Archive for April, 2010

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 1 (4/29/10)

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Fewer than 48 hours after winning game seven in Phoenix the Red Wings were in San Jose to start game one against the Sharks. The goalies tonight were Jimmy Howard and Evgeni Nabokov. The big news for San Jose was that Patrick Marleau was unavailable for this game because of illness. Apparently had a fever and wasn’t feeling well enough to play.

The first five minutes of the game seemed like the typical feeling out process. Both teams had a few scoring chances but nothing too dangerous. Both goalies seemed to settle in. The energy level seemed good for both teams even though San Jose was rested and Detroit was not.

Holmstrom and Mitchell went after each other a little bit and got matching roughing minors. With only 13 seconds left in the 4 on 4 Filppula was called for slashing. During the 4 on 3 power play the Sharks won a faceoff deep in the Red Wings’ zone. Just after the matching minors expired Boyle made a centering pass to Pavelski in the slot. He let one go that got through the traffic and into the net to put the Sharks on the board first. Howard didn’t have a very good look at that one because of the screen.

Just a few seconds after that goal the Sharks won another faceoff deep in the Wings’ end. They moved the puck around without much resistance. Thornton ended up with it behind the net. He passed it quickly to Heatley driving up the slot. He tapped it in and made it two nothing. The goals were just 56 seconds apart. Detroit was getting a delayed penalty that was negated by the goal. Nabokov was headed to the bench but the Sharks didn’t have the extra skater on yet.

About two seconds after that the Red Wings lost another faceoff in their own end. Pavelski made a diving pass to Setoguchi in the slot. His shot hit Zetterberg’s stick and changed direction sharply. Where else would it go but the back of the net? It was three to nothing Sharks and just barely past the halfway point of the first period. Jimmy Howard wasn’t playing badly. There wasn’t much he could have done about any of those goals.

A minute or two after the Sharks goal Ericsson had the puck along the boards and Cleary was wide open in front of the net banging his stick on the ice. Ericsson got him the puck and Cleary tapped it in to chip away at the Sharks’ sudden lead.

In the second period the Red Wings lost a faceoff in the Shark’s end but Franzen kept after it and the puck ended up coming to Datsyuk along the boards. Datsyuk passed back to Franzen who took it to the slot. Cleary was in front of the net right in Nabokov’s face. Franzen released a perfect shot and Nabokov never saw a thing. That goal made it three to two Wings.

As Lilja was about to get a high sticking penalty a scrum ensued. Abdelkader wrestled with McGinn while Ericsson nailed Couture with a couple of nice rights. The Sharks had a power play because of Lilja’s extra minor. Ericsson and Couture offset and Abdelkader and McGinn got a pass.

Near the end of the second period Cleary collided with Abdelkader and fell down. As he was falling he was run into by Blake and took an accidental shot to the head. He was down for a while and had to be helped back to the bench. Then Franzen was hit in the face with a high stick by Setoguchi and cut badly. Instead of that being called, Franzen was called for tripping and the Sharks had a power play. That was a very questionable call. During their power play Filppula was called for high sticking Setoguchi. There was no doubt that he was hit by Filppula’s stick but his reaction was so overdone that it should have been called unsportsmanlike. Regardless, the Sharks had a 5 on 3 power play but it was interrupted by the second intermission.

The Sharks had almost a minute of 5 on 3 time to start the third. With about 8 seconds left on it Pavelski shot one that beat Howard through the five hole to put the Sharks back up by two goals. Then they had over a minute of 5 on 4 time which the Wings successfully killed off.

A few minutes later the Red Wings answered right back. Franzen got it to Datsyuk in the slot who spotted Rafalski. Datsyuk just tapped it over to Rafalski who flipped it into the back of the net and put the Wings back within a goal.

Howard made some spectacular saves to keep the Wings in the hunt. They pulled him for the extra skater in the final moments but they weren’t able to score.

This was another game where specialty teams was the difference. The Wings were 0 for 5 on the power play and San Jose was 2 for 6. That’s not going to cut it in this series.

For the most part the Wings played well and Jimmy Howard was sharp. However, I think the game winning goal was one that Howard would want back.

The Red Wings showed great resilience tonight but it just wasn’t enough. They’ll get another crack at it on Sunday evening at 8:00pm eastern.

This 3-4 loss brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to 0-1 San Jose.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 7 (4/27/10)

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Tonight the Red Wings and Coyotes went head to head in game seven. It was the first game seven of Jimmy Howard’s NHL career so the pressure was on. The Coyotes’ goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov, had been playing extremely well. The Red Wings would have to score early to rattle him and get some momentum.

Shane Doan was a game time decision but was not able to go tonight.

The Wings had a great scoring chance in the first period and Hanzal had to take a penalty to prevent it. On the power play the Red Wings were all over the Coyotes but Bryzgalov somehow stopped them on several shots that should have been easy goals. It seemed like he might have been getting in their heads a little bit. There were so many chances where Bryzgalov was down or out of position and they just couldn’t get it past him.

At the other end Jimmy Howard looked sharp as well although he wasn’t called upon much. Phoenix had a power play of their own but the Red Wings shut them down.

The first period ended with no score. The shots were 17 to 6 in favor of Detroit. It was a good period for the Wings but the longer Phoenix goes without giving up a goal the more confident they become. It was important for Detroit not to get discouraged or let Bryzgalov get in their heads.

Early in the second period the Wings had another power play when Hanzal was called for slashing. They continued the pressure and, unfortunately, the bad puck luck. At one point Zetterberg had a wide open net and the puck bounced over his stick. It was starting to look like the Red Wings were cursed. Then Lidstrom carried the puck in deep behind the net with Datsyuk and Franzen on either side of the slot and Holmstrom in front. Lidstrom sent it back towards Franzen but it hit somebody and bounced to Datsyuk instead. He settled it down and fired the puck into the back of the net making it one to nothing. That finally got the monkey off their backs.

A few minutes later Eaves was called for tripping. On the penalty kill Helm had a shorthanded breakaway. He was hooked by Aucoin so that negated the Eaves penalty and made it four on four for over a minute and a half. During the four on four Rafalski passed to Zetterberg who hit Datsyuk in stride entering the Phoenix end. He was in behind the defense. He took it to the net like it was a shootout. He made a sweet backhand fake and burned Bryzgalov with a wrister to make it two to nothing Wings. That was the second Datsyuk goal in 1:40.

Jimmy Howard made a couple of monster saves right after that goal to maintain the score.

The Wings killed off another penalty but just after it expired there was a faceoff deep in their own zone. Fiddler won it right to Jimmy Howard. He wasn’t expecting the shot to come so quickly. It hit his stick and bounced into the net to put the Coyotes on the board.

Phoenix seemed to draw a lot of energy from that goal. The crowd was electric. It was important for Detroit to weather that storm or possibly even score. They came very close a few times on the next shift. It was the fourth line guys and Cleary was really tenacious. The pressure helped kill the Coyotes’ momentum and shortly thereafter Aucoin was called for holding Holmstrom during their net-front battle.

On the power play Bertuzzi buried the puck but it was after a very quick whistle that went almost as soon as the puck touched Bryzgalov. The Wings continued to pressure on the power play and it seemed like they had about 100 quality scoring chances. They had the Coyotes pinned deep and on their heels with the Red Wings firing shot after shot at Bryzgalov. The Coyotes were out of gas. Just as the power play was about to expire Lidstrom ripped one from the blue line and got it through the traffic and into the net to make it three to one Wings.

Towards the end of the period Miller fell down into Yandle and tripped him up accidentally. He was called for tripping. During the Phoenix power play Lombardi was called for interference but they also called Helm for diving. It looked to me like he just kept his feet moving and that’s why he went down. I don’t see how they call that a dive. Later in the same power play there was some mayhem in front of the Red Wings net and Stuart was called for hooking so the Coyotes had a 5 on 3 power play for 1:12. Phoenix called their timeout to set it up.

It was a huge kill for the Red Wings and a pivotal moment in the game but they got it done. Just after the second penalty ended Stuart came out of the box and picked up an errant pass. He took off on a breakaway. He stumbled, made a move and scored on Bryzgalov with under five seconds left in the period. That made it four to one and completely deflated the Coyotes. That’s how the second period ended.

In the third period the Red Wings put it in shut down mode. They were all over the Coyotes. The Wings were still generating chances but they weren’t allowing much at all in their own end.

Before the halfway point of the period Filppula shot and Bryzgalov gave up a rebound that went right up the slot. Bertuzzi was flying in and he tapped it by Bryzgalov to add a little more insurance. That made it five to one Wings.

A few minutes later Fiddler was called for a double minor, one for interference and one for roughing. During the power play some idiot threw a bottle on the ice but play was allowed to continue. Lidstrom ripped a shot from the faceoff dot and put it in the top, far corner of the net. The game was pretty much done with the score six to one.

The Coyotes killed off the second minor and the score held until the end of the game.

What a great game this was for Detroit. After a discouraging but well-played first period, the Red Wings took total control of the game. They completely dominated. Everybody played very well. Jimmy Howard was fantastic.

The Coyotes seemed like a pretty tough challenge for the Wings but they’re nothing compared to their second round opponent.  The Sharks await.

This was a great first round for the Wings. Let’s keep it going, guys!

This 6-1 win finishes this Western Conference Quarterfinal series at 4-3 Red Wings.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 6 (4/25/10)

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Today the Red Wings had the chance to close out their first round series on home ice. The two goalies today were Bryzgalov and Howard. Calder Trophy nominee Jimmy Howard has been phenomenal and the rest of the Wings are also on a roll. Shane Doan was out of the lineup again for the Coyotes with an upper body injury but they got Fiddler back for this game.

The Red Wings started the game on the attack. They were passing the puck very well and playing aggressively. They had two power plays that were essentially back to back (there was a one second overlap). Just after the second power play started the Coyotes won a faceoff and dumped it deep in the Detroit end. Stuart brought the puck out to the neutral zone and Korpikoski stole it from him and took off towards the net. Zetterberg got back and tried to block the shot with his stick. He still got the shot away though and beat Jimmy Howard through the five hole for a shorthanded goal. That made it one nothing Coyotes.

During the second power play the Coyotes were called for another penalty. This time there was over a minute of 5 on 3 power play time for the Wings. The Coyotes killed off all the penalty time so all the Red Wings had to show for three Phoenix penalties was a minus one. It wasn’t for lack of trying though. The Red Wings had a ton of great scoring chances and were thwarted by Bryzgalov every time. The action was furious. The hitting was thunderous. The energy level and puck movement were excellent. The Wings were outplaying the Coyotes but the Coyotes had a few very good plays that put them up one nothing and kept them there throughout the first period.

Detroit dominated in the first period in almost every sense except the score. The Red Wings were outshooting the Coyotes 14 to 6.

Early in the second period Holmstrom was called for cross checking. On the power play the Coyotes got the puck to Schneider at the point. He shot it through a bunch of traffic.  It changed direction in front and got behind Jimmy Howard to give the Coyotes a two nothing lead.

Just a few seconds later the Red Wings were pressuring again. Franzen shot the puck and the rebound bounced around and was picked up by Datsyuk. He passed it back to Stuart in the slot. Stuart quickly shot it and beat Bryzgalov to put the Red Wings on the board two to one.

About halfway through the second period the Coyotes were on the power play. The Red Wings won the faceoff in their own end but couldn’t clear. They got stuck there for a long time and were starting to get tired. Lang had the puck along the boards and sent a perfect pass through the slot that found Vrbata heading towards the net. It hit his stick right on the tape and he flipped it into the net making it three to one Coyotes.

A few minutes later the Coyotes won a faceoff in Detroit’s end. They got it back to the point and then to Prucha along the boards. He took it to the top the circle and threw it towards the net. It hit Wolski in front of Jimmy Howard and changed direction. Then it bounced into the net making it four to one Coyotes. It was a total fluke goal.

In the third period Zetterberg was called for tripping and the Coyotes went back on the power play. The Wings killed off most of the penalty but with a few seconds to go Yandle shot from the blue line. Pyatt was in front of the net and he tipped it in to give the Coyotes the lead five to one.

Later Abdelkader put a huge hit on Stempniak. Then Morris came in and started fighting him. He caught Abdelkader off guard and off balance and landed several punches including some while Abdelkader was down on the ice and defenseless. Then a little while later Abdelkader and Yandle got tangled up along the boards and they went at. Abdelkader landed a few nice punches on him. Instead of giving them each five minutes they gave Yandle a minor for roughing and Abdelkader a double minor for roughing. I don’t know how they came up with that but it gave Phoenix a power play.

The Wings killed off the penalty and then at the other end Helm shot the puck from below the goal line. It hit Bryzgalov’s skate and bounced towards the net. The referee said no goal but it was very close to crossing the line so the play was reviewed. On the replay it was still hard to tell if it was in or not but it looked like you could see a little bit of white between the puck and the goal line. Based on the review they awarded the goal to Detroit which made it five to two Phoenix with three and a half minutes left.

The Wings weren’t able to score again so the Coyotes won five to two sending the series to game seven. As the final horn sounded Lepisto chopped Helm on the back of the legs. It sent Helm down to the ice in a heap. Hopefully, it won’t be a problem for him in the next game.

The Coyotes played a really good road game this afternoon. Detroit was dominant in the first period but from that point on the Coyotes took over. Phoenix made it through the first period on luck and great goaltending but in the second and third they were really assertive.

The tendency will probably be to blame Jimmy Howard since on paper it looks like there must have been some bad goaltending. Overall though, he played very well. There wasn’t much he could have done about most of the goals against.

The real story of the game was special teams. Phoenix had three power play goals and one shorthanded. Detroit did not score at all on the power play.

This 5-2 loss brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to a 3-3 tie.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 5 (4/23/10)

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Tonight the Red Wings and Coyotes faced off for game five. One team would end the night just a win away from the second round. Bryzgalov and Howard were the goalies again for this game. Shane Doan was still out of the lineup for the Coyotes. Robert Lang was also out of the lineup again after returning for the previous game. Our other old friend, Mathieu Schneider was in instead.

The first period had a great pace but only a few good scoring chances at either end. Both goalies had some big saves. Towards the end of the period Phoenix iced the puck. In a strange but effective move, Babcock put out his fourth line against the tired Coyotes’ squad. Miller carried the puck in deep and tried to center it from behind the net. It hit the skates of Lepisto and bounced back to Miller. He took it back and tried the wrap around. Bryzgalov made the initial stop but then it hit Fiddler’s skate and went in. It was initially credited to Abdelkader who was right there in front of the net but it was changed to Miller since Abdelkader didn’t touch the puck. It was one to nothing Red Wings.

In the second period the Coyotes got the puck into the Red Wings’ end and worked it in deep. They got it back to the point with Jovanovski in front of the net. Aucoin shot it from the point and Howard stopped it. Jovanovski swept the puck around Howard as he was falling on top of him. Howard complained that he was interfered with. Jovanovski did fall on top of him and it looked like Howard’s leg bent back awkwardly. He seemed to be okay but he didn’t have much of a chance to stop the puck. It easily could have been called interference but I didn’t think it was too terrible. It was determined to be incidental contact which I think was fair. That goal tied the game at one.

In the third period the Red Wings had a power play but weren’t able to score. Hanzal had a breakaway coming out of the penalty box and Howard made two spectacular saves on him. On the second one Howard was already sprawled out and Hanzal took another whack at it. Howard knocked the puck out of the air with his goal stick. It was absolute robbery. Beautiful goaltending!

Helm made a fantastic defensive play in the third period. Howard was all the way over to his right expecting a shot from Fiddler. Instead he wrapped around the back of the net very quickly and Howard wasn’t able to get back in time. Helm saw that play developing and came flying in to the wide open side of the net with his stick down and made a great save to rob Fiddler of an easy goal. Great play by Helm! Ericsson was also right there in good position to help out.

Later in the third period there was a faceoff deep in the Coyotes’ end. Datsyuk won it back to Lidstrom at the point. He fired a shot that was redirected slightly a time or two and somehow ended up behind Bryzgalov but in front of the net. Holmstrom skated through the crease behind Bryzgalov and chased down the puck, popping it into the wide open net for the go ahead goal. That made it two to one Wings with about nine minutes left in the game.

After that goal the Wings had some momentum. They kept up the pressure and were generating some good chances. Then Holmstrom got the puck to Franzen who passed it to Datsyuk in front of the net. Datsyuk got the puck up and beat Bryzgalov over the glove with a backhander making it three to one.

Late in the game the Coyotes’ pulled Bryzgalov. Zetterberg bagged a nice empty net goal that was actually pretty difficult. He had about three Coyotes on him trying to prevent the goal and he scored anyway thanks in part to a nice setup from Filppula.

So the Red Wings won game five four to one and took the series lead three to two. This was a great game for the Wings. They Coyotes played hard but the Wings were better. Jimmy Howard was fantastic once again and the entire team played very well.

The Red Wings will have the chance to finish the first round on Sunday afternoon at 2:00pm in Detroit.

This 4-1 win brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to 3-2 Red Wings.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 4 (4/20/10)

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Tonight’s game was a must win for the Red Wings. They were down 2-1 in the series. If you fall to 3-1 the odds are not good of coming back to win the series, but a win tonight and it would be up for grabs.

The goalies once again were Jimmy Howard and Ilya Bryzgalov. The Coyotes captain Shane Doan was not in the lineup for this game. He was injured in game 3 when he crashed into the boards trying to avoid running into Jimmy Howard. Fiddler was back in the lineup for the Coyotes after missing the previous game.

The Red Wings did some line juggling for this game. Cleary was moved onto a line with Datsyuk and Franzen. Holmstrom was moved onto a line with Miller and Abdelkader.

In the first period Miller and Fiddler got into it a little bit in front of the Coyotes’ net. They didn’t actually fight but they both went off for roughing. They continued to argue while in the boxes. There was some animosity there for sure.

During the 4 one 4 it looked like Filppula had scored. After looking at the replay though it was clear that the puck did not cross the line. It was hard to believe because it looked like it was heading in and then it hit the ice and bounced right back out. It was tumbling end over end and it just happened to bounce the wrong way.

The first period ended with no score. The Wings had a slow start but seemed to play better as the period went on. The Red Wings ended up with approximately double the shots and chances that Phoenix had and were pretty much in control of the puck. They had a few power plays but couldn’t score. The biggest problem for the Wings in the first period was faceoffs. They only won 8 while Phoenix came away with 20.

Late in the second period the Red Wings were on the power play. Kronwall shot from the blue line and Zetterberg was in front. He deflected the puck with his stick and it went up and into the top corner of the net. They reviewed it see if it was touched with a high stick but it was not. There wasn’t much chance that his stick was above the crossbar because the puck went up from where he touched it and it still ended up under the crossbar. That gave the Wings the one to nothing lead. The goal was initially credited to Bertuzzi but wasn’t touched by his stick so that would be changed.

A few seconds after the goal, Datsyuk was called for boarding. During the penalty kill Jimmy Howard’s goalie mask was knocked off and he still made the save before the whistle went. It was quite a display of concentration.

The second period ended with the Wings up by one. Most of the period was rather uneventful. The Red Wings seemed to be dominating in terms of possession but Phoenix was doing a good job of preventing many quality chances. By the end of the period the shots and chances were much closer.

In the third period the Coyotes had 17 seconds of 5 on 3 power play time. The Red Wings killed it off and then killed off the rest of the penalty, too. It was a great kill for the Wings and it really energized the team and the crowd.

Later the Red Wings got the puck in deep. They got it back to Lidstrom at the point. He passed it to Franzen who found an opening to hit Datsyuk on the other side of the ice. Datsyuk fired a perfect shot that got behind Bryzgalov on the short side and found the top corner of the far side of the net. That made it two to nothing Wings with just over four minutes left in the game. It sure was a pretty play.

The Red Wings kept the pressure on and just 25 seconds later they scored again. Bertuzzi won a race to negate an icing and cycled the puck to Zetterberg down below the goal line along the boards. Zetterberg just threw it to the net and it hit Bryzgalov and went in to make it three to zip.

The Red Wings played some great defense for the final five minutes including a penalty kill at the end that was needed when Datsyuk flipped the puck over the glass by mistake.

The Wings got the win and Jimmy Howard earned his first career playoff shutout. It was a great performance by Howard especially considering this was a bounce back game after losing game three and giving up some soft goals. It’s a great sign that he was able to put that all behind him and perform so well in this game.

Detroit played a very physical game tonight. They were really throwing the body around and laying some big hits. Datsyuk and Zetterberg played really well as did Helm and Bertuzzi.

So the Red Wings head back to Phoenix with the series tied at two apiece. It’s a best of three now.

This 0-3 win brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to a 2-2 tie.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 3 (4/18/10)

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

With the series tied at one apiece, the Coyotes rolled into Detroit this afternoon to face the Red Wings in game three. Howard and Bryzgalov were the goalies once again today.

It only took about 30 second for the Coyotes to draw first blood. The Red Wings turned the puck over and the Coyotes got it in deep. They started throwing it at the net, Howard got turned around and everybody was scrambling. Datsyuk swept the puck away from the net to save a goal but it ended up in the slot where Lepisto pounced on it and scored to make it one nothing Coyotes.

Later in the first period Detroit had the first power play of the game. It was a very good power play. The way they were able to move puck and create scoring chances was just incredible. It looked like men against boys. As the power play continued, a rebound came to Filppula and he put it in the net to tie the game at one.

Shane Doan tripped over Jimmy Howard early in the second period and went hard into the boards shoulder first. He left the game at that point and did not return.

Also in the second period Rafalski left with a lower back problem but later returned.

The Coyotes started buzzing toward the end of the second period. Lombardi shot and Howard made the first stop but the rebound came out and Wolski shot again. That one beat Howard to make it two to one just a few seconds before the end of the period.

At about the halfway point of the third period, Vrbata won a faceoff in his own end and started up ice. He passed it to Prucha who angled it off the boards back to Vrbata and went to the net. Vrbata passed it back to Prucha close to the slot. Prucha made a nice move around Jimmy Howard and scored. That gave the Coyotes a two goal lead with about 11 minutes to go.

A few minutes later, after an offensive zone faceoff, the Wings got the puck behind the net and Zetterberg fought to push it ahead to Bertuzzi. He passed it back to Franzen who fired an absolute pinpoint shot that somehow fit through the short side between Bryzgalov and the post to make it a one goal game. What a sniper!

A few minutes after that, the Coyotes scored again. The Red Wings had just made a defensive change and Vrbata ended up with more space than he should have had. He fired a shot that beat Howard cleanly and gave the Coyotes a two goal lead again. That was one that Howard would definitely want back. There was about 8 minutes to go at that point.

Late in the third Bertuzzi got the puck into the net but it was after the whistle, or at least the intent to blow the whistle. On the replay it was pretty clear that the puck was covered before Bertuzzi shoved it (and Bryzgalov) into the net, so I think this was a fair call.

The Wings pulled the goalie in the final few minutes. Then with about 30 seconds left Aucoin flipped the puck over the glass so the Wings also had a power play. Then Jovanovski was called for roughing but the whistle didn’t blow until there was about 5 seconds left. Time ran out before Detroit could score so the Wings lost four to two.

The Red Wings played okay in this game. They were great at times and not so great at other times. The Wings weren’t as good as they were in game two. I’m not sure what the difference was but they’ll have to play a lot better on Tuesday.

This 4-2 loss brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to 1-2 Coyotes.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 2 (4/16/10)

Friday, April 16th, 2010

After a frustrating game one on Wednesday, the Red Wings had another crack at the Coyotes tonight. The Wings played fairly well in the first game. They had a ton of shots but weren’t able to stop the Coyotes’ power play. Hopefully the Wings will be able to build on the positive aspects of the last game and fix the negative ones.

The goalies once again were Jimmy Howard and Ilya Bryzgalov. Abdelkader was in for the Red Wings for this game in place of Jason Williams. Mike Babcock made the switch because he wanted to add more of a physical presence after the hard hitting game one.

At about the halfway point of the first period Zetterberg was fighting for the puck with Hanzal in front the Red Wings net. Hanzal shot the puck and the rebound dropped down in front of the crease. Zetterberg reached for the puck but before he could get it Yandle came flying in out of nowhere and chipped it into the net giving the Coyotes the first lead of the game.

In the second period the Red Wings were on the power play. Kronwall brought the puck through the neutral zone and dropped it off for Zetterberg. He passed it to Filppula and continued toward the net. Filppula passed it back to Zetterberg and he put it in the back of the net. It was a great play that was perfectly executed. That tied the game at one.

Just a few seconds after that goal Phoenix took back the lead. Howard stopped the puck with his glove and tried to pass it off to Kronwall. He wasn’t expecting that. Kronwall spun around and tried to chip it away but it hit Wolski. He got control and shot quickly beating Howard just 38 seconds after the Red Wings’ goal.

Just a few second later the Wings tied it up again. They had got the puck in deep and into the corner. Holmstrom went after it and cycled it back for Franzen. He passed it to Datsyuk in the slot who shot it perfectly into the roof of the net. That tied the score at two each.

A couple of seconds later Lombardi got a lead pass from Doan on a give and go. Lombardi was in behind the defense. Miller tried to catch up to him but he was already beaten. Lombardi shot on Howard and beat him through the five hole. The Coyotes were back up by one at about the halfway point of the game.

A few seconds later, you guessed it, the Red Wings tied it up again. Bertuzzi got rocked at center ice but he still made the play. He chipped the puck ahead to Filppula who took it to the net. Filppula made a quick move and put the puck between Bryzgalov’s legs and into the net.  That was the fifth goal in 3:58 of game time.

At that point there was a very noticeable surge in the Red Wings’ energy level as they went all out trying to score again. Everybody was into it; they were really amped up. It seemed like the final minute of a one goal game except that it just kept going.

That pace continued for the rest of the second period but nobody scored any more goals.

Early in the third period Wolski was trying to get the puck out of his own end and Abdelkader took it away from him and turned it back toward the net. Bryzgalov tried to go for the poke check but Abdelkader avoided it and put the puck in the net making Mike Babcock look like a genius. Abdelkader was having a great game with a bunch of hits and a goal.

The Red Wings continued to play like they were lit on fire. The Coyotes were on their heels. Then at about the halfway point of the period the Wings got caught on a Phoenix breakaway with Lidstrom the only defender in place as Fiddler and Doan came in on the rush. Lidstrom tried to take away the pass but it got through underneath his stick and Doan one timed it into the net tying the game at four.

A few minutes later Zetterberg and Bertuzzi entered the zone. Zetterberg passed to Bertuzzi and went to the net. Bertuzzi shot from the side boards and the rebound dropped down in front of the other side of the net right in front of Zetterberg. Bryzgalov was out of position and Zetterberg popped it into the wide open side of the goal to take back the lead.

As the third period was winding down the Red Wings went on the power play. Fiddler fell heavily and hit the back of his head on the boards. He was quite shaken up. He left the ice and looked really wobbly walking down the tunnel. When the power play continued Stuart shot from the blue line. The puck hit the back boards where Filppula picked it up and circled with Bertuzzi in front screening and Zetterberg hanging around the net. Filppula shot one that Bryzgalov couldn’t get a good look at thanks to Bertuzzi. The puck went in the net and gave the Wings a two goal cushion for the first time in the game with about two minutes to go.

Zetterberg bagged an empty net goal in the final minute. That gave him his first career playoff hat trick. Way to go! Are there free curly fries during the playoffs? :-)

This game was incredible. The Red Wings didn’t look that great in the first period and the shots were even in that one. From the second period on the Wings looked amazing. They were playing very physical hockey. The hitting was fantastic. That really helped open the ice and allow for some excellent puck movement and crisp passing. The energy level was awesome. Great job, Red Wings!

This 7-4 win brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to a 1-1 tie.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 1 (4/14/10)

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Tonight it was game one of Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Red Wings and the Coyotes. The goalies were Jimmy Howard and Ilya Bryzgalov. The Red Wings were wearing their road whites which fit nicely with just about everybody in the arena. It almost looked like they were wearing white for the Wings.

The Wings looked great in the first period. They had a lot of quality shots. Bryzgalov was looking really sharp as well and making some spectacular saves. At the other end the Coyotes had a few bursts of scoring chances but nothing too serious; just enough to get Howard in the game.

Then, after all the big saves Bryzgalov had made, Holmstrom fired one from near the point. Bryzgalov reached for it with the glove and just missed it. That made it one to nothing Wings.

A few minutes later the Coyotes had a power play and Yandle fired from the blue line. Doan was in front of Howard screening him. The puck went in to tie the game at one.

Not long after that the Red Wings had their second power play. They were moving the puck very well. Lidstrom shot the puck from the blue line with about three or four people between him and Bryzgalov. It somehow made it through everybody’s legs. It might have been redirected a time or two but it made it into the back of the net. Bryzgalov never had a chance of stopping that one. I don’t think he even saw it. That made it two to one Red Wings.

The first period was pretty well dominated by the Red Wings. They controlled the puck very well and they were creating a tremendous amount of traffic in front of Bryzgalov. They ended the period with a two to one lead and most of a power play left over to start the second.

In the second period the Coyotes killed off the early power play and then had one of their own about five minutes later. Yandle had the puck and passed it across to Wolski who was wide open. He one timed a bullet of a shot that beat Howard cleanly to tie the game at two.

The Coyotes seemed a lot more aggressive in the second period. There were a lot of big hits by both teams. Doan hit Kronwall and was called for a charge but it looked like a head shot to me. On the replays it looked like Doan hit him right in the face with a forearm. Nobody seemed to react to it though so I guess maybe it wasn’t that bad.

Early in the third period the Coyotes had a power play. They won the faceoff back to Morris who shot from the blue line and beat Howard to take the lead for the first time in the game.

In the third period Lidstrom was hit in the mouth with Fiddler’s stick and cut pretty badly. None of the officials saw it though so instead of a four minute penalty there was nothing. Nice job, refs.

The Coyotes improved even more in the third period. They took the game over. The Wings weren’t able to score even after pulling the goalie in the final minute.

This seemed like three separate games. In the first period the Red Wings had more than double the shots of the Coyotes. The second period was pretty even. And in the third period the Coyotes doubled the Red Wings’ shots. I don’t know if they just wore down the Wings, or if they Coyotes just found their mojo. They definitely had the Wings scrambling in the third period though.

So the Red Wings lost game one three to two. Now they need to shake that off and come back strong on Friday.

This 2-3 loss brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to 0-1 Coyotes.

Red Wings Ready To Rock

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

The playoffs get underway for the Red Wings tonight in Phoenix.  This should be a great matchup.  Phoenix is going to be tough.  On paper the Wings should have them but the games aren’t played on paper and the Coyotes have a lot of heart, not to mention their skill.

This year it’s the Red Wings that are entering the playoffs on a winning streak with a hot young goalie who seems poised to play spoiler to the higher seeded teams.  That’s a switch for the Wings who are almost always one of the top seeded teams.

Tonight’s game is in Phoenix so it has the 10:00 start for us folks in the Eastern Time zone.  It’s going to be tough waking up for work tomorrow but I wouldn’t miss it!

….and one more thing, LET’S GO RED WINGS!

Detroit at Chicago (4/11/10)

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

After a grueling season of ups, downs and injuries the day was finally here. Game number 82. The Wings were facing the Blackhawks in Chicago. The goalies this afternoon were Howard and Niemi.

Both teams started this game with a lot of jam. The game had a great pace and it seemed like playoff hockey. With about five minutes left in the first period Draper was called for interference. On the power play the Hawks got the puck to the net and a scramble ensued. Toews pushed it toward Howard but Howard blocked it back out. It hit Bolland’s stick at that point and bounced between Howard’s legs and into the net making it one to nothing Hawks.

In the second period Cleary got the puck to the front of the net and Niemi stopped it. The puck looked like it hit Madden’s stick and just sat there in the crease for a second. Eaves came flying in and banged it home before Niemi could react. That tied the game at one.

After two periods the Wings were being badly outshot 23 to 12. The Hawks did have one more power play than the Wings had but I doubt they had 11 shots during that extra power play. In the faceoff department he Wings were also being dominated 17 to 11. The numbers looked pretty bad except for the score which was still tied at one.

Nearing the halfway point of the third period the Wings were on the offensive. They had the puck in deep and it squirted back to the point. Rafalski fired it from there and Holmstrom was in front of the net. Holmstrom knocked it down and into the net to give the Wings the lead two to one.

A few minutes later Hossa sent the puck to the net as Fraser went to the front with Stuart on him. Fraser put the puck in the net off his skate but it wasn’t kicked in. That tied it up at two each with a little over nine minutes left.

The Blackhawks had a power play in the final few minutes of the game but the Wings killed it off. They had some great chances but they were turned away by Jimmy Howard and the Red Wings’ defense.

Regulation ended with the score still tied at two so each team got a point.

In the overtime there was a great back and forth battle. Then with just under two minutes to go Zetterberg got the puck in the zone but was triple teamed along the boards. He managed to get a pass to Cleary at the other side of the ice. Stuart was flying up the slot and Cleary hit him with a perfect pass. Stuart fired a wrister that beat Niemi for the win.

This win put Detroit in 5th place which means they’ll be playing Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs. The one good thing about that is that the time difference is slightly better than playing in Vancouver. It’s still rough though. The Blackhawks end up in the second place and they’ll be facing the Predators in round one.

It sure was a heck of a season for the Wings. They overcame a lot of adversity this season. They also are in the midst of a hot streak and they have a red hot goaltender. Just the way you’d want to start the playoffs. Let’s hope for a great run starting next week. Let the beards begin!

This 3-2 win brings us to:
102 points