Archive for May, 2010

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 5 (5/8/10)

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Tonight it was the second do or die game for the Red Wings in this series against the Sharks. After the pummeling delivered by the Wings in game four the Sharks were expected to show some serious push back. The starting goalies were Nabokov and Howard. Brad Stuart was a game time decision. Luckily he was able to go so he was in the lineup tonight after taking a hard hip check from Blake and missing most of game four. Lebda was also in the lineup tonight as an extra defenseman.

The first period was mostly all San Jose. They applied a ton of offensive pressure. The shots were 15 to 6 in favor of the Sharks. Jimmy Howard was superb however and the Wings weathered the storm. The bounces were going the Red Wings’ way as there were several chances where the Sharks missed the net or had the puck jump over their sticks. The penalties were going against Detroit though. There were only two penalties in the first period and both went against Franzen. The second one still had 27 seconds which carried over to the second period. I think the Red Wings were pretty happy just to have escaped the first period without giving up a goal.

The Wings killed off the rest of the penalty to start the second period. Then they started to generate a little offense of their own. Rafalski shot from the point with Bertuzzi screening Nabokov. The puck hit the post and went in. So although San Jose had played better to that point, the Wings had the lead. The can be very demoralizing for the other team.

Than a few minutes later Stuart was called for elbowing. Demers shot from the point and the rebound came to Thornton who popped it home for the game tying goal.

The rest of the second period was pretty much all Red Wings. Detroit had more power plays in the second period and were able to pull even and then take the lead in shots on goal. There were a few sequences where they came extremely close to scoring. They were getting lots of traffic in front. In spite of the heavy effort level though, the tie held to the end of the second period.

In the third period Pavelski had a breakaway against Kronwall who missed the puck and then got turned around. He hooked him to prevent the scoring chance and Pavelski was awarded a penalty shot. He came to the net with speed and missed high over the crossbar on Howard’s glove side.

Later in the period Franzen was hit in the head by Murray and leveled. He was down for a while but most of it took place during a TV timeout. There was no penalty on the play. After the TV timeout the Wings had the faceoff in their own end. Rafalski ended up with the puck behind the net. Heatley pressured him enough to free the puck and it went to Thornton. He passed to Marleau in front who quickly shot and scored to break the tie.

A few minutes later Stuart laid a big hit on Murray from his blindside and stunned him pretty good. At least he was paid back for the hit on Franzen.

The Red Wings stepped it up even more. The hitting was ferocious and there were many dangerous scoring chances. They pulled the goalie with a little over a minute and a half left. Then with about 50 seconds left Boyle was called for holding so the Wings had a 6 on 4 for the rest of the game. It was a valiant effort but the Red Wings were not able to tie the game and Sharks clinched the series.

The Wings played a great road game tonight but it just wasn’t enough. They started out on their heels in the first period but they weathered that storm and then took over in the second and third. This was an extremely close series. Every Sharks win was very close.

So ends this season for the Red Wings. They faced a ton of adversity this season and in the end I think they emerged even better.

Probably the best thing to come out of this season was the blossoming of Jimmy Howard. He already played like a veteran and now he has playoff experience as well. He knows what it takes to win in the playoffs and he’s experienced losing. I have very high hopes for the future with him in net.

This 1-2 loss finishes this Western Conference Semifinal series at 1-4 San Jose.

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 4 (5/6/10)

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

It was do or die for the Red Wings tonight. They faced the Sharks at Joe Louis Arena down three games to none. Lebda was out of the lineup tonight and Lilja was back in. Also, Jason Williams was out and Ritola was in. The goalies were Howard and Nabokov. Babcock also did some line juggling for this game. Datsyuk was on a line with Filppula and Holmstrom, and the second line was Franzen, Zetterberg and Bertuzzi.

In the first minute of the game Detroit was called for too many men on the ice. Luckily the Red Wings were able to kill it off.

Then Brad Stuart took a hit from Rob Blake. It was a hip check that caught him right in the thigh. He left the ice right afterwards and then left the bench.

A few minutes later the Red Wings had their own power play when Helminen tripped up Lidstrom. The Sharks almost killed it off but with just a couple of seconds left Zetterberg passed the puck to Franzen with Bertuzzi in front of the net. Franzen shot it and it hit Bertuzzi’s leg and went in. That gave the Red Wings the all important first goal and the early lead in the game.

Later in the first, Zetterberg passed it Franzen in front of the net. It was in tight and it hit Franzen’s skates. The puck bounced behind him and he quickly turned around and shot it. Nabokov had no chance, the net was wide open. That made it two nothing Red Wings. The Sharks thought there should have been goalie interference called because there was contact between Franzen and Nabokov. I’m actually surprised they didn’t call it. Nabokov was outside the crease but Franzen did bump into him. It wasn’t a hit though, he just brushed into him.

Just past the halfway point of the first period Bertuzzi had the puck in the zone and waited for Franzen to catch up. He dished it behind him to Franzen who ripped one that beat Nabokov cleanly for a top shelf goal over the glove. That made it three to nothing Red Wings very early in the game. The fans threw hats because the first goal was awarded to Franzen on the ice but it was clear that it hit Bertuzzi so Franzen really only had two.

Just a few seconds later Franzen took another shot but Nabokov stopped it. The rebound came back to him and he shot again and once again scored! So the hats were justified after all and Franzen bagged the rare natural hat trick which is three consecutive goals by one player. That made it four to nothing Wings and there was still over nine minutes left in the first period.

Mickey Redmond said before the game that Franzen needed to step it up. I guess he got his wish!

As the end of the period was approaching Filppula and Holmstrom were in the corner in the Sharks’ end battling for the puck. Dan Boyle tried to backhand the puck to Murray in front of his own net. Instead it bounced off Murray and went toward Nabokov. It hit him and bounced into the net making it five to nothing. That was some seriously bad luck for Dan Boyle who put the puck in his own net during the previous series against Colorado, although that one was also redirected. Filppula got credit for the goal since he was the last Red Wings to touch it.

At the start of the second period they announced that the first goal was officially changed to Bertuzzi and also that Franzen had broken the Red Wings’ record for most points in a period with four. Also, Nabokov was given the rest of the night off and McClellan put in Thomas Greiss.

Early in the second period the Red Wings had a power after Helminen was called for tripping. Rafalski made a nice play to start the rush and passed ahead to Bertuzzi then went up towards the wing. Bertuzzi passed it back to him and he one timed it into the net to make it six nothing. Greiss got a piece of it but not enough to stop it.

Later in the second San Jose had a 5 on 3 power play after Kronwall was called for interference and Lidstrom was called for hooking. Heatley wound up and ripped one by Howard to get the Sharks on the board and then still had over 1:40 of power play time left. The Wings killed off the rest of the power play.

In the third period things got a little ugly. Thornton dumped Holmstrom after the whistle and Franzen came in to defend him. There were a few punches thrown between Thornton and Holmstrom and they both went to the box.

Later, on the power play Lidstrom shot and broke Bertuzzi’s stick as he tried to deflect it. The puck bounced to Franzen who scored again. That was his fourth goal and sixth point which set the Red Wings’ record for most points in a playoff game and tied him with Crosby as the points leader of this playoff season.

Throughout the rest of the third period there were tons of penalties as things got a little chippy. Three game misconducts were handed out to the Sharks and there were a few fighting majors as well.

The final score was seven to one. It doesn’t get much better than that.

The Red Wings were incredible in this game. Led by Franzen, along with Bertuzzi and Zetterberg, and with their backs to the wall, the Wings came through with one of the best games I’ve ever seen them play.

Now they just have to do it three more times. After the way they played tonight it doesn’t seem so farfetched.

This 1-7 win brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to 1-3 San Jose.

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 3 (5/4/10)

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Tonight the Red Wings and the Sharks moved to Detroit for game three. The starting goalies were once again Howard and Nabokov. Eaves was still out of the lineup so Williams was in again. They also had a change on defense. Lilja was replaced with Lebda in order to provide a quicker outlet pass.

In the first period Filppula passed across the slot to Zetterberg who was heading toward the net. The puck went off his skate as he was putting on the brakes and it went in the net. It was called a goal on the ice but it was hard to tell if he was kicking or just stopping. After a lengthy video review the goal was disallowed because of a distinct kicking motion. It was really too close to call so I thought it would have been left as called on the ice but I guess they felt it was definitive enough to overturn the referee’s decision.

A few minutes later the Wings did it again and this time it counted. Franzen brought the puck into the zone and shoveled it ahead to Holmstrom. He sent it back to Lidstrom and they all cycled. Holmstrom went to the net and Franzen circled around to the left side. Lidstrom took it around the back of the net and passed it to Franzen who centered it to Holmstrom. He tapped it in for the first goal of the game. That was some great puck movement and it put the Wings up one to nothing. They again reviewed it and for a moment I thought they were going to overturn that one, too but the call on the ice stood.

Later in the first period Bertuzzi had a nice wrap around try and Nabokov stopped it. Couture shoved the puck into the net goalie’s pads in the crease and he was called for covering the puck and Bertuzzi was awarded a penalty shot. Although this one was in the Red Wings’ favor it was another abysmal call. Couture never covered the puck. He just pushed it with his glove. What a terrible call. Zetterberg took the penalty shot. He tried the backhand and Nabokov gloved it on the goal line. It was an incredible save.

A few minutes later the Wings were pressuring again. Miller got the puck and tried to send it around the back of the net but it hit the referee and came back to him. He passed it to Cleary in the slot who one-timed it into the back of the net to put the Wings up by two with under two minutes left in the period.

The Wings had a nearly perfect period but with less than three seconds left the Sharks scored. Setoguchi had the puck along the back boards. He passed it to Pavelski and went to the slot. Pavelski got it back to Setoguchi who released a turnaround shot that just barely squeaked under Jimmy Howard’s pad while he was moving.

So the first period ended with Detroit up two to one. They had outshot the Sharks 14 to 8 so it was a pretty good period.

Early in the second period Filppula had the puck and sent it deep to Zetterberg near the goal line along the side boards. He flipped it towards the net and it hit Murray’s skate and went right by Nabokov and in. The Red Wings were up by two again.

The Wings ended the second period on the penalty kill after Franzen was called for tripping.

The Red Wings killed off the rest of the penalty but the Sharks had all the momentum to start the third period. The Wings seemed to be on their heels. They were playing conservatively and weren’t generating much offense.

Then the Sharks won a faceoff in the Wings’ end and Thornton ended up with it. He took the puck around the net, stepped out front and fired. The puck hit Datsyuk’s stick and redirected into the net making it a one goal game with over 13 minutes left.

After that Jimmy Howard made several spectacular saves to keep the game under control.

Later Couture took a pass deep in the Wings’ end. He was standing on the goal line when he shot it. It went into Howard’s pads and somehow got through into the net for the game tying goal. That was a pretty soft goal but you have to expect a few of those.

With about three minutes to go Holmstrom was called for inference. Nabokov was way out of his crease and Holmstrom was fighting for position with Boyle. Boyle went down and landed on top of Nabokov who acted like he’d been run through with a bayonet. Holmstrom was called for interfering with Boyle, not Nabokov but they were fighting for position. I guess whoever falls down first get’s the power play. It was absolute garbage.

The Wings killed off that penalty and the score held until the end of the period so the game went to overtime tied three apiece. It was the first overtime game of these playoffs for Detroit.

In the overtime period the Wings had some good chances to score but didn’t get it done. Then with about 13 minutes left in the OT, Detroit had an odd man rush. Williams shot and missed the net. The puck went hard around and came quickly out to Thornton in the neutral zone. He took off with it as Marleau joined him. They were behind everybody except Rafalski. Thornton took the puck into the Wings’ zone and passed across to Marleau who tapped it in for the game winner.

This was clearly a game that the Wings should have won. It seemed like they had it under control and then they were just outworked in the third. Now they have to win the next four games in a row and we all know how likely that is.

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

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 2 (5/2/10)

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Tonight the Red Wings had their chance at revenge after dropping game one to the Sharks. The Wings played well in the last game but the Sharks had three quick goals, most of which were fluky. The Wings have a lot to build on from game one even though they lost. Tonight the goalies were Jimmy Howard and Evgeni Nabokov. Marleau was back in the lineup for the Sharks after recovering from the flu. For the Red Wings, Eaves was out tonight and Jason Williams was in. Eaves was a little bit sore so he got the night off.

This game started out with a lot of pressure from San Jose. Jimmy Howard was stellar in keeping the Sharks off the board. The Red Wings had a few chances of their own but the momentum was mostly going San Jose’s way.

Then, about seven minutes into the game, Datsyuk picked up the puck at his own blue line. He skated through the neutral zone and into the Sharks’ end. He ripped a shot that went over Nabokov’s shoulder and into the net to put the Wings on the board first.

A few minutes later Abdelkader went to the box for slashing. On the power play Pavelski shot one from high in the slot. The puck was tipped somewhere along the way and changed directions a little bit. It got by Howard and tied the game at one.

Just a few seconds after that goal the Sharks scored again. Pavelski set up Clowe this time with a nice centering pass. Clowe received it in the slot, turned around and backhanded it into the net. That put the Sharks up two to one just past the halfway point of the first period.

Not long after that, Rafalski shot one from close to the blue line. Holmstrom was in front of the net screening Nabokov and he tipped the puck into the net to tie the game at two.

Just two minutes into the second period the Wings scored another power play goal. Lidstrom shot from he point and got it through traffic to beat Nabokov and put the Red Wings backup up by a goal. Holmstrom was in front of the net again screening the goaltender again.

The Wings played really hard in the second period and seemed to be generating a lot of momentum. They were still outshot by the Sharks but it’s not surprising since the Red Wings had to kill two penalties.

In the third period the Sharks had a 5 on 3 power play after another phantom call. It was the second one of the night on Bertuzzi alone. During the power there was a big pile up in front of the Wings’ net. Howard was out of the net after making the initial save. Datsyuk was attempting to keep the puck out of the net but it got by him after a shot by Pavelski. That tied the game at three.

Later in the third Lidstrom tried to fire a one-timer but his stick broke and Heatley took off with the puck. He shot it and Howard stopped it but the rebound came right to Thornton in the slot with Howard sprawled on the ice. It was an easy goal for Thornton. That put the Sharks back up by one.

The Wings pulled the goalie at the end of the game but then they took a penalty for too many men on the ice.  They weren’t able to re-tie the game and the Sharks came away with another win.

Believe it or not the Red Wings played a pretty solid road game tonight. The biggest problem was the officiating and I’m not one to normally complain about that. The calls were terrible in both directions. The Red Wings had 10 penalties. I wouldn’t mind that if they actually had 10 infractions but many of the calls should not have been a penalty. The Sharks only had four penalties and at least one of those was completely bogus as well. It seemed like the referees wanted to be the stars of this game. I hate to see bad officiating effect the outcome of a game and that was definitely the case tonight.

The Sharks’ third goal was the direct result of a bad call that went against Bertuzzi and their fourth goal was the direct result of a broken stick for Lidstrom. Hopefully these bad breaks will start to even out in the next game.

This 3-4 loss brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to 0-2 San Jose.