Archive for April, 2004

Game 4: Wings 4, Flames 2

In a must-win game in the Saddledome, the Wings responded with a 4-2 win over the Flames. The Wings evened the best-of-seven series at two games apiece, and got back home-ice advantage. The series is now a best-of-three mini-series, and the Wings have Games 5 and 7 in the Joe. After a team meeting Wednesday, role players in Devereaux, Maltby, and Dandenault responded with goals, and Cujo had another strong outing.

First Period

The Wings opened the period with a line of Kris Draper, Ray Whitney, and Kirk Maltby. With Cujo mock-chants already going, the Wings opened the scoring, just 26 seconds in, on a goal from Maltby, assisted by Kris Draper and Ray Whitney. On the play, the Wings won a faceoff in the Calgary zone, Draper cycled the puck around and centered it to Maltby, who roofed it right under the crossbar and over Miikka Kiprusoff’s catching glove. It was the first 1st period goal of the series, and gave the Wings an important 1-0 lead.

At 2:30, Jiri Fischer made a good defensive play, as he pushed Chuck Kobasew outside on a 1-on-1 break. The Wings had a good chance on Kiprusoff, as Holmstrom got off a blast between the circles at 3:45. And at 4:41, the Wings nearly scored. On the play, Zetterberg battled near the net, McCarty gained control and centered to Datsyuk, who hit the left post. The Wings were clearly outhustling the Flames at this point, Coach Lewis using various line combinations to keep the entire bench on their toes.

At the halfway point of the first, shots were 8-2 in favor of the Wings. Lewis sent out an odd line combination of Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and McCarty, “Two Kids and a Grinder” perhaps. They generated some chances, with Pavel centering the puck to Darren, who sent it just over the net.

At 13:29, Zetterberg hauled down Marcus Nilson, and the Flames got the first power play chance of Game 4. Calgary had a sustained pressure, but the Wings were able to escape unscathed. But this power play chance gave the Flames a boost, and momentum shifted in their favor. The Wings began to ice the puck as Calgary pressed on, and Cujo was strong at 16:40, as the Flames created pressure near the doorstep. With 30 seconds left in the period, Cujo had two great saves: one on Yelle point blank, and another on Montador from a point shot.

It was a great period from Maltby and Draper, who generated offense and hustled through every shift. The Wings outshot Calgary 11-9, and looked sharp in both zones. The Wings led the Flames in scoring chances 5-1, and in faceoffs, 10-9.

Second Period

The Wings opened the second on their heels, continuing to ice the puck. Luckily Boyd Devereaux scored at 3:00, assisted by Ray Whitney and Kris Draper. On the play, Boyd hustled to keep the puck in the Calgary zone, drove to the net, and beat Kiprusoff five-hole on a blast from the right circle. It was truly a hustle-man’s goal. 2-0 Wings.

Unfortunately, the goal didn�t get the Wings going much, and the lead was to soon fizzle out. After back-to-back faceoff wins, the Flames capitalized on a goal from Martin Gelinas at 5:45, assisted by Jarome Iginla and Craig Conroy. On the play, Gelinas snuck in on the left side, and pounced on the puck after it squirted out of a scrum near Cujo. Hatcher and Woolley were tied up and unable to get to Gelinas. 2-1 Wings.

18 seconds later, at 6:03, Ville Nieminen scored, assisted by Shean Donovan and Marcus Nilson. On the play, Donovan carried it in, and Nieminen found himself in all alone on Cujo. He deked, moving to his backhand, and undressed Cujo for the goal. 2-2 tie. Since Calgary is Cow-Town, a Flames fan threw a cow tongue onto the ice in celebration.

Reflecting Calgary’s early jump in the second, shots were 17-14 Flames at 6:23. Cujo mock-chants echoed in the Saddledome, and the home crowd roared back into it, blasting stadium horns and waving team pendants and flags. The Wings remained on their heels. The floodgates almost opened, but Cujo weathered the storm. A Jiri Fischer goof at the Wings’ blue line led to a Nieminen/Donovan 2-on-1. Cujo made the save of the game as Nieminen passed across to Donovan at the backdoor. Cujo stacked his pads and robbed the Flames. It was a pivotal save, as it kept Calgary from gaining any more momentum.

At 11:45, the refs made a blunder when they didn’t blow the whistle with the Wings’ net off its moorings. Cujo waved his glove above his head trying to signal the boneheads in zebra-stripes, and finally had to put the net back on himself, as play continued.

At 13:20, Nicklas Lidstrom was called for hooking Jarome Iginla, who split the Wings’ defense and was clearing past Lidstrom toward Cujo. The Wings had a good penalty kill, clearing the puck for most of the two minutes. With 1:15 left, Cujo dangerously cleared the puck in front of his net with Calgary racing towards him, and Kris Draper nearly pounced on the puck across the Calgary blue line. At 19:49, Donovan and Datysuk were both sent to the sin-bin for roughing and crosschecking, respectively. Shots in the period were 11-11.

Third Period

The third period essentially was an overtime situation for both clubs, realizing that the next goal would likely be the game-winner. Opening the period on the 4-on-4, the Wings nearly scored. Lidstrom was left wide open on the right side, but when the puck was passed to him, he failed to control it with a chance to break in on Kiprusoff.

Brendan Shanahan also nearly scored when he took a pass at the Calgary blue line, but the refs made a bad offside call, as Brendan’s skate was on the blue line as he took the pass. The Yzerman/Devereaux/Whitney line continued to play well, and the Wings generated some good pressure. Hull got his first shot of the game between the circles off a faceoff win.

Hull had another chance to score when he was left wide open on the left side, but a pass from Zetterberg hopped over his stick. Finally, the Wings capitalized on their sustained pressure. At 10:02, Mathieu Dandenault scored, assisted by Tomas Holmstrom and Robert Lang. On the play, Lang passed to Homer in front, the puck slipped between Kiprusoff’s pads, and Dandenault pushed it across the goal line. 3-2 Wings.

At 11:01, Regehr and Shanahan were each called for roughing, as they pushed and shoved in the Calgary zone. On the 4-on-4, Jarome Iginla hit the outside of the post from between the circles. The Wings woke up after seeing that close call, and started to take short shifts and emphasize defense. It worked, and, with 1:10 left, Calgary pulled Kiprusoff for the extra skater. With the puck dumped out of Detroit’s zone, Zetterberg stole the puck from Regehr with a hook-check on the right side, and shot the puck into the empty net. The insurance goal came at 19:36, assisted by Brendan Shanahan and Nicklas Lidstrom. 4-2 Wings.

With 4 seconds left in the game, vile Ville Nieminen took a blatant run at Cujo, elbowing him in the head and shoving him into the Detroit net. He was given 5 minutes for charging and a 10 minute game misconduct, and fights ensued as the Wings sought some justice. Unfortunately, the refs protected gutless Nieminen as he escaped punishment, temporarily at least. It was a malicious and blatant attempt to injure Cujo with the game over, and Nieminen should be suspended for Game 5. I don’t know if this was an attempt by Sutter to change the scope of the series, but something needs to happen to send the Flames a message. The league needs to take action and the Wings need to exact their own vigilante justice if Colin Campbell decides not to.

Shots in the third were 7-7, to make for a game total 29-27, in favor of the
Wings.

Game Analysis

Overall, I thought the Wings came out strong and played desperation hockey, in the face of a possible 3-1 series deficit. In an overtime-like situation, they got a goal from Dandenault in the third, and held the 3-2 lead. Role players responded when big names of Shanahan, Datsyuk, and Hull didn’t. The Wings pressured the Flames’ young defense, and got some offense going. And boy was it nice to see Devereaux, a guy who hustles every shift he plays, notch a goal in a critical game. Also, Hatcher had a good game and used his physical presence to play sound defense, for once. Shanahan also played hard and showed some grit.

It’s definitely disappointing when the only power play in two games comes with 4 second left in the game, and the product of your goaltender getting bulldozed. The Flames continue to hold sticks and interfere, and the refs continue to let it go when similar play from the Wings results in penalties. It’s getting to be a joke at this point.

Quote of the Game:

“Is it possible, in an NHL playoff game, that the other team can be on perfect behavior for 5 periods of hockey?”

–Mickey Redmond, questioning how the Wings can be without a single power play in Game 3 and through two periods of play in Game 4.

Notables:

Dave Lewis is 97-47-21 as head coach of the Wings, and 6-8 in the playoffs….Darryl Sutter is 61-53-15 as head coach of the Flames, and 35-44 in the playoffs….Datsyuk has no goals in 10 games….Shanahan and Hull have 4 goals between them in 10 games….Wings lead series shots 119-88….The Wings have lost 3 of their last 5 road games….Calgary is 1/12 on the power play this series while the Wings are 3/14 (all in Game 2)….Nicklas Lidstrom turned 34 on Wednesday….Nieminen uses a wood stick, the only guy on either team to do so….Maltby’s goal was his 13th career playoff goal….In 2002 and 1998, the Wings won Game 4 on the road with a 2-1 deficit, and went on to win the Cup both years….After a Jamie Rivers shot loosened a few molars in practice, Cujo wears a mouthguard, and Hull is the co-owner of the company that makes Cujo’s mouthguard….Shanny has decided to shave this playoff run, as he is one of the few Wings without a playoff beard….Dandenault’s goal was his 3rd career playoff goal in his 62nd playoff game….Hull has 190 points in 200 playoff games…..Draper had a great night, voted one of the three stars, two assists, 15/25 on faceoffs, and winning my hustle-award….Chris Chelios missed his second straight game, out with a sore right arm or shoulder….The Flames are 6-2 when they’ve led a series 2-1….Since 1990, the Wings are 3-2 when trailing a series 2-1….The Wings have been good at faceoffs so far in the playoffs, but tonight both clubs won 38 each.

boxscore

(Editor: Here are the lines, courtesy GWB)
Maltby-Draper-Whitney
Holmstrom-Lang-Yzerman
Zetterberg-Datsyuk-McCarty
Shanahan-Lang-Hull
Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Hull
Maltby-Draper-Devereaux
Whitney-Draper-Devereaux
Maltby-Draper-McCarty
Shanahan-Lang-Holmstrom
Shanahan-Yzerman-Devereaux
Shanahan-Zetterberg-McCarty

Lidstrom-Schneider
Hatcher-Woolley
Fischer-Dandenault
Hatcher-Dandenault

4 on 4-
Draper-Lang
Zetterberg-Lang
Maltby-Draper
Yzerman-Whitney

Lidstrom-Schneider
Hatcher-Woolley

PK-
Maltby-Draper
Shanahan-Draper
Maltby-Yzerman
Shanahan-Yzerman

Lidstrom-Hatcher
Fischer-Schneider
Fischer-Hatcher
Hatcher-Schneider

Net-
Curtis Joseph

Game 4: @ Calgary, 10:00 ET

Tonight is the fourth game in this Western Conference Semifinals series between the Wings and the Flames. The teams have traded wins, with Calgary winning Game 1, 2-1 in overtime, the Wings dominating Game 2 with a 5-2 win, and then Calgary battling back in the Saddledome with a 3-2 Game 3 win. Jarome Iginla and the Flames now lead the best-of-seven series 2-1.

This is a must-win game for the Wings, and a pivotal game in this series. A Wings’ win or loss is the difference between a series tied 2-2 or trailing 3-1. It’s the difference between a best-of-3 showdown or needing 3 straight wins. The Wings hold home ice advantage, so Games 5 and 7 are in the Joe, with Game 6 in the Saddledome.

In order to beat the Flames, the Wings can’t just rely on their higher skills and expect to coast to victory. They are going to have to play tenaciously and show some grit. It’s a Darryl Sutter blue-collar attitude that has given the Flames a 2-1 series lead, and the Wings need to start emulating it. Coach Dave Lewis is hoping the Wings can match Calgary’s physical play and give a full-game effort in this crucial Game 4:

“They outworked us the first and second periods. The third period we were pretty good, but you have to play 60-plus minutes in the playoffs.�

Coach Lewis has avoided public scrutiny of individual players, but has alluded that Brendan Shanahan and Brett Hull need to pick up their games:

�They�re opportunistic type of players and want to get to spots that are hard to cover. The puck has to get there, and at times the puck isn�t getting there and other times the puck is there and they�re not getting their shots off. I�m hoping it�s just a matter of time before those shots are going into the net.�

The Wings got the day off on Wednesday, with some players choosing to take the ice for an optional practice. Curtis Joseph turns 37 today. Cujo stood on his head in the Wings’ Game 3 loss. The Wings need to back him up on his birthday with some offense.

Injury Update:

Chris Chelios, who missed Game 3, is “a game-time decision,” according to Coach Dave Lewis. Near the end of the second period of Game 2, Chelios took a hard hit into the boards courtesy of Oleg Saprykin. He immediately left the ice and held his right arm in pain. He returned to play in the third, but apparently felt the hit the next morning. Jamie Rivers and Jason Woolley cracked the lineup in Game 3 for their first playoff games this season. Jason Williams was a healthy scratch for Game 3 with a “lower-body” injury, and is unlikely to play tonight.

As for the Flames, Rhett Warrener’s status is unknown for Game 4. He was a scratch in Game 3, after Yzerman’s stick clipped him dangerously near his eyes.

Avs Escape Sweep:

The Colorado Avalanche avoided elimination Wednesday night with a 1-0 overtime win. Joe Sakic scored the winner 5:15 into overtime, after Mike Rathje mishandled the puck in front of Evgeni Nabokov. It was Sakic’s 5th overtime playoff goal, which ties him at second with Glenn Anderson. The goal ended a 178 minutes, 14 seconds scoreless streak against Nabokov. The series is now 3-1 San Jose.

Colorado is trying to become the third team in NHL history to rally from a 3-0 deficit and win a series. The 1975 New York Islanders and the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs (over the Wings in the Cup Finals) are the only teams to win a series after trailing 3-0.

The Avs were without defenseman Rob Blake, who is feared to be out for the series with an “upper-body” injury. David Aebischer notched his first playoff shutout. The Sharks are looking to advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time. The Avs have never been swept since moving to Denver.

Game 3: Wings 2, Flames 3

The Wings lost last night by just one goal but it could have been a blowout. The Flames outplayed the Wings for the vast majority of the game and when the Wings finally did decide to show up, it was too late to come back. After watching the Wings dominate the Games 1 and 2, it looked like the two teams switched jerseys before the puck dropped.

Curtis Joseph is the sole reason the Wings were not blown out of the water last night, especially in the first period. The Flames came out hard and with a ton of jump, hitting everything in site and pouncing on the puck. They had numerous chances to score and Joseph stoned them each time. He didn’t have much chance on the first two Flames goals because the first one was tipped and the second was just Jarome Iginla one-timing if from four feet away. The third goal was a little different since he was a bit slow in getting across but that play was more Pavel Datsyuk’s fault than anyone else’s. Pavel just plain got beat.

The Wings were on their heels the whole first and second period but did score twice in the second. Their first goal came at 1:17 from Robert Lang off a fluke play. Lang set himself up in the right corner and circled around to the front of the net where the puck came to him. Instead of shooting it when he had a clear chance to, he attempted a pass across to Darren McCarty. The pass didn’t work and bounced off the Flames defenseman right back to Lang who had to shoot and did. It was a slam dunk goal that almost didn’t happen because Lang’s got pass on the brain. The Flames answered back two minutes later with a goal from Stephan Yelle, who redirected the Martin Gelinas shot. They scored again two minutes after that on the power play when Steve Yzerman left Jarome Iginla uncovered and allowed him to have a slam dunk one-timer past a helpless Joseph.

The Wings’ second goal came at 11:44, this time from Jiri Fischer. It came right off the faceoff win by Datsyuk and was a blast from the point that beat Kiprusoff high. He was screened by Pavel and Henrik Zetterberg and didn’t have much of a chance of stopping it. By scoring that goal, Jiri made up somewhat for his stupid roughing call at 4:47 that resulted in the Iginla goal. The game was tied at 2 but that didn’t last much longer. The Flames scored 40 seconds later when Pavel Datsyuk let himself get outmuscled in his own zone by Shean Donovan, who walked in on Joseph and beat him to the left post. Joseph could have done better on that play but like I said, it was mostly Pavel’s fault, for sure.

The Wings played a much better third period after being dominated up and down the ice for the first two but by that time, it was too late. The Flames went into a defensive posture with one forechecker and four guys sitting back. The Wings had numerous good shifts but could not finish with a goal. Miikka Kiprusoff was always there to make the save and the Flames young and inexperienced defense held the Wings off far too well. The Wings really showed some urgency in the final five minutes but still couldn’t score. They pulled Joseph but didn’t really get a whole lot of pressure with the extra man.

The refs were absolutely awful last night. The Wings couldn’t buy a power play and the Flames were getting away with murder. The refs called at least three questionable penalties on the Wings in the first period and were obviously one-sided the whole game. It was really like they were paid off or something.

Shots were 10-6 Flames in the first, 12-11 Flames in the second and 12-5 Wings in the third for a total of 29-27 Wings.

The Flames rebounded with a one-goal win for the third time after giving up five goals in the preceding game. Jarome Iginla scored again after getting into a fight with one of the opposition’s defensemen.

Jason Woolley and Jamie Rivers replaced Chris Chelios on defense. Chelios has an upper body injury suffered when he went into the boards awkwardly in Game 2. Woolley looked good in his first game back since February 16 though he only played 7:59. It was good to see him on the point with the puck again. Rivers didn’t stand out but didn’t make any glaring mistakes as far as I saw.

Three Wings defensemen played over 25 minutes last night: Derian Hatcher (25:02), Nick Lidstrom (26:34) and Mathieu Schneider (27:30). Steve Yzerman led forwards with 22:10 in playing time.

The Wings must win Game 4 if they want home ice advantage and if they want to win this series. Going back to the Joe down 3-1 is not something they want to do.

Quote of the game
“All the Doors but Jim Morrison.”
— FSN broadcaster Ken Daniels referring to the Flames’ Mike Commodore and Steve Montador. I bet he stayed up all night before the game before he thought of that one. Sheesh.

Here is the boxscore.

Lines-
(courtesy GWB)
Shanahan-Lang-Whitney
Maltby-Draper-Yzerman
Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Hull
Holmstrom-Lang-McCarty
Shanahan-Lang-McCarty
Shanahan-Lang-Yzerman
Whitney-Datsyuk-Yzerman
Zetterberg-Lang-Hull

Lidstrom-Schneider
Fischer-Dandenault
Hatcher-Rivers
Fischer-Woolley
Hatcher-Schneider
Fischer-Rivers
Hatcher-Dandenault
Lidstrom-Dandenault

PP-
Shanahan-Lang-Holmstrom
Shanahan-Datsyuk-Hull
Yzerman-Lang-Holmstrom
Shanahan-Zetterberg-Hull

Lidstrom-Schneider
Woolley-Lidstrom
Whitney-Woolley

PK-
Maltby-Draper
Shanahan-Yzerman
Whitney-Lang

Lidstrom-Hatcher
Fischer-Schneider
Lidstrom-Dandenault

6 on 5-Cujo Pulled
Zetterberg-Lang-Yzerman-Shanahan
Shanahan-Lang-Yzerman-Datsyuk

Lidstrom-Schneider
Hull-Lidstrom

Net-
Curtis Joseph

Game 3: @ Calgary, 9:00 ET

Tonight is the third game in this Western Conference Semifinals series between the Wings and the Flames. Calgary stole Game 1 in overtime 2-1 in front of a stunned Joe Louis Arena crowd last Thursday but the Wings answered back with a dominating 5-2 win in Game 2 on Saturday.

The Wings have outplayed the Flames by a wide margin for most of the first two games but tonight they will have a much tougher time keeping that up because, although the Flames have not be all that impressive so far in this series, they started coming on towards the end of the third period of Game 2. If that’s how they come out tonight, the Wings will be hard pressed to take command of the game early. They will have to face playing in front of an extremely hostile crowd tonight and still come out with a jump of their own. The first goal in this game will be absolutely huge and the team that plays with the most composure will have the best chance of winning.

It will be very hard for the Wings to control Jarome Iginla to the same extent they have been able to in the first two games because the Flames will have the last line change. Dave Lewis will really have to be smart in making sure he has the right lines out there at the right time because tonight is not the night to let Iginla break out. Lewis said he will not make any lineup changes but he will mix up the lines and make some appropriate adjustments. The Wings don’t have to do anything huge since they have a number of players who can deal with Iginla but they’ll need to be careful.

The Flames allowed five goals in Round 1 to Vancouver twice and rebounded each time with one goal wins, most notably their 3-2 Game 7 overtime win.

The Wings need to win this game tonight and take command of the series. They looked good in Game 2 but tonight we’ll see whether that was for real or not.

High Tech Sharks

This has been brought up before on other sites but I just got reminded of it today and I thought it was pretty cool.

The San Jose Sharks use a high-tech system to show video on the bench of the game as it’s going on so the coaches can make adjustments where they’re needed, when they’re needed. They have a digital camera hooked up to a server which records the game and wirelessly feeds it into a tablet PC on the Sharks bench. The coaches can then use a stylus or remote to show the players what they want them to do and what they may have done wrong. This elimination of the middleman makes it much easier for the Sharks to make adjustments in-game then it is for a team relying on a video coach upstairs with a headset. They also can bring up old video and look at their opponent’s tendencies in different situations.

Ron Wilson used this system when in Washington coaching the Capitals but the Sharks only got it set up for the last two games of the regular season. They’ve had it throughout the playoffs, though, and it is having an obvious effect on their play (they lead the Colorado Avalanche 2-0 in their semifinal series). They are the only team to use such a system and hockey is the only sport that allows it so far.

The Wings have a monitor on the bench but as far as I know, it is basically just the TV broadcast of the game and not something they control. They do have a video coach but I have no idea whether he communicates with Lewis, Smith or Kocur during the game. I haven’t seen either of those three wearing a headset so I’m guessing not. I would really like to see the Wings get a system like this because it would help them immensely. It’s expensive but if it is set up correctly, it would be well worth the money, I’m sure.

NHL to shorten schedule?

The NHL is looking at shortening the schedule and is working pretty closely with the NHLPA to accomplish this, according to TSN. The plan is to shorten the season by ten games and play 72 instead of 82. The NHL is apparently working on a model where every regular season game would be played in-Conference with no games between teams from the East and West. Each team would

play its four division rivals eight times for a total of 32 divisional games; play its 10 remaining conference rivals four times each for a total of 40 conference games and a grand total of 72 games.

This proposal has a lot of support from most of the NHL owners

I am all for shortening the schedule but eliminating all inter-Conference play is something I am totally against, as long as the Wings are still in the Western Conference. That model would be very hard on teams in the Eastern Time Zone but in the Western Conference because they would be traveling to the Coast that much more. I’m sure the support from “most” of the NHL owners is generally coming from the Eastern teams and the West Coast teams since they would travel a lot less further under such a plan. If the Wings were moved to the Eastern Conference, I would be more inclined towards this idea for that exact reason. However, that is not all that likely to happen, though it should.

One of the worst things about such a plan is that it would basically eliminate all play between Original Six teams since only two of them are in the West. Play between O6 teams has already been cut down to a pitiful amount between the two Conferences and this would only make it worse. Those teams are some of the biggest draws when they come to town and would be much more appealing than the eight games the Wings would play against the Blue Jackets, for example.

As much as I’d like to see a shorter schedule, I have to ask how a league struggling to make it can even consider shortening the schedule when there is such an enormous reliance on gate revenue. It doesn’t make any sense. If teams from the West never play teams from the East, ticket sales will go down considerably because many people go to games just to see Detroit, Colorado, Toronto and other powerhouses play each other.

Though I disagree with him for liking this model Tom Benjamin of Canucks Corner’s NHL Weblog makes a good point when he says

But the best part of this story – the very best part – is that if the NHL and NHLPA are working towards an agreement in this area it also means they are working towards a new collective bargaining agreement.

That’s about the only good thing I see in it myself.

Game 2: Wings 5, Flames 2

The Wings made the statement they needed to make today in beating the Flames 5-2 in a dominating performance. They once again outplayed Calgary but this time they complimented that with some goals. What a concept: winning games by scoring goals. Hmm, seems like it works, guys.

Curtis Joseph played well and didn’t give up any weak goals. He was left out to dry on the two he did give up and couldn’t do much about them. He only faced 16 shots in the whole game and no more than seven in a period (3rd). He only had to make three saves in the first, a number which was doubled in the second. The Flames obviously weren’t generating a ton of offense. To give you an idea, their big, bad captain and scoring leader Jarome Iginla had zero shots today, though Martin Gelinas had three.

The Wings had some good jump on offense, though they weren’t clicking as much as they could have. Even so, they had a number of good chances but were continually stoned by Miikka Kiprusoff. This went on throughout the first period and into the second. The Flames would follow up a Wings chance and miraculous Kiprusoff save by promtly icing the puck.

It quite frankly got annoying and I was happy to see it end at 3:02 of the second period when Tomas Holmstrom scored on the power play to make it 1-0 Wings. He tipped in a shot from Nick Lidstrom and it blew past a screened Kiprusoff. Marcus Nilson had just broken his stick and that put the Flames at a disadvantage. The fact that Hull was likely distracting Kiprusoff by floating around the right side of the net didn’t help their cause either. The crowd woke up after that and so did the Flames, for a few minutes anyway. They came on a bit harder but eventually reverted back to constantly icing the puck.

The Flames got a power play at 8:06 when Mathieu Schneider fell on Stephane Yelle and generated some good pressure on it. In the beginning, though, there was a delayed offsides about to be called and Derian Hatcher just stopped playing. He stood there with the puck and let the Flames player touch it when he easily could have cleared it out of the zone. Total lack of effort. Anyway, it didn’t matter since the Wings killed of the penalty using a tiny kill-box technique.

The Wings had the puck in the last few seconds of the power play and Mathieu Dandenault took it into the Flames zone. He went behind the net and centered it to an open Steve Yzerman who one-timed it past a helpless Kiprusoff just as the penalty expired (10:06). Great goal.

A little over two minutes later, The Captain did it again, this time setting himself up along the boards and then taking a pass from Kirk Maltby out front where he roofed it over Kiprusoff. Another great goal by Stevie.

The Flames answered back a little more than a minute later on a 4-on-4 situation when Shean Donovan scored to make it 3-1 Wings. The goal was scored because Dave Lewis saw fit to put three of the Wings’ slowest players on the ice at the same time: Chris Chelios, Derian Hatcher and Brendan Shanahan. This was especially stupid because 4-on-4 means more open ice which means the faster players have more ice to work with. The Flames took full advantage of this and promtly scored a goal when Donovan beat Hatcher up the middle and tipped in the Nilson pass through Joseph. Nice coaching job there, Dave.

Play was fairly even in the third period but the Flames eventually lost it and the Wings started to run away with it. It all started at 13:54 when Shean Donovan took a dumb retaliation penalty after being knocked down by Jiri Fischer. Less than a minute later and during the ensuing power play, Mike Commodore took an idiotic penalty when he continually slashed and cross-checked Tomas Holmstrom in front of the net. The Wings took the opportunity to go up 4-1 and scored six seconds later off a blast from Brett Hull. Kiprusoff looked slow on the goal and I hope we’ll see more of that from him. The Wings were still on the power play after that but the Flames still saw fit to slash and cross-check Wings players. This time it was Robyn Regehr who made it 5-on-3 by cross-checking Steve Yzerman at 15:25. The Wings once again took advantage of this and Nick Lidstrom scored off a blast from the point after he and Hull played catch with the puck. The puck may have gone in off Shanahan but as far as I know it was Lidstrom. Either way, it made it 5-1. The Wings were still on the power play but that ended when Chris Chelios took a weak slashing penalty at 16:42.

The Flames scored once more at 18:50 after Joseph made a save on a wraparound chance by Chuck Kobasew. Martin Gelinas slammed in the lose puck after outmanning Chris Chelios and made it 5-2.

It was good to see the Wings get rewarded for outplaying the Flames by actually winning. They played one of their most complete games, I think, and dominated for long stretches of all three periods.

I still am not impressed by Calgary, with the exception of Miikka Kiprusoff. They aren’t as fast as Nashville and don’t seem to be as physical. They do not capitalize on chances as much as the Preds did either (thankfully).

The Hatcher-Chelios pairing wasn’t quite so bad today, though they still should not be partners.

Both Steve Yzerman goals were in the same end of the rink that I was in for Game 1. Too bad they couldn’t happen then….

Chris Chelios took a hit along the boards towards the end of the second period and immediately went for the bench favoring his arm. He returned in the 3rd period though and finished the game.

Rhett Warrener had to leave the game when he took Steve Yzerman’s stick to the face in the corner. It was completely accidental and was the result of Stephane Yelle taking The Captain into the boards. Warrener immediately got up and went to the bench holding his face. It had all the earmarks of an eye injury and scared the heck out of me. He went to the hospital and eventually came back with just a large cut on his nose. Thank God for that!

I liked seeing the Wings power play finally get going today, with three goals. The Flames may have handed the Wings those last two but they still count and we’ll hopefully see more of that in the coming games.

The Wings are not dominating on the faceoffs nearly as much this round, with just 38 wins today compared to 37 for the Flames. Given the Flames apparent strategy of icing the puck, winning more faceoffs would be very helpful. Something more like their 40-of-68 record in Game 1 would be nice.

Jason Woolley did not play afterall tonight but Jason Williams did again.

The Captain played with Maltby and Draper on a new Grind Line and all three had a great night. Those two goals were just Yzerman’s first and second in his last ten home playoff games.

As much as I get on his back, Derian Hatcher must be doing something right. At 5:00 of the third period, he had been on the ice for 34 of Iginla’s 46 shifts in the series to that point. Iginla had no shots today and has no points so far either, which is something I’m sure led to his fight with Hatchter at the end of the game. I was disappointed to see Derian’s poor performance in the fight but that probably had somehting to do with the fact that Iginla wasn’t man enough to take his helmet and face shield off. It was knocked off eventually but it looked like Hatcher may have hurt his hand in the process of getting his butt kicked and taken down by a guy four inches and 20+ lbs lighter than himself.

Since my dislike for Gary Thorne and Co. far outweighed any worries I might have had about a pro-Flames bias, I watched the game on CBC instead of ABC. I didn’t regret it for a second. Any chance you get to watch HNIC, take it.

Here is the boxscore.

Oh yeah, the Avs lost today and are now down 2-0 in that series with the Sharks. Pretty cool, eh?

Lines-
(courtesy GWB)
Maltby-Draper-Yzerman
Zetterberg-Datysuk-Hull
Whitney-Lang-Shanahan
Holmstrom-Williams-McCarty
Lang-Datsyuk-Yzerman

Lidstrom-Schneider
Hatcher-Chelios
Fischer-Dandenault
Hatcher-Dandenault

4 on 4-
Shanahan-Lang
Datsyuk-Hull
Zetterberg-Datsyuk

Hatcher-Chelios
Lidstrom-Schneider
Hatcher-Lidstrom

PP-
Lang-Yzerman-Holmstrom
Shanahan-Datsyuk-Hull

Lidstrom-Schneider
Whitney-Chelios

5 on 3PP-
Shanahan-Lang-Hull
Lang-Datsyuk-Shanahan

Lidstrom-Schneider
Hull-Chelios

PK-
Shanahan-Draper
Zetterberg-Draper
Whitney-Lang
Maltby-Draper
Shanahan-Yzerman

Lidstrom-Chelios
Hatcher-Schneider
Hatcher-Chelios
Lidstrom-Dandenault

5 on 3PK-
Draper

Schneider-Dandenault

Net-
Curtis Joseph