Tag:2011 WC Semifinals
Posted on: May 14, 2011 1:24 am
Edited on: May 14, 2011 1:30 am
 

Sharks' White's wife goes into labor before game

We all know hockey players are tough. But how about a little love for the ones they love?

In attendance at the Shark Tank before Game 7, Sharks defenseman Ian White's wife Tess felt the onset of labor contractions, at which point she sent a text to the team with a clear message: We need to go to the hospital ... when the game is over.

According to the Oakland Tribune, the Whites went straight to the hospital after the Sharks beat the Red Wings 3-2 and Tess gave birth to daughter Gracelyn Sophia on Friday morning.

So while her husband was going through the agony of a Game 7, she was going through the agony of early labor. Hardly seems like a fair tradeoff. But kudos to Mrs. White for getting in the playoff spirit and toughing it out.

White logged 14:12 of ice time, recording two shots and a plus-1 rating. Little did he know then, but his wife was recording her own plus-1 for the family.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: May 13, 2011 12:20 am
Edited on: May 13, 2011 12:44 am
 

Veteran Wings see season, possibly era end

Entering Game 7, it was clear which team would have the advantage in the intangibles: experience, momentum, poise, etc. Those all belonged to the Red Wings. And it showed. They were the veteran group comfortable in the spotlight as they had been there so many times before.

Perhaps Detroit was too comfortable. The Wings came out knowing all too well they had to stem the tide in a rocking arena on the road. They weren't taking many chances, trying to make their way through. As a result, they were outworked and outplayed in the opening period. And they left it trailing by two.

They did have 11 shots on net in the first, but a lot was just firing from beyond the dots. The quality chances weren't there. The team was not interested in being caught in transition. They were relaxed. It looked like they weren't willing to take the risk for a shot at the rewards.

But the somewhat sleepy first period doesn't explain the night away. As much as they were dominated in the first period, they were as dominant in the second, getting one goal to show for their efforts.

"We pushed the issue the rest of the game, but their goalie was outstanding. I thought this series was a good series. It was entertaining, it was fast," coach Mike Babcock said after the game.

Babcock credited some line changes necessitated by the injuries to Todd Bertuzzi and later a friendly-fire hit on Dan Cleary as being the catalyst to get them back in. Yes, for a team that had erased a 3-0 deficit to get here, a 2-0 lead in a game didn't seem insurmountable. That doesn't mean those guys going down didn't hurt.

"We missed those guys, but it was an opportunity for other guys. I'm proud of our group, our group worked real hard," Babcock said.

On this night, though, it was the special-teams battle that didn't go Detroit's way. Not only did they give up a goal on the penalty kill, but they couldn't get much going on their own opportunities a man up. It seemed that everytime there was a faceoff in the offensive zone, it went the Sharks way. Then it was an adventure just to get the puck back into the zone for a great puck-controlling team.

The special-teams difference was one goal, and wouldn't you know that was the difference.

"Your disappointed tonight for sure, you're disappointed in your heart as you felt you were going to win tonight for sure."

Now you have to wonder if this is the last we've seen of this group of Red Wings. No, the window isn't completely closed. If we've learned anything in the last two decades it's that Detroit always does a goob job of restocking without becoming irrelevant. Take, for example, that this is the 20th straight season the Red Wings have been in the postseason, the same number of seasons the Sharks have been in existence.

"I'm pleased with the growth of our young players. Our high-end forwards. [Pavel] Datsyuk and [Henrik] Zetterberg were fantastic in this series and I think that's real important," Babcock said. "They showed great leadership quality, which is fantastic. We still feel we have a real young core and an opportunity to get better. As we continue to change our organization to try and be current, we need these guys to be great."

It's very possible Nicklas Lidstrom has played his last NHL game. But would anybody be surprised if he returns after watching the way this team never quit in this series? Regardless, the stalwarts from the last decade-plus are going to make way for the next generation of Wings soon.

Either way, we're talking about probably the classiest franchise in the game. There's a reason the Red Wings have become a playoff mainstay. It was on display all series long. It was a team that never quit, never panicked. They did Hockeytown proud.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: May 12, 2011 4:33 am
 

Game 7 breakdown: No. 3 Detroit at No. 2 San Jose

Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV: Versus

Road to Game 7

Once a rarity, Detroit's comeback from an 0-3 hole isn't that shocking anymore. The Red Wings are the third team --- joining last year's Philadelphia Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks, who did it a round prior this postseason --- to accomplish the feat over the last two seasons and eighth team overall. (Philly advanced over the Bruins, while the Canucks righted the ship in time to beat the 'Hawks.) Take away a Darren Helm empty-net goal in Game 6 and each game in the series has been decided by one goal with two games going to OT. The clubs have been tied or separated by a single goal 90 percent of the time, according to the NHL.

The Sharks coughed up third-period leads in each of the last two games, although Game 5's two-goal margin hurts the most. Rookie Logan Couture gave the Sharks a 3-1 lead in the opening minute of the third period on Sunday, but the Wings were able to tie the game within five minutes off goals by Jonathan Ericsson and Dan Cleary. Their one-goal lead secured on another Couture goal early in third period of Game 6 was more of a product of the play of Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, who turned away the first 38 shots he faced.

It's no doubt that Detroit's veteran cast -- minus ailing Johan Franzen -- has gotten stronger as the series has moved on. Take Pavel Datsyuk, whose undisclosed injury (likely hand) hasn't seemed to bother him much as he set up the game-winners in Games 5 and 6. He still may not being taking many faceoffs -- he didn't go into the circle in Game 5 and only took four draws in Game 6 -- but he's showing exactly why he's considered by many the best two-way forward in the league. He has a goal and seven assists in the series.

The Sharks were minus their top scorer in the playoffs, Ryane Clowe, in Game 6 and he wasn't on the ice for practice on Wednesday. (The team is calling it an upper-body injury.) Clowe is the sort of hard-nosed player that can battle with the likes of Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom and Datsyuk, so his absence would be a major blow to the Sharks. But the sky won't be falling at the Shark Tank on Thursday if one of the veterans, say, Patrick Marleau, shows up. Yes, he's still looking for his first point of the series, but San Jose does have a few other options: Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle. As clutch as Joe Pavelski -- who scored the game-winner in the Sharks' last Game 7 against Calgary three years ago -- has been in the playoffs, one of the team's Stars will need to step it up -- even if Clowe is a go.

In net

Jimmy Howard (Detroit) vs. Antti Niemi (San Jose). Howard allowed one goal against the Coyotes in a first-round Game 7 victory a year ago, a contest the Wings won 6-1. His 39-save effort in Game 5 pushed the series to a sixth game, where he allowed one goal -- which went over the line by maybe an inch or two -- on 25 shots. Niemi's tremendous 42-save effort went for naught in Game 6, but he's proven a much more reliable goalie than in the first round against the Los Angeles Kings. This will be the first time Niemi has faced an elimination game in his NHL career (the Blackhawks never were in danger of elimination in their Stanley Cup run a year ago with Niemi in net).

Injury report

Franzen (ankle) is questionable for Game 7, although Detroit coach Mike Babcock told reporters on Wednesday he wouldn't rule him out just yet. Veteran Mike Modano started in Franzen's place in Game 6 and although he went without a point, he did win six of his nine faceoffs. Goalie Chris Osgood (hernia) is out. Clowe will be a game-time decision, Sharks coach Todd McLellan said after practice on Wednesday.

Our picks

A.J. Perez: I called Sharks in 6 and I'm going to stick with San Jose. No, it doesn't have momentum -- not by a long shot -- but that can be overcome with an early goal or two. I'd like its chances a lot better if Clowe breaks the lineup, but there is still plenty left to get the deal done -- especially on home ice. For some reason, I'm thinking this could be the highest scoring game of the series.

Brian Stubits: The natural inclination is to pick the team with the home ice in a Game 7, but things just seem to be tilting Detroit's way for me. Intangibles, as little as they often mean, mostly belong to the Wings, an experienced group. I just can't get over the Sharks stigma of playoff problems, this series going seven doesn't alleviate that. With the game almost being a toss-up, I've got the team riding high, and that's Detroit.

 
 
 
 
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