Archive for June, 2009

Yzerman Headed to Hall of Fame

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

The 2009 induction class for the Hockey Hall of Fame was announced yesterday. Steve Yzerman will be inducted this year. Also in the group were former Red Wings Luc Robitaille, and Brett Hull, as well as and Brian Leetch. Lou Lamoriello will also be added as a builder. The indcution ceremoney will be held on November 9th.

Red Wings Part Ways With Chelios

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Chris Chelios will not be returning to the Red Wings next year. Ken Holland declined to offer him a new contract. It’s not much of a surprise and it’s probably a good thing for the team. With the depth that they have on defense it doesn’t make sense to have Chelios on the roster. We saw in the playoffs how great Ericsson is and he deserves the spot. Not to mention all of the other great defensemen on the team. It’s no slight to Chelios, the Red Wings just don’t have room for him.

Ken Holland also said that he believes Chelios has another year left in him. It’s not clear yet if he will try to play somewhere else. I think he’d be a great fit for our local Tampa Bay Lightning. They’ve had a lot turmoil on defense lately. Chelios, with his low cap hit and tons of experience would be great as a stabalizer and a mentor to the younger players.

Thanks to Chris Chelios for 10 years of great play and entertaining hockey. We wish him all the best.

2009 NHL Awards

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Nearly a week after the heartbreak of losing the Stanley Cup, some of the Red Wings and the NHL elite gathered in Las Vegas for the NHL Awards. The Finals are still a fresh and bitter pill but it was time to leave that in the past and honor some great players.

Pavel Datsyuk won the Selke and the Lady Byng. It’s nice to see him recognized for his great play. He was also nominated for the Hart Trophy but that went to Ovechkin.

Zetterberg wasn’t nominated for a single award which is real shame.

For the first time in a long time Nick Lidstrom did NOT win the Norris trophy. Zdeno Chara won it this year.

Ex-Red Wings assistant coach Todd McClellan did not win the Jack Adams Award. That went to Claude Julien.

The least cool part of the night was when former Oiler Glenn Anderson said, “…I thought I was down the street at the Russian Awards.” Apparently, he was referring to Datsyuk and Ovechkin. I don’t think he really thought that one through. They were supposed to be honoring the winners not roasting them. The comment did not get much of a laugh and it made for a bit of an awkward moment.

All in all though, it was a pretty good night. It would have been nice if they’d had a rock band instead of Chaka Khan, but I guess they were trying to class it up a little this year.

Congratulations to Pavel Datsyuk on bringing home two nice pieces of hardware this year!

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 7 (6/12/09)

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Everything was on the line tonight as the Penguins and Red Wings faced off in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals.  The building was electric. The crowd was noisy and the team was pumped and ready to go.

Osgood and Fleury were the goalies for the final time this season. There were no lineup changes for Detroit. For Pittsburgh, Sykora was out and Satan was in.

The Red Wings started the game with a lot of hits and a lot of hustle. Early on Cleary won a race to negate an icing and Helm was flying around hitting everybody. Both teams had some great scoring chances but both goalies were looking good. The Penguins had the first power play when Stuart was called for a slash. The Wings did a good job killing the penalty.

The first period ended with no score. Both teams seemed to be playing their best. The Penguins outshot the Wings, but they also had a power play and the Wings didn’t.

Early in the second period Stuart tried to clear the puck from the corner. Malkin intercepted it with his skate and directed it towards Talbot. He shot and put it between Osgood’s legs and into the net for the first goal of the game. Eddie Olcyk later pointed out that the puck was dumped in from the Penguins side of the ice so it should have been an icing but it wasn’t called.

A few minutes later Franzen put a good hip check on Crosby. With Crosby hanging on his back, Franzen rode him into the boards. Crosby’s leg got pinned between Franzen and the boards and it seemed to hurt him. He was very slow to get to the bench and then went to the dressing room, still very slowly.

A few seconds later Gill was called for holding and Detroit went on the power play. The Wings failed to score on the power play but they did generate some good chances.

Just passed the midpoint of the second period Talbot took the puck away from Stuart and had a two on one breakaway against Kronwall. Talbot shot it and beat Osgood high on the glove side. That put Pittsburgh up two to nothing.

Throughout the second period Pittsburgh seemed to have more energy. The Wings were turning the puck over a lot. They didn’t seem to be clicking. They were going offside a lot and looked pretty sloppy for a few minutes.

The second period ended with the Penguins still up two to nothing.

Detroit was pressuring for the entire third period. It looked like a power play most of the time. The Red Wings finally got on the scoreboard late in the third period. Lidstrom got the puck from one point to Ericsson at the other point. Ericsson one timed it and beat Fleury. That made it two to one Pittsburgh with just over six minutes left in the game.

The Red Wings pulled Osgood for the final minute but weren’t able to tie the game. Right at the buzzer Lidstrom had a glorious chance but Fleury dove and stopped the puck with his body.

The Penguins won the Stanley Cup. The Conn Smythe trophy went to Malkin.

As great as the Red Wings were, they were outplayed in this game and this series. They had too many turnovers, and spent too much time in their own end. It was a great battle. I think both teams were better this year than they were last year but Pittsburgh improved just a little bit more. Stuart had a tough game in tonight. None of the Red Wings top scorers were able to generate much offense in this series. Hossa, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Holmstrom, and Franzen were pretty effectively shut down by the excellent defense of the Penguins.

Osgood was not the weak link as he was predicted to be. He was fantastic. The weak link turned out to be fatigue in my opinion. The Wings were somewhat banged up and looked tired at a lot of points in this series.

Congratulations to the Red Wings on a great season. They’ll be back next season and will probably be better than ever.

Congratulations also to the Pittsburgh Penguins on a legendary playoff run and on winning the Stanley Cup.

This 1-2 loss finishes this Stanley Cup final series at 3-4 Pittsburgh.

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 6 (6/9/09)

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Tonight it was the Red Wings and the Penguins in game six of the Stanley Cup Finals. Detroit had the chance to win the cup in Pittsburgh for the second year in a row. There were no lineup changes for the Red Wings in this game. For the Penguins, Sykora was in and Satan out.

I was in my home town of Bay City, MI to watch this game. I watched it with family members at my aunt and uncle’s house. It was great to be able to watch the game again with a group a Red Wings fans.

Early in the first period Zetterberg was called for goalie interference when he was pushed into Fleury by Staal. It was called by the referee in neutral ice, not the one right behind the net so you can guess if it was a good call or not. In any event the Wings killed it off.

Then Filppula was called for tripping and they killed that off, too.

The first period was not great for the Red Wings. They were badly outshot and out chanced by the Penguins. The Wings were lucky to be even after the first period. Shots on goal were 12 to 3 in favor of the Penguins. There were several good chances where the Penguins could have scored. Osgood was playing well as usual and kept the Wings in the game. The Wings did have a few good chances of their own but they didn’t score.

Early in the second period the Wings got caught in a line change and Staal made them pay with a quick goal. That made it one to nothing Penguins.

Datsyuk got hit in the head and knocked to the ice and there was no call. It looked like an elbow to the face. I guess they must have missed it because it looked to me like a clear penalty.

The second period wasn’t much better overall than the first. The Wings were outshot 12 to 9 in the second which made the shot total 12 to 24 for the game. That’s not a good indicator for the Wings but the good thing is that it was only one to nothing. The Wings had Osgood to thank for that.

Early in the second period Kennedy scored for the Penguins. He came around from behind the net and shot it. Osgood wasn’t able to control the rebound. Kennedy shot it again and made it two to nothing Penguins.

In the third period Ericsson shot from the point and Fleury stopped it. The rebound came right back out front and Draper picked it up and put it in the net. It was a great heads-up play by Draper. Just like that the Red Wings were right back in the game.

Malkin was called for crosschecking at the midpoint of the third period. That was the first power play of the night for the Red Wings. They had a few great scoring chances. Datsyuk was especially good during the power play but they didn’t tie the game.

Then Draper was high sticked in the face. That gave the Wings their second power play but they still weren’t able to tie it up.

They pulled Osgood for the last minute or so but they didn’t get it done.

This didn’t seem like that bad of a game but the shots on goal and scoring chances show that it was pretty one sided. Detroit had the same problems that they had in game five. They looked tired and couldn’t really put much together. I think Pittsburgh just plays that much better at home. They’re energized by the crowd. Also getting last change really helps them. I thought that having Datsyuk back might be enough to help the Wings win this one. He did have a great game but they just didn’t have it tonight. They didn’t seem to be hitting as much or flying around like they normally do. They seemed slower and they seemed to have trouble making plays. The Penguins were on top of them very quickly.

It’ll all come down to game seven now. I don’t know if I can take it. If it goes into overtime I’ll probably have a heart attack. Hopefully, the Red Wings will be able to pull off one more superb performance like they did in game five.

I’ll be home for game seven. We’ll be returning to Florida tomorrow so I’ll be back to watching the Wings by myself.

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

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 5 (6/6/09)

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

Tonight Pittsburgh was in Detroit for game five of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Red Wings. I was lucky enough to be in Michigan for a graduation party and family reunion. I arrived in Detroit in the late morning and drove straight through to Charlevoix. We arrived at about 5:30 PM and after a cookout, went to the Town House bar in downtown Charlevoix to watch the game with a dozen or so friends and family members. It was great to watch the game with a roomful of Red Wings fans. That’s a very rare experience for me.

That’s also the reason that I was late getting this article posted by almost a full day.

Datsyuk was ready to go for the Red Wings so he was finally back in the lineup. The only injury for the Wings was Lilja and he’s been out for several months so they’re used to dealing with that. Luckily Ericsson has been fantastic filling in on defense.

The Red Wings started out with good energy. They looked ready to go right from the start. The return of Datsyuk was a big factor. They looked much better defensively.

With about six minutes left in the first period Detroit drew first blood. Datsyuk brought the puck into the zone and passed it across the ice to Cleary. He ripped one that beat Fleury for the Red Wings’ first goal making it one to nothing.

The Wings held that lead until the end of the period and went to the dressing room up by one.

To start the second period, the Red Wings were on a power play that carried over from the first period. Just after the penalty expired Osgood made a long pass down the ice to Hossa in the offensive zone. He passed to Filppula in the slot. Filppula went strong to the net and backhanded one between Fleury’s legs. It was a great play all around. It was nice to see Osgood get a point for the assist.

Later in the second period Detroit had another power play. It didn’t take long for them to cash in. Franzen passed it to Kronwall in the corner. He skated it right to the front of the net and put it in. What a strong play by Kronwall. It was a thing a beauty. That made it three to nothing.

A few seconds later Malkin elbowed Franzen in the face and was called it. Detroit was really pressuring on the power play. They were in Pittsburgh’s end for long stretches getting great chances. Then they got it back to Rafalski at the point after a faceoff win. He moved up near the top of the circle and released a huge snapshot. Holmstrom was in front being a menace. The puck changed direction a little bit and went in giving the Red Wings a four to nothing lead.

Later in the period Kunitz and Helm got into it a little bit. Helm didn’t really do anything to defend himself while Kunitz dropped his gloves and tried to pull Helm’s jersey over his head. He was throwing punches and Helm just stood his ground without punching back. It was a stupid thing for Kunitz to do and indicated how the Penguins were starting to lose their composure. It was smart play by Helm to keep his cool. The way the game had been going the Red Wings didn’t need a lift and going back on the power play negated any boost that Pittsburgh might have felt from Kunitz’s feistiness

On the power play Samuelsson had the puck along the boards. He got it to Hudler at the point. Hudler passed to Zetterberg in front of the net. Zetterberg roofed it and it was five to nothing Wings with over four minutes to go in the second period.

At that point they pulled Fleury and put in Garon.

As the game was winding down the Penguins started taking cheap shots at the Wings. Dupuis hit Kronwall in the head and he got his stick up there, too. It got a little ugly. Three Penguins ended up getting 10 minute misconducts.

Osgood made 22 saves and got the shutout. It was such a dominant performance by the Red Wings. The fatigue that they displayed in the previous game was entirely gone. Being at home was probably a huge boost. Hopefully, they’ll be able to play as well in Pittsburg on Tuesday.

I’ll be in my home town of Bay City for the game on Tuesday so I’ll be watching with a room full of Wings fans once again. I may be a bit late with blog post again.

This 0-5 win brings this Stanley Cup final series to 3-2 Detroit.

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4 (6/4/09)

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Tonight it was game four of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Penguins and the Red Wings. Pittsburgh’s lineup was unchanged. For the Red Wings Draper was back for tonight’s game. Datsyuk was a game time decision and skated a lot during warm-ups. Just before the game they decided that he wasn’t able to go. As close as he was today, hopefully he’ll be ready by Saturday night.

Just barely into the second minute of the game the Red Wings were called for their first penalty. Kronwall went to the box for a trip. On the power play Detroit did a got job at first but then Pittsburgh got control in the offensive zone and started moving the puck. The Red Wings had a few chances to clear but couldn’t really get control. There were a couple of point blank shots in a row. The second one went wide and Osgood moved over to the side of the net. It bounced quickly off the back boards and Malkin put it in behind Osgood before he could reset himself. Pittsburgh had the early one to nothing lead. You can’t really fault Osgood on that goal. It’s asking a lot him to stop three shots in two seconds from three different angles.

Osgood made a big stop when Crosby had a breakaway. The Wings couldn’t seem to control the puck. The passes were always in the wrong spot and they’d just end up giving the puck away. It’s a good thing Osgood was sharp. The Red Wings were getting a lot of shots and chances but they weren’t very good quality. The puck was bouncing a lot and Pittsburgh playing ridiculously tight.

Detroit had a power play chance but couldn’t capitalize. Then near the end of the period both teams traded high sticking calls within 10 seconds of each other so it was 4 on 4 for close to two minutes. That really opened up the ice a lot and things looked better for Detroit. Helm was in and being effective as usual. He made a great pass to the front of the net for a chance by Cleary that didn’t go. Then Helm cut off the clearing attempt by Scuderi. Helm shot the puck and it found the back of the net. Thank goodness for Helm!

The 4 on 4 seemed to energize Detroit for the rest of the period. They continued getting good scoring chances. I think this was another case of the great play of Darren Helm motivating the rest of the team. The Wings didn’t score during the surge but they did build some momentum that would hopefully carry over to the second period. I felt relieved that it was one to one after the first period. Even though the Wings were outshooting and out chancing the Penguins it felt like Pittsburgh had the advantage in the first.

In the first minute of the second period things looked pretty bad. Right off the bat Hossa turned it over to Crosby in the Red Wings zone and he had two good chances on Osgood. The turnovers have been so frustrating to watch. I felt better a few seconds later though. Zetterberg got the puck back to Brad Stuart who shot it from the point and it made it into the net. Fleury couldn’t see the puck because two of his own players were in his way. Filppula was in position for a tip but it wasn’t needed. Two to one Red Wings.

Detroit had a power play and then got another one with two seconds left on the first one. Malkin came out of the box after the short 5 on 3 and the Penguins started some aggressive penalty killing. During Detroit’s power play Staal brought the puck into the Red Wings end. He got in behind Rafalski and shot on Osgood. The shot beat Ozzie and tied the game at two.

Just a minute or two later Detroit turned it over in their own end and Pittsburgh turned it into a breakaway with Malkin and Crosby. Ericsson dropped down and blocked the first pass from Malkin to Crosby but the puck came right back to Malkin. On his second try he got the pass across to Crosby who put it in the net and put the Penguins up three to two.

Detroit looked flustered after that and almost gave up another one with some sloppy play in their end.

A few minutes later Pittsburgh scored again. They were passing all over the place. It was tic tac toe and Kennedy put it in the net. None of these goals were Osgood’s fault and in fact he had about three or four point blank saves during the same time frame. It probably should have been six or seven to two by that point in the game. The Wings looked like they just weren’t able to keep up with the Penguins anymore. They looked tired. Detroit had given up three goals in five and a half minutes.

Zetterberg turned the puck over to Malkin as the final seconds of the period were ticking away. He took it to the net and shot it. Osgood stayed with it all the way and caught it like it was no big deal as time expired.

In the third period Pittsburgh continued playing phenomenally well. Detroit continued to get chances but aside from few golden opportunities it was nothing too threatening.

With just under two minutes left Osgood went to the bench for the extra man. Kunitz got the puck heading towards the empty net. Kronwall hooked him. Kunitz tried to one hand the puck into the net. I don’t know if it was because of the hook or if he was showing off but he missed the net. The Penguins had a power play for the rest of the game and Detroit wasn’t able to do anything offensively.

The game ended four to two. The better team won in this game. Even though Detroit had lots of shots and chances they just didn’t play nearly as well as the Penguins. The most frustrating part was the number of turnovers that Detroit had. Very often the Wings would take the puck away from the Penguins and then pass it right back to them. That happened a lot in the Red Wings end and often turned into scoring chances for the Penguins.

The Wings are going to have to regroup and rest up and come back with some serious energy in game five. Hopefully Datsyuk will be back by then because I think they’re really missing him especially defensively.

This 2-4 loss brings this Stanley Cup final series to a 2-2 tie.

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3 (6/2/09)

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

The Red Wings and Penguins shifted to Pittsburgh for game three of the Stanley Cup Finals. The goalies were Osgood and Fleury and the lineups were unchanged for both teams.

The Pittsburgh fans were out in force with their white t-shirts. Even though they’re the enemy I have to admit that’s really cool looking. Of course they were also booing Hossa every time he touched the puck.

The biggest concern for the Red Wings was probably that Bylsma would have a much easier time of getting Crosby on the ice when Zetterberg wasn’t out there. Zetterberg certainly did a great job against Crosby in the first two game but it’s such a team effort on defense that I think Crosby will still find a lot of traffic in his way even with Zetterberg on the bench.

The Penguins had some chances in the first couple of minutes, one by Crosby. The Wings converged well and Osgood made a couple of good stops. The Penguins looked very energized. The Red Wings were just treading water trying to survive the first five minutes.

They almost did it. With just over 15 minutes left in the period, Cleary dove to try collecting a clearing pass that was behind him. He wasn’t able to control it and it was taken by the Penguins still onside. Malkin ended up with it and passed it to Talbot in the slot. He one timed it and beat Osgood for the opening goal.

The Red Wings answered back very quickly. Leino took the puck in and sent it around to Franzen. Franzen gave it back to Leino behind the net. He took it in front of the net and shot. Fleury stopped it and the rebound came to Zetterberg while Fleury was still down. Zetterberg put it into the mostly open net to tie the game. They made it look pretty easy

The first power play of the game went to Detroit at about the halfway point of the first period. Orpik interfered with Cleary and was called for it. On the power play Zetterberg made a pass through traffic to Franzen. Gill got a piece of it but he didn’t control it and it ended up right at Franzen’s stick. He quickly shot it into the net. The deflection of the pass sort of threw off the timing of the play and I think that’s why Fleury missed it. He probably thought that the play was broken up by Gill and relaxed a little. Franzen’s goal made it two to one Wings.

A few minutes later the Penguins had too many men on the ice for about 20 seconds and nobody caught it except Eddie Olcyk.

With about five minutes left Cleary was called for holding and the Penguins went on the power play. Lidstrom tried to clear the puck and Crosby cut it off and had it point blank chance on Osgood. He shot it and Osgood went down and corralled it. It was a great save on what looked to be an easy goal.

Then Malkin made a pass across the ice to Letang. He shot it and it hit Kronwall’s skate and changed direction slightly. It was just enough to make Ozzie miss it. The game was tied at two with four minutes left in the first.

With just under two minutes left Franzen was called for tripping when his stick got caught in Adams’ skates. The Wings killed the penalty for the rest of the period. They still had two seconds of power play time left for the start of the second period.

It was a very exciting first period. Zetterberg was fantastic. Both teams played pretty well. The Red Wings had more shots but overall it seemed pretty even.

The second period was another high energy period. There was a lot of back and forth action but the defense was tight at both ends. Samuelsson hit a post and there were a few chances the other way early on. For most of the rest of the period it was dump, chase, battle, and clear without much of a real scoring threat.

Then Helm came out and worked his magic. He had the puck for a long time and ended up drawing a penalty. Detroit didn’t score on the power play but they generated a lot offense and it carried over to after the power play ended. They kept up the pressure for the rest of the period. Despite some great chances there was scoring in the second and the period ended still tied at two.

In the first few minutes of the third period the Penguins had some great scoring chances. The Wings got stuck in their own end needing a change and then iced it. The Penguins came close to scoring and then continued the pressure on the next shift. Osgood made a few big saves to hold the tie.

Halfway through the period Ericsson was called for interference. It was a pretty weak call especially considering all the non-calls that Pittsburgh had including too many men on the ice and a punch by Kunitz to Franzen’s ear. On the power play Letang shot the puck from the blue line. It redirected a time or two. Gonchar tipped it last. There was no way Osgood could have stopped it and the Penguins were up three to two.

With about a minute left Osgood went to the bench for the extra attacker. Almost immediately Talbot got the puck and put it in the net.

That was it for this one. The Penguins were right back in the series. The Red Wings again seemed to have too many turnovers, although the stats didn’t really reflect that. In general they play well, though. Just like the games that Detroit had won, this one was pretty even. A few different bounces and the outcome could have been different. I didn’t really expect a sweep but it was still disappointing. I wasn’t happy with some of the calls the referees missed or with some of the things they did call. I can’t really say was very consistent or even.

This 2-4 loss brings this Stanley Cup final series to 2-1 Detroit.