Western Conference Finals Game Two: Second Tier Gets It Done

Michael MrockCorrespondent IMay 22, 2009

DETROIT - MAY 19:  Mikael Samuelsson #37 of the Detroit Red Wings skates out and acknowledges the fans after he was named the #1 star of the game after the Red Wings won 3-2 in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks during Game Two of the Western Conference Championship Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 19, 2009 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

The Red Wings are now up two games to zip against the Blackhawks. However, such a series lead is really insignificant.  In last year's Stanley Cup Finals, the Wings were up two games to zip, and the Pens hadn't scored yet.  That series went six games. 

Chicago may be so young in that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were not even born yet when Chris Chelios started playing in the NHL.  However, they still are in the Western Conference Finals.

The Red Wings did win 3-2 in OT.  But since it was in OT, the game could have easily gone in Chicago's favor. This win in extra time was the first OT win by the Red Wings since last year's first-round series against the Predators

The first goal for the Wings was in the first period by Brian Rafalski on one of his slapshots through a forest of players on both sides.  It is good to see that he is back to scoring form after his hiatus during the prior series against the Ducks.

The second goal by Daniel Cleary in the second period has given him six goals for the playoffs.  Cleary's breakaway has made him as dangerous as the top-tier players for the Wings.

The goals by the 'Hawks were both by their captain Jonathan Toews, who is proving his leadership by stepping up his play to make sure the team doesn't give up.  He scored his first of the game in the first period on that glove side of Osgood. 

That side us where the Blackhawks scored their goals in game one.  Toews' second goal in the third period, which was a redirection proved not only can the Wings can score this way.  That goal forced the game into overtime.

The overtime goal five minutes in by Mikael Samuelsson was one that proves how well of a team environment exists on the Wings.  Samuelsson intercepts the puck from Brian Campbell, passes it to Jiri Hudler who skates into the Chicago zone, passes it to Valteri Filpula who passes it back to Samuelsson who scores stick side for the OT winner. 

Easily Hudler or Filpula could have tried their own shot on net, however, the passes made it highly unlikely that Khabibulin could defend the three on one rush. It was the first playoff overtime victory for the Wings since game five of their opening round series against the Predators last season.

The long layoff for such a short trip to Chicago will be in Detroit's favor.  The team is still recovering from the Anaheim series. Pavel Datsyuk missed the Wings' practice prior to game three with a foot bruise. This injury can explain the lack of scoring by Datsyuk in the series, however, since he is a hockey player, he won'y use it as an excuse.

Game three in Chicago will be a madhouse at the United Center.  The Original Six rivalry will make the 'Hawks fans even more intense.  Their style of singing the National Anthem will prove this. 

Both teams will increase the physical play.  Detroit is in the driver's seat as their second-tier players have done the bulk of the scoring.  Once that top tier kicks it in, the series could be done before Memorial Day.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.