Western Conference Finals Game Four: Hossa Has Arrived
On Sunday the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks in a game that proved how deep they are as a team. Even with Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Lidstrom, and Kris Draper out with their own upper or lower body injuries, the Red Wings still scored six goals in a rout.
The expected anger from Niklas Kronwall's thunderclap on Martin Havlat was present in both the fan's boos whenever Kronwall touched the puck and the need for the Blackhawk players to hit anyone they could even if it meant penalty after penalty.
Chris Chelios took the role of captian when he participated in the ceremonial face-off against Jonathan Toews. Former Red Wing Bob Probert, in a 'Hawks jersey, dropped the puck. Chelios does wear Probert's old No. 24 on the Wings. However, he was only on the ice for about four minutes total, so the 'Hawks couldn't exploit his lack of speed.
The Blackhawks did have Martin Havlat on the ice which seemed risky considering he was out cold only two nights prior. How he was able to be cleared to play in this day and age is surprising.
The other change for the 'Hawks was Cristobal Huet in net as opposed to Nikolai Khabibulin in the prior games of the playoffs. True that Khabibulin gave up three goals in about four minutes, but those goals were possible due to Chicago not being able stop Detroit from getting in position.
The scoring of the Wings did prove that Friday's win was in the past. The arrival of Hossa to the Wings in terms of the playoffs finally did happen. He proved his worth by scoring shorthanded for the first goal of the game. A perfect pass from Valtteri Filpula gave him his first red light in the series. The sign of relief on his face was felt by all Wings fans.
Johan Franzen's goal was scored with only a few seconds left in the first peroid when he lofted a much slower shot than he is capable of and Huet missed it as it went in.
Early in the second period, Filpula put in the third goal for the Wings on a rebound from a shot by Hossa. He also asisted in Hossa's goals to earn first star honors.
Chicago responded a couple minutes later on a goal by Toews. Once again, the 'Hawks scored another goal on Osgood's glove side. However, it would be the only goal they would get past Osgood for the game.
On the faceoff, Hossa took the puck into the Chicago zone and shot it past Huet for the fourth goal from the Wings. The goal proved the focus by the Wings had reached a level Chicago could not equal.
Henrik Zetterberg got on the board when he scored the final two goals for the Wings. The fifth goal was on a series of passes from Kronwall and Brian Rafalski to Zetterberg passed Huet on his stick side. The sixth goal was on a rebound from a shot by Rafalski that Zetterberg put past Huet on his glove side.
Soon after the goal, Corey Crawford entered the game for the 'Hawks. The strategy proved that the Wings have gotten into the heads of Khabibulin and Huet in consecutive games. Crawford was not scored on for the rest of the game; however, Detroit didn't need to score on him then; they have Game Five for that.
Mike Babcock not to be outdone, sent in Ty Conklin to get his first ice time in the playoffs for the Wings. He was not scored on either; however, what good would it do then?
The end result of Game Four proved that the Wings didn't care that the 'Hawks won Game Three. The Wings needed to rest up from the flight from Detroit anyway. However, for the Wings to score six goals without Lidstrom, Datsyuk, and Draper is proof that they might just be better than the team they were last season.
Game Five is Wednesday night in Joe Louis Arena. The arena will be deafening as the chance to go back to the Stanley Cup Final can be achieved at home. As it looks in the Eastern Conference Finals, the opponent would probably be the Pittsburgh Penguins.
However, the Wings still have to play and win the game to make it official. It is still to be determined if Lidstrom, Datsyuk, and Draper will be back in uniform and on the ice. The way the Wings played on Sunday, they might not need to be.
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