Posts Tagged ‘Conference Finals’

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.