Postgame: Red Wings @ Lightning – Game 5 – 4/21

Knowing that Pavel Datsyuk‘s time with the Detroit Red Wings is probably over, it’s kind of hard to look at the team’s 1-0 loss in the context of anything but that.

That said…

To me, the most telling thing about this game was the first period. In a must-win game, with an early five-on-three, the Red Wings didn’t even look threatening with a two-man advantage. They got better throughout the game, but that was just a brutal start, a wasted opportunity, and it set the tone for the rest of the night. It could just have easily been the Red Wings getting a lucky bounce to break the tie late as it was the Lightning, but there wasn’t the same feeling of expectation. The Lightning took advantage of their opportunities. The Red Wings didn’t.

Pregame: Red Wings @ Lightning – Game 5 – 4/21

Is this the end?

The Red Wings visit the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight for Game Five of their Atlantic Division Semifinal matchup, one loss from elimination. After consecutive virtual-must-win games, Detroit now faces an actual must-win to keep their season alive.

With a loss, the Red Wings’ season comes to a close with just a single playoff victory to their credit for the second time in three years.

With a loss, Pavel Datsyuk‘s NHL career could end.

The Wings are in a bad position. They’ve never won a Game Five on the road after going loss-loss-win-loss in the first four games. They haven’t looked good in three of the previous four games. They haven’t won in this arena all season.

Win and force a Game Six at home. Maybe all that does is give Datsyuk a proper send-off. Maybe it’s the start of something more. A win opens up possibilities. A loss is the end.

Game time is 7:00 PM on FSD/NBCSN/CBC.