NHL Western Conference Finals Game Five: A 2-1 OT Clincher
The Red Wings won 2-1 in overtime to not only defeat the Blackhawks but also punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals and with home ice for the second year in a row against the Penguins. The Wings are the last team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions (1997 and 1998).
The victory in Game Five was not without the kind of drama that seems to follow the Wings whenever they in a game in which they eliminate an opponent.
The last few eliminations were winning the Cup last season with the puck floating across their crease with seconds to spare, sweeping the Jackets with a 6-5 Game Four and Daniel Cleary scoring the winning goal in Game Seven against the Ducks with minutes remaining in regulation.
The Game Five scoring did not occur until the third peroid. This game was completly form the prior four games in which at least three goals were scored by either the Wings or 'Hawks. This drop in scoring is due to both teams not wanting to make mistakes.
The Wings were without Niklas Lidstrom, Jonathan Ericsson, Pavel Datsyuk, and Kris Draper. Lidstorm's absence left the team with their field general as well as his legendary defensive skills. Ericcson's absence on defense due to an emergency appendectomy earlier in the day left the Wings without his physical play.
Chris Chelios and Derrick Meech took their places in the lineup and were barely used to prevent Chicago from exploiting them. Thank you last change.
Datsyuk's is the best two-way player in the game. Without him out there, Henrik Zetterberg, Marian Hossa, Valterri Filpula, Darren Helm and Daniel Cleary had to play out of their minds to keep the puck in Chicago's end most of the game. Draper's absence was also felt even though he might have slowed down in talent, he still wears the 'A' for a reason.
The first two periods was a shooting gallery. Both teams let loose anything they had at Chris Osgood and Cristobal Huet. After the two periods, Detroit had 31 shots and Chicago had 20 shots.
The chippiness was present but not nearly as prevalent as in Game Four. In Game Four, Chicago was seeking revenge for Martin Havlat running into a Kronwall in Game Three.
However in Game Five, Chicago was much quieter until Tomas Holmstrom and Ben Eager were caught in a wrestling match behind Huet. Both had to take a break although Eager got the 10 minute misconduct.
The third peroid was more of the same until four minutes in.
Daniel Cleary lit the lamp once again in the series with a perfect redirect off of a Brett Lebda slap-shot. Huet had no chance to defend the ricochet. The goal woke up a nervous Joe Louis Arena.
However six minutes later Patrick Kane caught Lebda off guard and skated in to shot a backhand past Chris Osgood. The goal took the air out of Joe Louis Arena and made the fans nervous again.
The overtime was dominated by Detroit and four minutes in they scored on a scrum in front of the net via a Helm tip-in. The Joe erupted and the Detroit players emptied on the ice to gather near the Chicago net.
The handshake after was one of mutual respect as two Original Six teams finished a rather entertaining Western Conference Finals. However the Wings got to stay on the ice as the Campbell Cup was brought out.
Keeping with superstition, acting as captain, Zetterberg posed with the trophy but did not touch or lift it like the Penguins did last night when they won the Eastern Conference Finals. It is true that Steve Yzerman would lift the Campbell Cup, but it is okay for him to do it as he is Steve Yzerman.
The Stanley Cup Finals will begin with Game One at 8pm on Saturday at Joe Louis Arena. The tension between the Pens and Wings has been quite obvious all season. Neither team or their fans like each other very much.
It will be interesting to see if Pittsburgh pulls the stunt again from last season by not letting Michigan residents buy tickets to Mellon Arena. They will also be hard pressed to think they will prevent an octopus or two from landing on their ice.
It is now time for the Red Wings to defend the Stanley Cup and win the Stanley Cup. For the Wings to do this task they need Lidstrom, Datsyuk and Ericsson back in the lineup. They also need to target Crosby and Malkin as much as possible.
Both of them have scored most of their goals in these playoffs. However their weaknesses are Crosby whines about any physical contact of an aggressive nature and Malkin is really just there to score goals and not much else.
It is the Wings' Cup to win.
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