Posts Tagged ‘Blackhawks’

Detroit at Chicago (12/20/09)

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

The Red Wings rolled into Chicago tonight to play the Blackhawks. Osgood got the start tonight for the Wings and it was Huet for the Hawks. The Red Wings had just played yesterday having lost to the Stars in a game in which they actually played very well. This is the first time the Wings faced Hossa; he was injured for their previous meeting.

The Blackhawks scored first before the halfway point of the first period. They were on the power play after a very questionable call on Bertuzzi for hooking. Duncan Keith walked it along the blue line looking for an opening. He saw one and ripped it. It looked like it might have hit somebody along the way and beat Osgood giving the Hawks the one to nothing lead.

With about four minutes left in the second period the Blackhawks scored again. Sharp brought the puck in and passed it back to Campbell. He hesitated for a second and then shot it and got it between Osgood’s legs. That made it two to nothing Hawks.

Then, to make matters worse, with just 32 seconds left in the period the Hawks scored their third unanswered goal. This time it was Byfuglien who carried the puck into the zone and shot one from the very high slot. It was about a fifty-footer and Osgood had a good look at but he just missed it. If it wasn’t so close to the end of the period we might have seen a goaltender change.

In the final few minutes of the game there were some penalties assessed and Bertuzzi and Ladd both got game misconducts. It wasn’t much of an altercation and if it hadn’t been so close to the end of the game they probably wouldn’t have been penalized for more than two minutes. They exchanged some words and then Bertuzzi tapped Sharp with his stick. Ladd didn’t like it so he shoved Bertuzzi in the back. That was about all there was to it.

That was also all there was to the game as the third period ended without the Wings scoring a goal. They just weren’t able to get anything going tonight and the Hawks were just too good defensively.

This Blackhawk team is scary good this year. They could be on a collision course with the Red Wings. It would be sweet if the Hawks and the Wings could meet in the playoffs, assuming the Wings are healthy by then. That would be a great matchup and the start of a really good rivalry. The Red Wings have a long way to go though before they’re ready to compete against these Blackhawks.

This 0-3 loss brings us to:
18-13-5
41 points

Chicago at Detroit (10/8/09)

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Tonight the Blackhawks were in town for the Red Wings’ home opener. After dropping two in a row to St. Louis in Stockholm, the Red Wings were ready to come out swinging.

One new thing for the Red Wings this year was the organist at the Joe which I thought sounded really cool. A much crappier change was the name of the Fox Sports Detroit studio which is now being called the Call Sam studio. It’s apparently named after some lawyer who paid a lot of money. Blech.

Huet was the goaltender for Chicago and Osgood was in for Detroit. Meech was also in for the first time this season.

Brad May was added to the Red Wings lineup yesterday to fill the role of enforcer. Abdelkader was sent to Grand Rapids to make room for him. May made his presence felt right away with a pretty nice fight against Smolenak. It was a good fight and I think the edge went to Brad May.

Chicago scored first early in the second period. Sharp had the puck behind the Red Wings net. He threw it out front and it bounced around a little bit, hit a few skates and ended up with Versteeg who sent it back towards the net. Sharp had moved to the front of the net and tapped it in. It was a really quick play and no fault of Osgood’s. That made it one to nothing Hawks.

A few minutes later Draper was called for hooking. Seven seconds into the power play Cleary was called for cross checking. The Wings killed off both penalties giving up only one shot on goal. It was all thanks to some great shot blocking by Kronwall and Stuart and a few good saves by Osgood. That penalty kill gave a big boost to the Wings.

Just a few seconds after the penalty kill the Hawks took a penalty. That was a golden opportunity for the Wings to capitalize on the momentum shift and get back the goal they had given up earlier. The Red Wings had a few good shots on the power play but weren’t able to score.

A few minutes later Detroit went on the power play again. Lidstrom was attempting a pass across the slot but the puck hit Madden’s skate and redirected right into the net. That tied the game at one each.

Nearing the end of the second period Draper scored with a beautiful shot. He brought the puck towards the faceoff dot and threaded the needle over Huet’s shoulder into the top of the net. That made it two to one Red Wings.

Just when it looked like the Hawks were going to score a goal, Bertuzzi’s back checking saved the day. At the other end of the ice Leino was making a pest of himself for Campbell who had to take a penalty to stop him. On the power play Datsyuk shot from the point with Holmstrom in front of the net. The puck bounced through Huet and stopped near the goal line. Franzen skated through behind Huet and finished it off to the give the Wings a three to one lead.

About halfway through the third period Williams was called for a questionable slash. On the power play Versteeg scored after Stuart had lost his stick. That brought the Hawks back to within one. During the Hawks power play Ericsson blocked another shot with his left ankle and had to be helped off the ice after the eventual goal. He went straight to the dressing room. It was the same ankle that he hurt in game one against St. Louis.

With 1:38 left Kronwall was called for holding. The Blackhawks pulled their goalie for a six on four power play. They scrambled to try for the tying goal while the Wings tried for the empty netter whenever they got the puck. Neither happened so the scored held.

Osgood looked really sharp in this game. Kronwall and Stuart also had noticeably good games. I was happy to see Bertuzzi contributing and looking a little more lively.

This 2-3 win brings us to:
1-2-0
2 points

Western Conference Finals, Game 5 (5/27/09)

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Tonight the Red Wings took on the Blackhawks with a game in Detroit. The Wings had a chance to wrap it up in this game and move on to the Penguins and the Stanley Cup Finals. It would be a difficult task with Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Draper and Lilja all still out. To make matters worse Ericsson was also out after having an emergency appendectomy. He’s only expected to miss one game which is just incredible. The Hawks were without Havlat, which is probably for the best. Khabibulin was still out as well. Osgood and Huet were the starting goaltenders.

Detroit was hot right from the get-go in this one. They had some glorious scoring chances and took 21 shots in the first period alone. Huet stood on his head and although he looked a little shaky, he didn’t let anything get behind him. At the other end Chicago had a few good chances as well. Osgood looked very sharp as usual.

Detroit had two power plays in the first, one when Helm was hooked by Sharp and another when Chicago had too many men on the ice. The Hawks were really tight on the penalty kill. I’m sure they were happy to end the period with no score.

Chicago had a lot more jump in the second period. They pressured hard and Osgood had to be, and was on fire to keep his team in the game.

Holmstrom and Fraser got into a scuffle behind Chicago’s net and both got roughing penalties. Eager was in the box as well for a 10 minute misconduct. Apparently he was mouthing off about something to the referee. It was 4 on 4 since the misconduct doesn’t cost you a man. Then Hossa was called for slashing and the Hawks had a 4 on 3 power play. Detroit did a good job killing that off. Just a few seconds later Lebda was penalized for a hook. It was a goal saving hook to negate a Chicago breakaway after a turnover so you can’t complain too much about Lebda taking a penalty in that situation. On the power play Detroit had a couple of shorthanded chances. Helm singlehandedly killed off the last 25 seconds of the penalty. He was incredible. He ducked and dodged his way around the entire Blackhawks team while they tried to take it away from him and he had two good scoring chances! His theme music should be the Benny Hill song (Yakety Sax).

The penalty parade continued in the second period. Duncan Keith was called for slashing and during the power play Holmstrom was called for tripping. Even through all of the power play time neither team scored in the second period.

Chicago had a ton of scoring chances in the first two minutes of the third period. They were really buzzing and Osgood kept shutting the door.

Then Detroit had some good chances at the other end and it finally paid off. They were really putting the pressure on and Chicago couldn’t clear it. It came back to Lebda at the point. He shot it and Cleary was in front of Huet. Cleary tipped it between his own legs and past Huet to take the one to nothing lead. It was a great goal for Cleary who had almost tipped one in on the same shift just a few seconds earlier.

With just over seven minutes left in the game Kane took the puck in and backhanded it over Osgood and into the net. Osgood didn’t give him much room but he threaded the needle. That was Kane’s first goal of the series and it was a timely one for the Hawks.

In the last thirty seconds Franzen had a wide open net on a rebound attempt. He elevated the puck and Huet was laying flat on his stomach. Huet made an incredible save with his skate to hold the tie.

The tie held until the end of regulation so they went to overtime for the third time in this series.

In the overtime Detroit was dominant. Chicago had a few chances but it was mostly Detroit attacking. The Wings were doing a great job of collecting rebounds and cutting off clearing attempts to keep the pressure on. Finally, Lebda shot from the point, it hit the backboards and came back between Huet’s knees where Holmstrom pushed it through but it didn’t go in. The puck went through Huet and come out the other side of the crease and laid there. Helm jumped on it and popped it in for the overtime, game winning, series clinching goal. It was so fitting that Helm got the goal after the great game he had tonight. Aside from Osgood he was probably the MVP of the game.

Overall this was a fantastic series for the Wings. Congratulations to the Blackhawks who had a phenomenal year and will only get better. I have a feeling that the road to the Stanley Cup will pass through Chicago in the next few years.

Now the Wings have to face a red hot Pittsburgh team. I can hardly believe that this season has come down to a rematch. It will determine whether or not Hossa made the right choice. That’ll be quite a storyline for this series.

The first two games of the finals will be back to back for some reason. They will take place this Saturday and Sunday in Detroit. Hopefully our injured guys can get healthy enough to play over the next couple of days.

Here come the Finals….let’s go Red Wings!!!

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

Western Conference Finals, Game 4 (5/24/09)

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

This afternoon the Red Wings were in Chicago for game four against the Blackhawks. Terrible news for Detroit: Lidstrom was out with a lower body injury. Chelios was in to round out the defense. Datsyuk was also still out and Draper was back out after returning for a few games. For Chicago, Khabibulin was out and Huet was in.

Havlat was fine and was in for today’s game. The fans were booing every time Kronwall touched the puck. Everyone from Chicago including players, coaches, fans and local media seemed to think that it was a dirty hit even though every national analyst I’ve heard thought it was a good clean hit and that the penalty was way too extreme. I guess that’s the hometown bias.

It was a nice treat to see the Chicago anthem singer Jim Cornelison on TV, which they showed in honor of Memorial Day. No offense to Karen Newman (she’s awesome), but Chicago has a truly classic anthem with the booming voice backed up by the organist. It’s an old school show for sure.

Detroit had a pretty good start in this game. They controlled the puck a lot more than Chicago did early on. The Wings were shorthanded again early in this one when Zetterberg was called for interference in the first half of the first period.

While shorthanded Detroit got a two on one breakaway with Filppula and Hossa on the rush. Hossa passed to Filppula and Filppula made a beautiful pass to get it back to Hossa. Hossa shot it and it looked like Huet had it but it got through and into the net to give the Wings the early one to nothing lead. They still had over half a minute of penalty time to kill off and they did so. Pretty good penalty kill for the Wings to put it mildly.

Later in the first Detroit got a power play when Pahlsson shouldered Filppula in the jaw well away from the puck. They had some good chances but didn’t score on the power play.

There was some 4 on 4 action and Chicago had some great scoring chances but Detroit worked well together and Osgood made some big saves to keep them out of the net.

With only about 20 seconds left in the first period Franzen brought the puck into the offensive zone. He snapped one high over Huet’s shoulder and found the top corner of the net. That gave the Wings a two to nothing lead in the first period and probably shook Chicago’s confidence in Huet because that was one that he should have had.

Detroit started the second period on the power play because of some garbage that happened at the end of the first. Kronwall had put a small hit on Kane at the end of the first period and drew a bunch of attention from the Hawks after the whistle. During the power play Filppula brought the puck into the zone and passed it to Hossa. Hossa took a shot and Huet stopped it but the rebound came back to Filppula who buried it to put the Wings up three to nothing with just over one period of play on the books. Filppula and Hossa were really clicking. They looked unstoppable in this game. Filppula makes such sweet passes and Hossa has such a great shot. It’s quite a match.

A few minutes later, Chicago had a power play when Detroit was called for delay of game. During Chicago’s power play Havlat got hit by Stuart along the boards almost exactly like he did in game three. He was looking down at the puck and Stuart nailed him. He didn’t get knocked out this time though and left the ice under his own power while play continued. Then Barker shot from the blue line. Osgood stopped it but the puck was sitting near the crease and Toews picked it up and put it in the net making it three to one Wings.

Immediately after the faceoff Hossa took the puck into the offensive zone. He crossed through the slot and released a shot that beat Huet and found the back of the net. That put the Wings back up by three goals and took the wind out of Chicago’s sails just seconds after they had scored.

That was the end of the game for Huet. The Hawks put in Crawford who had never played in a playoff game before.

Then the Hawks were getting called for a delayed penalty on Walker and Versteeg crosschecked Leino after the whistle right in front of the referee. Detroit went on the 5 on 3 power play. During the power play Zetterberg got the puck from Rafalski at the point. He went skate to stick with it and put it in the net. It was five to one Wings with well over a minute of power play time left to go. Chicago killed off the rest of the penalty but immediately after it ended Versteeg came out of the box and crosschecked Hudler so he went straight back to the box. That was two terrible penalties in a row for Versteeg.

With about five minutes left in the second period Eager was given a 10 minute misconduct for mouthing off to the referee. It was pretty clear at that point that the wheels had come off for Chicago. They were frustrated and making stupid and selfish decisions.

The second period ended with Detroit up five to one.

In the third period Chicago put Huet back in net and Detroit put Conklin in. The Wings just wanted to protect Osgood. I think Chicago was just putting their better goalie in. They needed him to get in the grove because he was the best they had available. You can’t afford to have a bad game when you’re the backup goalie and the number one is injured.

The third period felt like a formality.

Eager elbowed Leino in the back of the head and this time he got a game misconduct.

In the second half of the third period Detroit was on the power play and Rafalski shot from the point. Huet made the stop and the rebound came back to Zetterberg who went skate to stick again and knocked it in for Detroit’s sixth goal of the night.

Versteeg was kicked out of the game in the late stages of the third. The Blackhawks had completely lost their composure. The Red Wings were basically just goofing ar0und out there at that point.

The Wings were fantastic in this game. Considering the injuries they had to overcome it is truly incredible that they dominated so completely. They were the consummate professionals while the Hawks were losing it all over the ice. This is a testament to the depth of the Red Wings and a very bad sign for the Blackhawks in this series. Hopefully this one will be wrapped up on Wednesday in the Detroit.

This 6-1 win brings this Western Conference Final series to 3-1 Detroit.

Western Conference Finals, Game 3 (5/22/09)

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Tonight Detroit was in Chicago for game three. Chicago’s lineup was unchanged but Datsyuk was out for Detroit. He was apparently injured when a puck hit him in game two. It’s not clear how long he’ll be out but hopefully just the one game. Leino was in to take his spot. The goalies of course were Osgood and Khabibulin.

The game started with a pretty fast pace and a lot of back and forth action. Then Cleary high sticked Toews and apparently drew blood because he got a double minor. The Wings killed off the first two minutes, but on the second minor Chicago scored. The Hawks moved the puck very well once they finally got it into the zone. Havlat gave it to Seabrook at the point. He gave it back to Havlat who sent it across to Bolland. He passed back to Seabrook who one timed it from just inside the blue line. There was some traffic in front of the net, Sharp tipped it and Osgood missed it.

Then about a minute later they scored again. Bolland gave it to Ladd who took a shot on the rush. Osgood stopped the shot but the rebound came straight back and Ladd picked it up again. He pushed it through Osgood’s legs and into the net. That gave the Blackhawks an early two to nothing lead. The first period wasn’t even half over yet at that point.

A few minutes later Kronwall destroyed Havlat with a huge hit along the boards. He had it timed perfectly but Havlat missed the puck so he never had possession. He was clearly unconscious for a minute or two and a few scrums broke out. Kronwall was given five minutes and a game misconduct for interference. Franzen and Byfuglien had offsetting two minute roughing calls. Chicago had a five minute power play which would take them down to under two minutes left in the period. Havlat went to the bench and sat down for a second then went to the dressing room. He was still pretty messed up at that point. Kronwall did leave his feet slightly but that was after the collision. He hit him with his shoulder and the puck was at his feet. This was clearly a penalty based on the result of the hit, not its legality because it was a totally clean hit. Like everyone else, I was worried about Havlat and I truly hope he’s okay and can return to the game.

The Red Wings killed off the five minute penalty and then Ericsson was immediately called for holding.

The period ended with no further scoring. The Wings were lucky that it wasn’t four to nothing. During the penalties there were a couple of absolutely incredible saves and blocked shots to keep the Hawks at two goals in the first. The Wings were outshot by the Hawks 11 to 6 but that’s not surprising since they were shorthanded so much.

Early in the second period, shortly after the power play expired, the Hawks scored their third goal. Versteeg shot one from the point and Pahlsson redirected it. Osgood had moved to stop the initial shot and when it changed direction he had no chance. That made it three to nothing Blackhawks.

The Red Wing first couple of power plays in the second period proved fruitless. They had good chances and even wide open nets at times but couldn’t put it in. It just seemed to be one of those nights where the puck is always bouncing over the stick and somebody is blocking the shot. Then on their third power play they got it back to Lidstrom at the blue line who one timed it and it changed direction off of Pahlsson’s skate and went into the net. That made it three to one Hawks.

The Red Wings really started buzzing then. They started winning the small battles and ended up with some sustained pressure in Chicago’s end. They were able to get a complete change done while the Hawks were pinned in their own end and then they continued pressuring. Samuelsson made a nice pass through everybody to Rafalski and he ripped it from the blue line. Cleary was in front of the net and it looked like he deflected it into the net but Rafalski was credited with the goal which brought the Wings to within one.

Just a few minutes later Detroit scored again to tie the game with just under a minute left in the second. Holmstrom was in front of the net and redirected a shot from Ericsson into the top corner of the net. The goal was awarded to Ericsson so maybe it wasn’t tipped but it sure looked like it was.

The period ended with the score tied three to three. What a comeback by Detroit. The momentum was sure going their way. If they could keep it going in the third they could pull off another slow start victory.

The Blackhawks replaced Khabibulin to start the third period. They put in Cristobal Huet and Khabibulin actually left the bench altogether. Their third goalie Corey Crawford was on the bench as backup. I don’t know if that implies some sort of injury to Khabibulin or not but it seems strange.

The Hawks had more energy than the Wings for the first five minutes of the third. The rest of the third was wild and crazy. There were only six shots for each team but the action was fast and furious. Osgood continued to be great but the Wings couldn’t get one by Huet. The game went to overtime for the second straight time.

About a minute and a half into the overtime Lidstrom broke his stick and Filppula gave him his. The puck came to Barker and Filppula, now without a stick, couldn’t prevent his shot. The rebound sat in front and Pahlsson popped it back to Sharp who had a wide open net to shoot at. He buried it and won the game for the Hawks.

The Red Wings would have been really lucky to steal this game. They played even more inconsistently than they did in game two. They were great when they were on but for at least the first half of the game they didn’t seem to have their legs. If the Wings hope to go all the way this year they’re going to have to get used to starting out full speed right at the start of the game. There’s no time to play tired at this time of year.

This 4-3 overtime loss brings this Western Conference Final series to 2-1 Detroit.

Western Conference Finals, Game 2 (5/19/09)

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Tonight the Blackhawks were in Detroit for game two. The lineups were unchanged from game one. Osgood and Khabibulin were the goalies.

The first 10 minutes of the game seemed pretty even which is advantage Chicago in my opinion. The Hawks were a bit more aggressive than the Wings and won most of the small battles.

Detroit got the first power play when Chicago was called for too many men on the ice. The power play was pretty effective but, although the Wings generated a lot of opportunities, they didn’t score.

Next the Blackhawks had a power play when Samuelsson was called for crosschecking. On the power play Stuart was called for tripping. The Hawks had a 5 on 3 for 59 seconds. The Red Wings killed off the 5 on 3. Then Samuelsson had a chance to clear it but he threw it right to the point where Barker took it and gave it to Havlat. Havlat passed it to Toews who shot from below the goal line to the front of the net. The puck went hit Ericsson’s skate and went into the net giving the Hawks the one nothing lead.

A few minutes later Holmstrom was called for goaltender interference. It really wasn’t much. He bumped Khabibulin a little bit when he was losing his balance trying to avoid him. During the power play Detroit got some offense going shorthanded. Toews ended up tripping Datsyuk trying to get the puck back. It was 4 on 4 for a few seconds and then the Wings had a power play. During the power play Datsyuk won a faceoff in Chicago’s end and got it to Lidstrom. He passed it to Rafalski who moved along the blue line and snapped one. It looked like it was tipped by Hossa and then by Holmstrom and into the net. The game was tied at one. The goal was awarded to Rafalski so maybe it wasn’t redirected. I wouldn’t be surprised if that is changed later.

The first period ended with the score still tied at one. Chicago outshot Detroit 19 to 13. Luckily Osgood was brilliant. He made one big save after another to keep his team in the game. The Wings looked good and had a lot of scoring chances but Khabibulin was good as well.

Early in the second Pahlsson was called for holding. Osgood made a huge save on a shorthanded chance by Bolland. Then Seabrook was hit somewhere up high by a hard shot from Rafalski. He went off the ice under his own power but he was struggling. With just over a minute left on the power play Lidstrom was called for high-sticking Walker. Detroit killed off the penalty and actually generated a lot of offense while shorthanded. The kill gave them some momentum and they continued pressuring at even strength.

Detroit continued playing really well for the rest of the second period. They were really buzzing and winning all the little battles. With about six minutes left Cleary jumped on a loose puck and took off towards the net all alone. Just like in the previous game he released a beauty of a shot that beat Khabibulin. This time he went five hole. That gave the Wings the lead by one.

Near the end of the second period Lidstrom was called for holding. The Red Wings killed the penalty but the Hawks would have over a minute of power play left to start the third.

Detroit outshot the Hawks 12 to 3 in the second period but they were still trailing overall. It was a much better period for the Wings. They really amped things up compared to the first period.

The Wings killed off the rest of the power play to start the third period. Then Chicago was called for goalie interference and Osgood was also given a simultaneous call for holding. The 4 on 4 was exciting but there were no goals scored.

With just over seven minutes left in the third Versteeg released a shot from the point with Byfuglien and Toews in front. Toews redirected the shot and it went it to tie the game at two.

The rest of the period was all action but nobody was able to score so the game went to overtime.

After about five minutes of good overtime action Samuelsson stole the puck in his defensive zone. Hudler started up ice and Samuelsson led him with a nice pass and then followed along with Filppula. It was a three on one. Hudler passed across to Filppula. Filppula passed it back to Samuelsson in the slot and he nailed the game winner. It was just beautiful! What a great way to end the game.

The Wings played pretty well in this game but they still got off to a slow start. They’re lucky that the slow starts haven’t cost them yet in this series. This game obviously could have gone either way. Once they get the momentum they’re really playing well but they need to start playing hard right from the beginning.

This 2-3 overtime win brings this Western Conference Final series to 2-0 Detroit.

Western Conference Finals, Game 1 (5/17/09)

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

The Western Conference Finals are finally upon us. This afternoon the Red Wings hosted the Blackhawks in game one. This should be a very entertaining series. The Hawks have played the Wings tough all year. They’re a charismatic team with tons of young talent and great chemistry. The experience of the Red Wings should be an advantage but these youngsters play more like seasoned veterans than kids.

The Red Wings lineup was the same as the previous game. The goalies for this game were Osgood and Khabibulin.

The game started out with some good action. The play went back and forth quickly and both teams seemed to have a lot of energy.

Chicago scored first after a bad bounce surprised Osgood. The puck was behind the net and Osgood played it to Ericsson. He was rushed by Eager and ended up chipping the puck back towards the front of the net. Osgood wasn’t expecting that. Burish came quickly from behind the net and popped it between Osgood’s legs and across the goal line. That made it one to nothing Blackhawks. It was a very opportunistic play by the Hawks.

The Red Wings got on the board a few minutes later. There was a faceoff inside the Red Wings zone but Cleary stole the puck from Seabrook and was off to the races. He took it to the top of the circle and ripped a shot that went over Khabibulin’s glove hand and into the top corner of the net. It was a beautiful shot and a great individual effort by Cleary to tie the game at one.

The first period ended with the score still tied at one. It was a good period by the Red Wings. They controlled play for most of the period and outshot the Hawks 15 to 9. The only real problem was turnovers. The Red Wings had 8 giveaways and the Hawks had none according to the stats shown by NBC. That might not be exactly right, but you get the idea that the Wings were turning the puck over way too much. Luckily, the Blackhawks weren’t able to capitalize on most of those opportunities.

There was a scary incident in the second period when Eager came in along the boards to make a hit on Kronwall. He ended up flipping upside down and his skate dragged right across the throat of Burish. Luckily, he ended up with only a minor cut on his neck, but it could have been much worse.

Nearing the end of the second period the Red Wings got the puck deep in the Chicago zone. Franzen got it along the boards and took it behind the net. He made an incredible move towards the net, wrapped around with the puck and pushed it between Khabibulin’s legs into the goal. It was such a strong move by Franzen; just incredible. What a great play.

That made it two to one Red Wings and the score held until the end of the second period. Detroit was outshooting Chicago 29 to 19. Chicago had 15 blocked shots after two periods to Detroit’s three.

Early in the third period Ericsson was called for interference on Sharp. He didn’t hold him or hook him; he just got in his way. I guess it was technically interference, but it seemed like a pretty weak call.

On the power play Seabrook shot the puck from the blue line. It changed direction at least twice after hitting Red Wings sticks and then it hit Byfuglien’s stick and bounced to the side of the net. It ended up on the ice next to a wide open net and Versteeg knocked it in to tie the game at two.

A few minutes later Lebda shot one that went off Samuelsson’s foot. Samuelsson picked it up and circled with it towards the faceoff dot. He ripped it from there and got it by Khabibulin high on the glove side to take back the lead. It was a beautiful pinpoint shot by Samuelsson.

Just a few minutes after that goal, Zetterberg took the puck into the Chicago zone. He passed it across to Franzen. Franzen shot it with Cleary in front of the net. Cleary redirected it perfectly into the net. It was the second goal of the game for Cleary and it put the Wings up four to two.

For the rest of the period the Blackhawks tried to come back. They pulled the goalie with about a minute and a half left to try to pull within one. Instead Zetterberg got an empty net goal to make it five to two.

The Red Wings looked great in this game. Osgood was sharp. I was surprised that the Hawks weren’t tougher. After the way they beat the Canucks I expected them to be more of an offensive threat. It seemed to be a lot easier for the Wings to play their game against the Hawks than it was against the Ducks.

There was a bit of bad blood at the end of the game when Burish crosschecked Draper in the back. There was a scrum afterwards but nothing much came of it.

This 2-5 win brings this Western Conference Final series to 1-0 Detroit.

Detroit at Chicago (4/12/09)

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

This afternoon Detroit was in Chicago to play the second half of back to back games against the Blackhawks and the final game of the season for both teams. The goalies for today’s game were Osgood for us and Khabibulin for them. Lidstrom was out for this game just getting some rest.

This was another meaningless game for the Wings. The more meaningful game was the Blues and the Avalanche. If the Blues win the Wings will play the Blue Jackets in the first round. If they lose we’ll get the Ducks. Either team will be tough to play but the travel involved playing Anaheim will be rough. Not to mention the late night games that are really tough for us East coast folks to stay away for and then get up for work the next morning. So, not slight to the Blue Jackets, but I’d rather see the Wings face them instead of the Ducks.

Each team hit a post early in the game so at least the bad luck was even (or good luck if you’re thinking of it from the goalie’s point of view).

Chicago got the first goal of the game and they made it look easy. Byfuglien had the puck and he circled behind the net with it. He came back out towards the point and eventually passed to Seabrook. Seabrook passed it through the slot to Ladd who was all alone with a wide open net. It was a pretty major defensive breakdown for the Wings. It looked like everybody was just standing around watching Byfuglien skate. That gave the Hawks the early one nothing lead. Osgood had no chance on that shot.

A bit later in the first period Chicago scored again when Toews took the puck through the crease and pushed it towards Osgood. It somehow made it right between Osgood’s legs and into the net.

A few minutes later Detroit went on the power play. The Blackhawks took a second penalty with 1:04 left on the first one so the Red Wings had a fairly long 5 on 3. Detroit had a lot of shots during the power play but couldn’t beat Khabibulin. The power play looked a little sloppy. They had a lot of chances but the passes weren’t quite crisp enough. Everybody seemed to be almost in the right place at the right time but not quite.

There was no more scoring in the first period so the Wings went to the dressing room down two goals to none.

There were no goals in the second period. Khabibulin was playing very well but Detroit really didn’t seem to have much urgency. There were few flurries where the intensity seemed to ramp up a little but nothing too serious. At the end of the period Kronwall was called for slashing so the Hawks would start the third on the power play.

The Wings killed of the penalty to start the third period but a few minutes later the Blackhawks went on the power play again. Chelios lost his stick and was unable to prevent a pass from the corner to Bolland moving up in the slot. He took a hard slap shot that beat Osgood to make it three to nothing Hawks. Byfuglien was in front of the net causing trouble and a few Red Wings were there as well.

That was the end of the scoring for this game. Khabibulin got the shut out. The Red Wings didn’t really care. They didn’t bother pulling the goalie and seemed to be running out the clock for the last couple of minutes. The goal for this game was to just get through it with no injuries and they did that.

Osgood played pretty well. He was sharp especially on a few occasions when Chicago had breakaways or shorthanded chances.

That does it for the regular season and what a great season it was. The slumps seemed to be a little bit worse this season that they were last season but the numbers don’t lie. This was a fantastic season. Now the real fun starts!

This 0-3 loss brings us to:
51-21-10
112 points

Chicago at Detroit (4/11/09)

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

The Chicago Blackhawks were in Detroit to play the Wings this afternoon for the first of a home and home series that concludes tomorrow. This is the second to last game of the season. Chicago has a playoff spot locked up so this was the first game in a while where the Wings were playing a team that wasn’t fighting for their lives.

The starting goalies were Cristobal Huet for the Hawks and Ty Conklin for the Wings. Oddly enough, Chris Chelios was playing forward in this game. He was on a line with Meech and Maltby. The Red Wings were sporting their Winter Classic jerseys for this game but the Blackhawks chose not to do so.

There were a couple of news items before the game started, and what great news it was. First, Hossa does NOT have a tear in his groin. It’s just a little sore. He’s expected to miss these last two games and be ready to go for the playoffs. Second, Franzen signed an ELEVEN YEAR DEAL with the Red Wings at less than four million per year! How great is that?!?! I’m giddy! Franzen probably could have made nearly six million per year on the open market. It sure is great to see players that are more concerned with winning and team loyalty than with money. That means we have Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and now Franzen all locked up for a long time. If we can somehow get Hossa signed as well it would the most impossible dream come true. If that happens then they should make a statue of Ken Holland and put it up with the rest of the Red Wings greats.

This game got off to a bit of rocky start. Just 16 seconds into the game the Blackhawks scored on a long shot from the point by Niklas Hjalmarsson. It was a rising shot but Conklin had a good look at it and there were no deflections. He just missed it. Conklin wanted that one back for sure. It was so early in the game that I don’t think he was really ready for a shot. It must have surprised him a little. Conklin had a couple of shaky saves after that but after a few more he seemed to settle down and get into a rhythm.

With about nine minutes left in the period Detroit scored a nice power play goal to tie the game. Hudler picked up the puck near the side of the net and passed it to Filppula at the bottom of the circle on the other side. He shot it quickly and beat Huet for the goal.

The first period ended with the score tied at one. The Wings were outshot by the Hawks 13 to 6 up to that point. The first period didn’t have nearly the intensity that we’ve seen in recent games. That was probably because the outcome of the game was not really important to either team.

There wasn’t much action in the second period. It almost felt like a preseason game. Neither team wanted to play too hard since the game’s outcome didn’t matter. Nobody wants to risk injury just before the playoffs in a meaningless game.

With 1:02 left in the second period Cleary took a shot and the rebound came off Huet straight back to the high slot area were Zetterberg was moving up. He cranked one that beat Huet to give the Wings the lead one to two. This was after a long stretch during which the Wings were in the Chicago zone and the Blackhawks couldn’t get a good clear. They had finally just got it out of the zone and then mistakenly passed it right back to Cleary.

With the third period about halfway done, the Hawks scored on what was their first shot of the period. Eager got the puck in the high slot and ripped a hard wrister that beat Conklin to tie it up at two.

With 27.6 seconds left in the game and the score still tied Byfuglien was awarded a penalty shot on a terrible call. Kronwall was called for hooking when there was no hook whatsoever. He simply lifted the stick. It was a perfect defensive play by Kronwall. On the penalty shot Byfuglien shot and scored on Conklin to give the Blackhawks the lead with very little time left.

Conklin went to the bench for the extra skater but the Wings weren’t able to score. Chicago scored an empty net goal to make it two to four.

For a meaningless game this one was fairly entertaining. It’s too bad about the crazy outcome but it doesn’t really matter and we get a rematch tomorrow.

This 2-4 loss brings us to:
51-20-10
112 points

Detroit at Chicago, Winter Classic (1/1/09)

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

The long awaited day was finally here.  New Year’s Day.  The outdoor game.  The awesome event that is the Winter Classic.  The ice and weather conditions could not have been better.  The pregame shows that started in the morning on New Year’s Eve were great.  The NHL Network showed the practices of both teams as well as the family skates that each team was allowed after their practice.

The Blackhawks had a score to settle with the Red Wings after being sorely beaten two days earlier.

Ty Conklin was the starting goaltender for the Red Wings.  He’s the only player in the league who’s played in all three regular season NHL outdoor games.  Huet was the goalie for the Hawks.

The national anthems were really something special in this one.  Especially the US anthem during which they had rockets and bombs going off and an F-18 flyover at the conclusion.

There was a lot of strangeness to this game early on even besides being outdoors.  For one thing Pavel Datsyuk took the first penalty.  During the PK, Dan Cleary was hit along boards and went end over end into the Chicago bench.  It looked like he ended up on his head.  The Wings ended up with too many men on the ice during that exchange so the Hawks had a 5 on 3 power play.

The first penalty of the 5 on 3 was killed off but the Blackhawks scored on the second power play.  They entered the Red Wings zone and shot the puck.  Conklin gave up a juicy rebound that was put into the net by Versteeg.

A bit later in the first period Detroit joined in the fun when Samuelsson scored a power play goal on a nice feed from Zetterberg.

On the Blackhawks’ next penalty they scored another power play goal.  It was a great pass from behind the net to the front and they roofed it over Conklin into the net.

With less than a minute to go in the first period the Blackhawks scored again this time at even strength.  Lilja was battling Eager behind the net.  Eager went around Lilja and came back to the front of the net.  Conklin was expecting him to be forced around to the other side of the net so he was focusing on the wrong side.  Eager’s great move earned him a goal and put the Hawks up three to one.

That was the end of the first period scoring so the Wings had a big hole to claw their way out of.

Early in the second period Detroit got their own even strength goal.  There was a shot from the slot and Huet gave up a great rebound.  Hudler was near the side of the net.  He picked up the rebound and popped it in to bring the Wings within one.

Later in the second Detroit did it again.  Hudler was again near the net picking up the trash after a shot on the power play.  He had several whacks at the puck and finally was able to push it into the net to tie the game at three apiece.

Late in the second period Datsyuk took the puck from his own end and split the defense.  He took it in on net, made a few moves and put it between the legs of Huet.  That put the Wings up by one.

That was the end of the second period.  According to the broadcasters the wind was a big factor.  Each team scored three goals on the net in the end that had the wind in the goalie’s face.

Early in the third period Detroit had another power play opportunity.  Rafalski ended up with the puck in deep near the goal line.  He brought it to the front of the net, went forehand to backhand and somehow got it between Huet’s legs for the goal. 

Just 16 seconds later Lebda shot the puck and it looked like a goal but the referee waved it off.  On the replay it was pretty clear that it was in the top of the net.  After a replay review they awarded the goal which put the Wings up six to three.  After that goal Huet was replaced by Khabibulin.

Near the seven minute remaining mark in the third period the teams switched ends.  That was the first stoppage after the halfway point of the period.

In the final 10 seconds of the game Chicago scored a goal right off the faceoff.  It was a quick pass to the high slot for a one timer to make the scored six to four.

That was it for this game.  Because of how great the weather was and the perfect ice conditions, the fact that this was an outdoor game sort of wore off very quickly.  It became just another great hockey game between two rivals.  The Red Wings played very well in this one.  Let’s hope they can keep this streak rolling for a while.

This year’s Winter Classic was another huge success.  Everything about the event was first class.  Hopefully this is a tradition that will continue for years to come.

This 6-4 win brings us to:
25-7-5
55 points