure on it.
To answer my title's question; No, the Wings will not sweep this team. Saturday's game showed how inconsistent Detroit still can be within 60 minutes. Penalties and turnovers will ensure that this series is going to 5 games at least.
Which is good for a friend of mine who bought tickets to game 5.
The reason the Wings won games 1 and 2 is Pavel Datsyuk. He is this team right now. The guy is unbelievable. He is making everyone around him that much better.
I want to see Z come back as much as the next fan, but without him right now, Datsyuk seems to be putting this team on his back. It looks like Pavel is responding to the extra pressure to produce.
The defense is still suspect. Jimmy Howard is bailing them out.
But, the No. 1 problem I see continues to be turnovers at both blue lines. The Red Wings need to go back to school or at least the video room. They need to dump the puck when there is no play. It's simple. There is no shame in it.
But Mike Babcock wants his guys to be a puck-possession team, and I understand that. He has a talented lineup. Yet, teams have figured out Detroit's weakness: The stubborn will to make a play rather than dump and chase. Now, teams -- such as Phoenix -- are forcing Detroit to turn it over in the neutral zone because they know as long as they keep a guy back and take away passes, they can force a turnover.
Just watch, it's not the "trap" or "oval" exactly. It's just "sit back and don't get caught in the Wings' zone -- make Detroit make a mistake and then capitalize."
Phoenix started doing this in the 3rd period Saturday. Detroit started making mistakes, turning the puck over and taking penalties. It was the Coyote's patience in the neutral zone that got them back into that game.
Red Wings players are groomed to look for a pass. When there is no outlet to make a pretty play or cross-ice pass, turnovers are bound to happen. Goals follow.
I feel like I have been saying the same thing for two years.