Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 1 (4/16/09)

The playoffs are finally here. Detroit started their defense of the Stanley Cup tonight at Joe Louis Arena against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Chris Osgood was our starting goalie and Steve Mason was the starter for Columbus. Hossa was back, Cleary was in (despite mid-week rumors), and Draper was out.

This is the first ever playoff appearance for the Columbus Blue Jackets so you can bet the team and their fans will be intense. On the other hand, this is old hat for the Wings and their fans.

There was no score in the first period thanks to some outstanding goaltending by Osgood. The intensity level was high for both teams and the action was fast. Detroit seemed to be killing penalties most of the period. We didn’t see much sustained offense by the Wings until about halfway through the period. They looked really good when they were able to apply some pressure. Defensively, I thought Columbus had way too many chances but that’s because Detroit was shorthanded so much. Luckily, Osgood was on top of his game. He was very sharp and seemed to be seeing everything. If he hadn’t been playing so well it could have been four or five to nothing. After seeing the first period I thought that the Wings and especially Osgood had answered the question of whether or not they would have the intensity level necessary for the playoffs. They looked confident but not over confident.

The first half of the second period was more of the same. There were lots of chances but nothing came together. Shortly after the halfway point of the period Filppula and Hudler ended up with a two on one. Filppula got the puck across to Hudler who shot it passed Mason to open the scoring.

Then just a few seconds later, Columbus answered. Kronwall stumbled and lost the puck deep in his own zone. Voracek took the puck and passed it to Umberger who shot it backwards into the net. I don’t think Osgood was expecting him to shoot it without turning around first. That tied it up again at one goal each.

Later in the second period Detroit scored again when Ericsson took a shot from the point. The shot was going well wide but Malhotra tried to swat it away and ended up redirecting it into the net. Mason didn’t have a chance on that one. It looked like Samuelsson might have tipped it before it got to Malhotra but Ericsson got credit for the goal so I guess he didn’t touch it.

A few seconds later Detroit went on the power play. Kronwall took a shot from the point and Franzen was standing in front of Mason. This time it looked like it went off of Hejda’s knee and into the net. I don’t think Franzen touched it but it did change direction and Mason couldn’t see anything with Franzen in front of him. That made it three to one Wings.

In the third period the Zetterberg shoveled the puck behind the net to Franzen who was waiting down low. Franzen took the puck on his forehand then moved it to the backhand and shot it in all in one motion. He got it up over Mason’s skate and snuck between the post and his arm. It was a very fast, athletic and smart play.

That was it for this game. The Red Wings looked fantastic. Osgood was brilliant and the rest of the team looked great, too. Detroit showed why they’re the defending champs. They made this one look pretty easy. I expect Columbus to come out with something to prove on Saturday.

This 1-4 win brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to 1-0 Red Wings.

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