For me and a few other people I’ve spoken with who work in the hockey business, the true test of the 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings was never really going to begin until the Western Conference final did.
Well, we just finished Game 3 of the third-round series between Detroit and Dallas, and while you may not have to hand it to the Wings, I certainly do.
Their 5-2 defeat of the Stars Monday left no more illusions as to which team deserves a shot at the equally imposing Pittsburgh Penguins for this season’s NHL championship, and which team will be contacting the moving van companies with a firm vacating date in hand.
The Stars had as strong a start to a game in Game 3 as they’ve had all series, but still found themselves with the first deficit of the evening after a brilliant backhander from Pavel Datsyuk opened the scoring at 9:27 of the first period.
The American Airlines Arena crowd erupted when the Stars’ Nicklas Grossman tied the score less than six minutes later, but just 37 seconds after Grossman’s goal, Datsyuk potted a second highlight-reel gem to regain the lead for Detroit.
The reality was, the Stars had played arguably their best period of series, yet still trailed a Wings squad that made Dallas’ three first-frame power play opportunities into a number of 2-on-1 rushes in Detroit’s favor.
And that power play inefficiency continued to haunt Dallas after the teams traded second period goals to make it 3-2 for the visitors after 40 minutes of play.
With Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom in the penalty box for a goalie interference penalty (I’m as shocked as you are) to give the Stars their fifth man advantage of the game early in the third period, Henrik Zetterberg streaked down the ice to score an absolutely magnificent shorthanded goal at the 1:28 mark that effectively handed Dallas their golfing papers.
Dallas couldn’t score on any of the six power plays it was the beneficiary of Monday and also lobbed just 18 total shots at Detroit goalie Chris Osgood for the second straight game.
But I’m starting to believe the Stars’ failings are not entirely of their own doing.
It’s time to face facts: the Wing’s the Thing.
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Adam Proteau is The Hockey News’ online columnist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his Ask Adam feature appears Tuesdays and Fridays, and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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