Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 2 (4/16/11)

Today was game two of the first round of the playoff series between the Red Wings and the Coyotes. The goalies were Howard and Bryzgalov. Modano was a healthy scratch again.

This was certainly an exciting game! There were incredible individual plays, injuries and heroic returns, lots of violent hits, utter domination by the Red Wings throughout much of the game, and a heart-pounding come back by the Coyotes at the end.

Franzen went face first into the boards early in the first period and cut himself pretty badly. He was very unsteady leaving the ice. I was worried that along with the obvious cut, he might have whiplash or even a concussion. The crowd was really on Shane Doan about it because he made contact with Franzen just before the wipe out. It wasn’t Doan’s fault though. Franzen’s skate got stuck and he was losing his balance as Doan hit him. It was just an unlucky play. Doan is not a dirty player so I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. Incredibly Franzen returned in the second period after receiving 21 stitches in his face. You could see Babcock asking if he should be wearing a visor and Franzen was just shaking his head. When he skated out for the first time the crowd chanted his name. It was a great moment. Later, Franzen shoved Doan after a whistle and Doan gave him a face wash with the glove. I thought that was pretty cheap and probably hurt like hell after the injuries to Franzen’s face.

By the end of the first period, the Red Wings had three goals and the Coyotes had none. Datsyuk had a goal and two assists. The third goal was scored thanks to an incredible move by Datsyuk. He came in on Bryzgalov showing backhand but Bryzgalov was well-positioned. Datsyuk pulled the puck back between his own legs and got off a great shot. Even though it surprised Bryzgalov he still made the save, but he kicked a juicy rebound right out to the slot where the trailer, Helm, was in perfect position to bang it in for the third goal. Earlier in the first period, Datsyuk and Rafalski had each scored power play goals. The Wings were on fire.

Detroit scored again early in the second period when Holmstrom tipped in a puck that was fired by Filppula. It looked like the Wings were going to coast to an easy win, but then Vrbata scored a power play goal to give the Coyotes some hope.

Also in the second period, Helm was called for boarding against Jovanovski. It didn’t look that bad to me at all. In fact, Jovanovski’s reaction was worse than the hit, in my opinion. He came up to Helm after the play and grabbed him by the chin. He held on to Helm’s face and yelled at him. Helm made no attempt to resist or fight back, which I thought took a lot of discipline. I really didn’t see what the big deal was but the refs gave Helm two minutes for boarding. Something must have happened though because Jovanovski left the game after that and did not return.

In the third period the Red Wings got into some serious penalty trouble and the Coyotes scored two power play goals bringing them to within one of tying it up. That made for a pretty interesting finish as they battled to try to tie the game. The Wings were able to hold them off and take a two game lead in the series.

By the time this game was half over, Datsyuk had made about three games worth of highlight reel plays. He was an absolute force of nature out there. He was totally in charge of the game in the first period and the Coyotes were powerless against him. It was a treat to watch.

The Red Wings are playing great hockey right now. Datsyuk looks as good if not better than ever. Howard is playing really well, in fact I can’t think of anybody who isn’t pulling their weight. Now they shift to Phoenix for game three on Monday night.

This 3-4 win brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to 2-0 Red Wings.

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