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Jeff Riger: The Red Wings Season Is Over

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SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 12: Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks shakes hands with Tomas Holmstrom #96 of the Detroit Red Wings after the Sharks won Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 12, 2011 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

SAN JOSE, CA – MAY 12: Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks shakes hands with Tomas Holmstrom #96 of the Detroit Red Wings after the Sharks won Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 12, 2011 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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So much talk before a deciding game 7 finally came to an end at about 9:07pm Eastern Standard time when the Sharks and Wings dropped the puck for the deciding game of an amazing second series. Who would strike first, who would advance to meet the Canucks, who would get the good start? All questions would shortly be answered, and hopefully in a pro Detroit fashion.

So the puck was dropped and right from the get-go it was the Sharks that had the jump as might have been expected. San Jose won battles and put Detroit on their heels and then it happened. The games first power play! IN the 3 games that San Jose won there was at least one Sharks power play goal in all of them. In the 3 games that Detroit won there was none. So it was NOT a very good omen when Devin Setoguchi lit the lamp with the extra attacker. Not only was it the Wing killer Setoguchi, but it was also the game’s first goal which many people thought to be so important before the game started.

From there, San Jose would strike again, Logan Couture, less than a minute left in the 1st period made one count and beat Jimmy Howard and San Jose led 2-nothing. Everything went in San Jose’s favor in that 1st period as Detroit was outshot 17-11 and the Wings also lost Todd Bertuzzi who suffered a Shark hit and never was able to come back in the game. NO question Detroit would have to be much better in the 2nd period if they were to have a chance.

Speaking of being better, that is exactly what the Wings were in that second stanza as the offense came alive. Detroit had 4 to 5 great shifts in a row before Pavel Datsyuk was called for interference and once again the Sharks got a power play chance. No question the Wings would have to kill it off because going down 3-nothing would be next to impossible to come back. They did and more good things happened after that as Henrik Zetterberg got one, happened at the 13:10 mark and it was a 2-1 game.

Detroit would continue the domination in the second period but was unable to break the armor of Niemi again. The Wings had a 17 to 6 advantage in the shots category but must have been disappointed to only get the one goal. Detroit also losing another forward during the period as Danny Cleary took a Jiri Hudler accidental shoulder to the face and just like Bertuzzi, he too would not return the remainder of the game.

So we start the third, a one goal game and would anyone expect anything different? All the games in this series decided by a goal expect for game 6 and this one would be as well. San Jose regrouped and dominated to start and if it wasn’t for Jimmy Howard they might have scored, but once again Howard stood tall and kept it a 2-1 game, well that was until Patrick Marleau got what could have been the biggest goal of his career. All series long he failed to register a point, he got criticized on national TV as well and who would have thought that he would be the deciding factor in a must win game 7. Marleau found the back of the net at the 12:13 mark and things were looking grim for Detroit.

Of course the Wings are the Wings and refused to give in. Pavel Datsyuk got that goal right back less than 2 minutes later and once again, yep you guessed it, a one goal game. So what would happen, could Detroit do it again?

The answer was sadly NO! Detroit got a power play chance and had numerous chances on Niemi late in the game but could not light that lamp and could not tie it and the Sharks win game seven 3-2. San Jose moves on to the Western Conference final to take on the Vancouver Canucks while Detroit heads home with some very big questions ahead of them.

Will this be the last game that Nick Lidstrom plays in? Will this be the last game that Kris Draper plays in? Will it be it for Chris Osgood and Mike Modano? We should find out in the upcoming days. But one thing we all do know now that we did not know when Detroit fell behind 3 games to none is that this franchise and core of players is not finished. The fact is they have plenty more wars to fight and it would not surprise me if we see this same team, with a couple tweaks of course next season. And nobody would be surprised if they once again prove the doubters wrong and maybe just maybe hoist another cup.
Hell of a season!

Listen below to Henrik Zetterberg’s 2nd period goal

Listen below to Pavel Datsyuk’s 3rd period goal

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