Detroit Red Wings-Columbus Blue Jackets: The Sweep and Beyond
The 6-5 score from Game Four may be in Detroit's favor in that they won the game and swept the series from the Columbus Blue Jackets. However, the score did reflect that the Blue Jackets were not going to let the Wings sweep them so easily.
The Detroit scorers of Niklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, Daniel Cleary, Marian Hossa, and Johan Franzen are as a usual suspects for a typical high scoring Wings game. Each of these players throughout the sweep proved why Detroit is the defending champ.
Lidstrom's goal was a thing of beauty in that all got to see that classic form in his slap shot. A shot that may not have the speed of the McGinnis missile, but when it is delivered, the accuracy cannot be denied. It deflected off of Mason's pad, then a lucky bounce off of Fredrick Tyutin's leg passed Mason into the net.
However, after the goal, Columbus knew that they needed to change their attitude. They responded with Kristain Huseilus' goal roughly three minutes later, which was a slap-shot.
The Holmstrom and Cleary goals were the rest of the scoring for the first period. These goals gave the impression that Columbus was cooked; however, the second period turned into a salvo of goals from both teams. The Detroit arsenal finally had its first goals by Hossa when he scored twice in the period on rebounds. He already has had assists on two of the Detroit goals in the playoffs so he was due for goals of his own.
Columbus put on their own show with second period goals, which were a tip-in by Rick Nash, rebound by R.J. Umberger, breakaway by Kris Russell, and a rebound by Fredrik Modin. This scoring barrage proved that Columbus was not going down without a fight.
These goals also demonstrated that Osgood could be beaten in a host of different ways and that there were lapses in the Detroit defense for them to get so many shots on Osgood.
The third period was night and day compared to the second period, as it was scoreless until the too many men on the ice call on Columbus with two minutes to go. Prior to the penalty, the game had all the feelings of going to overtime.
During the Detroit power play, with about 46 seconds left in regulation, Johan Franzen's scored a tip-in off of a prior shot by Jiri Hudler. The goal ended the Blue Jackets' hope for OT and their first ever season in the playoffs.
The Blue Jackets still did a great job in honoring their founder John H. McConnell with their first trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He passed away a year ago this Saturday, hence the patch they wore on their sweaters this season.
The Detroit Red Wings now await their next opponent. The projected teams are the Anaheim Ducks or Vancouver. The Ducks defeated the top seed San Jose Sharks 4-0 last night to go up 3-1 in the series. If the Ducks win out, they would face Detroit because by defeating San Jose, Detroit becomes the top seed in the conference.
The matchup of Anaheim and Detroit will give the league an ulcer. The teams do not like each other. The last time Detroit and Anaheim tangled in the playoffs was in the 2007 Western Conference Finals. Detroit fans have not forgotten the head shot that Chris Pronger and Rob Neidermeyer gave to Tomas Holmstrom during that series. Chris Pronger also is the most hated player by Wings fans and he dosen't like Detroit at all.
In the 1998 playoffs in Detroit, while with the St. Louis Blues, he took a slap shot to the chest and went into cardiac arrest. In the 2002 playoffs, he took a run at Steve Yzerman, missed and blew out his knee. It wasn't until he played for the Edmonton Oilers in 2006 that he was on a team that knocked the Wings out of the playoffs.
The Canucks would face Detroit if San Jose comes back from the 3-1 deficit and are quite rested after their sweep of the St. Louis Blues earlier in the week. They feature the only goalie captain in the league, Roberto Luongo, who earned the honor at the start of the season because of his quality play and equal presence of leadership on the ice and in the locker room.
The Canucks also feature a Swedish contingent of players including the Sedin twins of Daniel and Henrik as well as Mattias Ohlund and the recently acquired Matts Sundin.
Regardless of which team the Red Wings face in the second round, they will be doing a lot of traveling to reach their opponent's arena. Both of these two opponents are on the other side of North America and such a distance could be a great strain if the Wings start nursing injuries or if the series goes the distance.
However, the Red Wings still do have the edge with their offensive juggernaut of forwards and defenseman who can score anywhere. They also have advantage, unlike the Ducks and Canucks, in that most of the Red Wings have won multiple Stanley Cups, which means they know what it takes to go for the 12th Cup in Red Wings history.
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