For Detroit, it can win its second straight title and fifth in 12 years on Tuesday night. But the task won’t be easy; elimination games are the hardest to win. And when the Stanley Cup is on the line and the game is in Pittsburgh, the Wings have a tough task ahead.
The Wings have excelled through the past decade when up 3-2, but this time, it’s a bit different. They’ll be up against a hungry and improved Pittsburgh team; one that has already felt the heartache of a missed opportunity once over the past calendar year.
Here’s what the Wings will need to do to raise Lord Stanley once again on Tuesday night.
Meet the opponent’s desperation—As mentioned in the Pittsburgh breakdown, the Pens will obviously enter this game as a desperate, hungry team. If the Wings have even a figment of a Cup ceremony, a victory parade, or the champagne flowing, it’ll be game over. The team needs to have the thought that it is elimination for them as well.
Keep puck possession—The best way to shut down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin is to keep the puck out of their control. Detroit has done a great job of this in all five games, but in Games Three and Four, Detroit struggled to keep the puck away from Pittsburgh.
What happened? Pittsburgh exploited the Red Wings, made the team look gassed and proceeded to win convincingly. Pavel Datsyuk in the lineup should help in this section, but
Continue crashing the net—Detroit has frustrated opponents throughout the playoffs by firing shot after shot. It made goalies look weak, although they were playing phenomenal in the pipes.
In Game Three, Marc-Andre Fleury was chased out of the night, marking the third straight series the Wings have done so. If they keep the pressure on Fleury and the Pittsburgh blue liners, cup No. 12 will return to Hockeytown.
Limit bad penalties—Detroit will not get any help from the men in stripes on Tuesday. Although the Gary Bettman conspiracies can get quite nauseating, his frustrated face during Game Five’s blowout tells the tale.
Home ice and the hope for a seventh game might play factors in the calls, so the Wings can’t give the zebras an excuse to blow the whistle. An early penalty kill can lead to an early goal, exciting an already amped up Mellon Arena fan base. Playing down in a visiting arena is disastrous, so avoiding an early mishap is key.
Avoid playing on heels—This is the most important aspect for the Wings. Detroit led 2-1 halfway through Game Four. It almost felt as if the Wings took the foot off the gas pedal—resulting in three goals in less than seven minutes.
If this team expects to win on Tuesday, it needs to constantly play with an edge, regardless of the score. The moment Detroit plays content and starts playing defensive, the Penguins will exploit it and force a Game Seven.