Posts Tagged ‘Western Conference’

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 Semifinals, Game 5 (5/8/10)

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Tonight it was the second do or die game for the Red Wings in this series against the Sharks. After the pummeling delivered by the Wings in game four the Sharks were expected to show some serious push back. The starting goalies were Nabokov and Howard. Brad Stuart was a game time decision. Luckily he was able to go so he was in the lineup tonight after taking a hard hip check from Blake and missing most of game four. Lebda was also in the lineup tonight as an extra defenseman.

The first period was mostly all San Jose. They applied a ton of offensive pressure. The shots were 15 to 6 in favor of the Sharks. Jimmy Howard was superb however and the Wings weathered the storm. The bounces were going the Red Wings’ way as there were several chances where the Sharks missed the net or had the puck jump over their sticks. The penalties were going against Detroit though. There were only two penalties in the first period and both went against Franzen. The second one still had 27 seconds which carried over to the second period. I think the Red Wings were pretty happy just to have escaped the first period without giving up a goal.

The Wings killed off the rest of the penalty to start the second period. Then they started to generate a little offense of their own. Rafalski shot from the point with Bertuzzi screening Nabokov. The puck hit the post and went in. So although San Jose had played better to that point, the Wings had the lead. The can be very demoralizing for the other team.

Than a few minutes later Stuart was called for elbowing. Demers shot from the point and the rebound came to Thornton who popped it home for the game tying goal.

The rest of the second period was pretty much all Red Wings. Detroit had more power plays in the second period and were able to pull even and then take the lead in shots on goal. There were a few sequences where they came extremely close to scoring. They were getting lots of traffic in front. In spite of the heavy effort level though, the tie held to the end of the second period.

In the third period Pavelski had a breakaway against Kronwall who missed the puck and then got turned around. He hooked him to prevent the scoring chance and Pavelski was awarded a penalty shot. He came to the net with speed and missed high over the crossbar on Howard’s glove side.

Later in the period Franzen was hit in the head by Murray and leveled. He was down for a while but most of it took place during a TV timeout. There was no penalty on the play. After the TV timeout the Wings had the faceoff in their own end. Rafalski ended up with the puck behind the net. Heatley pressured him enough to free the puck and it went to Thornton. He passed to Marleau in front who quickly shot and scored to break the tie.

A few minutes later Stuart laid a big hit on Murray from his blindside and stunned him pretty good. At least he was paid back for the hit on Franzen.

The Red Wings stepped it up even more. The hitting was ferocious and there were many dangerous scoring chances. They pulled the goalie with a little over a minute and a half left. Then with about 50 seconds left Boyle was called for holding so the Wings had a 6 on 4 for the rest of the game. It was a valiant effort but the Red Wings were not able to tie the game and Sharks clinched the series.

The Wings played a great road game tonight but it just wasn’t enough. They started out on their heels in the first period but they weathered that storm and then took over in the second and third. This was an extremely close series. Every Sharks win was very close.

So ends this season for the Red Wings. They faced a ton of adversity this season and in the end I think they emerged even better.

Probably the best thing to come out of this season was the blossoming of Jimmy Howard. He already played like a veteran and now he has playoff experience as well. He knows what it takes to win in the playoffs and he’s experienced losing. I have very high hopes for the future with him in net.

This 1-2 loss finishes this Western Conference Semifinal series at 1-4 San Jose.

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 4 (5/6/10)

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

It was do or die for the Red Wings tonight. They faced the Sharks at Joe Louis Arena down three games to none. Lebda was out of the lineup tonight and Lilja was back in. Also, Jason Williams was out and Ritola was in. The goalies were Howard and Nabokov. Babcock also did some line juggling for this game. Datsyuk was on a line with Filppula and Holmstrom, and the second line was Franzen, Zetterberg and Bertuzzi.

In the first minute of the game Detroit was called for too many men on the ice. Luckily the Red Wings were able to kill it off.

Then Brad Stuart took a hit from Rob Blake. It was a hip check that caught him right in the thigh. He left the ice right afterwards and then left the bench.

A few minutes later the Red Wings had their own power play when Helminen tripped up Lidstrom. The Sharks almost killed it off but with just a couple of seconds left Zetterberg passed the puck to Franzen with Bertuzzi in front of the net. Franzen shot it and it hit Bertuzzi’s leg and went in. That gave the Red Wings the all important first goal and the early lead in the game.

Later in the first, Zetterberg passed it Franzen in front of the net. It was in tight and it hit Franzen’s skates. The puck bounced behind him and he quickly turned around and shot it. Nabokov had no chance, the net was wide open. That made it two nothing Red Wings. The Sharks thought there should have been goalie interference called because there was contact between Franzen and Nabokov. I’m actually surprised they didn’t call it. Nabokov was outside the crease but Franzen did bump into him. It wasn’t a hit though, he just brushed into him.

Just past the halfway point of the first period Bertuzzi had the puck in the zone and waited for Franzen to catch up. He dished it behind him to Franzen who ripped one that beat Nabokov cleanly for a top shelf goal over the glove. That made it three to nothing Red Wings very early in the game. The fans threw hats because the first goal was awarded to Franzen on the ice but it was clear that it hit Bertuzzi so Franzen really only had two.

Just a few seconds later Franzen took another shot but Nabokov stopped it. The rebound came back to him and he shot again and once again scored! So the hats were justified after all and Franzen bagged the rare natural hat trick which is three consecutive goals by one player. That made it four to nothing Wings and there was still over nine minutes left in the first period.

Mickey Redmond said before the game that Franzen needed to step it up. I guess he got his wish!

As the end of the period was approaching Filppula and Holmstrom were in the corner in the Sharks’ end battling for the puck. Dan Boyle tried to backhand the puck to Murray in front of his own net. Instead it bounced off Murray and went toward Nabokov. It hit him and bounced into the net making it five to nothing. That was some seriously bad luck for Dan Boyle who put the puck in his own net during the previous series against Colorado, although that one was also redirected. Filppula got credit for the goal since he was the last Red Wings to touch it.

At the start of the second period they announced that the first goal was officially changed to Bertuzzi and also that Franzen had broken the Red Wings’ record for most points in a period with four. Also, Nabokov was given the rest of the night off and McClellan put in Thomas Greiss.

Early in the second period the Red Wings had a power after Helminen was called for tripping. Rafalski made a nice play to start the rush and passed ahead to Bertuzzi then went up towards the wing. Bertuzzi passed it back to him and he one timed it into the net to make it six nothing. Greiss got a piece of it but not enough to stop it.

Later in the second San Jose had a 5 on 3 power play after Kronwall was called for interference and Lidstrom was called for hooking. Heatley wound up and ripped one by Howard to get the Sharks on the board and then still had over 1:40 of power play time left. The Wings killed off the rest of the power play.

In the third period things got a little ugly. Thornton dumped Holmstrom after the whistle and Franzen came in to defend him. There were a few punches thrown between Thornton and Holmstrom and they both went to the box.

Later, on the power play Lidstrom shot and broke Bertuzzi’s stick as he tried to deflect it. The puck bounced to Franzen who scored again. That was his fourth goal and sixth point which set the Red Wings’ record for most points in a playoff game and tied him with Crosby as the points leader of this playoff season.

Throughout the rest of the third period there were tons of penalties as things got a little chippy. Three game misconducts were handed out to the Sharks and there were a few fighting majors as well.

The final score was seven to one. It doesn’t get much better than that.

The Red Wings were incredible in this game. Led by Franzen, along with Bertuzzi and Zetterberg, and with their backs to the wall, the Wings came through with one of the best games I’ve ever seen them play.

Now they just have to do it three more times. After the way they played tonight it doesn’t seem so farfetched.

This 1-7 win brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to 1-3 San Jose.

Western Conference Semifinals, Game 3 (5/4/10)

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Tonight the Red Wings and the Sharks moved to Detroit for game three. The starting goalies were once again Howard and Nabokov. Eaves was still out of the lineup so Williams was in again. They also had a change on defense. Lilja was replaced with Lebda in order to provide a quicker outlet pass.

In the first period Filppula passed across the slot to Zetterberg who was heading toward the net. The puck went off his skate as he was putting on the brakes and it went in the net. It was called a goal on the ice but it was hard to tell if he was kicking or just stopping. After a lengthy video review the goal was disallowed because of a distinct kicking motion. It was really too close to call so I thought it would have been left as called on the ice but I guess they felt it was definitive enough to overturn the referee’s decision.

A few minutes later the Wings did it again and this time it counted. Franzen brought the puck into the zone and shoveled it ahead to Holmstrom. He sent it back to Lidstrom and they all cycled. Holmstrom went to the net and Franzen circled around to the left side. Lidstrom took it around the back of the net and passed it to Franzen who centered it to Holmstrom. He tapped it in for the first goal of the game. That was some great puck movement and it put the Wings up one to nothing. They again reviewed it and for a moment I thought they were going to overturn that one, too but the call on the ice stood.

Later in the first period Bertuzzi had a nice wrap around try and Nabokov stopped it. Couture shoved the puck into the net goalie’s pads in the crease and he was called for covering the puck and Bertuzzi was awarded a penalty shot. Although this one was in the Red Wings’ favor it was another abysmal call. Couture never covered the puck. He just pushed it with his glove. What a terrible call. Zetterberg took the penalty shot. He tried the backhand and Nabokov gloved it on the goal line. It was an incredible save.

A few minutes later the Wings were pressuring again. Miller got the puck and tried to send it around the back of the net but it hit the referee and came back to him. He passed it to Cleary in the slot who one-timed it into the back of the net to put the Wings up by two with under two minutes left in the period.

The Wings had a nearly perfect period but with less than three seconds left the Sharks scored. Setoguchi had the puck along the back boards. He passed it to Pavelski and went to the slot. Pavelski got it back to Setoguchi who released a turnaround shot that just barely squeaked under Jimmy Howard’s pad while he was moving.

So the first period ended with Detroit up two to one. They had outshot the Sharks 14 to 8 so it was a pretty good period.

Early in the second period Filppula had the puck and sent it deep to Zetterberg near the goal line along the side boards. He flipped it towards the net and it hit Murray’s skate and went right by Nabokov and in. The Red Wings were up by two again.

The Wings ended the second period on the penalty kill after Franzen was called for tripping.

The Red Wings killed off the rest of the penalty but the Sharks had all the momentum to start the third period. The Wings seemed to be on their heels. They were playing conservatively and weren’t generating much offense.

Then the Sharks won a faceoff in the Wings’ end and Thornton ended up with it. He took the puck around the net, stepped out front and fired. The puck hit Datsyuk’s stick and redirected into the net making it a one goal game with over 13 minutes left.

After that Jimmy Howard made several spectacular saves to keep the game under control.

Later Couture took a pass deep in the Wings’ end. He was standing on the goal line when he shot it. It went into Howard’s pads and somehow got through into the net for the game tying goal. That was a pretty soft goal but you have to expect a few of those.

With about three minutes to go Holmstrom was called for inference. Nabokov was way out of his crease and Holmstrom was fighting for position with Boyle. Boyle went down and landed on top of Nabokov who acted like he’d been run through with a bayonet. Holmstrom was called for interfering with Boyle, not Nabokov but they were fighting for position. I guess whoever falls down first get’s the power play. It was absolute garbage.

The Wings killed off that penalty and the score held until the end of the period so the game went to overtime tied three apiece. It was the first overtime game of these playoffs for Detroit.

In the overtime period the Wings had some good chances to score but didn’t get it done. Then with about 13 minutes left in the OT, Detroit had an odd man rush. Williams shot and missed the net. The puck went hard around and came quickly out to Thornton in the neutral zone. He took off with it as Marleau joined him. They were behind everybody except Rafalski. Thornton took the puck into the Wings’ zone and passed across to Marleau who tapped it in for the game winner.

This was clearly a game that the Wings should have won. It seemed like they had it under control and then they were just outworked in the third. Now they have to win the next four games in a row and we all know how likely that is.

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

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 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.