Archive for June, 2008

RED WINGS WIN!!!

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

The Detroit Red Wings have won their 11th Stanley Cup!  Congratulations to the entire Red Wings organization.  What a great season!

Congratulations also to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  They made it one hell of series.  From game 3 on I never once felt confident.  They showed a lot of heart, class, and character.

Now….it’s time to party!

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 6 (6/4/08)

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

It was nearly two days after the disaster that was game 5 and I think the players had probably recovered more than I had.  The last game was still hurting me.  To lose the way they did, after being 34 seconds away from winning it all, was so painful for me as a fan and I can’t even imagine what it was like for the players.  There’s only one cure for something like that and its initials Stanley Cup.

Game 6 offered the Red Wings the promise of redemption, retribution, and jubilation.

In the beginning of the first period the Red Wings looks a little bit shaky, not as bad as in game 5, but they had a few sloppy passes and defensive breakdowns.  Mostly, I think these problems were caused by Pittsburgh playing very aggressively more than any nervousness on the part of the Wings.

The Penguins were called for a penalty which was pretty clearly embellished by Maltby.  I really hate to see players diving like that, even when the call favors the Red Wings.  The important things is that the Red Wings scored a power play goal that went from Datsyuk, to Zetterberg, to Rafalski to the back of the net.

The Red Wings played fairly well after that and even killed off a 5 on 3 penalty after Drake was called for charging and then Draper was called for boarding.  I couldn’t really tell if the charging call was legit because of the camera angle, but the call on Draper was fair.  I don’t know what he was thinking.  He came in high with his arms up hitting the Gonchar from behind and shoving his head into the glass.  They’ll call that one every time.

For most of the second period the Red Wings looked very good.  They were shutting down the neutral zone and had the puck most of the time just like they did in the first two games.  They got another goal that was scored when Filppulla picked up a rebound and put it between Fleury’s legs.  The crowd seemed to be losing their voice and the Penguins players seemed worn out.

Then things changed when the Penguins scored a goal as Malkin finally got the monkey off his back.  After the goal Detroit had a power play that Pittsburgh killed off.  The momentum seemed to be swinging back in Pittsburgh’s favor.  The period ended with the Red Wings up 2 to 1 and, and needing just 20 more minutes of solid hockey to win the cup.

In the third period the Red Wings went into shutdown mode and looked pretty fantastic for most of the period.  The Red Wings scored another goal that was pretty unfortunate for the Penguins.  Zetterberg took a shot and it looked like Fleury had it but had trickled between his legs and stopped just in front of the goal line.  Everybody except the ref thought that the puck was under Fleury.  The players mostly all stopped and nobody noticed the puck.  Eventually, Fleury fell back onto the puck and knocked it into the net with his butt.  It’s one of the things that happens in hockey.  It was a bad break for the Penguins but that’s the way it goes.  Over a 7 game series, these kinds of things will hopefully even out.  Remember Kronwall putting the puck in his own net in game 5.

With that goal the Red Wings were up 3 to 1.  They were shutting down the Penguins very well when Hudler was called for hooking.  It was a really weak hook, no effect on the guy being hooked, but it’s the type of thing they’ve been calling all year.  I didn’t expect that type of call with less than two minutes to go and the cup on the line.  The wings were shorthanded because of the penalty and also the Penguins had pulled the goalie for another attacker.  With around a minute left the Penguins got the power play goal.  I had flashbacks of game 5 and just felt sick.  The Red Wings had to kill off the rest of the game still shorthanded since Fleury was on the bench.

As the clock wound down, Hossa had one last chance that nearly beat Osgood but he saved it.  Hossa took another crack at it and luckily the puck went straight across the goal line without crossing.  The last sequence had me nearly screaming in panic.  Once I realized the game was over and I was not having a heart attack, it was such a relief.  I realized I hadn’t breathed in a while, so I went ahead and did some of that.  It felt pretty good.

This 3 to 2 win earns the Red Wings the Stanley Cup!

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 5 (6/2/08)

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

With the Red Wings leading the series 3 games to 1, they were in a position to win the Stanley Cup in this game. The Red Wings focus was on staying relaxed to avoid letting the Penguins back into the series the way they did with the Stars. For the Penguins it was do or die.

The Red Wings didn’t look very good to start the game. Their passes were sloppy, and they made a lot of unforced turnovers. People like to call it nerves but in truth I think they were just trying too hard.

The Penguins were able to score two goals on Detroit. The first one was a shot that Osgood maybe should have had but he was screened a little bit by Lidstrom. The second goal was actually shot by Kronwall in a clearing attempt that went off the skate of a Penguins player and into the net. It’s hard to believe but I think the Red Wings were actually lucky to only be down by two after the first period. There was at least one great chance that Pittsburgh had that was turned away by Osgood. It easily could have been three goals for the Penguins.

The second period started out as bad as the first. There were several terrible turnovers by the Wings. Osgood saved their bacon numerous times or it would have been a blowout. He even stopped Crosby on a breakaway with a brilliant toe save. Helm was one of the hardest working Red Wings to that point in the game and he was rewarded with a goal. The shot looked like it may have redirected off the skate of a Penguins player so that makes up for the one Kronwall shot.

The Red Wings seemed be gaining some momentum at that point. They had a big penalty kill in which the Penguins couldn’t do anything. The momentum didn’t seem to take them anywhere however. The puck was bouncing everywhere, players were over-skating passes. Apparently, heat may have been a factor causing poor ice conditions. It’s too bad the playoffs come so far into summer.

At the end of the second period Pittsburgh suffered two major injuries. Gonchar went hard into the boards and left the ice in pain. Then Malone, who had his nose broken earlier in the series, got hit in the face by a rocket of a shot. He left the ice with blood pouring out of his nose.

In the third period the Red Wings came out looking much better. Babcock had made a seemingly minor change of splitting up Datsyuk and Zetterberg. The effect was incredible. The Red Wings were buzzing like crazy. They had one shot after another, passes were tape to tape, and the Penguins were scrambling. Datsyuk showed great individual effort and got a shot that everybody thought was in. After review, it had hit the crossbar, not gone under it, so the game wasn’t quite tied yet.

Not much later Detroit got a power play goal that was tipped in by Datsyuk to tie the game. Then a short time later Franzen made a sweet pass to Rafalski who scored the go ahead goal.

Detroit put the hammer down and pressured like crazy from that point on. Somehow the Penguins were able to get the puck in deep. They pulled the goalie and the puck ended up near the side of Detroit’s net. The Penguins got a couple of whacks at the puck and squeezed it in between the post and Osgood’s skate to tie the game with only 35 seconds left. The regulation time ended with the game tied.

In the first overtime period Detroit had a truly ridiculous number of quality scoring chances. For most of the period it was all Detroit. Fleury was rock solid however and the Red Wings just couldn’t score. Pittsburgh showed some serious character in this period and in the game in general. The onslaught that they weathered was amazing. I can’t believe that kind of pressure was kept up for that long without a goal by Detroit.

The second overtime was more of the same. The Red Wings had to kill off a second questionable penalty called for goaltender interference. The first one came at the end of the first overtime. Both calls were pretty weak. There was some minimal, unavoidable, and unintentional contact with the goalie that happened during an attempt to score a goal. There was nothing Zetterberg or Cleary could have done differently and the calls should not have been made. Detroit had a power play towards the end of the second OT but still weren’t able to score. There were again lots of chances but no puck luck.

In the third OT the Red Wings were looking good when Jiri Hudler accidentally high-sticked a Penguins player and drew blood resulting in a 4 minute power play. Not long into the power play Sykora got the game winnner for Pittsburgh. Apparently, at some point in the second OT Sykora tapped on the glass and told Pierre McGuire that he would score the game winner. Then eventually he followed through on that promise. Pretty amazing.

It really sucks to be so close to wrapping up the season only to blow it with 35 seconds left in regulation.  Then spend half the night wearing themselves out only lose and have to play again on Wednesday. The Red Wings had so many chances that they failed to capitalize on that I could hardly believe what I was seeing. How many times can you shoot without scoring? You certainly can’t question the heart of anyone in this game but my hat’s off to the Penguins. They really proved that they deserved to be in the Finals and that they aren’t going to roll over. Much respect.

This 4 to 3 triple overtime loss brings this Stanley Cup final series to 3-2 Detroit.