If Thursday night is to be the death of the Detroit Red Wings’ season, it will be an easy one to label.
They will have been penalty killed.
The Wings’ power play simply hasn’t gotten started the entire series. Despite repeated opportunities, the team is one-for-21 with a man advantage against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Those scrambling, frenetic efforts are the reason the Lightning has a 3-1 lead in the series.
“They’ve saved us,” coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s kind of gone a little unnoticed, but it hasn’t gone unnoticed in the locker room.”
“You look at the games. We’ve won two one-goal games. When you look at that, the margin of error might be our special teams. Everyone’s talking about our power play because it scored three goals, but let’s not forget about our penalty kill.”
For most of the season, it has been that way. The power play has come and gone, but the team’s penalty kill has been excellent. They rank second in the playoffs behind Washington. After a slow start in the season, Tampa Bay was eighth in the regular season.
“I think it’s huge,” said Alex Killorn. “This season, they’ve been great.”
Let’s face it. With 21 opportunities in five games, the Red Wings’ power play could have taken control of the series. They have not.