The Detroit Red Wings extend their NHL Playoff streak to 25 in a row. I predicted last week that they would not make the playoffs. My prediction would have been right except I didn’t factor in a Boston Bruins collapse at home on the last day of the season. The Ottawa Senators laid down a 6-1 beating to the Bruins. That left the backdoor wide open and Detroit stepped right through it and the streak is alive.
The fact that the Red Wings puked up a very winnable game to the New York Rangers 3-2 was a bit disheartening, I thought. The bottom line was, win and you’re in, and Detroit couldn’t do it. The Rangers played a back-up goalie and rested numerous players and Detroit still lost. Oh, well. I guess that’s why you never know what will happen in sports. How will the boys in red and white fare against the Tampa Bay Lightning? Let’s take a look.
Let’s remember these two teams met in the first round in last year’s playoffs. Detroit should have won the series as it held 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 series leads. Tampa Bay won game seven 2-0 and made the Stanley Cup Finals. Detroit failed to get it done when I thought they should have.
The announcement of Pavel Datsyuk ending his NHL career after this playoff season and returning to Russia is news no Red Wings fans wanted to hear. The thought of the Magic Man No. 13 no longer playing hockey in Detroit makes me sad. Pavel has been a true joy to watch and marvel at during his time in a Red Wing uniform. He will be missed for sure! I hope he has a great series against the Tampa Bay hockey club and goes out in style.
This series, like many series, will be decided between the pipes. The play of Big Ben Bishop, the goalie for Tampa, will be a tough out for the Red Wings. Detroit struggles to score goals and Bishop is a top-five goaltender in the NHL. Detroit must find a way to put the puck in the net.
The play of Jimmy Howard will determine if the Red Wings can advance to the next round. Jimmy has been pretty solid since taking over for Petr Mrazek, who has struggled in net.
This Tampa Bay team has a rash of injuries and depth could be a problem. The captain of the Lightning, Steven Stamkos, is done for the year with a blood clot issue. I wonder if Dylan Larkin will step up in his first-ever playoff series? I think Detroit needs Larkin and Sheahan to have a big series to defeat Tampa.
This series will be a tight and low-scoring series and goals will be at a premium. Detroit will push Tampa to seven games and lose once again, just as they did last year. I hope I am wrong, though! The other series winners will be: Pittsburgh, Florida and Washington in the East. The Western Conference winners will be: Anaheim, St. Louis, L.A Kings and Dallas.
Tigs win opener
The Detroit Tigers opened up with an opening-day victory over the Miami Marlins in Miami last Friday. The bullpen blew a three-run lead in the ninth, which we have seen way too many times over the last decade. The new closer, K-Rod, was less than impressive, to say the least. I hope it’s not a sign of things to come in 2016. The new Tiger, Justin Upton, looks like the strike-out machine I thought he was. I just don’t understand batting a guy in the second spot of the lineup who strikes out that many times. I never really liked Upton and he will have to win me over. So far, he is losing!
Justin Verlander is no longer an elite pitcher in MLB. J.V.’s velocity is no longer dominating and he will be nothing but a .500 pitcher the rest of his career.
Willet wins Masters
The PGA Tour Masters on Sunday once again provided the drama it always does. Jordan Spieth was in total control until he took a seven on hole 12 after hitting two into the water. Danny Willet took advantage of it and won the Masters, his first. What a great watch it was. How could you not feel the pain of Jordan Spieth? I sure did! firstname.lastname@example.org