By all accounts it looked like a clean hit. A devastating hit to be sure but a clean one. But after the ref’s conferred they levied a stiff penalty against Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader; A 5 minute penalty for charging and a game misconduct for a hard hit on Toni Lydman. During the ensuing power play the Ducks scored their second goal of the game and then added two more as the Ducks whipped the Wings on their home ice 4-0.
Abdelkader’s ejection took the fight out of the Wings. Afterward the entire team looked as if the pressure of the Stanley Cup Playoffs was too much for this teams youth and lack of playoff experience.
Reading Between The Lines
During the post game press conference Mike Babcock made one thing was loud and clear, He thought it was a clean hit: “His (Abdelkader’s) shoulder hit his (Lydman’s) shoulder and the kid went down hard and they called it a major. To me it was a hard check .”
When asked if the Ducks power play goal resulting from Abdelkader’s penalty was a turning point Babcock noted: “We came unraveled after that.”
If the Red Wings were to lose Abdelkader for game 4 it would take a huge physical presence out of the front line. Babcock was asked during the press conference how that would affect the Wings front line. Babcock answered frankly: ” We don’t have anyone with that kind of weight.” “When you’re a really deep team and you lose people it’s not that big a deal but when you’re like us and you lose people it’s a bigger deal.” That said Babcock doesn’t want his players to pull any punches: ” I want our guys to be physical.”
Maybe it shouldn’t have affected them but when Abdelkader was ejected the Wings withered. They were a completely different team than the one that took the ice to start the game. It is hard to imagine how the Red Wings will overcome missing Abby. His energy and physical presence will be hard to replace. It is clear that Mike Babcock feels the same way.
In the first period the Red Wings had 40 seconds of a 5 on 3 powerplay after a flock of Duck penalties. In fact, powerplay after powerplay the Wings failed to score. It is easy to blame the referee’s for a bad call, but when you don’t score you have no chance of winning. Had the Wings scored in the first period the impact of the Abdelkader ejection would not have been as severe.
The Red Wings are going to have to find away to rebound with or without Abdelkader if they want to continue in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Game 4 will be at Joe Louis Arena on Monday at 7:30 and as always you can see the game on Fox Sports Detroit.