Blog Entry

''Special' win for Detroit

Posted on: April 20, 2010 11:13 pm

Their best players – Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and yes, rookie goalie Jimmy Howard were their best players -- which is the way it has to be at playoff time, but the Detroit Red Wings evened their Western Conference quarterfinal with Phoenix at two apiece because of their special teams.

Specifically the penalty killing unit was outstanding as it continued its recovery from the embarrassment of the series opener by shutting
down the Coyotes in 13 straight tries, including six in Detroit’s crucial 3-0 win tonight. Maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise considering that the power play was the Coyotes’ weakest link all season, but Phoenix did score all three of its goals with the man advantage to win that opener, so it can’t be taken for granted entirely.

Since then however, the world has been as it is supposed to be when Phoenix has an extra skater on the ice. Still you have to give Detroit some extra props in this one because the game was a lot closer than the final score indicated and the Coyotes could have changed the dynamic had they capitalized on one of their chances. 

The Red Wings though were masterful killing off all six penalties they took, including a 17-second stretch midway through the third period when their lead was only 1-0. Detroit allowed only nine shots on those six power plays, in large part because they made it very tough for the Coyotes to get over their blue line and did a very good job setting up their box and getting their sticks in the passing lanes when they did.

“Obviously you’ve got to be more disciplined, you can’t give a good team like that opportunities,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “But the guys dug in did a real good job.”

Howard in particular since he was coming off a dismal Game 3 that raised questions about whether Detroit should switch to veteran Chris Osgood. But Howard was stellar when he had to be making several key saves at crucial times among his 29 stops.

“I felt I had to raise my game,” he said.

He wasn’t the only one. Zetterberg, who seems to always raise his game at playoff time, was the best player at both ends of the ice, and his two goals gave him 44 in 89 career playoff games.  His neat deflection of a Niklas Kronwall shot on the power play late in the second period looked like it would stand up and in effect did until he followed with another one after Datsyuk’s backbreaking goal with five minutes left in the third.

Meanwhile in Ottawa, it looked like Senators fans saw the last of their team for the season because it just can’t seem to come up with a way to stop Sidney Crosby. The Penguins captain had another sublime game with two goals and two assists to lead a Penguins offense that is looking more dangerous with each passing game to a 7-4 victory.

Ottawa didn’t help matters by committing 13 turnovers, but the Senators did give the home folks something to cheer about with a three-goal outburst in the second period. Problem was by that time the Penguins had already scored four times and then added another pair before they headed to the dressing. The teams traded goals in the third period but all that mattered in the end was that Pittsburgh is going home with a 3-1 stranglehold.

And hard as it may be to believe, the Philadelphia Flyers, a team that needed a shootout win on the final day of the season just to get into the playoffs, has the same advantage over Atlantic Division champion New Jersey despite spending way too much time again in the penalty box. 

Of course Philadelphia did blow a 3-1 series lead to the Devils in 2000, but the Flyers are 17-2 all time in series when they have that kind of margin.

Category: NHL

Since: Apr 1, 2010
Posted on: April 21, 2010 9:58 am

''Special' win for Detroit

I believe the Red Wings need to live and die with Howard in goal. Unless Howard has a complete meltdown in a game and needs to be pulled, the Red wings would be best served by letting Howard gain all the playoff experience he can. If the Red Wings honestly believe Howard is the goalie of the immediate future, then he and the team, together, have to take their lumps and their successes as one. This is how a player matures and grows: trial by fire. Thus far, even if the Red Wings lose in the first round I think the experience will pay huge dividends for Howard, and the team in general, down the road.

Since: Jan 14, 2008
Posted on: April 21, 2010 9:34 am

''Special' win for Detroit

your = you're.

Since: Jan 14, 2008
Posted on: April 21, 2010 9:34 am

''Special' win for Detroit

If you guys are going to root for the Wings can you at least learn the team name .  It's Red Wings, not Redwings.  Learning to spell the name of the city your are disparaging would help too.

Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: April 21, 2010 6:24 am

''Special' win for Detroit

i agree.   go wings.  PHUCK PHEONIX!

Since: Mar 7, 2010
Posted on: April 21, 2010 1:00 am
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