Western Conference Finals, Game 6 (5/19/08)

This was Detroit’s most important game of the season.  It wasn’t do or die, but it might as well have been because if they allowed Dallas to tie the series than it might as well be a coin toss who’s going to move on.  I was expecting Detroit to start the game like they were shot out of a cannon but they seemed rather subdued.  At first I was a little concerned by this, but as the opening minuntes of the game ticked by I became more and more confident.  Detroit was dictating play, getting scoring chances, and preventing Dallas from putting anything together and they were doing it very calmly and methodically.

That type of game worked wonders in the first period.  The scoring started with Kris Draper taking a puck off the mouth in front of the net and knocking it in.  I’m not sure if he got it with the stick or if it just went in off his mouth.  Either way it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen because it gave Detroit the all-important lead.  Draper had to get stitched up afterwards but I’m sure it was worth it.

Then Datsyuk showed his brilliance on the penalty kill when he got the puck near center ice along the far boards.  Anybody else would have just dumped it into the corner but he just nudged it ahead a little and tried to skate after it.  A Dallas player interfered with him going after the puck which drew a penalty all thanks to Datsyuk playing smart and keeping his legs moving.  Then on the ensuing power play Datsyuk was parked near the front of the net and picked up a nice rebound that he put in top shelf.  A great sequence all around for Datsyuk.  That’s why I love that guy.

Later in the first period Lebda surprised Dallas by carrying the puck into the zone with great speed.  Nobody made a move to stop him so he just blew past the defense.  He found Dallas Drake in front of the net with a nice pass that Drake whacked at a few times and finally drove home.

It was an all around great period for the Wings that left them up 3 to 0.  Exactly what they needed.

In the second period there was one penalty after another.  Detroit had a power play or two but spent a lot of time killing penalties.  I think McCarty alone had 3 or 4 penalties.  The good news is that the penalty kill was insanely effective.  Dallas barely had any shots on goal even with the man advantage.  To put the icing on the penalty killing cake, Zetterberg scored a break away goal shorthanded.  He made a fantastic move with his shoulders, Turco bit, and Z was left with mostly open net.  That made the score 4 to 0 after the second period and Dallas seemed to have lost their fire entirely.  I think the power plays for Dallas actually were a negative for them.  Getting so many chances and not converting was probably really demoralizing.

In the third period Dallas finally capitalized on a power play to make the score 4 to 1.  That really brought them to life and the crowd as well.  Detroit did a great job of being everywhere on the ice all the time.  They went into shutdown mode and it worked like a charm.  Dallas did manage to get several shots though and Chris Osgood made a lot of monster saves.  He had a brilliant third period especially considering how relatively untested he was through the first two periods.

The game ended with the Red Wings winning 4 to 1.  Woo hoo!!!  The Red Wings are in the Stanley Cup Finals!!!  Bring on Pittsburgh!

This 4-1 win finishes this Western Conference Final series at 4-2 Detroit.

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