“Despite the third period tie, I saw nothing that changes my mind about this series.”
Game One, they say, is the one that the visiting team can sneak into the home building and grab, especially if the hosts are all tuckered out after a long, grueling series.
The Chicago Blackhawks tried some of that sneaking-into-the-house thing Sunday, but they tripped a motion detector, lights and sirens went off, and the Red Wings came storming down the stairs to see what was the matter.
Then they beat back the intruders with their hockey sticks, finished off a 5-2 victory, and went back upstairs to get some more sleep.
No more sneaky-sneaky.
“They’re a really good team,” goalie Chris Osgood said afterward, and he wasn’t trying to convince himself. As usual, Ozzie was schooling the media. “They have four good lines and good defensemen. The only difference [between them and the Anaheim Ducks] is that they’re a little younger.”
Ah, but that is quite a difference–one that will eventually be the ‘Hawks’ undoing.
It was evident during the first two Red Wings goals.
Both were the results of turnovers.
Dan Cleary swiped the puck at his own blue line and finished with a perfectly-placed wrister upstairs. Then Johan Franzen stole the puck behind the Chicago net and wrapped it around and into the net, using his reach, which is longer than Shaun Rogers’ grocery list.
Memo to the Red Wings, by the way.
When shooting against Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, go high. Very high.
Every wall has its top, including the Bulin Wall.
The Red Wings scored three times by elevating the puck over Khabibulin’s shoulders, including a nifty redirect by Dan Cleary to make the score 4-2.
Early impressions of the young, playoff-inexperienced Blackhawks: they’re young. And playoff-inexperienced.
But they have speed, and their legs looked relatively fresh. But the Red Wings are a very efficient team. Maybe it’s because of the advanced age of some of their compatriots. Regardless, the Red Wings don’t expend a lot of energy needlessly.
They are individually, as one of the NBC announcers said Sunday, very smart without the puck when their teammates possess it, which is very often. And those smart players without the puck are extremely patient with it.
It was never more evident than during Mikael Samuelsson’s goal that broke a 2-2 tie.
Brett Lebda snapped a shot from the point that was blocked. It bounced to Samuelsson, who, despite the game situation and the multitude of players surrounding him, held on to it and bided his time.
Samuelsson showed more patience, on the ice in the third period of Game 1 of the conference finals during a tie game, than I show waiting at the fast food drive-thru.
When he deemed the time right, Sammy snapped a shot.
Oh, and it was high, by the way. Over the Bulin Wall.
Goal. 3-2, Detroit.
Once again, Osgood was sharp when he had to be, except just before the game’s first goal, when he was caught with his hockey pants down trying to play the puck. He didn’t see Adam Burish, and the puck was slipped between his legs and into the net.
But as usual, Ozzie shoved that to the back burner and forgot about it. He does that very well, especially after goals where he was clearly the goat.
Despite the third period tie, I saw nothing that changes my mind about this series.
It will not be anywhere near as taxing as the Ducks’ seven-game boogaloo.
The Red Wings will wear these Blackhawks down much sooner than they did the Ducks, which isn’t hard to do because it took six games, a couple of overtimes, and 57 minutes to shrug off Anaheim.
But you know what I mean.
This still has “five game series” written all over the Bulin Wall, in bright red spray paint.