For the past few seasons, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has stressed that his team needs to “start on time.”
Wednesday night in Anaheim, the Wings got another late start, and if it weren’t for goalie Jimmy Howard, the Ducks would have put this game away early.
Instead, it took until overtime before Detroit succumbed to a relentless Anaheim forecheck and down-low cycle that proved to be too much for a Wings team whose effort can best be categorized as fragmented.
Once they woke up, the Wings were able to hold their own for stretches. Whenever the Ducks pressed, however, the Wings backed up or stood still, which turned into a disaster.
Undoubtedly, the Wings had their opportunities, and Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller’s best saves were made by his goal posts.
But until Detroit comes out with an aggressive energy, Anaheim will control the start of the game, which will cost the Wings this series.
Whenever any Wings player talks about what they need to do better, to a man they say, “We need to play a full 60 minutes.”
As of yet, Detroit hasn’t come close to playing a full 60 in these playoffs.
Sure, they do a lot of good things during the course of competition, and sometimes that’s good enough to be the victor of a game. It’s not good enough to win the series, though.
The Wings have to win ugly now. They must win the battles along the boards, especially in the corners, and go hard to the net to be successful.
Anaheim is far from a juggernaut, but if the Wings allow the Ducks to be the aggressor again in Game 6, it won’t be an ugly Detroit victory; it will just be ugly.