No Lidstrom, no Datsyuk, no Draper, no problem.
Despite missing their captain, an alternate captain, and a four-time Stanley Cup-winning veteran, the Detroit Red Wings had absolutely no difficulty in dispatching the Chicago Blackhawks by a 6-1 margin in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals. The Red Wings now hold a 3-1 stranglehold in the series.
Nicklas Lidstrom, the team's captain since Steve Yzerman retired, missed the game with a lower body injury. Detroit coach Mike Babcock told the NBC reporter on the ice in the second period that he didn't know Lidstrom would miss the game until the bus ride over to United Center.
Pavel Datsyuk, a top goal scorer and a Hart Trophy finalist, missed his second straight game with a foot injury.
Draper, one of the best face-off men in the game—and in his 15th year with the Red Wings—missed out on the action with a groin injury.
But it didn't matter in the slightest.
Marian Hossa kicked it into another gear, scoring two goals in the victory, and Valtteri Filppula had one of the best games of his career, assisting on one goal and scoring another. As the NBC announcers said it, Detroit put on a passing clinic. Every pass was tape to tape, and Chicago's defense couldn't do anything.
The biggest difference between the two teams—experience—was incredibly apparent.
Even without Datsyuk, Lidstrom, and Draper (who have a combined 39 years in Hockeytown), Detroit remained composed throughout the game. Chicago is loaded with youngsters, and their inexperience showed. They made stupid plays on defense, took awful penalties, and fought with Red Wings after plays were over.
That inexperience resulted in multiple Detroit power plays, and Henrik Zetterberg's final goal in the third period moved the game from embarrassing for Chicago to downright shameful.
Not only were the Blackhawks showing their inexperience, but they were also showcasing low-class play and even blatant thuggery at some points. Kris Versteeg had to be kicked out of the game in the third period after threatening to fight with Red Wings forward Jiri Hudler, who wanted none of it.
Even goalie Cristobal Huet—who was so overwhelmed at one point in the second period that Chicago used their third-string goalie for 10 minutes or so—went a foot out of his crease to shove a perfectly innocent Darren Helm for no reason.
The Blackhawks were so unprofessional that Babcock removed his own goalie, Chris Osgood, for the third period because, as the announcers said, he feared Chicago would try to hurt Osgood.
Ty Conklin was just fine in net, thanks for asking.
After two days of listening to and reading about Blackhawks complaining that the now-infamous Niklas Kronwall hit in Game Three was illegal and should have resulted in a suspension, you would think Chicago would have some fire in its belly. Instead, the Blackhawks came out flat and we had to watch that stinker of a game.
That hit, which was legal but hard, seemed to enrage the Red Wings more than the Blackhawks.
How did Detroit get back at Chicago for all their whining? By scoring six goals.
How did Chicago get back at Detroit for blowing them out at home? By taking cheap shots all game and really making the third period unwatchable. That's not hockey.
This series is all but over, and it appears a Detroit-Pittsburgh matchup is set for the Stanley Cup Finals, same as last year.
Bring on the Penguins. At least they know how to play the game right.