Detroit’s series against the Tampa Bay Lightning feels like some weird referendum on Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek and coach Mike Babcock’s decision to start the rookie. Will it be good Mrazek who shows up, or bad Mrazek? The solid version of the netminder arrived in a 4-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
Mrazek stopped 28 of 28 shots on goal to help give Detroit the victory and a 3-2 series lead against Tampa going into Monday’s Game 6.
“I think maybe Tampa got their first shot after 10 minutes,” Mrazek said. “We had good pressure on their D and in their zone, and they couldn’t get to our zone.”
Babcock could have gone back to Jimmy Howard after Mrazek allowed two late goals to lose Game 4 against Tampa. Instead, he stuck with Mrazek who continued his strange stretch of following up bad starts with excellent starts. After allowing four goals in Game 2, he shut out the Lightning in Game 3. So I guess we’re headed for seven games if the pattern continues in Game 6?
Tampa’s Valtteri Filppula seems to get this notion that every playoff game is its own separate organism per the Tampa Tribune.
“I believe in momentum inside the game, but during the playoffs, I feel like every game is separate,” Filppula said. “We came in off a great road victory, but we weren’t good enough tonight. We’ll forget about this quick and focus on the next one. We have to. And we need to bring a little extra desperation since it’s a must-win for us.”
Drew Miller and Riley Sheahan both scored for Detroit, who will have a chance to win at home. Jonathan Ericsson had two assists. Missing in action again for Tampa was Steven Stamkos who had just two assists in four games played.
Said Stamkos via NHL.com
“I’m working hard and competing but it’s just not going my way,” Stamkos said. “I have to do better. No one said it was going to be easy. We need to find a way to do what we did last time at their rink and bring it back here. There’s nothing else to do but work hard and try to win.”
Also, Jon Cooper is supposed to be some sort of coaching genius. If he gets beaten by Babcock and the Wings, that’ll be two staight playoffs he couldn’t get out of the first round with an uber-talented team.
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