I might be the minority, but I think I was one of few people who weren't nervous or scared about the game last night. I chalk that up to my military training eliminating fear from my mental processes. But I also chalk it up to faith and logic.
The Detroit Red Wings are a far superior team than the Phoenix Coyotes. And Mike Babcock is a better coach than Dave Tippet. In a game like that, I'll take the Red Wings 100% of the time. They're just too good, too experienced, and too damn good looking with those beards to shave them.
Something odd happened at the Commune. About midway through the 3rd period, we all thought there was a penalty going to be called on the Coyotes. It ended up being against the Red Wings. Someone mentioned that it was weird to be so far ahead that we didn't have to pay 100% attention to what was going on. And it felt damn good.
I asked who was going to step up in the game. I made my case for Bertuzzi. I think all Red Wings fans know he scored 2 goals, getting ripped off on one for the ever-popular intent-to-blow rule. The referee who was closest to the play had a direct line of sight to the puck lying loose to Bryzgandalf's left, and Bert swooped in a buried it. And then the referee was waving it off. For whatever reason.
But going back to my question, who'd come up big? How's this for an answer: EVERYONE. I could easily go down the roster and name one moment in the game where they put it all out there on the ice. I think we could have put Ledba out there and HE would have had a big game.
However, I believe the turning point was late in the second, when the Red Wings were having a Commune of their own in the penalty box. Miller, Helm and Stuart were penaltized (Helm's being a bullshit interference/diving call) which meant 3 of our best PKers were sitting this one out. I don't remember the whole 3 man unit out there, because it looked like we only needed one guy out there. Kronwall.
I know Kronner's been getting shit this series for not playing to his caliber, to almost playing bad. But during that 5-on-3, he blocked at least 3 shots, and was just an overall presence. At that time, the score was 3-1. If Phoenix scores there, it's 3-2 with another penalty yet to kill. Even if we kill that second penalty off, momentum is shifted to Phoenix going into the intermission, and the third becomes an entirely different beast. Instead, we kill off both penalties, keep the 3-1 lead, and then speedster scoring threat Brad Stuart comes down on a breakaway and makes it 4-1 with 5 seconds left. Dagger. To the heart of the Coyote.
Who else stepped up? Our power play units. Not only did the Wings go 3/6 with the man advantage, it was almost always 2 minutes of straight pressure in the offensive zone if we didn't score. I saw the Wings switch from the 1st PP line to the 2nd PP line in the middle of a power play, without losing control of the puck. The Coyotes looked so out matched out there, I was a little embarrassed for them. They had no right to share that ice with the Wings out there last night.
And a side note from that, I'm glad we scored twice with Aucoin in the box. I've lost track of how many times he's gotten away with shit throughout the series, but it was good to finally see them burn because of him.
There's only one concern I have about this game. One last complaint. The Wings shot 50 pucks at Bryzgandalf, which is fine. But they gave up a quiet 33 shots on goal, too. Yimmy came up big. Some of those 33 shots were good, quality shots, matched by good, quality saves by Yimmy. Will yielding 33 shots to San Jose, Chicago or Vancouver do? As much as I have faith in this team and in our young goaltender, I don't think performances like that will continue to cut it.
But for now, let's enjoy the win.