Posts Tagged ‘Quarterfinals’

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 4 (4/20/11)

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Game four of the Red Wings’ series with the Coyotes once again featured a goalie matchup between Howard and Bryzgalov. Franzen was a last minute scratch due to a lower body injury so Modano was in the lineup tonight. Zetterberg was still unable to play.

The Wings scored first and, as usual, it was early in the period. This time, however, the Coyotes answered with two of their own giving them their first lead since the opening period of game one. Both of the Coyotes’ goals deflected in off of Red Wings players but Phoenix still felt a boost to their confidence and generated some momentum. Detroit was unfazed. They just continued playing their game and working hard all over the ice. Near the end of the first period they tied it up when Eaves tapped the puck in the net after being set up by an awesome play by Helm. The period ended with the score tied at two.

The Red Wings and the Coyotes each scored power play goals in the second. Hanzal scored for the Coyotes and Kronwall for the Wings. After two periods it was tied at three. I was starting to think they might be in store for an overtime battle tonight. It seemed to be the night for it since two other games had gone to double overtime earlier in the night including the Capitals and the Rangers which caused the national viewers to miss the beginning of the Red Wings game on Versus. I wish they could put the national games on Center Ice as well so that we don’t have this problem. It’s just a matter of time until somebody goes three or four overtimes and we end up missing an entire game.

Phoenix gave it their best in the third period and Bryzgalov was playing very well. The back breaker came at 13:41 when Cleary fired a shot with absolutely no angle and banked it in off the back of Bryzgalov’s leg through the tiniest of openings. It was an amazing goal and I think it really deflated the crowd and the players for Phoenix. Just a few minutes later Bertuzzi scored on a wrap-around that bounced in off the skate of a Phoenix player. With their hopes dwindling, the Coyotes pulled the goalie with about two minutes to go. After several players missed the net, Eaves finally nailed the empty net goal putting the final nail in the coffin for the Coyotes’ season.

So it was a first round sweep for the Red Wings who are really cranking on all cylinders right now. The best news is that they’re the first team done with round one so they have the most possible time to rest up and recover before round two. Hopefully, Franzen and Zetterberg will both be ready to go in time for the start of the next round. Way to go, Red Wings!

This 6-3 win finishes this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to 4-0 Red Wings.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 3 (4/18/11)

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Tonight it was game three of Detroit’s first round series against the Phoenix Coyotes. The goalies were Bryzgalov and Howard. The rest of the lineups were also unchanged from game two.

This game picked up right where game two left off; with the Red Wings completely in charge. Detroit jumped to early lead again tonight. Salei scored with a slapper from the point and then Miller tipped in a point shot from Kronwall. The Coyotes were two goals down before the game was three minutes old. That pretty well took the crowd out of it and it also put the Coyotes off their game. They were playing catch up for the rest of the night.

Filppula scored early in the second period and Franzen scored early in third. They were both great shots but Bryzgalov is taking a lot of heat for not being good enough in this series. Howard, on the other hand, was excellent once again last night.

On the Phoenix side of the score sheet, they had had power play goals from Schlemko and Whitney. They can build on the fact that they outplayed Detroit on specialty teams. The Wings were 0 for 4 on the power play and Phoenix was 2 for 3. There were some very weak penalties called in this game. The roughing call on Hanzal early in the second period was particularly ridiculous. I don’t understand what the ref was thinking making that call.

They Coyotes were pretty ineffective against the Wings. They did a pretty good job of controlling Datsyuk tonight but as a group the Wings just completely rolled over them. I don’t know if the Wings are just that much better or if maybe the off-ice issues are interfering with the focus of the Coyotes. Not to take anything for granted, but at this point my biggest concern is that the Red Wings will be over confident heading in to round two where they’re sure to face much stronger resistance.

But for now it’s time to stay focused on game four which will be Wednesday night in Phoenix. The Red Wings will try to keep it rolling and close out this series early with a sweep.

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

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

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

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.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 1 (4/13/11)

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

The Red Wings and the Coyotes opened round one of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight at Joe Louis Arena. The goalies were Jimmy Howard and Ilya Bryzgalov. Zetterberg was sidelined with a lower body injury and is day to day. Hopefully, he’ll be ready to play by game two on Saturday. Modano was a healthy scratch.

The Red Wings got off to a little bit of a slow start tonight. They weren’t really playing badly but they made a mistake early and Turris scored with a perfect shot over Howard’s glove. Then the Wings got into some penalty trouble and had to kill off a 5 on 3. They did that and built some momentum from it along with some help from the fans.

In the second period the Red Wings really ramped up their play. The started to really dominate like we know they can. Datsyuk was really working and he scored the first Detroit goal with a nice wrap around that Bryzgalov wasn’t expecting. Then Franzen fired a long shot using the defense a partial screen and beat Bryzgalov again. Suddenly, the Wings were up two to one. Towards the end of the second period Rafalski scored on the power play giving the Red Wings a two goal lead.

Hudler scored with a beautiful shot over Bryzgalov’s glove hand in the third period. Vrbata scored one for the Coyotes but the Wings were able hold them off from scoring any more than that.

Jimmy Howard was fantastic. He made several incredible and timely saves to keep the game one to nothing early on, and he did not get rattled at all after giving up the early goal.

Datsyuk was amazing, and Franzen also had a great game. Bertuzzi had a fight with Klesla that was short but much appreciated by the fans. While Bertuzzi was sitting in the penalty box the fans chanted Todd-Ber-tuz-zi with the same cadence as Let’s Go Red Wings. As the Versus announcers pointed out, Detroit loves spunk.

This was a great start for the Wings. I’ll be surprised if Phoenix doesn’t start playing tougher but the Wings have shown that they can really turn it on when they need to. It took a little while for them to warm up tonight but they’re humming now and hopefully they can keep it rolling.

This 2-4 win brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to 0-1 Red Wings.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 7 (4/27/10)

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Tonight the Red Wings and Coyotes went head to head in game seven. It was the first game seven of Jimmy Howard’s NHL career so the pressure was on. The Coyotes’ goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov, had been playing extremely well. The Red Wings would have to score early to rattle him and get some momentum.

Shane Doan was a game time decision but was not able to go tonight.

The Wings had a great scoring chance in the first period and Hanzal had to take a penalty to prevent it. On the power play the Red Wings were all over the Coyotes but Bryzgalov somehow stopped them on several shots that should have been easy goals. It seemed like he might have been getting in their heads a little bit. There were so many chances where Bryzgalov was down or out of position and they just couldn’t get it past him.

At the other end Jimmy Howard looked sharp as well although he wasn’t called upon much. Phoenix had a power play of their own but the Red Wings shut them down.

The first period ended with no score. The shots were 17 to 6 in favor of Detroit. It was a good period for the Wings but the longer Phoenix goes without giving up a goal the more confident they become. It was important for Detroit not to get discouraged or let Bryzgalov get in their heads.

Early in the second period the Wings had another power play when Hanzal was called for slashing. They continued the pressure and, unfortunately, the bad puck luck. At one point Zetterberg had a wide open net and the puck bounced over his stick. It was starting to look like the Red Wings were cursed. Then Lidstrom carried the puck in deep behind the net with Datsyuk and Franzen on either side of the slot and Holmstrom in front. Lidstrom sent it back towards Franzen but it hit somebody and bounced to Datsyuk instead. He settled it down and fired the puck into the back of the net making it one to nothing. That finally got the monkey off their backs.

A few minutes later Eaves was called for tripping. On the penalty kill Helm had a shorthanded breakaway. He was hooked by Aucoin so that negated the Eaves penalty and made it four on four for over a minute and a half. During the four on four Rafalski passed to Zetterberg who hit Datsyuk in stride entering the Phoenix end. He was in behind the defense. He took it to the net like it was a shootout. He made a sweet backhand fake and burned Bryzgalov with a wrister to make it two to nothing Wings. That was the second Datsyuk goal in 1:40.

Jimmy Howard made a couple of monster saves right after that goal to maintain the score.

The Wings killed off another penalty but just after it expired there was a faceoff deep in their own zone. Fiddler won it right to Jimmy Howard. He wasn’t expecting the shot to come so quickly. It hit his stick and bounced into the net to put the Coyotes on the board.

Phoenix seemed to draw a lot of energy from that goal. The crowd was electric. It was important for Detroit to weather that storm or possibly even score. They came very close a few times on the next shift. It was the fourth line guys and Cleary was really tenacious. The pressure helped kill the Coyotes’ momentum and shortly thereafter Aucoin was called for holding Holmstrom during their net-front battle.

On the power play Bertuzzi buried the puck but it was after a very quick whistle that went almost as soon as the puck touched Bryzgalov. The Wings continued to pressure on the power play and it seemed like they had about 100 quality scoring chances. They had the Coyotes pinned deep and on their heels with the Red Wings firing shot after shot at Bryzgalov. The Coyotes were out of gas. Just as the power play was about to expire Lidstrom ripped one from the blue line and got it through the traffic and into the net to make it three to one Wings.

Towards the end of the period Miller fell down into Yandle and tripped him up accidentally. He was called for tripping. During the Phoenix power play Lombardi was called for interference but they also called Helm for diving. It looked to me like he just kept his feet moving and that’s why he went down. I don’t see how they call that a dive. Later in the same power play there was some mayhem in front of the Red Wings net and Stuart was called for hooking so the Coyotes had a 5 on 3 power play for 1:12. Phoenix called their timeout to set it up.

It was a huge kill for the Red Wings and a pivotal moment in the game but they got it done. Just after the second penalty ended Stuart came out of the box and picked up an errant pass. He took off on a breakaway. He stumbled, made a move and scored on Bryzgalov with under five seconds left in the period. That made it four to one and completely deflated the Coyotes. That’s how the second period ended.

In the third period the Red Wings put it in shut down mode. They were all over the Coyotes. The Wings were still generating chances but they weren’t allowing much at all in their own end.

Before the halfway point of the period Filppula shot and Bryzgalov gave up a rebound that went right up the slot. Bertuzzi was flying in and he tapped it by Bryzgalov to add a little more insurance. That made it five to one Wings.

A few minutes later Fiddler was called for a double minor, one for interference and one for roughing. During the power play some idiot threw a bottle on the ice but play was allowed to continue. Lidstrom ripped a shot from the faceoff dot and put it in the top, far corner of the net. The game was pretty much done with the score six to one.

The Coyotes killed off the second minor and the score held until the end of the game.

What a great game this was for Detroit. After a discouraging but well-played first period, the Red Wings took total control of the game. They completely dominated. Everybody played very well. Jimmy Howard was fantastic.

The Coyotes seemed like a pretty tough challenge for the Wings but they’re nothing compared to their second round opponent.  The Sharks await.

This was a great first round for the Wings. Let’s keep it going, guys!

This 6-1 win finishes this Western Conference Quarterfinal series at 4-3 Red Wings.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 6 (4/25/10)

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Today the Red Wings had the chance to close out their first round series on home ice. The two goalies today were Bryzgalov and Howard. Calder Trophy nominee Jimmy Howard has been phenomenal and the rest of the Wings are also on a roll. Shane Doan was out of the lineup again for the Coyotes with an upper body injury but they got Fiddler back for this game.

The Red Wings started the game on the attack. They were passing the puck very well and playing aggressively. They had two power plays that were essentially back to back (there was a one second overlap). Just after the second power play started the Coyotes won a faceoff and dumped it deep in the Detroit end. Stuart brought the puck out to the neutral zone and Korpikoski stole it from him and took off towards the net. Zetterberg got back and tried to block the shot with his stick. He still got the shot away though and beat Jimmy Howard through the five hole for a shorthanded goal. That made it one nothing Coyotes.

During the second power play the Coyotes were called for another penalty. This time there was over a minute of 5 on 3 power play time for the Wings. The Coyotes killed off all the penalty time so all the Red Wings had to show for three Phoenix penalties was a minus one. It wasn’t for lack of trying though. The Red Wings had a ton of great scoring chances and were thwarted by Bryzgalov every time. The action was furious. The hitting was thunderous. The energy level and puck movement were excellent. The Wings were outplaying the Coyotes but the Coyotes had a few very good plays that put them up one nothing and kept them there throughout the first period.

Detroit dominated in the first period in almost every sense except the score. The Red Wings were outshooting the Coyotes 14 to 6.

Early in the second period Holmstrom was called for cross checking. On the power play the Coyotes got the puck to Schneider at the point. He shot it through a bunch of traffic.  It changed direction in front and got behind Jimmy Howard to give the Coyotes a two nothing lead.

Just a few seconds later the Red Wings were pressuring again. Franzen shot the puck and the rebound bounced around and was picked up by Datsyuk. He passed it back to Stuart in the slot. Stuart quickly shot it and beat Bryzgalov to put the Red Wings on the board two to one.

About halfway through the second period the Coyotes were on the power play. The Red Wings won the faceoff in their own end but couldn’t clear. They got stuck there for a long time and were starting to get tired. Lang had the puck along the boards and sent a perfect pass through the slot that found Vrbata heading towards the net. It hit his stick right on the tape and he flipped it into the net making it three to one Coyotes.

A few minutes later the Coyotes won a faceoff in Detroit’s end. They got it back to the point and then to Prucha along the boards. He took it to the top the circle and threw it towards the net. It hit Wolski in front of Jimmy Howard and changed direction. Then it bounced into the net making it four to one Coyotes. It was a total fluke goal.

In the third period Zetterberg was called for tripping and the Coyotes went back on the power play. The Wings killed off most of the penalty but with a few seconds to go Yandle shot from the blue line. Pyatt was in front of the net and he tipped it in to give the Coyotes the lead five to one.

Later Abdelkader put a huge hit on Stempniak. Then Morris came in and started fighting him. He caught Abdelkader off guard and off balance and landed several punches including some while Abdelkader was down on the ice and defenseless. Then a little while later Abdelkader and Yandle got tangled up along the boards and they went at. Abdelkader landed a few nice punches on him. Instead of giving them each five minutes they gave Yandle a minor for roughing and Abdelkader a double minor for roughing. I don’t know how they came up with that but it gave Phoenix a power play.

The Wings killed off the penalty and then at the other end Helm shot the puck from below the goal line. It hit Bryzgalov’s skate and bounced towards the net. The referee said no goal but it was very close to crossing the line so the play was reviewed. On the replay it was still hard to tell if it was in or not but it looked like you could see a little bit of white between the puck and the goal line. Based on the review they awarded the goal to Detroit which made it five to two Phoenix with three and a half minutes left.

The Wings weren’t able to score again so the Coyotes won five to two sending the series to game seven. As the final horn sounded Lepisto chopped Helm on the back of the legs. It sent Helm down to the ice in a heap. Hopefully, it won’t be a problem for him in the next game.

The Coyotes played a really good road game this afternoon. Detroit was dominant in the first period but from that point on the Coyotes took over. Phoenix made it through the first period on luck and great goaltending but in the second and third they were really assertive.

The tendency will probably be to blame Jimmy Howard since on paper it looks like there must have been some bad goaltending. Overall though, he played very well. There wasn’t much he could have done about most of the goals against.

The real story of the game was special teams. Phoenix had three power play goals and one shorthanded. Detroit did not score at all on the power play.

This 5-2 loss brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to a 3-3 tie.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 5 (4/23/10)

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Tonight the Red Wings and Coyotes faced off for game five. One team would end the night just a win away from the second round. Bryzgalov and Howard were the goalies again for this game. Shane Doan was still out of the lineup for the Coyotes. Robert Lang was also out of the lineup again after returning for the previous game. Our other old friend, Mathieu Schneider was in instead.

The first period had a great pace but only a few good scoring chances at either end. Both goalies had some big saves. Towards the end of the period Phoenix iced the puck. In a strange but effective move, Babcock put out his fourth line against the tired Coyotes’ squad. Miller carried the puck in deep and tried to center it from behind the net. It hit the skates of Lepisto and bounced back to Miller. He took it back and tried the wrap around. Bryzgalov made the initial stop but then it hit Fiddler’s skate and went in. It was initially credited to Abdelkader who was right there in front of the net but it was changed to Miller since Abdelkader didn’t touch the puck. It was one to nothing Red Wings.

In the second period the Coyotes got the puck into the Red Wings’ end and worked it in deep. They got it back to the point with Jovanovski in front of the net. Aucoin shot it from the point and Howard stopped it. Jovanovski swept the puck around Howard as he was falling on top of him. Howard complained that he was interfered with. Jovanovski did fall on top of him and it looked like Howard’s leg bent back awkwardly. He seemed to be okay but he didn’t have much of a chance to stop the puck. It easily could have been called interference but I didn’t think it was too terrible. It was determined to be incidental contact which I think was fair. That goal tied the game at one.

In the third period the Red Wings had a power play but weren’t able to score. Hanzal had a breakaway coming out of the penalty box and Howard made two spectacular saves on him. On the second one Howard was already sprawled out and Hanzal took another whack at it. Howard knocked the puck out of the air with his goal stick. It was absolute robbery. Beautiful goaltending!

Helm made a fantastic defensive play in the third period. Howard was all the way over to his right expecting a shot from Fiddler. Instead he wrapped around the back of the net very quickly and Howard wasn’t able to get back in time. Helm saw that play developing and came flying in to the wide open side of the net with his stick down and made a great save to rob Fiddler of an easy goal. Great play by Helm! Ericsson was also right there in good position to help out.

Later in the third period there was a faceoff deep in the Coyotes’ end. Datsyuk won it back to Lidstrom at the point. He fired a shot that was redirected slightly a time or two and somehow ended up behind Bryzgalov but in front of the net. Holmstrom skated through the crease behind Bryzgalov and chased down the puck, popping it into the wide open net for the go ahead goal. That made it two to one Wings with about nine minutes left in the game.

After that goal the Wings had some momentum. They kept up the pressure and were generating some good chances. Then Holmstrom got the puck to Franzen who passed it to Datsyuk in front of the net. Datsyuk got the puck up and beat Bryzgalov over the glove with a backhander making it three to one.

Late in the game the Coyotes’ pulled Bryzgalov. Zetterberg bagged a nice empty net goal that was actually pretty difficult. He had about three Coyotes on him trying to prevent the goal and he scored anyway thanks in part to a nice setup from Filppula.

So the Red Wings won game five four to one and took the series lead three to two. This was a great game for the Wings. They Coyotes played hard but the Wings were better. Jimmy Howard was fantastic once again and the entire team played very well.

The Red Wings will have the chance to finish the first round on Sunday afternoon at 2:00pm in Detroit.

This 4-1 win brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to 3-2 Red Wings.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 4 (4/20/10)

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Tonight’s game was a must win for the Red Wings. They were down 2-1 in the series. If you fall to 3-1 the odds are not good of coming back to win the series, but a win tonight and it would be up for grabs.

The goalies once again were Jimmy Howard and Ilya Bryzgalov. The Coyotes captain Shane Doan was not in the lineup for this game. He was injured in game 3 when he crashed into the boards trying to avoid running into Jimmy Howard. Fiddler was back in the lineup for the Coyotes after missing the previous game.

The Red Wings did some line juggling for this game. Cleary was moved onto a line with Datsyuk and Franzen. Holmstrom was moved onto a line with Miller and Abdelkader.

In the first period Miller and Fiddler got into it a little bit in front of the Coyotes’ net. They didn’t actually fight but they both went off for roughing. They continued to argue while in the boxes. There was some animosity there for sure.

During the 4 one 4 it looked like Filppula had scored. After looking at the replay though it was clear that the puck did not cross the line. It was hard to believe because it looked like it was heading in and then it hit the ice and bounced right back out. It was tumbling end over end and it just happened to bounce the wrong way.

The first period ended with no score. The Wings had a slow start but seemed to play better as the period went on. The Red Wings ended up with approximately double the shots and chances that Phoenix had and were pretty much in control of the puck. They had a few power plays but couldn’t score. The biggest problem for the Wings in the first period was faceoffs. They only won 8 while Phoenix came away with 20.

Late in the second period the Red Wings were on the power play. Kronwall shot from the blue line and Zetterberg was in front. He deflected the puck with his stick and it went up and into the top corner of the net. They reviewed it see if it was touched with a high stick but it was not. There wasn’t much chance that his stick was above the crossbar because the puck went up from where he touched it and it still ended up under the crossbar. That gave the Wings the one to nothing lead. The goal was initially credited to Bertuzzi but wasn’t touched by his stick so that would be changed.

A few seconds after the goal, Datsyuk was called for boarding. During the penalty kill Jimmy Howard’s goalie mask was knocked off and he still made the save before the whistle went. It was quite a display of concentration.

The second period ended with the Wings up by one. Most of the period was rather uneventful. The Red Wings seemed to be dominating in terms of possession but Phoenix was doing a good job of preventing many quality chances. By the end of the period the shots and chances were much closer.

In the third period the Coyotes had 17 seconds of 5 on 3 power play time. The Red Wings killed it off and then killed off the rest of the penalty, too. It was a great kill for the Wings and it really energized the team and the crowd.

Later the Red Wings got the puck in deep. They got it back to Lidstrom at the point. He passed it to Franzen who found an opening to hit Datsyuk on the other side of the ice. Datsyuk fired a perfect shot that got behind Bryzgalov on the short side and found the top corner of the far side of the net. That made it two to nothing Wings with just over four minutes left in the game. It sure was a pretty play.

The Red Wings kept the pressure on and just 25 seconds later they scored again. Bertuzzi won a race to negate an icing and cycled the puck to Zetterberg down below the goal line along the boards. Zetterberg just threw it to the net and it hit Bryzgalov and went in to make it three to zip.

The Red Wings played some great defense for the final five minutes including a penalty kill at the end that was needed when Datsyuk flipped the puck over the glass by mistake.

The Wings got the win and Jimmy Howard earned his first career playoff shutout. It was a great performance by Howard especially considering this was a bounce back game after losing game three and giving up some soft goals. It’s a great sign that he was able to put that all behind him and perform so well in this game.

Detroit played a very physical game tonight. They were really throwing the body around and laying some big hits. Datsyuk and Zetterberg played really well as did Helm and Bertuzzi.

So the Red Wings head back to Phoenix with the series tied at two apiece. It’s a best of three now.

This 0-3 win brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to a 2-2 tie.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 3 (4/18/10)

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

With the series tied at one apiece, the Coyotes rolled into Detroit this afternoon to face the Red Wings in game three. Howard and Bryzgalov were the goalies once again today.

It only took about 30 second for the Coyotes to draw first blood. The Red Wings turned the puck over and the Coyotes got it in deep. They started throwing it at the net, Howard got turned around and everybody was scrambling. Datsyuk swept the puck away from the net to save a goal but it ended up in the slot where Lepisto pounced on it and scored to make it one nothing Coyotes.

Later in the first period Detroit had the first power play of the game. It was a very good power play. The way they were able to move puck and create scoring chances was just incredible. It looked like men against boys. As the power play continued, a rebound came to Filppula and he put it in the net to tie the game at one.

Shane Doan tripped over Jimmy Howard early in the second period and went hard into the boards shoulder first. He left the game at that point and did not return.

Also in the second period Rafalski left with a lower back problem but later returned.

The Coyotes started buzzing toward the end of the second period. Lombardi shot and Howard made the first stop but the rebound came out and Wolski shot again. That one beat Howard to make it two to one just a few seconds before the end of the period.

At about the halfway point of the third period, Vrbata won a faceoff in his own end and started up ice. He passed it to Prucha who angled it off the boards back to Vrbata and went to the net. Vrbata passed it back to Prucha close to the slot. Prucha made a nice move around Jimmy Howard and scored. That gave the Coyotes a two goal lead with about 11 minutes to go.

A few minutes later, after an offensive zone faceoff, the Wings got the puck behind the net and Zetterberg fought to push it ahead to Bertuzzi. He passed it back to Franzen who fired an absolute pinpoint shot that somehow fit through the short side between Bryzgalov and the post to make it a one goal game. What a sniper!

A few minutes after that, the Coyotes scored again. The Red Wings had just made a defensive change and Vrbata ended up with more space than he should have had. He fired a shot that beat Howard cleanly and gave the Coyotes a two goal lead again. That was one that Howard would definitely want back. There was about 8 minutes to go at that point.

Late in the third Bertuzzi got the puck into the net but it was after the whistle, or at least the intent to blow the whistle. On the replay it was pretty clear that the puck was covered before Bertuzzi shoved it (and Bryzgalov) into the net, so I think this was a fair call.

The Wings pulled the goalie in the final few minutes. Then with about 30 seconds left Aucoin flipped the puck over the glass so the Wings also had a power play. Then Jovanovski was called for roughing but the whistle didn’t blow until there was about 5 seconds left. Time ran out before Detroit could score so the Wings lost four to two.

The Red Wings played okay in this game. They were great at times and not so great at other times. The Wings weren’t as good as they were in game two. I’m not sure what the difference was but they’ll have to play a lot better on Tuesday.

This 4-2 loss brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to 1-2 Coyotes.

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 2 (4/16/10)

Friday, April 16th, 2010

After a frustrating game one on Wednesday, the Red Wings had another crack at the Coyotes tonight. The Wings played fairly well in the first game. They had a ton of shots but weren’t able to stop the Coyotes’ power play. Hopefully the Wings will be able to build on the positive aspects of the last game and fix the negative ones.

The goalies once again were Jimmy Howard and Ilya Bryzgalov. Abdelkader was in for the Red Wings for this game in place of Jason Williams. Mike Babcock made the switch because he wanted to add more of a physical presence after the hard hitting game one.

At about the halfway point of the first period Zetterberg was fighting for the puck with Hanzal in front the Red Wings net. Hanzal shot the puck and the rebound dropped down in front of the crease. Zetterberg reached for the puck but before he could get it Yandle came flying in out of nowhere and chipped it into the net giving the Coyotes the first lead of the game.

In the second period the Red Wings were on the power play. Kronwall brought the puck through the neutral zone and dropped it off for Zetterberg. He passed it to Filppula and continued toward the net. Filppula passed it back to Zetterberg and he put it in the back of the net. It was a great play that was perfectly executed. That tied the game at one.

Just a few seconds after that goal Phoenix took back the lead. Howard stopped the puck with his glove and tried to pass it off to Kronwall. He wasn’t expecting that. Kronwall spun around and tried to chip it away but it hit Wolski. He got control and shot quickly beating Howard just 38 seconds after the Red Wings’ goal.

Just a few second later the Wings tied it up again. They had got the puck in deep and into the corner. Holmstrom went after it and cycled it back for Franzen. He passed it to Datsyuk in the slot who shot it perfectly into the roof of the net. That tied the score at two each.

A couple of seconds later Lombardi got a lead pass from Doan on a give and go. Lombardi was in behind the defense. Miller tried to catch up to him but he was already beaten. Lombardi shot on Howard and beat him through the five hole. The Coyotes were back up by one at about the halfway point of the game.

A few seconds later, you guessed it, the Red Wings tied it up again. Bertuzzi got rocked at center ice but he still made the play. He chipped the puck ahead to Filppula who took it to the net. Filppula made a quick move and put the puck between Bryzgalov’s legs and into the net.  That was the fifth goal in 3:58 of game time.

At that point there was a very noticeable surge in the Red Wings’ energy level as they went all out trying to score again. Everybody was into it; they were really amped up. It seemed like the final minute of a one goal game except that it just kept going.

That pace continued for the rest of the second period but nobody scored any more goals.

Early in the third period Wolski was trying to get the puck out of his own end and Abdelkader took it away from him and turned it back toward the net. Bryzgalov tried to go for the poke check but Abdelkader avoided it and put the puck in the net making Mike Babcock look like a genius. Abdelkader was having a great game with a bunch of hits and a goal.

The Red Wings continued to play like they were lit on fire. The Coyotes were on their heels. Then at about the halfway point of the period the Wings got caught on a Phoenix breakaway with Lidstrom the only defender in place as Fiddler and Doan came in on the rush. Lidstrom tried to take away the pass but it got through underneath his stick and Doan one timed it into the net tying the game at four.

A few minutes later Zetterberg and Bertuzzi entered the zone. Zetterberg passed to Bertuzzi and went to the net. Bertuzzi shot from the side boards and the rebound dropped down in front of the other side of the net right in front of Zetterberg. Bryzgalov was out of position and Zetterberg popped it into the wide open side of the goal to take back the lead.

As the third period was winding down the Red Wings went on the power play. Fiddler fell heavily and hit the back of his head on the boards. He was quite shaken up. He left the ice and looked really wobbly walking down the tunnel. When the power play continued Stuart shot from the blue line. The puck hit the back boards where Filppula picked it up and circled with Bertuzzi in front screening and Zetterberg hanging around the net. Filppula shot one that Bryzgalov couldn’t get a good look at thanks to Bertuzzi. The puck went in the net and gave the Wings a two goal cushion for the first time in the game with about two minutes to go.

Zetterberg bagged an empty net goal in the final minute. That gave him his first career playoff hat trick. Way to go! Are there free curly fries during the playoffs? :-)

This game was incredible. The Red Wings didn’t look that great in the first period and the shots were even in that one. From the second period on the Wings looked amazing. They were playing very physical hockey. The hitting was fantastic. That really helped open the ice and allow for some excellent puck movement and crisp passing. The energy level was awesome. Great job, Red Wings!

This 7-4 win brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to a 1-1 tie.