There’s no stopping the Detroit Red Wings machine now. Not for the Chicago Blackhawks, anyway.
The Hawks threw everything they had at the Wings Tuesday in Detroit and it wasn’t enough. Chicago mustered 19 first-period shots against a Detroit team that rarely gives up 30 in a game and it wasn’t enough.
Chicago tried balancing its scoring lines – its four top scorers on four separate lines – and Detroit’s suffocating defense was too dominating. Even when the Blackhawks pressured the Red Wings zone through much of the third period and scored the equalizer to force overtime, there was the persistent feeling it wasn’t going to be enough. And it wasn’t.
A tic-tac-toe passing play by the Red Wings in overtime resulted in Mikael Samuelsson’s decisive goal against Nikolai Khabibulin.
Now Chicago has to win four of the next five games if it hopes to advance to the Stanley Cup final. Give ’em one, maybe two, but not four of the next five.
You wouldn’t know it by how well the Hawks played Tuesday, but clearly three of their better players are battling health issues.
Captain Jonathan Toews isn’t getting the ice time he’s used to. TSN analyst Pierre McGuire figures he hasn’t been the same since being knocked woozy by Dion Phaneuf in the Calgary series three weeks ago. Toews is played well, scoring two goals Tuesday, but there’s still a little something missing.
Martin Havlat is playing with a sore leg that is noticeable in street clothes, but not on the ice. And Patrick Sharp sustained a gash on the back of his head when taken to the ice by Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader Tuesday.
That leaves Patrick Kane as Chicago’s most dangerous threat and Detroit is throwing its best shutdown men at the flustered Hawk.
Media still call him Daniel Cleary, but the Red hot Wing prefers Dan Cleary. He told The Hockey News that in 1997 when he was drafted and he maintains it today.
Selected 13th overall by Chicago in 1997 – one spot behind teammate Marian Hossa – Cleary was traded to Edmonton with Chad Kilger, Ethan Moreau and Christian Laflamme for Boris Mironov, Dean McAmmond and Jonas Elofsson. Since then he was let go by the Oilers and the Phoenix Coyotes before finding new life in Detroit.
WHO’S THAT WAVING?
You’ve got to wonder what’s in the minds of those fans who strategically stand up and wave at the TV camera when play is in the bottom corner of the arena. You know who they are. They set their VCRs or PVRs at home, go to the game, wait until they know the camera is panning play in the corner, which is just in front of where they’re sitting. They stand up, turn around and wave. For the TV viewer, it’s tough not to notice. Then after the game, they go home and watch themselves wave at the camera. What are those knobs thinking? There are dozens of them every game.
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Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can find his blog each weekend.
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