Posts Tagged ‘Semifinals’

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 2 (5/2/10)

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Tonight the Red Wings had their chance at revenge after dropping game one to the Sharks. The Wings played well in the last game but the Sharks had three quick goals, most of which were fluky. The Wings have a lot to build on from game one even though they lost. Tonight the goalies were Jimmy Howard and Evgeni Nabokov. Marleau was back in the lineup for the Sharks after recovering from the flu. For the Red Wings, Eaves was out tonight and Jason Williams was in. Eaves was a little bit sore so he got the night off.

This game started out with a lot of pressure from San Jose. Jimmy Howard was stellar in keeping the Sharks off the board. The Red Wings had a few chances of their own but the momentum was mostly going San Jose’s way.

Then, about seven minutes into the game, Datsyuk picked up the puck at his own blue line. He skated through the neutral zone and into the Sharks’ end. He ripped a shot that went over Nabokov’s shoulder and into the net to put the Wings on the board first.

A few minutes later Abdelkader went to the box for slashing. On the power play Pavelski shot one from high in the slot. The puck was tipped somewhere along the way and changed directions a little bit. It got by Howard and tied the game at one.

Just a few seconds after that goal the Sharks scored again. Pavelski set up Clowe this time with a nice centering pass. Clowe received it in the slot, turned around and backhanded it into the net. That put the Sharks up two to one just past the halfway point of the first period.

Not long after that, Rafalski shot one from close to the blue line. Holmstrom was in front of the net screening Nabokov and he tipped the puck into the net to tie the game at two.

Just two minutes into the second period the Wings scored another power play goal. Lidstrom shot from he point and got it through traffic to beat Nabokov and put the Red Wings backup up by a goal. Holmstrom was in front of the net again screening the goaltender again.

The Wings played really hard in the second period and seemed to be generating a lot of momentum. They were still outshot by the Sharks but it’s not surprising since the Red Wings had to kill two penalties.

In the third period the Sharks had a 5 on 3 power play after another phantom call. It was the second one of the night on Bertuzzi alone. During the power there was a big pile up in front of the Wings’ net. Howard was out of the net after making the initial save. Datsyuk was attempting to keep the puck out of the net but it got by him after a shot by Pavelski. That tied the game at three.

Later in the third Lidstrom tried to fire a one-timer but his stick broke and Heatley took off with the puck. He shot it and Howard stopped it but the rebound came right to Thornton in the slot with Howard sprawled on the ice. It was an easy goal for Thornton. That put the Sharks back up by one.

The Wings pulled the goalie at the end of the game but then they took a penalty for too many men on the ice.  They weren’t able to re-tie the game and the Sharks came away with another win.

Believe it or not the Red Wings played a pretty solid road game tonight. The biggest problem was the officiating and I’m not one to normally complain about that. The calls were terrible in both directions. The Red Wings had 10 penalties. I wouldn’t mind that if they actually had 10 infractions but many of the calls should not have been a penalty. The Sharks only had four penalties and at least one of those was completely bogus as well. It seemed like the referees wanted to be the stars of this game. I hate to see bad officiating effect the outcome of a game and that was definitely the case tonight.

The Sharks’ third goal was the direct result of a bad call that went against Bertuzzi and their fourth goal was the direct result of a broken stick for Lidstrom. Hopefully these bad breaks will start to even out in the next game.

This 3-4 loss brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to 0-2 San Jose.

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 1 (4/29/10)

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Fewer than 48 hours after winning game seven in Phoenix the Red Wings were in San Jose to start game one against the Sharks. The goalies tonight were Jimmy Howard and Evgeni Nabokov. The big news for San Jose was that Patrick Marleau was unavailable for this game because of illness. Apparently had a fever and wasn’t feeling well enough to play.

The first five minutes of the game seemed like the typical feeling out process. Both teams had a few scoring chances but nothing too dangerous. Both goalies seemed to settle in. The energy level seemed good for both teams even though San Jose was rested and Detroit was not.

Holmstrom and Mitchell went after each other a little bit and got matching roughing minors. With only 13 seconds left in the 4 on 4 Filppula was called for slashing. During the 4 on 3 power play the Sharks won a faceoff deep in the Red Wings’ zone. Just after the matching minors expired Boyle made a centering pass to Pavelski in the slot. He let one go that got through the traffic and into the net to put the Sharks on the board first. Howard didn’t have a very good look at that one because of the screen.

Just a few seconds after that goal the Sharks won another faceoff deep in the Wings’ end. They moved the puck around without much resistance. Thornton ended up with it behind the net. He passed it quickly to Heatley driving up the slot. He tapped it in and made it two nothing. The goals were just 56 seconds apart. Detroit was getting a delayed penalty that was negated by the goal. Nabokov was headed to the bench but the Sharks didn’t have the extra skater on yet.

About two seconds after that the Red Wings lost another faceoff in their own end. Pavelski made a diving pass to Setoguchi in the slot. His shot hit Zetterberg’s stick and changed direction sharply. Where else would it go but the back of the net? It was three to nothing Sharks and just barely past the halfway point of the first period. Jimmy Howard wasn’t playing badly. There wasn’t much he could have done about any of those goals.

A minute or two after the Sharks goal Ericsson had the puck along the boards and Cleary was wide open in front of the net banging his stick on the ice. Ericsson got him the puck and Cleary tapped it in to chip away at the Sharks’ sudden lead.

In the second period the Red Wings lost a faceoff in the Shark’s end but Franzen kept after it and the puck ended up coming to Datsyuk along the boards. Datsyuk passed back to Franzen who took it to the slot. Cleary was in front of the net right in Nabokov’s face. Franzen released a perfect shot and Nabokov never saw a thing. That goal made it three to two Wings.

As Lilja was about to get a high sticking penalty a scrum ensued. Abdelkader wrestled with McGinn while Ericsson nailed Couture with a couple of nice rights. The Sharks had a power play because of Lilja’s extra minor. Ericsson and Couture offset and Abdelkader and McGinn got a pass.

Near the end of the second period Cleary collided with Abdelkader and fell down. As he was falling he was run into by Blake and took an accidental shot to the head. He was down for a while and had to be helped back to the bench. Then Franzen was hit in the face with a high stick by Setoguchi and cut badly. Instead of that being called, Franzen was called for tripping and the Sharks had a power play. That was a very questionable call. During their power play Filppula was called for high sticking Setoguchi. There was no doubt that he was hit by Filppula’s stick but his reaction was so overdone that it should have been called unsportsmanlike. Regardless, the Sharks had a 5 on 3 power play but it was interrupted by the second intermission.

The Sharks had almost a minute of 5 on 3 time to start the third. With about 8 seconds left on it Pavelski shot one that beat Howard through the five hole to put the Sharks back up by two goals. Then they had over a minute of 5 on 4 time which the Wings successfully killed off.

A few minutes later the Red Wings answered right back. Franzen got it to Datsyuk in the slot who spotted Rafalski. Datsyuk just tapped it over to Rafalski who flipped it into the back of the net and put the Wings back within a goal.

Howard made some spectacular saves to keep the Wings in the hunt. They pulled him for the extra skater in the final moments but they weren’t able to score.

This was another game where specialty teams was the difference. The Wings were 0 for 5 on the power play and San Jose was 2 for 6. That’s not going to cut it in this series.

For the most part the Wings played well and Jimmy Howard was sharp. However, I think the game winning goal was one that Howard would want back.

The Red Wings showed great resilience tonight but it just wasn’t enough. They’ll get another crack at it on Sunday evening at 8:00pm eastern.

This 3-4 loss brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to 0-1 San Jose.

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 7 (5/14/09)

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Tonight it was finally game seven in Detroit against Anaheim. The lineups were mostly unchanged from game six with one exception. Draper was back in for the Wings. His speed and toughness should be a big plus in this game.

I’m still sour over the way the Ducks attacked our guys at the end of game six. The Red Wings handled it very well. Mike Babcock was angry but the players didn’t really even acknowledge it. It was a classless move by the Ducks for sure. The best answer would be to destroy the Ducks on the ice like the Penguins destroyed the Capitals last night.

The game started with little bit of an edge. Zetterberg made a big hit on Perry early on that set the tone.

Later Zetterberg was called for holding the stick and then a minute later Kronwall was called for hooking. The Wings did a great job killing off the 5 on 3 and then 5 on 4 power plays. Osgood was looking fantastic as usual. Stuart also made an excellent diving poke check to stop a breakaway and prevent a scoring chance.

Then a few minutes later Getzlaf was called for hooking Hossa and the Wings went to work. They had a couple of good chances on the power play but didn’t get anything by Hiller. The Ducks did a pretty good job of being in the way and blocking shots.

Later in the first period Getzlaf was penalized again, this time for slashing. The replay showed that it was just a tap and Franzen dove terribly. I hate to see the Wings diving like that even when it results in a power play. Nothing makes a player look more like a wuss than collapsing after being tapped. Cut the crap, boys! I don’t mind the referee calling such a minor slash. He’s sending a message to knock off the piddly garbage. I do think he should also call the dive though in that case. Getzlaf wasn’t happy but he had only himself to blame because there was no reason for even a light slash. The dive was definitely unsportsmanlike but he didn’t have to give the opportunity to Franzen in the first place. These dives are a league-wide problem and they need to go away. That’s a topic for another time though.

On the power play Zetterberg sent the puck across to Franzen and then Wisniewski stayed with Zetterberg to check him into the boards. That was a mistake as it left Hudler alone in the slot. Franzen sent a hard pass towards Hudler and he tipped it into the net. It was one nothing Red Wings.

For the rest of the period Detroit looked really good. They played hard and fast but didn’t score again. The period ended with the Wings up by one.

Early in the second period the Ducks won a faceoff in the Red Wings end. Selanne had the puck along the wall but he turned it over because he was being rushed by Lebda. The puck rolled into the neutral zone and Helm came flying after it like he was shot out of a cannon. He picked up the puck, blew by the defense and went in all alone against Hiller. He ripped a pinpoint shot that burned Hiller for the Wings second goal. What a play by Helm! You gotta love that guy!

A bit later Pronger hit Hossa behind the net. The hit was fine but afterwards he grabbed Hossa and tackled him right in front of the referee. I can’t understand how that wasn’t holding. I guess that makes up for Franzen not being called for a dive.

The Wings were really buzzing. They flying around and winning all the small battles. Then Whitney high sticked Cleary and the Wings went back on the job. During the power play Beauchemin batted the puck out of play and over the glass so the Wings had a 5 on 3 for 22 seconds. They had a glorious chance on the 5 on 3 but Pronger blocked the shot. The Wings continued on the power play. After just a few seconds of the second penalty Hossa was called for high sticking so it was 4 on 4 for a while. During the 4 on 4 Stuart crushed Selanne into the boards. Selanne went down and stayed down. The hit came well after the puck had left Selanne’s vicinity and Stuart was called for interference. So then Anaheim had a 4 on 3 power play for 1:02. They killed that off and then it was 5 on 3 for a little over half a minute. After killing that off it was 5 on 4 for 20 seconds or so. Then it was back to 5 on 5. Whew! What a great job by the Wings to kill off all of that. Osgood was spectacular during the kill.

With about five minutes to go in the second Whitney took a shot from the point. Osgood made the stop but Selanne tapped in the rebound. Osgood didn’t have chance to stop Selanne’s shot from going in because Carter had run into him and was basically sitting on his lap. I cannot understand why that wasn’t goaltender interference. In any event it was two to one Red Wings.

The Ducks got a boost from that and the Wings had some trouble keeping the puck out of their own end. They finally did though and Wisniewski tried to take it at center ice but he missed. Filppula went by him and they both dove for the puck. Filppula got up first and took it. He passed it to Datsyuk who was streaking up the slot. Datsyuk took a shot and the rebound came back to him. He went behind the net and got absolutely clobbered by Marchant. Before getting hit though he managed to pass the puck back to the slot. Samuelsson moved in and put it in the net. That made it three to one and quickly nullified the Ducks goal. Just what I was hoping for! What a setup by Filppula and Datsyuk!

A few seconds later Pronger crosschecked Hudler in the back and forced him into Hiller. Hudler was called for goaltender interference. Hudler was actually driven to his knees by the crosscheck. There was no way he could have stopped himself from running into Hiller. I can’t believe how bad that call was. Just imagine if the Wings had scored. They would have taken away the goal. I was angry enough as it was so it’s a good thing that didn’t happen.

On the power play Selanne handed it off to Pronger in the slot who one timed it. Osgood stopped it but Perry was on the doorstop and smacked it in. It was another gift from the officials.

The second period ended with the Wings up two to three. Osgood made some incredible saves to prevent the Ducks from tying the game at the end of the second period. As well as the Wings had played, it was still a one shot game heading into the third period.

The Wings continued playing very well in the third. Nearing the midpoint of the period Ericsson had the puck behind his own net but he got tangled up with a broken stick that was laying there. It caused a turnover, things got crazy and Ryan ended up scoring to tie the game. Even though the Red Wings had played much better than the Ducks in this game and this series they could be eliminated with one shot. It was maddening.

Then Selanne was called for hooking and the Wings went on the power play. The Wings didn’t score on the power play and time was winding down with the game still tied. They got the puck into the Anaheim end and started taking shots. The Wings were moving the puck all over the zone. Zetterberg ended up with it along the glass behind the net. He chipped it to Cleary who was standing in front of the crease. Cleary put it on the ice between Hiller’s knees, then gave it another tap and it slid between Hiller’s legs and into the net to put the Wings back on top. It was a classic hard-working Cleary goal.

The Wings continued to apply pressure. The Ducks pulled the goalie as soon as they could. The Red Wings fought hard and so did the Ducks but Detroit was able to shut them down. The good guys won!

It was such a relief. There were so many bad calls in this series. I don’t normally find too much fault with the officiating but this was bad. There was at least one game that the Ducks won without earning in my opinion. The Wings played so well in this series but it seemed like they had to beat the Ducks and the officials, too. Well, they did it! I don’t buy into the conspiracy theories. I don’t think the officials had it in for the Wings or anything like that. I know how hard it is to get the calls right when the game is so fast. I think it was just bad luck. That being said, it would have been a huge tragedy if the Wings had lost this series after outplaying the Ducks so badly.

None of that matters, though. It’s over, at least for now.

I’m really excited to watch the Red Wings and the Blackhawks. What a classic matchup! I can’t wait for that series. Chicago is a great team that plays well against the Wings. It should be a great one!

This 3-4 win finishes this Western Conference Semifinal series at 4-3 Detroit.

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 6 (5/12/09)

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

The Red Wings were trying to close out the series against the Ducks tonight in Anaheim. The big lineup change for the Wings was that Rafalski was back in. That’s great news for the Red Wings. Babcock kept Ericsson on the first defensive pair with Lidstrom. That’s quite a testament to how great Ericsson has been since being called up at the start of the playoffs.

The first period ended with no scoring. The Red Wings had a pretty good energy level in the first period but they just couldn’t seem to put much together. I think that was mainly because Anaheim just wasn’t allowing it. They were playing much better defensively than they had in the two previous games. On the flipside the Ducks didn’t really create much offense either. The action was pretty fast back and forth but both teams’ defenses were pretty good about breaking up plays before they developed.

When something did develop Osgood was great. He looked sharp and in good position. At the other end Hiller was just as good.

Rafalski was effective right off the bat. Getting the puck out of the Wings end and into the Ducks end seemed noticeably easier with him out there.

Datsyuk was playing well but he seemed hesitant. It seemed pretty clear to me that he was lacking confidence in his shot. He was thinking pass every time he touched the puck. We’ve seen him go through phases like this before. Eventually, he’ll score a goal, and then he’ll start shooting everything at the net and scoring a ton. It’s bound to happen. Let’s hope it’s soon.

Filppula was called for a penalty late in the first period so the Ducks started the second on the power play.

The Wings killed off the penalty. Then Osgood mishandled the puck behind his net. Ericsson was in front of the net and poked it away saving a goal.

Kronwall sent the puck over the glass and the Wings were shorthanded again. The Ducks scored on the power play. It was a shot from the point that Osgood stopped but Getzlaf was there to knock in the rebound. The Ducks had the lead one to nothing.

As the second period was winding down, Getzlaf shot from the blue line. The puck was deflected at least twice and possibly three times as it hit things on the way to the net. It was Perry that touched it last redirecting it into the net. There was no way for Osgood to predict where that one would go. That gave Anaheim the two to nothing lead with only a few minutes left in the period.

That was it for the second period. Detroit had a two goal deficit to overcome in the third. They just weren’t playing at as high a level as the Ducks. The Ducks were just everywhere. They kept everything to the outside. They rushed every pass and shot the Red Wings made. They were playing a brilliant defensive game.

With about five minutes left in the game Detroit finally started to establish some sustained pressure in the Anaheim zone. Babcock had started changing up the line combinations and it seemed breathe some life into the team. At the three minute mark Helm was taken down and Ebbett went to the box. About a minute into the power play Rafalski kept it in the zone and got it Zetterberg. He passed it to Hudler who passed it to Franzen in front of the net. Franzen tapped it in to pull within a goal of tying the game. It was one to two with just under two and a half minutes to go.

Osgood went to the bench with just over a minute left. The Wings got the puck in deep and there was a whistle when the puck went out of play. Detroit took their timeout to get a breather.

The Ducks stopped the Wings from getting the game-tying goal and forced a game seven Thursday night in Detroit.

After the game ended the Ducks took the opportunity to take cheap shots and sucker punches on Hossa and Datsyuk. Scott Niedermayer elbowed Datsyuk in the face. Datsyuk got up and tried to defend himself and naturally got wailed on by Niedermayer. Getzlaf hooked Hossa at the end of the game so Hossa shoved him a little bit. Getzlaf instantly dropped his gloves and wailed on Hossa. It seemed pretty cheap to me. It looked like the Ducks saw an opportunity to try taking some of our best players out of the next game. Too bad Downey wasn’t in the lineup. This is where you could really use an enforcer. They were taking advantage of guys that aren’t good fighters and trying to take them out of the game. It worked on Kopecky so now they wanted to do the same thing to Hossa and Datsyuk. At least Kopecky was a willing participant.

I certainly wouldn’t complain about a fair fight but both of these were very one-sided. It was ridiculous. If Hossa wanted to fight that would be one thing but to me it looked like Getzlaf was the only one throwing punches. In the other fight it was Niedermayer with his gloves off and his helmet on repeatedly punching Datsyuk in the head. Datsyuk had his helmet off and gloves on. Not cool.

None of that was relevant to why the Wings lost this game though. They were completely out played from beginning to very near the end. Anaheim’s defense was very tight and Detroit was unable to do anything about it like they had done in the past. In part I don’t think the Wings were playing with their best effort but I think it was mostly just the Ducks being the more desperate of the two. Now the series could go either way. One crazy bounce, a bad call, a lucky tip…any little thing can end somebody’s season.

I think the Wings will be at their best on Thursday. The cheap shots at the end of this game will probably just help to fire up the Wings in game seven. Not that they’ll need help since game seven is enough to get anybody fired up.

This 1-2 loss brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to a 3-3 tie.

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 5 (5/10/09)

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Today the Ducks were in town to take on the Wings in game five. The goalies were Osgood and Hiller. Lilja, Draper and Rafalski were still out. Kopecky was also out after sustaining an injury in the previous game during a fight with Beauchemin. He may require surgery to repair the damage. Abdelkader was in for Kopecky. Instead of Chelios, Meech was in for this one. Mike Babcock was going with the same top two line combinations that he used in game four.

Detroit started applying the pressure early in this game. Franzen hit the post with a shot inside of the first minute. Abdelkader got off to a fast start as well. He had a couple of big hits early on. Later in the first, Filppula also hit a post. The Wings were doing a great job of setting up plays but were just missing the net. They were clearly dominant at both ends of the ice.

The first period ended without any goals. The Red Wings outshot the Ducks 14 to 3 and obviously were in control of the game. Hiller and his two best friends, the left post and the right post, were the only reason Detroit didn’t have a multiple goal period.

In the second period Detroit broke the scoring drought. Abdelkader got the puck from Franzen near center ice and skated it into Anaheim’s zone. He passed it to Franzen who pulled up and made a move towards the slot. Meanwhile Abdelkader kept going towards the net. Franzen released a shot with Abdelkader in position for the tip. Abdelkader didn’t redirect the puck but he did make it hard for Hiller to get a good look at it.

Just a few seconds later Datsyuk had a breakaway and was all alone against Hiller. He made a nice move but Hiller stayed with him and stopped the shot.

A few more seconds later Zetterberg took a shot that Hiller stopped but it popped straight up in the air. Hudler was crossing in front of the net and batted it out of the air over Hiller’s shoulder and into the net for their second goal. It was just 39 seconds after Franzen’s goal. There was a review to see if it was hit with a high stick but it was a good goal.

Later in the second period Anaheim was on the power play with Kronwall in the penalty box. The puck came back to Ryan Whitney. He moved to Osgood’s left and shot the puck. Stuart was in front of the net trying to block it but he may have just made it tougher for Osgood to see. The puck went by Osgood on the stick side and into the net. He seemed to be frustrated with Stuart after the play. That made it two to one Detroit.

The Wings continued playing very well in the third but Hiller was stopping everything. They had a lot of good scoring chances including one where Kronwall hit the post. That was the third post of the game for the Red Wings.

With about three minutes left in the period Zetterberg ended up on the ice with Helm and Cleary. They had a big pile up in front of the net with everybody whacking at it. It bounced back out and Helm knocked it in. It was Helm’s first playoff goal and it gave Detroit the lead three to one. The Ducks were upset because they felt that Cleary interfered with Hiller. He was definitely in the crease and his skate was behind Hiller’s skate. It was a close call, I can see why they Ducks didn’t like it. After the calls in game three that gave them the win I just don’t have much sympathy for them.

They pulled Hiller with just over a minute and a half to go. Zetterberg bagged the empty net goal again making it four to one. That did it for this game.

The Red Wings dominated at both ends of the ice from start to finish. The Ducks were lucky to be only a goal away from tying for most of the game. It would have been a real tragedy if they had managed to tie it up after being walloped for the entire game

The Red Wings are playing great. Let’s hope they close it out Tuesday night in Anaheim.

This 1-4 win brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to 3-2 Detroit.

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 4 (5/7/09)

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

The Wings were facing the Ducks tonight for game four in Anaheim. The lineup was the same as the previous games with Hiller and Osgood in the nets. Draper, Rafalski and Lilja were still out for the Wings. After the previous two losses I was pretty worried about this game. Even though Detroit had mostly outplayed the Ducks in the losses I felt like a loss in this game could happen just as easily and would be very hard to overcome. That would mean that the Wings had lost three in a row and then had to come back and win three in a row. I sure didn’t want to see that happen so a win tonight was imperative.

The start of the Red Wings game was not on TV in my local area because the previous game between Vancouver and Chicago was in overtime. I’m not in the local region of either city so Versus stayed with their overtime game and I missed the first eight minutes of the Wings.

I was able to get the Red Wings radio broadcast streaming on my computer but unfortunately the second I got it started I heard the call of the Ducks first goal which came from Corey Perry about 40 seconds into the game. I hoped I was just hearing recorded footage of a previous goal but I knew deep down it was true. Perry was sprung by a long pass from Pronger and ended up all alone against Osgood. That wasn’t the start we wanted for this game but the good thing was that there was still plenty of time to recover.

Luckily, the Blackhawks ended their overtime game relatively quickly and I was able to see the Red Wings game starting at about the 12 minute mark.

From the time I started watching it looked like Detroit was struggling. Anaheim was playing great defense and the Wings seemed to be kind of scattered. Hossa got leveled behind the Anaheim net and Pronger went to the box for interfering with him before the hit. Detroit had a couple of shots on the power play but nothing significant. Even with only four skaters Anaheim seemed to be everywhere.

Then Mike Babcock juggled the lines in this game to shake things up. He had Franzen playing with Hossa and Filppula, and he put Datsyuk and Zetterberg together on a line with Holmstrom.

Shortly after the power play ended Filppula got the puck in the neutral zone. He passed it back into his own zone and then headed for the other end. He got the puck back just as he hit the blue line and skated it up the slot. Filppula dropped it off for Franzen and he snapped it by Hiller and into the net. The game was even again and Hiller was proven to be human.

That goal set a fire under the Wings and they started playing as well as I’ve seen them play all season. This was the sort of energy level that we’ve been seeing quite a bit later in the previous two games. It was good to see it so early in this one.

With just 35 seconds left in the first period Detroit got the puck in deep. Hiller came out behind his net to play it with Hossa pressuring him. Hiller got it safely to Ryan Whitney but when he tried to clear it the puck went to Kronwall at the point. Kronwall launched one with Franzen crossing in front. Franzen tipped it perfectly into the corner of the net to give the Wings the late period lead two to one.

Detroit had some great scoring chances at the start of the second period but didn’t score. Then they were called for too many men on the ice but continued playing aggressively. Zetterberg had a great shorthanded chance and drew a penalty to even things up. The Wings looked great four on four but didn’t score then either.

The new line combinations seemed to be extremely effective for Detroit. They suddenly had no trouble moving the puck in all three zones. All of which had been troublesome in the previous games.

Shortly after the halfway point of the second period, Lidstrom had a shot that was blocked and the Ducks took possession. Getzlaf got the puck into the Red Wings end but then he was double teamed and knocked off the puck. It looked like the play was over but Perry came from out of nowhere, took the puck off of Getzlaf’s stick and snapped one by Osgood. It was over before anybody knew what was happening. That tied the game up at two.

With about four minutes left in the second period Filppula forechecked Whitney and Franzen took the puck. He passed to Hossa in the circle. Hossa released a snapshot that got through Hiller. It was Hossa’s first goal and point in the series. You could see his relief. It was an awesome goal and put the Wings back up by one.

Near the end of the second period Detroit went on the power play. They were cycling the puck very well. Lidstrom had it and went back to Hossa. Hossa had a lot of space and fired one that burned Hiller for his second goal. That made it four to two Detroit with less than a minute in the period. The Red Wings continued to pressure the Ducks until the period ended.

I can’t say enough about the performance of the Wings through two periods. From about the 15 minute mark of the first period they were just on fire. They were having their way with the Ducks and on the rare occasion when the Ducks got organized Osgood was super sharp.

The Red Wings didn’t let up. Early in the third period Maltby sprung Samuelsson. He took the puck into the zone and ripped one over Hiller’s shoulder. It caught the inside corner of the post and went in making it five to two Red Wings. It was a great rising shot that surprised Hiller.

That was the end of the game for Hiller. Our old nemesis J-S Giguere came in to relieve him.

At the halfway point of the third Anaheim went on the power play. The Ducks won the initial face off and started moving the puck well. They got it to Perry down low. He stepped toward the front and passed across to Scott Niedermayer on the other side. He shot quickly into the open side of the net before Osgood could move over. Franzen went down to block it and Osgood dove through the crease but it didn’t hit either of them. That brought the Ducks back to within two.

A few minutes later Kopecky and Beauchemin dropped the gloves for a fight. I didn’t see what started it. By the time the cameras were on them they both had their gloves and helmets off. There was a lot of room between them and the linesman started to move in but decided to let them go. Kopecky never landed a punch and pretty much got wailed on. It’s the thought counts I guess. At that point in the game though I’d say that did a lot more good for the Ducks than it did for the Wings. Kopecky must have been genuinely ticked off about something to fight at that stage because it was probably a mistake to do so. It just helped fire up the Ducks.

Anaheim pulled their goalie with three minutes left. I was pretty surprised that they would do it so early considering the Wings had been stealing the puck all night. The Ducks had possession for a few seconds and then Zetterberg got the puck, dragged a couple of defenders into the zone and shot in the empty-netter.

Obviously, Hossa and Franzen had great games. The entire team was amazing defensively. They were always on the Ducks players and intercepted their passes just about every time they tried to get something going. They looked a lot like the Ducks did early in the first period. Helm also had a fantastic game. I don’t know how many minutes he had but it seemed like a lot. He was everywhere and very very effective.

It was so enjoyable to see the Red Wings play as well as they did. It was a great recovery from a very frustrating couple of games. If they play like that I don’t think there’s a team in the league that can beat them in a seven game series. The new line combinations are absolute magic. Way to go, Wings!

This 6-3 win brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to a 2-2 tie.

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 3 (5/5/09)

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Tonight the Red Wings were in Anaheim to take on the Ducks in game three. Rafalski, Draper and Lilja were still unavailable to play. The goalies were Osgood and Hiller. The teams were coming off a hard fought game two that went to triple overtime so fatigue was a concern in this game.

The first five minutes of this game had a frenetic pace. There were lots of big hits. Datsyuk was really throwing the body around. Hossa seemed to have a lot of jump early. The Red Wings had an early power play but the Ducks were all over them and they couldn’t do a thing offensively. Then the Ducks had a power play. Osgood made a few great saves early and looked very solid. The Ducks did a lot more offensively on their power play than the Wings did but they still didn’t score.

About halfway through the period Datsyuk had a good chance on a breakaway but missed the net. Then Samuelsson had a glorious chance after luring Hiller out of the net. He had already passed the goal line and tried to bank it in off of Hiller’s skate but it wouldn’t go. Then the Ducks went back on the power play after Franzen was called for something that wasn’t announced or replayed on TV. The Wings did a great job killing the second penalty; the Ducks had no shots on that one.

After a faceoff in Detroit’s end Lebda shot but his stick was blocked by Selanne who immediately started up ice without the puck. The Ducks got control and got it to him as he was streaking into the zone one on one against Chelios. He got behind Chelios and backhanded one by Osgood. That gave the Ducks the early one to nothing lead.

The first period ended without any other goals. The Ducks were playing very aggressively. Detroit really wasn’t able to get anything at all done offensively. Outside of a few quality chances they really weren’t able to get the puck deep or get second chances or really challenge Hiller at all.

In the second period Brad Stuart was called for interference. It was an incredibly terrible call. Stuart put a beautiful hit on a guy who had touched the puck just a split second beforehand. On the ensuing power play Osgood was slashed and then run over as the Ducks scored their second goal. The officiating was entirely responsible for that goal. The power play should not have happened in the first place and then it should have been goalie interference. Unbelievable. Hopefully, this would make the Red Wings angry. I know it worked on me.

Wisniewski was elbowed by Holmstrom in front of the net and he went down. He was down for a long time and they ended up bringing out the stretcher to take him off. The refs missed the elbow, too. In fact there was a delayed call on the Ducks so the Wings had a man advantage when play resumed. Wisniewski was also hit by a puck earlier in the play so that might have been the source of his injury. It looked like it hit him in the arm or maybe the ribs.

That power play was enough to finally get something going for the Wings. They had some traffic and second chance opportunities. Hudler got the puck back to Samuelsson who one timed it. The rebound came out to Zetterberg and he shot it. After he shot the puck he lost his stick so he actually had no stick in his hand when the puck crossed the line.

The goal seemed to spark the Red Wings. They started generating a lot more offense after that. They also became more aggressive defensively. They killed a penalty in which the Ducks had no shots and the Red Wings had probably three or four. It was a much better performance at the end of the second period than the entire rest of the game. It was more like the way they played in the overtimes in game two. They would need more of that type of play to have any hope of winning this one.

The Red Wings started the third period with the same jump they had at the end of the second. They dictated the play for the first half of the period. Just passed the halfway point Chelios was high-sticked and the Wings went on the power play. The Ducks killed it off but a few minutes later they were called again this time for interference with Chelios. That one was also killed off. The Wings had lots of shots and scoring chances but just failed to convert.

With a minute to go the Red Wings scored. Great right? No. The referee lost sight of the puck, even though it was laying right on the goal line, and blew the play dead. Well, actually he didn’t blow the play dead, but he was thinking about it. The puck was in the back of the net by the time the whistle blew, but he was intending to blow it before the puck crossed the line. Well, he blew it alright. I really hate this rule. If you intend to blow the whistle too early, and don’t quite manage to do it, that’s a good thing, why wave that off? You don’t have to tell anybody about your intended mistake. Serenity now!

The Wings called their timeout after that.

With 11.3 seconds on the clock the referrers got on the phone and had it reset to 12.4. You don’t want to mess up a call as important as that one. You just can’t be too careful.

There was a brawl at the end of the game that was a direct result of the poor calls. The announcers seemed to think that the Ducks had frustrated the Wings but I tend to think the frustration was from winning the game and still coming away with a loss.

I normally don’t complain about the officiating but in this one I’ll make an exception. I credit the officials with giving the Ducks their second goal and stopping the Red Wings second goal. In reality this game should have ended two to one Red Wings.

These kinds of games are a fact of life though. It was still within the Red Wings power to win this game even with the bad calls. If they had started playing well at the drop of the puck instead of waiting until the game was half over they might have won. Thursday night they have to play well from beginning to end.

This 1-2 loss brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to 2-1 Anaheim.

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 2 (5/3/09)

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

This afternoon the Ducks and the Wings were set to go at it again for game two. Game one was fantastic. This is shaping up to be a great series. The goalies once again were Osgood and Hiller. Rafalski, Draper and Lilja were still out for the Wings. Having Ericsson on the top defensive pairing worked out great for the Wings last time. It’s such a luxury to be able to lose two defensemen and still be so good defensively. Brown was not suspended for the hit on Hudler in game one so he was back in the lineup today.

Osgood got off to a sharp start in this game. Less the five minutes in he made a brilliant save on Miller who got in behind the defense all alone and drove the net. Osgood snagged it with the glove, no problem.

The Wings got the first power play of the game when Getzlaf gave a little slash to the back of the leg of Kronwall. It wasn’t much of a slash but they called it anyway. Hossa got hit hard on the first shift of the power play and got up slowly. He made it back to the bench on his own and seemed to be alright after that.

With the power play winding down the Ducks failed on a clearing attempt and the Wings went back to work. Lidstrom took a shot that went off the back boards and came to Stuart near the faceoff dot. There was nothing but Ducks in front of the net. The puck went over the stick of Stuart and hit his skate. It then went towards the slot. The puck jumped over the stick of Wisniewski, hit HIS skate and redirected straight into the net. It was a lucky goal for sure, but the Red Wings were happy to have the early lead any way they could get it. There was a review of the play because if Stuart had kicked the puck it would not have counted. According to the situation room update on NHL.com, the rule states that if the puck is it kicked it won’t count even if it goes off another player. Luckily the review determined that Stuart did not use a distinct kicking motion.

A few minutes later Perry stole the puck in the Red Wings end and got it to Getzlaf. He shot the puck and Osgood made a great save with the stick. Unfortunately, the puck bounced back off the stick and Getzlaf took another whack at it. That time it got over the stick and into the net.

The Ducks went on the power play after a questionable call on Stuart. He was called for interference on Mike Brown. The puck came to Pronger at the point. He one-timed it and scored. Scott Niedermayer was in front of the net distracting Osgood. It was just 34 seconds after the Ducks previous goal.

The momentum started to swing the Ducks’ way. They had the puck in Detroit’s end for an extended period when the Wings couldn’t clear and the Ducks really seemed to gain a lot of energy from that.

Then Lebda made a nice outlet pass to Samuelsson who tapped it to Filppula and they started up ice three on two. Filppula passed it back to Samuelsson and he moved towards the net. He backhanded one that went right through the five hole and into the net. That tied the game at two and gave some jump back to the Red Wings bench.

Towards the end of the first period Detroit was trying to change and couldn’t. The gassed line for the Wings was stuck out there against the fresh legs of the Ducks. Ryan shot the puck and Osgood got most of it but it dropped behind him. It was heading towards the net but it had some backspin and when it hit the ice it started back out away from the net. Franzen jumped on it quickly and cleared it out of there.

Helm had a great scoring chance after stealing the puck from Scott Niedermayer. He tried a toe drag move and Hiller poked it away with the knob of his stick negating the opportunity.

All that action was just the first period. The Ducks had too many good scoring chances but luckily Osgood was up to the challenge in most cases. I thought Kronwall had a pretty good period. He had lots of hits. Helm and Stuart also looked pretty good in the first period. The Ducks had a little bit more energy than the Wings did but it was pretty close. The stats after one period were almost identical except that the Red Wings had more hits and the Ducks won more faceoffs. Other than that the difference was negligible.

Early in the second period Miller again ended up all alone against Osgood. He made a few moves but Osgood stoned him once again.

The Ducks again seemed to have a bit more energy than the Wings in the second period. The Red Wings had a little trouble getting the puck out of their own end and the Ducks fed on that. They had the puck a lot more than is typical for a Detroit opponent.

Then Chelios was called for high sticking when accidentally nailed Josh Green in the face. On the power play Scott Niedermayer shot from the top of the circle and the puck went wide. It bounced off the back boards to the front of the net and Carter shot it in on the open side before Osgood could get back over. That gave the Ducks the lead three to two.

The second period ended with no more scoring. The Red Wings couldn’t really put together much offense in that period. They were on the penalty kill a lot and when they weren’t the Ducks seemed to have more jump. The Red Wings were going to need something in the third to give them some life.

The stats through two periods still mostly favored the Ducks but the Wings were way ahead in hits and had taken the lead in faceoffs as well.

The third period started with more of the same. The Red Wings couldn’t get the puck to settle down and Anaheim wasn’t giving them any time or space. They were playing really tight defensively and whenever Detroit got the puck there was somebody there to take it away. The exception was Helm who put together a couple of good chances in a row. That seemed to spark the team a little bit.

With just under 15 minutes left in the game Zetterberg, Cleary and Franzen were out there and had a couple of shots on goal. Then Cleary passed it to Zetterberg behind the net and he passed to Franzen in front. Franzen went backhand to forehand very quickly and snapped it by Hiller on the short side to tie the game at three. The puck was over Hiller’s shoulder and in before he even reacted. That was Franzen’s fourth goal of the playoffs. Cleary made the pass to set up the play while he was flat on the ice after being hit. It was a great job all around by that line.

The fourth line of Helm, Maltby and Kopecky continued to create chances and breathe life into the bench.

For the last half of the third period Detroit had plenty of jump. The action was fast and furious. There were big hits and good scoring chances. Nobody was able to score though so the game went to overtime.

The Red Wings looked very sloppy in their own end to start the OT. I couldn’t believe the weak attempts at clearing. It was all up to Osgood for one long stretch while the Wings were hemmed in and tired. The ice seemed to be tilted toward Osgood.

After the first five minutes it seemed like Detroit started to play better and from then on it was pretty much all Wings.

With less than nine minutes to go in the OT Scott Niedermayer was called for tripping Hudler. There was a scheduled stoppage for ice maintenance before the power play started so that was a big break for the Wings. They had some great scoring chances but the Ducks were able to kill off the penalty.

With all the pressure Detroit applied in the last 15 minutes of the OT they still weren’t able to score, so the game headed to the second overtime.

In the second overtime there were a couple of chances at both ends. At one point Osgood was pushed out of the crease and had to hustle back before the next shot came. At the other end Zetterberg released a backhand shot that hit the post.

For the rest of the second OT Detroit played very well. They were like a machine but they still couldn’t score. Osgood made some great saves to keep the game tied. Triple overtime was one the way. Hopefully this won’t happen Tuesday or Thursday night in Anaheim. It would be 3:00 in the morning eastern time and still without a winner. It’ll be hard enough to get to work next week without overtime.

The third overtime started out kind of sloppy for both teams. The Wings had an icing and then the Ducks entered the Wings zone and Marchant shot the puck. It looked like it hit Rob Niedermayer’s stick and changed direction slightly. It went over Osgood’s glove and into the net. Marchant was credited with the goal so it must not have hit Niedermayer.

That won the game for the Ducks and tied up the series.

The Wings played well through most of the game. There were a few lapses but I still think they deserved to win. They were the better team overall. Osgood was brilliant. Helm, Kronwall, and Stuart all had noticeably great games. Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Hossa had unusually quiet games but I think that just shows how well the Ducks played on defense.

Next game is Tuesday night in Anaheim at 10:30 PM eastern time. Better get a nap before the game or schedule some vacation time!

This 4-3 loss brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to a 1-1 tie.

No Suspension For Mike Brown

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

According to the Detroit Free Press the Red Wings have been informed that Mike Brown will not be suspended for the hit on Hudler in game one. No explanation was given.

If it was a clean hit, then why was he given a game misconduct? If it was a dirty hit then why would he not be suspended? It doesn’t make sense to me. Hopefully, an explanation will be forthcoming.

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 1 (5/1/09)

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Tonight the Anaheim Formerly-Mighty-Ducks were in Detroit to take on the Red Wings in game one of this Western Conference Semifinal series. This series has all the makings of a fantastic battle. Anaheim is on a hot streak after playing very well during the last month of the regular season and then knocking off the number one seed San Jose Sharks.

The goalies tonight were Osgood and Hiller. Rafalski was out with an undisclosed upper body injury and Chelios was in to fill the gap. Draper and Lilja were still out with long term injuries.

This game started out with an incredible pace. There were maybe one or two whistles in the first eight minutes. Osgood had been looking a little bit rusty early in the game. The Wings in general though were looking good at both ends until Getzlaf brought the puck into the zone and dished it to Perry. He shot it and beat Osgood on the glove side. Osgood was a few feet out in front of the crease and had a pretty clean look at it. He just didn’t react in time. That gave the Ducks the early lead. I’m sure the Detroit media assumed that the series was over at that point.

Midway through the first period Hudler got destroyed by a center ice hit from Brown. He was cut badly on the forehead above his left eye. There was blood everywhere. Even the announcers said that the puck was long gone when the hit was made. Brown was given a five minute major and a game misconduct. It was clearly a hit to the head but Hudler was low at the time. I won’t be surprised if he gets a suspension because it was a brutal hit to the head and Brown had plenty of time to pull up. Hudler went off for stitches but he was up and conscious right away so that was encouraging. That hit helped to fire up the Wings even more as they went to work on a five minute power play.

Just past the four minute mark of the power play Lidstrom fed Franzen in the neutral zone who dumped it in and danced around his defender. He got the puck back and took it to the net. He made a few moves with it and scored. It was textbook Mule. He drove the net hard, put the puck through the five hole, and then creamed Hiller. That left nearly four minutes of power play time.

The Ducks killed off the rest of that power play and the period ended tied at one.

During the intermission there was some interesting talk about Brown’s hit on Hudler. They compared it to the Laraque hit from a few days ago. Keith Jones was of the opinion that Brown would be suspended for the rest of the series. If that turns out to be true it could be devastating for the Ducks.

On the other side of things Hudler was back out in the second period after receiving 10 stitches so that was great news for the Wings. I’d say when you factor in penalties and possible suspensions versus 10 stitches that Brown got the worst of that hit.

Early in the second period after a whistle Perry put his glove up in Ericsson’s face. Ericsson answered with a shove in the face and a fight broke out. The linesman tried to break it up but eventually just moved away and let them go. It was a pretty good fight and I’d say Ericsson got the better of Perry. That really riled up the bench. It’s just another great part of Ericsson’s game. This kid is amazing.

Later on the Red Wings put some good pressure on the Ducks and drew a penalty. On the power play Lidstrom dropped a bomb from the point and beat Hiller to take the lead two to one.

Late in the second period there was a flurry of penalty calls. The Ducks got one when Parros shot the puck over the glass from his own end. Then Holmstrom was called for interference and Franzen was called for tripping. The Ducks went on a 4 on 3 power play. Selanne ripped a one timer from the faceoff dot to tie the game up with 16 seconds left in the period.

The entire third period was just incredible back and forth action. Both teams had good chances and even better defense. Both goalies made big saves. Detroit’s transition game was superb throughout the third period. They were attacking Anaheim’s net over and over.

With less than 50 seconds to go and the game still tied, Cleary kept the puck in the zone and got it across to Lidstrom. Lidstrom blasted one that Hiller stopped. Franzen was in front causing a distraction as the rebound came out to the slot. Lidstrom had moved up and shot again beating Hiller through the five hole. That was Lidstrom’s second goal of the night and gave the Red Wings the lead with very little time left.

Anaheim took their timeout at that point. Then they got the puck deep in the Red Wings zone. Osgood smothered the puck. Detroit took their timeout before the faceoff in their own end. EVERYBODY crashed the net on the ensuing play. Osgood had the puck and just about everyone on the ice was on top of him. There were only 2.1 seconds left. One more faceoff and that was the end of it.

Detroit won three to two. This was a heck of a game. Detroit played very well and so did Anaheim. Luckily the good guys won. This was a very physical game. Between the hits and the scrums around the nets I think this game and this series will take a physical toll on both teams. Osgood was great. Hossa wasn’t very effective but Franzen was and so was Ericsson. The fourth line also did a great job shaking things up and softening up the Ducks for the first line.

The Ducks played very tough. They aren’t going to make this easy on the Wings. This matchup is becoming a great rivalry. I can’t wait for game two!

This 2-3 win brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to 1-0 Detroit.