Detroit Red Wings Make Columbus Blue Jackets Pay For Their Sixth Man, Advance

Greg Eno@@GregEnoSenior Analyst IApril 24, 2009

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 23:  Johan Franzen #93 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates his go ahead goal late in the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets during Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 23, 2009 at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The Red Wings defeated the Blue Jackets 6-5 on Franzen's goal to sweep the series in 4 games. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The Red Wings have moved on. With only a little bit of hand-wringing. Not bad for a first round, eh?

A series didn’t break out until late in the second period of last night’s Game Four in Columbus. Rick Nash finally shed his Rip Van Winkle impersonation, awoke from his slumber, and netted a goal.

Chris Osgood, apparently struggling physically with something, was obliging the Blue Jackets with some borderline soft goals and unprotected rebounds.

The Red Wings were in a very un-playoff-like 5-5 tie. Those Detroit fans holding tickets for home playoff game “C” weren’t sure if they were going to need to use them this weekend or sometime next week.

Their weekend is now free and clear.

So is the Red Wings’—along with the Blue Jackets’ spring. Tee times are probably being arranged even as you read this.

The Red Wings used some mental flatulence by the Jackets to finagle themselves a series-winning power play goal with 46.6 seconds left. Johan Franzen, The Mule, played the playoff hero once again.

A penalty for too many men on the playing surface is one of sports’ delightfully derisive infractions.

We snicker at it, whether it happens in football or hockey. Unless it happens to your team, of course.

Too many men? Who on the team can’t count?

At least with football, you have to count all the way up to eleven.

What’s the excuse in hockey?

The Red Wings cleared the puck to center ice, trying to quell the pressure that the Jackets were sustaining for several antsy minutes late in the third period. It appeared that the Detroiters were just trying to hang on and get into the locker room to regroup for overtime.

Which they were.

Until a sixth Blue Jacket entered the fray, quite illegally.

If you’re the sixth skater on the ice in a situation that only allows five, it’s best to keep a low profile. Maybe you’ll get away with it.

But the sixth Jacket took it upon himself to play the puck, which meant the entire building was looking at him. Not the least of which were the linesmen.


The Red Wings played the ensuing power play with typical cool and under control. They knew that they had about 90 seconds. Some teams would act as if their goalie was pulled and start flailing away and making plays that were desperate. Sometimes that works, but what works better is, when you’re as talented as Detroit, you play within yourselves and do what you’ve done all year.

The Red Wings have the league’s top-rated power play for a reason. They score a lot on it.

And they score a lot on it because they’re loaded with players who have a nose for the puck and can finish.

The Mule Franzen is one of those players. Especially at this time of the year.

Franzen has 13 goals and 20 points in his last 14 playoff games.

Reggie Jackson was Mr. October. But Franzen The Scoring Mule isn’t just Mr. April. He’s not just Mr. May. He can also be Mr. June, too.

Heck, let’s just call him Mr. Spring.

As in, the season that is now wide open for golfing for the soon-to-be-very good Blue Jackets.

Here’s how playoff-tested the Red Wings are.

Goalie Osgood said that, in the second intermission, the Red Wings mentally changed the scoreboard.

“To us, it wasn’t 5-5. It was 0-0,” Ozzie said. “That’s the way we looked at it.”

In other words, disregard the white elephant in the room. This isn’t a scoring fest. Isn’t a shootout.

It’s a tight, 0-0 playoff game. So let’s play the third period like it.

The Red Wings clamped down once more, and waited for an opportunity. It came in the form of Mr. Sixth Man On the Ice.

Oh, those silly, young Blue Jackets!

Don’t forget to tip your caddies and the soda pop girl at the turn.