Archive for May, 2008

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4 (5/31/08)

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

The rock-n-roll pace of game 3 continued in the first period of game 4.  The action was incredible both ways.  There were tons of hits and also a lot of penalties.   The teams traded power play goals so the game was 1 to 1 at the end of the period.  Both teams had great chances but I felt like Pittsburgh played slightly better in the first period even though they were out shot by the Red Wings.  Detroit seemed a little sloppy with the puck and the Penguins seemed more confident.  I was relieved not to be behind after one.  I thought Osgood looked a little shaky at first.  He failed to cover the post on the goal he allowed and then a short time later one hit the crossbar.  He seemed to settle down after that and played well.

The insane action continued in the second period.  Osgood played very well.  Although neither team scored I felt like Detroit played better than they did in the first.  The Red Wings seemed to have slightly more energy than the Penguins.  The shots were pretty even but it still seemed like the Red Wings had the edge.

In the third period the Red Wings looked more like they did in games 1 and 2.  Detroit was dominant and the Penguins were chasing.  The Red Wings even killed off a long 5 on 3 which gave them even more energy.  The game winning goal was a softie scored by Hudler.  He turned around an shot a backhander from a terrible angle that went through Fleury’s armpit.  There’s no such thing as a bad goal!

All in all, with the exception of the final score, this game seemed exactly like game 3.  I thought that game 3 could have easily ended up with the Red Wings on top.  Right up to the end it was anybody’s game.  This game was the same deal except that Detroit had the lead.  Averaged out over the whole game I think Detroit played just as well in game 3 as they did in game 4.

Well folks, we’re down to just one more win…it could happen Monday night in front of the home crowd.  Let’s go Red Wings!

This 2 to 1 win brings this Stanley Cup final series to 3-1 Detroit.

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3 (5/28/08)

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

For game 3 the series moved to Pittsburgh.  The Penguins were hoping that having the home town crowd behind them combined with getting the last change would make all the difference in this game.

For most of the first period the change of venue didn’t seem to have much effect.  Detroit seemed to have slightly more trouble controlling the puck and the chances weren’t quite as good, but all in all Detroit was still dominating. 

Then as the period started to wind down, things changed.  Pittsburgh started to put together a few good shifts in a row and got several shots on goal within a few minutes.  As the Penguins confidence grew, Stuart tried to make an outlet pass to Zetterberg but put it in his skates instead.  The Penguins picked up the loose puck and moved it to Crosby who crossed in front of the net and shot.  Osgood got a piece of it but it went between his legs and in, giving the Penguins the first goal and some mental relief.

In the second period Pittsburgh came out with a vengeance.  They started the period with a continuing power play in which they generated some chances and kept the momentum going after it ended.  They got another goal on a second chance shot.  Crosby was standing next to the net and poked it home after Osgood turned away the first shot.  For most of the period they were just flying.  They finally looked like the Penguins that I expected to see in this series and the play was very exciting.  It was starting to look like the Penguins had stolen the Red Wings’ mojo.

Not to be outdone, Franzen took matters into his own hands when he got the puck from Lidstrom and stick-handled around just about everybody and roofed the puck.  It was such a quick shot that even in the replays I couldn’t really tell how it happened.  Either way, The Mule is back! 

The pace in the third period was just insane; the kind of play that is just so much fun to watch.  I was on the edge of my seat for most of the period.  They moved the puck up and down the ice with good chances at both ends and incredible energy.  At one point they went for well over 5 minutes without a whistle.

Unfortunately, the Penguins scored again when things got dicey in Detroit’s end.  Osgood tried to poke the puck behind the net but couldn’t reach it.  One of the Penguins got it, centered it, and they scored.

Samuelsson got another goal for Detroit as he let a blast go that may have been redirected.  That goal made it 3 to 2 Pittsburgh.  After that it was an all out attack by Detroit as they tried to tie the game.  By the time Osgood got to the bench for the extra skater there was less than a minute left.  Detroit had lots of chances but ultimately weren’t able to tie the game. 

The Penguins earned this one.  It was a great and entertaining game but I wish the result had been different.  The action was just incredible.  Detroit’s top line had tons of minutes.  Luckily there will be an extra day to rest before game 4 on Saturday.

This 3-2 loss brings this Stanley Cup final series to 2-1 Detroit.

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 2 (5/26/08)

Monday, May 26th, 2008

The Red Wings got off to great start in this game.  They picked up right where they left off in game 1.  Detroit shut down Pittsburgh’s offense and pretty much had their way with them.  The Penguins where barely able to get the puck into Detroit’s end before the Red Wings had it back and were moving it quickly up the ice. 

Detroit opened the scoring when Brad Stuart let a hard shot go that Fleury got a piece of, but not enough.  Later in the period Detroit got the second goal of the game by working in the Penguins end, keeping the puck alive like they do.  It came to Zetterberg who shoved it toward the net.  It got passed Fleury who reached back for it.  It was out of his reach but it was slowing down as it headed for the goal line.  Holmstrom was there to reach in with his stick and push it the rest of the way into the net.

This was a perfect period for the Red Wings.  Pittsburgh only had 6 shots on goal, and those all came when Detroit was short handed.  Detroit had 12 shots on goal.  Osgood was there to bail out his team when they left any openings for the Penguins.  This excellent period ended with the Red Wings ahead 2 to 0.

In the second period there was no scoring but Pittsburgh seemed to generate a little bit of momentum.  They were more effective both offensively and defensively.  Most notably, their fore checking was much better.  Fleury came up big with some great saves to keep his team in the game.  Osgood was there when he was needed but most of Pittsburgh’s best scoring chances missed the net or didn’t reach him.  Detroit was as good as they had to be, but they need to be better in order to prevent Pittsburgh from gaining too any confidence.

The third period was pretty much all Detroit again.  Pittsburgh fell apart and took lots of penalties, especially towards the end of the game.  Detroit added to their total when Franzen made a nice pass to Filppula who beat his man and the goalie with a diving shot.

Towards the end, a couple of the Penguins started taking cheap shots of Franzen’s head.  Nothing too hard but just the fact that they were doing it was pretty low.  It was clear that they were intentionally trying to aggravate his concussion symptoms.  They also took a shot at Osgood which led to somewhat of a brawl that took several minutes to sort out.

It didn’t rattle Ozzie at all though as he coasted to his second shutout in a row.  That’s an incredible achievement against an offense as powerful as the Penguins.  A lot of the credit also goes to the guys in front of Osgood though.  Anytime he gave up a rebound they were right there in the middle to clear it away.  Again it was a team effort tonight and it’s just great to see the Red Wings playing so well.  The Penguins look really outgunned.  I hope the Red Wings can keep it up in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

This 3-0 win brings this Stanley Cup final series to 2-0 Detroit.

Game 4 TV Coverage Change in the Tampa Bay Area

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Game 4 on Saturday is scheduled to be broadcast on NBC.  However, in the Tampa Bay area the NBC affiliate, WFLA channel 8, is scheduled to be showing the All Children’s Hospital telethon.  They’ve arranged for the game to be shown on MYTV Tampa Bay.  That’s Bright House channel 6 and 611 for the HD channel.  The over-the-air channels are UHF 38, and digital channel 38-1 for the HD channel.  I don’t understand why they can’t move the telethon back a week since this seems to happen every year.  Just another example of hockey getting no respect in the U.S.

Franzen Cleared For Game 2

Monday, May 26th, 2008

The NHL Live! program on XM Radio and The NHL Network has just reported a surprise change in Franzen’s status.  Apparently, during today’s press conference Babcock was handed a note and he announced that Franzen would not be available to play tonight in Game 2 even though he’s practicing at full speed.  Then the press conference ended and most of the reporters left.  A short time later Babcock stuck his head back in the room and announced that Franzen WOULD play tonight!  That sure is great news for the Red Wings.

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 1 (5/24/08)

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Well, here we go folks, it’s finally game on! I’ve been really looking forward to this matchup and expect it to be a great series. It’s hard to judge what to expect since Detroit and Pittsburgh haven’t played at all this season until now.

The first period of game 1 was very spirited by both sides. They all seemed to have a lot of adrenalin. Detroit spent most of the period killing penalties. Some of them were real and some were imaginary. The worst example of the latter being the goaltender interference call against Holmstrom. It wasn’t quite as bad of a phantom call as the disallowed goal in game 4 against Dallas, but it was still a pretty weak call. Even worse, it negated a beautiful goal. During the penalty kills Detroit had a few breakdowns where Penguins players were able to get to the net. They recovered nicely however and were able to clear the puck pretty quickly. It was a nice team effort. Osgood did his part as well making some great saves. Kronwall had a few big hits in open ice which really ramped up the excitement.

All in all the first period was probably a bit of a feeling out process for both teams. That being said, I think Detroit’s offense was more effective that Pittsburgh’s even though Detroit had so many penalties to kill. The Red Wings were still able to keep the shots about even and their chances seemed more controlled and of higher quality.

In the second period the Red Wings were even more dominant. They badly outshot the Penguins aided in part by getting their fair share of the power plays. The Red Wings got on the board and this time it counted. Samuelsson had the puck and he picked a wonderful time to start scoring goals again. He went around the net and scored on a wrap-around shot that went in off of Fleury’s skate as he tried to come across to block it. That was the only goal of the period so at that point it was 1 to 0 Red Wings.

Detroit continued to dominate in the third period. Fleury turned the puck over to Samuelsson who scored again. Both of his goals were unassisted. He really cranked things up in this game. Then Cleary scored shorthanded, and with just a few seconds left in the game Zetterberg scored on a power play making it 4 to 0.

The Red Wings defense looked far superior to Pittsburgh’s. I wouldn’t read too much into this win however. Let’s give the Penguins time to address their problems and see how they do in the next game. If game two is similar to game one then I’m afraid it’s going to be a short series. I’d like to see it become a long series just so I can see more great hockey games, as long as the Red Wings still win in the end, I’d love for it to go seven games! :-)

Way to go Red Wings…..just three more wins!

This 4-0 win brings this Stanley Cup final series to 1-0 Detroit.

Detroit to Face Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Finals

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Detroit won the Campbell Bowl tonight as the Western Conference Champions.  They move on to play Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Finals starting Saturday night.

Unfortunately, because of the league’s current schedule, the Red Wings haven’t played the Penguins at all this year.  Personally, I’m very unfamiliar with them.  I’m sure the Wings will be watching a lot of tape over the next few days to study up. 

It’ll be great to see Sidney Crosby and crew in action, and even better to see them lose to the Wings!  :-)  Everyone keep their fingers crossed that we can get Franzen back in time for game 1.  This should be a fantastic series.  I can’t wait!  Just four more wins, boys!

Western Conference Finals, Game 6 (5/19/08)

Monday, May 19th, 2008

This was Detroit’s most important game of the season.  It wasn’t do or die, but it might as well have been because if they allowed Dallas to tie the series than it might as well be a coin toss who’s going to move on.  I was expecting Detroit to start the game like they were shot out of a cannon but they seemed rather subdued.  At first I was a little concerned by this, but as the opening minuntes of the game ticked by I became more and more confident.  Detroit was dictating play, getting scoring chances, and preventing Dallas from putting anything together and they were doing it very calmly and methodically.

That type of game worked wonders in the first period.  The scoring started with Kris Draper taking a puck off the mouth in front of the net and knocking it in.  I’m not sure if he got it with the stick or if it just went in off his mouth.  Either way it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen because it gave Detroit the all-important lead.  Draper had to get stitched up afterwards but I’m sure it was worth it.

Then Datsyuk showed his brilliance on the penalty kill when he got the puck near center ice along the far boards.  Anybody else would have just dumped it into the corner but he just nudged it ahead a little and tried to skate after it.  A Dallas player interfered with him going after the puck which drew a penalty all thanks to Datsyuk playing smart and keeping his legs moving.  Then on the ensuing power play Datsyuk was parked near the front of the net and picked up a nice rebound that he put in top shelf.  A great sequence all around for Datsyuk.  That’s why I love that guy.

Later in the first period Lebda surprised Dallas by carrying the puck into the zone with great speed.  Nobody made a move to stop him so he just blew past the defense.  He found Dallas Drake in front of the net with a nice pass that Drake whacked at a few times and finally drove home.

It was an all around great period for the Wings that left them up 3 to 0.  Exactly what they needed.

In the second period there was one penalty after another.  Detroit had a power play or two but spent a lot of time killing penalties.  I think McCarty alone had 3 or 4 penalties.  The good news is that the penalty kill was insanely effective.  Dallas barely had any shots on goal even with the man advantage.  To put the icing on the penalty killing cake, Zetterberg scored a break away goal shorthanded.  He made a fantastic move with his shoulders, Turco bit, and Z was left with mostly open net.  That made the score 4 to 0 after the second period and Dallas seemed to have lost their fire entirely.  I think the power plays for Dallas actually were a negative for them.  Getting so many chances and not converting was probably really demoralizing.

In the third period Dallas finally capitalized on a power play to make the score 4 to 1.  That really brought them to life and the crowd as well.  Detroit did a great job of being everywhere on the ice all the time.  They went into shutdown mode and it worked like a charm.  Dallas did manage to get several shots though and Chris Osgood made a lot of monster saves.  He had a brilliant third period especially considering how relatively untested he was through the first two periods.

The game ended with the Red Wings winning 4 to 1.  Woo hoo!!!  The Red Wings are in the Stanley Cup Finals!!!  Bring on Pittsburgh!

This 4-1 win finishes this Western Conference Final series at 4-2 Detroit.

Western Conference Finals, Game 5 (5/17/08)

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

Both teams started this game with a lot of energy. The first period featured some great scoring chances both ways, incredible saves, and some big time hits, mostly by Detroit. Drake, Stuart, and Kronwall were all on the prowl and throwing their bodies around.

Dallas scored first when Detroit got caught in the middle of a somewhat sloppy change. Turco saw the opportunity and made a nice outlet pass. A few more passes followed by a shot that beat Osgood and the Stars took the lead.

Detroit kept working and eventually scored on the power play when a perfect pass found Hudler by the side of the net. He shot the puck and Turco made a great save but the rebound came right back to Hudler and he popped it in to tie the game.

There was a lot more action but no more scoring the rest of the period.

In the second period Detroit seemed to have lost a little bit of the fire they showed in the first. There weren’t as many big hits or good scoring chances. The announcer between the benches kept saying that they seemed nervous and they were playing scared hockey. I think that’s ridiculous. To me it looked like they were just over thinking things on the ice. They needed to get into the zone where they just make plays reflexively without the need to think about it. Part of the reason they weren’t doing that, of course, is that Dallas was throwing a wrench into their previously well-oiled machine. The announcer also commented that the ice was bad, which I had hoped would be better than it was in Dallas. Maybe the NHL should shift the hockey season so that the playoffs happen earlier in the year to avoid the bad ice situations.

Anyway, Detroit got caught again on a bit of a messy change when Chelios went to the bench and Lebda got caught in a 2 on 1 against him. The Stars converted that play into a 2 to 1 lead and that’s how the period ended.

The announcer between the benches also said some stupid stuff about how nobody would have guessed that the score would be 2 to 1 Dallas in the second period and how Detroit was just stunned. Again ridiculous. What is so remarkable about it being 2 to 1 Dallas? Apparently, he was expecting Detroit to be winning 147 to 0 by that point in the game. But I digress.

In the third period Detroit pressured hard. There’s not much to say about it except that Dallas was able to stop the Red Wings every attempt. Dallas’ defense was very good. They were always in the way and Detroit wasn’t able to score. The game ended with Dallas winning 2 to 1.

So now Dallas is right back in this thing, one win away from tying it up. I can’t help but thing that this all stems from the confidence Dallas gained from winning game 4. A win which itself stemmed from the confidence they gained from taking the lead for the first time in the series. A lead which was the result of a perfect Red Wings goal being disallowed. Detroit has moved past that botched call, but I’m obviously still bitter. Today’s game never should have been necessary.

Oh well, that’s life. We’ll try again on Monday.

This 2-1 loss brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to 3-2 Detroit.

Western Conference Finals, Game 4 (5/14/08)

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Dallas looked a little sluggish for the first minute or two, but then they amped it up and pressured the Red Wings for most of the first period.  Detroit was was penlalized 3 times so they spent a large part of the period shorthanded.  They did well just to keep Dallas off the board.  Osgood made some big saves and there were lots of good defensive plays but the Wings weren’t able to put much together in the way of a sustained attack.  Even though the there was no score, it still felt like the first period was advantage Dallas.

In the second period it was Detroit’s turn to get 3 power plays.  On the first one they scored a textbook power play goal with Datsyuk shooting and Holmstrom screening.  The only problem is that it didn’t count because the referee ruled that Holmstrom was in the crease when in fact he was not.  They didn’t call him for interference, just being in the crease, which he wasn’t.  It was a truly terrible call.  If I were the type to believe in conspiracies I’d think that the ref had some money on the game.  I’m not that type so I just think he made a mistake.  A big, big mistake.  With all the power plays, Detroit had much more offense in the second period and lots of shots that were painfully close to going in but never did.  With only about twenty seconds left in the period Dallas scored a goal with a shot that bounced off the skate of one of their players who happened to be standing in the crease about as deep as Osgood was.  That goal was allowed, though.  The period ended with the Stars up 1 to 0, leading for the first time in the series.  I needed to take a break and cool down after that period and in fact, I’m still angry thinking about those calls.

Early in the third period Detroit scored to tie the game.  Datsyuk made a nice pass to Zetterberg who burned Turco with a great shot.  Dallas scored next to re-take the lead.  Detroit pressured hard but Dallas ended up scoring again to make it 3 to 1.  Detroit pulled the goalie and got some power plays in the final two minutes.  It was like a tornado in front of the Stars net but the Red Wings weren’t able to score any more goals.  Dallas was a much tougher team to play against when they had lead.  All through the period I kept thinking how this was the first time that the Stars had led in the series and that they wouldn’t have had the lead in the first place if it weren’t for the terrible call on the disallowed goal.  The Stars can thank poor officiating for the lead, the confidence, and the win.  I wouldn’t think that was a very satisfying way to win a game.  I can’t wait to hear the explanation of that call.

Another thing that I noticed in both of these game in Dallas is that the ice seemed to be really bad.  I know that both teams are playing under the same conditions but poor ice is probably tougher on the Red Wings since their game requires so much stick handling, and crisp passing.  Looks like we’ll have to wait until Saturday and then put this one to bed in front of the home crowd.

This 3-1 loss brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to 3-1 Detroit.