I'll come right out and say it: I turned the TV off with about 13 minutes left in the third period.
I turned the TV off, got up out of my chair, collected my thoughts, cursed a time or two and left the room.
The Detroit Red Wings' season ended at 6:25 in the third period of Game 4.
Oh sure, there's at least one more game to play, and hey, the Wings may even win that one to push it to a Game 6, but that will only delay the inevitable.
It's not that the Wings allowed a goal to put the Predators up 2-1, and it's not that they did so in the third period with precious little time left to mount a comeback.
Those facts alone are not what led me to realize that the Red Wings are but days away from the first of several tee times at various golf courses around the country.
No, it was in seeing three Detroit defenders—one of them Nicklas Lidstrom—clumsily back-checking the Predators' Martin Erat into the left corner and then seeing Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard commit completely to the same side that I knew this team was doomed.
Erat deftly passed the puck to one of two wide-open teammates in Kevin Klein and Patrick Hornqvist, who could have passed the puck lazily between them if they so desired before gently depositing the puck into the net.
It was a mistake as uncharacteristic as it was fatal.
Those types of plays, in a series this close, are the ones a team does not come back from.
They reveal a team that, at some level, is simply unprepared or unable to execute at critical moments.
Even if those moments are a few seconds out of a 60-minute game, they can end up erasing an immense amount of effort.
And the Red Wings have put in a great deal of effort in this series.
They've outshot the Predators by a wide margin, miraculously improved their penalty-killing against the league's top power play and made smart plays at the right time enough to really warrant a better fate than a 3-1 series hole.
Still, for a few seconds in Game 4, they completely collapsed.
Unfortunately, so too did any hope of them winning this series.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MAHutter12.
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