Red Wings-Blackhawks: Best Game Four "In the History of Sports!"

Keith SheltonAnalyst IMay 25, 2009

CHICAGO - MAY 24:  Marian Hossa #81 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates after he scored a short handed gosl in the first period against the Chicago Blackhawks during Game Four of the Western Conference Championship Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 24, 2009 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jim Prisching/Getty Images)

Three down, one to go.

That would be the status of the series I'm referring to, not injured Red Wings. Then again, watching Game Four of the Western Conference Finals, did you even realize that Detroit was missing its best defenseman, its best forward, and its best face-off man?

That's three different players, by the way.

Their absence still resulted in Detroit's largest margin of victory in these playoffs so far, a 6-1 triumph. Come again?

It's simple, really. Detroit and Chicago are both teams lined to the brim with star players. Detroit's are just, shall we say, more in the know.

Chicago may have been more focused on revenge than winning.

Facing a crucial Game Four without MVP and Selke candidate Pavel Datsyuk, Norris Trophy candidate Nick Lidstrom, and Kris Draper should have made Detroit buckle and eventually collapse under the impending pressure of the young buzzing Blackhawks, who would surely have free roam of the offensive zone sans Lidstrom.

Chicago played their best hockey in the first period, and despite it all found themselves in a 2-0 hole. No Datsyuk? Fine, says Marian Hossa, who scored shorthanded to open the floodgates.

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Franzen later powered his way to the net and beat Huet for his team-leading 10th goal of these playoffs.

Then, as the first period drew to a close, it got a little messy, as is often the case. Except this time, the referee wasn't having it, and he called Chicago defenseman Matt Walker for roughing to start the second period.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville lost it at that point. His postgame comments will now live forever in NHL postseason lore.

"I think we just witnessed the worst call in the history of sports!" fumed Quenneville.

Really? Tell us how you really feel, Joel.

"You know, they scored, it's 3-0. They ruined a good hockey game and absolutely destroyed what was going on, on the ice."

OK Joel, simmer down there.

"It was a call that could ... I've never seen anything like it."

Now, I'm all for exaggeration, it's fun to just make things seem bigger than they are, but Qunneville just gave us a gem there.

Qunneville says that call ruined the game. A 6-1 game.

Rise Joel Qunneville. I now knight thee Joel "Worst call in the history of sports" Quenneville!

It wasn't a great call, I agree. However if Chicago focused on the game at that point, being down 3-0, instead of a marginal call, they might have had a chance.

Instead, they lost it.

As a Red Wings fan, I was loving it. As a hockey fan, I was incredulous.

The Blackhawks took penalty after penalty. Ben Eager got two game-misconduct penalties, the second of which got him outright booted from the game.

When Chicago did score on captain Jonathan Toews' power play goal (the streak is alive!) they celebrated a little too long. Twelve seconds later, Marian Hossa knocked the wind out of The Windy City with his second goal of the night. The goal that Mike Babcock said "put a knife in em."

At that point, Quenneville pulled Christobel Huet and, to his dismay, saw that he was down to rookie Corey Crawford in his goalie stockpile. The league's youngest team just got younger.

The kid played admirably. You couldn't ask much from him, playing only his eighth NHL game in that situation. He faced more power plays than I could count and gave up just one goal to Henrik Zetterberg.

From then on out, it was men against boys. That's the best way I can put it, as Detroit maintained composure and went about business, Chicago became increasingly frustrated and resorted to, well...goonery.

A total of 56 penalty minutes were handed out in the Chicago.

I have to say, in what will likely be Chicago's final home game of the season, their fans deserved more than to watch their very skilled team be reduced to frustrated boys and to see their team's coach go off the deep end over something silly like a roughing penalty.

How bad was it? Detroit pulled Chris Osgood for Ty Conklin in the third period because Detroit says he was dehydrated. Sure.

Why not get Conklin some playing time? Why not protect Osgood from potential injury? It was a good idea. Conklin stopped all nine shots he faced in the period.

So the series heads back to Detroit on Wednesday for Game Five, and although they won big without Datsyuk and Norris Nick once, I'm sure they'd rather not test their fate twice.

We'll see if the Blackhawks can muster the fight necessary to get back home for a possible Game Six, but their best chance to do that has already come and gone.

Tune in Wednesday for the best elimination game "in the history of sports!"